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MacStories Reading List: February 19 – February 26

In our longest Reading List collection to date, we’ve curated some great articles about Mountain Lion (which is still a hot topic among bloggers), Apple’s renewed “scamming apps” problem, and a variety of other subjects, including iOS-ification, the Home Screen, and third-party developers. It’s not just about quantity (more than 15 entries this week) – we think this week’s Reading List is the one with the highest quality material so far. So grab a good cup of coffee (albeit we have nothing against tea, as some of you have asked), your favorite chair, and let’s dive in.

Not the typical software review you’d expect from Macdrifter. An amazing piece.

So how does all this relate to a trivial review of an application like DayOne? It’s the first time I’m keeping a journal for someone other than myself. Every other thing I write is for me, but what is going into DayOne is for my Daughter. With DayOne’s Reminder integration, I get an alert every day to add another entry. A subtle encouragement to do the right thing.

DayOne and Time Travel, Gabe Weatherhead (@macdrifter)

Jon Mitchell argues that the App Store is like a republic, and provides some great examples to back up his theory.

The App Store is a republic. The citizens vote with their Apple IDs, downloading the apps that best represent them. The makers of those apps are elected officials. But it’s not a congress of equals. It’s a meritocracy. The influence of representatives is proportionate to the importance of their apps. Apple, of course, is the president. It has veto power. But it can’t make good laws with a hostile congress.

The App Store Is A Republic, Jon Mitchell (@JonMwords)

As a follow-up to his ”iOS lacks a document filing system” piece, Pierre Lebeaupin makes the case for another important feature that iOS lacks (or at least has, but could seriously improve): document transfer.

However, I care a lot about a related matter, which is the transferability of documents (rather than source code). I consider it a fundamental freedom of the computer user that he be able to take the data he created out of the application he created it with, so that he may be able to use it with another application. This involves a number of things, in particular it’s better if the format is as simple as possible for the purpose, it’s better if it is documented, it’s better if the format has a clear steward for future evolutions, better yet if that steward is a standards body or consortium.

- iOS lacks a document transfer system, as well, Pierre Lebeaupin (@wanderingcoder)

Outstanding work by Jesse Hicks at The Verge, detailing the history of RIM and how its CEOs managed to lose the empire they had built.

Research In Motion, whose BlackBerry phones pioneered wireless email, no longer holds the commanding heights in the smartphone market. With Android, iOS, and even Windows Phone gaining market share, the Waterloo, Ontario, company finds itself in a battle for relevancy. The past year has been especially hard on the once-innovative RIM, but it may be at a turning point. Or the beginning of the end.

- Research, no motion: How the BlackBerry CEOs lost an empire, Jesse Hicks

Trevor Gilbert has a nice overview of Apple’s problem with scamming apps over at PandoDaily. Hopefully the recent acquisition of Chomp is aimed at exactly this kind of problem.

Apple has a serious problem on their hands, and it is one they need to fix it as soon as possible. No, this isn’t a diatribe about the lack of Flash on the iPad. And, no, this isn’t about the need for an SD Card slot for iOS devices. Instead this is an issue that Apple’s biggest ally – iOS developers – are complaining about, one that hurts the user, and one that could end up damaging the iOS ecosystem more than any set of labor issues ever could.

The issue we are facing, is the proliferation of scamming apps.

The Curious Case Of The (Cr)apps That Make Money, Trevor Gilbert (@trevoragilbert)

Ryan Cash has a great interview with Tapbots’ Mark Jardine over at his personal blog.

It also irks me when people associate the Tapbots UI with my personal “style”. My personal work tends to be fairly minimalistic which is sort of the opposite of what we do at Tapbots. But Tapbots started with a clear objective and we’ve been sticking with it ever since. Pushing the concept into a Twitter client brought a lot of criticism by a few well-respected designers and while I totally understand where they are coming from, it’s frustrating that they can’t see what we are doing.

An interview with Mark Jardine, Ryan Cash (@ryanacash)

According to The New York Times, the only thing stopping Apple from growing might as well be Apple itself in the future.

Here is the rub: Apple is so big, it’s running up against the law of large numbers.

Also known as the golden theorem, with a proof attributed to the 17th-century Swiss mathematician Jacob Bernoulli, the law states that a variable will revert to a mean over a large sample of results. In the case of the largest companies, it suggests that high earnings growth and a rapid rise in share price will slow as those companies grow ever larger.

If Apple’s share price grew even 20 percent a year for the next decade, which is far below its current blistering pace, its $500 billion market capitalization would be more than $3 trillion by 2022. That is bigger than the 2011 gross domestic product of France or Brazil.

Confronting a Law Of Limits, James B. Stewart (@jamesstewartnyt)

Serenity Caldwell takes a look at some of the minor (but nice) changes of Mountain Lion.

