Tag Archives: ipad

Micro.blog iOS going universal

As I expected would happen, using iOS 11 on my iPad Pro after WWDC has inspired me to revisit the universal version of Micro.blog for iOS. Here’s a screenshot of my current build:

Micro.blog iPad

I plan to include this in 1.0. I’m in the process of moving the app from TestFlight to its final home in the App Store. As we prepare for the public launch, this’ll make it much easier for everyone to download it, and it shouldn’t be limited or scaled up on the iPad.

Dropbox, iCloud, and GitHub on the iPad

Federico Viticci has another fantastic long-form essay, this time about using the iPad Pro for a year. It’s the story of his iPad workflow plus mini reviews of each app that make using the iPad as a primary computer possible.

I haven’t finished reading the whole thing yet, but I’ve been paying particular attention to the theme of file management. I use Dropbox for my most important files — documents, notes, and photos — because I want them synced everywhere and accessible in an obvious, transparent way. iCloud is too opaque and app-specific.

Federico covers this conflict early in the essay with a list of iCloud downsides:

iOS apps like Documents and Workflow can’t access or display the contents of other apps’ folders. This prevents the existence of a full-featured iCloud Drive file manager that offers functionalities Apple doesn’t want to build in their iCloud Drive app. There should be an API to allow third-party apps to gain access to the entire contents of your iCloud Drive filesystem, just like there are APIs for photo and music access.

I’ll be happily surprised if Apple ever adds such an API. It seems unlikely. And if that’s true, it means iCloud will be permanently crippled compared to Dropbox.

The trend to new iCloud-first apps like Ulysses and Bear is fine. It doesn’t appeal to me, though. I use Ulysses on the Mac because I can sync with Dropbox. There are so many Dropbox-capable iOS text editors that I feel confident using my current favorite and switching whenever I want.

Federico also describes using GitHub and the iPad app Working Copy for collaborative editing:

Working Copy’s diff support has been a boon for how we edit Markdown and collaborate on articles. We can keep track of every edit and comment in a centralized location without creating duplicates. Working Copy makes it easy to follow the evolution of a document through multiple commits; every writer can chime in with their own suggestions and Working Copy will handle file merging and conflict resolution thanks to GitHub.

GitHub is useful for much more than code. I personally love the simplicity of Gists and GitHub Pages. It’s great to see how MacStories can use GitHub for editing articles, too.

Real work on the iPad

I only took iOS devices with me to Indianapolis last week for Release Notes. My iPad Pro with smart keyboard, for writing and podcasting; an older iPad Mini, for reading on the plane; and of course my iPhone SE.

A couple of months ago, Dan Counsell wrote about the iPad as a poor choice for everyday work:

I know a lot of journalists use the iPad full time, and that’s fine. The reason they can use it full time is that typing text has very low system requirements. However as soon as you need to move files from one app to another or unzip a document the iPad starts to make your life more complicated.

Part of the issue is that out of the box, the iPad can’t do everything that a Mac can do. The iPad needs apps. As Ben Brooks wrote about Dan’s ZIP file example:

It would be great if iOS expanded zip extraction as a built in tool, but it doesn’t, and yet a tool to do unzip is easily found, safe, and free.

iOS doesn’t have the Mac’s Finder. I could actually see a third-party iOS app centered on file management first, instead of just as an extra feature on top of text documents or photos — an app that blended a little of document providers, iCloud Drive, and app launching. Kind of in the spirit of the Finder-replacement PathFinder.

There are iOS apps to do pretty much anything. What often makes iOS slower to use is there’s less glue between apps and documents than on the Mac. No drag and drop between apps on iOS. Fewer keyboard shortcuts.

I love how Workflow sidestepped these issues with automation. I use a workflow for posting Instagram photos to my own blog. And Federico Viticci uses Workflow extensively. In a recent Club MacStories newsletter he shared how he used Scrivener and Workflow to write and prepare his iOS 10 review.

Another simple workflow I’ve used is to convert a podcast to MP3 from Ferrite. Every episode of Timetable was recorded on the iPhone or iPad. At WWDC, I edited Core Intuition on the iPad with the help of Ferrite and the web app Auphonic, which Jason Snell has also written about:

I was able to export and upload The Incomparable while sitting at a comfortable table in an Ashland pub, drinking their beer and using their free Wi-Fi. Auphonic did the rest, re-encoding the file as an MP3, tagging it properly, and uploading the result to both my Libsyn account and to The Incomparable’s FTP server.

