Pocket, Formerly 'Read It Later'

Read It Later has been rebranded as Pocket, and they have released new apps across all platforms. Their new design aesthetic is admittedly pretty, but I doubt I'll be switching away from Instapaper anytime soon.

If you're interested anyway, The Verge wrote up a great, detailed review of the new service and its pros/cons.

Update: Instapaper developer Marco Arment has given his thoughts on Pocket:


Dark Sky Weather App

New weather app for iOS that makes inclement weather look beautiful, and only costs $6. Go to their site to see the radar effects in action, screenshots don't do it justice.


CSS Scroll Effects by Hakim El Hattab


Samuel L. Jackson and Zooey Deschanel Now Appearing in iPhone 4S Commercials



Ben Brooks on Youtube

Ben Brooks, while opining on Om Malik's comparison of the respective acquisitions of Instagram and Youtube by bigger companies, had this to say:

YouTube still can’t playback video smoothly, it still takes forever to load, it still looks like crap, it still has the worst — most hate filled — comments on the web. It is still a flash laden nightmare.

This is all true. Although Youtube has undergone many UI facelifts over the years, much of the site's usability has pretty much remained shit or gotten worse somehow . Their design team apparently enjoys getting rid of any feature that has ever made logical sense, and then either replaces those things with advertisements, or adds extra steps to what should be simple processes (managing playlists, for example).

No matter where you are on Youtube, there are always way too many UI elements on-screen to be useful and everything is just an ugly mess.

Simply put, Youtube is the Myspace of video sites. I can't wait for it to die.


'Google Doesn't Understand Its Own Social Network'

John Herman, writing for FWD:

As a document, the letter is boring and fluffy and not even bold enough to be wrong.

I agree with his analysis.

FWD | Google Doesn't Understand Its Own Social Network


The Morality of 'Read Later' Services

I came across a series of tweets by @indefensible today that are accusatory toward 'read later' services such as Instapaper: 

I understand the point he's trying to make, but there's nothing that a service like Instapaper is doing that a user couldn't simply do themselves by copying/pasting an article's text into notepad for reading later. In the case of Instapaper specifically, the user has already "viewed" the design and ads that are inherent to the website they're reading before saving the text for later, so it's not like the site lost something during this process.

There is also an argument to be made for the sheer utility of these services. There are people who enjoy reading but may not have network access at all times (such as in an underground subway car), so having an article saved offline for later reading is a boon for them. The only way they would be able to do this and still see the site's original design (ads and all) would be saving a PDF copy of that site, but c'mon, who's going to do that?


The Readability Argument

Ben Brooks discusses the recent argument about Readability that took place on Twitter over the weekend between the likes of John Gruber, Jason Snell, Jeffrey Zeldman, and others, and also led to this blog post by Anil Dash. After reading Dash's post and following the Twitter conversation, I am still left wondering the same two things as Brooks:

  1. Why does Readability feel it is OK to collect money in another’s name without that persons permission?
  2. What, specifically, happens to the unclaimed money?

I think users and publishers deserve answers to both of those questions.

Eagerly waiting to hear the answer to those, since they have still gone unanswered since this entire argument began months ago.

The Brooks Review | Anil Dash Calls Foul


On iPhone Screen Size

Photo: The Techblock

It's that time of year again. The rumor mill about the next iPhone has started spinning and theories are wildly being flung about by everyone and their grandma's dog about what features we can expect and what the new hardware will be like. The most common assumption of all? Bigger screen size.

In the last year, we've seen Android and Windows Mobile 7 phones being sold at screen sizes much larger than the iPhone's humble 3.5" display. Some of these entries into the market have been comical at best (see the photo above from The Techblock's satirical review of the Samsung Galaxy Note, which is a 5.3" behemoth) while others have been somewhat more respectable, such as the Samsung Galaxy S II's 4.3" display.

The question is, does screen size really matter? Or more specifically, would a bigger screen truly improve the iPhone that much?

The most prevalent opinion I've heard on the issue is that the "sweet spot" for smartphone screens is somewhere between 4.0" and 4.5". While I don't think these numbers are outlandish by any means, I have to wonder, why the obsession with having a big phone screen?

Some background: I've been an iPhone owner for several years now (since 2008 when the iPhone 3G was released), I currently own a 4S, and I have been extremely happy with each new iteration of the phone. It's compact, it fits my needs perfectly, and any complaints I have are minor and usually reserved for iOS itself instead of the hardware.

To me, a phone should fit these two criteria for size:

  • Easy to get in and out of my pocket
  • All parts of the screen can comfortably be reached by my thumb when I'm holding the phone in one hand

The 4S definitely meets these criteria and a nice side effect is that I don't feel like an idiot holding a near-tablet-sized device to my head when I'm taking a call.

Despite my feelings about the 4S, when I browse the web I see a growing number of derisive comments about the phone, stating that Apple is losing its edge or refusing to keep up with the market. I can't take these statements seriously, given how insanely popular the device is. Obviously there is something that keeps people coming back to the iPhone year after year despite its screen size and not because of it.

If Apple were to increase the display size, they would also need to drastically increase the number of pixels or else it would no longer be considered a Retina display. This would come with all sorts of tradeoffs, the biggest two being battery life and app-developer support. Think of how many apps would have to be redesigned for the new size when so much has already gone into making apps Retina-compatible. Battery life is already only decent at best (it's not uncommon for me to have to charge my phone a little during the day in addition to my nightly full charge) so I can't see Apple making this tradeoff until they figure out a way to make batteries last much longer than they do now.

I think Apple made the right call on screen size a long time ago when the first iPhone released, and I can see no need for it to be changed that would improve my day-to-day use. At 3.5",  even the elderly can comfortably use the iPhone one-handed, while the younger hipster-types out there can easily slide it into their small jean pockets. This is what I would call the "sweet spot" since it attracts consumers from many different demographics, rather than just the tech geeks out there who think that bigger necessarily equals better.


The Macalope's 'Fools of the Year 2012' List

What happens when print dies and you have no idea how to publish online? Just go trolling!

Great stuff.

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