The Talk Show

296: ‘Cameras Every Single Where’, With Michael Simmons


00:00:00   Michael Simmons, welcome to the talk show.

00:00:03   Thanks for having me.

00:00:04   This is dangerous because you operate at a much higher energy level than I do.

00:00:10   I'm going to try to stay calm, think first, and be positive.

00:00:14   How about that?

00:00:15   Now, you used to do a show with our mutual dear friend Brent Simmons,

00:00:20   and you're of no relation.

00:00:22   But wasn't that the topic of-- what was the title of the show?

00:00:25   It was--

00:00:26   Identical Cousins.

00:00:27   Identical Cousins.

00:00:27   Your cousin Brent.

00:00:28   But you weren't cousins.

00:00:29   It's actually no relation.

00:00:31   Maybe we were.

00:00:32   Maybe we are.

00:00:34   That's the whole point.

00:00:35   So we're identical cousins.

00:00:37   If there's a loose theme to today's show, it'll be indie Apple platform development.

00:00:43   I was going to say Mac development, right?

00:00:46   Because we're of an age where that's still what we think of.

00:00:51   Yeah, it's kind of weird.

00:00:52   As I'm getting older, and you and I have talked about this,

00:00:55   as we're getting older, we're old Mac guys, right?

00:00:57   We're old Apple, old Mac guys.

00:00:59   And yeah, it's kind of hard to describe it now because it's so different.

00:01:02   But for those who don't know, you-- do you have a title at Flexibits?

00:01:07   You just Michael?

00:01:09   I mean, I usually just say co-founder, but I'm kind of everything.

00:01:13   In some sense, you are the director.

00:01:15   Like, that was my role at Vesper, that you direct the movie.

00:01:18   Maybe producer's a better word, but you help organize and run Flexibits,

00:01:24   who are best known for Fantastical.

00:01:28   And now everybody who's listening is like, oh, OK, Fantastical.

00:01:31   Yeah, sounds about right.

00:01:34   Believe it or not, I think I told you this as well.

00:01:36   I was a film major in college, so the producer-director thing

00:01:38   definitely resonates with me.

00:01:40   I always view app development as a craft of almost as if I were making a movie,

00:01:44   of it being parts of the movie, and how does someone walk away--

00:01:47   how do they feel about the app when they're done?

00:01:49   So I really like the producer-director thing.

00:01:51   Yeah, well, that was my title at Q Branch for Vesper, and it works.

00:01:56   And I'm surprised that it hasn't caught on more.

00:01:59   And some people think it's cutesy, but it does work, because movie making,

00:02:04   it's an interesting thing, where what does the director do?

00:02:07   There's a screenwriter who writes a screenplay, and hopefully,

00:02:11   that's the starting point of any good movie, is a finished screenplay.

00:02:17   And an app has sort of a plan, and it doesn't have to be in the same way

00:02:24   that the same finished, excellent, award-winning screenplay in the hands of an entirely different

00:02:30   director with a different cast could be in not just a different movie,

00:02:35   but the difference between a good movie and a bad movie.

00:02:37   Same thing with the plan for an app.

00:02:41   Somebody makes the design for the app, and then there's programmers who make it real,

00:02:48   and designers who pixel-perfect design icons and pick colors and shades of blue,

00:02:55   and everything that needs to be designed to make a great app.

00:02:58   But somebody has to be there steering the ship, right?

00:03:03   You've got all these talented people on the bus,

00:03:05   but somebody's driving the bus and deciding where to go.

00:03:08   That's sort of you?

00:03:09   Yeah, sure.

00:03:11   One of the things that always stuck with me from college when I was taking my film classes was,

00:03:16   if you don't have the proper ingredients and then the proper execution of those ingredients,

00:03:20   then, you know, of the film, you won't have a great film.

00:03:23   And I really think all app developers, no matter what app you're making,

00:03:28   even if it's just a client or even if it's a new thing,

00:03:31   you need to think through the roadmap of the app.

00:03:34   Are you just solving a problem and then you're implementing it, and that's all?

00:03:38   That's the only thought you've put into it?

00:03:39   Or is it the actual journey of the app of where it's going to go

00:03:42   and how it's going to make the user feel, you know, solving a problem?

00:03:45   Or making them more productive or making notes quicker, whatever it is, right?

00:03:49   But you have to have this vision and then the execution of the vision

00:03:53   to really have a, I think, successful product.

00:03:55   So, Fantastical.

00:03:59   Let's start.

00:04:00   We can start with Fantastical.

00:04:02   They, you guys have an update this week to support.

00:04:06   I'd rather start with flying robot cameras.

00:04:08   Do you see that?

00:04:10   What everyone's talking about this week?

00:04:12   Did you see that?

00:04:13   So, yeah, we could start with flying robot cameras.

00:04:15   So, Amazon at their...

00:04:17   Much more exciting than Fantastical, I think.

00:04:19   Amazon at their fall hardware announcement.

00:04:22   And they have, you know, one thing that struck me yesterday, trying to catch up on this,

00:04:27   and you and I, we're friends, we chat.

00:04:29   You know this, that I am struggling lately to keep up with the news.

00:04:33   It is, it's difficult, right?

00:04:35   It is a blizzard of insanity.

00:04:39   Right.

00:04:39   I think part of it, here's part of it, is I have a big interest in, in general, in normal

00:04:46   times, in national politics and national, for lack of a better term, I love the phrase,

00:04:51   the national affairs, right?

00:04:53   That was like Hunter S. Thompson's desk at Rolling Stone, the national affairs desk.

00:04:57   I have a great interest in them, but in normal times, I can mostly tune out.

00:05:03   And, you know, I always like...

00:05:06   Were you a newspaper guy?

00:05:08   You used to like to get the physical newspaper.

00:05:10   Yeah.

00:05:12   And it was the whole experience of you were focused on the newspaper and that's it, right?

00:05:15   It was the one mode of the paper.

00:05:17   This is paper, right?

00:05:18   So there you go.

00:05:19   So, you know, I'm into it, the paper.

00:05:20   The single greatest thing in newspaper history, in my mind, as an artistic, journalistic

00:05:28   accomplishment was this New York Times weekend review section, where you could be heads down,

00:05:36   you know, like maybe you're working for NASA, you know, making the space shuttle or, you

00:05:42   know, go back to the 60s and you're trying to, you know, land men on the moon and you're

00:05:46   working 120 hours a week, but you got a break Sunday afternoon, you're going to take a break.

00:05:52   You want to catch up what's going on in the world.

00:05:54   All you have to do is read the Sunday New York Times weekend review section.

00:05:58   You know what I mean?

00:05:59   And you could catch up and you'd realize, all right, you don't know everything but...

00:06:03   Summary of the week.

00:06:03   Yeah, you know what's going on.

00:06:05   The weekend review for National Affairs right now would be like, it would be 700 pages long.

00:06:11   Like, there's no way.

00:06:13   There's too much going on.

00:06:15   And I'm trying, like, I try to keep my toes on National Affairs at that weekend review

00:06:21   level so that I can spend my day obsessing over all the stuff that's typical during fireball

00:06:26   fair, right?

00:06:27   And trying to do that while simultaneously staying in touch with what's going on in the

00:06:33   world at large with... it's hard.

00:06:37   No, no, but friend or not, you've been doing a great job.

00:06:39   I have to say, I know you're pivoting a little bit in terms of covering all the crazy, wacky,

00:06:43   very important things that are going on.

00:06:45   And to me, like, you're doing it, at least for me, I can only speak for myself, but you're

00:06:50   doing it in a way where I actually get news from you and then I get your take on the news.

00:06:55   Some things resonate, some things don't.

00:06:56   We'll discuss it, you know that.

00:06:57   But I think it's really good how you're almost giving a summary of the important stories

00:07:03   mixed in with text so people don't ignore what's actually happening in the world, right?

00:07:07   That is what I'm trying to do, and I appreciate you.

00:07:09   I see that, and I appreciate you.

00:07:11   So, but just alone, yesterday, it's like, just like, well, oh my God, look at all this stuff

00:07:16   Amazon announced.

00:07:17   It's so much.

00:07:18   And I found a good Verge summary of like, here's the 13 biggest things they announced.

00:07:22   And it's like, well, 13's a lot, but it was a good summary.

00:07:25   I felt like I was reading a CES roundup or something.

00:07:27   Like I was reading the Verge, the Verge did an amazing roundup as they do, but I'm reading

00:07:31   that thing and I'm just like, it's ridiculous.

00:07:33   Well, I don't know that it's ridiculous, but it is a lot, but it goes to show that Amazon

00:07:39   needs to be, you know, has to be taken seriously as a hardware company at this point and that

00:07:43   their acquisitions of Euro and Ring, among others, you know, they did it.

00:07:52   We can argue about Google's acquisition of Nest and did that, did they sort of squander

00:08:00   that?

00:08:01   I think they sort of did in hindsight.

00:08:03   I do too.

00:08:03   Because, you know, I've got, we have Nest thermostats here at the Daring Fireball World

00:08:10   headquarters, and I like them very much.

00:08:12   In fact, we were delayed, we were delayed recording.

00:08:17   The whole reason we were delayed to start this show from when we were scheduled was

00:08:22   I'm carrying around a, still a testing device on iOS 14.

00:08:27   And it turns out I never actually signed into the Nest app on that device.

00:08:33   And I wanted to turn the air conditioner, the temperature up so that it won't kick in and

00:08:39   make noise in the background.

00:08:40   This is it.

00:08:40   I'm sweating my family.

00:08:42   This is what I do for my audience, the talk show audience.

00:08:45   I sweat my family out, turn the house into a hot box so that we don't get...

00:08:50   You have high quality audio.

00:08:51   Exactly.

00:08:52   I mean, it's worth it, right?

00:08:52   But it turned out I couldn't sign into the Nest app on this new phone.

00:08:56   And I was very confused.

00:08:57   And it's because me in our Nest app is not using a quote unquote Google account.

00:09:03   I have a Nest account and they've, and because this was a different device, I had to sign

00:09:09   in again.

00:09:10   And they have since made the sign into your Nest interface.

00:09:17   It looks totally normal if you use a Google sign in.

00:09:21   And I was trying to sign in with this email account that's not really a Google account

00:09:25   in this interface.

00:09:27   There is a little thing at the bottom that says, do you not migrated still using a Nest

00:09:33   account?

00:09:33   I would say it is printed in like the pixels, like the non retina pixels.

00:09:39   0.1 font.

00:09:41   Yeah.

00:09:42   Like a one point font at the bottom of this screen that it's a miracle that anybody could

00:09:49   even read it or notice it.

00:09:50   It looks like a hair on the screen that says like, oh, tap right here if that's what you

00:09:54   want to do.

00:09:55   And it took me five minutes.

00:09:56   But anyway, we've got the Nest thing and we like it.

00:09:59   But I can't say anything that they've done with that that wasn't there before they acquired

00:10:04   it, right?

00:10:05   It doesn't seem like Google is under Google's ownership, Nest is proceeding at the pace

00:10:12   they were when they were independent.

00:10:14   Whereas Eero and Ring doorbells and security things, if anything, seem to be accelerating

00:10:22   faster under Amazon's acquisition than they were before.

00:10:26   I completely agree.

00:10:28   I was always on the fence between the Nest and the Ring.

00:10:31   And then eventually I got a ring around the time.

00:10:33   Actually, it was right before Amazon acquired it.

00:10:35   And anyway, the development has been incredible.

00:10:38   Like it accelerated since Amazon acquired it.

00:10:41   Now, I already know there's a lot of naysayers and cynics that'll say, well, that's because

00:10:45   they're putting all their stuff in to try to spy and everything.

00:10:47   Anyway, I'm just saying I definitely think Amazon has nailed it.

00:10:51   And to be quite blunt, especially with that robot camera thing, I think Amazon or at least

00:10:57   Nest, it seems like the CEO who started the company, sorry, Ring CEO started Ring.

00:11:02   They seem to really care about privacy or certainly they're certainly making me feel

00:11:08   they care about privacy because the amount of privacy settings and control I have over

00:11:11   privacy, I actually feel comfortable with my ring.

00:11:14   It's interesting.

00:11:16   I don't have any ring products yet.

00:11:19   And we don't really have smart doorbells.

00:11:21   We've got really dumb doorbells.

00:11:22   But it's on the list.

00:11:26   But the basic privacy concerns are there.

00:11:29   And I know I don't want to devolve this conversation into it, but I know part of the controversy

00:11:34   with the ring stuff is their partnership with police and that they've got things where they're

00:11:40   willing to contribute footage from your ring camera to police.

00:11:44   And what are the rules for that?

00:11:46   There's a lot to think about.

00:11:49   It's sticky.

00:11:49   It's very complicated.

00:11:51   I'm erring on the side of, you know, we have voice assistants, we have HomePods and an

00:11:58   older now it looks ancient Amazon Alexa listening device if you want to put it in cynical terms.

00:12:08   So we have those.

00:12:11   And again, we have I have good friends who are like, no way am I letting any of those

00:12:15   in my house and I get it, you know, I'm one of those I have to have to raise my hand.

00:12:19   I mean, I just I almost think it's crazy.

00:12:21   Go back to the 80s when everyone's like, oh, there's gonna be all these bugs that the

00:12:24   government's putting in your house.

00:12:25   Now people are going paying money to put speakers that are connected to the internet that they

00:12:29   specifically say they're gathering information.

00:12:31   Yeah, okay, anonymous and blah, blah, blah.

00:12:32   But I find it I find the whole thing incredible that people are paying money to put this in

00:12:36   their house.

00:12:37   I get it.

00:12:38   But I do think it's, you know, but it's me.

00:12:41   But it's also, you know, it's like a lot of progress.

00:12:45   You know, it's I remember when it was really controversial.

00:12:50   When apps would phone home at all, like, right, even if an app just audit, you know, you downloaded

00:13:00   into an indie Mac app, and every time it launches, it would call to its server to see if a new

00:13:07   version was available.

00:13:08   And then if so would let you know what the dot you know, be is it before sparkle and

00:13:12   before you could even click a button to upgrade in place, you would it would just say, Hey,

00:13:17   there's a new version of my app available.

00:13:20   You know, here's a button that would go to the website where you would download the update

00:13:24   and manually replace the actual app file.

00:13:27   But people were, you know, there was outrage about it.

00:13:29   And again, I'm not even saying I disagree.

00:13:31   I'm just saying I remember when it was controversial that it happened at all, you know, and people

00:13:35   Oh, yeah.

00:13:36   you know, and people would run tools to detect, you know, little snitch, little snitch Mac

00:13:42   OS X still around and still a great tool.

00:13:44   I don't run it, but I'm glad it's there.

00:13:45   I'm sure a lot of people listen to a lot of reports where it's detected some sketchy stuff

00:13:50   so I gotta say it really is a very valuable tool for the you know, bad player, right?

00:13:55   But it's, you know, like the amount of that type of stuff that's going on now is a waterfall

00:14:01   compared to the trickle that it originally was.

00:14:04   And I you know, I think we're going that way with devices that are have cameras and microphones.

00:14:10   I mean, it's the amount you know, and it's good to be concerned.

00:14:13   I think the way to do it as people and as technically adept users who are friends and

00:14:19   family come to for advice is for us to be skeptical, skeptical and cautious.

