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.

Which Cloud Storage Option Is the Best Deal? ➝

Matt Birchler:

Each service has its pros and cons, but I wanted to look at the 4 major storage options from a straight up price comparison. How much storage do you get based on how much cash you throw at them?

I was actually surprised at how competitive Apple’s iCloud pricing is. Their free option is pathetic, but if you’re willing to spend a little money, you’re usually going to get a pretty good deal.

Amazon Unveils Online Education Service for Teachers ➝

Natasha Singer looked at Amazon’s new endeavor from a “technology in the classroom” perspective, but I think that’s a little off the mark. One of the biggest problems in education is the erosion of planning time. Teachers are spending more time with students in the classroom and are given less time to produce lesson plans. Unless something radical changes, teachers need resources like this to keep their head above water. This may turn into technology in the classroom play at some point in the future, but in the meantime, it’s going to be more about good old fashioned worksheets and instructional guidance.

Tweetbot 4.4 Brings Timeline Filters ➝

Federico Viticci gives a rundown of Tweetbot 4.4’s timeline filters. I was a little bummed when the media view was removed from Tweetbot in the transition to version 4, but I’m glad to see it return alongside the ability to create your own filters.

New Apple Display Still on Track for Release ➝

John Paczkowski, on Twitter:

Thunderbolt Display takes dirt nap as expected. Sources telling me next-gen display will indeed have integrated GPU

Paczkowski is well-informed — it looks like Apple just wasn’t ready to announce the new display.

Apple’s New Differential Privacy Feature Is Opt-In ➝

Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors:

First and foremost, as with all of Apple’s data collection, there is an option to opt out of sharing data with the company. Differential data collection is entirely opt in and users can decide whether or not to send data to Apple.

I’ve seen concern in my Twitter timeline that this collection of self-selecting users could result in biased data. And while that’s inevitably true, I’m not sure if it will result in data that’s unusable or uninformative.

Pairing Over Lightning ➝

John Gruber:

Spitball: What if Apple is planning on Bluetooth earbuds that include a Lightning jack, like the Pencil? Plug them in to the device you want to pair them with, tap “Pair”, and you’re done. Easy to charge, too.

I seem to remember Apple selling another iPhone accessory that automatically paired over Bluetooth in a similar fashion.

Push to Ulysses Version 1.1 ➝

I’ve published a small update to my Push to Ulysses workflow. The new version uses my new writing template — originally discussed in Launch Ulysses Workflow — and makes use of Workflow 1.5’s Ulysses integration.

The Primary OS ➝

Ben Brooks:

But then I sat there and cleared dozens of notifications on macOS, closed applications which start up with the system for seemingly no reason. Updated apps. And a bunch of other shit.

I lost 30 minutes to just managing my Mac that morning.

I’m slowly coming to the same realization as Ben. Managing a Mac requires a lot of overhead and I’m doing almost everything in my power to minimize the chore associated with them. I haven’t gone iOS-only, I still have a head-less Mac mini that acts as my home media server, but the vast majority of my day-to-day work is done on my iPhone 6s and iPad Air 2.

Build, Get Rejected by Apple, Ship Anyway ➝

Préshit Deorukhkar, writing on Medium about’s App Store rejection:

Apple executives explained to us that we cannot showcase a homescreen springboard image within the app — stating that the springboard was Apple’s IP and it was against Apple’s Brand guidelines.

The rejection was not only disappointing and heart-breaking for us, as we had put several months of hard work into the app, but we also found the reason very hard to believe.

It seems ludicrous that Apple would reject an app like this. But I’m glad the team didn’t let it stop them — they shipped a fully revamped version of the site instead.

I uploaded my iPhone home screen and Watch face to the service yesterday morning. I’m not sure if I’ll begin using this rather than just uploading a screenshot to Twitter, but I like the concept. And hopefully they’ll add support for iPad home screens soon.

But I have an additional feature request — home screen history. If I’m using the service regularly, I don’t want previous iterations of my home screen to disappear into the ether. What if, in addition to sharing your current home screen, could serve as a personal historical record by saving all older uploads as well.

Préshit mentions that home screen histories was something the team set out to build for the native app and I really hope they’re working on it. That’s the one feature that would compel me to continue uploading to the service.

Update: Préshit mentioned me on Twitter noting that the ability to view older home screen uploads was already built into the iOS app. This makes their App Store rejection even more heartbreaking. But the good news is, version history is built into their backend now. And all that’s left is to integrate it into their frontend user interface — this feature’s going to be great.

