The Talk Show

259: ‘Start a Bakin’ Timer’ With Marco Arment


00:00:00   I don't remember if I was barefoot last year.

00:00:02   I'm pretty sure if this is not the first podcast I've recorded barefoot, this is the second.

00:00:09   I feel like at the beach you kind of have to be. Like,

00:00:12   because, you know, everything at the beach you're constantly going in and out between like sandy and wet and dry and it's hot.

00:00:18   So your only choices are barefoot or full shoes, I think. Like, everything in between is not as good.

00:00:25   You a flip-flop man?

00:00:26   Not really I they don't stay on like I'm a big about like walking like I take long dog walks

00:00:31   I take bike rides and they just don't stay on

00:00:34   Enough for that like unless you get the kind that are basically sandals if they have a little backstrap

00:00:38   But that's at that point. That's a sandal. I like a flip-flop. I do feel though that

00:00:42   It's tiring. He's got it. You got to do a little curl with your toes. Yeah, like kind of all the time and you

00:00:50   You know, this is a bicycle town

00:00:54   I terrified of riding a bicycle with flip-flops because I feel like I'm on the verge of scraping my toes up

00:01:00   Yeah, it's I mean like it's not quite as bad as like riding a motorcycle flip-flops would be but it's not that much better

00:01:05   My show has been very erratically

00:01:10   More erratic than usual publishing wise I just posted 258 yesterday

00:01:15   But I need another July episode and I like to do these shows here in person. So here we are recording again

00:01:22   in the middle of the season when there's not much news.

00:01:26   - Yeah, well, we say that.

00:01:27   Every summer we say, oh, there's not much news

00:01:30   in July and August, so we better stretch it out

00:01:32   and do Q&A episodes, as you did and stuff like that.

00:01:35   But it's like, actually, a lot of stuff

00:01:37   seems to be happening every summer.

00:01:38   - One of the things I definitely wanted to talk about

00:01:42   before we get into rambling territory

00:01:44   is I wanted to talk about the purported 16-inch MacBook Pro

00:01:50   because there was a, I'm sure you saw it,

00:01:53   but there was a report out of the supply chain that,

00:01:57   I think it still suggested that it was coming in October,

00:02:00   which is a little weird,

00:02:01   but that it was gonna start at $3,000,

00:02:06   which would be really weird,

00:02:08   because right now the 15-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,400.

00:02:11   - Yeah, I mean, I don't know how much we can trust rumors

00:02:17   from supply chain sources about pricing.

00:02:19   - I had two thoughts on that.

00:02:21   One, why trust the supply chain on that?

00:02:24   They don't know names either.

00:02:26   - Yeah, like pricing and naming,

00:02:27   it's so well guarded the vast majority of the time.

00:02:31   Like, there's almost always pricing guesses about,

00:02:34   or alleged pricing leaks or rumors

00:02:37   before new products are announced,

00:02:39   and they're usually wrong.

00:02:40   If you look at the track record of Apple rumors,

00:02:42   I feel like pricing is one of those areas

00:02:44   where we take a lot of guesses about pricing

00:02:46   and we're wrong a lot.

00:02:48   The other way they could do it though,

00:02:49   is it could be $3,000 and they could just

00:02:51   Tim Cook it by keeping the $2,400 one around.

00:02:56   - And so there'd still be a $2,400 15 inch MacBook Pro,

00:03:01   but it would be like a year old model.

00:03:03   But that seems like a weird way to go with the MacBook Pro.

00:03:07   It's, you know, that's like a MacBook Air move.

00:03:09   - Well also, if we look at the rumors holistically,

00:03:12   we look at like, you know, all the rumors

00:03:13   that are going around about this, you know,

00:03:15   upcoming alleged generation of laptops.

00:03:18   I think they all seem to agree on one big thing,

00:03:21   that the butterfly keyboard is not long for this world.

00:03:23   Which I am like dancing on its grave already,

00:03:26   even though it's not dead yet.

00:03:27   As you know, I couldn't possibly be more happy

00:03:30   that the butterfly keyboard appears by all accounts

00:03:33   to be going away pretty soon.

00:03:35   So if you think about like,

00:03:36   if they did keep around the old 15 inch,

00:03:39   what are they gonna do?

00:03:40   Have that be like the only butterfly keyboard

00:03:41   in the lineup for a while?

00:03:42   Or like, if they hit the current air,

00:03:45   and maybe keep it around at a cheaper price point next year.

00:03:49   Like when the alleged new scissor switch Air comes out,

00:03:52   depending on who you believe, either in September,

00:03:54   October, or 2020, depending on all the different rumors,

00:03:57   allegedly there's gonna be a new MacBook Air,

00:03:59   and new 13 inch, and new 16 inch.

00:04:02   Then if that's actually true, sometime in the next year,

00:04:06   then there will be no new models with butterfly keyboards,

00:04:09   unless they keep around some of the current ones

00:04:11   at lower prices.

00:04:12   And it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense

00:04:14   they would do that only for the 15 inch

00:04:16   and not for anything else like the Air.

00:04:19   And it seems especially problematic that the 15 inch

00:04:21   which is a high end computer that's bought

00:04:24   in large quantities by businesses

00:04:26   and by a lot of their pro market.

00:04:28   It would be weird to have,

00:04:29   if they're gonna go through all this hassle

00:04:31   to get rid of the butterfly keyboard

00:04:32   because of its problems, why would they keep it

00:04:34   on such an important widely used model?

00:04:37   It doesn't seem, that doesn't make sense.

00:04:38   So I think the 16 inch is it and the pricing rumors,

00:04:43   I don't give a lot of credibility to.

00:04:46   - Yeah, I think so. - That being said,

00:04:47   it wouldn't be totally out of the ordinary

00:04:51   for Apple to release a new generation

00:04:53   of an important product that costs significantly

00:04:54   more than its predecessor.

00:04:56   It would be not well-received,

00:04:58   but that doesn't mean they won't do it,

00:05:00   and that they do it all the time.

00:05:01   So I think while I don't believe pricing rumors usually,

00:05:06   I also wouldn't rule out the possibility

00:05:08   that this new laptop might be $3,000,

00:05:11   and that might just be the new starting price

00:05:13   of the 15 inch class laptop, which is now 16 inches,

00:05:18   that's totally plausible.

00:05:19   Apple does that kind of stuff all the time.

00:05:21   And another angle I was thinking about was

00:05:24   Apple does, I mean maybe this doesn't matter

00:05:27   'cause I think they sell a absolute ton

00:05:29   of the base model configurations

00:05:31   relative to any customized configs.

00:05:32   But with the drop in flash storage pricing

00:05:35   that's going on across the industry

00:05:37   and they just drop their prices,

00:05:38   Apple might just be forced by market pressure

00:05:41   make less on their upgrade components as they used to.

00:05:46   And so maybe they are gonna make up for that lost margin

00:05:49   by just raising the base price on all the models.

00:05:52   - I guess, I can't really think of anything

00:05:54   that would make the price jump up that much.

00:05:55   I mean, presumably-- - Apple.

00:05:57   - Well, right.

00:05:58   (laughing)

00:05:59   But I can't-- - They don't need a reason.

00:05:59   - Right, I think it's a marketing decision,

00:06:01   not in a cost of goods decision.

00:06:04   I mean, presumably the display is going to be

00:06:07   at least slightly more expensive

00:06:09   because they're calling it a 16-inch display.

00:06:11   so it's gonna be bigger than the 15.6 inch display.

00:06:15   - 15.4, I think we're at. - 15.4.

00:06:17   Maybe, I don't even know.

00:06:22   I don't know how many of the details of the screen came out,

00:06:24   but the other thing that would be nice

00:06:26   and would justify to some degree a price increase

00:06:30   would be if it goes to truly native retina resolution.

00:06:35   - Yeah, actual 2x of what the default setting is,

00:06:38   which it has never,

00:06:39   which it has had when the default setting was lower

00:06:42   up until 2016.

00:06:43   But yeah, 'cause right now, they ship it by default

00:06:47   in the scaling mode.

00:06:48   - Right.

00:06:49   - And I mean--

00:06:51   - It just feels off for the highest end laptop

00:06:53   in the lineup to be scaled.

00:06:54   - Like the 15 inch non-retina, going up until 2012,

00:06:59   the non-retina 15 inch, the last couple of years of it,

00:07:03   they offered this high res option, and a matte option,

00:07:06   by the way, for like $200 extra.

00:07:08   it was a small price increase, and it was,

00:07:10   instead of being 1440 across, it was 1680 across.

00:07:14   And when the 2012 Retina version came out,

00:07:18   it was only the 1440 natively,

00:07:20   but you could use these software scaling modes

00:07:22   to simulate higher resolutions.

00:07:24   So it was like, okay, that's nice, good job,

00:07:27   you can get higher resolutions,

00:07:28   but if you were accustomed to the 1680 point size,

00:07:32   you were actually getting worse visual quality,

00:07:34   'cause it was rendering it into an off-screen buffer

00:07:36   like shrinking it down to fit the actual pixels

00:07:38   of the screen, so everything was like a little bit blurrier.

00:07:41   And it's not a massive difference, but you can tell

00:07:45   it does look a little bit worse.

00:07:47   And then what made it, I think, almost misleading

00:07:52   and I wouldn't say criminal, but certainly offensive

00:07:55   to a nerd like us who cares about image quality,

00:07:57   is that starting from the 2015 MacBook

00:08:00   and then the 2016 USB-C generation of laptops,

00:08:03   they increased the default resolution

00:08:06   from what the panels actually were to one step above.

00:08:10   So they increased the apparent screen real estate

00:08:14   to 1680 at 2x now on the 15,

00:08:17   but they didn't actually increase the number of pixels.

00:08:19   So I almost feel like they kinda cheated.

00:08:21   Like they tried to make it look like

00:08:22   the screens got better and they didn't.

00:08:24   And what's disappointing is that so far

00:08:27   the Ming-Chi Kuo rumor about the 16 inch

00:08:30   has its pixel size pinned at something

00:08:33   that would suggest that they haven't actually

00:08:35   increased that again.

00:08:35   - Yeah, I couldn't remember if that was part of the rumor.

00:08:37   - Yeah, it was like, the current one is like 2880,

00:08:39   and the new one I think is 3072, something like that.

00:08:42   So it's like, it's not enough proportionally,

00:08:45   I don't think, to make it seem like they're actually doing

00:08:47   like a true 2X of what the default setting is.

00:08:51   So if that rumor is true, then it sounds like

00:08:53   they haven't actually fixed this problem.

00:08:54   But this is actually one thing.

00:08:56   When I had a briefing with some Apple people last year,

00:09:02   I actually brought this up specifically as an issue.

00:09:04   I'm like, you gotta fix this for the next generation.

00:09:06   'Cause like this, to me, I understand making

00:09:09   that kind of compromise on something like a MacBook Air,

00:09:12   where it's a lower end product,

00:09:13   you're doing it to hit a price point,

00:09:15   the buyers might not care as much if the screen

00:09:17   is a little bit blurrier than it could be

00:09:18   at its default setting, fine, that makes sense.

00:09:20   But on the MacBook Pro, where you care so much

00:09:23   about this amazing screen, and they talk,

00:09:24   and they put so much work into the amazing screen,

00:09:26   they have this amazing color and contrast and detail

00:09:31   and the finishing and everything,

00:09:33   possibly higher refresh rates coming down the road.

00:09:35   They put so much effort into the display,

00:09:38   and on their highest end laptop,

00:09:40   they can't make it actual true 2x pixels.

00:09:43   Any argument they have for that,

00:09:45   I don't think is a good argument.

00:09:46   - Yeah, I don't think so either.

00:09:47   - Especially because they do it right on the desktops.

00:09:49   - Right.

00:09:50   - And they have since 2014, when the Retina iMac came out.

00:09:52   - Right.

00:09:53   Well, and it's even in the name, they even call it 5K,

00:09:55   I mean, they couldn't call it the Retina 5K iMac

00:09:58   if it didn't really have 5K pixels.

00:10:01   - Exactly.

00:10:02   So we know they can do it, and so I wish they would.

00:10:06   - What else is it we have news-wise?

00:10:07   How about these, how you doing with the betas this summer?

00:10:11   - Oh my God.

00:10:11   - I listened to the ATP, I don't know if it was last week

00:10:17   or the week before, but you said more or less

00:10:19   you're giving up on getting anything

00:10:24   other than the iPhone update to overcast out by day one.

00:10:29   - Yeah, and I'm actually, I'm doing things,

00:10:33   like I spent the summer, instead of doing like all iOS 13

00:10:37   and Catalyst and independent watchOS stuff,

00:10:41   instead of rewriting all my stuff in Swift UI

00:10:43   and everything, which is like kind of what I thought

00:10:44   I would be doing like the first day of WVDC

00:10:46   when we heard all this stuff, I'm like great,

00:10:47   this is gonna be a packed summer,

00:10:49   I'm gonna be doing all this stuff, all the new betas.

00:10:51   Yeah, then I got the betas and it turns out

00:10:53   they're really still pretty rough, still pretty early.

00:10:56   I don't even want to touch Catalist or Catalina anymore.

00:11:00   Like I did the first two betas of that,

00:11:01   and I'm like, all right, nope,

00:11:02   I'm done with that for a little while.

00:11:04   And even the API stuff, iOS 13 is still super rough.

00:11:09   It's hard to tell, like when I make something

00:11:11   with the UI of it, it's hard to tell

00:11:13   whether any bugs are my fault or the OS's fault.

00:11:16   And so I've just decided, you know what,

00:11:17   I'm just gonna focus on underlying,

00:11:20   like under the hood changes this summer

00:11:22   that are preparing the way for me to do more of that stuff

00:11:24   in like a month or two.

00:11:26   And so like, for instance, like last week,

00:11:27   I spent most of the past week

00:11:29   writing the sync engine differently.

00:11:32   Because the sync engine, the way it's been doing it

00:11:35   from like 1.0 until now, has some limitations

00:11:38   and more importantly, it has some really

00:11:40   incredibly intense memory usage

00:11:43   when you're doing a full re-sync to the servers

00:11:46   when you have a lot of podcasts.

00:11:48   And at first, I thought, well, who's gonna have

00:11:50   more than like 20, 30 podcasts subscribed.

00:11:53   And I looked at my own account, and I have 90,

00:11:56   and I'm like, all right, maybe this is more common

00:11:58   than I think, and I look, a lot of users have like 200,

00:12:02   300, I think the peak is something like 600 to 1,000.

00:12:05   - Wow.

00:12:06   - And it isn't like one person, it's like multiple,

00:12:09   it's not that uncommon to have a couple hundred

00:12:12   podcast subscriptions in Overcast,

00:12:13   especially after you've been using it for like five years.

00:12:15   So the problem is that kind of sync engine

00:12:19   fit in the Apple Watch's constraints.

00:12:22   So when I want to make an independent watch app,

00:12:23   which I do want to do, I can't bring the sync engine

00:12:26   over until I change it.

00:12:27   So now I've spent the last week doing sync

00:12:30   in a pretty different way that should be much better,

00:12:33   and changing the server to support it and everything else.

00:12:36   So that's the kind of work I'm doing now,

00:12:37   because I don't need to be using the beta SDK

00:12:39   to do pretty much any of that.

