iOS 11

Last week, at WWDC, Apple unveiled the next major iteration of their mobile operating system — iOS 11. Due to my busy schedule this month, I wasn’t able to finish watching the keynote for nearly two weeks. But thanks to the fine folks I follow on Twitter, I was well aware of all the announcements.

Since the event, I’ve been struggling to wrap my head around what exactly these updates will mean for iPad owners. And while I’m certain that iOS 11 will be a huge win for productivity, I still have a hard time foreseeing how I’ll be using my device after the update ships. What I do know is that iOS 11 is a big deal and will help propel the iPad into a serious contender when compared to Macs and Windows machines.

iOS 11 is the first time the iPhone has really taken a back seat to the iPad in terms of major features. The iPad received Split View, Slide Over, and Picture-in-Picture with iOS 9, but those pale in comparison to what iOS 11 brings to the table. Apple focused their efforts on features that will make the iPad more viable for real work and I think it’ll payoff in a big way once the software ships this fall.

Taking a step back for a moment, iOS 11 includes several solid improvements that both iPhone and iPad owners will benefit from. The first of those announced on stage is adjustments to the interface for iMessage Apps. Instead of swiping through each of your apps individually, you’ll be presented with a scrollable list of the iMessage App icons. This should speed up the process of finding the app you want and encourage more people to actually use iMessage Apps.

There’s some minor updates to Siri in iOS 11. Apple has used deep learning to create a new, more natural voice for Siri and there’s a new translation feature, as well. You’ll be able to translate words and phrases from English to Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish at launch with more coming in the future. It would be nice if Siri could translate from those languages back to English, though. At first glance, this feature would be great for traveling, but what do you do when someone tries to respond and you have no way of translating it to English?

Apple is moving to a new video and image format with iOS 11. All video will be saved in H.265 or High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) and all photos will be saved in a format based on HEVC called High Efficiency Image Format (HEIF). This will allow for much smaller file sizes at the same quality. With Apple adopting these formats, I hope Google and Microsoft follow suit and add support to their browsers and operating systems — I wouldn’t mind using HEIF for the images displayed on Initial Charge.

Apple has completely redesigned Control Center. The visual design is hideous, but having everything on a single page again is worth the eye sore. And I’m thrilled that we’ll finally be able to customize Control Center to our liking. Within Settings, you can choose what you want displayed and in what order. All of the familiar Control Center options are available, but Apple has added some new ones as well — an easy-access Apple TV remote, a screen recording toggle, and a shortcut for timers, to name a few. This has to be my favorite feature coming to all devices in iOS 11. I’ve spent years looking at a bunch of Control Center functionality that I never used, now I’ll be able to cut the chaff and have a simple, compact Control Center with just the features I need.

The new Control Center may be my favorite feature, but the Lock Screen redesign is the worst. I like the idea of moving Notification Center to a new location, but I would rather it live alongside my widgets in Today View. Just place a permanent widget below the date that can be expanded to a full screen view by tapping the “Show More” button. Admittedly, this might be a terrible idea, but I think I’d rather have that than an OS that throws me into my Lock Screen when I slide down from the top of the screen — a gesture that I have come to expect will take me to my widgets. I hope Apple spends a lot of time refining this experience before iOS 11 launches to the masses because, as it is, I absolutely hate it.

With iOS 11, Apple is introducing a completely redesigned App Store. It features a new “Today” tab which highlights new apps everyday alongside stories about some of the developers behind the apps. Games will have it’s own dedicated section, which means apps like Things, Ulysses, and Airmail won’t have to compete with Angry Birds Evolution, Dungeon Boss, and Big Bang Racing. I must say, I’m continually impressed with what Phil Schiller has done to the developer ecosystem since he took over the App Store in late 2015. These updates all seem like major wins for developers and I don’t know if any of it would have happened if Schiller didn’t take over. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

And, of course, iOS 11 will also be bringing Live Photo editing, Maps improvements, Do Not Disturb While Driving, HomeKit updates including AirPlay 2, machine learning APIs, and ARKit. But the star of the show in iOS 11 is the new features Apple is bringing to the iPad — a redesigned Dock, an improved app switcher, Drag and Drop, the new Flick Keyboard, the Files app, a new screenshot workflow, and the document scanner feature in Notes.

