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Amazon Devices

Dustin Curtis on Amazon Echo

The media strategy that seems to be driving Jeff Bezos to make mobile consumption devices (with Amazon’s media stores and Prime video/music) is flawed. No one makes money selling media for consumption anymore. That market is quickly and brutally dying.

The only explanation I have is that Jeff Bezos wakes up in the morning and says “We have this money to spend, we can’t throw it away so let’s build something”.

I dealt with long distance voice recognition in the past and I know for a fact that its possibilities are pretty limited.

Fear of the App Store

As I’ve mentioned in previous emails, I fear App Review. And that’s no small thing. So many decisions I make end up being filtered through whether or not I think something might get rejected. Which has a profound impact on my team’s entire development process …

Is this sane to you? Not even a bit to me. And yet you have to be paranoid about whether Apple will approve your app, especially if you are going to include an offbeat feature. This is even worse.

Contractors may steer their clients away from taking risks.

For sure I’ll never accept a “final payment once the app is published in the store” clause if there’s an innovative feature involved. Too muck risky to me.

Don’t Experiment on the App Store

The recent adventures of PCalc widget leads me to subscribe to the following statement.

The bottom line is that if I were an iOS developer, I would be leery of investing significant resources into a Today View widget.

Unless you have time to explore (and see how it goes) DO NOT EXPERIMENT on the App Store. Do you have in mind a new feature? Toss it out as quickly as you can, submit it and see how it goes. DO NOT PUT SWEAT AND BLOOD IS SOMETHING THAT YOU ARE NOT SURE IT WILL BE APPROVED.

Widgets are a new feature in iOS8 and Apple is still trying to figure out the rules. If you want to experiment, just do it, and share the results with the community!

If each one of us runs a little experiment like James Thomson did, I am pretty sure we can figure out the rules.

UPDATE: Looks like Apple changed its mind. My point still stands though.

Bikes Must Stay Outside

We are having a sunny October over here and I enjoy biking to pick up my kid at the kindergarden. There’s a gate with a bell. You ring it, say who you are about to pick up and they let you in. The kindergarden is surrounded by a beautiful garden, so from the gate to the actual building there’s a short path. I got there, rang, waited for the gate to open and biked to the building, oblivious of what I just did. I parked the bike by the door and got in, happy to pick up my kid. The janitor approached me with a severe look:

“Bikes must stay outside of the garden”
“I am very sorry, I didn’t know. It won’t happen anymore”.

I felt she was a bit harsh, but I thought she was having a bad day. While I was standing in the corridor waiting for my kid, one of his teachers approached me from behind. She tapped on my shoulder and even more severely than the janitor said:

“Do you know that bikes must stay outside of the garden?”
“The janitor just told me, I didn’t know, sorry about that.”

Now I was beginning to feel a bit weird, especially because I didn’t know why bikes within the garden were so dangerous. But hey, I was there to pick up my boy and I was looking forward to hug him! As the teacher walked away the headmaster happened to enter the door.

“Whose bike is that?”

Well, at that point I could not take it anymore.

“It’s mine. In the last four minutes I have been already warned twice. Now I perfectly know it is forbidden to introduce bikes in the garden and I am sorry about that. But, if I may, I suggest you put a sign at the gate. You know, a bike is not a tank and not everybody thinks it’s dangerous to introduce one in here.”
“You know what, you are right.”

And we walked away.

Frankly I am not discussing the rule (even if I don’t get it). I am arguing that those who break the rule just don’t know it!

Now, this little story made me ask myself a bunch of questions:

  • how many times did I make the same mistake in my designs?
  • how many times I made the customer feel guilty about something that wasn’t clearly spelled out in the UI?
  • how many times I “hoped” that customers behaved by the rules that I didn’t make explicit?

Behind a UI there’s a set of rules and expectations. The goal of the UI is to make them explicit. It’s a hard work, but it’s required if you don’t want your customers to feel guilty when they do something they are not supposed to.

Costolo on Mobile SDKs

The mobile SDK landscape has been inhabited by parties that optimize for self-interest first, and your interest second

I have found this quote only in this post on ReadWrite. I can’t believe that Dick Costolo already forgot how Twitter treated developers a few years ago. I hope it’s a joke. Costolo may have a short memory, but developers hardly forget.

Went to Work For

Saul Mora -> Coursera

Brent Simmons -> Omni Group

Jonathan Penn -> Apple

Kevin Hoctor -> Apple

Dave Addey -> Apple

Jared Sinclair -> Bloglovin’

Patrick Burleson -> Apple

Sophia Teutschler -> Apple

All indie in a previous life. Now working at a company. It’s hard to not see a trend. Is the wind changing?

ps: I feel there’s more, but probably I don’t know them. Feel free to suggest.

Would You Work for Apple?

Sometimes, especially during conferences, somebody throws out the question. I always answered a sound no. As much as I base the most part of my business on Apple products, I think I’d not fit Apple’s culture as an employee. I have always found difficult to tell the why. Well, Ole Begemann transcribed part of Debug 47, in which two former Apple managers where interviewed.

This is one excerpt that dazzled me

When someone came into my office and said they wanna be a manager, I asked them, “How did you sleep last night?” And they said, “Oh, fairly well”. and I said, “Good, ’cause that’s the last good night’s sleep you’re gonna get.”

This is even worse.

And I know I’ve read a lot of studies how this is a stupid way for the tech industry to function. And that’s certainly true. But this happens all over, and it’s not just the tech industry …

Why worse? Because it entails the hateful “it’s always been like that”.

I firmly believe you can build great products living a healthy life. I know people that successfully run a business without giving up their souls. Don’t fall into the trap that you have to work most of the time (including Sunday evening) to be successful.

This Is a New Apple

Facts:

As far as I remember I have never seen a concentration of issues in such a short time. It’s easy to close with a “I miss Steve Jobs”, but I won’t fall into that trap.

Apple screwed up also when Steve Jobs was in charge. It just screwed up less frequently. Is this a sign? I don’t know, I’ll “connect the dots” in a few years. Do I like it? Not so much. Do you?

Accessibility and Dark Mode in iOS8

As you know I am very sensitive to accessibility.

But until that day comes, I ask developers of text-heavy apps: please consider including a dark mode for your app not just because it’s a night-use feature but also because, for some of us, it’s an accessibility feature.

Even if it’s potentially a lot of work to include a dark mode, do it. It’s worth it.

Mixed Feelings on Swift

While writing the chapters in iOS 8 by Tutorials I have banged my head against the wall often, pretty much every beta release. I was really excited when Swift was announced. Excitement naturally fades, by design I’d say. It fades even more quickly when the real thing is far from your expectations. Today, I’d use Swift in an app if:

  • it’s a new app
  • it’s a small app
  • it’s a product of mine

Right, I’d not venture in Swift land for client work. Why? When something does not work I can’t live with the doubt that it is due to Swift, or me not yet fully grasping Swift.

I have mixed feelings. I invite you to read David Owens’ post. I share most of his concerns.

Proposal: why don’t you write a blog post about your experience with Swift?