Maps’ problems hardly presage Apple’s imminent doom

2012-09-23 by Daniel Lawson. 1 comments

If Daring Fireball were still handing out Jackass of the Week awards, this piece by Joe Nocera in the New York Times might qualify. Which is a shame, because it’s by someone I usually respect as an insightful commentator, even if I don’t always agree with his conclusions.

Nocera contends the quality of the new Maps app is indicative of Apple’s focus on protecting market position at the expense of innovation:

you can see it in the decision to replace Google’s map application. Once an ally, Google is now a rival, and the thought of allowing Google to promote its maps on Apple’s platform had become anathema. More to the point, Apple wants to force its customers to use its own products, even when they are not as good as those from rivals. Once companies start acting that way, they become vulnerable to newer, nimbler competitors that are trying to create something new, instead of milking the old.

Yes, the quality of the maps program that ships with iPhone 5 and that you get when you upgrade anything to iOS 6 is not as good as the maps program that shipped previously. But that’s a single data point, and honestly, that’s a sign that they are innovating, which seems to be Nocera’s biggest concern that they’ll stop doing.

And if one thinks this is the first time in Apple history they’ve killed off something good (or even great) and replaced with something not as usable at the time it rolled out but that had the potential to become greater, one clearly missed the rollout of Mac OS X, the killing of the amazing Apple ][ line in favor of the non-expandable non-color Macintosh, replacing a mature AppleWorks with an iWork “suite” consisting of two programs, replacing ADB with the then-relatively-unknown-and-unsupported USB, and the list goes on. Even the Retina display was a liability not an asset for users of many third party programs at the time it launched.

The fact that Apple’s maps program isn’t as good as the program it replaced isn’t a sign that Apple has stagnated. It’s a sign that they’re continuing their innovative tendencies.

So a 915 word op-ed piece hinges on a grand total of two observations: Apple filed a patent lawsuit and the new Maps aren’t as good as the old ones. Oh, and Steve is dead, and he was obviously the source of all Apple innovation.

Mountain Lion: First Impressions from a habitual late adopter

2012-08-02 by Daniel Lawson. 3 comments

Mountain Lion: First Impressions from a habitual late adopter

I’m not an early adopter. I’m not a big fan of change. I still have a computer running Panther, if that says anything about my rate of technological uptake. I’m still using a cell phone that just has 12 keys on the front plus a power button and a send button.

But Wednesday morning as soon as I saw the notification in the App Store that it was available, for some crazy reason, I took the plunge and upgraded to Mountain Lion. I’ve never been a first day user of an operating system before. Why did I do it? Well, mostly because I knew there would be questions on Ask Different and I thought it would be fun to be able to answer them.

It occurs to me that since I’ve never done this whole “day one” thing before, perhaps I should write a blog entry about it. I’m clearly no John Siracusa, but here goes.

more »

Minimal Mountain Lion Redux

2012-07-26 by stuffe. 1 comments

In my last blog post, I described my intent to run the Developer Preview of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion until such time as it was officially released without resorting to installing any third party software. It was in part an exercise in minimal computing and attempting to restrain myself from the temptations of installing (and indeed often being required to purchase) the latest and greatest apps and utilities, and in part an attempt to see if you could really just pick up and use a computer with just the built in software and still get by.

Well, I have to say that whilst I am glad that the OS is finally released and I can thus end the experiment, I am also really glad that I did it in the first place, as I have learned a number of things both about my own computing habits and also, possibly more importantly, about the innate completeness of a modern operating system.

So, first things first, the roll of shame. In my original piece, I said the following:

“I have the Developer Preview sat on my Macbook Air as we speak. And I am going to try my level best to not install a single piece of 3rd party software on it from now until it hits retail”

Did I manage it? Well, no, but then I always knew that there were some things that I could not (yet?) replace. Here is a list of all the applications that I installed over and above the base OS:

more »

Vote, vote, vote

2012-03-09 by Daniel Lawson. 7 comments

Last Tuesday was Super Tuesday in the United States, an odd part of the even odder ritual whereby Americans rather indirectly select who will be their President. How much a particular person’s preferences count toward the final results depends a lot on their party affiliation and the specifics of the timing and structure their state party’s primary or caucus.

But here on Ask Different, your vote always counts. You can vote up to 40 times every day. And the more people vote, the better the site works.
 You don’t need to be an expert in all things Apple to make the site a better place by voting.

It’s about the questions

Upvoted question

If you find a question useful and clear, and think it shows enough research effort to be not completely obvious, you can vote that question up. See a question you’ve wondered about? Vote it up. See a question whose answer could help someone you know, or someone you can imagine? Vote it up. See a question you think explains someone’s problem clearly? Vote it up.

You don’t have to know the answer to vote for a question. Anyone with 15 reputation points and a sense of what questions you find interesting or helpful can vote for questions. If you think

  • “I’d be interested in seeing an answer to that question,” or

  • “I can answer that question,” or

  • “That could be helpful to someone I know,” or

  • “Someone put a lot of thought into that question,”

you should click the little up arrow next to the question. Reward the asker, promote the question, and help the community improve.

