Marco.org’m Marco Arment, creator of Overcast, technology podcaster and writer, and coffee enthusiast.→ Casey put his old job in the parking lot, 08 Feb 2016 15:36:57 EST<blockquote> <p>Today, I start a new job.</p> </blockquote> <p>Big congratulations!</p> <p><a href="">&#8734; Permalink</a></p>The Apple Watch got me hooked on mechanical watches, 05 Feb 2016 11:14:52 EST<p style="text-align: center; margin-top: 2em; margin-bottom: 2em;"><img class="extrawide" src=""/></p> <p>I never thought I&#8217;d be a watch person. (Or that I&#8217;d wear blue shorts.)</p> <p>I didn&#8217;t need a watch. I had a phone and a computer to tell me the time.</p> <p>But I got the Apple Watch on day one, because I&#8217;m a responsible iPhone app developer and I knew I&#8217;d need to port <a href="">my app</a> to it. I wore it almost every day for the next eight months.</p> <p>The Apple Watch is a confused product, designed like a tiny iPhone, which is as misguided as it would&#8217;ve been to design the iPhone with the Mac&#8217;s UI and app structure. The result is promising, but clunky and slow. It could be so great at its three most useful functions &#8212; notifications, activity tracking, and timekeeping with robust complications &#8212; if only they were more reliable and better executed. Someday, I hope they are.</p> <p>To be great, the Apple Watch needs to be rethought to <em>do less, better</em>. I see no signs that Apple is heading in this direction, but never say never.</p> <p>Despite its flaws, owning the Apple Watch has a lot of upsides. The activity tracking, when it worked reliably, <a href="">encouraged me to exercise regularly</a> and improve my health. The notifications, when they&#8217;re delivered reliably, save many cumulative seconds pulling my phone out to see why it vibrated.</p> <p>And, actually, it&#8217;s pretty nice to have the time on your wrist. Who knew?</p> <p style="text-align: center; margin-top: 2em; margin-bottom: 2em;"><img class="extrawide" src=""/></p> <p>As it turns out, some people had already discovered this.</p> <p>Timekeeping on the Apple Watch is especially frustrating: it gets you hooked on having the time always shown on your wrist, but like most of the Watch&#8217;s features, it&#8217;s unreliable. The screen stays off unless you tap it or twist your wrist, and if it doesn&#8217;t recognize the motion properly, you&#8217;re just staring at a blank screen until you get impatient and perform a second, exaggerated wrist motion, hoping nobody&#8217;s watching.</p> <p>Even when it works perfectly, there&#8217;s a delay of about a second between when you raise your wrist and when the screen turns on. This is fast and convenient compared to checking the time on your phone, but feels like an eternity if you&#8217;re accustomed to glancing at a regular watch and having the time <em>already</em> being displayed, <em>every</em> time. Fortunately, I wasn&#8217;t.</p> <p>I was happy enough with its almost-greatness not to look around for a while, except for one problem that I blame Apple entirely for:</p> <p>The Apple Watch got me to care about watch fashion.</p> <p style="text-align: center; margin-top: 2em; margin-bottom: 2em;"><img class="extrawide" src=""/></p> <p>Apple did an excellent job with the Watch&#8217;s materials and finishes, and for a wrist computer, it doesn&#8217;t look bad, especially in stainless steel. I haven&#8217;t found anything else in the watch world that looks and feels as nice as a steel Apple Watch for under $1000.</p> <p>Most impressively, Apple&#8217;s watchbands are truly world-class: the quality, comfort, and versatility of <em>every</em> Apple band completely outclasses everything else I&#8217;ve seen and tried in the watch world.</p> <p>When I first started wearing my steel Apple Watch with the black leather strap, I kept looking at my wrist and thinking, &#8220;Damn, that looks nice.&#8221;</p> <p>This was the beginning of the end.</p> <p>Nobody ever wears one watch, thinks &#8220;Damn, that looks nice&#8221;, and never wants another watch again.