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Old 28th June 2020, 09:04 AM   #1
Squeegee Beckenheim
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ios14

A few days ago Apple announced its plans for ios 14 (and a bunch of other software-related things, and the fact that it's going to start building its own CPUs). Details here: https://www.macrumors.com/roundup/ios-14/

People are mostly talking about the changes to the Home screen - the addition of widgets and the new "App Library". The general consensus, as I understand it, is that these things are good, but aren't exactly new if you're an Android user, and aren't as good as they could be. For example, the Smart Stack widgets1 are supposed to be good, but not great because you can't actually interact with the widgets themselves. The widgets can only display information, and have no other functionality.

I've also seen the way the App Library was sold being criticised. In the keynote speech, it was said that the feature was being introduced because people knew what was on the first couple of screens on their device, but after that even Apple executives lose track of what is where. It's been said that that's an abdication of Apple's responsibility because the reason why people generally don't organise their apps better is because organising apps on the iPhone home screen is an absolute nightmare.

I have a lot of sympathy for that argument, TBH. I organise my apps by icon colour so, even though I've got 6 screens organised like that, I find it very quick and easy to locate any app I want to use, even if I don't use it very often. In fact, it's usually easier to remember where it is than it is to remember what it's called, so scrolling is easier than searching or asking Siri to open it for me. But it's such a pain in the arse to organise that after my 6 pages I've got a further 2 pages of stuff that just exists in the order in which I downloaded it, because I've not got round to going through the painful process of sorting everything out.

There's a tonne of more stuff, but the thing I'm most interested in is AppClips. This is basically taking the model that's made WeChat so popular in China and implementing it on the iPhone. Basically these are <10Mb apps that will be downloaded to your phone in certain situations, and will then disappear again. So, for example, say there's a parking place that doesn't accept cash. Previously in order to pay you'd have to visit a website, sign up, give your card details, etc., etc. Now you scan a QR code, a proprietary code, or place your phone near a NFC terminal and a mini app will download which will allow you to pay through it, using Apple Pay. It works because you're already signed in to Apple, so you don't have to verify anything else.

Perhaps not terribly useful in most places in 2020, but this is something that seems like the future to me, especially in today's world, where we're becoming socialised not to touch things.

I think the biggest misstep is in Apple introducing their own, circular version of a QR code. Because if Apple are releasing this now, you can bet that other iPhone manufacturers will be doing the same thing next year. And, as already noted, this is how WeChat works. So as it works with a QR code, and that's how WeChat works and likely how other apps/phones will work, I imagine most businesses that use this model will simply use QR codes, rather than creating two separate codes for everything.

The only other misstep that I see is that Apple are pushing this to developers as a way to demonstrate their apps to people. In other words, what they're pushing to consumers as a quick, hassle-free way to pay for things and otherwise navigate around the world, may simply be overrun with people telling you you ought to download their app. If it's frustrating to use, then people will be less inclined to use it.

Beyond that, I'm most interested in what the practical implications for the improvements to Shortcuts are. Shortcuts are very useful, and the more you can do with them, the better.

1A widget which combines several widgets that you can scroll through, and which Siri will attempt to analyse your behaviour to automatically show you which one you want to see at the time you want to see it.
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Old 28th June 2020, 11:14 AM   #2
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I only got into Apple in order to do app development. After about 10 years I'd made oh, maybe $50 on them, mostly from pitying friends and family. The first time they upgraded their OS to a point where many of the apps were not backward-compatible, I updated them all. (It was more than a matter of simple recompiling.) The second time it happened about a year later, I said screw it.

My new phone is a Samsung Android.
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Old 28th June 2020, 02:55 PM   #3
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I kind of fell into the Apple ecosystem. I'd survived for years without a smartphone at all, but then I did a job where the boss required that he could talk to you over Whatsapp. A co-worker had an old 4S he didn't want any more and gifted it to me. Then, when it came time to upgrade because the 4S was pretty much obsolete when I got it I, of course, wanted to keep my apps and data so it made sense to get another iPhone. Then, when I decided I wanted a fitness tracker, most of the reviews said that the Apple watch was the best one on the market, so I saw no reason to go with something made by another company that wouldn't integrate as well.

I'm definitely glad I ended up with Apple. There was a test done recently which found that 97% of all malware (not all phone malware, all malware) was targeted at Android (and absolutely none of them were targeting iPhones), the CEO of google said that if he was making malware he'd be targeting Android, and one of the top executives of Samsung recently said that he wouldn't trust a Samsung to do his banking on. Of course iPhones are vulnerable, but so is doing banking or paying by credit card on a desktop, and iPhones are probably the least vulnerable.

