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.
 

Apple’s New Campus Opens to Employees in April ➝

The new campus will be called Apple Park — a possible reference to Xerox PARC, the company that originally developed the modern graphical user interface that inspired the original Macintosh. It’s a great name, far better than any of the alternative suggestions I’ve seen in my Twitter timeline this morning.

And regarding the theater, that has been built alongside this new campus, from Apple’s press release:

Steve would have turned 62 this Friday, February 24. To honor his memory and his enduring influence on Apple and the world, the theater at Apple Park will be named the Steve Jobs Theater. Opening later this year, the entrance to the 1,000-seat auditorium is a 20-foot-tall glass cylinder, 165 feet in diameter, supporting a metallic carbon-fiber roof. The Steve Jobs Theater is situated atop a hill — one of the highest points within Apple Park — overlooking meadows and the main building.

Apple Park will also include a visitor center with an Apple Store and cafe that will be open to the public.

Apple’s New iPad Pro Advertisements ➝

I don’t typically link to Apple commercials anymore, but this new campaign is just delightful. It’s like a cross between their Get a Mac ads and Celebrities Read Mean Tweets.

TwIM ➝

A great new chat app from Project Dent that’s built on top of Twitter’s direct messaging system. It has support for embedded URL previews, 3D Touch shortcuts, and Siri. There’s even a sharing extension that can be used for sending URLs, text, photos, and maps from other applications.

TwIM’s feature-set is incredibly solid for a 1.0 release, but there are still two major features that I’d like to see added in the future — iPad support and a more robust URL scheme that will allow for automation with apps like Workflow.

I have several friends that I’ve met through Twitter and when we chat privately, we do so almost exclusively through Direct Messages. By breaking out Twitter DMs into their own application, TwIM puts those conversations on the same level as iMessages. I wouldn’t be surprised if this app ends up on my first Home Screen within just a few weeks of use.

Google Makes It Slightly Easier to See Real URLs From AMP Pages ➝

John Gruber:

This is what you call a begrudging UI. Google wants you to pass around the google.com-hosted AMP URL, not the publisher’s original URL. If they wanted to make it easier to share the original URL, the anchor button would be a direct link to the original URL. No need for a JavaScript popover. You could then just press the anchor button to go to the original, and press and hold for Safari’s contextual menu. And they could just use the word “Link” or “URL” instead of a cryptic icon.

A quick thought: wasn’t the whole point of AMP to shrink page sizes and increase the speed of browsing? If that’s the case, why does Google have to pre-cache these pages at all? Shouldn’t they be fast enough on their own without the help of Google’s servers? Maybe they’re more interested in wrapping webpages in an iframe, inserting a Dickbar, and keeping users in an ecosystem that they have complete control over.

Apple Hires Amazon’s Fire TV Head to Run Apple TV Business ➝

Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. has hired Timothy D. Twerdahl, the former head of Amazon.com Inc.’s Fire TV unit, as a vice president in charge of Apple TV product marketing and shifted the executive who previously held the job to a spot negotiating media content deals. […]

Twerdahl comes to Apple with significant experience in internet-connected TV devices. Prior to his tenure at Amazon, he was an executive at Netflix Inc. and later a vice president in charge of consumer devices at Roku, a streaming video box developer.

Amazon’s Echo Is a Glorified Clock Radio ➝

Alexander Acimen, writing for Quartz:

I can’t imagine that the designers at Amazon would have been thrilled with the minor achievement of having assembled the world’s foremost clock radio when they built the Amazon Echo, a smart home hub that came out in 2015. But what else could they possibly have expected after packing this little device with a prodigious number of useless easter eggs and yet somehow overlooking a glaring, Death Star-level flaw: the Echo uses Bing instead of Google. […]

This reality doesn’t bode well for Alexa, because her response to 95% of basic search queries is “I can’t find the answer to the question I heard.” It is a phrase that Alexa owners are all too familiar with. It is a phrase you hear again, and again, and again, and soon you will feel that time has stopped, and you will never want to look up anything on the internet ever again. There is a reason that the phrase “to google” has universally come to mean looking up on the internet. It is because Google is the most reliable search engine. At best, and Bing looks like an ad pages site posing as a search engine.

There are some kind words about the Echo in the last two paragraphs, but overall, this is a pretty scathing review of the product. Perhaps Siri isn’t the worst voice assistant on the market.

(Via Matt Birchler.)

Linea ➝

A great new sketching app from the folks at Icon Factory. I don’t do much drawing, but lately I’ve been scribbling down my web design ideas. Linea is perfect for this — the interface stays out of my way and lets me focus on the task at hand.

