This iMore article is the ultimate iOS 6 wish list. It’s smartly organized where every section examines what competing platforms already have (e.g. “what iOS could take from Android”). and far more comprehensive than I expected when I spotted it over on at Hacker News last weekend. Highly recommended.
TUAW’s Steven Sande wrote an article early this month on how the Brooklyn Tap House has adopted iPads for its point-of-sale system:
The main attraction for the POSLavu system, according to restauranteur and co-owner Hugo Salazar, was the price. Many restaurants use systems from Micros or Aloha that can sport price tags of US$20,000 or more; the bottom line for the devices and software at the Brooklyn Tap House was about $7,000.
Why an iPad mini won't work, part two: Marco Arment has issues with an overly crowded UI on a potential 7" variant. I agree and find the UI problems especially troubling for developers. A third iOS platform would foster fragmentation.
Why an iPad mini won't work, part one: Craig Grannell disputes the competitive demand for a 7" tablet based on offerings from Samsung and Amazon.
Technology Review’s Jason Pontin, in a frank assessment of publishing and tablet apps:
A recent Nielsen study reported that while 33 percent of tablet and smart-phone users had downloaded news apps in the previous 30 days, just 19 percent of users had paid for any of them. The paid, expensively developed publishers’ app, with its extravagantly produced digital replica, is dead…
…I hated every moment of our experiment with apps, because it tried to impose something closed, old, and printlike on something open, new, and digital.
Last fall, we moved all the editorial in our apps, including the magazine, into a simple RSS feed in a river of news. We dumped the digital replica. Now we’re redesigning Technologyreview.com, which we made entirely free for use, and we’ll follow the Financial Times in using HTML5.
Many argue that native apps are our future. Some industries where processor speed is key (e.g. gaming) will stay native for quite a while. However, as this article illustrates, the first wave of tablet apps for publishing are a failure. I expect Newsstand to be a failure. Publishing understands the openness and fluidity of the web is the way to go and I think many more industries will follow suit to HTML as well.
When I first heard about this listening to an episode of The Industry podcast my first reaction was “wait, another to-do list app?”. This one looks pretty cool though: full syncing on iPhone, iPad and web with a streamlined interface and it apparently will be free.
It’s not out yet but I’m keeping my eye on this one once it reaches the App Store.
“Save for later” apps – apps like Instapaper that capture and cleanly format text articles for later consumption – are essential to my workflow. I rely on them to read long form content for my job, for blog posts and just for fun almost every night. But last week there was a serious shakeup: Popular app Read It Later reinvented itself as Pocket. It aims to be a save later service for not just text articles but almost anything online, from videos to photos and mp3 clips. That’s ambitious, something I had to investigate further.
Thirty articles and a few days later with the app I’m hooked. Overall Pocket is an awesome app, albeit with a few rough patches. It’s a tool I’d recommend to almost anyone, especially to iOS newbies given its straightforward setup process. There are several things that Pocket does especially well:
A consistent experience across multiple platforms. A lot of other media apps provide a smart UI on both the iPhone and iPad. Yet it’s rare to see an app ecosystem work so consistently on the iPhone, iPad and the desktop. With Pocket there’s a uniform, drop down based navigation on each device that’s easy to use. Its grid based, Flipboard-esque layout works especially well on the iPad or web while remaining fully usable on the iPhone.
Visual design. Many apps dedicated to browsing or media discovery have a color scheme and layout that is heavy on contrast or overly skeuomorphic. It makes a strong first impression but can get a bit boring or distracting when you’re trying to browse through or read individual articles. Pocket avoids these problems by leveraging a light palette with subtle contrast and few gradients to maximize readability. This minimalist design looks borderline “non-native” to the iOS platform, but I think for Pocket it’s a smart move. The look feels fresh and distinctive, much in the same way the Twitter client Tweetbot distinguished itself visually with a chrome, metal and gradient heavy design.
App integration. This is where a lot of competition falls short; you can have an awesome reading experience, but that becomes meaningless if you can’t move articles in and out of your save for later app easily. That’s not a problem with Pocket. It uses the same API as Read it Later which has been around for years and consequently there’s huge app support.
Video integration. I’m a big film nerd, so naturally I capture a lot of clips, video essays and trailers. Pocket has native support for Youtube and Vimeo, which gives each saved video article a proper headline and thumbnail. With two taps I’m watching a video full screen on my device. Instapaper, Readability and other choices either can’t play video at all or add a lot of cruft around the video itself.
The setup process. Pocket goes out its way to make capturing content as easy as possible. On iOS devices it identifies other apps that are Pocket compatible and provides custom setup instructions for each. To add a web bookmarklet, an essential capture tool, its step by step tutorial is best in class.
Nevertheless Pocket isn’t perfect. The app’s filter for switching between text articles, images and videos is occasionally inaccurate; usually the articles view accidentally pulls in a few videos or vice versa. Also Pocket’s web site needs a bit for work on typography; its body text color is too light and it doesn’t offer the same font choices available on its iOS app. Finally while the default sans serif and serif options look nice, text customization (i.e. font choice, line height, margin size) lags behind what Instapaper provides.
So is Pocket better than Instapaper? Yes and no. If you trend toward content that’s graphic heavy, video based, or anything that strays from pure text, Pocket should be your first choice. For die hard readers of news articles, blog posts and other text-heavy content, stick with Instapaper.
I plan on using both: Instapaper for reading, Pocket for videos and everything else. I’ll detail in a future post exactly how I integrate both apps into my daily workflow.
I’m not a huge iOS gamer, but when I do I gravitate toward word games. One of the best in the genre is David Gage’s SpellTower. It’s fun, simple, and has four game variations to keep things interesting. Works well on both iPhone and iPad, and there’s Bluetooth connectivity included for competitive multiplayer.
It’s on sale right now for a buck only for the next 24 hours, so go get it (Cool web site as well.)
Now that I’ve been increasingly using FiftyThree’s Paper app for sketches and UI ideas, investing in a solid stylus is important. The Verge has a really slick roundup here. (Spoiler: The Wacom Bamboo, my current stylus of choice, ends up as one of the finalists.)
How long before customers look left, look right, see everyone with the same phone or tablet and start itching for something different? My friend Peter Yared contends that the trend has already started in the UK where the “18-25 class” now favors the smorgasbord of Samsung devices as a relief from the iPhone uniform.
I appreciate what Jean-Louis Gassée is after here but the argument doesn't quite stand up.
Apple's strength derives from its focus, iterating on a few core products endlessly. Multiple iPhone sizes don't mesh with that philosophy.
Besides, the iPhone gets a cosmetic refresh almost every year to keep things interesting. If demand gets high enough, Apple could always crank out a few iPod like color variations alongside the requisite white and black.