00:12:41   And once this fall comes around,

00:12:43   I can actually install the GM versions of these tools,

00:12:48   and hope they're at all ready to go

00:12:50   and hope for the love of God, whoever's writing the iOS mail

00:12:53   app has gotten their act together.

00:12:54   Oh God, mail's so bad.

00:12:56   Are you mailing betas?

00:12:57   - I have it on my old iPhone 10

00:13:01   and I have it on an iPad mini.

00:13:05   I got so freaked that, 'cause I saw stories from people

00:13:11   who were saying that I wasn't even running it

00:13:13   on my main device, but it's screwed up my iCloud

00:13:17   or my notes or something.

00:13:19   - Yeah, that's the scariest.

00:13:20   - And so I, and I just don't feel,

00:13:21   it's not useful for me to try it

00:13:23   with a throwaway iCloud account.

00:13:25   Like if I'm not actually using my actual data,

00:13:28   what's the point?

00:13:29   So I'm not really doing it.

00:13:31   What's wrong with mail on iOS?

00:13:32   - My understanding is that they rewrote,

00:13:35   so iOS 13 brought a lot of new changes

00:13:39   to some of the basic UI components

00:13:41   that a lot of the iOS apps use,

00:13:42   namely table views and collection views,

00:13:45   and how they manage their data, how when a new item comes in,

00:13:49   you can animate it in instead of just refreshing the whole table

00:13:52   as a single frame.

00:13:54   And they made that easier, and they changed the APIs

00:13:56   around that, and they introduced a bunch of new stuff

00:13:58   to just make all that stuff better and easier to use.

00:14:01   And so my understanding is they rewrote Mail entirely

00:14:04   using Collection View and using some of these new data source

00:14:09   methods.

00:14:10   And it's really early, I would say,

00:14:13   to try to be kind to people writing it.

00:14:15   If you use the mail app on the phone,

00:14:18   I would not recommend installing the iOS 13 betas

00:14:21   because there's just all sorts of bugs that you might have

00:14:25   if it was your very first,

00:14:27   it's not like the kind of rewrote a lot of that UI

00:14:29   from scratch, and it shows,

00:14:31   'cause you'll have bugs like in table views,

00:14:34   you'll have cell reuse bugs where as you're scrolling,

00:14:38   the title of one message will be repeated

00:14:40   on all the cells in the screen,

00:14:41   or they'll all say no sender instead of the actual sender

00:14:45   the mail or you'll have rows that are inserted

00:14:48   that are empty, problems like that.

00:14:51   So it's, yeah, if you use iOS mail,

00:14:53   don't install the betas yet.

00:14:54   - I think it's gonna be interesting because

00:14:56   it sounds to me like

00:14:59   Apple's behind for where they really should be

00:15:06   to ship the iPhone, a new iPhone in early September.

00:15:10   I mean, we're like five weeks out.

00:15:14   But I don't know that they would hold the iPhone hardware

00:15:19   up for an extra two or three weeks of bug polish

00:15:23   and finish just to do it.

00:15:25   Like I wouldn't be surprised if they announced the phone

00:15:28   on schedule but maybe it doesn't ship

00:15:30   until the end of September.

00:15:32   They still have the early September event.

00:15:34   But if it's buggy, if iOS is buggy,

00:15:37   that is when reviewers get the phones, right?

00:15:39   We get them right after the event.

00:15:42   It just seems like it is, you know,

00:15:45   they're playing with fire this year.

00:15:49   'Cause that hardware date is sort of set in stone.

00:15:52   - And I don't think they would even delay

00:15:54   the shipping of the phones for software,

00:15:56   because a lot of their products,

00:15:57   the volumes that they might sell

00:15:59   in additional two weeks and a quarter

00:16:01   might not matter so much to their financials,

00:16:03   but the phone matters a lot.

00:16:04   Like if they miss two weeks of sales

00:16:06   because the software's a little bit rough,

00:16:08   that's gonna hurt them in the financials

00:16:09   in ways that are probably not worth it.

00:16:11   I'm guessing they ship the phone on the same day

00:16:13   they were planning to no matter what.

00:16:15   And they just make the software as good as they can make it

00:16:18   by that day and just hope for the best.

00:16:21   Maybe they're gonna delay the Mac OS and watch OS,

00:16:25   or tvOS and whatever the heck the HomePod OS is called.

00:16:29   Maybe they delay those things a little bit

00:16:31   in order to prioritize iOS getting out the door

00:16:34   on that hardware ship date.

00:16:35   - Well, but they've been doing the new watch hardware

00:16:38   at the iPhone event.

00:16:39   - That's true.

00:16:41   - And I presume, you know,

00:16:43   I mean, there's so many, always so many fewer

00:16:47   watch rumors than iPhone rumors,

00:16:49   but I presume we'll see Series 5 watches this fall.

00:16:54   - I mean, maybe.

00:16:55   The watch hasn't been an exactly annual cycle, though.

00:16:58   Like, there's been a couple little 18-month spans

00:17:00   here and there, and between a couple of generations,

00:17:02   so I think it's most likely we'll see a Series 5,

00:17:05   but I wouldn't say it's, it isn't as sure of a thing

00:17:08   as iPhones every September.

00:17:11   But I do think it's most likely,

00:17:12   and I think again they're basically gonna like

00:17:14   take the prey approach to software quality

00:17:18   (laughs)

00:17:19   and just like try to make the deadline as hard as you can

00:17:22   because it's going to come regardless

00:17:24   because it's too important.

00:17:25   With the phone, I think they literally

00:17:27   would not even sell the phone.

00:17:28   Or they wouldn't delay selling the phone for hardware.

00:17:31   I think with the watch, they might.

00:17:33   Like they might announce it that same day,

00:17:35   and oh, it just doesn't ship for three weeks.

00:17:37   - Yeah, or shipping in October or something.

00:17:39   - Yeah, right.

00:17:40   - All right, let me take a break.

00:17:43   Thank our first sponsor.

00:17:44   You like this, that you're having me do the sponsor reads?

00:17:47   - Oh my god, it's luxurious.

00:17:48   - You don't do them live on the show, though.

00:17:49   You edit those things in.

00:17:51   - Yeah, I record the sponsor reads right before the show,

00:17:54   like a half hour before.

00:17:55   Basically, whenever the livestream starts on ATP,

00:17:58   I just finish doing the sponsor reads, basically.

00:18:00   'Cause I do it all in a row, do the sponsor reads,

00:18:02   do the livestream, and then I start the livestream

00:18:05   I go refill my water cup and make sure I put my kid to bed

00:18:09   and whatever else I might have to do in the meantime.

00:18:11   But it's usually about a half hour before.

00:18:12   - All right, well let me tell you about Fracture.

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00:18:16   Takes your photos, prints them directly on glass.

00:18:19   - In vivid color.

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00:18:21   Look, my message for Fracture is always the same.

00:18:24   Your phone is probably full of thousands

00:18:27   and thousands of photos.

00:18:28   I think I've got like 28,000 photos in my iCloud library.

00:18:31   You've got thousands of photos.

00:18:33   You've got family members, friends, vacations.

00:18:35   You're probably on big, you know,

00:18:37   a lot of people who don't work at Apple

00:18:39   are probably taking vacations in August.

00:18:42   - Yeah, Apple people, we're sorry.

00:18:44   - Pick some of your favorite photos.

00:18:46   Get 'em printed by the folks at Fracture.

00:18:49   Hang 'em up around your house.

00:18:50   It is, it makes your house look better.

00:18:52   It'll make you happier.

00:18:54   And file it away.

00:18:55   It's not really gift-giving season yet,

00:18:57   but it's always, always one of the greatest gifts

00:19:00   you can give to family members.

00:19:01   Nobody ever complains, no grandparent has ever complained

00:19:04   about getting too many photos of their grandchildren

00:19:07   or of dogs and cats and whoever else is in your family.

00:19:10   They make 'em right down in Gainesville, Florida

00:19:13   from U.S. sourced materials.

00:19:15   It's a green company, carbon neutral factory.

00:19:19   You can go to fracture.me for a special discount

00:19:24   on your first fracture order.

00:19:27   Don't forget, at the end of your order,

00:19:29   they could give you a one question survey.

00:19:32   Where did you hear about Fracture?

00:19:34   Just remember to tell them it was the talk show.

00:19:35   Or if you prefer, ATP.

00:19:38   - Thank you very much.

00:19:40   - So my thanks to Fracture, go check them out at fracture.me.

00:19:43   - Yeah, they're pretty great, house is full of them.

00:19:44   They're fantastic. - It is, yeah,

00:19:45   I can verify that.

00:19:46   Got a lot of cereal downstairs.

00:19:50   I opened my big mouth.

00:19:51   Talking about ATP, but you guys were talking

00:19:54   about Grape Nuts, of course John Sirquiza loves Grape Nuts.

00:19:57   - So do I, they're good.

00:19:59   It's crunchy bread gravel.

00:20:01   - I think Grape Nuts look like they're delicious.

00:20:04   I kinda like a cinnamony sort of crunchy cereal.

00:20:08   They look very different.

00:20:10   First time I ever tried Grape Nuts,

00:20:11   it was the most surprising taste.

00:20:14   I just did not expect it.

00:20:16   They really just taste like you're eating sand

00:20:19   or kitty litter or something.

00:20:20   - I feel like in the area of not that sugary cereals,

00:20:25   'cause all breakfast cereal like that,

00:20:27   it has a good degree of sugar and carbs and everything.

00:20:29   it's really not the greatest thing you could be eating,

00:20:30   but in the area of cereals, there's like the sugary ones,

00:20:34   like the super sugary ones, like your Frosted Flakes,

00:20:37   your Captain Crocs, that kind of stuff,

00:20:40   and then there's the ones that have less sugar,

00:20:43   like Cheerios and Grape Nuts,

00:20:46   and I think in the less sugar category,

00:20:49   Grape Nuts are, they do surprisingly well,

00:20:51   'cause usually in that category,

00:20:53   you just have some kind of weird wheat brand thing,

00:20:58   compressed into some kind of flake or blob or shape

00:21:02   or something and it's just really boring usually.

00:21:04   Grape nuts have a really fun texture.

00:21:07   Like you really gotta work hard.

00:21:08   You really feel like I'm gonna,

00:21:10   I'm earning these calories that I'm eating here

00:21:12   by chomping on this gravel in my mouth

00:21:15   that's taking forever to chew

00:21:16   and it provides a lot more texture

00:21:19   and I think more flavor than the other

00:21:22   not that sugary cereals.

00:21:23   Like Cheerios basically tastes like nothing.

00:21:25   - Yeah. - You know,

00:21:26   Cheerios are baby food basically.

00:21:27   - Yeah.

00:21:28   And they're quite commonly used for that purpose.

00:21:30   - That's exactly, I still associate it, my son's 15 now,

00:21:33   but I still associate Cheerios very strongly

00:21:36   with when he was learning to eat solid food.

00:21:39   - Oh yeah.

00:21:40   - And it occupies the perfect kid food

00:21:42   'cause it's not messy, I mean there's powder.

00:21:45   - It does change the smell of a car forever.

00:21:48   If you let your kids eat Cheerios in the car.

00:21:51   The smell, you know how when you walk into somebody's house

00:21:55   and they have a cat, you can always smell,

00:21:57   that there's a cat lives here.

00:21:58   Even if they're pretty clean people,

00:21:59   you can always kind of tell,

00:22:00   oh, you smell a little bit cat lives here, right?

00:22:02   You can always tell if people have kids

00:22:03   when you get into their car,

00:22:05   'cause it'll smell a little bit like Cheerios.

00:22:07   - 'Cause it's like sand at the beach,

00:22:09   you can't really get all the Cheerios

00:22:11   out of the backseat of the car.

00:22:12   - Right, exactly.

00:22:13   It'll always smell a little bit like that.

00:22:14   - And it's, you know, with the kids too,

00:22:15   it's always, when they're at that Cheerios age,

00:22:18   they're also car seat age,

00:22:20   and that just makes way more crevices

00:22:24   where a straight Cheerio can get,

00:22:27   and you wouldn't even notice.

00:22:28   You get the kid out of the car,

00:22:30   give an eyeball to the backseat

00:22:32   and kinda clean up anything you need to clean up.

00:22:34   But those Cheerios, they'll get into every crack in the car.

00:22:36   - Oh yeah, meanwhile, then the car's being baked in the sun

00:22:38   for the next three years, and those Cheerios

00:22:40   are just roasting in that car seat crevice

00:22:41   that you can't reach.

00:22:43   That smell does not go away.

00:22:44   - I'm always interested, 'cause we're of similar age.

00:22:49   John Siracusa and I are very close in age,

00:22:51   very similar backgrounds.

00:22:52   We even share a first name.

00:22:53   And it always is fascinating to me where,

00:22:58   how much aligned our interests are, our perspectives,

00:23:02   but then there's other areas where we are totally different.

00:23:06   And so I thought it was interesting,

00:23:07   like he was saying that when he grew up,

00:23:11   he wasn't allowed to have sugar cereal, as we called it.

00:23:13   In my house, I was telling you this last night,

00:23:18   we weren't big junk food people,

00:23:22   but my family really bought in completely

00:23:26   to the mid-century, post-World War II Kellogg's

00:23:31   start your day with a bowl of breakfast.

00:23:35   So we had like a veritable selection of cereals.

00:23:40   We always had Cheerios, my dad was a big Cheerios guy.

00:23:42   So we'd have some Cheerios,

00:23:43   we'd have the Corn Flakes was a big one,

00:23:46   and then my sister and I could pick out

00:23:49   two or three sugar cereals at a time

00:23:51   and we'd have them open so I could have Fruit Loops one day,

00:23:54   I could have Frosted Flakes another day,

00:23:56   but every single day of the week

00:23:59   was a sugar cereal day for us.

00:24:01   - That's interesting, yeah, see,

00:24:02   we were restricted to only weekends.

00:24:04   We'd have like crackling oat bran on the weekdays,

00:24:07   and then the weekends, that was the splurge,

00:24:10   then that's when we could have such crazy innovations

00:24:13   as like when I was a kid,

00:24:15   that's when the Rice Krispies Treats cereal debuted.

00:24:18   - Which did not need to exist.

00:24:20   - No, and I remember when we got it, thinking like,

00:24:22   this is gonna be illegal in like a year.

00:24:24   Like, this should be illegal already.

00:24:26   There's no way this is gonna keep being on the market.

00:24:28   And here we are, still.

00:24:29   - I used to, it would be something I would look forward to.

00:24:33   I can't say I went to the grocery store

00:24:35   all the time with my mom,

00:24:35   but maybe like eight, nine, 10, you know,

00:24:38   I might have been, I forget when I was allowed

00:24:41   to stay home by myself if my mom went to the grocery store.

00:24:44   But one of the things I liked to do at the grocery store

00:24:46   would be to pick cereal.

00:24:48   And in hindsight, it's kind of crazy

00:24:50   that there's an entire aisle in a giant supermarket

00:24:52   filled with nothing but junk food.

00:24:55   - That's no accident.

00:24:56   - That's passed off as a meal.

00:24:58   - And there's so much about that too.

00:24:59   Like the shape of the boxes

00:25:02   is actually a huge waste of cardboard.

00:25:03   - Oh, right, right.

