A Universal Dark Theme for iOS

Rene Ritchie, iMore:

iOS 7 was more than just a redesign: It was a reimagining of what mobile interfaces should look and act like. Part of that involved a lot of flat, white space. A lot, a lot. It made the iPhone and iPad look bold and bight, which is fine for everyday use, but when it comes to low-light situations — like the home theater or the bedroom — it can be a little too bold and bright. If you're not careful, it can get you yelled at and hit with a pillow. It's enough to make me wish for a dark theme in iOS 9

Like Rene, I would love it if Apple introduced something like this in iOS 9. I run any app that has a dark mode in it all the time and I'd likely do the same with a system-wide solution for iOS. Not only does it make apps look better but I find it helps me focus on text much better as well.

Being An Introvert

My name is Mark and I am an introvert.

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about what that means to me and to those around me. There’s a definite stigma attached to the term introvert, and for years I fought against the notion that it was a term I should be associated with – I was dead wrong. I can’t really remember how it happened or when it happened, but at some point along the way, I realised the idea that being an introvert should be seen as a negative is completely ludicrous if for no other reason than about half of the population probably falls into the introvert bracket.

Granted, being an introvert isn’t without it’s problems but the same is true for extroverts as well. The idea that introverts are scared, lonely, and sad types is just as false as the idea that extroverts are confident, sociable, and happy types. These are external characteristics and emotions often displayed by their respective associated group, but to me they have nothing to do with being introverted or extroverted – they are merely the natural outward portrayal of being one or the other.

So what does introvert mean internally? How does it really make me feel? Not how do I make it appear to make me feel to those around me. The best way I can describe it is that spending time with others slowly drains me, it saps my energy. This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy the company of others (quite the opposite actually) it just means that I find socialising mentally taxing, even when I’m enjoying myself – that may seem like a paradox but it really is the best way to explain it. Whom I’m spending time with is irrelevant, at a certain point I will feel completely and utterly mentally drained. With strangers this point can be reached very quickly, I find the process of meeting new people completely and utterly exhausting. With the people I know best and hold dear it takes much, much longer for this to happen but nevertheless, the end result is the same. I’ve found that there is only one cure for this: rest. What I mean by rest is uninterrupted time alone, it doesn’t even matter too much what I do with that time so long as nobody else is around me. As a consequence I find that I watch a lot of television and listen to a lot of podcasts, this keeps me entertained during these necessary periods of alone time. I’ve also found writing to be a good way to pass the time during these moments too. The act of spending time alone recharges me and fuels my desire to go meet my friends, spend time with my girlfriend, or even just pop out to the pub for a few hours.

Desire is not a word I choose lightly, I genuinely have a great desire to socialise and I suspect most introverts do. It’s a complete misconception that we’re all socially inept loners, most introverts have just as much need to socialise as extroverts do, the only difference being the amount of time spent doing so. I think it’s an Interesting point that I actually pride myself on my ability to be able to get along with a diverse mix of people. I have good friends often with very different interests from each other, some of these friends might be able to talk to me endlessly but they struggle if they’re left to talk to each other – even the extroverts among them! In that sense, you can argue that despite being an introvert my social life is actually more diverse and richer than some extroverts. This ability to connect with wildly different people is something I use pretty much every day for my job. I work with clients from very different fields that have very different needs and I have to cater to those needs as well as build a friendly relationship with them too. In order to succeed with both of those, I need to utilise my ability to connect with diverse personalities and professions, before any of my technical or product knowledge even enter the fray.