With the new Dock on iPad, Apple is borrowing some design cues from macOS. The Dock is now persistent — no matter where you are in the OS, a simple swipe from the bottom of the screen will bring up the Dock. It is no longer limited to just six applications and can hold about a dozen user-chosen apps on the left with three Siri-predicted applications on the right.

The Dock can be used to switch between your frequently used applications, which is reminiscent of the early iOS app switcher with the linen background. I was never a big fan of the full screen app switcher that we’ve been stuck with since its debut in iOS 7. Seeing a thumbnail of the application seems like a neat idea on paper, but in practice, it often isn’t all that helpful. The icon is typically good enough and allows the system to display a much more dense app launcher that doesn’t clutter too much of the display. And letting me choose which applications live in the dock is much nicer than having to wade through a never-ending list of apps sorted by most recently used — which often makes it far too difficult to find the app you’re looking for — or forcing me to jump back to Springboard.

But if you need access to more than what’s available in your Dock, Apple has redesigned the app switcher on iPad with an Exposé-like view that can be accessed by continuing the Dock’s upward-swipe gesture further toward the top of the screen. The new app switcher displays Control Center along the right and a grid of app thumbnails that overflows past the left edge of the screen. That alone is a huge improvement over iOS 10’s app switcher, but Apple didn’t stop there, the new app switcher preserves app pairings. That means, if I had Instapaper and Ulysses open next to one another in Split View, I can tap on a thumbnail of those apps and find myself right where I left off.

One of the biggest downsides to using an iPad instead of macOS is the clunky app switching system. When you’re on a Mac, you can use ⌘+tab, the Dock, and launchers like Alfred to fly through the operating system. Jumping from app to app is a breeze on macOS, but often feels like a hassle on iOS. The new Dock and app switcher should go a long way toward eliminating the deficit, perhaps not entirely, but this is a huge step in the right direction.

After Craig Federighi spent a few minutes discussing the Dock and the new app switcher, he announced the feature that we’ve all been clamoring for — Drag and Drop. Another one of the major barriers to entry for anyone interested in using an iPad full time is moving data between applications. iOS 8 brought third-party sharing extensions a few years ago and that made passing data from app to app a lot easier. For many users like myself, share extensions were a pivotal moment for the iPad, turning it into a fairly usable productivity machine. But Drag and Drop blows share extensions out of the water.

You can use Drag and Drop on images, text, URLs, files, app icons, and just about anything else you can think of. Imagine having Photos and Ulysses open in Split View and dragging screenshots from the Photos app into Ulysses while you’re typing an article. Or you could be creating a presentation in Keynote and dragging in images from the web, quoted text, and reference URLs. Drag and Drop changes the game an big way.

Full time iOS users like Federico Viticci, Ben Brooks, and myself have been very productive utilizing the features available in iOS 10, but I can imagine we’ll be able to get a lot more work done in less time because of Drag and Drop. What Workflow did for automation on iOS, Drag and Drop will do for sharing data.

The new Flick Keyboard, while not as monumental as Drag and drop, didn’t get as much time on stage as I think it deserved. I suppose it’s understandable, given how packed the keynote was, but the Flick Keyboard is going to make typing on the iPad’s screen nearly as efficient as a hardware keyboard when typing special characters. You’ll no longer need to switch to a separate keyboard to type numbers and symbols, just tap on a key and swipe downward to type the special character displayed at the top of that key.

I’m not sure why they decided to use a downward swipe for the Flick Keyboard, especially when there’s already precedence for upward swipes on the comma and period keys for typing apostrophe and double quote characters. My only guess is that the folks at Apple were inadvertently triggering it too frequently during testing.

The last of the landmark features is the Files app, which is essentially Finder for iOS. It gives you access to all of you’re files without revealing the operating system’s underpinnings — you can’t mess up you’re system by deleting anything in the Files app. It can also be used to browse files available through third-party document providers like Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, or Google Drive — anything that can be used in the document picker should be supported out of the box.

This is a feature that many users have been begging for and I’m glad they finally built it. It’s not something I expect to use very often, though. I’ve had Transmit for this sort of functionality for years and it works great, but I just don’t need it as often as other people do. If you spend a lot of time sending and receiving attachments in email or moving documents to various locations for sharing or collaboration, the Files app will be invaluable to you.

