Hypocrisy

So Twitter’s been under fire lately by a lot of bloggers. In particular, John Gruber, MG Seigler, Jim Darymple…well…basically every aggressive blogger you can think of. Now, a lot of these highly opinionated bloggers are Apple advocates through and through. In fact, from what I’m seeing daily, it’s only them. Maybe I’m not following the right people to get both sides of the story, but these guys are bashing Twitter like crazy.

For those that don’t know – Twitter is locking down their API and now requires “traditional” clients with large amounts of users to request access. In other words – they’re locking out a lot of the community that made them what it is today. Kind of a short version that misses a lot of points, but that’s the gist of it.

Contrary to popular belief – I don’t hate Apple, I hate how a lot of their advocates function and act in different situations. I mean, I don’t think Apple makes the best products by a long-shot. I’ve used a bunch of them extensively and it just doesn’t feel right. The only products that I highly endorse are their trackpads and the iPad for news reading and web browsing. What I don’t like is those extreme followers. Every cult-following has them, but Apple fans have this community of insanely brutal and aggressive voices that constantly bash on other companies.

Take this Twitter situation for example – we have some of them telling Twitter to drop dead, some saying Twitter’s lost it’s way, and others saying Twitter is evil. Why? A developer policy change to a free service? A developer policy change. Huh. You’d think Apple fans/developers would be used to that. How many times has Apple changed their policies and threw a bunch of developers out the door? Keep in mind that these developers actually pay Apple to make applications for them, not a free model like Twitter’s. If you aren’t catching it – that makes it way worse. People invested tons of money to be a part of that ecosystem and got cheated out of it because Apple decided to change it’s mind.

One big example is the banning of apps if they didn’t use Apple’s own 30-percent-taking in-app payment system. It’s okay to take 30%, but to force it on every developer after you’ve allowed otherwise in the past? Amazon damn-near got rid of their Kindle app. Tons of other developers pulled out as well because either the profit margins would be horrible or they’d have to overcharge users. I’m not saying Apple or Twitter are worse than each other – not at all. My point is that there should be an equal level of anger and discussion about these major changes.

Are these same bloggers angry about Apple’s developer policy changes, no matter how ruthless they may be? Nope. In fact, they create reasons as to why it makes sense. They’ll make post after post about why it makes sense to apply these new policies. But with Twitter – anger, hate, and numerous cruel words. And if this was the only time it could be slightly excusable. But it happens all the time. When else? I have a huge list of examples.

When Samsung allegedly copied iOS and it’s corresponding devices, Apple bloggers screamed out and said Samsung deserves nothing better than the courts. It didn’t matter that Samsung was bringing fantastic competition on the table – let the law books to take them down. They wanted to bring the law in for something they didn’t even totally understand. But when Apple allegedly price fixed – an illegal act – they blamed Amazon. They said Apple brought competition and such actions should be allowed. It didn’t matter that it forced users to pay more on every single marketplace – Apple was in the right. It didn’t matter if Apple was guilty or not – the law didn’t need to intervene. Amazon was wrong.

And remember that whole Samsung Galaxy Note thing? Geez.

Microsoft is taking a big risk with Windows 8 and is trying to create a brand new experience. They’re trying to combine what Apple is convinced should be in two form factors into one device so that consumers don’t have to have three different devices. Without even blinking they claim Microsoft is wrong and that Windows 8 is a complete failure. It’s not even out to market. Not to mention that it’s gotten lots of good reviews. And let’s bring up the fact that most users don’t want to spend money on three different devices when they can buy two devices and save tons of money. But Microsoft is wrong.

Any PC maker comes out with a new laptop and Apple bloggers call it out as a Macbook or Macbook Air copy. But when Apple steals great ideas from Android or Windows Phone they don’t even discuss it. In fact, they act like it never happened and move right along. In the vice versa case, umpteen blog posts with people making comparisons and showing how others constantly copy Apple.

Here’s another that I posted onto Google+ recently where Jim Darymple posts a link to a list of apps optimized for the Retina Macbook (a few of these lists also came out when the retina iPad came along too). If this same list was for apps optimized for a new Android phone, what do you think it would be about? Fragmentation.

