Archive for May 13, 2022

Friday, May 13, 2022

Music Unitasker

Riccardo Mori:

Listening to music with an iPod shuffle is still (and can still be) a fun experience. You can create the digital equivalent of a mixtape, load it on your shuffle, clip the shuffle to your shirt/jeans/jacket, and then you can go out and listen to music without even having to touch the device, unless you need to change volume or skip a track. It’s basically a hands-free device that disappears on you. If Apple made a new iPod shuffle with Bluetooth, the invisibility factor would be even higher, since you wouldn’t even have the earphones’ cable around you to remind you that you are wearing an iPod. It would still be a nice device for commuting, or jogging, or during a workout.

Sure, you might say that these uses are now taken over by the Apple Watch or other smartwatches, but for an Apple Watch you’ll pay a minimum of $199 up to more than $1,000. An iPod shuffle would be a $50 device. If you’re a casual user who just wants to have some music while out and about, jogging, etc., and don’t use a smartwatch, a little wearable device like the iPod shuffle could still be your cup of tea. But maybe wanting from today’s Apple a fun, inexpensive, wearable, colourful device is asking too much. Here, have an AirTag instead.

Tyler Hall:

With all the shit in the world in the last few years, listening to music has become even more of a refuge and safe space for me than it ever was before.

But, for me at least, the incredible technological convergence of every single use-case into a deck of cards-sized pocket super-computer means that when I do want to only listen to music - there are a million beeps, boops, and badges fighting for my attention.

An underappreciated feature of the iPod (because it wasn’t a feature you could market during its heyday) was that it was only an iPod. Not also a mobile phone and internet communicator.

He bought a Sony NW-A105 Walkman running Android.

For all the amazing interactions touch screens have given us, until I clicked to the next track without taking this Walkman out of my pocket, I had forgotten how nice it is to control my music by touch - and not by voice or by first waking my phone from sleep and tapping a button I can’t feel.


iCloud Drive Folder Sharing Risks Data Loss

Adam Engst:

Today’s target is the discovery that when collaborators in an iCloud Drive shared folder delete files or folders, those items are destroyed instantaneously, not put in the Trash or added to iCloud Drive’s Recently Deleted folder. They’re just gone, with no option for recovery. If that’s not bad enough—and it is—Apple has recently tweaked its already weak documentation in a way that further conceals this dangerous implementation.


Sideloading via AltStore

Jared Newman:

AltStore has been downloaded more than 1.5 million times since its launch in 2019, and the service has more than 300,000 monthly active users.


As Apple faces more political pressure to let users install apps from outside the App Store, AltStore is preparing for its biggest updates yet. Users will soon be able to discover new apps to sideload directly through AltStore, so they don’t have to wade through questionable download sites.


The goal, Testut says, is to turn AltStore into a haven for independent apps that clash with Apple’s App Store policies.


To enable sideloading, users must install a companion app called AltServer on a Mac or Windows PC. This program then logs users in with their Apple ID, prepares their account for development, and signs the AltStore app so that it looks like the user created it. AltServer then uses the iTunes sync protocol to send AltStore to the user’s iPhone or iPad.


As for the kind of apps that AltStore plans to curate, Testut points to UTM, an app for running virtualized versions of other operating systems, such as Windows and Linux, on an iPhone or iPad. […] “You would think that allowing high performance apps would be to Apple’s benefit as they keep making more and more powerful iPads, but the state of (allowed) iPad software has been stagnant,” says UTM’s developer, who goes by the pseudonym Osy.

As previously discussed, there are Apple-imposed limits to the number of apps that can be installed, and apps must be refreshed weekly by AltServer in order to keep working.

See also: Matt Birchler.


On App Store Pricing Inflexibility

Jeff Johnson:

If I made StopTheMadness universal and gave the iOS version to previous Mac customers for free, even to the customers who only paid $4.99 three years prior, I’d be passing up a huge amount of money — money I desperately needed at the time just to stay afloat.

The App Store unfortunately doesn’t support paid upgrades. Nonetheless, in my own mind, I treated StopTheMadness on iOS as a kind of paid upgrade: if you already purchased the Mac version, and you wanted the new iOS version, you had to pay extra.


If I charge $9.99 for the universal app, or even more than $9.99 to reflect the added value of cross-platform support, then I scare away potential buyers of the iOS version. On the other hand, if I charge $7.99 for the universal app, I may be losing a lot of revenue. Despite the wild claims of people who are ignorant of the software business, little indie developers like me can’t “make it up in volume” with lower prices, because the hardest part of selling for an indie developer is making potential customers aware of the existence of your app. Lowering your price doesn’t magically make customers appear.

I think the inflexibility of pricing upgrades and different versions of the same app is holding back the products that are available. It seems like the App Store is designed for apps where the software is really a window for selling content or a service. If the app itself is the product, and the goal is to tailor it to each platform and to build deep features over time, the paid-upfront universal model is a bad fit. Subscriptions help in some ways, but they don’t account for the facts that customers don’t want to pay for platforms they aren’t using and that developing for more platforms is more expensive. It takes a lot more than a clicking checkbox.