The Initial Charge Linked List

 

Music Memos ➝

Apple:

Sometimes the best ideas come when you least expect them. When those moments happen, open Music Memos to record high-quality, uncompressed audio through the built-in mic in your iPhone, or connect an external microphone. Music Memos is optimized for acoustic guitar and piano, and it works with other musical instruments, too.

I enjoyed Jim Dalrymple’s take on the app:

This is just a really smart app. It answers a lot of the problems musicians have had over the years in recording ideas quickly and easily, but it took that 100 steps further.

I’m really excited about Music Memos.

He also discusses some of the new features in GarageBand 2.1. It’s an interesting read, even if you’ve never made music before.

Susan Kare at Layers 2015 ➝

Susan Kare discusses her history with Apple and icon design. Be sure to stick around for the last half of the video for John Gruber’s interview with her. Great stuff.

A Unified TV Interface ➝

Benjamin Mayo would like to see a single unified interface for all of his television shows — like the list of recorded episodes on a DVR. I couldn’t agree more and have actually thought quite a bit about this ever since I cut the cord nearly a decade ago.

In my younger, and much more naive years I thought that video podcasts were going to be the future of television. You simply subscribe to all of the shows you like, they download automatically when new episodes are released, and you can watch them at your convenience in the client of your choosing. I realize now that this would never happen. There’s no way for content creators to completely control the experience, prevent piracy, or  ensure that viewers are actually watching the ads.

The only hope we have now for a unified interface, like Mayo describes, is if a service like Netflix or Hulu ended up lincensing the lion’s share of available content. But that, of course, comes with its own set of problems.

iOS 9.3 and Education ➝

Fraser Speirs, writing for MacStories:

Two things are happening with iOS 9.3. Firstly, it brings important user-facing features, such as Night Shift, in a point release. Secondly, it brings a beta of major features for education. It is important to remember that the education features will still be in beta after 9.3 is released. I was informed by Apple that the long lead-time is intended to give schools time to thoroughly test and provide feedback on these features before the start of the 2016-17 school year in August/September.

Fraser goes in depth on all of the education features, but this is the first time I’ve heard that they would still be in beta after 9.3 is released.

Microsoft is Bringing its Windows Phone Keyboard to iOS ➝

Tom Warren, writing for The Verge:

In an email to some Windows Insider testers, obtained by The Verge, Microsoft is looking for iPhone users to trial the Word Flow keyboard. It’s not clear when Word Flow will be released publicly on iOS, but Microsoft is already ready to test it more broadly so it will likely arrive in the coming months.

I’ve never installed a third-party keyboard on iOS and I doubt I’ll start now.

Botched Software Update Shuts Down Nest Thermostats for Many Customers ➝

Abner Li, writing for 9 to 5 Google:

Nest owners have reported that their smart thermostats have stopped working and as a result many woke up to colder than normal temperature in their house and unresponsive completely dead Nests. The fault lies in a software update (version 5.1.3 or later) that was pushed out to devices in December that drains the battery and ultimately shuts down the device.

Yikes. Upstate New York’s been a bit cold lately — I would not want to wake up without any heat.

Josh Topolsky is Raising Money for a New Website ➝

Noah Kulwin, reporting for Re/code:

According to sources, Topolsky aims for the new business to be akin to luxury lifestyle brand Monocle, which publishes a magazine 10 times a year as well as producing a website, a radio show and events. The editor wants to build an audience with the wallet and sensibility of old media prestige brands like the New Yorker or Vanity Fair, they say.

I’m interested to see what idea he’s come up with.

iAd App Network Will Be Discontinued ➝

Apple:

The iAd App Network will be discontinued as of June 30, 2016. Although we are no longer accepting new apps into the network, advertising campaigns may continue to run and you can still earn advertising revenue until June 30.

This also means that the iAd-supported free version of iTunes Radio will no longer be available.