While not as earth-shattering as the other features in iOS 11, the new screenshot workflow, which throws an image thumbnail at the bottom of your screen for markup and sharing, alongside the document scanner feature in Notes, help round out the release. These are the kind of features that everyone will forget about until they happen upon them a few weeks after installing iOS 11. They’ll be great to have, but easily ignored because of the magnitude of everything else in this release.

I’ve already seen a lot of iPad skeptics reconsidering the device. With Drag and Drop, the new app switcher, and the Files app, the iPad is becoming a viable productivity machine to a far wider range of users. And it has me wondering if Apple was a little too quick to pitch the iPad as “The Ultimate PC Replacement”. Imagine if Apple started using this terminology after debuting all of the power-user features in iOS 11 rather than boldly doing so at the original iPad Pro event. It would have made for a much more powerful message coming out of WWDC and perhaps would have elicited fewer jeers than it did back in 2016.

Even as a full time iPad user, I can admit that calling iPad “The Ultimate PC Replacement” last year was a tough sell. For the majority of users — those that spend their time browsing the web, sending emails, and watching YouTube — it’s probably true. But positioning it as such felt a little tone deaf when the OS was missing so many features that felt like they naturally belonged. But with iOS 11, Apple’s proclamation just feels like a foregone conclusion — the iPad is the ultimate PC replacement.

John Markoff and Members of the Original iPhone Team at the Computer History Museum ➝

The segment that everyone’s talking about, the conversation with Scott Forstall, starts at one hour and seven minutes. By all accounts, this was a great interview. I look forward to watching it later tonight.

Stephen Hackett on the iPod Hi-Fi ➝

I never had a chance to see an iPod Hi-Fi in person, but I always wanted one. It seemed like such a neat product. But unfortunately, it was just too expensive for eighteen-year-old me to afford.

Medium and the Scourge of Persistent Sharing Dickbars ➝

John Gruber, on the seemingly omnipresent, floating share bars and “Open in App” buttons that are ruining the mobile web:

I’m sure “engagement” does register higher with these sharing dickbars, but I suspect a big part of that is because of accidental taps. And even so, what is more important, readability or “engagement”? Medium wants to be about readability but that’s hard to square with this dickbar, and especially hard to square with the “Open in App” button floating above it. […]

A website should not fight the browser. Let the browser provide the chrome, and simply provide the content. Web developers know this is right — these dickbars are being rammed down their throats by SEO experts. The SEO folks are the same dopes who came up with the genius strategy of requiring 5-10 megabytes of privacy-intrusive CPU-intensive JavaScript on every page load that slows down websites. Now they come to their teams and say, “Our pages are too slow — we gotta move to AMP so our pages load fast.”

The only thing I hate more than websites that hijack my scrolling are websites that ruin my browsing experience with floating navigation and sharing bars. I’m starting to wonder if I should just turn off JavaScript in all my browsers. Of course, this isn’t a very good idea, but I could always use Gruber’s old Flash workaround for site’s that don’t function without JavaScript. But that won’t help me when I’m using iOS, which is where I do most of my web browsing.

iPad ProMotion ➝

Federico Viticci, on the 10.5-inch iPad Pro’s 120Hz display:

A good way to think about the iPad’s new display with ProMotion is not the difference between low-res and Retina screens, but the jump from 30fps to 60fps. You see more of every animation. Text is more legible when you scroll and doesn’t judder. It’s hard to explain and it has to be seen and experienced to be fully understood. Every scroll, page transition, and app launch animation on the 10.5” iPad Pro is absurdly smooth to the point of feeling unrealistic at first – hence the common reaction that something doesn’t quite compute. But as you spend some time with the new iPad and start using it on a daily basis, its display becomes normal and you wish that other Apple displays were the same.

I would be surprised if this new display technology doesn’t make its way into the iPhone this year.

What Does the iMac Pro Tell Us About the All New Mac Pro to Follow? ➝

Ben Lovejoy, on the upcoming Mac Pro:

So yes, Apple has promised that it will be the best machine in the line-up, meaning that by definition it has to have a higher spec than the iMac Pro. But perhaps not massively so. What you’ll really be buying with the Mac Pro is two things.

