2018 iPhone, 2018 iPad, and 2012 Mac (podcast #140)

“Apple doesn’t want you to know the iPad Pro runs iOS!” is the sort of headline I feel like I’m seeing a lot with iPad Pro reviews, so let’s talk about it.

Also, I think the large of my 3 main computers tells you how passionate I am about them. My iPhone is from 2018, my iPad will be from 2018 (in a week or two), and my Mac is from 2012.

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One Slick Android Feature

Much like iOS, Android has an app store that lets people easily download apps for their devices. The differences between the Play Store and App Store are more in execution than concept, and will be how the vast majority of people get apps.

But Android also has the ability to simple install apps like you can on a Mac or PC. If I manually turn on the feature, I can install .APK files from anywhere I’d like. This has been a feature of Android since the beginning, and many people likely did this for the first time recently with Fortnite, which is not being distributed via the Play Store at all.

Why this is risky

On the one hand, this means that it allows people to install software that does not meet the standards set by Google for what should be allowed on Android. This can be good, but it can also lead to malicious software getting onto your device and doing things that are not acceptable to Google’s guidelines. This is inherent risk with any software, and things like the curated app stores of the modern era are guards against this danger.

This also means that piracy is more of an issue on Android, as people can more easily get free versions of paid apps if they would like. Developers can mitigate this, but it’s additional work and clearly does not stop this from being a thing1.

Why this is excellent

But then there’s the best part of this functionality: installing apps meant for one device (usually Pixels) and using it on whatever phone you happen to own. The most recent example of this is the new Google Camera app which introduced Night Sight. I have a OnePlus 6, which has a pretty good camera, but Google does not intend to give this camera app to me since I didn’t buy their phone. Fair enough, but the Android community got their hands on the APK for the Google Camera app with Night Sight and modified it to let it run on my phone.

And just like that, I’m using Google’s camera app with Night Sight and it works great on my OnePlus 6. And the best part: it works great! Google is using pretty standard hardware in their camera, so the magic of Night Sight is all done in software. So when I try to use Night Sight, I get results like this:

👇 Regular Mode

👇 Night Sight

The Night Sight feature works great and is proving to be a nice feature to have in a pinch. And it’s all possible because Android lets me go around the official app store if I’d like.

I don’t know if Apple will ever allow this on iOS, but it is certainly one of the things that I enjoy about Android whenever I am experimenting with the platform.

  1. No links from me, since I do not want to encourage this behavior.

A Simple Printer Rant

I think it’s healthy to rant about (and privide a sliver of hope) about printers ever now and again 🙂

Create and Open Zip files on Your iPhone or iPad (with Shortcuts)

One relatively common action that people do frequently on their computers is opening (and sometimes creating) Zip files. iOS doesn’t do this by default, but there are some apps that let you do this. Even easier though, we have Shortcuts, which lets us do this super easily and totally for free.

I f you tap the below link on your iOS device it will install the shortcut for you in the Shortcuts app.

Zip and Unzip Files Shortcut

There isn’t much to explain here, except to say this was created to make the process as simple as possible. Basically, if you share a Zip file it will extract it, and if you give it anything else it will make a Zip with the same name as the file(s) you give it. You can give it one file or many and it will still work1.

Feel free to tweak and share this Shortcut to fit your needs!

  1. Due to limitations of Shortcuts, it doesn’t seem to be able to unzip multiple Zips though. But if you give it 100 MP3s, for example, it will make one Zip with all those files.

So, About that Original Apple Pencil Design

Me, 7 months ago:

Now I’ll admit, the Pencil can look a little silly when it’s sticking out of the side of the iPad when it’s sitting on its side, but it comes with some serious benefits as well. Let’s take a look at Apple’s options for charging the Pencil and see how they stack up.

I wrote that article in defense of the first Apple Pencil’s charging method. Yes, it looked silly, but when considering the other options people bright up, I didn’t see those being better. I still stand by many of the things in that piece, but I wrote it with the perspective of the old iPad Pro design.

Regular wireless charging was brought up, but the tech to make the wireless charging coils we have in phones work in the Apple Pencil were impractical and using the existing smart connector didn’t work because (a) you couldn’t charge as you typed, (b) all cases covered the smart connector so you’d need to take any cases off, and (c) the sides of the iPad were too rounded to make the Pencil connect securely.

I didn’t like the other solutions presented, but I did end up suggesting this:

The way I see making this work is for Apple to release an iPad Pro with 2 Smart Connectors. One is on the left side and one on the right. This would let people connect their keyboards either way, and use the second connector for their Pencil. This also assumes the iPad and Pencil are updated so that the Pencil can make a solid connection when laying down on a table. It also assumes that Apple puts some super powerful magnets in the side so that the Pencil stays on there securely.

I was actually super close! They did add a second connector (not a smart one, though), they did change the iPad Pro sides to accommodate this, and they added some super powerful magnets to make it stick securely. My biggest miss was thinking that Apple wasn’t going to do this.

So anyway, I stand by the idea of the first Apple Pencil having good (or at least good enough) design considering the limitations of the previous iPad Pro hardware, but I’m happy to see Apple make the changes to both the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil needed to make the product better. I will not argue the old method was better than the new one, but I do think it was better than many people give it credit for.

Related, people aways talked about the old method as making it basically guaranteed that the Pencil was going to snap off the iPad because it was pointing out so far. Did this actually happen to anyone or is it just something that could theoretically happen but never did?