Apple’s statement to BuzzFeed News, as reported by Brendan Klinkenberg:

We are making Beats 1 the premier free broadcast from Apple and phasing out the ad-supported stations at the end of January. Additionally, with an Apple Music membership, listeners can access dozens of radio stations curated by our team of music experts, covering a range of genres, commercial-free with unlimited skips. The free three-month trial of Apple Music includes radio.

I was pretty excited about iTunes Radio when it was first announced, but I can’t remember the last time I used the service.

Apple Watch 2 Not Likely to See March Debut ➝

Matthew Panzarino, reporting for TechCrunch:

Several things that I’ve heard (from several sources) indicate to me that we won’t see a new hardware model of the Apple Watch in March. Design partnerships, accessories, that kind of thing maybe but not a “Watch 2.0” with a bunch of new hardware features like a camera. I could be wrong, of course, but I’ve heard enough to put it out there.

Living Room Engagement ➝

Daniel Jalkut discusses the different app categories that he believes will find success on the Apple TV.

Having Your iPhone Read to You ➝

M.G. Siegler:

Basically, whether I’m in Safari or Pocket or Medium reading, I use the iOS ‘Speak Selection’ functionality to read things to me. You can do this almost anywhere within iOS (once you enable the feature in ‘Settings’) by selecting a block of text and hitting ‘Speak.’

Or, I find the real key is to enable ‘Speak Screen’ which allows you to quickly trigger the contents of any screen to be read to you simply by swiping two fingers down on an iOS screen.

This needs to be more widely known.

PipTube, YouTube on Your Home Screen ➝

A neat new app for viewing YouTube videos in iOS 9’s picture-in-picture on iPad. And this is a far more elegant solution than my previous recommendation. Just copy the video’s URL, open up Notification Center, and tap the link in PipTube’s Today View widget. If you watch a lot of YouTube videos, this is definitely worth a buy.

(Via MacStories.)

Apple Previews iOS 9.3 ➝

Apple released a beta version of iOS 9.3 to developers on Monday. They also published a preview page on their website detailing the update’s major new features.

iOS 9.3 will include Night Shift which can automatically adjust the display’s warmth to limit exposure to blue light at night. Apple is also adding the ability to password protect entries in the Notes app. And there’s also some enhancements to News, Health, and CarPlay. But perhaps the biggest features will be targeted toward the education market.

I sent my fiancée a link to the iOS 9.3 education preview page and she was thoroughly impressed by it. She’s been teaching for the past six years and has had iPads in the classroom for the past three. By far, the one feature she’s most excited about is Shared iPads.

Because of budgetary constraints, there’s never enough devices to go around. This means that students had to take turns on the classroom’s iPads and, without multiple users, it was difficult to save a students progress on the device. With Shared iPads, that looks to be a thing of the past.

There’s no word on when it’ll be available to the public, but my guess would be very soon. Most school districts determine their purchases for the following school year in the spring time and with 9.3’s heavy focus on education-related features for the iPad, Apple’s needs to release it as quickly as possible.

Amazon Prime Adds 20% Discount On Video Game Pre-Orders and New Releases ➝

Chris Morran, writing for Consumerist:

Amazon announced today that Prime subscribers will now be able to save 20% off sticker price, not just on pre-orders, but also on new titles during their first two weeks of release.

That second part is important, given the number of high-profile games that have been rushed to market with broken content, this two-week window means that Amazon customers can wait to see if the game has crippling problems (or horrendous reviews) before they buy.

A great perk for existing Amazon Prime members.

Live Periscope Feeds Will Show up on Twitter for iOS ➝

I hope this feature will eventually come to third-party clients as well. I regularly see Periscope broadcasts in my Twitter timeline that I’d like to watch, but not often enough that I’m willing to install an app specifically to view them.

