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 it’s 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.
 

Apple’s ‘Warrant Canary’ Disappears

The wording in Apple’s privacy reports that Cory Doctorow identified as a “warrant canary” has not been included in Apple’s two most recent transparency reports. This suggests that Apple may have received an order under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Trade-ins of Samsung Phones Tripled

Tom Higgins, writing for Bloomberg:

When Apple’s main product, featuring bigger displays and faster chips, goes on sale starting in Australia, they may be best remembered as the generation of iPhones that won over consumers from rival smartphones.

He spoke with Chris Sullivan, CEO of Gazelle, who said that they were receiving a lot more Android devices as trades-ins this year than they did last year during the lead up to the iPhone 5s and 5c release.

Transmit Now Available for iOS

A great looking app with some great features. And, take a look at that gorgeous icon. I can’t wait to spend some time with it.

Your iPhone Can Ditch Google For DuckDuckGo

I’ve dipped my toe in the DuckDuckGo waters before. But, without the ability to make it my default search engine in iOS it never stuck for very long. iOS 8 adds DuckDuckGo to the list of search engine options in iOS. I’m switching the default search engine on all of my devices and plan on trying it out for a few weeks. I wouldn’t mind a little less Google in my life.

Move Content From Your Android Phone to iPhone

I think these larger iPhones are going to be very popular with Android users. And, it seems that Apple thinks they will be too. Don’t be surprised when you start seeing die-hard Android users waiting in line at the Apple Store.

Apple Pulls iOS 8 HealthKit Apps from the App Store

The Next Web received the following statement from Apple:

We discovered a bug that prevents us from making HealthKit apps available on iOS 8 today. We’re working quickly to have the bug fixed in a software update and have HealthKit apps available by the end of the month.

HealthKit is a major new feature in iOS 8. I hope they get this fixed before everyone relegates the Health app to the “Default” folder on their last home screen.

(Via Daring Fireball.)

Tim Cook on Apple’s Commitment to Privacy

There aren’t many companies that would publish this sort of letter to their users. It’s straightforward and easy to read — its written as if they hope every one of their customers reads it.

I especially like this bit:

Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.

A very simple line in the sand about user privacy. This is why I enjoy buying Apple products so much — I want companies that make commitments like this to be very successful.

Microsoft Announces ‘Windows 9’ Event

When was the last time that Microsoft announced a version of Windows that people were excited about? Longhorn in 2003-ish?

My Year with a Distraction-Free iPhone

Jake Knapp:

My iPhone made me twitchy. I could feel it in my pocket, calling me, like the Ring called Bilbo Baggins. It distracted me from my kids. It distracted me from my wife. It distracted me anytime, anywhere. I just didn’t have the willpower to ignore email and Twitter and Instagram and the whole world wide web. Infinity in my pocket was too much.

He decided to disable and uninstall many of the apps that we iPhone users consider to be essential to our daily lives. I could see myself trying this in 2007, but I know now that I wouldn’t be able to stick with it for as long as Jake has.

Consider Holding Off on iCloud Drive Upgrade in iOS 8

Caitlin McGarry, writing for Macworld:

If you’re upgrading to iOS 8 on Wednesday, you must resist the urge to upgrade to iCloud Drive if you want to continue to sync your phone to your Mac. Why? Well, iCloud Drive only works with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. And you all know which OS we’re still waiting on[…] You can go back and upgrade at any time, but unless you want a file-syncing nightmare on your hands, you’ll wait for Yosemite’s official release.

If you make use of iCloud to sync applications or data between an iOS device and a mac, I would suggest skipping the upgrade to iCloud drive until you install Yosemite on your mac next month.

Part Two of Charlie Rose’s Interview with Tim Cook

Covering privacy, U2, human rights, and more.

Amazon Cuts Price on Fire Phone

I remember when another company cut the price on their phone just a few months after its release. People were pretty upset about it. I don’t hear the same outcry about the Fire Phone price cut, though. I think they should give $100 gift cards to anyone who purchased the Fire Phone at the higher price.

