MacStories Reading List: February 5 - February 12

The past week has been an interesting one, for a couple of reasons. First, we’ve seen Kickstarter breaking records for its most funded campaign, a record that didn’t last long as a new game by Tim Schafer quickly pulled in $400,000 in 8 hours. Then Path, the cool kids’ alternative to the “evil” Facebook, found itself in the middle of a PR brouhaha as it was caught uploading a user’s Address Book email addresses to its servers. Ouch. Luckily, the company was smart enough to reverse its decision and issue an update in less than a day. There’s more: Apple has started warning developers against manipulating the App Store’s charts, and more people every week are considering using the iPad as their only work machine.

It’s this week’s Reading List, best served with a good cup of coffee. Enjoy.

Craig Grannell explains the problem with iOS games and the growing trend towards In-App Purchases for everything:

But EA had to weld IAP to the game and ruin things. The puzzle mode has power-ups and these are paid for using T-Coins. You can either get T-Coins by grinding away scoring in the main mode, or by paying cold, hard cash. 200,000 T-Coins? A snip at $99.99! That’s a $99.99 IAP. For Tetris. Or you could ‘just’ pay $29.99 for a 12-month T-Club subscription, which earns you 15 per cent more T-Coins with every game! That’s right: for just 43 times more than the game itself costs, you can get a slight speed bump to how fast you acquire coins to spend elsewhere in the game. Of course, you don’t have to pay, but without doing so, you’re effectively screwed in the puzzle mode when it comes to decent scores and ratings (which is essentially what any iOS puzzler is about).

- The freemium model and how it threatens iOS gaming, Craig Grannell (@craiggrannell)

Kotaku does a good job at summarizing the reasons behind the fast and somewhat unexpected success of Double Fine’s Kickstarter campaign:

In case you’ve missed it, a video game idea on Kickstarter has helped smash the site’s records by raising over one million dollars in a single day.

That. Is. Bananas. And it begs the question: why? Why were so many people so willing to invest money in an idea that the video game industry itself seems completely uninterested in?

Simple. Because the video game industry wasn’t giving these people what they want.

- Why the Internet Gave This Man $1 Million. In a Single Day., Luke Plunkett (@lukeplunkett)

What’s the secret behind Instagram and its insane success despite the fact that it’s still just an iPhone app? Great story by Mat Honan at Gizmodo.

There are a mere ten employees at Instagram—only eight of whom are even in the US. Yet in the past year and change it has racked up more than 15 million users, who have uploaded some 500 million photos. The service has pulled in $7.5 million in investments, including money from Twitter founder Jack Dorsey. It’s already available in ten different languages, and, having already scored a hit stateside, is piling on users in China, Brazil, and throughout Europe. All this without having a Web interface. All this while only being available on the iPhone. And all this while iterating and scaling and building out the back end like a company that commands an army of developers. It doesn’t.

Inside Instagram: How Slowing Its Roll Put the Little Startup in the Fast Lane, Mat Honan (@mat)

- Macworld’s Dan Moren tries to work exclusively from his iPad for three days. The results are reported in a series that you should check out if you’ve been thinking about going iPad-only as well.

I had a definite sense that this might be the future of working on a computer. I spent little if any time managing files or saving my data (just as in Mac OS X Lion). And thanks to Dropbox and iCloud, I didn’t worry at all about lost data. That’s perhaps the biggest change in switching from a Mac to the iPad: The technology becomes almost transparent. You are simply writing, or reading, or browsing. It’s all about the task itself, while the technology you’re using fades into the background.

- The iPad at work: Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Dan Moren (@dmoren)

Path’s recent Address Book fiasco got a couple of people thinking. Matt Gemmell proposes the simplest solution - why didn’t Path hash all of the email addresses that were uploaded to their servers? And what’s hashing? Read the piece linked below for a well-written explanation for non-programmers.

This article, therefore, aims to introduce the concept of hashing in a clear, straightforward, and no-degree-required way, suitable for journalists and casual readers as well as programmers and software engineers. I’ll also explain why it’s suitable for preserving the privacy of contact information whilst still allowing for social functionality, and I’ll touch on whether or not you really need to store that contact information (hashed or not) in the first place.

Hashing for privacy in social apps, Matt Gemmell (@mattgemmell)

Justin Williams shares more thoughts on Path and why simply asking for user confirmation every time through dialog boxes isn’t the best way to handle the experience in social apps.

Tossing up another dialog asking for user confirmation doesn’t solve the problem users are faced with. It just puts a band-aid on it. At the core is a more fundamental problem in how iOS handles permissions and access to data. Basically, I have no idea what sort of permissions or access an app wants until I download it and launch it the first time. Moreover, I really don’t to see another dialog pop up in my face as I’m using an app.

Cancel Or Allow Overload, Justin Williams (@justin)

Excellent post by David Sparks on why the App Store and third-party developer ecosystem should be about quality, not quantity.

If you want to develop apps, take your time and make something awesome. Make it fast. Make it beautiful. Make something you’re proud of. Don’t make 60 crappy apps: Make one really good one.

Speculative Developers, David Sparks (@macsparky)

Macworld speaks with iOS and Mac developers about Apple’s renewed stance on removing apps that manipulate the App Store’s rankings.

It might seem like common sense, but in case there were any lingering questions on the matter, Apple is now being crystal clear: Manipulating the App Store rankings in an attempt to place one’s app at the top of the sales charts is a strict no-no.

Apple warns developers against gaming App Store rankings, Dan Moren (@dmoren)

Jim Maiella on an often overlooked accomplishment by Steve Jobs in 1997: calling Bill Gates, asking for help to save Apple.

There are so many lessons associated with Steve Jobs and what he did and achieved at Apple, but here’s a pretty human and applicable one - no one is coming to save you. You are on your own, we all are. No one is going to show up some morning and pull the novel you’ve been dreaming about writing out of your head, raise your kids, brush your teeth or fix your broken company.

Impossible Happens, Jim Maiella (@jimmaiella)

Comprehensive look by Glenn Fleishman at the new AirPort Utility.

Instead of telling you how every last feature now works in version 6.0, let me walk you through things I know everyone will like, changes that some of you won’t (especially if you use a mix of 802.11g and 802.11n hardware), and some particular callouts for network administrators who are already turning amber in distress. I have not yet tried to set up a base station from scratch to see what the new assistants look like for walking you through the process, step by step, and that may offer more to like or dislike.

AirPort Utility 6.0 Adds iCloud Support but Removes Many Features, Glenn Fleishman (@glennf)

Chris Rawson writes the ultimate post – one we wholeheartedly agree with here at MacStories – about tips to follow when writing about Apple.

So, you want to write about Apple? Lots of people do these days. The company is a household name, its financial performance is virtually unparalleled, and it makes products that millions upon millions of users enjoy every single day. I can tell you from personal experience that getting paid to write about Apple, something I would do on my own anyway, is quite rewarding.

But first you have to decide what kind of Apple writer you’ll be. Will you be the kind of writer who takes a step back from the linkbaiting Controversy of the Week, calmly and logically analyzes the situation, and then writes objectively about it? Will you keep your BS detector active and not believe every single rumor that blooms on your RSS feed? Will you have the patience and foresight to analyze past trends before predicting future performance, even if it means dragging yourself across a desert of spreadsheets and financial statements?

How to avoid sounding dumb when you write about Apple, Chris Rawson (@rawsoncj)


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