The Initial Charge Linked List

 
The Initial Charge Linked List is a frequently updated list of notable links and commentary. You can subscribe to the Linked List with its dedicated RSS feed or you can follow along on the main feed, which includes both Linked List items and feature articles from the site.
 

Workflow 1.5 Now Available ➝

A big update to Workflow — one of my favorite apps for iOS. It features twenty two new actions, a completely rewritten workflow composer, and a ton of other improvements. I’ve been using the beta for about a week and have had a blast working with the Ulysses integration, for obvious reasons.

I plan on sharing more of my workflows soon and I also have some updates to those that I’ve already shared — Push to Ulysses, Push to WordPress, and Upload Image. Until then, I suggest reading Federico Viticci’s review of the update.

Apple Reportedly Considered Buying Time Warner, Might Still Fund Original TV Content ➝

John Callaham, writing for iMore:

A new report claims Apple briefly considered putting in a bid to acquire Time Warner in late 2015. […]

The report from the Financial Times (paid subscription required) claims that Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, talked about such a deal with Time Warner’s head of corporate strategy, Olaf Olafsson. However, those discussions never went past the early stages, according to the report.

‘iPhone Is Vulnerable to a Device That Just Works’ ➝

I’ve read this thing three or four times. Can someone point me to the part where he explains how or why his iPhone doesn’t Just Work?

‘Take Only Your iPhone and One Other Device if You Need It’ ➝

Ben Brooks, on keeping your electronics kit light:

You need far fewer electronic devices than you think. All I carry is my iPhone and my iPad Pro. Done. My rule here is very simple: take a phone and one other device. Unless you have a major reason why you need three devices, take only two.

I’ve been following this rule for over a year and don’t expect I’ll ever look back. I currently travel with my iPhone and iPad Air 2. And Like Ben, I could probably get by without the iPad. Though, if I find time for writing, I really appreciate the extra screen real estate.

I used to lug my MacBook Air with me, up until I bought the new iPad last year. One huge benefit of going all-in on iOS is how much lighter your bag is. Not only are the computing devices themselves lighter, but everything I travel with charges over USB. I can bring a single, 4-port Anker USB charger, the necessary cables, and I’m able to charge everything I need to.

Apple Planning Siri SDK and Amazon Echo Competitor ➝

Chance Miller, writing for 9 to 5 Mac on The Information’s latest scoop:

The report explains that Apple will open up its Siri personal assistant to outside app developers by releasing an SDK. This will allow for app developers to make their apps and services accessible through Siri, much like Amazon, Google, and Viv are now doing. […]

As for the actual hardware competitor to Amazon Echo and Google Home, the report says that Apple has been working the device since before Amazon introduced the Echo in mid-2015. The device would feature a speaker and be web-connected, while it would also carry deep integration with HomeKit. It will also act as speaker, likely carrying support for AirPlay technology.

An Siri-powered AirPlay speaker sounds like a fantastic product. I currently use a Jambox for listening to music and podcasts in the kitchen, but this would be a strict upgrade. And leveraging Apple’s developer community to extend Siri’s abilities is simply brilliant. The core functionality would be secure from a privacy standpoint and the onus would be on the user to install applications which might weaken that security.

And count me in with John Gruber, I like the name Hi-Fi.

Ming-Chi Kuo Publishes Note on Apple’s Notebook Plans ➝

He’s predicting MacBook Pro updates — with Touch ID, an OLED display touch bar to replace the function keys, and a new thin and light design — and a new 13-inch MacBook that will further relegate the MacBook Air to the entry-level position.

Siri Integration Will Be Key Feature in OS X 10.12 ➝

Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors:

Rumors have indicated Siri integration will be one of the key features coming in OS X 10.12, and new screenshots of a Siri menu bar and Siri app icon suggest Apple is indeed working on bringing Siri to the Mac in its 2016 operating system update. The screenshots were shared with MacRumors by a source who has provided us with reliable information about Apple’s software plans in the past.

I’m going to assume that the menu bar icon is a placeholder for now — the word “Siri” inside of a rounded rectangle doesn’t seem at home alongside OS X’s other menu bar icons. As for the dock icon, it’s stunning. I like the waveforms, I like the color scheme, it’s all great.

The biggest mystery with this, though, why has it taken so long? Is it just a simple implementation — working just as it does on iOS — or was Apple waiting until they were able to build something bigger that integrated more deeply into OS X somehow?

‘Eat, Sleep, Code, Repeat Is Such Bullshit’ ➝

Dan Kim on Google I/O’s “Eat. Sleep. Code. Repeat.” slogan:

Whether it’s racing cars, loving art, reading, hiking, spending time in nature, playing with their dog, running, gardening, or just hanging out with their family, these top-notch programmers love life outside of code.

