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.

I am kind of digging the new Microsoft “Word Flow” keyboard for iPhone

Word Flow is a “swiping” keyboard, where you don’t pick up your finger between letters, and it has an “arc mode” that curves the keyboard for easy typing on one corner of the screen. Nifty!

I haven’t had much luck with third-party keyboards on iOS. Apple wants you to use them for occasional, added capabilities. It doesn’t want you to set a third-party keyboard as your default. This is one area where Android beats Apple.

Rustic charm

Kyle Plattner’s beautiful home office

Says Kyle:

I work with a really great team in Central Illinois developing an iPad app that maps real-time field data for farmers called FieldView Cab for a company called The Climate Corporation.

My home office, pictured above, was a project taken on to make working from home easier. While the bulk of my time is spent at an office working with a team, I knew I needed time to work outside of the office environment to accomplish what Cal Newton calls “Deep Work.” My early attempts to work from home were quickly rendered ineffective by not having a clear separation between work and family. Trying to focus in the same space where my wife and daughters were going about their daily activities wasn’t working well for anyone. Work and family rarely can both be served effectively in the same time and place.

So, I put together an outdoor office by walling off a room in our garden shed. I added a heating and cooling unit to it so that it could be used throughout the year with Midwest weather. Wood from old palettes were nailed to the walls, a standing desk built right in, and I added some storage and bookshelves. Lastly, I spent effort personalizing the space to make it a place where I’d want to be.

More photos and information about how Plattner uses the Mac and iPhone: Kyle Plattner’s Mac and iPhone setup.