The Initial Charge Linked List

The Initial Charge Linked List is a frequently updated list of interesting 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 the feature articles from this site.

Eddy Cue on Apple News

Eddy Cue discusses Apple News with CNN’s Brian Stelter.

The Ergonomics of iPad Pro

Ben Brooks:

It is also true that this is a great way to set the iPad Pro up if you are typing on it with the software keyboard, but there is a big catch to all of this: it’s uncomfortable to use the iPad Pro this way.

I have problems with my back and neck, and if I am looking too far down at a device for too long, I start to have a lot of neck and back pain. Using an iPad Pro to type like this, flat on a desk, is a recipe for disaster.

When I first got my iPad Air 2 earlier this year, I spent a lot of time using it flat on the kitchen table. I quickly learned, however, that it caused more neck and back stress than I really would prefer. If I use it at a table now, I’ll only do so with it propped up by TwelveSouth’s Compass.

How to Fix Everything

Motherboard’s Jason Koebler pens an incredible profile on iFixit and the overall electronics repair business.

The Day David Heinemeir Hansson Became a Millionaire

David Heinemeir Hansson, writing on Medium:

For the first few months, I barely touched any of the money. Sure, I bought a big screen TV and more DVD boxsets than I could hope to consume, but it wasn’t like I couldn’t have done that anyway. It wasn’t until near the end of that year I finally drew down on the account of cliched purchases: A yellow Lamborghini! While all very nice, very wonderful, it didn’t, as we say, really move the needle of deep satisfaction.

What kept moving the needle, though, was programming Ruby, building Basecamp, writing for Signal v Noise, taking pictures, and enjoying all the same avenues of learning and entertainment my already privileged lifestyle had afforded me for years in advance.

I enjoy purchasing new gear as much as everybody else, but nothing makes me happier than hitting publish, sharing a photo with loved ones, or learning something new.

‘Why I’ve Fallen in Love with My iPad All over Again’

Scott Wassmer, writing on Medium:

I wanted my iPad to do everything as well as my laptop could but the promise just didn’t realize itself.

Disheartened my iPad was used less and less frequently. It became much easier for me to turn to my laptop when I need to do the power lifting that both work and personal tasks required. It became relegated to a vacation device, something I would load movies on when my wife and I were going to be on a long flight. Even then it didn’t meet all of my vacation needs and became pushed aside for a Kindle when I wanted to read a book on the beach.

I had a similar experience after purchasing the original iPad. I had high hopes that it would be the one device that I could do everything on, but hardware limitations and software immaturity held it back. Then I purchased an iPad Air 2 in February and everything felt different.

Suddenly the iPad that was used as a second screen while working on my MacBook was replaced by a device that was comparible in processing power to my main Mac and whose software was capable of performing nearly every task I needed it to. I haven’t come to the same exact conclusions as Scott — my iPad is used for far more than just consumption — but over the past nine months, I’ve fallen in love with the iPad all over again.

‘Done with iCloud Photo Library’

Stephen Hacket had a miserable experience with iCloud Photo Library and has decided to never use the service again.

Amazon Prime Video Said to Be Coming to New Apple TV

If true, this could end up being the reason I buy the new Apple TV.

Apple Rumored to Ditch Headphone Jack in iPhone 7

Shortly after Apple released the button-less iPod Shuffle, I wondered whether or not Apple had plans of killing the dock connector.They did eventually, but not in the way I expected.

The Lightning connector is now the iPod, iPad, iPhone, and even accessory connector of choice, but I had theorized that Apple would integrate all of the that functionality into the headphone jack. Funnily enough, here we are six-and-a-half years later and Apple is rumored to be killing the headphone jack.

Apple TV and Fitness Integration

Erica Sadun:

At this point, Apple is wasting a strong health branding component with its Apple TV product. Between the watch, iOS Motion, and Health Kit, Apple TV should be much more proactive than apps limited to logging meals (still easier to do on an iOS device) and offering coaching advice.

Imagine if there was an Apple TV app that communicated with the Watch. It could offer customized workout videos based on how active you are in everyday life and take into account how your body reacts to different exercises to get the best results possible. It would be a bit expensive to get started, but I think a lot of people would get really excited about this type of integration.

(Via Pixel Envy.)

Target’s Top Thanksgiving Day Items

Target’s record-breaking, Thanksgiving day online sales were driven by:

  1. Apple iPad
  2. Apple Watch
  3. Nintendo Wii U

This just makes me smile. I own an iPad, will be picking up my Apple Watch on Tuesday, and will most likely be opening up a Wii U on Christmas day.