When I was visiting a new coffee shop every day for 30 days, I loved taking the iPad with me because it was a lightweight, focused writing environment. With the right apps and workflows, it’s a fun computer to work on. I didn’t miss my Mac while traveling last week, and I expect iOS to serve me well on future trips.

Only taking my iPad Pro to WWDC

I’ll be in San Francisco for WWDC, although as usual in recent years I won’t be staying all week. While out there I’ll be attending AltConf and other events, recording a podcast or two, and catching up on some writing.

I probably should take my MacBook Pro to code on projects, but I never have time. And I’ve been working so much lately, I probably need a break from Xcode for a few days. So I’m going to travel light this time and only take my iPad Pro with me.

I used my iPad Pro often when working from coffee shops and libraries earlier this year. I think I have a pretty good sense of what I’m productive with on it. iPhone and Mac app coding is out, but email, chat, writing blog posts, and even light web site maintenance are all fine, and those are the kind of things I do while traveling.

That leaves podcast recording as the only question mark, but actually I’ve recorded every episode of Timetable using my iPhone specifically so that I could get used to recording away from my office. I wrote a few months ago about my microphone for Timetable. I’ll do the same thing when Daniel and I record our WWDC thoughts after the keynote, with editing on the iPad Pro.

I’m excited about the conference. I’m looking forward to catching up with folks, the news from Apple, and — because I won’t even have my laptop — a bit of a break from the stress of thinking I should be programming.

Taking the Apple Pencil with you

One of the best pieces of advice that I never followed very well is that if you want to be a better artist, always have a sketchbook with you. That’s why I’ve been so excited about the Apple Pencil, since it transforms the tablet you might already have with you into a great sketchbook too. There’s only one problem: you have to actual remember to bring the Apple Pencil everywhere.

Myke Hurley gave an overview on his blog about some of the additions he’s purchased to customize his Apple Pencil, like a clip, stickers, and this loop to hold it to the iPad Pro:

Wherever my iPad Pro goes, I want the Pencil to be with it. So to make sure I didn’t have yet another thing to remember, I decided that I had to find a way to attach the Pencil to the iPad. And that’s when I came across the Leuchtturm1917 Pen Loop.

And on the latest The Talk Show, Serenity Caldwell shares the tip of buying a $2 Micron pen and snapping off the clip to use on the Apple Pencil. See this tweet for what it looks like.

Lately I had been carrying the iPad Pro around without a bag. This also meant leaving my Apple Pencil at home. While I don’t use my Apple Pencil every day, I want to. With a bag I can carry the iPad more easily and also always have a spot for headphones and the Apple Pencil.

I ordered the Tom Bihn Daylight Briefcase and I’ve been using it all week. You can see it in this photo I took while setting up to work at a library the other day. I haven’t used a messenger-style bag in a long time, maybe in forever. (Apple handed out one to WWDC attendees years ago before they transitioned to the jackets phase of WWDC of freebies, but I gave most of my bags away.)

So far I’m really enjoying having a bag that doesn’t feel oversized for the iPad Pro. It’s much smaller than my full backpack. I expect that it will be perfect not just around town but also for traveling light.

Patience and impatience in the tech industry

There’s a great line from an iPad Pro article by Ben Brooks, where he’s discussing how Steve Jobs was always conscious of shipping only Apple’s best work:

The key difference between Gates and Jobs isn’t the vision, it’s the patience, or if you prefer the unwillingness to ship something which isn’t great.

I’ve been thinking about the time just before the iPad was announced. We didn’t know what form it would take, how much it would cost, or even what OS it would run. At the time, I even wanted it to run Mac OS X. From one of my blog posts in 2008:

The primary market for a Mac tablet is the millions of people who look at the Wacom Cintiq and drool. An Apple tablet has to run full Mac OS X because it has to run Photoshop, Acorn, and Painter.

It’s easy in hindsight to say how wrong I was, that of course it should run iOS. And today I’d agree; iOS 9 on the iPad is great. But I thought a tablet would be particularly good for artists, and basing it on the Mac would be the only way to hit the ground running with a stylus and mature graphics software.

