Desktop Means Web - Inessential ->

What Brent is saying is absolutely correct. I’m trying to think about the last time I’ve heard the term referred to in the sense of a Desktop native app. All the new Desktop apps I’ve started using in the past few years have been a website. Doing Taxes with the government, Jira, Slack, CRM systems etc.

Ever since the ‘web 2.0’ craze it seems that Web is the default go to for Desktop applications. Where most of the applications I mentioned before have mobile app equivelants. Slack doesn’t make you use the website, they have an app for that. The Dutch government doesn’t make you do your taxes on a mobile website, they have an app for that.

I wonder why this is not happening yet for mobile. Is it discoverability? Or is it usability? In fairness, I’ve yet to find a mobile website I prefer over a good or even a mediocre mobile app. Where as most Desktop web application were miles better than the native equivelants of the past.

It will be interesting to see how this will change over the coming years, if progressive web apps are enough, or that it will require Application Stores to carry websites too to solve the discoverability issue.

Apple just kicked Fortnite off the App Store - The Verge ->

🍿

Eufy Indoor Camera - Thoughts after a few weeks

As my previous posts indicated I’ve been looking in to different HomeKit Secure Video camera’s. Especially after Eufy announced their indoor range for a very low price. Up until that moment HomeKit Secure Video was something that sounded like something I’d be interested in, but was also out of range with the $200+ pricing.

Eufy

Eufy came in with a low starting point of $40. This combined with the promo Eufy was running made it worth looking in to, so I got both the Indoor 2K and the Indoor 2K Pan & Tilt Camera.

Indoor 2K Pan & Tilt & Indoor 2K

The Indoor Pan & Tilt (P&T) was the first one that arrived. The camera is small, comes with a USB cable, USB power plug and screws to mount it on a ceiling or a wall.

Setup is straight forward, the app indicates two flows. If you have a HomeKit logo on the QR code you don’t need the Eufy App, if it doesn’t you need to create an account with Eufy to use it. It looks like the first unit’s don’t have the HomeKit logo added so I’m stuck with the Eufy app.

Setup was straightforward and installing the firmware update to make it HomeKit compatible was installed in a few minutes. After which adding it to the Home App was straightforward and I could get going.

It’s good to know a lot of features from the Eufy Camera get disabled once you enable the HomeKit functionality. Eufy published a matrix on this.

For me this wasn’t a deal breaker, because I wanted to do everything within the HomeKit Eco system. Two things that I have noticed though are:

  • The quality of the camera get’s lowered to 1080p once added to HomeKit, it also seems to be more compressed. Eufy has said they will address the compression issue in a future update.
  • Two way audio doesn’t work. You can listen to what the camera hears but you are not able to talk to you phone and have that played back on the Eufys speaker. Eufy has suggested this won’t be enabled in a future firmware update due to the hardware missing full duplex audio support, which is a hard requirement for HomeKit.

Pan & Tilt

Before hand I knew HomeKit won’t support the Pan & Tilt functionality. It’s possible to enabled motion tracking in the Eufy app, the camera will then follow the motion and this is reflected in HomeKit. However this requires you to keep using the Eufy app too. Looking back I would stick with the regular Indoor camera. It requires less energy, the device is slightly smaller and quite a bit lighter.

Eufy Account

This is the biggest downside to the Eufy product line at the moment. It requires a Eufy account which you can’t secure properly with 2FA. If someone gets your username and password they are in and can turn on and off your camera which is a scary prospect for an indoor camera. They have been rolling out 2FA support in Canada and Germany but it’s unclear when this will roll out to other countries.

For now I’ve disabled internet access to the camera; which is fine as HomeKit works over the local network and uses your home hub (AppleTV, HomePod). Longer term I hope they make it possible to use the camera in HomeKit Only mode.

HomeKit Secure Video

The biggest reason to go with these camera’s and not with another ecosystem is because it fits well within the rest of the ecosystem.

The Good

Most of it works as expected, I can see the camera when I’m home, it records video when I’m not home. We’ve currently set it up if anyone is at home (of the family) it stops streaming/recording) and as soon as everyone has left it will arm the devices and start recording when motion is detected. This seems to be working perfectly.

The Bad

All of the detection is done locally on your network if you have a home hub device (AppleTV, HomePod). It seems to be working fine, we’ve asked it to notify us of any movement and we’ll get notifications that say things like ‘Animal detected’. Once you click on the notification it will play the ‘clip’. This is very much hit & miss, sometimes it will load instantly, sometimes it takes multiple retries and other times it won’t work at all. I hope this is something that will get better with time.