That’s because they know that a truly balanced lifestyle — one that gives your brain and your soul some space to breath non-programming air — actually makes you a better programmer.

Avoiding BlackBerry’s Fate ➝

Marco Arment:

Today, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are placing large bets on advanced AI, ubiquitous assistants, and voice interfaces, hoping that these will become the next thing that our devices are for.

If they’re right — and that’s a big “if” — I’m worried for Apple.

I have been using Siri a lot more over the past few days — mostly to see how it compares to Google’s offerings. As a general rule, I don’t use Siri for much. Not necessarily because it isn’t good, but because I don’t like to interact with my device in that way. I’d rather type in a quick search query than awkwardly speak out loud to my phone.

Perhaps that will change in time as more people use voice features on their devices — if everyone’s doing it, those who aren’t will seem out of touch. And if that’s the case, then maybe Apple did place the wrong bet on privacy versus big data.

But if Apple’s wrong, couldn’t they eventually partner with Amazon, Google, or some other company to integrate their voice services into iOS? That wouldn’t put them in a perfect situation — not owning a core aspect of their OS. But Apple has something that none of these companies do — incredible hardware. No matter how far behind Apple is in big data-based AI, other smartphone manufacturers are showing very few signs of catching up to Apple’s level in hardware quality. And because of that, I think they’ll always have a place at the table.

‘Google Didn’t Win Over This Apple Fan at I/O 2016’ ➝

Matt Birchler:

It’s been a few years since Google has not impressed me at I/O, but 2016 has broken that streak. I’m interested in Google Assistant, and I’m pretty sure a Google Home will be mine as soon as it’s available, but they didn’t do much else to get me riled up. I hope to see more good stuff coming from the company this year, and maybe the products they showed off this week will actually be great, but I didn’t see it at I/O.

Google Assistant was the only product that made me envious of my Android-using friends. But the feature wouldn’t make a large enough impact to warrant switching from iOS.

Retro Platformer the Incident Debuts on Apple TV With New Multiplayer Mode ➝

Harish Jonnalagadda, writing for iMore:

Retro platformer The Incident is now on Apple TV, with the game picking up a new four-player multiplayer mode called Coincidents. The Incident features an excellent chiptune soundtrack, 8-bit pixel art, and much more.

I had a ton of fun playing The Incident when it was first released for the iPhone. And I look forward to playing it with multiple players on the Apple TV.

Apple Promotes Alternate Conferences and Events Surrounding WWDC ➝

I think it’s delightful that Apple is promoting AltConf, Layers, Beard Bash, and The Talk Show on the WWDC website.

Netflix Launches Fast.com ➝

From Netflix’s weblog:

Today we are launching fast.com, a simple-to-use website to help you see how fast your Internet connection is, whether on mobile or broadband, anywhere in the world. And like the Netflix service, it’s ad free with a streamlined design that is quick and easy to understand.

This has replaced Ookla’s Speedtest as my new default.

Apple’s New Retail Store Strategy ➝

Jim Dalrymple explains the five new Apple Store features unveiled yesterday at their new Union Square location in San Francisco.

What We Lose in a Streaming Music World ➝

Richard Anderson:

There are digital files in my collection that are over a decade old. They’ve traveled with me across multiple computers, and multiple lives. This is meaningful in a way that streaming can never be. How do you connect with music that you simply rent, and could disappear from your library the moment you turn your back? […]

How will you explore the music of a surprisingly good opening band when they don’t exist in the library of Apple Music, Spotify, or TIDAL? So much music that has touched my soul, you can’t stream it for love or money. I had to seek it out on my own, pawing through used music bins, or going to shows. When there’s an all-you-can eat buffet for $9.99, what’s the incentive to order something that isn’t on the menu?

The move to streaming services is going to be extremely painful for smaller bands that are still struggling to get noticed. Not only do they get a smaller piece of the pie, but they’re more likely to get lost in the shuffle alongside, what seems like, an infinite supply of options.

How a Camera Makes You Feel ➝

Spencer Bentley, writing for PetaPixel:

So this is the most important piece of advice I can give anyone looking for a new camera or anyone wanting to get into photography more seriously. Find a camera you like to look at as much as you like to look through. Find a camera you think looks down right awesome. A camera that you can wear whether you’re out in t-shirt or a tuxedo. A camera that inspires you. Because it doesn’t matter if you have the top of the line Canon or Fuji or Leica if it’s sitting on a shelf at home.

