Developing Perspective

#199: Resolution Irrelevant.


00:00:00   Hello and welcome to Developing Perspective. Developing Perspective is a podcast discussing

00:00:04   news of note, and I was development, Apple and the like. I'm your host, David Smith.

00:00:08   I'm an independent iOS developer based in hernia, Virginia. This is show number 199.

00:00:13   And today is Friday, October 17th. Developing Perspective is never longer than 15 minutes.

00:00:19   So let's get started. So I am speaking to you the day after the second Apple event in

00:00:26   fall of 2014. And it's the event that was kind of interesting going into because I think

00:00:32   generally, there was not a lot of strong anticipation about it, certainly not to the same degree

00:00:38   as there was for the iPhone event. I think that just speaks to the type of products that

00:00:42   we're expecting them to talk about. You know, the all probably the combined sales of everything

00:00:47   they announced yesterday probably would not exceed the volume of the first weekend of

00:00:52   the iPhone sales would be my guess, or in that ballpark

00:00:55   anyway.

00:00:56   It's a much, much smaller and more niche areas

00:00:59   that they're talking about, the iPads and the Retina iMacs

00:01:02   and the associated products.

00:01:03   But there were a couple of really exciting things,

00:01:06   and there were a couple that I really

00:01:07   wanted to unpack a little bit on today's show.

00:01:10   So the first, and the thing that I'm perhaps honestly

00:01:12   most excited about coming out of everything they said yesterday,

00:01:15   which is there are a few things that I'm really excited about,

00:01:18   is that WatchKit is coming next month.

00:01:22   We don't really know what that's going to mean yet.

00:01:24   That could mean a lot of different things.

00:01:26   We still don't really know what the API is going to look like.

00:01:29   I'm speaking about WatchKit as the developer

00:01:31   protocols for the Apple Watch.

00:01:33   And it's hard to know exactly what that's going to look like.

00:01:35   It could be so many different things

00:01:37   that it's hard to really get excited about

00:01:39   and know what that's going to be.

00:01:41   But being able to write apps for the Apple Watch

00:01:44   is something that I'm very excited about.

00:01:47   Partly just because I'm a little bit bored

00:01:49   with doing iPhone and iPad apps.

00:01:51   I've been doing them for six years now.

00:01:53   And I think a watch is more different than either

00:01:57   of those other types than the iPad, for example,

00:02:00   was different than the iPhone.

00:02:03   It's a very totally different kind of development model

00:02:05   and something that I think is an interesting challenge

00:02:07   that I look forward to diving into.

00:02:08   And I've got my list already of the handful dozen apps

00:02:13   or concepts or things that I'm thinking about that

00:02:15   would be really cool to have on a watch.

00:02:17   And so I'm pretty excited to be able to dive

00:02:19   into that next month.

00:02:20   And hopefully I'll have all the rest of my iOS 8 updates

00:02:23   fairly squared away, the last lingering bugs and things.

00:02:26   And I can focus on really diving in.

00:02:29   And hopefully there won't be a strong NDA on it,

00:02:31   so I'll be able to talk about it here.

00:02:34   We'll see.

00:02:35   The next thing that I think is most exciting is 8.1 came out

00:02:38   yesterday-- or sorry, it was announced yesterday

00:02:41   that it will be coming out on Monday.

00:02:43   And I'm very excited about that, because iOS 8.0 has

00:02:48   a fair few problems, and a number of which

00:02:50   are very problematic for my applications.

00:02:51   There's weird bugs with the keyboards

00:02:53   that are causing all these help desk requests for emoji++,

00:02:57   as well as just a variety of things that are just not right.

00:03:00   And honestly, I was very happy to see that Craig Federighi,

00:03:04   when he was doing his section, he acknowledged that.

00:03:06   And obviously, he did it in a slightly marketing way.

00:03:08   But he took time in their big, fancy presentation

00:03:11   to the press to say, you know what?

00:03:13   We've gotten some feedback about how iOS 8 has not perhaps

00:03:17   lived up to our goals.

00:03:18   And we're working on it, and iOS 8.1 is coming out soon.

00:03:21   And I like that.

00:03:23   I like that they are at least acknowledging

00:03:25   that this is an issue.

00:03:26   Because we talk in our community a lot about,

00:03:29   oh, they need a snow leopard release of iOS,

00:03:31   or there's all these problems.

00:03:33   They have a QA problem.

