Looking Back And Forward On The Backlog

When I was a kid in the 80s and Nintendo became a thing, I knew I wanted to be part of that. Video games were cool. I first had an Atari 2600 and a small set of games that my Dad bought at a yard sale. I think the Atari cartridges sold for $0.25 each. They were arcade-style games — mostly without any real stories — and relied on quick reflexes. I didn’t play them to beat the game or finish a story. I played just to play. And show off a high score in Pac-Man.

One day, I got a Nintendo Entertainment System. Now I was playing with power! The games were a bit more advanced than Atari’s, but I still played for the gameplay experience and not so much to beat a game or finish one. That said, thanks to the Konami code, I managed to totally beat Contra. I think that was my first game I ever beat.

Since video games cost a lot of money and, as a kid, I had the opposite of a lot of money, I didn’t have many games. Back then, I would get one or two a year for Christmas or my birthday. The other games I had were temporary, rented from the local video store. Sometimes I’d play my friends’ games. True story: I pretended to be sick one day in middle school so I could stay home and play my friend’s GameBoy that I had borrowed. I played Tetris for hours.

In those days, there was no backlog. I had few games and a lot of time to play them several times over. I don’t know that backlogs were a thing for anyone back then, but I could be wrong.

Over the years, consoles and games grew in complexity. I got into RPGs with Final Fantasy III (SNES), finding for the first time a game that would last me months to play through. Having a huge story be front and center made finishing the game not just a cool way to brag to my buddies, but it was essential. You can’t NOT finish a sprawling narrative arc and leave the entire game’s world and characters hanging onto life by a thread. I had to save the world. So I did. Besides, those Espers were so dang cool. And Kefka was so bad.

Now that I’m an adult with full-time income (so grateful now after recently being furloughed), I can afford to buy my own video games for myself (and my kids). So these days, yes, I do have a backlog. It’s not huge, but it has hefty sized RPGs on it. In terms of gameplay hours, it’s…epic. I’ll likely be building up the backlog with new unplayed games indefinitely.

Before, there was no backlog. Now, there is always a backlog.

I don’t mind. There’s much gaming to eagerly anticipate. That’s fine as long as I don’t let it distract me from staying immersed in whatever game(s) I’m currently playing. On that note, I finally finished Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch on Sunday. Final clock time was 71:11. I’m now also closer to completing Fantasian. I want to finish some other ongoing games too, like Link’s Awakening and Octopath Traveler. But I’ve got a new epic RPG to dive into soon, Tales of Vesperia.

I would feel better about my backlog since I’m moving the Tales game out of it, but yesterday I added yet another massive JRPG to it, Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition. The title alone is hours-long! Well, one game out, one game in. Fun times.

The Mac Gets Mobile

Apple did their annual thing last week where they announced a bunch of cool new stuff. It’s aimed at developers – which I am not – but gives hints for consumers down the road. Having been an Apple consumer, and being a tech-geek in general, I checked out some of the new stuff from WWDC 2020. And do you know what? I think Apple is about to sell a lot more Macs.


The Mac

The Mac is becoming more like the iPad in look and feel, getting iOS apps to run directly on it – this is big news!

The Mac was a pro computer back in the day, more niche than mainstream. But over time, it became popular with average consumers thanks to the iPhone’s halo effect.

Now this turn from OS X to OS 11 signals a more intentional push towards those same consumers. The Mac, as it was known, is fading away. Commence funeral for OS X.


The last Mac I owned was a 2009 MacBook running OS X Mountain Lion (bought used in 2012). I had longed for a Mac ever since I got my first iPod touch. But there was one thing in particular that struck me about Mountain Lion, which made me determined to get one: it gained iPad/iPhone apps!

At that time, I had a first-gen iPad. And the Mac was going to get Mac versions of iPad apps: Reminders, Notes, and iMessage! When I saw that, I knew I had to get a Mac.

Here we are 8 years later, and the Mac continues to gain iOS looks and features. But instead of Mac versions or emulated apps, OX 11 gets the actual iOS apps themselves, running natively. The more I think about this, the more game changing it seems. Initiate game-changing sequence.


Software Sells Hardware

All the apps you want to use are mobile apps on your phone. Now those same apps will be on the Mac. I believe that’s going to sell a lot more Macs!

The Apple brand is already aspirational, prestigious – a status symbol. Yet I think iPhone apps on the Mac will make it even more broadly appealing.

On top of that, I think developers are going to find new ways to leverage iPhone apps to run on both the iPhone and the Mac in such a way that the Mac instance will have extra features and an optimized interface. In other words, this is going to reinvigorate Mac development and thus the Mac itself. Queue Mac sales. 


Android Apps On Chrome OS

This has happened already on the Google side. A few years ago, Chromebooks, once thought to only run Chrome, gained the Google Play Store, full of Android apps. Suddenly, a Chromebook could run more than just web apps; it gained mobile apps.

Of course, how well the app amalgamation is executed is crucial. It took a couple years for the ChromeOS/Android mash-up to smooth out. It’s not perfect, but it works.

