Apple replaces 3-year-old iPad 2, brings back 4th-gen iPad

March 18, 2014

From 9to5Mac:

Earlier today,  we predicted that Apple had plans to bring the previous-generation iPad 4th gen back into production to replace the aging iPad 2. As expected, the fourth-gen iPad is now available once again on Apple’s website, this time with only an 16 GB capacity. Aside from the single capacity choice, there aren’t any changes to the device. This new model replaces the iPad 2, which has been around since the days of the 30-pin connector.

Now all iPads in the lineup are shipping with the new Lightning connector, which leaves the iPhone 4S as the only remaining iOS device with a 30-pin Dock connector available for purchase today. Come October, the 30-pin Dock connector will probably disappear from the lineup entirely.

And speaking of October: since the original iPad mini shares the same internals as the iPad 2, my guess is it’s probably going away too. Besides, the original mini is now the only remaining iOS device without a Retina display, which is another strong reason for Apple to replace it as soon as they can. Getting Retina displays to finally be a standard across all iOS devices would greatly simplify things for 3rd-party developers, and would remove quite a lot of complexity from iOS itself.

I find it impressive that Apple managed to get iOS 7 running smoothly on 3-year-old hardware, but it was clearly pushing it. Considering iOS devices tend to get at least two years’ worth of OS updates, I wonder how they’ll manage to squeeze iOS 8 into the original mini without compromising the experience too much. Actually, I wonder, and have for some time, whether this aging hardware is holding iOS back a little bit as a platform.

The original iPad mini, much like the original iPad and the original iPhone before it, was all about compromise. Apple has never been scared of replacing the old to make way for the new, which is why the iPad 2 was an abnormally long-lasting product for Apple. If the past is anything to go by, I fully expect them to go back to their usual pattern soon.

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Apple iPhone Will Fail in a Late, Defensive Move →

March 18, 2014 |

Matthew Lynn, writing for Bloomberg back in January 2007:

To its many fans, Apple is more of a religious cult than a company. An iToaster that downloads music while toasting bread would probably get the same kind of worldwide attention. Dont let that fool you into thinking that it matters. The big competitors in the mobile-phone industry such as Nokia Oyj and Motorola Inc. wont be whispering nervously into their clamshells over a new threat to their business. The iPhone is nothing more than a luxury bauble that will appeal to a few gadget freaks. In terms of its impact on the industry, the iPhone is less relevant.

Wow. It’s actually pretty hard to be this wrong about anything.

Apple will sell a few to its fans, but the iPhone won’t make a long-term mark on the industry.

He totally nailed that one.

Via Hacker News.

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Companies who Spam Their Best Customers | Shawn Blanc →

March 17, 2014 |

Old article, but still very relevant today:

Getting junk mail and advertisements from companies I don’t do business with is annoying enough. But getting it from the companies which I have been a long-time and deeply invested customer is quite annoying.

This had always bothered me, but in the past couple of years it got so much worse that I finally decided not to put up with it anymore.

A year ago my bank started calling me up to sell me a new credit card (one that I couldn’t possibly afford, by the way). Of course, they always call during working hours, which makes their interruptions even more annoying. One day they caught me at a really bad time (and in a really bad mood), so I asked the sales rep to opt me out from all future offers, and to please remove my name from their marketing database. As far as I know, here in Spain they are required by law to oblige to my request.

Sure enough, a few days later I got another call from the bank, so I decided that was enough. I had been with my bank for more than a decade, but the very next day I canceled my account and went to another bank, one I was assured would never use my personal info to target me with unsolicited advertising. It wasn’t easy (it took me a few months to make sure I had transferred all my bills to the new account), but it’s been over a year and I am yet to receive a single call from my new bank. I am so glad I made the switch.

If a company I’ve trusted with my personal information abuses that trust, then as far as I’m concerned our business relationship is over. It really is that simple. There’s always another bank, another ISP or another cell phone provider. Sometimes that means giving up the cheapest plan or the fastest service, but I’m fine with that.

I’d argue that this isn’t an extreme reaction on my part. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that this is the only way we can hope to change this obnoxious practice. Unfortunately, the only time these big companies listen to their customers is when they speak with their wallets.

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"What If" book announced →

March 12, 2014 |

This just made my day:

As I’ve sifted through the letters submitted to What If every week, I’ve occasionally set aside particularly neat questions that I wanted to spend a little more time on. This book features my answers to those questions, along with revised and updated versions of some of my favorite articles from the site. I’m also including my personal list of the weirdest questions people have submitted.

Instant preorder. Seriously, go.

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Apples iOS 7.1 lands with CarPlay, improved fingerprint scanner →

March 11, 2014 |

CNET News:

Apple on Monday released an update to its iOS 7 mobile operating system – iOS 7.1 – that adds new features such as CarPlay and fixes bugs. With iOS 7.1, Apple also tweaked its Siri voice assistant, iTunes Radio, and its Touch ID fingerprint sensor. The company streamlined the operating system to make it work better with the iPhone 4, made some user interface refinements, and included some stability and accessibility improvements.

Nice update overall. The fingerprint scanner really could use some tweaking. I also find it impressive that Apple continues to optimize iOS 7 to work on the oldest iPhone model that supports it, the iPhone 4.

