Written by Nick Heer.

Archive for December, 2015

Zack Shapiro: “Mailbox Has Been Abandoned”

Shapiro claims:

It’s sad to hear @mailbox has been abandoned inside of Dropbox. I’d love to buy it from them and keep working on it.

His source [sic]?

…friends inside of Dropbox, the team from mailbox isn’t on it anymore

For what it’s worth, Owen Williams says that this isn’t true. But Michael Dwan, formerly of Dropbox, says:

@ZackShapiro @jasdev can confirm

I’ve heard separately, too, that Mailbox and Carousel aren’t receiving much attention, if any. Carousel was last updated in September; Mailbox hasn’t been updated since July on iOS, April on Android, and February on the Mac. The Mailbox support staff hasn’t tweeted since September.

Dropbox hasn’t said anything publicly, but it’s not looking good for either app. And that’s a shame, really: while Carousel’s features can be largely rolled into the Dropbox app, Mailbox was unique and special. It was a pioneer in gestural interaction and a was the first really new take on an email client in a long time. I hope Mailbox isn’t abandoned, but the lack of updates and general silence on Dropbox’s end doesn’t look good for its future.

Bohemian Coding Removes Sketch From the Mac App Store

Bohemian Coding:

There are a number of reasons for Sketch leaving the Mac App Store—many of which in isolation wouldn’t cause us huge concern. However as with all gripes, when compounded they make it hard to justify staying: App Review continues to take at least a week, there are technical limitations imposed by the Mac App Store guidelines (sandboxing and so on) that limit some of the features we want to bring to Sketch, and upgrade pricing remains unavailable.

To be clear: the Mac App Store is not valueless. Last year at Çingleton, Rich Siegel of Bare Bones Software mentioned some really great bundled features: no credit card processing or security to worry about, no licensing, and no hosting fees. That should be an enticing proposition, but it’s spoiled for a lot of developers by the restrictions listed by Bohemian Coding.

But these are not new concerns, and not isolated to Sketch, or graphics software in general. They impact high-quality apps the most, and have eroded the store to a selection of Apple’s software plus a lot of crappy iOS app ports (and Tweetbot). When the Mac App Store launched five years ago, Ryan Block was skeptical of its potential:

Maybe part of the problem is that these app stores themselves no longer seem like the radical innovation they were only a couple years ago, having since become an expected, table-stakes means of distributing software to users’ devices. Is there a huge amount of potential here? Definitely, and if I were the guys at Panic or Rogue Amoeba, I’d be pretty stoked after this week. But as long as some of the most interesting consumer apps are (for one reason or another) kept out, the Mac App Store will be neither the best nor the only place for consumers to get software and developers to sell it.

For what it’s worth, both Panic and Rogue Amoeba have had significant issues with the Mac App Store.

John Gruber:

The Mac App Store is rotting, at least for productivity software. There’s no other way to put it. If this hasn’t set off alarm bells within Apple, something is very wrong.

Something has been wrong for years with the Mac App Store.

Swift Goes Open Source

Back at WWDC 2015, Craig Federighi stood on stage and announced that Swift would be going open source; today, Apple delivered. From the Swift blog:

Apple has a new home on GitHub located at github.com/apple where you can find all the source code for the Swift project. The public repositories include the Swift compiler, LLDB debugger and REPL, the standard and core libraries, the package manager, and other supporting projects.

Yeah, Apple’s on GitHub. And they’ve uploaded a year’s worth of activity five years’ worth of activity, which allows us to look at things like when those commits were made. Cool.

The version of Swift on GitHub is somewhere in between Swift 2 and the forthcoming Swift 3, and it includes a bunch of new stuff like an implementation of Foundation and code that looks like it’s ripe for server use. At least, that’s Craig Hockenberry’s theory, and fits with what Christina Warren reported for Mashable:

Although the nature of the open-source license and the community resources mean Swift can come to other platforms, the initial platform Apple is focusing on when opening Swift up is Linux.

On the surface, it may seem odd to eschew Windows for an operating system with much lower market share, but in the developer world, it makes complete sense.

Linux dominates the server market. Right now, developers can write their client code in Swift but if they want to write code that executes in the cloud, they need to use something else. Having Linux support opens the door to making Swift a more robust language for more than just client apps.

Additionally, Andrew Cunningham of Ars Technica spoke with Federighi about this move:

“The Swift team will be developing completely in the open on GitHub,” Federighi told Ars. “As they’re working day-to-day and making modifications to the language, including their work on Swift 3.0, all of that is going to be happening out in the open on GitHub.”

So instead of getting a big Swift 3.0 info dump at WWDC 2016 in the summer and then digging into the Xcode betas and adapting, developers can already find an “evolution document” on the Swift site that maps out where the language is headed in its next major version.

Impressive. Michael Tsai has also been collecting a good set of links and resources.

