52 stories
·
3 followers

★ The iPad Awkwardly Turns 10

2 Comments

Ten years ago today, Steve Jobs introduced the iPad on stage at the Yerba Buena theater in San Francisco. It surprised everyone, in several ways. Some expected a touchscreen Mac with a stylus. Some expected a product that would do for the news industry what the iPod had done for the music industry a decade prior. Most expected a $1,000 starting price. The iPad was none of those things. It was also Jobs’s final big new product announcement.

“It’s just a big iPhone” was the most common initial criticism. Turns out, “just a big iPhone” was a fantastic idea for a new product — music to tens of millions of iPhone users’ ears.

Jobs’s on-stage pitch was exactly right. The iPad was a new class of device, sitting between a phone and a laptop. To succeed, it needed not only to be better at some things than either a phone or laptop, it needed to be much better. It was and is.

Ten years later, though, I don’t think the iPad has come close to living up to its potential. By the time the Mac turned 10, it had redefined multiple industries. In 1984 almost no graphic designers or illustrators were using computers for work. By 1994 almost all graphic designers and illustrators were using computers for work. The Mac was a revolution. The iPhone was a revolution. The iPad has been a spectacular success, and to tens of millions it is a beloved part of their daily lives, but it has, to date, fallen short of revolutionary.

iPad hardware is undeniably great. Lower-priced models are excellent consumer tablets, and are the cheapest personal computers Apple has ever made. They remain perfectly useful for many years. The iPads Pro outperform MacBooks computationally. They’re thin, light, reliable, gorgeous, and yet despite their impressive computational performance they need no fans.

Software is where the iPad has gotten lost. iPadOS’s “multitasking” model is far more capable than the iPhone’s, yes, but somehow Apple has painted it into a corner in which it is far less consistent and coherent than the Mac’s, while also being far less capable. iPad multitasking: more complex, less powerful. That’s quite a combination.

Consider the basic task of putting two apps on screen at the same time, the basic definition of “multitasking” in the UI sense. To launch the first app, you tap its icon on the homescreen, just like on the iPhone, and just like on the iPad before split-screen multitasking. Tapping an icon to open an app is natural and intuitive. But to get a second app on the same screen, you cannot tap its icon. You must first slide up from the bottom of the screen to reveal the Dock. Then you must tap and hold on an app icon in the Dock. Then you drag the app icon out of the Dock to launch it in a way that it will become the second app splitting the display. But isn’t dragging an icon out of the Dock the way that you remove apps from the Dock? Yes, it is — when you do it from the homescreen. So the way you launch an app in the Dock for split-screen mode is identical to the way you remove that app from the Dock. Oh, and apps that aren’t in the Dock can’t become the second app in split screen mode. What sense does that limitation make?

On the iPhone you can only have one app on screen at a time. The screen is the app; the app is the screen. This is limiting but trivial to understand. On the Mac you can have as many apps on screen at the same time as you want, and you launch the second, third, or twentieth app exactly the same way that you launch the first. That is consistency. On iPad you can only have two apps on screen at the same time, and you must launch them in entirely different ways — one of them intuitive (tap any app icon), one of them inscrutable (drag one of the handful of apps you’ve placed in your Dock). And if you don’t quite drag the app from the Dock far enough to the side of the screen, it launches in “Slide Over”, an entirely different shared-screen rather than split-screen mode. The whole concept is not merely inconsistent, it’s incoherent.

How would anyone ever figure out how to split-screen multitask on the iPad if they didn’t already know how to do it?

On the iPhone, you always launch apps the same way: tapping their icons. On the Mac, it’s slightly more complex. In most contexts — the Dock, LaunchPad, Spotlight results — you launch apps by single-clicking them; in the Finder, however, you must double-click them. There’s a method to that seeming madness — you must double-click to open something on the Mac in any context where single-clicking will merely select that item. But the Mac’s “When do I click, when do I double-click?” issue has confused untold millions of non-expert users for decades. How many people have you seen who double-click links in a web browser? The iPhone’s simplicity eliminated this sort of confusion. No one needlessly double-taps tappable items on iPhone. The iPad, originally, shared this simplicity and clarity. When the iPad debuted it was, from top to bottom, easier to understand than the Mac, and you could learn everything there was to learn about it just by tapping and sliding to explore. It was impossible to get lost or confused.

Today, I get a phone call from my mom once or month or so because she’s accidentally gotten Safari into split-screen mode when tapping links in Mail or Messages and can’t get out.