Sony to Support Remote Play on PC and Mac

Shuhei Yoshida, Sony CE’s President of Worldwide Studios, writing on Twitter:

Some people asked if we plan to provide Remote Play function to PC, and yes, we are indeed working on an official application for PC/Mac.

On Mac Content Blockers

If you’re looking for a Mac content blocker, Ben Brooks suggests Ghostery and I couldn’t agree more.

Recording Podcasts on iOS

Jason Snell, writing on Six Colors:

In the meantime, there is a way to make a Skype call and also record on a high-quality microphone using only iOS. It’s just kind of ridiculous: You make the Skype call on your iPhone, presumably with iPhone earbuds or other compatible headphones with a microphone, while sitting in front of an iPad that’s attached to a microphone and recording locally. The people on Skype hear your bad microphone, but your good microphone is what gets used on the actual podcast.

I think it would be wise for Microsoft to build call recording capabilities into Skype for iOS. I get the feeling there’s an awful lot of podcasters that would just love to simplify their workflows onto their iPads or iPhones.

Amazon Said Planning to Add Other Online Networks to Prime Video

Lucas Shaw, writing for Bloomberg Business: Inc. will soon let viewers of its Prime Instant Video service tap into other on-demand networks, according to people with knowledge of the plans.

Prime customers will have the option of adding other online subscriptions to their accounts, including major, well-known movie and TV channels, and Amazon will also sell prepackaged bundles of its own creation, said the people, who asked not to be identified or disclose the names of the partners because the plans are private. They said the new feature may go live as soon as next month.

Talking Podcasts

Michael Anderson was kind enough to ask me to share my thoughts on podcasts — what my favorites are, how I listen to them, and more.

Apple Adds New Categories to tvOS App Store

Jeff Benjamin, writing for iDownloadBlog:

After being limited to just two app categories for the past few weeks, several new categories have appeared to help flesh out app discovery on Apple’s recently released set top box. Along with the Games and Entertainment categories, users will now find Education, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle, News and Sports categories.

Square Announces New Card Reader

The new reader costs $49 and has support for chip cards, Apple Pay, and and other contactless payments.

iOS 10 Feature Wishlist for iPad

Matt Birchler shares his list of most wanted iPad features. There’s plenty of great ideas here, my favorite of which is a better split-view application switcher. The current interface feels outdated — it’s just too similar to iOS 6’s icon-based implementation. Gets a New Face and Joins the JavaScript Age

Klint Finley, writing for Wired: unveiled a new admin interface today for managing blogs, posting content, and reading other people’s sites. If you’re a regular user, you’ll notice a new look and feel. If you’re a code geek, you’ll notice something more remarkable below the surface: JavaScript instead of PHP.

Automattic isn’t leaving self-hosted, users in the cold, though. The new interface is also available for users that have Automattic’s Jetpack plugin installed.

They’re also releasing a WordPress admin app for OS X with plans for Windows and Linux versions in the future.

I’m not a Jetpack user, so I haven’t had the opportunity to try out the new interface. I also haven’t touched my MacBook Air in days, so naturally I haven’t tried the OS X app, either. But I don’t expect I’ll be doing so anytime soon. I’m already pefectly fine with WordPress’ current interface — it’s grown on me over the nine or ten years that I’ve used it. And I just don’t do that much writing on OS X these days. The vast majority of my writing is done in WordPress’ Press This bookmarklet or in Vesper on iPhone or iPad. The workflows I’ve fine-tuned are comfortable and there’s no need to introduce new software that could slow me down or break things.

At least for now, I’ll be sticking with WordPress’ current, PHP interface and the applications that I already use for writing.

Sidefari, a Web Browsing Companion for iPad

A neat little iPad app that uses iOS 9’s Safari View Controller and Slide Over to easily display two webpages at once. This has already made drastic changes to my Linked List-writing workflow — the process feels much more natural now. And I no longer need to keep jumping between tabs for references or to copy and paste author names and quotes.

Apple TV Billboard Campaign Begins

Apple’s really knocked it out of the park with the marketing for Apple TV. I haven’t enjoyed Apple advertisements this much since The Song.

Why the iPad Pro Needs Xcode

Steve Streza, writing on Medium:

You now have a tablet powerful enough to run an IDE, with a very nice keyboard cover, and a screen big enough to encompass all the functionality of Xcode, capable of testing almost every feature of every iOS device ever made. You can code with your keyboard and test with multitouch. You could work on a desk and take your whole development environment with you on the couch, bed, or plane.

This is the next logical step for Apple to take with iOS and when it happens, it’s going to be a huge deal.