I get a great deal from spending quality time with others, and the vast majority of the best memories of my life to date involve other people, but once I hit that wall and I’m exhausted, I check out. Over the years I’ve become very good at hiding this, it’s a necessity. I’m very good at feigning interest in topics that I find dull and when I’m amongst people I don’t know so well, I’m good at keeping my mouth shut when they say things I completely disagree with. My friends will tell you that isn’t like me at all. I’m a very opinionated personality, often with deep passion for what I believe in, and I will argue with people I know well when I feel it necessary. With friends this is no big deal because I know we can have fun with our arguments and discussions, but with people I don’t know so well I’m acutely aware that it could lead to serious verbal confrontation. As an introvert confrontation is my mortal enemy, I avoid it at any and all costs, it is my kryptonite. Nothing mentally exhausts me more than confrontation and this is a huge problem for me because oftentimes confrontation is a necessary thing. For me, this aversion is the single most frustrating thing about being an introvert; rather than get things out in the open and have an awkward situation in order to ultimately improve things, I will instead let things fester and get worse. It’s a huge character flaw and something I constantly battle with, sadly losing more often than I win.

I can only imagine the subset of problems that come along with being an extrovert, but something I feel like I can say with a degree of certainty is that the whole phenomenon works in reverse for extroverts. Just from observation and asking people, it’s clear to me that extroverts feed off social interaction, it powers and energises them. That energy is expended during moments of being alone, again it’s not that extroverts don’t like having some time to themselves, just that too much of it causes them stress and anxiousness. It’s the 180 polar-opposite scenario that introverts find themselves in. 

“We’re not so different you and I” is a phrase that simply doesn’t apply here, in reality some of us couldn’t be any more different. But that’s okay, it’s immaterial because we both enjoy our alone time and we both enjoy the company of others; what’s important is that we get the balance right for ourselves and be cognisant that everyone’s balance is different. So long as we all realise that, put aside common misconceptions, and throw out all of the completely unfounded stigmas, we can all coexist in harmony. 

Running Out of Space on Your iPhone or iPad?

New Mac app Phone Exapander might have the solution you need. I just saved 1.22GB from my 64GB iPhone 6 and I didn't touch a single app, photo, video, or music file – all I used was the clear temporary files tool.

PhoneExpander is currently in public beta but is already a really useful tool for clearing space on your iOS device

PhoneExpander is currently in public beta but is already a really useful tool for clearing space on your iOS device

The clear temporary files tool allows you to clear the cache of apps on an app-by-app basis and you'll be amazed just how much stuff some apps are storing on your device's hard drive. The remove apps tool does exactly what it says on the tin but will handily list the largest apps at the top for you. The clear photos tool looks pretty nifty, it backs up photos — and/or videos — to your Mac taken prior to a date of your choosing before deleting them from your iOS device.

It's a shame that there is a need for an app like this; but until things change with storage management on iOS, PhoneExpander is going to be very useful to have around.

John Moltz on the Death of Windows RT

John Moltz, writing on his very nice website:

The move makes sense — no point in beating this dead horse — but it’s too bad Microsoft wasn’t able to make a platform that allowed it to jettison some legacy overhead.

That about sums it up. This move means Microsoft has firmly hitched it's cart to the Intel horse for their tablets which comes with some significant drawbacks and chains them to an awful lot of baggage that they've buult up over the years.

Oh, just to be clear we're talking about this Windows RT, not this Windows RT. Top notch naming there, Microsoft.

Android Adware Infects Millions

BBC News:

Android users are being warned that several popular apps that were on the official Google Play store appear to have contained hidden code that made malicious ads pop up.

Shocker.

The "adware" was causing spurious pop-up messages to appear that had been made to look like system notifications. These told him his phone was running "slow" and that he needed to install new software to fix the problem.

That's the most Android-like sentence I may have ever heard. Adware, running slow, fake antivirus software... it's got a sprinkling of everything

Defaults

StatCounter has also run a special report on US search engine usage by Firefox users only. Yahoo-on-Firefox usage in the US increased from 9.9% in November 2014 to 28.3% in January. Over the same period Google-on-Firefox usage in the US fell from 81.9% to 63.9%.

Just goes to show how many people never change the default settings in apps. This kind of change is pretty extreme and I'm willing to bet Yahoo will take more share amongst Firefox users in the months to come because plenty of people are usually slow to updating to the latest versions of their web browser too.

Worth noting: I discussed this with my co-hosts on the first episode of the Technically Correct Podcast

iOS Usurps Android in the US. But Why?

