To those who can hear me, I say — do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed — the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people and so long as men die, liberty will never perish.
Unless Google is doing something they simply aren’t allowed to do, they shouldn’t have anything to worry about. My suspicion is they’re just being drama queens while they get the app finished to give something people to talk about.
It shouldn’t be a big shock to anyone, but I’m headed back to Japan in early 2013.
Plane tickets are purchased as of this afternoon and through the miracle of Hipmunk, I have somehow managed to grab the best plane tickets I could have imagined.
Tickets were $1285, round trip, which is bananas. Last year’s were in the $1600 ballpark, IIRC?
Quebec-Toronto-Narita on January 23rd, and Narita-Toronto-Quebec on March 6th.
That means no US layovers; no TSA porno scanners, no crotch pat-downs, and no scary US customs people.1
Toronto layovers are somewhere around 4 hours each, which means I will actually be able to do things at a leisurely pace instead of this year’s layover in Chicago, which was one hour long, and involved going through US immigration and customs, grabbing a train to the US/Canada terminal, and going through security all over again.
No Montreal! I purposefully went with the airport in Quebec because Montreal traffic is completely fucking retarded and the last thing I need when I’m trying to catch a plane. My initial flight searches a few months ago came up with Quebec-Montreal-Vancouver-Tokyo, which honestly, I wouldn’t have minded just because driving to Quebec is sane and driving to Montreal is basically torture, but eliminating Montreal altogether is even better.
And this is just a nerd point, but all flights are Air Canada, so in theory, that means I can use Passbook to get on all my flights. Yay.
Accommodations haven’t been dealt with yet but I have a good idea of where and what I’m going to do; unless anything goes wrong, I’ll be staying around Ichikawacho in Yokohama.
Meetups with various Twitter people! If you’re cool, nudge me and we’ll do something. I can do anything in the Tokyo metro area fairly easily; if you’re from outside of there and you’re super special, maybe I can come out to your hood.
AOU, which apparently is called Japan Amusement Expo now.
Lots of photos.
I’m sorry you thought I was suspicious, Officer, but maybe you should be more tolerant of people who didn’t get enough sleep because they’re super-excited to go to a foreign country they haven’t been to before, whose only business in the US is a layover anyway. ↩
The Nexus 7 exhibited this but few people noticed it because other successful seven-inch tablets tend to run stretched out versions of phone apps… Google appears to be killing off the idea of UI laid out with the tablet form factor in mind.
Honeycomb wasn’t perfect, but one of the smart design things it did was the system bar on the bottom of the screen, which unified the back/home/multitasking buttons on the left with notifications on the right. On the opposite edge of the screen, you had a search field anchored on the left and the Applications button on the right. This made it fairly easy to operate the device when holding it from the sides in landscape.
The Nexus 7’s launcher more or less looked identical to the one on stock Ice Cream Sandwich on phones, which lacked these neat tablet-only touches. There was some research done by a usability firm (I forget which one) regarding whether UI designed for a phone or a tablet is better on a seven-inch tablet, and they concluded that the screen is too small to run full tablet apps adequately and that phone apps stretched out, while goofy, work better in practice. Given Google’s usual data-driven decisions, I assumed they did it for that reason.
But here comes the Nexus 10, with a notification bar on the top, and a soft buttons bar on the bottom with the buttons centered. The search field is centered, so you have to stretch your fingers out from the edges to hit it, and the applications drawer can only be brought up by hitting the apps button in the middle of the dock, which you can’t realistically reach from the edges of the screen in landscape.
If you had a Honeycomb tablet and a split keyboard (SwiftKey X is really good, I would kill for an iOS version of that), you could operate more or less the whole thing from the sides in landscape. You can’t do that anymore.
Lots of people criticize Apple for just taking SpringBoard from the phone, blowing it up, and putting it on the iPad. Apple chose consistency to make the iPad immediately usable to anyone who’s ever seen or used an iPhone.
What made Honeycomb interesting to me was that it experimented with what tablet UI should look like and whether it could be made better by designing for that specific form factor. Google appears be U-turning on that for consistency, but consistency with what? Most Android devices being sold today are running transmogrified versions of the Android experience that have little in common with the stock launcher, so why bother when it’s going to make the experience worse?
Nobody at the US Copyright Office seems to give a shit that when I buy something, I expect that it is mine, and that I should be free to do whatever the hell I want with it, even if it implies reverse-engineering the system. Their presumption seems to be: anyone jailbreaking a device is up to no good and will pirate things, and it doesn’t matter if we allow it for smartphones because smartphone software isn’t real, complex software.
Here’s the thing about Google: the founders have a pretty radical sci-fi ideal of what the future is, and I’ve had the impression since Eric Schmidt left the CEO position that they are accelerating even more towards that goal.
Google Now and Google Glass are both heading towards that direction. Now is all about finding patterns in your life and presenting you with relevant info when a pattern is repeated. But what good is that if your phone is in your pocket? That’s where Glass comes in.
Do people want that? I think once they see it in action and once Glass looks a lot less goofy, they might. People tend not to know what they want until you put it in front of them.
I think the bigger question is whether or not people feel comfortable handing over their entire lives to a company that makes money selling ads. I don’t. I’d rather see a company take money from its users, make a profit, and work in the interest of their users instead of trying to walk right up to the creepy line but not cross it.
2010: Acquired iPhone 4. I start taking infinitely more photos than I used to with my old 2004 Canon point and shoot, partly because I want to play with various camera apps, but mostly because I always have a camera on me now, and I wouldn’t necessarily carry a camera with me every day going to college.
