March 19, 2013

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Mac Roundtable 2013.03.18 Episode #213

Filed under: Podcast — macroundtable @ 10:17 am

Panel:

Katie Floyd - Mac Power Userskatiefloyd.me Twitter

Jeff Gamet - The Mac ObserverTwitter

Chuck JoinerMacVoices, Twitter, App.net

Steve StangerMy About.me page, Twitter

Topics include:

 - Google’s killing of Reader

 - Dropbox buying Mailbox

 - Does Apple need a bigger iPhone
 

Picks:

Katie – Dataman Pro

Jeff - IFTTT 

Chuck - CloudPull Free

          - CloudPull Premium

Steve – Clear for iOS and OSX 

 

Play

4 Comments »

  1. Enjoyed the discussion in this episode about RSS readers. I’ve used the free version of Netnewswire for years. It works just fine.

    Comment by Kate — March 19, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

  2. Google killing Reader:
    ======================
    I am really upset by this. When they bought or created Reader (I forget which), Google basically cornered the market, and drove several other RSS sync services that existed at the time out of business. Now that Reader has become the de facto standard for RSS, they have an obligation to the community to keep it going. Or, if it really is cutting into their bottom line and they just can’t run Google Reader servers any more, either spin it out to a new company, sell it to someone else, or, better yet, Open Source the darn thing.

    Google absolutely have a business responsibility to keep Reader going. This action (them killing reader) has caused me (and countless others I’m sure) to lose faith in their ability to provide their services. What if X number of years down the line they decide, ehh, this Gmail thing isn’t interesting any more, or doesn’t serve their interests any more. Well that leaves all 8 billion (or however many) Gmail users out in the cold. Or what if all of a sudden they decide to go out of the Google Apps for Business business? Well now every business, school, etc. that relied on that service is out of luck. Killing “non-market-leader” services like Snapseed is one thing; killing “core” services like Gmail, Google Docs/Drive, Reader, etc. is a completely different proposition.

    It’s great that companies like Feedly are stepping up to the plate and creating their own clones of the Google backend and API. My concern is that this would create another “standards war.” I don’t use the same app on all platforms. On the Mac I use Caffeinated; on the iPhone I use Reeder; and on the iPad I use Mr. Reader. I chose these apps after a long and bloody ordeal, and settled on each one because it works exactly the way I want it to work, supports sharing out to the third party services I use, etc. But when Google finally pulls the plug on Reader and the various app developers choose alternatives, we’ve got trouble. Maybe the developer of Mr. Reader decides to use the Feedly API; but then the Reeder developer decides to use another company’s API; and the Caffeinated developers decide to roll their own solution. Well that would leave me SOL.

    Marco Arment wrote a blog post in which he proposed an interesting idea that would help mitigate this concern: everyone who wants to make some sort of “cloud RSS sync” service standardize on, at the very least, the Google Reader API. If a company wants to provide their own value-add, fine, they can extend the protocol. But each service that follows this pattern would guarantee at least a basic level of service and compatibility. Then, each reader app would now let you choose which “sync server” in essence you want to use. That puts choice back in the hands of the customer. Maybe I would be willing to pay $X/month for Acme, Inc.’s reader service. Maybe the guy next to me chooses to use Joe’s Free Open Source Reader Service, and is OK with downtime and the possibility that it may go away sometime in the future.

    http://www.marco.org/2013/03/14/baby-steps-replacing-google-reader

    Dropbox and Mailbox:
    ====================
    I heard a rumor or possibly speculation — I’m not sure which, and I don’t remember the source — that Dropbox’s real aim (their “evil plan for world domination” so to speak) is to become “Your Cloud OS.” Of course, to do this, you’d need some sort of filesystem, and sync technology, which they have. But they also need other apps and services. What is an important app/service that many people use? Right, email. Mailbox is a no-brainer acquisition if this is the case. It would be interesting to see what they choose to acquire next. If it’s something like, uhh, I dunno, BusyCal or something similar, then we can be pretty sure what direction Dropbox wants to go in.

