Happily ever after

November 17th, 2012  |  Tags: , , ,  |  Leave a comment

In December 2011, Apple filed for a patent on page-turning animations in software. This patent was granted last week. Now there’s nothing left to keep Apple from suing MicroIllusions into oblivion:

(I’m still trying to discover whether or not Apple has also patented a system and method for ensuring that a user has the map from the original packaging before allowing him to play the game.)

An iPhone usability nit

October 22nd, 2009  |  Tags: , , , ,  |  3 Comments

I’ve had an iPhone for about 16 months now, and I’m pretty happy with every aspect of it that has nothing to do with the wireless carrier. However, some minor complaints are inevitable even in such a well-designed device. Consider, for example, the user interface displayed upon receiving a call. When the phone is asleep, the incoming-call UI looks like this:


To answer the call, you drag the green box from the left side of the phone to the right, just as you would do ordinarily to activate the phone’s screen. However, if your phone is awake — maybe you’re using it when someone called, or you recently put it in your pocket without explicitly putting it to sleep — the interface is different:


Now, years of computer use have conditioned most people to expect the affirmative option on the right in graphical interfaces. But even a few days of iPhone use are sufficient to condition one to drag from left-to-right in order to wake the phone or answer a call. I wonder how often one has send one’s wife straight to voicemail before one develops the necessary reflexes for the more-complex behavior demanded by this pair of interfaces.

Some apps are more equal than others

August 24th, 2009  |  Tags: , ,  |  Leave a comment

A lot of bits have been spilled recently on Apple’s iPhone app approval process, especially with regard to the not-yet-approved (“rejected,” for all practical purposes) Google Voice application, which drew an FCC investigation of Apple’s practices and an unintentionally-hilarious public response from Apple.

Today, John Gruber links to Real Networks’ announcement that they intend to ship an iPhone client for their Rhapsody music service; note that any concrete app that provides access to a music service probably violates Apple’s iPhone SDK terms in several ways. While I’m sure this announcement is great news for the eight or ten people who use Rhapsody, the interesting part is Gruber’s gloss on the link, in which he suggests that Apple will likely approve the app if it meets technical muster — even though the app probably violates the developer agreement — in order to avoid the appearance of anticompetitive behavior with regard to the iTunes music store.

If Gruber is right — and he certainly sounds plausible here — I wonder if there will become a de facto special class of iPhone applications during the review process: those that are potentially-controversial and well-publicized enough to require more careful examination or more flexible approval constraints. (Real probably assumes that this is already the case, or they wouldn’t be taking their case to the court of public opinion by pre-announcing this product before it is available.) Such a policy would certainly minimize Apple’s entanglements with irritable executive-branch agencies, but introducing yet more inconsistency and privileging some applications over others likely wouldn’t serve consumers or developers any better than the current policy.

The rumored Apple tablet and Amazon

July 27th, 2009  |  Tags: , , ,  |  3 Comments

According to the Financial Times, Apple will release a tablet computer this Fall and has been in talks with book publishers to provide content for the device. Jason Kottke glosses this report, speculating about the implications for Amazon:

[I]f it runs apps from the App Store (“yes” seems to be the general consensus), you’ll be able to read books in the Apple tablet format *and* in Amazon’s Kindle format (with the Kindle app), which can’t be happy news for Amazon, hardware-wise.

Kottke’s take assumes that Amazon is more interested in selling Kindles than they are in selling content for Kindles. I don’t believe that could possibly be the case.

Consider that Amazon makes far more money on Kindle content than it ever could on Kindle hardware. (Recall that “Kindle content” means “sets of DRM-enfeebled bits that are free to manufacture, cannot be resold, and list for roughly 80% of the purchase price of physical books that contain the same information.”) Nothing prevents Amazon from releasing a Kindle app optimized for any hypothetical future Apple device. If the Apple book-purchasing workflow is smooth enough to threaten Amazon’s dominance in the retail chain (and it may well be), Amazon need merely add a “search for and purchase books” option to their Kindle app.


June 17th, 2009  |  Tags: , ,  |  Leave a comment


UPDATE: I’m not kidding.


On web standards compliance

May 7th, 2008  |  Tags: , , , , ,  |  Leave a comment

Mark Pilgrim on the Mozilla project’s reaction to Firefox’s ACID 3 scores (which are lowest among all browsers not named “Internet Explorer”):

[M]an, you should all be embarrassed with yourselves. But you’re not, so here I am stepping up, publicly being embarrassed on your behalf. No need to thank me.

It’s kind of like losing a board game and then loudly claiming that you weren’t trying anyway.