Archive for February 16, 2018

Friday, February 16, 2018

Acorn Drops IAP Trial

Gus Mueller:

For the App Store version of Acorn, I’ve also removed the option to “purchase” a free trial for $0 via in app purchases. You can still grab the free trial off our website, and if you like it you can purchase Acorn directly from us or from the App Store.

IAPs have a lot of issues on the Mac, and provided a really crappy experience just to enable free trials. Incomplete store APIs (such as receipt refreshing), buggy / hung app store background processes (we were having to tell people to restart their computers if the purchases weren’t working), 403 App Store errors when trying to purchase the trial, dialog boxes saying “Are you sure you want to spend $0?” which scared people away, and of course emails from people assuming that I was going to try and charge them after the trial was up and they wanted to cancel their “subscription”.

Previously: App Store Trials: No More Free IAPs?.

Google Removes “View Image” Button From Search Results

Jacob Kastrenakes (via Hacker News):

The change is essentially meant to frustrate users. Google has long been under fire from photographers and publishers who felt that image search allowed people to steal their pictures, and the removal of the view image button is one of many changes being made in response. A deal to show copyright information and improve attribution of Getty photos was announced last week and included these changes.

Chrome’s Ad Filtering

Rahul Roy-Chowdhury:

Chrome will stop showing all ads on sites that repeatedly display these most disruptive ads after they’ve been flagged. More technical details about this change can be found on the Chromium blog.

Frederic Lardinois:

The most important thing to know is that this is not an alternative to AdBlock Plus or uBlock Origin. Instead, it’s Google’s effort to ban the most annoying ads from your browser. So it won’t block all ads — just those that don’t conform to the Coalition for Better Ads guidelines. When Google decides that a site hosts ads that go against these guidelines, it’ll block all ads on a given site — not just those annoying prestitials with a countdown or autoplaying video ads with sound.


As Google’s product manager for the Chrome Web Platform Ryan Schoen told me, 42 percent of publishers that were in violation have already moved to other ads.

Via Dare Obasanjo:

Chrome starts blocking ads unless they meet its rules. This is driving publishers to switch to “compliant” ad networks.

Would love to see stats on how many such publishers move to Google’s ad network. The strong arming so blatant. 😮

Mathew Ingram:

I would just like to point out again that having the world’s largest digital advertising company decide which ads to show in the world’s most popular browser is a bad idea

Jared Smith:

If Microsoft had an ad network in 1998 and tried something like this in Internet Explorer...

Multiple iOS Timers

Dr. Drang:

But you do have Reminders. They have names and can be set to alarm not only at an absolute time, but also at a relative time:

“Hey Siri, remind me to check the casserole in 20 minutes.”

This works on my iPhone, iPad, and Watch, and I assume—based on this article—that it would work on my HomePod if I had one. This is clearly Apple’s preferred solution to setting multiple timers, each with a distinct name.

Holger Eilhard:

The problem I see aside from the ones already mentioned from others: the HomePod doesn’t actively tell you a reminder is due, unless there’s some configuration option that I haven’t seen. Sure, the iPhone does but that might be in another room not in the kitchen.

John Gruber:

There’s no more reason for the Clock app to support only one timer than there is for it to support only one alarm.

Dr. Drang:

It’s been this way for years, and there’s always been a need for multiple timers. Right or wrong, Apple thinks you should use Reminders for that function. Maybe the HomePod complaints will change its mind, but I doubt it.

I frequently want multiple timers, but I’m not thrilled with using reminders for this. First, it’s easy to miss reminders. They might be muffled by Do Not Disturb, and they don’t keep playing the sound until you act.

I also use Siri and Reminders to enter tasks into OmniFocus. This works better for me than using Siri with OmniFocus directly. The problem is that if I then enter a “timer” reminder, it might get moved into OmniFocus and never go off.

The obvious solution is to have a separate Reminders list for timers. Even assuming that I would remember to use this, I haven’t been able to get it to work with Siri. The syntax is apparently supposed to be:

Add “list name” reminder “new item” on “date and time”

So I tried making a list called “Timers” and said:

Add Timers reminder check oven in 30 minutes

Siri transcribed this correctly, and it set the due date to 30 seconds in the future, but it added the reminder to my default Reminders list, not to Timers. I also tried various other names for the list, such as “Alarms” and “Cooking” with the same result. Adding to “Timers” usually works fine when not specifying a time, but when I add the time it silently does the wrong thing.

Previously: OmniFocus and Siri on iOS 11.

Update (2018-02-16): Matt Deatherage reports that pausing while you speak can help improve Siri’s parsing. I found that this:

Add a reminder…in 30 seconds…to check oven…to my Timer list

works. I had better success after renaming the list from “Timers” to “Timer.” Even so, you have to be careful with how long you pause. Speak too quickly and Siri gets confused. Pause for too long and Siri stops listening. Holding the Home button can prevent that but is inconvenient. My initial accuracy was only about 25%. After some practice, I am now able to speak at a normal rate with very small pauses and entered 10 reminders correctly in a row. It remains to be seen whether this will carry over into everyday use.

Update (2018-02-19): Dr. Drang:

In the table below, I’m comparing the features of the three alert types on iOS: Timers, Alarms, and Reminders. Included in the comparison is how certain features work (or don’t work) on the iPhone, iPad, Watch, Mac, and HomePod.

Simplenote Outage Due to DMCA


We discovered shortly after that Google Cloud Platform, which hosts the web application, had shut down the site due to a DMCA notice for allegedly infringing content that appeared in published notes. We worked with Google to rectify the issue as quickly as possible and they reinstated the app yesterday morning.

