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 Watch Apps Worth Spending Time With

Over at The Sweet Setup, Bradley Chambers has put together a list of applications worth trying on the Apple Watch. If you received yours yesterday or expect to have it delivered soon, this is a great place to start looking for some high-quality apps you can use on your wrist.

Instapaper on Apple Watch

From the Instapaper weblog:

We’ve been working on Instapaper’s Apple Watch app intermittently since December and we’re really excited by the possibilities this new interface opens up. We’re sure you’ll enjoy using it as much as we enjoyed building it!

The Watch implementation of Instapaper looks really slick. You can navigate your saved articles and begin text-to-speech playback from your iPhone. If you’d like to read along, launching Instapaper on your iPhone brings you to the exact position of the article being played.

Suzy Menkes Interviews Jony Ive and Marc Newson at Condé Nast Luxury Conference

Jony Ive: “I’ve never spoken in a room where the ceiling is vastly more interesting than anything I could say. And that’s just the ceiling.”

Three New Apple Watch Ads

The one linked above — Us — is by far my favorite of the bunch, but they’ve also released Up and Rise.

Cite, Beautiful Textshots Made Easy

This is currently my favorite textshots app for iOS. It edges out the competition because it’s the only one I know of that features a sharing extension. Simply login to Twitter when you launch Cite for the first time and you never have to open the app again — it can be interacted with almost exclusivly through the share sheet (which appears native on iPad, because of the nature of share sheets, despite Cite being “iPhone only”). It’s well designed, easy to use, and fits perfectly into my existing workflow.

App Store for Apple Watch is Live

Jim Dalrymple:

You can now see what apps are available for the Apple Watch, even if you don’t have one of the devices. Just open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, which comes with the latest iOS update, and you can browse the available apps.

Plenty of great looking applications available on day one.

Big Bucket Software Working on New iOS Game

Neat looking game currently in development from the creators of The Incident and Space Age. Instead of controlling the character you control the environment — moving platforms and ceilings to ensure Frank can make his way through the level. No word yet on when they hope to have it finished, but I look forward to seeing it in the App Store.

(Via Touch Arcade.)

Final Three Apple Watch Guided Tours Released

Showcasing Apple Pay, Activity, and Workout.

Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple Unlikely to Launch New 4-inch iPhone This Year

In a note to investors, obtained by AppleInsider, Ming-Chi Kuo claims that Apple will drop the price of the iPhone 5s to free on contract and currently plans to wait until next year to release a new 4-inch model. I hope this is one of the few instances where Kuo gets it wrong.

Apple Offering Developers Apple Watch With Expedited Delivery

Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9 to 5 Mac:

Apple is sending out invites to random registered developers, giving them the chance to buy an Apple Watch with guaranteed delivery by the end of the month. Developer get the opportunity to buy a 42 mm Apple Watch Sport with shipment by the 28th of April.

If you received one of these emails it’ll probably your last chance to get an Apple Watch before June, at the earliest.

Google to Discontinue YouTube Support on Older Devices

I still use the second-generation Apple TV in my bedroom — although usully its used to watch Netflix or a TV show episode from my ripped DVD library before I fall asleep. But, I’m hoping Apple will announces a new model at WWDC this June that sports a few more features than the current one. And, I’d hate to feel the need to spend $69 just on the off-chance I want to watch something on YouTube in the bedroom.

Twitter Now Allows You to Receive Direct Messages From Anyone

From the official Twitter weblog:

Communicating with people you may or may not know in real life just got easier. Previously, if you wanted to send a Direct Message to the ice cream shop down the street about how much you love their salted caramel flavor, you’d have to ask them to follow you first. With today’s changes, the ice cream shop can opt to receive Direct Messages from anyone; so you can privately send your appreciation for the salted caramel without any barriers.

I don’t know how likely I am to DM an ice cream shop — no matter how much I love that salted caramel. But, this could be a useful tool for journalists who would like to offer a way (in addition to email) for followers to submit tips and information privately.

