Linked List Entries

The 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 entries and feature articles from the site.

Apple Airport and Eero ➝

David Sparks:

Remember when the Apple Airport was the best home WiFi solution? I sure do. I had a series of terrible routers and finally spent the money on an Airport. The system tools were easy to use and the WiFi was substantially better in my house. But still not perfect.

Last year I started using the Eero Mesh networking routers (Disclosure: they’re an occasional MPU sponsor) and my home WiFi made one of those leaps in technology that makes all nerds so happy. Everything got much better and my family now has stopped pestering me about dodgy WiFi.

Since moving into our new house this past fall, we’ve had some occasional Wi-Fi hiccups. A few times each week, our Wi-Fi just gives up on us. During those moments, we’re still connected to the network, but we aren’t able to transfer any data. This hasn’t compelled me to tear apart our setup quite yet, but it’s getting close.

I’ve been toying with the idea of just purchasing an Eero system with the expectation that it will solve all of our problems. But I already have a Time Capsule, AirPort Extreme, and an AirPort Express. Our house isn’t that large and I feel like I should be able to solve our Wi-Fi issues by repositioning and reconfiguring our existing setup. And of course, I don’t want to spend nearly $400 on a problem that I might be able to fix by investing a little time into it.

But I suppose, if Eero is as good as everyone says it is, it will be a worthy investment.

Update: I spent the afternoon repositioning my AirPort routers, resetting their firmware, and reconfiguring their settings. I moved our Time Capsule to the other side of the office and am now using our AirPort Extreme to extend our network on the other side of the house — instead of the AirPort Express that we were previously using.

It’s only been a day, but our network seems much more stable now. I’m able to get consistent speeds in our master bedroom, which is located on the opposite side of the house from our main base station. This was where most of our dropouts occurred and was especially irritating when we were trying to quickly toggle HomeKit devices or respond to messages before going to sleep for the night.

With any luck, the hour or two I spent on the project will have fixed our problem and I won’t have to spend a bunch of money on new hardware.

‘A Lack Off Consideration for Design’ ➝

A great piece by Nick Heer on Google’s alleged design prowess, written in the wake of YouTube’s new Apple TV app.

Too Many Siris ➝

Bryan Irace:

When talking to Siri on my iPhone, she has a certain set of capabilities. These differ if I talk to Siri on my Mac. When talking to Siri through my AirPods, she’ll assume whatever functionality she’d otherwise have on the device that they’re currently paired with. Siri on my Apple Watch can take certain actions when untethered, but different ones when my iPhone happens to be in range. Siri on my Apple TV has a different set of skills altogether, and now, the HomePod will add yet another Siri to the family.

Apple needs to unify Siri and let third-party developers build server-side SiriKit extensions that work whether your iPhone is available or not. I’m bullish on Apple’s future in the voice assistant race, but they need to get their act together soon. This year’s WWDC feels like a make or break moment for them in this regard.

Pondering an iPhone SE 2 ➝

Stephen Hackett:

I don’t think the market for the iPhone SE is very big, but I bet it’s bigger than Apple thought it would be a couple of years ago. I know many SE users are devoted to having the most compact smartphone they can, and I think Apple should continue to serve that market.

If Apple does announce an iPhone SE 2 this spring, my wife will be first in line to purchase on day one. She’s a huge fan of the compact form factor and prefers the less-slippery, harder edges of the 5S-era design. And of course, having a smartphone that actually fits in her jeans pocket is a plus.

In terms of what to expect in such a device, I’m thinking an A10 Fusion chip, a glass back for wireless charging, and the single-lens camera system from the iPhone 7.

The Future of Mac Upgradability ➝

Rui Carmo, on his iMac purchase:

Furthermore, given what they did to the iMac Pro (which foregoes even the RAM slot this iMac still has), I suspect that upcoming consumer iMacs will also not be user-upgradable by default, so I figured this was a great opportunity to buy a Mac that would allow me to upgrade something a few years from now. And I’ll take upgrading the RAM if that’s my only option, thank you.

I will probably be buying an iMac sometime this year and the ability to upgrade down the line is a major selling point for me. But my first instinct when buying an Apple product is to wait until a new model ships.

This is normally a smart move — wait a few more months and get a superior machine for the same price. But I don’t want to wait for a new model only to find out that Apple removed the RAM upgrade door in the next generation iMac. Then I’ll be stuck scrambling to find a previous-generation machine in the configuration I wanted or having to pay Apple’s exorbitant prices to upgrade the machine’s RAM.

‘Retina for Your Ears’ ➝

Rene Ritchie, in his review of Apple’s HomePod:

One day, HomePod might be part of a greater SiriOS mesh that, like in the movie Her, defines our interactive computing experience. For now, it’s just a beginning.

Like Retina for ears or Portrait Mode for music, it shows what’s possible when software lets hardware move beyond its physical limitations. it’s the start of another revolution in personal technology.

It’s certainly not perfect, at least not yet. There are severe limits to the services it integrates with and the assistance it provides. So much so that HomePod will really only appeal to customers already deeply enmeshed in the Apple ecosystem. But for those customers, it absolutely nails exactly what Apple set out to deliver: a speaker that can be placed almost anywhere in the home, is simple to set up, and sounds incredible no matter where it’s placed.

The title might be a bit hyperbolic, but this was a well-written, informative piece.

Home Screens Update ➝

A big update to my Home Screens page for this month including notes on my Apple Watch sleep tracking setup and my reevaluation of RSS reading apps.

Apple Delays iOS Features to Focus on Reliability and Performance ➝

Ina Fried, reporting for Axios:

Apple has shaken up its iOS software plans for 2018, delaying some features to next year in an effort to put more focus on addressing performance and quality issues, Axios has learned. […]

Software head Craig Federighi announced the revised plan to employees at a meeting earlier this month, shortly before he and some top lieutenants headed to a company offsite.

This is such an odd story to me. I just don’t see any indication that this is different from any other year. I expect the number of features that are initially planned for a given iOS release is always higher than the number of features that actually ship. As the team gets closer to their deadline, they realize that some number of these features aren’t going to see the light of day and they shift their focus to polishing the features they have already built.

Perhaps Apple will emphasize bug fixes and performance improvements as the primary focus of iOS 12, but there isn’t much evidence in this article that leads me to that conclusion.