00:14:23   But you know, my eyes are wide open.

00:14:26   I think you know, 20-25 years from now, we'll look back at 2020s number of camera equipped

00:14:35   microphone equipped devices in our lives and laugh at how few there are compared to how

00:14:41   many there will be.

00:14:42   It's that skepticism along the way that will hopefully steer it in a good direction.

00:14:46   But I would say that Amazon's new ring camera is seems it if it works.

00:14:56   And again, it's not like they said, Hey, you can bring in cool, you can order it so friggin

00:14:59   cool.

00:15:00   They're not saying you can order it.

00:15:02   So there's a vapor wear ish aspect to it's coming quote unquote next year.

00:15:06   Who knows how when next year that is, but it you know, they Amazon's credibility is pretty

00:15:14   good.

00:15:14   You know, I mean, if they say it's going to happen, I tend to believe it.

00:15:18   It's not like magic leap, for example, right?

00:15:21   The VR company down in Florida who's been soaking up billions of dollars in investment

00:15:27   and you know, the whole thing is sort of a fraud, in my opinion.

00:15:31   Amazon's you know, I agree.

00:15:34   I agree.

00:15:34   And I will remain nameless as well.

00:15:36   But I agree with Amazon is putting their name behind this.

00:15:38   So it seems like it's going to be real.

00:15:40   And the idea is it's it is a in home flying drone that you can make fly around your house

00:15:47   and there and it has a camera.

00:15:49   And the idea is kind of genius so that let's say you go on vacation or you're just away

00:15:56   from the house member like when you could leave the house.

00:15:58   You know, if we go back to being able to leave the house, you instead of putting cameras

00:16:05   every single where in your house, right?

00:16:06   Like how do you how do you cover your whole house with cameras?

00:16:09   It seems oppressive and expensive and complicated and ugly, right?

00:16:14   Because what you're going to it's going to look like the inside of a store with security

00:16:19   cameras all over your house.

00:16:20   This idea that you could have this drone that moves all over the house and has a camera

00:16:27   and then you could just say, hey, go look in my go look down by the garage and the drone

00:16:32   would fly down there, show you what's going on with the garage.

00:16:36   You could see that your garage doors closed and then, you know, go back to your base.

00:16:42   It sounds fantastic.

00:16:44   It sounds like, you know, it's sort of like the iPhone did where it feels not like we

00:16:49   didn't think we'd ever have it, but it feels maybe it's pulled five years from the future.

00:16:53   It does.

00:16:55   And when you actually see the video, you feel like it's one of those proof of concept videos

00:16:59   where it's like a Kickstarter project and it'll never ship.

00:17:01   I don't but it is Amazon and they say it will.

00:17:04   Oh, it's good.

00:17:06   The way I've been reading all the stuff I've dug into it, I'm pretty sure it's coming.

00:17:10   I think it's legit.

00:17:11   Yeah, I do too.

00:17:12   And will you get one?

00:17:14   And the privacy angle is fascinating because it's actually, the camera is, it's like, if

00:17:21   you imagine this device is sort of like a tack, the camera's at the sharp part of the tack

00:17:28   and when it goes into its charging base station, the tack goes into a hole and the camera is

00:17:33   therefore completely, not just like a little bit covered, it's all the way at the bottom

00:17:37   of this cubicle charging base station so that when it's on the base station, you know, the

00:17:43   camera can't see anything.

00:17:44   Yeah, it's really well done how they did it.

00:17:47   And I love that they integrated it into the design and into the whole kind of premise

00:17:51   that, you know, it's capturing when it's flying and when it's in its base, you don't have

00:17:55   to worry.

00:17:56   I also did want to say, while I told you, I don't bring a speaker in my house, I don't

00:18:01   cover my cameras or cover my microphones or anything.

00:18:03   It's not like I'm overly like, I'm not having anything in my house, but I just feel like,

00:18:07   I don't think I would ever talk to an Alexa speaker or Google Home speaker, whatever they're

00:18:11   called.

00:18:11   I just, isn't that it?

00:18:13   Google Home?

00:18:13   I don't remember what they're called now.

00:18:14   Yeah, whatever.

00:18:15   Yeah, but I just, to me, having a speaker in my house that's always listening, like,

00:18:21   I don't know, I just wanted to make it clear, like, I'm probably going to get one of these

00:18:23   flying robot cameras.

00:18:24   It's one of those things that first I look at, I'm like, hell no, but I have to have

00:18:27   one, I think.

00:18:27   You know, the listening thing is unsettling in certain ways.

00:18:30   But it is, I don't think people are nuts.

00:18:33   Joanna Stern has been on my show, and I know Joanna's written extensively about whether

00:18:37   you should or should not cover your camera, you know, with tape or with the third party

00:18:42   thing that you can stick over your MacBook camera.

00:18:44   And it goes beyond the technology angle, which I tend to side on, like, I don't cover my

00:18:52   cameras on any of my devices, and I tend, I really do tend to trust all the software

00:18:57   I have on them.

00:18:59   But I also don't think people who do are nuts or wrong to do so, you know, and I

00:19:06   Oh, not at all.

00:19:07   That's their personal comfort level, and they're entitled to that.

00:19:09   Right, and I totally get you can't beat the peace of mind of the physical security of

00:19:19   a piece of tape over the thing or a slider, right?

00:19:24   Like, so like, yeah, like, just it just interests me like the new peloton has a bigger screen

00:19:33   in front of it, the you know, the bicycle thing and the kit, you know, there's a webcam

00:19:37   so that you can be seen and participate in these classes and the camera has a built in

00:19:42   slider.

00:19:43   And that's fascinating to me.

00:19:47   And I can see why they do it right.

00:19:49   And it's not like, you know, you could say both a you could trust us without the slider,

00:19:54   but we're adding the slider to because then you, you know, you can trust it completely,

00:19:59   right?

00:19:59   And when there's a slider in front of the camera, when the lens cap is on a real camera,

00:20:03   you know, it's not taking a picture, right?

00:20:05   It is, you don't have to trust the technology at all.

00:20:09   And you can say, Oh, there's this path, you know, through this T whatever security chip

00:20:14   and the green light literally has to go on.

00:20:17   And even if you had malware, the malware, there's no way for it to get into the security

00:20:23   chip and the green light is always going to be on if the camera's on.

00:20:26   And you can read security papers and totally believe it, right.

00:20:29   But you could even be the person who wrote it.

00:20:33   Like it could be like me and you or the team at Apple who wrote it and, you know, in this

00:20:38   alternate universe where we're PhDs in mathematics.

00:20:43   And we're completely convinced that we've got a mathematical proof that there's a secure

00:20:49   electronic chain between the green light and the camera.

00:20:53   And when the camera has power, this green light must go on.

00:20:56   I still feel like even the people who made that and know it as mathematically secure

00:21:02   still would feel better if they put their thumb over the camera, right?

00:21:05   It's just intuitive.

00:21:06   Well, every system's hackable.

00:21:08   I think every engineer always knows every system is hackable, right?

00:21:12   Because someone could get into your house, get into your laptop and bypass that system

00:21:16   with something that they installed in your laptop.

00:21:17   But if there's a cover that's a solid object, you can't really hack physics.

00:21:21   So I'm tempted.

00:21:25   And, you know, there's a lot of unanswered questions about this flying ring drone.

00:21:30   Like, and the Verge had a good rundown of them.

00:21:32   It's like, you know, there's a lot of things Amazon hasn't talked about.

00:21:35   Like, can it go up and down stairs?

00:21:37   Presumably you'd hope it could, right?

00:21:39   It's like, we don't all live in ranch houses.

00:21:42   And well, how wouldn't it?

00:21:43   It's a drone, right?

00:21:44   So I mean, it could fly.

00:21:45   I would just have to, it would have to have some kind of flight control, but it looked

00:21:47   like it had that from the video, right?

00:21:49   I guess.

00:21:49   I don't know.

00:21:50   There's so many ways that this could go wrong, right?

00:21:53   Like, you know, like, imagine if you get it, it comes out and you get one right away.

00:21:58   And it's just like banging around like a drunk robot, you know, like banging into walls,

00:22:03   hitting things.

00:22:04   Well, I'm thinking about unintended things.

00:22:05   Like what if you have a dog or a cat, right?

00:22:07   Like, I don't know, the drone rotors somehow, I don't know, who knows?

00:22:12   But you know what I mean?

00:22:13   Like, it's like, there's lots that can go wrong in the home.

00:22:16   I would imagine dogs are not going to be a fan of this thing.

00:22:19   Just based on my experience with what dogs are fans of and not.

00:22:24   Oh, they're going to go crazy over it.

00:22:26   It's going to start seeing like videos, you know, ring robot flying camera videos of my

00:22:31   dog attacking it.

00:22:32   Right.

00:22:32   I think drones are significantly quieter than vacuum cleaners, you know, like the loudest

00:22:39   drone is probably still quieter than, you know, a home drone.

00:22:43   I'm not talking about like industrial strength stuff.

00:22:45   But the, you know, the loudest drone you might conceivably fly inside your house is going

00:22:51   to be quieter than a vacuum cleaner.

00:22:55   But it's on the spectrum of a vacuum.

00:23:00   You know, what is it that dogs don't like about vacuum cleaners?

00:23:03   And now to have one flying around, I feel like your dog is going to be like, no way.

00:23:06   That's just my answer.

00:23:08   But I don't know.

00:23:10   I got to see it.

00:23:10   It is fascinating.

00:23:12   It really is.

00:23:12   And the privacy angle, I think, is just amazing.

00:23:15   And I think it's good.

00:23:16   I don't think, you know, I think that's an interesting balance where it's like, you don't

00:23:20   even have to, we don't have to, we'll talk to you about the technology of our privacy

00:23:25   and how we're protecting your footage and blah, blah, blah.

00:23:28   But you can know this.

00:23:29   This is where the camera is.

00:23:31   And therefore, when it's in the base station, the camera obviously can't see anything.

00:23:34   Yeah, that's why I was saying with my ring products, which I've had for a while.

00:23:38   I've always really felt like I'm as a developer and as a product guy, I always like kind of

00:23:44   know how a company cares about security.

00:23:46   And they really, they always seem to make me being in control of what's shared or privacy.

00:23:51   And, you know, yeah, they had some hiccups and they had to add two factor authentication

00:23:53   and things like that.

00:23:54   But I just feel like they've been really transparent about stuff.

00:23:57   Maybe not the police stuff.

00:23:58   That's another topic.

00:23:59   But I to put one of the key industrial design features is that when it docks, the camera's

00:24:05   hidden and that communicates security and privacy so clearly.

00:24:09   That's a big thumbs up.

00:24:10   They did a great job.

00:24:11   Here, let me take a break before we continue on the show and I will do our first sponsored

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00:25:55   Let's just talk a little bit about fantastical and widgets and iOS 14.

00:26:02   Just sort of all right if we have to basically the news.

00:26:06   All right, come on.

00:26:07   But I would say this.

00:26:13   I would say.

00:26:14   Let me preface this discussion this way.

00:26:18   In recent years, I'm not quite sure when it started, but Apple has,

00:26:25   you know, with the public betas for summer releases.

00:26:29   Apple's annual schedule has been locked in for quite a while where WWDC's June.

00:26:35   They announce all their OS is for the year.

00:26:38   They slate them for fall.

00:26:40   September is the iOS month and then Mac has some slack.

00:26:45   We still don't know when big sur is going to ship.

00:26:47   But then all summer long developers certainly use the betas because they're looking to update

00:26:53   their apps to both support whatever new features they think they can support for launch and

00:27:00   make sure everything doesn't break or look funny.

00:27:05   When the new OS hits, you know, fix any issues with old stuff and then add new stuff to support

00:27:13   new features.

00:27:14   Now they have public betas, so there's more people than ever maybe using these things.

00:27:20   But when the actual OS is actually dropped to the public,

00:27:26   I think it's always interesting to see what the reaction is.

00:27:30   And I think it's often surprising.

00:27:33   So I feel like this year the big surprise is how enthusiastic the public is about widgets

00:27:42   and shortcut customization for app icons.

00:27:45   You know what I think the big surprise is?

00:27:48   What do you think?

00:27:50   I was 14 launching the day after announcement.

00:27:53   Well, we should talk about that.

00:27:54   That's one of those things that sort of

00:27:56   slipped through the cracks on Daring Fireball.

00:27:59   But I know, I mean, that just does not, that's never happened before.

00:28:03   Never ever, ever happened before.

00:28:06   Right.

00:28:06   So let's talk about that.

00:28:07   You know, how surprised were you when at the end, wasn't it at the very end of the event

00:28:14   too?

00:28:14   It was like an hour long event.

00:28:16   They do the new products and it's like, okay, back to Tim.

00:28:19   And it's like Tim Cook, you know, in this hallway at the inner circle of the spaceship

00:28:24   in Apple Park.

00:28:25   And he's like, you know, we've, I'm not going to do a Tim Cook impression here, but,

00:28:29   you know, we've, what a great day.

00:28:31   We've also got a great OS launches.

00:28:33   They're shipping tomorrow.

00:28:36   See you next time.

00:28:38   And every, every developer friend I know is like, what?

00:28:41   Remember you started the podcast by saying I was high energy.

00:28:45   You did not want to be around me that day.

00:28:50   And it was, it was crazy because speaking to the whole producer director thing, we had

00:28:53   everything dialed in.

00:28:54   We were counting on that week.

00:28:57   We had betas, you know, everything was ready to roll, right?

00:28:59   Cause if you see, we shipped our widgets a week later, right?

00:29:02   We were ready.

00:29:02   I know a lot of other developers, friends shipped on the day when, you know, next day

00:29:08   I get that they wanted to get it out and be part of it.

00:29:10   I get all that, but we had, we, we just had to have it right.

00:29:15   We couldn't ship with bugs and then just deal with it.

00:29:17   You know, we suffer maybe, maybe not, but it was really, really, really, really, really

00:29:22   crazy, John.

00:29:22   So why I, that I get it that this is an unusual year for Apple, right?

00:29:28   Because of the reason that's unusual for all of us.

00:29:32   And so there are, you know, because of COVID and whether it's a combination, probably some

00:29:37   combination of Apple's own internal systems being, uh, slowed down in some ways by remote

00:29:46   work combined with everything affecting the supply chain in China.

00:29:51   You know, if, if, if we get new iPhones in October, even by the end of October, it's

00:29:57   almost a small miracle that they're only that late compared to the usual schedule of a,

00:30:01   you know, September 10th, 12th ish announcement, you know, and shipping by the end of September.

00:30:08   And that's sort of the anchor on the calendar that ties the OS release to and the normal

00:30:15   schedule is these betas are coming out through August and you kind of get a sense.

00:30:21   And last year was weird too, you know, where they kind of locked in iOS 13 early because

00:30:27   it was buggy, really buggy.

00:30:29   And, but they had to have an iOS 13 for the new devices.

00:30:33   Um, and it's just, it's all very complicated, right?

00:30:37   It's like, I don't even know where to, how to unwind it all here, telling it, you know,

00:30:41   like where the new phones always are locked to the latest version, right?

00:30:46   There is no, there's hardware that doesn't have drivers.

00:30:49   Like they can't ship the new phones with the old version of the OS.