So when it comes to my phone - something which is far more likely to be physically stolen than my desktop - I actually want the opposite of what I want on my desktop. On my desktop I want to have choice, I want to be able to root around and find whatever works best for me. When it comes to my phone, I want it to be restrictive, but I want it to be difficult to get in to, difficult to get malware on, and I want it to be safe. That's why I'm happy to stick with Apple for phones, but not at all tempted to buy a mac.

There are things that frustrate me about the iPhone, but I'm sure there would be things that frustrated me about an Android. And it's all a trade-off, anyway. For example, google assistant is better than Siri. But that's because google collects every piece of data it can get its hands on and Apple doesn't. And you might not get as much flexibility or choice in apps, but because "iPhone" is one consistent OS on one consistent chipset apps can be optimised for ios, whereas more than a thousand Android phones come out in a year, so apps have to be made to work broadly, rather than being optimised for any one device or variation of OS. This is going to become even more true when Apple start putting their own CPUs into phones in a few years.

So when it comes down to it, it's always going to come down to what you prioritise in a phone. And for me safety is absolutely #1. There are a few things that I do on my phone that I simply wouldn't consider at all on a different device.
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Old 28th June 2020, 04:12 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
A few days ago Apple announced its plans for ios 14 (and a bunch of other software-related things, and the fact that it's going to start building its own CPUs). Details here: https://www.macrumors.com/roundup/ios-14/

People are mostly talking about the changes to the Home screen - the addition of widgets and the new "App Library". The general consensus, as I understand it, is that these things are good, but aren't exactly new if you're an Android user, and aren't as good as they could be. For example, the Smart Stack widgets1 are supposed to be good, but not great because you can't actually interact with the widgets themselves. The widgets can only display information, and have no other functionality.

I've also seen the way the App Library was sold being criticised. In the keynote speech, it was said that the feature was being introduced because people knew what was on the first couple of screens on their device, but after that even Apple executives lose track of what is where. It's been said that that's an abdication of Apple's responsibility because the reason why people generally don't organise their apps better is because organising apps on the iPhone home screen is an absolute nightmare.

I have a lot of sympathy for that argument, TBH. I organise my apps by icon colour....
Ok, I kind of lost the thread at that point. If you was to ask me, I couldn't tell you the color of ANY icon on my phone or PC. On the phone (Samsung, Android) I just keep the most used ones on the first page, less used on the second, and for the rest I just look on the master apps page. Sometimes I even remember what they are called.

Oh, and I can just drag them around, including between pages. Apple doesn't?
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Old 29th June 2020, 01:04 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
Ok, I kind of lost the thread at that point. If you was to ask me, I couldn't tell you the color of ANY icon on my phone or PC.
I find that colour is easier to remember than anything else. In fact, there is scientific evidence that suggests colour aids memory, and that we remember colours better than we do shapes.

Quote:
Oh, and I can just drag them around, including between pages. Apple doesn't?
You can, but it's a pain in the arse. It's fiddly to get them to where you want them. You'll have the one you're dragging around where you want it and nothing will move out of the way for it, then you move it a fraction of a millimetre and it'll settle in to the place beyond where you wanted it. If you try to drag it off one page it'll spend ages just sitting at the side of the screen going "what?" at you, and then it'll suddenly take off at a sprint. And if you hover it even partially over another icon for even a fraction of a second it'll create a folder for you, which it's then a royal pain in the arse to remove the apps from again.

I understand that Apple wants their products to be their own things, while still being integrated, but there should really be a free, separate desktop/laptop application where you can arrange the icons. It's arranging squares. Should be easy to accomplish.
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Old 29th June 2020, 01:25 AM   #6
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Oh, and the folders are really ugly and can't be modified. So I don't use them at all.

Under the new system, I'm going to try to have my home screen be nothing but widgets, and then have everything else in the app Library. I'll give it a go, but I don't really expect it to stick. Because the apps will be arranged into categories that means that rather than my thought process being "I want to listen to a podcast, and podcasts are orange", it'll be "I want to listen to a podcast. Podcasts are probably filed as entertainment. Let's read the names of the folders as I scroll past them to find the entertainment folder, and then look within it for the right app". It just doesn't seem as efficient to me. And this will be exacerbated by the fact that I won't get to choose which folder they go in, or in what order (and, in fact, the order within will change depending on my app usage).

