Archive for August 14, 2018

Tuesday, August 14, 2018 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Finding What Code Triggered a Log Message

Daniel Jalkut:

What this does is add a series of commands that will be run automatically by lldb whenever breakpoint 5 (the one I just set) is hit. This applies to any of the 634 locations that are associated with the regular expression I provided. When the breakpoint is hit, it will first invoke the “bt” command to print a backtrace of all the calls leading up to this call, and then it will invoke the “continue” command to keep running the app. After the app has run for a bit, I search the debugger console for “!!!” which I remembered from the original warning. Locating it, I simply scroll up to see the backtrace command that had most recently been invoked[…]

[…]

Next time you’re at a loss for how or where something could possibly be happening, consider the possibility of setting a broad, regular expression based breakpoint, and a series of commands to help clarify what’s happening when those breakpoints are hit.

2 Years of App Subscriptions 2.0

Kif Leswing (via Dan Masters):

Developers, Apple said, needed to realize the business model of apps was changing. Successful apps tended to focus on long-term engagement instead of upfront cost. Indie developers who wanted to capitalize on this needed to move to a subscription model, as Apple had made possible in the past year in a splashy announcement.

[…]

10 years later, the App Store isn’t new anymore, and Apple continues to tweak its rules so that developers can create sustainable business models, instead of selling high-quality software for a few dollars or monetizing through advertising. If Apple can’t make it worthwhile for developers to make high-quality utilities for the iPhone, then the vibrant software ecosystem that made it so valuable could decay.

Apple’s main tool to fight the downward pricing pressure on iPhone apps is subscriptions.

[…]

Still, even with some hammer-makers finding huge success, the majority of Apple’s subscription revenue doesn’t appear to come from apps that are specific tools — instead, it’s coming from big content businesses like Pandora, HBO, and Netflix.

“My suspicion is that a good portion of those subscriptions are content subscriptions,” independent Apple analyst Neil Cybart wrote in May.

I love how this is framed as Apple enlightening developers that one-time purchases are not a sustainable model. Developers had been trying to tell Apple this since day one of the App Store, and even when Apple did add subscriptions it limited which apps were allowed to use them.

Two years later, at least judging from my iPhone’s home screen, the transition to subscriptions has barely begun. There remains a high implementation hurdle.

Previously: Productivity Apps and Subscription Pricing, Pre-WWDC App Store Changes.

Update (2018-08-15): Steve Troughton-Smith:

Apple is without a doubt preparing for a world without paid-upfront apps. There are a lot of developers who are not gonna like where things are leading[…] IOW, the App Store was so big and impactful that it’s going to ruin the consumer software industry’s business model forever. As a user, I would love a Netflix-style model for apps. As a developer, this is horrifying

Joseph Slinker:

Apple created a self fulfilling prophecy in not allowing paid apps to have a trial period. If Apple added the option for people to try paid apps before they bought them, I would predict a hug change in this trend.

John Gruber (tweet):

Up front paid apps are going the way of the dodo. Whether you think that’s good or bad, it doesn’t matter. That’s where things are going.

Riccardo Mori:

So, Apple is pushing the subscription model for apps... This may be the future, but it’s not going to be my future as a customer. I have no problems paying a bit more for quality apps, but either it’s pay upfront, or it’s highly unlikely I’ll subscribe to an app. Sorry, devs.

Emilio Pavia:

developers should publicly push Apple to deliver a reliable sandbox for developing subscriptions

Bob Burrough:

The article glossed over an important question. It said 15% of App Store revenue was paid apps, but then started talking about subscriptions. The question is “what constitutes the other 85%?” I think in-app-purchase is the predominant revenue driver.

Marc Edwards:

Yep, we all know free-to-play games make up the bulk of the revenue. The question is: What kind of platform do they want? These kinds of changes could easily decimate what’s left of the indie scene.

Dan Counsell:

It’s a shame Apple is pushing so hard on this, I understand why, but it’s a shame. The main winner from this will be Apple, not customers, and certainly not developers. Apple comes first, customers second, developers third, that’s the way it’s always been

Rory Prior:

What they are perhaps missing is that it’s the small devs that keep the Mac relevant for a lot of people. You can run the big dev’s apps on Windows and save a fortune on hardware and avoid a lot of the headaches post 2011 Apple has been inflicting on its users.

It’s no surprise that paid-upfront isn’t working well, since the App Store doesn’t allow free trials or paid upgrades. But it’s not really designed to support subscriptions well, either. They are time-consuming to implement and difficult to test. They don’t work with Family Sharing. You can’t transfer your app to another developer if you use a subscription.

And what if you already have an app and want to transition it to a subscription model? Unless you want to take away the old version that your existing customers are using, you have to create a whole new SKU. You lose your reviews and ratings, and there’s no indication to customers that the new version is available.

Previously: Panel Discussion on Moving to Subscriptions, Ulysses Switches to Subscription, Testing Auto-Renewable Subscriptions on iOS.

Update (2018-08-16): Gareth:

Subscriptions have to have high value, and deliver someone unique. I subscribe to Office 365 (I just need it) and to Adobe CC photography. Both are good deals. I’m not going to subscribe to a podcast app. Same as Netflix and Amazon Prime. Both worth it.

Bryan Jones:

Exactly. So Apple attempting to convince “utility” apps that subscriptions “are the present” is just dumb. They’re doing that because they don’t have an actual answer to the monetization problem. Nobody does...yet.

Nick Lockwood:

Up-front purchase doesn’t work well for supporting apps due to maintenance. Paid feature releases also fall down once an app is feature complete.