RIM is currently going through some really hard times. They’re trying to bounce back with new products but it’s definitely a really rough patch. Whenever their new CEO tries to shine a bright light on the situation you’ll find an Apple blogger literally laughing at their situation. Some tell them to even shut down because it isn’t worth it. Yet they forget that Apple was in the exact same situation years back. Microsoft was forced to give Apple billions of dollars to continue to exist. This company is now worth more than Microsoft. Why can’t RIM bounce back the same way? Why is it that only Apple can pull such a thing off? Apple isn’t some Godly creature that came out of nowhere. They’re a company – a corporation – much like RIM and RIM has just as much of a chance of bouncing back.

And here’s a last one I posted a while back when ASUS gave out free GPS dongles because the Transformer Prime had faulty GPS.

Not all Apple-focused bloggers are like this, but there’s a huge community that is. Cut it out, grow up, and take the similar side to every issue. If you don’t want to talk about it, don’t, but don’t act one way when Apple does something and when other companies do the same. Cut the hypocrisy. I think your readers deserve it.

Ads for Humans [Video]

The video linked in the title will take you to a 60-second ad spot for the Samsung Galaxy S3. Don’t worry if you can’t figure that out, though. The phone itself is shown in it’s entirety for a whopping 4 seconds out of 60. Did I mention it says nothing about what the phone actually does?

Hey Samsung – how about you make ads for humans as well?

And, yes, the Samsung Galaxy S3 is a disappointment to me. I might talk about it later, but probably not.

Target doesn’t want to be a showroom

Yesterday I posted about Target wiping it’s shelves clean of Kindles. Turns out that they’re just angry because they feel that those shelves were being used to be a showroom so people could play around with the Kindle and then go home, get on Amazon.com, and buy it there. Cheaper, no sales tax (for most places), and much easier. In their words:

What we aren’t willing to do is let online-only retailers use our brick-and-mortar stores as a showroom for their products and undercut our prices

Fair enough, Target. I’m going to have to agree with you there.

And Amazon – maybe it’s time to open up a B&M showroom yourself. If not a full-blown store, at least pop-up shop where people can play around with your hardware, and then order them straight from there.

Google, Please Stop Forcing YouTubers into Google+

Interesting point by Wil Wheaton in the post linked in the title. His issue is that YouTube has dropped the thumbs up/down buttons for a big G+ Like button. And the only time you can use it? You guessed it – if you have a Google+ account. In other words – you need Google+ to have your say in YouTube.

Now, in essence – there’s nothing wrong with this. Kind of like on Facebook where you can only “Like” a video, YouTube is Google’s Facebook Video…but just a lot bigger and better. But what’s wrong with it is that it’s a regression. Google didn’t go forward, they quite literally went backwards with this one. And that sucks. Especially when it’s their way of shoving a service down everyone’s throat.

I love Google+ but I love YouTube as well. And this? This is bad for YouTube, and I can’t agree with it. Bring back the multiple options, Google.

Mr. Wheaton gives his own reasons as well, so I suggest you hit that title and read his thoughts on the situation. He breaks it down really well.

Target to phase-out Kindle products

Interesting. Especially considering this gem from an earlier post:

it should be noted that Apple recently partnered with [Target] for a small number of “mini-stores” earlier this year

And another straight out of the post linked in the title:

It’s worth noting that Target’s statement also notes that its continued support of other e-readers and accessories — including, specifically mentioned here, Barnes & Noble’s Nook.

Yes, the Nook that Microsoft recently invested in.

Huh. Hit the title link for Target’s statement.

OS X Memory Management is “Deeply Broken”

Adam Fields talks about how OS X Lion has been giving him a little bit of…er…trouble. And the post linked in the title isn’t the only one where he talks about it. He also talks about it here, here, and discusses the linked post further here. Hint: you have to hit the terminal a ton of times. Two thumbs up for intuitiveness!

I’ve had to use OS X for a little while in my old job. Hated it. I was so happy when I was back on Windows it’s not even funny. I know – it sounds crazy. I’ll talk about this a little more in a later blog post, but there’s no way anyone can convince me that OS X is a superior OS in it’s current state. It looks pretty, sure – but I need to get work done, not glaze over slow and sleek animations.

