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.

iPhone 5se and iPad Air 3 Planned to Go on Sale March 18 ➝

Mark Gurman, reporting for 9 to 5 Mac:

Apple is currently on target to start selling its next iPhone and iPad models the same week that the new products are introduced in March. Apple is currently planning to introduce a new 4-inch iPhone dubbed the “iPhone 5se” and a new iPad Air at an event on Tuesday, March 15th, then put the products up for sale online and in retail stores as early as Friday, March 18th, according to sources. Apple is unlikely to offer pre-orders for the new devices, according to sources who cautioned that the plans could still change.

4-inch iPhone enthusiasts, you likely have just five weeks to get your finances in order.

The Talk Show With Very Special Guests Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi ➝

A delightful surprise today, John Gruber has published a new episode of The Talk Show with Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi. Topics include iOS 9.3, tvOS 9.2, the public beta program, and more. I’m about a quarter of the way through the episode and it is well worth a listen.

Pandora Is Said to Have Held Talks About Selling Itself ➝

The New York Times:

Pandora is working with Morgan Stanley to meet with potential buyers, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The talks are preliminary and may not lead to a deal, the people said.

For Pandora, it would be a curious time to sell. Its shares are yielding a market value of $1.8 billion, down from more than $7 billion two years ago. The stock has fallen more than 60 percent since October.

I’m still a huge fan of Pandora. And whether they end up selling or not, I hope the service will be able to continue with minimal changes.

‘Why I’m Ditching My iPad Pro’ ➝

In contrast to Serenity Caldwell’s piece which I linked to yesterday, Allyson Kazmucha has decided that the iPad Pro just isn’t right for her.

Firewatch ➝

From the game’s product page:

Firewatch is a mystery set in the Wyoming wilderness, where your only emotional lifeline is the person on the other end of a handheld radio.

The highly-anticipated, first-person adventure game was released yesterday for PlayStation 4, Mac, PC, and Linux. The visuals look absolutely stunning and what little I know about the storyline has me intrigued. I just wish I had a machine capable of running it.

And if you’re enjoying Firewatch’s artwork as much as I am, you might also be interested in a set of smartphone wallpapers that Matt Birchler released last week. There’s six of them to choose from and they look gorgeous on both lock and home screens.

Importing and Editing Photos on iPad Pro Instead of OS X ➝

Interesting piece by Serenity Caldwell on why she prefers an iOS-centric photo processing workflow to her old Mac-based one.

The Apple Watch Halo Effect ➝

Marco Arment:

When I first started wearing my steel Apple Watch with the black leather strap, I kept looking at my wrist and thinking, “Damn, that looks nice.”

This was the beginning of the end.

Nobody ever wears one watch, thinks “Damn, that looks nice”, and never wants another watch again.

I was starting to understand fashion. This was going to be bad.

I haven’t gone down the mechanical watch rabbit hole like Marco has, but I’m starting to understand the appeal. During the run-up to my eventual purchase of the Apple Watch, I started seeing ho-hum opinions from owners sharing their mediocre experience with the device.

But despite everyone’s lack of enthusiasm, I still bought one. What I realized was that the Apple Watch is a fashion accessory first and a functional tool second. It matters more to me that the wearable looks good rather than it offering features that improve my life from a practical standpoint.

Here’s what I wrote about this idea back in May of last year:

I’ve realized that, as foolish as this sounds, I don’t care as much about what features it has or what it does beyond the obvious. I don’t really know if it needs a “killer app.” Simply displaying the time and a few other bits of information and, more importantly, being an attractive fashion accessory might just be enough.

I don’t own a mechanical watch and never have. But now that I’ve spent a few months with the Apple Watch, I could certainly see myself buying one in the future.


I’m Done with MacBooks ➝

Khoi Vinh:

To be clear, I don’t argue the fact that OS X is still the best platform for heavy duty work, and that it is likely to continue to be that for years if not decades. But it seems apparent to me that it’s at its most potent in its original form: on the desktop, where immensely powerful chips do best and battery life is not an issue. When I think about what I want to be using in the near term, I would much rather own a fast and fully stationary iMac and an iPad running a much more productivity-capable version of iOS, than just a MacBook.

This is exactly how I’ve been thinking lately. I just want the most powerful iMac I can afford and an iPad Air 2 — I have no need for a MacBook anymore.