Update (2018-08-17): Michael Love:

missing in much of the discussion of app monetization is that in the good old days, we didn’t really need to worry as much about apps’ recurring revenue because everything kept working for years without being updated.

This phenomenon of developers being encouraged to spend a lot of time/money updating their app simply to keep it working on the latest OS / form factor / whatever is really something specific to the mobile era.

Lenovo’s New ThinkPad P1

Peter Bright (via Michael Love):

The ThinkPad P1 looks like a 15-inch Ultrabook, 0.7 inches thick and under 4lbs, but inside, it has a mobile Xeon processor, up to 64GB of ECC RAM, and as much as 4TB SSD storage. A discrete GPU, up to the Nvidia Quadro P2000, drives that display (either 1920×1080 300 nit, 72 percent of NTSC, or 3840×2160 400 nit 10-bit-per-channel supporting 100 percent of the Adobe color gamut and touch). It has a good selection of ports—two Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C, two USB 3.1 generation 1 Type A, HDMI 2.0, mini-gigabit Ethernet (with a little dongle), 3.5mm headset, and microSD, and it has 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.

And they also have one with a 17-inch display and 128 GB of RAM. No price or shipping date yet, though.

Previously: MacBook Pro 2018, Dell Precision 5520.

The Struggle for Twitter Alternatives

Matt Birchler:

The two main ones I see are Micro.blog and Mastodon. Micro.blog is the more popular one right now, it seems, but Mastodon has its fair share of loyal fans. I personally have accounts with both other services, but I don’t really use them reliably. Mastodon because I can’t find anyone on there, and Micro.blog because I don’t like any of the iOS apps available for it.

[…]

It’s incredibly hard, and involves a good deal of luck, but if something is going to be a real Twitter successor/alternative, it needs to first and foremost find a way to get a critical mass of people using it. That can be a critical mass of a Twitter sub-culture, but it needs to be some group that moves in mass. App.Net get “Tech Twitter” to move, but it failed to get more than that (or to make them actually leave Twitter), but I don’t see that happening with Micro.Blog or Mastodon yet. I don’t know how you do that, but I think that’s how you get the momentum.

It seems unlikely to happen, but I would like a single app that supports multiple networks and integrates the timelines, removing duplicate posts, etc. Otherwise, there’s just a lot of overhead to trying the other ones, since I don’t feel I can leave Twitter.

James Thomson:

I’ll say this about Mastodon, I’ve seen a pretty large percentage of the people I follow setting up accounts in the last 48hrs.

Manton Reece:

Yep, different approach but some similarities. M.b is more about owning your content (using blogs and domain names) and Mastodon is more about Twitter feature parity and federation. Both have answers for curation. But we’ve been purposefully avoiding some Twitter features.

Eugen Rochko (via David Chartier):

A year ago I wrote about Mastodon’s improvements over Twitter’s lacking protections against abuse and harassment. Development in that area has not been standing still, and it’s about time we do another comparison.

switching.social:

Want to try @MastodonProject but not sure where to start?

Here are some links to help[…]

Previously: Twitter Shutting Down APIs, Twitter’s Weeds, Gab App Rejected by Google (and Apple), App.net Is Shutting Down.

Update (2018-08-16): Kev Quirk:

I’ve mentioned Mastodon on a number of occasions on this blog. It is the only social media platform that I use, but for a new user it can be fairly confusing, as it doesn’t work like other social media sites.

A new member of my Mastodon instance, Fosstodon, wrote their first post stating that they’re not really sure how it all works on Mastodon. Being the dutiful admin that I am, I pinged them back to let them know that I would find decent guide an post a link. To my surprise, I couldn’t find a decent guide anywhere, so I decided to write one.

Ethan Zuckerman (via Hacker News):

Mastodon is different. It’s an open source software package that allows anyone with an internet-connected computer to set up an “instance”. The server administrator is responsible for setting and enforcing rules on her instance, and those rules can vary — sharply — from instance to instance. Each server has its own namespace. I’m @ethanz on octodon.social, but if you want to be @ethanz on mastodon.social, no one’s going to stop you. In this sense, Mastodon is less like Facebook and more like email — you can have your own address — and your own acceptable use policies — on one server and still send mail to a user on another server.

[…]

Needless to say, not every Mastodon administrator is excited that the protocol is being used to harbor lolicon. The terms of service for mastodon.cloud — the fifth largest Mastodon instance, and the largest based in the US — now explicitly prohibit “lolicon, immoral and indecent child pics”.

Mark Hughes:

If you’re picking an ActivityPub instance, be aware that mastodon.social is a giant possibly-hostile mess like Twitter, and not really a “community” like many other instances. Pick a smaller instance, read the timeline on their instance’s front page, and make a more informed choice.

Update (2018-08-21): Simon Willison:

How about if, instead of ditching Twitter for Mastodon, we all start blogging and subscribing to each other’s Atom feeds again instead? The original distributed social network could still work pretty well if we actually start using it

Matt Drance:

I think the people flocking to Mastodon are in fact looking for 2008-2010 Twitter, which was mostly an in-crowd of tech geeks.

Apologies, but this is precisely I haven’t run off to Mastodon. 2006-2010 Twitter was cool, but I don’t miss it. The thing Twitter has brought me since then — stories and views from diverse, often marginalized people, who I would otherwise never have met — is still here.

Marco Arment:

I wish people the best with it, but it solves problems I don’t have.

If I want to talk to my friends, I have iMessage and private Slack groups.

If I want to broadcast to an audience, I want the largest one possible, and that’s here for me.

Maybe that’ll change someday?