I like my iPad very much, and use it almost every day. But if I could go back to the pre-split-screen, pre-drag-and-drop interface I would. Which is to say, now that iPadOS has its own name, I wish I could install the iPhone’s one-app-on-screen-at-a-time, no-drag-and-drop iOS on my iPad Pro. I’d do it in a heartbeat and be much happier for it.

That is not right.

Read the whole story
jheiss
167 days ago
reply
Amen brother. I basically never split screen on my iPad because it is too much of a hassle.
sirshannon
167 days ago
I rarely use it but never on purpose.
Share this story
Delete
1 public comment
leonick
168 days ago
reply
It's baffling to me how poorly Apple is doing on this. What the iPad has now isn't even as good as what was in Windows 8.

Now look at how the new dual screen surface devices handle this.

Imagine if the iPad had a similar flow. First app launches in full screen. If you pull it from the top (by the existing little 'handle') to one of the sides the other side shows a more compact home screen, tap an app and it fills that side. App switcher can be invoked on each side to switch app on that side. Drag one app to center top to go back to full screen.
Sweden

Tile to Testify Before Congress About Unreleased, Unannounced Apple Product

2 Comments

Nandita Bose, writing for Reuters:

In April 2019, Tile.com, which helps users find lost or misplaced items, suddenly found itself competing with Apple Inc, after years of enjoying a mutually beneficial relationship with the iPhone maker.

Apple carried Tile on its app store and sold its products at its stores since 2015. It even showcased Tile’s technology at its biggest annual event in 2018 and the startup sent an engineer to Apple’s headquarters to develop a feature with the company’s voice assistant Siri.

Early the following year, Tile’s executives read news reports of Apple launching a hardware product along with a service that resembled what Tile sold. By June, Apple had stopped selling Tile’s products in stores and has since hired away one of its engineers.

It sucks to get Sherlocked. But is there anything vaguely illegal here? And it seems… premature to testify before Congress about a product Apple hasn’t even announced (and for all we know, never will). What exactly is Tile’s preferred remedy here?

Read the whole story
jheiss
178 days ago
reply
Yeah, what's Tile's complaint here? Apple stopped selling their stuff? That's really the only thing that has actually occurred.
Share this story
Delete

FBI vs. iPhone Encryption, Round Two: Pensacola Shooter

1 Comment

Devlin Barrett, reporting for The Washington Post:

The FBI is pressing Apple for help opening iPhones that belonged to the Saudi military student who killed three people last month at a naval base in Pensacola, Fla., signaling a potential revival of the fight between the federal government and Silicon Valley over encryption technology.

On Monday, the FBI’s general counsel Dana Boente wrote a letter to Apple’s top lawyer, Katherine Adams, seeking the tech giant’s assistance.

“Even though the shooter is dead, the FBI, out of an abundance of caution, has secured court authorization to search the contents of the phones in order to exhaust all leads in this high priority national security investigation,” Boente wrote. “Unfortunately, FBI has been unable to access the contents of the phones,” the letter said, even after asking private technology experts if they could help agents crack them. “None of those reachouts has shown us a path forward.” […]

In a statement, Apple said it had already helped FBI agents on the Pensacola case by sharing relevant data in its cloud storage. Apple and other companies have said that encryption on phones is an important safeguard protecting millions of consumers against hackers and other criminals.

There are two entirely separate issues here, and the FBI either doesn’t understand them or (more likely, I think, but I’m not sure) is willfully conflating them.

The first issue is Apple offering law enforcement whatever information they can, when appropriate. In this case, they’ve apparently done so: providing the FBI with whatever they can from the suspect’s iCloud account.

The second is Apple being technically incapable of complying with additional law enforcement requests. Apple does not have a way to get at the contents of a locked, encrypted iPhone. Also true of iPads and the boot drives of Macs with a T2 security chip and File Vault enabled. That’s how these encryption systems are designed. If Apple had a way in, anyone could have a way in. That’s a backdoor, and backdoors are inherent security vulnerabilities.

Most people don’t understand anything all about encryption, and reasonably assume that surely Apple can “get into” any device that it makes. It used to be that way, in fact, the early years of iPhones. It’s fine that most people don’t understand anything about encryption, but experts at the FBI surely do, and my suspicion all along with the San Bernardino case was that the FBI was trying to turn the public’s ignorance of encryption — both how it works and how owning truly encrypted devices benefits them, even if they don’t know it — against Apple.

