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My Tablet Has Stickers

Great piece by Steven Sinofsky, who has replaced his laptop with an iPad Pro. There are several quotable passages, but I particularly liked this one:

Most problems are solved by not doing it the old way. The most important thing to keep in mind is that when you switch to a new way of doing things, there will be a lot of flows that can be accomplished but are remarkably difficult or seem like you’re fighting the system the whole time. If that is the case, the best thing to do is step back and realize that maybe you don’t need to do that anymore or even better you don’t need a special way of doing that. When the web came along, a lot of programmers worked very hard to turn “screens” (client-server front-ends) into web pages. People wanted PF-function keys and client-side field validation added to forms. It was crazy and those web sites were horrible because the whole of the metaphor was different (and better). The best way to adapt to change is to avoid trying to turn the old thing into the new things.

This paragraph encapsulates what I went through for the past two years since I switched to the iPad as my primary computer. To this day, I still get comments from a few people who think "I'm fighting the system". And we don't have to look too far back in our past to find the opinions of those who thought the iPad Pro was a platform for people who "jump through more hoops than a circus elephant".

I've been enjoying the wave of iPad enthusiasm that the iPad Pro caused, and I still believe we're just getting started.

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What Happened to Google Maps?

Fascinating study by Justin O'Beirne on how Google Maps changed from 2010 to 2016 – fewer cities, more roads, and not a lot of balance between them on a map at the same zoom level.

He writes:

Unfortunately, these "optimizations" only served to exacerbate the longstanding imbalances already in the maps. As is often the case with cartography: less isn't more. Less is just less. And that's certainly the case here.

As O'Beirne also notes, the changes were likely made to provide a more pleasant viewing experience on mobile devices.

I understand his point of view – the included examples really make a solid case – but I can also see why Google may consider the average user (looking up points of interest nearby, starting navigation on their phone) and think that most users don't want that kind of cartographic detail anymore.

It'd be interesting to see the same comparisons between Apple and Google, as well as between old Apple Maps and Apple Maps today.

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Apple Releases ‘Moms’ TV Ad

Having a good camera won’t make you a better photographer, but having a good camera with you all the time means you have a chance to capture something special when the opportunity presents itself. That’s the power of Apple’s Shot on iPhone series.

Today, Apple released a special 30 second Shot on iPhone television advertisement called ‘Mother’s Day.’ The ad features photographs of mothers and their children, including three short video clips. Each photo also lists the first name and last initial of the photographer who took it.

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Microsoft Launches ‘Flow’ Preview for Web Automation

Microsoft has entered the web automation space with Flow, a new service currently in public preview that aims to connect multiple web apps together. Microsoft describes Flow as a way to "create automated workflows between your favorite apps and services to get notifications, synchronize files, collect data, and more".

From the Microsoft blog:

Microsoft Flow makes it easy to mash-up two or more different services. Today, Microsoft Flow is publicly available as a preview, at no cost. We have connections to 35+ different services, including both Microsoft services like OneDrive and SharePoint, and public software services like Slack, Twitter and Salesforce.com, with more being added every week.

I took Flow for a quick spin today, and it looks, for now, like a less powerful, less intuitive Zapier targeted at business users. You can create multi-step flows with more than two apps, but Flow lacks the rich editor of Zapier; in my tests, the web interface crashed often on the iPad (I guess that's why they call it a preview); and, in general, 35 supported services pales in comparison to the hundreds of options offered by Zapier.

Still, it's good to see Microsoft joining this area and it makes sense for the new, cloud-oriented Microsoft to offer this kind of solution. Flow doesn't have the consumer features of IFTTT (such as support for home automation devices and iOS apps) or the power of Zapier (which I like and use every day), but I'll keep an eye on it.


The Convergence of Emoji

Good post by Sebastiaan de With on how different companies are quietly agreeing on emoji conventions:

Companies like Google and Microsoft are entirely free to attempt to reshape our popular culture by changing the way their emoji look. They could easily dig their heels in and refuse to change their emoji iconography despite jarring differences between sets.

Fortunately, this isn’t the case. What we’re seeing instead is that the new emoji sets from Google and Microsoft have converged to a look that is far more similar to Apple’s, often mimicking particular peculiarities in expression or design that Apple apparently chose on a whim.

The peach emoji example is a great one – it shows how Google prioritized common usage over Android's history.

See also: emoji fights at the Unicode Consortium.

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Canvas, Episode 9: Presenting with iOS

This week Fraser flies the show solo to talk about his experience in creating, delivering and sharing presentations with iOS.

Fraser and I couldn't record Canvas together this week, so we thought we'd spice things up a little with a solo show where Fraser talks about presentations on iOS. Presenting is a topic of which I'm not an expert anyway, while Fraser is quite proficient in it, so it made sense to do it this way.

You can listen here.

Travelling with such light and simple devices is a dream come true for many road warriors, but can iOS truly deliver the power required to be an end-to-end presentation platform?

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Apple Announces New Apple Music API

Today Apple announced a new Apple Music API via its Affiliate Program Newsletter. According to Apple, the API:

…allows iOS apps to directly control Apple Music playback and more. We encourage affiliates to use the Apple Music API to provide a superior user experience by integrating music into their apps.

With the Apple Music API you can:

  • See if a user is currently an Apple Music member
  • See which country the user’s account is based in
  • Queue up the next song or songs based on a song ID for playback
  • Inspect playlists already in My Music or create a new playlist with a title and description (see App Store Review Guidelines for limitations).

The announcement coincides with the introduction of a new Apple Music Best Practices for Apple Developers page that serves as a hub for developer and affiliate program resources related to Apple Music. The page includes:

  • App Review guidelines applicable to the Apple Music API, some of which are new.
  • Links to developer documentation for the Apple Music APIs.
  • A summary of Apple Music identity guidelines regarding the use of the Apple Music name, logos, and related matters, with a link to the more comprehensive Apple Music Identity Guidelines.
  • Links to more information regarding the iTunes Affiliate Program.
  • A link to the Apple Music Toolbox page for searching Apple Music in each of the 113 Apple Music countries by artist, song, album, playlist, Connect, curator, radio and music video, from which you can generate affiliate links.

One thing I’d like to see added to these tools is the ability to return search results for items like playlists using the iTunes Search API, which would allow developers to generate affiliate links to them programatically. Right now those links can only be generated from the web-based search tool in the Apple Music Toolbox. Nonetheless, it’s nice to see Apple Music being opened up to developers, and not surprising given the emphasis on services during Tuesday’s investor call.


Apple Pay Now Supported by ANZ in Australia

ANZ has become the first Australian bank to support Apple Pay, turning on support today for most customers with ANZ Visa credit or debit card and ANZ American Express cards. Although Apple Pay technically launched in Australia in November 2015, until today support was extremely limited to just those with an American Express issued card (a similar situation exists in Canada and Singapore).

ANZ is one of the "big four banks" in Australia, and as ANZ gleefully (I assume) point out in their Apple Pay terms and conditions, the other three do not support Apple Pay:

Apple Pay is not currently available at NAB, CommBank or Westpac.

The full list of supported ANZ cards are listed here.

It is interesting to note that most of ANZ Visa cards are supported, but no ANZ MasterCard cards are supported. Interestingly, last week's launch of Apple Pay in Singapore revealed that Visa support for Apple Pay in Singapore is coming soon to three of their domestic banks.

However, Apple's Australian website does note that MasterCard support is "coming soon".