First, configuration options. Four USB-C ports is good, but as the standard takes off, there will be pros who’ll want more – and you’ll be able to add them. Up to 4TB fast SSD is very nice, but again, AV pros will want more, and they’ll be able to add it without having to hang them off the outside of the machine. And so forth. Unlike the iMac, you won’t be buying a sealed unit.

Second, longevity. The iMac Pro will be a stonking spec when it launches, but of course technology never stands still. A blindingly-fast machine today will look distinctly pedestrian a few years down the line. With a modular format, you should be able to simply slot in new components as they become available – including, I’m sure, CPU and GPU.

The iMac Pro Is Not the New Mac Pro ➝

From Apple’s press release for the iMac Pro:

In addition to the new iMac Pro, Apple is working on a completely redesigned, next-generation Mac Pro architected for pro customers who need the highest-end, high-throughput system in a modular design, as well as a new high-end pro display.

I would normally assume that everyone had seen this already, but my busy week has reminded me that not everyone follows this stuff so closely.

But it’s also worth mentioning that, in an alternate timeline where Apple didn’t have their change of heart, which resulted in the roundtable meeting in April, this might have been Apple’s replacement for the Mac Pro.

Professional Perception Problem ➝

Andrew Cunningham:

Pro desktop users represent just a fraction of a fraction of Apple’s business, but they’re nevertheless vitally important. They do much of the development that attracts people to Apple’s platforms and keeps them there, and they’re some of the company’s biggest evangelists.

The April meeting got things started by telling those customers that Apple was at least aware of their complaints and working to fix them. Announcing the iMac Pro in June in front of an audience of many of those users buys Apple some time and earns it at least a couple of positive conversations on the Accidental Tech Podcast; actually releasing it in December satisfies some of the pent-up demand for a pro-level system and bridges the gap between now and whenever the new Mac Pro is announced (and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see a similar gap between the announcement and release there, either).

Everyone knows that the Mac Pro was a terrible blunder, including Apple. But I think they’re taking the perfect path toward fixing it.

The New Mac Lineup

Apple did something on Monday that Mac fans have been waiting years for — they released updates to nearly every Mac in their lineup. The iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, and even the MacBook Air saw improvements. And that’s setting aside the announcement of a new machine — the iMac Pro, which I plan to discuss in a future Linked List entry. This is exactly what Apple needed to do if they wanted to instill confidence in the Mac community that they still cared about the platform. And judging by the reactions I’ve seen online, it worked.

Of all the machines updated, the iMac is the most appealing to me. The new line features faster processors, higher RAM ceilings, the addition of two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, and discrete graphics for all of the 4K and 5K models. That’s a compelling product. Especially the entry-level Retina machine that’s now priced at $1299.

If I was buying a new Mac today, the entry-level 4K iMac, upgraded to a 256GB SSD would be the machine for me. The vast majority of my computing takes place on iOS these days, so I don’t have much need for a portable Mac. But I need a machine that can be left on at all times for Plex that is also accessible remotely with Screens for the rare occasions when I need a Mac for some random, impossible-on-iOS task.

Of course, as expected, there were minor updates to the 12-inch MacBook — Kaby Lake processors, improved graphics, and faster SSDs. But I was surprised to see updates to the MacBook Pro line. I know there were rumors of it during the lead up to WWDC, but with Apple’s recent track record, I was skeptical that they would refresh a product that was introduced so recently — they just came out seven months ago. A handful of years ago, when Intel was releasing new, faster chips with more regularity? Sure. But based on the last few years, I don’t expect refreshes that are quite this quick.

The biggest news here is the price drop on the Touch Bar-less 13-inch MacBook Pro. It starts at just $1299 now, which seems to be the new sweet spot for Macs. The 12-inch MacBook, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and the 4K iMac all start at $1299. It’s Apple’s new line in the sand, of sorts — if you want a Retina display, you’ll have to spend at least $1299 for it. I wish they could make Retina more affordable, but at least they’re heading in the right direction.

This does leave me wondering why someone would buy the 12-inch MacBook over the Touch Bar-less MacBook Pro when they’re identically priced. The extra storage on the MacBook is nice and, if that extra pound means a lot to you, the MacBook is lighter. But the 13-inch offers an additional USB-C port and is a lot more powerful than the MacBook. Maybe Apple will drop the price of the 12-inch with the next revision, it would really help smooth out their offerings.

