First Dinner While The Wife Is Away



Twitter Is Breaking Third Party Functionality Again

Apps of a Feather

I kinda can’t believe they’re doing this again, but Twitter is making more API changes that break functionality in third party apps, without providing any replacements. This is not the first time, and it likely won’t be the last.

That being said, I’m lucky enough that I won’t be terribly impacted by this. My Tweets don’t start as Tweets. My content is hosted here, on my website, that I control. I write two types of posts, titled posts that go onto the main page and the archive, and untitled posts under 280 characters that are destined to be shared on other services.

First choice? Micro.Blog. Once a post has gone on there they handle cross posting to Twitter. That may be where I consume a bunch of content, but I firmly believe that people who really care about their online presence should take steps to control it, and Micro.Blog offers great services to do just that. Ever since I heard about the project I have been very excited about the philosophy behind it, and the past couple years of putting this into practice has completely changed my comfort level with my online presence. It’s seriously better over here folks.


Looks like Twitter is delaying the API cutoff until developers have had access to a beta for 90 days. Great news. But these back and forth from a company, which at the end of the day you can’t fight effectively except hoping that they’ll listen to massive backlash, are exactly why you should be taking control of your content.

#Micro.blog #Twitter #BreakingMyTwitter

A Googler In The Mothership

apple hires googles ai chief

A few important things came to mind while I thought about this news. First, AI at Apple is so much larger than what people experience as ‘Siri,’ from the many other features like App Suggestions and Handoff which are marketed as Siri features, to CoreML, image recognition, and auto-focus on the Camera app. Saying they hired Giannandrea to “boost Siri” is like saying you charged your phone battery so you could send a tweet. There is much more than can (and should) be done here than just making the virtual assistant stop saying silly things when it doesn’t understand you.

Giannandrea will report directly to Cook, meaning he will have influence over the entire product and services line. This could be very good as far as making the wide uses of AI on Apple platforms better, but will also mean that his influence could be hard to identify in the first couple years. If this hire works it will be a long game, not a short one. Which also means that Giannandrea won’t be responsible if we actually do (or don’t) get the Siri improvements long desired at WWDC this year. It is far too late in the iOS 12 timeline for a new player to enter the game and meaningfully shake things up.

Finally, Google and Apple have vastly different cultures and ideologies around AI. I have to believe that Giannandrea wouldn’t have taken this job if he weren’t fully on board with committing to privacy and leaning on on device processing whenever possible. These are core tenants of Apple’s approach in this area, and it would be a damn shame if Apple changed course by bringing a Google guy on board. But even so, there is always a chance that big changes like this don’t end up working out (remember when Chris Lattner was a VP at Tesla?) Google and Apple are such different beasts here it’s easy to imagine that the transition doesn’t go completely smoothly. I’m hoping that’s not the case, mostly because it would show that Apple approached what is unquestionably a big ‘get’ in a rushed manner, but it’s always a possibility.

#AI #Siri #Google #Giannandrea

Speculation On The Context Of iOS 11.4

The more I think about iOS 11.4 and what features are included in this first beta, the more curious it seems. In particular, I was using the early betas of 11.3. They were... rough. In particular, b1 was one of the most frustrating betas I've used since iOS 5. But I was heavily using two features that were destined to be pulled, Multi-Destination AirPlay 2, iMessages in the Cloud. My experiences with those weren't particularly bad. Never noticed a lost iMessage, and my only gripe with AirPlay 2 was some difficulty presenting the AirPlay destination screen from Overcast and Music, a problem which still hasn't gone away.

Obviously my experiences weren't universal here, and iMessage in the Cloud in particular needs to be bulletproof before it rolls out, but I haven't seen any other significant criticism of the states of these features in the early betas that would have justified pulling them so early in the beta cycle. Also, references to ClassKit were found in the first 11.3 beta, so it seems like at some point that was slated for that release too, and considering 11.3 was launched right after Apple's Education event it would have worked out really well. So what happened here?

Here's my completely uninformed theory. ClassKit was delayed so that Apple's whole school story could kick off in June with the end of the school year and the start of prep for next year. At some point though the decision was made for it to not be a patch release on 11.3, but rather a new point release as 11.4. But 11.4 couldn't launch only with a SDK for a niche set of apps that was only going to be in beta anyway. So iMessage in the Cloud and AirPlay 2 were pulled out, not because they weren't ready, but for marketing reasons. This also follows with the recent reports that Apple is giving engineers more flexibility with ship dates. I'm certain that, however ready or not ready these features were, the engineers working on the team appreciated the ability to spend a few more months working rather than shipping the first version and following up with patches.

Most of this is going to be impossible to verify, but it's fun to speculate that Apple is actually committing to this whole "Give engineers more time to iron things out, rather than rushing initial versions of features" attitude. Although it certainly seems in this case that making the 11.4 release feature-full is giving HomePod buyers even more time without key features of the product.

#ios #airPlay

iOS 11.3 Missing Features

So much got pulled out of this release in the early beta period. This has gotten pretty common in major .0 releases, but I don’t think I’ve seen it at this scale in a .X release before.

I was really excited about AirPlay 2, and was using pretty heavily for the short period it was in the betas. Certainly ‘felt’ like a beta feature, but no more so than the other problems I had with 11.3b1.

Also, would have loved to see what they have in store for Books and how that would have factored in to the Education event this week.


Ripple and DonorsChoose

best school day 2018

Amazing news this morning. Ripple seems to have fully funded every open project on DonorsChoose, telling teachers all over the country that they can have whatever it is they needed for their classes. Serious thanks to them for doing what our education department refuses to do and dropping the cash to make classrooms better for our teachers and students. If only my wife had a few more iPads in her project 🤣 Either way, one more step on the way to having one device per child.


