Archive for June 5, 2015

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Beginning of the End for Smartphone Subsidies?

Dan Moren:

Can’t happen soon enough, in my opinion. Yes, most people don’t want to pay $600-$700 for a brand new smartphone when they could be paying $200-$300—remember the original iPhone?—but the true costs have always been hidden. Your subsidy is built into your phone plan, but even after you’ve finished the usual two-year contract, at which point your phone should be paid off, your bill doesn’t go down. Madness.

I think this is one of the biggest potential threats to Apple’s iPhone sales. With subsidies, if you don’t upgrade your phone every two years you’re leaving money on the table. And it’s only $200 or so to get a new phone. But how many people would upgrade every two years if they actually had to pay the full price? And with hardware improvements that are more incremental than in the early years?

The State of iOS

Nick Heer:

When the QuickType bar is enabled, the autocorrect suggestion will appear in the middle cell of the bar instead of as a floating balloon above the word, as it has done since the very first version of iOS. I find this far too subtle. Even more subtle is the way you ignore the autocorrect suggestion: since the bubble doesn’t exist for you to tap on to ignore it, you tap on the leftmost cell of the QuickType bar with your verbatim spelling. And that feels really weird to me.

This behaviour is something I never got used to, so I turned off the predictive keyboard days after publishing my review in September. This brings the keyboard back to a more iOS 7-like state, with classic autocorrect bubbles. But I still think something’s going on under the hood with the autocorrect engine.


I have tried pretty much all of the popular third-party keyboards for iOS — Fleksy, Swype, SwiftKey, Minuum, and so forth — running them for days to weeks at a time. And the keyboard that has stuck with me most has been — [dramatic pause] — the default one, for a singular reason: it’s the only one that feels fast.

Sure, pretty much all of the third-party keyboards you can find have a way better shift key than the default, and plenty are more capable. But I don’t type one-handed frequently enough to get a use out of a gestural keyboard like Swype; most of the time, I find these gestures distracting. Third-party keyboards also don’t have access to the system’s autocorrect dictionary, which means that developers need to build in their own autocorrect logic and users need to train the new keyboard. I didn’t think this would be as frustrating as it turned out to be.

Read the whole post, as he covers pretty much the whole OS, not just the keyboard.

Update (2015-06-11): Nick Heer:

While I like that the current implementation of multitasking keeps my phone fast and I don’t have to manually manage memory — not that you really have to do that on any platform — my experiences with Readdle’s Spark makes me wish that apps could spawn daemon processes. I’d like some way for a third-party app to declare that it is always running in the background with a small, memory-limited, higher-priority process.


I love the web browsing experience on my iPad, but if I’m doing two things at once — for example, replying to texts or an email — I almost have to have my phone beside me for it to be a less clunky experience. Switching between apps one at a time feels slow, and they usually need to relaunch because the iPad has never had enough memory.

Yahoo Pipes Shuts Down


Pipes creation will not be supported as of Aug. 30 this year. Pipes infrastructure will run until Sept. 30, 2015 in read-only mode to help developers migrate their data. Please visit for additional details.

Yahoo Pipes Blog (comments):

You can download your Pipe definition by specifying your Pipe-ID (_id) and the output format (_out=json) to the following end-point:

Pedro Valente:

Before the creation of YQL, there was another product, called Yahoo! Pipes. This product provided much of the conceptual framework that became essential to come up with YQL. It was also very important because the real-world experience with users ended up exposing the need for a more advanced approach to the “Unix pipes for the web” initiative.

Update (2015-06-11): Rui Carmo:

In case you’re looking for a partial replacement, pipe2py works for a couple of my simple pipes.

Dave Winer:

I wondered what will happen to the people who follow feeds produced by Yahoo Pipes? Yahoo doesn’t say they’ll provide free redirection, but it would be good for the web if they did. However, even if they did provide redirection, where would people redirect to? Because Yahoo was a big company people trusted and their service was free, little if any competition developed for Yahoo Pipes. Either way, it’s a clear example of why it’s not good to depend on free commercial services to form critical parts of your content infrastructure.