Category Archives: iPhone

How did Apple miss the issues with Maps, when developers were reporting them?

Developers: We warned Apple about iOS maps quality | Apple – CNET News:

“‘I posted at least one doomsayer rant after each (developer) beta, and I wasn’t alone,’ a developer with three iOS apps in the App Store told CNET. ‘The mood amongst the developers seemed to be that the maps were so shockingly bad that reporting individual problems was futile. What was needed wasn’t so much an interface for reporting a single point as incorrect, but for selecting an entire region and saying ‘all of this — it’s wrong.””

Maybe Apple thought they were just kidding?

Why comfort and familiarity are features

Techpinions – It’s Good to be Back on the iPhone:

Often I heard the battle cry from the Android community complaining that the iPhone 5 was just not innovative enough and lacked many of the cutting edge features common on Android smartphones. Many with that sentiment miss an important perspective, one that I truly didn’t fully grasp before using Android for a length of time. This perspective is that comfort and familiarity are actually features. And I would argue that for many consumers comfort and familiarity are just as valuable as a cutting edge spec is to others.

Newness for newness’ sake isn’t innovative – it’s destructive to value, because it places the user in unfamiliar territory. And when you force users to make a big leap by learning large changes to the user interface in one go, inevitably some of them will look at the new interface you’re trying to adopt and wonder why, if they’re going to have to relearn a load of stuff anyway, they shouldn’t just jump to another platform.

What I find interesting, too, is that its the same people who are currently slamming Microsoft for abandoning (effectively) the Windows 7 interface with Metro who are also slamming Apple for not abandoning the familiar, well-worn app launcher interface on iOS.

One more thing about iOS 6 Maps

I'm pretty tempted never to write anything about the iOS maps app again, but there's already starting to be a backlash against the backlash, so ill write one more thing.

I've seen a few comments out there to the effect that actually people should remember this is the first release, that mapping is hard, that it's not their fault Google wouldn't give them maps, and therefore Apple should be cut some slack. To my mind, this is nonsense. It's effectively grading Apple on a curve, giving them a pass to create something sub-standard because doing good maps is really tough.

But, as John Gruber puts it:

Anil is right about the bottom line though: the maps experience in iOS 6 is a downgrade. Users shouldn't (and won't) give a rip about behind the scenes negotiations.

And that's the thing: as an Apple customer and user, I don't care about the issues behind the scenes. Maps is now a poorer experience than it was a few days ago, and I want Apple to fix it fast because that's what I expect from them. As a tech writer, of course, I do care, because he behind-the-scenes machinations are where the real story is. But right now, it should be the customers who matter.

iOS 6 Maps is a mess

In common with everyone else, I spent Wednesday night attempting to DDoS Apple’s servers by hammering them with update requests for all my iOS devices, plus all the applications, plus the odd Mac system update too. iOS 6 is, by and large, brilliant. I love shared Photo Streams. iMessage finally works how I expected it would. Panoramas are great.

But there’s one little problem: Maps. In short, it’s the most half-cooked piece of software that Apple has released in my memory, which goes back far longer than I’d care to admit. Worse than Ping? I think so: Ping was, after all, easy to ignore. Maps, on the other hand, is one of the core features of any mobile phone, and Apple has completely fluffed it.

Putting it bluntly, the maps on iOS are now so second rate that they’re a key advantage for Android, and one that I would expect Google to exploit as ruthlessly as possible. If you live in a major US city, I’m sure Apple’s maps are OK. You now get turn-by-turn navigation, which is great, and while Flyover looks like a novelty at first, it’s actually a pretty smart way of orienting yourself.

Outside the US, though, things are a little different. In London, the satellite images are decent enough, but weirdly the names of places are often slightly archaic. Step outside the M25, and the satellite images become blurry, pixellated, useless nonsense. The place names get worse (calling Daventry “Leamington” won’t win many friends in the Midlands). Businesses placed on the map seem to have been drawn from out of date data, in some cases fifteen years out of date.

Weirdly, it even incorporates trap streets that Google got rid of years ago. Search for Woodland Way in Canterbury. See Newark Street at the end? Doesn’t exist. If the satellite images were any good, you could see it going through two houses.

iOS Maps looks like what it is: something cobbled together fast from multiple sources of variable quality. And the problem is that for a core part of a mobile operating system, that’s nowhere near good enough.

Computer security doesn’t have to be a binary state

Robert Atkins, on John Grubermissing the point” about the EFF’s “crystal prison” argument:

It’s a pity Richard Stallman is such a boor because he’s actually right about some things: if we aren’t vigilant, the general public will have its legal right to build and run arbitrary software on hardware they own eroded to the point where it’s impossible to do so legally.

What I think both John AND the EFF are missing is that this is not a black/white, either/or argument.

Chrome OS gets this right: you can’t install any executable on the machine at all, or tinker with the operating system in any way. It is, to all intents and purposes, arguably more locked down than iOS. Thanks to the inclusion of TPM, a Chromebook simply won’t run if so much as one byte of its OS code is changed.

But flip a hardware switch on the side, hidden behind a panel, and you have full access to everything. If you want to tinker, you can. But if you want a secure, safe machine you can have that, too.

Apple’s move into maps may not be plain sailing

MG Siegler on Google’s Maps announcement and Apple’s forthcoming map tech:

I say that with the biggest caveat possible: again, no one knows much about the Apple maps product yet — it could very well suck. Mapping is not easy. And Google has been at it for years. Pulling off a product that can reliably replace Google Maps seems almost impossible — it’s that good — and maybe it will prove to be.