Apple Said to Work on Mac Chip That Would Lessen Intel Role ➝

Mark Gurman and Ian King, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple engineers are planning to offload the Mac’s low-power mode, a feature marketed as “Power Nap,” to the next-generation ARM-based chip. This function allows Mac laptops to retrieve e-mails, install software updates, and synchronize calendar appointments with the display shut and not in use. The feature currently uses little battery life while run on the Intel chip, but the move to ARM would conserve even more power, according to one of the people.

The current ARM-based chip for Macs is independent from the computer’s other components, focusing on the Touch Bar’s functionality itself. The new version in development would go further by connecting to other parts of a Mac’s system, including storage and wireless components, in order to take on the additional responsibilities.

First the Touch Bar and potentially Power Nap in the near-future, how much of the Mac’s functionality will eventually be taken over by ARM chips?

How to Verify Time Machine Backups ➝

We all know the importance of backing up, but I bet very few of us regularly verify that our backups aren’t corrupted. This is a simple, yet essential, step to any good backup system.

Apple’s TV App Has Changed How I Watch Television ➝

Lory Gil, writing for iMore:

With Up Next, I just open the TV app and browse my recently watched content across all of the apps I watch stuff in (except Netflix). Sometimes, I’ll have forgotten that I was watching a show and can pick it up without missing a beat thanks to Up Next.

It’s so much less frustrating and time consuming than having to search around a variety of apps looking for something to watch. I used to spend 15 minutes (or more) looking for something to watch. With Up Next, I spend less time looking for something and more time just watching.

This has been my experience as well. But I would encourage anyone who uses the TV app on Apple TV to try adding it to their top row and reverting to the old home button behavior. The TV app is great, but interacting with the Up Next queue from the home screen’s Top Shelf is far superior than within the app itself. At this point, I only launch the TV app if I want to find something new to watch.

iOS 10.3 Beta Includes ‘Find My AirPods’ Mode for Locating Lost AirPods ➝

Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors:

Find My AirPods adds your AirPods to the “Find My iPhone” app, listing them alongside all other Apple products. In the app, you can tap on the AirPods to cause them to play a little chirping sound that gradually gets louder for location purposes.

After activating the sound, you can choose to have it play solely through the left AirPod or through the right AirPod so you don’t need to listen to chirping if only one of the AirPods is missing.

This is a really neat little feature for AirPods owners.

The Best Apple Watch Stands ➝

These Watch stands are fine, but I have a serious problem with almost every one of them — where do I keep the rest of my bands? The Twelve South TimePorter is the only one to offer a compartment that can be used for this purpose. But the TimePorter is really better as a travel stand and isn’t built out of the kind of materials that I’d want to display on a nightstand or dresser — it looks cheap. I just want someone to build a nice, wooden Watch stand that features a compartment for my collection of bands.

A Deep Dive Into HandBrake and Video Transcoding ➝

I still buy a lot of DVDs and Blu-rays because they’re often the cheapest way to acquire movies — sometimes its even cheaper than renting from iTunes. But that, of course, means that I spend a lot of time ripping and encoding video before I’m able to watch the film in Plex. This piece, by Rob Griffiths, is filled with great information about the presets available in Handbrake and Don Melton’s Video Transcoding. I hadn’t heard of the latter until reading this, but based on the results of his tests, I expect I’ll begin using soon.

On Third Party Android Apps ➝

Matt Birchler:

I’ll spoil the ending right here: Android apps are far behind what is available on iOS. The best Android apps feel like they are on par with iOS apps from 2010. The apps I have been recommended to try out would be laughed out of the room if they were on iOS. Yes, most iPhone apps have either an Android version of themselves or a similar equivalent, but every single one of those Android versions are worse than their iOS counterparts. Every. Single. One.

The problems run deep, as development for Android seems to be basically non-existent. I know that can’t be true, but that’s what it feels like. I’ve been told the best Twitter and RSS reader apps are actually discontinued and have not been updated in years. You heard that right, the best app for Twitter is not even developed anymore. We rightly give Apple shit for having issues with their App Store, but at least any list of “the best XYZ apps” is going to be populated with current apps.

Apple Using New File System in iOS 10.3 Beta ➝

This transition is happening much quicker than I expected, which leaves me excited and a little nervous. On the one hand, I can’t wait to run an operating system that takes advantage of all its features. But on the other hand, this new file system is a pretty substantial under-the-hood change and can cause all kinds of problems if it’s even a little buggy.

Inevitable Sherlocking ➝

David Smith:

This week I’ve been working on a big update to my Apple Watch sleep tracker, Sleep++. While I love the app, it is a bit funny to work on. I am pretty confident that somewhere deep within the Cupertino mothership, Apple is working on their own sleep tracking app for the Apple Watch. […]

In a weird way I’ve just come to peace with this reality and grown to understand that this isn’t something that I should really fear. While the indefinite nature of its arrival certainly gives me a bit of unease, once I accepted that it was inevitable things got much simpler.

This a great attitude to have.