by Lance Somoza
3D Touch gesture for App Switcher deliberately removed from iOS 11 ➔

Confirmed by Apple Engineering via a bug filed by @irace on Twitter:

This actually pisses me off. I used this SO much before iOS 11 and had been hoping it was only a bug or temporary. It seems this is sadly not the case. For the unfamiliar, this was a fantastic gesture that proved even faster than using the home button to engage the App Switcher and last app. It was a somewhat hidden gesture. Even though it was demoed in the iOS 10 keynote, most people don’t know it exists because it’s not intuitive and there are no indicators the gesture exists. However, it was awesome for those that did know of it.

How it worked

  • 3D Touch the very left edge of the screen/bezel.
    • If you did this again, the App Switcher would ‘pop’ into view.
    • Alternatively, if you then dragged your finger about halfway to the right, the App Switcher would appear.
    • Alternatively, if you then dragged your finger all the way to the right, you would end up in the last used app.

Part of me wonders if this will either be re-introduced as an iPhone 8-only feature or if it’s making room for another edge gesture. If the rumors are true and the iPhone 8 has an edge-to-edge screen with no home button, my bet is a 3D Touch edge gesture on the bottom bezel will replace this functionality. We’re already halfway there with a non-moving home button and an improved Haptic Engine in the iPhone 7.

Either way, I will seriously miss this gesture. Having to retrain my muscle memory to use the home button every time has been a bit annoying.

Apple: Reaction to ARKit is ‘unbelievable’ ➔

iPhone prototypes revealed by original software keyboard programmer ➔

Pricey Nest Cam IQ available for $299 ➔

UPDATEDiPad Drama: Cynicism and Technology

Joshua Topolsky, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of The Outline, took to Twitter yesterday to mercilessly bash the iPad. Here’s where he begins his Tweetstorm, some of which I’ll be addressing.

Before I begin to address his comments, I’ll just say this…

Tech people have strong opinions about the iPad. Some see it as a pedestrian device that will never be capable of replacing their MacBook, and that’s fine. People are entitled to their opinions. Others, such as myself, embrace change and the possitibilities of new technology and the experimentation it offers. We find ways of making new things work that don’t detriment the process.

Second, the notion that the iPad needs to replace the MacBook is a massive misunderstanding. If you’re a MacBook-heavy user, and the iPad doesn’t meet your needs, then just don’t use it. Now, for the drama…

Review Roundup: Amazon Echo Show

Reviews for the Amazons Echo Show are coming in ahead of its launch later this week, and most reactions are positive. The Echo Show offers a new experience for smart speakers with its touch screen and video calling capabilities.

My ‘Show’ will be arriving later this week, and I’m looking forward to writing up another in-depth review once I put it through its paces. I think a touch screen smart speaker definitely has its positives, but it will be interesting to see just how often the screen gets used.

Review Roundup

Dieter Bonn for The Verge—Amazon Echo Show Review: Doing More By Doing Less

You basically never need to tap the screen for anything, unless you really want to. There is not an “app store” where you hunt around for new things to add to your screen. It sits on your counter, answers your questions, sets your timers, and occasionally displays useful information. That’s it, and that’s great.

Mark Gurman for Bloomberg—Amazon’s Echo Show: Do You Need Another Screen?

Voice-activated speakers are not essential purchases. I don’t see the benefit to looking up a weather forecast on a speaker attached to a screen, when you can easily do that with your smartphone’s voice assistant. And for those of you who have a portable tablet or a big-screen TV in your home, would you really want to watch a video on the Echo Show’s 7-inch screen?

Mat Honan for BuzzFeed—Amazon’s New Echo Show Is Very Cool And A Little Creepy

It has this wild new feature called Drop In. Drop In lets you give people permission to automatically connect with your device. Here’s how it works. Let’s say my father has activated Drop In for me on his Echo Show. All I have to do is say, “Alexa, drop in on Dad.” It then turns on the microphone and camera on my father’s device and starts broadcasting that to me. For the several seconds of the call, my father’s video screen would appear fogged over. But then there he’ll be. And to be clear: This happens even if he doesn’t answer. Unless he declines the call, audibly or by tapping on the screen, it goes through. It just starts. Hello, you look nice today.

Some people will definitely be seen naked with Drop In. Good thing you can set permissions. It’s pretty radical, for sure, to allow for immediate access without prompting.

UPDATEDHappy tenth birthday, iPhone!

Great video with David Pogue, Walt Mossberg, Steven Levy, and Ed Baig, the four journalists who received review units of the original iPhone before it launched.

I remember switching to my brother’s AT&T Family Plan just to get the original iPhone, since my parents were on Verizon and still had dumb phones. I upgraded from a Motorola RAZR1, which was the coolest flip phone at the time. Since then, I’ve been iPhone all the way and have never looked back.

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years; a relatively small amount of time in the grand scheme of things. That just makes me even more excited for the next ten years, which we’re just now beginning to fathom with the workings of AR, VR, Wearables, and beyond.

