Technology

PaymentKit: How Apple Lets Some Air Out of this Pressure Cooker

2nd September 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

Matt Birchler, on the improvements he wants to see regarding payments in apps:

Simply, I want Apple to allow third party payments in apps. This does not have to turn the App Store into some sort of hellscape where card details are stolen on the regular and no one wants to buy anything anymore because it’s so bad.

E-commerce has grown a ton over the last decade, and it’s grown almost as much in the past 6 months all over again. People buy things online all the time, and modern tools allow merchants to collect that data securely. I’d love to see that come to the App Store, but in ways that only Apple can do.

I like everything he proposes here, especially a “PaymentKit” API, which would allow some form of conformity to a standard, while offering a greater level of freedom to app developers. Mainly because other payment platforms would be able to offer their own options as SDKs to app developers, giving them and the end customers more choice.

Just adding this framework wouldn’t mean an immediate fix to the issue regarding payments inside apps. However, it would lay the groundwork needed for a more competitive marketplace. And with more competition, there will be an incentive to offer a better solution for developers and customers.

Photography

A Couple of Woodland Photos

2nd September 2020 PERMALINK • 2 min read

I’ve been trying to get better at photography recently, by watching a ton of YouTube videos mainly by Nigel Danson and Thomas Heaton, and a ton more. There’s one thing that I notice all photographers go back to, and it’s that simply going out with your camera, is the best thing you can do to improve your photography skills.

So just over a week ago, I decided I would wake up just before sunrise, and go for a walk around where I live. I walked through a few wooded areas, down near a river, and through some generally green areas. The environment wasn’t on my side for the shots I was trying to get, as in I found a few compositions in a woodland where some mist would have really added depth, and by the river, there was a shot I could have got if I had more direct sun instead of it being hidden by clouds.

However, on the walk back to my house, I did discover that there is a small area of “woodland” essentially behind my house. I just never noticed it, because it’s out of the way, and hidden between a load of houses. But anyway, even with lighting that I didn’t like that much, I think I got a two shots that I’m happy with.

I’ve uploaded them to various places – Flickr, 500px, and Instagram. 500px is something I’ve used for a while, so there’s a lot of old photos there, and to be honest I’m not happy with a lot of them. So I’m hoping that Flickr will become my new canonical place for my photography, before I most likely decide to put them here somehow. And, I’m probably going to be uploading a lot of my favourite shots to my Instagram too.

Opinion

Folding Phones

2nd September 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

I haven’t really been paying attention to the news around foldable phones, or been interested in any of the hype surrounding them. But this video “Fold, Flip, or Duo: why fold a phone?”, Dieter Bohn did for The Verge at least provided me with some context on why people would actually want one.

I still don’t see myself ever wanting a foldable phone. But I’m slowly starting to agree that it could be a compelling product for a lot of people.

✏️

19th August 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

Another quick burst of Text Case development. This time it was getting the layout of the flows working properly. Next step will be working on the design, linking data, and maybe adding some customisation.

✏️

14th August 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

‪Here’s what I think Apple should do:‬

  • Reduce the 30% cut to 15%.‬ ‪
  • Reduce the 15% discounted cut for subscriptions after 12 months to 10%.‬
    ‪* Allow apps to be installed from outside App Store (with something like Gatekeeper).‬ ‪
  • Keep Fortnite banned from the App Store.‬
Android

Does Google Remember Wear OS?

13th August 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

John Gruber, on his theory about Google being bored with Android:

Remember my theory that Google has grown bored with Android and doesn’t really care about it? That’s me talking about phones, which, in general, Google does care about insofar as they know that billions of people spend hours per day every day using them. With wearables Google never even cared in the first place, except for making goofy demo concepts like Google Glass. The customers who bought Wear OS devices care about them; the company that designed them clearly does not. If they cared, how could it be that you can’t listen to Google’s music platform on Google’s wearable platform?

He goes on to mention that it’s actually bad for the Apple ecosystem, since there’s no real competition. And even as someone who has stopped wearing an Apple Watch, I still agree that there is no real other worthy alternative.

I don’t think it’s just smartwatch market where Apple seems to be miles ahead of the competition as well. You just need to have a think about what the real options are for a tablet computer. Nothing else even comes close to iPad.

Furthermore, I think the problem is even bigger than just the smartwatch and tablet market. Because when you think about smartphones, there’s only two major players. Which means there’s no real need for innovation anymore, all you need to do is match and/or slightly out do the other player. I really want a third player to join the smartphone game, and have a real go at it. But then again, I can see why they wouldn’t. Apple and Google have both got massive head starts, and ecosystems already exist for both platforms. Sure, Android is bigger than just Google, and there are loads of companies creating their own Android phone. But that still doesn’t provide any real competition.