Apple Is Discontinuing Its Thunderbolt Display ➝

Matthew Panzarino, reporting for TechCrunch:

Apple today announced that it is discontinuing its Thunderbolt Display, the large external display many use to connect to Macbooks or other Macs for extra screen real estate. This is very likely to fuel speculation (which has been ongoing) that Apple will soon launch a 4k or 5k version of the display.

What if Apple isn’t planning to release a successor at all? Think about it, when was the last time Apple announced that a product was being discontinued without even announcing a new version?

The End of the Headphone Jack Is Not the Start of Proprietary Headphones ➝

Matt Birchler, on Nilay Patel’s pro-headphone-jack piece:

What I do know is that every single time Apple has ever removed something from their products, the same chorus of people rise up and say “it’s too soon!” But a year or so later everyone is doing the same thing and it turns out it was for the best.

I don’t know if 2016 is the exact right time to remove this port, but Apple has a pretty good track record at getting their timing on the nose for these things.

Apple’s Interconnected Platforms ➝

Riccardo Mori, commenting on Rick Tetzeli’s piece for Fast Company:

During the WWDC keynote, as Apple executives were outlining some of the key new features of the upcoming versions of watchOS, tvOS, Mac OS and iOS, I easily noticed a common denominator — Apple is introducing new features whose main purpose is to fix some user interface or user interaction annoyances for each of those platforms. And such improvements will not only affect a single platform, but — as Tetzeli points out — they’ll improve and solidify the interconnection between all four of them. For the first time, while watching the keynote, I found myself thinking It’d really be nice to also have an Apple TV and an Apple Watch now, the two Apple devices I usually had a very limited interest in.

It’s always been the case that Apple’s devices really shined when they were surrounded by other Apple products. But Apple seems poised to take that to an entirely new level with the release of watchOS 3, tvOS 10, macOS Sierra, and iOS 10 this fall.

A few days ago, my wife and I were discussing Apple’s typical, yearly product announcement schedule — during our weekly drive to the grocery store. My main point, at the time, was that Apple shouldn’t be announcing major upgrades to all four of their platforms at the same event.

I suggested the idea of Apple announcing major new versions of macOS and tvOS at an event in the spring and saving iOS and watchOS for WWDC. This would help spread out all the software-specific talk and leave room for hardware announcements at both events. But after reading Riccardo’s take, I’ve changed my tune.

Apple’s platforms are only going to become more tightly connected over time. This type of software development — where engineers from multiple teams work together on new features — requires a cohesive release schedule. The only way new, Continuity-like features will work is if both operating systems support the feature. And users won’t want to wait an extra three months for one of their platforms to catch up.

Regarding Headphone Jacks and Stupidity ➝

Nilay Patel, writing for The Verge:

Oh look, I won this argument in one shot. For years the entertainment industry has decried what they call the “analog loophole” of headphone jacks, and now we’re making their dreams come true by closing it.

Restricting audio output to a purely digital connection means that music publishers and streaming companies can start to insist on digital copyright enforcement mechanisms.

Good job, Nilay. You won the argument about a rumored device by citing a purely speculative feature.

But let’s think about this logically. How long will it take for the majority of cars on the road to have Bluetooth, Lightning cables, or some other input that would be compatible with this mythical copy protection that you speak of? Ten years? Twenty? Remember, the average age of cars on US roads is over eleven years old. I think it’s a safe bet that Apple isn’t closing the analog loophole anytime soon.

Being able to output audio to your car’s stereo is just too important for the music industry to lose. Apple knows it, Spotify knows it, and every record company knows it. Based on that alone, if Apple does remove the headphone jack from their iPhones, there’s still no indication that they’ll ever block support for headphone adapters. It wouldn’t be in their best interest to.

Here’s the thing, if you’re truly concerned about copy protection, I would encourage you to cancel any streaming music subscriptions you have and only buy DRM-free music. Don’t whine about the death of the headphone jack and what that could mean in the future — streaming services are already using copy protection. Instead, do exactly what Nilay suggests at the end of this piece — vote with your dollars.

With watchOS 3, Apple Watch Gets a Do-Over ➝

Jason Snell, referencing Craig Federighi’s comments on the most recent episode of The Talk Show:

You may not remember this, but before the Apple Watch came out, there were many rumors that it wasn’t able to get through a day without a charge. It’s clear that Apple made battery life a top priority, perhaps even the top priority: This thing better last all day. And so everyone was incredibly conservative with power and memory.