This could also be an interesting loop hole allowing protected account owners to send messages to Twitter users who are not following them. In the past My fiancée, who has a protected Twitter account, has wanted the ability to send out a public reply to a user who isn’t following her. Now as long as her and the user she’d like to “reply” to have this option enabled, she’ll be able to interact with Twitter users outside of her circle without setting her tweets as public.

The Ducks Are Always Greener

Like Marco, I’ve switched to using DuckDuckGo as my default search engine. I’ve been pretty happy with it, but I do find myself appending !g or !i to the end of my search queries to view results from Google and Google Images. The vast majority of the time the search results are great, but those prefixes are another handy tool in DuckDuckGo’s arsenal that helps me find the results I’m looking for.

I’m also happy to be rid of another Google service and glad I have the option to move to a company that takes privacy a little more seriously. This leaves an old Gmail account and YouTube as the last two Google services that I continue to partake in. And, I can’t wait until I finally decide to cut those loose as well.

The New Screen Savers to Launch May 2

Over the weekend Leo Laporte announced the return of one of my favorite television shows from the early 2000s — The Screen Savers. The announcement was made during This Week in Tech’s 10th anniversary episode.

The show, which will be called “The New Screen Savers” in this incarnation, will be an hour long and recorded live every Saturday starting on May 2 at 3PM PT. The show will feature Leo Laporte as the host (naturally) alongside Megan Morrone, Mike Elgan, Jason Howell, Robert Ballecer, Bryan Burnett, and guest appearances by co-hosts from the original show.

I’m pretty excited about the show’s return — The Screen Savers is one of the reasons I fell in love with technology and continue to write about it today. I won’t be watching live on May 2, as it conflicts with my work schedule, but you can be sure I’ll be watching when I get home that night. And here’s to hoping it’s not just fan-service that burns out quickly, I want the show to have a long run and be great through all of it.

How WWDC Became the Heart of the Apple World’s Calendar

Jason Snell, writing for iMore:

Quite simply, there’s no single event on the calendar that draws enough of us together in one location: WWDC has critical mass. […]

During WWDC week in the area around the Moscone convention center, the bars and restaurants are filled with computer people. There are parties, meet-ups, live podcasts, group trips to Giants games, you name it. It’s very much what Macworld Expo felt like, once upon a time — when it was the definitive week for the tribe to gather. But it passed the torch to WWDC many years ago.

I wish there was a gathering that was little bit easier on the bank account and more broad in scope, but I’m very happy that WWDC has become what it has.

Serving the Device

Joe Caiati:

I decided to think about what exactly is waking up my iPhone and vying for my attention. After going through these app’s settings and discovering that most of them have fine-grained notifications, I was able to shut off a lot of distractions. […]

I am finally trying to make my device serve me. I may not have broken the urge to wake the screen up to see if I missed a notification, but with less of them coming in, I can put my iPhone back in my pocket and focus on more important matters.

I’ve always been very aggressive about denying a newly downloaded application’s ability to send me notifications. I’d rather turn them on later if I found the app to be useful — which happens very rarely. But, I know that most people don’t deal with notifications in the same way and often allow them from apps they’d rather not.

On a recent episode of The Vergecast, Nilay Patel noted that he thinks the new way to gauge if someone is bad at computers is by checking to see how cluttered their notifications are. And, I think he’s right. Tech-savvy users seem more likely to be in-tune with how distracting notifications can be and more willing to actually tweak the settings necessary to limit those distractions.

And, this whole conversation really is about distractions — about striking the right balance between staying informed about the stuff you care most about and eliminating your phone’s ability to steal your attention. It reminds me of something I heard Merlin Mann talk about years ago (I have no idea where). He talked about how incredible it was that people allow their phone to steal their attention regardless of what they’re doing — that people have a compulsion to answer it whenever it rings.

Merlin suggested breaking yourself of that habit so you could maintain focus on what you are doing and get back to whoever called when it’s more convenient for you. I think notifications should be managed the same way and eliminating ones that are unnecessary is a great first step to having your device serve you and not the other way around.