A Chromebook and Android phone are my everyday devices. The core ChromeOS experience is untarnished by the addition of the Google Play Store and Android apps. The way I see it, Android apps are simply a bonus to the system.

I opt for web apps in the browser first and foremost. If there’s something lacking, then I look for a solution in the Google Play Store. So 95% of what I use is web native, the other 5% is picked up by Android apps. The few Android apps on my Chromebook offer a better experience than their web counterparts. Having this option is nice! 


Mac With Mobile

Likewise, mobile apps will benefit the Mac. But I think iPhone apps will become more than just a bonus. Due to Apple’s tight integration of their hardware and software, the latest developer efforts make the Mac poised for more powerful and integral iPhone/Mac apps.

Looked at another way, a capable full-fledged Mac app will be a super-powered version of an iPhone app, and the iPhone version of that Mac app will be a simplified mobile instance with its core functionality.


The Big Picture

Apple’s stuff in general is very good. I was all-in before. Their ecosystem of integrated hardware and software sets the standard. I’ve used all of Apple’s native first-party apps on iPhone and iPad with iCloud as the backbone. I used their media services: Apple Music, Apple Books, Apple News, etc.

These days I’m all-in with Google. It’s a great ecosystem of web apps that run on ChromeOS and Android. As much as I like my Android phone apps being available on my Chromebook with a touch-screen, I see advantages to iPhone apps on a Mac.

WWDC 2020 has caused me to take another look outside my Google camp. When I survey the whole of Apple’s ecosystem, it is compelling. The way Apple software and hardware compliments each other across devices is impressive. But Apple is not without its flaws and costs.

Whether I ever switch back to Apple is anyone’s guess. And in any case, Apple’s future looks shiny with the advent of iOS apps on the Mac.

This new era of the Mac is one to keep an eye on.


What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

Defaulting To Android

Fewer Restrictions

Well, guess what? You might finally be able to automatically have your iPhone just open links in the Firefox or Chrome web browser – what a feature! The Verge published a great editorial about potential changes coming to iPhones; Apple may actually loosen their third-party app restrictions. Well, at least maybe a little bit. I’m already looking forward to enjoying any third-party app or feature by default. But it won’t be on Apple’s device. I’ve already decided to trade my iPhone for an Android phone.


Freedom Should Be Default

The Verge article linked above was a nice balanced piece, citing specific details as to what you, the user, can or cannot do on an iPhone. It also included examples of some of the freedom you have outside of Apple’s “walled garden.” That digital freedom is what I’m anticipating.

Veteran Apple writer at Daring Fireball, John Gruber, supports iOS becoming more flexible, which may suggest these changes, to some extent, are indeed in the works.

Although Google may be under much scrutiny for antitrust practices and the like, they at least have allowed Android to be open to third-party developers in ways far more flexible than Apple’s iOS platform. Even though the Chrome browser is pre-installed on Android, you can easily install Firefox, for example, and do the thing iOS has never allowed: make Firefox the default web browser.

There’s another example I’m eager to embrace. This one is far more personal to me. My chosen eReader and eBook supplier for years has been the de facto standard: kindle. And I’ve been shopping online at Amazon since at least 2004! But to this day, I can’t simply buy a kindle ebook in the kindle app on my iPhone. I can’t even buy it in the Amazon app! Instead, I must open the web browser, navigate to Amazon.com, login, and buy the ebook there.

Photo by Finn Hackshaw on Unsplash

And I’ve done this plenty of times. Apple’s restrictions or overbearing rules are not preventing me from buying an eBook outside of their own Apple Books app. And it’s not making me relent and switch to Apple Books for the sake of convenience. Instead, it causes me frustration. Whether Apple blocks eBook purchases in other apps or levies a tax that Amazon refuses to submit to, the result is the same. I, the average user, get dismayed (not delighted).


Future For Android

It may seem like a small thing to some. But it’s one of the little details that I’m very eager for. I can’t wait to open the kindle app on my future Android phone and just buy a book, right in the kindle app, without any roadblocks. Talk about delighting the user. So simple.

What else? How about having Google Assistant as default instead of Siri?! Seriously, there have been surveys or reports…Google Assistant is objectively better than Siri overall. And in my personal experience, I definitely find this to be consistent.

I could elaborate, but I think you get the idea. Maybe Apple opens up a bit, maybe they don’t. No worries. I’m movin on to Android where openness has been established. (Yeah, “open” to some triggers feelings of “insecure” or “not private”…maybe I’ll blog about that in another post.)


What do you think? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Apple Makes iPad Awesomer Than Awesome

This week, you might have heard, was kinda like Christmas for Apple developers and fans. The WWDC19 Keynote overflowed with new and improved features, making splashes all over the tech-plane. I’ve tried to read and watch bits and pieces of the news here and there; it’s too much deluge of delight for this geek.


I first thought I’d write about my overall impressions. But it was like I could do that in a simple tweet: “Wow! [Insert more superlatives]”

Then I thought I would focus on my top three favorite features announced in the keynote. It would even make for a good headline, something like, “These Top Three Things Are The Best!”