This is one of the things that worries me about Apple creating its own mapping technology, rather than using Google Maps. Maps are core to Google’s business, because location data is incredibly value for increasing the relevance of ads, and without ever-increasing relevance, the click-through rates on ads will go consistently down.

On the other hand, maps are not core to Apple’s business. Having a good map experience on mobile is, of course, but that’s something that doesn’t require owning the technology – it requires dealing with Google. And “dealing with Google” is the bit that Apple is obviously having problems with.

Owning technology is great for Apple if it makes the user experience better. If it doesn’t, it’s just ownership-for-ownership’s-sake, or ownership to make Apple’s bottom line better. Neither of those are bad reasons, but it’s worth bearing in mind if it proves that Apple’s maps experience gets worse, not better.

And, as MG points out, mapping is something that Google has huge experience in, and pours vast resources into. Is Apple going to be sending people up mountains with backpacks to get visual data? I doubt it.

The other thing that bothers me is that this is yet another thing to consider if you’re creating a cross-platform service, rather than a one-platform app. Suppose you have a web service which also has an iOS app, both of which incorporate mapping. Is Apple’s map service going to allow access to it from web apps, or just iOS (and presumably OS X)? It not, you now have to incorporate support for two different mapping APIs, and – more importantly – spend time and resources understanding how everything’s supposed to work.

Of course, Apple could ace it, and clearly they’ve been buying high-quality mapping talent for a very long time. We’ll see next week.

No, iOS is not a prison

I shouldn’t have found Gruber’s comment to be such a revelation. Last year, I wrote about Richard Stallman and Eric Raymond’s comments upon the death of Steve Jobs; both of these leading lights of open-source software compared Apple customers to jailbirds. I figured out then that they have a problem with technology users whose priorities are different than theirs. And really, since the prison metaphor is so manifestly silly, what the people who make it are doing is objecting to the choice that Apple’s customers make. The idea that other people take pleasure in something they dislike upsets them.Here’s the sad part: Lee and Eckersley make some really good points. I too wish that Apple would introduce an optional ability to install unapproved apps. Although, when you think about it, jailbreaking provides that ability right now, which means that the world isn’t all that far from Lee and Eckersley’s desired state.I also share the authors’ alarm over Microsoft’s decision to allow the distribution of Windows 8 Metro apps only through its own Windows Store. Microsoft would never, ever have made that move without the App Store’s example, so sure, let’s go ahead and blame Apple for it.But by bringing up the prison thing, the EFF’s authors aren’t making their case more compelling. Instead, they’ve giving readers a convenient opportunity to roll their eyes and reject their argument. Especially readers who happily use Apple devices, and who bristle at people suggesting that they’re patsies for doing so.

via iOS: Can We Declare a Moratorium On the Prison Metaphors, Please? | Techland | TIME.com.

Whoa. IPhone accounts for more than 80% of AT&T smartphone sales

IPhone accounts for more than 80 percent of AT&T smartphone sales:

AT&T posted its fourth quarter results for 2011 on Thursday and highlighted smartphone sales in particular, which reached a record high of 9.4 million devices, beating the standing company record by 50 percent. Apple should be very happy with those results, too, since 7.6 million, or 80.9 percent, of those smartphones were iPhones.

So 80% – eighty per cent! - of the smartphones AT&T sold were iPhones. More than 50% of the smartphones Verizon sold were iPhones. Yes, this was a quarter with a fair amount of pent-up demand for iPhones, given the “delay” to the iPhone 4S, but remember that phone buyers tend to have to wait until their contracts run out before buying – something which tends to smooth out the spikes a little.

UPDATE: As the inestimable Richard Gaywood pointed out to me on Twitter, this is conflating two types of figure: 9.4m smartphone sold and 7.6m iPhones activated. You might not think there’s much difference, but there is: activations include second-hand iPhones, hand-me-downs, and so on. That doesn’t meant that Apple didn’t make AT&T very happy bunnies, but it does mean that it’s less than 80%. How much less? No one outside of AT&T really knows.

(Via jkOnTheRun)

For developers, Android users aren’t the same as iPhone users

John Gruber on the difference between Android users and iOS users:

The truth is, the average Android user is not the same as an average iPhone user. iPhone users surf the web more, they’re more willing to buy software, they’re more willing to install and use apps. Some of these stats aren’t even close. What I see as the fundamental flaw in the Church of Market Share doctrine is the assumption that users are users. That one platform with, say, 40 percent market share, must be in a stronger position than another platform with, say, 20 percent market share, simply and inherently on the basis that a larger number of users is better, period. What Apple has shown with the Mac, and now with the iPhone and iPad, is that all users are not equivalent.

John’s completely right. To give you a historical example that I’m very familiar with, consider the Mac market back when I first started as a journalist in 1995. Then, Apple was floating along with perhaps 3% of the overall computer market – and yet, in the UK alone, the eco-system surrounding the Mac was large enough to support three (and occasionally four) big, thick magazines with plenty of advertising.

Back then, Mac users were not the same as Windows users: they spent more, and bought more peripherals and software. Big companies spent a lot of money on ads chasing their money. Even Microsoft earned more per-user from its Mac customers than its Windows ones.

The problem back then was that Apple itself wasn’t in a healthy state, but the wider market was huge and profitable for the third parties that made software and hardware.