Apple Charges 15% Fee for Apple TV Video Networks

Peter Kafka, writing for Re/code:

But Apple didn’t extend its 30 percent policy to developers on its Apple TV platform. While Apple and its partners have never talked about it publicly, my understanding is that a handful of video services, including Netflix, Hulu Plus and pro-baseball’s MLB.TV, give Apple 15 percent of their monthly fees for any subscriber who signs up on Apple TV.

As Peter points out, this is a significantly better deal than the 50% that pay TV providers usually charge networks like HBO. That means these networks can charge less to the customer than they do through TV providers and still end up with a lot more money at the end of the transaction.

Twitterrific for Apple Watch

From the IconFactory weblog:

Today we are pleased to announce that Twitterrific 5.11 with Apple Watch support is available in the App Store. Ever since we first saw Apple’s new wearable in action, we knew Twitterrific would be a great fit. There are a myriad of compelling features in this update so we wanted to take some time to share a few of them with you.

Twitterrific’s approach to interactions on Apple Watch closely mirrors those of Apple’s built-in apps. The app consists of three parts: the Glance, Recent Activity, and Notifications.

Although Twitterrific isn’t my Twitter client of choice — that honor goes to Tweetbot — I tend to redownload and launch the app from time to time. I like keeping track of where other clients are headed and adding Apple Watch supports seems like the next logical progression for all of them.

Horace Dediu on the Apple Watch

Apple gets you in the door by calling it a watch and keeps you there with all of the other, non-watch features.

Apple Watch Won’t be Sold in Store Until June

Angela Ahrendts, in a memo to retail employees acquired by iGen:

As we announced last week, due to high global interest combined with our initial supply, we are only taking orders online right now. I’ll have more updates as we get closer to in-store availability, but we expect this to continue through the month of May.

I didn’t expect Apple to begin stocking the Watch in stores until they caught up with demand, but it’s a little surprising to me that they don’t foresee doing so until June. This is a good sign for the product’s success, I just hope customers are satisfied with their purchase once pre-orders start arriving at the end of this week.

She also comments on how Apple plans to launch products in the future:

Are we going to launch every product this way from now on? No. We all love those blockbuster Apple product launch days—and there will be many more to come. They’re the moments where you, our teams, shine. And our customers love them as well!

I can imagine Apple was concerned that the Watch might not sell as well as analysts and the press expected it to. Especially since they seem disappointed even when Apple beats their own estimates. Selling the Watch exclusively online could have been a well planned tactic that was designed to mask sales numbers — it’s hard to determine how well a product is selling when you can’t actually see anyone buying it.

(Via 9 to 5 Mac).

Scott Forstall Publishes His First Tweet

Scott Forstall on Twitter:

I’m thrilled to be co-producing the Broadway musical Fun Home funhomebroadway.com opening this Sunday. Bravo to the phenomenal team!

I’m happy to see him take a step back into the public eye and I hope this is just the first of many post-Apple projects for him.

Apple Explains How to Remove Adware

Here’s another support document that’s worth bookmarking if you happen to be your family’s tech support person.

Glide is Beautifully Simple, Professional App Creation

My fiancée isa teacher in grade school and most of the classrooms in her district have access to iPads. She has talked in the past about writing a children’s book and distributing it to her students’ iPads. Her and I have explored some of the self-publishing options available. But, none of them have jumped out at us and few of them have passable options for publishing to mobile devices (which is crucial given her plans for distribution).

The proof is in the pudding, I suppose, and it all depends on how truly easy it is to build apps with once it’s released, but Glide looks like it could be what we’ve been waiting for. I’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on its development.

Accidental Tech Podcast Shirts

In one of the most brilliant pieces of marketing I’ve seen in a while, the Accidental Tech Podcast has announced the sale of t-shirts in three collections:

  • ATP Shirt Sport: printed on Hanes Cool Dri activewear and comes in blue for men and white for women.
  • ATP Shirt: printed on tri-blend or cotton American Apparel in black or gray.
  • ATP Shirt Edition: printed on tri-blend American Apparel in black for men or red for women, both featuring a gold-colored foil logo.