It’s Time For The Next Four Quadrants

Mike Bates writes about how the lines are blurring between PCs, smartphones, and tablets.

Ben Brooks’ First Impressions of the iPad Pro

Ben Brooks:

Nothing I have done on the device feels like the software is waiting on the hardware. Everything about the iPad Pro feels like the hardware is just waiting on the software. This is great, as it means each iOS update will only make the performance on the iPad Pro that much better.

I’ve had this exact same feeling ever since purchasing the iPad Air 2 in February. The device is powerful enough to handle anything I can throw at it, but the primary limiting factor is in the software that runs on it.

Why Rdio Died

Casey Newton, reporting for The Verge:

In interviews with current and former employees, a picture emerges of a company that developed an excellent product but faltered when it came to marketing and distributing it. Early as it was to the United States, Rdio was born in the shadow of Spotify, a cunning and well-financed competitor that excelled at generating buzz — and using that buzz to acquire paid subscribers.

What an incredible read.

Meet the New Google+

How many hours have Google developers wasted on Google+?

The Case for Artists Selling, Not Streaming Music

Matt Birchler:

I also think there is a more touchy-feely reason for keeping you album off streaming music. With streaming music, all music is counted equal. It’s just as easy for me to stream Adele or Taylor Swift as it is for me to listen to anything else. There’s nothing special about one album over another when everything feels like it’s free. When you buy an album though, that strengthens your bond with that particular album.

The perceived value of music on streaming services is practically non-existent and I don’t blame any artist for withholding their music in an effort to prevent those services from becoming any more popular than they already are.

Making the Case Against an Apple Television Set

The idea of an Apple television set has never made sense to me for a number of reasons — most of which is discussed in this piece by Neil Cybart. But the one reason that I’ve never seen anyone else mention is the physical limitations of Apple’s retail stores. They have to keep dozens of these televisions somewhere in their stock room and dedicate a portion of their sales floor to display models. From a logistics standpoint, this just might not be possible in their smaller locations.

Now, obviously Apple is going to make decisions about what products they’re able to produce solely on how they would be managed in their retail stores. But I could certainly see it being a topic of discussion when their trying to decide whether it’s a worth-while endeavor.

The iPad Pro’s App Store Problem

Lauren Goode, writing for The Verge:

One of the common complaints made by software developers who spoke to The Verge is that they can’t offer free trials of their apps as part of the App Store download process, or issue paid upgrades to long-term users. Others say that selling apps through the App Store can create a kind of wall between them and their customers if the customers have issues with their software. Broadly speaking, the iPad Pro is forcing them to rethink their monetization strategies.

This is something that Apple really needs to address soon. I love the idea behind the App Store’s simplicity, but the business models it allows for aren’t viable for every developer.


David Sparks, writing about Microsoft and Apple’s differing opinions on the future of computing:

I can’t help but think that some of the reason for these contrary positions is software. The tables have turned and Apple has millions of apps on iOS and Microsoft is struggling far behind. Microsoft finds itself pushing a mobile operating system with little software while at the same time maintaining a desktop operating system with an abundance of software. Through convergence, Microsoft gets to leverage that desktop software on to its struggling mobile platform. It’s a bit of bootstrapping and doesn’t really work unless App developers also address the touch interface but from Microsoft’s position it makes sense. Apple on the other hand has the software advantage and no motivation to Frankenstien Mac OS onto iOS.

David finishes the piece with observations about what these decisions could mean for each company in the future. And I think he’s dead-on.

In the short-term, Apple’s clearly in the better position with enormous developer support and a strong user base. Looking further in the future, though, I think both companies will make it through this transitionary phase just fine.

Starting at Sixty Nine

Joe Rosensteel:

Many have made the case that next year, the fourth generation Apple TV will receive a discount to $99, when a fifth generation premieres. Everyone pulled $99 out of their butts, but it sounds like a good number. We don’t actually know if the device is even on a yearly refresh cycle at this point though since there’s no pattern. It is still conceivable that it may be the case, but that’s still a 40% price increase to the entry point.

I do think the new Apple TV will see a price drop next year, but I’m still not convinced that Apple is going to be on a yearly release schedule for this device. The iPod and iPhone have always made sense to iterate every year because they’re small, portable devices that often break. And the pressure of two-year cellular contract put a limit on how long Apple could realistically go without releasing new iPhones.

Set-top-boxes are a different animal, though. The majority of them are purchased, brought home, set up, and never move until they’re retired years later. Is Apple going to convince the mass market — or even a large enough segment of it — to buy a new one every year?

