Is Google Bored With Android?

Several week ago John Gruber wrote this:

Do you get the sense that Google, company-wide, is all that interested in Android? I don’t. Both as the steward of the software platform and as the maker of Pixel hardware, it seems like Google is losing interest in Android. Flagship Android hardware makers sure are interested in Android, but they can’t move the Android developer ecosystem — only Google can.

To which Android Central replied as such:

That's what Daring Fireball had to say recently and it's such a bad take that my fingers started itching to talk about it. Google's definitely not bored with Android and changes in both Android 10 and Android 11 show that Google is even more attentive to Android than Apple is to iOS. Fight me.

Ooh, spicy 🌶

Here’s what I’ll say, iOS 14 has tons of stuff for me to talk about, there are thousands of words that could be spilled about the new user-facing features and privacy protections, and it is worth running the beta on my devices because it’s notably different and better than last year’s release. Android 11 feels almost identical to Android 10, which also felt nearly identical to Android 9.

That’s not to say Android has not improved, and it’s changes to gestures are a big upgrade over the 3 button system they had before, but the tweaks are so minor that it’s hard to get excited about any of them.

in fact, when the Android 11 beta came out for Pixels in May, I planned to spend the 3 weeks between that and WWDC using my Pixel 4 as my daily driver so I could steep myself in the changes from last year. I did spend those 3 weeks basically entirely on Android, but after just a day or two I found myself accessing “top new features in Android 11” articles to even remember what had changed.

I don’t know if Google is technically “bored” with Android, and I’m sure the teams working on the project are working hard on it, but as a company it really does feel like Google is less interested in making Android great, and more interested in making their services more appealing. The company seems more interested in G Suite and video conferencing than Android to me.

Cowardice or Complicity?

Federal Agents Unleash Militarized Crackdown on Portland

Federal agents dressed in camouflage and tactical gear have taken to the streets of Portland, unleashing tear gas, bloodying protesters and pulling some people into unmarked vans in what Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon has called “a blatant abuse of power.”
The extraordinary use of federal force in recent days, billed as an attempt to tamp down persistent unrest and protect government property, has infuriated local leaders who say the agents have stoked tensions. “This is an attack on our democracy,” Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland said.

Where are all the small government folks now? Where are the second amendment fanatics who say they have guns to protect themselves from an overbearing federal gouvernement? The escalation of federal force against those speaking out against it, as well as the literally hundreds of examples of excessive force from law enforcement over the past few months has been shocking, and the message I've seen from the right has been mainly, “maybe if you weren't protesting like that then you wouldn't be getting beaten by the cops or taken away by secret police.”

So is it cowardice or is it compliance?

Liking the Apple Mail App

I Like Apple Mail? – Charlotte Rose Writes

What I’ve realised after using the native Mail app for so long is that actually, what is most important to me is just having all of my email accounts in one place and being able to view all of my inboxes at once via one main inbox. The Mail app does this fantastically in my opinion.

If the Mail app wasn't so notoriously bad at syncing and delivering notifications, I'd have used the Mail app too. Now, I've given up on generic email apps altogether recently, but I agree with Charlotte here, Mail seems to work really well for a lot of people.

Castro’s Essential Feature

Comment: Castro's Inbox/Queue feature is game-changing functionality for heavy podcast users - 9to5Mac

For the ten shows that I know will get listened to, I have them set to go straight to the top of my Queue. For the other shows (which is the bulk of my subscription list), I can browse the Inbox a few times a day, grab the episodes that look interesting to me, and then clear the rest. I know this sounds like a super simple approach, but it’s been a breath of fresh air for me as I was becoming overwhelmed with the number of shows I had subscribed to over the years.

Speaking for features that people find essential, Castro’s queuing system has ruined me for other podcast apps.

If you want to see a walkthrough of this system in action, check out my recent video about it!

Mark as Read on Scroll: Thanks, I Hate It

Reeder for reading, Unread for RSS

I just can’t fathom why folks go ga-ga over Reeder even though this feature is absent. Hell, it shouldn’t even be considered a feature; it’s like a book not having page numbers or something. I just don’t get it. 🤷🏼‍♂️

Software is fun, isn't it? Justin makes a reasonable case for why he can't use Reeder for RSS.

However…

I truly hate the feature he finds essential, and I've turned it off in any reader app I've used in the past. He's not wrong to want it, but it's certainly not a universal feeling.

I personally use Reeder for RSS because I follow quite a few sources and no other app in my experience lets me triage what I want to read now, later, and ignore better than Reeder. Unread is great if you follow a smaller number of sites, but the way I use RSS does not line up at all and I feel like I'm wading through molasses when I'm using it.

Ironically, my counter proposal would be that Unread is good for reading, but Reeder is good for RSS.

Trackers Find a Way

Spy pixels are evolving like malware, so HEY's adapting - Signal v. Noise

We knew that spy-pixel pushers might go down the rabbit hole of escalation once we gave HEY users the power to defend themselves. Just like virus and malware makers are constantly trying to defeat anti-virus and other security protections. But I guess we didn’t realize just how quickly it would happen!

