There hasn’t been an Apple event with leaks this bad for as long as I can remember.

The latest leaks published on 9to5mac have all but confirmed the look, names and functionality of the new iPhones which are due to be announced this coming Tuesday at Apple Park.

What’s most worrying from Apple’s perspective is that the majority of these leaks have come from Apple themselves, with their software being dug into by some talented people. 1

You have to admire the perseverance and skill of these guys in how they can dig into the software and paint a picture of what Apple are working on. But on the other hand it’s a shame to have all the excitement taken from the event.

Ultimately, it’s up to Apple to ensure that any pre-release software is as bulletproof as possible, which is easier said than done when you have this level of interest.

  1. Steve Troughton-Smith’s Twitter is basically the Bible on leaks. 

iOS 11 release date

Historical iOS GM release dates:

iOS Version Release Date Day of the week
iPhone OS 1 29th June 2007 Friday
iPhone OS 2 11th July 2008 Friday
iPhone OS 3 17th June 2009 Wednesday
iOS 4 21th June 2010 Monday
iOS 5 12th October 2011 Wednesday
iOS 6 19th September 2012 Wednesday
iOS 7 18th September 2013 Wednesday
iOS 8 17th September 2014 Wednesday
iOS 9 16th September 2015 Wednesday
iOS 10 13th September 2016 Tuesday

From iOS 5 onwards there is an obvious trend - midweek release in the third week of September. Based on that, and the move to Tuesday last year, I will go with Tuesday, September 12th as the release date for iOS 11.

Update - I was a week off. iOS 11 releases to the public on the 19th September.

Apple discontinues the iPod nano and iPod shuffle

Apple silently discontinued the iPod nano and iPod shuffle a few days ago. Although not entirely surprising 1 , it’s still worth noting the significance of this.

The nano was, and still is an excellent device. I still have a first generation one at home which despite being over eleven years old, wouldn’t look out of place today.

The shuffle is interesting in that it was the only music player in Apple’s lineup that was truly great for exercise. Until the Apple Watch fulfills a better role in health and fitness, there really isn’t any device now in the lineup that is portable and light enough to be comfortable to wear while running or in the gym.

The iPod touch hangs on as the last link to the iPod brand - but it’s unlikely to see any more significant updates as it slowly fades into history.

For all the nostalgia and admiration for these devices however, there is no getting away from the fact that the world has long moved on from the notion of syncing music to a device using a computer, and that is really what killed these iPods.

  1. The nano has not seen an update since 2012, while the last update to the shuffle dates back to 2010. 

How Apple created Nintendo’s best console

Dan Masters:

Apple has always had a rocky relationship with gaming. They have historically paid little attention to gaming — most notably on the Mac. However, post-iPhone they demonstrated an apparent newfound commitment to games by seemingly devoting significant resources and attention to it each year.

However, this would turn out to be a mirage, as they iterated very little and hardly encouraged developer adoption — instead taking the “Build it and they’ll come because we’re Apple” approach.

Gaming is an area that Apple have gone backwards in on iOS. In the early days of the App Store, games were more ambitious and increasingly got more in line with console games. Compare that to today, where casual fremium games dominate the top grossing charts, and it’s clear to see that the App Store hasn’t become the thriving gaming platform to rival consoles that would be suggested all those years back.

Game Center is something that I was excited about when it was first released. The idea of having a rival to PSN and Xbox Live was on iOS showed that Apple were serious about iOS as a gaming platform. Save for one update, Game Center never got any real attention from Apple and it has slowly but surely slid into obscurity.

iPhones and iPads have become real computing powerhouses. Imagine what a gaming company could produce if they could justify spending big money on a project for mobile platforms. I hope that the addition of ARKit which was announced at WWDC, points towards a revival of gaming on iOS.

A favorite hack

‘Underscore’ David Smith:

First, the back story. During the introduction of iOS 7 one of the random side effects of the wide reaching changes to the iOS user interface was that app icon badges started to get truncated whenever they got above 4 digits long.

At first, I thought I’d have to remove the feature in iOS 7, until one fateful afternoon (while taking a shower, of course) I had the insight that I might be able to work around this. My realization was that the numbers were getting truncated based on their displayed width and not their digit count. Thus a number with a lot of 1s in it would not get truncated because the 1s are so thin, whereas a number with a lot of 4s in it would be truncated because they render much wider.

Cool little hack. There’s something comforting about knowing that even the most experienced developers sometimes use hacks like these to get their work done!

From Jekyll To Ghost

Roger Stringer, on his motivation for switching his blog from Jekyll to Ghost:

This blog tends to move engines every few years, WordPress, Second Crack, back to WordPress, over to Camel, then Jekyll and now nearly two years later, Ghost.

Ghost fits my current writing style, it’s markdown, and I can open it in any browser (or the desktop app) and just write, then publish.

With Jekyll, I’d either write on GitHub, or use an app, or use write locally and then push to GitHub, which was fine, but not as smooth as I liked it.

After using Ghost to write heavily with Coded Geekery (my other slightly more opinionated blog), I just like that flow better, so I made the switch.