Uninstalling Facebook App Saves up to 15% of iPhone Battery Life ➝

Samuel Gibbs, writing for The Guardian:

I accessed Facebook for the same amount of time, and for the same purposes, using the social network’s excellent mobile site within Safari, as I had done using the app. I also left the Facebook Messenger app installed. […]

To make sure that this wasn’t an isolated incident, I also recruited several other Facebook-using iPhone owners to conduct a similar test. They all found similar results, with increased battery life when using Facebook in Safari having uninstalled the main Facebook iOS app.

If you feel that you need to continue using Facebook, I suggest uninstalling the app and adding a website shortcut to your iPhone’s home screen.

New tvOS 9.2 Beta Adds Dictation ➝

Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors:

There’s now support for onscreen text entry via dictation in countries where Siri is available. When updating to tvOS 9.2 beta 3, users will be prompted to enable or disable dictation. With dictation, Apple TV users can dictate text and spell user names and passwords rather than typing them.

The first time I heard speculation of spelling out usernames and passwords on the Apple TV with dictation was in episode 135 of The Talk Show. John Gruber and Adam Lisagor spent a great deal of the episode discussing the new Apple TV and I think it’s worth revisiting now that we know all (or most) of the features that will be added with tvOS 9.2.

‘Rose Gold Coming to iPhone 5se’ ➝

Mark Gurman, regarding the recent “hot pink” iPhone 5se rumors:

This weekend, reports have emerged with claims that the new device will be offered in a new “bright” or “hot” pink color option, but sources say that the iPhone 5se’s coloring is identical to the iPhone 6s’s in appearance.

Apple is said to be aiming to keep its hardware colors consistent across iOS devices.

Just based on anecdotal evidence — as in, the devices I see people using in public — it certainly seems like the rose gold option is incredibly popular.

Unofficial iPhone Home Button Repairs Can Brick Your Device ➝

From a security standpoint, it makes perfect sense for Touch ID to stop functioning if the sensor is replaced. But it certainly shouldn’t render the entire device unusable. Rather than displaying “Error 53,” the iPhone should gI’ve the user an explanation and require a passcode in any instance where Touch ID could be used.

Blurring Photos for iOS Wallpapers ➝

A great tip by David Sparks showing how to use Pixelmator to turn any image into a beautiful wallpaper for use on your iOS home screen.

Marissa Mayer Unveils Make-Or-Break Plan for Yahoo ➝

Richard Nieva, writing for CNET:

Marissa Mayer is cleaning house. The question is whether the makeover is to keep Yahoo going for the long term or to sweep out the clutter and attract potential buyers.

To turn Yahoo around, the CEO said Tuesday that she’s cutting about 1,700 jobs, shutting down services like Games, and selling off patents and real estate in the hopes of adding $1 billion to $3 billion to the company’s coffers this year. She’s also put out a call to would-be buyers, saying she and Yahoo’s board are ready to “engage on qualified strategic proposals.”

I’m afraid Yahoo is too far gone at this point. Think about it, when was the last time you relied on a Yahoo owned-service? For me, it was Flickr about five years ago.

Twitter is Testing A Dedicated GIF Button On Mobile ➝

Honestly, I’m surprised it has taken this long. At the very least, I thought a third-party client would have added this by now.

Neglected Apps ➝

Marco Arment, on the announced shutdown of Parse:

In particular, it’ll be problematic when possibly hundreds of thousands of iOS apps just stop working in a year because their developers have long since moved on, or their contracts expired, or they can’t afford to spend time on a significant update.

This is one of the main reasons why I try and support developers in any way I can. We all rely on these apps to get stuff done and none of us want to see them go away.

The Best ➝

Justin Blanton, writing on Medium:

I’ve always had this uneasy, incomplete feeling if I knew — even if it was just a hunch — that there was something better out there for task x, my build, my aesthetics, my circumstances, etc.

It’s not about brands for me, and really never has been — it’s about the intersection of my hyper-particular stylistic preferences, quality, and means.

The only measurable amount of brand loyalty I have is with the companies that have consistently proven themselves to me. But I’m also the first one to switch to another brand if a competing company provides a superior preduction.

Apple May Hold March 15 Event ➝

According to Gurman’s sources, Apple should be announcing the iPhone 5se, iPad Air 3, and a minor Apple Watch refresh — probably new bands and software updates. I’m really looking forward to seeing this new 4-inch iPhone and what the company has in store for the Apple Watch.

Update: Matthew Panzarino and John Paczkowski are also reporting the same date.

