The App-Making Edition Friday, September 23, 2016

Inside Apple And IBM's App Making Machine, by Mark Sullivan, Fast Company

Then Apple won personal computing. In the new millennium business was increasingly done on mobile devices—increasingly, personal devices brought into the workplace by employees—running apps served from the cloud. People began expecting work applications to possess the ease of use and design sense that they saw in their personal apps.

The IBM people brought with them to Cupertino that day a mobile app they’d been working on—a fuel calculation app for airline pilots—that they thought might serve as a starting point for the partnership. It was built by IBM people, who had also built some powerful data analytics into the background. The IBM people hoped the Apple people would see it and be impressed, and then the two companies would continue building the app together.

But that’s not what happened. IBM's app—all 40 screens of it—was a bloated mess. One Apple UI expert in the meeting said simply "that’s not going to work," a person who was there told me. Pilots, the expert said, would not go through 40 screens in an app, even if they were currently doing the same tasks on paper.

Use Cases

Four Affordable Wireless Audio Solutions, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

Wireless headphones are nothing new, and The Wirecutter offers quality, well-vetted suggestions for nearly every situation. In the car, you could upgrade to a stereo with Bluetooth or even CarPlay connectivity, but that’s an expensive hassle.

For now, I’d like to focus on three specific use cases that new iPhone 7 users may be wondering about: converting existing headphones to wireless, wireless solutions for the car, and an inexpensive solution for fitness buffs.

Stanford Researchers Launch iPhone App To Study Peripheral Artery Disease, by Tracie White, Health Canal

Stanford University School of Medicine researchers have launched a free iPhone app designed to help them conduct a clinical study to discover better treatments for peripheral artery disease and as a convenient way for people with the disease to monitor their daily activity.

“We hope to gain insights into patterns of disease progression over time by collecting participants’ activity data from their iPhones,” said Oliver Aalami, MD, clinical associate professor of vascular surgery and lead investigator of the study. “We will be looking for any changes in activity patterns that may indicate disease advancement.

Apple Releases First iOS 10.1 Beta To Public Beta Testers With Portrait Mode For iPhone 7 Plus, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

iOS 10.1 introduces a "Portrait" mode for the iPhone 7 Plus, which was first shown off when the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus debuted on September 7. Portrait mode is designed to mimic the kind of shallow depth of field images that can be taken with a high-end DSLR, with a front subject that stands out over a blurred background.

Apple Opens The iMessage Door, And The Ephemera Rushes In, by Amanda Hess, New York Times

Apple built an empire on hermetically sealed systems with sleek, minimalist designs. Nowhere was its strategy more evident than in iMessage, the company’s instant messaging system that offered a free, elegant chatting solution exclusive to Apple devices. Until last week, that is, when Apple updated its software, cracked open iMessage and allowed the ephemera of the outside internet to seep in.

The New Watches

Heading Into Its Second Year, The Apple Watch Finds Its Focus, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

The Apple Watch will never be as versatile or as essential as the iPhone, but in this second go-around Apple has come a lot closer to hardware and software that realize the potential of smartwatches given current hardware limitations. Leaning into the fitness angle is smart, since the Apple Watch is generally more friendly and less threatening than Serious Fitness Gadgets even if it isn’t quite as helpful. If this is what Apple can do with a year and a half, I’m excited to see what comes next.

The Old Phones

The Death Of The Telephone Call, by Timothy Noah, Slate

The phone call died, according to Nielsen, in the autumn of 2007. During the final three months of that year the average monthly number of texts sent on mobile phones (218) exceeded, for the first time in recorded history, the average monthly number of phone calls (213). A frontier had been crossed. The primary purpose of most people’s primary telephones was no longer to engage in audible speech.

Rumors Today

Apple Stepping Up Plans For Amazon Echo-Style Smart-Home Device, by Mark Gurman, Ian King, Bloomberg

Started more than two years ago, the project has exited the research and development lab and is now in prototype testing, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing unannounced Apple projects. Like Amazon Inc.’s Echo, the device is designed to control appliances, locks, lights and curtains via voice activation, the people said. Apple hasn’t finalized plans for the device and could still scrap the project.

Apple Acquires Another Machine Learning Company: Tuplejump, by Greg Kumparak, TechCrunch

We’re hearing that Apple was particularly interested in “FiloDB”, an opensource project that Tuplejump was building to efficiently apply machine learning concepts and analytics to massive amounts of complex data right as it streamed in.


Hands-on: Apple’s Slightly-redesigned iPhone 7 Leather Case Is A Big Improvement, by Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac

The case is super-lightweight, but the outside is real genuine leather. To keep weight to a minimum Apple uses a very thin sheet of leather, which tends to wear fairly quickly. I don’t expect my tan leather case to look like it does for very long, but the wear lends it that unique character that’s typical of leather.

Spark — Simply Better Email, by Rajat Sharma, Beautiful Pixels

It has everything you'd expect of a modern email client, but one of its stand-out features for me is the Natural Language Searching.


Memory Graph Debugger Tips, by Brent Simmons, Inessential

I’ve fixed two bugs using the memory graph debugger, and I saved a bunch of time in both occasions. It’s probably worth telling about them as a reminder of the kinds of problems you can run into.


Yahoo Says Half A Billion Accounts Breached By Nation-sponsored Hackers, by Dan Goodin, Ars Technica

At least half a billion Yahoo accounts have been breached by what investigators believe is a nation-sponsored hacking operation. Attackers probably gained access to a wealth of holders' personal information, including names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, answers to security questions, and cryptographically protected passwords.

Now You Know: Which Came First, The Chicken Or The Egg?, by Merrill Fabry, Time

First of all, yes, a reader really did ask us this one.

At first we laughed a bit—who wouldn’t? But it turns out that this question is a classic for a reason. People have been asking it for thousands of years, and it contains more than a little history.