Mike Becky

Tag Archive for ‘Craig Hockenberry’

WorldWideWeb ➝

A nifty little app from Icon Factory that lets you setup a quick and easy web server on your Mac or iOS device. I can’t say I have a use for this at the moment, but I’ll keep it in my back pocket in case it comes in handy in the future.

➝ Source: blog.iconfactory.com

Twitter Needs Third-Party Clients ➝

Craig Hockenberry, referencing Ryan Christoffel’s recent piece on Twitterrific’s introduction of multi-window support and Twitter adding keyboard navigation to their app:

This review that covers a both a third-party and first-party Twitter app shows how important the former is.

Third parties are always first with platform features like multi-window on iPad. And we’ve had keyboard support for several years.

Third-party clients are the reason we have retweets, replies, mentions, blocking/muting, and more. Almost all of Twitter’s best features were first introduced and supported by developers outside of Twitter. The service would really benefit from a reintroduction of the APIs that allowed those apps to stand on equal footing with Twitter’s own client.

As a bit of an aside, I’m going to be giving Twitterrific another shot.

(Via Michael Tsai.)

➝ Source: macstories.net

‘iCloud Clusterfuck’ ➝

Craig Hockenberry:

The months since WWDC in June have been a terrible experience for both customers and developers alike and the literal center of the chaos was Apple’s iCloud syncing service.

For us, it all started with customers reporting lost Linea sketches in their iCloud Drive. Initial investigations led to a common factor: all of the people affected had installed the iOS 13 beta release.

And when I say lost, I mean really lost. Entire folders were either gone or corrupted. Apple’s mechanism to recover deleted files was of no help. The customers with weird folder duplicates were the “lucky” ones.

I installed iOS 13 on my iPhone relatively early on in the beta cycle. I ran into issues with Shortcuts and promptly downgraded back to iOS 12 a few days later. Since then, I’ve stayed far away from the idea of running the beta on any of my devices.

Here’s the thing, the data I keep in iCloud is just too darn important for me to take a chance with. Especially with beta releases like we saw with iOS 13.

Luckily, there is an eventual happy ending to this story, though:

Now it appears that the entire stack is getting rolled back and there won’t be new iCloud features in iOS 13 (at least initially.) I honestly think that’s the wisest course of action at this point. My only wish is that Apple would make an official statement.

If it’s broken, fix it before it ships. And that’s exactly what Apple appears to be doing.

I really like Craig’s suggestion for the future, too — iCloud simply can’t be a beta again. But I actually think having the ability to backup and restore all of your iCloud data is a more attainable first step that would mitigate a lot of fear from situations like this in the future. Essentially, Apple could prevent beta releases of iOS from touching iCloud data unless the service first confirms that the user has completed a download of an iCloud backup file. Then, if anything goes wrong, the user can at least restore from that point.

➝ Source: furbo.org

A Lot Can Happen in a Decade ➝

Craig Hockenberry, regarding the ten year anniversary of the original iPhone SDK:

After recovering from all the great news, developers everywhere started thinking about shipping. We didn’t know exactly how long we would have, but we knew we had to hustle.

In the end, we had about four months to get our apps ready. Thanks to what The Iconfactory learned during the Jailbreak era, we had a head start understanding design and development issues. But we still worked our butts off to build the first iPhone’s Twitter app.

What an exciting time that was. I just wish I would have had the foresight to spend some time learning about app development instead of simply writing about the platform.

Looking at the Future of Color Management ➝

Craig Hockenberry, writing on Iconfactory’s weblog:

As with most things released by Apple, there is an amazing amount of underlying technology that makes this new display shine. This new product is also a glimpse of how our screen technology will evolve over the coming years, so now is a good time to start understanding how these changes are going to affect our products.

As a developer, you’ll quickly realize that the scope of these changes will make your update to Retina graphics look like a walk in the park. At the end of this piece, you’ll also learn how I can help guide you through this process.

Selling the Apple Watch Without a Band

Zac Hall recently wrote a piece for 9 to 5 Mac about his hope for an Apple Watch upgrade program:

Apple Watch has a lot of opportunity to get better over the next few years, though, just like the original iPhone advanced dramatically between iPhone 1 to iPhone 4. A proper Apple Watch Upgrade Program could easily encourage current owners to buy the latest hardware every year (everyone using the latest generation helps the overall product’s reputation) and encourage new customers to splurge on higher-priced models.