00:03:34   What's going on?

00:03:35   And the reality is we can say all we want,

00:03:38   but it's hard to know what's going on internally

00:03:40   within Apple.

00:03:40   And it's nice to hear the head of software within Apple

00:03:43   saying, you know what?

00:03:45   We're thinking about this.

00:03:47   were very aware of this, which is reassuring.

00:03:49   Because if we'd gone through that entire presentation

00:03:51   and they just kind of brushed it over,

00:03:53   just never acted as though it wasn't an issue, like, oh,

00:03:55   8.1's coming out and it's Apple Pay, and that's all they said,

00:03:59   I would be a bit more worried.

00:04:00   This is somewhat encouraging that they're not totally

00:04:06   blind to this internally, which I was expecting was the case.

00:04:09   But it's good to hear that were confirmed.

00:04:12   Next, the iPads.

00:04:15   I have no idea what Apple is doing with the iPad.

00:04:17   It is a totally baffling product to me at this point.

00:04:22   I think they are currently going to be selling

00:04:24   five different models of iPad, I think,

00:04:29   so that from the top end to the bottom end,

00:04:32   you'll have the iPad Air 2, the Mini 3,

00:04:39   which is a retina version of the old iPad with retina display

00:04:44   that only adds gold and a touch ID sensor, but it's $100 more than the other one they're

00:04:48   going to keep on sale, which is now retroactively called the iPad Mini 2, which is also for

00:04:55   sale, but for $100 less than it used to be.

00:04:58   The original iPad Air is now going to continue to be for sale for $100 less than it was before,

00:05:04   and then they're also continuing to sell the original iPad Mini, which is really old.

00:05:12   Now, I'm sure there's a reason for that.

00:05:15   I hope that reason isn't, we don't know what we're doing,

00:05:18   so we're just going to throw all of this at the wall

00:05:21   and hope something sticks.

00:05:23   But it seems like there's a really confusing story that's

00:05:26   going on with the iPad right now that I think developers,

00:05:29   like myself, are kind of struggling with,

00:05:31   is there a market for building software here?

00:05:34   Is there an interesting use case for the iPad?

00:05:37   The iPad, from its conception, was always

00:05:41   a question of answering this question of,

00:05:43   is there something between the iPhone and a Mac

00:05:46   where you need something bigger and more capable, potentially,

00:05:51   than an iPhone, but isn't quite as flexible as a Mac?

00:05:56   And the question for a while seemed like,

00:05:58   maybe this is going somewhere, and there

00:06:00   were some really interesting things going on in the iPad.

00:06:02   And I think there's less and less of that.

00:06:04   And so I think you can kind of see that reflected

00:06:07   in some ways in the way Apple is marketing it now.

00:06:09   Or it's just like, you want an iPad?

00:06:10   We've got iPads.

00:06:11   You want big ones, small ones, old ones, new ones.

00:06:14   We got them.

00:06:15   It doesn't have that same kind of compelling message.

00:06:17   It's not the straightforwardness that we

00:06:19   see in a lot of the other Apple products.

00:06:21   They're all getting a little bit unfocused.

00:06:23   But it's something that I'm a little bit worried about

00:06:26   as a developer on the iPad side.

00:06:29   That if a friend of mine's come up and says, hey,

00:06:32   I think I went and get an iPad, which one should I get?

00:06:35   That's actually a really complicated question.

00:06:37   because it's like, do you want touch ID? Do you want small do

00:06:40   you want big? How important is a retina display for you? If you

00:06:42   just if you just want the cheapest thing, you can get an

00:06:45   iPad, first gen iPad mini, which is great for you because it's

00:06:48   cheap, but not so good for me because it runs an A5 processor

00:06:51   and isn't retina. Like the fact that that device is probably

00:06:55   going to be with us for now at least another two years of

00:06:58   development. Because if they're continuing to sell it this year,

00:07:01   this probably going to need to support iOS nine. And if it

00:07:06   then it's probably going to be supported

00:07:08   for another year and two years.

00:07:10   What is going on?

00:07:11   That doesn't seem like a great choice.

00:07:13   So I don't really know what's going on there.

00:07:15   I don't really have a lot of answers.

00:07:17   I'm still doing some work on the iPad,

00:07:19   but I'm not as excited about it as I used to be.

00:07:21   And that kind of is sad, because I think there's

00:07:24   a lot of opportunity there.

