10 Years of the App Store

It’s weird to remember, but the App Store did not launch with the iPhone. It came a year later — a year of nothing but default apps and the occasional web app; a year where you couldn’t even change the iPhone’s background image. When the App Store launched, it would have been hard to predict the challenges it would face, the impact it would have on software development in general, and the positive and negative effects it would have on developers.

Apple: The App Store Turns 10

When Apple introduced the App Store on July 10, 2008 with 500 apps, it ignited a cultural, social and economic phenomenon that changed how people work, play, meet, travel and so much more. Over the past decade, the App Store has created a safe place for users of all ages to get the very best apps and a vibrant app economy for developers of all sizes, from all over the world, to thrive. Today, customers in 155 countries are visiting the App Store more often, staying longer and downloading and using more apps than ever before.

While there have been many notable moments since apps first came to iPhone and later iPad, the milestones and testimonials below reflect some of the most significant over the past 10 years — defining how the App Store democratized software distribution and transformed how we live every day.

Apple’s own retrospective is predictably upbeat, but it hits every major milestone and positive impact the App Store has had. The App Store still has a long way to go in some regards, but it’s also amazing just how far it has come.

9to5Mac: 10 Years of the App Store: The Design Evolution of the Earliest Apps

One of the most significant design opportunities in recent history was announced with a simple blog post on Apple’s website. “Let me just say it: We want native third-party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February,” Steve Jobs wrote. On a quiet Thursday morning less than a year later, the App Store opened to iPhone users with a selection of just over 500 apps.

Few contemporary innovations have changed how we live our lives and interact with the world around us more than iPhone apps. The creators of the first 500 available at launch had the unique opportunity of shaping the design direction and interaction methods of the millions of apps created since.

To celebrate the App Store’s 10th anniversary, let’s study the visual evolution of 10 original App Store apps.

I loved browsing though the iterations and redesigns of the apps and icons they featured.  A couple of these apps — like Twitterrific and Evernote — I’ve used for years and have been able to watch the apps as they evolved. Others are new to me. The only downside with the flatter aesthetic in later designs is that some of the apps lose a bit of personality. Case in point: the current version of OmniFocus looks so much like Fantastical, I had to look twice.

10 Years of App Store Controversies

Not everything has been smooth sailing for the App Store and developers, however. Even well-respected Apple-centric developers ran into App Store headaches from time to time, and some of those issues have never been fully resolved. Some of those frustrated developers left the App Store and have never returned.

Apple’s vision for the App Store has always been driven by privacy and security. Rather than sending users out to a host of unvetted websites to find software that may or may not be what it claims, the App Store was a single unified market for approved, malware-free software to live. As a user, you could download any app in the confidence that it wouldn’t be able to bring harm to your device – and you could do so without providing your credit card details to anyone but Apple.

Apple created and has maintained the safety of its closed platform thanks to its thorough review procedures and guidelines. Every app on the App Store must follow Apple’s rules, which for the most part is widely accepted as a good thing. If an app’s aims are nefarious, it should be rejected by Apple and, hence, not allowed in public view. However, throughout the App Store’s life, there have regularly been controversial app rejections that stirred up the Apple community. Here are a few of those controversies.

Apple has been steadily improving their guidelines and expectations, but the truth is that developers could still be served better. Though software demos are coming to a future App Store update, it could be better communicated in the store interface that a user is getting a demo instead of a free app. Also, upgrade pricing and more lenient content purchasing guidelines would go a long way.

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Some Links Regarding Our Border

What’s been going on at our border is unconscionable, and the way the whole affair has been managed is making things even worse. This is by no means a comprehensive list of reading material, but these are some items that have really resonated with me over the past several weeks.