Click through for all the information at The Loop (too much critical stuff to blockquote) but for me there is one key takeaway here – as markets mature the pedulum swings towards iOS.

The US is the most mature smartphone market and iOS has just become the number one platform there (at least for now) and in the UK – in all likelihood the next most mature market (alongside Canada, Japan and Australia possibly), there was a 6.2% swing to iOS over the past year. More mature markets are tending towards iOS and the reason(s) why could be any number of things, but I personally believe that a large portion of the trend is down to good old-fashioned familiarity.

It's safe to assume that in these mature markets where smartphone penetration is high, that on average people are more familiar with smartphone OS platforms. People have had a chance to try out what's on offer and more and more people are settling on iOS thanks to it's simplicity and quality. I think a lof of first-time smartphone buyers choose Android or Windows Phone as a cheap way to dip their toes in the water, but many of them ultimately end up on iOS over time. The customer retention rates of each OEM are quite telling in this regard.

I can only speak for myself but having tried Android, even putting aside my distate for it's UI design, I still find the customisation offered to be more of a hassle than it's worth in terms of managing everything and the quality of apps to be downright poor. WIndows Phone on the other hand is beautiful, but it's lack of apps leaves it hamstung and seen as it's not 2005 BlackBerry is out of the question.

Limiting Technology in the NFL

NBC News:

YouTube has its own half-time show, the FAA went out of its way to point out that drones aren't allowed at the Super Bowl, and Facebook will target ads to people logged in during the big game. The NFL experience is getting pretty high-tech -- for everyone, that is, except players on the sidelines.

Russell Wilson might pick up a tablet on the sidelines in Super Bowl XLIX, but he won't be able to use it to check his email, play "Angry Birds" or take a selfie. It's a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 handicapped to perform one function and one function only: display photographs.

Specifically, photographs of previous drives. It's a function that before this season was fulfilled by binders full of black-and-white photographs. (Microsoft reportedly paid $400 million for the privilege).

Who'd have thought that the NFL would be so much like the enterprise when it came to technology?

Bad Assumptions

Ben Thompson, Stratechery:

And yet, the perception that Apple is somehow hanging on by the skin of their teeth persists. I was speaking to someone about Apple’s particularly excellent China results this afternoon, and was struck at how their questions were so focused on threats to Apple – “How will Apple respond to Xiaomi” for example. This is in stark contrast to the way most think about a company like Google, where their dominance in whatever field they choose to enter is assumed, just as Microsoft’s was a decade ago. Apple, though, is always a step away from catastrophe.

It’s difficult to overstate just how absurd this is, but here’s my best attempt: last quarter Apple’s revenue was downright decimated by the strengthening U.S. dollar; currency fluctuations reduced Apple’s revenue by 5% – a cool $3.73 billion dollars. That, though, is more than Google made in profit last quarter ($2.83 billion). Apple lost more money to currency fluctuations than Google makes in a quarter. And yet it’s Google that is feared, and Apple that is feared for.

Apple lost more money purely in currency fluctuations than Google made last quarter, period. That's staggering.

It's difficult to explain the continuous, persistent, negativity that surrounds Apple in the form of technology commentators. Certainly I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that first impressions are tough to shake off and a lot of people's first impressions of Apple were formed in the 90s when the company was an ineffectual and wasteful dinosaur, seemingly incapable of forming a cohesive strategy. John Gruber of Daring Fireball has talked about this a few times and it's an astute observation, but I can't help thinking there's more at play here.

In the world of "build 'em up and knock 'em down" journalism, Apple has become a problem, defying the odds and overstaying it's welcome at the top, not playing along to the pre-prepared narrative. By any conceivable, useful metric, Apple is destroying it's competitors with it's focus on high-end devices, relentless iteration, and attention to detail. But that's not what the press wants, they want to see two or three big guys battling it out, that makes for a good journalistic landscape – it always has. Left vs Right, The Beatles vs The Stones, Oasis vs Blur, Christianity vs Islam, it has always been this way. But when it comes to Apple, who can you pit them against? There isn't anyone. Microsoft is reeling, Google only seriously competes with Apple in mobile platforms, there's little overlap with Facebook and Amazon. Dell's gone private, Lenovo are focussed on the enterprise, BlackBerry is a laughing stock... The only real narrative to play out right now is iOS vs Android, which is why it's such an area of intense interest for the press.

