19th May 2020 | Permalink

Joe Rossignol, writing for MacRumors:

Front Page Tech host and leaker Jon Prosser today shared several alleged details about Apple’s rumored augmented reality glasses, including an “Apple Glass” marketing name, $499 starting price, prescription lens option, and more.

  • The marketing name will be “Apple Glass”
  • The glasses will start at $499 with the option for prescription lenses at an extra cost
  • There will be displays in both lenses that can be interacted with using gestures
  • The glasses will rely on a paired iPhone, similar to the original Apple Watch
  • An early prototype featured LiDAR and wireless charging
  • Apple originally planned to unveil the glasses as a “One More Thing” surprise at its iPhone event in the fall, but restrictions on in-person gatherings could push back the announcement to a March 2021 event
  • Apple is targeting a late 2021 or early 2022 release

This product has been rumoured for years now, and it’s interesting to hear that they were apparently planned to be announced this year along side the next iPhone announcement. So they’re starting to feel like a possibility.

I used to think that this was a product that I would avoid. But to be honest, if they do cost around $499, and I can get my prescription lenses, then I think I would get them.


You can watch Jon’s video from his Front Page Tech channel to hear the rumours directly.

19th May 2020 | Permalink

Andy Nicolaides:

Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a completely different answer to the age old question of: ‘Can you get real work done on an iPad?’ I’m not here to answer that question for you, but I have moved my own use case for my beloved iPad Pro to the next level recently, and I wanted to share a few thoughts about the software, and hardware, that has helped me along the way.

I always find it interesting to hear people talk about how they use their devices, because there’s usually a bit of experience that you can use for yourself. So I found it useful to hear about his use-case for Agenda, as I’ve started using that myself in the past few days.

18th May 2020

If like me, you usually watch the Eurovision Song Contest every year (My wider family usually has a big party), then you’ll no doubt be missing this year’s final. Since it was cancelled, which brought the end of it’s run of 64 years of being held, which makes it the longest-running annual international television contest.

It wasn’t completely cancelled though, as the final did go ahead in some form. A three-hour show was put together, which premiered on the Eurovision YouTube channel, that included all the songs from the first and second semi-final rounds. And apart from the scoring at the end, the show was relatively similar. With the performances mainly being taken from earlier rounds, and there were still various short clips throughout the show, that showed the artists in more detail, their reactions to other songs, and more.

The Eurovision Song Celebration 2020 show has been split into two videos: Part One, and Part Two. And there’s absolutely tons more content on their YouTube Channel.

Myself and my girlfriend both want to go to a Eurovision final at some point. But we’re holding out for it to be held in a city that we want to also go to for other reasons, so we can combine the trip. This year it was supposed to be held in Rotterdam, which is where it’s actually returning next year, so that’s probably the closest it’s going to be, without it being held in the UK. Rotterdam isn’t exactly a city that we’d travel to usually, but as it’s close it might not be too much of a hassle. Anyway, we’ll find that out when more information is released.

18th May 2020 | Permalink

Matt Birchler:

I was chatting with Andy Nicolaides recently about task managers (as you do), and he was telling me how he tried using Things again after my recent article about how I use the app, and he said it didn’t work for him and he’d gone back to using Reminders. He also mentioned how he sometimes feels like his preference for using stock apps for as much as possible might be keeping him from enjoying some great third party apps. As someone who tends to prefer third party apps, Andy and I are approaching things from completely different angles.

That said, there are some definite advantages to using stock apps and I wanted to give those reasons a quick shout out here.

There are certainly quite a few benefits of using third-party apps on your device, but as Matt points out, there’s a whole load of value in using what comes installed by default.

I’ve actually slowly using more stock apps/services recently, such as Reminders, Notes, and Mail. In the past, I’ve used third-party options for all three of these, but I seem to always come back to Apple’s built-in apps.

Reminders is one I’ve switched back to the most recent, with me coming from using Things for quite some time. I just found that I wasn’t doing anything special in Things, and although I appreciate the design, I don’t particularly hate the design of the Reminders app either. And I actually like a few things about it more than Things:

  • The price – Things has always seemed a tad expensive for me. So much so, I never actually got around to purchasing the macOS version. Which I think is a big reason why I was never fully invested.
  • Syncing – I’m not sure why, but Things didn’t feel like it had reliable syncing for me. But on the other hand, Reminders seems instant.
  • Apple can support new technologies faster, simply because they control the app. Which is a benefit for me as I use the beta versions on my personal device regularly, and I’ve noticed that third-party apps don’t always work that well on the major version betas.
  • As it’s tied into the system, I get the added benefit of the data being available in other apps like GoodTask and Agenda.