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What should the speed limit be for cars in cities? | TreeHugger →

February 21, 2014 |

What should the speed limit be for cars in cities? | TreeHugger

A simple and intuitive way to understand why lowering the speed limit in our cities is a must:

Speed Limit - Copenhagenize

20 MPH/30 KPH seems to be a good compromise, with the number of deaths being very small and the number of uninjured victims being more significant, unlike with higher speeds where things are reversed. Though of course a low speed limit should be the last thing we count on to save lives; cities should be designed for walking, and the infrastructure should be designed to make things safe for everybody, including pedestrians.

We need to take our cities back.

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Reader Supported for Three Years (And Counting…) | Shawn Blanc →

February 20, 2014 |

To paraphrase his title, 3 years as a proud member (and counting…):

It has been an honor and a privilege to write for you, dear reader, these past three years. Though I don’t know what the next three years hold for this website, I hope — and believe — that my best creative work is still before me.

I know this to be true, without a doubt. Congratulations Shawn on an amazing achievement. The Internet is a much better place with you out there.

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Facebook to Buy WhatsApp for $16+ Billion →

February 20, 2014 |


The move marks the social giant’s biggest acquisition to date, as Facebook paid $16 billion in cash and stock for the company. In addition, the deal includes another $3 billion in restricted stock units for WhatsApp employees, which will vest over a period of time.

Wow. Congratulations to the WhatsApp team, that’s an amazing deal. $16 billion is a huge amount of money, but Mark Zuckerberg has historically been very clever when acquiring other companies, even at prices that seemed insane at the time (think Instagram, for example).

I think this makes sense for Facebook, clearly they’re interested in reaching WhatsApp’s large user base. For me as a user, unfortunately, it means yet another reason not to trust WhatsApp.

The problem is, right now there’s no clear alternative. The most interesting one is Telegram, but even though their goal to protect their users’ privacy is noble and their implementation seems serious, it still smells too much of vaporware to me. They refuse to accept money or show adds, so I’m not clear on how that bodes for its long-term survival. For now, I think it will have to do, but this is obviously a great opportunity for another player to step in. With a serious proposition, they could grab a significant piece of the market.

For a messaging app, being ubiquitous is the ultimate goal of course, which is why WhatsApp has been able to negotiate such a great deal. Being reliable and gaining your users’ trust, though, is just as important. We’ll see how it goes.

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Why Indie Developers Go Insane →

February 13, 2014 |

Jeff Vogel writes a great article on how hard success (and the subsequent fame it brings) can be on most indie developers:

It’s just that indie developers tend to have high visibility, high stress, and small support groups. These factors mean that, when these devs break, you see it, and it’s spectacular. Twitter has only helped to make self-immolation faster, easier, and more public.

I assume (I’ve never quite been in the position myself) that finding yourself in the spotlight all of a sudden must have an absolutely terrifying effect. We’re all hyper-aware of our own shortcomings, and these insecurities are greatly magnified by negative feedback, even if it’s without merit. It’s just how we’re wired. I can easily see how deeply disturbing it must be to be exposed to an overwhelming amount of negative and destructive criticism, especially if it’s the first time it happens to you.

Precisely this is what happened to Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen these past few weeks. He rose to fame thanks to a little game called Flappy Bird, which skyrocketed to the top of both the App Store and Google Play Store in a matter of days. However, along with the cash, this sudden increase in visibility brought him much unwanted attention and considerably harsh criticism, most of it unwarranted. It is no surprise that Nguyen finally gave in to the pressure and removed his game from the stores entirely:

Dong Nguyen quit. A fortune coming through the door, and he walked away. As I write this, Flappy Bird has been removed from app stores. Think about this. I mean you, personally. Think about what it would take to make you run from a gold mine like this. Really. Think about why someone would do this. This is not about money.

The Internet can be a cruel place sometimes. It doesn’t hurt to remind us every so often that behind all those pixels there’s always a human being.

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Placebo-philes | Anxious Machine →

February 10, 2014 |

Last week, Marco touched on a subject I’ve always found fascinating: how higher-end audio equipment (read: more expensive) doesn’t necessarily sound better after a certain quality threshold has been met. I find it funny because the audiophile world is full of enthusiastic people who swear by their equipment, and couldn’t possibly “compromise” when it comes to their listening experience.

Most of it is nonsense, of course. Why then, do people keep buying thousand-dollar headphones? Well, the main reason behind it is the placebo effect: When you know you spent a fortune on a pair of headphones, you have every incentive to convince yourself that they sound better. Even if they don’t, really. Especially when they don’t. Because the opposite would mean you’re just an idiot who spent his hard-earned cash chasing unicorns. Bad news is, you probably are. Sorry about that.

Oh, don’t take it personally. We all are.

The placebo effect is universal, and the more you think you’re immune to it, the more you will fall under its spell. Robert McGinley has an interesting take on this, which Marco also linked to last week:

I had moments almost as absurd with my headphones, when I heard things inside songs I swore Id never heard before, when I felt as if parts of the music were two dimensional backdrops and then three dimensional shapes would leap out of the picture towards me, or the music would drizzle over my head, or crackle like lightning, or Id swear I could smell the studio where the song had been recorded, or something.

It’s amazing how we convince ourselves of the most ridiculous claims in order to rationalize and justify our decisions. It’s just human nature, I suppose. However, what I particularly like about this issue is that, being a subjective experience, we can actually game the system and use the placebo effect to our benefit:

It’s easy to sneer at the placebo effect, or to feel ashamed of it when you’re its victim. And that’s precisely why I found Felix Salmon’s piece revelatory, because instead of sneering at the placebo effect of fancy wine, its marketing, and its slightly higher prices, he thinks we should take advantage of it. If the placebo effect makes us happy, why not take advantage of that happiness?

Why not, indeed?

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