Archive for September 26, 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Apple’s “Skankphone” Was the iPhone’s Ugly Twin Brother

Austin Carr:

Insiders recall how absurd it became when the engineering teams became increasingly split over who did and didn’t have access to the real UI, despite needing to work together. Ganatra remembers having to sprint back and forth between rooms to serve as a secure translator between the two teams. “I would go into the room where the full UI was, then come back and draw the rough proportions on the whiteboard for the other engineers,” he recalls.


Though more engineers were eventually given access to the full-blown UI, Forstall’s team was never truly on the same page. In fact, in Grignon’s recollection, he had to go to extremes to work around the system to the point where he had to sit his own engineers next to one another with a curtain in between—one with full iPhone access, the other with Skankphone access—to debug the code.

iCloud-hosted Data Inaccessible for Some Users

Dan Frakes:

Starting on or around September 18, some iCloud customers found that apps that use iCloud to sync data between devices could no longer do so—they either would no longer sync or appeared to have lost their data completely. The apps otherwise functioned normally, but simply didn’t show any saved information or could not update or sync existing info.


Apple’s System Status webpage has yet to indicate any iCloud issues.

It’s inevitable that any service will have some downtime. But this seems to have been going on for more than a week. Worse, the OS was not designed to handle this failure mode gracefully. We don’t even know what will happen when iCloud’s Documents & Data syncing comes back online:

Unfortunately, before discovering that the issue was being caused by a larger iCloud issue, some developers recommended standard app-troubleshooting procedures, including deleting apps and reinstalling them, and even asking users to create new data and attempt to sync with iCloud to “jump start” a sync. In theory, the original data is still in iCloud and will be restored to these apps once Apple fixes the issue, but there’s always a chance that new data created for troubleshooting reasons will overwrite what’s in iCloud, depending on how each app handles sync and that app’s sync status at the time the problem started.

Businessweek Interviews Federighi and Ive


Ive: The parallax is a nice example. One of the things that we were interested in doing is, despite people talked about this being “flat,” is that it’s very, very deep. It’s constructed and architected visually and from an informational point of view as a very deep UI, but we didn’t want to rely on shadows or how big your highlights could get. Where do you go? I mean, there is only so long you can make your shadows.


Federighi: If that became laggy, separated in time, your own mental model for what you were doing would be broken, and suddenly we’d have a much more complex interaction problem to solve for the user. But if we could solve all the problems of the latency and the touch screen, the hardware problem, the speed of the graphics to move it, then suddenly we didn’t have to teach you because we created something that you could process intuitively. We tend to think how can we make it so effective that there is nothing to teach.

On my iPhone 4S, the animation is smooth, but it makes the OS feel slow.

FastMail Staff Purchase the Business From Opera

Rob Mueller:

In 2010, FastMail was bought by Opera Software. The developers and staff of FastMail have now bought back the company. This means that FastMail is once again an independent company, dedicated to building the best possible email experience for our users. We have big plans for the future, and we will continue to roll out new features and enhancements over the coming months.

Sounds good to me.

Post PC Cars, Trucks, and Motorcycles

Peter Sichel:

In introducing the iPad, Jobs likened the PC to a truck while the iPad was more like a car. Most consumers don’t really need a truck he implied, but he never meant to suggest PCs were going away. What if Jobs got the analogy slightly wrong and the iPad is more like a motorcycle?

I think tablets and personal computers will both be with us for a long time. Both are good at things the other is not. What I don’t understand is the appeal of a tablet with a keyboard. It seems like such a poor substitute for a notebook, while losing many of the advantages of standalone tablet. Yet this seems to be a popular way to use an iPad.