There are numerous changes to look forward to when Mountain Lion roars onto the scene this summer, along with some major system additions like Notification Center and Gatekeeper. But for those uninterested in flashy features, there are plenty of minor system changes, too. Here’s a quick look at ten that caught my eye.

- Ten exciting system changes in Mountain Lion, Serenity Caldwell (@settern)

Dan Moren thinks Apple should reconsider support for multiple displays and full-screen apps in Lion, or at least Mountain Lion.

What’s so bad about Lion’s multiple monitor support? In some ways it’s no better or worse than previous incarnations of OS X. You have a choice to mirror the screen or extend the desktop, and the freedom to choose which monitor has the menu bar, and how the two monitors are arranged. Simple enough.

But there’s a real problem with Lion and multiple monitors, and its name is full-screen mode. Full-screen mode’s goal is to remove distractions, let you focus on a single app at a time. And, boy does it work—probably a bit too well, in some cases.

- OS X should embrace multiple displays, Dan Moren (@dmoren)

Great points by Shawn Blanc in response to our iOS 6 wish list and Home Screen articles.

A new iOS Home screen is Apple’s chance to get the “front-door interface” right. When they change the Home screen it’s going to be a big deal, and it will become a core part of iOS for the next decade.

Why a New iOS Home Screen is a Big Deal, Shawn Blanc (@shawnblanc)

Dave Caolo breaks down Samsung’s latest Galaxy Note commercial, and analyzes all the claims made by the company in regards to the device’s capabilities when compared to an iPhone.

Do the people at Samsung really think that the public is that stupid? That the iPhone has no map? Or can’t edit a photo? That’s having contempt for your customers.

I’d be humiliated if my company’s name was on this. It is the dumbest thing I have ever seen.

- Samsung Galaxy Note Challenge Is The Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Seen, Dave Caolo (@davidcaolo)

Good overview at Ars Technica of the new “Mastered for iTunes” initiative by Apple.

To highlight work done to improve the sound of compressed music files, Apple recently launched a “Mastered for iTunes” section on the iTunes Store. It now also provides a set of recommendations for engineers to follow when preparing master files for submission to the iTunes Store. To qualify for the “Mastered for iTunes” label, Apple says that files should be submitted in the highest resolution format possible, and remastered content should sound significantly better than the original.

Mastered for iTunes: how audio engineers tweak music for the iPod age, Chris Foresman (@foresmac)

Jean-Louis Gassée thinks Apple is doing iOS-ification right, but there are still some notable UX inconsistencies and bugs to be fixed.

Bugs and brain flatulence aside, a Grand Unified UX is the right idea. Who will argue against making it easier to move from one Apple device to another? Especially when using fresh and successful iPhone/iPad constructs as the model.

Apple’s Grand User Experience Unification, Jean-Louis Gassée (@gassee)

Lee’s analysis of the touch interfaces and input methods that preceded the iPhone is impressively detailed and well-informed.

Jobs called Android a “stolen product,” but theft can be a tricky concept when talking about innovation. The iPhone didn’t emerge fully formed from Jobs’s head. Rather, it represented the culmination of incremental innovation over decades—much of which occurred outside of Cupertino.

If Android is a “stolen product,” then so was the iPhone, Timothy B. Lee (@binarybits)

Thomas Brand offers his own “exclusive look” at Mac OS 9 for those who weren’t briefed by Apple about Mountain Lion. It’s great.

Two weeks ago select members of the Apple press got a behind the scenes look at OS X Mountain Lion before it was introduced to the public. Some Apple bloggers were upset that they were left out and didn’t get a briefing from Phil Schiller, or an exclusive invitation to Apple’s campus in Cupertino California. Because the Apple blogger community has seen a large turnover in recent years I wanted to give new members of the Apple press a chance to read about an exciting Macintosh operating system they may have never seen before.

An Exclusive Look at Mac OS 9, Thomas Brand (@thomasbrand)

Good analysis by Richard Gaywood about Gatekeeper, Sandboxing, and what it means for developers going forward.

I think Apple, in simultaneously watering down the existing App Store via sandboxing and giving a non-App Store mechanism for developers to bless apps, has created a segmented market. It seems to me we’re going to end up with the App Store populated by smaller apps from smaller developers (who will find the support of Apple’s payment processing infrastructure compelling) and larger but relatively simple apps for which sandboxing doesn’t chafe too much.

Meanwhile, we will hopefully still see a vibrant indie dev scene outside of the App Store. Indeed, by enforcing sandboxing, Apple might have just given the alternative channels a lifesaving boost… but by locking key OS X features up to only be accessible to App Store software, it’s simultaneously making it harder for non-MAS indie devs to compete. It’s too early to tell which of these factors will come to dominate over the others.

Does Gatekeeper point the way to an App Store-only OS X?, Richard Gaywood (@penllawen)


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