</p> <p>I was starting to understand fashion. This was going to be bad.</p> <p>Apple has aggressively pushed the Apple Watch as high fashion, but it&#8217;s simply not. It&#8217;s a utility watch, much like quartz watches, that has many useful functions and can be made to look very nice but won&#8217;t ever be a prestigious fashion item. There&#8217;s no shame in that. The sooner Apple realizes this and lets the Watch be what it really is, the better.</p> <p>Shortly before Christmas, I accidentally found the first mechanical watch that infected my mind so much that I actually wanted &#8212; quite badly &#8212; to own it. I had many doubts: Would I look ridiculous wearing it? Would I hate setting or winding it? Would I miss notifications, activity tracking, and weather on my watch? Would I wear it briefly but then run back to my Apple Watch and let the mechanical rot in a drawer?</p> <p style="text-align: center; margin-top: 2em; margin-bottom: 2em;"><img class="extrawide" src=""/></p> <p>Nope.</p> <p>I got that watch for Christmas (because <a href="">my wife</a> is awesome), and I&#8217;ve only worn my Apple Watch twice since then (while baking, so I could set timers by voice, and clearing snow, since my phone would be inaccessible). All of my concerns were unfounded.</p> <p>I <em>love</em> wearing a mechanical watch. They&#8217;re functional jewelry: fantastic works of art that I feel great wearing, but also serve a very useful purpose.</p> <p>Logically, I shouldn&#8217;t like these. I&#8217;m a usually-rational software developer and computer geek. Mechanical watches are ancient technology that&#8217;s outclassed in every objective metric &#8212; accuracy, reliability, simplicity, cost &#8212; by any inexpensive quartz watch, let alone the high-precision timekeeping and unmatchable connected-computer features on the Apple Watch.</p> <p>I laughed at the TAG Heuer CEO when <a href="">he speculated</a>, &#8220;Apple will get young people used to wearing a watch and later maybe they will want to buy themselves a real watch.” I even wrote an entire article about <a href="">the &#8220;dumbwatch&#8221; being doomed for anyone who tries an Apple Watch</a> because I was an idiot.</p> <p>But I simply like mechanical watches more. I&#8217;ve completely converted, and I don&#8217;t foresee myself wearing the Apple Watch much in the future &#8212; the additional functionality it offers isn&#8217;t useful enough <em>to me</em> (your needs may vary) to overcome the far greater joy I get out of wearing a nice mechanical watch.</p> <p style="text-align: center; margin-top: 2em; margin-bottom: 2em;"><img class="extrawide" src=""/></p> <p>A big part of that joy, for me, is that this <em>isn&#8217;t</em> like anything else in my life, and the difference is refreshing.</p> <p>Most of my work and hobbies involve technologically cutting-edge digital electronics reliant on complex, inconsistent software, with a typical lifetime of a few years at most. Almost everything else I use and make is effectively disposable.</p> <p>As software creeps into ever more objects in my daily life and makes them more capable yet more disposable and less reliable than ever, it’s nice to have something that does less, always works, never needs a software update, requires no cables, doesn’t need to be charged, and whose useful life will probably be longer than mine.</p> → Under the Radar: External Dependencies, 04 Feb 2016 20:01:59 EST<p>This week, we weigh the costs of external dependencies in the wake of the Parse shutdown announcement. Never longer than 30 minutes! (just barely)</p> <p><a href="">&#8734; Permalink</a></p>→ Accidental Tech Podcast: Edit, Crop, Aspect, Original, 04 Feb 2016 19:24:29 EST<p>Trying to find the functional high ground in a long, horizontally scrolling list.</p> <p><a href="">&#8734; Permalink</a></p>The Parse shutdown and neglected apps, 01 Feb 2016 15:43:59 EST<p><a href="">Allen Pike&#8217;s perspective on the Parse shutdown</a> is great.