Apple Watch Won’t be Sold in Store Until June

Angela Ahrendts, in a memo to retail employees acquired by iGen:

As we announced last week, due to high global interest combined with our initial supply, we are only taking orders online right now. I’ll have more updates as we get closer to in-store availability, but we expect this to continue through the month of May.

I didn’t expect Apple to begin stocking the Watch in stores until they caught up with demand, but it’s a little surprising to me that they don’t foresee doing so until June. This is a good sign for the product’s success, I just hope customers are satisfied with their purchase once pre-orders start arriving at the end of this week.

She also comments on how Apple plans to launch products in the future:

Are we going to launch every product this way from now on? No. We all love those blockbuster Apple product launch days—and there will be many more to come. They’re the moments where you, our teams, shine. And our customers love them as well!

I can imagine Apple was concerned that the Watch might not sell as well as analysts and the press expected it to. Especially since they seem disappointed even when Apple beats their own estimates. Selling the Watch exclusively online could have been a well planned tactic that was designed to mask sales numbers — it’s hard to determine how well a product is selling when you can’t actually see anyone buying it.

(Via 9 to 5 Mac).

Scott Forstall Publishes His First Tweet

Scott Forstall on Twitter:

I’m thrilled to be co-producing the Broadway musical Fun Home funhomebroadway.com opening this Sunday. Bravo to the phenomenal team!

I’m happy to see him take a step back into the public eye and I hope this is just the first of many post-Apple projects for him.

Apple Explains How to Remove Adware

Here’s another support document that’s worth bookmarking if you happen to be your family’s tech support person.

Glide is Beautifully Simple, Professional App Creation

My fiancée isa teacher in grade school and most of the classrooms in her district have access to iPads. She has talked in the past about writing a children’s book and distributing it to her students’ iPads. Her and I have explored some of the self-publishing options available. But, none of them have jumped out at us and few of them have passable options for publishing to mobile devices (which is crucial given her plans for distribution).

The proof is in the pudding, I suppose, and it all depends on how truly easy it is to build apps with once it’s released, but Glide looks like it could be what we’ve been waiting for. I’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on its development.

Accidental Tech Podcast Shirts

In one of the most brilliant pieces of marketing I’ve seen in a while, the Accidental Tech Podcast has announced the sale of t-shirts in three collections:

  • ATP Shirt Sport: printed on Hanes Cool Dri activewear and comes in blue for men and white for women.
  • ATP Shirt: printed on tri-blend or cotton American Apparel in black or gray.
  • ATP Shirt Edition: printed on tri-blend American Apparel in black for men or red for women, both featuring a gold-colored foil logo.

Even though the ATP Shirt is the most popular of the collections, the gimmick seems to be working. They’ve already sold well over 50 Editions with 19 days left to order. You can count me in with the Edition crowd — it’s likely the only opportunity I’ll have to purchase a product with such a moniker.

I also suggest listening to their announcement on the podcast, it’s perfect.

Apple’s All-New Music App

Chance Miller details the new Music app from the first developer beta of iOS 8.4, which was released earlier this week. The application sports a refined user interface and some new features — a recently added section, Up Next, redesigned artist screen, and more.

This was a bit of an unexpected release from Apple (at least from my perspective). This is the kind of update that I would have thought to be bundled in iOS 9 not 8.4. I wonder if the days of monolithic iOS upgrades are behind us and Apple will be more willing to ship major application upgrades mid-cycle in the future. It would certainly be an interesting way to reduce the sticker shock from multi-gigabyte iOS updates that are such an annoyance for 16GB device users.

Astropad 1.1 Adds Pencil Support

From FiftyThree’s news section:

We’re excited to announce our latest Pencil partner, Astropad, a beautiful graphic design app that lets you mirror your Mac screen right onto your iPad. Pair Pencil with Astropad to draw directly into Photoshop or any app on your Mac, and turn your iPad into a professional graphics tablet!

I hadn’t heard of Astropad until today, but the app looks quite slick and appears to be very highly reviewed. If I was in the market for a drawing tablet I’d probably lean in this direction instead of purchasing a kit from a company like Wacom. The convenience of being able to use devices I already own and the incredibly affordable pricing of the software would likely outweigh any of the benefits I’d receive from purchasing a dedicated device.