Lawfare: Who’s Really Coming Across the U.S. Border

Over the past week, the separation of 2,000 children from their parents along the U.S. border has forced immigration into the national spotlight. President Trump, who initiated the separations and then sought to quash criticism with a muddled executive order, has portrayed the policy as a harsh but necessary measure to stop a wave of migrants “bringing death and destruction” into the United States. At another point, he claimed that migrants want to “pour in and infest our country,” linking those crossing the border to the gang MS-13.

Despite what the president says, the situation at the border is much more nuanced. There’s not a flood of people racing across the border. The majority of migrants aren’t dangerous criminals. Many are women and families—and many are fleeing gang violence rather than seeking to spread that violence farther north.

For the past two years, I’ve worked to document these issues at the Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin, and also in the Beyond the Border column for Lawfare—based in part on my fieldwork from across Mexico. There are few straightforward and easy answers to what often feel like basic questions for Central American migration. So it’s worth taking a step back and asking: who are the people arriving at the border? Why are they coming? And how does the current situation compare to migration in the past?

This is a good starting point to understand current immigration trends, the motivations behind immigration, and a look at the people who are coming over. Our current administration wants a simple narrative that all undocumented immigrants are bad people. The truth is far more nuanced and complex.

LA Times: ‘You Don’t Love Me Anymore?’

He said those days in detention were wrenching. For 25 days, he had no news about his son. He was given a phone number to call, but the calls wouldn’t go through.
He finally connected with Jefferson once he reached Los Angeles by bus in late June.
He learned his son was in New York City at Cayuga Centers, an agency that has housed several hundred kids separated from parents in foster care.

That first phone call quickly went from joyful to unbearable.

“Papa, I thought they killed you,” Jefferson told his father, crying. “You separated from me. You don’t love me anymore?”

“No, my son,” Che Coc told him. “I’m crying for you. I promise, soon you will be with me.”

What’s going on is nothing short of traumatic for families and especially for young children. First time crossing the border without proper documentation is a misdemeanor  — up there with such things as disorderly conduct or trespassing. No one in their right mind would condone tearing apart families for a misdemeanor, but we tend to lose our collective minds when the issue is immigration.

ProPublica: Immigrant Youth Shelters: “If You’re a Predator, It’s a Gold Mine”

Using state public records laws, ProPublica has obtained police reports and call logs concerning more than 70 of the approximately 100 immigrant youth shelters run by the U.S. Health and Human Services department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. While not a comprehensive assessment of the conditions at these shelters, the records challenge the Trump administration’s assertion that the shelters are safe havens for children. The reports document hundreds of allegations of sexual offenses, fights and missing children.

The recently discontinued practice of separating children from their parents has thrust the youth shelters into the national spotlight. But, with little public scrutiny, they have long cared for thousands of immigrant children, most of them teenagers, although last year 17 percent were under 13. On any given day, the shelters in 17 states across the country house around 10,000 adolescents.

The more than 1,000 pages of police reports and logs detail incidents dating back to the surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America in 2014 during the Obama administration. But immigrant advocates, psychologists and officials who formerly oversaw the shelters say the Trump administration’s harsh new policies have only increased pressures on the facilities, which often are hard-pressed to provide adequate staffing for kids who suffer from untold traumas and who now exist in a legal limbo that could shape the rest of their lives.

“If you’re a predator, it’s a gold mine,” said Lisa Fortuna, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Boston Medical Center. “You have full access and then you have kids that have already had this history of being victimized.”

Again, you cannot look at this situation and think it is remotely OK. Think of it like this, what if 70% of all elementary schools in the US had as many police reports in as short of a time period? Wouldn’t we be clamoring for better protections for our children? Wouldn’t we want the people overseeing such a child-hostile climate held accountable? Of course we would, but we repeatedly lose our moral compass when the topic is immigration.