Game consoles are probably the closest analog to the Apple TV. And in that market companies might release minor hardware revisions, but there’s typically 4-6 years between new, full-scale console releases. My guess is that Apple will stick to the 2-3 year release schedule that they’ve historically had for the Apple TV. But between each major release, they’ll make under the hood improvements to reduce manufacturing costs and perform price drops to keep everyone’s attention.

Clear, by Realmac Software

I started using Clear to keep track of my writing schedule in late September. It immediately earned a spot on my first home screen and I have no idea how I was able to keep track of tasks before using it. Clear is drop-dead simple to use and is beautifully designed, as well. If you’re in the market for a simple to do list app, I suggest giving it a try.

Not on the Mac App Store

Dan Counsell is compiling a list of OS X apps that are only available directly from the developer.

5 Years of BirchTree

Matt Birchler:

5 Years of BirchTree is a compilation of 52 pieces I have written between 2012 and today (2010-2011 are still lost to the ages), and I think it represents my best work. The collection includes both technical and non-techy pieces on a whole host of subjects. The marketer in me would say “it has something for everybody!” and he would be right, but the more nerdy you are the more you’ll get out of it (especially the second half which goes full-nerd).

I’ve only been reading Matt’s site for a few months now, but he’s quickly become one of my favorite indie writers. And just based on the titles in 5 Years of BirchTree’s table of contents, there’s plenty of articles that I can’t wait to read.

The eBook is available now in ePub for $4.99 with an iBooks release coming soon. I encourage everyone to purchase 5 Years of BirchTree to help support Matt’s incredible work.

Crossy Road on Apple TV Commercial

Apple released five new ads, each featuring a different media app or games. The aforelinked one is my favorite of the bunch, but the others are great, too — Asphalt 8, Disney Infinity, HBO NOW, and Netflix.

Tim Cook Interviewed by The Independent

Adrian Weckler, writing for The Independent:

Speaking to , Cook denied that the death of computers such as the Mac was imminent and said that there would be a market for such traditional personal computers for the foreseeable future.

“We feel strongly that customers are not really looking for a converged Mac and iPad,” said Cook. “Because what that would wind up doing, or what we’re worried would happen, is that neither experience would be as good as the customer wants. So we want to make the best tablet in the world and the best Mac in the world. And putting those two together would not achieve either. You’d begin to compromise in different ways.”

Rather than converge both platforms into one, my bet is that Apple will continue supporting both operating systems until iOS eventually supplants OS X. We’re talking 5, 10, maybe even 15 years down the line, but it’ll happen eventually. Most likely once iOS has been built upon such that it’s capable of more than OS X ever will be.

NBC’s SeeSo Starts Free Beta Preview on December 3

I’m not sure if I need another streaming service in my life, but I’ll at least give SeeSo a shot during the free beta period.

Apple Maps Now Using Foursquare Data

Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors:

As of October, Foursquare has become one of the companies that contribute data to Apple’s Maps app, providing information on “Business listings data.” This likely includes details on restaurants, retail stores, and other venues, given Foursquare’s focus on unearthing the “best places to eat, drink, shop, or visit in any city in the world.”

This will undoubtedly improve Apple’s business listing data, which by all accounts, is still lagging behind Google’s offering.

Samantha Bielefeld Introduces Memberships

It has come to light that Samantha Bielefeld is not who she claimed to be. As such, I can no longer endorse her membership program. I’ve addressed the situation on the site and if you’d like a more comprehensive rundown, I encourage you to read Álvaro Serrano’s A Matter of Respect and Michael Anderson’s Samantha Bielefeld is Victor Johnson: The Story.

Preface added November 28, 2015

Samantha Bielefeld:

I am only offering two added benefits (which I will revisit as the number of members increases) to those who decide to become members of my site.

The first is a bi-weekly narrative nonfiction piece, often referred to as long-form journalism, that will span a single topic for several weeks, to months at a time. […] The second is called, ‘Monthly Musings’ and will include a collection of more personal thoughts and opinions, items that are either not suitable for my public facing website, or topics which aren’t expansive enough to warrant a full-length post.

As soon as I heard that the membership page went live, I didn’t hesitate to sign up. And at $3 a month, $8 quarterly, or $30 annually, it’s an incredible value — I encourage everyone to consider becoming a member. Samantha’s written many of the most thought-provoking pieces I’ve read over the past couple of months and I see no signs of her stopping any time soon.

Rdio Acquired by Pandora

Janko Roettgers, reporting for Variety:

Pandora is acquiring San Francisco-based music subscription service Rdio, the Oakland, Calif.-based company announced Monday after the close of markets. The announcement came minutes after Variety exclusively reported about the deal being imminent.