If you like Matt’s piece on the value of stock apps, then you’ll probably also like it’s companion article “The Case for Using Third Party Apps“.

10th May 2020

On little YouTube adventure I had this afternoon, I came across a video of someone trying to guess all of the 151 original Pokémon. To be honest, the idea of watching someone do this themselves sounded absolutely boring. But I wanted to try and do it myself. It’s my favourite generation of Pokémon, so I thought I’d know it quite well, although I haven’t played it in quite some time (Even though I really should get back to playing Pokemon Sword).

Well, after the first twenty minutes, I’d guessed around 100 of them. I thought that was impressive, until it took about ten more minutes to guess the next twenty Pokémon. But by that point my mind went completely blank. So my progress so far is 120 Pokémon in 30 minutes, although I haven’t closed the tab, so I may try and complete it later.

If you want to try it yourself, you can find the quiz on Sporcle, which I think has a really good format for online quizzes. It’s just a single text field where you constantly type guesses, and if you get one correct, the text is cleared, and the relevant field is populated. It’s pretty fun.


While I was on Sporcle, I found a few more quizzes to try. So here they are, along with my score:

9th May 2020

Because of the current situation with COVID-19, I’ve been working from home. It’s been quite some time as well, I think about 9 weeks so far. Which is probably slightly longer than most, but that’s because my company enforced remote working (where possible), around 2 weeks before the UK went into lockdown. As you can imagine, I’ve found some things about remote work enjoyable, and also quite a few things that I actually prefer about a physical workplace.

But just for a bit of background information: I work as a software engineer, mainly as a mobile developer, but I’ve also built various REST APIs, and worked on SSO while I’ve been at my current job. Right now, I’ve actually been going through a lot of training, as we’ve been bought by a much larger company, so we’re adapting a lot of our software to their tech stack. But essentially, everything I’m doing is possible from home.

However, I’ve noticed that while the main chunks of my work are possible from home, there’s a lot of extra things that I do that just aren’t as easy. Or sometimes they’re not more difficult to do remotely, they just take some getting used to. For example, our standup1 meetings are usually done in front of our whiteboard, which we use to track the progress of different pieces of work. This is quite good at helping the team visualise the overall progress, and keeps us aligned. It’s completely possible to do this meeting over a video call, but I don’t think it’s quite the same.

The small interactions that happen in a physical workplace are something that I miss as well. Because sometimes you just need to bounce ideas off someone, double check something, or just have a quick chat. Working remotely just makes this seem like more of a hassle.

What I’m discovering, is that my previous idea of remote work wasn’t necessary that accurate. In a normal situation, I would work from home occasionally, but only for one or two days at a time, so no real adjustment was needed. It was just a case of carrying on working on whatever you were previously, join a video call for standup, and possibly one for a meeting. But at least for me, it still felt like the “team” was operating out of a physical location, and I was temporarily separated. My expectations for this period of remote working was that it would be an extended version of my past experience, but now I realise I wasn’t truly “working remotely” before.

Obviously, my current experience of remote work is still not going to be a true representation either, as we are all dealing with the lockdown at the same time. Which I assume clouds my judgement about this quite a lot. So I can’t quite claim that my views now are absolute, and given a different scenario, I would probably have completely different opinions on it.

However, that doesn’t mean I’ve not noticed anything I like more about working in an office. A few probably apply to quite a lot of people: face-to-face conversations, small informal discussions, and an easier way to separate work from home.

One thing I miss that possibly is not that popular, is the commute to and from work. Mine is about an hour and a half in total, and involves walking to a train station, getting a train into London, two underground trains, and finally another walk to the office. To some that may seem tedious, but for me that’s time that can be spent listening to a podcast or music, watching a video, reading a book, etc. But I also enjoy walking, and my commute involves about 40 minutes of walking each way, and I find London to be a pretty good place to stroll around. Especially when I go in early at around 6/7.

There are, of course, quite a lot of things that I enjoy about working from home so much. There’s the time that I’ve gained by removing 3 hours of daily commute from my day, the money I’m disabling by not paying for the daily commute, and also the fact that I don’t have to wake up as early to start work. The extra time in the day means that I’ve got more time to do things like cooking dinner, having a proper lunch, and seeing my girlfriend more. We’ve gone from seeing each other in the evenings and the weekend, to practically every second of the day, apart from when she has to go to work (key worker).

