Apple’s philosophy

John Gruber wrote about the philosophy Steve Jobs brought to Apple.

Jobs spoke of the approach he wanted to bring to Apple:

One of the things I’ve always found is that you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to try to sell it. And I’ve made this mistake probably more than anybody else in this room. And I got the scar tissue to prove it.

He went on to explain about being focussed:

What about OpenDoc? What about it? [Audience laughs.] It’s dead, right? Let me say something that’s sort of generic. I know some of you spent a lot of time working on stuff that we put a bullet in the head of. I apologize. I feel your pain. But Apple suffered for several years from lousy engineering management. I have to say it. And there were people that were going off in 18 different directions doing arguably interesting things in each one of them. Good engineers — lousy management. And what happened was you look at the farm that’s been created with all these different animals going in different directions and it doesn’t add up. The total is less than the sum of the parts.

And so we had to decide, what are the fundamental directions we’re going in? And what makes sense and what doesn’t? And there were a bunch of things that didn’t. And microcosmically they might have made sense; macrocosmically they made no sense. And you know, the hardest thing is… you think about focusing, right? You think, “Well, focusing is saying yes”. No, focusing is about saying no. Focusing is about saying no. And you’ve got to say no, no, no. When you say no, you piss off people.

Today, Apple is still saying a thousand no’s for every yes.

Facebook Slingshot

The Verge writes about Facebook’s Slingshot app.

In Snapchat or any other messaging app, you can view a message as soon as you receive it. But in Slingshot, you can’t view an incoming “shot” until you send a shot back to the sender. “It’s not just about telling your story, it’s about asking others for their story,” says Slingshot designer Joey Flynn. In other words, Slingshot makes you trade a photo of what you’re doing before you can “unlock” the picture of whatever your friend is up to. Huh?

The “pay to play” mechanic is difficult to wrap your head around. It’s frustrating, not exciting when a friend sends you a shot and you can’t immediately view it. Slingshot is a new and strange example of a messaging app that raises barriers instead of tearing them down, and increases the friction to viewing a friend’s photo instead of reducing it.

Before you get to see what I sent you, you need to send something back. This is as bad as forcing me to watch an ad before I get to the content I want.

iCloud Photo Library

While there were plenty of goodies to take away from WWDC, one announcement announcement in particular had me dancing for joy – iCloud Photo Library.

If there was one major aspect of iOS that needed improving, it was photo management capabilities. Whether you’re an iPhoto user or not, managing photos on the iPhone is a major pain. It was obvious that it was an issue that needed to be resolved, which birthed apps such as Loom (which was acquired by Dropbox) and Carousel by Dropbox.

One minor annoyance (albeit a first world problem) I have with it is that the accompanying Mac app is slated to arrive later. Of course, in a perfect world it’d be released together with iOS 8 and Yosemite, but I understand that with so many new announcements, even Apple’s resources might be a little stretched. In the end, I’d rather have a feature/software that arrives late and works well, than one that arrives early and doesn’t work as advertised.

The full details of iCloud Photo Library haven’t been revealed yet, but one thing that I hope is available would be the ability to mark specific folders to be stored for offline use in iOS

Now the waiting game begins.

Facebook Slingshot is another jab at Snapchat

Facebook takes another stab at ephemeral messaging. It’s interesting how most messaging systems are moving towards this. Even iMessage and Path are following that direction to a certain degree.

Facebook’s Slingshot does take a slightly different approach since you’ll need to reply with a photo before you can see what was sent to you. That should increase engagement, but only time will tell how well it’ll be received.

Because you have to respond to a shot before you can see it, these notifications act as nags instead of notifiers. If you tap on a new notification, “Shot from Adam,” you won’t be able to view it — until you send a shot of what you’re doing back to Adam. Thus, shots feel less urgent than messages, since there’s no expectation that you’ll be able to open them immediately. The app feels far more like a News Feed with push notifications than anything else — except this News Feed requires you to share a post before you can view it, so there’s no place for lurkers. The Verge

Samsung insanity

Computerworld writes about the crazy number of different Samsung tablets in the market.

By my count, Samsung has now announced 11 different Android tablets since the start of 2014 (and it’s entirely possible I’m forgetting a few). In the past five months alone, the company has launched the following devices:

  • Galaxy Tab S 8.4
  • Galaxy Tab S 10.5
  • Galaxy Tab 4 7.0
  • Galaxy Tab 4 8.0
  • Galaxy Tab 4 10.1
  • Galaxy Tab 4 Nook
  • Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
  • Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1
  • Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2
  • Galaxy Note Pro 12.2
  • Galaxy Tab 3 Lite

And that’s not all. Samsung also still sells another 11 Android tablets from the recent past:

  • Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition)
  • Galaxy Tab 3 7.0
  • Galaxy Tab 3 8.0
  • Galaxy Tab 3 10.1
  • Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 Kids
  • Galaxy Tab 2 7.0
  • Galaxy Tab 2 10.1
  • Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Student Edition
  • Galaxy Note 8.0
  • Galaxy Note 10.1
  • Galaxy Tab 7.0

Put yourselves in the shoes of an average consumer who does not keep up with the tablet market. How are you able to decide on the tablet to get?

