Some good iOS 8 apps

I recently bought an iPhone 5s, an upgrade from my second-generation iPod touch and flip phone combo. My iPod touch was stuck on iOS 4.2.1, so upgrading to a new device that could run iOS 8 gave me the opportunity to try out a bunch of new apps.

Here’s some of the ones I’ve been enjoying.

  • Weather Line by Ryan Jones. I like the default weather app and Yahoo Weather, but Weather Line is the most efficient. The graphs make it immediately clear what the current conditions are and what they are going to be.
  • Simplenote. I haven’t settled on a notes app yet, but so far I’m happy with Simplenote. The main reason I like it is because it syncs with Notational Velocity on my MacBook.
  • Editorial and Pythonista by Ole Zorn. I’ve just started playing with these apps, but they have changed what I expect from an iOS app. I finally understand what Federico Viticci was so excited about. After one day of playing around, I’ve been able to make a workflow that adds the current date, time, temperature, and weather conditions to the document I am working on.
  • Tweetbot by Tapbots. My preferred Twitter client.
  • Reeder. My preferred RSS reader.
  • Tumblr and its iOS 8 extension. I can post to Tumblr from almost anywhere.
  • Letterpress. I’m finally able to play this game a year after everyone stopped caring about it. It’s still fun, though.
  • Threes. Another fun game.
  • 1Password by AgileBits. I’ve only had to type in a password a few times since I downloaded 1Password.
  • Instapaper. I use this app every day.
  • Google Maps. I’m glad there’s an alternative to Apple Maps.

Tim Schmitz:

Both the iPad Air and the iPad mini have a “regular” size class in both dimensions, which implies that Apple is at least leaving room for something larger than the iPad. The likeliest explanation is that they’re keeping their options open for shipping larger devices in the future. Maybe a larger “iPad Pro”? Or perhaps an Apple TV SDK, in which the TV has a “large” size class. Time will tell.

Great post. I’d guess the “Large” size class will refer to an iPad Pro, not an Apple TV. iOS apps works great on touch screens, but not so well with other forms of interaction.

Likewise with the Apple Watch. It uses a completely different design language that incorporates the digital crown and would not work well with normal iOS app design.

Adam Lisagor:

While no one was looking, Apple just took possession of a word no one expected could be owned.

When I first saw the name “Apple Watch,” I wasn’t too fond of it. But if Apple succeeds, people will be referring to the Apple Watch when they say watch. Likewise with “Apple Pay,” when someone talks about paying for something, you might not be sure whether they are referring to Apple Pay or regular old paying.

Greg Pierce:

There will not be a separate app store for the watch, and likely no way to monetize the creation of watch apps outside the selling point as added value for the containing iPhone app.

Good speculation. I agree that Apple won’t be opening up an Apple Watch App Store, but I don’t think that means there won’t be a way to make money from Apple Watch apps.

Apple will likely treat Apple Watch Apps the same way they treat extensions in iOS 8. Each extension must have an accompanying app. Apple says the accompanying app can’t be useless, but it’s not clear what their threshold is. I bet a bunch of the third-party keyboards will have accompanying apps that are little more than basic note-taking apps.

We could see the same thing with Apple Watch apps. Most of the functionality will be in the Apple Watch app, and they’ll come with a basic iPhone app.


After Apple’s keynote presentation, I was left with a few questions. Here they are, and some of the answers I was able to come up with. I’ll update this as I find more answers.

  • Why does the Apple Watch exist?
  • Did the Apple Watch designers read Tog’s post about wearables?
  • Why does the new iPhone design look familiar? I can’t place it, but it reminds me of something.
  • The iPhone 6 Plus has a horizontal mode with the dock along the side. Will the iPad do this?
    I’d guess no, since the iPad screens have a 4:3 aspect ratio.
  • How does single-shot HDR work? I was under the impression that HDR meant two shots were taken and then cleverly overlaid on each other. Is Apple able to use software cleverness to achieve the same thing with one shot?
  • Will people recognize the voices in the new Apple ads as Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake?
  • Will Apple Pay for apps work with the iPhone 5s?
    No, because the 5s doesn’t have a “Secure Element.”
  • Will Apple Watch messages appear as iMessages on the iPhone and iPad? Even the heart beat messages, taps, drawings, and fancy emoji?
    Normal iMessages will appear on all your devices. I still haven’t been able to find a clear answer on whether the heart beats and all that will be viewable on iPhones and iPads.
  • Do both sizes of the Apple Watch have the exact same functionality, speeds, etc.?
  • The Apple Watch has a zirconium back. What’s zirconium, and what makes it special?
  • The Apple Watch doesn’t look intuitive to use. Is it?
  • Does the Apple Watch have a calculator?
  • What’s the globe app for on the Apple Watch? (pictured below) Is it Safari?
    Most people seem to think it’s a world clock.
  • The colored dot on the outside of the crown matches whatever band color you have chosen.” Is this accurate? Do you buy the Apple Watch with the band? If you change bands, do you have to deal with a different colored crown?
    It appears to only be accurate for the Apple Watch Edition collection.

Apple introduced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and along with these, they showed two commercials for the new iPhones. They both feature Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake (or at least, their voices).

Perhaps this is why Jimmy Fallon no longer covers the Apple logo on his MacBook during the Tonight Show.

This is a nice touch from Apple’s Watch introduction video.

Apple unveiled the original Macintosh on January 24, 1984.

Back when Jimmy Fallon had his Late Night show, he always had a MacBook sitting on his desk, logo uncovered.

When he switched to the Tonight Show, he kept the MacBook, but covered the logo, causing a minor kerfuffle in the Apple community.