I was surprised by the MacBook Pro updates, but I was shocked that Apple did anything to the MacBook Air. When John Turnis mentioned the “bump in megahertz” that it was receiving, I genuinely laughed out loud. I expected the MacBook Air to die a slow death — without any updates at all — only kept around as a placeholder until the 12-inch MacBook could be sold for $999. But the base-model MacBook Air is now available with a 1.8GHz Broadwell-based Core i5, which is just 200MHz faster than the previous base-model. It’s a paltry update, but the MacBook Air may still be Apple’s most popular Mac. And as long as that’s the case, they really should continue improving it.

And speaking of slow deaths, what’s going on with the Mac Mini? It’s the only Mac that hasn’t received any attention — no updates or even announcements of a future update. The current Mac Mini was initially released in October 2014. Since then, I don’t think there’s even been any rumors of an update, let alone an indication from Apple that one was coming.

Apple’s Mac lineup is far healthier today than it was before WWDC, but we’re not out of the woods yet. We know there’s a Mac Pro refresh in our future, but the Mac Mini is still a mystery. I’d like to see Apple ship a Mac Mini update before the end of the year — a simple configuration refresh with modern processors, increased memory, and Fusion Dives as standard would suffice, there’s no need for a major redesign. If Apple could manage that, we will have seen activity on every single Mac Apple offers in a single twelve month period. And that’s something we haven’t seen since, what, 2012? The Macintosh platform might finally being going through the revitalization that we all hoped for.

External GPU Support and Virtual Reality on the Mac ➝

Serenity Caldwell, writing for iMore:

Support for an external GPU (or eGPU) effectively provides VR-capable graphics for all of Apple’s Thunderbolt 3-capable Mac line, including the MacBook Pros. They’re not very portable, but they’re powerhouses — designed to crush and process the millions of pixels a VR setup requires.

This means that, yes, soon you’ll be able to — with the appropriate additional hardware — run a VR experience like Star Trek’s Bridge Crew on your Mac. (I can hear our VR editor Russell Holly squealing from here.) But more importantly, developers of VR experiences can build those games on a Mac.

macOS High Sierra ➝

Announced at yesterday’s keynote, macOS High Sierra will be available this fall and is compatible with all Macs that Sierra supports. The new operating system’s landmark features include Apple File System, support for HEVC (H.265 video), Metal 2, major improvements to Photos, and a privacy-focused Safari update.

I can’t believe they actually used the name “High Sierra”. During the announcement, I kept waiting for Craig Federighi to reveal the real name. Which, of course, never happened. I think they should have named it after one of the highest peaks in the Sierra Nevada — macOS Whitney sounds pretty good to me. Setting that aside, High Sierra looks like a solid release. It isn’t filled with a ton of whiz-bang-boom features, but it doesn’t have to. Desktop operating systems have reached the point in their lifecycle where they’re practically feature-complete. From here, refinement is the name of the game.

Initial Thoughts on watchOS 4

During this morning’s WWDC keynote, Kevin Lynch took to the stage to announce watchOS 4. The new operating system will be available this fall for all Apple Watches — that includes the original, Series 0 models. The following is my notes from the announcement.

  • I’m glad the folks at Apple are continuing to design new watch faces. The Siri face is clearly the standout, with its ability to surface relevant information for you automatically, but there are certainly Watch owners who will enjoy the kaleidoscope and Toy Story faces, too.
  • I wish Apple would build a second modular face that puts the time in the center with six small complications evenly split between the bottom and top of the screen. That kind of information density would be great for a lot of users.
  • Personalized Activity notifications that encourage you to push yourself toward an achievable goal sound like exactly what I’ve been looking for.
  • Now that I have AirPods, my interest in having music available to play on my Watch is much higher. But, as of right now, My primary music player, Plex, doesn’t support the Apple Watch at all. I’m resistant to the idea of paying a monthly fee to listen to music, but Apple is making a compelling argument with their ability to integrate their service into all of their devices. Automatic syncing of music to the Watch is such a killer feature.
  • Having the Dock rotate vertically makes perfect sense, given that the Watch’s band extends in that direction around your wrist. I’m not sure about the Dock being a list of your most recently launched apps, though. I liked the ability to choose what apps I wanted quick access to and I’m worried that the new Dock might force me to use the honeycomb app launcher, which I typically avoid at all costs.
  • I’m shocked that Apple is supporting the original, series 0 with watchOS 4. The Series 1 and 2 models were such a leap forward in performance that I didn’t expect Apple to go through the trouble of optimizing for the Series 0. But there might just be too many original Watches in use for Apple to ignore.