The Nation: A 6-Year-Old Girl Was Sexually Abused in an Immigrant-Detention Center

A Southwest Key Programs document obtained by The Nation confirms that D.L. was reported to have been sexually abused on June 4, 2018. On June 12, one day after D.L.’s father was contacted, the 6-year-old girl was presented with the form stating that, as part of the facility’s intervention protocol, she had been instructed to “maintain my distance from the other youth involved” and had been provided “psychoeducation,” described in the document as “reporting abuse” and “good touch bad touch.” The form, posted below, shows D.L’s “signature”—a single letter “D,” next to the characterization of her as “tender age”—which supposedly confirms that D.L understands “that it is my responsibility to follow the safety plan” reviewed with her.

When D.L.’s mother learned about the incident, she was still being detained in Texas and felt devastated. “I felt really horrible. I couldn’t do anything for her, because we were separated,” she said through a translator in an interview with The Nation. “It was a nightmare. When my husband told me what happened, I felt helpless. She was so little, she was probably so scared, probably afraid to say anything to anyone. It was a total nightmare for me.”

But the nightmare wasn’t over. On June 22, Southwest Key again contacted D.L.’s father and informed him that the same boy initially cited for abuse had hit and fondled D.L. again. According to Lane, D.L.’s father asked how the facility could allow this to happen, and the woman on the phone responded that she was only calling him to advise him that it had happened, that she didn’t have permission to say anything else, and he would have to speak with the director.

If large statistics don’t connect with you, then perhaps a single account will. A young girl was molested and then told it was her responsibility to stay away from her abuser. So now we can add victim-blaming to the list of traumas these children must endure. In this case, the abuse came from another detainee instead of an employee, but this fact remains: she would not have even been in this position without the heartless policies our current administration enacted.

 

 

Made on an iPad Pro

Paul Stamatiou: Made on an iPad Pro

I have never been into tablets. I’ve had numerous ones over the years from iPads and iPad Minis to Android tablets. I always found their utility to be too constrained to find a permanent space between my daily phone and laptop usage.

Against my better judgement, I decided to give tablets one more chance. On the last day of a vacation that started in Rwanda and ended in the UK, I walked into the Regent Street Apple Store in London and purchased a 12.9″ iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard.

That was a few months ago. A few months in which my 13″ MacBook Pro has not even been powered up once. Any new gadget novelty has long since worn off and I’m still loving and using this iPad Pro daily.

What changed this time around?

This is a fascinating read. Right now, I’m trying to get everything in order to upgrade my 2011 MacBook Air to a 2018 MacBook Pro; but this piece gives me pause. The iPad is certainly more capable than it was just a year or two ago, but I’m not sure it’s where I need it to be — especially for eLearning design and video editing.

A Guide to Facebook’s New Privacy Terms

TechCrunch: A Flaw-By-Flaw Guide to Facebook’s New GDPR Privacy Settings

Facebook is about to start pushing European users to speed through giving consent for its new GDPR privacy law compliance changes. It will ask people to review how Facebook applies data from the web to target them with ads, and surface the sensitive profile info they share. Facebook will also allow European and Canadian users to turn on facial recognition after six years of the feature being blocked there. But with a design that encourages rapidly hitting the “Agree” button, a lack of granular controls, a laughably cheatable parental consent request for teens and an aesthetic overhaul of Download Your Information that doesn’t make it any easier to switch social networks, Facebook shows it’s still hungry for your data.

There are a ton of small changes, so we’ll lay out each with our criticisms.

Facebook’s consent flow starts well enough with the screen above offering a solid overview of why it’s making changes for GDPR and what you’ll be reviewing. But with just an “X” up top to back out, it’s already training users to speed through by hitting that big blue button at the bottom.

These changes will eventually be rolling out worldwide, so it’s worth keeping this article if you aren’t seeing these changes outside the EU right now. If you care about your online privacy, this is a great guide to understanding what settings will be available and how to get the most out of the options Facebook will provide.

Woman curled up in an isolated corner

Fostering a Better Relationship with Our Meltdowns

What do your meltdowns look like? How often do you let yourself have one? All through my adolescence and young adulthood, I hated the idea of having a meltdown. I fought against them. I suppressed. I tried to extinguish them, but they came all the same. And they were ugly. They were angry, verbally aggressive, and self-abusive. Each one was an explosion I felt left me out of control; I didn’t know myself when they hit.