00:30:52   So whatever new products like are coming out have to have iOS 14, therefore iOS 14 has

00:31:00   to ship come hell or high water.

00:31:02   And like last year, that was a big problem, but they do the general schedule is they

00:31:09   announce what they call a GM, which is like a, you know, a golden master, which is a term

00:31:15   of art from back when we were printing CDs.

00:31:19   And I guess it goes back to the floppy era too, right?

00:31:21   There'd be a golden master, but I think the actual gold master was a CD thing.

00:31:27   They'd print the CD on gold because it was what more durable.

00:31:31   And then that's what they'd press all the gazillion CDs from.

00:31:36   But they, you know, they have the GM release, but they would announce that at the event,

00:31:41   right?

00:31:41   That the normal schedule is roughly, okay, there's a Tuesday in September and they say

00:31:46   the GM, you know, release is coming out later today or tomorrow.

00:31:51   Developers can start to finalize.

00:31:53   This is what's going to ship.

00:31:55   And then the actual OS release comes out like 10 days later, like on a Thursday, the day

00:32:00   before the actual new iPhone start hitting customer hands 11 days after the event.

00:32:07   So as a, you know, and there's no rule, you know, and again, with all the, you know, you

00:32:11   can draw comparisons to our national affairs and all of the things that aren't written

00:32:15   in law, but we've just sort of assumed that's the way it's always been.

00:32:20   You know, the president of the United States doesn't call into question the integrity

00:32:24   of our elections with no evidence.

00:32:26   - Exactly.

00:32:28   - Right.

00:32:28   - Just the way it's always been.

00:32:29   - Right, just the way it's been.

00:32:30   But, you know, technically there's no law against it, right?

00:32:34   So Apple has always given developers, you know, a week plus of time with the GM release

00:32:42   of an iOS update to prepare so that...

00:32:45   - Always.

00:32:46   - At least a week.

00:32:47   So, you know, you can get your ones and zeros in order.

00:32:51   And if you're trying to get into the App Store for day one, you know, you have a week or

00:32:59   so to prepare.

00:33:00   And this year, you did not.

00:33:03   - Exactly.

00:33:05   You know, I've been, as you have been, working with Apple for a really long time.

00:33:09   And the thing is this, I have my critiques and all my problems, but I think something

00:33:13   happened.

00:33:14   They had to do this.

00:33:15   I have spoken to enough people that, you know, it's not like, "Oh, we don't care about

00:33:20   developers.

00:33:20   We're going to get this out.

00:33:21   We're going to make them scramble to heck with them," whatever.

00:33:24   Like, I do think something happened.

00:33:25   What?

00:33:25   I don't know.

00:33:26   What?

00:33:26   It really is frustrating.

00:33:28   What?

00:33:28   This definitely impacted us, especially for a week having customers being so upset with

00:33:32   us, like, "Where's the widget?"

00:33:33   You know, thinking we're not releasing it or we're never, I don't know, whatever.

00:33:36   But like, to me, it's just, I hope this never happens again.

00:33:40   And I hope that this happened.

00:33:42   Apple can improve their procedures and policies and schedules that it won't happen again because

00:33:47   it was a bad experience for everyone.

00:33:49   If you look at all the other apps, look how many updates they had to scramble to get out

00:33:53   after their, you know, 1.0, 2.0, whatever for the widget, because there were all these

00:33:57   bugs, right?

00:33:58   So yeah, they had it out on launch day, but what did it matter?

00:34:00   Now they're scrambling over the next week, which we waited a week to release, to just

00:34:05   get to where they were a week later anyway.

00:34:06   Yeah, and it's like, why do developers want to be there on day one?

00:34:11   And part of it is, I think, pride, you know, part of it is promotion, right?

00:34:18   If you have new features, right?

00:34:20   So like, the new feature angle, let's say widgets, right, which are an altogether new

00:34:25   feature.

00:34:26   If you have spent a lot of time on widgets, you want to be there, and when people, users

00:34:31   are upgrading and want to check out widgets, you'd like, and you've spent this whole summer

00:34:36   working on them, you'd like them to be there right away.

00:34:38   And then there's also that bug fix angle.

00:34:42   Like, if your app has a layout bug in iOS 14 that's not there in iOS 13, and who cares,

00:34:51   you know, let's not even say whether it's the OS's bug or your app's bug or just, you

00:34:55   know, something changed, but it doesn't look right.

00:34:57   You, there are certain bugs you can't fix until the new OS comes out, right?

00:35:03   You can't fix it in advance because you might have to actually have the new SDK and you

00:35:08   can't submit builds to the App Store with the latest SDK until the OS is out.

00:35:13   Right, and you can't even submit a build for iOS 14 until the GM of Xcode is out to submit

00:35:19   anyway.

00:35:20   So it wasn't even like you could submit until Apple released that Xcode GM build.

00:35:25   Right, right.

00:35:26   So from a, yeah, that's a good, that's a great point.

00:35:28   So the developers need the latest version of Xcode to build the thing to submit it.

00:35:35   You can't do it.

00:35:35   And there was confusion.

00:35:36   This was so Helter Skelter, slapdash, I don't know what to call it, where there was actually

00:35:43   some confusion after the event where there were two builds of Xcode off with, you know,

00:35:49   with these real long, crazy version numbers, but off by one and if you, and it was maybe

00:35:56   even like a CDN thing, a content delivery network thing where some people would click

00:36:01   to download the latest Xcode but get the wrong version and they click the same thing that

00:36:06   somebody in California clicked and got a newer version and two people who thought they had

00:36:11   the same new version of Xcode, only one of them could build and ship an executable that

00:36:17   could be submitted to the App Store.

00:36:20   That's correct.

00:36:20   And as you know, it takes a long time to build an app and, you know, distribute it, right?

00:36:24   So you're spending all this time to download Xcode.

00:36:27   You're not realizing it's that off by one number.

00:36:30   You're building it.

00:36:30   You're spending all this time you're submitting.

00:36:31   It's like, nope, not with the GM.

00:36:33   And you're like, what?

00:36:34   And then, you know, thankfully, Twitter and all of our friends in the developer community

00:36:37   figured out what it was.

00:36:38   Right.

00:36:39   It's sort of, you know, some aspect of this, even if you have a really good build system

00:36:43   in place, it still is like baking a cake or a casserole or something.

00:36:48   And it's like, you got to do the whole thing first.

00:36:50   And only when it comes out of the oven do you find out that you had the wrong version of

00:36:54   the cake mix.

00:36:54   You got to throw this one out and start all over.

00:36:56   And when you're trying to do this thing and hit a deadline that's under 24 hours away

00:37:01   when you thought you'd have a week, losing an hour or two hours to this is a lot of time.

00:37:06   And I think it was more than an hour or two.

00:37:09   I mean, based on some of the tweets, I always see.

00:37:11   Yeah, the point still stands.

00:37:13   Absolutely.

00:37:13   The whole thing was very haphazard and not good.

00:37:18   So I want so why, you know, here's the big question.

00:37:20   So with the hardware stuff, the actual products, the new Series 6 watch, the new iPad and the

00:37:30   every time I say the word, something is wrong with me.

00:37:34   I say series, like the name of the watch and every device in my house kicks in with, you

00:37:41   know, who's voice assistant.

00:37:43   Yeah.

00:37:43   Sorry.

00:37:44   I'm really sorry.

00:37:47   Anyway, I kind of like it.

00:37:48   Actually, it kind of like is a wake up call.

00:37:50   Your S6 Apple Watch, the new iPad, the new iPad Air.

00:37:55   All right.

00:37:56   Even though the, you know, I get it that Apple is always going to want to keep hardware under

00:38:02   wraps, even if there are leaks that are accurate there.

00:38:05   That's just how Apple is.

00:38:06   I don't blame them.

00:38:07   And part of that is that the actual but the release of the OS isn't part of that secrecy,

00:38:15   right?

00:38:15   Like what would have stopped Apple from a week before not holding an event, not something

00:38:21   that's like, hey, whole world, look at us, but just put it on developer.apple.com and

00:38:27   tell developers in the same way that like when they go from Beta 7 to Beta 8, just say,

00:38:32   okay, this is the GM release of iOS 14.

00:38:36   You know, be prepared for this to ship in the next two weeks or next week, you know.

00:38:42   There was either something hidden in it that no one's found yet.

00:38:45   Like just something, I don't know.

00:38:46   Right.

00:38:46   And like, it might not be obvious now because it's out.

00:38:48   Right.

00:38:49   So I don't know.

00:38:50   Or, and, or it's, I don't just think it's Apple style.

00:38:53   In other words, what if something happened at the event?

00:38:56   What if I don't know?

00:38:57   Right.

00:38:57   Like, but I don't see Apple doing that and I don't blame them for not doing that.

00:39:01   I believe it or not, even with the week notice, because I'd be like, well, why didn't they

00:39:03   release it a week earlier?

00:39:04   I can understand why they didn't.

00:39:06   What I don't get is why couldn't they have still delayed it a week?

00:39:09   And even with the new hardware that was coming out, okay.

00:39:12   Yes.

00:39:13   I know you need it on the servers for stuff and this and that, but.

00:39:16   I don't know.

00:39:18   There just could have been a little bit better mitigation of like iOS 14 will be available

00:39:23   in a week.

00:39:23   If you're buying one of the new devices, you know, there might be some hiccups.

00:39:27   I know you can't really put that into a message.

00:39:28   That's pretty, but I feel like there could have been a little bit of a way to delay that

00:39:33   release still a week.

00:39:34   I feel like there really could have been.

00:39:36   I do wonder, and this is a total spit ball.

00:39:39   I don't have anybody who's told me there's any validity to this.

00:39:42   Maybe I'm just crazy, but one thing people observed in the video was that all of the

00:39:48   scenes of Apple park, and there's a lot of them, you know, cause they shoot there and

00:39:53   sort of emphasize the sunny California climate.

00:39:57   That that event came at the tail end of some truly horrific.

00:40:03   Smoke in the air, think scenes and all throughout that area of California.

00:40:09   People are like, how did they get all this sun?

00:40:12   Did they, you know, I guess the idea, you know, speculation, which isn't crazy is that

00:40:16   they filmed those scenes weeks prior, right?

00:40:20   That these things aren't, of course that are not live.

00:40:22   You can tell by watching that these aren't live productions, but they're probably have

00:40:26   a bit more of a headroom than a casual observer might think.

00:40:32   And I actually think they should shoot it weeks before, right?

00:40:35   Well, there's no reason not to well, but I wonder, so here's where I'm wondering.

00:40:39   Is I'm wondering if Apple was vaguely worried that they might need to delay the whole

00:40:48   announcement and the event because of the fires, right?

00:40:52   And or did they maybe originally think they would have it the week before and thought

00:40:58   we should push, maybe they did push it back a week.

00:41:01   And I don't know.

00:41:04   That's reason.

00:41:05   No, no, that's that fits.

00:41:06   That fits because to have that also during the fire where people are worried and maybe

00:41:09   even people were out of their homes and it was very scary and then it looks bad.

00:41:12   The optics are bad in terms of like doing the announcement that week and people aren't

00:41:16   around and maybe they had to push it out and that was the week we would have gotten.

00:41:19   Maybe, you know, and that they, and that part of this, we, you know, and that is, I know

00:41:24   one reason, you know, among many, but one reason Apple doesn't announce any of these

00:41:28   events until much later than other companies.

00:41:31   I mean, even WWDC, even in normal years, they announced the date for their developer

00:41:38   conference that attracts thousands of developers from around the world and the around the

00:41:42   world aspect is greater than ever historically, which involves a tremendous amounts of

00:41:50   travel commitments, right?

00:41:51   If you're, you know, traveling from Asia or Australia or even Europe, you know, the

00:41:57   cost and complexity of booking a week of travel to California is significant and the

00:42:03   earlier you could do it, the better it would be and probably the cheaper too, but they

00:42:09   kind of hold their powder until the last minute and I think, you know, part of it is

00:42:13   because they're Apple, it's just their nature and part of it is because, well, you

00:42:17   never know, right?

00:42:18   And so this year, they never delayed WWDC.

00:42:23   We think of it as being delayed because it came several weeks later than it usually is,

00:42:28   but they never had to cancel the in-person WWDC.

00:42:32   They never had to change the dates because they never actually announced them, right?

00:42:36   I mean, we know that they had the, whatever the name is, the San Jose Convention Center

00:42:42   booked.

00:42:43   We know that if it hadn't been for COVID, it almost certainly would have been like the

00:42:48   second Monday of June would have been the beginning of WWDC in San Jose, but because

00:42:54   they didn't ever announce it, they never had to postpone it, you know?

00:42:57   And so they don't announce these press events until like a week before and I think part

00:43:02   of it maybe was trying to wait out the fire because it would just be so inappropriate,

00:43:07   you know, to have this, here we are in Cupertino in sunny California while this actual skies

00:43:14   are hellscape orange, right?

00:43:18   It just, you know.

00:43:19   It certainly is poor optics.

00:43:21   I agree with you.

00:43:22   And you know, and then my thinking along these lines is somebody would raise their hand in

00:43:29   this discussion and say, well, wait, what about developers?

00:43:31   You know, they're going to want to know and that the basic decision was, well, we'll just

00:43:37   ship the day after the event whenever it is in Tough Nuggies, you know?

00:43:40   And that's it.

00:43:43   And that's sort of what happened.

00:43:45   Yeah, it could be.

00:43:46   Either way, it was definitely out of character for them and definitely, definitely very bad

00:43:50   for developers.

00:43:50   And I wouldn't even say bad for users at the end of the day, right?

00:43:54   Because there was so much like there were bugs, there was confusion, there were things

00:43:58   being late, there were developers like us that didn't ship on time.

00:44:01   Just saying it was definitely a very difficult release.

00:44:05   Chaotic maybe, right?

00:44:07   Absolutely.

00:44:08   And I would say overall, iOS 14 is definitely better than iOS 13.0.

00:44:13   I mean, remember last year, I was 13 was only out for like five days before iOS 13.1.

00:44:17   I mean, it was like five days.

00:44:19   I mean, it was very confusing.

00:44:21   And even iOS 13.1 was by the general standards of first releases of major new OSes pretty

00:44:30   buggy.

00:44:30   Yeah, iOS 14's, believe it or not, been quite stable and quite good.

00:44:35   Yeah, there's bugs, especially with widgets and you know, they're they're they're fixing

00:44:39   them and we're fixing them and other just it's very solid.

00:44:41   I agree with you.

00:44:42   I've run into some things.

00:44:43   I use sharing sheets a lot.

00:44:45   A lot.

00:44:47   Yes.

00:44:47   And I do they're broken.

00:44:49   Yeah, I've run into some things all summer long and it seems like they've fixed some

00:44:54   of them, but I still run into it sometimes.

00:44:56   But but an app can get locked.

00:44:58   It almost feels like a throwback to a long time ago, maybe even before the iPhone, but

00:45:05   like an app can with a share sheet open if you I can I still can't get it reproducible,

00:45:11   but I'll be trying to use a sharing extension and then all of a sudden the share sheet is

00:45:15   there.

00:45:16   Nothing on screen is tappable, right?

00:45:18   It's just like a screenshot share sheet.

00:45:21   Well, it's not blank.