Overall, I’m quite happy with the updates coming to the Apple Watch. I’m especially excited to try out the Siri watch face. As much as I like using the modular face, I wouldn’t mind changing it up from time to time. And I’m interested to see how useful Apple’s prediction algorithms are. If they’re any good, the Siri face could end up being a really big deal.

watchOS 4’s support for the original Apple Watch does put a wrinkle in my plans. I originally expected to upgrade my Series 0 to whatever the latest model is this fall, but that might not be necessary now. My Watch is a tad slower than I’d like, but it gets the job done. And it doesn’t cost me two or three hundred dollars to continue using it. Unless Apple releases a new Watch with some blow away feature, I might hold onto my Series 0 a little while longer.

Magic Keyboard With Numeric Keypad ➝

A brand new, full-size keyboard from Apple. It features a numeric keypad and, most importantly, normal arrow keys. If I end up ordering one of the new 4K iMacs, I’m getting one of these to go with it.

Amazon Prime Video Coming to Apple TV Later This Year ➝

Credit to John Paczkowski for publishing this scoop early last month.

WWDC Wishlist

The following is an unordered list of features and products that I’d like to see Apple announce at tomorrow’s WWDC keynote. I’ve left out the marquee items from this list because, at this point, I’m not sure if they’re worth discussing. Of course I’d like to see new iMacs, MacBooks, MacBook Pros, iPads, and a Siri speaker — who doesn’t? But with less than twenty four hours to go before the keynote, I thought I’d shine the spotlight on some of the less earth-shattering items Apple could unveil.

  • Configurable Control Center: Wouldn’t it be nice if you could replace the giant Night Shift button with something you actually used? Or replace the Calculator icon with a Calcbot icon?
  • Family Photo Libraries: My wife and I share a Google account just so we can backup all of our photos to a single, unified library. That way we both have access to all of our photos for sharing, printing, or other photo-related projects. If Apple offered the ability to share your entire library with another iCloud user, I’d switch in a heartbeat.
  • Photo book, card, and calendar purchasing from iOS: Why do I have to use Photos on a Mac to assemble and purchase custom photo books, greeting cards, and calendars from Apple? This needs to be available on iOS, like, yesterday.
  • Picture-in-Picture on Apple TV: They did it on the iPad and it’s time to bring it to Apple TV, too.
  • Big Push For Gaming on Apple TV: Preferably, this would start with the introduction of a first-party controller. But I don’t think that’s as important as hiring big-name developers to build high-quality games for the platform. Gaming on tvOS could be a big deal, Apple just needs to spend some time on it.
  • An iPad Split View Swap Gesture: I shouldn’t have to exit into Springboard to change where my apps are located on screen. It’s tedious. There must be a better way.
  • Improved Multitasking App Picker on iPad: I don’t think there’s an iPad user in the world that hasn’t complained about the current Split View app picker. It feels like something the developers slapped together last minute because they had to have something. But it’s not good. At all.
  • System-Wide, on-Device iOS Screen Recording: Developers keep trying to sneak applications into the App Store with this functionality, I wish Apple would just add it themselves.
  • Clipboard History API: Apple doesn’t allow iOS applications to run in the background indefinitely, eventually the system will kill the process. This forces clipboard managers, like Copied, to use Action Extensions or Today View widgets as a way of keeping track of new items added to the clipboard. I would like to see Apple release a clipboard history API, giving developers access to the last dozen or so items. Clipboard manager apps could just check the clipboard history, display those items to the user, and let them quickly copy those items for use in other applications.
  •  iOS Trackpad Support: John Gruber floated the idea of Apple adding a trackpad to the iPad Smart Keyboard, which would primarily be used for moving the insertion point while editing text. I like the idea, but I want Apple to take it a step further and add full trackpad support with a proper mouse cursor. I specify trackpad rather than mouse because I believe iOS should remain a touch-first operating system. A trackpad would let you use many of the same multitouch gestures you would on the screen, but it would be far more comfortable to use when your iPad is propped up behind a keyboard.
  • Apple TV App Layout Syncing: I have two Apple TVs in the house and I’m tired of having to manually rearrange the app layout on both devices to keep their home screens in sync. I wish Apple could take care of that for me with a new iCloud service.
  • Now Playing Improvements on watchOS: I hate that the Watch’s Now Playing screen is sequestered in the Dock — there are too many interactions between me and my media controls. I’d like to see a Now Playing complication, or preferably, a second screen in Control Center with playback controls just like on iOS.
  • Activity for iPad or the Web: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to look at my Activity data on the iPad. Of course, that currently isn’t possible. But why? I already share the data with a handful of friends, it’s hitting Apple’s servers one way or another, just let me see it without having to open the app on my Watch or iPhone.
  • iOS Remote Access: My in-laws frequently ask me for help with various tasks on their computing devices. If it’s my mother-in-law calling, no big deal, I can fire up Screens on my iPad and show her exactly what to do. But if my father-in-law is asking for help with his iPod touch, it isn’t quite so easy. I wish I could just view his screen remotely instead of having him read all of the application’s interface elements and keep me posted on what he’s seeing after tapping into a new view. Not being able to see his screen makes things far more difficult than it needs to be.