The result: They overshot. Most of the people I know now report that they end their day with their Apple Watches reporting 40 or 50 percent of remaining battery life. Federighi admitted that there was a lot of extra memory and battery life available to them when building watchOS 3, because they overshot so much. And that’s why watchOS seems almost impossibly better than watchOS 2, given that it’s running on the same hardware.

I had a hunch that this was the case and I’m more than happy to have it confirmed.

Twitter Launches Engage App ➝

Jason Abbruzzese, writing for Mashable:

Twitter has launched a new app — Engage — that offers people with big following a way to more easily handle their accounts.

It also provides a tool for these Twitter celebs to see only the important people that respond to them — let’s call it a plebe filter.

Just what Twitter needs, an app that results in a higher likelihood that a new user’s message goes unnoticed when they reply to a celebrity. I’m sure this’ll do wonders for user retention.

But if you’re interest in the app, it’s available on the App Store now.

With Game Center App Gone, Invites Are Managed by Messages ➝


As detailed by Apple at a session during its Worldwide Developers Conference last week, games will have access to new tools for inviting friends to multiplayer games via the Messages app.

Apple told developers that those already using existing Game Center invitation APIs won’t need to make any code changes for iOS 10. Messages-based invites will automatically replace the old method of inviting friends to play, and anyone can be invited via the Messages app and iCloud.

‘Playgrounds Is Genuinely a Full Swift Interpreter Built Into an iPad App’ ➝

A great piece by Fraser Speirs regarding Apple’s newly announced Swift Playgrounds app and whether the language is good for learning to program.

Using the iPhone Naked ➝

Roberto Mateu spent a week without a case on his iPhone 6s:

I have to say… while still slippery as hell, forcing myself to use the phone without a case is very nice. It’s so much easier to get in and out of my pocket, and feels much more sleek in the hand. I also enjoy being able to reach the screen borders for easier gestures. It has made me use the 3D Touch of the left corner to switch apps much more natural than before.

I’ve used various models of iPhone since the day of the original’s launch in 2007. I have never used a case on any of them and have never regretted it. In my honest opinion, it’s the only way to go.

The Talk Show With Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi ➝

From the show notes:

Recorded in front of a live audience in San Francisco, John Gruber is joined by Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi to discuss the news from WWDC: WatchOS 3, MacOS 10.12 Sierra, iOS 10, and more.

I tried to watch the show live, as it was recorded Tuesday night. Unfortunately, the stream kept going down and I ended up having to find a stream on Periscope to see it to the end. But the video and audio quality were piss poor, at best, and I missed a big chunk in the middle while I was searching for a bootleg stream.

Luckily, John Gruber has now published a video of the episode which I’ll be watching later tonight.

Split View Safari in iOS 10 ➝

One feature that isn’t going to make the cut in my piece on iOS 10 is the ability to view two Safari tabs in Split View. The biggest reason is, I just don’t have much to say about it other than, I want it now.

Apple Kills the Game Center App, but the Service Will Continue ➝

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch:

With the introduction of iOS 10, Apple will finally allow users to delete the pre-installed apps – like Compass, Stocks, Tips, Maps, Watch, and more – from their smartphones and tablets. But there’s one app that you won’t need to remove: Game Center. Apple confirms that Game Center will continue as a service, but it will no longer be available as a standalone application on their devices.

From what I gather, Game Center leaderboards, friends, and challenges will still be available. But developers will have to build those views into their application rather than users having an all-encompassing app for those interactions.

Regarding macOS Sierra’s Optimize Storage Feature ➝

I had an interesting thought on Twitter Wednesday night, why didn’t macOS Sierra’s Optimize Storage feature come to iOS first? With as many 16GB device owners as there are, it seems like this feature would have been met with a great deal of enthusiasm if it came to iOS. Just think about how many users are clamoring for a solution to other storage creep.

Facebook Is Wrong, Text Is Deathless ➝

Tim Carmody, writing on

Text is surprisingly resilient. It’s cheap, it’s flexible, it’s discreet. Human brains process it absurdly well considering there’s nothing really built-in for it. Plenty of people can deal with text better than they can spoken language, whether as a matter of preference or necessity. And it’s endlessly computable — you can search it, code it. You can use text to make it do other things.

In short, all of the same technological advances that enable more and more video, audio, and immersive VR entertainment also enable more and more text. We will see more of all of them as the technological bottlenecks open up.

The idea that text will eventually be supplanted by video is foolish. No matter what technological advancements our world lives through, nothing will ever be as discrete, digestible, and approachable as text. The creation and consumption of it will never be matched by another medium. At least, not in our lifetime.