(Via Joe Darnell.)

One Singular Photo Library

With the public release of Photos last week, I thought I’d link to a piece I wrote last month regarding my disappointments with the direction Apple is headed for photo management — the crux of my complaints being that there’s no solution for families wanting to maintain one singular photo library across multiple iCloud user accounts.

There’s certainly still the possibility that Apple could add such a feature in the future. And, it’s not as though the photo management experience is worse than it was with iPhoto. I can still process my photos the same way I have for years — importing them from my and my fiancée’s devices into iPhoto and then syncing our iPhones and iPad with iTunes. But, I would love Apple to offer a more future-proof, cloud-based solution that helps keep all of our photos accessible without needing to maintain two separate iCloud Photo Libraries.

I haven’t dug too deep into all of Photos’ features yet, but the application is absolutely stunning and very responsive when dealing with photos saved on my Mac. There was a couple of bumps in the road when I first upgraded, but nothing that I would consider to be a deal breaker — I’ve received errors when syncing my Photos library to the iPad which was fixed with a reboot and occasionally Photos won’t load the shared albums I’m subscribed to which is usually remedied by quitting and relaunching the app. Overall I think this is a step in the right direction from iPhoto, but I still hold out hope that Apple will continue building from here until Photos meets all my needs.

Four More Apple Watch Guided Tours Released

Covering phone calls, Siri, Maps, and music.

Surveying the Podcasting Landscape

Robert McGinley Myers:

What podcasting offers, not unlike blogging before it, is the ability for every radio reporter, every audio storyteller, to decide that they don’t have to sell their stories before they make them. If their stories are good enough, and especially of they have a singular vision, those stories can stand on their own. Of course, this has been true since the dawn of podcasting. What’s new is that there’s now a sizable chunk of people willing to listen.

I’ve been listening to Robert’s Anxious Machine podcast since it launched last year. And while I don’t listen to every episode, I always look forward to seeing what topic it covers.

One of my favorite episodes is the one entitled “This Great, Noble Venture” in which he talks with Shawn Blanc about building his career as a writer. In the episode Shawn also discusses an old episode of the Macworld Podcast from 2007 where John Gruber explains why he doesn’t have comments on Daring Fireball. I remember listening to that exact same episode when it was released and feeling similarly inspired by John’s answer, just as Shawn was.

This episode of the Anxious Machine podcast helped to remind me why I decided to write for the web. And it’s one of the many inspirations behind the recent increase in publishing frequency here on Initial Charge. I hope the show’s second season continues to inspire me like the first one did.

‘I Would Take These Numbers With an Enormous Grain of Salt’

John Gruber, on Slice Intelegence’s Apple Watch pre-order estimates:

They’re saying “957,000 people in the U.S. pre-ordered an Apple Watch on Friday” and that each ordered an average of 1.3 watches. That’s 1.25 million watches — and it’s only for the U.S. Apple Watch went on sale in nine countries last week, all of them major markets. So even if you believe Slice’s estimates are accurate, they imply that customers around the world ordered millions of Apple Watches, plural, on the first day.

When I started seeing this story earlier this week, I basically ignored it. I’ve never heard of Slice Intellegence, but even if their claimed “two million customers” number is accurate I can’t imagine it’s representative of the kind of person I would expect to have pre-ordered an Apple Watch on the first weekend. I doubt there are many early adopters that would voluntarily sign-up to have a company read their email for market research purposes.

ResearchKit Now Available to Developers and Medical Researchers

Apple, on GitHub:

ResearchKit is an open source framework introduced by Apple that allows researchers and developers to create powerful apps for medical research. Easily create visual consent flows, real-time dynamic active tasks, and surveys using a variety of customizable modules that you can build upon and share with the community.

This should silence the naysayers who are always citing FaceTime during discussions of Apple and open source software.

As an aside, there was an episode of The Talk Show in which John Gruber mentioned that the engineers who worked on FaceTime hadn’t heard any discussion of open sourcing FaceTime until Steve Jobs announcing it on stage. Does anyone know which episode that would have been? If so, I’d appreciate it if you could let me know.