✏️

13th August 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

After quite a few days with >30° weather, I was pretty glad when the storms hit my town yesterday. However, not looking at the news coverage, I’m not sure everyone else felt the same way.

New Sofas!

8th August 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

I did a bit of redecorating in the living room this afternoon. Which mainly involved switching the covers on one of our two VIMLE sofas, from a mustard yellow, to a rich dark green. I must say it fits our theme pretty well, since the room features mainly grey, yellow, and green colours. Having a lot of plants also helps!

We moved in 18 months ago, and I’m starting to think the living room may actually be “done”.

Automation

Delaying My Washing With Shortcuts

6th August 2020 PERMALINK • 4 min read

A bit of a weird headline, I know. However, to be honest, this post was originally going to be a short aside, about myself being delighted with the delay function on my washing machine.

For content, I bought a house with my girlfriend a little over 18 months ago, and the seller left a perfectly functioning washing machine. It was always something we were thinking about replacing at some point in the future, especially when after a few months we noticed that it would occasionally leak water from the door. Probably just needed a new seal, but it was old anyway, and it didn’t fit the style in our kitchen anymore.

Luckily for us, a few weeks ago someone in my girlfriends family had a washing machine going spare (moving house), and it was in pretty good condition. So we gladly took it off their hands.

Fortunately for me, it had a delay function. I know it’s not advanced technology, I’ve seen what you can get for stupid amounts of money. But it’s enough to do the job for me.

The only issue I have with doing the laundry is that I always feel the need to do it at weird times. For example, it’s 22:00 and I’ve only just put a load of washing on. That’s not a problem in itself though, the issue is that I would prefer to have it freshly washed at a time where the sun is out and I am free to put it outside to dry. Right now, that time is around 12:30pm. Because that’s around the time I take my lunch break, and it means I can get it put in a few minutes, and it dries pretty quickly.

So by having a delay function, I’m able to be sporadically productive at weird times, put a load of washing in the machine, and set it to be ready for exactly when I need it. Except, the delay is exactly that, a period of time before the function starts, not a set time for it to run or finish by. Also, the precision is to an hour. So the only calculation I need to do is to work out the number of hours until noon the next day, and then subtract however long the wash duration is. Not exactly a hard calculation, but I’m lazy. So I came up with a needlessly complicated shortcut to do it for me.

If you’re expecting something minimal that just does the job, then look away now. This may look a mess, but it produces a pretty nice output.

You can check out a full size image of the shortcut, or download it straight away if you want to check it out. I’ll do my best to explain what’s going on, but it may bet easier to have a look yourself.

First of all, it asks for the time that I wish the washing to be ready. In most cases this will be 12:00, so that’s the default value. It then formats this time, so it can be used later in the format, and stores it in the Washing Time variable.

Afterwards, it calculates the time between the current date and time and the selected time (which by default uses the current date). It’s to check whether that time has already passed in the current day or not. If it has passed, then I must mean tomorrow, if not, then it’s today. I could simply prompt for input, but if I can save any interaction then I will.

If it determines that I must mean tomorrow, then it adds 1 day to the date stored in the Washing Time variable, and also sets a new variable called Today or Tomorrow to “tomorrow”.

If it’s for today, then the date stays the same, and Today or Tomorrow is set to “today”. This variable is nothing special, just a string that I use later on in the final message that appears. This if statement was just a good place to put it, to avoid duplicate logic.

Now it knows the date and time that the wash needs to be ready by, it also needs to take into consideration the duration of the wash. Similarly to the previous input, the most used wash on my washing machine is 76 minutes, so I put that as the default to make it easier.

That duration is subtracted from the earlier calculated wash time, this will be the time that the wash needs to start. It then calculates how minutes there are until that time.

That duration is now formatted into an Hour:Minute format. The minutes are first calculates using the modulus operation, and the hours are calculated by removing the aforementioned “minutes” value, and diving by 60.

There is a little if statement afterwards to check if the minutes value is less than 10. This is to make sure the minutes are always formatted as two digits. There could be a better way for this, but I know that this way works.

After calculating the delay needed, it wraps it into a friendly message with all the information I may or may not need.

Example: 🕰 The required delay for a 76 minute wash to finish today at 12:00 is 10:32 🧼


Now I’ve finished writing about this, it has occurred to me that I’ve blown this problem completely out of proportion. But it was fun, so who cares?

Washing Delay Calculator:

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