Category Archives: Podcasts

Timetable 27

Today I published a new episode of Timetable. It’s about Apple’s new design book but also about how social networks are broken, with a hint of what I think we can do about it. It’s just 3 and a half minutes long.

As I’ve written about before, Apple no longer needs us to defend the company. On the other hand, many good people work on Apple’s products and so criticizing the company can easily come across as criticizing those people. That’s not my intention, but I sometimes get that balance wrong.

I own dozens and dozens of art books, but I won’t be ordering this new Apple design book. It looks overconfident instead of nostalgic. It looks like it celebrates objects instead of people. It looks like a beautiful book for the wrong time.

Core Intuition 254 and Kapeli wrap-up

On Friday, Daniel and I recorded and published episode 254 of Core Intuition:

Daniel and Manton dive into Apple’s controversial suspension of Dash developer Kapeli’s App Store account, and respond to listener Q&A about whether non-sandboxed apps are at risk of removal from the Mac App Store.

Covering sensitive subjects like Kapeli’a suspension is difficult in a podcast format where you can’t perfectly prepare your thoughts. Did I go too far defending Bogdan Popescu? Did I not go far enough?

Maybe we’ll know with some distance from this topic whether we reacted fairly. But I don’t think I overstated how important a moment this was for the App Store — both Apple’s influence over the narrative and as a test for their power in the store. Unfortunately the story still has a very unsatisfying ending.

Core Intuition 253 and Google

We posted Core Intuition episode 253 this morning. From the show notes:

Manton and Daniel discuss Manton’s experience at the Release Notes conference, talk about the rationale for supporting what might be considered edge-case behaviors in apps, and dig deeper into questions of freemium pricing, reflecting on the Omni Group’s pertinent announcements. Finally they talk briefly about Google’s latest announcements and what their competition means to Apple.

Google must be doing something right with their announcements, because yesterday my son told me he wants to get a Pixel when it’s time to replace his iPhone 5S. And as much as I love our Amazon Echo, I can see Google Home taking off if it’s well-integrated with existing Google services.

Core Intuition 248

This week on Core Intuition, Daniel and I talked about recent Apple news:

Daniel and Manton react to the European Union’s €13B retroactive tax demand to Apple, talk about the impact of tax laws on indies and small companies, and weigh in on Apple’s purported AI and machine learning triumphs. Finally they catch up on their ambitions to be more productive as the busy summer transitions to fall.

I wondered whether Apple is so obsessed with privacy that they are blinded to what is possible with more computation and extensibility in the cloud. I judge their efforts not only by the remarkable work the Siri team has done, and by what Google and Amazon are building, but also by Apple’s own gold standard: the Knowledge Navigator video from 1987. That vision is too ambitious for one company to develop all the pieces for. We eventually need a more open Siri platform to get us there.

Supertop podcast

Everyone who builds blogging software should have a blog. Everyone who builds podcasting software should probably have a podcast, too. (And sometimes, like for Marco Arment, even a few podcasts.)

So I was happy to see Supertop start a podcast recently to talk about the Castro 2 launch and other thoughts on being a 2-person indie shop. Episode 3 features Brent Simmons:

Pádraig and Oisín are joined by Brent Simmons to discuss indie app development in the wake of Vesper shutting down.

One subject I’m glad they touched on is the special challenge for a company that needs to support multiple salaries, but isn’t big enough yet to actually have significant revenue like a large company. Last week, Daniel and I talked about the balance of loving being independent but also knowing that one day you want to expand to support a small team. It’s not easy.

Core Int 242, Swift, and verified Twitter

From the show notes for today’s episode:

Manton reacts to negatively to the Swift 3 decision to disallows subclassing by default, while Daniel tries to see the bright side. The two discuss Twitter’s new invitation to apply for @verified status, and Daniel’s attempt to do so. And they quickly touch base on the upcoming Apple-sponsored reality show, “Planet of the Apps.”

Believe it or not, I was kind of holding back a little in my Swift ranting. But it was the most critical I’ve been on the show. And it’s totally okay for you to disagree! Maybe even good for the platform if you do.

