Details matter


Apple pays more attention to the details then anyone else. Sometimes the details they pay attention to are so small, you don’t notice them at all for a long time… but once you see what they’ve done, you can never unsee it, or accept anything less.

Here’s a great example from OS X Yosemite. Compare the two images above. The top is from OS X Yosemite, the bottom from Windows 7. Notice anything? One of these images has much better typography than the other. But can you tell why?

Apple has tweaked the typography in OS X Yosemite so that link underlines skup over the descenders. What’a descender? It’s the little dangling parts on letters, like the tail of the lowercase ‘p’, ‘g’ or ‘y’.

Once you see this small typography tweak Apple made in OS X Yosemite, you can’t unsee it – John Brownlee, Cult of Mac (27 October)

I love this stuff. It’s like the way you can tell when a writer cares or has just knocked a piece out for the cash. Previously I’ve thought this about things like the way Microsoft can’t be bothered to translate all of Windows’ dialogue boxes: you can be working a PC in France and after a few French warnings, there’s an important one in English. I think details matter anyway, always, forever, but when you’re making something that literally millions and millions of people will use and see for eight hours or more every day, details are special.

Read the full piece.

Here it is: the novella-length review of OS X Yosemite

You know whether you’re going to read this or not. Each time Apple releases a new operating system, John Siracusa reviews it at length. Specifically, at novella length. Typically he takes 40,000 words to say what Apple’s heavily illustrated web page does.

But Siracusa is not Apple and Siracusa is also serious. This time out, he practically leads with a complaint:

For the most part, a new look for an operating system doesn’t need to justify itself. It’s fashion. We all want something new every once in a while. It just needs to look good. But things start to get complicated when fashion butts heads with usability—then we want reasons.

OS X 10.10 Yosemite: The Ars Technica Review –John Siracusa, Ars Technica (16 October 2014)

Do read the full piece. As ever, it is very interesting and really well done. I would rather that it didn’t come on 25 pages as it feels like that’s done just to get 25 clicks out of you, but as an article and as a read, it is excellent.

Scrivener updated to play nice with OS X Yosemite

Apple is expected to at least announce a definite shipping date for the new OS X Yosemite in a few hours and may even do that “available today” tricky the company loves doing. In anticipation of that, the writing platform – I struggle to find a phase for it as it’s much more than a word processor – has been updated to work with the new operating system. It’s also got a couple of twiddles and a temporary stop to your sharing Scrivener documents directly to Facebook and Twitter. Never knew it had that in it.

But then I am a particularly new and light user of Scrivener. Let Bryan Chaffin of The Mac Observer tell you more:

The binary code love of my life—Scrivener—was updated to version 2.6 Thursday morning. The update includes support for OS X 10.10 Yosemite, which Apple is expected to either release later on Thursday during a media event, or announce a release date.

Scrivener is the premier writing environment for the Mac, and it’s aimed at novelists, screenwriters, playwrights, and researchers. The release includes a ton of general bug fixes, as well as a couple of new features specific to Yosemite.

Literature and Latte also included a new import/export option relating to which version of Java gets used, removed Draft, Research, and Trash folder results from searches,and changed the way items dragged to the Binder are viewed.

Lastly, the company said that a 64-bit version of Scrivener was coming in the future. Until that time, Twitter and Facebook sharing services won’t be available in Scrivener in Yosemite.

Scrivener Updated to Support Yosemite – Bryan Chaffin, The Mac Observer (16 October 2014)

Read the full piece.

OS X Yosemite beta release now out – think about it


That’s think about it in two senses. On the one hand, OS X Yosemite looks like it’s going to be rather excellent. In that sense, I wouldn’t hesitate, I’d download instantly.


On the other hand, this is beta software. If you get this, it will go wrong. Hopefully in some minor way you don’t even notice. But you could lose work. It’s highly possible because it’s a beta.

Don’t get it if you haven’t got a spare Mac to run it on. I have a semi-spare one so right this moment, I am downloading that beta.

I’d really recommend that you don’t. Not yet. Wait until tomorrow, watch the many YouTube videos there will be showing you it in action and either decide then or wait until the final version is released properly in a couple of months.

But I can’t resist. Can’t. Wish me luck and call me stupid.

If you really want to do this too, run to the official website here. Only the first million people who apply will get it and if you think a million is a lot, you’re wrong.

Pet peeve rant here. Nothing to see. Move along, move along

Look, I think there’s a spectrum of interest to do with Apple and things like the company’s WWDC. Most people are in the ‘never heard of it’ category, a great proportion are in the ‘and don’t care anyway’ set. If it does affect you or you are ever going to benefit from it or be even remotely interested, the smart money says you’ll look when you next buy a Mac or an iPhone. Or maybe you’ll just get these new features when they’re here and you’ll decide then if you’re interested.