This would undoubtedly be a stellar idea, but what if Apple simply offered a Watch that didn’t come with a band? This would give existing Watch owners an inexpensive option for upgrading without forcing them to turn over their older model. I don’t expect Apple would be able to cut too much off the price, but having to use the bands you already own in order to save $30-40 would sound like a pretty good deal to me.

I floated the idea past Craig Hockenberry on Twitter after he wrote about his band collection, but he didn’t think Apple would do such a thing.

I would prefer that, but it doubt it will happen. They don’t sell incomplete products (e.g. Mac without a keyboard.)

The only problem with this argument is that Apple already sells plenty of “incomplete” products. The Apple TV doesn’t come with an HDMI cable; the Mac mini doesn’t come with a display, keyboard, or mouse; and neither does the Mac Pro.

Apple clearly isn’t above selling a device without everything necessary to use it and I think the Mac mini is the best example of this. On the mini’s Features page, Apple even markets the machine by specifically encouraging buyers to “bring your own display, keyboard, and mouse”. The reason Apple can get away with this is because they can safely assume that many buyers already have these items and can reuse them.

But at some point Apple could make this same assumption for Watch bands when customers upgrade from an older model. The bands that Apple offers seem incredibly durable, many Watch owners have purchased additional bands, and I doubt the current lug mechanism will be phased out anytime soon. To me, it seems like a great way for Apple to encourage upgrades from existing users.

Another criticism I could see against this idea would be the question of why anyone would want to keep their old model. But this line of thinking comes from a technology enthusiast’s perspective rather than a watch enthusiast’s perspective — watch collecting is a thing. There are entire websites dedicated to selling cases designed to hold and display watches. If Apple is serious about the Apple Watch being — not just a smartwatch, but a timepiece — this is the type of market they might want to serve.

Inexpensive band-less watches make a lot more sense the more expensive the model, too. Does someone who spent over $10,000 on a watch really want to hand it in alongside an upgrade fee for the new model? I would expect the device to hold some amount of sentimental value to its owner. As someone who recently spent several hundred dollars on a pair of wedding bands, I would never dream of giving up my ring for one with smoother edges and a shinier finish. I plan on holding onto that round hunk of metal for the rest of my life.

Remember, the Apple Watch is a piece of jewelry and a gadget — each customer is going to consider it to be one of these to varying degrees.

From a logistical standpoint, though, I could see where selling a band-less Watch could be a little tricky. Obviously Apple wouldn’t want an unsuspecting customer to purchase a band-less Watch unless they already have bands to use with it. But I think that’s the kind of problem that could easily be solved by making it painfully clear to customers on the product page and obscuring the SKU on their website ensuring that most customers won’t even find it.

I think both upgrade program proposals have their merits — I’m sure there are plenty of Watch owners that would make use of each. Personally, I think of the Apple Watch more as a piece of jewelry than as a gadget. And as a result, I place a greater amount of sentimental value on the device. When I upgrade to a future iteration of the Apple Watch, I expect I’ll keep my existing model. I just hope Apple offers an option without a band so that I can save a little money in the process.

Additional Thoughts on Apple Watch

I wanted to make a few additional points about the Apple Watch, now having spent an extra week with the device since writing my initial thoughts. I’ve noticed some pain points that weren’t immediately apparent, but there’s also a few things that I’ve grown to truly appreciate about the device.

Complications are King

When I wrote my impressions of the Apple Watch, I noted that notifications and fashion were the two key features. But what I failed to realize was the importance of complications — they’re the real deal. I can look down at my wrist and tell you what my next calendar event is, when the sun sets this afternoon, the current temperature, and whatever else developers have managed to cram into one. With some tweaking, these little rectangles of information quickly turn the Apple Watch into a dashboard for your life. But it’s not just their glance-ability that make them useful, they’re also incredibly handy shortcuts for launching their corresponding app.

I can’t be the first person to say this, but the honeycomb app launcher is dreadful to use. Clustering all of my app icons into a big jumble makes finding the app you want extremely difficult, especially given that none of the icons are labeled with the app’s name. The ability to double click the Digital Crown to jump back to your most recent app helps, but my suggestion to developers is to build a glance and a complication for every app you build — don’t assume that users are willing to open it from the app launcher.

Over the past week I’ve had a little bit more time to curate my Apple Watch experience — configuring glances, complications, notifications, etc. — to the point where most of the apps I use can be launched from either a glance or a complication. There’s still a couple of exceptions to the rule — I open Clicker from the app launcher and Maps using Siri.