Even though the ATP Shirt is the most popular of the collections, the gimmick seems to be working. They’ve already sold well over 50 Editions with 19 days left to order. You can count me in with the Edition crowd — it’s likely the only opportunity I’ll have to purchase a product with such a moniker.

I also suggest listening to their announcement on the podcast, it’s perfect.

Apple’s All-New Music App

Chance Miller details the new Music app from the first developer beta of iOS 8.4, which was released earlier this week. The application sports a refined user interface and some new features — a recently added section, Up Next, redesigned artist screen, and more.

This was a bit of an unexpected release from Apple (at least from my perspective). This is the kind of update that I would have thought to be bundled in iOS 9 not 8.4. I wonder if the days of monolithic iOS upgrades are behind us and Apple will be more willing to ship major application upgrades mid-cycle in the future. It would certainly be an interesting way to reduce the sticker shock from multi-gigabyte iOS updates that are such an annoyance for 16GB device users.

Astropad 1.1 Adds Pencil Support

From FiftyThree’s news section:

We’re excited to announce our latest Pencil partner, Astropad, a beautiful graphic design app that lets you mirror your Mac screen right onto your iPad. Pair Pencil with Astropad to draw directly into Photoshop or any app on your Mac, and turn your iPad into a professional graphics tablet!

I hadn’t heard of Astropad until today, but the app looks quite slick and appears to be very highly reviewed. If I was in the market for a drawing tablet I’d probably lean in this direction instead of purchasing a kit from a company like Wacom. The convenience of being able to use devices I already own and the incredibly affordable pricing of the software would likely outweigh any of the benefits I’d receive from purchasing a dedicated device.

(Via Joe Darnell.)

One Singular Photo Library

With the public release of Photos last week, I thought I’d link to a piece I wrote last month regarding my disappointments with the direction Apple is headed for photo management — the crux of my complaints being that there’s no solution for families wanting to maintain one singular photo library across multiple iCloud user accounts.

There’s certainly still the possibility that Apple could add such a feature in the future. And, it’s not as though the photo management experience is worse than it was with iPhoto. I can still process my photos the same way I have for years — importing them from my and my fiancée’s devices into iPhoto and then syncing our iPhones and iPad with iTunes. But, I would love Apple to offer a more future-proof, cloud-based solution that helps keep all of our photos accessible without needing to maintain two separate iCloud Photo Libraries.

I haven’t dug too deep into all of Photos’ features yet, but the application is absolutely stunning and very responsive when dealing with photos saved on my Mac. There was a couple of bumps in the road when I first upgraded, but nothing that I would consider to be a deal breaker — I’ve received errors when syncing my Photos library to the iPad which was fixed with a reboot and occasionally Photos won’t load the shared albums I’m subscribed to which is usually remedied by quitting and relaunching the app. Overall I think this is a step in the right direction from iPhoto, but I still hold out hope that Apple will continue building from here until Photos meets all my needs.

Four More Apple Watch Guided Tours Released

Covering phone calls, Siri, Maps, and music.

Surveying the Podcasting Landscape

Robert McGinley Myers:

What podcasting offers, not unlike blogging before it, is the ability for every radio reporter, every audio storyteller, to decide that they don’t have to sell their stories before they make them. If their stories are good enough, and especially of they have a singular vision, those stories can stand on their own. Of course, this has been true since the dawn of podcasting. What’s new is that there’s now a sizable chunk of people willing to listen.

I’ve been listening to Robert’s Anxious Machine podcast since it launched last year. And while I don’t listen to every episode, I always look forward to seeing what topic it covers.

One of my favorite episodes is the one entitled “This Great, Noble Venture” in which he talks with Shawn Blanc about building his career as a writer. In the episode Shawn also discusses an old episode of the Macworld Podcast from 2007 where John Gruber explains why he doesn’t have comments on Daring Fireball. I remember listening to that exact same episode when it was released and feeling similarly inspired by John’s answer, just as Shawn was.

