Category Archives: iPad

@Gruber and Text Editing on iOS

This is from a July 2017 tweet. You see, I’m working on a blogging/editing tool for Mac, iOS, and Windows and it really caught my eye.

My note:

Today John tweeted that he was looking for a good iOS text editor. He was looking for recommendations because he wasn’t happy with iA Writer, Ulysses, or one other one I can’t remember.

It sounds like he wants Vesper back. That’s very interesting to me. He says they “don’t feel right.” That’s also interesting.

I checked out the apps he mentioned. They’re all beautifully designed. iA Writer looks super interesting as does Ulysses. It’s very difficult to put a finger on what appeals to John. I suppose Vesper is the answer?

A wonderful bouquet of flowers.Ultimately it looks like John is after TextEdit on iOS. Plain Jane — to the point — text editing. Makes sense.

Has anyone created TextEdit for iOS yet?

iPad Pro and Developers

A wonderful bouquet of flowers.Moshe Berman: “But expecting app developers to build professional apps with the current UIKit is like asking a chef to make a pizza with only flour, and water. Without more ingredients it’s not pizza.”

This is a really nice piece by Moshe and I’d encourage you to read the entire thing. Moshe has some really good suggestions for Apple, but overall the responsibility to create great professional apps lies with developers. I’m guilty of putting too much blame on Apple for poor App Store sales. It all comes back to the developer of apps to figure out their audience.

When I think of Pro applications for iPad my mind instantly turns to drawing, diagramming, and design applications. Things like FiftyThree’s Paper, Sketch, Acorn, Photoshop, Flinto, and even Adobe’s new Experience Design. All of the apps I just listed, with the exception of Paper, are Mac only.

There is definitely a feeling amongst App developers that people don’t want to pay for Apps. It’s proven to be true time and again as Indies fail with solid applications. Some shops, like The Omni Group in Seattle, have managed to keep their apps in the App Store (Mac and iOS) and by all accounts continue to do well. Something you’ll notice about Omni is the price of their iOS Apps. They actually charge real money for them, not some silly $0.99, more like $99.00 for the Pro version of OmniGraffle for iOS.

There are signs that even the best of software shops struggle to keep revenue for their iOS Apps where they’d like them. Panic, another of the best Mac developers in the business, noted in their 2015 report.

iOS Revenue. I brought this up last year and we still haven’t licked it. We had a change of heart — well, an experimental change of heart — and reduced the price of our iOS apps in 2015 to normalize them at $9.99 or less, thinking that was the upper limit and/or sweet spot for iOS app pricing. But it didn’t have a meaningful impact on sales.

As a result they mentioned raising prices. That’s not a bad thing. People that depend on Panic software to conduct their day-to-day operations will happily pay more for their awesome software.

That brings me back around to the Pro angle. We have shops like Omni and Panic creating Pro level applications with the existing features of UIKit. In the end it’s all up to developers to build Pro apps, find a pricing model that works for them, and market their apps.

Hard Times for Mini?

Above Avalon: “Apple is still selling too many iPad minis for the product to be mothballed. However, the more likely path will be a slow yet steady slide into irrelevancy. The product will see more sporadic refreshes, which has already happened with the iPad line, while the value proposition continues to become less compelling.”

If true this is a real bummer. I know Apple can’t win with every product, and they’ve had their share of failures, but the iPad Mini is my favorite iPad. I still use a first generation iPad Mini and love it, maybe that makes me part of the problem. I haven’t gone out and bought a nice shiny new iPad Mini 4?

I would imagine a lot of folks have opted for a Plus sized iPhone and skipped purchasing a Mini. I’ve been torn recently between purchasing an iPhone 6s Plus and the rumored iPhone 5se. I still like the smaller phone but the large phone seems reasonable and could definitely fill the role of the two devices I use today.

It will be really interesting to see how Apple shifts their product line in the coming years. The iPhone remains king of the hill but the entire hardware lineup seems to be doing quite well.

On Saving the iPad

Jared Sinclair: “The iPad should be rebooted with a set of fresh design principles that are aimed at answering the question: How can a multi-tasking touchscreen device fully replace a Mac? These principles would guide both Apple and third-party developers, and in turn would spur a desire in customers to leave behind a PC for an iPad without looking back.”

I’ve been following Jared’s thought flow on Twitter this week. He’s had a lot of good ideas and they’re distilled down into his blog post, go read it.

My Thoughts on the Matter

With the iPad Pro the line between computer and tablet begin to blur. Jared’s post focuses on the idea of upsizing iOS, for the creation of something he calls padOS. I’ve been thinking along similar lines, but my thoughts center on starting with OS X and adding touch and Pencil support.

Why?

