In the category of “The New iTunes is Here” . . .

The new macOS High Sierra has arrived and brought with it a new iTunes. People have long asked Apple to reduce the bloat of the iTunes app on macOS, and this new version does that. Whether it does that well or not is a matter for discussion.

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In the category of “UI design has a new solution” . . .

“The Airbnb Tool That’s Changing UI Design”

Mark Wilson, writing for Fast Company:

There’s a hot new design software being used today by major tech companies like Airbnb and Google to build new apps. But the tool, called Lottie, wasn’t born from your typical designer.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Frustrated by the same design-to-development bottleneck experienced across the industry, Abdul-Karim began to think. If he could use After Effects to build an app interface simulation or prototype, why couldn’t he just use After Effects to just make the real app itself? Now he can, thanks to Lottie–Airbnb’s own UX prototyping tool, developed by Abdul-Karim and a pair of engineers at the company.

This is the sort of creative problem-solving I love to see.

Lottie’s technical prowess is outpacing its user friendliness. And the Airbnb team needs to figure out how to translate complicated animation-meets-code capabilities into turnkey features inside the software.

This is the common progression in creative problem-solving: the more powerful the tool becomes and the more tasks it is capable of completing, the more difficult it becomes to keep it simple for the user. This is one of the things that has always set the iPhone and its iOS user-interface apart from its competitors; in general, the iPhone is easier to use, even for—perhaps especially for—the uninitiated. iOS itself has shown the truth of this, though, as the number of functions and the number of apps has increased. This is why there are so many new single-purpose apps in spaces where the established players’ apps were becoming too complex.

One of my favorite apps—and a great example of this—is iA Writer. It’s a brilliant piece of simplicity, originally created over five years ago as a single-purpose writing app. Originally, all you could do with the app was write and edit, but the stated purpose was to create a distraction-free writing environment. It does that very well and is still my favorite writing app. iA Writer has continued to add functionality, including a type of versioning, embedding or file-linking, and other design features. I don’t use most of these newer features, because I’m not yet convinced that the time and effort to learn them would be sufficiently rewarded. Another way of saying this is that iA Writer has either (a) not convincingly described the benefits of these new features or (b) not designed them in a sufficiently user-friendly way. I’m not picking on iA Writer. I think it’s a wonderful app. I’ve tried many writing apps, and in my opinion, iA Writer is the best app available for the act of writing. It is a perfect example of the principle I’ve described, though, because as it has added features, it has also added complexity, some of which now demands improved design to restore simplicity for the user. It wouldn’t be a good example if it were not such a brilliant design to begin with.

Our digital tools were constructed for another era, one that is fading away to obsolescence even faster than your current smartphone.

Indeed.

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Two Final Thoughts Before WWDC 2017

Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference begins today (5 June 2017), kicking off as always with the Keynote at 10 a.m. Pacific Time / 1 p.m. Eastern Time.

This article started out this morning as a list of five things to look for at this year’s WWDC, but time constraints have reduced it to just two. So here are the two I think most significant.

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The Mega ShowNotes for WitGlass Unfiltered Episode 25

The show notes I assembled for Episode 25 of WitGlass Unfiltered are so detailed that I thought I’d offer them as their own WitGlass Drafts post, as well.

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In the category of “nice little article on the history of Apple’s Newton PDA” . . .

Twenty years ago, I was deep in pursuit of my undergraduate degree, and as much as I loved technology, my budget for technology was $0, so I didn’t spend much time thinking about technology except for what I perceived to be of immediate use to me.

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In the categories of “great piece by @Gruber on the Mac Pro” and “viva la MAC Pro!” . . .

Despite my lack of Pro Mac products, I have watched and listened in pain as Apple remained silent on the Mac Pro, as users complained about the status of the Mac Pro. I have always felt that at its core, Apple is a “Pro” company; its products are designed to reach as close to the ideal as possible for all-around usability. So more recently, as I listened for word from Apple about their ultimate Pro Mac machine, I felt that this could be a watershed moment for the company. In my humble opinion, if the company were to abandon the Mac Pro market, it would signal the end of the company as we know it.

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In the category of “here is @Gruber’s take on the Lightning vs. USB-C reports” . . .

 

 I think Gruber is right on with the shift to USB-C chargers, a point that I didn’t address in my earlier post

Switching chargers to USB-C—and switching the charging end of the Lightning cable—makes sense. Switching the iOS devices entirely to USB-C doesn’t make sense.

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In the category of “man, I wish @Evernote had gotten this one” . . .