I'll give it a go, because open-mindedness is a good trait to possess, but I suspect that I'll very quickly be back to having them all visible on the home screen, arranged by colour.
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Old 29th June 2020, 03:54 AM   #7
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I've never had malware problem with my android phones.
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Old 29th June 2020, 04:50 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by a_unique_person View Post
I've never had malware problem with my android phones.
I'm sure many haven't. That doesn't affect the fact that they're less secure than iPhones and, as such, I wouldn't be willing to use things like banking apps on one.
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Old 29th June 2020, 06:38 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
Oh, and the folders are really ugly and can't be modified. So I don't use them at all.
...
How would you need to modify a folder? On both my iPhone and Samsung I could change the folder name and rearrange the icons within it.
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Old 29th June 2020, 07:13 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by alfaniner View Post
How would you need to modify a folder? On both my iPhone and Samsung I could change the folder name and rearrange the icons within it.
Change the colour, give it an icon...anything to make it easier to use and less ugly, really. As it is, it has to be a dull grey with teeny-tiny representations of the first 9 apps within it.

Look at this folder next to a hypothetical folder you could make:



Not only does the icon look better than the ungainly and ugly folder, but the fact that it's got a symbol on and can be colour-coded, rather than requiring you to read a word underneath it or squint to see what the tiny logos within it are, means that it'd be quicker and more efficient to use, too.

Bear in mind that that's a screenshot, and as a result is 4 times actual size. Or, at least, it is on this laptop monitor. It may be bigger or smaller, depending on your monitor size, but it'll definitely be bigger than the actual icons.

I think the way it handles folders is a real incongruity in Apple's aesthetic, which is otherwise about simplicity, clean lines, and starkness. Instead it just looks cluttered and messy.
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Old 29th June 2020, 07:22 AM   #11
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...and this thread having inspired me to sort out my home screen, I've just been reminded me of another quirk that I dislike about it.

If you move an app from one screen to a screen that's to the left of it, the last app in the screen to the left moves on to the screen to the right. But if you move an app from a screen to a screen to the right of it, you're left with a gap. Which means if, like I do, you like to have every screen full, you then have to move an app over from the next screen. Which leaves a gap...
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Old 29th June 2020, 07:47 AM   #12
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Maybe try an alternative launcher app? I'm very happy with the efficiency on my Android since I've install the very clever little "Niagara Launcher":

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Old 29th June 2020, 08:02 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
Change the colour, give it an icon...anything to make it easier to use and less ugly, really. As it is, it has to be a dull grey with teeny-tiny representations of the first 9 apps within it.

Look at this folder next to a hypothetical folder you could make:

https://i.imgur.com/6OgbJTO.jpg

Not only does the icon look better than the ungainly and ugly folder, but the fact that it's got a symbol on and can be colour-coded, rather than requiring you to read a word underneath it or squint to see what the tiny logos within it are, means that it'd be quicker and more efficient to use, too.

Bear in mind that that's a screenshot, and as a result is 4 times actual size. Or, at least, it is on this laptop monitor. It may be bigger or smaller, depending on your monitor size, but it'll definitely be bigger than the actual icons.

I think the way it handles folders is a real incongruity in Apple's aesthetic, which is otherwise about simplicity, clean lines, and starkness. Instead it just looks cluttered and messy.
I don't know how you can find anything with that colorfully distracting background!
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Old 29th June 2020, 08:16 AM   #14
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If anybody's interested I've just finished rearranging the about page and a half of apps that were unsorted. So that's how long it takes.
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Old 29th June 2020, 08:21 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Childlike Empress View Post
Maybe try an alternative launcher app? I'm very happy with the efficiency on my Android since I've install the very clever little "Niagara Launcher":

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That looks awful. And I don't think you can do quite the same thing on ios, anyway. There are some you could have in the Today Centre, but that's not the same.

I'm not even sure if the Today Centre is going to survive into ios14, given that it's going to introduce the ability to put widgets on the home screen.
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Old 29th June 2020, 08:23 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by alfaniner View Post
I don't know how you can find anything with that colorfully distracting background!
It's gorgeous. Although I have had it for a while. Maybe it's time to try a different one, just for the change.
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Old 29th June 2020, 08:40 AM   #17
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Yup, new wallpaper installed. Also gorgeous, and quite a different feel.

And for anybody doubting the wisdom of organising apps by colour - after redistributing a page and a half worth of apps throughout 10 pages, obviously a few things have moved. I just needed to launch an app without having any idea on what page it was, or whereabouts on that page it was. Took me a second to locate it, simply because I knew it was blue.
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Old 29th June 2020, 08:46 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
And I don't think you can do quite the same thing on ios, anyway.