I'd like to think there were other companies out there seriously pushing Apple, really fighting with them and holding their own, it would be better for everyone. But I'm not prepared to suspend reality and write nonsense in some vainglorious, egotistical attempt to think that nonsense will really affect Apple in any meaningful way. Journalists are trying to do the job of knocking Apple off their perch, when it should be their competitors doing it – that's the sad reality that we're left with.

Unfathomable Quarterly Results From Apple

Apple just had their 2015 Q1 sales call and the results are quite simply the most impressive of any comapny past or present. Here's the upshot:

  • $74.6bn revenue (up from $57.6bn in 2014 Q1)
  • $18.0bn net profit (up from $13.1bn in 2014 Q1)
  • 74.5 million iPhones sold
  • 21.4 million iPads sold
  • 5.5 million Macs sold

Most important points to me are that the iPhone had a runaway quarter, not just beating but completely obliterating the 66.5 million estimate analysts had predicted. The other main point is that iPad sales are marginally down and have been flat for a while. The iPad upgrade cycle seems to be in the 3 to 4 year bracket for most people and will likely prevent the iPad from ever being as blockbuster of a profit churner as the iPhone. What Apple does about that over the next two or so years will be interesting to see.

App Economy Bigger Than Hollywood?

Horace Dediu:

Put another way, in 2014 iOS app developers earned more than Hollywood did from box office in the US.

Although the totals for Domestic (US) Box Office are not the complete Hollywood revenues picture, Apple’s App Store billings is not the complete App revenue picture either. The Apps economy includes Android and ads and service businesses and custom development. Including all revenues, apps are still likely to be bigger than Hollywood.

Astounding.

Wether the app market is or isn't bigger than Hollywood is a bit of a guessing game. Frankly though, I find it amazing that it's even a legitimate question.

Americans: Get To Understand the State of British Politics in Only 5 Minutes

An absolutely marvellous piece by Matt Gemmell. Wether you agree or disagree with Matt's point of view, you can certainly learn a lot by reading his words if you're not overly familiar with British politics.

One paragraph stood out to me above all else:

The UK is a union of five nations: England, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland… and London. That’s the political and financial reality. Westminster’s concerns are tied up in only one of those.

I'd like to be able to say that I don't agree with that, but unfortunately I do and for me it's a fact that is getting more and more difficult to deny.

Also catching my eye was this gem:

I think there’s also a strong argument for a parliament of Northern England, in some form.

As a proud and politically active northerner, it warmed by heart to hear someone outside northern England say this. Much like Scotland, northern England's interests are hugely neglected by not just this government, but numerous past-ruling governments.

Tony Fadell Heading Google Glass Team

Jim Dalrymple, The Loop:

Glass is moving from the Google X research lab to be a stand-alone unit led by Ivy Ross. Ms. Ross and her team will report to Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive who heads Nest Labs, the smart-home device company Google acquired for $3.2 billion in February 2014. Mr. Fadell will still run Nest, but he also will oversee Glass and provide strategic guidance to Ms. Ross.

Tony made the iPod and founded Nest after leaving Apple. I have a ton of respect for this man.

What a waste of talent.

I hope Tony gets the chance to work on a product that can really make a difference again.

Nexus 6 Units Shipping Defective

If you’re feeling bummed out about how nearly impossible it is to pick up a Nexus 6 right now, the good news? You may have dodged a bullet. We’ve been receiving reports of defective Nexus 6 units being shipped to customers where the back covers are literally coming off.

I can't help but wonder what the reaction to this would be like if the phone in question was the iPhone 6 rather than the Nexus 6.

A few people discover that iPhones will bend when you forcefully attempt to bend them and that apparently warrants intense and heavy media coverage, but a phone ships with many units falling apart in the box? Nothing.