I certainly don’t expect Apple to tackle all of the items on this list. But if they could hit at least a few of them, I’ll walk away from the keynote with a big smile on my face.

Pinboard Acquires Delicious ➝

Nick Heer:

A short history of Pinboard and Delicious, as told in four excerpts by ex-Yahoo/Delicious employee and now Pinboard lord and king, Maciej Cegłowski.

The last quote is absolute gold.

‘Fuck Facebook’ ➝

John Gruber, on Facebook’s policy of forbidding The Internet Archive from saving copies of posts:

The Internet Archive is our only good defense against broken links. Blocking them from indexing Facebook content is a huge “fuck you” to anyone who cares about the longevity of the stuff they link to.

Treat Facebook as the private walled garden that it is. If you want something to be publicly accessible, post it to a real blog on any platform that embraces the real web, the open one.

I’m with Gruber on this one. Facebook is the worst.

As an aside, there seems to be a lot of people extolling the importance of an open web lately and I couldn’t be happier about it. I hope this trend continues to grow.

Swift Playgrounds Expands Coding Education to New Devices ➝

From Apple’s press release:

Apple is working with leading device makers to make it easy to connect to Bluetooth-enabled robots within the Swift Playgrounds app, allowing kids to program and control popular devices, including LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3, the Sphero SPRK+, Parrot drones and more. The Swift Playgrounds 1.5 update will be available as a free download on the App Store beginning Monday, June 5.

Getting all the announcements that they couldn’t fit into the keynote out of the way.

The Essential Phone ➝

Chris Hannah, on Andy Rubin’s newly announced Essential Phone:

In principle I like the Essential phone, but I just can’t imagine myself switching to Android (this is a deeper problem I’ll expand upon in the future). I would of preferred it to run a separate operating system, but I do respect the amount of work that would take to build, not even thinking about the app ecosystem.

However it is a step in the right direction for Android phones, which I believe was started by the Google Pixel. In my mind, android phones were all about quantity, and not necessarily being the best devices. But it’s started to take a different course, and it’s only for the best.

I didn’t follow the news of the Essential Phone very closely. It’s one of the best-designed Android phones I’ve ever seen, but at the end of the day, it’s an Android phone.

Apple Begins Manufacturing Their Siri-Powered Smart Speaker ➝

Mark Gurman and Alex Webb, reporting for Bloomberg:

The iPhone-maker has started manufacturing a long-in-the-works Siri-controlled smart speaker, according to people familiar with the matter. Apple could debut the speaker as soon as its annual developer conference in June, but the device will not be ready to ship until later in the year, the people said.

The device will differ from Inc.’s Echo and Alphabet Inc.’s Google Home speakers by offering virtual surround sound technology and deep integration with Apple’s product lineup, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss products that aren’t yet public.

I’m ecstatic at the idea of Apple announcing a new hardware product— it always makes for a great keynote. But unfortunately, their sources tell them that this smart speaker will not include a screen. Looks like my theory was wrong.

But the folks at Apple seem dismissive of voice-only devices. I expect this Siri-powered speaker to have tight integration with your iPhone and iPad — possibly displaying results on your lock screen when necessary.