All things considered, the hardest part of this situation is the lockdown, not working from home. And the fact that everything seems to have suddenly changed. We can’t just go outside anymore, see our family, or go out with our friends. One that’s especially difficult for us Brits, is the weather. We spend all of our life moaning about it, but right now we are having some pretty great weather. Lucky for us we have a garden, but I’m sure we’d all much prefer to enjoy it properly.
But for now that’s out of our control, and we’ll just have to get on with it.


  1. A quick daily meeting that happens in the morning to synchronise the team, e.g. what everyone worked on the previous day, what they’re doing currently, and if anything is impeding their progress. 

6th May 2020

Tim Bradshaw, Sarah Neville, and Helen Warrell, writing at Financial Times:

Health chiefs in the UK have tasked a team of software developers to “investigate” switching its unique contact-tracing app to the global standard proposed by Apple and Google, signalling a potential about-turn just days after the NHS launched its new coronavirus app.

Maybe they’re finally getting the message, that their custom solution will not work? Just like I mentioned before?

That’s not the only bit of news from this article though, with more details emerging on the app. That is it being developed by a Swiss IT development company named “Zuhlke Engineering”, with a 6-month contract worth £3.8m.

They’re said to be doing this as a two-week time boxed technical spike. Which is basically a period of time allocated to evaluate a new technology/implementation. Then after the spike (evaluation) is complete, more work can be planned, estimated, and carried out.

I’m just glad they’re open to switching to the more practical Apple/Google implementation.

6th May 2020 | Permalink

Greg Morris:

I know Apple marketing is great but we need to have a little chat about the Magic Keyboard because I think they may have sold you a lie. You see, despite it being pretty great the keyboard Apple sold you isn’t really magic.

I am not sure what you expected to happen when you attached a keyboard complete with backlight keys and a trackpad to an iPad but it was never going to turn it into a Mac. The way that some people have spoken about the keyboard seems that they expected some kind of OTA update once you connected it, and that the iPad all of sudden wasn’t an iPad anymore.

Greg talks a lot of sense here about the situation with the iPad. Where a huge number of people use it, enjoy using it, and get a lot done on it. However, there are people that try to use it, discover it isn’t for them, then tell the rest of the world that it’s not good for anyone.

6th May 2020

Another small update to Text Case is hitting the App Stores.

It comes with a few UI enhancements, notably to help show pointer location when hovering. And also a simple context menu that appears when you right click or long press on any formatted text, where you can choose to either copy or share the result.

Improvements were also made to the performance of the app, and a few miscellaneous bugs were also fixed.


Links:

5th May 2020

The NHS has come up with its own contact-tracing app, “NHS COVID-19”, and there are already plans for it to be trialled with key workers on the Isle of Wight.

However, it’s doesn’t use the more privacy focussed solution that Apple and Google have come up with, but rather a centralised one. Where the data about the tracked interactions will be sent. Although it doesn’t seem exactly clear what that data is. It could simply be a list of unique IDs that the device has come into contact with, along with your own ID. Or it could also include other sensitive information. Who knows? All I know is that, that question will always exist while it uses a custom solution.

Privacy is not only the potential issue with the app though. My concern mainly is with its effectiveness. This is how they claim it works:

  • Once you’ve installed the app on your phone, it can detect (using Bluetooth) if other phones that are also running the app are nearby.
  • Importantly, the app knows how close it has been to other phones running the app, and for how long. This allows the app to build up an idea of which of these phones owners are most at risk.
  • If you then use the app to report that you’re experiencing coronavirus symptoms, all the phones that have been nearby will receive an alert from the app.
  • Users reading the alert will now know they may have been near a person with coronavirus, and can then self-isolate.
  • If the NHS later discovers that your diagnosis was wrong (and your reported symptoms are not coronavirus), the other users will receive another alert, letting them know if they can stop self-isolating.

My questions would be the following:

  • How often can it run? If it’s just an app with no special entitlements, then surely it is bound my the background restrictions like most other apps.
  • If it’s monitoring it relatively often, then surely even Bluetooth Low Energy will have an impact on the battery level?
  • What happens if a device is put into low power mode? Is all tracing stopped? Because surely background tasks aren’t run as often then.
  • Can you really trust it to trace every contact you’ve had? For example if you sit next to someone with COVID-19 for 10 minutes, but for some reason the background task to monitor Bluetooth doesn’t run, then does it really do it’s job?

And I’d just like to point out the PDF that NHS made to explain the differences between a decentralised and centralised model. The only difference I see, is that their centralised model also includes an “NHS clinical algorithm” to detect the risk posed from each of your interactions.

I for one, will not be using any contact-tracing app, that doesn’t follow the solution that Apple and Google have come up with. Because, apart from wanting to control the data yourself, and possibly even retrieve more data than necessary, there’s no real gain to use a centralised approach.