I’m not fainting over the idea that tracking pixels in emails, but I do like that Hey is working to block these in my email.

This lead to an in-depth investigation into how their latest techniques work, and we spent the whole day coming up with a new process of detecting GMass’ spy pixels. It just shipped! And now HEY will name’n’shame GMass, just like we do the other fifty-odd pushers of this kind of surveillance.

And it’s good to see Basecamp responding quickly when they hear of these new trackers. I’m sure it’s a constant struggle, and it will never be perfect, but I’m happy to use an email service that is doing something here. This would be a nice feature in Apple Mail next year, just saying!

If You Want Republicans to Win, Get Rid of Trump

House Rating Changes: 20 Races Move Towards Democrats - The Cook Political Report

President Trump's abysmal polling since the pandemic began is seriously jeopardizing down-ballot GOP fortunes. We may be approaching the point at which dozens of House Republicans will need to decide whether to cut the president loose and run on a "check and balance" message, offering voters insurance against congressional Democrats moving too far left under a potential Biden administration.

And

This week, we're shifting our ratings in 20 races, all reflecting movement towards Democrats.

I recently advocated for getting Trump out of the White House (shocker, I know), but that argument was based on my political beliefs, as well as…you know, respect for the rule of law. But if I were still a Republican, frankly I'd want him gone too. It is "the party of Trump" at this point, and while that was fun for the party to talk shit while riding the wave of improvements made during the previous administration, nearly 4 years into this administration it's becoming more and more clear that this guy is a clown. A clown who packs the courts and is an asshole to your opponents in ways you could never say out loud, yay! A clown who's ineptitude hurts not only him, but down ballot races, nay!

Look, the odds of me liking, let alone voting for the next Republican nominee is slim to none so don't do it for me, do for the down ballot races.

Step One is Replacing the Captain

This is what national decline looks like - George Will for The Washington Post

The nation’s floundering government is now administered by a gangster regime. It is helpful to have this made obvious as voters contemplate renewing the regime’s lease on the executive branch. Roger Stone adopted the argot of B-grade mobster movies when he said he would not “roll on” Donald Trump. By commuting Stone’s sentence, Stone’s beneficiary played his part in this down-market drama, showing gratitude for Stone’s version of omertà (the Mafia code of silence), which involved lots of speaking but much lying. Because pandemic prevents both presidential candidates from bouncing around the continent like popcorn in a skillet, the electorate can concentrate on other things, including Trump’s selection of friends such as Stone and Paul Manafort, dregs from the bottom of the Republican barrel.

George Will and I do not agree on a lot of things, but I have to give him credit for seeing this administration's ineptitude and danger early on and calling it out.

This nation built the Empire State Building, groundbreaking to official opening, in 410 days during the Depression, and the Pentagon in 16 months during wartime. Today’s less serious nation is unable to competently combat a pandemic, or even reliably conduct elections. This is what national decline looks like.

Will doesn't mention it specifically in this piece, but he implies that Trump is not the core problem, he's a symptom of a bigger problem with the United States. Things don't "go back to normal" if we defeat Trump in November, issues with disinformation, information silos, racism, income inequality, court packing, disenfranchisement, and more will all still be here.

But getting this guy out of office is an essential first step, because nothing gets better with him remaining at the helm.

More People Are Wearing Masks

More People Are Wearing Masks

Axios out with a new poll on how many Americans are wearing masks:

62% of those surveyed said they’re wearing a mask “all the time” when they leave the house — up from 53% when we asked the same question two weeks ago.
The biggest jump was among Republicans: 45% say they’re wearing a mask all the time, up from 35% at the end of June.
Even though it’s narrowing, there’s still a big partisan divide: 95% of Democrats say they wear a mask some or all of the time outside the house, compared with 74% of Republicans.

Despite my bullishness on social disancing and wearking masks when you are in public, I actually don't fall into the 62% of people who wear a mask "all the time" I'm outside the house. Your proximity to other people changes the math on this, of course, and if I lived in a big city then I'm sure I'd be in that group. But I live in the suburbs and I take a few walks everyday without a mask. I religiously stay at least 6 feet from other people, and typically leave at least 20 feet between us. It's simple, frankly, as I just need to dart into the street for a moment or cross the street to avoid other people.

Whenever I go to a store or a drive through or something else where I'll be closer to other people, I wear a mask 100% of the time because I'm not an asshole and I realize it not only makes me safer, but it makes other people who may not be in as good health or demographic to be okay if they get sick.

The Return of Fun Design

The Comeback of Fun in Visual Design

As with all big shifts in design, you’re going to get a lot of noise. People will try to co-opt this new direction and attempt to label it as something it’s not (looking at you neomorphism). People will find fault with the execution. People will disagree that there’s even a change. There’ll be snark. There'll be a period of adjustment. There’s a lot to talk about— but I think most of it misses the point.
This is a philosophical change in the role of visual design and one some of us have been working towards for a long time. It’s just the beginning, but I think we’re on the cusp of a new era.

This also is a good companion to my recent Design is a Series of Overcorrections piece.