Anger Over Songs of Innocence

Marco Arment, on the recent U2 promotion on iTunes:

The right way for Apple to do a big U2 promotional deal like this would have been to simply make the album free on the iTunes Store for a while and promote the hell out of that.

If you’d like to remove the U2 album from your iTunes account, Apple has published a technical note detailing how to do so.

I’ve turned off the “Show All Music” setting on all of my devices (from within the Settings app, under Music), so I haven’t been annoyed by the existence of the U2 album. I can imagine being very irritated if music I didn’t want started showing up on my iPhone without asking me, though.

Apple screwed up on this, they shouldn’t have pushed music (or anything for that matter) onto people’s devices. Forcing your users to opt-out is always the wrong decision. Especially when many of your users don’t know how to hide music purchases or music stored exclusively in iCloud.

The Mystery of Apple Watch’s Battery Life

Tim Cook, when asked by Brian X. Chen why he skipped over the watch’s battery life:

I don’t think we skipped over it. I addressed it in the presentation myself. We think that based on our experience of wearing these that the usage of them will be really significant throughout the day. So we think you’ll want to charge them every night, similar to what a lot of people do with their phone.

Looks like battery life will be about a day. Not too surprising given that they didn’t mention battery life on stage and its right around what I’ve seen others guessing before Brian X. Chen’s piece was published. I understand that Apple is fighting against physics with this thing — you can’t put a bigger battery in a device that small. But, the Apple Watch has to be magnificently useful if they expect people to get in the habit of charging a second device every night.

The Magic Prefix Departed with Steve

Aaron Mahnke’s theory on the “i” prefix:

Well, I have a theory about that, and if I’m right, we will never see another iProduct again. I believe that every new product that was released during the time that Steve Jobs was at the helm of the company had a chance at gaining that famous prefix. Not all of them got it, but the big ones did. Those were the ones that needed a publicly recognizable name that pointed back to Apple without having to say so. They were the products that were sure to take off, gain traction in the public mind, and cross the lips of the average consumer. And they were all products that found their origin (at least to some degree) in the mind of the Wizard himself: Steve Jobs.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we never see another product with an i-prefixed name from Apple again. As if the folks at Apple all believe that only Steve had the authority to bestow a product with an i-prefixed name.

Transmit Coming to iOS 8

Federico Viticci previews Panic’s Transmit for iPhone. The app looks tastefully designed and makes great use of iOS 8’s extensible share sheet and Touch ID. I’ve used Transmit for years and am excited that it’s finally making its way to the iPhone.

Part One of Charlie Rose’s Interview with Tim Cook

Apple Watch, the Beats acquisition, partnering with IBM, and more are discussed in this first of two parts of the interview. Tim had a difficult time when he was asked who Apple’s competitors are — Google was the only company he could came up with. And even when Charlie Rose suggested Samsung and Amazon, Tim didn’t seem nearly as interested in them as he was in Google. It’s very clear who Apple has in its crosshairs, everyone else is secondary.

The Unstoppable TI-84 Plus

A calculator whose MSRP hasn’t changed from its current price of $150 since its release a decade ago. I guess its perfectly fine to let your product languish when you have a near-monopoly on high school math classes.

A Tale of Two Restores

I have a few people in my life that own 16GB iPhones and they are constantly running out of storage space. John Moltz was able to save 6-7GB of storage space on his wife’s iPhone and about 3GB on his own by performing a restore in iTunes and then restoring the most recent backup.

I’m not sure if I’ll suggest this to others — I’m always concerned that someone might make a mistake in the process and end up losing data. But, this is something I’d like to try on my and my girlfriend’s iPhone. It’s worth a shot and has to be better than continuing to delete music in order to make room for new photos and apps.

The Future of 4-inch iPhones

Dr. Drang, writing six days before the Apple event on Tuesday:

So if there’s no new 4″ iPhone, doesn’t that mean Apple’s giving up on that size? Maybe not.