I recently purchased a Canon PowerShot G9 X. It’s the first stand-alone camera I’ve owned in several years and I absolutely love it. The thing’s compact, intuitive, and takes stunning photographs. But I agree with Spencer Bentley, what really matters is how it makes me feel when I use it. And how a camera looks makes a big difference in that regard.

Don’t get me wrong, the G9 X is no pro-level DSLR, but the sturdy metal frame and slick aesthetics make me feel more like a photographer than my iPhone does. When I take it with me on a walk, I spend time admiring the environment and go to great lengths to document it. This camera makes me want to take photos in a way that my iPhone never has.

(Via Ben Brooks.)

Google Chrome to Phase Out Adobe Flash Later This Year ➝

Interestingly, I started using Google Chrome as a way to phase out Flash in 2010, upon the recommendation of John Gruber.

Twitter to Stop Counting Photos and Links in 140-Character Limit ➝

Sarah Frier, reporting for Bloomberg:

The social media company will soon stop counting photos and links as part of its 140-character limit for messages, according to a person familiar with the matter. The change could happen in the next two weeks, said the person who asked not to be named because the decision isn’t yet public.

I’ve been very hesitant about Twitter making alterations to the 140-character limit. My biggest fear is that they’ll ruin what makes Twitter great — brevity. But this is a change I can get behind. Links take up about a sixth of the total character count and often feel too restricting when you’re trying to comment on the link or image you’re tweeting about.

I have two questions about the change, though. Will third-party client developers be able to get in on the action at launch? And, will there be measures in place to prevent spammers from filling their tweets with dozens of images or links?

Windows 10 Is Doubling Its Ads in the Start Menu ➝

I can’t imagine using an operating system that included advertising in the primary system menu. I clearly made the right decision by switching to OS X nearly ten years ago.

(Via NSShadowcat.)

Apple’s New Classroom Experiment ➝

Apple is providing 114 schools nationwide with an iPad for each student, a MacBook for each teacher, and an Apple TV for each classroom. The effort should help bolster their position in the education market and, potentially, build a generation of students who grew up using iOS as their primary computing platform.

One of the biggest problems with adding technology to the classroom, though, is that districts tend to purchase devices without any plan for integrating into the curriculum. Teachers are told that they must include technology in their lesson plans in order to justify the cost of equipment, but aren’t given any guidance or training on how to do so. Apple is attempting to fix this issue by sending an employee to each of their chosen schools for 17 days each year for teacher trainings and lesson plan mentoring.

Eric Schwarz Reviews the iPhone SE ➝

While I’m waiting for my wife’s iPhone SE to arrive this afternoon, I’ll be reading Eric Schwarz’s review of the device. And if you’re curious, she ordered a 64GB model in rose gold.

Automattic Quietly Acquired the Rights to .blog In 2015 ➝

Mark Armstrong, writing on the WordPress.com weblog:

Automattic — the parent company of WordPress.com — secured the rights to oversee and operate the sale and registration of .blog domains, a new and never-before available top-level domain. You’ll be able to purchase a .blog domain at WordPress.com or through our partner domain name registrars. And again, the .blog domain will be available to everyone, regardless of what kind of site you have or who hosts it.

I’m surprised that more companies haven’t been acquiring top-level domains like this. And if they have, why hasn’t anyone been writing about it?

(Via Venture Beat.)

Smartphone Syndrome ➝

Matt Birchler:

But here’s the thing, if you expect every product to be comparable to the smartphone, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Speaking specifically about the Apple Watch, this is a completely unrealistic expectation. […]

Apple is very proud of the Watch and they clearly want them to sell very well and be a cornerstone product in their lineup, but it is ultimately an accessory to the iPhone. It’s a very nice accessory that can cost you more than your iPhone, but it’s still a second player.

Siri Text Input ➝

Rene Ritchie, writing for iMore:

No matter how enabling and useful Siri is, though, there will be times when it’s simply not possible or socially acceptable to talk out loud to our phones or tablets. In those situations, being able to type “Cupertino weather” or even “Text Georgia I’ll be late” would be incredibly useful.

This is on my iOS 10 wishlist.

Amazon Video Direct Takes on YouTube ➝

Todd Spangler, reporting for Variety, on Amazon Video Direct:

With the launch of Amazon Video Direct, open to any video creator, the e-commerce giant will compete head-to-head with Google’s YouTube for video-ad dollars and views as well as other big Internet video distributors like Facebook and Vimeo.

Partners participating in Amazon Video Direct have four distribution options. They can make their content available to Prime Video subscribers and receive a per-hour royalty fee; it can be sold as an add-on subscription through the Streaming Partners Program; it can be offered for digital rental or purchase; or it can be made available to all Amazon customers for free with ads, and creators will receive a 55% share of the ad revenue (the same as YouTube).