Via John Gordon:

This needs a LOT more explanation.

Your data (temporarily) disappears because of something posted by a completely unrelated user.

Bringing the Power of AMP to Gmail

Aakash Sahney:

This new spec will be a powerful way for developers to create more engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences.

For example, imagine you could complete tasks directly in email. With AMP for Email, you’ll be able to quickly take actions like submit an RSVP to an event, schedule an appointment, or fill out a questionnaire right from the email message. Many people rely on email for information about flights, events, news, purchases and beyond—more than 270 billion emails are sent each day! AMP for Email will also make it possible for information to easily kept up-to-date, so emails never get stale and the content is accurate when a user looks at it.

Steven Frank:

Please don’t allow Google to subsume (even more of) the open web in exchange for “more interactive and engaging” emails.

Devin Coldewey (via Hacker News):

The moat between communication and action is important because it makes it very clear what certain tools are capable of, which in turn lets them be trusted and used properly.

We know that all an email can ever do is say something to you (tracking pixels and read receipts notwithstanding). It doesn’t download anything on its own, it doesn’t run any apps or scripts, attachments are discrete items, unless they’re images in the HTML, which is itself optional. Ultimately the whole package is always just going to be a big, static chunk of text sent to you, with the occasional file riding shotgun. Open it a year or ten from now and it’s the same email.


What Google wants to do is bridge that moat, essentially to allow applications to run inside emails, limited ones to be sure, but by definition the kind of thing that belongs on the other side of the moat.


Ads and trackers that adapt themselves to the content around them, the data they know about the viewer, and the latest pricing or promotions. That’s how Google wants to “modernize” your inbox.

Does “engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences” ring a little different now?

Nick Heer:

Of course, there’s a good chance the advanced capabilities of this format won’t catch on because email clients are already pretty fragmented as things stand today. It’s an area of the web where the lowest common denominators — HTML tables and old-school tags like <font> — are used with disturbing regularity, simply because it’s the only markup that works well in all clients.

Tim Kadlec (via Hacker News):

So, to recap, the web community has stated over and over again that we’re not comfortable with Google incentivizing the use of AMP with search engine carrots. In response, Google has provided yet another search engine carrot for AMP.

This wouldn’t bother me if AMP was open about what it is: a tool for folks to optimize their search engine placement. But of course, that’s not the claim. The claim is that AMP is “for the open web.” There are a lot of good folks working on AMP. I’ve met and talked with many of them numerous times and they’re doing amazing technical work. But the way the project is being positioned right now is disingenuous.

If AMP is truly for the open web, de-couple it from Google search entirely. It has no business there.

Update (2018-02-19): Jason Rodriguez (Hacker News):

As an email geek, I’m liable to disagree with a lot talk in the web world but not in this case. I think AMP for Email is a bad idea. An interesting idea with some cool demos, sure, but poorly executed by Google.

Everything Easy Is Hard Again

Frank Chimero:

I had fifteen years of experience designing for web clients, she had one year, and yet some how, we were in the same situation: we enjoyed the work, but were utterly confused and overwhelmed by the rapidly increasing complexity of it all. What the hell happened?


Except with the websites. They separate themselves from the others, because I don’t feel much better at making them after 20 years. My knowledge and skills develop a bit, then things change, and half of what I know becomes dead weight. This hardly happens with any of the other work I do.

I wonder if I have twenty years of experience making websites, or if it is really five years of experience, repeated four times.

Oluseyi Sonaiya:

Two days ago this contention that web tech is self-obsoleting sparked a bunch of agitated responses from people who assumed I didn’t know what I was talking about.

Nick Heer:

Over the last five years or so, even the most basic website stopped being treated as a collection of documents and started being thought of as software. Over the same period of time, I have gone from thinking that I know how to build a website quickly and efficiently to having absolutely no clue where to start learning about any of this stuff. I can’t imagine being eight years old again and being interested in the web as something anyone can contribute to.

David Mack:

I appreciate now that technologies have a surprisingly short lifespan. CoffeeScript and AngularJS are our most obviously tired components (we plan to migrate to TypeScript and latest Angular). All of our technologies were fairly bleeding-edge when we adopted them and it’s a blessing that my predilection for hipster technologies has not caused any serious problems.

I’ve hugely appreciated the succinct functional syntax of CoffeeScript and believe it’s helped me achieve greater personal productivity over the years.

Building on the above, I now know that you need to budget time and strategize for the replacement of technologies. You accept long-term “technical debt” with the adoption of any technology.

Marc Edwards:

It’s amazing how much variation there is in blur radius across browsers and design tools. You can’t assume things will look the same.

App Store Selective Enforcement

Ryan Jones:

App Store rules don’t apply to a) big companies b) tiny piece of shit apps.

Everyone else? We’re going to rake you over the coals for 3 months lighting your time on fire (and passion to create, tbh).

App Store review won’t honor or even listen to precedents - such as approving *60* other app icons.


I can’t make great stuff if I can’t invest time and I can’t invest time if I don’t know what’s allowed! 😡😤

If the rules are vague, and you can’t rely on precedent, and you can’t ask for pre-approval, the only way to be safe is to stay really far away from the lines, and hope they don’t move.

Eric Schwarz:

I sort of felt like things were out the window when apps can send spam notifications or blatantly disregard rules, especially if they’re big players like Facebook. What you shared is also not surprising…

Previously: iPhone X Design and the Notch, Designing Apps for iPhone X.

Update (2018-02-16): Addison Webb:

Currently being burned by this as well. Vague rules. Spotty enforcement. No clarification from App Review on the exact problem, let alone a suggested fix.