Tag Archive for ‘Michael Tsai’

‘It Depends on Whether Apple Likes You’ ➝

Michael Tsai, referencing Apple’s App Store guidelines on user generated content in relation to Parler’s recent app rejection:

Parler has all this. You can argue with how well it works, but the guidelines don’t state any specific requirements about that. […]

If you go by Apple’s written guidelines, multiple apps were compliant, yet rejected anyway. If you go by Apple’s stated objections, none of the major apps are compliant, yet they’re in the store, anyway.

Regardless of your opinion about Parler, it’s clear that Apple’s policies are not enforced uniformly. And yes, I agree with the likely rebuttal — the App Store is a private platform, Apple makes the rules and can remove an app for any reason. But there’s a difference between what they can do and what they should do. Without any predictability to policy enforcement, developers are left in the dark. And the smaller developers are the ones hurt the most.

Unlike Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit, smaller developers are stuck building apps that are well within the lines of acceptability. Otherwise they risk their livelihood. They don’t have the option to build something that pushes the envelope because they aren’t afforded the same lax enforcement that the bigger companies receive.

Apple needs to get a handle on their policies. Refine their wording, train app reviewers well, and enforce the policies evenly.

But I would also advocate for opening the platform. Because no matter how hard Apple tries, the review process will never be perfect. Just let developers distribute their own apps. Add an option in settings to allow installation from outside the App Store, disable it by default, and display a strongly worded notice when it’s toggled. Whatever you have to do.

The developer community and the platform itself would greatly benefit from a bit more freedom.

➝ Source: mjtsai.com

Hackers Convinced Twitter Employee to Help Them Hijack Accounts ➝

I’m a bit behind on the Twitter hack story, but Michael Tsai does a great job collecting some of the more interesting takes from around the web.

I’m sure this isn’t a unique thought, but having a single, centralized system for publishing and communication is inherently insecure. It would be wise for high-profile individuals to buy a domain, install some publishing software, and start sharing their thoughts on something they completely control.

If one site gets compromised, it will only effect that single individual. And because they’ll own their own platform, they won’t be beholden to Twitter in regards to what security measures can be put in place.

➝ Source: mjtsai.com

Unmasking Twitter ➝

Michael Tsai, on Twitter’s decision to censor tweets that go “directly against guidance from authoritative sources of global and local public health information”:

Obviously, there is a lot of misinformation out there, and they don’t want Twitter to be overrun with it. But some information from health and government sources has turned out to be incorrect, and different authoritative sources don’t always agree with one another. Some potential treatments are approved in certain jurisdictions but banned in others. Knowledge is evolving by the day, but nothing is going to be truly verified scientifically until after this is all over.

This is my line of thinking when social media companies introduce and/or enforce rules like this. For some topics, like COVID-19, the recommendations from various government and scientific sources are contradictory. And more broadly, the people making the definitive decisions about what tweets are deemed false or misleading are often guilty of their own biases.

Unfortunately, this is the path that we have to take. If only because advertisers will demand it — they don’t want to see their brand promoted next to anything they consider to be misleading, incorrect, dangerous, or objectionable. But hopefully we’ll all eventually move away from these platforms, before things get too bad, toward a more open web where each of us share our ideas on our own domains.

➝ Source: mjtsai.com

Search Ads for Competing Products ➝

A great collection of links and quotes from Michael Tsai. Apparently Google lets companies purchase ads on search results using a competitors’ brand name as the keyword. The folks at Basecamp were essentially forced to purchase ads for their own name in order to prevent competitor’s ads from being listed above their own, organically high ranking homepage.

➝ Source: mjtsai.com

What Are We Getting in Return? ➝

Great thoughts from Michael Tsai on Apple’s decision to discontinue their AirPort router line.

On Subscription Pricing

Michael Tsai:

My hunch is that, for an app under ongoing development, many people would be fine paying a subscription that averages out to about the same amount they had previously been paying per year (initial purchase plus occasional upgrades). […]

But that doesn’t seem to be what’s been happening. Instead, we’ve seen subscriptions combined with price increases, customers balking, and insinuations that people just don’t want to pay for anything anymore. With more than one variable changing at once, I don’t think we can conclude that people hate subscriptions.

I’ve spent a lot of money on software during the App Store era, it’s not uncommon for me to spend ten or twenty dollars on random apps that I don’t even use a few weeks later. I’m not one to hesitate if an application seems like it will be useful to me. But I’ve been uneasy about subscription pricing since the day it was made available for non-media apps.

I understand that the current state of software economics is a bit broken and that the race to the bottom has made it incredibly difficult for indie app developers to make a living. But it seems like every single application that transitions to a subscription model is pricing their software much higher than what I would be willing to pay.

1Password is the perfect example of this. I rely on 1Password to keep my login credentials secure and in-sync across all of my devices. My password vault lives in iCloud and I don’t need any of their premium subscription features. But I would still be willing to pay for a subscription to 1Password to help support the developers and on the off-chance that I find one of their premium features to be useful. I’m not willing to pay $36 each year for it, though.

Maybe 1Password is just giving too much away for free right now and, as a result, the app’s perceived value is lower than it should be. Or maybe any transition to a new business model would make me feel uncomfortable, regardless of what the new model is. But the thought of paying $36 every single year for an application that, to my eyes, is feature complete seems ludicrous to me.

If the 1Password subscription was half the price, though, I’d pay for it in a heart beat. Granted, everyone’s threshold is different, but I think developers are pricing their subscriptions too high. I can’t exactly blame them, this is mostly uncharted territory and it may take some experimentation before the market finds comfortable price points. From what I’ve seen so far, though, prices need to come down before customers are willing to jump in.

Nick Heer points out that there’s an additional wrinkle in this new model that developers need to keep in mind when they’re pricing their subscriptions:

But I think one thing a lot of developers might forget is that their subscription is not the only one a user has to make a decision on: as more apps adopt this model, users have to make more decisions about which software they can really afford.

Assuming the prices are fair, the first few subscriptions are much easier to sign up for than the fourth and fifth. Subscription pricing just doesn’t scale well. If I had to pay a monthly fee for all of the apps I use regularly, I’d go bankrupt.

Maybe the solution to this whole mess is a multi-tiered pricing model similar to what Plex has done with it’s Plex Pass. They offer three pricing options for customers — $5 each month, $40 each year, or you can purchase a lifetime pass for $150 (currently discounted to $120). This gives each customer the option to pay what they feel comfortable with and, if it’s priced right, the majority of customers will choose the option that’s most lucrative for the developer. If I was developing an app with subscription pricing, this is what I’d want to be doing.

macOS 10.12.2 Removes Battery Time Remaining Estimate ➝

Michael Tsai:

I never liked how the estimate claimed to be accurate down to the minute. I would like to see an estimate with fewer significant digits, both to hide the erratic changes and to avoid over-representing the accuracy.

This would be a much more elegant solution to the problem rather than removing the indicator all together. Saying something like “About 4 Hours Remaining” would give you most of the information you needed without making you feel like the estimation is gospel.

Scrolling Tweetbot to the First Unread Tweet ➝

Apparently Tweetbot will scroll to the first unread tweet if you double tap on the timeline icon in the tab bar. This is amazing. And seriously, why am I just now hearing about this?

(Via Michael Tsai.)