It’s a device for Professionals, right? A recurring theme of recent iPad Pro reviews is how poor the typing experience is, not to mention the lack of a pointing device. The iPad Pro is not a device for all Professions, I’m sure there will be a set of professionals that can use it, but it’s not something I can use in my daily professional life. I need a solid keyboard and pointing device. Touch just won’t work as a primary way to control the caret position. It wouldn’t hurt to have it, it’s just not something I’d use all the time. I think Justin Williams captured it really well in his post The Chicken or the iPad Pro.

The sad reality is there aren’t enough Omnis in the ecosystem right now to make the iPad Pro a viable productivity platform for anyone but those executives, retired folks, and masochist bloggers who jump through more hoops than a circus elephant to use an iPad instead of a Mac.

I could see a Mac Book, or iPad Pro, that is a clamshell design with all the smarts in the iPad display part. The lower part of the clamshell could be a keyboard and a trackpad. Maybe they jam more battery into the lower part, maybe not. The point is they’re so darned close to having this device today.

By adding touch to OS X we get what Jared is after. A platform that is more open to professional applications. We’re not required to run our applications through the review process and we can sell them directly from our own website, which will allow us to control pricing much, much, better and put us in direct contact with our customers. That is appealing.

This brings me back to what I called macOS; similar, I believe, to Jared’s padOS.

In the end could you imagine how wonderful a Mac laptop would be running a form of iOS built just for the hardware? Something that is essentially an iPad with the addition of a keyboard and possibly a mouse? It feels like the Mac could evolve in that direction.

It feels like there is another OS in there somewhere. Either OS X gets touch and Pencil input, or iOS gets pointing device support. Couple a touch based macOS/padOS with a clamshell style iPad Pro and you’d have a very interesting combination.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

This idea isn’t new or inventive. Like a lot of what Apple has done in the past they don’t have to be first to market. Most of their big wins came after careful study of existing markets. Apple has always been able to make a better experience. Did they create the MP3 player? No, they made the iPod. Did they create the smartphone? No, they made the iPhone. Same goes for the tablet form factor. They’ve managed to create a platform that is super easy to use and, more importantly, has a single point of contact for content via the App Store. Most people don’t care to go looking for apps on the web from different third-party vendors. They can find them all in one place, the App Store, which is great for users and not so great for developers.

The iPad Pro isn’t a new idea of course. In some ways it’s following work Microsoft has done with its Surface Pro line of tablets. Microsoft is now on iteration four of their line and I can tell you these are amazing devices. They give software developers and users everything Jared is looking for. They’re running a full desktop operating system that includes touch input. If you’re looking for good stylus input, the Surface Pro has it. It is the real deal. It can run full blown desktop applications, like Photoshop, and run touch input applications. It does this with plenty of power to make both a great experience.

If you’re a professional software developer focused on Mac and or iOS you owe it to yourself to consider other platforms given today’s complexities competing in the Apple ecosystem.

Either that or you can get a job working for someone else and write iOS apps on the side as a hobby.

iOS 7 Lowers the Bar

iOS 7

A gift for you!If you’re an iPhone or iPad user Apple had a shiny new gift for you this week; iOS 7. I know, I know, it’s a bit of a jolt. I won’t lie. I hated it for a few days, but it’s beginning to grow on me. I’ve heard this time and again “Give it a few days.” I’ve given it a few days and it still seems a bit stark, but overall I’m happy with it. My trusty iPhone 4 seems much faster than it did with iOS 6. Bonus.

Benefit to Developers

I’ve written a few iOS apps over the last few years. Some have been lovingly designed by professional designers, others, like our own RxCalc were kept intentionally simple. Why? Truth be told Jay and I don’t possess the ability to make beautiful imagery for our app, so the design has to be simple. We developed our app using plain old UIKit, it works really well, is fast, and the binary is tiny.

With iOS 7 the bar has been lowered. A generic looking application looked fresh when iOS hit the streets. There were developers that created their own style and look, and, in turn, third party developers began to define the look of the OS, not Apple. Think about developers like Iconfactory, Tapbots, and Path. They all introduced applications that took the look and feel of applications way beyond standard UIKit, and that’s great. They stood on the shoulders of giants and moved the bar higher so the rest of the app ecosystem had something to reach for.

Third party developers created Pull to Refresh, the Hamburger and the Basement, and alternatives to UITabBar. All were very good innovations and gave us beautiful, very functional, applications. But there is a downside.

If you go against the Apple playbook, which isn’t a bad thing, you may end up creating something that doesn’t feel at home on a future release of an OS. Since iOS 7 shipped I’ve seen numerous folks comment about how outdated forward thinking and innovative applications like Tweetbot look.

I’m sure we’ll see an update for Tweetbot soon, but the point is, if your app has a completely custom UI it may take a lot of time and effort to make it look right in iOS 7.

Back to RxCalc and our choice to use UIKit, without custom design elements. Here’s how RxCalc looks on iOS 6 and prior, and it looks this what on iOS 7 before being recompiled:

RxCalc, UIKit for iOS 6 and older.

It’s not flashy, but it looks similar to Apple’s own Settings app, or Mail, on iOS 6.

