RIP slide to unlock

The classic ‘Slide to Unlock’ iPhone gesture is gone from iOS 10

Susie Ochs, Macworld: “I’ll really miss Slide to Unlock, which I stopped using 18 months ago anyway.”

It was “the first bit of iOS we ever saw.” It “got audible gasps of amazement at the original iPhone’s unveiling.”

The iPhone was the first real smartphone. Sure, there were predecessors — the Palm Treo, for example; I had one and loved it. But the iPhone was a vast advance and made smartphones mainstream. So that slide unlocked an era.

And that demo was Steve Jobs’s last great product introduction.

Apple sued Samsung claiming slide to unlock was proprietary; a judge threw the lawsuit out on its keister.

WWDC rumor roundup

What to Expect at WWDC 2016

I’d be very interested in a Siri SDK to allow developers to integrate Siri into their apps.

I might be interested in Siri on the Mac, though a keyboard and trackball work very well for me, so it’s hard to imagine switching. It would be more interesting if I could type queries to Siri – which, come to think of it, Apple has already been doing with Spotlight updates.

Proximity unlocking the Mac using the iPhone would be very nice. I’ve tried third-party utilities that did that, but they proved unreliable.

I like very much the idea of Apple implementing security features in iOS and iCloud that are so tough that even Apple can’t break them.

iMessage for Android? Sweet. Would love to bring my Android friends onto my iMessage network. On the other hand, would Android users use an Apple app? Probably not.

[Juli Clover – MacRumors]

Good news about the Apple App Stores

The New App Store: Subscription Pricing, Faster Approvals, and Search Ads [John Gruber – Daring Fireball]

Among the changes: Apple is throwing open the doors to allow developers to charge subscription pricing.

That’s a big step forward for two reasons: It will allow developers to implement a try-before-you-buy model with App Store apps, same as on downloadable Mac or Windows apps.

I’m a guy who likes to try new apps, and that can be an expensive habit when the apps are only available in the App Store. For example, last week I dropped $10 for the Mac version of the Airmail email app, as well as $5 for the iOS version, because you really need to try that app on every device to give it a fair workout. After a few days, I decided Airmail is not for me (performance too slow). $15 down the drain. Ouch. Be nice if I could try it for 30-90 days, then decide whether to pay to keep using it, as is typical for downloadable desktop apps.

Hell, it would be nice if I could try an app for an hour. Or a half-hour. Or 15 minutes. Long enough to give it a workout and decide whether it’s worth staying with.

The other reason to be encouraged by these changes is that it provides developers with a way to get off the creeping-featuritis treadmill. Because the way pricing works now, developers need to come out with a new version every now and then to get users to pay for an upgrade. So the developers start adding useless features to get people to upgrade. Now, developers will have the option to say, “This app is done. Nothing more I need to do with it,” and continue to offer support and minor upgrades for new versions of the OS. I guess developers could have done that before — charge for support and compatibility upgrades separately — but perhaps the market would not have stood for it.

And of course it’s a way for developers to make more money. That’s nice, but honestly I’m not all that concerned with how much money OTHER PEOPLE are making.

Tick tock

Apple is said to be extending iPhone refreshes to once every three years – Martyn Williams, Macworld

Apple has previously been on a tick-tock cycle with the iPhone. Even-numbered years it makes big breakthroughs in design. Odd-numbered years it refines the previous year’s design, with phones that look identical to the previous year’s version but have faster guts.

In 2014, Apple came out with the iPhone 6, which was its big phone, and the 6 Plus, which was its REALLY big phone: Last year, faster versions of the same.

Now Apple is reportedly going from a two-year to three-year cycle, as phone hardware innovation gets harder to achieve.

I’m like many Apple enthusiasts, on a two-year upgrade cycle for my iPhone. And I’ve already been thinking about skipping this year, even without any hard information on what the 2016 iPhone will look like.

iOS makes third-party keyboards into second-class citizens

iOS is keeping other keyboards from greatness – Katherine Boehret, The Verge

Boehret complains that third-party keyboards are unable to use dictation. But that's only one of the problems with third-party keyboards.

Support for third-party keyboards – and web browsers – is one area where Android is just plain better than iOS. iOS is always pushing you back to using the stock keyboard and browser. Android works more like a PC; if you change the default, you change it everywhere, throughout all applications and the operating system, which is as it should be.

Apple’s exploding R&D budget foretells fundamental transformation in the future

Apple is planning its “largest pivot yet,” according to Apple analyst Neil Cybart on Above Avalon. Just as Apple went from a PC/iPod company to a phone company starting in 2007, it’s now on the verge of transforming from a phone company to … something else. Apple is on track to spend more than $10 billion in R&D in 2016, up nearly 30% from 2015 and from a little over $3 billion just four years ago.

Cybart thinks Apple is going to become an electric car company.

Apple R&D Reveals a Pivot is Coming– Neil Cybart, Above Avalon

Fraying at the edges: 67-year-old Geri Taylor navigates Alzheimer’s early years

“A withered person with a scrambled mind [and] memories sealed away [is] the familiar face of Alzheimer’s. But there is also the waiting period, which Geri Taylor has been navigating with prudence, grace and hope.”

N.R. Kleinfield tells Taylor’s story, in depth, with respect and gentle dignity, at The New York Times:

Fraying at the Edges: Her Fight to Live With Alzheimer’s

During a ruminant moment, Geri Taylor sat and, as an exercise, wrote down how she had changed. She called it: “Things I Do Differently as a Result of Diminished Capacity.”

The bulletinlike inspection report clarified for her who she now was. She found it sobering, for it caused her to realize just how reliant on others the slow drip of betrayals had made her, and that wounded her hard pride.

The log was two full pages. There were the expected entries, like not driving, not traveling alone (except by subway, bus or Metro-North train), simplifying her book choices, planning very carefully for outside activities (“always carry the same ‘highway bag,’” “constantly checking my things when I am out — have lost my vest, boots, watch and glasses in past nine months — very unusual”).

The list also contained some upbeat aspects. For instance, she put down how she cherished friends and family more than ever: “Daily call, email and text family and friends at a rate of 2-3 daily.”

And she listed something unexpected: “Do take housework more seriously and spend more time.” She cited the elements of housework as “an escape to simpler things” and how they were “time away from people and restful.” The dust and laundry, after all, didn’t judge her limitations, her spotty memory. So she found delight and gratification, even intoxication, in her triumphs over specks of dust and blemished counters.

“I can’t manage the bills, and I can’t manage the schedule,” she said. “But this is something I can do, and I can do well. So I’ve embraced it more. It’s identity. It’s a role I can still assume.”

She pointed out, “And most of the time, you can sing!”

As she wiped down counters and vacuumed the floor and changed bedsheets, she liked to sing whatever drifted through her mind (“Sometimes it’s disturbing what goes through my mind”).

They were old hymns. Show tunes. “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.” “Amazing Grace.” A favorite was “Barbara Allen,” an English ballad about a man dying as he pined for the love of a woman. Grim, all right, but she liked it just fine for the tune, which suited her voice, a second soprano alto. So she cleaned with gusto and great pleasure. And she sang.

Taylor relies on her iPhone for reminders throughout the day. It helps her keep her independence.