Designing a New Look for Instagram ➝

Ian Spalter, head of design at Instagram:

Today we announced a new look for Instagram, inside and outside the app. We created a new Instagram app icon and a set of unified icons for Hyperlapse, Layout, and Boomerang. We’ve also refreshed the user interface with a simpler, more consistent design that helps people’s photos and videos shine.

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the new design — the application’s icon looks a little too generic and the user interface feels muddy. But I saw this as an opportunity to try the service again.

I joined Instagram many years ago and eventually deleted my account because, at the time, no one I knew was on the service. Since I left, though, most of my friends and family have started using the service regularly. I’m lukewarm on it so far, but I’ve only uploaded a couple photos and followed a few people. I’m reserve judgement for now.

For Podcasters, the iTunes Store Is Too Good to Be True ➝

Ben Brooks, with a contrarian view to the recent podcasting kerfuffle:

Apple has no financial reason to keep this going. If anything, the argument could be daftly made that they have financial incentive to nuke all their work in podcasts.

Apple allowed podcasters to charge for podcasts — and took their infamous 30% — now they have financial incentive to keep it going. Now they have incentive to promote podcasts. It’s not a win-win — you would likely lose some (if not all) of the decentralized and “open” nature of podcasting.

But is that not better than losing it all?

The only way to ensure that a company will continue developing a platform is if they derive value from it. Apple’s built and maintained a podcast directory and listening software for over a decade with zero financial incentive — that’s almost unheard of. Don’t get me wrong, I love podcasting the way it is, but I also loved the state of RSS when Google Reader was around. And we all know how that turned out.

Apple Shortening App Review Times ➝

Alex Webb, writing for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. has cut the approval time for new submissions to its App Store from more than a week to less than two days, part of a broader push to increase revenue from services including mobile applications.

The accelerated pace allows app developers to fix bugs faster, try out new features more regularly and better react to market changes, while building developer loyalty to Apple’s iOS mobile operating system. The mean approval time has fallen from 8.8 days a year ago to 1.95 days in the past two weeks, according to AppReviewTimes.com, which analyzes user-submitted data. In December, the average was more than five days.

That’s an enormous improvement over last year, but there’s still room for improvement. Although the Mac App Store is much smaller than the iOS App Store, review times for Mac apps is around 24 hours. I wouldn’t mind seeing review times like that across the board.

(Via MacStories.)

The Disney Infinity Game Series Has Been Discontinued ➝

We found out in March that Disney had no plans to continue updating the Apple TV version of the game. This was widely thought of as a bad sign for Apple TV gaming as a whole. But perhaps it was simply foreshadowing the collapse of Disney’s self-published game department.

Regarding the Rumor That Apple Plans to Kill iTunes Music Sales ➝

Paul Resnikoff, reporting for Digital Music News:

Apple is now preparing to completely terminate music download offerings on the iTunes Store, with an aggressive, two-year termination timetable actively being considered and gaining favor. According to sources to Digital Music News with close and active business relationships with Apple, discussions are now focused “not on if, but when” music downloads should be retired for good.

I did some digging on a few Apple rumor sites — MacRumors, AppleInsider, and 9 to 5 Mac — to see how accurate Digital Music News’ reporting has been on companies’ future plans. I was only able to find three instances of original reporting from the site. The published rumors pertained to Spotify and Apple, but none of these stories were proven true.

  • Digital Music News claimed that a Michael Jackson album would not be available on iTunes. AppleInsider reported that this rumor was inaccurate.
  • Digital Music News claimed that some albums on Spotify would not be available to users of the service’s free tier. An “early 2016” rollout was suggested, but as of today, this rumor has yet to materialize.
  • According to MacRumors, Digital Music News “erroneously suggested” that Apple was paying less — only 58% — to music labels than other streaming services. It was later revealed that Apple was actually paying more — 71.5%.

I’ll believe it once I see another, more reputable publication corroborate this report.

Update: Brendan Klinkenberg and John Paczkowski, reporting for BuzzFeed News:

Apple has no plans to stop selling music downloads from iTunes in the next few years.

“This is not true,” Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr told to BuzzFeed News, rebutting to a Digital Music News report claiming the company “is now preparing to completely terminate music download offerings on the iTunes Store” in two years — or possibly “the next 3-4 years.”