This episode of the Anxious Machine podcast helped to remind me why I decided to write for the web. And it’s one of the many inspirations behind the recent increase in publishing frequency here on Initial Charge. I hope the show’s second season continues to inspire me like the first one did.

‘I Would Take These Numbers With an Enormous Grain of Salt’

John Gruber, on Slice Intelegence’s Apple Watch pre-order estimates:

They’re saying “957,000 people in the U.S. pre-ordered an Apple Watch on Friday” and that each ordered an average of 1.3 watches. That’s 1.25 million watches — and it’s only for the U.S. Apple Watch went on sale in nine countries last week, all of them major markets. So even if you believe Slice’s estimates are accurate, they imply that customers around the world ordered millions of Apple Watches, plural, on the first day.

When I started seeing this story earlier this week, I basically ignored it. I’ve never heard of Slice Intellegence, but even if their claimed “two million customers” number is accurate I can’t imagine it’s representative of the kind of person I would expect to have pre-ordered an Apple Watch on the first weekend. I doubt there are many early adopters that would voluntarily sign-up to have a company read their email for market research purposes.

ResearchKit Now Available to Developers and Medical Researchers

Apple, on GitHub:

ResearchKit is an open source framework introduced by Apple that allows researchers and developers to create powerful apps for medical research. Easily create visual consent flows, real-time dynamic active tasks, and surveys using a variety of customizable modules that you can build upon and share with the community.

This should silence the naysayers who are always citing FaceTime during discussions of Apple and open source software.

As an aside, there was an episode of The Talk Show in which John Gruber mentioned that the engineers who worked on FaceTime hadn’t heard any discussion of open sourcing FaceTime until Steve Jobs announcing it on stage. Does anyone know which episode that would have been? If so, I’d appreciate it if you could let me know.

TouchArcade’s First Impressions of Hearthstone for iPhone

Eric Ford, regarding the recently released Hearthstone update:

As you might expect, the iPhone version of Hearthstone is basically the Hearthstone we all know and love on iPad except… smaller. The primary changes have to do with how you interact with your cards during matches. For example, on the iPad version all your cards are simply at the bottom of the screen and you’re free to thumb through them at your convenience while the match is being played out. On the iPhone version, your cards are shown on the bottom right of the screen and tapping them expands the view and allows you to actually interact, see descriptions, and play said cards. Expanding the card view blocks most of the field of play, which is the primary concession made for Hearthstone making the transition to iPhone.

Even if you’re not interested in playing Hearthstone on your iPhone and would rather stick to playing on iPad or other platforms, it’s still worth installing the app. Blizzard will give you a free pack just for logging in with your account (which is the case for the app on Android, too).

I’ve been playing Hearthstone for a couple of months now and it’s great — easily one of my favorite games of all time. And, the lofty praise is warranted. It’s everything I love about Magic: the Gathering wrapped up in a beautifully design with unique game mechanics and always available, competitive, constructed gaming on the devices I use most. I’ll be installing Hearthstone on my iPhone as soon as I have a spare 743MB.

And if you’re new to the game, TouchArcade’s Hearthstone Beginner’s Guide by Tasos Lazarides is also worth browsing.

Apple Announces WWDC 2015

The conference will be held at Moscone West in San Francisco, June 8-12. You can apply for tickets today through Friday at 1PM ET. Like last year, Apple will use a lottery system — offering tickets to random applicants — until all tickets are sold.

Chrome is Still a Threat to Your MacBook’s Battery

During the Verge’s testing of the recently released MacBook they found drastic differences in battery life when using Google Chrome instead of Safari. In the test —which cycles through webpages with screen brightness at 65% until the battery dies — the MacBook managed to last 13 hours and 18 minutes while using Safari but only lasted 9 hours and 45 minutes with Chrome. That’s over three and a half  hours difference.