Xobot OS: Android Ported to C#

Very, very cool stuff here. The interesting thing is that – based on their tests – the performance using their Mono platform (open source .NET implementation) is significantly faster. I’d love to see some demos and get some more information. The awesome part is that they’re focused on continuously staying up-to-date with the latest version of Android by automating the process of translation and then refining it. In time, they likely won’t even need to change any of the translated code. The cool thing is that if you’ve developed apps for Android in the past, you’ll likely be able to use this translation tool to convert it into C# for Xobot as well. And it’s open source. Yep. Very cool. Hit the title link for more info.

“How to Sync an iPhone to a New Computer Without Losing Data”

Hit the title link for guidelines that’ll help all you iOS-ers to keep your data when switching computers. In light of this, here’s how you sync your Android phone:

  1. Turn on your phone
  2. Sign in with your Google account (if you haven’t already)
  3. Wait…that’s it
  4. No, seriously, that’s all you have to do
It just works.

Thanks for link, +Pearl Chen!

BB10 Announced

Yep, it’s finally coming after months of anticipation. Looks gorgeous, and takes clear cues from Windows Phone and Android. However, it has some great ideas including the sentence-completion touch keyboard. I’ve played with early versions of the OS, and I have to say – quite fluid (much like the Playbook). That being said, there’s a lot of friction RIM will have to endure over the next little while. But no matter what anyone says – there’s no “too late” in mobile right now. People may think that users have made their final choice, but this is just the beginning. Android and iOS may have had a head start, but Windows Phone and BBOS will have their turn. They may not dominate, but the bites they’ll take out of the pie will eventually become considerable. More on this in a later blog post.

The Verge has done a great job getting all the BB10 articles into one stream (as usual). Hit the title link to get some awesome BB10 coverage.

“Frivolous”

Judge Posner on Apple’s latest lawsuit against Motorola:

I deny the second half of Apple’s motion (seeking prohibition of the deposition) as frivolous and the first half (seeking substitution) as untimely. I’ve had my fill of frivolous filings by Apple. The next such motion, and I shall forbid it to file any motions without first moving for leave to file.

Ouch.

The Woz Prefers Windows Phone Over iOS & Android

Yes, that Woz. He says he prefers Windows Phone over anything else. That’s pretty amazing, and definitely a nod towards Microsoft’s efforts. He finds Android navigation cumbersome and iOS interactions are more awkward. Click the link the title for full the story.

I have to say, kudos to him for being a honest critique. But on my end, I guess I’m just used to Android navigation so much that it seems natural to me. When I’m on iOS, I’m always lost and have no clue what to do. I’m constantly looking for a back button – especially when one app knocks me to another and there’s no way to come back. Really frustrating experience.

That being said, Windows Phone definitely has a great UI and is really, really easy to use. Both my parents own Windows Phones and they caught onto the whole thing incredibly quick. On the flipside, my dad has an Android tablet (Acer Iconia A100) and it took a week of questions for him to finally get comfortable. My mom used to have an iPod touch and I think she still hasn’t figured out how to use the darn thing. I don’t know what it is, but she never got the hang of it. Until she stopped using it, there would be questions nearly on a daily basis.

Of course, these are just my observances. The case for iOS, Android, and/or Windows Phone will greatly differ depending on the user’s background in technology. Both my parents are more tech-savvy than most others, so I guess that may be a reason for their situation.

With Ice Cream Sandwich, it seems that things have improved greatly. The Android interface is not only a lot more beautiful, but also a bit more intuitive. However, the amount of power Google has shoved into Android still makes it a lot more complicated than any other OS, and that’s just a consequence of the robustness of the OS. As Matias and the team focus more on design, I think we’re going to see things get a lot more simpler for the average user, but even at the state of Android right now, there’s a lot for regular users to grasp right away.

Here’s one thing that stuck out to me, though:

He’s so impressed by it, in fact, that he defines the experience of using a Windows Phone as feeling like you’re “with a friend not a tool.

But here’s the thing – I need my phone to be a tool, not just a friend. I need to do things on my phone and get out. Sure, it takes some setting up, but once that’s done I’m in and out of my phone in seconds to check 3 different inboxes, 3 social networks, a calendar, and the latest headlines. There’s no opening apps, just switching between three screens.