How to Stream Super Bowl 50 on Your Apple Devices ➝

Josh Centers, writing for TidBits:

Super Bowl 50 (yes, 50 and not L, because the NFL has switched from Roman to Arabic numerals) will take place 7 February 2016 at 6:30 PM EST. If you want to watch the showdown between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos, but don’t have traditional TV service, the good news is that CBS will be streaming the game for free to viewers in the United States.

I don’t watch much football, but if I myself with some free time on Sunday night, I might check in on the game with the CBS Sports app for Apple TV.

GE Moves on from Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs ➝

Ry Crist, writing for CNET:

By the end of the year, GE will cease production and sales of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), the manufacturer announced this morning. Moving forward, the company’s focus will fall entirely on halogen incandescents and on high-efficiency LEDs.

Despite the superior energy efficiency of CFLs, I’ve continued to use standard incandescent light bulbs while they’re still available. I was never able to find a good CFL that offered comparable light quality to regular-old incandescents alongside inexpensive per-bulb pricing with zero warm up time. I tried bulbs from a wide range of manufacturers, but nothing stood up to the 75W Philips Natural Light bulbs I purchased from my local Wegmans.

I had previously stated away from LED bulbs because they’re much more expensive then CFLs and especially incandescents. But with new regulations limiting their sale, standard incandescent bulbs with decent light output are almost impossible to find. I think it’s finally time for me to start looking more seriously at LEDs.

The HTTPS Mystery ➝

Dave Winer publishes a short, 10-minute podcast episode discussing the push toward HTTPS everywhere by Mozilla and Google.

Time Warner Wants Hulu To Stop Airing Current Seasons Of TV Shows ➝

Chris Morran, writing for Consumerist:

The Time Warner Inc. umbrella covers a wide range of these channels — CNN, TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network — that stand to lose carriage fees and ad revenue every time someone cuts the cord. And while Time Warner apparently believes it can make money selling online access to HBO without requiring basic cable, many of its other properties don’t lend itself as readily to binge-viewing.

According to the Wall Street Journal, that’s why Time Warner is talking to Hulu about ultimately rethinking how the streaming service handles recently aired TV shows.

Hulu would become a lot less valuable if it no longer offered episodes from current seasons. To the point where I might even consider canceling the service altogether if recently-aired episodes were no longer available. But unfortunately for Time Warner, there’s no way I’d ever return to a cable subscription. I cut the cord almost ten years ago and have been happily using alternative entertainment sources like Netflix, iTunes, podcasts, YouTube, etc. ever since.

Why iOS is Compelling

Early last week, Ben Brooks published a great piece explaining why so many members of the Mac community have found iOS compelling recently. I found this bit, about the feeling of switching to the Mac in the early to mid-2000s, to particularly resonate with me:

It’s that same allure many of us are feeling with iOS now — the idea that while the Mac is still pretty simple and mostly just works — iOS is even more simple. Like Macs in 2004, iOS either just works, or it flat out won’t work for that task. Either you can do it pretty easily, or not at all.

Although I didn’t make the switch to OS X until a couple of years after Ben, I did so for a lot of the same reasons. Everything was easier on the Mac and, as a result, there was a noticeable increase in my productivity.

I was just a college kid that wanted to spend as little time as possible doing school work, so that I could waste time doing anything else. Back then Quicksilver, Exposé, and Dashboard were my secret weapons that helped minimize many of the tedious aspects of using a computer. I no longer needed to navigate the start menu to launch applications; aimlessly alt-tab to find a specific app window; or clutter the taskbar with calculator, weather, or other utility apps. OS X was compelling because of how much more simple it felt when compared to Windows.

Now I’m finding myself attracted to iOS because of its even more simplistic nature. Split-screen multitasking, share sheet extensions, and multi-touch gestures are my tools of choice this time around. I dont need to spend a ton of time managing windows, interacting with the file system, or remembering a bunch of keyboard shortcuts for navigating and interacting with applications. All that cruft is gone.

iOS’ entire interface paradigm is designed around the idea of removing unnecessary things from the operating system so that the task at hand can be performed with as little resistance as possible. You might not feel as comfortable on iOS as you do on OS X because of years-worth of habit building, but I believe iOS is an objectively better OS with the only limitations existing because developers haven’t yet built applications to tackle every possible need.

Yes, there are still a few tasks that I can only do on the Mac. But the list is steadily shrinking as third-party developers innovative and Apple continues to improve the environment. The real proof is that I find myself using my MacBook less and less as I find new ways to implement previously Mac-centric tasks. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel at this point — it won’t be long until every single task is possible on iOS. And I couldn’t be happier about it.

