After Apple brought Apple Music to the Amazon Echo, the news that they’re bringing iTunes Movies & TV Shows and AirPlay 2 to Samsung TVs isn’t as surprising as it could’ve been. I was looking at upgrading my tv to a 4K one this year, Samsung are now in the frame, but I would expect it to arrive on LG and Amazon Fire TV before the year is out as well.
I’ve been an Instapaper user since it launched so I’m delighted to see it return to the EU now that it is an independent company once again.
When it disappeared from the EU when GDPR hit, I tried to find a way of replacing it first with Pinboard then with Safari Reading List. Neither of which really stuck, so despite the slight concern over why they couldn’t hit the GDPR deadline, I’m back using it and we’ll see if I start using as regularly again.
This is a very interesting article about the influence of Facebook and Google has over society and the unbalanced discourse that has been growing over recent years. It’s been a recurring concern of mine about Micro.blog and the many calls I’ve seen on there for diversity. They have rarely, if ever, included calls for people who take a more conservative stance. Balance is something that is needed if the service is to avoid the pitfalls that created the echo chambers we find on Twitter and Facebook now.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the things that Google announced at I/O this week. I feel like I’m stuck in a weird camp of being both fascinated and terrified all at once.
The rate at which Google Assistant is developing is astounding and the idea that they are working towards the computer from Star Trek is really quite cool. They are clearly getting there quite quickly. The video demos of Duplex making a call on your behalf to make a hair appointment or book a restaurant is frankly amazing. If those video’s are true (why didn’t they do a live demo?) then they’ve created a computer that can pass the Turing Test and fool a human into thinking they are talking to another human. This is one of the things that terrifies me.
I’ve long been uncomfortable with the amount of information Google can gather on people. Now they are showing how a lot of that data has been used to understand how humans communicate in the way they are building Duplex and demonstrating it’s ability to mimic that. Likewise with the new autocomplete in Gmail that they demonstrated, these things are impressive, as is the potential utility of them.
My struggle is that I hate the idea of all this data being collected on people, mostly without them realising, but at the same time I find that I want to use the new products that Google are creating with it all. I hate having to make phone calls to people I don’t know and the idea that I could just ask a computer to do it for me is great, but, it scares me. Just because we can do that begs the question should we be doing it? When humans are speaking in this manner, there’s an inherent level of trust that is built. It’s a verbal contract between two people, with a commitment from both to fulfil it. If a computer takes over this element on behalf of one of the parties, do we erode that trust? How far do we let these communications go? If we are not responsible for making appointments and bookings, do they start to become disposable? Will we become less inclined to keep them, and how will this impact small businesses?
I’ve been reading Austin Kleon’s blog since January, I find the way that he speaks about his notebooks and how he uses them very inspiring. Today’s post is about his bulletin board and how he pins images, clippings, index cards, and various other bits to it for inspiration while he is writing a book.
The analog nature of lots of things that Austin does has really caught my attention. I love technology, but as a designer I also love objects and paper. When I was a student I covered the wall of my room in halls with bits of graphics that I liked. The whole thing turned into one giant collage of inspiration. That’s something I would like to get back into my creative life, something tactile and away from a glowing rectangle.
Over on Six Colors Jason Snell speaks of his disappointment with Adobe’s iOS offering. I’ve long been disappointed with Adobe’s approach to the platform and I couldn’t agree more with his comments.
But it’s frustrating that Adobe has failed its core design customers to such a degree—and it’s also a big risk for Adobe. Photoshop commands a lot of space in the brains of many creative professionals, but a lot of those people want to use iOS. If Adobe provided them with fulfilling tools for iOS—ones that are as capable as what’s available on macOS and Windows—it could keep its customers loyal.
As a designer the iPad has always appealed to me as a means of creating. It seems like it should be the most intuitive way of laying up designs and drawing out ideas. The iPad Pro and Apple Pencil only served to enhance this idea for me. Yet Adobe continually fail to acknowledge that we could do serious work in an iPad. They keep serving up “mobile” apps instead of actually considering how an app like InDesign or Illustrator could function.
It took Microsoft years to bring Office to iOS, and in that time apps arrived to fill the gap they had left causing Office to lose mindshare. That’s now starting to happen to the Creative Cloud apps, Affinity Photo is excellent, and more than capable of growing in to the gap left by a lack of a fully fledged Photoshop. My hope is that other apps will rise up to fill the gaps left by a lack of full versions of Illustrator and InDesign or that Adobe gets its finger out and creates them.
I used to post a monthly series that looked at the Home Screens of my iPhone and iPad. Over time though I realised it didn’t change as much as I expected and so I lost interest in the process. Things have changed a lot recently so I thought it was time to post another look at my iPhone.
A few of weeks ago I put in to the practise the ideas in a post I linked to about setting up an iPhone home screen. I dropped all my apps into one folder and popped it in the dock. Then I pulled Tweetbot, Messages and Mail out alongside it in to the dock. My intention was to try and use my iPhone less, and when I do use it, to use it productively for communicating with my friends and family.