00:25:04   - It's like the most effective way to pack

00:25:07   that kind of cereal would be in a much more

00:25:09   like short squat box, almost like the shape

00:25:11   of like a Pop-Tarts box, like a shorter squatter box

00:25:13   that's deeper, but they make them

00:25:15   these giant skinny flat rectangles

00:25:17   so that they appear large on the shelf.

00:25:20   They're like billboards for kids.

00:25:21   And of course, all the sugariest ones are at kid height

00:25:25   so that kids can see it and beg their parents to buy it.

00:25:27   - Well, like at Whole Foods, they'll sell cereal

00:25:29   that comes in a bag.

00:25:30   They do have box cereal too,

00:25:32   but they'll sell the cereal in a bag.

00:25:34   And then I think they even label it on the bag,

00:25:36   like this is space efficient.

00:25:38   - Yeah, right.

00:25:38   They're trying to tell you,

00:25:40   'cause when we were growing up,

00:25:41   there were bagged cereals at the very bottom

00:25:43   and they were like the cheapo ones.

00:25:45   So they're trying to probably get rid of that image

00:25:47   of like, no, trust me, bagged cereal is good.

00:25:49   I don't say I think it's a losing battle.

00:25:51   I think that ship has sailed

00:25:52   and no one's ever gonna think that, but they can try.

00:25:55   One thing too, I realize like when I was a kid,

00:25:59   just like how incredibly effective TV commercials

00:26:03   during kids shows were at getting kids

00:26:06   to make their parents buy them certain things.

00:26:08   'Cause like now, like my kid now,

00:26:10   I've been a cord cutter since before it was called that

00:26:13   and my kid now has almost never seen TV commercials.

00:26:17   Like, if we're like in a hotel room,

00:26:18   we'll turn the TV on, and he'll be like,

00:26:21   why does the show keep stopping, and what is this?

00:26:23   Like, but, so for the most part, he doesn't see commercials.

00:26:26   So it's interesting that he almost never

00:26:29   requests certain exact things, like buy certain brands

00:26:33   or certain toys, the way we would.

00:26:35   And I just remember thinking, like, you know,

00:26:36   the reason I knew about Rice Krispie Treat cereal

00:26:38   when I was a kid was that I watched Saturday morning

00:26:40   cartoons and probably TV throughout the week

00:26:43   at different times as well.

00:26:44   And so I always, I saw all the commercials,

00:26:46   and I would beg for the things in them

00:26:48   that were usually not as good as I thought they would be,

00:26:50   like the Typhoon, hovercraft, piece of crap.

00:26:52   (laughing)

00:26:54   And like, you know, but now, so,

00:26:58   I wouldn't say like so few kids watch commercials,

00:27:00   but certainly a lot fewer now watch commercials

00:27:03   than did like in the '80s and '90s.

00:27:06   I wonder, like, how does that change,

00:27:08   like, how do our kids even know like what to ask for?

00:27:12   I mean, YouTube, I guess?

00:27:15   In hindsight, I can definitely agree

00:27:17   that I was more influenced by kid show commercials

00:27:21   than I would have as a smart alecky kid

00:27:26   who was fairly cynical from a young age.

00:27:31   I would have sworn up and down that,

00:27:33   that's for dummies who get brainwashed by commercials.

00:27:37   I'm smart.

00:27:38   And meanwhile, I'm asking my mom for Mr. T cereal.

00:27:41   - Right. (laughing)

00:27:42   And we don't even go,

00:27:44   There were the two avenues of marketing that hit us hard.

00:27:47   There's the commercials were the big one,

00:27:49   and then also we would be going to a lot more retail stores.

00:27:53   We would go to a toy store to buy certain toys.

00:27:56   Now we just get 'em on Amazon.

00:27:57   And so we don't, my kid is hardly ever in a toy store.

00:28:01   I don't even know if any toy stores are still in business.

00:28:03   - Right, everything just comes in a brown Amazon box.

00:28:06   - Right, so the only method of marketing

00:28:08   that seems to work on him is when his friends at school

00:28:11   have something, then he'll often ask for one like that.

00:28:14   - But that's about it.

00:28:15   And a lot of his friends at school have similar parents

00:28:18   who were like, you know, also are pretty much cord cutters

00:28:20   and Amazon shoppers.

00:28:21   So like, the amount of like things that he asks for,

00:28:25   specifically, you know, certain brand names

00:28:27   or certain types of food, are very, very low

00:28:29   compared to what we did when we were kids.

00:28:31   - Yeah, definitely.

00:28:32   I think it's also the cereal racket,

00:28:37   before we move on to other topics, the cereal racket--

00:28:39   - This is better than tech news, I mean.

00:28:40   - The cereal racket was always interesting to me

00:28:43   because it was a very vibrant,

00:28:46   it probably still is, I'm guessing,

00:28:48   it's a very vibrant distinctive mix

00:28:50   between all-time classics that haven't changed ever,

00:28:55   Cheerios, Corn Flakes.

00:28:58   - Yeah, and Grape Nuts are-- - I think Grape Nuts

00:28:59   are in that. - Yeah, like there was

00:29:00   the article I mentioned on ATP,

00:29:02   the No Grapes, No Nuts, No Market Chair,

00:29:03   I think it was called, like it said how they changed,

00:29:06   they had to change the recipe twice, like once to add,

00:29:09   they added back a little bit of the wheat hulls,

00:29:12   they could call it whole grain.

00:29:13   And at one time they fortified it with vitamins

00:29:16   to make it comply with something.

00:29:18   That's it.

00:29:19   So yeah, most of these things like corn flakes,

00:29:22   I think they have similar things,

00:29:23   but they've modified very slightly over time,

00:29:25   but they're basically the same thing.

00:29:26   - But you've got these staples, you've got these classics.

00:29:29   And then there's the, like I said, Mr. T cereal.

00:29:33   I mean, I'm dating myself here,

00:29:34   but I remember Pac-Man cereal was a big deal

00:29:37   in the early '80s.

00:29:38   - So they would just take whatever the fad of 1982,

00:29:42   and then they would make a breakfast cereal out of it.

00:29:44   - Of course, why wouldn't you?

00:29:45   - I seem to recall, I think Nintendo had a cereal

00:29:47   at one point.

00:29:48   - Oh yeah, every big, yeah, I'm sure there were

00:29:50   like Mario cereals and stuff.

00:29:52   I'm sure there was probably a Sonic cereal

00:29:53   when I was going through that time.

00:29:56   'Cause they were always, cereal companies are shameless

00:29:59   with licensing and everything.

00:30:00   You can get pretty much anything.

00:30:01   - Yeah, they should do like an iPhone cereal.

00:30:03   Just you're eating like little tiny iPhones.

00:30:05   - I wonder, could they get the super ellipse shape

00:30:08   - The icons, can they get that right?

00:30:10   - No.

00:30:11   They couldn't even make Pac-Man right,

00:30:12   but Pac-Man did not look like Pac-Man.

00:30:14   - Yeah, it seems like the breakfast cereal factory tooling

00:30:17   is not incredibly precise.

00:30:19   - I always enjoyed too the small print on the cereal boxes.

00:30:24   Would people sue?

00:30:28   I don't know, but it's like they'd show you

00:30:30   having your bowl of Cheerios

00:30:32   and then there's a bunch of cut-up strawberries in it

00:30:34   and then they have to tell you

00:30:36   that the strawberries are not included

00:30:37   And it's like, pretty sure fresh strawberries

00:30:39   are not gonna do well in this box, but.

00:30:41   - Yeah, strawberries shown for scale.

00:30:43   Yeah, or like the part of this complete breakfast nonsense.

00:30:46   - Oh, right, right. - That's always fun.

00:30:47   I forget the story, there was some story behind that

00:30:49   of basically, there was some reason why the cereal companies

00:30:53   would advertise as part of this complete breakfast,

00:30:55   and it was, again, as with many food claims,

00:30:58   it's total BS, and it's like, the better breakfast

00:31:00   would be that exact same thing minus the cereal.

00:31:03   Like that would actually be a better breakfast

00:31:05   than whatever you're adding the cereal to.

00:31:06   - Right, yeah. (laughs)

00:31:09   I also think, I think it's complete nonsense,

00:31:12   I know that people debate about this,

00:31:14   and I think different, this is,

00:31:15   it's very personal, in my opinion,

00:31:17   the way your body metabolizes,

00:31:19   whether you're a morning person or a late-night person.

00:31:22   But they really successfully sold all of North America

00:31:26   on the idea that breakfast is the quote,

00:31:28   "most important meal of the day."

00:31:30   Like if-- (laughs)

00:31:31   - Yeah, I feel like whatever meal your food goes in

00:31:35   that you sell, you wanna make that claim.

00:31:36   - Right.

00:31:37   Well, I just think, you know, but that's a bold claim

00:31:42   and they had like nothing to back it up.

00:31:43   They were just like, well, we'll just tell people that.

00:31:45   Yeah, and it makes--

00:31:45   - I think what we've found is like,

00:31:46   because now we have a variety of,

00:31:49   like, you know, I know people who eat all sorts of breakfast

00:31:52   from like large breakfasts to, you know,

00:31:54   super unhealthy to super unhealthy to no breakfast

00:31:57   and they all seem fine.

00:31:58   It seems like it might be the least important meal

00:32:00   of the day, actually.

00:32:01   Like, it seems like you can do pretty much

00:32:02   whatever you want for breakfast

00:32:03   and it's not gonna have a massive effect on you.

00:32:06   (laughing)

00:32:09   - What else do we have?

00:32:12   What's on your mind?

00:32:14   - I don't know, I mean there's a bit of minor stuff.

00:32:16   Like there was the whole listening to Siri requests thing.

00:32:20   I don't know how much there is there.

00:32:21   I don't really care that strongly about that honestly.

00:32:23   - So that broke right before Molten and I recorded

00:32:28   over the weekend.

00:32:30   looked into it, The Guardian is usually pretty good, but I don't get this. Like, you definitely—I knew,

00:32:38   we've always had to agree to some kind of terms with Siri that would acknowledge that they're

00:32:43   letting you, like for quality control purposes, listening, but that they're doing it in a

00:32:51   completely anonymized fashion. Like, it just did not seem like new news to me.

00:32:56   - I think the difference is, and they talked about this

00:33:00   this week on upgrade, the difference is that

00:33:03   when you agree that like, oh, when you push the Siri

00:33:07   button on your phone and you ask it to do something,

00:33:09   it is going to servers.

00:33:10   And those servers are also gonna have things like

00:33:12   your contact information so it can know, like if you say,

00:33:15   you know, call TIFF, it's gonna look at my contact

00:33:16   to see who TIFF is.

00:33:18   And it does all that logic server side,

00:33:19   so the servers need your contact, stuff like that.

00:33:21   So we, I think we who were in the know, we knew that,

00:33:24   and we knew that was doing that.

00:33:26   The main trick, this is what upgrade brought up,

00:33:28   I think the main difference is that there's a lot of

00:33:30   accidental invocations ever since the

00:33:33   hey dingus support came out.

00:33:35   Like we have a HomePod in our kitchen,

00:33:37   and all the time we'll be having a conversation

00:33:40   that does not include those two words at all,

00:33:43   and HomePod will pipe up in the corner,

00:33:46   "Hmm, sorry, what was that?"

00:33:48   Or something like that, it'll make some noise

00:33:49   that indicates that it was listening for a few seconds

00:33:51   and thought we were trying to tell it something

00:33:52   and then it failed for whatever reason.

00:33:54   And that happens a lot.

00:33:56   And the HomePod is the only device

00:33:58   that I have Hade Ninga enabled for.

00:33:59   I don't even use it on the other devices

00:34:01   because honestly it's a lot easier

00:34:02   to have a HomePod in your house

00:34:04   if that's the only device you have respond to that command.

00:34:07   It solves a number of problems.

00:34:09   But anyway, by default that feature's on

00:34:11   on most Apple devices these days.

00:34:14   It'll tell you during the setup wizard

00:34:15   and it'll give you a chance to turn it off.

00:34:17   But kind of like the default run-through process,

00:34:20   the encouraged flow is to turn it on.

00:34:22   So a lot of people have the hey-ding-a support turned on.

00:34:25   And so that, because it is both trying to be automatic

00:34:29   with its invocation, and because it is honestly

00:34:32   not as good as something like an Amazon Echo

00:34:35   at knowing when you're calling it and when you're not,

00:34:38   I think that's giving a lot of accidental input into Siri.

00:34:42   And so the controversial part of these recordings is like,

00:34:45   you didn't even realize it was recording.

00:34:47   - And so who knows what you were talking about.

00:34:48   - Right, and so you could have been doing something

00:34:50   embarrassing or nefarious or private,

00:34:53   and now somebody at some contractor in Silicon Valley,

00:34:58   not even an Apple employee, but some contractor

00:35:00   is reviewing your sex tape or drug deal or whatever.

00:35:04   That goes against what people expect to be the case.

00:35:09   Even though we know academically,

00:35:10   oh yeah, recordings go to the server,

00:35:12   you think of it, when you think of these things,

00:35:14   you think of the typical or ideal case.

00:35:16   You think, oh, when I push the button

00:35:18   and tell it and ask it a question,

00:35:19   it's gonna send what I said to a server, okay, no problem.

00:35:22   You don't think about all this accidental invocations

00:35:24   where it's recording just a random snippet of audio

00:35:26   from your world and then some weirdos listening to it.

00:35:30   - And I would guess that accidental invocations

00:35:34   might be more likely to be reviewed because Siri,

00:35:38   you know, like, usually she'll go, hmm,

00:35:39   I didn't catch that or. - Right, yeah.

00:35:41   - And that maybe those get flagged as, hey,

00:35:44   the last 15 seconds of interaction here

00:35:47   weren't completed successfully

00:35:49   and maybe that sets a flag that makes it more likely

00:35:51   to be reviewed.

00:35:52   And I did see that, that was in the Guardian story

00:35:54   where the anonymous contractor who was their source

00:35:57   said that they heard drug deals and all sorts of--

00:36:01   - Yeah, yeah, yeah.

00:36:02   And I'm sure that isn't the common case.

00:36:04   I'm sure most of what they hear is boring or nothing

00:36:06   or just some random chatter, but yeah.

00:36:09   Like the fact is that can happen

00:36:11   and it does occasionally at least happen.

00:36:12   And I think the main issue here is that

00:36:17   people don't really know that that's happening.

00:36:20   Like, you can tell them in some small print somewhere,

00:36:24   but they don't really know.

00:36:26   You're not really going to communicate well to people

00:36:29   that your recordings of random audio snippets

00:36:32   will be reviewed by humans sometimes.

00:36:35   Like, there should be an explicit opt-out

00:36:38   that says basically, like,

00:36:39   "Can Apple review your recordings periodically

00:36:43   "to improve quality," or whatever.

00:36:45   I don't know where they word it,

00:36:46   but that should be an explicit opt-out,

00:36:48   and right now, there is no separate setting for that.

00:36:51   If you don't want Apple to review your recordings

00:36:52   periodically, you can't use Siri.

00:36:55   And you can't both advance the position

00:36:59   that Siri is the future and super important

00:37:01   and we're tying so much functionality to Siri,

00:37:03   and also say, well, if you don't like this detail of it,

00:37:07   just don't use any of it.

00:37:08   Like, that's not a valid argument, I think, at this point.