06/25/2017 at 10:35PM

The Wall Street Journal posted the above video interview with Greg Christie, Tony Fadell, and Scott Forstall focusing on creating the UI for the original iPhone. Quite a bit of it is a rehash of the information told last week by Forstall and others, but he touches on the software keyboard and how they knew it would be looked down on some compared to a hardware keyboard. Definitely still worth a watch. Fadell talks about testing the iPod Click Wheel to navigate a phone UI—highly impractical. Even Steve made a joke about it during the keynote with a fake reveal.

  1. I have great memories of the RAZR. It was the original ‘cool phone’ back in High School. ↩︎

Modern device repairability or: How I learned to stop worrying and love fixed components

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop was eviscerated (literally and figuratively) during the iFixit tear down. Of note, the Alcantara fabric that outlines the keyboard has no conceivable way to be removed without damaging the product and there are no screws that allow access to the innards. Their verdict was as follows:

The Surface Laptop is not a laptop. It’s a glue-filled monstrosity. There is nothing about it that is upgradable or long-lasting, and it literally can’t be opened without destroying it. (Show us the procedure, Microsoft, we’d love to be wrong.)

Harsh words, but it’s still a laptop, given its form factor. John Gruber pointed out the similarity to Apple products–namely the AirPods, saying:

Apple’s AirPods got a 0/10 from iFixit. That just goes to show how little correlation there is between iFixit’s concept of repairability and whether a product is good or not. I consider AirPods to be Apple’s best new product in years.

I think the argument here is that a product can perform well and have a great experience no matter how repairable it is. It could also be a piece of crap. In other words, repairability does not a good product make. I often view iFixit’s concerns about this topic to be a bit heavy-handed, but then I remember they are in the business of selling tools for that very purpose.

This does beg the question… in this day and age, with miniaturization and precision engineering, what is a reasonable expectation for repairability?

Video: interview with Scott Forstall and original iPhone Engineers

So many good nuggets of information. You could tell this interview could go on for hours if time wasn’t a limit.

UPDATEDScott Forstall interview to be live streamed tonight ➔

UPDATE Direct Link to stream provided above.

Computer History Museum’s account just tweeted the following regarding tonight’s interview with Scott Forstall and some of the original iPhone Engineers.

It would have been nice for them to use something other than Facebook, but here’s their page.

UPDATEDPayPal’s CEO seems awfully defensive about Apple Pay’s person-to-person payments feature ➔

Come iOS 11, Apple Pay will allow for person-to-person payments, competing with PayPal, Square Cash, and Venmo. PayPal’s CEO, Dan Schulman, comes across defensive as he tells The Telegraph the reasons why Apple can’t succeed:

“We own the full value proposition. Apple can never do that because they don’t do the risk associated with it, they don’t do the onboarding, they can only provide what they hope is a good user interface. We try to provide that end-to-end value proposition and very importantly we do it across operating systems”

Has any company ever made a similar claim about Apple and been accurate about it? You’d think they’d have learned their lesson. This will make for a nice, steaming bowl of claim chowder down the line.

From Palm’s Ed Colligan 1, to Michael Dell 2, executives just can’t help from being defensive when Apple entrenches on their turf. Add Dan Schulman to the list.

Here’s the reality: nobody cares about the ‘full value proposition’. People just want a super-easy way to pay each other. As far as being cross-operating system capable, I’d wager that doesn’t bother Apple, because they’re in the market for selling devices. It makes for an even more compelling reason to have an iPhone, and will instantly have a huge user base thanks to the millions of iPhones in the United States adopting iOS 11 in the fall. Seemingly no sign up will be required for current users of Apple Pay with a debit card.

As for the competition, Venmo and Square Cash are great. I love how Square Cash deposits instantly, but more people seem to use Venmo. Either way, I hope Apple Pay’s new system will enable immediate deposits, so I can stop using anything else and just have people sign up for Apple Pay if they haven’t already.

6/20/17 at 5:00pm Pacific

Quite apropos, today PayPal announced they are bringing instant payments to their platform.

PayPal users in the U.S. will soon be able to instantly transfer money to their bank accounts via eligible debit cards linked to their PayPal account. We expect that funds will typically be available in your bank account in a matter of minutes, although some banks may take up to 30 minutes. Our beta of this is now available to select PayPal users and will be made available to all U.S. PayPal users with eligible Visa or Mastercard debit cards over the coming weeks and months.

The issue aside, PayPal is just a horrible company. They have a terrible track record, and the number of horror stories are deeply concerning. Take this story about the legendary destruction of a $2,500 violin for example. Seriously, don’t use PayPal unless you absolutely have to (eBay).

  1. On the original iPhone: “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.” ↩︎

  2. When asked what he would do to fix Apple in 1997: “I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.” ↩︎

Scott Forstall interview tonight, ‘The One Device’ launches

Two quick reminders for the day…

Scott Forstall will be speaking with a few of the original iPhone Engineers at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View tonight at 6pm Pacific. No word on if the event will be recorded, but I’m sure we’ll hear all about the juicy details soon enough.

