Tag Archives: coreint

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’s 8 years and overselling WWDC

It’s 2 weeks before WWDC, which means it was also 8 years ago that we published the first episode of Core Intuition. At WWDC that year, Apple showed off iPhone OS 2.0, MobileMe, and the iPhone 3G. The yearly cycle of improvements to the OS and hardware don’t look much different today, but Apple keeps rolling, and so the total changes since 2008 are massive.

For as many years as I’ve been out to San Francisco for WWDC (and to San Jose before then), each year I have fewer expectations for the conference itself. Some years I don’t even bother guessing or dreaming about new features — I have no pressing needs, no critical missing APIs, no questions to ask Apple engineers in the labs — and I’m happily surprised by whatever Apple gives us.

This year is a little different. It’s the first year that I can remember since the Mac OS X 10.0 and 10.1 releases where an Apple platform needed significant performance improvements to be usable for anyone except early adopters. The first couple versions of Apple Watch were ambitious on features, but now it’s time to do the less glamorous work of making the platform fast. I hope watchOS 3.0 will be the same kind of milestone that Mac OS X 10.2 was in that regard. (And like Mac OS X, I hope it can be done mostly in new software.)

Back to WWDC the conference. I’m still thinking about the interesting venue change for Monday to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

In the discussion on Core Intuition 229 last month, I kept coming back to the idea that this change has to be about growing the conference to allow more developers. Since more people show up on Monday (press and business folks, for example, who have less interest in the technical sessions or labs), you could have a bigger space on Monday and then oversell the conference as a whole, knowing that some ticket holders wouldn’t be around later in the week back at Moscone West.

Maybe that creates more problems than it solves because of packed rooms and long lines to get into sessions, though. Now that I’ve had a while to think about it, it seems unlikely that Apple would risk making the conference worse just to squeeze in another 500 developers.

Could there be some creative layouts in Moscone West that Apple hasn’t tried yet? There are so many downsides to changing the venue that I want to believe it’s part of addressing the biggest issue with the conference: most people don’t win the ticket lottery.

There’s still the problem of hotels. Linking to my post about not giving up on WWDC, John Gruber singled out Airbnb as a bad solution, since there just aren’t that many rooms available. That’s true. And even worse, potential last-minute cancellations make Airbnb less reliable. Where I said Airbnb, I should have just said “cheaper hotel”.

(Alex Cash also has tips for saving money at WWDC. Casey Liss has a good post about rising hotel prices.)

Nevertheless, I know some developers are using Airbnb this year, and I’d like to try it next year for a change of pace and scenery away from the conference. With the convenience of Uber, the risk of settling for a place farther away seems low.

And finally, I’ve enjoyed many recent podcasts about WWDC. Two highlights: Under the Radar episode 24, where Marco Arment and David Smith share their thoughts on whether to attend the conference; and Thoroughly Considered 12, about not just WWDC but the value of attending or exhibiting at conferences as a company.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Is this even possible?

When I tell people that I’ve started going to a new coffee shop every day for a month — and importantly, one which I’ve never been to before after living my whole life in Austin, with no duplicates or separate locations from a coffee chain — they usually ask: are you going to run out of places to go? At the beginning I didn’t know. And that has made it a particularly fun challenge, because doing something that you know is possible is boring.

I’ve never been interested in building an iOS app that someone else has already done. I’ve never been excited to write a blog post that is just a rephrasing of someone else’s idea. Starting a new project with a unique twist, even a minor one, is what makes our job as developers and writers fun.

And it’s easy to take a simple idea and build it into a more advanced project. On the latest Core Intuition, Daniel continues to suggest ways to add layers to my coffee trips, from adding photos, to publishing future locations ahead of time so that anyone can stop by and join me for a coffee. (I’m going to be doing this.)

Now at day 10, I can more easily answer the original question, though. I have 16 suggested coffee shops in the queue, so if I visit all of those, I’ll only need 4 more places to hit 30 new coffee shops in 30 days. A few of these might seem like borderline cheats — a donut shop, or a food truck to pick up a Thai iced coffee — but being exposed to new places I would never otherwise go is the whole point.

Core Intuition 218

On this week’s Core Intuition:

“Manton and Daniel talk about Apple’s current and future stock price, and their potential to branch out into other technologies such as virtual reality. They discuss Facebook’s shuttering of Parse and the implications for iOS developers and Facebook’s PR. Finally, they respond to listener Q&A about getting up to speed on using and implementing your own web services.”

Toward the end of the show, I also discuss my approach to password-less accounts for Searchpath and my not-quite-released latest web app. While still far from perfect, I think getting away from passwords is an important next step for apps. Passwords are just too annoying for users to keep track of and enter, and a potential security issue and headache for system administrators.

New podcast: Timetable

I’m launching a new podcast today. For a while I’ve felt like there could be something interesting in a very short podcast, where I talk a little about what I’m working on or thinking about throughout the week. Each episode is going to be just 3-5 minutes.

It’s called Timetable. I’ve published 3 episodes, and have a 4th that will go out later today. I think of it as a “microcast”, complementing the informal nature of my microblog posts. And just as I have longer essays on my weblog, of course I’ll continue to explore larger topics for indie Mac and iOS developers on Core Intuition with Daniel Jalkut.

