HomePod firmware: The things we know about Apples upcoming hard- and software so far

On July 27th, 2017 Apple erroneously released an OTA update for AudioAccessory1,1 – aka Apple HomePod. Developers like Steve Troughton-Smith, Guilherme Rambo or Avery Magnotti immediately dug into the firmware and soon thereafter found the first details Apple certainly didn’t want to be out in the open yet. Here’s a summary we know thanks to Apple and these developers:

I’m sure there are more details (I’ll try to add new ones them as they appear) but these are some of the most interesting ones.

iPhone 8: Embrace the notch

There’ve been numerous iPhone 8 – or iPhone Pro or whatever you want to call it – leaks surrounding the recent release of the HomePod firmware. Now user interface designer Max Rudberg went ahed and created some mockups giving us some ideas how the upcoming iPhone UI could look like (current iPhone for comparison on the left):

Image: Max Rudberg

Given the leaked iPhone 8 glyph that shows the device and a distinct notch, I’d say Apple will embrace it (image 2 on the mockup). That said maybe it’ll change based on usage especially given a black OLED screen requires the least amount of power and the black looks actually black.

Tesla Model 3 screen UI mockup

Scottish designer Andrew Goodlad went ahead and re-created the Tesla Model 3 screen for the web so you can have a look at it in case you’re not one of the few lucky ones who got the actual car yet.

After clicking around for a little bit the whole thing looks loaded with tiny details. The information density, just based on using it on a browser, feels way too high. I assume it’s a different story once you’re sitting in the actual car, using a bigger screen while actually interacting with it using your fingers. Maybe I’ll play with this mockup on a big iPad Pro in my car later on to get a slightly better impression.

Adobe sinks final nail in Flash’s coffin

Adobe announces end of life for Adobe Flash:

Today, most browser vendors are integrating capabilities once provided by plugins directly into browsers and deprecating plugins.

Given this progress, and in collaboration with several of our technology partners – including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla – Adobe is planning to end-of-life Flash. Specifically, we will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to these new open formats.

They finally realized it as well.

Twitter removes its eggs

Twitter has just announced that it will be replacing the default egg avatar with a new more human shaped default profile photo.

We reviewed many variations of our figure, altering both the head and shoulders to feel more inclusive to all genders. When the shoulders were wider, the image felt overly masculine, so we decreased the width of the shoulders and adjusted the height of the figure. As a result of these iterations, we ended with a more gender-balanced figure. We chose grays because they feel temporary, generic, and universal. With that, we included a higher contrast color combination to make this image accessible for those with visual impairments. Because of its coloring, the new profile photo also gives less prominence to accounts with a default profile photo.

The news comes after yesterday’s change how replies work on Twitter.

Nintendo has no additional content planned for Super Mario Run

Takashi Mochizuki for The Wall Street Journal:

The Mario game, on the other hand, gives players only one chance to pay—the $9.99 charge to advance to the game’s higher levels. A Nintendo spokesman said the company didn’t plan to release additional content, either free or paid.

Nintendo doing what it usually does best: deliver, but not without some annoying pitfalls. This is just one of them. Another one, just for Super Mario Run, is the way the DRM works. Thought about installing and playing the game while staying in a hotel with the all-too-common crappy Wi-Fi? Forget it.

Even if you thought: Hey, I can install the game somewhere on fast Wi-Fi and will be set. No, you’ll have to download another chunk after you started playing. But even after that the game constantly phones back home to make sure you don’t have an illegal copy. And even on a 16M connection this randomly results in an error message.

Then you get to pay 10 bucks to unlock all levels. Something many people managed to be unaware of – despite all the news before it launched – just judging by the reviews in the App Store. I wonder how people will react once they notice this game is instant abandonware?

And don’t get me started about the nowadays usual ignorance when it comes to push notifications:

MacBook Pro Launch: Perplexing

Jean-Louis Gassée about the MacBook Pro launch:

With both the RAM limitation and “donglegate” we see self-inflicted wounds, a puzzling lack of storytelling by a company that has a long history of controlling the narrative. Apple was forced to react with labored explanations and admission-of-guilt price cuts days after the late October launch. Experienced Apple executives violated a cardinal rule of selling: Don’t let the customer discover the problem. No product is perfect, so tell it all, tell it now, and tell it yourself. If you don’t, your customers — and your competition — will tell it for you.

He has too many valid points to quote. And while I still think that the 2016 15″ MacBook Pro is still the best computer I’ve ever owned, the battery life leaves a lot to be desired.

No matter what I do, I barely get more than 5 hours on a machine that Apple promises „up to 10 hours wireless web” or „up to 10 hours iTunes movie playback”. It’s nowhere close to those numbers. And that’s me just using Safari, Tweetbot, Slack, iTerm and/or iA Writer.

And today Apple officially released macOS Sierra 10.12.2 (which I’ve been testing for many weeks now). They „fixed” the problem by removing the remaining time indicator for the battery. Apple’s reason to do so is that it wasn’t accurate.

Interesting how this wasn’t an issue for all the years where the actual battery life was in line with Apples numbers. Also: the reported remaining battery life on my MacBook Pro seemed okay to me – it’s just that it’s not anywhere near Apple’s claims.

Here’s a quote from Marco’s post about it:

Or to quote John Gruber:

This is like being late for work and fixing it by breaking your watch.

Oh, and in case you still want to see the remaining time: you can either use Activity Monitor or iStat menus:

Best Buy vs. The Apple Store

Jason Fried at Signal v. Noise:

But in the last few years, the stores have really turned me off. I don’t like stepping into them. They don’t make me feel welcome — rather they make me feel like I need a good reason to be there. Of course I have a reason to be there, but I don’t like the fact that I have to declare it upon entry.

At the door you’re often met by a bouncer who asks you what you need and then directs you here or there. “Please wait by that table over there for a guy with glasses and a blue shirt.” And so you go, awkwardly waiting. Not sure if you can leave your station, lest you miss your opportunity to talk to who you were directed to talk to. Then what?

I find the stores packed with so much Apple staff that you often have to break up a conversation between two staff members in order to ask a question. Now I feel like I’m interrupting someone just to buy something.

This is the second time I’m hearing complains about the Apple Store experience in the past few weeks. Previously Casey Liss on ATP #197 made some other remarks about the whole shopping experience at Apple.

His point was about the lack of a separate checkout area, as in you can’t line up in an obvious, well, line to pay for something. This results in a random crowd waiting for someone to serve you.

Sure, the Apple Store app in certain circumstances can make that experience easier, but that’s not always an option.1And you feel like a thief the first few times using it and „just walking out” with a thing.

Sometimes the lack of friction will add more friction somewhere else. Apple removed the dedicated checkout areas and the wait in a line, but what you get in return is an uncomfortable feeling while waiting for a person to finish helping someone else.

References   [ + ]

1. And you feel like a thief the first few times using it and „just walking out” with a thing.