A dozen shades of Macintosh and iOS rants (Part 2)

A dozen shades of Macintosh and iOS rants (Part 2)

Summary: So many leftover rants in the world of Apple's computing platforms and so little time. This year, a down-sized "fifty" themed list will have to suffice. And there are some tips and news in the mix. (Part 2 of 2)


My desktop and inbox are littered with bytes and pieces from across 2012. Here is a 3-dot list, my Dozen Shades of Mac and iOS rants that I hope you may find interesting here at year's end. (Part 2)

Check Out Part One of A dozen shades of Macintosh and iOS rants


Where did the jailbreakers go?

I remember seeing a rant about jailbreaking every day or so. However, as the worries of security have increased and the number of applications in the App Store keep gaining in capabilities, iOS customers are sticking with the closed system. The wins by the Electronic Freedom Foundation are good news to some but increasingly irrelevant to iOS owners.


Another reason why jailbreaking your iPad may not be such a great idea

So many things sound like a great idea on your iPad: that tattoo, eggnog-flavored coffee and desktop-style, user-controlled, multi-layered window management. In a terrific post from the spring, titled Familiar is not a design, programmer Matt Gemmell runs down a jailbreak hack called Quasar, which brings a computer-style windowing environment to the iPad. In the article he also talks about some concerns with the Microsoft Snap interface found in the Surface platform.

Gemmell says that interfaces should be designed, not just implemented like Quasar.

Unconsidered design (or lack of design) tends to simply gravitate towards the familiar, which is a natural instinct when we’re lost in some way. The desktop windowing metaphor is familiar from older computing devices… and that’s all. Its suitability to the iPad’s form factor, usage scenarios, and current app interaction models was not considered. It introduces additional frames of interaction and cognitive load, and disregards the interaction heritage and environment of the platform.

Quasar was not designed, but rather only implemented. It’s the classic outcome of closed, engineer-based thinking.

Who needs this?


Where’s the paid upgrade mechanism in the Mac App Store?

Developers are still mostly accepting Apple’s Mac App Store and releasing new titles to the program. However, many keep complaining about the lack of an way to offer existing customers a discounted price for major upgrades. There was plenty of discussion about this issue in the spring but it’s cropping up again.

At his Call Me Fishmeal blog in March, Wil Shipley offered an excellent analysis of the good and not-so-good for developers and customers with the Mac App Store. It’s still great reading.

For customers, the Mac App Store application would notice when a product they’ve bought has an upgrade path to another application, and show this in the App Store application’s existing “Updates” tab. This alone would be a huge boon to developers, because users would have a single, wonderful place to find out about new paid upgrades, which we can’t have right now because we don’t have a list of our customers! (And, again, we’re not Apple: when we release a new version of Delicious Library it doesn’t make international headlines. Yet.)

As a nice side-effect, this solution would also allow the Mac App Store application to notice when a customer has both an old and a new version of an app installed, and provide an easy way (again, from the existing “Updates” tab) for the customer to delete the old version (and its old data if it’s a “shoebox” app) when she’s gotten confident that the new version is meeting her needs. This solves an issue every customer and developer wrangles with: how to gently keep customers from running outdated versions of their apps (and how to free up the customer’s disk space from the old version) after they’ve upgraded.


Don’t confuse a Retina Display “point” with the classic print industry “point”

Long ago, in the world of hardcopy, a printer’s point was an absolute measure: 1/12 pica and .013875 inch (.351mm). However, with the arrival of desktop publishing, the point became a function of the WYSIWYG Mac screen: 72 points per inch — the pixel resolution of the 128K Macintosh. So each pixel became a point.

Nowadays, because of the high resolution screens running OS X, points “in user space” are unrelated to physical measurements. It’s explained in the Apple Developer Library High Resolution Guidelines for OS X.

OS X refers to screen size in points, not pixels. A point is one unit in user space, prior to any transformations on the space. Because, on a high-resolution display, there are four onscreen pixels for each point, points can be expressed as floating-point values. Values that are integers in standard resolution, such as mouse coordinates, are floating-point values on a high-resolution display, allowing for greater precision for such things as graphics alignment.

Your app draws to a view using points in user space. The window server composites drawing operations to an offscreen buffer called the backing store. When it comes time to display the contents of the backing store onscreen, the window server scales the content appropriately, mapping points to onscreen pixels. The result is that if you draw the same content on two similar devices, and only one of them has a high-resolution screen, the content appears to be about the same size on both devices. Size invariance is a key feature of high resolution.


Who doesn’t want a calibrated, color emulation of tablets, phones and other devices?

