Category Archives: iPhone

Scrivener for iOS – coming soon(ish)

Here’s an early Christmas present for me and for quite a few of my friends and colleagues: Scrivener, the marvellous long-form writing tool for Mac, is coming to iPad and iPhone:

It’s still early days, though – we are about to embark on the design process proper, and all we can say in terms of a release date is that our iPad and iPhone versions will be out some time in 2012

There’s a link to share your ideas about what should be in it too. I know from my perspective the thing I’d like to see are integration with iCloud on both the iOS and Mac side, so that I could seamlessly carry on working on a project no matter where I was.

Apple is dead in the water, redux

Charles Arthur, reporting for The Guardian on an IDC/Appcelerator survey of developers:

“App developer interest is shifting back toward Apple as fragmentation and “tepid” interest in current Android tablets chips away at Google’s recent gains in momentum, according to a new survey of more than 2,700 developers around the world.

In the survey, 91% of developers said they were “very interested” in iPhone development, and 86% said the same for the iPad. For Google, interest in Android phone add development fell 2 points to 85%, and for tablets – particularly Honeycomb – down three points to 71%, after having risen 12 points in the first quarter. The figures are within error margins for the survey, but don’t match the growing interest that has been seen in Android over the past year.”

Seems like developers didn’t get Fred Wilson’s memo, or heed the advice that iPhone was “dead in the water” from Henry “Screw the SEC” Blodget.

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So what does that location database on your phone really do?

Jim Smith, who knows a thing or two about mobile, pokes around in the controversial consolidated.db database on the iPhone and comes up with this:

“I’m pretty certain that consolidated.db is used to seed the assisted GPS used for iOS location servers. If you open the map, or check in via FourSquare, it will look to see if the cell you’re in is one it knows about. If it is, then that greatly reduces the need to look for satellites. This also explains why it doesn’t store the older  (or less accurate?) locations. My guess is that the algorithm says something like: have I been here before? If yes, is my accuracy better than last time? If yes, replace the old entry with a new one.”

Which answers the question that’s been bugging me, which is why that database wasn’t purged regularly. For this purpose, it’s important to keep it on your phone, where it can be queried fast.

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Nieman Journalism lab responds to John Gruber

Nieman Journalism Lab responds to John Gruber’s defence of the 30% Apple subscription take:

“But if someone searches for and downloads The New York Times app — after the Times has spent more than a century building up its brand, as the cost of billions of dollars — can it really be said that Apple has “brought” that subscriber to the app, and that they deserve 30 percent of the revenue the app generates, forever?”

To which the obvious and correct answer is: No, they don’t deserve it. Apple’s argument that it “brings” customers is hogwash. It’s like Mozilla claiming that Amazon ought to give it a percentage of my spend there as it “brings” me, just because I’m using Firefox.

It’s a good article, well worth an in-depth read.

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Apple 2011 = Microsoft ’97

Brilliant comment from “Chucky” on a post from from Michael Tsai:

Microsoft in 1997 had a very specific corporate strategy. They had a temporary situation of great market leverage. And rather than concentrating on making better products for their users, they began to concentrate on two objectives:

1 Using their leverage to avoid the rise of middle-wear.

2 Using their leverage to grab a rent-seeking slice of the commerce their users did out on the internet.

Microsoft in 1997 was willing to be incredibly evasive and disingenuous in its pursuit of those goals.

Does any of this remind you of Apple in 2011 in any way?

Apple has steadfastly avoided the creation of middleware on iOS – stuff like Flash, which acts as a layer between the OS and the application. And it is now using its leverage over the platform to grab a slice of all the commerce people do through apps.

Who’d have thought that Steve Jobs would have stuck so closely to the playbook written by Bill Gates?

This is why Apple’s subscription system fails for consumers

From Apple Subs: Publishers Seek Clarity, FT Concerned, Some Sign Up | paidContent:

“We have a fair and open approach for customers whereby we offer digital access to FT journalism for one price and enable access across multiple platforms for no additional fee. It is necessary to have a direct relationship with the customer to enable this to happen. The iPad and iPhone are two of those channels, but it is a market that is developing quickly and new devices are coming to the market at an increasing rate.”

The same is true of The Economist. I pay them a simple fee, for which I get the print magazine, access to the web site and its huge archives, the audio version of the magazine as a podcast, and the magazine on iPad.

Because they don’t get access to information about who is buying via Apple’s in-app purchasing, they simply can’t offer the same deal through Apple’s system – which, in theory, means they can’t offer The Economist via iPad.

So what they will probably end up doing is offering a separate iPad-only subscription, which I won’t get as part of my package. And that’s a victory for customers how?

Apple’s subscription system: A mess

From ‘Apple Just Fd Over Online Music Subs’ | paidContent:

“Music and video services do not have a 30 percent margin to give away to Apple NSDQ: AAPL. It means you’ll see them exit the market on iOS devices, paving the way for Apple’s own iTunes streaming.”

Does the subscription system include music content? No one knows, and Apple isn’t saying.

Does it cover content sold piece by piece, like books? This quote:

“We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.”

from Apple’s Trudy Muller certainly says it does. But no one really knows, and Apple isn’t saying.

I doubt that Amazon could follow this rule, even if it wanted to. What’s more, the only ambiguity in that statement is around “outside of the app” – because if that also means “in a browser from any machine” then Kindle on iOS is dead in the water. Is Apple confident enough of its own position to do that?

Of course, some publishers will just go for it. Apple is betting that the publishers will see the opportunity as great, and the risk of being left behind as greater still. The fear factor of missing out will loom large.

But it will leave a sour taste, and publishers will know they’ve been screwed over. In the short term, that won’t matter much. But when a company keeps playing hardball constantly, insisting on the same cut no matter what service it provides because it’s in a position of power, sooner or later it gets bitten back.

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Apple denies content purchasing change, confirms content purchasing change

Apple’s Trudy Muller, talking to John Paczkowski:

“We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines,”

But wait…

“We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.” (my emphasis)

So there’s been no change in the rules, but we are now requiring developers to do things differently. But that’s not a change in the rules. Oh no. Citizens, we have always been at war with Eastasia.

Yes, this destroys the model that Kindle currently employs. Kindle offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, either via Safari or a desktop browser. That clearly means that Amazon must now offer the same content via Apple’s in-app purchasing, delivering Apple its 30% due.

We shouldn’t be surprised, because Jean Louis Gassee wrote about this in January:

“Three months ago, without explanation, Apple began withholding approval of new apps using the subscription loophole. Wondering publishers were left without answers.

Then came terse emails recalling the §11.1 of the App Store Review Guidelines :

11.2     Apps utilizing a system other than the In App Purchase API (IAP) to purchase content, functionality, or services in an app will be rejected

with the following the punch line :

For existing apps already on the App Store, we are providing a grace period to bring your app into compliance with this guideline. To ensure your app remains on the App Store, please submit an update that uses the In App Purchase API for purchasing content, by June 30, 2011.”

Apple has a perfect right to do this, of course. But my bet is that either Amazon will ultimately sue, or it will offer content through IAP – at 30% 42% more than it usually charges. I wonder who will blink first.

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