Podcast thoughts on WWDC

I’m back from San Francisco, catching up on everything I missed while traveling. I recorded a few podcast episodes during WWDC week, both my own and an interview.

On Core Intuition, Daniel and I talked right after the keynote about the morning’s announcements. From the show notes:

Manton and Daniel react to the 2016 WWDC keynote. […] iMessage and Siri extensibility, Continuity improvements, Apple Pay for the web, Apple’s keynote diversity, and more.

In the middle of the week, I talked with John Voorhees of MacStories about WWDC news but also a lot about microblogging. It may be the most I’ve shared about my latest project, all in one place.

Yesterday, I recorded a short episode of Timetable. I wanted to capture what the trip to San Francisco each year means to me, outside of the conference itself. I find the week a good opportunity to reset and think about where my focus should be across my projects.

Core Intuition 236 and app subscriptions

We published Core Intuition episode 236 today, discussing the recent App Store announcements and a listener question about offices. We wrap up with plans for WWDC.

There has been a lot of great blog posts and podcast episodes already on the App Store subscription change. I listened to Under the Radar 31 and the Release Notes special edition today and recommend both. The most confusion seems to be around what kind of apps are appropriate for subscriptions, where by “appropriate” I mean “what Apple will approve”.

John Gruber also follows up at Daring Fireball on this question:

Professional apps that require “a lot of maintenance of new features and versions” don’t fit either of those categories. Would Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Twitterrific qualify for subscription pricing? After talking to Schiller yesterday, I thought so. Now, I don’t know.

As I mention on Core Intuition, apps that have a backend service with obvious hosting and maintenance costs — a music streaming service, an invoicing web app, or a blogging platform, for example — are easier for users to understand as needing to be subscriptions. Twitter apps are an interesting example because some are pure clients to Twitter’s backend, but many increasingly have their own app-specific services like timeline syncing or push notifications.

For years Apple has allowed apps to use auto-renewing subscriptions. I had an iPhone app and companion web service that was approved by Apple for auto-renewing subscriptions, after I made the case for the service as a “cloud” archive. From section 11.15 of the App Store review guidelines:

Apps may only use auto-renewing subscriptions for periodicals (newspapers, magazines), business Apps (enterprise, productivity, professional creative, cloud storage), and media Apps (video, audio, voice), or the App will be rejected

From my experience and listening to other developers, I’ve had the impression for a while that Apple would essentially reject most auto-renewing app submissions by default. While we still don’t know what “all categories” means in the new announcement, I expect it means that there will no longer be a kind of blanket rejection. Apple will still reject many apps as poorly suited for subscriptions, though, and maybe that’s okay for now.

(I’m conflicted on this point. John Gruber’s suggestion to approve everything and let the market decide is compelling and fits better with my instinct that the control should be in developers’ hands.)

“Subscription fatigue” is a real thing that I’ll occasionally hear from customers about. No one wants to pay $1/month to 40 different apps and services; it feels like a burden in a way that paying the same total price to just two apps at $20/month does not. Nevertheless, subscriptions are very powerful. Everything I’ve done over the last few years is to position myself to eventually have a recurring-revenue success.

Core Intuition 234 and Vapor

We published Core Intuition 234 today, with a follow-up discussion on Swift, working toward software releases, and more. From the show notes:

Daniel and Manton talk about the question of Swift’s dependence on Objective-C’s dynamism, how it should or will evolve, and their differences in philosophy about Swift and Objective-C. They also take stock of release discipline and managing customer disappointment with an app’s progress. Finally, they talk about the importance and difficulty of winding down old products.

One of the points I brought up on the show — and which I’ve hinted at here on the blog before — is that web developers will push Swift to become more dynamic. There’s a long history of building web server frameworks like Ruby on Rails that depend on dynamically routing requests to controllers and views, and flexible models that automatically adapt from your database schema. These features tend to get messy when faced with a more static, strongly-typed language.