Safari 10 Will No Longer Load Legacy Plug-Ins by Default ➝

Ricky Mondello, writing on the WebKit weblog:

By default, Safari no longer tells websites that common plug-ins are installed. It does this by not including information about Flash, Java, Silverlight, and QuickTime in navigator.plugins and navigator.mimeTypes. This convinces websites with both plug-in and HTML5-based media implementations to use their HTML5 implementation.

This is a step in the right direction towards a Flash-free web. If you’d like to experience it now, I suggest uninstalling Flash altogether and using John Gruber’s workaround if you come across any stubborn websites.

You Can Now Retweet Your Own Tweets ➝

Todd Shermann, writing on Twitter’s weblog, last month:

We’ll be enabling the Retweet button on your own Tweets, so you can easily Retweet or Quote Tweet yourself when you want to share a new reflection or feel like a really good one went unnoticed.

This is just Twitter laying the groundwork for the character count changes that were previously announced.

2016 Apple Design Award Winners Announced ➝

Congratulations to all the winners this year, but I’m especially happy to see Ulysses — my favorite writing app — getting the recognition it deserves.

On Differential Privacy ➝

Andy Greenberg, writing for Wired:

Differential privacy, translated from Apple-speak, is the statistical science of trying to learn as much as possible about a group while learning as little as possible about any individual in it. With differential privacy, Apple can collect and store its users’ data in a format that lets it glean useful notions about what people do, say, like and want. But it can’t extract anything about a single, specific one of those people that might represent a privacy violation. And neither, in theory, could hackers or intelligence agencies.

I know, basically nothing about differential privacy, but it sure seems like the solution to Apple’s privacy versus big-data-based machine learning problem.

Apple’s Swift Playgrounds App ➝


Swift Playgrounds brings coding to life with an interactive interface that encourages students and beginners to explore working with Swift, the easy-to-learn programming language from Apple used by professional developers to create world-class apps. Swift Playgrounds includes Apple-developed programming lessons where students write code to guide onscreen characters through an immersive graphical world, solving puzzles and mastering challenges as they learn core coding concepts.

Learning a programming language has been something I’ve put off for many years. When Apple announced Swift, I felt like it could be the right language for me. I guess I’ll know for sure when I get my hands on this app in a few months.

I think this is also a clear sign that Apple is building more robust developer tools for iOS. My guess is we’ll see a full-fledged Xcode for iPad within the next two years.

Remove Built-in Apps From the Home Screen in iOS 10 ➝


If you update to iOS 10 beta, you can remove some built-in apps from the Home screen on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

When you remove a built-in app from your Home screen, you also remove any related user data and configuration files. This can affect things like related system functions or information on your Apple Watch.

Removing these apps might also affect other system functions, for that reason, I’ll probably keep most of these apps on my devices. But this definitely feels like Apple’s laying the groundwork that will allow users to set default apps — browsers, email clients, etc.

Apple Previews watchOS 3 ➝

From Apple’s press release:

Apple previewed watchOS 3, featuring significantly improved performance with the ability to launch favorite apps instantly, enhanced navigation like the new Dock and all-new fitness and health capabilities for Apple Watch. Available this fall, this software update introduces the breakthrough Breathe app, designed to encourage users to take a moment in their day to do deep breathing exercises for relaxation and stress reduction. The Activity app now includes the ability to share, compare and compete as well as enabling wheelchair users to close their Activity rings.

When I wrote my WWDC wishlist last week, I only had one request for the Apple Watch — improved efficiency. There’s nothing too terribly groundbreaking about these announcements — all of it feels like natural progression — but these refinements will make using the device much more enjoyable.

macOS Sierra Gets a New File System ➝


HFS+ and it’s predecessor HFS are more than 30 years old. These file systems were developed in an era of floppy disks and spinning hard drives, where file sizes were calculated in kilobytes or megabytes. Today, solid-state drives store millions of files, accounting for gigabytes or terabytes of data. There is now also a greater importance placed on keeping sensitive information secure and safe from prying eyes.

A new file system is needed to meet the current needs of Apple products, and support new technologies for decades to come.

64-bit inode numbers, nanosecond timestamp granularity, extensible block allocator, support for sparse files, crash protection, and extended file attributes — if that’s something you’re interested in.

Upload Image Version 1.1 ➝

I’ve published a small update to my Upload Image workflow. The new version automatically resizes images wider than 2048px to help reduce file sizes on high-resolution photos.