‘iPhone 5e’ Could be Apple’s New 4-inch Handset ➝

Joe Rossignol, writing for MacRumors:

Chinese website cnBeta [Google Translate] is the latest source to claim Apple will release a new 4-inch iPhone early this year. The blog, citing Foxconn sources, shared many new details about the so-called “iPhone 5e” that we have broken down for comparison against previous 4-inch iPhone rumors below.

It’s a little unfortunate that this “iPhone 5e” isn’t likely to feature an A9, but I can understand why Apple would want to keep the top performing chips in their more expensive devices. I would take this rumor with a grain of salt, though. As Rossignol points out at the end of the piece, cnBeta’s track record is hit or miss.

Picking Apples ➝

Nick Heer:

I think Apple’s computer lineup has remained fairly — even remarkably — simple, considering that its growth has consistently outpaced the rest of the industry for the past several years or more. It’s no longer the simple four-cell grid of consumer vs. professional and desktop vs. portable, but it’s not much more complicated than that. I would argue that it has simply gained a column: it’s now consumer, professional, and specialist, the latter of which contains the Mac Mini and the 12-inch MacBook.

I think many of us longtime Apple customers look back fondly at the four-cell grid. But Apple doesn’t seem to be categorizing their devices in that way these days. There isn’t much of a need to think of things as “professional” or “consumer” anymore — the truth is that all of the computers that Apple sells can do just about any task that you can throw at them.

Instead, Apple devices look to be positioned based on their physical footprint. And even though the larger devices usually feature higher performance, that might have more to do with what Apple is capable of delivering within a given device volume rather than Apple trying to hit some mysterious performance target.

My guess is that Apple is heading towards a future where customers are better off basing their buying decisions on which screen size they prefer rather than what tasks they expect to perform. We are quickly reaching the point where even the slowest machines pack more computing power than the majority of customers would ever need. And in that world, screen size and device footprint are the largest differentiating factors.

Apple Reporting Inaccurate Readership Numbers to Publishers ➝

Jack Marshall and Steven Perlberg, reporting for The Wall Street Journal:

The company mistakenly has been underestimating the number of readers using the News app since its launch, and passing that inaccurate information on to publishers. […]

Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, said the company missed the error as it focused on other aspects of the product. The company didn’t explain how the problem occurred or say exactly when it might be rectified.

“We’re in the process of fixing that now, but our numbers are lower than reality,” he said. “We don’t know what the right number is,” but he added that it was better to undercount than overcount traffic.

This seems like an odd thing to admit publicly — would anyone have complained if Apple just fixed this on the backend silently?

Thoughts on an iPhone 6c ➝

Stephen Hackett:

If Apple can squeeze the A9 into something this size, I think it will sell well. I’ve heard from readers and people in my personal life who would like to purchase a new phone of this size. My wife, who reluctantly just upgraded to a 6S, is going to be frustrated if the 6C is real and any good.

My fiancée is still clinging to her two-and-a-half-year-old iPhone 5s and refuses to upgrade to a new device until Apple releases a 4-inch option.

Stephen goes on to speculate about where the iPhone 6c might sit in Apple’s lineup. I’d like to see Apple simplify the lineup by discontinuing all of their older models. That means the iPhone 6c would essentially replace the 6, 6 Plus, and 5s. But that’s very unlikely to actually happen.

I think it’s much more likely that the iPhone 6c will simply be an addition to the lineup rather than a replacement for an existing device.

My guess is that Apple’s lineup will be as follows after the iPhone 6c’s release:

  • iPhone 6s Plus at $749
  • iPhone 6s and 6 Plus at $649
  • iPhone 6c and 6 at $549
  • iPhone 5s at $450

This would also mean that none of Apple’s current iPhones would see price drops until the iPhone 7 is released this Fall.

Apple Music Reportedly Hits 10 Million Subscribers ➝

Jon Fingas, writing for Engadget:

Financial Times sources understand that Apple Music recently racked up its 10 millionth paying subscriber — not bad for a service that’s barely half a year old. Spotify took 6 years to reach the same milestone, although its free tier likely gives it many more listeners overall (40 million in 2014).