</p> <p>In particular, it&#8217;ll be problematic when possibly <em>hundreds of thousands</em> of iOS apps just stop working in a year because their developers have long since moved on, or their contracts expired, or they can&#8217;t afford to spend time on a significant update.</p> <p>One of the most damaging side effects of unhealthy App Store economics is that developers have little motivation or resources to keep apps updated.</p> <p>In the flush early days, Apple could release a new screen size or entire <em>platform</em> (like the original iPad), and developers rushed to support it as quickly as possible because we knew we&#8217;d probably see a return.</p> <p>Today, Apple&#8217;s shipping new platforms and screen sizes like they&#8217;re going out of style, but so many apps are rotting in disrepair that very few developers are adopting them. The Apple Watch and Apple TV have relatively few apps and almost none that are great (on the Watch, maybe even <em>none</em>), and only a tiny subset of iPad apps support multitasking or the iPad Pro.</p> <p>Apple needs a healthy developer ecosystem now, more than ever, as customers clamor for their new platforms to have more and better software &#8212; but now they&#8217;re paying for their own neglect of healthy App Store economics and tense developer relations for so long.</p> <p>I hope Apple sees that as a problem. With the recent consolidation of the entire App Store under new leadership (Phil Schiller), maybe they do.</p> → Sunsetting Parse: Michael Tsai’s roundup, 30 Jan 2016 16:28:59 EST<p>People often ask why I don&#8217;t use high-level, proprietary hosting platforms for my apps&#8217; backing services.</p> <p>The short answer is that I can&#8217;t afford to &#8212; for my business models to work, I need to keep costs very low, a discipline I&#8217;ve built over time as one of my most important professional skills.</p> <p>The long answer is that when I talk about minimizing costs, I&#8217;m not just talking about money.</p> <p>For whatever it&#8217;s worth, running your own Linux servers today with boring old databases and stable languages is neither difficult nor expensive. This isn&#8217;t to say &#8220;I told you so&#8221; &#8212; rather, if you haven&#8217;t tried before, &#8220;<a href="">You can do this</a>.&#8221;</p> <p><a href="">&#8734; Permalink</a></p>→ How the iPhone 6 ruined Apple, 30 Jan 2016 11:44:30 EST<p>Dr. Drang:</p> <blockquote> <p>While it’s certainly possible that the great days of iPhone sales growth are over, I wouldn’t make that prediction just yet.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="">&#8734; Permalink</a></p>→ Under the Radar: Apps With Personality, 28 Jan 2016 21:55:55 EST<p>This week, we talked about apps with personality vs. neutral voices, and whether independent developers should project a corporate image.</p> <p>(You can probably guess which side I was on.)</p> <p><a href="">&#8734; Permalink</a></p>→ Accidental Tech Podcast: A Rich Toddler’s Toy, 28 Jan 2016 21:12:42 EST<p>Why are iPad sales declining?</p> <p><a href="">&#8734; Permalink</a></p>→ Elegance, 28 Jan 2016 14:44:30 EST<p>Misty De Meo:</p> <blockquote> <p>A few months ago, I wrote decoders for the PCM formats used by the Sega CD and Sega Saturn versions of the game Lunar: Eternal Blue. I wanted to write up a few notes on the format of the Sega CD version’s uncompressed PCM format, and some interesting lessons I learned from it.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is my kind of extreme low-level audio nerdery.</p> <p><a href="">&#8734; Permalink</a></p>→ How to Win at Monopoly and Lose All Your Friends, 28 Jan 2016 14:40:26 EST<blockquote> <p>If losing a normal game of monopoly is frustrating, losing to this strategy is excruciating, as a losing opponent essentially has no path to victory, even with lucky rolls. Your goal is to play conservatively, lock up more resources, and let the other players lose by attrition. If you want to see these people again, I recommend not gloating, but simply state that you&#8217;re playing to win, and that it wasn&#8217;t your idea to play Monopoly in the first place.