App Subscription Optimism ➝

Nick Heer, commenting on Riccardo Mori’s app subscription piece:

I’m generally optimistic because the apps you love most probably come from developers who respect their users. Developers like Panic, Flexibits, Cultured Code, Tapbots, Sam Oakley, and Ole Zorn — they actually care. And those developers who do not care about their apps’ users will find it very difficult to retain subscribers.

My thoughts exactly — the more I think about these changes, the more I believe the market will work itself out. It might be a little bumpy at first, as developers test the waters with new revenue models, but I don’t expect it’ll take long for everything to settle into a comfortable position for users and developers alike.

Not the Right Medium ➝

Kevin Kortum:

The Awl made their official switch to Medium today and much of my optimism for The Ringer has vanished. The Awl looks like every other Medium publication. There’s no personality, no whimsy, just Medium. If this is what Simmons has planned for The Ringer I am going to be extremely disappointed. Furthermore, if this is “the future” of web publishing, then I think we are all in a lot of trouble. […]

Medium may be a beautiful site but when every site begins to look the same, the beauty vanishes.

This reminds me of when every WordPress site began to look like “just another WordPress site” in the late 2000s. If Medium doesn’t allow more design customization, nothing published on the platform will catch readers’ eyes.

(Via Mike Bates.)

Lickability Announces PinpointKit ➝

Matthew Bischoff:

Starting today with our preview release, if you make an iOS app and want to collect annotated feedback from your testers or users, you can include the PinpointKit framework via Cocoapods or Carthage. Whenever the user shakes their device in your app, they’ll be presented with a fully customizable feedback sheet that can send annotated screenshots and feedback via email or straight to your bug tracker. They can add arrows, boxes and text, blur out sensitive information, and even include a full console log.

I recently joined a couple application betas and this would be an incredibly handy way to provide feedback for those developers.

BitCam ➝

A fun new camera app from Iconfactory that takes retro-style photos with a user interface inspired by old school Macintosh design.

Amazon Is Preparing to Launch Streaming Music Service ➝

Julia Love, reporting for Reuters: Inc is preparing to launch a standalone music streaming subscription service, placing it squarely in competition with rival offerings from Apple Inc and Spotify, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

The service will be offered at $9.99 per month, in line with major rivals, and it will offer a competitive catalog of songs, the sources said. Amazon (AMZN.O) is finalizing licenses with labels for the service, which likely will be launched in late summer or early fall, the sources said.

Apple May Debut iMessage for Android at WWDC ➝

Mikey Campbell, writing for AppleInsider:

Citing anonymous sources, MacDailyNews reports Apple plans to announce iMessage for Android at Monday’s WWDC 2016 keynote event, a move that could significantly expand the service’s footprint. The publication lacks a measurable track record when it comes to Apple product predictions, though rumors of an official Messages app port have been circulating for some time.

Grain of salt and all that, but this would be an incredible announcement.

The New App Store ➝

Faster review times, subscription pricing, and search ads — all of which would be huge news on their own — are all coming to the App Store. I think these changes will be good overall. The faster review times give developers a little more assurance that bug fixes will go live in a timely manner and search ads will help developers find a steady stream of new customers. I’m still a little lukewarm on the subscription pricing change, though.

My biggest fear is that developers will ask too much for their apps and I’ll be forced to pay an unreasonable monthly fee in order to continue using them. In an ideal world, for me at least, developers of high-quality productivity apps will charge a yearly fee at a price point similar to what they charge to purchase the app today.

I’m excited to see how these changes play out, but I expect they’ll result in a more healthy ecosystem for developers and users alike. And with announcements like this coming the week before WWDC, it feels like we’re in for one hell of a keynote. Phil Schiller even referenced this at the beginning of his call with John Gruber:

We’ve got a bunch of App Store/developer-related announcements for WWDC next week, but frankly, we’ve got a busy enough keynote that we decided we’re not going to cover those in the keynote. And rather, just cover them in the afternoon and throughout the week.

I’m really glad Phil Schiller was put in charge of the App Store.

New MacBook Pros Might Be Announced by Apple This Month ➝

Neil Hughes, writing for AppleInsider:

Citing details from a “reliable Chinese supplier,” Macotakara reported on Wednesday that Apple is set to announce a new MacBook Pro lineup in June. Aligning with earlier leaks, the report claimed that the redesigned notebook will feature USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports, ditching legacy USB-A connectors, as well as Thunderbolt 2 and MagSafe 2 charging.