There is good work being done in the Swift web community already, though. Today I spent some time building a sample app with Vapor, which is probably the closest I’ve seen someone get to the usability of existing web frameworks. I’m a little more optimistic now that we might eventually have a single language for server code and native apps.

Listening to Timetable

Because episodes of Timetable are short (usually just 5 minutes) and because they aren’t published on a consistent schedule (sometimes once a week, sometimes 3 times a week), I’ve wondered if it may be difficult for some people to fit the podcast into their routine of listening to longer, hour-long podcasts. If you only listen to podcasts while in the car, for example, a 5-minute show isn’t going to fill your commute.

Luckily there are easy solutions to this. The first is: they are so short, just listen whenever you want, while you’re at your desk or walking somewhere or having lunch. Another option: gather up a few episodes and listen altogether, as if it’s 3 parts of a 15-minute podcast.

If you’re an Overcast user, you can create a playlist that will play multiple Timetable episodes in sequence without requiring any tapping in the app to queue up the next one. Here are some screenshots showing one way to set this up after subscribing to Timetable in Overcast.

First, tap the new playlist button in Overcast. Then tap Add Podcasts and select Timetable.

Overcast screenshots

The playlist should automatically show any unplayed episodes. Finally, tap the Playback button while an episode is playing and make sure to highlight Play Next for the When Episode Ends option. This will make sure that you have continuous playback from one episode to the next.

Overcast screenshots

I’ve recorded 23 episodes of Timetable so far, equal to about 2 hours of audio. While consistency is the most important thing for my other podcasts, Core Intuition and Technical Foul, for Timetable I’ve liked the flexibility to experiment with different styles and show formats. Enjoy!

New Core Int, Technical Foul, and Timetable

I somehow recorded 4 podcast episodes this week. We just published episode 233 of Core Intuition, where Daniel Jalkut and I talk about the announcements from Google I/O and compare the latest Swift 3 news to our experience going through previous Apple transitions. From the show notes:

“Manton and Daniel react to Google’s I/O keynote, and weigh the threat of Allo to iMessage. They celebrate Apple’s WWDC promotion of 3rd party events, and the increasing speed of App Store reviews. Finally, they reflect on the announced delay in Swift 3’s planned ABI stability, and Daniel’s sudden FUD about embracing Swift.”

It was a big week for the NBA, too, with the first couple games of the east and west conference finals. On the latest Technical Foul, Ben Thompson and I recap round 2, especially the Spurs loss in 6 games to the Thunder:

Ben and Manton are back geeking out about the NBA. This week we talk Manton through the Spurs loss, discuss OKC versus the Warriors, and whether the Cavs are good enough.

And finally, I published 2 episodes of my microcast Timetable earlier in the week. Episode 22 was about dealing with recent stress — trying to see the bigger picture and focus on the good things. Episode 23 was about how to tell when it’s time to move on from a failed product.

Podcasting lock-in and the lesson from Penn Station

When my family was visiting New York City a couple of years ago, we took a train out of Pennsylvania Station on the way up to Montreal for the second half of our vacation. It was raining a little as we walked from the hotel, but I thought we’d still have no trouble finding the station. After a few minutes we gave up and had to ask someone where the entrance was.

We couldn’t find it because it looked like every other street corner in Manhattan. But it wasn’t always like that. It used to look like this:

Pennsylvania Station in the 1910s

In the 1960s, facing declining train usage and financial problems, the Pennsylvania Railroad sold the rights to everything above ground and the incredible station pictured above was demolished. It was only afterwards, when it actually happened, that everyone fully realized what they had lost. Determined to not let other beautiful architectural landmarks get destroyed, the city passed a law to restrict similar demolition. Grand Central Terminal was preserved because of the lesson learned from letting Pennsylvania Station go.

I was thinking about this story — failing to do the right thing, but applying that knowledge to the next thing — while re-reading Marco’s excellent post on the future of podcasting. In it, he lays out the technical details for how podcasting works today, and makes the case for leaving it alone. I especially like this part, on his determination to keep Overcast a sort of pure MP3 client:

By the way, while I often get pitched on garbage podcast-listening-behavioral-data integrations, I’m never adding such tracking to Overcast. Never. The biggest reason I made a free, mass-market podcast app was so I could take stands like this.