That brings us back to patience, and how Apple rolls and iterates. It has taken 6 years from the original iPad introduction to the iPad Pros we have today that fulfill what I had hoped a tablet could be. Was it worth the wait? Yes. But that’s a long time, and a more impatient company might’ve taken a different path to get here, and they wouldn’t have been wrong.

I’m not actually thinking about Microsoft here, but Amazon. Amazon is so impatient not just with hardware development but everything else that even overnight delivery for their customers isn’t fast enough.

When I pre-ordered the Amazon Echo on a whim a year ago, I’m not sure that Amazon really had any idea what they were doing, whether it would flop or succeed, or if anyone would understand it. A year later, they own the market for this kind of device and it’s spread by word of mouth because the product is good. If Apple ever makes an Echo competitor it will be years from now and only because someone else proved the idea first.

Patience is good, and I’m glad that Apple has a great balance between innovating on brand new products and perfecting existing concepts. But I’m also glad that not every company is as patient as Apple. I think the industry makes better progress when some companies aren’t afraid to ship something half-baked too early.

What’s next after 30 days of coffee

Yesterday I wrapped up my endeavor to visit a new coffee shop every day for a month, making sure it was a place that I had never been to before. Every day I published a short microblog post about my visit. As I was nearing the end of the 30 days, I felt a little bummed out that it would be coming to an end. It was a lot of fun and gave my day a good structure.

I knew right away that I wanted to fill the next 30 days with something else, but probably not with drink or food again. I had a few ideas, including one outside that will be be better when the weather gets warmer. For this next month, though, I’ve decided to work from libraries.

So that’s where I am right now. Day 1 of 30, sitting in a comfy chair typing on my iPad at the Cedar Park Public Library. It’s a nice space and they even have an “internet cafe” outside the main books section. I’ll be trying to follow the same routine as before: morning out of the house for writing, afternoon usually back at my desk for coding. And as before, I’ll blog each day and tag all the blog posts. Here we go!

iPad thoughts for 2016

Over the holidays, or while on any vacation, I usually use iOS more often than my Mac. It’s easier to quickly catch up on email or fun stuff like Instagram without getting too pulled away from what matters: spending time with family and friends. So as I use iOS, I’ve been thinking about what might make the iPad better.

Last year Jared Sinclair blogged about some of the problems with the iPad, with ideas for “saving” it. The most interesting of these was his suggestion of a “Gatekeeper for iOS”, where iOS apps could easily be side-loaded onto iOS without Apple’s approval:

“These apps would be just as secure as apps published on the App Store. I recommend that Gatekeeper iOS apps be subject to the same API restrictions, privacy permissions, and sandboxing as apps distributed on the iOS App Store”

Daniel and I discussed this on Core Intuition episode 207. We acknowledged that as great as it would be, this compromise of Gatekeeper apps being subject to API restrictions might not be possible. The whole point of Gatekeeper is to leave Apple out of the distribution process, so there would be no place to impose such restrictions except at the API level. Still, I’d welcome any kind of side-loading.

Most Mac developers have wanted a Gatekeeper-like solution for iOS since the very beginning of the iPhone. Back in 2011, I wrote a post about Apple’s 30% cut and the lack of side-loading for iOS:

“Apple’s tight control over iOS has always been troubling. If there’s no way to install an app on the device without Apple’s approval, then Apple can make or break any business that builds for the platform. It’s an added risk for the thousands of tiny development shops for which the iPhone and iPad are otherwise perfect.”

But side-loading isn’t really holding back the iPad. What’s holding it back is the slow pace of progress in UI improvements. For example, the home screen remains virtually unchanged since iOS 3, and on the iPad Pro the classic grid of large app icons looks more like the Simple Finder than a way to manage and launch productivity apps.

More key areas of the UI need to take inspiration from iPad multitasking. While split-view and slide-over aren’t perfect, they’re something. Likewise for iOS extensions, which were such a step forward that we were willing to overlook the UI clunkiness. These new features helped Fraser Speirs switch to an iPad Pro full time:

“The introduction of multitasking in iOS 9 has made a significant difference to the way I work on iOS. I don’t need to rehearse the actual features here but suffice to say that I now find iOS extremely easy to get almost any task done.”