There isn’t much need for launching Maps by any other means, I only ever use it for navigation and Siri is more than capable of handling the task. Though, I would really encourage Craig Hockenberry and Iconfactory to consider adding a glance for Clicker. This is an app that I use several times a week and would love to have an easier way to launch it. The app already includes a complication, but it only displays the current count and doesn’t offer enough visual distinction from the weather complication that it would share a screen with. Iconfactory, either add a visual cue to the complication or add a glance — preferably both.

Which Watch Face

With my newfound love of complications, I’ve settled into using the Modular watch face. I started out with the Utility face — which I still think is the most attractive option, but it just doesn’t offer enough space for complications. Modular is the face with the largest number of complications — five — and I still find myself wishing I could split its large rectangular complication into two smaller ones. Or better yet, put the time in the center and allow for three square complications on the top and bottom of the display.

I’m not the first person to come to this conclusion about the Modular face and complications. John Moltz, wrote about this back in September:

I can read the date now because this face’s complications are larger and I get more information with this face than any other. It does kind of scream “SMARTWATCH!” which at first I was uncomfortable with, but I’m coming around to the fact that maybe that’s OK or even as it should be. I do actually own a smartwatch and it’s not like a round face is fooling anyone. Also, I want to be able to get all the utility out of it I can. This face allows for the time and five complications, which is the most allowed. A few other faces will do that many, too, such as Simple and Chronograph, but you can get more out of Modular.

In my opinion, Modular is the absolute best watch face available. It offers more information at a glance than any other face available. And isn’t that the whole point of a smartwatch?

Turn by Turn Directions

My fiancée and I took a trip this past weekend up to the Waterloo outlets for some holiday shopping. We know our way there for the most part — we usually take a trip or two each year — but I decided to try out the Apple Watch’s navigation features in the Maps app.

It was surprisingly helpful. I didn’t need to have my iPhone secured in a dashboard mount, I could leave it in the cup holder where it usually sits while still getting reminders of upcoming turns. I did find it difficult to discern between the “turn left” and “turn right” haptic feedback which Apple claims are distinct enough to notice, but I didn’t have any trouble getting where I needed to go.

Having my music quiet down for Siri to tell me where to turn next was obviously helpful, but I think I could have just gotten by with wrist taps and glances at my Watch’s display to see which direction I needed to head in — the Watch displays large, easy to read icons and text that indicate your next turn. I also found glancing at my wrist while driving to be much less distracting than having a smartphone strapped to my dashboard. The Apple Watch is likely going to become an important part of our navigation strategy in future road trips.

Odds and Ends

It goes without saying at this point, but the Apple Watch’s battery life is a non-issue. In the month that I’ve used the Watch, it’s never been below 30%. If you’re have trouble getting through a day on the Watch’s battery life, I have no idea what you’re doing.

I have found the haptic feedback to be a little weak at times. I’m not going to say I got a defective unit, but I’ll often miss notifications for hours when I’m busy at work. My best guess is that I’m moving my arms just enough that I simply don’t notice the taps. It’s unfortunate, but it’s far better than only having my iPhone in my pocket — I rarely noticed notifications on my iPhone when I had the ringer off.

I still haven’t dug too deep into the health and fitness features. I keep the Activity complication on my watch face and open the app from time to time, but I’m not making much of an effort to close all my rings each day. Maybe when things slow down after the holidays I’ll have the opportunity to be more conscious of it, for now I’m just collecting data.

The Apple Watch has a few flaws here and there, but the overall experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I continue to wear the Watch everyday and still think the platform has a bright future. I’ve spent the first twenty seven years of my life as someone who never wore watches, but I guess that’s no longer the case.

The New Favicon ➝

Craig Hockenberry, writing on Iconfactory’s weblog:

The recent release of Safari 9.0 brought a great new feature: pinned tabs. These tabs are locked to the lefthand side of your tab bar and stay in place, even when you open a new window or relaunch the browser.

The default behavior is to display the first letter of the site’s name on a color from the site’s theme. If you work on a site with a strong branding element, you’ll want to customize the icon on the pinned tab. Anthony Piraino and I have been working on one for the Iconfactory and would like to share some of the things we learned.

This is something I’ve tried to implement on Initial Charge in the past, but I hit a brick wall when trying to build the final vector image. I’m not too adept at working with graphics and what I have now is a PNG file that, obviously, doesn’t display in Safari’s pinned tabs.

I had found a few ways to convert my image files to SVG, but none of them resulted in actual vector images — just an SVG file with my bitmap image embedded in it. This time around, though, I might have found a solution. I came across this thread on StackOverflow where a few users have suggested using Potrace. When I get a chance sometime next week, I’ll give it a try.