00:45:22   I can see stuff, but it doesn't do anything.

00:45:24   It's like I've seen it where it's blank.

00:45:26   It's as though the whole app is a screenshot, right?

00:45:29   It's it just nothing.

00:45:30   I can't make it go away.

00:45:32   There's no way to dismiss it.

00:45:34   I can switch to other apps and if I switch back, it's still there in this state and the

00:45:38   only way to get out is to force quit the app.

00:45:40   Oh yeah, I've had this with slack.

00:45:42   So if I try to share like this, a crash log with one of my teammates after the share happens,

00:45:46   the whole screen freezes and you literally can't tap anything and then you have to force

00:45:50   quit the app like it's not right.

00:45:51   Exactly.

00:45:51   I've had that too.

00:45:52   I've seen it in a couple apps and it's just I think it might be the app not being ready

00:45:57   for like I think there's probably something that updated.

00:45:59   We got updated with share sheets and the app like slack isn't aware of how to like say

00:46:03   OK, I got it and close the close the value.

00:46:07   I think it's probably that because some apps it works fine, right?

00:46:12   Yeah, and I do think it's gotten better throughout August.

00:46:15   It was a real problem for me like early August.

00:46:17   More so on iPad, but it seems like it's gotten better, but I still run into it even with

00:46:24   the shipping version of iOS 14 on iPhone and iPad, but overall it's better.

00:46:30   But it really what a weird, what a weird release.

00:46:34   But anyway, lease indeed widgets.

00:46:36   People are nuts for widgets and the other thing that's for widgets and it's related

00:46:42   because it's about customizing the same area of the app that the home screen.

00:46:46   People are nuts for this new ability in shortcuts where you can make a shortcut that just launches

00:46:52   an app and then the shortcut you can assign any icon you want.

00:46:58   So what you could do is take let's say fantastic cow and you could put fantastic cow in your

00:47:04   app library.

00:47:05   And then make a shortcut that launches fantastic cow name the shortcut fantastic cow and put

00:47:12   a picture of Michael Simmons on the thing and now all of a sudden I was thinking John

00:47:18   Gruber right alright either way you know put a picture of you or me and now all of a sudden

00:47:24   the way you know it looks like you know and you have an icon on your home screen that

00:47:28   says fantastic cow it's a picture of me or it's a picture of you or whatever and you

00:47:34   tap it and it launches fantastic cow and it's it's as though you've customized the icon

00:47:39   of fantastic cow to whatever icon you want.

00:47:42   Some people are going nuts for this and having tons of fun and doing you know entire themes

00:47:49   you know I saw somebody posted a screenshot where they replaced the icon for all of their

00:47:55   first screen apps with a photo of the CEO of the company behind the app so like their

00:48:01   Apple apps all had a picture of Tim Cook the Amazon ones had a picture of Bezos the Google

00:48:07   apps they use had Sundar Pichai etc.

00:48:09   You know Facebook and Instagram had pictures of Zuckerberg.

00:48:12   People are going nuts for this and then combine it with of course home screen widgets.

00:48:19   Which is another way to decorate and customize your own thing.

00:48:22   People are going nuts for it and I'm not surprised and I think the reason I'm not surprised is I

00:48:29   remember the 90s on the Mac and that people loved doing stuff like that and I feel like

00:48:37   we've been in an era where that sort of customization just isn't even technically possible

00:48:42   let alone supported right.

00:48:45   It just wasn't even possible that people and maybe it's younger people and maybe people

00:48:50   who weren't around for the classic Mac era or maybe I don't know maybe there was I guess

00:48:55   there was similar stuff for Windows back in the day you know like the way that you could

00:49:00   customize Winamp and all the various MP3 players.

00:49:03   No totally.

00:49:04   People forget about it.

00:49:04   You just reminded me of you just totally gave me a flashback to college where a friend of

00:49:09   mine believe it or not I wasn't into Mac my whole life I was an Amiga guy you know like

00:49:12   a Commodore 64 Amiga guy and when I got into college a friend of mine had a Mac and on

00:49:16   his Mac he had his hard drive customized with a BMW icon and I remember when I saw that

00:49:22   I was just like that's so cool though really like it's it's still in my brain where I

00:49:25   just remember that moment being like how did you do that right and that's what I think

00:49:29   is going on here right it's the personalization customization of your device to whatever you're

00:49:34   into.

00:49:35   Right and I've seen I and again this is one of those things I haven't really written about

00:49:39   on Daring Fireball my my opinion is go everybody go do what you want to do that to have fun

00:49:45   with it I know some people are thinking oh my god I've seen all these screenshots they're

00:49:50   so ugly this shouldn't be allowed this is terrible these people have no taste this is

00:49:55   awful.

00:49:56   It's their phone it's their device right?

00:50:00   I've seen people thinking that you know brand managers that these companies are going to

00:50:05   be upset and they're going to complain like hey we spent all this time on our fancy black

00:50:11   square with a white U Uber logo for our Uber icon and now people are replacing it I think

00:50:19   they're overreacting I think that you're you know again they're not changing your phone

00:50:24   they're changing their own it's like it's like getting upset that people put stickers

00:50:28   over the the brand logo on the back of their laptop screens you know.

00:50:33   Yep if anything I think you've changed my mind I think you've changed my mind because

00:50:37   seriously I was looking at a lot of these screenshots going oh these are kind of terrible

00:50:41   but no I really I think you changed my mind I think it's like it's their device if that's

00:50:45   what makes them happy like putting a BMW logo on their hard drive right then let them be

00:50:50   happy right it makes them happy it makes them unique.

00:50:52   I totally think so and I I just remember back in the day that my god customizing your hard

00:51:00   drive icon was the least of it I mean we on the mac we had extensions that did crazy stuff

00:51:06   I remember the trash can I know we had talked about this oh yeah Oscar the Grouch that was my

00:51:12   favorite man I love that Oscar but yeah we had extensions there was one called I'm gonna

00:51:19   forget this I actually should have done the work but remember the way that the BOS looked

00:51:25   this was the John Oigassi's B company and they they had it was a very mac-like interface

00:51:31   but their window style were the the the big difference was that their top of their windows

00:51:38   the title bars which we've kind of gotten away from overall but back when title bars were title

00:51:43   bars theirs were tab shaped as opposed to going the full width of the window and so that's right

00:51:50   you know and if you did they're just like they looked like folder tabs and and they would grow

00:51:55   to the length of the name of the thing so if you had a document named Michael and I had a document

00:52:03   and my copy was Michael is a big fat idiot my tab would be longer because my file name is longer and

00:52:11   yours would be shorter because it would just shrink to fit the name Michael but anyway there were

00:52:16   extensions for the mac that would you just I forget what it was called but it was it would

00:52:21   just turn all your windows they would just you you'd put this extension in your folder restart

00:52:25   and then all of a sudden you'd when you restarted all of your mac windows looked like b windows

00:52:29   I remember that one too and then of course remember I can't forget conflict catcher which

00:52:35   then managed all the extensions right his name is Greg Landweber I remember I don't remember the

00:52:40   name of the first version of god that name totally rings a bell right Greg Landweber and then they

00:52:45   he collaborated with someone and they turned it into something called Aaron I believe that's my

00:52:50   memory of oh Aaron Aaron that's right yeah because of Copeland right yeah yeah yeah yeah that's right

00:52:54   Aaron was an extension that took what they did the first version made it look like one way and one

00:53:00   way only exactly like B and Aaron made it so that you could style your windows to look however you

00:53:06   wanted them to look and you're being right and then a cannon kaleidoscope right Arlo Rose I'm

00:53:10   starting to like remember like the whole path of all this right well kaleidoscope though was

00:53:14   different though because it wasn't about changing all of your windows it was kaleidoscope or like

00:53:18   widgets you know they called them gadgets I think remember okay but it didn't it didn't change

00:53:23   window themes I forget I'm it might have been a different kaleidoscope back to Aaron though

00:53:27   because Aaron was cool now I'm remembering yeah but Arlo Rose had definitely had something to do

00:53:31   with this he might have been his collaborator on Aaron now that I think about it but anyway the

00:53:36   basic idea was you could get an extension and then it would customize everything make the buttons look

00:53:41   different the menus the colors and none of the sounds none of this was supported by Apple you

00:53:47   know it was all sort of hacking the the OS and then Apple sort of saw the enthusiasm people had

00:53:55   for this and built in into classic Mac OS something called the appearance manager where they could have

00:54:03   appearance manager extensions and officially supported they announced like five of them

00:54:08   and they were wasn't just like different colors of the same look they were radically different and

00:54:13   there was one called gizmo that looked like remember this I will definitely put this in

00:54:18   the show notes but I do gizmo looked I mean how would you describe gizmo I don't even know how

00:54:23   to describe it people wouldn't believe it if I said it so it was sort of like

00:54:28   so hard to describe it was it it would take the user interface and well there were two gizmos

00:54:37   actually because wasn't there one that was a messaging app too but that's not the theme the

00:54:41   theme was like it was like sesame street style like you know you know those toys at the pediatrician

00:54:47   when you were at least when I was a kid there'd be like these wooden toys with like spirals and

00:54:53   slides and and you would just sort of move like an oh okay I know like I'm thinking like the candy

00:54:57   stripe stuff it would have all like the yeah the like blue and red and everything was like very

00:55:01   glossy and candy it was crazy it made your mac look like a circus you know every window uh and

00:55:06   there was one called high tech that was big platinum platinum was another platinum was the

00:55:11   one that wound up that was the default platinum was the default um but but but the idea was that

00:55:17   it would be one of several choices there the high tech one was was like what we would now call dark

00:55:22   mode it was a very dark almost black interface but that the the chrome was much thicker it looked

00:55:29   sort of like what you would think the computers would look like in the judge dread movie right and

00:55:36   it's there was one that was like a blueprint or a drawing board remember that one was it called uh

00:55:41   I want to say it was called drawing board maybe or blueprint or something like that remember that

00:55:46   everything was like sketches right everything looked it actually they came back to that same

00:55:50   look and feel with the icons for like xcode nowadays right where everything looks like an

00:55:55   architect's blue paper with white pencil sketch but your whole interface looked like that including

00:56:01   your menu bar um that's right and those things they literally they were from apple they were

00:56:07   going to be first party supported and there was an api where third parties would be able to write

00:56:12   their own extensions for it they they effectively sherlocked the third party hack to customize the

00:56:18   interface and then this was all getting ready to ship right when steve jobs came and next

00:56:24   reunified with apple and they looked i think i would love this is one of those like on my top 10

00:56:30   list of meetings i wish that i could have been a fly on the wall for would have been the meeting

00:56:35   where steve jobs was presented with these appearance manager themes right like they

00:56:43   absolutely they've got this os that they didn't even make that they you know and they you know

00:56:48   the next people who now were running apple but they knew they needed the company to depend upon

00:56:53   for years to come before mac os 10 would be ready to ship and it had all of these themes and they

00:57:00   just deleted them all they just shipped it at the last moment with nothing but the platinum theme

00:57:06   and no they they like took out the mechanism to load the other themes but yet there still was an

00:57:14   appearance manager subsystem so they had this whole complicated set of they they made making

00:57:20   interfaces so much more complicated because the right way to do an interface as a developer was

00:57:26   to support the appearance manager which meant not being able to make any assumptions about like

00:57:32   what the windows or the buttons or the menus would look like right and then they shipped one theme

00:57:37   and one theme only so you had to throw it all away you had to support an infinite number of

00:57:43   thieves for a system that wound it up wound up shipping with one theme and one theme only but

00:57:48   anyway this sort of thinking of a fly on the wall mac users customizing their icons oh my god that's

00:57:54   all we we used to spend half of our days just customizing our icons that bmw icon i'll never

00:58:00   forget like when i saw that that's actually what got me to go oh my gosh this mac thing is cool

00:58:05   like simple hard drive icon you know what we used to do we used to have there was an app called

00:58:09   folder icon maker and i don't remember oh man so what folder icon maker would do is let's say

00:58:19   i have a folder where i know i'm only going to put bb edit files i could drop bb edits application

00:58:27   onto folder icon maker drag and drop and folder icon maker would spit out an icon that was a

00:58:35   standard system folder with a bb edit badge on the folder and then i could take that icon and paste

00:58:43   it onto or i guess if you wanted to i think it would even just spit out a folder that already

00:58:48   had that icon on it and then you could badged it right so you could make folders that had badges

00:58:55   with whatever you wanted on them so the you know a big a common one would be to badge it with

00:59:00   the application you know that would be inside and in fact it it became so popular and such a

00:59:08   standard thing that apps would ship with inside a folder uh with a badge already on it develop you

00:59:18   know folder icon maker became so standard that that because that was the way back then we didn't

00:59:23   just ship naked apps that you put in an application folder typically an app would come in a folder and

00:59:29   in the folder would be certain support files right like so if photoshop read me's and things like

00:59:34   that right like where was where did the extensions for photoshop go they went in a folder named

00:59:40   extensions at the same level as the photoshop application so you're at you know the typical

00:59:47   way for a well-organized mac user to organize their applications would be that if you had

00:59:51   a applications folder inside that folder would typically be folders there'd be a bb edit folder

00:59:58   and in the bb edit folder was the bb edit app and the bb edit extensions and scripts and the read me

01:00:04   etc you know and but right all of these auxiliary files that were organized in their own right but

01:00:10   instead of having plain folders for all those things we would badge them all it was fantastic

01:00:15   fun oh we loved it absolutely oh yeah it was and that's that's that's somewhat similar to this

01:00:20   right you're putting an icon on something for an app that's recognizable to you or that's personal

01:00:24   to you uh so i think it's great fun i think it's completely harmless i think anybody who's rolling

01:00:30   their eyes because they think what people are making is ugly i i made tons of ugly stuff i

01:00:34   think it's great i think it's so great because to me it gets people involved in their own user

01:00:41   interface design at a recreational level and it has them thinking about it and i just think just

01:00:49   thinking about it period like if you just think it would if you just think it would be fun if i

01:00:54   could change the icon of instagram what would i change it to and the answer is anything you want

01:01:01   really just pick any image you want and make a shortcut and use that image as the icon and set

01:01:06   the shortcut to just launch instagram boom you've got a custom icon for it um it just makes people

01:01:13   think like an interface designer and whether that's actually something you have any aptitude for

01:01:19   at all it doesn't matter if you think it's fun i and i still think it it makes you a better user

01:01:28   just to even broaden your mind to think about it at all right even if like three weeks from now

01:01:34   you're like oh my god what did i do to my iphone these icons are horrible i'm going to get rid of

01:01:38   these shortcuts and put the real apps back but at least you suddenly have an appreciation for

01:01:42   how hard it is to pick a good icon right yeah i'm seeing a lot of the some of the good and some of

01:01:48   those are showing that that's why there's not everyone can be a user interface designer though

01:01:53   right but there's some that you're sort of like man but to that person they like it so what's

01:01:57   the harm it's fine right and i'd you know and i think it's it so like again i go back to decorating

01:02:03   your hardware with stickers and and people you know honestly if you went somewhere back remembering

01:02:09   you could go and meet people but if you just surveyed a thousand people like at a theme park

01:02:15   or a baseball game you know and just took a thousand random people coming through the turnstile

01:02:20   and ask them hey can i see your phone and you just want to see the back of their phone and you