00:37:12   - I do think Siri is getting better.

00:37:15   I think it is, you know, I've always been a little more--

00:37:18   - Like desktop Linux.

00:37:19   - I remain optimistic about Siri's future.

00:37:24   But I still think that we are in such ridiculous

00:37:28   early days of this.

00:37:30   And in some ways that frustrates me because it was like,

00:37:35   we went, when I was a kid, we went from like Steve,

00:37:39   the two Steves making the Apple One in a garage

00:37:44   to having the Macintosh seven years later.

00:37:48   Like, it was really, really rapid,

00:37:52   and all of a sudden, by 1984, we had these computers

00:37:55   that had this really polished interface

00:37:58   that was, you know, like regular people could use it

00:38:01   and understand it.

00:38:02   Whereas Siri's been around since 2011?

00:38:07   - Yeah.

00:38:09   - And it's not progressing as fast.

00:38:12   And none of them are that good.

00:38:13   But one of the little things I noticed,

00:38:15   and it's so hard, it's so much harder to evaluate

00:38:18   than software on your phone or on your Mac

00:38:22   where you see everything and you see all the details

00:38:24   and you can say, oh, they changed the size of these buttons

00:38:27   or they changed the color.

00:38:28   Oh, they redid the disk utility window, right?

00:38:33   It wasn't like when they redid disk utility a few years ago,

00:38:37   it wasn't like there was any question in your mind,

00:38:40   did they change disk utility?

00:38:41   You could see it.

00:38:42   With the voice assistant, you can never quite be sure,

00:38:46   but I have noticed this summer,

00:38:48   it has been very, very hot in Philadelphia.

00:38:50   And one of the things I do most frequently with Siri

00:38:55   is ask for the weather,

00:38:57   'cause I might be getting dressed in the morning

00:38:59   or something, I don't have my watch on yet,

00:39:01   or I don't have my phone in my hand.

00:39:03   And I have noticed that she hasn't once this summer

00:39:06   given me any kind of smart alecky,

00:39:10   Hot you know because it's 101 degrees you could like turn that down a little bit all that annoying well

00:39:15   I'm a personality. I think they have but maybe I'm getting a bad sample size. You know like I can't prove it

00:39:23   but I'm

00:39:25   Specifically thinking about the hot temperatures. What was and in the winter she does burr or cold

00:39:30   Yeah

00:39:31   It's always it's always like about

00:39:33   40% more words than you wanted her to give you in response to anything and it's oftentimes like a

00:39:39   a lot more personality than is warranted

00:39:43   by the accuracy and helpfulness of the assistant.

00:39:45   It's like, I feel like if the assistant's gonna be

00:39:50   fairly primitive in grand terms,

00:39:52   and is gonna keep making mistakes a lot,

00:39:56   the way many of these assistants do,

00:39:58   and especially Siri, I feel like it shouldn't exhibit

00:40:01   a lot of personality, because if it's doing something wrong

00:40:05   and then it says, "Brr, you're just annoyed.

00:40:07   "You wanna throw it out the window at that point."

00:40:09   give a little personality, as little personality as possible

00:40:12   until it's actually earned.

00:40:14   And I feel like none of these assistants are good enough

00:40:16   that they've earned the ability

00:40:17   to start making smart ass comments back at you.

00:40:19   - Right, and I feel like one of the ones for me

00:40:22   is I have two contacts in my contacts database

00:40:26   for women whose first name is Amy.

00:40:31   One of them I send text messages to all the time

00:40:36   and the other is somebody

00:40:37   I have a professional relationship with

00:40:39   and I don't believe I've spoken to her since like 2015.

00:40:42   But I don't wanna delete the contact.

00:40:44   - I feel like maybe you have to rename her.

00:40:46   - Maybe, but then I feel like I'll forget

00:40:48   what I renamed her.

00:40:49   I guess I know her last name, I can just do that.

00:40:51   But it's a little interaction that bothers me

00:40:56   every single time when I'll say, text Amy something something

00:41:01   and they'll say, "Which Amy?"

00:41:02   And then I have to pick.

00:41:03   - And it never learns.

00:41:04   - And it never learns.

00:41:05   And it just feels like the,

00:41:08   like I could hire the worst personal assistant in the world.

00:41:14   I could go to a local college and say,

00:41:17   "Give me somebody who's on drugs and is flunking out,"

00:41:20   and I'll hire that person as my personal assistant.

00:41:25   They could be a really bad personal assistant.

00:41:27   I could be fretting.

00:41:28   I could say, "Oh, I think I gotta fire this person.

00:41:30   "It's not working out."

00:41:31   But if I told my assistant, text my wife,

00:41:34   that I'm gonna be late, or text Amy that I'm gonna be late,

00:41:39   they would know to text my wife.

00:41:40   - Yeah, even the worst assistant, a human,

00:41:42   would always have the judgment to know that context.

00:41:45   I mean, right now, we have kind of a dual system family.

00:41:49   Like, we had the Amazon Echo before we had the HomePod,

00:41:52   and we still have both, and--

00:41:54   - So do we. - Yeah.

00:41:55   - It is so bad.

00:41:56   - And we recently, like, Tiff took over the Echo as hers.

00:42:00   We reassigned it to entirely hers,

00:42:02   So it's all her accounts registered to her and everything.

00:42:06   And the HomePod stays with me.

00:42:07   And so we always joke that now we have two DIMM assistants

00:42:11   that are just kind of DIMM in different ways.

00:42:14   And you ask one of them to do something

00:42:16   and it totally bombs out.

00:42:17   You ask the other one, it'll usually get it right.

00:42:19   But it's not like one of them is never,

00:42:22   there isn't just one that's so good

00:42:24   that we can keep just that one.

00:42:26   Ultimately, what I hope is happening here,

00:42:28   and maybe this is a bad example

00:42:29   'cause we haven't seen the result

00:42:30   of the big Maps rewrite yet.

00:42:33   I know there was some concern that it might actually

00:42:35   not be as good as we were hoping.

00:42:37   But assuming that it does get good,

00:42:40   I hope there is something like the great Maps rewrite

00:42:42   going on for Siri.

00:42:43   They hired John Gendrea, what about two years ago now,

00:42:47   a year ago, something like that?

00:42:48   - I think it was two years ago.

00:42:49   - Something like that, yeah.

00:42:50   - Maybe it was just last year.

00:42:52   - I don't know, regardless.

00:42:53   They hired him fairly recently,

00:42:55   and he got promoted to SVP.

00:42:58   And so clearly there was a major shift of Siri leadership

00:43:02   with somebody who was very qualified

00:43:04   to do this kind of thing in a way that I think

00:43:07   was probably way better than the way Apple

00:43:08   was doing it before.

00:43:09   So hopefully there is some kind of great effort going on

00:43:13   to really transform Siri and really bring it

00:43:16   at least up to the level of the Amazon Echo

00:43:19   and the Google whatever.

00:43:21   Hopefully it gets past that level.

00:43:23   But just to at least meet it in some of the basics.

00:43:26   Like Siri, yes, Siri's ahead in some areas,

00:43:28   but it still falls behind in some of the basics

00:43:31   of like reliability, performance,

00:43:33   some basic logic, basic learning.

00:43:36   It's still way behind even where the Amazon Echo was

00:43:39   like three years ago in a lot of those areas.

00:43:41   So I hope they're, I hope and I assume

00:43:46   that they actually are doing some kind of great Siri reset

00:43:48   behind the scenes, although honestly I've heard nothing

00:43:50   to that effect.

00:43:51   - And it's, you know, it's so hard,

00:43:53   It's obviously a very hard problem domain.

00:43:56   But if I only understood my wife

00:44:01   as often as Siri understands my wife,

00:44:03   she would be concerned and tell me

00:44:06   I need to go get my hearing checked at the doctor

00:44:08   because this isn't working out.

00:44:11   - And the problems go beyond hearing.

00:44:13   - Right. - Siri hears me great.

00:44:14   - Oh, see, she hears something,

00:44:17   but it's like Amy, for whatever reason,

00:44:21   Amy, you know, a fine podcaster in her own right,

00:44:25   speaks very clearly.

00:44:26   But it's shocking to me how often, like,

00:44:31   when, like, her miss rate on, like,

00:44:35   doing some of our home kit stuff,

00:44:36   like with the lights or the shades or something like that,

00:44:38   is really low.

00:44:40   Or, and she'll say stuff like,

00:44:41   open the kitchen shades.

00:44:46   And one of the things that's great about Siri

00:44:48   is that Siri doesn't make you do like a command line.

00:44:52   You have to use the words the same way.

00:44:54   You can say open the shades in the kitchen,

00:44:57   open the kitchen shades.

00:44:59   You don't have to program a scene with those specific names.

00:45:02   You should generally just figure it out.

00:45:04   But it's just, we have one where the main floor

00:45:09   of our house is a couple of different rooms.

00:45:12   So I do have a scene called open main floor shades,

00:45:18   and that just opens all of them.

00:45:19   And Amy will say open main floor shades, exactly,

00:45:22   and Siri will say, I'm sorry,

00:45:25   I don't have anything by that name.

00:45:27   - So the one common issue I have with Siri is

00:45:30   if you're saying something that is close to a common word,

00:45:34   it's almost like my snap to grid thing,

00:45:36   like if you're saying something

00:45:38   that's close to a common word,

00:45:40   but it's like a different word,

00:45:42   sometimes Siri will hear it as that common word

00:45:44   every single time no matter how you say it.

00:45:46   So one example of this is, like when Siri first came out,

00:45:49   you could say, you could tell your phone,

00:45:51   like if your name, like in my office case,

00:45:53   if your name was Tiffany, you could say, call me Tiff.

00:45:56   And it would say, okay, from now on,

00:45:57   I will call you, whatever you said.

00:45:58   But in this case, she could not get Siri to say that.

00:46:02   It would just say, no matter how she or I pronounced it,

00:46:05   every single time it would say, okay, I will call you Test.

00:46:09   Every single time.

00:46:09   And even, and that was years ago now,

00:46:12   but even now with the HomePod,

00:46:14   They added the name timer support finally, thank God.

00:46:16   It's great.

00:46:17   I wish it would come to iOS, but cool.

00:46:19   Start with the HomePod at least, that's good.

00:46:21   And some mornings I'll make some bacon and eggs,

00:46:25   and I will say, start a bacon timer for 12 minutes

00:46:27   with the bacon in the oven.

00:46:29   Every single time.

00:46:31   Okay, I've started a baking timer.

00:46:32   Every time.

00:46:33   No matter how I say bacon,

00:46:36   I cannot get it to not say back to me, bacon.

00:46:38   - Right, and you would think,

00:46:40   like if you were talking to a person,

00:46:43   you could say start a bacon timer, B-A-C-O-N.

00:46:46   - Yeah, right, yeah, you can clarify.

00:46:48   - Yeah, and there's no way to clarify like that,

00:46:50   and it's just like the,

00:46:51   you just sort of start to break down, you know, I don't know.

00:46:57   - Maybe I think I'm saying it like with an apostrophe

00:46:59   instead of the G at the end. - Yeah, bacon.

00:47:01   - I'm just bacon out here.

00:47:01   - You're just dropping your Gs.

00:47:03   - Yeah, right, yeah, start a bacon timer, bacon.

00:47:06   - I also think that the name timer thing was interesting

00:47:11   that the HomePod, well, and HomePod was single timer only.

00:47:15   You couldn't name 'em, and it was single timer.

00:47:17   - Yes, okay.

00:47:18   - And the reaction from some people at Apple PR was,

00:47:24   okay, it's a good feature, but is this really that big a deal

00:47:28   and I-- - Yes, it is.

00:47:30   - Well, and the thing is, is I think it was an instance

00:47:34   where the cultural insularity of Apple,

00:47:38   where a lot of Apple employees really only use Apple stuff.

00:47:42   So if they weren't used to having an Echo,

00:47:49   where you can do that and do it in the kitchen,

00:47:51   it's like you're totally missing the point.

00:47:53   It's like the main reason to buy an Echo, really,

00:47:56   and put it in your kitchen,

00:47:57   is to have these name timers that you don't have to touch

00:47:59   and that you can query how much time is left on the pizza

00:48:04   and get a very accurate answer.

00:48:06   - And I think, too, I mean, this was a larger problem

00:48:08   with the HomePod in general.

00:48:09   The HomePod was such a poor market fit

00:48:14   because maybe the way Apple saw it

00:48:16   was the way they priced it and the way they marketed it,

00:48:18   which is this is something you put in a living room.

00:48:20   And in that kind of context,

00:48:22   maybe you don't need multiple name timers very often,

00:48:24   but the market has a very different opinion.

00:48:26   The market says one of the best places

00:48:28   for a voice cylinder is in the kitchen.

00:48:31   And whether or not Apple want to position theirs as such,

00:48:34   and that's part of the reason

00:48:35   why everyone says it's too expensive,

00:48:37   I was like, yeah, it's a pretty good $300 speaker,

00:48:39   but it's not competitive in the market of voice cylinders,

00:48:44   because voice cylinders cost 100 bucks.

00:48:47   - And most people naturally don't wanna spend

00:48:49   home entertainment system dollars

00:48:50   for something that's just a gadget in the kitchen.

00:48:53   - Right, and especially that integrates so poorly

00:48:55   into any other type of a home theater system.

00:48:58   You really kinda can't use a HomePod easily

00:49:01   with pretty much anything else,

00:49:02   so it is like a standalone thing.

00:49:04   It actually is a really good kitchen speaker.

00:49:07   It's very expensive for that purpose,

00:49:09   but if you can swing it, it's a pretty good one.

00:49:12   But I gotta say, the Echo's still better

00:49:14   because the Echo is more reliable.

00:49:17   Its name timer support is better

00:49:18   and more reliable and faster.

00:49:21   And they have the various models that have the screens,

00:49:23   which honestly, I tried the very first Echo Show

00:49:25   with the screen. - Yeah, I remember you saying--

00:49:26   - I returned it within like a day.

00:49:28   I'm like, nope, it was terrible.

00:49:29   But I hear the new ones are better.

00:49:31   But whether or not Apple wants the market to believe

00:49:35   where it wants to position its products,

00:49:38   it doesn't really matter what Apple

00:49:40   wants the market to believe.

00:49:41   The market's gonna believe what it's gonna believe.

00:49:42   And so if the market says a voice assistant cylinder

00:49:45   speaker thing should be about 100 bucks

00:49:48   and should have multiple name timers

00:49:49   'cause we're gonna put it in our kitchens,

00:49:51   Apple can only do so much to change that perception

00:49:54   because they wanna make something more expensive

00:49:55   that's more home theater focused.

00:49:56   Like the reality is that's what the market wants

00:49:58   and so far that has proven to be

00:50:00   what people still want the HomePod to be.

00:50:03   Apple hasn't moved the market towards them.

00:50:05   The market just kind of left them behind.

00:50:07   - It makes me wonder what they're working on,

00:50:08   what their plans are for HomePod.

00:50:10   I could see them going in either direction.

00:50:13   I could see them expanding it to be,

00:50:16   which is what they did with the iPod back in the day,

00:50:18   where they'd have multiple iPods of different sizes

00:50:21   and hitting lower price points.

00:50:24   I could see them making a smaller one that is less expensive

00:50:29   and maybe still sounds really good for its size,

00:50:31   or I could see them completely dropping it

00:50:33   and getting out of the business of making it.

