The Total-And-Inescapale Edition Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Clearing Out The App Stores: Government Censorship Made Easier, by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times

Blocking a website is like trying to stop lots of trucks from delivering a banned book; it requires an infrastructure of technical tools (things like China’s “Great Firewall”) and enterprising users can often find a way around it. Banning an app from an app store, by contrast, is like shutting down the printing press before the book is ever published. If the app isn’t in a country’s app store, it effectively doesn’t exist. The censorship is nearly total and inescapable.

But that’s not the end of this story. The banning of apps highlights a deeper flaw in our modern communications architecture: It’s the centralization of information, stupid.

Reinventing The Music Industry

Apple's Stream Team: Zane Lowe, Bozoma Saint John, And Larry Jackson Are Taking Music To The Future, by Brendan Klinkenberg, Complex

Eighteen months after its debut, Apple Music is clearly more than just a streaming service. Any assumptions that Apple was taking on Spotify, Tidal, and their ilk, by simply making a splashy clone and putting it on every iPhone on Earth have been dispelled. Instead, Apple Music is trying to do, well, everything. Under the guidance of its head of content, Larry Jackson, 35, it’s signing the biggest names in music—including Drake, Frank Ocean, and Taylor Swift—to exclusive deals, and flying right in the face of the old-world labels to do so. Apple has established its own radio station, Beats 1, and poached Zane Lowe, 43, from BBC Radio 1 to serve as its leading personality. And it has Bozoma Saint John, 39, who ran music and entertainment marketing at Pepsi and reportedly brokered Beyoncé’s 2013 Super Bowl performance, to explain what Apple Music is for the masses who have never shelled out for a streaming subscription.

If Apple Music seems freewheeling, that’s because it is. It’s laying out a future for the music industry, but right now, the path ahead is murky. The company is seemingly figuring things out as it goes—a far cry, metaphorically speaking, from the perfectly designed rectangle of the iPod. Unlike Steve Jobs, Jackson, Lowe, and Saint John aren’t designers—they’re plucked directly from the entertainment industry. Fittingly, it’s a new kind of leadership for the next chapter of music history.

Security Matters

Apple Releases Supplemental Security Update For OS X El Capitan, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today released a new version of OS X El Capitan Security Update 2016-003, fixing an additional kernel issue that could cause Macs running the operating system to freeze up and become unresponsive.

Sending This Text Will Crash Almost Any iPhone, But Don’t Expect It To Become A Major Problem, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Lately more than ever we’ve been seeing weird bugs pop up that can cause iOS devices to crash. These oddities include things such as text strings, date changes, and bizarre links. The latest one, shown by YouTuber EverythingApplePro, is a three character strand of text and emoji, but the process is somewhat convoluted…

Note Taking

Evernote’s New App Is More Than An Update—It’s A Reboot, by David Pierce, Wired

When the iOS app redesign project started in early 2016, O’Neill had a three-word mantra he used over and over: time to note. “The thing that drives me crazy about the product today is the friction,” he says. “I’m on a run, I have an idea. I have to stop, open an app, click more than two times.” Half the time the idea’s already gone. So his instruction was to remove every possible step between you wanting to take a note, and that note appearing in Evernote. “We’re not fundamentally changing what Evernote is,” says Kara Hodecker, Evernote’s design manager. “There are still notebooks, tags, and notes. But when we approached this redesign, we were like, I want to fix these big problems that exist.” The app needed to be easier to get around, less confusing for new users, and faster. Especially faster.

Evernote’s Redesign Is Too Little, Too Late, by Casey Newton, The Verge

In this light, simplifying the mobile app seems like a good idea. Removing clutter from Evernote, or at least hiding it, could give the company a new foundation upon which to build.

The problem is that it took Evernote 18 months just to get its flagship app to the usability of Apple’s stock Notes app — and that’s the easy part. The company (along with seemingly every other company in Silicon Valley) has bet its future on artificial intelligence, and the idea that Evernote’s machine learning will do for you what 100 features buried inside the app would not.


iBooks StoryTime Is A Fine Apple TV App For Those Who Have Children Or Grandchildren, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

I read many books to my kiddos when they were young, and I love reading to my granddaughter. If you’re a parent or grandparent, I hope you do, too. However, if there are times when that’s inconvenient, you can have the Apple TV handle the job thanks to iBooks StoryTime.

Microsoft Solitaire Collection: My New iOS App Addiction, by Steven Sande, Apple World Today

This marks the first time that Microsoft has brought its solitaire card games to iOS, and the company has done an excellent job with the app.


The Type Snob, by Pablo Stanley, The Design Team

After reading extensively on typography, and seeing what works (IRL), I developed the following list of guidelines that have consistently helped me with typographic design. Hopefully, you can apply these tips to start improving the your own typographic design process — without turning you into a snob.

Guerrilla Innovation, by Janice Gervais, A List Apart

Anyone can come up with an idea on the fly or think they’re having an Oprah Aha! Moment, but real innovation takes hours of work, trying and failing over and over, a serious amount of determination, and some stealth guerrilla tactics.

The first step in guerilla innovation is making sure you’re solving the right problem. Just because your idea genuinely is amazing doesn’t mean it will provide genuine value. If it doesn’t solve a tangible problem or provide some sort of tangible benefit, you have little or no chance of getting your team and your company to buy into your idea.


Chris Lattner Says Opportunity To Work On Tesla's Ambitious Self-Driving Efforts Was 'Irresistible', by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

"I've been writing code for more than 30 years, and 16 of those years have been in the developer tools space. I love it, but I am ready to move on to something else. Autopilot is clearly incredibly important to the world because of its ability to save people's lives (and increase convenience). It is also a very, very hard technology problem and my experience building large scale software and team building is useful. Of course, I’ve also been a huge Tesla fan for some time."

Qualcomm Sued By US Regulators For Anti-competitive Practices, by Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge

According to the FTC, Qualcomm used its dominant position as a modem supplier to muscle out competition by essentially giving smartphone manufacturers two choices: pay extra for use of its patents, or don’t make a widely available phone. [...]

In order to obtain relief from Qualcomm’s excessive patent licensing fees, the lawsuit says, Apple made an agreement not to use any other company’s modems for a period of five years. In exchange, Qualcomm paid back some of its fees.

The supposed agreement helps to explain why it wasn’t until this year, when the deal is said to have ended, that Apple began using Intel modems in addition to Qualcomm modems.

Bottom of the Page

I am a paying customer of Evernote, and I really hope Evernote can give me a simple and unifying experience on all the platforms. (I use Evernote on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Windows.)


Thanks for reading.