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Tag Archive for ‘Nick Heer’

The Peculiar Rise of the Paid Email Newsletter ➝

Nick Heer:

It seems almost tragically ironic to think that newsletter subscriptions are the future of independent publishing. Email has been around for far longer than the World Wide Web, and has almost none of the design advantages or surveillance mechanisms celebrated by web publishers. All this time we have been subject to the whims of ad technology firms when the solution seems to be a rewind button.

➝ Source: pxlnv.com

Instagram Rolls Out Suggested Posts to Create an Infinite Feed ➝

Nick Heer:

Instagram has been testing this for a while; suggested posts began showing up in my feed earlier this year. It tried something similar about two years ago, but stopped after some time.

This time, the change seems permanent, and irritates me so much that it singularly caused me to abandon Instagram. I signed up days after it launched, and posted often. I love the creativity that it encouraged. But I do not want to see photos in my feed from accounts I do not follow, and there is no way to turn this off.

This feature doesn’t appear to be implemented on the Instagram website, at least not yet. So one workaround would be to visit the site instead of launching the app. You could even add the site to your home screen, which will give you a more app-like experience without Safari’s browser chrome.

But the writing is on the wall. Instagram will only get worse with more features like this being added in the future. I’ve been toying with the idea of taking ownership of the platform in which I publish photos and this change on Instagram only further affirms my interest in doing so.

➝ Source: pxlnv.com

RSS Usefulness ➝

Nick Heer:

There was a time when feed readers were built into email apps and web browsers, but that’s rarely the case now. I don’t know that there’s anything that will make it much easier for less technically inclined users to begin using RSS. It is a niche technology from a user’s perspective, but that is completely okay. Not everything needs to be dominant to be useful.

I completely agree, but if RSS isn’t widely used, there isn’t much of an incentive for websites and services to implement it. When I think about the future of RSS, that’s my biggest concern.

➝ Source: pxlnv.com

The Streaming Model for Music Doesn’t Work for Artists When They Do Not Earn Live Performance Income ➝

Nick Heer:

There has never been a better time to support musicians directly. The next Bandcamp fee waiver day is June 5, and many artists sell merch and records on the web. You can still buy albums on iTunes, too, in the way your great aunt told you stories about.

I’ve purchased about a half-dozen albums over the past couple of months between physical CDs and iTunes purchases, which is much more than I typically do. If you’re able to support your favorite musicians right now, I would encourage you to do so.

➝ Source: pxlnv.com

The Ubiquity of Ad Technologies, Tracking, and Other Nasty Practices on the Web ➝

Nick Heer, referencing Alberto Brandolini’s tweet from 2013:

This rule remains true for the bullshit web — the marketing cruft, bloated advertising, tracking mechanisms, and Google’s unnecessary and toxic Accelerated Mobile Pages project that have come to dominate the web. Users have tried to fight back by adopting ad blockers and switching to web browsers that are more privacy focused. But bullshit is stronger than that. It cannot be contained by browsers or the mere will of users’ requests. The response by its purveyors illustrates how thoroughly bullshit resists control.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s anything we can realistically do to put an end to this garbage. Without every internet user refusing to visit the sites that use these tactics, we’re stuck installing ad blockers and privacy-focused browsers in an attempt to fight back.

➝ Source: pxlnv.com

Catalina’s Dialog Bureaucracy ➝

An excellent piece by Nick Heer discussing the terrible state of permissions prompts and security-related dialogs in macOS.

➝ Source: pxlnv.com

The State of iPad

The iPad was announced on January 27, 2010 — just over ten years ago. And this anniversary has started a discussion among our community about the state of iPad, where it has succeeded and where it has failed. I have my own opinions which I’ll share at the end, but I thought I’d do my best Michael Tsai impersonation and share some choice quotes from others who have written about this occasion.

John Gruber:

The iPad at 10 is, to me, a grave disappointment. Not because it’s “bad”, because it’s not bad — it’s great even — but because great though it is in so many ways, overall it has fallen so far short of the grand potential it showed on day one. To reach that potential, Apple needs to recognize they have made profound conceptual mistakes in the iPad user interface, mistakes that need to be scrapped and replaced, not polished and refined. I worry that iPadOS 13 suggests the opposite — that Apple is steering the iPad full speed ahead down a blind alley.

Nick Heer:

There are small elements of friction, like how the iPad does not have paged memory, so the system tends to boot applications from memory when it runs out. There are developer limitations that make it difficult for apps to interact with each other. There are still system features that occupy the entire display. Put all of these issues together and it makes a chore of something as ostensibly simple as writing.

Riccardo Mori:

Ten years later, here I am, with a sufficiently large and advanced iPhone on one side, and a sufficiently compact and powerful laptop (the 11-inch MacBook Air) on the other. And the combination of these two devices has effectively neutralised any need I might have for an iPad. After ten years, the only area where the iPad has truly become far better than a laptop and far better than a smartphone is art creation. For that, it’s a really astounding tool.

John Gruber, in response to Matt Birchler’s on the intuitiveness of platforms:

Advanced iPad features are mostly invoked only by gestures — which gestures are not cohesively designed. The Mac is more complex — which is good for experts and would-be experts, but bad for typical users — but its complexity is almost entirely discoverable visually. You just move your mouse around the screen and click on things. That’s how you close any window. That’s how you put any window into or out of full-screen mode.1 Far more of iPadOS should be exposed by visual buttons and on-screen elements that you can look at and simply tap or drag with a single finger.