Apparently not. Pathetic control freaks.
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Old 29th June 2020, 09:23 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
Yup, new wallpaper installed. Also gorgeous, and quite a different feel.

And for anybody doubting the wisdom of organising apps by colour - after redistributing a page and a half worth of apps throughout 10 pages, obviously a few things have moved. I just needed to launch an app without having any idea on what page it was, or whereabouts on that page it was. Took me a second to locate it, simply because I knew it was blue.
10 pages...you have a LOT more apps than I do! That's probably why I don't much worry about how they are arranged and you need to!
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Old 29th June 2020, 10:41 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Childlike Empress View Post
Apparently not. Pathetic control freaks.
No, I mean that you can't have widgets on your home page, like that one appears to be. You can get app launchers for ios. Here is one example.

But I have no problem with launching apps. It's just arranging them that's a pain in the arse.
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Old 29th June 2020, 10:45 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
10 pages...you have a LOT more apps than I do! That's probably why I don't much worry about how they are arranged and you need to!
To be fair, one of the pages is empty, except for a single folder called "Oubliette" in which I store all the apps that I don't use but which I can't uninstall, like Safari.
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Old 29th June 2020, 11:03 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
No, I mean that you can't have widgets on your home page, like that one appears to be. You can get app launchers for ios. Here is one example.

No, it's not "a widget on the home screen". The "home screen" and the additional pages are part of the default launcher, which can be replaced by one of countless alternative launchers on Android. The "home screen" will disappear and only what you see in the video is your complete user interface with the Niagara Launcher. It works like different Desktop Environments on Linux.

What you linked to is an app started regularly with an icon on the default home screen which does its thing on top of that. And that seems to be the only way for a launcher app on iOS.
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Old 29th June 2020, 11:10 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Childlike Empress View Post
No, it's not "a widget on the home screen".
Yes, I know. What I was saying was that most app launchers for ios are widgets. But they can only feature on the Today screen. At least until ios14.

And either way it's irrelevant, because my problem is with arranging apps, not launching them.
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Old 29th June 2020, 11:16 AM   #24
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Well, my point is that there's no need to arrange apps with the launcher I've chosen because it does things in a completely different way.
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Old 29th June 2020, 02:17 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Childlike Empress View Post
Well, my point is that there's no need to arrange apps with the launcher I've chosen because it does things in a completely different way.
Well, I'm not really sure how completely different it is. I could arrange my apps alphabetically automatically, if I should so choose, and it's easy to search for them just by swiping downwards. Even easier and quicker would be to simply say "Hey Siri, open [X]".

But that still requires more thought and effort than just navigating to the right colour.

For example, I've got a dB meter app (besides the one native to my watch). If I want to open that then it's easier to remember that it's blue than it is to remember that it's called "NIOSH SLM".
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Old 30th June 2020, 01:02 AM   #26
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I'm platform agnostic so go with whatever is best for me, my go to tablet is an iPad Pro, phone (and no not this week's phone as friends like to tease) is a S20, The S20 is more than secure when it comes to using the likes of banking apps.

The launcher on iPad is its worse feature (the launcher is the program that is "home"), was looking forward to it being improved however so far iPadOS 14 doesn't have the same improvements that appear in iOS 14,.so no all apps page, no ability to put widgets where you like. Hoping this is a just because it's an early beta.

The only other big new feature I've come across is "scribble" allowing you to use the Apple stylus in text fields, nicely implemented but as it has always been on all the other platforms that have the same feature it is slower and less reliable than even an onscreen keyboard.
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Old 30th June 2020, 02:30 AM   #27
Squeegee Beckenheim
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Yeah, I don't have a tablet of any kind so I don't really have an opinion on Scribble, which seems to be the main upgrade to the iPad.

I do have a sneaking suspicion that I'd find a tablet like I found a smartphone - something that I can't see much use for, which then becomes indispensable once I've got one. So I'm kind of deliberately holding off. I think the next piece of tech I'm likely to buy is AR glasses. Apple are rumoured to be bringing out a pair at any time between next year and '25. I think I'll wait for that, and then give it a couple of years for them to fully work out what they're doing with them, and then buy some.

AR is definitely the future and as it is the AR function of google maps is already incredible as a concept, although impractical in the real world, except maybe for briefly getting your bearings here and there while walking. But give it a few years and a couple of generations of AR glasses, and it'll be amazing. Not to mention things like Night Sky.

Mind you, I don't think that this is quite as dystopian as it's supposed to be:

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