Posts Tagged ‘iOS’

Digital media purchasing, still horrible in 2018

Lying in bed with iPad in tow, and not feeling like reading, I fired up Netflix thinking I could watch the new season of House of Cards. Unfortunately, in Germany, November 2 2018 means something completely different (i.e. Season 5 is the latest).

Kevin Spacey, irregardless of what you think of him, was a pretty good actor. I read on Wikipedia that he was in another movie called Billionaire Boys Club and how it grossed terribly. I hopped on over to Amazon and realised I could rent it (it wasn’t on Netflix). Then I remembered I had some Google Play credit, so I tried to rent it there.

I even then downloaded the app from the App Store. In Chrome, it kept on trying to get me to download a SetSID file. Urgh. The purchase basically would not complete.

All in, I spent a good 15–20 minutes before I gave up trying to watch Billionaire Boys Club. And I was willing to pay $3.99-$4.99 (with tax, the SD version is $4.39, $0.40 for taxes), in the hopes of watching it in my German hotel room. I failed.

I bet the (illegal) download from a torrent site would have been quicker.

Screen Time and less usage of social media

I have been trying an experiment — the use of less social media, thanks to Screen Time on iOS 12. The last item I uploaded on Instagram was on September 17 2018. My usual form has been to make a photo at every place I land up at, but since seeing that I spent 30-45 minutes of “dead time” daily on the app, I figured I needed to stop using it so regularly.

My thought there is quite simple: do I make money from Instagram? No. I should generally only be doing productive things with my iPhone, correct?

Consequently I haven’t uploaded photos from my trips to Tokyo, Singapore, London, Edinburgh, and apparently London again, where I’m penning this. OK, it will be November 1 2018 tomorrow, so I should maybe start posting again.

I find that I don’t use Facebook much but have the application for the 2-factor authentication (I will have to find a way to move this to Google Authenticator or 1Password so I could zap it). This leave Twitter, which I do spend a bit of time on (I have to work on reducing this).

WhatsApp, Telegram, etc. may be considered social media but the reality is I need to communicate with folk so I can’t stop using those apps.

Screen Time also helps tell me how much time I actually spend on the iPhone. I feel like it is too much. Here’s to more iPad and more MacBook Pro. And in general, more time around Productivity/Reading & Reference/Creativity/Other/Health & Fitness, going forward. And of course… Entertainment (Netflix has some good shows from time to time).

Anyway, measuring where I spend time clearly matters. I’m surprised we don’t see this on macOS yet (but for that I have RescueTime). I understand that Timings is another popular app to use. From a time management standpoint, I reckon reading: The Average User Checks Email 5.6 Hours Per Day and also The Mona Lisa Doesn’t Tweet. These are timely reminders that we should gain from social media, but not give in much more to it.

Should I get the BlackBerry KeyOne?

I’ve been thinking that my next Android device to replace the Nexus 6 would likely be the BlackBerry KeyOne. It is apparently already selling in Selfridges, and the reviews are starting to pour in.

Verdict? Good keyboard and battery life. The good battery life should be good for the fact that I like to tether and share the Internet from my Android device when travelling. It also has fast USB C charging.

I want to increase my productivity on the go. Email on the go is something I feel like I’ve not managed to wrap myself around since I ditched my BlackBerry 9700 in 2013. I want to use Twitter (though the 3 tweets on a screen seems like a limitation; until you notice that on your iPhone 7, you also only see 3 tweets…). I want to use Bloomberg. And likely I want to blog. But maybe I also want to manage tasks on the go, like run OmniFocus. Oh, and Slack – that’s pretty crucial now.

So now I’ve spent many years in the iOS ecosystem. I don’t find my Android being too useful beyond running the occasional GMail, Gogole Maps, Swarm, Chrome. I want to use Android more clearly, hence the BlackBerry. But I also see software I like like OmniFocus that will likely never come to Android, and they don’t encourage 3rd party clients. A tad annoying.

Who says the ecosystem doesn’t matter?

Spotify and the App Store

Via Recode, Spotify says Apple won’t approve a new version of its app because it doesn’t want competition for Apple Music.

Why is this surprising to Spotify? Amazon has a Kindle app on the App Store but doesn’t sell books inside said app. Its Apple’s App Store, you play by their rules, no?

I read the New York Times which presumably allows you to subscribe via the app, but I log in via my account since I have a direct relationship with them. I read the Financial Times, and they didn’t want to play by the App Store rules – they’re a full-featured HTML5 application.

Maybe Spotify should take heed from the FT and invest further in play.spotify.com? (The spec obviously support it, since Rdio had a browser based interface before Spotify did; I don’t know the status of how mobile browsers handle it.)

Switching costs

When I was a desktop Linux user, I’d just sync /etc and /home to a freshly installed Linux box. When I became a desktop Mac user, I would just rely on Migration Assistant.

With iOS, the trick is to have iTunes make an encrypted backup of your device so that passwords are saved upon backup & restored perfectly with your new device.

However, it’s always rosier than it looks. During my switch I noticed passwords missing from Rdio, audiobooks lost their last played time, and Kindle was completely wiped, thus requiring re-entering a password. These weren’t the only offenders – SoundCloud needed a re-login, Facebook too (and Spotify that depended on it).

You’d think that Apple itself would have figured this out for their apps. On some devices iMessage and FaceTime would get disabled for the phone numbers (so disabling & re-enabling would make things better again).

As I have to update a “fleet” of iOS devices, I wish there was more predictable central management of such devices.

This is another reason I’m very cautious about updating to the latest releases of software, especially iOS or OSX. I depend on these devices and can’t afford downtime. Lately Apple software has been quite bug ridden.

The ecosystem & devices are a charm. But upgrades are expensive as there are switching costs. Imagine switching to a completely new ecosystem?

Writing on my iOS devices

The last couple of blog posts have been written on my iPhone. Before that (and this) was composed on my iPad.

Sure, adding links seems to be quite difficult. Alt/Mac+Tab is generally quite handy when it comes to sitting by my laptop.

The new workflow feels very much like writing on Facebook. I just write. Let the words flow. It doesn’t matter where I am, I take it all like it’s being a status update. And then when I hit publish, I come back to it later on my laptop (the reality is that I sync it with MarsEdit and edit on the desktop client) to add relevant links.

This kind of method probably works well when I’m not doing a technical blog post, but something that resembles a status update or a story.

I still have to work out how to automatically post the posts to Twitter, and if possible post to Facebook as a status update (I recall that we could sync Notes back in the day, but that feature was removed). I’m thinking either the body makes it, or the first 2 paragraphs or I make use of excerpts wisely.

It’s not that writing on a laptop is a bad idea. It’s just that when I’m on my laptop, I’m usually online and have other work to do: emails, terminal, etc. I’ve used my iOS devices mainly for consumption of content (WSJ, NYT, FT, New Yorker, The Economist, Instapaper, Kindle, NewsBlur) — but with a lot of dead time, it’s not a bad device to also be a device to create, to some extent.

The WordPress apps are pretty good. They don’t handle images well, i.e. They don’t resize them to be sensible for web. Plus I very much like my images to also be on Flickr (I can live without that though). But posting 3MB photos in the main body just seems silly.

I’m sure I can eventually improve this workflow by posting items as a draft first, so they don’t reach the public till the links are added. It’s all an experiment, but I’m already liking the new additional ways to push content to this site.


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