As recently as his August 18 show, Jimmy Fallon still had the Apple logo covered:

Fallon logo covered

But then on his August 22 show, you can see that he no longer covers the Apple logo:

Fallon logo not covered

Learned something new the other day while flipping through the AP stylebook.

The proper title of the Chief Justice is “Chief Justice of the United States,” not “Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.” That is, unless you are referring to a Chief Justice from 1789 until 1866. Then you refer to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

According to Wikipedia:

The title was changed from Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by Congress in 1866 at the suggestion of the sixth Chief Justice, Salmon P. Chase. Chase wished to emphasize the Supreme Court’s role as a co-equal branch of government. The first Chief Justice commissioned using the new title was Melville Fuller in 1888.

You’d think this also applies to the Associate Justices, but it doesn’t. They are the “Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States,” not “Associate Justices of the United States.”

David Pierce, writing for The Verge:

My phone is always either in my pocket or in my hands, because missing an email or a text or a killer snap is just entirely unfathomable. But this morning, I was reading an email on my wrist, and walked out the door without even checking my pockets. That’s what the Moto 360 has done to me: I already feel naked without it, but I don’t notice my smartphone so much anymore.

He’s able to forget about his phone, despite all of the Moto 360’s many flaws. Smart watches, and more generally, wearables, have enormous potential.

blog vs. tumblr

In April 2012, xkcd (or Randall Munroe) predicted that the term “tumblr” would become more popular than “blog”, at least according to Google Trends.


The exact date he predicted was October 12, 2012.

He was pretty close. According to Google Trends, “tumblr” eclipsed “blog” for the first time during the week of November 11, 2012.

Here’s a chart of that data:


Chicago Magazine

I’ve read four fantastic, in-depth articles from Chicago Magazine in the past year. I don’t know if they’ve always been this consistently great, or if it’s a recent phenomenon. Whatever the case, I’m enjoying it.

Here’s the four pieces:

Each of these has great writing, a nice layout, and most importantly, fantastic reporting.


In 2007, Paul Grahm wrote an essay called “Stuff.” It’s a short essay in which Graham decries the accumulation of stuff. At the end of the essay, Graham argues that the accumulation of stuff hints at a historical shift:

A historical change has taken place, and I’ve now realized it. Stuff used to be valuable, and now it’s not.

In industrialized countries the same thing happened with food in the middle of the twentieth century. As food got cheaper (or we got richer; they’re indistinguishable), eating too much started to be a bigger danger than eating too little. We’ve now reached that point with stuff. For most people, rich or poor, stuff has become a burden.

Last week, Bob Lefsetz wrote a letter also called “Stuff.” In it, he notes that young people no longer care about accumulating stuff. Millenials don’t care about cars, big houses, video game consoles, CDs, books, magazines.

He writes:

So instead of building that mansion you’re better off downsizing. Spending that money on trips and meals, ever notice that kids snap photos of their food as opposed to their apartments?

Physical items are souvenirs. Not to be of use so much as mementos of experiences. They will not die, but they’re certainly fading in importance.

While Lefsetz doesn’t reference Graham, it sounds like they would agree with each other. The historical change predicted by Graham is happening and being observed by Lefsetz.

As a millenial, I’m inclined to agree with Lefsetz. Of course, I like that it makes millenials look good and baby boomers look bad. But his piece also resonated with how I view stuff. Cars are a hassle, and I don’t particularly like driving them. I don’t really want to own a house. They also seem like a hassle, and I’d rather have a landlord take care of those hassles. And I haven’t ever cared about owning a video game console, or even a TV.

As a counterpoint, though, take a look at the rise of Pinterest. Pinterest is all about stuff, and its one of hottest web services of the year, scoring a glowing review this summer in The Atlantic. And it’s particularly popular among millenials. I don’t understand Pinterest, but its popularity would suggest stuff is as popular as ever.

The classics are classics, not because they have great writing, but because they have great ideas.

Oftentimes their writing is also great, but it’s not a prerequisite.

It wouldn’t make much sense to read writing for the sake of the writing. You read writing to hear a story, to learn something new, to see the world differently, not to marvel at the writing.

Writing is supposed to get out of the way.

Jonathan Ferrell

On September 15, 2013, a white police officer shot a 24-year-old, unarmed black man. His name was Jonathan Ferrell.

The AP reported:

The deadly encounter was set in motion when a former college football player survived a wreck and went searching for help in the middle of the night. A frightened woman heard him pounding and opened her front door, then called police. Officers found the unarmed man, and one shot him when a Taser failed to stop him from approaching.

You probably haven’t heard about Jonathan Ferrell. I hadn’t until a recent episode (transcript) of the On The Media podcast.

As On The Media host Brooke Gladstone points out, Ferrell’s death did not follow the typical pattern of other high-profile police shooting deaths. There weren’t viral hashtags, major protests, or calls for a national conversation.

What made Ferrell’s death different?

Check out the police’s response, per the AP:

Within hours, investigators determined that the shooting had been excessive and charged the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer with voluntary manslaughter in the death of former Florida A&M University football player Jonathan A. Ferrell.

Here’s how Brooke Gladstone put it:

The chief made no attempt to justify what happened. And he gave the public a name: Office Randall Kerrick. Two days later, the PD released audio tapes of Kerrick speaking to the dispatcher. And now, after the state’s initial failure to indict Kerrick, he’s awaiting trial. To be sure, there’s no happy ending. But it was a reasonable start. Whether the shooter is an officer or a civilian, it’s police departments that ultimately determine how the story is told. This power to attract, or deflect the press is probably the most powerful weapon in their highly militarized arsenals. But they haven’t used it. Maybe it seems hard, maybe they haven’t seen the value. Maybe they will now.