Some of the Sweet Setup’s Favorite Apple TV Apps ➝

I finally got around to ordering the new Apple TV this past week. It arrived on Friday and I’ve been spending the weekend testing many of the more interesting apps available for tvOS. This piece by Joe Caiati was the first place I looked for recommendations on which apps I should try first.

Podcast Chapters ➝

From the application’s homepage:

Want to make it easy for your listeners to tap directly through to sponsors? Skip over spoilers if they aren’t caught up? See what’s coming up in your episode? Let Podcast Chapters help.

If you’re a podcast creator, do your listeners a favor and start using this app.

KGI: iPhone 7 Plus Likely to Feature Dual-Camera System for Better Photos Using ➝

Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9 to 5 Mac:

Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo at KGI securities is today reporting that they believe the iPhone 7 Plus will come with a dual-camera system option with Linx camera technology Apple acquired last year. By using two distinct lenses, Apple can use the additional image data to create substantially better quality photos. Dual camera iPhones have been rumored for a long time. KGI also floats the possibility that the Plus will feature an optical zoom, with 2-3x magnification.

If true, this will be a major leap forward for the iPhone camera’s picture quality.

Maybe Apple Does Need to Make a Smaller iPhone ➝

Kirk McElhearn:

But there was one comment that I noticed, which I actually found surprising. Tim Cook said, at one point, that:

the number of people who had an iPhone prior to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus announcements, so this was in September of ’14, that have not yet upgraded to a 6, 6 Plus, 6s, or 6s Plus is now 60 percent. So another way to think of that is, 40 percent have, 60 percent have not.

60% of people are using an iPhone prior to the iPhone 6. In other words, 60% of people are using smaller iPhones.

That may mean that the 4-inch form factor remains the most popular iPhone size of all time. I’m in no position to speak for Apple, but that’s not something I’d let go of too easily.

The Case Against Control Center ➝

I’d certainly love for Control Center to be more customizable, but my biggest feature request is 3D Touch support. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could force touch the Bluetooth button to see a list of nearby devices which you could connect or disconnect from individually?

Google Will Soon Shame All Websites That Are Unencrypted ➝

I don’t like the idea of Google encouraging all web developers to use encrypted protocols. I can understand this line of thinking for websites which feature user profiles and private communication — where the information transferred actually has a reason to be encrypted. But why should simple content sites be shamed into adding unnecessary complexity?

OS X’s Potential Name Change ➝

Jason Snell, writing on Six Colors:

But there was another little slip that was very interesting to me. It probably means nothing, but when Maestri listed off Apple’s four major product platforms, he said this: “We’ve built a huge installed base around four platforms: iOS, Mac OS, watchOS, and tvOS.”

Officially, that second platform is still “OS X.” But calling it Mac OS instead sure fits better, doesn’t it?

If Apple continues calling their desktop operating system “OS X” after iOS 10 is announced, I’ll be shocked. I suspect OS X will receive a name change in the near future and will be referred to as “macOS” from that point forward.

Apple Plans to Support Paid Content in News App ➝


Apple Inc is working to make subscription content available through its News app, giving publishers with paywalls a new way to control who sees their articles, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The move would differentiate Apple News from Facebook’s Instant Articles news offering, which does not offer subscriber-only content, and would likely give Apple a boost as it seeks to distinguish itself from a growing crowd of online news apps.

Is Apple News the next Mac App Store yet?

Apple Guides First-Ever iPhone Sales Decline in Q2 ➝

Prepare yourself for a deluge of “we’ve reached peak iPhone” articles from your favorite doom and gloom Apple pundits.

‘iPhone 5se’ to Have A9/M9 Chips and Always-On Siri ➝

Mark Gurman, with more information on the iPhone 5se:

First, we are told that there are different prototypes of the device floating around Apple’s campus: some with the A8 and M8 chips that we discussed in our previous report, and some with the iPhone 6s’s A9 and M9 processors. We’ve now learned that the iPhone 5se is more likely to include variants of the A9 and M9 chips instead of the A8 and M8 lines. […]

Lastly, we are told that the 5se will also likely see another boost over the 5s: a higher capacity. While the new device will likely start at a 16GB capacity to match the 5s, the secondary, higher capacity is said to be doubled from 32GB to 64GB.

At what point would Apple consider this device to be part of the iPhone 6-family rather than the iPhone 5?

Twitter Has Stopped Showing Ads to Some VIP Users ➝

I must be one of Twitter’s most important users because I’ve never seen ads on the service. Because, like all the other cool kids, I use Tweetbot.