    Does Apple need a bigger iPhone?
    ================================
    The problem here is that, yes, there are people for whom a bigger phone is desirable. I personally think it’s akin to holding the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey against your head, but maybe someone with large meaty hands or aging eyesight would like it. And… a stylus?! Really?? But an artist or someone who loves to hand write notes might want one. The iPhone 5 is just perfect for me. Finally the iPhone has a widescreen aspect ratio, so videos look great without those black bars that used to drive me insane (yes I do watch videos on my iPhone). And the fact that they kept the device’s girth in check means that I am still able to use the iPhone 5 single handedly (admittedly not very well, like I can’t type out long emails with just my thumb, but I can easily check email, weather, news, Twitter, etc., and type out simple tweets and text messages just fine. And I can still fit it in my pocket, and, when needed, easily extract it from said pocket using only one hand.

    Here’s the problem though. Let’s say Apple does end up caving to popular demand and comes out with an iPhone “phablet.” (Ugh, I HATE that word.) Now Apple has added AT LEAST three more SKU’s here in the States alone. (Phablet AT&T, Phablet Verizon, Phablet Sprint, plus a Phablet for each of the ever-growing list of smaller/regional carriers that carry the iPhone now) And what if they also come out with the long-fabled smaller/cheaper iPhone mini? There’s (at lesat) three more SKUs. Multiply that umpteen number of times for the various carriers/markets around the world. And now Apple is heading down that slippery slope towards the pre-Steve Jobs product catalog, when they had 57,318 different models of Performa, 12,862 models of Quadra, etc.

    The more devices Apple comes out with, the more it dilutes their brand, the harder it is to market (“Wait a minute, what are the differences between all these models?!”), etc., and it just divides their efforts into too many different directions.

    I think that (and happen to agree with) Apple’s philosophy is “create a few devices, maybe not enough to satisfy everybody on the planet, and do those devices WELL.”

    Comment by Donald Burr — March 21, 2013 @ 12:38 am

  3. Re Google Reader, I’m also rather depressed by the situation. Like many of you, all my favourite RSS reader apps use it for syncing. But while I see a bunch of companies saying they’re going to switch to iCloud or some other mechanism to sync their iOS and Mac readers, that doesn’t help me as I use my Android device a lot as well. (I know Feedly has both Android and iOS apps, but I don’t like the fact that they have no Mac app, just a website and a Safari extension). Hopefully this will change sooner or later.

    Like some, I’m also concerned that it may indeed sound a mini death-knell for RSS, just as if Google Mail were to be killed off tomorrow (it won’t, but who can be sure when it will?), I’d bet a not insignificant number of those affected could and would just completely move to services like Facebook and Twitter for all their communication needs, rather than find another email provider.

    However… one important point that I haven’t really heard anyone mention yet is that Google NEVER ACTUALLY PUBLISHED AN API for Reader. They certainly didn’t discourage any developers from reverse engineering it and using it, as many did, but they never actively encouraged them either. So I do actually find it harder to feel hoodwinked than if this was an official, supported interface that was going away.

    Comment by Calum — March 28, 2013 @ 8:29 am

  4. 1. I suspect that Dropbox will put your Mailbox content into your 2GB allotment to try and use it up. It turns out that 2GB is a lot for a lot of people and many could use the service for free for forever. O’Reilly books has a great deal with Dropbox to put your purchases there so they are available on all your devices with a minimal hassle. But it eats at your free 2GB. The photo auto download that Dropbox is pushing does the same thing. Dropbox has to come up with things that will use up people’s free space. Text files and the like that people create will never force them out of their “free” account.

    2. I agree COMPLETELY with Katie’s Dad about size of phone. I have been using Macs since they came out and iPhones since they came out. I am old enough to be her Dad. For many demographics (perhaps the texting young and the retired old), they use their iPhone as a “computer” MUCH more than they do as a phone. I make 1-2 calls a day on my iPhone. I am no longer a “busy” professional. I use my iPhone a LOT but I am reading on it, getting info from it, writing on it etc. I routinely have pockets in my clothes that would accept a bigger phone/screen. The iPad mini is TOO big to fit in most of my pockets although I would consider using it and getting bigger pockets (if it were a phone as well.) What I want is the biggest screen that will fit into a typical male pocket — like the big Samsung sizes.

    I am not agile enough to type with one hand. I usually use two hands when running my iPhone. I do not think that Apple should get rid of the iPhone 5 size; I just think they should offer a bigger size for people who do not use the “phone” that much.

    Embarrassed about holding a phablet to my ear? Are you kidding? I could care less what onlookers think. Many older people don’t care so much about this kind of thing.

    Comment by Robert Livingston — April 1, 2013 @ 6:56 pm

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