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New Apple Pencil Features

Been using the Apple Pencil for almost two years now and am super excited about the new Pencil UI features coming in iOS 14. Between Scribble, paste handwriting as text, smart selection, shape recognition, and more there are big improvements coming for the Pencil both as a UI tool as well as specifically for handwriting and drawing. The Sweet Setup has a great look into the implementation of the new Apple Pencil features both in Apple Notes & GoodNotes.

Worth a look to see what’s coming this Fall.

Apple iWatch concept design

Incredibly appealing design concept for the mythical iWatch by Todd Ham. Looks like a mix of a iOS 7 and an incredible screen on a Nike Fuelband form factor.

Looks fantastic but I’d probably cut another 50% of the functionality demoed and simplify even further. My guess is Apple will too. If they ever do actually release an iWatch my hunch is that it would be a phone companion device focused on health/fitness and won’t tackle tasks such as initiating calls. I also hope it would have a 10x more helpful lock screen than just a clock.

Shiny Development has created a great resource for iOS app developers by aggregating the average App Store review times based on data crowdsourced from developers on Twitter.

Since iBeacon was (or reannounced) at the iPhone 5s reveal, I’ve been super intrigued by the opportunities it could create for cool app ideas. Major League Baseball is now using iBeacons in their MLB.com At the Ballpark app to provide some cool hyperlocal location stuff for fans when their at the stadium.

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RIP Steve Jobs. 1955 – 2011.

Shocked and saddened by the news of the passing of Apple CEO and founder Steve Jobs tonight. Despite his illness and his resignation as CEO just a few weeks ago, this still has affected me greatly. I had to excuse myself from dinner to compose myself and acknowledge my feelings when I learned of the news tonight, via a push message from CNN’s iPhone app of course. As US President Barack Obama put it, “There may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.”

From Apple.com:

Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.

Apple Helping Microsoft Convince Windows XP Users to Finally Upgrade

Microsoft themselves had tons of trouble getting their customers to upgrade from Windows XP, but now maybe more people will finally take the plunge to the actually very good Windows 7 thanks to Apple and iCloud. Straight from the Apple press release: “Using iCloud with a PC requires Windows Vista or Windows 7; Outlook 2010 or 2007 is recommended for accessing contacts and calendars.” If you want to use all the new features of iOS 5 you’ll have to upgrade to an operating system less than 10 years old.

My work laptop was finally upgraded from WinXP to Win7 just a few months ago so I no longer have any computers running it but there are still plenty of office computers out there still chugging along on XP.

Source: Engadget

Toyota releases, pulls down iPhone theme for jailbroken phones

Toyota Scion theme for the iPhone

There are lots of reasons to jailbreak your iPhone. Getting this official Toyota Scion theme is no longer one of them. It wasn’t actually good looking or useful, but it was interesting to see a big company like Toyota putting something out of Cydia. Of course Apple didn’t like that, and has forced Toyota to pull the theme down and it is no longer available. (via MobileCrunch)

Will Apple’s New App Store Subscriptions Force Mobile Development Towards HTML5?

We knew it would be coming when News Corp’s The Daily debuted with it’s in-app subscription model, but this week Apple officially detailed their new subscription service for all iOS app publishers. The new policies allow users to sign up for weekly, monthly, or yearly subscriptions and they can easily pay via the same App Store billing system they used to grab Angry Birds. Apple will handle all the payments and management of the subscriptions and users can go to a single place to cancel any subscriptions they have purchased.

Wow. This is great news… isn’t it?

Turns out it may not be that simple.

Yes, Apple is making it easy to get your subscription content into the App Store and in front of those millions of potential customers, but they’re going to take the same 30% cut they do from any other App Store transaction. And there are also some huge caveats that are making many developers very upset. Check out these two excerpts from Apple’s announcement:

All we require is that, if a publisher is making a subscription offer outside of the app, the same (or better) offer be made inside the app, so that customers can easily subscribe with one-click right in the app.

And also…

…publishers may no longer provide links in their apps (to a web site, for example) which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app.

Essentially, that means you can no longer link to your subscription options online and if you offer a subscription service elsewhere you must also offer it from within the app. And give 30% to Apple every time a payment is processed.

30% on the initial sale of an app is fair. Apple has built the store, provided the marketplace, and given developers access to millions of consumers. With subscriptions, they are acting as little more than a payment gateway. It is up to the developer of the app to create the subscription features, develop the extra content, communicate to the user that they exist, and then finally convince them to sign up. Apple has no role in converting an app user into a premium subscriber. Even PayPal’s high transaction fees are less than 3% on most transactions. Apple wants 27% more than that just to process your payments.

They’re also not going to let you tell users subscriptions are available elsewhere. The press release stated that if you do offer subscriptions on your website you are required to also offer them from within the app so Apple can get their share. For many SaaS companies, it may not be a sustainable business model if you’re having to give away that much of each sale. Especially when your service is primarily web-based and the iOS app is just a tool for existing customers.

Think about companies such as 37signals who have been thriving for years selling subscription services online. Is there anyone out there looking at the App Store first when evaluating large, full featured project management tools? An iPhone app doesn’t help them sell more subscriptions. It’s just a viewer and a way to do simple tasks in a service you already pay for.

Even more confusing, 37signals and many other companies offer APIs which allow third party companies to develop sites and programs that access their data. There are at least 11 iPhone apps currently available for 37signals’ Basecamp, none of which are actually from 37signals and therefore have no right or ability to sell subscriptions to the service. But Apple’s new rules say that these apps must include a way for Apple to sell an in-app subscription in order to be approved. The new rules are just too broad to be fairly applied in every single case.

Will these changes force some developers to decide against offering iOS versions of their apps? If a service already has a large customer base and doesn’t need Apple’s marketing help, does it make more sense for them to develop their mobile apps in HTML5? Developing with HTML5 would save money on cross-platform development while they also maintain complete control over their subscription revenue. That’s exactly the direction 37signals went earlier this month when they launched a non-native, brand new mobile web app for Basecamp even before these new rules were public.

Overall, the whole thing is clear as mud. And according to the Wall Street Journal, the new rules may raise possible antitrust issues. Apple needs to quickly clarify and possibly amend the new policies and explain when they apply, or they will soon be facing a backlash from the very developers whose work has made the iPhone and iPad a monumental success.

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Apple shares hit record high on iPad shipping announcement

From Engadget:

Note to Microsoft, HP, Dell, and whoever else wants to get in the next-gen tablet game: your concepts are nice — even spectacular, in the case of Courier — but Apple’s about to actually ship a product, and investors are taking note. AAPL shares hit a record high of $219.36 this afternoon after the news that iPad pre-orders would begin on March 12 with an April 3rd delivery day, and they closed at $218.95, which is up around four percent. That’s got us curious: given the choice between actually purchasing the iPad and twiddling your thumbs waiting for an unannounced, unpriced, and even possibly un-real devices like the Dell Mini 5, the HP Slate, or the Courier, are you taking the sure thing or holding out for your vaporous dream device? Hit us up in comments — and be nice to each other, it’s the weekend.