Honestly, I don’t think this has anything to do with the Pensacola shooter. I think this is part of a campaign to drum up public support for making true encryption illegal. And if it really is about the Pensacola shooter, the FBI’s leadership doesn’t understand how encryption works, which is disgraceful.

Read the whole story
jheiss
187 days ago
reply
It's also disgraceful that iCloud storage isn't encrypted with a user managed key so that Apple can't turn it over to law enforcement.
Share this story
Delete

iFixit’s Mac Pro 2019 Teardown

1 Comment

iFixit:

The new Mac Pro is a Fixmas miracle: beautiful, amazingly well put together, and a masterclass in repairability.

We love that a good portion of the modules can be swapped without tools; we love the use of (mostly) standard screws and connectors; we love the step numbers and diagrams for certain repairs right on the device; and most of all, we love the free public repair manuals and videos.

Despite the many things to love, however, Apple still keeps the keys to certain repairs, like the proprietary SSD. And some of Apple’s repair manuals include (or entirely comprise) a disclaimer insisting that you contact an Apple Authorized Service Provider, when in reality the repair could easily be done at your desk.

9/10 overall, and I’m guessing it would have been 10/10 if not for the SSD tied to the T2. I get it that iFixit is going to be iFixit, and that they might value a just-plain-easily-replaced-SSD over the security of the T2 subsystem. But I think they conveniently avoid mentioning the security of the T2 subsystem. Merely calling it “proprietary” and leaving it at that is ignoring just how significant a system the T2 is.

It does occur to me that it would have been nice if Apple had figured out a way to provide Touch ID for the Mac Pro. I totally get that doing Touch ID wirelessly — where the sensor would be on the keyboard (or trackpad or mouse?) and the secure enclave inside the Mac Pro — is a devilishly tricky problem to solve securely.

Read the whole story
jheiss
209 days ago
reply
A Mac laptop seems like the perfect place to use Face ID rather than Touch ID.
Share this story
Delete

[Sponsor] 1Password

1 Comment

1Password is a powerful password manager trusted by the world’s leading companies. Protect your data, fortify your defenses, and empower your employees to make better security decisions.

1Password keeps your business safe online by securing passwords and other important information. Fill passwords and credit card details with a single click — they sync automatically between your devices and can be shared immediately with select colleagues. Once 1Password is part of your employees’ workflow, good security habits become second nature.

1Password Business gives you the power to create security policies, reduce threats, and monitor your team’s access. When everyone uses 1Password, your risk goes down and productivity goes up.

Read the whole story
jheiss
237 days ago
reply
That didn't take long
Share this story
Delete

Nirmal Purja summits all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks in just six months

1 Comment

Nepalese climber Nirmal Purja

This is just a bit insane. A few days ago, Nepalese climber Nirmal Purja “reached the summit of 26,335-foot Shishapangmain Tibet, finishing a season that saw him summit all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks in just six months and seven days.

Previous record? South Korean Kim Chang-Ho back in 2013, finishing in… just under 8 years!! That’s right, he beat the record by seven and a half years! As part of his Project Possible 14/7, he was also the first to reach the summits of Mount Everest, Lhotse and Makalu within 48 hours.

Over the course of those climbs, Purja and his team also took the time to save a few people, climbed K2 when “heavy snowfall forced most of the teams on K2 to abandon their attempts,” and got a special permit from the Chinese authorities to climb Shishapangma.

Project Possible consisted of three phases. During the first, Purja climbed Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Kanchenjunga, Everest, Lhotse, andMakalu over the course of 30 daysin April and May. On Annapurna, he and his team fixed the ropes to the summit. On their descent, they learned that Malaysian climber Wui Kin Chin was in distress and alone above 7,500 meters. Purja organized the rescue and helped get Chin off the mountain (Chin died five days later).

While descending Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak, Purja’s team found three climbers who’d run out of oxygen. The team gave up their own supply and helped the men down. To finish off phase one, Purja climbed Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu in under 48 hours. He tagged Everest and Lhotse in the same day, despite waiting in line for hours en route toEverest’s summit. That delay gave him time to snap the most viral photo of the Everest season.

Tags: climbing
Read the whole story
jheiss
251 days ago
reply
"the most viral photo of the Everest season" with no link!?
wittigad
251 days ago
https://www.outsideonline.com/2397164/everest-summit-traffic-jam
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories