Tag Archives: reviews

Mixed feelings about the iPhone 7 future

Federico Viticci published a great review of the iPhone 7 for MacStories last week. He opened with this:

After nearly two years spent using a 5.5-inch iPhone, I’m accustomed to not having a compact phone anymore. The iPhone 6 Plus and 6s Plus have reshaped my iPhone experience for a simple reason: they give me more of the most important device in my life.

Followed by the main theme of his review:

In many ways, the iPhone 7 feels like a portable computer from the future – only in a tangible, practical way that is here with us today.

I’ll admit to some jealousy of Federico’s iOS-only lifestyle. Apple’s mobile OS is fun to use in part because of its simplicity and in part because of its inherent mobility.

If I could only choose one computing device — one phone, no tablets, no Macs — I would get an iPhone 7 Plus. The largest phone would make for a great mini tablet, nice for photography, writing, and the web. Maybe when I retire from living in Xcode and Objective-C, I’ll daydream about traveling the country with a backpack and iPhone 7 Plus, never tied to my desk again.

But in the meantime, I’m fortunate that I can have a Mac and a few iOS devices. When I go to a conference, I take the iPad Mini and big iPad Pro along with my phone. Because I have those larger devices available, I always want the convenience of carrying the smallest phone when I’m not sitting down to work. The weight and feel of the iPhone SE is perfect.

There’s a point in Federico Viticci’s review where he covers the headphone jack controversy. He hints at a common justification I’ve heard for some of Apple’s decisions, and I think it’s kind of a defeatist attitude that is worth commenting on:

You and I might wax philosophical about the beauty of RSS, HTML, MP4, and USB, but millions of people only demand easy tech and engaging social apps.

Federico is right, but this fact is exactly why those of us who are passionate about open standards must make a strong case for them. We can’t leave such important decisions only in the hands of big corporations and fickle customers. It’s our responsibility to write about what we believe is best for the web and best for the tech industry.

Apple Pencil and sequential art tech reviews

Serenity Caldwell has a fantastic, hand-drawn review of the Apple Pencil for iMore. It reminds me of Scott McCloud. (I blogged about his book Understanding Comics about 13 years ago.)

I’d actually love to see this graphic review style used for other products too. It nicely balances against the trend of long written reviews. Both could have their place.

As for Serenity’s conclusions, I think you’ll hear widespread agreement from artists: the Apple Pencil is significantly better than any other stylus. The palm-rejection alone is reason to get one.

Two weeks notice: press reviews

I need to set aside some time to contact folks in the press about my new project. I can tell just explaining the app to my friends that it’s confusing to understand on first glance. It’s different enough from existing social networks that it requires a high-level explanation for why I designed the architecture this way.

The short answer is that I wanted to build something open and extensible. Something that embraced the open web. By necessity that makes the concept a little more geeky than what has come before it. Having reviews of the product out in the wild even before the app is fully released may help get people thinking about what to expect.

Press for Sunlit

We’ve been really happy to see the reviews of Sunlit popping up around the web. With a new type of app like this, there’s always the risk that people won’t get it. But that hasn’t been a problem at all. I’ve included some quotes below.

Jon Russell on The Next Web:

“The design is beautifully clean and the app is easy to navigate. […] Sunlit is an easy way to curate a collection of images that you actually want to share.”

Federico Viticci on MacStories:

“You choose some photos that ‘tell a story’ – could be a trip, a family gathering, anything you want to remember – and the app pulls in their metadata for date and location. You can add text comments to jot down memories, import photos from Dropbox if you don’t keep them in the Camera Roll, and even add check-ins manually, from Foursquare, or from Steve Streza’s Ohai app.”

John Gruber on Daring Fireball:

“Sunlit has an interesting collaboration and sync model, based on App.net, and a clever integration of maps. You can publish stories on the web, but most of the features are geared toward private group sharing and collaboration through the app.”

Thorin Klosowski on Lifehacker:

“The app itself is great looking and provides fantastic maps to go along with your photos as well as a place to write down any thoughts you might have.”

Charlie Sorrel on Cult of Mac:

“Apps like Sunlit make sharing your pictures easy, fun and fast.”

Thanks to everyone who tried the app and told people about it. Version 1.0.1 was approved this week, and you can download it for free and upgrade inside the app. Enjoy!

24-hour review times

I noticed a couple tweets last month about fast, less than 24-hour review times for iPhone app submissions. After I tweeted it, a whole bunch of other people came forward with similar stories. Apps going from submission to ready-for-sale in 12 to 24 hours.

The App Store is still fundamentally broken in many ways, possibly beyond repair depending on who you talk to, but there’s no question that fast review times are great for developers. Even if the progress stops with this, it’s a significant improvement to the App Store process.

Is it just for established devs? Just for minor bug fixes? It’s not the latter, since some of these were brand new apps. The question is whether this was a change for a certain class of developers and apps or whether it represents an overall speed-up to the review process, and maybe even a hint at prepping for the iPad launch.

Review times are a big deal and they’ve gone mainstream. Opera Mini has a very public “count up”:http://my.opera.com/community/countup/ widget as part of their extensive pre-approval hype. You can tell from the demos that Opera put a huge amount of work into polishing Mini before submitting it, to remove as many potential objections as possible, and to get users excited before it ships. A high-profile rejection now would erase any goodwill that Apple has built up recently.

I know some developers are nervous with openly discussing or blogging about their relationship with Apple, but I think more people should follow Opera’s lead. By being vocal on the App Store’s strengths and shortcomings, we force Apple to be more transparent. Bad press has a proven history of leading to overturned rejections. The narrative of the last few months, to me, is that the App Store is getting better, and I don’t think it would be happening without the critics.