00:50:36   - Yeah, I mean, 'cause to some degree,

00:50:37   I think they might argue that the kitchen home pod

00:50:41   is called the iPad.

00:50:42   - Right.

00:50:43   - And I don't think that's necessarily a good replacement,

00:50:46   but that is, I think, what a lot of their marketing

00:50:49   would try to have you believe.

00:50:51   And for some people, it is a good replacement.

00:50:53   If you want a device that responds to voice commands

00:50:56   and can play music and stuff

00:50:57   and has a screen to show you stuff,

00:50:58   - Yeah, actually, an iPod's pretty good for that.

00:51:00   And I do use my iPad in the kitchen very frequently.

00:51:02   It's a great kitchen device.

00:51:04   But I think what's most likely to happen with the HomePod

00:51:08   is I think they're just gonna kinda slowly peter out

00:51:12   and eventually bow out of the market,

00:51:13   similar to how they did with Wi-Fi routers.

00:51:15   For similar reasons.

00:51:16   - That's exactly, I was trying to think about

00:51:17   what I was thinking of, and I was thinking about

00:51:19   the way that they got out of the Wi-Fi routers.

00:51:21   Even though they, in some ways, I think,

00:51:26   deserve credit for starting it.

00:51:28   that Airport was one of the first

00:51:30   highly publicized Wi-Fi systems.

00:51:32   I mean, it was, they did the hula hoop.

00:51:34   It was all radical.

00:51:37   They had Phil Schiller jumping off a 20-foot platform

00:51:40   to show that the accelerometer worked on the thing,

00:51:46   and it was still broadcasting Wi-Fi.

00:51:50   - Yeah, but ultimately, I don't think,

00:51:53   they're never gonna compete well against Amazon,

00:51:55   because Amazon is so good at making really cheap hardware

00:51:58   that if you don't care so much about the materials quality

00:52:02   and design and UI quality, I mean Amazon's UIs are atrocious

00:52:06   for their products that do have screens, they're horrendous.

00:52:09   But if you don't care about all that stuff

00:52:10   and you just want a voice assistant cylinder

00:52:12   that can play music and have multiple timers

00:52:14   in your kitchen, Amazon is gonna kill them

00:52:16   over and over and over again at that.

00:52:17   Apple is just not good at making cheap, frequently updated

00:52:22   like commodity hardware that interacts

00:52:24   that they frequently updated web service

00:52:26   that integrates with a bunch of third party things.

00:52:28   None of that's in Apple's DNA.

00:52:29   And so I think the HomePod is,

00:52:33   rather than become competitive by having a wider range

00:52:36   that spans multiple price points

00:52:37   and making Siri really good on it,

00:52:38   I think the more likely outcome

00:52:40   is they just slowly bow out.

00:52:42   They're already doing a whole lot of AirPlay 2 hardware

00:52:44   with other hardware partners.

00:52:45   I think that's the first step

00:52:47   in getting themselves out of this business.

00:52:48   And then give it a couple more years

00:52:51   where AirPlay 2 is in more products

00:52:52   that themselves have voice assistants built in.

00:52:55   Like Sonos has a couple.

00:52:56   I think Apple's out of this business in a couple years.

00:53:00   - Yeah, and something like Sonos is, you know,

00:53:03   it's so much more flexible because they've got

00:53:06   like a whole range of products, you know.

00:53:09   It's, I like HomePod as a product a lot, but it is not,

00:53:14   like I wouldn't want it to be my TV sound system.

00:53:19   - Well, and honestly, they sound great.

00:53:20   Like if you get a stereo pair of them,

00:53:22   They sound awesome, but they have no inputs.

00:53:24   And you can make them work with an Apple TV,

00:53:28   but it's a little clumsy to do that,

00:53:31   and it's nearly impossible to make them work well

00:53:33   with anything else.

00:53:34   And so it's just not,

00:53:36   Apple did a really good job engineering the microphones,

00:53:39   they did a really good job engineering the sound,

00:53:41   it looks kinda cool, it's a good size.

00:53:44   It is a really nice product for a narrow set of use cases.

00:53:49   But unfortunately that set of use cases

00:53:51   is too narrow for the market.

00:53:53   And it's the kind of thing that I would love

00:53:55   for Apple to keep going on that and make it better.

00:53:59   Make Siri support behind it better,

00:54:01   make the software better, make the hardware,

00:54:03   you know, move it forward, make a bigger range,

00:54:04   make smaller ones, make bigger ones.

00:54:06   I would love that, I just don't think they're gonna do it.

00:54:08   If they did it, I think they could be better than everyone.

00:54:11   If they really put their heart behind it,

00:54:13   and if they really, you know, make Siri really good

00:54:16   as the general, you know, initiative

00:54:17   that I hope is happening there,

00:54:19   and really put their back into HomePod.

00:54:20   I think they could really make it amazing.

00:54:22   And I would love that because I would like that way better

00:54:24   than all the other alternatives that are kind of creepy

00:54:26   and made with crappy hardware.

00:54:27   But I just don't see it happening, unfortunately.

00:54:30   - It's also a little frustrating knowing that it comes

00:54:32   from the same company that made AirPods,

00:54:34   which are amazing and in a lot of ways are sibling product.

00:54:39   They're wireless, you talk to Siri,

00:54:43   you're listening to music.

00:54:47   Everybody I know, I know you have issues

00:54:49   with the fitting in your ears,

00:54:51   but other than like, if you think that they're comfortable,

00:54:54   most people absolutely love AirPods.

00:54:56   It would be interesting to see,

00:54:58   somehow rub some of that AirPod magic on HomePod.

00:55:04   - Yeah, and I mean, I think ultimately,

00:55:07   it just again comes down to like,

00:55:09   how much are they willing to play

00:55:11   in that commodity hardware business?

00:55:13   Like, how cheap are they willing to make this thing?

00:55:14   How well are they able to compete

00:55:17   to get, I'm not saying they have to beat or match

00:55:19   the Echo's price, but they have to get closer to it.

00:55:22   Like, it has to cost like 30 or 50% more,

00:55:26   not like 300% more, whatever it is.

00:55:28   - Well, and sort of in a way that AirPods are,

00:55:30   they're expensive for EarPods.

00:55:32   You know, are they still 160 bucks, 159?

00:55:34   - I think the base is 170 now or something,

00:55:36   and the wireless charging is 200.

00:55:38   - Yeah.

00:55:39   But when you compare them to the highest rated

00:55:43   wireless buds from other companies,

00:55:46   Like I just read a review last week of somebody

00:55:49   who's reviewing the new Sony ones,

00:55:51   which seem like a really good product,

00:55:53   but they're more expensive.

00:55:55   - Yeah, the AirPods are actually pretty price competitive

00:55:57   for what they are, for the other competitive,

00:56:00   both small wireless buds and just like the market

00:56:03   of generally like decent Bluetooth,

00:56:06   decent portable Bluetooth headphones.

00:56:08   They're all around 200 bucks at least.

00:56:10   So it's actually, those are actually pretty well priced

00:56:13   for what they are.

00:56:14   So we know Apple can do it, but the HomePod,

00:56:17   I think they wanted to kill Sonos with it.

00:56:22   Unfortunately, they didn't.

00:56:23   And they didn't come anywhere near

00:56:25   competing with the Echo family.

00:56:28   - All right, let's take a break, thank our next sponsor.

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00:58:56   Did you see the essay? I just linked to it the other day

00:58:58   Craig mod. Yeah, but performance the fast software fast offers great software. Yeah. Yeah, and it's really good. He said he's a great writer

00:59:06   I've known Craig for years

00:59:08   very very thoughtful guy

00:59:10   And it's funny 'cause he's writing about fast software,

00:59:14   but it struck a chord with me

00:59:16   because it's something I've thought about.

00:59:17   I mean, I've spent hundreds of hours here on the show

00:59:19   talking about software quality.

00:59:21   But the very specific nature of software

00:59:26   that feels fast and responsive

00:59:29   and that the way that that makes him feel

00:59:31   that that software is well built,

00:59:33   and when you're using an app,

00:59:36   Like one of his examples was the web export dialogue

00:59:41   in Photoshop.

00:59:42   And you know, it's a dialogue box a lot of people

00:59:46   have to use a lot of time.

00:59:47   And it's, I literally think that it's like a dialogue box

00:59:52   that was written using Chromium or something like that.

00:59:55   Like they're actually firing up like a web browser

00:59:57   inside the window.

00:59:58   It takes, you hit the command, it takes a couple seconds

01:00:01   before the dialogue even appears.

01:00:03   Makes you feel, it makes you not trust the software.

01:00:05   - And it makes it feel just crappy.

01:00:09   It feels almost uncared for.

01:00:11   'Cause a lot of times, those of us who are lucky enough

01:00:16   to be on fast hardware, if you buy a nice Mac,

01:00:20   a nice MacBook Pro or iMac or iMac Pro,

01:00:23   you got a lot of performance under that hood.

01:00:25   And if then some software that you run

01:00:27   performs horribly doing some common task

01:00:29   like showing its new file dialogue,

01:00:31   you kinda know this is not a hardware problem,

01:00:35   which makes it even more frustrating.

01:00:36   I have all these cores, I have all this memory,

01:00:39   I have this fast SSD, all at your disposal software.

01:00:43   What are you wasting it on?

01:00:44   Like, what are you doing?

01:00:46   - Well, and Photoshop is an interesting example

01:00:48   because Photoshop used to be amazingly fast.

01:00:52   And this was, we were talking like the early years,

01:00:55   like early to mid-90s.

01:01:00   And the hardware at the time,

01:01:03   - Well, literally, I don't think it's an exaggeration

01:01:05   to say that it was hundreds of times slower

01:01:07   than a modern high-end desktop.

01:01:10   - And in certain ways, even, like in things like I/O,

01:01:13   even more, like, you know, 'cause first we got cheap RAM,

01:01:17   then we got SSDs. - Right.

01:01:18   - And like, 'cause you know, in the '90s,

01:01:20   like I've said before, like the sound of computing

01:01:23   in the '90s was the sound of your hard drive grinding.

01:01:25   - Right. (laughs)

01:01:26   - Because, you know, 'cause hard drives were slow

01:01:28   to begin with, and also RAM was incredibly expensive

01:01:31   in the 90s, and so it was, you know,

01:01:33   nobody had enough RAM to do what the operating systems

01:01:35   and everything wanted to do, so just constant swapping,

01:01:37   just constant hard drive grinding.

01:01:39   - I forget the exact details of it,

01:01:40   but I remember in those early years,

01:01:42   when everything was so limited,

01:01:44   Photoshop even had its own custom swap disk code for--

01:01:48   - Yeah, I think it had to.

01:01:49   - Yeah, 'cause they couldn't trust,

01:01:51   A, I think they wanted to write their own code

01:01:53   'cause it was so mission critical,

01:01:54   but it just wasn't something that the OS

01:01:58   really provided at the time.

01:01:59   - Yeah, or at least not all the OSs that ran on

01:02:01   would have provided it.

01:02:02   - And you used to have to wait for so much stuff

01:02:05   in Photoshop, not because, and again, the app felt fast,

01:02:09   and if there was something you needed to do

01:02:10   in an export dialogue, and you did it all the time

01:02:13   because you're using Photoshop,

01:02:14   so you have the keyboard shortcut memorized,

01:02:17   you'd hit that keyboard shortcut,

01:02:18   and the dialogue was there instantly, no waiting.

01:02:21   The things you'd have to wait for

01:02:22   was the computationally difficult stuff,

01:02:27   like if you're applying a Gaussian blur

01:02:29   to a, at the time, what we thought of as large JPEGs.

01:02:33   - Yeah, right.

01:02:34   640 by 480. (laughs)

01:02:36   - But even that, even though you had to wait,

01:02:40   you might wait like 30, 40 seconds

01:02:42   to apply a filter to a photograph.

01:02:45   But everything about it was responsive.

01:02:47   The dialog box appeared as soon as you hit the command.

01:02:51   The actual filter started being applied

01:02:54   the second you hit the return key

01:02:56   or clicked the button to do it on screen,

01:03:00   the progress dialog would appear instantly,

01:03:04   would update at a regular basis,

01:03:05   and then as soon as it got to the end

01:03:07   of the progress bar to the pixel,

01:03:09   it would disappear and you would see your result.

01:03:12   Like that, it was a slow process

01:03:16   'cause the computers were so slow,

01:03:18   but the responsiveness to your user actions was impeccable.

01:03:24   and it's just an interesting contrast

01:03:27   that we have these faster computers

01:03:28   and now slower interfaces.

01:03:31   - Well, I think you could say a lot of the same things

01:03:33   apply to the original iPhone.

01:03:35   That the original iPhone was very slow hardware, really,

01:03:38   like compared to anything.

01:03:41   But at the time, it was like, this is the best we can do,

01:03:42   so let's deal with it.

01:03:43   And so they actually really engineered the software

01:03:46   with tons of effort to maximize responsiveness

01:03:51   while they knew they'd be waiting for the hardware.

01:03:53   So things like the Safari drawing the little grid

01:03:56   before things would render and stuff like that.

01:03:58   - The checkerboard.

01:03:58   - Yeah, the checkerboard, yeah.

01:03:59   - Or if you scrolled too fast, you'd get ahead.

01:04:01   It would only, 'cause it was so RAM constrained,

01:04:03   they couldn't do the whole front page of the New York Times.

01:04:07   So they'd render the top of it, and then as you scrolled,

01:04:10   they would render more of it on the fly,

01:04:12   but if you scrolled too fast,

01:04:13   they would just show you that checkerboard

01:04:14   so that it was always responsive to your touch.

01:04:16   - And there's all the stuff deep in the system

01:04:18   about things like being responsive to touches

01:04:20   and scrolling being very smooth and things like that.

01:04:22   And they did all this because they knew

01:04:25   the hardware was very constrained,

01:04:27   so they took a lot of effort and were very conscientious

01:04:30   about making sure everything stayed fast

01:04:32   as much as possible while they knew

01:04:34   they'd be waiting on the hardware

01:04:35   to do some more complicated things.

01:04:36   And that's how early computers were too.

01:04:38   Early computers in the '90s and '80s

01:04:40   and even the early 2000s,

01:04:42   they too were very constrained by their hardware.

01:04:46   And so programmers at the time,

01:04:49   both OS and application programmers,

01:04:51   had to be more conscientious about what they did.

01:04:54   And I think what has happened in probably the last

01:04:56   10 years or so is that hardware has gotten so good

01:05:01   and so fast and we have so much CPU power, so much RAM,

01:05:04   SSDs came around to eliminate a lot of IO bottlenecks,

01:05:07   and now programmers at almost every level

01:05:10   don't really have to think about performance

01:05:13   for most of the things they write anymore.

01:05:15   So even though the hardware is faster than ever,

01:05:18   also programmers have stopped caring about performance

01:05:21   unless it's really a big problem.

01:05:23   And as you get into things like big companies,

01:05:26   like Adobe, and working on big projects like Photoshop,

01:05:30   the argument for like, we need to make the new dialogue fast

01:05:34   has to go through so many people.

01:05:35   And they have so many conflicting priorities of things

01:05:39   like, well, if we write this code once

01:05:40   using web technologies, it can run on all of our platforms

01:05:43   with the same code, look the same,

01:05:44   fit our branding guidelines, and all this other crap.