I imagine what I’m describing sounds familiar if you are autistic or you have an autistic child. Meltdowns can seem tragically transformative. I’ve heard things like, “I don’t know myself,” or, “It’s like they become a different child.” It can be frightening whether we’re the ones having the meltdown or we’re watching it happen to someone we love. But I’ve come to believe that meltdowns can be important to autistic individuals, and that we can approach them in a healthy way.

The Reset Buttons

I’ve sometimes compared meltdowns to a hard reset — those times you hold the power button down on a computer or a device to force it to shut down. Usually, the device is locked up or behaving erratically in some way, and the best solution seems to be a clean slate. Yes, there will be consequences — lost browser tabs, unsaved documents, etc. But the benefit outweighs the consequences.

Meltdowns are similar. Things get to be too much, and we crash. We systematically block everything else in some kind of isolationist or emotional behavior, and we restart. Once the meltdown is done, we’ve “reset our points,” as my wife puts it. (I’ll write about that in greater detail in a future post.) Now we can continue our day, and for many of us, it’s as if the meltdown never happened — unless we harm someone else or ourselves in the process. That’s where approaching our meltdowns differently comes in.

Embracing the Reboot

Every autistic person that I know can feel a meltdown coming. That’s when we try to push it down and away. That’s when we try to suppress, but what if we didn’t? What if we embraced the fact that we needed to reset, immediately found a safe place to do so, and just let it happen? I don’t have a large amount of data to support this, but I can personally attest to the fact that this approach has changed meltdowns for both me and my probably-autistic daughter.

For her, meltdowns used to look like throwing. When she went into her room to melt, anything was fair game for throwing. Our first intervention was to remove a lot of throwable stuff and provided her with some soft balls. If she needs to throw, it might as well be something safe. The next was to help her determine when a meltdown is coming, and be proactive about it. “Do you need to melt?” one of us may ask. If she acknowledges it before she reaches the breaking point, then the meltdown looks far different — some crying, some curling up in blankets, perhaps a nap. The throwing has largely gone away.

In my own life, things look similar. Instead of fighting the meltdown until it becomes an inevitable explosion, I find someplace safe and secluded; then I close my eyes and let my system reset. There might be tears; I will almost certainly doze off. But I won’t verbally assault anyone, and I certainly won’t inflict self-harm. By proactively embracing the meltdown, I’ve seen the severity and duration decrease. Then I can go on about my day.

Rejecting Toxic Normality

We sometimes point to statements like, “Real men don’t cry,” as symptoms of toxic masculinity in our culture. Suppressing emotions can lead to violent and abusive behaviors in the long run. Likewise, we have accepted a form of toxic normality where we have largely come to accept that healthy people don’t have meltdowns where in fact our meltdowns help many of us on the spectrum reach a psychological and sensory equilibrium that indeed helps us through overwhelming circumstances.

Meltdowns are normal for autistic people. It’s not the easiest aspect of autism to talk about. It’s certainly among the most stigmatized characteristic in the public perception of autism. But it’s a fact of life.

  • Autistic folk: Learn what factors push you toward a meltdown and by how much. Not only can this help you regulate your sensory and emotional needs, but it will help you better identify when a meltdown may happen and allow you to prepare for it. Know what safe spaces will be available to you. Know if you should avoid a certain activity or setting to allow for that safety net. Let the meltdown come sooner rather than later, and see if that helps the severity and duration improve over time.
  • Autism parents: Learn your child. They may not be able to self-regulate, so you have to be able to help them. When you see a meltdown coming, verbally affirm that it’s OK, that they are safe, and that you are there to support them. Provide a safe place for the meltdown to happen, and don’t dwell on the meltdown after it’s over. Again, with time, you may see severity and duration reduce.