Yes, Windows Phone is simple, but simple doesn’t always get the job done. For me – Android just does. Windows Phone and iOS simply don’t have what it takes for me to switch over. It’s not about Google-integration or anything – it’s just how it works is how I need my devices to do things for me. I can go on for hours about why, but the other platforms just don’t cut it, and they’re far from getting there as well.

Father of Linux Named Technology Laureate

Well deserved!

Apple SVP Drops Instagram

Apparently he didn’t like the Android wave. Can someone tell him he doesn’t have to follow the people he doesn’t like? Maybe he forgot about that simple point. Regardless, I gave some thoughts on Google+ about this:

Google+ opens it’s doors – photographers (as in talented artists) are incredibly happy and end up publishing a book with the community’s photos. Instragram opens it’s doors – “photographers” (note the quotes) begin an outcry about losing exclusivity. Just saying.

I may not be a photographer, but I’m so glad I’m in this community. I’ve met amazing people, learned things I could never imagine, and am meeting more new and interesting people on a daily basis. Keep up the great work, Google+ers. This is what the social web is all about.

Get off your high horse, Instagrammers. You’re not better than everyone else.

The Innovator’s Patent

Today, Twitter introduced a patent assignment format called the Innovator’s Patent Agreement. This is the gist of what it means:

The IPA is a new way to do patent assignment that keeps control in the hands of engineers and designers. It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees’ inventions in offensive litigation without their permission. What’s more, this control flows with the patents, so if we sold them to others, they could only use them as the inventor intended.

Amazing. This is what technology patents should be. It’s incredible that this is now just happening. Kudos to Twitter for starting this movement. Tech industry: take note. If you really care about technology, the next generation of technologists, and users – this is what you should be using for your patents. Don’t use your IP for offence and gains; that’s what your engineering talent is for.

Imagine if Apple did this

John Gruber on the Asus Transformer GPS “dongle” fiasco:

File Under ‘Imagine if Apple Did This’: “Free Dongle!”, they proclaim, like it’s a good thing.

Yeah, just imagine. Just imagine if Apple messed up a product – let’s say the iPhone. Just for kicks, let’s imagine that it’s the antenna.

What if the then-CEO first insulted a user’s intelligence for claiming the antenna was not working as intended. Imagine, then, that instead of admitting their faults, they said that there’s nothing wrong with it. On top of that, imagine if they gave away a free case to anyone with the faulty (oops, not faulty) iPhone because it remedies this problem (oops, there is no problem); kind of like Asus is doing with this dongle. Just imagine.

At least Asus is willing to accept a mistake. And moreover, on a feature majority of users don’t even use. I haven’t used my tablet for navigation – ever. That’s what my phone is for. Apple screwed up the most important part of a phone – the phone part. And then they had the audacity to blame the users and point fingers at the rest of the industry.

Yeah, John. Just imagine.

Losing the Web

Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder and engineering mastermind, made an interesting point in an interview with the Guardian. Maybe you’ve read it already, but just to reiterate the point I want to discuss:

[Brin] warned that the rise of Facebook and Apple, which have their own proprietary platforms and control access to their users, risked stifling innovation and balkanising the web.

“There’s a lot to be lost,” he said. “For example, all the information in apps – that data is not crawlable by web crawlers. You can’t search it.”

Brin takes hard shots at his biggest rivals in the industry right now. Apple and Facebook are clear threats to what Google wants accomplish, whether it’s world domination, serving ads, or simply indexing the web.

There’s a sad outburst that occurred after this interview. People immediately fled to the point I just made – Brin was probably serving his own company in those statements. But, regardless of Brin’s reasoning, there’s something that’s glaring at us right now. I’m not here to say the perpetrators of a closed, non-searchable web are any or all of Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Twitter, and the like. I’m posting this for another reason.

I’m posting this because he’s right.

Imagine if Wikipedia launched as an app. Even worse, what if it launched as an app on one platform. Not only would we not be able to find the contents of it anywhere except for this particular app, only a certain fraction of privileged users would be able to access it. Take that, all the social content, all the sharing, all the information that we’ve been able to index on numerous search engines, and think about all the information that could be lost.