Habib Cham:

The age-old uncertainty of whether the iPad can completely replace your PC and whether you can do work on the iPad remains. There is a simple answer to both questions: it depends on your computing requirements. To still utterly condemn the iPad as incapable of doing work is ludicrous and often a statement made by disputatious observers.

Lee Peterson:

I might dig into other comments separately but in general I have to say that I’d like iPhone development to slow down and iPad development to speed up. iOS 14 should be stability and no new features on iPhone and a real effort put into pruning iPadOS. I’d also love to see more work put in by Apple to make professional apps such as Final Cut Pro on iPad and it’s own apps such as Reminders split out of the OS and put into the store as an app that can be worked on independently just like Microsoft or Google do. […]

The iPad in my opinion isn’t tragic or a failure, it just needs a bit more focus for the power users.

Tom Warren, writing for The Verge:

Apple’s iPad may have transformed the tablet market, but it now appears to be growing into something more. The next decade of the iPad will define whether it remains as a third category of device that’s capable of occasionally bridging the gap between tablet and PC or if it’s ready to fully embrace life as a laptop.

John Voorhees, writing for MacStories:

iPad keynotes are very different today. The black leather chair is gone, and demos emphasize creative apps like Adobe Photoshop. The ‘single slab of multitouch glass’ is gone too. Sure, the iPad can still be used on its own and can transform into whichever app you’re using as it has always done, but there are many more layers to the interaction now with Split View, Slide Over, and multiwindowing, along with accessories like the Smart Keyboard Folio and Apple Pencil.

That’s quite a transformation for a product that has only been around for 10 years, and with the more recent introduction of the iPad Pro and iPadOS, in many ways it feels as though the iPad is just getting started.

Om Malik:

A decade after its introduction, I think the iPad is still an underappreciated step in the storied history of computing. If anything, it has been let down by the limited imagination of application developers, who have failed to harness the capabilities of this device.

Jean-Louis Gassée:

The iPad situation is serious. As an old warrior of the early Mac years recently said, one worries that Apple’s current leadership is unable to say No to bad ideas. Do Apple senior execs actually use the iPad’s undiscoverable and, once discovered, confusing multitasking features? Did they sincerely like them? Perhaps they suffer a lack of empathy for the common user: They’ve learned how to use their favorite multitasking gestures, but never built an internal representation of what we peons would feel when facing the iPad’s “improvements”.

Ben Thompson:

There are, needless to say, no companies built on the iPad that are worth anything approaching $1 billion in 2020 dollars, much less in 1994 dollars, even as the total addressable market has exploded, and one big reason is that $4.99 price point. Apple set the standard that highly complex, innovative software that was only possible on the iPad could only ever earn 5 bucks from a customer forever (updates, of course, were free).

I have a more optimistic outlook on the iPad than many of the bigger influencers within the community. It’s far from perfect, but I think the state of iPad is overall positive. There are issues with the multitasking interface, text selection, mediocre mouse support, and more — I trust that these annoyances will be smoothed out over time, though.

And even with these issues, my iPad is still my primary personal computing device. With the help of Fantastical, Day One, Bear, Things, Ulysses, Spark, Slack, Code Editor by Panic, Pixelmator, and more, I can do just about everything I was using my Mac for prior to going iPad-first in 2015.

There are still plenty of limitations on the iPad, but the ceiling feels higher for me than it does on macOS. The key is access to automation through Shortcuts. On macOS, I’ve used Alfred, Quicksilver, Automator, and countless other apps within the category, but I’ve never been able to build anything quite as advanced as I have with Shortcuts.

It’s difficult to feel pessimistic about a platform that is home to a productivity tool that has clicked for me like Shortcuts has. And seeing Apple integrate it into the system as deeply as they have shows that they get it. It’s just a matter of tightening things up and continuing to aim the ship in its current direction.

Taking Stock of Subscriptions ➝

Nick Heer, on the subscription pricing trend:

But, especially over the long term, I think users will find it fatiguing — at best — to live in a world where we pay hundreds of dollars a month to listen to music, use software, and store files. There are advantages: we can listen to most music of our choosing on demand; our software is constantly up to date and regularly has new features; the files we store are synced across our devices.

Extrapolated over a longer term, however, these niceties start to feel like lock-in. What if your music listening habits don’t change all that much? What if you don’t really need all those new features, or you’re frustrated that you feel forced to relearn a piece of software you’ve relied upon for years because an update changed the UI dramatically? What if you only edit most of your files from the same device?

I’ve embraced subscription pricing for some things — like the software that I use and rely on every single day. I’m looking at you, 1Password, Ulysses, TextExpander, Overcast, Day One, and Bear. But there’s a part of me that feels like subscription services are a terrible trap in other contexts.

Take music, for example. What happens in ten years when the pace with which you listen to new music slows? You find yourself listening to the same hundred albums over and over again. In previous generations? No big deal. You bought your records, 8-tracks, or cassettes and can listen to them until they physically cease to function.

But with subscription services, you either keep paying or go through the costly process of buying the music you truly care about. Because you never actually bought the albums, you just paid a monthly fee for access to them.