Voting for questions helps us identify the most useful questions, and it also rewards users who ask useful questions. It also helps the site, because the more users have lots of reputation points, the more smoothly the site can operate, and the more the community can run itself without moderator intervention. Ask Different has more visitors but less voting than many Stack Exchange sites, and we’d like to change that.

And the answers, too

Upvote accepted answer

Now answers are a bit more complicated. You just need curiosity, not knowledge about content to usefully vote on questions. But there is a little bit of a bar to vote well on answers: you need to be able to judge whether an answer is a good one. It doesn’t help the site if wrong answers get voted up.

If an answer looks like it would actually help you, or someone you know, or someone you can imagine, go ahead and give it a vote.

If you voted for a question, and the original poster accepted an answer, signifying that the answer solved the OP’s problem, please consider voting for the answer; you thought it was a good question, reward the person who put work into answering it.

Any time you have the expertise to know an answer is right, vote it up to help correct answers stand out.

Just vote

All in all, the site works best when we go out and vote, vote, vote. There’s even badges for using all up all your votes. So go out there, find what you think is interesting or helpful, and give it an upvote.

And come back later for my next blog installment on Advanced topics in voting: downvotes. But don’t wait for that to start voting for whatever you find interesting or helpful.

Minimal Mountain Lion

2012-03-05 by stuffe. 3 comments

The recent announcements regarding the forthcoming addition to the menagerie of clawed operating systems from Cupertino was very interesting to me for a number of reasons.

Chief amongst them is “Wooo! New toys!”, closely followed by “Yay, more consistency!” and finally the slow dawning of realisation that an idea which has been floating around in my head for some time can now be put into action: Project Minimal Macbook! But first, some background…

When I first got my Macbook Air I was delighted with it, but had to rigidly enforce some new ideas about how I used it compared to my previous Macbook which had considerably larger storage capacity. I couldn’t even get close to restoring my data onto it, I had too much stuff, and so I had to work from a fresh install and keep in mind that I needed to be at least mindful, if not downright picky, about what software (and importantly “data”) I could afford to allow into its hallowed SSD halls.

Straight away out went iPhoto and iTunes. I could fill my puny 128Gb of space with my music and photos alone. Co-incidentally around about the same time that I got the Air I picked up my first non portable Mac, and my iPhone 4. That’s another story, but still, off you go dear data, there’s a nice fat spinning platter just waiting over there inside the iMac… But I couldn’t banish it forever; I may as well not have it if I can’t access it. So thank goodness for iTunes Home Sharing, and iPhoto Sharing. They might not be ideal solutions, but they allow me enough functionality to get by with only the occasional massive tantrum.

more »

Of Mountain Lions and Men

2012-02-17 by Kyle Cronin. 0 comments


I awoke yesterday morning to a sea of posts about Apple’s latest operating system, Mountain Lion. Instead of holding a press event or waiting until WWDC to announce the next Mac OS X, Apple chose to secretly meet with an indeterminate number of journalists in both California and on the east coast to provide presentations of Mountain Lion to journalists individually. The journalists were then given a MacBook Air with Mountain Lion preloaded and an embargo not to publish until yesterday. My feelings about this were long a little angry, so I cut them from this article and posted them here.

In any case, I am not a journalist. I didn’t attend a presentation and I don’t have a pre-release copy of Mountain Lion. I’m also not in the developer program, so I’m unable to download and install Mountain Lion on my own hardware. I do not have the ability to run this software in any capacity. My impressions and opinions in this article are necessarily influenced by reading the articles and watching the videos produced by the people that have; namely, news sites like The Verge, Macworld, and Daring Fireball. However, this has not stopped me from already forming an opinion…

First impressions (from reading Apple.com)

My initial impressions from reading Apple’s overview page on Mountain Lion were that the new features were a bit underwhelming. I initially felt that by featuring apps like Reminders and Notes so heavily, it betrayed the fact that the rest of their updates were comparatively weak as well. Then I flipped over to the features page and saw that there were a few other, more significant features. Here are my thoughts on them briefly:

more »


2011-10-12 by Kyle Cronin. 9 comments

John Gruber is on a roll countering the notion that the iPhone 4S is disappointing by citing record-breaking preorder numbers. And yes, by sales, the iPhone 4S is doing extremely well, and many people are speaking with their wallets in approval of the new device.

However, a device can be both a commercial success and still be a bit of a disappointment. Being disappointed in a product update doesn’t mean that the update makes the product worse, or that you won’t buy it, it just means that it’s below your expectations of what the update would improve.

more »

My predictions for the October 4 event

2011-09-30 by Kyle Cronin. 3 comments

There’s lots of speculation about what Apple will announce at their event next week, and very little actual information has been leaked. This makes for an ideal climate to speculate about what will and won’t be announced at the event. So that’s what I’m going to do. more »