In moving to a 64-bit processor last year, Apple made a jump in technical specifications that Samsung and HTC still haven’t caught up with. Maybe Apple believes that this head start, combined with a decreasing demand for smaller phones, will allow it to shift to a two-year update cycle for smaller iPhones. In which case, we won’t see a new 4″ phone this year, but we will see one in 2015.

I didn’t get around to reading this until after Apple’s event, and it was a bit of a revelation for me. It doesn’t entirely make sense for Apple to abandon a screen size that has been so successful for them, and there’s plenty of people that are genuinely upset about the larger iPhones being the only new models.

I find the idea of Apple skipping a 4-inch iPhone update this year and returning to it next year to be a very realistic concept (and something I’m willing to champion because it better suits my interest in a 4-inch device). Once the iPod lineup had matured there were certainly years in which an iPod model was skipped over one year only to have a new version released the following year.

As Dr. Drang points out, there are patterns that Apple’s product schedule typically adhere to. But, that’s never stopped them from doing what it thinks is best. And if I’m wrong, I’m wrong. Life goes on. I’ll simply begrudgingly settle on the 4.7-inch model that Apple releases next year.

The Best Podcast Apps for iPhone

Great examination by Robert McGinley Myers of many of the podcasting apps available for iOS. I’ve used most of these apps for differing lengths of time over the past couple of years. My current favorite is Marco Arment’s Overcast and before it’s release I was using Castro by Supertop.

AT&T Plans to Offer Wi-Fi Calling in 2015

I didn’t expect to see AT&T on board with Wi-Fi calling so quickly — it seemed more like a T-Mobile-type of feature to me. But, I suppose my assumption was misguided. And, now we wait for the rest of the major carriers to announce support of it.

‘Record Number’ of iPhone Pre-orders

Ina Fried writing for Re/code:

Demand for the new iPhones is higher than that seen in either of the past two years, AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel told Re/code.

Not all that surprising given the response I’ve seen anecdotally around the web.

Apple Discontinues iPod classic

MacStories’ Graham Spencer points out that Apple has finally discontinued the iPod classic. There have been rumors of it’s demise for years and Apple has finally decided to pull the plug.

There was a time where having every song you own in your pocket was ground breaking. Now we have devices that hold most of our collections and have an internet connection that gives us access to streaming services with music that we may have never heard otherwise.

Part of me really misses owning everything — dealing with the occasional internet outage is more than a little irritating now — but I know I’m listening to more music than I ever have before.

iPhone 6 Pre-Orders Start Tonight at 12:01 AM PT

I’m skipping this year’s iPhone. But, if I had to purchase one I’d reluctantly end up with a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 in Space Gray with 64GB of storage. “Reluctantly” because I’m still not sold on the larger sizes, but I can assure you I’m not at all interested in the giant 5.5-inch model.

John Gruber on Apple’s iPhone Event

As we all should have expected, John Gruber published his thoughts on today’s iPhone event late last night. He predicts we’ll see both a 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone (which most of us have come to expect at this point) and also shared his thoughts on Apple’s rumored wearable device:

In short, I don’t expect to see Apple’s take on the sort of thing Android Wear is trying to do. I expect Apple to do something different, and quite possibly something less but deeper.

I think John nailed it here. I don’t think Apple can be successful with a wearable device that does what all of the recently released “smartwatches” do, it has to be something different.

The biggest problem I’ve had with these watch-focused devices is that they don’t do enough to justify their existence. And, the things that they do aren’t compelling enough to stand on their own as a reason to actually own one. Not to mention all of the overhead involved in adding another gadget to my daily life (charging it, remember to wear it, etc.) which makes it that much more difficult to actually be persuaded to purchase one.

If Apple plans on announcing a wearable device today, I expect them to have a very good reason why someone would want to wear it everyday. And, the reason will be beyond “look at this cool technology we can put on your wrist.” Other companies have tried that, and it hasn’t resulted in products that people continue using beyond the first few weeks — eventually the novelty wears off and it ends up buried under a pile of cables in a desk drawer.

Microsoft Rebrands Bing Apps as MSN

The definition of regression.