“The VSCO of Live Photos”

If you’re even moderately serious about mobile photography, you probably have a collection of photo editing apps on your phone — I use SKRWT, VSCO, Filterstorm, and Darkroom. Then, to share them, you can use pretty much any social network. Live Photos haven’t had the same luck; almost no major apps currently support them, which sucks.

Enter Alive! — yes, with the exclamation point. Becky Hansmeyer explains:

There are 22 filters you can choose from and you can also fine tune things like brightness, contrast, saturation, warmth, sharpness, etc. There are four settings for both GIF quality and speed (you can even have the GIF play backwards). The speeds range from 0.5x to 2.0x and the quality from Low (240×320) to Highest (540×720). You can also export Live Photos as a movie with the ability to adjust the overall volume and with three options for both Video size and Quality.

At just $2, this is a no-brainer for me. It’s a bit of a pain to find in the store, though, so I’ve made a link (affiliate, naturally) for you.

The Sweet Setup’s iPhone 6S Case Roundup

I very rarely disagree with the Sweet Setup, but their pick — the silicone one made by Apple — isn’t even close to the best iPhone case, for my money. Its material makes it prone to sticking to the inside of your pocket, and makes whatever lint, dust, and other crap that’s inside your pockets stick to it. That would drive me crazy.

Apple’s leather case is their next favourite pick. I spent three weeks with one, and I was not a fan — it makes the phone feel big and bulky, and it’s hard to hit any of the buttons. The “Saddle Brown” colour is really nice, though.

Last night, my (replacement) Peel case finally arrived — intact, this time — and I’m using it right now. I generally hate putting a case on my iPhone, but I wanted to give this one a shot considering the number of times the 6S has slid out of my hands. It doesn’t provide much protection, and its material makes the iPhone feel cheaper, but it’s grippier than the aluminum back. And, it must be said, it smooths out the camera bump. I’m not sure if it’s the best case for the 6S, but it’s my favourite one that I’ve tried.

Thoughts on Flash

After Apple released the iPad in 2010, Steve Jobs felt compelled to publish “Thoughts on Flash”. Let’s revisit some of the salient points made:

We embrace standards and, where none exist, we create them.

I’ll say — have you seen their collection of adapters? But, yeah, they embrace existing standards.

…standards like HTML5 will be the web platform of the future across all devices…

This has always been clear. Jobs was, of course, ri— what’s that? These are excerpts from Adobe’s post today announcing that they’re basically winding down Flash?

Huh.

Raising the Bar

Leslie Miley, who goes by the totally badass handle “@Shaft”, wrote an equally thought-provoking article about his experiences as an African American at Twitter:

There were also the Hiring Committee meetings that became contentious when I advocated for diverse candidates. Candidates who were dinged for not being fast enough to solve problems, not having internships at ‘strong’ companies and who took too long to finish their degree. Only after hours of lobbying would they be hired. Needless to say, the majority of them performed well.

Personally, a particularly low moment was having my question about what specific steps Twitter engineering was taking to increase diversity answered by the Sr. VP of Eng at the quarterly Engineering Leadership meeting. When he responded with “diversity is important, but we can’t lower the bar.” I then realized I was the only African-American in Eng leadership.

Time to listen.

Abuse Tourism

Powerful article from Tiffany Arment:

Men who do this are shouting over us because they think our voices aren’t strong enough.

That is the disconnect: we are equally strong. Our stories hold more weight than men’s stories about us. We live them every day, and we can’t opt out. We don’t need a male voice to highlight these issues. Women are capable. A woman’s voice should be seen as enough. Her words are enough.

Time to listen.

Thoughts on the Inevitable Demise of the 3.5mm Audio Jack on the iPhone

One day, we will no longer use the standard 3.5mm audio jack on an iPhone, and a whole host of other products. It’s painful, I know — they are some of my favourite connectors, and they’re everywhere.

Graham Spencer, MacStories:

Given the premise that I think Apple will (at some point) ditch the audio jack, the next question is how they can possibly achieve that with the smallest adverse impact on customers, which should surely be the top priority.

Agreed.

One thing Spencer didn’t point out is that the current rumour going around — courtesy Macotakara — is unlikely to be accurate, even if the outcome is as predicted. They claim, via Google Translate, that this is to make the iPhone thinner. As Spencer points out in his article, Apple and other manufacturers already make products that are far thinner and have a headphone jack.

Macotakara also claims that their singular source has knowledge of the phone hardware and the accessories included with it:

Apple seems to plan removing the headset jack from the next iPhone 7, according to a reliable source.

Screen shape such as radius will be kept, however, it will very likely be more than 1 mm thinner than the current model.

Supplied Ear Pods will equip a Lightning connector, which means a DA (Digital to Analog) converter is required. The DA will be built in the Lightning connector without sacrificing the size, according to the source.

As “ATP Tipster” pointed out, there are very few people at Apple who would have the entirety of this information, and you’d probably find those who do on Apple’s website. They will remove the headphone jack eventually, but this report isn’t an iron-clad predictor.

Update: And, when it does get replaced, I hope — as Manton Reece does — that it is not a proprietary solution.