How will your content really look on another device? Most content is created and developed on a desktop or laptop computer and then moved to other platforms. But is there a way of really knowing how it will look on the smaller screens without viewing it on them? Monitor company Eizo offers an answer: ColorNavigator, a part of its color-calibrated monitor package.

Eizo’s ColorNavigator offers a number of interesting features, including Media Emulation, where the color characteristics of other content platforms can be emulated.

ColorNavigator emulates the color characteristics of other media devices such as tablets, smart phones, notebook PCs, other LCD/CRT monitors and even portable gaming devices. With a spectrophotometer, ColorNavigator reads the emulated device's color patches as they appear in a web browser and creates an ICC profile. By using this profile with a ColorEdge monitor, content creators see how their customers view color on their respective media devices.

Opening ancient Word documents

This tip from Macworld tells how Microsoft Word 2011 can open very old Mac Word documents and keep the formatting intact. Good to know for us longtime Mac users.

Topics: Apple, Apps, iPhone, iPad, Operating Systems, Windows

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  • Windowing

    I agree, that multiple windows on the iPad (and other tablets) don't make much sense - although the current trend of pushing the same philosophy onto the desktop worries me.

    It is one of the reasons I have avoided the iPad and tablets in general. I spend a majority of my time working in multiple windows, doing research or coding and testing. Doing that in single window, full screen apps is slow, frustrating and generally reduces productivity to a crawl.

    For work in the field or note taking in meetings, a tablet with a single window is great. For writing those notes up afterwards, I really need multiple windows.

    People seem to think the iPad, and tablets in general, is a replacement for the desktop, but I see them as a different market, with a different purpose. There is some overlap - I can take notes on a laptop in a meeting and I can write documents on a tablet, given a keyboard - but they serve, in general, different purposes.
    • No true authority on the subject

      ...ever said that tablets, in their current incarnation at least will replace the PC.
      No one today that programs for a living, or writes up many documents or is in the audio/video/photo editing business, will dump their desktops and large screens and go with a 10 inch or less tablet.
      The death of the PC articles are just click baits or troll like posts.

      However, fact is that most of what HOME PC people do today, can be done on a tablet and in a much human friendlier way.
  • pads are what most people really need

    PCs are perfect devices for creating content. Pads are designed for consuming content. The average Joe hardly produces any content at all at home. (Facebook, Twitter & Co is not really content in the classical sense.) Therefore pads are the future and PCs will slowly retreat to Office usage only. Now I start to digress ...
    And that's why Microsofts Surfcae Pro will become another fail. Contrary to common believe it doesn't combine the best of two worlds. Instead it combines the worst of 2 worlds. It's big and heavy and suffers from disappointing battery capacity. Its GUI is 2 faced, inconsistent and makes no sense. It doesn't replace a laptop because of it's quirky stand and no included keyboard. How would you ever place it on your lap or use it in an airplane ?
    For consuming media it's too big, too heavy and has too little battery capacity.
    Surface RT is a pad that promises a lot but doesn't hold its promises. Apart from that the screen resolution is ludicrous and embarrassing.
    iPads and Android pads though are small, lightweight and do exactly what one would expect. Not more not less. Nobody would every want to run OSX software on an iPad.
    That said ... MS is in a lose-lose position with its actual products. Its desire to run Office on all products hinders it to create the perfect device for the job. Instead all MS products seem to serve only one purpose : Running MS Office. This is no product strategy.
    MS should step back and ask itself ... what do customers really do with each product category.
    After having found an answer to this question they should redesign Windows and their pads.
    • pads etc.

      Did you post this on the wrong thread?
    • "Most" People??

      And, that is the direction of all things American today.

      The fact that "most"people are engaged in self amusement and avoidance of thinking is great for the tablets and smart phones, regardless of make or model. The small fuel efficient auto is a good example of "most."

      HOWEVER, there is a substantial number of those who want fast, efficient, graphically correct machines to accomplish their objectives. The Mac has served that purpose for some since it's beginning. Others have come to it much later, but, the transition on the desktop to IOS will create a real problem.

      The inexplicable desire of recent generation to "all things equal" is terrifying .. lowest common denominator.
  • 1/12 pica is

    72 points per inch 72.02 to be precise). Printing points were not redefined to fit the Macintosh display, the Macintosh display was specifically set at 72 pixels per inch to match print standards. It's one of the reasons the Mac became the tool to use for desktop publishing.
  • Correct

    Good to see someone post the facts. Even the Macophiles have little knowledge of why the Mac is what it is.
  • Submission

    Submit? I will never, never, never submit.
    roger that