Vlad Savov doesn’t go into the reasons for this large of a discrepancy, aside from his mention of Apple’s ability to optimize Safari better using their advanced knowledge of hardware and operating system changes. But, could this be due to Chrome having Flash built-in and Apple’s decision to remove it from the default OS X installation?

Overcast is The Sweet Setup’s Favorite iOS Podcast App

I couldn’t agree more with Bradley Chambers’ thoughts on Overcast. And, I think smart speed is by far the most compelling feature in the app. Overcast has saved me over 80 hours of listening time because of smart speed and I can’t imagine using a podcast client that didn’t have a comparable feature.

Yahoo Reorganization May End Tumblr’s Run as an Independent Unit

It was only a matter of time.

Jim Dalrymple Reviews the 12-inch MacBook

Jim Dalrymple on the MacBook’s one-port compromise in favor of portability:

People who buy the MacBook aren’t buying it for its expandability, but rather for its other features, namely the size. I don’t have a lot of devices I need to connect to the MacBook, so I’d rather have a smaller laptop with a dongle than carry around a heavier laptop with ports I’m not using 90 percent of the time. […]

The good news is that if you need more ports or more power, Apple has two other MacBook product lines that may suit your needs. For me, I’m sticking with MacBook.

A lot of Apple watchers react to the company’s new products as if they Apple isn’t allowed to make devices that aren’t suited for them. But that isn’t the case — introducing a product that isn’t best for you can’t be considered a misstep unless they don’t offer any products that are best for you.

If you want an extremely portable machine but can’t get by with a single USB-C port, just buy a MacBook Air. No one’s going to force you to buy a computer you don’t want and the existence of this MacBook doesn’t change the viability of the computers you already own. And even though the future we’re heading towards is one of ubiquitous wireless peripherals, Apple will continue offering notebook computers with a multitude of ports for years to come.

HBO Now Highlights Hypocrisy in Apple’s No Porn Rules

Sam Oliver, writing for AppleInsider:

This time around, there’s no need to log in with cable credentials — Apple is essentially selling porn through iTunes.

There’s nothing wrong with porn, of course. The only thing wrong is Apple’s double standard.

HBO gets away with it because Apple needs what HBO has. Could Apple have muscled a deal in without including pornographic content? Maybe, but they didn’t.

It struck me as odd when I launched HBO Now on my Apple TV and noticed the Late Night section. But, I expect apple held HBO Now to the standards they have for music, movies, and TV shows, rather than the standards they have for applications. HBO Now is packaged as an application on iOS devices, but it feels more akin to media sales than app sales. Or, maybe this is a sign of a loosening of the purse strings on explicit material in the App Store.

Highball

A new cocktail recipe application from Studio Neat. It’s well designed and has a really clever sharing feature which embeds a QR code inside of the recipe images it generates. Any Highball user you share that recipe image with can import it into the app which scans the QR code and saves it as a fully editable cocktail recipe.

A MacBook Reviewer’s Notebook

Jason Snell, regarding the MacBook keyboard:

If you don’t type a whole lot, or very fast, you may not care about the substantially reduced key travel. And you can get used to it. But it’s just a tiny step up from typing on flat touchscreen glass. I managed to score almost 120 words per minute on TypeRacer on the MacBook keyboard, but I didn’t enjoy it. If you’re someone who notices when a keyboard feels different or weird, you will notice this keyboard.

I’ve spent the past two months typing almost everything on flat touchscreen glass and I’ve been happy to do so — I don’t expect it would take me long to get used to typing on the MacBook’s keyboard. But, it is something I look forward to trying out for myself.

I want to see if the wider keys affect my ability to instinctively know what my fingers are hovering over and whether or not the shallower keys are worth the compromise to achieve such a thin device. I suspect the compromises are worth it for the form factor. And if I even occasionally know where my fingers are while I’m typing on the iPad, I’ll probably do just fine on the MacBook keyboard.

But most importantly, I want to know whether or not I’ll actually like the changes. Because it’s one thing to put up with them and something else entirely to actually prefer them.

