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Eloquent Roundup, Week 6

I am a registered Apple developer through my university, so I get access to prerelease software. This week, I was able to play with OS X El Capitan on a test Mac and iOS 9 on a test iPad Mini. Even so, I found articles that discussed a few things that I missed in all the hubbub. In addition, I have a hodgepodge of other articles and a new book was added to my reading list.

New Book

  • The Active Life: A Spirituality of Work, Creativity, and Caring by Parker Palmer

Articles and Commentary

Federico Viticci has a well-known iPad-only setup, so when Apple announced new multitasking capabilities for the iPad, everyone in the Apple blogging community looked to him for his initial thoughts and he did not disappoint. A Deep Transformation gives some initial thoughts on these new features with ideas about how it might change the way Federico uses his iPad for work, as well as how it might change the outlook on the iPad's maturation, design, and overall success. From the post:

Apple's iPad announcements – with multitasking being, in my mind, the most profound one – revolve around doing more with apps without relinquishing control of the experience. iOS 9 on the iPad will be able to display multiple apps at once, but you won't have to use two apps at the same time if you don't want to. You can swipe with two fingers on the keyboard to control the cursor and speed up text selection, but it won't become the sole input mechanism of the iOS keyboard. Users of external keyboards will get the ability to Command-Tab through apps and view cheatsheets for shortcuts, but, of course, iOS will remain perfectly usable without a Bluetooth keyboard.

Of course, Federico looked at the overall notion of multitasking, but until reading Benjamin Mayo's iOS 9 Picture In Picture Takes Desktop Concepts To Mobile And Does It Better I didn't realize just how big of a deal the PIP feature could potentially be, think YouTube videos and FaceTime calls while working on other things. Can't wait to see this in action. Here's a taste:

The thing about the iPad picture-in-picture implementation is that its actually better than how one would handle such a task on a Mac. On a Mac, trying to play a video in the corner whilst getting on with your work is difficult. Let’s take a video on YouTube playing in Safari. To play this in a corner of the screen on a Mac, you have to pull the window out into its own tab. Then, you have to manually drag the corners of the window to resize it and do your best to clip out all the unnecessary surrounding UI by hand. No doubt the window has a toolbar so you’ll probably have to do some awkward keyboard shortcut or hidden menu command to hide that as well.

Brianna Wu is an iOS app developer and outspoken women's rights advocate that I follow, so it was a nice surprise to see her byline on iMore. Metal for OS X is so huge, I no longer need a Mac Pro dives into the virtues of Apple's announcement about Metal, its game development platform that allows developers nearly direct access to the GPU for better graphics processing. Apparently, all the big players are on board with this new technology, too, making it what could be an instant sensation. From the introduction:

Metal for OS X is huge — and it's going to be a much bigger deal on the Mac than it is on your iPhone or iPad. If you use a Mac to produce professional content, chances are, Metal is about to drastically speed up the professional apps you use.

David Pogue dives into 18 New Mac 'El Capitan' Features Apple Didn’t Mention, which provided me with a few unknown features, including Safari's new status bar!

Without getting too deep into the specifics of the tech, Apple has created a potential way for apps to be CPU agnostic, meaning that they could move to whatever platform suits them in the future, even their own. Apple’s Bitcode Telegraphs Future CPU Plans - Medium:

The biggest announcement at this week’s WWDC is one hardly anyone noticed. During the Platforms State of the Union on Tuesday, Andreas Wendker briefly mentioned Bitcode, describing it as an opportunity for future compiler optimizations to be applied to already-submitted apps. He also mentioned that it allows apps to be future-proofed by letting the store add support for future CPU features without developers having to resubmit.

A lot of people have discussed Apple's recent track record with its software and how its quality ranges from buggy to terrible. Hyperbole aside, however, Why CarPlay is a dead-end & how Apple can turn it around. by Ernest Kim is an experiential discussion of the fact that Apple can and should do better with Carplay. I did not realize just how much the stars needed to align in order for CarPlay to even work, but between that and the fact that sluggish software in a car can be potentially dangerous, just sign me up for a simple bluetooth connection for music playback for now. In addition, I just wanted to note that CarPlay and the current Apple Watch app scheme are very similar; tasks are taking place on your iPhone and showing on what amounts to an external display. However, CarPlay will almost certainly never get the native app treatment that the Watch is getting in the coming months, meaning that Apple would either need to make their own car or partner with another company to completely replace the underlying hardware and operating system in a vehicle. From the post:

So it’s obvious to anyone who spends time with the system that CarPlay suffers from issues with interface lag, stability and third-party app availability. But most reviewers conclude that these foibles will be addressed soon—a fair assumption given the rapid development cycles that are the norm for consumer electronics companies like Apple. Indeed, this is one of the leading arguments mooted in support of systems like CarPlay: While mainstream automakers measure iteration cycles in units of years, tech companies live by a culture of constant iteration that industrial firms simply can’t match. The problem with this assumption, though, is that CarPlay doesn’t actually replace the underlying hardware or operating system powering a car’s infotainment system.

Windows 10 drops DVD Support, which may not seem like a big deal given the fact that Apple drops technology all the time, but it is a big deal because what Apple drops from their hardware and what features Apple stops supporting do not have to be mutually exclusive. Apple still even supports USB floppy drives, but Windows is dropping support for that, as well, in this release. Egg Freckles writes:

I find it funny that Microsoft and not Apple is the company removing DVD playback from their operating systems. After all Apple is the company that just completed the migration away from optical media in all but one of its Macs, while Microsoft still ships Windows on millions of PCs with DVD drives. I guess as long as Apple keeps shipping a USB Superdrive, the DVD Player will remain part of the Mac OS.

A Wall Street Journal article raised some questions this week by suggesting that Apple should drop the Mac product line in favor of its mobile device lines. Glenn Fleischman has the serious rebuttal, while the Macalope has the valid but childish retort.

Apple’s hardware engineering all feeds back across its product lines. While other firms have distinct divisions that become “silos,” in which there’s very little cross-product interaction, one of Steve Jobs’ key managerial missions was to prevent silos from forming. It makes micro-management from the top very easy, but it also means that two or more parts of the company aren’t solving precisely the same problem.

Not to put too fine a point on it but these pieces do nothing more than show how clearly there's a very good reason why Apple's executive corps is paid to run Apple and these pundits are paid to not run Apple.

J.J. Abrams writes about Dick Smith, the makeup artist behind many amazing films. In “He was The Beatles to me.”, Abrams discusses the world that he saw, pre-internet, through a Super 8 camera. Writing to Smith on a number of occassions and meeting Guillermo del Toro in the process, Abrams learned what it meant to be a filmmaker in that time period. Fascinating.

He signed the magazine and encouraged me to stay creative, keep making movies, and continue (if I wanted to) to keep writing to him. My correspondence with Dick Smith went on for years.

Civil Eats wrote "A Decade Later, Isa Chandra Moskowitz Is Still 'Vegan With a Vengeance'", which details an interview with long-time vegan cook and writer, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, whose Post Punk Kitchen food blog has been the standard by which I cook vegan for a long time. She is a really down-to-earth person with a fascinating set of interests and I can't believe Vegan With a Vengeance is celebrating its ten year anniversary. From the interview:

Who are your role models/heroes–in the food world and outside it?

In the food world, home cooks like Julia [Child] and Nigella [Lawson] are definitely my inspirations. Outside of that, things like feminism and punk rock are what get me going: The idea that we can create and do whatever we want. Oh, and I love Carl Sagan, too.