Apple keyboard

John Gruber wrote about Apple’s attention to details.

Now consider keyboard shortcuts. The basic idea behind keyboard shortcuts on the Mac was and remains that you hold down the Command key, then press a letter key. And the letter keys should, ideally, correspond mnemonically to the menu command they represent — and for common operations, the shortcuts should be standard system-wide, across all applications.1 So: ⌘S for Save, ⌘P for Print, ⌘Q for Quit. But then what about Select All? ⌘S was already taken, so: ⌘A, emphasizing the All rather than the Select. ⌘D for Duplicate, ⌘B/I/U for Bold/Italic/Underline, respectively. And so forth.

They ran into some problems with other shortcuts:

⌘U could not be used for both Underline and Undo; likewise for ⌘C for Cut and Copy. And ⌘P could not be used for Paste because it was already used by Print.

The solution is still used up to today:

So Copy was awarded the mnemonic ⌘C, and Cut the sort-of-mnemonic ⌘X, but Undo and Paste were assigned the semantically meaningless but ergonomically convenient shortcuts ⌘Z and ⌘V. Not only was the idea of Undo a novel invention, the Mac team found a shortcut to invoke it that was as easy to type as possible. And what is the most common thing to do after copying? Pasting. So what could be a better shortcut for Paste, ergonomically, than the key right next to the one for Copy? You remember these shortcuts not by letter, but by physical position.

Even these four commands’ order in the Edit menu corresponded to their shortcuts’ order on the keyboard: Undo, Cut, Copy, Paste — Z, X, C, V. Simply brilliant. Every one of these design decisions has persisted through today.

Microsoft followed suit and used the Ctrl key instead of the ⌘ key.

US National Federation of the Blind on Apple’s commitment to accessibility

The National Federation of the Blind commented on Apple’s commitment to accessibility.

Many of these inaccurate assertions have been fueled by a provocative and poorly reported article from the Reuters news service, linked here only for reference. Reuters has already been forced to correct the article because it reported, inaccurately, that the National Federation of the Blind once brought suit against Apple, Inc. This never happened, although a demand letter was sent regarding the accessibility of iTunes and iTunes U, and the Massachusetts Attorney General opened an investigation. Those actions resulted in a voluntary agreement with Apple that was a significant step in getting us the accessibility we experience today.

Aside from misreporting, Christina Farr also wrote with bias against Apple:

Still, advocates of the disabled want the problem solved by the company at the center of the app world — Apple. Rival Google Inc, whose Android operating system drives more phones than Apple, is also under pressure, but as the creator of the modern smartphone and a long-time champion for the blind, Apple is feeling the most heat.

She then went on to selectively quote Tim Cook:

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook in a 2013 speech at Auburn University described people with disabilities “in a struggle to have their human dignity acknowledged.” He said, “They’re frequently left in the shadows of technological advancements that are a source of empowerment and attainment for others.”

Compare that with the full quote from Cook:

“People with disabilities often find themselves in a struggle to have their human dignity acknowledged, they frequently are left in the shadows of technological advancements that are a source of empowerment and attainment for others, but Apple’s engineers push back against this unacceptable reality, they go to extraordinary lengths to make our products accessible to people with various disabilities from blindness and deafness to various muscular disorders.

Shameful reporting. Unfortunately, there are people who take what they read as the truth simply because it came from Reuters.

Convergence of OS X and iOS

Ben Brooks recently wrote a good article on using an iPad as his main machine, it’s something that has been attempted by many folks in the past, but I like his take on it.

As I said, this is a setup I am likely to use more and more. With iOS 8 extensions coming I think the gap between what most people need to do on a Mac each day, and what the iPad can do well, is closing faster than many suspect. At this point it’s not a person clamoring for better apps, that do more powerful things, it’s just a matter of fine tuning what we already have.

I don’t see that taking very long. In fact, this time next year I may be splitting my time between the Mac and iPad evenly.

