Tag Archive for ‘Om Malik’

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.

November Publishing Challenge ➝

Shawn Blanc:

Starting today — Friday, November 1 — I’ll be writing and publishing something every day for the whole month of November.

Though, instead of writing a novel in a month, I will be simply be focused on publishing something — anything — every single day. From photos, links to interesting things, articles, reviews, etc.

CJ Chilvers, Om Malik, Matt Hauger, and Josh Ginter are planning to to publish each day in November too. And I’ll throw my hat in the ring as well.

➝ Source: shawnblanc.net

Flickr Moving Away From Yahoo Login ➝

itsnihir, writing Flickr’s help forum:

In preparation for launching our new login system, we’re beginning the rollout today of the new Flickr login page. This will take some time, so hang tight if you don’t see it immediately — it’s coming!

For now, the login page will still forward you over to Yahoo, where you’ll continue to use the same credentials as always to sign into your Flickr account. The next step in the process will take a few weeks — we’ll let each member know when it’s time to choose the email address and password you’ll use to log in to Flickr.

I’ve had my eye on Flickr since it was acquired by SmugMug last year. I’ve been using Google Photos as a repository our family photos for a couple of years now, but I’ve never been in love with the idea of handing over so much data to Google. Unfortunately, though, there just wasn’t anything more appealing. iCloud won’t let multiple users backup to a single family library and all other service seem to have pretty mediocre backup apps.

I have quite taken the plunge toward using Flickr as my primary backup service, but moving away from Yahoo logins is a reassuring sign that things are improving. Om Malik started using the service and seems to be quite happy with it so far, Shawn Blanc has followed, and Nick Heer is considering purchasing Pro again. There are signs of life and people are noticing.

I don’t know if Flickr will every be as big as Instagram, but if they can build a solid business around a good photo backup service and a small community of dedicated users, I would consider that a raving success.

(Via Michael Tsai.)

The Next Chapter ➝

Om Malik on the recent sale of Gigaom:

I had no idea this was coming, so like everyone else on the former Gigaom team, it came as a surprise. It is good to see the last chapter on this book closed. For me the story of Gigaom ended on March 9, 2015, a red letter day in life if any.

Knowingly or unknowingly, it is time for the next chapter.

I can’t imagine how it would feel to have something you built from the ground up shuttered, sold, and relaunched like this.

Instant Articles and Online Publishing

I didn’t give much thought to Facebook’s new Instant Articles feature until I noticed John Gruber’s take on it. He wrote about it from the perspective of an independent publisher and how efforts like it could impact his livelihood writing on Daring Fireball.

I’m intrigued by the emphasis on speed. Not only is native mobile code winning for app development, but with things like Instant Articles, native is making the browser-based web look like a relic even just for publishing articles. If I’m right about that, it might pose a problem even for my overwhelmingly-text work at Daring Fireball. Daring Fireball pages load fast, but the pages I link to often don’t. I worry that the inherent slowness of the web and ill-considered trend toward over-produced web design is going to start hurting traffic to DF.

Soon after John published, I started seeing a multitude of articles from other independent writers discussing the ramifications of Instant Articles and, ultimately, what online publishers need to do to maintain relevancy. Federico Viticci is concerned about a world in which every social network has its own Instant Articles-like feature, Peter-Paul Koch blames the proliferation of web development tools that bloat page sizes, and Om Malik explains that Instant Articles has refocused our collective attention on network performance and speed.

The web is still a wonderful place filled with a never ending supply of great content, but people will stop showing up once publishers push them away with enough terrible experiences. Although speed is what keeps getting everyone’s attention and is something publishers should definitely keep an eye on, the overall act of reading content on the web has lost its luster.

Facebook obviously has ulterior motives — there’s a great deal of value in keeping users inside of their ecosystem — but Instant Articles resonates with users because loading the average web page has become a miserable activity. So many sites these days plaster their pages with Javascript sharing links, Feedback buttons that hang off the side of the web page, banners asking you to download their iOS app, omnipresent navigation bars that shrink the amount of visible content, full page advertisements that require you to tap on tiny close buttons — I could go on for days. Not only is the average web page quite slow, but its a dreadful place to read. I hate loading a web page and being bombarded with junk. All I want to do is read the article you published. Why is that so difficult?

What I think it comes down to is greed. Online publications are often quick to sacrifice user experience in order to increase page views which they expect to increase revenue. Publishers are struggling to keep their revenue consistent, or even worse, ever increasing in order to account for their growing staff. And the only way they’ve found to increase revenue is by encouraging user “engagement” — typically adding a bunch of “call to action” or “social” features.

But, there’s a problem with the underlying thinking that increasing your ad views will translate into increased revenue. What seems to happen is the cost per impression paid to publishers has continued to decrease and its a matter of simple economics. As the supply of ad space increases the actually cost to advertisers per impression naturally goes down based on supply and demand. By covering their websites with advertisements and then making every attempt to increase page views, online publications are thrusting themselves into a world in which online ad space is worthless because of its ubiquity. I think the ad networks that are addressing this best are the single-ad-per-page networks like The Deck and Carbon Ads. They turn the traditional online advertising model on its head by not allowing publishers to cover their websites with ads. This increases the amount of attention each user pays to the ads allowing them to charge premium prices for each spot.