Aqara G2H

The Aqara G2H is very interesting too; like the Eufy camera’s the device is cheap, but it also boasts a HomeKit Only Mode. Something Aqara recently said they would disable, but after outcry committed to continue supporting. This means that like the other HSV camera’s it’s possible to set it up and manage completely from the home app, including upgrading firmware, without having to create an Aqara account or use an Aqara app.

Besides this the G2H has a bigger field of view (140° instead of 125°) and supports 2 way audio from HomeKit. I’ve ordered one to play around with and expect it to come in next week.

HomeKit Secure Video Cameras (HKSV)

Since getting the Eufy camera mentioned in my previous post I also took a look at other camera’s currently on the market. I’ve added the finding below in a handy table. I’ll try and keep it updated once I find more.

Eufy Indoor 2K Eufy Pan & Tilt Eve Cam Logitech View Aqara G2H Netatmo Presence Netatmo Welcome
HomeKit
HomeKit Secure Video
HomeKit Only Mode ? ?
Field of View 125° 125° 150° 180° 140° 100° 130°
2 Way Audio HomeKit
Pan & Tilt ❌ (Only using Eufy App)
Water Resistant
5Ghz WiFi
Bridge Required
Price (guideline) €35,- €45,- €140,- €180,- €50,- €300,- €200,-

Eufy Indoor 2K

Recenlty Eufy introdcuded two new (very cheap) indoor camera’s that support HomeKit. The Indoor 2K and the Indoor 2k Pan & Tilt. Up until now I’ve had very little experience with these camera’s because they’ve always been a bit too expensive for me to just play around with.

And so far I’m pleasently surprised, setup was relatively easy. The only (major) downside I’ve found so far is that they Eufy app stays active, even when using HomeKit, and Eufy doesn’t have 2FA support for their website yet.

So in theory if someone gets your email + password they could login and see your video feed. So for now what I’ve done is block any internet facing traffice to the camera’s on my network so they only work through HomeKit. I’ll give it a few more days and then see what I think of them.

WWDC 2020 keynote first thoughts

A lot of new information today with nearly every platform getting some love. Looks like I’ll be needing to upgrade my Apple Watch Series 2, but my iPad mini 4 gets to live another year.

I liked the new format a lot, no pauses for clapping, a very well produced pre recorded presentation with high information density. The state of the union this afternoon will probably uncover some more tidbits and as soon as I’ve managed to get some hands on time I’ll be able to share a bit more.

Airpods automatic device switching Really really really really happy about this one.

Family sharing comes to in-app purchases Good to see this is coming, finally able to share that Yoga subscription! In other in-app news, you’re able to test StoreKit!

Selecting a default browser and email app You get to select a default app, I’m guessing they are feeling the heat from Europe.

Sleeptracking They didn’t really address charging and battery life though.

The next step after Intel iOS apps running on Mac! A Developer transitioning kit available and the first hardware shipping at the end of the year. They expect the transition to take 2 years with new Intel macs still in the pipeline. Looks like it’s well prepared with the return of Rosetta and launch partnerships with Adobe and Microsoft for native apps on day one.

No more macOS 10! It’s macOS 11 now.

Cycling is now supported in Apple Maps Where were you last week?

Appstore Clips Mini apps that download a partial app that makes sense in a given context like renting a bike. Reminds me of Google Play Instant. It has potential, very interested to see how it works.

Let's go!

Like magic

This morning I went to the supermarket quite early. I decided to walk as it was nice weather, chose a nice podcast, put in my Airpods and worked down the list of items I needed. When I got home I asked Siri to continue playing the show in my Kitchen and Living room and less than a second later I could take out my Airpods and continue listening. Those moments feel like magic.

The Art of the Possible ->

Apple’s App Store rules need to change not (just) because developers don’t like them. They need to change because time and experience has shown that there is no viable path to Apple’s goal state given the existing rules.

Probably the best analysis of the situation out there.

Bye

Speaking about third party developers. In the week leading up to WWDC. It seems Apple hasn’t had a good week around the App Store Guidelines. First the EU opens antitrust investigations in regards to the Apple App Store rules. Secondly it got in to quite a public fight regarding the approval and following update rejection of the new email app ‘Hey’.

