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Connected, Episode 142: A Trip to Barcelona

Federico has published his iOS 11 wish list, and the group goes deep on what Apple should do with the iPad’s software. Stephen manages to sneak in a confession.

On this week's Connected, we discuss my iOS 11 wish list and concept video and we consider where Apple could take the iPad next. You can listen here.

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Game Day: Old Man’s Journey

Old Man’s Journey by Vienna-based Broken Rules is equal parts game and story. You play as an old man who receives a letter that seems to upset him. He immediately grabs a backpack and walking stick and sets out into the countryside on a journey. Along the way, you clear a path for the traveler by manipulating the landscape to solve a series of puzzles. The puzzles aren’t difficult, but they help draw you into the beautiful interactive environment and pique your curiosity about the man’s story. Before long, I found myself completely absorbed by Old Man’s Journey.

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iOS 11: iPad Wishes and Concept Video

iOS 11 for iPad concept.

iOS 11 for iPad concept.

(Full-res)

Once heralded as a promising sign of Apple's renewed commitment to the iPad, iOS 9 has begun to feel like a one-hit wonder.

iOS 9 represented a profound change for Apple's approach to the iPad. After years of stagnation and uninspired imitation of iPhone interface paradigms, iOS 9 allowed the iPad to explore the true potential of its large canvas; for the first time since the original tablet, Apple was creating new iPad-only features rather than adapting them from the iPhone. Split View, Slide Over, and Picture in Picture were drastic departures from the classic iPad interaction model that, however, perfectly fit the device.

As I concluded in my iOS 9 review:

This year, the iPad is getting the first version of iOS truly made for it. After too many unimaginative releases, Apple has understood the capabilities of the iPad's display and its nature of modern portable computer. Free of dogmas and preconceptions of what an iPad ought to be, iOS 9 fundamentally reinvents what an iPad can become going forward.

In a span of six months, the one-two punch of iOS 9 and iPad Pro redefined the concept of portable computer again, setting Apple on a new path for the iPad ecosystem. Or, at least, it seemingly did.

Since late 2015, Apple hasn't had too much to show for the iPad. A smaller version of the iPad Pro was released in early 2016, though the new device mostly adapted features from the bigger version to a more compact form factor, introducing inconsistencies to the iPad line in the process, such as the True Tone display (still exclusive to the 9.7" iPad Pro). iOS 10, while a solid upgrade overall, focused on iPhone users and lifestyle enhancements; for iPad users, iOS 10 was a disappointment that failed to build upon iOS 9. The first iPad Pro – launched in November 2015 – has lingered without updates, raising questions on the actual need for one of its marquee features – the Smart Connector that only Apple and Logitech have supported so far. And amid consistently declining sales, the company's only "new" hardware after the iPad Pro has been a lower-priced and rebranded iPad Air – a solid entry model, but another adaptation.

We haven't seen something truly new, bold, and transformational happen on the iPad platform in nearly two years. It's time for Apple to step up their game and continue pursuing the vision for the future of computing set forth in 2015. There's so much more work to be done with iOS, multitasking, and the redefinition of computing for the multitouch era. The iPad Pro can be a computer for everything, but it needs another leap forward to become the computer for everyone. And that can't happen without a serious reconsideration of its software.

The iPad needs another bold, daring step towards the future. With iOS 11, Apple has an opportunity to pick up where they left off with iOS 9, forging a new direction for the iPad platform.

Every year ahead of WWDC, I collect some of my thoughts about the current state of iOS and consider where Apple could take their software next. I've been doing this for the past several years going back to iOS 6 in 2012. I've referred to these stories as "wishes" because they encapsulate all the aspects I'd like Apple to improve in their mobile OS. Last year, we added a concept video to the mix. This year, I wanted to prepare something different and more specific.

iOS for iPhone is, I believe, at a point of sufficient maturity: aside from particular feature additions, I don't think there's anything fundamentally missing from the iPhone.1 The iPad now bears the proverbial low-hanging fruit of iOS. There are obvious areas of improvement on iOS for iPad, which is, effectively, two years behind its iPhone counterpart. The iPad's lack of meaningful software advancements allows us to explore deeper ideas; thus, in a break with tradition, I decided to focus this year's iOS Wishes exclusively on the iPad and where Apple could take its software next.

Like last year, I collaborated with Sam Beckett to visualize my ideas for iOS 11 on the iPad with a concept video and detailed mockups. This time, instead of showcasing our ideas as standalone concepts, we imagined a "day in the life" theme for the video, showing how enhancements to iOS for iPad would work in practice. Rather than showcasing random bits of possible features, we imagined an underlying task to be accomplished (planning a vacation in Barcelona) and how better iPad software could help.

I've been thinking about some of these ideas since iOS 9 (you can see a thread between my iOS 10 concept and this year's version), while others would be a natural evolution for iOS on the iPad. Once again, Sam was able to visualize everything with a fantastic concept that, I believe, captures the iPad's big-picture potential more accurately than last year.

Below, you'll find our iOS 11 for iPad concept video, followed by an analysis of my iPad wishes with static mockups. I focused on foundational changes to the iPad's software – tentpole features that would affect the entire OS and app ecosystem.

This isn't a prediction of what Apple will announce at WWDC; it's my vision for what the future of the iPad should be.