I don’t expect most online publications would be willing to move to an advertising platform like The Deck or Carbon Ads, though. These single-ad-per-page networks are just too radical of an idea for most of these companies. Instead, I expect most of them will slowly transition to publishing content through mediums like Facebook Instant Articles, and it will work for a while. Advertisers will be quick to jump onboard because its a new and exciting mechanism and there’s natural scarcity given that only a select few will adopt it early on. But, in time this medium will eventually succumb to the same pitfalls we see today on the web — obnoxious advertising and bad user experiences. It’s not going to happen all at once and probably won’t take place for many years, but eventually the slow erosion in quality will take place and Instant Articles won’t look all that different than the web of today.

I’m not worried about the future of online publishing. I expect one of three things to happen (or a combination there of) which will ensure that independent writers will continue to be able to make a living. The first possibility is that tools will eventually be built that allow writers to continue writing as they do today, but have their content seamlessly funneled into whatever ecosystem they want it in. Whether that be a service that reads a website’s RSS feed and turns it into an Instant Article or an application platform like Glide that will allow writers to produce content designed for viewing inside of an application, developers will build what’s necessary to allow writers to continue having an audience wherever that may be.

The second scenario is that this move from the web is simply a fad that will eventually die just as AOL keywords and a myriad of other technologies have in the past. Web developers and online publications will at some point (hopefully) realize the error of their ways and start producing web pages that are a bit more user friendly and readers will return to their web browsers again. Compound this with future increases in bandwidth speeds and there might not be a need to move to another publishing platform.

The third possibility is that some percentage of readers will disappear from the traditional web and will spend nearly all of their time reading content in ecosystems like Facebook. If that’s the case and developers aren’t able to build quality tools that change the way we publish today then many of us will have to double down on what we’re currently doing to maintain readership — engage with others in social networks, share links to our own content, build email newsletters that add a more personal touch to what we’re writing and makes it even easier for readers to reply directly to our thoughts from within the same application they read it in (their email app).

I would consider the last possibility the least likely of the above options as it assume that developers aren’t going to be working on new ways to deliver or consume content and that social networks like Facebook and Twitter are going to live forever. And that’s a bit too far fetched for me. Don’t get me wrong, its a good idea for most of us to double down on what we’re doing anyway, but developers are going to realize that there’s a need and build tools to provide a solution. And at some point all social networks fall by the wayside no matter how big or powerful they become.

I don’t subscribe to the doom and gloom scenarios that other writers have posited since Facebook announced Instant Articles. There are plenty of websites that need to take notice and start working towards a more user-friendly experience, but most of the writers I pay attention to already attempt to minimize page load times and completely avoid the Javascript toolbars and cluttered sidebars that are keeping other publishers down. The good thing is that us geeks already use tools that allow us to read the web in a more friendly manner — Instapaper, RSS readers, Safari’s Reader View, etc. And, I hope there’s plenty of developers working on ways for everyone else to catch up and start using these types of tools to improve their experiences as well.

Palm Puts Itself Up for Sale ➝

Bloomberg reports that Palm has been working with Goldman Sachs and Qatalyst Partners to find a buyer for the company.

HTC and Lenovo have both been mentioned as possible buyers. Dell is said to have also looked at buying Palm but ultimately decided against it.

Palm has been struggling for several years and I’m sad to say that, unless they find a suitable buyer, this could be the end. Palm has resorted to some desperate moves as of late, even offering their flagship device on Verizon for $49.99 with a buy-one-get-one-free deal.

So, who should buy Palm? As much as HTC would benefit from Palm’s patent portfolio in their lawsuit with Apple, I really think Om Malik was right when he said that Motorla should buy Palm. What Motorola needs is to differentiate. They shouldn’t just be another Windows Phone 7 or Android handset maker. They make good enough hardware, but why would anyone buy a Motorola handset over the Google branded Nexus One? I think webOS should be the answer.

Om Malik: Motorola Should Buy Palm ➝

Om Malik:

What Motorola needs to do is take a page from the Apple/RIM playbook and get vertically integrated.

And in order to do that, the company should buy Palm. As I’ve already noted, Palm has a great OS. It actually has a couple of other things going for it as well, including Jon Rubenstein and the team he’s assembled, many of whom are former Apple folks. The Palm team should do the software and Motorola’s engineers, the hardware. And when it comes to the hardware, again, it should be adopting Apple’s design and development principles, which Rubenstein must know pretty well.

I agree with Om. Handset manufacturers need to realize that they can’t just be another company building another Windows Mobile or Android device. HTC can do that only because they have clearly become both Google and Microsoft’s favorite hardware partner. But Motorola, with their flagship handset launching just 2 months before Google and HTC announce the Nexus One, needs to take a different approach.

Motorola should buy Palm because Motorola needs something that will help them stand out in the crowd, webOS would do just that.

Mozilla to Release iPhone App ➝

Something I missed from late last week. Om Malik regarding an interview with Mozilla CEO John Lilly at the Play conference:

…he hinted that the company was going to launch a brand new application for the iPhone, though he declined to reveal any details. “Mozilla will release an app to the iPhone App Store in the next few weeks,” Lilly said. “It’ll surprise people.”

Malik speculates that it could have something to do with Weave. Weave is Mozilla’s sync service which is currently a work in progress at Mozilla Labs. That seems likely to me, I definitely wouldn’t guess a browser, as some others have.

Apple has approved some browser-like applications for the App Store, but all of them use WebKit as their rendering engine. The likelihood that Mozilla would build a browser built on WebKit and not on their Fennec mobile rendering engine is essentially zero. I would also be stunned if Apple ever approved an application that used a third-party rendering engine.