tvOS in 2017 »

Joe Rosensteel is perhaps the person most in tune with what Apple should do with tvOS. With WWDC right around the corner, he has posted a list of things he thinks Apple should introduce to the Apple TV. I agree with all of it.

Thinking About Shared iCloud Photo Libraries 

I had a very rocky experience with iCloud Photo Library in late 2015:

I imported my photos and uploaded my 70GB photo library to iCloud. Everything went very smoothly, so I turned on iCloud Photo Library on my iPad.

Aaaaaand it all exploded.

Apple Support eventually got me up and running, but it took a while for me to fully trust the system.

The reality is that iCloud Photo Library is pretty great when everything is working smoothly.1 Photos show up on my devices quickly, regardless if I snapped them with my iPhone or imported them from an SD card on my iMac.

My wife has been using is for as long as I have, and she also enjoys the service. We’re both paying iCloud customers at this point, but like every other family using iCloud Photo Library, our sharing system is a bit of a mess.

If I take photos on my “nice camera,” I’ll import the RAW files to my iMac, edit them, then import them into both of our libraries. If either of have an iPhone photo we want to share, we AirDrop it, as Shared Photo Streams downsize images and video:

iCloud Photo Sharing supports JPEG, RAW, PNG, GIF, TIFF, and MP4, as well as special formats you capture with your iPhone, like slo-mo, time-lapse, 4K videos, and Live Photos. You can even share your Memory videos. When shared, photos taken with standard point-and-shoot cameras, SLR cameras, or iOS devices have up to 2048 pixels on the long edge. Panoramic photos can be up to 5400 pixels wide.

iCloud Photo Sharing supports both MP4 and QuickTime video file types, and H.264 and MPEG-4 Video file formats. Videos can be up to five minutes in length and are delivered at up to 720p resolution.

All of this leads to a lot of duplication between our libraries. Google recently introduced powerful new sharing tools, and as the guys on ATP spoke about this week, its time Apple step up to the plate with something new. Here’s Jason Snell on the subject:

My wife and I have wanted to pool our photo libraries for ages now—the alternative is for me to occasionally plug her iPhone into my Mac and import her photos, and for her to ask me to AirDrop photos I’ve taken to her when she wants to post them to Facebook. Google Photos will allow that now—and Apple needs to follow suit.

But, you’re saying to yourself, what if you want to share some but not all photos with a partner? Google’s announcement takes this extra step, letting you specify that certain sorts of photos—for example, photos of specific people—be shared, while others aren’t. While offering an all-or-nothing library sharing feature would be nice, it’s even better if sharing can have some granularity. Google’s headed there now. Will Apple follow?

In thinking about how Apple could add family sharing to iCloud Photo Library, two types of solutions come to mind.

Common Library

In this world, Apple would have a way to have multiple iCloud accounts have access to one big, centralized common photo library.

Users — let’s say a married couple — could both go in, create albums, make edits and more. Both people would have full read/write access to the library.

There are issues with this, of course. Would individuals have their own iCloud Photo Libraries and access to the big shared one? How would Photos.app display this? I think this sort of thing could be confusing, and I bet people would end up with photos in the wrong library pretty easily.

If users didn’t have their own personal libraries, I think many would be frustrated and sharing every single photo and screenshot they take.

In short, I don’t think a big, shared library is the way to go.

Library Access

This solution is what I would prefer. In it, my wife and I would continue to have our own libraries, tied to our own iCloud accounts, just like we do today.

However, we would be able to add each other as viewers to our libraries. Once access has been granted, her library would show up in the top-level of Photos.app as do things like People, Places, Videos, etc. I could tap her library to see all of her content, including albums, collections, etc. If I were to see something I wanted to add to my library, I could select it and tap “Add to My Library.” Doing so would prompt iCloud to add a full-resolution copy of that file to my personal library.

In this world, she would not be able to edit anything in my library, but pull any content from it she wants in hers. This would not take care of the duplication issue, but would be less confusing than having one big library.

WWDC is Coming

Last year, Photos.app and iCloud Photo Library saw a lot of love, but Apple needs to keep its foot on the gas to stay competitive in this space. I hope they do just that on June 5.


  1. It’s still not perfect; I recently had a whole bunch of photos adopt the same description. After some back and forth with Apple, my radar was marked as a duplicate and closed. 

Download #5: Art Gallery of Dongles »

This week on Download, the podcast I produce with Jason Snell in the captain’s chair:

Microsoft is back in the news with another updated device, the topic of on-campus daycare in Silicon Valley raises questions about work/life balance, and patent trolls have been dealt a big blow by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lauren Kern Named First Editor-in-Chief of Apple News »

Politico:

And it’s a move that’s sure to raise eyebrows not just in Silicon Valley, but in Manhattan media circles as well. Morning Media has learned that Apple has given the job — a new position at the Cupertino-based company — to Lauren Kern, one of New York magazine’s most high-ranking editors and a former deputy editor at The New York Times Magazine.

It’s unclear at this point what this position will mean for Apple News, as the company and Kern declined to comment. I assume Apple is building more of editorial organization within Apple News, but how big it will be, and what it will do within the app is unknown, to me at least.

Two things do come to mind though.

First, Apple could be building a news team. I think this is pretty unlikely, but first-party reporting within Apple News could add value to the platform. This team could even generate video for Apple’s Always-Rumored-But-Never-Here TV offering. Getting into reporting can be expensive and risky. Moreover, it just doesn’t seem like a very Apple-like move to me.

What I think is more likely is the second option; this new team could be working to influence coverage seen in Apple News to a greater extent than what is happening now.

Facebook has been under pressure for influencing the top news trends seen by its users, as well as its shifting approach to fighting fake news. If Apple wades into these waters, it will have to deal with these issues at some point.

It’s very tricky business to exercise editorial control over news from outside sources. I’m very curious to see what — if anything — changes in Apple News in the future.

Mossberg Out »

Walt Mossberg, in his final weekly column:

We’ve all had a hell of a ride for last few decades, no matter when you got on the roller coaster. It’s been exciting, enriching, transformative. But it’s also been about objects and processes. Soon, after a brief slowdown, the roller coaster will be accelerating faster than ever, only this time it’ll be about actual experiences, with much less emphasis on the way those experiences get made.

This column is thought-provoking and more than a little bittersweet. Our industry is saying goodbye to an icon.

An Interview with Noah Leon, the Creator Behind the ‘Love Notes to Newton’ Film Project 

Recently, I linked to (and backed) an Indiegogo project named Love Notes to Newton.

It’s by a guy named Noah Leon. Here’s his pitch:

Newton was the first mass-produced touchscreen handheld computer made by Apple. It only lasted a few years on the market (1993 to 1998), but that wasn’t because it sucked! A large community of people still love Newton, and this film is an homage to the little device(s) by the people who still remember and even still use one.

I spent some time with Noah to talk about his work and this project. Our interview is below.

Continue reading “An Interview with Noah Leon, the Creator Behind the ‘Love Notes to Newton’ Film Project”

Kbase Article of the Week: Power Mac 9500 Series: Incompatible with Newton Toolkit »

I wonder how many people ever actually ran into this problem:

The Newton Toolkit v1.0.1 and v1.5.1 are not compatible with Power Macintosh 9500 computers. There is an updater available from online services and the Internet which updates the Newton Toolkit to a beta version of 1.5.2. Newton Toolkit is a Newton software development program available through Apple Programmers and Developers Association (APDA).