TouchArcade’s First Impressions of Hearthstone for iPhone

Eric Ford, regarding the recently released Hearthstone update:

As you might expect, the iPhone version of Hearthstone is basically the Hearthstone we all know and love on iPad except… smaller. The primary changes have to do with how you interact with your cards during matches. For example, on the iPad version all your cards are simply at the bottom of the screen and you’re free to thumb through them at your convenience while the match is being played out. On the iPhone version, your cards are shown on the bottom right of the screen and tapping them expands the view and allows you to actually interact, see descriptions, and play said cards. Expanding the card view blocks most of the field of play, which is the primary concession made for Hearthstone making the transition to iPhone.

Even if you’re not interested in playing Hearthstone on your iPhone and would rather stick to playing on iPad or other platforms, it’s still worth installing the app. Blizzard will give you a free pack just for logging in with your account (which is the case for the app on Android, too).

I’ve been playing Hearthstone for a couple of months now and it’s great — easily one of my favorite games of all time. And, the lofty praise is warranted. It’s everything I love about Magic: the Gathering wrapped up in a beautifully design with unique game mechanics and always available, competitive, constructed gaming on the devices I use most. I’ll be installing Hearthstone on my iPhone as soon as I have a spare 743MB.

And if you’re new to the game, TouchArcade’s Hearthstone Beginner’s Guide by Tasos Lazarides is also worth browsing.

Apple Announces WWDC 2015

The conference will be held at Moscone West in San Francisco, June 8-12. You can apply for tickets today through Friday at 1PM ET. Like last year, Apple will use a lottery system — offering tickets to random applicants — until all tickets are sold.

Chrome is Still a Threat to Your MacBook’s Battery

During the Verge’s testing of the recently released MacBook they found drastic differences in battery life when using Google Chrome instead of Safari. In the test —which cycles through webpages with screen brightness at 65% until the battery dies — the MacBook managed to last 13 hours and 18 minutes while using Safari but only lasted 9 hours and 45 minutes with Chrome. That’s over three and a half  hours difference.

Vlad Savov doesn’t go into the reasons for this large of a discrepancy, aside from his mention of Apple’s ability to optimize Safari better using their advanced knowledge of hardware and operating system changes. But, could this be due to Chrome having Flash built-in and Apple’s decision to remove it from the default OS X installation?

On Publishing Frequency

I first started “seriously” writing for the web in my junior year of high school. At the time I was fascinated by computers and all I wanted to do was build them and write about them. I had a small weblog on Blogger but wasn’t able to dedicate much time to it between school and various social activities. But, I knew I was hooked. I was filled with excitement every time I hit the publish button and there was no other way to replicate that feeling — a strange mix of nervousness, fear, and most importantly a sense of accomplishment.

At the time I was writing about new graphics cards, processors, and Microsoft’s upcoming OS (at the time it was only known as Windows Longhorn). And, I was spending a lot of time reading publications like ExtremeTech, PC Magazine, Computer Power User, and The Inquirer. I remember installing the Opera web browser on my Motorola Razr so I could read the latest tech news when I was away from my computer. I was an AMD and Nvidia guy who loved Antec cases and Western Digital hard drives.

That was over ten years ago, and a lot has changed since then. I don’t read any of the same publications, my mobile setup for keeping up with the news has changed drastically, and the areas of technology that I’m most interested in are far from where they started. It was before Apple made the switch to Intel (which initially sparked my interest in Macs), it was before Twitter even existed, and it was just a few months before I started dating the woman I’m now engaged to.

I’ve been doing this a long time. Much longer than a lot of other writers who have already had a great deal more success than I. But I’m not doing it for the success, I’m doing it because of that feeling I get when I hit the publish button. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll gladly take my fair share of success if it comes to me. But, That’s not what it’s all about — it’s like Walt Disney said “we don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.”

A couple of months ago I purchased a 64GB iPad Air 2 in space gray and it’s drastically changed the way I work. It wasn’t planned that way, but it ended up becoming my primary computing device. From the day the original iPad was announced I always felt that it could be an amazing tool for online publishing. And although the first-generation wasn’t quite up to the task due to its comparatively slow hardware, the iPad Air 2 is plenty powerful enough to be my primary writing machine. And the fact that I want to use it has resulted in an increase in work output. I suppose you could say that buying a new pen can make you a better writer if the pen you were using before didn’t inspire you to write (hopefully someone will get that reference).