01:02:26   document what case they have out of a thousand people you you easily i i honest to god think you

01:02:32   might get at least 900 different cases right the number of people you know there's that much

01:02:39   expression of personal taste in the back you know what people choose to put on their phones

01:02:45   the way people put stickers on their laptops i have owned a lot of laptops over the years to my

01:02:50   recollection i've never wanted to put a sticker on one but i don't i just don't want a sticker

01:02:55   on mine but i don't hold it against people who do and i totally get why people do and i've also

01:03:02   never gone to school with a laptop and had to worry about like hey you know three of my

01:03:10   classmates all have macbook airs and it's very convenient when they're closed and sitting

01:03:15   together to know that the one with the whatever sticker uh you know the james bond sticker is mine

01:03:22   you know i get it but it the software stuff is even better because at least you don't have to

01:03:28   worry like if you decide you don't like your custom icon for instagram you don't have like

01:03:33   glue to peel off right you yeah yeah and i think a lot of is interactivity right people have seen

01:03:40   their phones as these apps that they run and now in a way not that they're beginning an app

01:03:44   developer but they're sort of getting into oh i can change something on the screen that i never

01:03:49   used to be able to change right it's almost like a um inquisitive thing i think also and i think

01:03:54   that's very interesting yeah i told you know and it's you know widgets are along the same line

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01:06:17   all right widgets that's the new that's the other thing man oh man i i people have been asking for

01:06:25   this this is one of those things where it's like okay i i get it people are happy to have all these

01:06:30   widgets people are customizing widgets people are having fun with it people have been talking the

01:06:36   android people's heads have to be exploiting right because the androids had widgets on their

01:06:42   home screens i think since they started and if not i saw some ridiculous tweet that was like this

01:06:48   iphone looks like my android from 2016 or something or probably longer like 2011 or longer i don't know

01:06:55   is it longer yeah but uh i don't know why apple took so long to do this um but they did they've

01:07:05   had things called widgets and this is where it starts to get a little confusing and i'm glad they

01:07:09   didn't change the name i think widget is a good name for this thing uh i think the fact that it's

01:07:15   catching on this is one of those things too where my son uh you know we have an interesting

01:07:22   relationship on technology where he thinks you know because my primary interest isn't games that

01:07:28   i'm out of touch and i've been writing more about games recently so i've had a lot more to pick his

01:07:35   brain about but he even he gave me and this is seriously like within 24 hours of ios 14 getting

01:07:41   released he's like hey have you heard about this thing with the widgets and i'm like great yeah i

01:07:45   have let's you know you know this is actually what i do and he's like oh i don't know and he said it

01:07:52   like in a way like i don't know you don't seem to ever know about the cool stuff so i just figured

01:07:56   maybe you didn't know about the widgets um that's awesome i you know i don't know what they were

01:08:02   thinking i don't know you know there's obviously a lot of you could speak to this but i i think

01:08:08   apple's put a lot of care into making these things customizable but yet low energy you know and that

01:08:16   they're not going to suck your battery dry yeah the canvas is great i mean it's definitely great

01:08:22   for a designer like me and an app guy like me as a what are we going to make for the app to do and

01:08:28   then it's even better for the user because they get to have the best of their app on their home screen

01:08:32   and you know and and fantastical to me is pretty what do you guys have nine widgets

01:08:39   12 actually and we're adding some more that didn't make the cut for launch so we have 12 currently

01:08:45   and there's more coming so you told me that i saw i know you previewed you sent me the video you know

01:08:51   and it's like my first thought is that seems like too many just as a number right right yeah sure

01:08:59   number one i think apple has a pretty good interface for discovering this right like

01:09:03   getting into jiggle mode and then there's a big plus button at the top and that's where it says

01:09:07   what widgets and there's you can scroll and look through available widgets and then there's a nice

01:09:12   obvious you don't have to pull down to see it once you're in this mode there's a search field

01:09:17   you could just start typing f a n and it'll show you the fantastical widgets that are available

01:09:25   i know i wrote this i know you and i have talked about it this comparison to legos

01:09:29   is to me very apt because it's like okay you can say 12 widgets for fantastical all related to

01:09:36   calendaring and reminders is too many but like once you see them they all sort of make sense

01:09:43   it's like oh yeah this one would just yeah there's of course there's three different sizes and so you

01:09:47   need three different ones where if you just want to see a list of what's coming next on your calendar

01:09:52   here's three sizes and that's three of them right there right that's right you know maybe you want

01:09:57   to see a whole month you want to see that five-week grid calendar month view well now you have you need

01:10:04   a couple sizes for that it's like looking at legos you can say well my god there's 18 different

01:10:09   pieces but once you look at them spread out on your table as you're putting it together it you

01:10:15   know you're like well of course there's different sizes because you need a long one you need a short

01:10:19   one you need a you know the big square one and you need the long skinny one etc that's right

01:10:25   yeah we were designing it we were you know we had a small one that we were like here's the funniest

01:10:30   part one of the features we get our biggest feature request for iphone literally the biggest is

01:10:34   can you put the date on the app icon in other words apple's calendar app can show the date

01:10:38   dynamically right changes once a day we can't do that third-party developers don't have the ability

01:10:44   to change the icon dynamically as you know third-party developers had the ability to put in

01:10:49   custom icons that you could change manually right but that's it right so when when the widgets ios

01:10:56   14 widgets came about one of the first ones we did was well we're going to put a date right a small

01:11:00   date yeah it takes up four spaces versus one icon but now it's a date on your home screen that can

01:11:06   launch fantastical right we knew that that was like one that would people would love right but

01:11:10   as we started to go okay what other small ones can we do okay we can do an up next we could do

01:11:14   a calendar we can do this then we made the medium okay which which parts of that can go on the

01:11:18   medium we mixed and matched the large and as the design was happening i in my head said wait a

01:11:24   minute we're putting together all these that we think are logical but these widgets are great

01:11:28   because you can pick as many as you want i don't know if you know also you can stack our own

01:11:33   widgets or one apps or multiple apps like you can take multiple fantastical widgets and put them in

01:11:37   a stack and then swipe between the widgets in a single stack yeah yeah and you can actually almost

01:11:43   create a scrolling month that way because you can just put multiple lists and then have the list

01:11:46   show different calendar sets or different attributes anyway the point is as we were doing

01:11:51   all this it light bulb went off in my head that it's like well okay we're putting together all

01:11:55   these and saying these are the best 10 or 12 or 15 uh scenarios configurations well okay let's start

01:12:02   making the ones that then users might want to put together so you could take a small and a medium

01:12:07   and put them together and get your best view or two mediums to equal like a large and get your

01:12:10   best view or two larges and so on and so forth and that's that was the that was kind of like

01:12:15   then the guiding light of widgets for us was let's make all the tools that users will want

01:12:20   and then they can pick their favorite widgets in the layout that they want hmm yeah and i think it

01:12:24   really shows and to me however complex that might sound hearing it when you see it it's very

01:12:32   very clear and you know like and i well if you and especially if you already know what you want to see

01:12:39   right that's right you know and it's like oh yeah i would i would pick this piece and that piece and

01:12:44   snap them together and now i've got what i want which is this you know uh two icon high by three

01:12:53   wide thing at the top that will show me all of my agenda right there and you know i i i don't even

01:13:02   think i know like i don't even think we talked about it i just think it's so obvious from the

01:13:07   get-go that fantastic hall in particular was a candidate to go really deep into widgets right

01:13:15   from the get-go because of the nature of the app right it is that's right this i mean it is it

01:13:21   some of the analogies between digital world electronic calendaring and real world calendaring

01:13:28   are very different but a lot of them are sort of the same and that basic idea of what is what

01:13:34   what's going on for me today what do i you know i need a glanceable thing and it is sort of

01:13:40   foundational to all of it right it's the same as you know it's very much the same as the needs of

01:13:45   somebody 100 years ago who's doing it all on with a pen and paper yeah we started making fantastic

01:13:53   al back in like 2010 is when we started that was the skeuomorphic period if you will and one of the

01:13:59   things it was actually good that we started around then because i think very hard very hard about

01:14:05   like what's the real calendar in the real world versus a digital calendar on the device and i

01:14:10   think it's really important to make sure that they're different but that they serve the same

01:14:15   purpose which is what keeping you on time right keeping you apprised of your meetings and your

01:14:19   tasks and i think the digital space allows us so much more so many more tools to actually give the

01:14:28   user to let them be more organized things that we can take over the heavy lifting from as developers

01:14:33   and have the user just go okay well there's a date and a calendar and a list that that's familiar to

01:14:38   me but what they don't realize is all the other stuff how they're all intertwined with the app

01:14:42   with the calendar sets with the notifications with the accounts right there's all this stuff

01:14:45   that it's standing on the shoulders of but at the end of the day it's a really familiar display that

01:14:49   keeps them organized and that's what i think widgets do quite well right and and then the

01:14:53   combination effect with all of the other widgets you might have and will you know and again we're

01:14:59   only like a week into this right who knows where we'll be in a couple months but the basic idea is

01:15:06   it lets the user design their own home screen and that's right and again people are going to make

01:15:15   decisions that i would find distasteful or confused like why would you want that but that's not for me

01:15:24   to decide and i know you know that i do things that you know like if you look through my field

01:15:30   notes notebook here you might think well these these are the notes of a crazy person right this

01:15:35   is this is somebody who needs to be locked up you know because it they're not really meant to be

01:15:40   understood by anybody else like why would anybody write these things down um you know that's the way

01:15:45   you've set up your home screen it's but it really gets people thinking like an interface designer

01:15:51   what do you want do you want a big clock do you really need to know the time do you not wear a

01:15:55   watch do you want a big clock on your iphone home screen all the time but it really does sort of

01:16:00   i find it so exciting that people i not that that i'm using widgets so much yet but i find

01:16:09   the enthusiasm that so many people clearly have for this feature this explosion of enthusiasm for

01:16:16   it to be so exciting because i just think that it's the best of the mac mentality going back to

01:16:26   1984 that computer for the rest of us that you can design your own computer stuff you know that

01:16:32   you're not just locked into this design that that the people who made it do you can snap your own

01:16:39   pieces together like legos and make a weird lego spaceship that lego would never sell as a kit

01:16:45   but it's your spaceship and there's a reason for it no absolutely absolutely and i it's almost like

01:16:54   um you know what is it this is my rifle there's others like you know this one's mine like i think

01:16:58   people actually end up saying that it's like this is my iphone right it is mine there's many like it

01:17:03   but this one's mine and then they get into that whole idea that okay this is my iphone now i don't

01:17:08   have to have this thing that looks like everyone else's i can make it work and look and feel

01:17:11   exactly the way i want it to right and it's you know like your home screen can sort of start to

01:17:16   take the weird shape of your weird mind you know and ultimately at some level all of us the inside

01:17:22   of our heads it's weird you know and oh yeah and you can start designing a little thing that

01:17:27   reflects it and i think it's very cool um i do think at a technical level part of hey why not

01:17:34   till now i think that the fact that these are all with swift ui and it has to be swift ui um

01:17:41   is part of that story right that this is you know this is the fruition of apple's swift ui

01:17:51   many years long strategy that we're only in the middle of starting to come to fruition

01:17:57   you know uh what about the the last thing i'll talk about on this point is that the confusion

01:18:04   between the old style widgets and the new widgets so they call them both widgets i touched on this a

01:18:09   few minutes ago the new ones are the ones that everybody is loving and having fun with and has

01:18:15   exuberance for and you can put them on any home screen you want and drag them around the old ones

01:18:20   are the ones that could only be when you swipe over to like screen zero right when you go if

01:18:26   call it that today they call it that's a day view right but i always think of it as if if your

01:18:30   screens if your main screen is screen one this was the one that's to the left it's like screen

01:18:36   zero and there's no apps you can't put apps on screen zero to debut whatever you want to call it

01:18:42   you know those widgets still exist and it's like they do i guess because they can't you know people

01:18:50   who are relying on them in other apps they can't you know but they're a totally they're a totally

01:18:55   different thing it's not like oh this is a new version of that thing the only similarity is that

01:19:00   they are called widgets and they basically are the same idea of a widget of information but technically

01:19:08   the two reason well two reasons why they still exist is just that i think they're still called

01:19:12   classic widgets i think that's what the name they get that's what we call them is classic widget

01:19:16   but i think they exist because of things like home automation right if you have um

01:19:22   a light that's being controlled by this button and you want it on or off quick

01:19:26   the new widgets can't do that um ah because the new widgets can't really be interactive

01:19:32   correct but the old widgets could yes or like the tesla app for the tesla car right you could tap it

01:19:39   and it does stuff with the car or whatever it is anything connected and the new ones cannot do that

01:19:44   yes there could be a tesla app or a light app or a home automation app that is a new widget

01:19:49   but you tap it it then opens the app and then the app still has to do something it's not an

01:19:53   instantaneous interaction i think those are still around because without those you lose some really

01:20:01   really really big functionality from the iphone and oh that's interesting i didn't think about

01:20:07   that i didn't think about the fact that the old ones had the interactivity i i've been thinking

01:20:11   about the fact that the new ones don't but the old ones did and i think and why is that i think they

01:20:16   just haven't gotten there yet right i hope they do because even our old widget i i still keep our old

01:20:22   widget our classic widget around because we actually have a calendar view that you can tap

01:20:26   around the days and then the list changes it's just like the fantastic helen app view and we have

01:20:30   you know if you tap and hold it adds to that date and it's very very interactive and we would love

01:20:35   to do that with the new widget so i really do hope that's coming all right let us um break here and

01:20:42   thank our third and final sponsor of this episode our good friends at linode i say linode i used to

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01:24:17   of the said line node too i always say line it looks like line i don't even think that's crazy

01:24:22   i think you kind of have to know but you know maybe i was maybe it was my dumb ability to

01:24:27   mispronounce almost anything that thought linux was linex for years but i don't think linode you

01:24:34   know i don't know they're good guys i do know that good guys and gals i love them they're they've

01:24:39   been really solid and good uh let's talk about the indie development ecosystem let's talk about

01:24:49   pricing first because that's really it right what does it mean to be an indie developer what i'm

01:24:54   talking about and you know i it almost seems crazy to have to define it but i'm talking about small

01:25:00   companies maybe it's one person maybe it's 10 20 people right maybe it's even more than 20 people

01:25:06   but by the scheme certainly of today's companies like apple and google and amazon small companies

01:25:12   that are making software and making money through the software that runs it as a profitable business

01:25:19   right and make times collapse that users like to pay for and use and do use and go forward

01:25:28   um i it's of always of great concern to me because it's it is it's not just personal in that i have

01:25:37   friends who do this and i want to see them survive but it's also very selfish in that what i how i

01:25:45   spend my day every day and what i use to do my work revolves around uh up-to-date thriving indie

01:25:54   software on all of the platforms i use um but it is it is counterintuitive because personal

01:26:04   computers are more popular than they've ever been and people of everybody is spending more time on

01:26:12   them than they ever did before but in a lot of ways i think it's harder to be an indie developer

01:26:18   and to make a make a business out of it than it ever has been before and it's so counterintuitive

01:26:23   but i think it's almost undeniably true do you yeah it is it is it is as much as the market has

01:26:31   grown and the tools have grown and the i guess customer base has grown and the opportunity has

