The Initial Charge Linked List

 

Amazon’s Echo Is a Glorified Clock Radio ➝

Alexander Acimen, writing for Quartz:

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

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

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

(Via Matt Birchler.)

Linea ➝

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

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

Mark Gurman and Ian King, reporting for Bloomberg:

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

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

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

How to Verify Time Machine Backups ➝

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

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

Lory Gil, writing for iMore:

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

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

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

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

Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors:

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

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

This is a really neat little feature for AirPods owners.

The Best Apple Watch Stands ➝

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

A Deep Dive Into HandBrake and Video Transcoding ➝

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

On Third Party Android Apps ➝

Matt Birchler:

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

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

Apple Using New File System in iOS 10.3 Beta ➝

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

Inevitable Sherlocking ➝

David Smith:

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

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

This a great attitude to have.

Requiem for the Thunderbolt Display ➝

Nick Heer:

Don’t let me get you down — LG’s 5K display might work just fine for your setup. But it doesn’t seem like an adequate replacement for the Thunderbolt Display. It doesn’t have the same hardware quality as an Apple product, it doesn’t have comparable functionality, and it has an ugly “forehead” to house the camera. Unfortunately, it seems like Apple won’t make a true successor to the Thunderbolt Display because they’re not making displays any longer. For a niche of Mac users, that’s a big loss.

I haven’t purchased a standalone display since I stopped using PCs in 2006. Every display I use is now built into the machine it’s connected to. And although I’m unsure I’ll ever be in the market for a standalone display again, if I was to need such a product, I don’t even know where I’d begin. I always assumed that I could just buy the one Apple makes, but that’s no longer the case. And that stinks.

Goodbye Mint, Goodbye Fever ➝

Shaun Inman:

As of today I’m officially suspending sales and support of Mint and Fever. But! As self-hosted software, absolutely nothing changes and you can continue using both Mint and Fever as you were yesterday. […]

I am unbelievably grateful for everyone who found some utility, personal or professional, in these things that I built over the past decade. I also want to apologize to anyone who didn’t get their activation key in a timely manner or has had a pre-sale or support request go unanswered for too long. I hope Mint and Fever treat you well for as long as you continue to use them.

I’ve been a huge fan of Shaun Inman’s software for years — I reviewed Mint and Fever around the time I first installed them and they’ve been my favorite web analytics and RSS syncing services ever since. But the writing’s been on the wall for both of them for quite some time — development has drastically slowed over the past two years. I expect I’ll continue using them for a while, but eventually I’ll have to migrate to something else.

This is sad news, but I’m glad Shaun will be able to spend less time on projects he’s no longer interested in and more time on the software that gets him excited to code.

Scoreboard for Apple TV ➝

A neat utility app for the Apple TV that helps you keep track of board and card game scores on your television. It’s easy to use, supports up to ten players without scrolling, and can save multiple scoreboards for ongoing games.

If you’re starting to feel like the Apple TV is just for media apps, Scoreboard breaks the mold with a beautiful presentation and great functionality.

How Apple Alienated Mac Loyalists ➝

A fascinating piece by Mark Gurman filled with scoops regarding the state of Mac hardware and software development within Apple.

Here’s the bit that I found most interesting:

In the Mac’s heyday, people working on new models could expect a lot of attention from Ive’s team. Once a week his people would meet with Mac engineers to discuss ongoing projects. Mac engineers brought prototypes to Ive’s studio for review, while his lieutenants would visit the Mac labs to look at early concepts. Those visits have become less frequent since the company began focusing more on more-valuable products like the iPhone and iPad, and the change became even more obvious after the design team’s leadership was shuffled last year, according to a person familiar with the situation.

In another sign that the company has prioritized the iPhone, Apple re-organized its software engineering department so there’s no longer a dedicated Mac operating system team. There is now just one team, and most of the engineers are iOS first, giving the people working on the iPhone and iPad more power.

The Mac diehards aren’t just the ones that helped Apple survive through the tough times, they’re also the ones who have evangelized the platform over the past decade — contributing to what it is today. It’s in Apple’s best interest to keep those users happy because a good portion of them have influence over their friends and family’s purchasing decisions. If they switch to Windows, many of their friends will switch back too.

macOS is the current platform of choice for these users and Apple needs to build Macs that appeal to them. But you can’t do that if you’ve shifted the entire company’s focus toward an entirely separate product line.

Minecraft for Apple TV Now Available ➝

Owen Jones on Minecraft News:

Do you own one of those fancy Apple TV devices? Maybe Santa has his elves cooking one up in their high-tech workshop?

If either of those are true, I bring good news! We’ve just released Minecraft for the slim black boxes. And, for a limited time, it comes with seven pieces of lovely DLC, giving you the chance to customise the fun to your liking. Minecraft: Apple TV Edition currently includes the Holiday 2015, Town Folk, and City Folk skin packs, along with the Plastic, Natural, Cartoon, and Festive 2016 mash-ups. It costs $19.99 and is rolling out in all regions as I type.

I’ve never played Minecraft before, but I’m hoping to find a SteelSeries Nimbus under my tree on Sunday and I can’t think of a better game to try it out on.