Just as I suspected. I guess we can add this rumor to the list of Digital Music News’ inaccurate reports.

iLounge Reviews the Twelve South TimePorter for Apple Watch ➝

Phil Dzikiy, writing for iLounge:

TimePorter is essentially just a case. It offers a fine solution to keeping Watch bands and small accessories in one place, if that’s what you need. It earns our limited recommendation as a nice item for frequent travelers with multiple Watch bands.

The more I read about this accessory the less I like it. TwelveSouth makes some excellent products, but I wouldn’t put the TimePorter on that list.

The Real Reason Apple Made the Apple Watch ➝

Tim Bajarin, reporting for Time:

I recently spent time with Apple executives involved with the Watch. I asked them to explain the real motivation for creating the device. Although Apple has made fashion and design a key cornerstone of its existence, it turns out that this was not at the heart of why they created this product.

The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs developed pancreatic cancer in 2004. He then spent a great deal of time with doctors and the healthcare system until his death in 2011. While that personal health journey had a great impact on Jobs personally, it turns out that it affected Apple’s top management, too. During this time, Jobs discovered how disjointed the healthcare system can be. He took on the task of trying to bring some digital order to various aspects of the healthcare system, especially the connection between patients, their data, and their healthcare providers.

Casey Liss Tries Google Photos ➝

Casey Liss:

Search is impressive, and fast. I can type in beach 2014 and pictures from our family’s beach trip in 2014 come up nearly instantly. I haven’t tagged these photos explicitly; Google’s algorithms have inspected them, determined they are photos taken at a beach, and looked at the EXIF data to see they were taken in 2014. (To be fair, these photos do have a latitude and longitude.)

I’m still not thrilled about having all my photos stored on Google’s servers, but the service is just so darn good.

Apple Music Student Membership Discounts the Service By 50% ➝

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch:

Apple today launched a new plan to boost subscribers to its streaming music service and competitor to Spotify, SoundCloud, Tidal and others. It’s introducing an Apple Music student plan which will discount the service by 50 percent for those who are enrolled in an eligible college or university.

That means in the U.S., where an individual membership to Apple Music costs $9.99 per month, the student membership will be $4.99 per month instead.

Get them into the service while they’re young and they’ll become subscribers for life.

Maybe It’s Time Apple Music Stops Matching Tracks Altogether ➝

Serenity Caldwell, writing for iMore:

A radical proposal: Leave matching to the service that has matching in the title — iTunes Match — and take it out of Apple Music altogether. Instead, if Apple wants give users their libraries in the cloud with an Apple Music subscription, do it the old-fashioned way: uploading their original tracks. This takes DRM out of the equation, and it turns iCloud Music Library, essentially, into a musical version of Dropbox.

This would be a tedious process for most users, but it would solve the lost library problem and prevent the negatively publicity associated with it.

Apple Watch at One Year ➝

Ariel Adams shares his thoughts on the Apple Watch after one year of use. In short, even with all of its flaws, he still considers it to be the best smartwatch on the market. It’s a long piece, but definitely worth a read.

Apple Talks With Podcast Producers ➝

John Herrman, reporting for The New York Times:

Late last month, Apple brought seven leading podcast professionals to the company’s campus in Cupertino, Calif., to air their case to a room full of employees, according to two people who were there. The people would speak only on the condition of anonymity because they had signed nondisclosure agreements. The company made no promises, the people said, but several pressing issues for podcasters were discussed in frank terms.

Apple still has a dominant position in the podcasting market, but that could change if they don’t make improvements soon — for podcast creators and listeners. This rumor gives me hope that Apple isn’t letting grass grow under their feet.

Why Your Favorite Apps Could Soon Be Black and White ➝

Darren Orf, writing for Gizmodo:

[Khoi] Vinh says that in many ways, a lack of color is just as distinctive as filling up all our screens with an assortment of different hues, except that it doesn’t have the negative consequence of distracting the user from the content. It’s the reason why black-and-white design is so popular among photo apps like 500px. It’s probably not the best idea to have UI fighting for attention with the content your users are creating.

There’s been a lot of talk lately that Apple Music and Instagram could be receiving a design overhaul — removing most color from the interface. I’m not a user of either service, but the screenshots of Instagram’s “design test” look quite good to my eye. If you take a look at this site, though, you’ll quickly realize that I’m a huge fan of simplistic color palettes. I’m looking forward to other application designers following this trend.

All Thirteen Colors of iMac ➝

Stephen Hackett:

About a month ago, I set out to find every color of iMac G3. At the time, I only owned one model — a Sage. Today, the family is complete.

This is a gorgeous collection.

Transcript of Tim Cook’s Interview on CNBC ➝

Tim Cook appeared on CNBC for an interview with Jim Cramer, earlier this week. Jim Dalrymple has publish a transcript.