My first reaction was that Hey must be doing something wrong, they were probably advertising how to get a subscription outside of the App Store. Turns out that isn’t the case. The help screen explains you need an account. It doesn’t even open a Webview with the website in it. >Trying to join HEY?

You can’t sign up for HEY in the app. We know that’s a pain. After you’ve created an account, you’ll be able to use the app.

Need help from a person?

Send us an email at support@hey.com and we’ll get right back to you.

So over the past few days this blew up to the point that Phil Schiller also commented on this in the news.

Apple also released the full rejection they sent Basecamp (the makers of Hey) which goes in to some options in how they could get it approved. The last paragraph of that email is a punch in the gut for most Apple developers in the community.

“Thank you for being an iOS app developer. We understand that Basecamp has developed a number of apps and many subsequent versions for the ‌App Store‌ for many years, and that the ‌App Store‌ has distributed millions of these apps to iOS users. These apps do not offer in-app purchase – and, consequently, have not contributed any revenue to the ‌App Store‌ over the last eight years. We are happy to continue to support you in your app business and offer you the solutions to provide your services for free – so long as you follow and respect the same ‌App Store‌ Review Guidelines and terms that all developers must follow.”

So let’s go back to my previous post where I talked about Broadcasts. Apple needs third party developers, it challenges them, and keeps pushing them forward. I hope this public spat will lead to some changes that are in the best interset of consumers, developers and in the long term also Apple.

Apple Developer App goes Catalyst

Another finally! Although looking at it; they did the bare minimum. I guess it’s better than nothing, but it would have been nice to see the ultimate Mac Catalyst app. The demo to show ‘yes, you can build real Mac Apps’ using catalyst. As it stands now Broadcasts: Streaming Radio is the best example of what’s possible. I guess we should be thankful for third party developers.

Apple launches new Developer forums

Finally! I just hope they stick around with some activity from Apple after WWDC. I would welcome any public forum where Apple Engineers can share solutions and answer questions from the community.

Apple announces the schedule for WWDC

The Keynote and the State of the Union will go ahead as usual. I wonder if they’ll just pretend it’s still on a stage or go full informercial style, like with the introduction of the new iPad Pro Magic Keyboard.

My HomeKit Adventures

Home automation is all the rage these days. But it’s also something I have found interesting since back when I was a tiny little boy. Anything with lights or electronics really.

I remember watching TV and seeing someone had a clap sensor for the lights in his house. We all know that a clap sensor isn’t the best of ideas, especially when you are in to sitcoms with a laugh track. But the magic of ‘I don’t need to get up, just do a motion with my hands and the light goes on’ is still very magical to me.

Even after all these years it’s still something that intrigues me. Having conditional power supplies that when the TV goes to standby it will kill the power to the secondary devices. Or having an RF remote that will interfere with the lights that the neighbours have. Absolutely crazy!

So when I got my own apartment with more than one room it was time to start investigating what would be possible here. The apartment is a rental so I couldn’t do anything too crazy. No sliding smokey doors or replacement locks. But some lights seemed like a good starting point.

Philips Hue

Philips Hue entered the scene around 2012. Smart light bulbs in pretty colours with a Bridge. These can be seen as a follow up to the ‘Living Colours’ series Philips introduced back in 2006. Beautiful ‘futuristic’ designed led lights with an RF remote that had a colour ring much like the track wheel worked on an iPod.

The first Philips hue was a great starting point, the bridge was a bit underpowered and the eco system consisted mostly out of ‘Philips Hue’ light bulbs and their service. They had a documented API so you could write your own apps. But things like ‘Siri’, ‘Google Assistant’ and ‘HomeKit’ were things that were not even in anyones imagination yet.

Home App

In 2014 HomeKit was introduced as part of iOS 8. A Framework for home automation devices to work on iOS. Making it possible to turn on and off lights using Siri. Although it was there. Not a lot was possible. Getting a device part of HomeKit was hard due to all the security requirements Apple had in place.

That changes a bit with iOS 10. Apple introduced the Home app that was pre- installed for every iOS user. They also added support for simple automations, so you could trigger certain scenes automatically.

In 2015 Philips introduced a new Bridge. This new square bridge introduced HomeKit support. Which meant you could see your lights in the Home app. Change the colours using Siri, trigger some automations from within the Apple eco system.

All in all, not much changed for the Philips hue owner, most of these things (if not all) were also possible in the Philips Hue app. This created an opportunity though. Because if you have all your home automation devices in the Home App, you could also control and trigger cross-brand devices and device types.