01:05:47   And performance is not on top of anybody's mind anymore

01:05:51   because everything is so fast,

01:05:54   probably half the team working on stuff like that

01:05:57   has never had to write performance code.

01:05:59   - And it's sort of just sort of a loss

01:06:01   of the sense of craftsmanship in the work.

01:06:05   Another example, right up your alley

01:06:07   and from your personal experience is Tumblr

01:06:12   was always very fast.

01:06:14   I haven't used it in a while.

01:06:15   I don't know if that's actually still true.

01:06:17   But a lot of CMSs, you save an article

01:06:22   and then it sits there and spins for seconds at a time,

01:06:29   enough that it's like, you could see how somebody thought

01:06:34   this is fine, who needs to be back in control of your CMS

01:06:39   instantaneously upon hitting the post button.

01:06:42   But it's actually not true.

01:06:46   Like my CMS is actually a little slow in that regard

01:06:49   where it takes a couple seconds for when I post an article

01:06:52   to get back in control of everything.

01:06:56   And when you notice the typo and you hit Update

01:06:59   and you have to wait like seven seconds

01:07:01   before you can fix it, it's just sitting there

01:07:04   right in front of you but it's spinning,

01:07:06   it'll drive you nuts.

01:07:07   Whereas Tumblr was always, you hit Publish

01:07:09   and it was like, did something happen?

01:07:11   Yeah, oh yeah, it's already done.

01:07:12   There it is.

01:07:13   There's my new picture of my kid.

01:07:16   - Well, and part of that is, you know,

01:07:18   like your CMS, first of all, was made

01:07:20   back when RAM was expensive,

01:07:22   and is also, I believe, rebuilding static files

01:07:25   every time you publish.

01:07:26   - Yeah, but that shouldn't take long.

01:07:28   - No, it shouldn't, but you know,

01:07:29   if it's like rebuilding a bunch of archive pages

01:07:31   or something, then you might have, okay, so maybe not.

01:07:33   But anyway. - It's just bad software.

01:07:34   - Yeah, and your software doesn't have to be

01:07:37   that performing in that way

01:07:38   because it has one user at a time.

01:07:40   Like with Tumblr, everything had to be really fast

01:07:44   because if it wasn't, the servers would explode

01:07:48   because it had so many users and so much traffic

01:07:51   at any given time.

01:07:52   Things that we couldn't do quickly, we just couldn't do.

01:07:56   So everything was designed,

01:07:59   and to a large degree, Overcast servers,

01:08:00   I've made the same way because I take a lot

01:08:02   of the same design approaches to them,

01:08:04   of basically like if something's going to be

01:08:06   a very heavy operation that I can't do quickly,

01:08:09   don't do it. I thought, I know I've talked about this before, but what are podcasts for other than

01:08:17   retelling old stories? But I thought one of the interesting changes Apple made philosophically,

01:08:21   number one, I'll go even further back out. Like, I've been thinking a lot lately, as the iPhone

01:08:28   and iOS settle in as long standing platforms, like they're not new. I mean, you know, we had the

01:08:34   10th year anniversary last year. I mean, this is a well-established software platform. But we went

01:08:40   from the first version of Mac OS X to the iPhone in like six years. I mean, I know that Apple spent

01:08:48   like five years working on Mac OS X before it actually shipped as a 10.0. But that era from

01:08:56   like 2001 to you know and the iPod was new to okay here's the iPhone feels like

01:09:04   a long stretch of time but it wasn't it was very that's actually just a handful

01:09:09   of years and a lot of the people were the same and I thought one of the

01:09:13   interesting things that Apple obviously changed its mind about between Mac OS

01:09:17   and the original iPhone was what to make seem impressive.

01:09:22   With Mac OS X, they valued rendering quality

01:09:33   above all else.

01:09:36   So like when you, and again, this seems like a goofy thing

01:09:39   to get excited about, but back then,

01:09:42   when you'd resize a window and the contents

01:09:44   would update live, as opposed to just drawing an outline

01:09:47   and then refreshing once when you let go of the window,

01:09:50   that seemed impressive.

01:09:52   And they were doing all of this fancy anti-aliasing

01:09:55   and all these drop shadows and they had translucency.

01:10:00   They just went way overboard with the quote unquote

01:10:04   lickability of the interface.

01:10:06   But it was slow.

01:10:08   It was slow to resize windows.

01:10:10   When you would drag a window around real fast,

01:10:13   you could see it shearing on screen.

01:10:15   And then six years later with the iPhone,

01:10:19   they went the other way.

01:10:20   And they were like, if we can't keep up,

01:10:22   we'll just draw this checkerboard

01:10:24   and make sure that the scrolling speed keeps up.

01:10:27   And I remember talking to somebody at Apple about this once.

01:10:30   And he told me an interesting story that

01:10:35   they knew that Mac OS X was slow.

01:10:39   They weren't fooling themselves that the,

01:10:42   what was the word everybody used?

01:10:43   the snappiness wasn't there.

01:10:46   And they set up a lab where they,

01:10:49   what was the version of Windows

01:10:51   that would have been current in like 2001?

01:10:54   - XP.

01:10:54   - Yeah, I think it was XP.

01:10:56   Yeah, yeah, it was XP.

01:10:57   So they had a lab and they used high-speed cameras

01:11:01   and timed things like you click on the file menu

01:11:06   and how many milliseconds does it take

01:11:08   for the dropdown menu to finish rendering.

01:11:12   and if you drag your mouse down the menu

01:11:15   and it starts highlighting things,

01:11:17   how quickly after the mouse gets there

01:11:19   does the highlight come?

01:11:20   And they tested Mac OS X, they had a whole list,

01:11:24   he said, of things that we timed

01:11:26   that were mostly just rendering things.

01:11:29   And their gold standard was XP.

01:11:32   They were like, look at how much faster all of this is.

01:11:34   And sure, it wasn't as fancy looking,

01:11:37   but they wanted, this is our goal,

01:11:39   to get it as fast as this.

01:11:41   And it was the sort of thing that they were never

01:11:44   gonna talk about publicly because they're not gonna admit

01:11:48   that their stuff was slow and Windows was fast.

01:11:52   But then the funny thing is when Windows 7 shipped,

01:11:55   they installed it and they set up another machine

01:11:57   and they realized everything had gotten slow.

01:11:59   And they didn't know what to do and he said

01:12:03   it was a real fight within the company

01:12:05   as to whether they should still be benchmarking themselves

01:12:08   against XP because that was the fast one

01:12:11   And there were others who were like,

01:12:12   "No, see, they're slow too, now we're fine."

01:12:14   This is all good. - Oh, interesting.

01:12:16   That's kinda sad that that was even a debate.

01:12:18   - Yeah, well, the people who wanted to keep testing on XP

01:12:21   won the debate.

01:12:22   - I hope so, yeah, 'cause it's like,

01:12:23   "Oh, everyone else sucks, we can suck too."

01:12:25   That's a terrible argument.

01:12:27   - Right. (laughing)

01:12:28   But I think that's sort of the nut.

01:12:33   Like, why did Craig Maud write this essay?

01:12:35   Because there's so many people out there doing work

01:12:38   who don't have that philosophy.

01:12:39   I'm like, ah, if it takes four seconds,

01:12:41   it takes four seconds.

01:12:42   - Well, and I feel like it's even,

01:12:44   we're talking about a lot of times smaller times than that.

01:12:47   It's like one of the tricky things

01:12:50   about trying to match responsiveness of old hardware

01:12:55   is it used to be that when you pressed a key

01:12:58   on your keyboard, it would generate a hardware interrupt

01:13:01   and it would basically appear immediately on the screen

01:13:05   within some tiny amount of time because of,

01:13:07   but that depended on how the keyboard technology worked,

01:13:10   how the screen technology worked,

01:13:12   like the cathode gun, like how all that stuff worked

01:13:15   to get that level of responsiveness.

01:13:16   Hardware today is way more complicated than that,

01:13:20   and there's all these different levels and layers,

01:13:21   and a lot of things that introduce small amounts of latency,

01:13:23   like having keyboards be wireless, stuff like that.

01:13:26   There's all these little levels of latency

01:13:29   that are the result of technological advancement,

01:13:31   like the hardware got better in certain ways,

01:13:33   it got more capable, more complicated,

01:13:35   the OSes got more advanced,

01:13:37   and there's different layers of everything now.

01:13:39   So a lot of that's just down to that,

01:13:40   but then I feel like the big challenge

01:13:43   that we have with software is not that things

01:13:46   take four seconds when they should take one,

01:13:49   but that things that should take 20 milliseconds

01:13:52   take 200 milliseconds.

01:13:54   So we're talking about much smaller time intervals here,

01:13:58   but that adds up, or simple things,

01:14:00   like how I believe you said before,

01:14:02   how when you invoke Spotlight with command space on a Mac,

01:14:07   or when you open a new window on a Mac

01:14:09   or do something like that,

01:14:10   and then you start typing the commands

01:14:12   of what you want to appear in a text field

01:14:14   or a name or something,

01:14:16   it'll queue up those commands

01:14:17   and it will put them in as soon as it can.

01:14:20   On iOS, if you hit Command + Space

01:14:22   with a keyboard on an iPad Pro,

01:14:23   it doesn't start accepting input

01:14:25   until it has finished the animation

01:14:26   and is showing you the text box.

01:14:28   And there's little things like that,

01:14:29   where the responsiveness-- - That has gotten fixed.

01:14:31   - Oh, it has, in 13?

01:14:32   - Yes.

01:14:33   Don't quote me on this,

01:14:35   but I actually think it is shipped

01:14:37   in the latest version of iOS 12.

01:14:39   A little birdie-- - Oh, interesting.

01:14:40   - A little birdie who saw my rant about that was like,

01:14:43   told me that this drives some of us nuts too.

01:14:47   We're gonna try to sneak a, don't say anything,

01:14:52   but don't quote me, but I think they fixed it.

01:14:55   And I think they're definitely supposedly fixed it

01:14:57   for iOS 13, but I don't understand how that ever shipped.

01:15:01   How does that not, 'cause you would think

01:15:03   if you are on the Spotlight team,

01:15:06   like you're one of the people who's,

01:15:08   one of your jobs is to program the Spotlight interface

01:15:12   on iOS, wouldn't you think that you're really good

01:15:16   at using Spotlight and that you might start--

01:15:18   - Well, but also, I'm sure it was probably

01:15:21   one of those situations where, first of all,

01:15:23   on iOS, keyboard support was very rudimentary

01:15:26   until iOS 13, like the APIs, I mean,

01:15:29   I'm sure they had better stuff privately,

01:15:31   but the public APIs for it were pretty rough,

01:15:33   pretty rudimentary, and so I bet the whole stack

01:15:37   of trying to capture the keyboard input

01:15:38   works totally differently on the iOS

01:15:40   than it does on Mac probably.

01:15:42   And also, that's presumably a part of Springboard,

01:15:44   and Springboard is famously this massively complex

01:15:47   code base that does all sorts of stuff,

01:15:49   and it's apparently been refactored a whole bunch of times

01:15:51   to try to deal with its complexity,

01:15:53   'cause it's just so big and so complex and so important,

01:15:56   it's so critical to the OS, and so I can imagine

01:15:59   that was probably a harder job than it sounded like,

01:16:01   But that being said, again, it's this whole thing

01:16:04   about performance being important or not.

01:16:06   When you start talking about these differences

01:16:09   between a 20 millisecond activity

01:16:11   or a 200 millisecond activity or something like that,

01:16:14   it's kind of like death by a thousand cuts.

01:16:15   At the time, if something takes 200 milliseconds,

01:16:19   that's a pretty frequent interaction

01:16:21   that you could make faster,

01:16:22   but it might be a little bit inconvenient to make it faster

01:16:25   with the way things are built.

01:16:26   At the time, you might be able to ship that.

01:16:28   You might be able to say, you know what,

01:16:29   we're on a tight deadline,

01:16:30   "We're trying to ship this in time for the phones,"

01:16:31   or whatever, "We have to get it out the door,"

01:16:34   it just simply isn't important enough

01:16:36   to get that time down right now.

01:16:37   We'll do it later, and of course later never comes.

01:16:40   And when you have enough of that in an app,

01:16:42   or in an OS, or in a platform, it really,

01:16:46   and I think this is what Craig Mobb

01:16:47   was ultimately getting at, like,

01:16:48   the just overall feeling of software

01:16:51   that is built that way or that ends up that way

01:16:53   is so different, and at no time does it ever seem

01:16:56   like a critical problem as you're building it.

01:16:58   And the company responsible for it,

01:17:00   it might never be economically worthwhile

01:17:02   for them to devote the resources

01:17:05   to really make it incredibly faster

01:17:06   once it is like quote fast enough to be usable like that.

01:17:10   But ultimately, that really does result in

01:17:14   a feeling of like you're just kind of

01:17:16   moving through maple syrup.

01:17:18   And to me, the performance in a lot of ways like that

01:17:21   is as important as things like input reliability

01:17:24   because it's tied to it.

01:17:26   Part of the reason why I don't like certain things

01:17:29   because I think my keyboard and mouse and trackpad

01:17:33   should be 100% reliable, not 99.9% reliable,

01:17:36   like 100% reliable.

01:17:38   And if you are operating something

01:17:40   and if you're typing a sentence

01:17:42   and one out of 200 key presses doesn't register,

01:17:45   that's a really big problem, actually.

01:17:47   It seems like a small number.

01:17:48   - I think it could be way higher than that.

01:17:49   I mean, I think it could be like one in 10,000

01:17:51   and it would drive you nuts.

01:17:52   - Exactly.

01:17:53   And so you feel like you're not in control at that point.

01:17:56   - If you write a thousand word article--

01:17:58   - Yeah, I guess it's probably 10,000 keystrokes, right?

01:18:00   Yeah, so I feel like if you,

01:18:03   you feel like you're not in control of your computer

01:18:06   when it just randomly fails and things like that,

01:18:08   and performance can give you that impression.

01:18:10   Like if you are waiting for something to happen

01:18:13   that shouldn't be slow, that is being even a little bit slow,

01:18:16   it can give you that same feeling of like,

01:18:19   this isn't working properly,

01:18:20   or I'm not in full control over this.

01:18:22   - One of the features I use a lot,

01:18:26   and it annoys, I love the feature,

01:18:29   and I'm so glad it's there, but using it every single week,

01:18:33   well, I won't use it this week,

01:18:35   'cause I don't need to share notes with you,

01:18:36   but I use Apple Notes to share

01:18:39   show notes with guests on the podcast

01:18:44   and then with Caleb who edits,

01:18:47   and we toss things in there like links

01:18:50   that I often forget to post, title ideas,

01:18:54   And the interface, do you use the shared notes feature

01:18:58   in Apple Notes?

01:18:59   - A little, not a lot.

01:19:00   - It's one of those things where I should,

01:19:03   it would be harder to write about it.

01:19:05   It's like I kind of would probably be better

01:19:07   as like a YouTube video.

01:19:08   But it commits a sort of, number one, it's just slow.

01:19:13   You go up to the share menu and you go to share

01:19:19   and then a dialogue comes up.

01:19:20   It takes way too long for the dialogue to come up.