Apple Developing Revamped, Cord-Free Beats Headphones ➝

Mark Gurman, reporting for 9 to 5 Mac:

With its resources from the 2014 acquisition of headphone maker Beats Electronics, Apple is prototyping a completely new set of Bluetooth earphones with the potential of launching the accessory alongside the iPhone 7 this fall. The new earphones are said to be completely wireless, which is to say that they do not even have a cable connecting the left and right ear pieces. […]

The headphones are planned to be a premium alternative to a new version of the EarPods, and are highly likely to be sold separately from the iPhone 7; a comparable model from Bragi will retail for $300. As has been previously rumored, sources confirm that the iPhone 7 will not include a standard headphone jack and will instead require headphones to connect via the Lightning connector or wirelessly over Bluetooth.

Apple removing the headphone jack from the iPhone will have almost no effect on me. I don’t care much about sound quality and have been using the headphones that Apple includes in the box since I purchased my first iPod in 2005. As long as Apple includes lightning-equipped headphones in-box, that trend will continue.

My car setup will have to be changed, though. Currently I use an audio cable from my iPhone to the auxiliary-in jack on my car stereo. But with this move away from standard audio cables, I’ll have to purchase an adapter of some kind. Which of course, isn’t a big deal at all.

Peach, a Social Network from the Co-Founder of Vine ➝

Casey Newton, writing for The Verge:

There’s nothing particularly original about Peach, but it began taking off in a significant way on Friday. I started receiving friend requests by the dozens when I tweeted my username, something that never happened with Byte. The app is silly and a little bit dumb but also rather fun, and that’s often a combination that gets a social network to its first 100,000 users. It remains to be seen whether we’ll still be booping and quarantining one another after the weekend. But in the meantime, Peach is Friday’s hottest social network.

I signed up for Peach yesterday and honestly, I don’t really get it. I quipped last night that the new social network is like Twitter, but you have to visit each of your friends’ timelines individually. The ability to post doodles, GIFs, and send things like waves, boops, and hisses to your friends is neat. But I just don’t think it’s enough to keep people coming back to the service.

Puzzle Solved: A Faster Mac mini Server ➝

Jason Snell adds a second drive to his mid-2011 Mac mini. This is by no means an easy upgrade, but its the kind of project I’d love to dig into.

iOS Screen Recorder Removed From App Store ➝

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch:

If you didn’t grab a copy of the new screen recording app Vidyo that sneaked into the iTunes App Store yesterday, it’s now too late. Apple, not surprisingly, has pulled the app from the store. Vidyo quickly drew a lot of attention, given that screen recording utilities are usually prohibited, and there was some hope that Apple’s policies on the matter had changed.

In case you missed it, Vidyo allowed users to record your device’s screen on iPhone and iPad, even when you weren’t using the app itself. That meant you could also record your homescreen. The app made this possible by simulating an AirPlay Mirroring connection – something that also likely contributed to its removal.

I managed to download the app while it was still available Wednesday night and was shocked at how well it worked. Activating the screen recording was a little odd — having to turn on AirPlay to begin the recording — but the resulting videos were impressive. It really is a shame that apps like this aren’t possible under the current App Store rules.

How to Make a Reading Time Calculator for WordPress with PHP ➝

A great tip from Matt Birchler, who quietly made the switch from Statamic to WordPress late last week. Displaying a reading time on Initial Charge’s feature articles has been something bouncing around in the back of my head since I saw Matt’s implementation of it. The feature didn’t make the cut with the site’s most recent redesign, but I’ll surely revisit the idea the next time I’m tinkering with the site.

Jeff Williams on Conversations on Health Care ➝

Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter discuss child labor, the democratization of medicine, and improving healthcare with Apple’s newly appointed COO. I’ll be listening to this one later tonight.