00:07:25   And in some ways, I think the movement away from the iPad

00:07:28   as a focus for developers is an opportunity.

00:07:32   There's less competition.

00:07:33   And so if you do really good work there,

00:07:35   you could theoretically be standing out more.

00:07:38   But I'm not sure what that looks like.

00:07:41   And that's a weird, tenuous place to be.

00:07:44   And in some ways, I think honestly, Apple's movement

00:07:46   to the size classing and the way they're doing things in iOS 8

00:07:50   is going to further exacerbate this.

00:07:52   Because in what they're doing as they're

00:07:55   march away from this concept of iPhone versus iPad layouts,

00:07:59   that they're both mixed together,

00:08:01   is that ultimately you're going to end up

00:08:02   with a lot of iPad apps that are just blown up

00:08:05   versions of iPhone apps.

00:08:06   And sometimes that works, and sometimes that's fine.

00:08:09   But that's also a little bit unambitious.

00:08:11   And I think the size classing thing is only going to

00:08:14   exacerbate and accelerate that process.

00:08:17   All right.

00:08:17   Now we're on to the last and the thing that I'm second most

00:08:20   excited about after WatchKit's being announced.

00:08:23   And this is the Retina iMac.

00:08:25   Now, Retina iMac, which was announced yesterday, was

00:08:28   something that we were hoping for and had kind of been

00:08:31   speculated a little bit.

00:08:32   But we didn't really know it was going to be out.

00:08:34   was kind of this wish on my wish list for Apple events for since honestly the

00:08:39   introduction of the iPhone 4 which was a WWDC many many years ago and I remember

00:08:46   that that introduction and I remember seeing my first retina screen and

00:08:49   thinking wow this is a this is a this is one of those breaks in technology where

00:08:58   you take like a massive step forward it isn't just sort of evolutionary it's

00:09:02   revolutionary. And if you were in my room with me now you could see the giant air quotes that I'm putting around those because

00:09:07   revolutionary, evolutionary, heavily overused. But it's that type of a break. It's where the thing,

00:09:12   you go from a technology that is so different from what it replaces,

00:09:20   that it just makes the old thing look terrible. Like why would we ever do it in the past?

00:09:25   And the key thing that it does has to do with once you get to a sufficiently high resolution that you can't really detail

00:09:31   pixels, you can move beyond this world that used to be called--

00:09:37   we're making apps to be resolution-independent.

00:09:41   That was something that Apple threw around

00:09:43   for a long time, especially on the Mac.

00:09:46   But this vague idea that was about being

00:09:49   resolution-independent.

00:09:51   And I think the interesting thing,

00:09:53   which is a different spin on that same concept

00:09:55   with the retina display, is that you switch

00:09:57   from being resolution-independent

00:09:58   to being resolution-irrelevant.

00:10:00   that the actual resolution that the software is running on starts to matter less and less.

00:10:06   I can see this on the Retina MacBook Pro that I have sitting next to me right now that I'm

00:10:12   recording this episode on, because I run this device at a resolution well above its native

00:10:18   resolution, so I can get more space, more points on the screen, as it were, and it looks great.

00:10:25   It just doesn't matter. The actual resolution starts to be completely irrelevant.

00:10:29   And I mean, even if you consider for the kind of remarkable

00:10:32   thing that I have my original iPhone 4 in my hand too,

00:10:35   and I look at the iPhone 4 screen that's several,

00:10:38   several years old now, and I still-- looks great.

00:10:41   I can't tell any pixels.

00:10:42   It looks gorgeous to me, because it's

00:10:45   beyond the limits of my poor organic nature

00:10:49   to be able to determine pixels below that.

00:10:53   And so it looks perfect.

00:10:54   And so ever since that iPhone 4 came out,

00:10:56   And that original introduction, which actually kind of amusingly,

00:11:01   as a side note, I remember Steve,

00:11:03   I think it was Steve who said it,

00:11:04   that they had to bring in special projectors for the WWDC

00:11:10   keynote so that they could show high enough resolution images

00:11:13   to really show off the value and to impress

00:11:16   the audience with retina.

00:11:18   In retrospect, those were almost certainly 4K projectors.

00:11:22   Just who knows, but they're probably 4K projectors,

00:11:25   given the timing, which at that time

00:11:27   were probably very expensive and very fancy.

00:11:30   And now Apple has a desktop computer

00:11:33   with a resolution significantly higher than what

00:11:36   those projectors probably had.