A couple of weeks later I found myself with five apps sitting on a second page of my home screen. I kept the first screen blank because I wanted to keep as close to the idea as possible, but I wanted these apps available without having to search for them. They all fell into one category. Entertainment, or more specifically video services (iPlayer, YouTube, etc) to stream content to my Chomecast or Apple TV.
I’ve now made another change and introduced 8 apps which I use so regularly it’s worth bringing them back to the my home screen to make accessing them more convenient. My iPhone still feels much calmer and focused than it did, but it’s not quite as a peaceful as a blank home screen used to be.
You can see the difference, I’ve gone from three screens with lots of app and folders on each, to two screens each with a clear use case.
I’ve made a change to the three apps that sit in my dock. Tweetbot remains, although I actually do all my posting to the service through this site, I still interact on the service a lot and find some great content to save and read.
Messages is fairly self explanatory, thankfully most of my friends and both my parents are iPhone users so I do a lot of communication through iMessage. It’s been a mainstay of my iPhone dock since the day I got my iPhone 3G years ago.
The third app is Things. I’ve used a lot of to do apps over the years, for a long time I was a Things user, but it’s lack of OTA sync was a deal breaker and I moved to OmniFocus for many years. In the last year I’ve returned to Things via a stint with Todoist. In fact I was very happy with Todoist until the launch of Things 3. It’s just a pleasure to use and over the last few weeks I’ve found myself using it a lot more than I realised. Mostly to add things to my Inbox, but also when out shopping and running errands.
Another fairly self-explanatory one, I wear a Fitbit pretty much everyday and it’s companion app keeps things in sync and helps me to keep an eye on how well I sleep and how much I’m moving. One day I hope to replace this with the Health app and an Apple Watch, but that’s a ways off yet.
Being wise with my money is something I am trying to be better at. I’m on a tight budget so making sure I’m saving and keeping money for various bills etc is really important. Since I started using YNAB I’ve found it to be really helpful and need it to check and add transactions too while I’m out and about. It’s the first budget app that’s stuck for me since Cha-Ching many years ago.
Overcast & Apple Music
I listen to quite a few podcasts on varioius different subjects both while out and about and at home. When I moved some apps back to my home screen it made a lot of sense to include it in the eight. Apple Music follows similar logic, I like listening to music both out and about as well as at home. Usually it starts from my iPhone whether listening on headphones or over AirPlay to my living room speakers.
My photo sharing app of choice. Interestingly as I type this I’m considering moving it back in to the apps folder and replacing it with something else. It still sucks me in when I’m just futzing about with no real intention which is what I’m trying to stop myself doing.
Micro.blog is a fairly new service, I backed the kickstarter and have been using it since the launch of the beta. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve found myself using it more and more, to the extent that I’m considering whether it’s worth replacing Tweetbot with it in my dock. I don’t think it’s got quite enough activity on it for that just yet, but maybe in the near future as more people are able to join the service.
Again self explanatory, I search the web a lot. Far more than I realised and despite using Spotlight to start most searches it became more annoying than just opening the app and starting a search.
It’s email, I get too much of it, I need to be able to at least keep an eye on it for communication. I don’t want to be sucked in to it too much so it doesn’t live in my dock anymore.
This second page is purely for the apps I use regularly to watch content on my TV. In the case of these apps my iPhone becomes my TV remote. Triggering a cast from here turns my TV on and gets me straight in to the show or sporting event I want to watch. These apps are useful to be available without having to search, and keeping them on a focused second screen means they stay out of way for my general use during the day.
— BBC iPlayer
— Now TV
— BT Sport
Overall this has been a really interesting exercise that has helped me to really focus and consider how I use my iPhone. I hope to continue with it like this for a while. There’s just one thing I wish I could do, especially as I have small hands, and that is to be able to pin those eight apps to the two rows above the dock rather than at the top of the screen.
Forgive me for linking to a piece on Medium, especially one that requires you to log in to read. But this interesting approach to using an iPhone compelled me to do so.
I’ve been feeling a bit of “app fatigue” when it comes to my iPhone lately. So many things on it feel like a bit of a time suck, a way to easily get lost in a world of social media and news. On reflection, maybe I’ve started to fall into too much habitual checking of apps and not letting my mind wander with down time. It could be an interesting experiment to try and see what effect this kind of setup might have on my iPhone use.
Tim Challies in answer to a friend of his outlines four methods to organise your prayer life and a few thoughts about why it’s important. I agree with a lot of this and already use the Prayer Mate app, I shall be looking at the way Tim has set the app up and the method both he and John Piper use to pray.
If you do only one thing on the internet today, please watch this video by James Rath. In a world where so often technology can make us feel disconnected and absent from those around us, it’s important to see things from the other end something. In the case of James Rath it’s incredible to see how much technology has influenced his life in such a positive way.