Brin may have been selfish in his statement – I’m not going to agree or disagree with that, because that’s not the point. The point is that we, as users of the web, are losing the resources we were once selflessly served freely. And that’s a problem we’re going to need to solve. Fast.

Nilay Patel digs into DOJ’s Apple ebook price-fixing case

Amazing analysis as always by Nilay. However one part of the whole breakdown really sticks out; here’s what Apple said to publishers to solve the “Amazon problem” (or rather, Amazon putting up fair prices for digital content):

you set the price, and we get our 30 percent, and yes, the customer pays a little more, but that’s what you want anyway.

Tell me again how Apple became amazingly profitable because they put customers first. I love that one.

More on False Fragmentation

After my Fragmentation is a Bad Excuse post swam to the top of /r/Android, I’m finding others discussing the false claims of fragmentation across the web. One of the best one’s I’ve found is this one. Steven goes deep into the technical details on how to avoid fragmentation without getting to technical about it – something I tried and failed to do in my last post. I actually got rid of two paragraphs that discussed how to avoid it because I wanted it to be more geared towards the non-developer. The best part is that it’s by a developer, and not someone who doesn’t understand what they’re talking about. Fragmentation is a term thrown around by people who don’t even understand it, and that’s incredibly dangerous. Steven does a great job of clearing these wrong notions – definitely worth a read.

Fragmentation is a Bad Excuse

Ah, fragmentation. The marketing term that has even blinded developers. The word that lets software engineers make excuses for writing bad software. But hey, don’t let me stop you from complaining. I’ve been developing for Android long enough to know that it’s not an easy thing to make apps for devices like the Galaxy Nexus while still supporting low-end devices like the Samsung Replenish. Yeah, two completely different devices. I know it’s not easy. But you won’t find me saying Android sucks because of it. In fact, you’ll find me praising it for that exact reason.

You can go ahead and brag that iOS development is easy. Yeah, I’m listening. But before you continue, I want to ask you something really, really important: are you seriously okay with having one device with one operating system powered by one software market run by one company? I’m not talking on a “control” level, I’m talking on an innovation and choice-of-use level. If so, you can go ahead and do what you want. But if you believe in the growth of technology and the power of scalability – this is for you.

Android (Google’s version and the open source one) fits on multiple kinds of screens and resolutions and handles numerous kinds of hardware that the Android team doesn’t control. On top of that, they’ve built a framework that scales applications that they also don’t control. Take a second to understand this. Do you realize how amazing this is? Do you, as a developer, understand that this is one of the toughest level of scalable software you’re going to encounter? And then you’re going to complain about an app on top of a VM and a framework that gives you tools to make things scale? Seriously?

Programming is a challenge. Scalable programming is that much harder. Android involves the latter. The fact that there are different screen sizes, resolution, and underlying hardware is bad enough, but the fact that OEMs and carriers take their sweet time to upgrade to the latest OS makes things even more difficult. That being said, majority of applications won’t need more than what the framework tools in FroYo (2.2) gives us, so that’s a really great thing and if you do, there are backwards compatibility libraries to make sure you can use them even then.

You know what else is great? Google’s made it quite easy to make your applications scale properly. Yeah, it’s all in the framework – you don’t need to build something to do it. Things like RelativeLayout and weighted layouts make a developer’s life really easy when it comes to handling mulitple kinds of devices. I’ve made incredibly complex layouts that scale onto any screen and resolution quite easily – yes, even between the Galaxy Nexus and the Replenish. It’s completely possible and it doesn’t take that much more effort. It just means you, as a developer, need to properly write your code.

You can keep saying that fragmentation is a problem, but I’m about to tell you the problem with iOS: it’s tailored. It’s tailored to the point where if Apple ever increases the size of their device (or, as we saw with the iPad – increases the resolution), too many applications won’t work properly. That means that the app store that Apple themselves controls will fall into shambles because they never prepared developers for such a change. Or, on the other hand, they’ll never change the screen size of their devices, which is even worse if you ask me.

Scalable beats tailored 100% of the time, so don’t complain if you’re required to do it. Once you learn how to do it on your specific platform, it’ll be a breeze to do it from then on. It’s just a matter of not being lazy and taking that first step.

Be a software engineer that scales, because that’s what software engineers do. Don’t be afraid of the most important task you have as a developer.

