Good morning and congratulations on another week. I intended to write about some of the problems I had while writing my Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review – in particular my astonishment that Samsung is again reviewers like me ask to be beta testers. It is unthinkable that the company did not realize that there were problems with the camera and it was also very strange that it was not so much a hint for a software update for me until the day before yesterday. I say it again: never buy anything in the hope that future software updates will solve it. Wait.
But we handled it fairly well The Vergecast will be released later today, so please listen. Instead, to the surprise of no one considering my obsession with how companies are trying to get large-screen computers beyond the UX paradigms of the 1980s and 90s, I am interested in an iPad rumor about a keyboard.
The news is simply that Apple is reportedly releasing an iPad keyboard with a trackpad later this year. It is a good scoop of The information. A good piece to read afterwards is about something Jason Snell commented on the iOS beta released earlier this month: better support for keyboard functions such as modification keys. A third thing to note is that Apple software boss Craig Federighi said, “If you like what you’ve seen us do with iPadOS, keep an eye on it, we’ll keep working on it.”
If you are wondering when this can happen, the Apple-o atmosphere has all worked on the belief that Apple will hold a Spring hardware announcement. There are too many rumors to fit in one event, but a new iPad Pro and a new keyboard would certainly succeed. Given all recent cancellations of tech events due to the corona virus, Apple might be able to reconsider its plans.
In any case, I have many thoughts about the iPad – which you may have guessed since I have written so often about the evolution of the iPad as a computer in recent years. I’d like to speculate about the physical shape and design of the keyboard, but I think this is better until later when we have a better idea of what it might look like.
Instead, I just want to point out that the iPad is an operating system that is currently hostile to mouse input. I do not mean that as criticism, but I think it only mentions facts. I know that there are people who have enabled the “AssistiveTouch” mouse function, but what it mainly does is that you can emulate your finger taps with a mouse. That means it’s actually not that handy with two things that make mice stand out: tap small UI buttons and work with text.
I insist that I think Apple’s recent attempts to improve text manipulation, such as selecting, copying, pasting, and even cursor placement, are not very good. And since AssistiveTouch currently only works like a finger, it doesn’t help.
I bring this up because I have a radical idea: what if the only thing that provides trackpad support for the iPad is better text manipulation? I actually think that’s it right movement for Apple, at least for a start.
With the new iPadOS last year, Apple was incredibly ambitious. It has added all sorts of new ideas and interaction models to the user interface, some of which were confusing. In my original review I gave Apple the honor to finally make the iPad complicated and I stick to that. But I also believe it is not intuitive, because the functions cannot be learned gradually over time – you should actually view or read tutorials, which is incredibly un-Apple-like.
I bring this up because the iPad now has a lot to do with its overall user interface and I think the last thing Apple should do is add another variable to the mix. Unless Apple is planning its second major reconsideration of how we will handle the iPad in two years, it is simply a heavy burden for users.
Because, as I said before, using a mouse is basically a weird thing – it’s actually an abstraction level that goes beyond just touching the screen. It only feels ‘intuitive’ because so many of us first learned to use one, and because ‘desktop’ operating systems teach you how to gradually learn new skills while using them. They are consistent and learnable in a way that the more advanced features of the iPad are simply not.
I don’t want Apple to fall back on the mainstay of just using desktop OS paradigms to solve the user interface intuitiveness problem. The last thing we want is for the iPad to become a Mac. It’s on a different path and it would be a shame to throw those ideas out of the window so that we can have more traditional windows on the iPad.
But I am not an anti-trackpad. I really think it would be a huge help for text selection and would allow some app developers to create smaller touch targets on their apps. Plus, and this may be an anathema to some, the iPad now makes extensive use of right-click style actions (long to see them), and a trackpad can help with that.