But I couldn’t focus or settle enough to write those. Besides being overwhelmed by the gaggle of gadget goodies from Apple, I’ve been swamped by projects both at my day job and at home1. So my blogging took a backseat behind other busy-ness driving me this week.

Now, squeezing in some time, I decided to just go random about some stuff from WWDC.


iOS 13 and iPadOS

Apple Books

Recently, I started to switch from kindle (gasp!) to Apple Books on my iPad. But one sticky part was goodreads. I use its annual reading goal feature, plus the reading progress updates, and it’s built-into kindle. This makes switching kinda hard.

But Apple said their Books app would now feature reading goals – with streaks!!2 So this helps me get unstuck from goodreads. From Apple’s website:

Read a book or listen to an audiobook for five minutes while in line for coffee, on your commute, or before bed to achieve your Daily Reading Goal. Build streaks to celebrate your achievements and share books you’ve finished with the Books Read this Year collection.

Files

The Files app got lots of attention and super good upgrades. A practical one for me: Document Scanner! Now I don’t need to use the Notes app to scan something like a receipt and then share it out to the Files app.

Apple’s site:

Create a digital copy of physical documents and put them directly in the location where you want to store them.

Safari

Um, yeah, this is gonna be great! Desktop-class browsing. There’s your tweet. ‘Nuff said.

Dark Mode

Because I’m Batman!3 iOS now comes in black! This is practical for night-time usage. Also, it looks flippin’ cool! I love the way colors pop or seem to glow from the screen with the inky background.

Apple Single Sign-On

This might be one of the biggest game-changers of all. I’m very interested in how this will work out, but it looks like Apple has set it up well. Of course.

Apple:

Sign in to apps and websites quickly and easily using the Apple ID you already have. No filling out forms or creating new passwords. Just tap Sign In with Apple, use Face ID or Touch ID, and you’re all set.

Photos

This one could be huge for me, and for everyone! I’m eager to see how the all new photos tab works with my own pictures. And without a doubt, I’m so glad they finally brought some more advanced photo editing tools to iPhone and iPad.

Here’s a quick list a just a few:

  • Vibrance
  • White Balance
  • Sharpen
  • Definition
  • Noise Reduction
  • Vignette

Maps

We finally get the equivalent to Google’s Street View feature! Apple calls it, “Look Around.” And it looked great in the demo from WWDC! Plus, you can now have Collections and Favorites for your favorite places. Very helpful! Also, “Share ETA.” This sounds like one of those details that Apple notices and makes it work great.

Reminders

Apple has totally redone the Reminders/Tasks/To-Dos app, and I’m super eager to try it and enjoy relying on it more than the current version. It looks like a solid upgrade, making it easier to use and adding better features.

Mail

Multi-colored flags! It’s the little things.

Notes

This app finally gets sub-folders! Great, but now that I’m doing all my notes in Ulysses…

Contacts and Memoji

It sounds like I will be able to make my own Memoji and use sticker packs even though my iPhone 7 does not have the 3D face camera. If true, that’s exciting!


I’d better end things here. There’s just so much that Apple is launching this year. It almost seems like two years worth of new stuff unloaded all at once.

There is at least one more thing from WWDC19 that I want to talk about, and I think it’s worth it’s own blog post. Look for that to come soon.


Were you overwhelmed by Apple’s announcements, or were you oblivious? What do you think? Comment below or message me. Thanks for reading!

  1. I’ve been adding a half-bath in our house, and it’s kinda consumed my brain’s CPU cycles.
  2. Yes, I calculated that sentence deserved two whole entire exclamation points. One for goals, the other for streaks.
  3. Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman, then be Batman. Or so the saying goes.

Missing iPad App Beyond Bonkers

Today, Apple did a thing. It was huge, with tons of little things in it. Like, my brain can’t take it all in. And they didn’t do only small things; they did big things. Pretty much, all the things, Apple did them. They called it WWDC19.


This post is short; I could try to talk about many of the new and improved things Apple did at the WWDC19 keynote today. But, for now, I will just mention this one little teeny tiny omission.

The Calculator app on iPhone did not make it onto iPad.

Is it hyperbolic to think, as my post title suggests, that the simple Calc app should be a default app on the iPad? I don’t think so.

If there were any remaining doubts that the iPad is a computer, today Apple annihilated those with iPadOS.1 And being a computer, the iPad performs calculations. Plus, it’s a super-user-friendly machine. So…a simple calculator app just fits.2

Maybe I’m being obtuse about this whole missing app business. But, in my defense, look, the Apple Watch, with the new watchOS announced today, is getting the Calculator app! So why not the iPad!? Are you kidding me?


Anyways, I’ll cut Apple some slack here. They were busy making the new Mac Pro insane with teraflops. Maybe the next iPadOS will introduce the long-awaited Calculator.


Do you miss the Calculator app on iPad? How about the still missing Weather app?? Comment below or message me. Thanks for reading!

  1. Just look at the more capable Files app for starters.
  2. I must still resort to a third-party calculator app.