Xbox: The TV Of The Future Is Already Here

Farhad Manjoo of The Slate:

Over the last few months, Microsoft has turned its video-game console into your TV’s best friend. Late last year, the company revamped the Xbox’s interface, adding a wonderful voice-search feature through the Kinect motion-gaming add-on. Microsoft also added dozens of entertainment services to its Xbox Live online plan, including Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, and on-demand video from cable and satellite services around the world. This week, the company is adding access to Comcast’s Xfinity on-demand service, as well as apps for HBO and MLB.TV. [...] the future of entertainment is bound to be fragmented. And in a fragmented world, the Xbox’s magical powers to cut through the clutter may be the best thing to happen to your TV.

Couldn’t agree more. Microsoft has nailed the future of the entertainment system. The question is, however – will the next Xbox continue this trend? We obviously can’t say that just yet, but one thing’s for sure: with Kinect and all of the other amazing entertainment features recently added to the Xbox, Microsoft’s got a huge head-start on the future of connected TVs.

The Definition of ‘Magical’ [Video]

The Google autonomous car drives a man that’s 95% blind. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is magical. Anyone else tearing up?

Android vs iOS: It Just Works [Video]

Linked above is a video that shares one person’s thoughts on switching from Android to iOS. He goes over basic functions like opening links from his email, getting driving directions, and making the phone work for him the way he wants it to. Something as simple as getting a location from a website and getting navigation is so much easier – and so much more versatile considering he can even choose from multiple apps if he likes – than on iOS.

This video highlights not even a subset of how much cross-application functionality there is, above and beyond the integration any app can do into the OS. From universal gestures, to plugging into the sharing functionality, to even replacing things like SMS, email, and dialer apps, this video hardly scratches the surface of the power of Android and still makes iOS look primitive.

It just works.

Click on the title to check out this fantastic video. Thanks to Hamid Marc Afsharieh for finding this.

The State of the Nexus

The Nexus One is still my favourite phone of all time. My recently bought Galaxy Nexus, although I think it’s amazing and I definitely think it was worth the upgrade, will never match it. I’m not talking about hardware-wise, I’m talking about what it meant for me as an Android user, developer, and enthusiast. It changed the game, regardless of it’s sales. But when the Nexus S came out with Gingerbread, I had to wait pretty long until I got the 2.3 upgrade. This frustrated me, but eventually Google got me what I wanted. I thought it was a one-time thing…but it’s not. The Nexus S still hasn’t gotten it’s official Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade. The Galaxy Nexus came out about 5 months back.

That’s messed up.

Taylor Wimberly writes the following in this post’s linked article:

what’s the point in owning a Nexus device (if you are not a developer)? Maybe as some have suggested, the Nexus series is coming to and end.

What’s the point, indeed. And this stands as a developer as well. The main reason I buy a Nexus device – as a developer – is because (1) I’m getting the vanilla Android experience and (2) being assured updates right away. The second one is the vital one here because I can get vanilla on any phone with a hack or two. It’s all about getting the updates right away, and if that slips away – the Nexus isn’t pure Google.

With this and the rumored Play-pushing tablet, the state of the Nexus may just be nothing more than a gimmick. Nexus meant standard-setting and Google-assured. We can argue about the former, but the latter troubles me. Google – I know (hope) you’re trying, but we Android enthusiasts look for you when we want to point to OEMs whose model they should follow. If you pull this kind of stunt, who will we look to?

This Ghost Town Writes Charitable Books

That’s right. 500+ photographers on Google+ have gotten together to make a book of their work, and all net proceeds are going to microloan site Kiva. Click the title-link for more.

And this isn’t the first Google+ collaboration book; another was created when Google Plus was just a few days old. It was a handbook for new users by new users who were learning the platform itself. A collaborated handbook so people can learn from others’ understanding.

Google+ is driving at something a lot bigger than most bloggers are understanding. But hey, continue to compare it to Facebook and Twitter; us ghosts will enjoy ourselves in this nice, little town.

Why One Developer Is Not Supporting OS X

Hint: It’s fragmentation. And once you finish reading that, read the comment from Jean-Baptiste Queru, because it’s filled with so much win.

If we really want to place smartphones and tablets under the scope of PCs, we should treat them the same way as well.



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