Tag Archive for ‘Ben Brooks’

Designing Better Notifications ➝

Ben Brooks, writing on Martian Craft’s weblog:

For most of the modern smartphone era, notifications have either had two states: on or off. But that’s not how we actually operate as individuals. We opt for ‘on’ because we’d rather not miss things, but end up missing the signal in all that noise. Instead, as developers and designers, we should be looking at methods for crafting our notifications to be respectful of individuals’ lives, while delivering the most impact when our apps do send a notification. We need to stop pulling people out of the moment because a marketer decided now was the most optimal time to push a notification.

The piece includes some great suggestion from Ben on how developers can improve their application’s notification handling. I especially like the idea of expiring notifications — something I had no idea was already built into iOS.

‘This Is the iPad Size That Should Have Always Been’ ➝

Ben Brooks:

The 12.9” is amazing, but it’s cumbersome to use for just about any non-desk task. It’s too big to really use on a plane, or in any crowded coffee shops. But, it is a fantastic screen size which leaves little want when you work all day with it.

If I only had to pick one, it’d be the 10.5” without hesitation.

There’s a sense of freedom you gain with the 10.5” model that I never had with the 9.7” or the 12.9”. The sense that if I want to take my iPad away from my desk for any reason, taking the 10.5” gives me next to no tradeoffs. I can go read for hours, or write for hours, or anything in between.

When the iPad Air 2 was released, I knew there was something special about it. The massive increase in horse power couldn’t have been coincidental, Apple had a plan for all that extra performance. And the following year, Split View multitasking was announced.

I’m starting to get a similar feeling about the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. I’m not sure if it’s the ProMotion display, the screen size, the performance improvements, or something else, but I think the 10.5 is the iPad to buy right now. And I expect it to age well — like the Air 2 has — holding its own against new iPad models for the next few years.

Putting Your Home Network on an Uninterruptible Power Supply ➝

A great home networking tip from Ben Brooks:

Put your entire network on battery backup. It’s rare that the power goes out these days, but there have been a handful of interruptions to my area of late — lasting about two hours each time. My network, and thus my internet, stays up and online the entire time. Which means I can still work without burning through a data plan.

I love this idea. I have 10GB of tethering data available from AT&T each month now, but I wouldn’t mind having faster speeds during the rare instances when the power’s out.

What Kickstarter Can Teach Us About iPad Hardware Needs ➝

Ben Brooks:

However, there is one good thing about Kickstarter: it shows you what people want. Create a project, get a prototype, put it on Kickstarter (or Indiegogo, I am using those interchangeably here) and you’ll instantly know if there is a market for your product. With that in mind, I searched both services with the phrase “iPad Pro”.

Oh my.

My goal was simple: to figure out what people feel is missing, from a hardware perspective, with the iPad Pro. Surprisingly, I can lump almost all the products I found into three categories: Pencil accessories, cases, and speakers. Let’s take a look at some of what I found, and why there is (or isn’t) a market for such things — and see what we can glean from all of this.

What a brilliant idea. I never would have thought to take this approach when looking at untapped potential in the iPad accessory market. And I think accessory makers would be wise to use this strategy when determining what products would be worth developing in the future.

The Curious Case of iPad Headphone Jacks ➝

Ben Brooks:

In Apple’s mind I believe they see the iPad as a device in which you don’t ever need wires to use. If you do, you only need one at a time (either to charge while you sleep, or for headphones). Of course Apple’s preference is for you to use AirPods, but lacking that you can use the Lightning port.

I would bet then that the next round of iPad Air, and iPad mini models, you will see no headphone port.

The writing is on the wall for headphone jacks — eventually Apple won’t sell a single device that has one built-in. But this transitionary period will take a few years. I agree with Ben, I think the iPad Air and iPad mini are the next devices that will lose the headphone jack.

I think the iPad Pro will follow soon after, though. iOS devices represent a new era of computing and I think the “pro” iOS users are more willing to accept these types of changes. They’re the bleeding edge users who have already preordered their AirPods or plan on doing so soon. Apple will still probably hear some amount of backlash from them, but not to the same degree as they did with the iPhone — not even close.

I’m more curious about how long it will be before Apple ships a Mac without a headphone jack. And will that happen before they’ve been fully removed from the iOS lineup? Is this the type of feature that Apple will use as a temporary differentiator between the two lineups or will they transition both of them concurrently?

Twelve South Compass Comparison ➝

Ben Brooks:

One of the best products Twelve South has ever made is the Compass. A collapsible stand for iPads which can hold it at two angles, but really you just use it to hold it at an easel like angle. I’ve had one, off and on for years, and swear by them.

However, at some point Twelve South revised the design and launched the Compass 2. The new design looks very much the same, but is worse in just about every aspect (I’m being generous here, because I honestly can’t think of a way that it is better). I hate it.

I couldn’t agree more. The original Compass was great, and I continue to use it regularly, but the Compass 2 is a real stinker.

The front feet don’t sit wide enough to keep your iPad stable and it’s almost impossible to tap anything in the top corners without knocking your tablet over. Luckily, Amazon still has the original Compass available if you’re looking for one, but they’re almost out of stock. And I don’t expect they’ll be getting any more once those are gone.

I’ll continue clinging to my Compass 1 until it’s completely unusable, but I sure hope Twelve South does another redesign and fixes these problems.

Why I Still Buy Apple Hardware ➝

Ben Brooks, regarding the Surface Studio’s biggest flaw:

When I was talking about the Surface Studio on Twitter, someone responded “have you guys even used Windows lately”. I chuckled, because I have, and it’s shit. Anyone who thinks the Surface Studio makes up for that, is going to be really fucking sad.

No good Markdown writing apps, no robust note taking app market (hope you love OneNote), or good apps period. The apps look like apps out of 2003, and don’t even hold a candle to many of the free apps on Mac or iOS.

I originally switched to the Mac in 2006 because I fell in love with Apple’s hardware designs. After purchasing an iPod nano and fifth-generation iPod, I wanted that experience to extend behind my music listening.

I bought the base model white plastic MacBook and upgraded the RAM and hard drive myself, shortly after taking it home. What followed was serval weeks (or months) of discovery. There were all of these incredible third-party developers making some of the most well-designed applications I’ve ever seen.

I may have switched to the Mac because of the hardware, but I’ve stayed on Apple’s platforms because of the software. Nothing on Windows compares to the fit and finish of apps like Transmit, Alfred, Ulysses, and countless more. I haven’t dipped my toes in the other pond as recently as Ben — it’s been a few years since I’ve used a Windows machine for any meaningful length of time — but the impression that I get is that very little has changed on this front.

RAW iPhone Photo Apps ➝

Just as he did when content blockers became available, Ben Brooks has done the legwork and tested all of the camera apps that support shooting in RAW on iOS 10.