One thing that came to mind was the fact that OS X and iOS 8 and being linked closer than ever before. It wasn’t too long ago that people were debating if we needed a full desktop operating system on our mobile devices. Microsoft tried that with Windows 8, and is still trying to fine tune the product. Apple on the other hand is focusing on giving the best of both worlds, but linking them beautifully together with Continuity.

Bloomberg changed Samsung headline to a milder tone

The original headline was “Samsung Profit Misses Estimates as Cheap Phones Struggle“.

For some reason, it’s been changed to “Samsung Sees Phone Rebound After Earnings Miss Estimates”.

Products employee wouldn’t use

John Gruber wrote about why Google employees don’t use Google Glass.

If Glass were a good product, people who have them would wear them. It’s that simple. Same with tablet PCs — the problem wasn’t that Microsoft employees wouldn’t use them and that the product thus lost momentum and didn’t catch on with consumers. The problem is that tablet PCs were crap products.

When your own employees don’t use or support your product, the problem is with the product, not the employees.

Ditch Dropbox for Apple’s iCloud Photo Library

My thoughts exactly. The separate release dates for the Mac and iOS app is irritating, though.

Rethinking Dropbox as a photo management solution

Apple has to prove to users that it can sync and stream photos, but if the system will work the way the company says it will, it looks compelling. So compelling, in fact, that I’m already thinking about my migration strategy.

With Photos on the horizon, I’m seriously considering importing my 66 GB photo library and hammer out some metadata work in iPhoto, then transition to when it’s released.

The right to be forgotten

Privacy is important, but this law is ripe for abuse.

The EU’s “right to be forgotten” is a bad idea, and Google is handling it exactly the right way

The reality is that the right to be forgotten could allow powerful individuals to effectively censor search results even when the facts contained in them are undisputedly correct and have some historical news value. That’s something worth fighting against, and Google is using all the tools at its disposal to do so. If it helps raise awareness about the issue and its drawbacks, then so much the better.

iWatch and Android Wear

Ben Thompson did a great piece on discussing the upcoming iWatch and Android Wear.

Additional Thoughts on iWatch and Android Wear

A company made of people

Allen Pike wrote about Apple.

Of course, this is a shift, not a revolution. Apple will never get to the point where their culture tolerates, say, employees publicly tweeting that their CEO should step down. Indeed, as a public company with fierce competitors, they’re obligated to maintain decorum and secrecy around things that are materially sensitive.

Still, around the things that aren’t core secrets – developer relations, employee personality, and standing up for their values – Apple is feeling more like a chorus of real people and less like a monolith.

Why iPhone is not a commodity

TUAW wrote about why the iPhone is not a commodity.

Of course, the idea that smartphones are fast becoming commoditized is often brought up as a reason why Apple needs to come out with a magical new product immediately. The often overlooked reality is that Apple works tirelessly to ensure that the iPhone houses features that competitors simply can’t match. We saw this most recently with the introduction of Touch ID on the iPhone 5s. While some competitors — namely Samsung — have attempted to mimic the functionality of Touch ID with their own offerings, the simplicity, usability, and more importantly, the reliability of Apple’s own implementation remains unrivaled.

It is easy to copy but hard to recreate the same experience.

Recently at WWDC 2014, we saw that Apple remains committed to enhancing the feature set of iOS in ways that are difficult, if not practically impossible, for competitors to copy. The mounting integration between iOS and OS X is the most glaring example. With iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, Apple continues to blur the lines between the Mac and iOS. More importantly, Apple’s over arching theme of “continuity” brings with it a number of features that will have a real impact on the way consumers use technology; Handoff is a boon for efficiency while the ability to make phone calls from the Mac elicited boisterous applause from WWDC attendees.

This type of seamless integration will prove frustratingly difficult for companies like Samsung or LG to implement. Microsoft could presumably go down this path, but with the share of Windows Phone still obscenely low, they’ve still yet to prove themselves a major player in the mobile space.

Apple has started to move towards differentiating the iPhone from the competition. Perhaps the question we should ask is how Android can avoid becoming a commodity.

If anything, commoditization across Android handsets seems like more of a pressing issue than commoditization vis a vis Apple and Android.