Space Gray Peripherals

space gray mac accessories now sold separately from imac pro

I feel genuinely sorry for people who spent too much money on these a couple months ago. But also, what did you expect?

Unfulfilled Promise Of iPad And iBooks Author In Schools

When iBooks Author was launched in 2011 I reached out to a favorite teacher, and fellow Apple nerd, from high school to geek out about the possibilities it allowed. No longer would schools have to compromise when buying text books. So often most schools simply have to purchase whatever books are put out by the large text book publishers and use them however worked best for their curriculum, skipping around the book as needed. Now each school district could hire professionals in Physics, History, Sociology, and any other subject, to produce textbooks that would be tailored explicitly for their standards and curriculum.

These could be rich, interactive texts where the schools had extra money to hire designers and content creators, but could also be strictly text or simple images based if budgets/subject demanded. iBooks Author allows for beautiful content and layout no matter how rich you wanted to go. They could be built from sections or chapters that are shared around the country, but each district could choose how they fit into the full text, only distributing the parts that were actually relevant to their students. Not to mention the many other potential benefits that come with eBooks like updating the outdated content as needed rather than every 5-10 years, simple linking between chapters as well rich hypertext to outside content like websites and videos, and the much reduced cost in buying one device per student rather than half a dozen overpriced books.

iBooks Author could given schools the power to become more localized. Does your school district have a heavy population of Portuguese language speakers? Add important translations to the beginning of each chapter in a Geology book. Does your town have special significance in a moment in history? You can highlight that in the History text book. And Teachers could have greater voice at each step in the process, working with the writers rather than helplessly reading the books chosen for them. The possibilities were great, as was the potential to change the very broken education system in this country.

Ultimately the great benefit would have been to give individual school districts greater ability to tailor their instruction to their students, rather than casting a national net and holding everyone to the same standards and curriculum.

Obviously iBooks Author and iPads in schools have not had this effect. Why?

Well, because Chromebooks came out later that year and created a race to the bottom where traditional Keyboard/Mouse/Web based classroom tech got a second wind, instead of allowing schools to move forward and explore new opportunities and possibilities. So now those Chromebooks would be used to go the limited web content supplied by the same old textbooks used by schools all over the country regardless of how relevant they were. Schools now had to consider building rich web sites if they wanted to deploy any custom content, which still had a high barrier of entry, rather than working with a rich, simple to use, WYSIWYG application like iBooks Author (which is now built into Pages.) All I hear from my wife about her Chromebooks are how awful they are, but she keeps buying them for one reason and one reason only, they're cheaper.

The iPad is slowly reaching it's price floor, which I estimate to be around $199. Chromebooks could easily fall in price all way down to $49 by using crappier, cheaper parts year after year that give a terrible experience to the students who are forced to use them. The iPad will never be able to be as cheap as Chromebooks. The school only price drop today is not nearly enough to give iPads enough of a grip on the education market to cause any meaningfully change. So for now schools have to compromise on the potential of their students, have to compromise on the privacy of their students by giving them an early presence on one of the largest surveillance companies in the world. The ideas I outlined are still possible, but will be restricted to schools which can afford it. Students like my wife's, whose school can't even afford to provide basic educational services they are legally entitled to, will be stuck using Chromebooks for the time being.

Apple's philosophy here is admirable, and their curricula, "Everyone Can Code" & "Everyone Can Create", are rich and detailed, but the fact of the matter is that these are not only out of reach of students, but also the teachers who would love to inspire their kids but are crippled by rigorous standards and testing schedules. Apple has great dreams here, but something large will need to change for this dream to be attainable by any significant percentage of our country's children. The responsibility is on both Apple and schools to create an environment where children can thrive, rather than simply making due with whatever the cheapest solution sold to them is.

#education #ipad #chrome

Chrome OS for Tablets

Acer Chromebook Tab 10

The actual product here is irrelevant. Chrome OS is popular in schools for one reason and one reason only, they are cheaper than iPads and schools are horribly, terribly underfunded. While this particular tablet may cost as much as an iPad would today and presumably we’re getting a new iPad tomorrow at a lower entry price, this would only be a temporary advantage for the iPad. Google OS have always succeeded largely on a race to the bottom, where Apple doesn’t even try to compete. No matter what happens with this new iPad and the pricing on that I don’t see the price floor of an iPad going below $199, and I would imagine that a Chrome OS tablet will come out below that price before the end of the 2018.

This could take a lot of wind out of the sails of Apple’s education event tomorrow, but we’ll have to see exactly what story it is Apple is selling. I could certainly see them pushing special capabilities of the Apple Pencil, the ClassKit framework which I’m really excited to dig into after tomorrow, and general differences in Apple’s privacy approach which I think isn’t nearly emphasized enough in the Apple vs Google in the classroom discussion. Frankly I’m astounded that Google is allowed to have anything to do with public schools. And there’s always the possibility that Chrome OS on tablets could be just as popular as Android tablets, which is to say not at all.

My wife has a mix of Dell desktops, Chrombooks, and iPads in her classroom. She has expressed nothing buy disdain toward the Dells and Chromebooks, but recently opened another Donors Choose campaign for more Chromebooks simply because she’s trying to get to a good device/child, and Chromebooks are slightly cheaper. Hopefully market changes in the next few days can change that calculus in a meaningful way.

#chrome #iPad #education

IOS 12 Rumors

apples ios 12 strategy take more time to squash the bugs

First I’ve heard that iOS 12 was going to feature a Springboard redesign. I still don’t really feel that software quality has particularly gone down at all, but what do I know?

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