I’d like to see Apple experiment more. To not be afraid to try something new with the UI and ship it, as long as they still follow up and refine it.

Here’s a great feature idea to take multitasking further, from Stephen Hackett’s iOS wishlist:

“I’d like Apple to work on some way to share text and images between apps that are side-by-side. If I’m working in a text editor, I’d like to send a selected portion right into Slack, without having to worry about a share extension or dropping back to copy and paste to get the job done.”

Nilay Patel, in a 2015 wrap-up for The Verge, wrote that Apple has been setting the groundwork for new platforms, and that this year they will have to iterate and improve on what they’ve started. He sees the iPad Pro in particular as a step forward without a clear defining feature:

“There’s a chance we’ll all be using huge iPads as our primary computers one day, but to get there the iPad Pro has to do something so much better than a MacBook that all the things it does worse seem irrelevant. What is that thing?”

That missing “thing” is clear to me: the Apple Pencil is the best stylus that has ever been made for a device — tablet, desktop, or standalone display. It’s so good that I assumed I would sell my retina iPad Mini and use the iPad Pro exclusively.

That hasn’t happened. I realized when making the choice of which iPad to take downtown the other week that the Mini is still my favorite size. I hope as part of the next phase to Apple’s iPad platform that the Pencil makes it down to the rest of the iPads. It’s important that developers can count on the common availability of the stylus, just as we can count on multitasking and app extensions to set the pace of UI progress for the platform.

Lightweight universal apps

When the iPad first shipped, many developers embraced completely separate apps for iPhone and iPad. The argument was that they were different platforms and deserved special design attention (and separate revenue). I never bought this argument, and eventually — with the iPhone 6 Plus and multiple screen sizes — everyone agreed that it just made more sense to use universal apps.

At the same time, there’s a parallel argument that an app on the iPad shouldn’t just be a “scaled up” version of the iPhone. That if you can’t invest the time to do a universal app properly, don’t bother.

The redesigned Twitter iOS app was a great example of this. It was widely mocked for it’s poor use of space on the iPad.

With the iPad Pro and widespread iPad multitasking, I think this changes again. An iPad app that is designed exactly the same as its iPhone version is still very useful in slide-over and split screen. In fact, for many “iPad” apps I use every day on the iPad Pro, I use them in their compact layout more often than full screen.

My next app was designed for the iPhone. I spent some time trying to rework it with split views for the iPad Pro, but I just can’t justify the work right now to finish that effort. I’m going to ship it as a “lightweight” universal app anyway, though, so that it’s available in slide-over. To me, that’s a worthwhile compromise, significantly better than no offering on the iPad at all.

Six Colors and the iPad Pro

Jason Snell has posted his initial thoughts on using the iPad Pro:

“What the past few days have taught me is that if I needed to switch from Mac to iPad, if I had a compelling reason, I could absolutely do it. I can edit podcasts, write articles, edit spreadsheets, generate charts and graphs, edit photos, build web sites, transfer files via FTP, and more.”

I don’t think Jason got an Apple Pencil or Smart Keyboard, although maybe he’ll have one of each in time for his full review. If you’ve enjoyed reading Six Colors as much as I have over the last year, consider subscribing too.

The incomplete iPad Pro

I ordered my iPad Pro online and picked it up in the store today. My excitement for this device is all about the Pencil, which doesn’t ship for a few more weeks. The store didn’t receive any and employees have no idea when they will get it. They didn’t receive any Apple keyboards either, so I left with the only remaining accessory in stock: the white smart cover.

I don’t think I’ve ever been less excited to walk out of a store with a brand new $800 gadget. The iPad Pro has so much potential. I think it’s going to be a success and I’m building apps for it. But without the Pencil and keyboard, a significant part of the appeal is missing. And worse, developers who need a Pencil to start testing their apps — especially those apps like the one I’m working on that already supports third-party stylus pressure — are put at a month-long disadvantage compared to Adobe and the other early partners.

I enjoyed reading the iPad Pro reviews this morning, especially from Daring Fireball and MacStories. But those reviews describe a product that just doesn’t exist today. The iPad Pro as advertised on Apple’s web site and in beautiful marketing videos isn’t ready, and I wish Apple had delayed the whole launch until they could deliver these important accessories for a complete user experience.