That’s not only sensible, it is intelligent and only the teeniest bit dull.

Way over here in the not sensible, not necessarily all that intelligent but definitely bright and shiny category, you join me in watching the WWDC announcements and enjoy it.

But there is another set.

It’s the set of people who are quite interested. I have no criticism of this set. I have every criticism of the kind of technology journalism that tries to snare them. It’s the same kind of technology journalism that tries to snare us shiny interested people too. And it got me.

I read a headline today that ran: “Here’s one major new Yosemite and iOS 8 feature that got overlooked”. I am not even going to apologise for how that got me and I read it while waiting for the kettle to boil.

What I am going to do is boil in harmony because this major overlooked feature was Spotlight. This is broadly a search thing that Macs have had for ages and it is very good, it finds stuff including some answers to questions: I used it two minutes ago to add up some figures. Usually it’s how I find anything on my Mac. That script I wrote somewhere between 2005 and 2008, the one with a musical number in it, I wrote it in Final Draft, I think I emailed it to Bert that time, with just that kind of head-scratching detail, Spotlight will find the script pretty much instantly. Spotlight is Good.

And Spotlight is improved in the new OS X Yosemite. But the WWDC announcement included it. It fair belaboured it. First Apple told us what was new and showed some screenshots of it in action. Then it demonstrated these same features in action. (Just as an aside, the one thing I’d lose from an Apple announcement is the demo of what we’ve learnt about two seconds ago. Sometimes it’s good, I appreciate that it helps fix the details in one’s mind, but often enough I’m looking at my watch.)

We’re not done yet.

Having told us about it in detail and then demonstrated Spotlight in detail, Apple moved on to many, many other things – and kept using Spotlight throughout. They explicitly spoke of how it was built in to various other features.

There is only one way in which this can be regarded as Spotlight being ‘overlooked’ and that’s if the website running that stupid click-bait title was admitting that they forgot to cover it before.

You’ll notice there’s no link to the article. I’ve wasted enough of your time steaming away here, I’m not sending you their way.

My name is William, and I am a journalist. Hello, William.

WWDC: What I’ll use and what firms will copy

This is going to be the norm for all computers soon but Macs soonest. You’re walking through your house writing a quick email on your iPhone and by the time you get to your desk, it’s becoming a long email. You’re wishing you hadn’t started it on the wee small screen there but you’re committed to it so you finish.

Not any more. From later this year when OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 are out, you’ll just put your iPhone down and carry on typing on your Mac. Exactly where you were. If it’s that long a bleedin’ email, you could then just pick up your iPad and head out of the house still writing it.

I can’t say I’ve ever wanted to between all three like that but I have regularly done that business with writing an email on my iPhone. I have very often had to leave for a meeting and therefore had to set things up on my iPad before I go. So the idea of just picking it up and going, I will do this. I will use this.

Apple calls it HandOff, as in handing off work to someone else or in this case some other machine. Samsung will probably call it OffHand and I rather like that better. But soon enough nobody will call it anything at all because this alchemy will be something normal that everybody uses everywhere.

I’ll also use this new business that if there’s no wifi for your iPad, it will connect to your phone and use that’s 3G or 4G connection. I do this now through tethering and it works fine, but it’s something else to remember to do. Something else to fiddle with instead of just working.

I am very big on not having to fiddle, not having to set up, not have to faff through a Wizard or something, but instead just getting on with the work I want to do.

That’s the big takeaway from this year’s WWDC for me. It’s really why I use and like Macs so that the annual announcement had more of this for both the Macs’ OS X and the iPhone/iPad’s iOS, I like that.

Speaking of iOS 8 and speaking of speaking, the only thing I wanted to see come some day was the ability to just talk to Siri on my iPhone instead of tapping a button first. Got it. The feature – it’s called HeySiri because that’s what you do, you say “Hey, Siri” and I’m not wild about that – will only work when the iPhone is plugged in but that’s fine. I add a lot of reminders to OmniFocus while I’m driving so that’s more than fine, that’s tremendous.

Speaking of more speaking of speaking, I’ve already tried an application that ostensibly let me make and receive phone calls through my Mac. It was rubbish. I regretted spending the money. But the odds are that with it part of OS X Yosemite, Apple will have made it work better. So I’m pre-sold on that one too.

I watched the WWDC video late last night and it was full of many little and large nuggets like this. Many, many times I’d nod thinking yep, I’m having that.

I did look at it from a very specific, biased view of simply what I was interested in and what I thought yep about. Possibly the best general roundup of all that was announced was done over on Wired. Do take a look, would you?

Especially as I did 5am-2am last night and swear to god I can’t remember who I am right now.