00:11:39   That's an aside.

00:11:40   But ever since then, I've wanted this computer.

00:11:41   I've wanted to have a Retina iMac.

00:11:44   And for me, it's because I spend all of my time making apps,

00:11:47   and almost all of the apps I make are Retina.

00:11:51   And so being able to have kind of that one-to-one representation of what

00:11:55   I'm building on the actual computer that I'm building it on is amazing.

00:11:59   I love my retina, my retina MacBook Pro, but its screen is just a little bit too

00:12:03   small.

00:12:04   The difference between 15 inches and 27 inches is dramatic.

00:12:08   And it's dramatic in ways that aren't just, it's not just bigger.

00:12:12   Like for me, the biggest difference and why 27 inches is such a perfect

00:12:16   sweet spot for the way that I set up my workspace is that at 27 inches,

00:12:21   If I sit at a comfortable distance from my screen,

00:12:23   the computer takes up essentially all

00:12:25   of my primary vision.

00:12:28   You know, obviously I have peripheral vision outside

00:12:30   of the monitor.

00:12:31   But all of the things that are in focus

00:12:32   and that my eyes are going to see

00:12:34   are essentially contained within a 27-inch screen.

00:12:37   And that's awesome.

00:12:38   That means that I can focus my attention on one display.

00:12:41   And for years, even though I have a retina, a retina MacBook

00:12:44   Pro, I've run it with an external 27-inch display.

00:12:48   They'll do the old 1X display because of that.

00:12:52   And I have the retina display on the side, which essentially

00:12:55   just runs the simulators for me so that I can do development

00:12:58   with one-to-one on there.

00:13:00   But the fact that the Retina iMac has come out, I'm so excited.

00:13:03   I literally was sitting yesterday

00:13:06   refreshing the Apple Store page, waiting for it to come up,

00:13:09   so I could get my order in as quickly as I could

00:13:12   and get it, hopefully, as soon as I can.

00:13:14   Because it is a computer that I think

00:13:15   will make me better at my job, because I

00:13:18   I will be able to be more immersed into the retina world

00:13:23   that my apps live in.

00:13:24   And I think that will ultimately make my development process

00:13:27   better.

00:13:27   It's also a faster computer than the one I have currently.

00:13:30   I've been thinking about getting a Mac Pro for a while,

00:13:32   because my retina MacBook Pro has

00:13:34   been getting a little chunky.

00:13:35   It's the first generation retina MacBook Pro.

00:13:38   But the reality is, I was looking at the Mac Pro,

00:13:41   and performance-wise, it's great.

00:13:42   But compared to just even the top of the line,

00:13:45   previous generation iMac, it starts

00:13:47   get a little bit dicey.

00:13:48   With this, the performance gap is almost irrelevant for me,

00:13:53   because I'm not doing heavy, intensive video work.

00:13:56   I'm not doing things where I would actually

00:13:58   see a performance difference between the two.

00:14:00   And so for me, the fastest computer

00:14:02   I can probably have for development

00:14:04   is probably this top of the line Retina iMac

00:14:06   with a gorgeous display and priced fairly competitively

00:14:09   for that.

00:14:10   I think it's $4,400 with the device, the configuration

00:14:12   I bought, which is max all the things, which

00:14:16   which is expensive for a computer, but for something that I use for my day-to-day work

00:14:19   and that generates my livelihood, Sharp Tools make smooth sculptures.

00:14:24   So anyway, that's yesterday's event.

00:14:27   I was pretty excited about it, more than I actually thought going into it, which is always

00:14:30   probably a good thing.

00:14:31   I mean, you're more excited coming out than you were going in.

00:14:34   I can't wait to get my Retina iMac and play with that.

00:14:36   I can't wait to get my hands-on watch kit and start playing with that.

00:14:39   But anyway, that's just some thoughts I had from yesterday's presentations.

00:14:44   I think it's kind of an exciting time.

00:14:45   What I'm kind of looking forward to

00:14:47   is that the next couple of weeks,

00:14:48   or the next couple of months, there

00:14:49   shouldn't be any more news.

00:14:50   And so we can just focus on building things.

00:14:52   All right.

00:14:53   If you have any questions, comments, concerns, complaints,

00:14:54   I'm going to @DavidSmith on Twitter,

00:14:56   david@developingperspective.com.

00:14:58   Have a great weekend.