From the day I received the new iPad I’ve steadily increased the pace at which I’be been publishing, until just over two weeks ago when I realized that I needed to change the way I write and publish. For the previous ten years worth of writing — the oldest of which that’s still available online is from 2006 (don’t bother reading it, it’s not good) — I’ve always written when I “had time to” or when I was inspired to do so. And, I think the inconsistency in my writing frequency is one of the biggest factors that has held me back over the years.

But, now I’ve designed a writing schedule that will allow me to publish three linked list items every day with Monday being the only exception. On Monday one of those three linked list items will instead be a long-form article. It might be a review, a thought piece, a how-to guide, a program note (like this one), or anything else that’s more than just a few hundred words.

This new schedule will give Initial Charge more consistency in both long- and short-form content, but it doesn’t mean I’ll be writing everyday. There will be days during the week in which I write more than I publish with the excess being scheduled to publish later. This will allow me to have some time to recharge my batteries and spend those days off with the people I love. In the past I’ve dabbled with consistent writing schedules but none of them managed to stick — I didn’t allow myself any free time and I eventually burned out and the site ended up with several days in a row of inactivity. I don’t want that to happen anymore.

I’ve stuck with this schedule for over two weeks now and it feels like something sustainable. I had my third day off from writing yesterday and it felt great. I was able to go for a walk with my fiancée, shop in a few different stores, and not worry about getting “nothing done” — as long as I stuck to the writing schedule, I didn’t need to get anything done that day.

This change in how I manage Initial Charge has also coincided with my recent subscribing to The Weekly Briefly by Shawn Blanc. I’ve found it incredibly inspiring during this transition, but this bit from a recent episode where he describes what he thinks of as productivity really hit home with me:

And productivity is the right word because this is what we’re doing. We want to be productive, we want to — I want to have a productive marriage, I want to have a productive family, I want to have a productive business. I want the work that I do to matter, I want to focus on the most important things for my own personal spiritual life or my physical body. I want to be healthy, I want to be in shape so that I can do this for years to come. I want to have a great relationship with my kids, with my wife, with my team.

For all the Blanc media guys that work with me, I want to serve them, I want to help them, I want to empower them. I want to make enough money to pay them, to put food on my table, to pay my bills, put my kids through college. To me that’s productivity, doing meaningful work having healthy relationships. But so many people think of productivity as “to do list” apps, GTD, calendar apps, stuff being shoved down your throat — this one weird trick that seven seconds per day will make you nine times more productive without even thinking about it. No! There is no such thing as microwave productivity.

While I get a great deal of joy from publishing, I need to remember that I also need to spend more time with my loved ones. And, this new writing schedule should allow me to publish more frequently, write more meaningful things, and still spend more time with my friends and family than I have in the past — to be more productive. All while still reducing the amount anxiety I experience during the times when I’m not writing, something that was difficult before I devised this schedule.

I know this new system will stick because I won’t allow myself to falter. Back in January I created two notes in Vesper that foreshadowed this change for me. One was titled “What I do” with the only line of text being: “I run my own website where I do a weekly column and written commentary on technology news” and the other is simply titled “This year feels different” with no body text. Little did I know that just a few months later I would be into my third week running a website where I consistently published a weekly column and written commentary on technology news and that this would be the reason that this year feels different.

Overcast is The Sweet Setup’s Favorite iOS Podcast App

I couldn’t agree more with Bradley Chambers’ thoughts on Overcast. And, I think smart speed is by far the most compelling feature in the app. Overcast has saved me over 80 hours of listening time because of smart speed and I can’t imagine using a podcast client that didn’t have a comparable feature.

Yahoo Reorganization May End Tumblr’s Run as an Independent Unit

It was only a matter of time.

Jim Dalrymple Reviews the 12-inch MacBook

Jim Dalrymple on the MacBook’s one-port compromise in favor of portability:

People who buy the MacBook aren’t buying it for its expandability, but rather for its other features, namely the size. I don’t have a lot of devices I need to connect to the MacBook, so I’d rather have a smaller laptop with a dongle than carry around a heavier laptop with ports I’m not using 90 percent of the time. […]

The good news is that if you need more ports or more power, Apple has two other MacBook product lines that may suit your needs. For me, I’m sticking with MacBook.