01:26:37   grown it is absolutely positively a very very very very very hard thing to do part of it is that

01:26:46   pricing has changed so dramatically and i think you know again it's i mean let me put on my old

01:26:52   man hat but in the 90s software was so expensive compared to today it it's really hard to get

01:27:01   people's heads wrapped around it you know that you know you would buy a word processor and it would

01:27:05   cost 199 and that was just version two and when version three came out it would you know you could

01:27:14   upgrade but you'd have to have a license key for the old one and the upgrade was 129 dollars

01:27:20   apple's os's used to cost 129 dollars like if you wanted to update from like mac os

01:27:27   10.3 to 10.4 you'd have to pay like 129 dollars software was expensive i remember and it but

01:27:36   it made money and it kept companies afloat and the downward pressure on pricing and what consumers

01:27:44   think is a fair price has gotten so low and it's been for lack of a better word perverted

01:27:51   by how much is quote unquote free and you know monetized in different ways you know that if you

01:28:00   get all of facebook and twitter and instagram and you can't pay them you there's nothing there is no

01:28:06   way there is no pro option for facebook where i can pay ten dollars a month and get a better version

01:28:13   you can't even pay and you get all that for free and you want you know twenty dollars for a text

01:28:20   editor or whatever the name you know the the thing is people think well that's crazy this is you know

01:28:26   look at it this is such such as you know this this all this does is edit text files and i get all this

01:28:32   for free from google or amazon or whoever there's a built-in calendar app for free why would i ever

01:28:37   pay for a calendar app well just to just to throw one out there so fantastical is an interesting

01:28:44   area right like so part of it is always the the competing with the built-in apps right that's

01:28:49   always been true right there's you know there's always been a text editor on you know simple text

01:28:55   and teach text going back to the day and so you know you've always that's like a baseline

01:28:59   level of okay if you're going to sell a app it has to be better than the thing that's built in free

01:29:06   all right but but when people think that well if this one's free and yours is paid a dollar

01:29:13   sounds fair to me you know where do you even start if that and then again i'm not exaggerating that

01:29:18   there are people who think that one dollar might be a fair price for a professional calendar app

01:29:23   well they think one dollar might be a fair price for life like in other words the thing needs to

01:29:29   work as long as my iphone works or as long as ios is an ios right and it's you know it it's all

01:29:38   gotten more complicated too because at least on the app if we just talk about the apple ecosystem

01:29:44   for indie development in some ways it's this plethora of riches where we've got all of these

01:29:50   extra devices now like phones and it's amazing to be able to have your app on the phone too and it's

01:29:56   in your pocket you know right you you know it's kind of awesome like when you got started making

01:30:00   fantastical uh mail mid-2010 maybe you could imagine because the iphone was out but you know

01:30:06   you go back far enough to when you first started making apps and the idea that your app might be

01:30:11   in your jeans pocket all the time that's awesome right it's like that's oh yeah yeah yeah i mean

01:30:17   it was even in very early days for the iphone when fantastical came out so it was still it was at

01:30:21   that that that first initial thing where it's like okay apps are allowed and you're sort of like

01:30:25   not really sure what it is or what it means or what it could do but yeah no it was incredible

01:30:29   but you've you know but then there's an expectation where if an app can sync and let's just use the

01:30:36   word sync loosely because there's different ways of syncing but more or less if you can use the

01:30:40   same thing from your phone and on your ipad and on your mac people expect to be able to they want to

01:30:46   be able to but it's not really clear how you're supposed to monetize that as a developer and it is

01:30:54   if not three times the work it might be more than three times the work right that it's because it's

01:31:00   it you think like well the the ipad app is really just a bigger version of the iphone app so it

01:31:05   shouldn't be three times the work and there's certain data models that you can use that you

01:31:09   can reuse across the thing but then you've got to make sure all of the integration and syncing

01:31:15   works right it is it's a lot more work and yet you people expect well i paid for the iphone version

01:31:23   why in the world do i have to pay for the mac version yeah right they see it as one app i paid

01:31:29   for fantastical give me it all right yeah so fantastical used to be let's just be specific

01:31:37   on fantastical so the traditional way to sell apps would be you'd sell a version for a price

01:31:43   the user would decide okay i'll buy it and then you know you'd get a license code or in the app

01:31:48   store or whatever but then obviously you know whatever the mechanism is you know it unlocks it

01:31:53   and now you have it and then if a new version came out a year later two years later you would get

01:32:01   upgrade pricing for it new users would pay still pay the new price and existing users would get

01:32:05   some kind of discounted price and this worked for a long time in the industry you know at all levels

01:32:14   you know it's how everything from microsoft office to you know some 16 year old kids shareware app

01:32:23   you know for the mac worked and monetized um right and it doesn't work anymore because the app store

01:32:32   doesn't support that model and never never has and by this time i think we can safely say never will

01:32:37   and yeah we we were at a weird time when fantastical came out because here's what's

01:32:43   even crazier john the mac app store launched in january of 2011 i remember this and we launched

01:32:48   fantastical in may 2011 and when we were developing fantastical in 2010 a little bit before

01:32:54   we we didn't know the mac app store was coming necessarily right so we were planning on just

01:32:58   selling the app directly like like we used to right so that was really a weird change for us

01:33:03   because now we're selling it on the mac app store and our own store and apps still weren't i would

01:33:09   say differently valued then i don't even want to necessarily call them devalued i i've been thinking

01:33:14   a lot about it since we switched the subscription i know you're going to ask me about that a bit but

01:33:18   like i feel like apps aren't devalued i feel like apps are valued differently than than you and i in

01:33:24   the old school days prior to the app store um well tell me how how do you think that they're valued

01:33:30   you're saying by users yeah so i think what happens is you know someone buys a phone which

01:33:36   the irony is that an iphone is very expensive right and iphone's not certainly a cheap thing

01:33:40   not that not that an android phone is necessarily cheap you can get cheap android phones but in the

01:33:46   sense of the iphone land it is not something anyone would ever describe as very cheap

01:33:51   it is a premium product so it shouldn't be and that's sort of why i point this out the iphone's

01:33:57   a premium product you pay more for it because it's premium well that means the apps on the iphone

01:34:02   platform are more premium therefore yes there's going to be free ones like facebook or instagram

01:34:08   or uber or door dash or whatever but then there's going to be also premium apps yeah there's going

01:34:14   to be also bad apps there's going to be free apps there's going to be hobby apps there's going to be

01:34:17   apps that just are overpriced and whatever but what i find interesting about the whole iphone

01:34:22   scene is that the iphone's a premium product that you pay more for because it's premium

01:34:27   but then when there's a premium app people's value of that app is that it should be free or

01:34:32   very very very cheap and i think the reason for that is because the software that's built into the

01:34:36   iphone is free and really good and third-party apps services whether it be twitter or facebook

01:34:42   whatever their apps aren't that bad either i mean we can get into that but i'm just saying in general

01:34:45   they're their apps right they do what they're supposed to do and i think that's where the the

01:34:50   the the um what did i say i didn't say devalued i said where the different value or uh you know

01:34:56   yeah i feel like it's people's people's idea of what an app should be valued is very very different

01:35:03   based upon what they paid for the device and what they get with it for free yeah and it's

01:35:08   different ways of looking at how much you pay total right like so you know one of the ways

01:35:16   that our phones are so expensive is it doesn't even matter which phone you start with your monthly

01:35:23   the phone is useless without paying a phone provider for service and i know that us us

01:35:28   users pay more than users do in europe and other countries but at a basic level at least here in

01:35:34   the u.s for decent phone service you're paying at least forty dollars a month and probably more

01:35:41   right like if you're on verizon or at&t you're definitely paying more um and if you told somebody

01:35:49   like how long does a typical person use their phone let's say two or three years maybe that's

01:35:54   extending you know to three years so if you take 36 months times just 50 bucks a month that's

01:36:02   1800 in phone service right and that's if you're only paying 50 bucks a month so if you told

01:36:08   somebody when they came in to the to the to buy their iphone that whatever the cost of the iphone

01:36:14   is you know average selling price 800 oh and by the way you need to pay us 1800 to have phone

01:36:20   service for the next three years they they they would they would look around for hidden cameras

01:36:26   they'd be like what are you talking about 1800 2000 for phone service for the next three years

01:36:31   that you're you're out of your mind i'm gonna go buy my phone somewhere else you're

01:36:35   you know you're on crack uh but that's what you're going to pay right because but but they've they've

01:36:41   internalized it they only pay it monthly and that you can only pay it monthly and i sort of feel

01:36:46   like that's what's happening with that prices in a way where you get so much for free it's just worn

01:36:52   it down and when you're approached with the symbol if you could really just open the books and look

01:36:59   at the you know be the accountant for an independent software developer and look at you know salary and

01:37:07   healthcare and whatever other all the other costs that go into running a company and the number of

01:37:12   developers and designers that you need to to pick your app you know maybe it's a game maybe it's a

01:37:17   utility whatever uh and then figure out how many users you'll have and multiply that by a number

01:37:24   to get just a baseline break even price it's way higher than people think because they're not

01:37:29   thinking of it in the same way that like what you pay for phone service over the life of your phone

01:37:34   is way higher than a lot of people would think is right even though they're actually paying it

01:37:40   which yeah there's no question and there's support crews we need support right because we got to be

01:37:45   able to reply on twitter and support and get back to customers with bugs or whatever it is right

01:37:48   like it is it is actually if you're going to have an app that does a lot of stuff like syncing and

01:37:55   multiple platforms and all the stuff we do at fantascal you need a crew you can't just do it

01:37:59   with one or two people you can't it's not it's not possible it's just not possible i can't mention

01:38:05   this person by name but i don't even think that he makes indie software anymore but there was a

01:38:11   well-known developer from like 15 years ago had some very popular apps and was making i think a

01:38:17   good business in it and but had nobody helping with support and i think i heard this story from

01:38:23   cable sasser our mutual friend at panic who we could talk a bit more about but cable asked him

01:38:29   one day well how do you do this how do you how do you ever get anything done without support and he

01:38:33   goes oh it's easy i hardly spend any time at all and he goes well what do you do what's you know

01:38:37   and cable's thinking like i think it was cable but thinking like does he have some magical

01:38:41   everybody's always looking for the magical bug tracking system that will actually oh my god we

01:38:46   switched to this and all of a sudden our support you know 20 hours of support turned into one hour

01:38:53   oh my god what is it he goes hey not just email everybody just emails he goes well how do you do

01:38:57   it and he goes oh it's easy i just open up the email and i do select all and then i hit the

01:39:01   delete key then i go go back to work i gave him his boy left and he's like no really what do you

01:39:08   do and he looked at him and he's just like no no that's that's what i do and the inbox is filled

01:39:13   up with support i just select all and then i hit delete and then i go back to work and i make my

01:39:18   next version and you know the irony is if the app is that good you could do that well if if their

01:39:24   emails are there they're all right but i'd never do it but you could do it i that's so fun uh

01:39:30   but it is it's an issue and it costs money and you know oh support is very very hard it actually is

01:39:38   as as we're getting bigger and as the app is getting more complicated support is actually

01:39:42   like the biggest problem because we want our customers to be happy so on the flip side though

01:39:45   there were problems with that old model of software and one of the problems was that the

01:39:51   only way to get when you sort of reached uh what's the word saturation market saturation where if

01:39:58   you've been established and you're around for a while and you know you're not getting new users

01:40:04   you've got a large existing user base and you're only making money from the existing users by

01:40:09   selling upgrades then you've got to time these upgrades in a way that they come out regularly

01:40:18   enough that the company's revenue is regular in some way right but like in that model when you

01:40:25   look when you know i worked at barebone software 20 years ago and i'm friends with so many people

01:40:30   in the industry but when you sell software that way you you really do have to internalize that

01:40:36   the graph of your company's revenue has these bizarre spikes around releases you know and you

01:40:43   have to internalize that like the three months before your version 6.0 is coming out you think

01:40:51   you know you've got it scheduled you think you're in the final beta stages you think you're about

01:40:54   two or three months from shipping but you've been working on it for you know 15 months and so maybe

01:41:01   your revenue is really low you've got to like have that gambler's mentality of knowing it's okay that

01:41:07   our company's revenue right now for this month is unsustainably low because we're heading towards

01:41:13   this big release and that's when we're going to get all these upgrades and then when the release

01:41:18   happens and it's a hit and you make all this money and it's like oh people love it because you added

01:41:23   x y and z features that they've been waiting for and they're happy to upgrade right away and

01:41:26   they're spreading the word and uh Gruber linked to it from daring fireball and people are upgrading

01:41:31   it's all great you have to then internalize that that amount of money isn't your new baseline and

01:41:37   you can't go out and buy a Lamborghini you know like a hundred percent you've now you've now

01:41:42   normalized what you need to keep the machine running to provide that level of support right

01:41:47   compare and contrast with say running a restaurant which is a real famously a very hard business and

01:41:52   a lot of them you know most of them tend to not make it and go under and that's before this whole

01:41:58   covid thing which is ravaged the industry but for the most part a restaurant makes money on a daily

01:42:05   basis that pays the money for the day that it you know there's not like all of a sudden you make so

01:42:11   much money on one day of the year that it funds the rest of the year right it's you know software

01:42:17   development in that model was a feast or famine and you you know a very brief feast and then

01:42:25   not really a famine but it would trickle off and then you'd come out with a new release but then

01:42:30   the the problem with this idea is that sometimes there are features you want to add that take

01:42:35   a long time and when do you absolutely when do you fit that in and then how do you time it how

01:42:43   do you time it to something that also apple isn't doing with widgets for example we had to get

01:42:47   widgets done it's a big feature apple you know would love it right and then we have to put

01:42:50   something else on hold right right you have to prioritize it and well wait can we charge people

01:42:55   for this um you know or just look at some of the stuff just mundane stuff that people shouldn't

01:43:02   have to worry about but if you know apple says hey 32-bit binaries are being deprecated in a

01:43:09   future os release now you've got to spend time moving your whole code base to 64-bit you have

01:43:16   to or else your app won't run how do you you can't sell that as you know the flagship tentpole

01:43:22   feature of version 8.0 of your app is 64-bit compatibility you know it'll actually still run

01:43:29   but it might be a mountain of work right it's that's right apple silicon was actually you know

01:43:35   the transition we're ready um what i could say about that it was actually pretty easy like it

01:43:40   wasn't like a lot of stress but that had to be done we still had to take time away from other

01:43:44   work to do that right someone has to do that and there were bugs and there are issues and we have

01:43:50   to get that done widgets we had to get that done um even other stuff big sir we have changes coming

01:43:55   for big sir got to get that done and that doesn't include new stuff that we want to do right and

01:44:00   it's just it really is a very interesting business of how much stuff you have to do

01:44:06   just to be baseline before you actually do stuff that makes the thing great

01:44:11   the uh you know you can still double click the app and it will launch is not really considered

01:44:18   a feature by users and shouldn't be but at an engineering level sometimes it's surprisingly

01:44:24   difficult and so you know well said hence hence the overall industry shift of commercial software

01:44:32   where the users pay the developers to use the software shifting from buying versions and paying

01:44:39   for version upgrades to subscription pricing well the funny you should bring that up because if you