This is also where my adventure in HomeKit starts. I bought my first Philips Hue starter set in a ‘Going out of Business’ sale on the Dutch eBay. The Philips Hue White Ambiance Starter set. Two E27 White Ambiance bulbs (no colours, just different tints of white), A Dimmer Switch, and a bridge.

Over multiple posts I’ll share how I went from two accessories in the Home app to having over 50, and the lessons I’ll take to what ever my next house, or apartment will be.

Chris Carella · When I switched to iPad

So one Saturday I picked up the iPad Pro, downloaded Photoshop, grabbed my Pencil and decided to see what it could do. A few minutes later and I created this

Check out Chris his page to see what he made and the journey he went on.

A few hours later, I was at the Grand Central Apple Store buying the 12.9” as an investment in my art practive.

I think it’s awesome how many of these experiences start with ‘I tried it, now I want it’. A lot people started of hesitant with the iPod, the iPhone (it’s just an expensive iPod with a phone that doesn’t have a keyboard), iPad (it’s a big iPhone), Airpods (haha, toothbrushes in your ears).

I just wish I had a use for an iPad in my life! Maybe when Xcode is available on iOS 14?

Productivity 101!

Humans love to read about working efficiently and ‘Getting Things Done’. Especially if that means they can listen to it while postponing another task. This is a really great episode of Cortex with lot’s of 101’s how to use tools in your life to make your way more efficient and get a better understanding on what you are actually spending all that time ‘working’ on.

I genuinely love that they hijacked episode ‘101’ for this!

Spotify’s Failed #SquadGoals

Without a single engineering manager responsible for the engineers on a team, the product manager lacked an equivalent peer—the mini-CTO to their mini-CEO role. There was no single person accountable for the engineering team’s delivery or who could negotiate prioritization of work at an equivalent level of responsibility.

The amount of job vacancies I’ve seen which tout that they work according to the Spotify model is just too high. The Spotify model turned in to a buzz word like ‘working agile’, ‘doing scrum’. With most companies that means ‘we do a daily standup’.

I’m lucky to be at a company that committed and followed through. We followed the agile manifesto, the department believed in it, we started a change in the company. All was great, until we started growing more and then you reach the point that the Spotify Model doesn’t scale. Something we specifically hit is mentioned in the quote above in combination with team Autonomy. Teams have complete freedom and no one is able to call them out on it because ‘Autonomy’.

There is nothing inherently wrong with that. It’s a good point to start; especially at that point in time. But the Spotify model never really evolved to what to do ‘after’. What when we get bigger?

You might have discovered the Spotify model because you were trying to figure out how to structure your teams. Don’t stop here. Keep researching. Leaders of companies that have withstood longer tests of time have written far more than Spotify blogged. Humans have been trying to figure out how to work together for as long as there have been humans. The industrial age and the information age changed some of the constraints, but academics studying organization theories have found timeless truths about what humans need to be successful in a collective.

Turns out, Spotify in 2012 had not figured out how to maintain the speed and nimbleness of a small team in a large organization. The company evolved beyond its eponymous model and looked outside of itself to find better answers. You should too.

So by all means take a look at the Spotify model as inspiration for your organisation, just look at the lessons learned and don’t waste time experiencing them yourself.

Speaking of Contact Tracing Apps

Crunchy Bagel started an open source project showing how a tracing app could work with the new Apple and Google API. The iOS app seems near feature complete. Android is still being worked on.

Although both companies announced that only registered health organisation would be allowed to use the API’s in their respective app stores I hope this will give some positive influence on the apps being developed at the moment by other parties.

Apps playing a vital role in ‘exit’ strategy

The Dutch government -together with many mover governments- thinks that apps will be playing a vital role in getting the economy and country opened up again. The intent seems to be good and they are being open about the proces and what we’re seeing. The project is going a head at an amazing pace, and it seems the government is trying to learn from past IT mistakes by making sure they ask for the advice of many experts. There is no way this could go wrong right?

Experts criticise Dutch government’s approach to coronavirus app - Dutch News:

Nine IT specialists who were involved in the initial assessment of proposals for the government’s anti-coronavirus app have published an open letter criticising the selection procedure and have dropped out of the process.

Oh wait.. it could.

The new iPhone SE

When the iPhone SE initially was introduced it felt like the base line model just wasn’t good enough with a 16GB introduction model. Like a lot of the products around that time from Apple you really couldn’t say ‘Any iPhone you’ll get will be good’.