If you check it out, let me know what you think at manton@manton.org. Thanks!

Core Intuition 211 and fallback plans

Today on Core Intuition, Daniel and I talk about my time at the tvOS Tech Talk and the recent executive changes at Apple. From the show notes:

“Manton and Daniel discuss Apple TV development challenges, Apple’s executive team shakeup and its impact on the App Stores, and keeping a good attitude about successes and shortcomings as an ambitious indie developer.”

We wrap up the show with a conversation about taking risks and setting the right priorities for an indie business. Along the way I mention this tweet from Kazu Kibuishi, which I misquoted slightly. Here’s the actual text:

“A professor once told me that ‘if you have a fallback, you will fall back.’ I have found this to be true.”

If you enjoy the show, consider letting a friend know about it, or leaving a mini review on Twitter or iTunes. Thanks!

Core Intuition 210

On the latest Core Intuition, we talk about open source Swift, it’s potential for web server frameworks, and more about blogging tools. From the show notes:

“Daniel and Manton react to Swift’s open-sourcing, and the extent to which it adds momentum to the language and increases its appeal. They also discuss the open-sourcing of Microsoft’s MarsEdit-esque blog editor, Windows Live Writer.”

There were also a few new jobs posted to jobs.coreint.org yesterday. Check them out if you’re considering a change for 2016, or just curious what is out there for Objective-C and Swift jobs.

Swift and Core Intuition 209

Like many developers, I’ve spent the morning looking over the Swift open source release. I continue to be intrigued and look forward to working Swift into more of my routine.

On today’s Core Intuition, Daniel and I talked about Swift for about half of the 50-minute episode. We recorded the episode yesterday afternoon, before the open source announcement, so we’ll be following up next week on everything that has changed. I bet there will be some more progress in Swift web server frameworks by then, too.

Too late to save the MAS?

You’ve probably heard the news about Sketch. I found this section of their announcement the most interesting, because it highlights that this isn’t just about technical and strategic problems with the Mac App Store, but also about having a direct relationship with the customer to provide the best experience:

“Over the last year, as we’ve made great progress with Sketch, the customer experience on the Mac App Store hasn’t evolved like its iOS counterpart. We want to continue to be a responsive, approachable, and easily-reached company, and selling Sketch directly allows us to give you a better experience.”

Of course, Sketch joins a growing list of apps unavailable in the store. From John Gruber:

“Sketch isn’t the first big name professional app to be pulled from the Mac App Store (Bare Bones Software’s BBEdit, Panic’s Coda, Quicken, just to name a few). But Sketch is the poster child for Mac App Store era professional Mac software. It’s the sort of app Apple might demo in a keynote — and the winner of an Apple Design Award.”

Federico Viticci writes that Apple has to do something:

“The simple reality is that, gradually, developers of the best apps for OS X are finding it increasingly hard to justify doing business on the Mac App Store. I hope Apple also sees this as a problem and starts doing something about it.”

Daniel and I talked about this on Core Intuition recently. Developers have been complaining about the Mac App Store for years without seeing any progress. It was over 3 years ago that I pulled my app Clipstart from the Mac App Store to sell direct-only instead, because of my concerns about adapting to sandboxing.

All this time, Apple could have been iterating on the Mac App Store, improving sandboxing entitlements, improving review times, customer interaction, and more. Yet they have not. At this point, Apple can’t just do “something”. They can’t just improve the Mac App Store a little. They have to significantly improve it, addressing many issues at once. And even then, some of these great apps — Sketch, BBEdit, Coda, RapidWeaver — may not come back.

Core Intuition 206

Yesterday we published episode 206 of Core Intuition. From the show notes:

“Daniel returns from Amsterdam to find Mac App Store issues abound. Manton buys an iPad Pro but has to wait for the Pencil. The two discuss the Mac App Store’s 6-year failure to evolve substantially, and dig into the emotional highs and lows of enjoying and surviving Apple’s platform constraints.”

I really love how this episode turned out. It hits on several themes that have run through our show since the very first episode: a little tech news, some high-level coding talk, a bit of business analysis, and wrapped up with just how we feel right now about being indie developers. I hope you enjoy it.

Core Intuition 202 and Thoroughly Considered (and stickers!)

We posted episode 202 of Core Intuition yesterday. This was a fun episode because we didn’t plan for it; we just started talking. From the show notes:

“Manton and Daniel discuss the paralysis of choosing what to work on as an indie, Manton’s mysterious Kickstarter campaign, and the allure of company stickers and other marketing stuff.”

Make sure to listen through the end for why I ordered stickers for my new app. If you want one, you can email me or send us podcast feedback.

As I said on the show, I highly recommend checking out Thoroughly Considered, the companion podcast for Studio Neat’s Kickstarter project. While you’re there, also consider backing the project, at the podcast level or the full Obi product if you have a pet that would love it. Even if it doesn’t successfully fund, I really enjoyed the first couple episodes of their podcast and hope it continues.

Core Intuition 201

Today we published episode 201 of Core Intuition. From the show notes:

“Daniel and Manton discuss Manton’s search for indie development contracts, the market in general for iOS and Mac contracts, and the range of options for obtaining free and low-cost SSL certificates.”

And speaking of podcasts, congrats to Marco Arment on shipping Overcast 2.0. It’s a great update.