Compare that with Apple’s latest line of iPad Air and iPad Mini, and the older models still available, the fourth generation iPad and non-Retina iPad Mini. From a consumer’s perspective, it is easy to choose an iPad:

  1. Full-sized or Mini?
    • Full-sized:
      On a budget? 4th-gen iPad.
      If you want a slimmer profile or more capacity, get the Air.
    • Mini: It’s a choice of whether you want a Retina display.
  2. Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi with 4G LTE?

Facebook to ignore do-not-track setting on web browsers

Advertising Age writes about Facebook’s use of web browsing history for ad targeting.

But what Facebook is now enabling is far more expansive in terms how it uses data for ad targeting. In a move bound to stir up some controversy given the company’s reach and scale, the social network will not be honoring the do-not-track setting on web browsers. A Facebook spokesman said that’s “because currently there is no industry consensus.” Social-media competitors Twitter and Pinterest do honor the setting. Google and Yahoo do not.

What is the point of a do-not-track option when you still get tracked by those who have no qualms about trampling over your privacy rights so they can earn more money?

What product designers can learn from iOS 8’s iMessage changes

Scott Hurff writes about what designers can learn from the new iMessage.

Apple’s iMessage announcements can teach us a lot about the value of knowing our customers. It’s not enough to build products based on rumor, anecdote or speculation. We have to know exactly how and why our customers do what they do, and in what context they’ll be using our products.

That requires a cultural awareness of their fears, pressures, and how they’re using competing or complementary services. And finally, it requires that we as product builders respect our customer’s time and intelligence.

Push to talk will be very useful for people who communicate in languages that are hard input. It also makes it easier for people who can’t type, usually due to illiteracy, to send messages. This feature is already available on other messaging apps but iMessage has the advantage of coming shipped with the iDevices.

This reminds me of a recent piece by Dr Dang.

Steve Jobs’s “design is how it works” gets a lot of lip service, but when most Apple bloggers and pundits say design they still mean how it looks. Flat design, skeuomorphic design, “clean” design—these generate millions of words of heated discussion, but they have little to do with how your computer operates. You could go to the Iconfactory and change every icon on your machine, but that wouldn’t change how you or it work.

Reaction to health sensors show bias against Apple

TheNextWeb claims that Apple’s Health app needs to do three things or it will be considered a flop.

If they try to play it safe, however, and just some add Apple polish to the same tracking technologies already on the market, Health will flop. It will end up on the shelf with other beautifully designed, but seldom used, Apple products. Remember the Newton? The G4 Cube?

Compare this to how TheNextWeb reacted to Samsung’s health event.

Relevance of Google Search and advertising

Let’s take a look at a specific part from this excellent article published by AppleInsider back in April.

It wasn’t a fluke that the Moto X flopped. Google has only ever flopped in its hardware experiments. But make no mistake: Google desperately needs a hardware business, and it knows it needs a hardware business. That’s why it has spent incredible billions trying to buy its way into the hardware game, first with Motorola and then with Nest the moment it found a buyer to offload Motorola.

Why the need for a presence in hardware? First, Google’s partners have been terrible at implementing Google’s reference designs across the board. Additionally, Google just announced results for the March quarter that outlined that the profitability of its core ad business is collapsing, with 26 percent more clicks resulting in 9 percent less revenue.

Google needs to find ways to increase its ad business and a possible solution is to expand advertising beyond smartphones.

Steve Jobs pointed out four years ago that Apple had discovered that mobile users were different from desktop PC users in that they don’t start with Google’s search in the web browser when looking for entertainment, information or products to buy. They use mobile apps.

“On a mobile device,” Jobs noted, “Search is not ‘where it’s at.’ People aren’t searching on a mobile device like they do on the desktop. What’s happening is that they’re spending all their time in apps. When people want to find a place to go out to dinner, they’re not searching. They’re going into Yelp. They’re using apps to get to data on the Internet, rather than a generalized search. And this is where the opportunity to deliver advertising is.”

Google uses Google Now bring the power of its online services to mobile users in very practical situations. The question is, how is Google going to monetize? Ads?

Google predicts ads in odd spots like thermostats Digits write about Google’s prediction of ads on your smart devices

Google made the statement to help justify why it shouldn’t disclose revenue generated from mobile devices, a figure the SEC had requested and that companies like Facebook and Twitter both disclose. Google argued that it doesn’t make sense to break out mobile revenue since the definition of mobile will “continue to evolve” as more “smart” devices roll out.

“Our expectation is that users will be using our services and viewing our ads on an increasingly wide diversity of devices in the future,” the company said in the filing.

Before you use the thermostat, you need to watch an ad. You want to open the smart fridge, here’s another ad. Microwaving dinner? You skipped the past few ads so now you’re forced to watch the full ad before your microwave works.