I would love to get these two apps to work more closely together, and I recently thought that it would be great if Evernote simply acquired Pocket. I was not aware (or at least do not recall being aware) of the attempt by Evernote six years ago to acquire Pocket. Now, sadly, Mozilla has them, and it looks like my hopes for an Evernote-Pocket merger are gone

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In the category of “old Apple inter-office memos” . . .

Software Security from Apples Friends and Enemies

I was at the Seattle Goodwill outlet recently and noticed the Apple logo on letterhead sticking out from a bin of books, so I started digging. What I found were the 1979-1980 files of Jack MacDonald, manager of system software for the Apple II and /// at the time.

These are fascinating. They are very ordinary, but that’s part of what makes them so fascinating.

I first saw them in 9to5Mac here. You can also find a deeper look at them on Gizmodo here.

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In the category of “so I had this idea once” . . .

Who Needs Shoes? These Socks Are 15 Times Stronger Than Steel

Six or seven years ago, I had an idea for toe shoes that wore like socks. For a variety of reasons, I decided to skip it, but I am delighted to see someone else came up with a similar idea and followed through:

Free Your Feet (FYF) is Barefoot Company’s take on socks-as-footwear. . . . The minimalist, protective socks are made from Dyneema fibers, which were invented by chemist Albert Pennings in the 1960s and are considered to be among the world’s strongest fibers. Even with the strength of the material, however, the socks are still plenty soft and lightweight, providing a solid grip in whatever sport you play.

FYF has a Kickstarter campaign underway, and you can pre-order yours for just $80.

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In the category of “and they said skipping the 35mm headphone jack was a bad idea” . . .

Pioneer announces new Rayz line of “smart” Lightning headphones with built-in Lightning port, more

The Rayz and Rayz Plus both use Avnera’s LightX technology, which ensures that they draw the least power possible from the iPhone to which they are connected.

Furthermore, the Rayz line offers a host of “smart features,” according to Pioneer. The company says that both the Rayz and Rayz Plus feature six microphones that allow these features.

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In the category of “this could be pretty cool” . . .

Apple’s new patent hints at an all-over fingerprint scanner

The patent outlines the use of a new type of display technology that uses embedded micro LEDs and an IR diode to essentially scan and detect the position of a finger on the screen. LuxVue, a company Apple acquired in 2014 that specializes in low-power micro LED displays, is reportedly behind the technology.

A bitmap made up of light intensity data generated by "bouncing IR light off of a user's finger and back to sensing diodes" could then be used to authenticate the fingerprint.

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In the category of “here’s a nice review (from @zacharye of @BGR) of home wi-fi mesh networks” . . .

Mesh is the hottest trend in home Wi-Fi, so we tested every top system to find the best

Plume is a mesh Wi-Fi system by definition, but that’s where similarities with other systems we tested end. In fact, it’s unlike every other system out there in so many ways that it’s difficult to know exactly where to begin. How about we start here: The Plume system doesn’t even use a router.

This multi-unit system can have two components or 10 components depending on your needs, but each component is exactly the same. Plume calls them pods, and they plug into standard wall outlets anywhere in a home. The idea is that the user plugs in one pod in each room of the house, and then Plume’s cloud-based system does the rest of the work.

It’s seriously that easy . . .

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In the category of “I wouldn’t, either” . . .

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In the category of “can we all agree from now on that this is how we do it?” . . .

 
Whenever a major story breaks in the social media age, from the supreme court judgement on article 50 to the news that roast potatoes can apparently cause cancer—it sparks a heated debate. And in this post-truth world of alternative facts even the US president conducts his battles on Twitter. But what if you’re less interested in just shouting your view and actually want to try to change people’s minds?
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In the category of “curved phone screens are objectively superior, huh?” . . .

 
The curved S7 Edge is simply more attractive than the flat iPhone 7.

I understand that some may really believe the curved edge is more attractive on the Samsung Galaxy S7, but to make it a simple declarative seems too definite of a statement. Is the S7 screen very attractive? Yes. Is it more attractive than the iPhone 7? I don’t think it’s more attractive. Is it equally attractive? I would grant that as a simple declarative.

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‪In the categories of “please, @Evernote, hire me for the next UI!” and “this makes me want to cry” . . . ‬

 One of Evernote’s new app images from the company’s blog post, “Evernote 8.0: Organization Made Simple”

One of Evernote’s new app images from the company’s blog post, “Evernote 8.0: Organization Made Simple”

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In the categories of “my initial response is NSFW” and “@Evernote, it’s about fracking time!” . . .

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In the category of “if you don’t like the product, don’t buy it” . . .

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