‘The Most Personalized Service I’ve Ever Seen in an Apple Store’

Stephen Hackett shares his experience at an Apple Watch try-on appointment:

Trying on various Watches was a little weird. The employee with me was incredibly helpful, but had to take the Watch on and off my wrist. As someone who doesn’t like a lot of attention, it was a tad uncomfortable, but it was a great way to try a bunch of different bands. […]

All in all, the try-on appointments are pretty brilliant. I got to spend time with most of the product line, but didn’t feel rushed. I got individual attention, had my questions answered and even got to play with a working Watch, as opposed to just watching a Demo loop. It was the most personalized service I’ve ever seen in an Apple Store, and just what this product requires.

Apple couldn’t have customers trying on a a watch that’s tethered to a table, but the only way for them to truly experience the device is to physically try it on. This thinking clearly led Apple to where they are now with the in-store trials. It’s the best way for Apple to give customers a substantial and satisfying amount of time with the product allowing them to test multiple bands and Watch models.

Disney Presses Apple to Carry More Channels on Internet TV Service

What a shocker — Disney wants Apple to purchase more of its content and Apple wants a more attractive price point. Is anyone surprised by this?

Scheduling an Apple Watch Try-On Appointment

Steve Sande shows you how to schedule an Apple Watch try-on appointment in Apple’s online store or the Apple Store app. Depending on how my weekend schedule lines up (and whether or not I really want to take a 2+ hour drive), I might make an appointment for this Sunday.

The Best iPhone

John Moltz on the 4.7-inch screen of the iPhone 6:

I like my iPhone 6 well enough, but having used it for six months am I ready to fully submit to our large screen overlords? Not in the least. The large screen is the one thing I don’t like about it. It frustrates me daily. Reachability does not work consistently enough to be reliable and I can’t reach the upper right corner without that thumb-extension surgery which my health plan doesn’t cover. […]

I want an iPhone with a 4-inch screen, but in the end I’m going to buy what I think is the best iPhone. That’s what I did before the iPhone 6 and that’s what I’ll continue to do. I can’t say that one feature is a deal breaker without knowing what all the options are. I hope there will be a 4-inch iPhone this year in metal with the majority of the new features, but I doubt that will happen.

I occasionally bring up the “larger than 4-inch phone” topic with my fiancée and she couldn’t be more adamant about her dislike of them. She still uses an iPhone 5s, but plans to upgrade this fall when Apple announces their new iPhone lineup. And, she’s very worried that Apple won’t announce an iPhone that’s best for her.

The 5s is just small enough to fit comfortably in her back pocket — anything larger simply wouldn’t fit and she’d be stuck keeping it in her purse or carrying it around by hand everywhere she goes. Neither of which are ideal as it would make interacting with and keeping track of her iPhone incredibly cumbersome and would prevent her from using her iPhone as a pedometer (which has quickly become an essential feature for her). She also prefers the physical dimensions of the 5s over the 6 and 6 Plus as it fits better in her hand and is therefore easier for her to use.

She really doesn’t like the idea of using an iPhone that doesn’t feel comfortable to use. But, she still feels compelled to purchase the best device she can in order to ensure it will still feel snappy toward the end of our typical two year upgrade cycle. Like John, she truly hopes Apple will release a 4-inch version of “the best iPhone” that’s built with the same quality materials and has a similar feature-set as their higher end models. But, she’s unfortunately prepared to be disappointed.

Robby, the Best Way to Manage Your Work Schedule

A new schedule management application that’s designed for users whose work schedule changes from week to week. The app launched on Monday, but I’ve been beta testing it for a few months and I’ve been really happy with it.

Robby’s shift input system is faster than any other calendar app I’ve seen on iOS and you can even input your schedule by taking a photo of it. You can connect with coworkers to see when they’ll be working with you next, receive notifications reminding you of upcoming shifts, and notify friends and family when your schedule changes.

Robby is free for iOS on the App Store and and for Android on the Google Play store.