01:44:46   don't mind when i talk about subscriptions when we launched in january yeah when we launched in

01:44:49   january our subscription so we've been in business um next year will be 10 years so we'll say nine

01:44:54   years as of the earlier this year changing subscriptions was the biggest thing we knew

01:44:59   we were going to do to our business and it was the biggest fear we've ever had in the sense of

01:45:04   this could go wrong we didn't think it would go wrong but we knew that it was the biggest change

01:45:08   we had made since launching the app itself and when we launched we actually knew we were going

01:45:13   to get attacked and people would be rude um as you know i advise a lot of companies and i've

01:45:17   done a lot of products in the past and i'm very very very into the scene and the industry so it

01:45:22   wasn't a surprise to me but we got attacked and people acted like we were the biggest jerks at

01:45:27   launch like it really really really is bad anyone going from a paid app or even a free app to a

01:45:34   subscription every developer friend of mine every company i've ever advised every company i've ever

01:45:39   worked with it's always very hard at a transition to a subscription users feel slighted i actually

01:45:48   i'm interesting is that after now that i've had like nine or ten months to debrief this i actually

01:45:52   empathize with users i actually get why they're upset i actually understand why they're so unhappy

01:45:58   i actually get why they're mad i really really really really really do but what always is is

01:46:03   funny and i don't understand why it happens is as you said double clicking an app to launch is sort

01:46:09   of a given but the amount of work that we put into our subscription transition to provide the existing

01:46:16   features harmoniously to continue we did have some bugs that caused some confusion and we did have

01:46:20   some things you know there's always rough spots and warts but we really really thought about okay

01:46:26   we don't want this to be painful so what do we do they're going to wake up one morning their app's

01:46:30   going to change it's going to look different and it's going to say oh by the way for new stuff from

01:46:34   now on you need to pay and we get that change is hard and i get that as a consumer you don't ever

01:46:40   want to see that but we gave all the existing features to users we gave them ongoing support

01:46:47   the app wouldn't sunset or die we gave them obviously that means i was 14 and stuff in future

01:46:52   development would happen and yet everyone was still super mad and attacked us and acted like we

01:46:57   were the biggest jerks and here's the thing i actually understand why they think that we changed

01:47:02   what they liked about us we changed that we were a five dollar app that now they have to pay three

01:47:07   dollars a month or so to keep us um but we also changed our business model we're now a premium

01:47:14   app with very very very not only powerful features but really product you know productive features

01:47:21   and we have such a big road map that okay we didn't post the road map because we really don't

01:47:25   want to announce future plans we definitely nod to apple for that but we have so much on our road map

01:47:31   john that the value of that three dollars a month that you're paying now isn't for what you got on

01:47:37   january 29th when we launched with version 3.0 it's for example we just launched widgets widgets

01:47:42   are free for everyone the premium features of widgets you have to pay for but the widgets

01:47:47   themselves are free for everyone not just even existing fantastic l2 users well guess what the

01:47:53   development from premium funds that right and yeah anyway so the point i'm just saying is is that it's

01:47:58   it's very interesting that subscriptions even and we're offering a free mode so it's not like

01:48:04   anyone is just you're locked out of the app if you don't pay but people really sure feel that way and

01:48:10   i don't really know what to advise except it is better for our business it is better for the

01:48:16   road map we have and it is absolutely better for us to be able to develop and release as soon as

01:48:21   we've done something rather than having to wait for a you know a 2.0 3.0 4.0 and charge every

01:48:27   two years or one year yeah that was definitely part of the strategy of you know and as again

01:48:36   bbedit i'll just toss as an example an app that's you know been in constant active development since

01:48:42   1992. you know it's been a commercial product since 1993 and that is still i guess because

01:48:52   there still are paid updates outside the mac app store but it's always you know and rich

01:48:57   siegel at barebones has always had a good sixth sense knack for this but it is part of the art

01:49:04   is when when to know that this feature should probably be held for version 7.0 and not released

01:49:13   in version 6.5 because 7.0 is a paid up update and this is something worth paying for but it's ready

01:49:20   right it's you know and it hurts you know it's sort of like uh you know uh the difference between

01:49:28   writing for a paywall or writing a website that's free you know like with the difference

01:49:33   between me and ben thompson so everything i write i can just put on daring fireball and everybody

01:49:37   can read it and ben does a once a week column that's free for everybody and super popular and

01:49:43   it's the most popular thing he writes all week but then he does a daily update for his members

01:49:47   every week and we were just talking about it on dithering where it's like sometimes i'll have a

01:49:50   really good daily update and he'll think like oh man i wish that was free so more people could read

01:49:55   it but then on the other hand he knows that he's providing about that that gut feeling is providing

01:50:00   value to the people who pay same thing with a feature where it's like oh i wish i could have

01:50:04   just given this feature to everybody who's already using my app but i'm also glad that the people who

01:50:10   pay for it in version 9.0 or whenever it comes out feel like they're getting their money's worth for

01:50:16   their upgrade subscription pricing eliminates that sort of thing it's like hey the feature's ready

01:50:22   we're tested it it's ready to go we can release it now and you get it on a regular basis and you

01:50:28   don't and then you can also avoid this sort of thing and of all companies you know microsoft

01:50:35   is the one who's most famously been bitten by stacking too many things behind a major update

01:50:43   right i mean they famously almost ran the whole windows platform into the ground after windows xp

01:50:49   by making windows what was going to be called windows 7 i guess so ambitious you know the whole

01:50:55   file system will be replaced by an advanced sql database or something and all this stuff that

01:51:01   wound up not shipping and in the meantime they were stuck on the same very major version of the

01:51:06   most popular desktop operating system in history until that point for eight years or something

01:51:13   right you can get caught behind that sort of thinking of we're going to make version 2.0 so

01:51:20   awesome that everybody's going to beg us to take their money and then all of a sudden 2.0 never

01:51:25   ships you know because you've you've built it up into this thing whereas if you don't have that

01:51:29   motivation of making it so awesome that everybody will pay for it if everybody's already paying a

01:51:35   regular monthly subscription you just ship the features as they're ready and so you know you

01:51:41   don't get this amazing holy crap they added 13 amazing features all at once you get a feature

01:51:47   here you get a feature there you get a feature there um you know it's a different mentality

01:51:53   i think it's since we launched since we launched in january me as a producer director i will say

01:51:59   this it is such a great feeling that we can see something and be like okay we're going to do that

01:52:05   and if we think it's more important than something that was planned then we pivot we do it and we're

01:52:10   now developing fantastical and other stuff that's in development at a much better pace than we ever

01:52:17   did charging every two years or every one year and actually we were we were kind of crazy i don't

01:52:21   know i should actually look at our version history quick but we really really really didn't have

01:52:27   you know maybe we should have had more maybe it was bad we didn't have more but we really didn't

01:52:31   have a lot of upgrades right so we had fantastical one that came out in 2011 and then we had fantastic

01:52:36   cal2 come out in where is it um in march 2015 so it was literally four years until an upgrade from

01:52:44   one to two right and then that means that from two to three it was almost six years right so

01:52:50   it's not like we're updating or shipping every one to two years but that idea of i want to do this

01:52:55   really big feature oh we're going to hold it for the next major release because it's so much work

01:52:59   and we want to you know we have to get reimbursed for all of our work because it takes so long

01:53:02   now we just develop and it really is such a different road map our our road map is really

01:53:07   big and you know for anyone who is listening it is a either fantastical user or a fantastical hater

01:53:13   um we have a lot planned that you haven't seen and widgets were one of them widgets were free

01:53:17   we have a lot of stuff though we really do that like that that three dollars a month we we we

01:53:22   want to return on that investment and we're going to well and let me just say this in fantastic when

01:53:27   you say it was a five dollar app you're talking about the iphone app right it was the iphone app

01:53:31   the mac app was 50 that's right but that believe it or not that was even longer this is the crazy

01:53:36   part john that was even longer of an in-between versions because the um the original fantastical

01:53:43   one had come out like shortly after fantastic cal for mac the original fantastical one came out in

01:53:47   2012 fantastic cal 2 this is going to blow your mind came out in 2013 okay so two years later

01:53:55   but sorry one year later but 2013 that app was a five dollar app which for seven years

01:54:02   was updated with all the new stuff for seven years without an additional cost so it was like 78 cents

01:54:10   of year you got it you got it and my and yeah i mean you know and apple took 30 of the 78

01:54:17   exactly exactly and look everyone will say oh you sold all these copies or you'd sell more if it was

01:54:23   this yeah there's lots of ways to skin this cat and there are but we love the model we've done now

01:54:30   while there's still a lot of negative reviews and that is the number one thing if apple would change

01:54:35   anything is to change how the app store reviews work and to actually show reviews from those who

01:54:41   have paid versus those who are using the free mode because if someone hates us and they don't

01:54:47   like the subscription model guess what they they rate us down and say their subscription stinks

01:54:50   one star right okay if you're looking as john gruber for our app and all you see are subscription

01:54:56   hates but you think the app looks good you don't care right you tune it out but why if apple's

01:55:01   pushing the subscription model and it's better and we actually do think it's better why isn't the app

01:55:06   store fixing the problem of letting free users basically harm an app on their subscription model

01:55:12   rather than say okay here's here's a tab here's people who have actually bought the app and

01:55:17   subscribed even if they've canceled that's fine but you basically can leave a review for free and

01:55:22   just bash someone and is that really truly a reflection of the app well think about this like

01:55:29   apps are one of the few things where you can get caught up in that like let's say you want to decide

01:55:34   whether to watch a new movie you know new avengers movies coming out or something and you don't know

01:55:40   if it's good or not do you want to go see the reviews have you you know i don't know where you

01:55:44   go to read reviews now but you know wherever that is like maybe you go to metacritic or maybe you go

01:55:49   to rotten tomatoes or you just go maybe you have a favorite publication like you know the new yorker

01:55:54   and you want to read anthony lane's review um you'd never go to see what what are people saying

01:56:01   about this movie and then have it be riddled with complaints about how expensive the movie theater

01:56:06   is and you know and and it's and it's all you know and i took my kid and he wanted a bag of

01:56:11   twizzlers and they wanted seven dollars for the twizzlers and say this is a highway robbery and

01:56:16   say yeah you're right it is highway robbery a bag of twizzlers should not cost seven dollars

01:56:20   but that's nothing to do with the movie you know i mean like if you want to lodge a complaint

01:56:24   that amc theaters charges too much for a movie you you you you know it's a free country and maybe

01:56:31   you're right that they do charge too much you know or or the rental is too much you know if you go

01:56:36   to you know now that these movies can't come out in theaters and and you can pay twenty dollars to

01:56:41   see mulan or thirty dollars i guess it is to see mulan on disney plus um you know do you think

01:56:49   that's too much maybe it is too much i don't know but that doesn't get conflated with the reviews

01:56:54   of mulan when i go to read the review in the new york times of the new live action mulan it's it's

01:57:01   not 700 words about the fact that it cost 30 it's a review of the movie and the apps i think it's a

01:57:08   byproduct of reviews being free i really do i think it's because you can just go and just review

01:57:12   the app by just downloading it the barrier to entry is so easy john but then but and this gets

01:57:18   to a point to where people think the phone app should be cheap and maybe a mac app should be more

01:57:24   expensive you know and so maybe like the old dynamic in some common sense back of their brain

01:57:29   way the idea that fantastical from mac was 50 bucks and fantastical for iphone was five dollars

01:57:36   sounds about right but from your perspective making the app that that's not that's crazy

01:57:44   right because it yeah it is just because the computer is smaller it doesn't mean it's less

01:57:50   work right like the iphone app isn't easier to make it actually more work isn't it more work

01:57:56   because we have to create a sync engine to make them all sync and it's sometimes it is harder to

01:58:01   put functionality on a small screen than a big screen it's easier to get lazy as a designer and

01:58:07   say well we'll just add another menu over there well you can't add a menu on a screen with no

01:58:11   room for another menu you know design is much more challenging on the iphone absolutely whatever the

01:58:16   difference is even if you could somehow prove that it's somehow is less engineering work to make an

01:58:23   iphone app than the mac app of comparable functionality which i would dispute right there

01:58:27   but it certainly isn't a factor of 10 that's crazy that it's you know that no way but that's what

01:58:33   people think and so you know i would say fundamental to the complaints that you guys got

01:58:39   for fantastical in particular to me fantastical because it's intended to be a great app on the

01:58:47   phone and the ipad and the mac and even you know your watch you guys have a watch app right yeah

01:58:53   the app our apple watch app i'm really super happy with how it turned out it's very very

01:58:58   very productive on your wrist you get to see your tasks your events you're up next the weather it's

01:59:04   really powerful on your watch i just actually say we overshot because a lot of things we're trying

01:59:08   to do we're really pushing the limits of the watch but i just want to hype it up because really it

01:59:12   was it was we probably shouldn't have done it i say that and i should know that you have i don't

01:59:17   use apps on my watch so i didn't know for sure and i'm still wearing my review i'm you brought

01:59:22   my review watched where i haven't synced over my apps but uh i figured you did i need to get

01:59:27   fantastical on there you got to get fantastical but anyway if you basically the problem you guys

01:59:32   run into is that subscription deal is a great deal if you use fantastical across multiple platforms

01:59:40   right from mac to phone to watch and three dollars a month all of a sudden you know you can see it

01:59:46   and if you really only ever use the iphone app and you used to pay five dollars once in 2013

01:59:54   and use it forever and now you want three dollars a month to get everything it feels like a ton of

02:00:02   money and you know and i think the response would be but wait you there is a free mode that still

02:00:07   has all the features from fantastical too and people did they don't want to hear it they want

02:00:12   you know what i mean like and i feel like that my sympathy i think they're wrong

02:00:17   i don't think they're thinking about this right i think they're blinded by bad assumptions about

02:00:25   how everything works and should work but i think that the to be sympathetic to them what they want

02:00:31   is they want the best fantastical and the best one is that's the one you have to pay for and

02:00:37   all of a sudden instead of five dollars once several years ago it's three dollars a month

02:00:43   it's a big difference no no doubt and i i have truly started to empathize with everyone who's

02:00:48   upset in that here they want the best fantastical they don't want to pay what they paid they want

02:00:53   there's even users who have said well can't use do an in-app purchase or something smaller

02:00:57   that's sort of helpful that we don't have to go on going and the answer is no because

02:01:01   then if we fragment that even if it makes those people happy now our development time has now been

02:01:06   split between them and the main app and again that removes what the subscription has done for us

02:01:11   people will call it a money grab it's not a money grab at all we know how much we need to make versus

02:01:16   how much we're making and what the subscription does is it gives us a reliable income revenue

02:01:22   stream that grows over time with subscription subscribers that stay on right and we can now

02:01:28   count on our revenue and just develop we don't have to worry we don't have to come up with gimmicks

02:01:34   to to sell right we're just we're just to be honest we're the best indie developers we've

02:01:39   ever been right now i'm glad to hear that i mean um let's say so speaking of other indie developers

02:01:47   and other models um a big new launch just last week is from our friends at panic their nova

02:01:54   uh they call it a code editor text editor but is you know it's it's hard to what nova is is hard to

02:02:01   categorize you know fundamentally i guess it's a text editor for programmers but it's sort of like