Apple TV Update Adds Podcasts App ➝

This sounds lIke a great opportunity to browse Apple’s directory for new and interesting video podcasts. Honestly, I’m starting to miss the days of MacBreak, The Totally Rad Show, and Tiki Bar TV. There’s plenty of incredible audio podcasts that I listen to every week, but as far as video is concerned, I just haven’t been paying enough attention.

Top Twitter Executives Leave Company ➝

Yasmeen Abutaleb, writing for Reuters:

Four senior Twitter executives are leaving the media company, CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted late Sunday night, the biggest leadership changes since Dorsey returned as chief executive as he struggles to revive the company’s growth.

Media head Katie Jacobs Stanton, product head Kevin Weil, the head of the engineering division, Alex Roetter, and HR head Brian “Skip” Schipper will all leave the company, he said.

I sure hope these departures aren’t the canary in the coal mine. But it’s awfully suspicious when this many executives leave all at once.

Finding a Place for iPad ➝

Richard Anderson:

The iPad 3 lacked the portability of the previous models—it felt heavy in my bag, so I mostly left it at home on the dining table. In some ways, it felt like I’d spent $500 on an entertainment device that I could occasionally use for “real” work if I wanted to put up with the limitations of the hardware and software.

About a month in with the iPad Air 2, however, and I’m singing a very different tune. Where the iPad 3 was fun to use, it never made me want to use it more, even before OS updates caused it to slow down. The Air 2 is fast and flexible enough that it can not only do a huge chunk of what I can do on my Mac, but it does it well enough that I want to use it more.

I’ve had my iPad Air 2 for almost a year and I can safely say that it’s the best computer I’ve ever owned. I believed that to be the case when iOS 8 was the latest and greatest, but with iOS 9 it’s no contest. The addition of split-screen multitasking has transformed the iPad from a casual device that I used to read news and check Twitter to my primary machine for almost every task.

At this point, the only time I turn to my MacBook is when I’m doing work which requires several application windows at the same time — like when I’m making changes to the site’s design and need Transmit, multiple text files, and Safari open at the same time. Or when I’m publishing images to the site — I still find image editing, compressing, and uploading much easier on OS X.

Last weekend I sat down at my MacBook to complete some of the remaining tasks on my site redesign to do list. When I opened the computer’s lid I was greeted with a “No Backups for 13 Days” notification from Time Machine. It’s become so normal to use iOS as my primary computing platform that I had gone nearly two weeks without waking my MacBook from sleep. And I hadn’t even noticed.

Justin Blanton’s Home Screen Has Begun to Ossify ➝

If you’ve been following the site’s Twitter account for a while you may have noticed that I share my iPhone’s home screen on the fifteenth of every month. You may have also noticed that it very rarely changes and never more than an app or two at a time. Like Justin, my days of constantly switching between different applications that perform the same task are behind me.

Gurman’s Sources Say ‘iPhone 5se’ Coming in March or April ➝

Everything about this rumor seems plausible to me aside from the name and the addition of curved glass on a device that will “mostly retain the 5s’s design.” The name “iPhone 5se” is terrible, why wouldn’t they simply name it iPhone 5e? Has everyone at Apple forgotten about the response to the iPhone 3GS?

As for the design, wouldn’t Gurman’s sources refer to it as a miniature iPhone 6 rather than as a modified 5s? Other than the obvious size differences, the 5s’ chamfered edge is one of its few defining features when compared to the iPhone 6.

I’m typically inclined to believe Gurman’s rumors, and this one is no different, but I’m still left with questions about what form this 4-inch device will take.

Apple to Refresh Apple Watch in March ➝

Mark Gurman, reporting for 9 to 5 Mac:

Apple plans to announce new Apple Watch models in March. The new lineup will be similar to the September 2015 Apple Watch revision, bringing a series of new band color options to the Apple Watch lineup. We are also told that entirely new bands made out of new materials are in development in addition to partnerships with firms beyond Hermes. […]

With new Apple Watch bands and software features in the pipeline along with the new iPhone model and iOS 9.3, sources say that Apple is still tentatively planning a small media event in March. Apple’s current plans call for an event-based introduction during the week of March 14th, but this could be reliant upon another product becoming ready for introduction in the spring, such as the in-the-works iPad Air 3.

I still plan on buying a leather loop for my Watch, but those new band materials sound intriguing. I might wait until the March even before I make any final purchasing decisions.