The Website Obesity Crisis ➝

Maciej Ceglowski:

These comically huge homepages for projects designed to make the web faster are the equivalent of watching a fitness video where the presenter is just standing there, eating pizza and cookies.

The world’s greatest tech companies can’t even make these tiny text sites, describing their flagship projects to reduce page bloat, lightweight and fast on mobile.

I can’t think of a more complete admission of defeat.

One of my favorite aspects of Initial Charge’s recent redesign was how small I managed to keep the homepage — typically sitting around 75KB. I’m very proud of how text-heavy and kilobyte-light it’s stayed while other sites have climbed near, and often surpassed, the megabyte mark. As our connections get faster at home and on cellular networks, I hope to remain passionate about shaving every kilobyte I can.

(Via Daring Fireball.)

Five Years of Mac App Store ➝

Graham Spencer, writing for MacStories:

Apple has let the Mac App Store stagnate and become a second class citizen to the iOS App Store and too many developers are leaving or avoiding the Mac App Store. When important apps leave the Mac App Store, it makes the store as a whole less enticing and customers have one less reason to open the Mac App Store.

Just how often do you open the Mac App Store?

The good news is that Apple might already be taking steps to improve the Mac App Store by putting Phil Schiller in charge of its operations. But Graham’s right, the only time I ever open the Mac App Store is when there are updates available for software I already own.

Fixing the App Store Purchasing Problem ➝

Rene Ritchie, writing for iMore:

Instead, imagine if the web intermediated, providing all App Store links on all platforms. Click on an App Store link on your Mac or PC and, instead of iTunes, you go to iTunes Preview and there’s a Get or Buy button right there. Click the button and you can choose to open in iTunes or log into your Apple ID account and initiate the Get/Buy right from the Web.

Instead of iTunes Preview, though, it’s now App Store for iCloud, or whatever best fits the model Apple wants to use.

This isn’t too far off from the App Store component of the new Remote app I wrote about a couple of months ago — aside from the ability to control your Apple TV. Although, I imagined this sort of functionality wrapped in an app rather than on the web. But thinking it over again, putting it on the web would probably allow for a better experience — no need to download another app which might cause confusion with the App Store-proper on the given device.

Creating Device-Framed Screenshots in Workflow ➝

Jordan Merrick:

Instead of looking to insert a screenshot inside device image, a screenshot can be “wrapped” by slicing a device image beforehand. Then, with some creative use of the “Combine Images” action and a few variables later, it’s possible to wrap a screenshot in a way that results in a perfect image of an iOS device containing a screenshot.

Workflow is an application that I’ve wanted to dig into for quite some time. And this workflow is a great example of why.

The app really reminds me a lot of Quicksilver — an incredibly powerful and versatile application that’s capable of streamlining tasks and improving your productivity. When I first started using the Mac in 2006, Quicksilver was always the first app I’d install on a new machine. I have since moved on to using Alfred, but it’s become such an important tool for me that I can barely find my way around a mac without it. At some point, I’d like Workflow to feel that essential to me.

(Via MacStories.)

The Mac mini’s Lack of Upgradability ➝

Stephen Hackett:

In late 2014 Apple revved the Mac mini, removing the quad-core SKU and making the RAM soldered to the logic board.

W. T. F.

I’d understand this if the company had changed the machine’s enclosure, but the easy-access door remains in place.

I might be upgrading my mid-2011 Mac mini’s hard drive and RAM in the near future. The machine is primarily used as a home server, hosting media that can be streamed to any of the Apple TVs in the house. But I’m interested in a faster hard drive — probably going SSD — and more RAM because I often find myself logging into the mini from my iPad to perform tasks that are a bit easier on the Mac.

It’s a shame that new Mac mini buyers aren’t able to do the same — purchase an inexpensive configuration with the intention of upgrading in the future. Luckily the hard drive is still user-replaceable, but the RAM should be as well. I don’t see any good reason for Apple to have made this change and I hope to see it corrected in the next revision.