The $75 million acquisition includes “technology and intellectual property” from Rdio, which will file for bankruptcy–presumably to rid itself of accumulated debt–and shut down its existing service in all markets.

I’ve never been an Rdio user, but I know that it was beloved by many. It’s always sad to see company’s like this shut down.

The Now Page

Following in the footsteps of Derek Sivers, who originated the idea, I’ve decided to maintain a list of projects and tasks that I’m currently focusing my time and energy on.

Starting Fresh

Ben Brooks, on his completionist attitude toward RSS and Twitter:

I often have days where I wish that someone would accidentally delete my following list on Twitter and also happen to, coincidentally, delete my RSS subscription list s well. I wonder if that happened, if I would miss them?

If that happens, who would I follow and subscribe to again?

This reminds me of how John Gruber sets up new Macs. Rather than using migration assistant to move everything from his previous machine, he starts fresh and tweaks settings and installs applications, only as he needs them.

I’ve always liked the sound of this method — it helps get rid of the cruft you don’t use anymore. But I’ve never been confident enough to actually try it myself. Every time I consider it, I end up worrying that something that I need, even years down the line, will get left behind and at that point I won’t remember how I performed the tweak or where I found the obscure app.

No One Minding the Store

Michael Tsai:

The Mac App Store is supposed to make things easier, but it’s also a single point of failure. Not only is it neglected, but sometimes even the existing functionality stops working. Mac OS X 10.9 introduced a code signing bug that prevented me from submitting updates for several months. In June 2015, there was a month-long iTunes Connect bug that prevented my uploaded build from entering the review queue. And I currently have a bug fix update that Apple has been reviewing for 33 days (with 8 days of waiting before that). When I inquired about the status, Apple told me that everything was normal and that I should just keep waiting. In short, the system is broken on multiple levels, and there is no evidence to suggest that things will get better.

The iPad Air 2 has been my primary computer since I first set it up earlier this year. But it isn’t until things like this crop up that I’m able to get some perspective on the foothold iOS has in my life. The last time I even touched my MacBook Air was before this bug appeared on Thursday of last week. I’ve just been toiling away on my iPad, business as usual, completely unaffected by Apple’s expired security certificate.

Apple’s Holiday Gift Guide

Plenty of great products in here, I find the gaming section particularly interesting — not a single Mac-related product to be found.

’I Want My Apple TV App’

Jason Snell, writing for Macworld:

Unfortunately and somewhat inexplicably, the iOS Remote app doesn’t work with the new Apple TV. That’s bad timing, but it makes me wonder if the reason the old Remote app hasn’t been updated is because there’s something new on the horizon, an Apple TV app. (And if it’s not on the horizon, consider this article a vote to put one on the wish list.)

My thoughts exactly.

A is for Apple

Brian Moon shares his experience as a Senior Customer Relations agent at Apple and explains why he decided to leave the company.

(Via NoOctothorpe.)

Apple’s App Store Gets a Smarter Search Engine

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch:

A number of mobile app developers and industry observers recently noticed a significant change in the way the Apple App Store’s search algorithms are returning results. Developers say that, following a series of shifts that took place beginning on November 3, app search results now appear to be more intelligent and far more relevant – especially among the top results – than in previous months.

This seems like a long overdue improvement. Developers and users alike have been complaining about the App Store’s poor search results for years. I hope we see more changed like this soon.

What Goes Up

John Gruber, commenting on Bryan Clark’s piece entitled “We’ve Reached — Maybe Passed — Peak Apple: Why the Narrative Needs to Change“:

Clark makes it sound like this is because the rest of Apple’s business is in decline, whereas the truth is that the iPhone continues to grow at an astonishing rate that even Apple’s other successful products can’t match. Is it worrisome that iPad sales continue to decline? Sure. Would it be better for Apple if the iPad were selling in iPhone-esque quantities? Of course. But iPad still sold 9.9 million units and generated $4.3 billion in revenue last quarter. […]

Name a product introduced in the last five years that has been more successful than the iPad — either in terms of revenue and profit for its maker, or in terms of aggregate hours of daily use and customer satisfaction of its users. I can’t think of one.

I’ve grown tired of the whole “iPad is doomed, Apple should just cut their losses” thing. I understand that Apple isn’t finding a larger number of iPad buyers with each passing quarter, but the user base is still growing. There are far more iPads being used today than there was last year. And as long as the device remains profitable for Apple, shouldn’t that be enough?

The Story of the Apple Pencil

The Telegraph’s Rhiannon Williams interviews Jony Ive on the origins of the Apple Pencil.

The Baron Fig Squire

I’m not much of a pen geek, but this thing looks incredible.