Making an app new again

If you created a simple UIKit application your road to iOS 7 is simple. Most of the hard work has been done. You can recompile and your application looks new again.

Here’s what RxCalc looks likes when it’s recompiled with the iOS 7 SDK. No additional work, just a simple rebuild.

RxCalc, UIKit for iOS 6 and older.

Can it be spruced up a bet? Sure it can, but I can put this in the store today and it will look like it belongs.

That’s why I tweeted this a few days back:

It is super easy to get a fresh UI if you stuck to generic UIKit.

Reset

The bar has been reset, time for a new generation of user interface innovation.

Thanks, Apple.

Diving into the deep end

Anyone that knows me, knows I love movies. I love to watch them, talk about them, I even quote movies. What in the world do the movies have to do with this post? I’m glad you asked.

In the movie The Sandlot there’s a young man in love with the beautiful older woman. His name is Michael “Squints” Palledorous, her name is Wendy Peppercorn. To make a long story short, one day while swimming with his buddies at the local public pool, Squints, reaches the point where he can no longer stand watching Wendy, a lifeguard, from afar. He decides to take a drastic approach to get Wendy to notice her. He jumps in the deep end of the pool, sinks to the bottom, and waits for Wendy to rescue him. She does.

“Michael Squints Palledorous walked a little taller that day. And we had to tip our hats to him. He was lucky she hadn’t beat the *crap* out of him. We wouldn’t have blamed her. What he’d done was sneaky, rotten, and low… and cool. Not another one among us would have ever in a million years even for a million dollars have the guts to put the move on the lifeguard. He did. He had kissed a woman. And he had kissed her long and good. We got banned from the pool forever that day. But every time we walked by after that, the lifeguard looked down from her tower, right over at Squints, and smiled.”

Squints and Wendy go on to marry and live happily ever after.

Get on with it man!

All that backstory, for what? Three years ago I formed Apple Core Labs to go indie. At the last minute I got cold feet and decided I’d do it on the side. In July of that year my brother, Jay, and I released RxCalc. Later I worked with my friends at Hundred10 to deliver the Fresno Grizzlies app and more recently I’ve done some work for a company in Washington state to help them create their first iOS application.

What I’m trying to say is, I’ve loved every minute of it. The thought of going indie has been my Wendy Peppercorn. After three years, I’ve finally decided it’s time to leap into the deep end of the pool.

Beginning May 1, Apple Core Labs will be my full time job.

If you need an iOS developer, get in touch, we’re open for business.

IPad 2, kind of popular

New York Times“On Wednesday morning I stopped by the SoHo Apple store in New York City to purchase an iPad for a family member. As I had anticipated, a store clerk said they were out of stock and recommended that I check back the following morning. When I asked what time I should arrive, the clerk hesitated, looked around as if about to tell me a secret and said: “Well, do you see that group of people outside? They’re already here waiting for tomorrow’s shipment of iPads.””

iPad, on the road

Jerry Fahrni: “This is where things with the iPad didn’t work out so well. While I found the device a pleasure to use for reading, playing games, dealing with email and using social media, I found it difficult to use for any serious work productivity. The iPad just isn’t designed to take the place of a laptop. Typically when I have downtime I can generate a blog or two or work on something that I’ve been sitting on for just such an occasion. No luck with the iPad. The onscreen keyboard is good, but not that good. In addition the simplicity that makes the iPad such a wonder also creates some problems when it comes to doing a lot of the things I’m used to.”

Bottom line: the iPad is great for consuming content, not creating it.

Speak of the Devil

KevinMD [via Jerry Fahrni]: “I tested it today during my shift in the ER. Initial tests with our clinical applications went amazingly well. The ED dashboard, WebOMR and Provider Order Entry all appear to function well without modification. The popup blocker does try to get in the way of new windows, but it’s a only a minor annoyance. The EKGs look better onscreen than on paper. It was great having all of the clinical information right at the bedside to discuss with the patient. The only problem was that the increase in efficiency was offset by the patients and family who wanted to gawk at it.”

Just posted my opinion on this, and kerpow, my brother comes up with a real world example.

iPad UX

UX Magazine [via Hundred10]: “Our 2-year-olds can use it. It’s a brilliant entertainment device. But what sort of business potential does the iPad offer? Several companies have shown interest in mobile payment systems from startups like Square to mega-corporations like Visa. But what is the iPad’s user experience in a real-world, business environment?”

I believe we’ll see a bunch of Enterprise level development blossom for the iPad. I think it could be gigantor in Medical. Hospitals are way behind the curve but this device may run to the forefront, especially if Doctors and Nurses embrace it. My brothers hospital didn’t have plans to include any Apple devices in their mix until a Doctor asked for an iPhone, now they’re poised to distribute 100 iPads into their workflow. Amazing.

We’re just seeing the beginning. I believe the iPad will work its’ way into the everyday enterprise workflow. Like more enterprise computing, it’s just going to take some time.