7 Things This Week, 2022-01-30
A weekly list of things I found interesting, posted on Sundays. Sometimes themed, often not.
As announced on the Apple Developer website, developers can now create their own custom discount codes (like SPRINGPROMO) to distribute to customers, similar to what online stores already offer.
A good move that means we’ll probably been seeing more app ads in podcasts.
The console’s design reflects the eject button’s priority. The disc eject button is bigger, higher up, and surrounded by an LED ring in the console’s iconic green glow, drawing even more attention to it.
The reasoning here is simple: the original Xbox (like its contemporaries and predecessors) was useless without discs for games, DVDs, and CDs. Without the disc tray button, your Xbox was never more than a hulking hunk of green and black plastic. So Microsoft wanted to direct you toward that button because it meant that you had bought a game and were ready to play or that you wanted to swap out discs to play something else.
What’s in a button? A good reflection on how product design should reflect the use of it, both intended and actual.
HomePod mini’s light-up surface is on the top of the device, but I propose that Apple angle the surface and add a proper touch display. The new angle would allow users to more easily use controls and view content — it’d be far better and add more utility to the product.
I would love this product for around the house, and it seems like the natural evolution for added functionality in the HomePod mini. Basing it off the watchOS interface makes sense for the limited interaction I’d expect, and it plays nicely into the fact that the HomePod mini already runs on the Apple Watch processor. I share Matt Birchler’s concern for its usefulness across a room due to the display size, and continue to long for an iPad/HomePod mashup device for the kitchen in particular.
Mile 1 provides you with the most comprehensive highway milepost locator service ever built. Easy to use day or night, quickly know your distance to the nearest posts. Nearly every highway on the U.S. Interstate system is included along with a growing list of state and U.S. highways.
It’s in the worst situations on the highway, like when you’re stuck, that you need to know your mile marker. But if there’s not one in sight, what do you do? This free Mile-1 app made by developer Chris Dry saves you from walking up and down the interstate to determine the closest mile marker. I haven’t had to use it yet, but I’m glad to have it in my toolbox. It’s just too bad that it can’t get an entitlement to work with CarPlay.
So: Last.fm. There are a few things I like about it. First, it seems to take into account my entire listening history, though it does give greater weight to recency and frequency. Second, it shows me why it is recommending a particular artist or album. Something as simple as that helps me contextualize a recommendation. Third, its suggestions are a blend of artists I am familiar with in passing and those that I have never heard of.
Most importantly, it feels free of artificial limitations. Apple Music only shows a maximum of eight similar artists on my iPhone, but there are pages of recommendations on Last.fm. Echo and the Bunnymen has twenty-five pages with ten artists each. I can go back and see my entire listening history since I started my account there. Why can I only see the last forty things I listened to on Apple Music?
Should Apple buy Last.fm? It would booster their recommendations. People love Last.fm. It would give them another lens into up-and-coming artists. I’ve been giving Last.fm a try over the last month to get more insight into my listening habits, and hopefully some better new artist suggestions than I’m getting from Apple Music itself.
If you’ve ever tried using a hotel app as your digital room key, this is so much better. The key is now stored in Apple Wallet, which means there is no need to unlock your phone, open an app or activate a key before you want to use it.
The key is always ready, just tap your phone to unlock a door in seconds.
The apps use Bluetooth, this new Apple feature uses NFC.
The future is here!
If you’re a fan of Nick Offerman, you’ve got to listen to this podcast interview of him with Ezra Klein. I love Nick’s outlook on life, and was tickled by his study of Aldo Leopold, who is another favorite of mine.