Also, ‘The One Device’ by Brian Merchant has launched today, purportedly giving a glimpse into the launch of the original iPhone. Already the book is being met with conflict when Phil Schiller refuted the claims Tony Fadell made against him, which Fadell then walked back.

The New York Times and USA Today both found the book to be lacking and disliked its use of filler.

The New York Times:

The iPhone is designed for maximum efficiency and compactness. “The One Device” isn’t. The three chapters on the development of the iPhone are the heart of the book, but there’s some filler too. It’s curiously unilluminating to read a metallurgical analysis of a pulverized iPhone, or to watch Merchant trudge around the globe on a kind of iCalvary in search of the raw materials Apple uses — through a Stygian Bolivian tin mine and a lithium mine in the Chilean desert and an e-waste dump in Nairobi where many iPhones end up.

USA Today:

In a nutshell, Merchant’s book dwells on Apple’s penchant for secrecy (old news, don’t we all know this?) and expands beyond the basic story of the device’s birth with long passages on the history of touch screen, gyroscopes and other smartphone features.

As I said before, take these sorts of books with a grain of salt. Walter Isaacson’s ‘Steve Jobs’ book was known to have its flaws, for example.

Apple’s Music app still doesn’t have a real equalizer

Ah, the Music app. Probably Apple’s most polarizing iOS app when it comes to design. When it was redesigned for Apple Music’s launch in 2015, there were tons of bugs and missing functionality that has since been restored. Kudos to Apple for addressing those many concerns. I still have one gripe, though.

I know a lot of people probably don’t care about having a real 5-band equalizer, but it’s 2017 and still not an option in Apple’s Music app on iOS.

Does anyone actually like the built-in presets for the EQ provided, heralding all the way back to the iPod days? Almost all of them reduce overall volume in a negative way, not to mention they just make your music sound like crap. A few of them have more utilitarian purposes, and that’s understandable (spoken word, bass/treble reducer, etc.), but at least give us the option to set the EQ exactly how we want it.

Ugh, the EQ presets.

Ugh, the EQ presets.

I can’t think of a single reason Apple shouldn’t include a 5-band EQ—hell, at least give us 3-band and I’ll be happy (Bass, Mids, Treble). Most people who don’t want to touch it won’t. They’ll just leave their preset EQ where it is (or off compeletely). Spotify has had a band EQ for quite a while, and I’m seriously jealous.

Spotify’s band portion of their EQ.

Spotify’s band portion of their EQ settings.

Sure, there are a bunch of 3rd-party music apps that have band EQs and will play songs from your iCloud Music Library, but I don’t want a 3rd-party app. Mainly because I’ll lose the ability to ask Siri to play a song in said app, since that is a function reserved only for the Music app. I’ll also lose the custom EQ when playing a song in my car via CarPlay. There’s too many downsides to having to use another app just to tweak the EQ.

With all the little changes we’re getting in iOS 11, I had hoped this would be one. Maybe next year.

Ring Video Doorbell 2 announced with removable battery

Ring Video Doorbell 2

Ring announced version two of their popular Video Doorbell (non-Pro version) today. The biggest upgrade comes in the form of a removable, rechargeable battery. This differs from the original Video Doorbell, which required removal of the unit in order to recharge, and the Video Doorbell Pro, which is hardwired to power. Other upgraded features include a 1080p camera and improved night vision.

I have the Video Doorbell Pro, and have been really happy with it. Video Doorbell 2 looks like a great solution for renters, or if you simply don’t want to run new electrical for the Doorbell Pro. Curiously, the Video Doorbell 2 doesn’t seem to support the faster 5GHz Wi-Fi spectrum like the Pro does. This is most likely is being used to differentiate the lines, but not throwing in a 5GHz-capable radio seems pretty weak.

Even though Ring’s cloud recording1 is a closed system, it’s pretty affordable at $3 per month (per camera) or $10 a month for unlimited cameras.

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is available today for $199.

  1. Stores all video from motion alerts, doorbell rings, and anytime you access the camera. ↩︎

Surface boss says iPad Pro is a ‘clear example’ of Apple following Microsoft ➔

In an interview with Edoarado Maggio from Business Insider, Microsoft Surface general manager Ryan Gavin had this to say about the iPad Pro.

Think about it, if we had been looking at [Apple] we wouldn’t have made a product like Surface Pro or Surface Book,” Gavin said. “We have been learning and perfecting our products in the 2-in-1 category for years now, [but] when Surface initially launched everyone was skeptical, including them. And then they followed, and the iPad Pro is a clear example of that.

Put aside the fact that the tech industry frequently borrows and steals from each other. The Surface Pro is a 2-in-1 and the iPad Pro is not. Do they do similar things? Of course, but the experience of using each device is completely different, only to be furthered by iOS 11. iPad Pro is a tablet computer and the Surface Pro is a refrigerator-toaster.


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