The Star Wars Digital Movie Collection

The films are finally being released digitally for the first time ever, and with plenty of bonus features to boot. They’re up for pre-order today and will be available to view tomorrow. The best deal I’ve seen is from Amazon where you can purchase the entire collection for $89.99. But, if you’d prefer to only purchase your favorites from the series, they are available separately from iTunes for $19.99 each:

I’ve never actually watched any of the Star Wars films — they just weren’t a part of my childhood like they were for so many others. I certainly was aware of them and know enough about them to have a general idea about the story. Many of my friends absolutely loved the movies, but I just never gave them a chance. Now that they are available digitally, I might take this opportunity to finally give them a try.

Update: The entire Star Wars movie collection has also been added to iTunes as a bundle for the $89.99 matching the aforelinked Amazon price.

List of Apple Stores That Will Carry the Apple Watch Edition at Launch

Hopefully one of these stores is within driving range of your Tesla Model S. Otherwise, you may have to suffer the inconvenience of fueling-up the private jet in order to spend $10,000+ on a consumer electronics device. Being rich can be so tedious.

John Gruber Reviews the Apple Watch

John’s review was the first I read when the embargo lifted yesterday morning. And, it’s the only one I’ve read in its entirety. It’s an enjoyable read from beginning to end and I can’t wait for him to publish his thoughts on the user interface — which he noted to be a separate review that will published at a later date.

I found his section about Digital Touch to be in-line with my thinking about the feature — especially this bit at the end of his review:

If you’re the only person you know with an Apple Watch, your timekeeping will still be precise, your activity tracking will still be accurate — but digital touch as a form of communication will be pointless. Digital touch only works, only becomes a thing, if Apple Watch becomes a thing. Digital touch is not designed for an isolated product. It is designed as a tentpole feature for a hit product with widespread appeal and adoption. The single most innovative feature of Apple Watch — the most intimate feature of the company’s most personal device — will only matter if some of the people you care most about wear one too.

This pretty much sums up my hesitance to go all-in on the Apple Watch — the Watch’s most compelling feature is only useful if the people I care most about own one too. Which means I have to judge the Watch within the context of it costing me $698 (one for me and one for my fiancée). And unfortunately — not being someone who already wears watches — I just don’t think its worth the cost. Not without some brilliant killer-app from a third-party developer or at least another year’s worth of hardware development.

Apple Releases OS X Yosemite 10.10.3

The update includes Photos, Apple’s replacement for iPhoto and Aperture. I’ve been holding off on updating my Macs to Yosemite because I wanted to reduce the possibility of bugs being introduced into my workflow — everything worked just fine on Mavericks. Yosemite’s initial feature-set didn’t give me enough compelling reasons to upgrade, but Photos is something I’m really excited about using.

Ottocat Acquired by Apple in 2013 for the App Store ‘Explore’ Tab

Ingrid Lunden, reporting for TechCrunch:

There is precious little evidence of the connection between Ottocat and Apple — no LinkedIn employment changes, no announcements to Ottocat users — save for one thing. One of Ottocat’s co-founders, Edwin Cooper, authored a patent that was granted to Apple as the original assignee. It looks like that patent was filed by Cooper as an employee of Apple.[…]

The timing of Ottocat going dark in late 2013 links up with Apple announcing “explore” in the App Store in mid-2014, part of a series of updates made public during the WWDC that year to improve how apps can be discovered in the increasingly large and unwieldy App Store catalog.

I can’t remember ever using the App Store’s explore tab to find an application. Most of my app discovery takes place by searching on the web for an application feature and looking for links to websites I know who have showcased apps in the given category.

It’s a shame that I can’t trust the App Store’s built-in search functionality. But it rarely points me towards a high-quality app I’d be likely to use long term. Instead, I typically find a bunch of junky apps that are only loosely related to the search term. I wish Apple could find a company comprable to Ottocat, but for keyword searching rather than category drill-downs — that’s the kind of acquisition I’d like to see happen.