Tweet Library 2.3

Tweet Library 2.3 shipped last week, and I just submitted an update last night to fix a few crashing bugs and other minor problems with the release. I’m pretty happy with this version. In addition to finally switching to Twitter’s v1.1 API — easier said than done; I used several API calls that were changed or completely went away — this release added better gestures, a month filter to the iPhone version, and an updated UI with a lighter, clearer design.

You can see the full changes in the release notes, or listen to episode 88 of Core Intuition. Daniel and I discussed the expedited review process and new versions. Tweet Library 2.3 is available in the App Store for $7.99 as a universal app for both iPhone and iPad.

iPad 1 release day

Shawn Blanc looks back to a post 3 years ago about his experience buying and using the first iPad. From waiting in line:

7:32 am: A young guy and his mom get in line behind us. The guy is wearing a ‘WWSJD’ t-shirt. I like to think that I’m less nerdy than he is, but the fact is I am ahead of him in line.”

I wish I had written so many detailed notes. I did, however, find an old draft blog post with my current list of apps from back then. Here’s what I was running on my first iPad in early April, 2010:

  • Twitterrific.

  • NetNewsWire.

  • Instapaper.

  • Freeform.

  • Sketchbook Pro.

  • Pages.

  • OmniGraffle.

And free apps:

  • AIM.

  • iBooks.

  • Kindle.

  • Netflix.

  • New York Times Editors’ Choice.

And a couple games, like Flight Control HD.

Of those paid apps, I’m only still routinely using Instapaper today, and — even though I’m not on Twitter — occasionally Twitterrific. NetNewsWire for iPad in particular held up very well; I used it every day for probably 2 years after it had stopped being updated.

Most of the apps that were released for the iPad’s debut were more mature than apps from the iPhone OS 2.0 release and first App Store. By the time the iPad came along, developers seemed to have gotten the hang of the platform.

Three ADN clients for iPhone

Lots of new people are joining App.net. If you’re one of them, welcome! In this post I’m going to briefly review 3 of the most popular iPhone clients: Netbot, Felix, and Riposte. You can’t really go wrong with any of these three apps. And if you’re looking for a Mac client, my current favorite is Kiwi.

Netbot

Netbot is nearly identical to Tweetbot. It shares most of the same source and all of the same UI design. That common heritage is great because it’s familiar to fans of Tweetbot, and it allowed Tapbots to launch onto App.net in a big way, leapfrogging all other clients that were under development at that time.

But the familiar design is a double-edged sword. Not just because the App.net API will evolve and diverge from the Twitter API, but because if you switch between both Tweetbot and Netbot often, you may need to be careful that you remember which app you’re posting from. This was a problem for me since I no longer post to Twitter, and the last thing I wanted to do was accidentally leave a new post there after a 5-month absence.

All the usual features you’d expect are present in Netbot: timeline, mentions, private messages, multiple accounts, and sync with Stream Marker. It even has an iPad version, which you may want to pick up even if you chose a different primary app on the iPhone.

Netbot also has one big feature that most App.net clients don’t have: post search. This is not part of the core App.net API. Tapbots rolled their own search server so that they could offer this feature inside the app.

Sidenote plug: if you want search for all the posts from anyone you’re following, and your own posts, consider my web app Watermark. You can subscribe on the web or in the iPhone version.

Felix

Felix is possibly the most mature and actively maintained of the App.net-exclusive apps. You can tell from his App.net posts that the developer is passionate about App.net and determined to keep making his app better.

The current version supports all the basic features as well as push notifications, narrow inline image previews that take the full width of the screen, iCloud sync for drafts, starred conversations, and a brand new feature in version 1.5: collapsing posts you don’t want to see, similar to Twitterrific 5’s muffling. The only omission is that it does not yet support multiple accounts.

Felix is also unique in that it is the only one of these 3 apps that is not free. The other apps are counting on the Developer Incentive Program to send them a check each month instead of relying on traditional sales. Felix is a good value at $5, though, and the price shouldn’t stop you from trying it out, especially as it is a very small amount compared to the paid App.net subscription itself.