A Screenshot is Worth a Thousand Words ➝

John Vorhees, writing for MacStories:

The screenshot app market intrigues me. Although most apps address one of a couple basic problems, execution varies widely and there are gaps in functionality, especially on iOS. As a result, the screenshot app category is somewhat fragmented, but in a good way, leaving room for interesting solutions from clever developers.

A nice look at the screenshot app market for iOS and OS X.

The Future of Computing is in These Three Computers ➝

Ben Brooks on the iPad Pro, Surface Pro 4 / Surface Book, and MacBook:

What these three computers represent, in varying ways, is what someone would think a computer should be for today’s computer user. An iMac, or MacBook Pro, are fantastic machines with all the power in the world, but they are a relic of what we wanted and needed in the late 90s and into the early 00s.

It’s becoming evermore apparent that we’re in the middle of a transitionary phase. One that will conclude with most users doing the majority their computing on iPad-like devices rather than MacBook-like devices. Traditional computers aren’t going away entirely, but they will become less and less common as everyday machines and will become relegated to more specialized roles.

Mac Power Users with Shawn Blanc ➝

A great episode of Mac Power Users in which David Sparks and Katie Floyd discuss workflows with Shawn Blanc. I especially enjoyed the bit where they talked about writing apps. Given that I produce this site, I’m always interested in learning about what applications other people use to do their writing. For anyone curious, I’ve been using a combination of Vesper and the WordPress admin panel for years and just a few months ago added Editorial to my repertoire.

Forcing a Refresh in the App Store ➝

A neat little tip I saw come across my Twitter timeline several days ago. If the App Store isn’t behaving properly, you can force it to refresh by tapping on one of the bottom tabs ten times. It’s also worth noting that the same trick works in the iTunes app, too.

Twitter’s Updated Mac App Wasn’t Made by Twitter ➝

Casey Newton, reporting for The Verge:

Development of the Mac app was outsourced to a third-party developer, said Jonathan Wight, a former Twitter employee, in a tweet. The Verge confirmed that the app’s development was outsourced with other people familiar with the matter. One of those people said the developer is Black Pixel, a well-regarded digital studio based in Seattle. Black Pixel’s other clients have included ESPN, Starbucks, and the New York Times, according to its website.

Black Pixel has built some great stuff, but this might explain why the new app doesn’t support some of Twitter’s new features.

Sad State of What to Watch on Apple TV ➝

Joe Rosensteel:

The Apple TV has been out for two months so let’s look at the bold changes the device has made to the media landscape. On the 30th of December, in the U.S., the What to Watch section of the Apple TV’s App Store features 30 apps. 19 explicitly mention unlocking content through a participating TV provider. 21 have no privacy policy. Only 5 explicitly mention closed captioning, but many more offer it.

Turn a Mac mini into a Media Server with Plex ➝

I’ve used a Mac mini as my home media server for years, but I’ve always stored my content in iTunes. This has its advantages in that it’s capable of sharing media throughout the house with out needing to install additional software on any of my devices — and of course, it played nice with my Apple TVs. But with the new Apple TV’s App Store, it might be time to give Plex a try.

Apple is ‘Close’ to OLED Screen Deal With LG and Samsung ➝

Reuters:

South Korea’s LG Display Co Ltd and the panel-making unit of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd will supply organic light emitting diode (OLED) screens for Apple Inc’s iPhones, the Electronic Times reported on Wednesday citing unnamed sources.

OLED displays typically offer better black levels and richer colors than LCDs. But they’re often much dimmer which makes their usefulness in bright sunlight less than ideal.

Kevin Lynch Says Steve Jobs Tried Recruiting Him to Apple After Flash Debate ➝

Zac Hall, writing for 9 to 5 Mac:

While it hasn’t been widely discussed that Jobs had tried (and failed) to recruit the Adobe CTO in 2010, Lynch confirmed the detail in a recent commencement address delivered to University of Illinois at Chicago’s mid-year graduating class.