Marc Newson to Join Apple

If Marc Newson is somehow involved with Apple’s announcements on Tuesday, why would anyone (especially Jony Ive) provide a statement regarding his hire before the event? Wouldn’t you rather announce him joining the team on stage or immediately following the event in order to avoid giving any clues about what could be announced on September 9?

The timing on this seems odd to me.

The Demise of iLife

I missed this from a couple of months ago — Ted Landau writing for Macworld:

While Apple could include Photos under the iLife rubric as the replacement for iPhoto, I doubt that the company will do so. Rather, I suspect the new app will be marketed much like iTunes, as a standalone app that’s bundled with the operating system. If so, this would technically mean that only two apps remain as part of iLife: iMovie and GarageBand.

I remember paying $79 for iLife when I bought my first Mac in 2006. It was great then and I continue to believe that the “iLife” suite of software is one of the most compelling reasons for someone to buy a Mac — with iPhoto being the most important among the iLife apps.

This transition from iPhoto to Photos does worry me a bit. iPhoto is always the first piece of software I bring up when I’m trying to convince a friend or family member to switch from Windows to Mac. Everyone takes photos now and iPhoto is the easiest piece of software I’ve found to manage and organize them. Which is why Apple replacing iPhoto with Photos makes me a bit uneasy — I’d rather them not mess with a good thing for fear of them screwing it up in the process. But, I suppose I’ll have to temper my fears until Apple releases Photos (likely) late next month.

Tim Cook Says Apple to Add Security Alerts for iCloud Users

Daisuke Wakabayashi writing for the Wall Street Journal in regards to the recent celebrity photo leaks:

To make such leaks less likely, Mr. Cook said Apple will alert users via email and push notifications when someone tries to change an account password, restore iCloud data to a new device, or when a device logs into an account for the first time.

Until now, users got an email when someone tried to change a password or log in for the first time from an unknown Apple device; there were no notifications for restoring iCloud data.

These new notifications will begin in about two weeks and will allow users to act quickly if their account gets compromised.

The Art and Science of a Mac Menu Bar App

Zach Hamed takes a look at menu bar apps and compares 15 of the most popular ones.

Ask any Mac power user about their menubar and you’ll get a different list of 5-10 must-have applications and utilities that boost productivity. The menubar is the mission control of a user’s computer, giving them an at-a-glance view of stats and apps that are important to them.

I suppose I’m the exception to the rule, I prefer applications that don’t have a presence in the menu bar and refuse to use an app that doesn’t allow me to turn the menu bar icon off.

On the MacBook Air that I’m using to type this, my menu bar icons are as follows:

  1. Volume
  2. Wi-Fi
  3. Battery, with percentage indicator
  4. Clock
  5. Spotlight
  6. Notification Center

I don’t have any third-party menu bar icons and have even removed some of the system-defaults — Time Machine and Bluetooth. If I want quick access to an application or setting I’d rather use Alfred than access it with my mouse in the menu bar.

NFL Now Launches on Apple TV

From NFL Communications:

The National Football League today announced that NFL Now has launched on Apple TV, providing fans free access to the NFL’s massive video content library through the Apple TV platform. NFL Now on Apple TV provides access to game highlights, original content from NFL Media and 32 NFL clubs, live press conferences, and shows and video from the NFL Films vault. NFL Now also delivers the most-personalized NFL viewing experience anywhere, providing a one-of-a-kind video stream based on each fan’s favorite NFL teams, players and NFL.com Fantasy rosters and viewing preferences over time.

I have many family members that I can imagine would be very interested in a service like this. They follow their NFL team all year and would make great use out of a service like this.

But for those of you that are like me, it’s just another icon to hide from my Apple TV’s home screen.

App Store Curation

Jean-Louis Gassée in an open letter to Tim Cook:

Instead of using algorithms to sort and promote the apps that you permit on your shelves, why not assign a small group of adepts to create and shepherd an App Store Guide, with sections such as Productivity, Photography, Education, and so on. Within each section, this team of respected but unnamed (and so “ungiftable”) critics will review the best-in-class apps. Moreover, they’ll offer seasoned opinions on must-have features, UI aesthetics, and tips and tricks. A weekly newsletter will identify notable new titles, respond to counter-opinions, perhaps present a developer profile, footnote the occasional errata and mea culpa.