01:19:22   And again, famously I know, as a user of software,

01:19:27   it is generally frowned upon to tell the developer

01:19:32   of any particular software that something

01:19:35   should be easy to add or fix.

01:19:39   - Right, yeah.

01:19:39   - Generally-- - It should take you

01:19:40   about a day, right?

01:19:41   - Explain your problem as politely as you can

01:19:44   and let them figure out how easy it is.

01:19:46   - How hard could it be?

01:19:48   - So I'm not trying to violate that rule,

01:19:50   but it doesn't seem like opening up the sharing dialog

01:19:53   should take a while.

01:19:55   It just takes, it just does not seem snappy enough.

01:19:58   But then the part that drives me nuts

01:19:59   is I always share it by iMessage,

01:20:02   and you hit iMessage, and then the dialog box goes away.

01:20:06   And then the one that lets you type the iMessage comes up.

01:20:11   - Oh yeah. - And in between,

01:20:14   there is no spinner, there's no HUD,

01:20:18   it just looks like it failed.

01:20:19   like you hit message. And a couple of weeks ago, somebody on Twitter dug up scans of the original

01:20:29   Apple human interface guidelines from 1985 or '84, whenever they first published Inside Mac.

01:20:34   And it was like the third page of the interface guidelines specifically said that if the user

01:20:41   has to wait for something, show as accurate a progress as you can. Ideally, show a

01:20:48   - Like a percentage bar kind of thing.

01:20:50   - A percentage bar type thing, you know, the bar.

01:20:53   If you can't, if it is indeterminate,

01:20:55   show the watch cursor, you know,

01:20:57   that was the old, the old wait cursor was the watch cursor.

01:21:01   And if you used a Mac back then,

01:21:02   you got used to the watch cursor.

01:21:04   - Yeah.

01:21:04   - Because, you know, the computers were so slow.

01:21:06   But the watch cursor would appear

01:21:09   the second you were waiting on the computer

01:21:11   and it disappeared the moment it was done with whatever.

01:21:16   And then it was always very accurate.

01:21:18   Like if you got your arrow cursor back,

01:21:20   you knew that it was done.

01:21:21   You know, like talking about spinning hard disks,

01:21:26   like you'd hit Command + S in some apps

01:21:28   and you'd have to wait for the watch cursor.

01:21:29   - Oh yeah, well and again, it's like,

01:21:30   'cause back then computers were so slow

01:21:32   that you had to design for waiting from the start.

01:21:36   Like every app, many features of every app

01:21:39   had to be designed right from the beginning

01:21:41   for like the user's gonna have to wait

01:21:43   for some period of time here,

01:21:44   let's make that obvious and clear and everything else.

01:21:46   And modern, like I bet whoever,

01:21:48   I bet whatever systems are being invoked by

01:21:50   the delay between that, you know,

01:21:52   the CloudKit share dialogue and the, you know,

01:21:54   message send from the share sheet,

01:21:56   it probably is not even built with the assumption

01:21:58   anybody would ever wait for it.

01:22:00   And so there is no affordance.

01:22:01   There is, we don't even have a wait cursor anymore.

01:22:04   Like we have the beach ball, which is not a good thing.

01:22:06   Like that's not something going wrong.

01:22:08   You know, but like Mac OS,

01:22:10   I don't think even has a wait cursor.

01:22:12   - No. - And no modern OS

01:22:13   as far as I know does.

01:22:14   I don't know if Windows still has the hourglass,

01:22:16   but I think we just assume the software

01:22:18   doesn't make you wait anymore,

01:22:19   or if it does, it'll show it in a nice way in its UI.

01:22:23   But anyway, that dialogue, I mean,

01:22:26   there's a lot of problems with it.

01:22:28   So I don't see it as often in notes.

01:22:30   I do see the same dialogue very frequently

01:22:32   in photo sharing, in the Photos app.

01:22:35   And it always takes me, first of all,

01:22:38   it always takes me at least two tries

01:22:40   to even bring up the dialogue,

01:22:42   'cause I can't find where it,

01:22:44   how do I create a shared note or photo album?

01:22:47   And I always get it wrong the first time.

01:22:49   And then I eventually figure out

01:22:51   which button invokes the invite people thing.

01:22:53   And it always takes me at least two tries to invite somebody

01:22:56   because the link doesn't work

01:22:58   or the box just goes away randomly

01:22:59   or I thought I invited them

01:23:01   but I didn't actually invite them or whatever.

01:23:03   Like that whole system is really hard to use

01:23:06   and surprisingly inconsistent and surprisingly sloppy.

01:23:09   - Yeah, and it's not clear.

01:23:11   It's one of those things that they could use

01:23:13   from our labels.

01:23:14   What is this button you keep pushing over here?

01:23:16   - It's a mute button.

01:23:18   - So as soon as you're done talking,

01:23:19   you just mute yourself.

01:23:20   - Yeah, that way I'm not breathing all over you,

01:23:22   and I can take a sip from my cup here

01:23:24   without you hearing the water sloshing around.

01:23:26   - I should probably get one of those.

01:23:28   - It's pretty great, yeah.

01:23:29   Or rather, so it's the Roles MS-111.

01:23:32   It's a totally mediocre mute switch.

01:23:35   It's not great, but I have yet to find anything else

01:23:38   that works better.

01:23:39   Like I tried, Dan Benjamin recommends this one,

01:23:42   I forget what it's called, it's like the cough stop

01:23:44   or something like that, and I tried it,

01:23:45   and every time you push it with a condenser mic,

01:23:48   you hear a pop sound, and this is the only one

01:23:51   I found that doesn't, but the problem is

01:23:52   it doesn't actually mute it all the way,

01:23:53   it only drops at like 20 decibels, so if I'm muted,

01:23:57   and I talk really loud, you can still hear it.

01:23:59   (laughing)

01:24:00   But so it's good for muting the occasional cough

01:24:04   or gas or whatever else, but you don't wanna

01:24:07   really yell into it when it's muted,

01:24:09   'cause you will be heard.

01:24:11   (laughing)

01:24:11   All right, let's take one more break here.

01:24:13   Thank our third and final sponsor

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01:26:03   by hitting the escape key.

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01:26:10   and I'm a nerd, of course,

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01:26:47   Ah, anything else?

01:26:49   What else?

01:26:50   - I don't know, what else is going on this summer?

01:26:52   - Oh, what about Dropbox?

01:26:53   - That's sad.

01:26:56   - I, so I, you guys had a good segment

01:27:00   on this Dropbox fiasco.

01:27:02   I haven't gotten the new interface yet.

01:27:04   I don't know what, I don't know what god

01:27:06   you have to piss off to get it, but.

01:27:08   It's been, I thought you had some interesting insight

01:27:14   into this that when you raise that much venture capital,

01:27:17   you kind of eventually, and your valuation is high enough,

01:27:20   you've got to suddenly compete with,

01:27:23   you're trying to be the next Microsoft.

01:27:24   - Right, like all of a sudden,

01:27:26   you raise that amount of money,

01:27:28   you have this kind of business plan in mind

01:27:31   that basically is like you becoming the next Office,

01:27:34   like the next Microsoft Office,

01:27:35   or the next Slack or something.

01:27:37   And actually, it's really hard to compete

01:27:41   with Microsoft Office or with Google Docs

01:27:44   or these giant collaboration platforms.

01:27:47   And that's what Dropbox is trying to be.

01:27:48   And ultimately, they're not going to succeed.

01:27:51   Dropbox is not going to become

01:27:53   the next big collaboration platform

01:27:55   that's on the level of Microsoft and Google.

01:27:57   They're just not.

01:27:59   It's a really hard market.

01:28:00   Even Slack, you know Slack is trying on some level

01:28:02   and Slack is very successful in where it is now,

01:28:07   but I don't think Slack is trying to be the next,

01:28:11   I don't think they're trying to be the replacement

01:28:13   for an entire office suite.

01:28:16   I think they're doing their own kind of thing

01:28:18   off to the side, whereas Dropbox really does seem

01:28:20   like they're trying to replace a lot more

01:28:22   than what they are both qualified to do

01:28:25   and what they are likely to succeed at doing.

01:28:27   - I would be surprised if Slack came out

01:28:30   with a file sharing extension that ran on your Mac

01:28:35   without you asking for it that shares a folder.

01:28:38   - Right, yeah.

01:28:39   That seems out of scope for Slack.

01:28:41   - Yeah, I think one of the keys to Slack's success

01:28:44   in the way that they're very well,

01:28:46   people who use Slack a lot,

01:28:48   most people seem to really like it,

01:28:49   and I think one of the reasons is because they're focused

01:28:51   and they know exactly what they wanna do.

01:28:54   and boy, Dropbox had that for a while too

01:28:58   when it really was just a folder that syncs.

01:29:01   - I feel like Dropbox's major success,

01:29:05   as far as I can tell,

01:29:06   granted I haven't looked into this

01:29:07   and I haven't had a real job in a long time,

01:29:09   but it seemed like Dropbox's major success

01:29:11   was much more on the personal side

01:29:13   than on the enterprise side.

01:29:15   And it's a very common need for people

01:29:18   to share files with themselves and their friends

01:29:20   or a couple of coworkers or something like that,

01:29:21   but it was very much a personal success.

01:29:25   But it's hard to make money in the personal market.

01:29:29   It's especially hard to make big, big, big money

01:29:32   in the personal market.

01:29:33   Like if you're gonna raise hundreds of millions of dollars

01:29:36   and try to become worth billions of dollars

01:29:38   and have a public stock and everything,

01:29:40   you can't just have the consumer market and that be it,

01:29:44   unless you are massive and incredibly successful.

01:29:48   But that doesn't really happen that often.

01:29:50   to raise that kind of money and to have those kind of

01:29:52   growth goals in this kind of market,

01:29:54   you need the big enterprise business accounts.

01:29:57   And I think Slack was very smart by focusing on

01:30:00   business stuff right from the start.

01:30:02   Slack has always been business focused,

01:30:04   and it has succeeded in businesses up to today

01:30:08   seemingly very well.

01:30:10   I mean, I don't know what their financials are

01:30:11   and what their goals are, but it seems like

01:30:13   what they set out to do, they are doing very well.

01:30:16   And they were business focused right from the start.

01:30:18   and they have, you know, people do use Slack

01:30:20   for personal stuff also, but they are very,

01:30:23   they're operating successfully at what they're trying

01:30:27   to do in business, whereas Dropbox seemed like

01:30:29   it was a really great personal story,

01:30:32   then they realized, oh, we actually want the money

01:30:35   from the business, or want/need the money

01:30:37   from the business side of this, so we need to pivot this

01:30:39   into more of a business product, but unfortunately,

01:30:42   they were already so big at that point

01:30:44   that both businesses already weren't taking them seriously

01:30:47   and the business software providers

01:30:50   were already introducing their own Dropbox-like things.

01:30:53   So they were already kind of getting

01:30:54   Sherlock'd over there on that end.

01:30:56   And then also, the personal side of things

01:30:59   was not interested in what Dropbox was doing.

01:31:02   Like all the stuff Dropbox tried to do

01:31:03   to push themselves more into business

01:31:05   mostly just pisses off their personal customers.

01:31:09   And so I feel like, that's why I feel like

01:31:11   they're kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place.

01:31:14   I understand why they're doing what they're doing

01:31:16   given the situation they're in,

01:31:17   where they've raised all this money,

01:31:19   they're trying to become a big business thing.

01:31:23   It makes sense to do what they're doing now,

01:31:26   given those conditions.

01:31:27   The real flaw was getting themselves

01:31:29   into those conditions in the first place.

01:31:31   Like, instead of raising all this money

01:31:32   and trying to become something really big,

01:31:34   they should've, I think, they should've stuck

01:31:36   with the personal market, but that would've resulted

01:31:38   in a smaller company and smaller finances

01:31:40   and everything else, but they could've succeeded.

01:31:42   They could've been sustainable doing that

01:31:44   and had a really nice business.

01:31:45   but that wasn't what they were going for.

01:31:48   - Right, it's, you know, overcast isn't trying

01:31:53   to be the iTunes music store.

01:31:55   - Right. - You know,

01:31:56   Daring Fireball isn't trying to be the New York Times.

01:31:59   - And if we tried, we would probably fail.

01:32:01   - Right, like I have a nice business

01:32:03   that supports one employee.

01:32:04   - Yeah, exactly. - Me,

01:32:06   not that I have anybody else.

01:32:07   And that's fine for me, but if I had raised venture capital,

01:32:13   probably wouldn't be seen as a good business.

01:32:15   - Right, exactly, yeah.

01:32:16   Yeah, overcast would be a terrible return for VCs,

01:32:18   as honestly as many podcasting-related ventures are,

01:32:23   as I think the unfortunate luminary investors

01:32:27   are discovering right about now,

01:32:29   as they set $100 million on fire to a podcast app

01:32:34   that seems to have no noticeable market share.

01:32:37   - Yeah, and I haven't heard,

01:32:40   I haven't really heard anything about it.

01:32:41   Like they obviously got a decent initial injection

01:32:46   of publicity based on some of the names

01:32:49   of some of the people who are associated

01:32:52   with the star power.

01:32:53   People like to write the hot take of,

01:32:58   hey, here's the next big thing in podcasting,

01:32:59   it's the Netflix of podcasting or something like that.

01:33:02   That sounds good as a slogan.

01:33:05   - People can write whatever articles they want.

01:33:06   Doesn't make it true.

01:33:07   Doesn't actually make it play out that way, right?

01:33:11   A lot of the press, and especially the business press,

01:33:14   they can tell podcasting is hot.

01:33:16   They want some kind of big platform plays

01:33:19   to start happening so that both the investor side

01:33:21   can make a bunch of money, and so that it shakes

01:33:23   everything up and gives the press a lot to write about,

01:33:25   and that's how other media have played out,

01:33:29   so they kind of expect the same thing to happen.

01:33:32   But the podcast market has shown itself

01:33:33   over and over again to not work that way.

01:33:36   And that basically the podcast market has

01:33:39   a whole lot of inertia behind keeping things

01:33:41   pretty much the way they are,

01:33:43   and that's the most likely outcome here.

01:33:46   So you can't try to make $100 million back in podcasting

01:33:50   and expect that to succeed very well

01:33:53   with pretty much any kind of effort,

01:33:55   'cause that isn't the kind of business it is.

01:33:56   Similarly, yeah, and so it's like, with Dropbox,

01:33:59   and it's like maybe this whole folder that syncs

01:34:01   between your computers thing

01:34:03   that was mostly for personal use,

01:34:05   maybe that shouldn't have ever been

01:34:07   billion-dollar business. Yeah, and it's different. You know, people have been listening to audio

01:34:12   content as long as we've had consumer electronics. It used to be called radio, but the radio market

01:34:18   was very different simply because, you know, like Philadelphia had like two classic rock stations,

01:34:23   you know? So if you wanted to listen to classic rock, you'd have two choices in a city of

01:34:28   of millions. There's not really a market for like a make a lot of money in radio with 40,000

01:34:39   listeners. Right, yeah, exactly. You know, and there might be some stations that only have 40,000

01:34:44   listeners because they're rural or it's truly niche programming or something like that, but

01:34:50   they're not making tens of millions of dollars, they're making... Yeah, they're supporting like

01:34:55   like a single family or like a small number of families.