I should have realized it earlier, but I don’t think I really connected all of Marco’s goals with Overcast until Daniel Jalkut and I had him on Core Intuition episode 200. We talked about many of these same themes as Marco was finishing up Overcast 2.0.

There’s also a great discussion on Upgrade about this. It starts about halfway through.

In a response to Marco on MacStories, Federico Viticci writes about the parallel trend in the web industry toward centralized services like Facebook and Medium that allow “content professionals” to monetize their writing. In doing so, those writers give up many of the benefits of the open web:

But the great thing about the free and decentralized web is that the aforementioned web platforms are optional and they’re alternatives to an existing open field where independent makers can do whatever they want. I can own my content, offer my RSS feed to anyone, and resist the temptation of slowing down my website with 10 different JavaScript plugins to monitor what my users do. No one is forcing me to agree to the terms of a platform.

While the open web still exists, we really dropped the ball protecting and strengthening it. Fewer people’s first choice for publishing is to start a web site hosted at their own domain. Like the destruction of Pennsylvania Station, sometimes you only know in hindsight that you’ve made a mistake. We were so caught up in Twitter and Facebook that we let the open web crumble. I’m not giving up — I think we can get people excited about blogging and owning their own content again — but it would have been easier if we had realized what we lost earlier.

Reading posts like Marco’s and Federico’s, and listening to Jason and Myke on Upgrade, I’m convinced that podcasting will remain open because we know better now. As a community we can learn from the mistakes with the web and the threats of closed platforms, making sure that podcasting is preserved as a simple technology that no one controls.

Client work and new podcasts

As I mentioned in my wrap-up post about working from libraries, spending so much time commuting all over the city (and outside the city) had really burned me out. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve overcompensated a little and have been working from home almost exclusively. I’ve also been catching up on client work.

I recorded a new episode of Timetable this morning to try to capture this change in work focus. Talking into the microphone for 5 minutes actually helped me assess where I’m at with my projects, and what I need to adjust to continue to make this blog and my podcasts a priority.

And speaking of podcasts, Ben Thompson and I published episode 3 of Technical Foul last night. We talk a lot about the wild last minute of Spurs/Thunder game 2, which I’m still thinking about even a couple days later.

My new podcast about… basketball!

It used to be that I would stay up until midnight working in Xcode. This year, it’s more likely that I’ll stay up until midnight watching late NBA games played on the west coast. I’ve loved this season, from Golden State’s record wins to being able to visit San Antonio a few times to catch Spurs games.

So why not do a basketball podcast? Today, Ben Thompson and I released the first episode of TECHnical Foul. From the show notes:

Welcome to the first episode of the TECHnical Foul, in which two wildly unqualified tech geeks geek out about the NBA. In this episode we debate 96 Bulls vs the 16 Warriors, Kobe’s final game, what makes the Spurs great, whether the Spurs can beat the Warriors, and a quick overview of the first round.

We had a lot of fun recording this. If you’re a basketball fan, or just need some variety in your podcast subscriptions, I hope you enjoy it.

Siri and Core Intuition 228

We posted episode 228 of Core Intuition this week. From the show notes:

Daniel and Manton discuss the iPhone SE’s evident popularity, touch on the challenges of designing for extremes in screen size, and bemoan some of Siri’s shortcomings when compared to competitors. The two also discuss tax time as an indie software developer, weigh the merits of heading to SF for WWDC, and finally delve into some deep reflections about the psychology of not shipping in too long.

We talked a lot about Siri and the Amazon Echo — the problems with both and where voice software may be headed. After we recorded, Daniel wrote a great post with additional ideas for using Siri with distance-based reminders, for example the ability to ask Siri while driving “remind me in 15 miles to get gas”:

How would this be solved? By introducing a notion of distance-relative reminders in iOS and by extension in Siri. In the same way that Siri allows you set a reminder for a specific time or for a relative time from now, it should offer the same functionality for distance.