If you haven’t done this for a while, go and have a look The groundbreaking iPhone introduction from Steve Jobs. Pay special attention to how he talks about styluses and fingers. It is now easy to forget, but the iPhone was a radical reinvention of user interfaces compared to what most people had used. Only a small amount of apps on smartphones are designed to be used with a finger – call to SnapperMail, my favorite email app for the Treo and the subject of a beautiful Walt Mossberg review from 2003.
However, none of the smartphone operating systems prior to the iPhone was optimized for fingers. They all needed a stylus or physical buttons to get around. The iPhone UI was revolutionary because it only had one button – the home button – and was designed to be touched from the ground up.
The iPad continued that legacy, only on a large screen. Adding a trackpad to that seems like a good idea, but I sincerely hope it doesn’t take away all the benefits we get from a purely touchscreen interface. We already have the Mac, the iPad does not have to be one either.
┏ Facebook cancels F8 developer conference because of concerns about the corona virus.
┏ Plague Inc. pulled out of the App Store in China in the midst of an outbreak of coronavirus.
Plague Inc. saw at the end of January a revival of downloads in China and it became the best-paid iOS game in the country. In response, Ndemic Creations issued a statement reminding players that although Plague Inc. is designed to be realistic and informative about how diseases spread, it is just a game. It is currently the highest paid game in the US App Store. “We always recommend that players receive their information directly from local and global health authorities,” the company said in January.
┏ Tim Cook says Apple is re-opening factories, because China “gets coronavirus under control”.
┏ Health secretary Alex Azar does not promise that a coronavirus vaccine would be affordable.
┏ Coronavirus merch is somehow worse than I expected.
More from The Verge
┏ Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review: shutter problem. Here is my review. I hope that Samsung usually does not do well the trend of camera software updates.
Samsung called this phone the S20 instead of the S11 to indicate that it is the first of a new generation, and that is perhaps too revealing. As impressive as the phone is, the camera often behaves as a first generation technical product with first generation technical problems.
┏ Robots don’t take our jobs – they become our bosses. Important, deep piece by Josh Dzieza. Well written and empathetic. Think of all the little moments of downtime that you have during the day, the time when you are alone with yourself. AI tracking of employees takes that away.
An Amazon employee in the Midwest described a bleak vision of the future. “We could have algorithms that are connected to technology that sits directly on our body and that determine how we work,” he said. “At the moment, the algorithm tells a manager to shout at us. In the future, the algorithm could tell a shock collar … “I laughed and he quickly said he was just kidding. After all, Amazon has patented tracking wristbands that vibrate to steer employees, and Walmart tests harnesses that follow the movements of its warehouse staff
┏ It’s hard to care about the feelings of others online. I love this essay by Bijan Stephen. Acting with empathy on platforms that reward snark is difficult and you often look painfully serious. But do it anyway.
┏ The Apex 2020 concept from Vivo has pioneering cameras and an ultra-curved screen. As Sam Byford points out, this phone would be shown at Mobile World Congress. Hopefully, for some people, Vivo will sow it, even if it is never released, because I would like to see the results of some independent tests of a good optical zoom lens on a phone:
The telephoto lens of the Apex 2020, however, has moving lens elements that have a magnification of 5x to 7.5x. Vivo says that the 16-megapixel module is only 6.2 mm thick due to the periscope design, making it fit in the 8.8 mm thick phone.
┏ Uber is adapting its app to improve those annoying pickups. This is a very smart idea, but it does mean that drivers’ phones have their microphones turned on. If I were Uber, I would occasionally have an independent auditor review the code to verify that the only thing the microphone does is listen to the ultrasound.
Uber is also developing a new technology that uses ultrasonic waves to automatically verify that you are in the right car, no pin code required. The driver’s phone sends this ultrasonic signal to the driver’s phone to automatically verify the unique pin code. The company has said that technology must be ready by the end of 2019.
┏ Clearview AI’s client list includes 2,200 organizations, spread across law enforcement to universities.
┏ Peloton controls processes without songs that are used in fitness videos without permission.
┏ AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile are fined more than $ 200 million for selling customer locations, per report.