There are a number of gestures in Felix. One interesting shortcut — which may also be familiar to users of Twitterrific 5 — is swipe right to quickly start a reply. I personally found that this breaks the illusion of gestures as direct manipulation, though. Since swiping to the left pulls forward the conversation, doing the reverse swipe should go back to the timeline. (Update: There’s actually a setting in Felix to switch this behavior.)

Felix also added a clever trick in its post composition window. You can swipe the text view to move the selection cursor one character over, or use two fingers to swipe across an entire word at a time. This saves a lot of time tapping-and-holding and fiddling with the magnifying glass. Felix is packed with little details and shortcuts like this.

Riposte

Riposte is beautifully done, with a clear design and a simple left/right gesture system to navigate through anything in the app. By default, there is no toolbar or tabs; everything is full-screen. Following Netbot’s lead, the developers of Riposte have decided to make their app free, and they have written up some thoughts on why.

Multiple accounts are handled well and it’s easy to switch between them. Like Felix and Netbot, push notifications are supported. Riposte uses large square inline images. It’s got a great interactions view that shows users who have recently followed you or starred your posts.

Riposte mirrors Felix’s compose text view gestures, and Riposte was the first to introduce 2-finger swipes in that text view. I love that both apps now support these gestures about equally, and hope to see many more apps steal this feature soon.

Since it doesn’t have tabs, switching between timeline, mentions, global stream, and other views is done through a slide-out panel, popularized in early apps like Facebook, Path, and Sparrow, and now very common everywhere, including my own Twitter app Tweet Library. It’s a swipe and a tap instead of the single tap of Netbot or Felix, but it is space-efficient and fits the flow of gestures in Riposte.

While Riposte holds its own against the competition, I think it will be chosen most not for its features but for its design. The striking full-screen look and consistent, discoverable gestures make this app feel great. It also has probably the most readable conversation view of any app I’ve used, where the focused post appears immediately and then is surrounded with the full conversation using smaller text. That design is even maintained in HTML email when sending a conversation from the app.

iPad Mini

From John Gruber’s iPad Mini review:

“If the Mini had a retina display, I’d switch from the iPad 3 in a heartbeat. As it stands, I’m going to switch anyway. Going non-retina is a particularly bitter pill for me, but I like the iPad Mini’s size and weight so much that I’m going to swallow it.”

As I said on the last Core Intuition, it’s even more of an easy switch for me since I never upgraded to the iPad 3. The iPad Mini has essentially been my only iPad for the last week. I’m using it more, and taking it places that I would’ve have bothered with before. My new favorite Apple device.

iPad Pro is the new iPod Photo

I’m fascinated with the iPad “3” rumors because on the surface they make so little sense. Apple just shipped the iPad 2, no competitors can match it, and demand is strong. Why mess with a good thing so soon?

But it almost fits when you give it a name like “Pro” (or iPad Retina, or whatever). This isn’t a replacement for the current iPad; it’s another layer to the product lineup. And like the awkwardly-named iPod Photo from 2004, I bet the iPad Pro is meant to be temporary. It’s a way to sell a high-end, over-priced and over-pixeled iPad before the technology is cheap enough for the masses. A year or two from now, the Retina Display will be available in all iPads, and the “Pro” name will fade away, just like iPod Photo did when all iPods got a color screen.

The Daily

“David Barnard chimes in”:http://davidbarnard.com/post/5649151852/orchestrating-magic on The Daily:

“The carousel is a fun bit of UI (at least in theory, it’s still a bit laggy and jittery for my taste), but there’s just no way to quickly deliver enough content to make the carousel usable. The front page and table of contents, on the other hand, could likely be fully delivered in the 4-5 seconds from the launch of the app to the end of the launch animation. Sending users directly to the front page (or potentially a redesigned table of contents, but I wont get into that) will make it feel as though the app has been magically filled with content.”

David makes some great points. Put another way, if some of their design decisions were too ambitious for their technical plumbing to keep up with, they should update the design and optimize it for speed. With such a mainstream app, though, you can’t really win. I’m sure if it was only fast and not fancy, it would have been criticized as too bland.

The initial criticism of “The Daily”:http://www.thedaily.com/ always seemed overblown to me. It’s not perfect, but they got some of the difficult things right: navigation that makes sense, original content, good layout, clear subscription model.

