Criticizing Apple

Marco Arment reacts to the idea that he’s withholding criticism:

“As anyone who’s read my site and listened to our podcast for a while would know, I criticize Apple all the time. A developer’s view of their computing platform and software distribution partner is like any developer’s view of their programming language of choice: if you don’t think there are any major shortcomings, you just don’t know it well enough yet.”

This is all true, but I also think there’s something unique about Apple: we expect greatness in everything they do. It wouldn’t be the same Apple we love if we brushed complaints aside when the company falls short. And as Marco points out, Apple employees aren’t scared of negative feedback, because they want to build great products too.

A number of years ago I was sick of programming and went back to school to study art and life drawing. Maybe more than anything else, I came away with a new appreciation for self-criticism, and accepting the critiques of others. Because that’s how you get better. Until you can see what’s wrong — your drawing sucks and your iOS app is slow and buggy — you have no hope to improve.

The key in both art and technology is to understand the difference between constructive criticism and just complaining. Marco’s original post was about calling out Apple on lower quality standards in the hope that they could focus and get better. Many of the “me too” posts that followed were from Apple haters who were looking for page views and couldn’t care less if Apple quality improved.

Daniel Jalkut writes that it’s about how we react to criticism that matters:

“This is what happens when well-formed criticism meets the ears of a confident, competent individual: the facts are taken to heart and studied, perhaps grudgingly. But upon reflection and determination that there was merit in the complaint, respect for the source of the provocation goes through the roof.”

I’ve been working on an essay about the Apple Watch Edition and why I think it’s wrong for Apple. I do worry a little about putting out a controversial, half-baked opinion. And yet, I’ve seen no one else make my argument against the Edition in the meantime. If I want Apple to live up to the very high standard I hold them to, I can’t withhold my opinion on the direction of the company, regardless of whether that opinion will be warmly received.

Short and sweet job posts

I’ve been very happy to see the variety and high quality of jobs listed on our Core Intuition Jobs site. Two in particular have recently caught my attention for being concise, as if they don’t want to waste a potential candidate’s time with too many bullet points.

First up is Betaworks, which you’ve heard of as the company that now develops apps like Instapaper and Digg. Here’s the listing in its entirety:

“We’re working on a bunch of brand new products at betaworks and are looking for iOS contractors to help our existing engineers move faster. We’re ready to start ASAP and this gig will go through June (with the option to stay on for longer if you’d like to). Email us for more info if you’re interested!”

And here’s new startup Honest Dollar, where you’ll be working in downtown Austin with my friend Justin Youens and a team looking to reinvent retirement plans for small businesses. Again, the full text:

“We’re a new startup in Austin and are looking for awesome people to help build our iOS apps! We have an amazing team in place, and are looking to extend it.

“If you have at least a few years of impressive iOS experience, we’d love to talk. Relocation assistance available, but onsite desired. Full-time or contract.”

I bet both of these companies would be great places to work.

2015/03/12 11:12 am

Follow-up to my earlier post about Medium: custom domains are a great step in the right direction, even if they’re limited to select publishers for now.

2015/03/12 9:02 am

“Is the MacBook the computer for the rest of us, or a scheme to sell white USB dongles starting at $19.00 a piece?” — Thomas Brand

Medium as the new Twitter

Daniel Jalkut had some fun recently, exploring whether Medium’s improvements to posting are turning it into a next-generation Twitter:

“Medium is now the most Twitter-like service on the web, was founded and is run by one of Twitter’s creators, and answers most of the gripes that people have had about Twitter over the years.”

My gut reaction to this was that Medium creates more problems than it solves. In a reply on Medium:

“Medium is really interesting, and beautifully designed, but it’s not progress over Twitter unless you’re annoyed about the 140 character limit. It’s still totally centralized, has no API, and works against wanting to host and control our own content. Basically a step back for the open web. (Although I think there’s real value in mirroring content here.)”

Medium also feels like it wants to be a desktop experience right now. It’s not optimized for mobile in the way that Twitter has been from the beginning. There’s good stuff happening there, but I want to see more tools that encourage blogging instead.

Smaller phones again

Michael Tsai is collecting excerpts from people who have written about going back to the iPhone 5S after buying a 6 or 6 Plus. His opinion:

“I’m still liking my iPhone 5s and hoping there will be a new 4-inch model this fall. If there is, I’ll upgrade in a heartbeat.”

I was happy to see that one previously-exclusive selling point for the iPhone 6 is now coming to the older phones: Apple Pay, via the Apple Watch. When paired with the watch, the 5, 5C, and 5S can now make payments too.

Very busy (and the watch)

Yesterday this weblog turned 13 years old. I don’t usually miss the anniversary; it’s a nice time to reflect on what I’m writing about here. But I’ve been incredibly busy this year, working on a range of things from real work to side projects to family stuff.

Over the weekend I also helped out at the annual STAPLE! comics show in Austin. This is always a great time to check out what independent artists are up to, and as usual I came away inspired to get back into drawing.

I’ll have a longer write-up about yesterday’s Apple event soon. I have a very negative opinion about the $10k Apple Watch Edition — not because it’s expensive, but because of what focusing on the super rich says about Apple’s priorities. Daniel and I talked about this at length on Core Intuition episode 174 a couple weeks ago.

Overall the event was great, though. I’m looking forward to pre-ordering a watch and getting into development. Leaning toward the 42mm Sport, with blue band and an extra classic buckle.