02:02:07   a ide and you know for example and it has extensions and stuff and you can do things like if

02:02:14   you have a playdate panic's upcoming little handheld game boy style video game player the ide

02:02:21   for making playdate games is nova and you can you know same way that you can when you're an xcode you

02:02:27   want to build your iphone app you do a command r to build and run and it runs you can do that in

02:02:33   nova to build and run your playdate game and it runs in a simulator on your mac or you can connect

02:02:39   it via usb and have it build and run and install it right on your actual you know playdate device

02:02:46   it's a very ambitious app um and it's sort of a sequel to their old uh code editor coda uh which

02:02:54   they complicated sold the name to and turned into panic's code editor because they knew they weren't

02:03:01   sticking with it long term and replacing it with nova which really is both a replacement but also

02:03:08   sort of a shift in direction anyway it's a great app it is a mac very very very great app by the

02:03:15   way very great super ambitious it is the sort of thing that is so ambitious that it less in less

02:03:21   talented hands is the sort of thing that could sink a company and you know 40 years from now

02:03:27   poor cable sasser to have a long gray beard and be like it's coming out any day

02:03:31   um but it's shipped it's here it is fantastic it is it is exuberant and if you love really

02:03:39   you know that term i think brent coin mac asked mac apps it is a mac asked mac app and a lot of

02:03:46   the news in programming editors that people use on the mac over the last five to ten years have

02:03:52   been things that aren't mac asked mac apps they're electron dinguses that maybe have tons of features

02:03:59   and maybe you listening use one and you like it and maybe it's good for all sorts of reasons but

02:04:04   it's not good at being a mac asked mac app and nova is very much a mac asked mac app which is great

02:04:12   but they have an interesting pricing model um what they're doing is they're selling it for

02:04:19   uh 99 and if you already own their old app coda you can upgrade for 79 so so far it sounds you

02:04:27   know this sounds like what we were talking about right this is the old way you get an upgrade price

02:04:31   if you owned coda and you pay 99 um if you're new but here's where it's sort of different is you get

02:04:39   from whatever day you pay you get a year of all their software updates whatever they update for

02:04:43   the next 12 months you get and then when that update if 12 months from the date of your buying

02:04:49   a license is over you no longer get software updates but your copy of nova keeps working

02:04:57   on your computer you just don't get software updates for it and if you want to you can sign

02:05:02   up to pay 49 a year after that so let's say you pay a hundred dollars today one year from today

02:05:11   you know your your updates from that hundred dollars are over and your 49 a year it is a

02:05:18   subscription that you're paying kicks in and then you keep getting whenever they introduce

02:05:24   software updates you just keep getting them going forward but if you don't sign up for that 49

02:05:28   subscription the version you had 12 months after purchase that's yours to keep keeps working

02:05:34   technically maybe a year later there's some new feature they have that comes out you're like i

02:05:39   would like that and you can just get back on the upgrade gravy train for 49 dollars

02:05:44   yeah and and to be to be fair we always say it's about three dollars a month for fantastical we

02:05:51   could say it's 40 a year but for their 49 a year they're about four dollars a month and for a really

02:05:56   you know expert professional tool that they're selling four dollars a month is ridiculously

02:06:01   cheap yeah it's you know and again into you're like well i i don't use a text editor worth four

02:06:06   dollars a month well then you're not in the market you know what i mean this is a professional power

02:06:10   tool right you know what i mean like you can go to home depot and find you know very expensive

02:06:17   saws or nail guns like the best nail gun they sell you're like well why in the world would i

02:06:21   spend all this money on a nail gun i don't even shoot nails well what are you looking why why are

02:06:25   you complaining about the price you you don't shoot nails into the wall whereas if you spend

02:06:29   their target customer wants to buy that app right you live in it you know and it it's in it now

02:06:35   they're not in the mac app store and i wrote about this and some people complained about

02:06:41   you get the main complaints you the developer like and and panic the developers of the app

02:06:47   i get the secondary complaints as the person who writes about these apps from the people who don't

02:06:53   like the pricing model they complain to me then about you know celebrating or just mentioning

02:06:59   it without they they they yell at me for not complaining about the things that they complain

02:07:03   about um why are you supporting the things that we hate but it's you know you can't please everybody

02:07:14   you know i guess the only way you can make everybody happy is if you became fabulously

02:07:19   wealthy and funded a company to make these amazing apps and gave them to the world for free i guess

02:07:27   because then i would bet you that would not even work either because there'd be something well

02:07:31   there'd be you know privacy people thinking that there's a scam right there would be but i want to

02:07:38   pay you i don't know there would be something well it's noteworthy that nobody's done that

02:07:42   right the george soros is of the world have not devoted their lives to foundations to make

02:07:48   fantastic independent software that they give away to people for free um i'll make a promise if this

02:07:55   thing blows up bigger than i think it's going to which it's not if it goes that crazy big i'll make

02:08:01   fantastic health free for everyone although i shouldn't say that because someone will hold me

02:08:04   to that so forget it that whole thing was a fallacy the difference here between a regular

02:08:08   what we think of a subscription versus um what panic is doing and panic is doing to give credit

02:08:15   to another very good independent app sketch which is an illustration app with a decided market

02:08:23   towards people using it to illustrate user interfaces in particular certainly that's where

02:08:28   i know sketch best from um has yeah they did a great job with that and they have a very similar

02:08:34   model and they've had you know years of success with it and um both with the app which is one

02:08:39   apple design awards and is very popular and ongoing and but the same sort of thing where

02:08:44   the difference is with most subscriptions if you cancel your subscription the app either stops

02:08:50   working or you lose functionality whereas with the sketch and nova model when you stop paying

02:08:58   what you have keeps working but you just don't get updates but even that technically even just

02:09:05   talking about obsolescence eventually you will run out of time and people will complain right like

02:09:11   hypothetically someone who has been in let's say somebody had the foresight 12 13 14 years ago to

02:09:21   invent this pricing model then when it wasn't really necessitated by the market forces but they

02:09:28   came up with this idea then and we went through the 32-bit to 64-bit transition and people who

02:09:35   had paid and said i don't need any new features but they would feel entitled years after the fact

02:09:42   to that 64-bit update well wait that's not you know that that should be included free even though

02:09:47   i'm not paying for updates anymore because my app won't even launch anymore and it's like well you

02:09:53   know pay the money right that that model is definitely to me if we could have done that with

02:10:00   being on the app store and how things work we looked at that model and i think for nova and

02:10:04   sketch it makes sense they're professional tools they're off the app store it really makes a lot

02:10:09   of sense but there's also a lot of bookkeeping you have to keep track of in terms of what features

02:10:13   work and don't if there is a bug that kills the app because of the os do you really fix it or not

02:10:19   you know like like there's a lot of implications and i'm not saying that it's wrong i'm just saying

02:10:24   nothing's perfect right but i think for nova and sketch being off the app store and being

02:10:28   professional tools that really is the way to go you buy the app you want to keep using it i think

02:10:34   most people will keep using it and keep paying for it because they're professional tools they

02:10:37   want the updates yeah and well and i think it helps a little bit that their mac tools

02:10:41   specifically and again i don't know i don't even know i'm not i don't know is there an ios companion

02:10:46   right i i you know i know i know panic had the coda editor for ios and you know but you know

02:10:53   pat diet coda pat panic's been very clear over the years in their annual updates that when they tried

02:10:58   to expand what they've made work on the mac for decades when they tried to do the same thing for

02:11:05   ios it did not work for them financially you know that if and and thankfully you know they didn't

02:11:11   bet their company on it it would have been ruinous but that the the model they have had and continued

02:11:17   to have to successfully sell delightful panic style software for the mac was lost money for

02:11:25   them on ios um definitely you know but i think this so i think it it it's a model again you know

02:11:32   different apps have different markets and need different things like i think what works for

02:11:36   fantastic help a huge part of the reason is that you guys are literally on every single apple

02:11:41   platform i guess you're not all right you're not you're not you don't have a tv is app or a car

02:11:45   play app which ironically someone on twitter asked us if we could make fantastic health for their car

02:11:50   well i we're what makes more sense a tv app or or a car app a car app probably i don't know if

02:11:58   neither makes i actually don't know if neither makes sense i i mean i have ideas already spinning

02:12:03   in my head of what we could do but i don't know man like i don't like i don't know if that's where

02:12:07   we want to it seems to me that using the siri voice assistant makes more sense in the car than

02:12:12   using an actual app and saying you know hey dingus when's my next appointment or what's the address

02:12:19   of the place i'm trying to get to etc would work um the other app i want to mention i want to mention

02:12:24   an app called agenda have you seen agenda oh yeah it's a and they have a similar model in the app

02:12:30   store and they're making it work with the app store actually yeah and so agenda is a really

02:12:35   again and they like they sponsored daring fireball a while back fantastic al sponsored during

02:12:40   fireball so you know preface this with whatever you want as a disclaimer that these are people

02:12:44   who sponsored my site but i'm saying good things about them simply because it's a really great and

02:12:49   interesting app but agenda is a very interesting hybrid of a sort of notes plus to-dos plus

02:12:58   scheduled to-dos so it kind of goes into calendaring and we're not calendaring but

02:13:04   time to-dos but basically it's a great name agenda it is an agenda it's a

02:13:09   gender yeah the name's the name's perfect delightful design very very very nice design

02:13:16   that is sort of oh yeah this fits right at home on a modern uh apple system but also is very branded

02:13:23   and feels you know you appreciate it because you know what i'm you know fantastic al has that oh

02:13:27   yeah anyway their model gender is very well done very well done and their model for this sort of

02:13:34   new way of approaching monetization is that you don't pay for versions you pay for features and

02:13:41   so you pay for agenda and then you get the pay you know there's a free version you can download it and

02:13:46   use it and it's useful and interesting for free and then they have more features that you have

02:13:52   to pay for and then if you pay for them you get the paid features and as time goes on they will

02:13:59   add new paid features but since they came out after you paid you have to pay for those features

02:14:05   and if you don't if you're if the feature is um that now the pen when you use the apple pencil

02:14:12   can write in uh purple ink for the first time and you're like well i would never want to write in

02:14:18   purple ink so i'm not paying for that feature and you don't have to pay for it and then later on when

02:14:24   they come out with a feature that you can make the apple pencils shoot uh emojis all over your agenda

02:14:31   and you're like i need that and you know then you pay for that feature i just made up those features

02:14:36   there they're not actual features of agenda at all but that's what i'm saying you pay for the feature

02:14:41   and i've seen people say and it's already chimed up in my comments on nova like hey you

02:14:48   could say that nova can't be in the app store i didn't say they can't be in the app store i said

02:14:52   they're not in the app store and the exact model that that nova is using is not technically possible

02:14:59   in the nova in the app store no agenda proves that something sort of along those lines is possible if

02:15:07   you design it with app store rules and systems in mind but the other thing that people are ignoring

02:15:13   is that the team behind agenda is doing a lot of work to make that work behind the scenes where

02:15:17   they're in a ton of work ton of work and it might be worth it it may well be worth it and i hope

02:15:23   they're doing well because it's a great app from good people and it deserves to thrive but do not

02:15:29   underestimate the fact that they they are building permanent scaffolding in the app to tie features

02:15:37   to paid upgrades that you've paid along the way and doing it in a way that any you know they they

02:15:45   can't quite predict what combination of features you might have paid for but the whole app still

02:15:49   needs to function right i did realize actually something with nova and sketch and agenda that's

02:15:55   interesting about their model they're they're a pay once a year once an upgrade or whatever it is

02:16:00   model right you have to pay the full 49.59 whatever the subscription model lets you pay

02:16:05   monthly right without locking in a year so the one thing with those apps is that you do have to pay a

02:16:11   bigger amount up front to get in right right where with fantastical yeah it does turn off quote unquote

02:16:17   you go to free mode it doesn't just stop working it's just the premium feature stop working but you

02:16:21   do have the ability to do the 499 a month as a monthly as you go and cancel at any time and it's

02:16:27   just interesting because that is a lower bar to entry to try it out than the other apps as well

02:16:32   yeah i totally agree right and then and then the just interesting i never thought about that before

02:16:37   you know it it's complicated it is complicated all i if there's anything i would ask it is that

02:16:44   users should have sympathy for the plight of the indie developer and that uh it's it is you know

02:16:52   we're all in this together in terms of wanting awesome pro level indie apps you know like bb edit

02:16:59   and nova and fantastical and agenda and the list can go on and on you know everything from the

02:17:04   omni group and you know i can't start listing the apps that would qualify but we want them to keep

02:17:10   thriving as businesses um and it's not simple and i guarantee i've never met any of them even

02:17:18   the guy i was mentioning who whose support method was select all delete delete support he still

02:17:24   cared about his users and uh you know he wasn't trying to rip them off i've never met a indie

02:17:31   developer who wanted to do do do anything other than to to give their users value for their dollar

02:17:37   spent and appreciated it yeah and you know at the end of the day we're we're trying to work around

02:17:43   this ecosystem that apple has built right we're still as apple developers anyway we have the ios

02:17:49   we have ios ipad i'm just saying we have all these things that we still have restrictions when

02:17:54   we submit an app okay nova and sketch do not they're off of it but agenda does and regardless

02:18:00   there's still also limitations of just developer tools right that nova and that nova and sketch

02:18:04   have to make work it's not just as easy as do whatever you want and make the best decisions

02:18:09   there's also decisions that have to be made that were already made for you did you see panic's

02:18:14   tweet the other day where they're like i can't tell you what a relief it is to just issue a

02:18:18   software update when it's ready because they have a nova 1.1 update and they exactly released it on

02:18:24   one oh yeah and i thought of you immediately because you had just texted me the night before

02:18:27   that you were i think it was the night very night before and you were like i think we'll be ready

02:18:31   for our widgets update the next day um yep and instead you woke up and it was like well it was

02:18:37   approved like you literally went to bed not knowing when your software was going to literally

02:18:43   went to bed not knowing we even have that with test flight because you know test flight has to

02:18:46   be approved right right so when you have a new app just even to send to testers we can't even

02:18:51   have testers test our app until it's approved it's it's very restrictive and you know again

02:18:57   there's a lot of things we have to do because we're forced to do right uh anyway thank you

02:19:03   for being here michael uh it's been a pleasure it's a good conversation uh everybody thanks

02:19:09   like so the best place to find out more about fantastical uh what's what's the best url

02:19:16   flexibits.com f-l-e-x-i-b-i-t-s.com uh and you can go and find out more about fantastical

02:19:24   uh michael simmons on twitter you're you're on twitter what's your twitter address

02:19:28   it's @macguitar m-a-c-g-u-i-t-a-r it's a throwback from the old days of mac you can play in guitar so

02:19:37   um that was it i don't know is nick i came up with 90 something and it just always has been

02:19:43   around i i have a weird mental thing as soon as you started saying i was like oh yeah he's

02:19:47   mack guitar but i can't remember what people's twitter avatars or names are i i you know the

02:19:53   only one who's i whose name i remember is syracuse because it's just syracusea everybody else i

02:19:59   forget like is it marco is it marco armand is it uh you know if you if you're if your avatars or

02:20:05   if your twitter name is anything other than your last name i i fall forget it um but that's where

02:20:10   people can go see you on twitter and let me thank our sponsors our great sponsors all of them repeats

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