Posts in stories

Visualizing Apple’s Historical iPhone Lineups, Guessing the Next One

We're rapidly approaching that time of the year when Apple introduces new iPhones, and BuzzFeed's John Paczkowski reported last week that the event will be take place on September 9. There will almost certainly be a lot to talk about after the event (Paczkowski says that the event will include a new Apple TV and iPads), but one thing that I've been thinking about is what the new iPhone lineup will look like. This was all precipitated by the discussion on last week's Talk Show with John Gruber and John Moltz.

Because my mind was a bit fuzzy on the historical iPhone lineups (particularly the early years), I decided to go back and make a graph to simply and clearly show what Apple has done in the past. The dates I used were based on when each iPhone was available in the US (not the announcement date). Tier 1 represents the newest and most advanced iPhone available at the time. Although there are slight differences between the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, they are largely identical (both have an A8 processor with 1 GB RAM, etc) and as a result I've characterised them both as Tier 1. Tier 2 represents the next best iPhone available (often the previous year's Tier 1 model) and Tier 3 is the next best again.

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My Favorite Mac: The New 12″ Retina MacBook

After three weeks with the new MacBook, I can easily declare it as my favorite Mac, and none of the details that left some of the tech press wailing and gnashing their teeth have actually been a problem. Only one port? A minor annoyance at worst. Performance? It works great for everything that I need to do. Keyboard? I absolutely love it and can’t imagine switching back. In hindsight, the only regret I have is spending all that money on an iPad Air 2.

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On Negative App Store Reviews During Betas of iOS and OS X

Earlier this week, Apple released the first public betas of iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan, and, knowing that would be the case, I cautioned MacStories readers against leaving negative reviews on the App Store for third-party apps that developers can't update with new features and fixes yet.

It's worth pointing out that, at this stage, third-party apps from the App Store can't be updated to take advantage of the new features in iOS 9 and OS X 10.11, which could limit the potential benefit of trying a public beta for some users. On iPad, for instance, only Apple's pre-installed apps can use the new multitasking features in iOS 9. For this reason, users interested in installing the public betas should also keep in mind that developers can't submit apps and updates with iOS 9 and El Capitan features to the App Store – therefore, it'd be best not to leave negative reviews for features missing in apps that can't be updated to take advantage of them yet.

Unfortunately, since yesterday I've already seen tweets from the developers of two excellent iOS apps – Screens and Day One – post screenshots of negative reviews they've received by users who are unsurprisingly running into problems when using their apps on the iOS 9 beta.

What's even more unfortunate is that this happens annually for every single iOS and OS X developer seed, but I fear the problem will be exacerbated this year by the availability of public betas anyone can try. Therefore, this bears repeating.

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iOS 9 and Safari View Controller: The Future of Web Views

For a long time, iOS apps have been able to open links as web views. When you tap a link in a Twitter client, an RSS reader, or a bookmark utility, it usually opens in a mini browser that doesn't leave the app, providing you with the convenience of not having to switch between Safari and the app. For years, in spite of some security concerns, this worked well and became the de-facto standard among third-party iOS apps.

With iOS 9, Apple wants this to change – and they're bringing the power of Safari to any app that wants to take advantage of it.

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Inside iOS 9 Search: Apple’s Plan for More Connected Apps

At WWDC 2015, Apple announced app search, a new feature of iOS 9 that will help users find content inside apps. Beyond the user-facing aspects of a new search page on iOS and proactive suggestions from Siri, however, lies a commitment to fundamentally rethink iOS' relationship with apps and the web, with deep implications for the future.

With iOS 9, Apple wants to reimagine how information from apps is exposed to users. For a long time, iOS apps have largely been treated as data silos – utilities that kept gaining design improvements and powerful functionalities as iOS grew, but ultimately unable to bring their data outside the confines of their sandbox. Following in the footsteps of iOS 8's adoption of extensions, Apple's plan to further open up iOS is deceptively simple: just let users search for what they need.

Behind the scenes, the reality of iOS 9 search is going to be a little more complex than that.

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iOS 9: Our Complete Overview and First Impressions

Apple announced iOS 9, the next major version of its mobile operating system, at WWDC 2015 this week, with a focus on iPad productivity, enhancements to built-in apps, better intelligence, and improvements to performance and security.

Part an iterative update aimed at refining missteps and missing features of iOS 8 and part a new beginning for Siri and iPad users, iOS 9 isn't the "Snow Leopard release" that some tech pundits were asking for. iOS 9 is building upon the foundation of iOS 8 with dozens of new features – many of which could profoundly impact the way we interact with our apps and devices every day.

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Why I Switched My Favorite Twitter, RSS, and Podcast Apps for Three Weeks

For at least five years there have been three slots on my iPhone Home screen dedicated to apps for Twitter, RSS, and podcasts. For as long as I can remember, they have been taken up by Tweetbot, Reeder and Castro. Three weeks ago I got rid of all three, and replaced them with Twitteriffic, Unread, and Pocket Casts. I had come to the awkward realisation that although I frequently tried new apps (and occasionally reviewed them), I didn't do the same thing when it came to Twitter, RSS, and podcast apps – at all. I had become too comfortable with the same apps.

So for three weeks I've been solely using those apps, and this "experiment" has lead to a few interesting revelations to me. Perhaps the most obvious one was that I discovered certain features I really liked, but had no idea I liked, until they were missing in the app I switched to (and vice versa). I won't spoil the results, but suffice to say I have resolved to try new apps (whatever their purpose) more frequently, even if I'm really happy with the app I'm currently using.

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The Accessibility of Apple Watch Bands

Last summer, I wrote an article for iMore in which I stress the importance of looking at hardware in accessibility terms. I wrote, in part:

Assessing the kinesthetic, tactile value of using an iPhone or iPad is just as important as assessing the software it runs. Speaking from personal experience, not only am I visually impaired but I also suffer from a mild form of cerebral palsy. What this means is, for me, the strength in my hands and fingers are substantially less than that of a fully-abled person. Hence, it takes much more effort to hold things — in this case, my iOS devices — as well as do things on my devices, like typing. Because of this, my approach to buying a new iPhone or iPad depends not only on 64-bit systems-on-a-chip and improved cameras, but also how the device feels in my hands: the weight, width, thinness, etc.

What applies to iPhones and iPads also applies to Apple Watch. In the context of the Watch, the hardware that is most crucial, accessibility-wise, are the bands. To folks like me who suffer from motor delays, the ability to successfully get the Apple Watch on and off is as key to a positive user experience as the quality of the software it runs.

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