This would certainly help drive innovation in the iOS developer community and slow the constant churn towards the bottom that many have started noticing as of late. Or at the very least it would do a better job than the App Store continuing as it has been with “top lists” being the primary way that users find new apps.

A Better Queue

I’ve been sitting on this link in Fever’s saved list for about a month and haven’t had much of an opportunity to try it out. But, with what little time I’ve spent on the site it seems to be quite useful at digging up great movies on Netflix.

(Via TechCrunch.)

Inside Apple’s Internal Training Program

The New York Times profiles Apple University — Apple’s internal training program — designed to teach employees about Apple’s business culture and history.

Apple’s Intel Problem

Stephen Hackett on Apple’s potential move away from Intel toward ARM-based processors for their Macs:

In short, Apple’s ARM-based A7 isn’t a good choice for a MacBook Air at this point. While I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility for Apple to ship a slower notebook if the tradeoffs were right, but that current performance gap isn’t enough to justify the possible gain in Cupertino’s beloved performance per watt metric.

Apple is reliant on Intel delivering processors in a timely manner. Intel’s Broadwell processor delays are very likely impacting Apple’s release plans for Macs. It’s one thing for their to be delays of a few months, but these new Intel chips were originally set to enter production in late 2013. Now the processors that Apple is assumed to have plans for might not be ready until July 2015. That’s a far cry from what anyone would consider “reasonable delays.”

But, what strikes me about this recent news is how quickly tech reporters have jumped on this idea that Apple would switch to ARM-based processors rather than use Intel’s x86 chips.

Stephen Hackett does a great job laying out some of the reasons Apple is unlikely to switch in his aforelinked piece on 512 Pixels. But, why would Apple switch from Intel to ARM-based processors when they could switch to AMD? I certainly don’t think either switch is going to happen — at least not in the near-term. But, AMD seems like a much more likely candidate to supply chips to Apple than Apple making a switch to an entirely different architecture for their Macs.

Not only would Apple avoid all of the headaches associated with making another major switch in processor technologies, but they’d be able to work with an underdog with something to prove. And, Apple would have a lot more room to bully AMD around than they currently do with Intel.

I certainly don’t have any room to talk when it comes to the performance differences between AMD and Intel processors (that’s a topic for 18-year-old me during the days when AMD was eating Intel’s lunch in performance and Intel’s chips were pushing 4GHz clock speeds). But, I certainly find the notion of Apple switching from Intel to AMD far more believable than Apple moving to ARM processors for their Macs.

App Rot and the State of iOS Development

Marco Arment:

Quality, sustainability, and updates are almost irrelevant to App Store success and usually aren’t rewarded as much as we think they should be, and that’s mostly the fault of Apple’s lazy reliance on top lists instead of more editorial selections and better search.

The state of iOS app development isn’t great, and it’s hard to say that it’s moving in the right direction. I’m hoping that prominent members of the development community publicly discussing these problems will encourage Apple to make necessary changes in order to fix them.

A Candid Look at Unread’s First Year

Jared Sinclair shares his experience selling his RSS reader — Unread — including sales numbers and words of advice to anyone looking to sell an iOS app in the App Store.

Samsung to End Plasma TV Production

Nilay Patel:

The death of plasma is an incredible success story for LCD technology, but it’s also a sad reminder that disruption doesn’t always meant the best products win: no LCD TV has ever looked as good as the best plasma TVs. Just go down the list: Pioneer’s Kuro plasmas were so amazing that CNET still uses them as a review reference years after they were discontinued in 2008. Pioneer couldn’t make any money and sold the Kuro technology to Panasonic, whose high-end plasmas were widely considered the best until late last year, when the company stopped making them in favor of LCDs. (The remaining stock is in high demand; used 55-inch sets are selling for $3,000 and up on Amazon six months later.)

I’ve owned an LCD television for about eight years and although it was the best I could afford at the time (back when 42-inch HDTVs were around $1500) I always expected that at some point I would upgrade to a plasma television.