2011: Went to Google I/O with only the iPhone as a camera. Photos I took were good but I wanted better. I bought the Sony NEX-3 to do just that.
2012: The Retina Display iPad is released. All of the photos I took on my old Canon point and shoot camera are somewhere in between 1024x768 and 2048x1536, so they are scaled and appear very pixellated. A week or two later, I went to Tokyo and Yokohama. Lots and lots of photos were taken on both the iPhone and the NEX. iPhone shots were mostly things I wanted to share then and there, NEX shots were mostly memories I wanted to preserve for archival. The NEX shots look splendid on the Retina Display.
Yeah, well screw all of that. Every single iCloud feature has failed me at least once.
Photo Stream no longer works at all for me because my Mac consistently forgets it has Photo Stream enabled, rendering the feature useless.
Calendar syncing seems to have gotten better, but it will occasionally do this scare tactic thing where all of a sudden ALL OF YOUR CALENDAR EVENTS DISAPPEAR and magically reappear if you quit and relaunch? Which I guess is fine, but it wouldn’t be fine if that empty calendar magically propagated to all the other devices, and seeing a blank calendar every 8th time I launch iCal is going to give me a fucking heart attack if it doesn’t stop.
Contact syncing is still consistently one revision behind to me. Bookmark syncing is unpredictable as ever.
Then there’s “Documents in the Cloud”. But I’ll get into that tomorrow.
But I’m not going to focus on that specific case, I’d like to talk about how the same App Store policy is getting in my way for a project I’ve been working on for a while now.
I guess this is the first public thing I’ve said about the app I’m working on, so here we go: I’m working on an app for knitters and pattern designers. I’m bringing interactive knitting patterns to the iPad, and the app has a built-in editor for pattern designers who want to get their designs in there.
Here’s my problem in a nutshell:
Knitting patterns aren’t all free, and I’d like to give pattern designers the opportunity to sell interactive patterns they create with my app.
I have no interest in making money off other people’s patterns. I would be content with only making money off of app sales. (More on this later.)
I was contemplating having a “Get More Patterns” button with links to third-party websites with interactive patterns, both for free and for sale if any of them go for that.
But I can’t link to third-party pattern marketplaces within my app to make finding them easier, because that would be in violation of Apple’s guidelines. Note that even if I wanted to, I couldn’t provide in-app purchases for content on those sites because it ultimately isn’t in my hands. This is the same situation any app using the Dropbox API is in today. Even if apps using the Dropbox API wanted to sell storage within the app (even if that’s not really the best place to do that), they couldn’t because they’re not Dropbox.
My only option if I want an easily-accessible marketplace for pattern designers within the app is to use in-app purchases and become a middleman.
I have no interest in becoming a middleman; I’d much rather work on making the app better than have to figure out how much I owe to which designer and whatnot. It would be a tremendous cost and timesink to do that, and besides, the 30% cut Apple takes makes being a middleman impossible, as the publishing industry is quick to point out.
Here is what I’ve been wanting for a long time, even before I began this project: Apple should provide a way for content created within an iOS app to be sold to other users of the same app. It would even be a better user experience for pattern designers if I could build the entire process of selling a pattern into the app, because right now, they have to get the file onto a computer to upload it to a third-party marketplace due to MobileSafari’s lack of file upload functionality.
The business model of selling something extensible and then allowing users to optionally charge for their extensions works wonders for me in the jailbreak world. My tweak, Iconoclasm, allows users to change the arrangement of the icons on their home screen into various layouts, and it has sold over fifty thousand copies at $3.00 a pop. There is a decently-sized ecosystem of layouts in the Cydia Store; many of them are free, but some are paid1, and I link to the Iconoclasm layouts category in the Cydia Store within the preference pane to make them easily discoverable2 I don’t manage any of the payment or purchase infrastructure for Iconoclasm or third-party layouts; I let the Cydia Store handle everything.
Third-party extensibility is probably the reason Iconoclasm sales have been doing so well almost two and a half years into its lifetime (judging from discussions with a few other developers). Whenever an Iconoclasm layout or a theme using one gets big on the jailbreak blogs and forums, sales trend upwards. I don’t need a cut of what third-parties make because they’re likely to hype whatever they made, and I benefit from that by having a paid app.
The same strategy could apply to knitting patterns and my app. Or user-designed levels for a game. (That was the example I imagined them demoing the feature with.)
Sadly, it doesn’t look like that’s going to work. My knitting app is nearing completion, but I really have no idea what to do about that aspect of the app right now. As much as I’d like Apple to introduce exactly what I want at WWDC, I don’t think that’s going to happen. It’s something I’m thinking hard about.
If anyone should know how big of a deal this could be to my app’s success, it should be Apple. Apple’s insane success today is built around iOS. But would iOS be as huge as it is today if it wasn’t for the App Store making apps discoverable and easily purchaseable? Without easily discoverable and purchaseable patterns, my app gets downgraded from “being an iPad” to “being a crappy Windows Tablet PC”.
And almost nobody wants a Windows Tablet PC.
(And before you email me and call me stupid, yes, I fully realize that Apple’s policies have been this way for a long time, and that it’s incredibly stupid to build something whose success is more or less dependent on something that’s not allowed, but I didn’t even think they could impact me until a few hours ago. Had I realized this earlier, I wouldn’t have gone in that direction. I screwed up big time. Let’s learn from it.)
Usually when they’re coupled with a heavy home screen theme. ↩
Prior to this, the #1 email I got was “How do I get more layouts?” ↩