I hope you enjoy the podcast. I’ve been thinking lately that maybe the secret with Core Intuition is that it’s not actually a developer podcast. It’s a tech podcast with major tangents into software development and business.

Timetable episodes 19 and 20

I published 2 new Timetable episodes this week, with a shared theme around Kickstarter projects. They’re both just 5-6 minutes long.

Episode 19 is about how I finally sat down to record a video for my upcoming Kickstarter project. I still have editing to do, but I’m already feeling a lot better about actually launching this.

Episode 20 continues the discussion of Kickstarter, starting with my reaction after receiving the art book from Loish yesterday. I was really impressed with how well it was produced. Anytime I see something of such high quality I’m inspired to do a better job with my own work.

Podcasts, showing up every week, and why 2.0 succeeds

When I went to Open Coffee Club during SXSW week, I met several company founders and investors in Austin, and one was also an iOS developer. I usually do a poor job of promoting my own work in person, but I somehow managed to plug my Core Intuition podcast.

He hadn’t heard of the show before, and when he pulled it up to subscribe his comment was something like: “wow, you’ve been doing this for a long time”. It’s true. Daniel and I started the podcast in 2008. We only have 225 episodes, because we published episodes less frequently back in the old days, but I’ve always been proud of our consistency with the show format going back to the very beginning.

And it made me wonder: is there another Mac or iOS developer-focused tech podcast that has such a long history? Or really, many tech podcasts at all? The ones that come to mind are The Talk Show, which started in 2007, and This Week in Tech, which started in 2005.

It’s another reminder to me that a big part of success is consistently showing up to work. If you’re always starting over, you can’t build on anything and take it further. The secret with the “version 2.0” of most apps isn’t that it has new features; it’s just that it exists at all.

In a couple months, just as WWDC is about to roll around, we’ll celebrate our 8th anniversary of recording Core Intuition. Our audience keeps growing, which is amazing, but there are still a lot of people who have never heard of the show. If you like what we’ve been doing, consider telling a friend, or posting a tweet or blog post about the show.

We expanded to 2 sponsors per episode this year because we wanted to grow the podcast — to commit more time and resources to both recording and to companion web sites like the jobs site. I think 2016 will be a great year and I’m happy that Core Intuition is a key part of helping me stay independent. Thanks for your support!

Core Intuition 225

Episode 225 of Core Intuition is out now. We talk about the new iPhone and iPad news from Monday’s Apple event, plus Swift. From the show notes:

Manton orders his dream phone, the iPhone SE. Daniel reflects on the growing allure of Swift, and the two discuss the risks of either adopting new technologies too soon, or holding on to the past for too long.

Also there’s this line from Daniel in the podcast that I like:

We have to be tuned into the future and tuned into the past to really do great work.

We pull in some history from Daniel’s time at Apple, and from our experience building Mac apps in the 1990s and early 2000s, and how it relates to the current Swift transition. Hope you enjoy it.

Core Intuition 224

We posted episode 224 of Core Intuition today. From the show notes:

“Manton and Daniel discuss Apple’s revelation that Cookie Monster uses an iPhone, consider the Amazon Echo as the next big technology platform, and catch up with Manton’s successful 30 days of Austin coffee challenge.”

I like this episode because it touches a little on tech industry and business themes that we weren’t planning to talk about, so it captures whatever our gut feelings were on those topics. And as we talk about at the end of the show, I did end up wrapping up the coffee shop visits today. I’ve updated the coffee shop page on this site with the final list.

Two new episodes

We posted episode 223 of Core Intuition today. From the show notes:

“Daniel and Manton discuss strategies for filing and organizing bugs. They talk about the expected iPad and iPhone announcements at Apple’s March 21 event, and they follow up on discussion about apps that delight and take their own problem domains seriously.”

I also posted episode 16 of Timetable. On this quick 3-minute show, I talk about trying not to panic when things go wrong, with a couple examples from this week.