01:34:59   Like it's not, you're not gonna, yeah,

01:35:00   it's not gonna become a billion dollar business.

01:35:03   - Did you see the story?

01:35:04   I'm sure you did.

01:35:05   I think you did, I think you guys even talked about it,

01:35:06   but Bloomberg had a story a couple weeks ago,

01:35:09   speaking of paid podcasting,

01:35:10   that Apple is supposedly working on backing,

01:35:15   doing their own luminary type thing, I guess.

01:35:19   - Yeah, it was very light on the details.

01:35:22   - Very, very light.

01:35:23   The actual meat of the story was basically,

01:35:26   some people are saying that Apple is thinking

01:35:28   about doing something like this,

01:35:30   which is very much like, there's not much there there.

01:35:34   - And it definitely fits with the story

01:35:38   they've been selling Wall Street for two years

01:35:40   about services, and I'm not saying it's a bill of goods.

01:35:42   They obviously, they report the money

01:35:44   in the services business is absolutely growing.

01:35:46   So I'm not saying that they're not actually focused

01:35:51   and growing services and they had a services event

01:35:54   just earlier this year where they've talked about

01:35:57   the Apple News and Apple Arcade

01:35:59   and obviously the new TV stuff,

01:36:03   which is probably the highest profile.

01:36:05   I don't know about podcasts though.

01:36:10   And I don't know that it's something they have to do, right?

01:36:16   And they already have Apple Music.

01:36:17   Like how many things do they want us to subscribe to?

01:36:19   And would it be like, you know,

01:36:21   if you already have Apple Music,

01:36:25   you get the podcast for free?

01:36:28   But why music?

01:36:29   Wouldn't it be, would it, you know--

01:36:30   - What would it be part of, News Plus, maybe?

01:36:33   - Podcasts don't really fit

01:36:34   into any of the other subscription ones, right?

01:36:37   It's not really news.

01:36:38   - Yeah, I think music would be the most obvious one.

01:36:39   Or if they ever did do like a big bundle,

01:36:42   it would just be one of the many things

01:36:43   you'd get from the bundle.

01:36:44   - Right, when you get the Apple Bundle.

01:36:46   - Yeah, it would be hard to have it stand on its own.

01:36:48   I mean, this is one thing, and one of the reasons why,

01:36:51   you know, Apple's presence in podcasting is massive.

01:36:54   Like, they have this huge market share.

01:36:56   They run by far the most important and biggest directory

01:36:59   that a lot of apps, including mine,

01:37:01   actually search against.

01:37:02   You know, their client has, by far,

01:37:04   the biggest listenership.

01:37:06   Apple is podcasting to a large degree.

01:37:08   And so, for them to try anything like this

01:37:11   that, like, introduces content that's maybe locked down

01:37:13   to them, or, you know, requires a paid subscription,

01:37:16   Although, actually, I think one thing that I think

01:37:18   Jason Snell brought up is like,

01:37:19   I think it would actually be more damaging

01:37:21   to the ecosystem if it was free.

01:37:23   - Right, right. - If it was like,

01:37:24   you could listen to these free podcasts,

01:37:26   but only an Apple podcast and not any other apps like mine.

01:37:29   Like, that would actually be, I think,

01:37:30   significantly more damaging.

01:37:31   But, you know, ultimately, even though they have

01:37:33   all this power, like, I forget whether I've said this

01:37:36   on a podcast yet, but like, so for years, I've been,

01:37:39   I was noodling the idea in the back of my head of like,

01:37:41   doing a kind of like readability thing for podcasts,

01:37:44   of like you pay, suppose you pay overcast

01:37:46   like 20 bucks a month and I would split it out

01:37:49   and pay the podcast you listen to if they participated

01:37:52   in this thing, I'd like you know,

01:37:53   revenue share with all of them and I would take like

01:37:56   you know, 10% for running it or whatever.

01:37:58   And I talked, I ran this idea by a bunch of podcasters

01:38:01   a few years ago, big and small, friends and you know,

01:38:04   non-friends, like so you know, they wouldn't be too biased.

01:38:07   And everyone basically said the same thing like,

01:38:08   no it isn't worth it because like I guess I would take

01:38:11   your money but I would never promote it because I have

01:38:13   my own method of monetization,

01:38:15   whether they have the listenership,

01:38:16   or they have memberships, or they have private feeds,

01:38:18   or they do ads or Patreons or whatever.

01:38:20   - I seem to recall telling you this.

01:38:22   - Yeah, everyone did.

01:38:23   - I'm pretty sure you asked me.

01:38:25   - Yeah, I probably did.

01:38:26   I asked every podcaster I knew,

01:38:27   plus some of the big ones,

01:38:28   and they all were very gracious with their time,

01:38:30   and basically said, yeah, I would take your money,

01:38:32   but I wouldn't promote it,

01:38:33   'cause I don't want other people

01:38:35   getting in the way of me making my money.

01:38:36   But anyway, assuming a program like that could exist,

01:38:41   And so I ran the numbers and I kind of came

01:38:43   to the conclusion that even if I could get everyone

01:38:45   to do it, whatever that 10% that I would take,

01:38:48   whatever it would be, it just wouldn't be enough money

01:38:51   to make it worth the hassle and overhead

01:38:53   of running this kind of program.

01:38:55   And distributing all this money,

01:38:56   handling everyone's finances, it's a lot of burden

01:39:00   and it's a lot of messiness.

01:39:01   And the amount of money I would likely make

01:39:03   from it, assuming certain conservative percentages

01:39:05   of how many people would want to pay and everything,

01:39:07   it just wasn't enough money to make it worth it to me.

01:39:09   But as a thought exercise, a few months back,

01:39:12   I'd thought, well, I know my market share,

01:39:15   and I know Apple's market share.

01:39:16   So I extrapolated, what would Apple make

01:39:19   by running a program like this,

01:39:20   if they wanted to do something like this,

01:39:21   where you pay Apple some service fee,

01:39:24   and they split it up, kind of like they do with News Plus,

01:39:26   they split it up to the podcast you listen to and pay them,

01:39:28   like if you listen within Apple's app.

01:39:31   What if they ran a program like this?

01:39:33   How much money would they make?

01:39:35   And I forget the number I came up with,

01:39:36   but it was something like a couple of million dollars a year

01:39:40   and it's like it just wasn't enough.

01:39:42   - It doesn't move the needle for them.

01:39:43   - Yeah, for them, a couple million dollars a year,

01:39:45   it would be definitely not worth the administration

01:39:48   of running such a program.

01:39:50   All the costs involved in paying all those podcasters out

01:39:54   and dealing with them all and dealing with the signups

01:39:56   and dealing with the people and having to market

01:39:58   this kind of thing to people to get them

01:40:00   to buy the subscriptions in the first place

01:40:01   and the engineering behind it.

01:40:03   It's so much effort to run such a program.

01:40:05   Podcasts, while it's a very big market

01:40:09   for the content side of things,

01:40:11   the platform side of things,

01:40:12   it's hard to get enough people,

01:40:14   especially paying people,

01:40:15   to really make big money as a platform.

01:40:19   Podcasting simply isn't big enough yet.

01:40:21   And it may never be.

01:40:23   It may be like talk radio.

01:40:26   Talk radio kind of capped out.

01:40:28   Talk radio is not still growing.

01:40:30   It kind of capped out at a natural point

01:40:32   where this is just how many people want this kind of thing,

01:40:34   and that's it.

01:40:35   Podcasting is still growing, but not incredibly quickly.

01:40:39   Like, maybe it's already capped out.

01:40:41   Maybe it's mostly done growing,

01:40:43   or maybe it's almost done growing.

01:40:46   And so even having their giant market share,

01:40:50   trying to get people to pay for something on a large scale

01:40:54   as the platform owner doesn't really pay.

01:40:58   The math doesn't work out very well

01:40:59   for a company that big to have a meaningful pay rate

01:41:02   and to make meaningful money from paid podcast.

01:41:04   Now, the economic change when you are the content provider.

01:41:08   Like if you're trying to do the platform play

01:41:10   where you take 10% or 30% of everything,

01:41:13   it's hard to make enough money there to matter.

01:41:15   But if you are making the 70% or the 90% of that,

01:41:19   then your economics change.

01:41:21   So it does make sense for a lot of individual podcasts

01:41:24   to have a paid premium tier where they make

01:41:28   most of the money from the listeners and everything.

01:41:30   That economics are totally different.

01:41:33   That often works out.

01:41:34   and that's why there aren't so many of those.

01:41:35   But on the platform side, it doesn't make a ton of sense

01:41:38   for them to be like a pay everyone kind of solution.

01:41:41   But this rumor wasn't about that.

01:41:42   This rumor was about them making exclusive content

01:41:45   and presumably tying it behind some kind of pay wall.

01:41:50   And so from that, the math could work on that for them,

01:41:54   but again, I think it would be most likely

01:41:59   to be an add-on to Apple Music or something,

01:42:02   not a standalone thing.

01:42:03   - Well, while we're on this topic of podcasts,

01:42:08   I know you and I have talked about this before.

01:42:11   I find one of the strangest things

01:42:14   about the podcast ecosystem is Apple's

01:42:18   outsized dominance in market share,

01:42:22   because they're, I mean, I presume,

01:42:25   you would actually know this,

01:42:27   but I presume most people who use Apple podcasts

01:42:30   on their phone.

01:42:32   People certainly use the Mac versions.

01:42:36   I know people definitely use that.

01:42:37   But there's this thing called Android,

01:42:43   which has greater worldwide market share than the iPhone.

01:42:47   And yet, even though Google has made some steps,

01:42:50   you would think that's a business

01:42:51   Google would want to be in, right?

01:42:53   - Well, demographically, I mean,

01:42:57   there are podcast players on Android.

01:42:59   Google I think has made three of them so far.

01:43:01   - And they just don't take off.

01:43:02   - They don't go anywhere.

01:43:03   - Right.

01:43:04   - I think what you're seeing here is something that,

01:43:07   I think a lot of people either don't see

01:43:11   or don't want to say, but that the Android market

01:43:15   is different from the iPhone market,

01:43:16   demographically speaking.

01:43:17   And the demographics of people who listen to podcasts

01:43:20   are significantly tilted towards higher income,

01:43:24   better educated, more liberal people.

01:43:26   And those are the opposite demographics

01:43:28   that Android tends to be tilted towards.

01:43:30   So what you see is even though Android has a larger

01:43:33   market share of devices worldwide,

01:43:37   that it isn't so evenly spread,

01:43:38   or it's the opposite for podcast listeners.

01:43:41   Podcast listeners so far are significantly

01:43:45   in favor of iOS.

01:43:47   So there's actually, our friends over at Libsyn,

01:43:50   Libsyn is a huge podcast host, been around forever.

01:43:52   They host tons and tons of podcasts, big and small,

01:43:55   including I believe both of these podcasts, right?

01:43:56   - No, I'm still on SoundCloud.

01:43:58   - Oh, geez, you gotta get off SoundCloud.

01:43:59   Well, anyway, at least including ATP.

01:44:01   - I have a lot of accumulated CMS data.

01:44:04   - Yeah, yeah, you really do.

01:44:06   Oh, God, I can't believe SoundCloud

01:44:08   is still hosting podcasts.

01:44:09   Anyway, but for everyone else who's on Libsan,

01:44:13   they do a podcast called The Feed

01:44:17   where two people from Libsan talk about podcast trends

01:44:22   and how-to and everything, and part of that show

01:44:24   every month is that they share data about user agents

01:44:27   and what percentage of Libsyn's network-wide downloads

01:44:30   are going to podcast clients like mine and Apple's,

01:44:33   and they also break it down by platform,

01:44:35   like Android versus iOS.

01:44:37   And the Android to iOS ratio has been shrinking over time.

01:44:41   It used to, a couple years ago,

01:44:43   I think it was like seven or eight to one in favor of iOS,

01:44:46   and now it's closer to like three to one or four to one,

01:44:49   but it's still like, that's still, you know,

01:44:50   iOS to have like, you know, three to one advantage

01:44:53   over Android for podcast downloads across this entire

01:44:56   network that hosts a huge variety of shows,

01:44:58   so I think it's probably pretty representative

01:45:00   of the market as a whole.

01:45:03   That is totally out of whack with the actual market share

01:45:07   of those platforms in a hardware sense.

01:45:10   - You would think it would be more like Chrome and Safari.

01:45:12   - Right, yeah, it's like you would think,

01:45:13   based on Android's market share, you would think

01:45:15   that Android would outnumber iPhone downloads

01:45:18   something like two to one, but instead,

01:45:20   it's the opposite direction and it's iPhone

01:45:22   remembering Android like three to one for podcast downloads.

01:45:24   So it's very much a demographic difference

01:45:27   between those two platforms.

01:45:28   And I think that's part of the reason, among some others,

01:45:30   but that's part of the reason I think why Google

01:45:32   has had no meaningful success having their own

01:45:35   big podcast app on Android.

01:45:38   - Here's my stats for my show.

01:45:40   Overcast is number one, but our audience is--

01:45:44   - Yeah, our audience is not representative.

01:45:47   - Three times the market share of Apple Core Media iPhone,

01:45:51   which is listening on the iPhone.

01:45:53   But they list iTunes separately,

01:45:55   so that's another 4% or so.

01:45:59   - Yeah, desktop iTunes is not meaningful market share

01:46:02   for most podcasts.

01:46:04   - The only other third party,

01:46:07   Pocket Casts is about 1/5 the size of iPhone,

01:46:11   Apple's iPhone client.

01:46:14   Castro's in the top 10, it's a great app.

01:46:19   - Really, it's all just rounding errors after iTunes,

01:46:23   or Apple's podcast app and Overcast.

01:46:26   - Fun fact, according to Libsyn's stats,

01:46:27   Castor has more market share than Luminary.

01:46:29   (laughing)

01:46:32   - Somehow that feels good.

01:46:33   - It really does, actually.

01:46:34   I'm very happy with that.

01:46:36   - All right, we gotta wrap this up.

01:46:37   This is probably the shortest Marco Arma appearance

01:46:40   on the talk show in history.

01:46:42   - Yeah, probably.

01:46:42   - But I think we're out of stuff.

01:46:45   I think we gotta, we have--

01:46:48   - We probably should go to dinner.

01:46:49   friends and family who are waiting for us to go to dinner, so we should wrap it up.

01:46:52   Marco, I'm glad, happy to be here. I want to say thank you for inviting me and my family to your

01:46:58   home, and thank you for taking time out of vacation week to do my show. Yeah, thanks for having me.

01:47:03   It was a lot of fun, as usual. I always like it. It's always fun to do a show in person. Oh,

01:47:06   yeah, definitely. Oh, I guess I should thank our sponsors. Yep. Squarespace, Linode, Linode,

01:47:14   - And fracture. - And fracture.

01:47:15   - Is that it? - Yeah.

01:47:16   - Yeah, yeah. - Yeah, before my podcast,

01:47:18   Amnesia, kicks in. - Exactly.

01:47:21   And we'll see you next week.

01:47:22   - And we'll see, well, we'll see.

01:47:23   I might need a break. (laughing)

01:47:24   - Yeah, we've done a lot of shows.

01:47:26   - Yeah, see you in a couple weeks.

01:47:29   - Yeah.

01:47:29   [ Silence ]