But just like the new Macbook Air makes it very easy to say ‘Just get a Macbook Air’. It’s really easy to say ‘Just get an iPhone’. Because every single model on the market today is great. The iPhone SE comes with the same chip as the top of the line models from 6 months ago. This will make many people very happy!

If Omni can’t make it?

When I was young (last week! Hah), there were a few companies that I really looked up to. Companies that make beautiful software, really care to be a good citizen on the platform and just be a delight to use.

You probably have some that come to mind. For me it was Made by Sofa, _Blackpixel, Panic, Agilebits and Omni Group.

Most of that list was acquired, closed down, had to change their portfolio or had to expand (Agilebits). They all cared though, great customer support, great quality software that was a joy to use.

Yesterday it was announced that Omni had to lay off a portion of their workforce. Super talented people that had been with the company anywhere from 5 to 25 years. That makes me sad. Because if they can’t make it, what are the chances of a smaller more unknown company that cares about quality making it?

Let’s hope it’s a blip due the state the world currently is in.

On the bright side: a lot of amazing talent available now!

On the brighter side

I could talk about how COVID-19 is being a PITA all over the world and forcing people to lose their loved ones, people losing their jobs or having to adjust to a life where the whole family is at home at once. But I think the internet has covered that more than enough including the 500 ‘working from home tips’-blogs that all come down to ‘getting dressed’ and ‘keeping a routine’.

Instead I think you should give a listen to the latest Accidental Tech Podcast with guest Chris Lattner. The guy behind LLVM, Clang and Swift. It was a nice distraction over all the other things going on in the world at the moment.

Note: If you didn’t already, his previous appearance from 2017 is also a lot of fun to listen to.

NetNewsWire for iOS has been approved

NetNewsWire for iOS will ship tomorrow. If you’ve been using the TestFlight Beta you’ll know the application has been great and very stable since the start of the beta process. It will be great to see more people getting into RSS (again!).

For me the best part isn’t the availability of the iOS app; but that the project is open source. Much of the internet is filled with ‘sample’ projects and ‘stack overflow copy paste’ projects. It’s not often you get to get a glimpse in a big application that’s also currently shipping in the app store. If you’re an iOS or macOS developer, definitely check out the NetNewsWire repository

Working from Home?

With the recent covid-19 outbreak companies are urging people to work from home. If this lasts only a few weeks I can see many positive changes coming to working from home policies. Maybe some companies will even start pushing for it (because they can save money by having less office space).

If it takes longer though I think we’ll see productivity fall apart because most companies have no processes for remote work and most people will need some time to adjust to the new world.

App-like apps in the App Store

Next week marks the start of March. The 3rd of March also marks the date the new App Store Guidelines regarding HTML5 will go in to effect.

The update is clear. If you are building an app that offers real money gaming, lotteries, or charitable donations then you cannot use content that is not inside the binary. Specifically section 4, 5 and 6 of the App Store guidelines make this clear.

It’s good that Apple makes it explicit at least for these category of apps. They still have the big 4.2 catch all guideline in place though.

Your app should include features, content, and UI that elevate it beyond a repackaged website. If your app is not particularly useful, unique, or “app-like,” it doesn’t belong on the App Store.

I mean, this could probably apply to nearly every app in the App Store. In Dutch traffic law we have something called a ‘Kapstokartikel. This loosely translates to ‘Coat rack law’. It basically means that even if you aren’t breaking any of the predefined laws, but you are doing something reckless in traffic you can still be fined.

Apple’s 4.2 guideline feels a bit like this. Which is great for Apple, less great for developers trying to figure out if they can develop certain features for their app.

One more thing about the initial news article that notifies developers of this change.

The App Store Review Guidelines are designed to help developers create apps that are secure, high-quality, reliable, and that respect user privacy. In order to ensure this, we’ve always specified that all apps be self-contained bundles. This means that the core features and functionality of the app must be contained within the software’s binary, rather than made possible by referring users outside of the approved app — including through the use of HTML5. Apps that dynamically provide core features and functionality with web technology like HTML5 are best delivered through Safari, rather than through the curated App Store.

Although the current change only applies to certain set of App categories. The introduction makes it clear that this is something more generic that Apple has on it’s mind. It feels very much as the time that Apple pointed at Auto layout and said ‘Hey, you should use this, this is very cool’ only to introduce multiple iPhone sizes six months down the road, and requiring apps to support those sizes nine months later.