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Jimmy Iovine Shares Frustrations Over Free Music Streaming, Signals Greater Push into Video

Tim Ingham of Music Business Worldwide reports on a wide-ranging interview with Jimmy Iovine about Apple Music. One recurring theme is how wrong Iovine believes it is that artists are encouraged to give their work away for free on services like YouTube and Spotify:

The fact is that ‘free’ in music streaming is so technically good and ubiquitous that it’s stunting the growth of paid streaming.

Two things have to happen: free has to become more difficult or restricted, and the paid services have to get better.

It blew my mind that the day after I walked out on stage [to announce Apple Music at WWDC in 2015], YouTube mobile was licensed.

Iovine also indicates that the Apple Music team has moved away from doing as many album exclusives and is now focusing more heavily on video content:

We tried it. We’ll still do some stuff with the occasional artist. The labels don’t seem to like it and ultimately it’s their content.

But we’re doing exclusive video content now, and putting a lot of money into that.

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Airfoil for macOS Regains Full Apple TV Compatibility

When Apple released tvOS 10.2 in late March, it broke audio streaming to the Apple TV from Rogue Amoeba’s macOS app, Airfoil. Since then, Rogue Amoeba has been working on two fronts to restore streaming to the Apple TV. The first results of those efforts were seen last month when Rogue Amoeba released a tvOS app called Airfoil Satellite TV that restored streaming as long as the app was running on your Apple TV.

Today, Rogue Amoeba announced that it has restored full Apple TV streaming functionality to Airfoil for macOS.

We’ve got a great update for Airfoil for Mac today which enables it to once again send audio directly to all versions of the Apple TV. Airfoil for Mac 5.6 is a free update, available immediately by selecting “Check for Update” from the Airfoil menu. We strongly encourage all users to move up to Airfoil 5.6 immediately.

With the Airfoil update, Airfoil Satellite TV is no longer necessary to stream to the Apple TV, but Rogue Amoeba plans to maintain it as a fall-back in case future tvOS updates break Airfoil streaming again.

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Things 3: Beauty and Delight in a Task Manager

Today Cultured Code launched the long-anticipated next version of its task management app, Things, for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Things has been one of the go-to task managers on Apple platforms since its initial release in 2008, and for good reason; the team at Cultured Code is known for the thought and care they put into their apps. For much of its life, Things has been a shining example of quality iOS and macOS development.

Over the last nine years, Things has been quick to adopt the latest OS features introduced by Apple in an effort to keep the app current; more substantial updates, however, have been few and far between. It took four years for Things 1 to give way to Things 2, and the gap between versions 2 and 3 has been even longer. Many of the once-loyal Things users have moved on to newer, more modern options for task management. But now, Things 3 has finally arrived.

Was it worth the wait?

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Tim Cook Interviewed For Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Early last year, James Rath, a young filmmaker who was born legally blind, created a video about the impact Apple products have had on his life. That video caught the attention of Apple:

In the ensuing months, Rath’s YouTube career has taken off and he’s become a strong advocate for the blind.

To mark Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Tim Cook spoke with Rath and two other YouTubers, Rikki Poynter and Tatiana Lee about accessibility. Cook and Poynter, who is deaf, discussed closed captioning and how accessibility is a core value at Apple. Lee talked to Cook about the Apple Watch and its ability to track wheelchair use. Rath and Cook explored the history of Apple’s commitment to accessibility and the democratization of technology. The interviews follow the release of a series of videos made by Apple spotlighting the accessibility features of its products.

The interviews, which were filmed in the courtyard at Apple’s Infinite Loop campus are available after the break.

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Google I/O Roundup: Assistant Comes to iPhone, Photos and Gmail Receive Improvements

Today Google kicked off its I/O event with a keynote that covered a wide array of announcements, several of which were particularly relevant for Apple users.

Google Assistant Coming to iOS: Google Assistant is coming to the iPhone in the form of a dedicated app, launching today. Assistant is the company's Siri competitor, and until now it has been largely restricted to Android and Google-made devices like Google Home. The messaging app, Allo, has had some form of Assistant since its launch last September, but the full Assistant has not been available on iOS until now. Like every other third-party digital assistant on iOS, Google Assistant will be more restricted in its system access than Apple's own Siri, and less convenient to activate as well. To engage the Assistant, you'll have to open the app or interact with the app's widget. (Source)

Sharing Features and Photo Books with Google Photos: In the coming weeks, Google will be adding new sharing features to its Photos iOS app. Similar to the smart sharing features in Apple's Clips app, Google Photos will identify the subjects in your photos and suggest sharing the images with those people. Separately, a new Shared Libraries feature allows easy sharing of all images that fit the parameters you set. One option that's especially interesting is the ability to automatically share only the photos that contain a certain person in them. The last of the Photos announcements was that starting next week, U.S. users will be able to order Photo Books consisting of selections from their libraries. (Source)

Smart Reply Comes to the Gmail App: Google previously added a Smart Reply feature to its Inbox and Allo apps, but today it is expanding the feature to Gmail for iOS and Android. The feature offers three suggested responses that you can quickly tap on to send. Google says the feature has already driven 12 percent of replies in the Inbox app, so it is likely to receive a lot more use as it expands to more users. (Source)

Today's Apple-related announcements are on the lighter side when compared to some past I/O keynotes, but they're still nice to have for iPhone users who rely on Google services.