</p> </blockquote> <p>My affection for Monopoly has gone in waves.</p> <p>As a kid, I thought it was long and boring, like everyone else.</p> <p>As a teenager, I learned strategies and the <em>actual</em> rules, playing probably over a hundred rounds, and loved it.</p> <p>For most of my adult life, I&#8217;ve thought it had an unfairly bad reputation, and that if you played with competent people by the actual rules, it was a great game.</p> <p>But as I find <a href="">so many better games</a>, I&#8217;m coming around to what nearly everyone else already knew about Monopoly: it doesn&#8217;t hold up to modern standards of good game design.</p> <p><a href="">&#8734; Permalink</a></p>→ The Website Obesity Crisis, 24 Jan 2016 17:22:34 EST<p>This is about <em>so</em> much more than big Javascript.</p> <p>Maciej Cegłowski is one of my favorite writers. Highly recommended.</p> <p><a href="">&#8734; Permalink</a></p>→ Under the Radar: Ad-Funded Apps, 21 Jan 2016 22:54:32 EST<p>This week, hear David Smith&#8217;s real-world experience with ad-funded iOS apps, and what the iAd shutdown announcement may mean. As always, this podcast is less than 30 minutes.</p> <p>This was an especially interesting one for me, as I don&#8217;t have <em>any</em> experience with mobile ads. David has plenty, which is very unusual among other iOS developers I know.</p> <p><a href="">&#8734; Permalink</a></p>→ Accidental Tech Podcast: Larger, Less Portable Pastures, 21 Jan 2016 21:51:47 EST<p>The decline of iAd, iOS limitations vs. powerful Mac hacks, and saltines.</p> <p>This is a good one.</p> <p><a href="">&#8734; Permalink</a></p>→ The resolution of the Bitcoin experiment, 17 Jan 2016 17:08:46 EST<p>It&#8217;s interesting how often our allegedly &#8220;decentralized&#8221; technologies keep resulting in immense concentration of power among a few controlling parties.</p> <p>Once that happens, the worst sides of those few people usually control the entire system: dogmatic disagreements, power struggles, and greed.</p> <p><a href="">&#8734; Permalink</a></p>How to fix the new Apple TV’s remote, 14 Jan 2016 16:34:29 EST<p>Brushing against the touchpad during video playback should do <strong>nothing,</strong> rather than its current behavior of seeking within the video.</p> <p>Picking up the remote in any orientation and brushing against any part of it during handling, without physically pushing a button, should never result in accidental input. <strong>Picking it up should feel safe.</strong></p> <p>Touchpad seeking during video playback is already available when the video is paused by the Play/Pause button or, intuitively, clicking the trackpad &#8212; there&#8217;s no need to make it active all the time, when it frequently results in accidentally seeking videos, a highly disruptive usability failure.</p> <p>This isn&#8217;t the Siri Remote&#8217;s only problem, but I think it&#8217;s the biggest. <a href="">This rearrangement would solve some other problems</a>.</p> → Accidental Tech Podcast: Daddy Didn’t Want the Good Graphics Card, 14 Jan 2016 15:50:15 EST<p>Casey bought an iMac. You won&#8217;t believe what happened next!</p> <p><a href="">&#8734; Permalink</a></p>→ Top Four: Top Secret Location, 14 Jan 2016 14:10:15 EST<p>In this special episode, we go undercover to the <em>last</em> place you&#8217;d ever think to look for me.</p> <p><a href="">&#8734; Permalink</a></p>→ Under the Radar: Designed by a Programmer, 14 Jan 2016 14:06:57 EST<p>How David and I get by in our app design without having designers, and the pros and cons of programmatic image drawing.</p> <p>This show is never longer than 30 minutes. Get started!</p> <p><a href="">&#8734; Permalink</a></p>→ Accidental Tech Podcast: The Opposite of Final, 07 Jan 2016 23:45:58 EST<p>We spend CES 2016 talking about USB-C hubs, Swift, and semi-smart watches.</p> <p><a href="">&#8734; Permalink</a></p>