Off and on for the first few weeks, I would read several articles each day in The Daily. There were a couple crashes and glitches, but nothing that made the app unusable. If no one else had been complaining, I’m not sure I would have noticed anything so wrong it was worth mentioning.

They can make it faster and polish up the rough edges over a few subsequent bug fix releases. And maybe enough of the fundamentals are right that they can get pretty far even without the design changes David suggests.

Now that I’ve “written a few e-book apps”:http://www.vitalsource.com/, I can say with certainty that getting the basics right is more challenging than it looks. Other traditional companies moving their content to the iPad have launched much farther off-course than The Daily.

First drafts on iPad

“Iain Broome”:http://writeforyourlife.net/writing-ipad-review on iPad writing, via “John Chandler”:http://byjohnchandler.com/:

“I can, and do, write regularly with my iPad. But, to be perfectly honest, I rarely use it to edit, because I find it kind of clumsy to move the cursor around the screen with my finger. However, the iPad is a marvellous first draft machine.”

Most of my blog posts start life on the iPad too. I write them in Simplenote, sync with the Mac to finish the post if it needs editing, then copy to MarsEdit to publish. It’s not completely smooth, but it’s a workflow that wasn’t even possible a year ago.

iPad 2 (and tweets)

I couldn’t be more excited about the iPad 2. Yes, “most of it was expected”:http://twitter.com/manton/status/42597189645639680, but faster and more memory is exactly what the iPad needs. I’ll be getting it on day 1 and can’t wait to give Tweet Library a try on the new hardware.

During the announcement I collected 70 tweets that I thought captured the event. You can “view them on tweetlibrary.com”:http://tweetlibrary.com/manton/ipad2event.

Speaking of Tweet Library, Apple just approved version 1.2.2. It fixes a handful of bugs and adds a few new things, like block and report spam, for those of you using it as your main Twitter client. Check out the “full release notes”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/tweetlibrary/releasenotes/ or view it “in the App Store”:http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tweet-library/id365768793?mt=8.

30% of the future

I believe the iPad is the future of mainstream computing, not just of mobile devices. That’s why I picked it as the first platform for Tweet Library. But forcing developers to use in-app purchase shows that Apple’s version of success for the iPad looks much different than mine.

Apple’s tight control over iOS has always been troubling. If there’s no way to install an app on the device without Apple’s approval, then Apple can make or break any business that builds for the platform. It’s an added risk for the thousands of tiny development shops for which the iPhone and iPad are otherwise perfect.

There was such huge growth in the development community because of iOS that I’m not sure anyone was paying attention to where we’d end up. We saw a new phone instead of the future of computing. We saw the gold rush but not the damage, so we let it happen. We let it happen by not sending Apple a clear message: total control over distribution is bad for developers and bad for users.

And now we’re letting Apple take 30% from every company that wants an iOS app to complement their business, whether it has anything to do with software development or not.

From Matt Drance:

Whatever the fine print says, Apple is no longer letting developers do things it had been letting them do — and build businesses on — for almost two years, and many developers are quite understandably upset about that.

And Marco Arment:

A broad, vague, inconsistently applied, greedy, and unjustifiable rule doesn’t make developers want to embrace the platform.

I hope we’re wrong about the worst-case interpretation — I like this Steve Jobs email much more than the reality of Readability’s rejection — but because Apple fails so spectacularly at communication we won’t know for sure until more rejections come in.

I’m not comfortable with a future in which 30 cents on the dollar goes to a single company, no matter whether it’s from app downloads (where Apple offers hosting and discovery) or content sales and web service subscriptions (where Apple offers little). If the iPad grows like many of us expect it to, siphoning a third of the cash flow around everyday computers will create a completely different economic environment than exists today. It’s unprecedented.

And it would ruin Apple. Not the company’s finances, but its focus. John Gruber wonders what he’s missing, and this is it: Apple is embracing a model that is fine for Readability but runs counter to Apple’s core business. The iTunes Music Store wasn’t a business in its own right; it helped sell more iPods. The App Store shouldn’t be a huge revenue stream; it makes the iPhone and iPad better.

Apple’s strength has always been selling a great product to end users — “the rest of us”. The new Apple has fallen into the trap of thinking they should also be an advertising company and an overpriced payment processor. It’s a slippery slope from here to becoming just another mega-corp that has their hands in everything that can make money instead of standing for something.