A lot of Apple watchers react to the company’s new products as if they Apple isn’t allowed to make devices that aren’t suited for them. But that isn’t the case — introducing a product that isn’t best for you can’t be considered a misstep unless they don’t offer any products that are best for you.

If you want an extremely portable machine but can’t get by with a single USB-C port, just buy a MacBook Air. No one’s going to force you to buy a computer you don’t want and the existence of this MacBook doesn’t change the viability of the computers you already own. And even though the future we’re heading towards is one of ubiquitous wireless peripherals, Apple will continue offering notebook computers with a multitude of ports for years to come.

HBO Now Highlights Hypocrisy in Apple’s No Porn Rules

Sam Oliver, writing for AppleInsider:

This time around, there’s no need to log in with cable credentials — Apple is essentially selling porn through iTunes.

There’s nothing wrong with porn, of course. The only thing wrong is Apple’s double standard.

HBO gets away with it because Apple needs what HBO has. Could Apple have muscled a deal in without including pornographic content? Maybe, but they didn’t.

It struck me as odd when I launched HBO Now on my Apple TV and noticed the Late Night section. But, I expect apple held HBO Now to the standards they have for music, movies, and TV shows, rather than the standards they have for applications. HBO Now is packaged as an application on iOS devices, but it feels more akin to media sales than app sales. Or, maybe this is a sign of a loosening of the purse strings on explicit material in the App Store.

Highball

A new cocktail recipe application from Studio Neat. It’s well designed and has a really clever sharing feature which embeds a QR code inside of the recipe images it generates. Any Highball user you share that recipe image with can import it into the app which scans the QR code and saves it as a fully editable cocktail recipe.

A MacBook Reviewer’s Notebook

Jason Snell, regarding the MacBook keyboard:

If you don’t type a whole lot, or very fast, you may not care about the substantially reduced key travel. And you can get used to it. But it’s just a tiny step up from typing on flat touchscreen glass. I managed to score almost 120 words per minute on TypeRacer on the MacBook keyboard, but I didn’t enjoy it. If you’re someone who notices when a keyboard feels different or weird, you will notice this keyboard.

I’ve spent the past two months typing almost everything on flat touchscreen glass and I’ve been happy to do so — I don’t expect it would take me long to get used to typing on the MacBook’s keyboard. But, it is something I look forward to trying out for myself.

I want to see if the wider keys affect my ability to instinctively know what my fingers are hovering over and whether or not the shallower keys are worth the compromise to achieve such a thin device. I suspect the compromises are worth it for the form factor. And if I even occasionally know where my fingers are while I’m typing on the iPad, I’ll probably do just fine on the MacBook keyboard.

But most importantly, I want to know whether or not I’ll actually like the changes. Because it’s one thing to put up with them and something else entirely to actually prefer them.

‘The Most Personalized Service I’ve Ever Seen in an Apple Store’

Stephen Hackett shares his experience at an Apple Watch try-on appointment:

Trying on various Watches was a little weird. The employee with me was incredibly helpful, but had to take the Watch on and off my wrist. As someone who doesn’t like a lot of attention, it was a tad uncomfortable, but it was a great way to try a bunch of different bands. […]

All in all, the try-on appointments are pretty brilliant. I got to spend time with most of the product line, but didn’t feel rushed. I got individual attention, had my questions answered and even got to play with a working Watch, as opposed to just watching a Demo loop. It was the most personalized service I’ve ever seen in an Apple Store, and just what this product requires.

Apple couldn’t have customers trying on a a watch that’s tethered to a table, but the only way for them to truly experience the device is to physically try it on. This thinking clearly led Apple to where they are now with the in-store trials. It’s the best way for Apple to give customers a substantial and satisfying amount of time with the product allowing them to test multiple bands and Watch models.

Disney Presses Apple to Carry More Channels on Internet TV Service

What a shocker — Disney wants Apple to purchase more of its content and Apple wants a more attractive price point. Is anyone surprised by this?

Scheduling an Apple Watch Try-On Appointment

Steve Sande shows you how to schedule an Apple Watch try-on appointment in Apple’s online store or the Apple Store app. Depending on how my weekend schedule lines up (and whether or not I really want to take a 2+ hour drive), I might make an appointment for this Sunday.