Now my options are dwindling, and I don’t expect I’ll be able to plunk down the cash for a new television any time soon. It’s sad that plasma is dying while it remains the best technology for picture quality, but I suppose all the misinformation about burn-in and the need to “refill the plasma” was just too much for the technology to overcome.

Apple Adds iTunes Extras Support to Apple TV

Just under four years after the second generation Apple TV was released, Apple has finally added support for iTunes Extras. I can’t imagine what took them so long — especially considering the original Apple TV already supported Extras — but I guess late is better than never.

Interestingly my girlfriend discovered the feature without knowing of its release. She sat down to watch a Harry Potter movie before I came home from work and discovered that the extra features were available. She spent the next half hour watching behind the scenes extras on the making of the movie.

I can’t say that iTunes Extras will ever convince me to purchase a movie on iTunes, but it’s certainly a nice value-add for movies I’ve already purchased or might purchase in the future.

The Official Swift Blog

The Swift Team:

This new blog will bring you a behind-the-scenes look into the design of the Swift language by the engineers who created it, in addition to the latest news and hints to turn you into a productive Swift programmer.

A little disappointed that they chose to use “blog” rather than “weblog,” but I suppose I’m one of the few holdouts.

Apple clearly thinks that Swift is the future of programming for their platforms and this is another step in the right direction towards convincing developers to adopt it.

Trust in Your Imagination and Instinct

Ron Johnson has a wonderful conversation at Stanford in which he talks about getting his start in retail, working with Steve Jobs, and his time at JCPenney.

App: The Human Story

Speaking of how apps are made, here’s a new documentary about the people behind the apps by Jake Schumacher and Jedidiah Hurt. With 23 days left for the Kickstarter they’re nearly half way to their goal of $100,000 for the film.

A lot of well-known personalities in the application development community are involved, including John Gruber, Marco Arment, Adam Lisagor, Lisa Bettany, and many more. I can’t wait to see how the finished film turns out.

How are Apps Made?

Craig Mod:

The more you question the more you can refine. The more you can refine, the more potential for delight. And if not to delight — through knowledge or navigation or entertainment or communication — then why make? Why toil?

The Internet’s Own Boy

Before heading out to watch a local fireworks display, I decided to watch the Aaron Swartz documentary that was released last week. I heavily recommend it to anyone and everyone.

The documentary is available to rent and buy through the aforelinked TakePart webpage. But as it is licensed under Creative Commons, it is also available to stream and download from the Internet Archive.

Seven Years of iPhone

Ben Brooks:

I’ve owned every iPhone since then, and I still have them all. My original iPhone is gone, but we still have Erin’s original iPhone. All the iPhones still get used everyday except that old original phone.

I remember calling my mother the night before the iPhone launch to get her advice about whether or not I should spend $599 on a cell phone. I should have expected her response — “you’re going to buy it anyway, might as well get it on the first day” (paraphrasing, of course, it has been seven years).

I ended up at my local Cingular store at 11:00am and waited in line seven hours to buy my first iPhone. I’ve purchased an iPhone every other year since then and don’t expect that habit to change for many years to come.

New Channels Added to Apple TV

ABC News, AOL On, Willow, and PBS Kids.

The Verge Details the Honeywell Lyric Thermostat

Honeywell’s answer to the Nest thermostat looks very good. For Honeywell’s sake I hope it didn’t take too long for them to make it to market.

‘Too slow to really get anything done.’

Michael Mulvey points out the problems with The Verge’s product reviews.

Amazon Fire Phone

Amazon’s newly announced smartphone, starting at $199 and shipping on July 25. It’s biggest landmark feature being 3D head tracking that Amazon’s calling “Dynamic Perspective” that allows you to look around object on the screen by tilting your head or the screen. It’s a neat piece of technology, but I don’t think any of the implementations are that compelling. I don’t see anything about Dynamic Perspective that makes me want to use it.

Also, I find it very difficult to look at a product/link scanning feature without thinking of CueCat. And, we all know how that ended.