Meltdowns are part of being autistic. They’re not as glamorous or inspirational as some other aspects of our lives, but they are a fact of existence. Therefore, instead of fighting them so hard that we make our own lives worse, let’s develop better relationships with our meltdowns so they can be the sensory and emotional resets we need them to be.

Ethan Gray On Trump’s Campaign

Twitter Thread: Ethan Gray

Donald Trump won the GOP primary and the presidency because campaigning on whiteness-first messaging still has potency in the 21st century. Plenty of people don’t want to directly engage with this fact, but this thread will be getting into it in full.

Of course, it’s not enough to grapple with what the appeal of Trump’s campaign was. We must also be cognizant of the fact that that appeal was propelled to the White House while Trump has demonstrated he’s thoroughly unfit.

What white supremacy greatly fears is a genuine meritocracy, a society where anyone, regardless of race or gender, can rise according to their talents and diligence.

For white supremacy to guard against a trajectory toward meritocracy, this requires everything of merit must be sacrificed, which brings us to a terrifying conclusion: the various ways Trump was unfit for the Presidency were features to his voters, not flaws.

I’ve tried to distance myself from blogging about politics lately, but Ethan’s observations are on-point. It’s an uncomfortable read but an important one. To those who are used to privilege, equality for others feels like oppression for themselves.

MacBook Keyboard Failure Rates

AppleInsider: 2016 MacBook Pro Butterfly Keyboards Failing Twice as Frequently as Older Models

All data has been collected from assorted Apple Genius Bars in the U.S. that we have been working with for several years, as well as Apple-authorized third-party repair shops.

The 2014 MacBook Pro model year saw 2120 service events in the first year, with 118 related to keyboard issues necessitating an upper case replacement —5.6 percent of all MacBook Pros serviced in the first year. The 2015 has 1904 service tickets, with 114 relating to the keyboard, making 6.0 percent.

The two numbers are very similar, which is to be expected. The keyboards were essentially unchanged since the 2012 Retina MacBook Pro, and should have failure rates similar to each other.

Apple released the new keyboard with the MacBook, and moved the design to the 2016 MacBook Pro. In the first year of the 2016 MacBook Pro, our data gathered 1402 warranty events, with 165 related to only the keyboard and not including the Touch Bar —11.8 percent.

We don’t have a full year of data for the 2017 MacBook Pro yet. But, since release in June 2017, our data set has 1161 captured service events with 94 related to keyboard issues also not including any Touch Bar issues —8.1 percent.

Failure rates across all four models are relatively static, with no appreciable increase or decrease in events reported at any time after release. Percentages of failures were comparable between the third-party authorized shops, and the Genius Bar data.

The title is a little misleading, but that data is still troubling. To add to the frustrations of this issue, repairing a MacBook Pro keyboard will set you back around $700. When you pay north of $1,000 for a computer, it should be reliable. Apple should be doing better than this.

Android’s Trust Problem

The Verge: Android’s Trust Problem Isn’t Getting Better

Coming at the end of a week dominated by Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearings and an ongoing Facebook privacy probe, this news might seem of lesser importance, but it goes to the same issue that has drawn lawmakers’ scrutiny to Facebook: the matter of trust. Facebook is the least-trusted big US tech company, and Android might just be the operating system equivalent of it: used by 2 billion people around the world, tolerated more than loved, and susceptible to major lapses in user privacy and security.

The gap between Android and its nemesis, Apple’s iOS, has always boiled down to trust. Unlike Google, Apple doesn’t make its money by tracking the behavior of its users, and unlike the vast and varied Android ecosystem, there are only ever a couple of iPhone models, each of which is updated with regularity and over a long period of time. Owning an iPhone, you can be confident that you’re among Apple’s priority users (even if Apple faces its own cohort of critics accusing it of planned obsolescence), whereas with an Android device, as evidenced today, you can’t even be sure that the security bulletins and updates you’re getting are truthful.