I always find it interesting to see other bloggers opinions on the technology that runs their sites. When I first created this site, I was actually following a tutorial from Roger on how to set up a blog powered by Camel and hosted on Heroku. Fast forward almost two years, and we have both moved on from Camel to Jekyll, and now Roger has changed once again to Ghost.

For me, Jekyll and GitHub Pages still fulfill any needs I have for this site, and I hope they will for a long time to come, but the beauty of self publishing is that the content is yours. The freedom of being able to move to any other technologies is great, and something that is sorely missed if you look to the like of Medium, Twitter, Facebook, or most other publishing platforms.

App sizes

There have been a few articles floating around recently highlighting the increases in app size over the past few years. 1 In another article around the issue, Matt Birchler done some investigating by looking into the app sizes as displayed in the App Store vs. the actual download performed during an update:

There is quite a range between an app’s advertised size and how much data is actually transferred when you update said app. Twitter had the largest discrepancy, showing 122 MB as the app size, but downloading less than 1 MB to perform its update. Clearly the update Twitter rolled out had more impact from delta updates to thin out their update size, and the same is true of Target and Nokia Health Mate, both of which are around 100 MB total, but each downloaded just over 1 MB for their updates.

He further singles out Facebook as a culprit for large updates:

The Facebook app is advertised as being a whopping 251 MB app, and I don’t know what the update size is, but it was over 100 MB. Has Facebook changed so much in the past 3 days since an update that it needed to replace over 40% of its code?

Facebook bring updates to their app at least once every fortnight, complete with highly informative release notes:

Facebook app release notes
Would it kill Facebook to put a bit more effort into these?

If apps continue this trend of eating memory, then the long awaited increase in base storage size on our devices will soon hit a new wall. Not to mention the data usage behind all of this. If you don’t have an unlimited internet plan then forget it - updating your apps these days means you very likely have a few hundred megabytes to download, and it’s the most popular social networks that are the biggest culprits.

Whatever the solution to this problem is, be it delta updates, app thinning or something even more clever, I hope it’s on the horizon sooner rather than later.

  1. Most notably, these two on Daring Fireball, and this one from Sensor Tower. 

Turn it up to 11

You have to hand it to Apple. This has been their best year yet - by a comfortable margin - when it comes to keeping leaks to a minimum. Previous years, we have basically known each and every new feature of iOS with maybe one or two reasonably big surprises. It’s testament to the MacStories team (and Apple) that their concept video of iOS 11 on iPad has proved to be the most accurate pre-WWDC article regarding iOS 11.

Control Center has finally got the update that we’ve all been waiting for: customization. For me, this is the biggest change that iOS 11 will bring to iPhone; in what is clearly an iPad focused update.

iOS 11 Control Center

Control Center has been crying out for an update like this since it was introduced in iOS 7 and I’m glad to see it here. The jury is still out on the design, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of getting used to it. Plus - there’s more than likely going to be a few revisions of this over the summer in the beta run.

Another change of note is a new “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode which operates similarly to the current Do Not Disturb mode by silencing notifications and keeping the screen from waking, but also can send a message automatically to someone to let them know you can’t reply right now, and uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to detect when you are driving.

Add in some design changes to apps, most notably the App Store, Minor Siri improvements and Photos enhancements, and you have a relatively small feature update to iPhone.

The real winner this year is iPad, thanks to three main features: Files, Dock and Drag & Drop.

Dock & Multitasking

iOS 11 App Switcher

This works similar to the dock on macOS. Apps and folders can be added in any order, and interestingly don’t show their names once in the dock. A swipe up from any screen reveals the dock, where you can quickly jump between apps in an instant, not unlike alt-tab/command-tab. Drag an app from the dock and it will allow you to use it in its own window, or drag further to snap to either side of the screen.

Drag up further from the dock to enter the new multitasking screen, which bears a strong resemblance to Mission Control on macOS. Apps can be grouped together and selected from this screen, similar to Spaces on macOS (noticing a theme here?). Control Center is also accessible from this screen.

Files & Drag/Drop

You might laugh when you see that one of the biggest changes that people are talking about with iOS 11 is the addition of a file system, but the situation with files on iOS prior to this was so bad that deserves every bit of the spotlight as all of the other new features. The new “Files” app works just as you’d expect it to. Files can be managed into folders, can be tagged, moved and organized any way that you want. Cloud services such as Dropbox can also be accessed here just like on a PC or Mac.

Drag and Drop again works just as you would expect. You can now drag links, text, photos and videos and drop them into another application. What used to be an awkward - sometimes impossible task - on iOS, is now even more natural than what we have been using all this time on our computers.

The year of iPad

It’s interesting that the majority of the big features added for iPad this year are basically a rehash of features that have been on our computers for years, if not decades. I see no issue with that. The original vision for the iPad was to be the ultimate portable consumption device. A lot has changed in the past 8 odd years, and people are demanding more of the iPad.

As more and more professional features and applications come to iPad, it’s suddenly becoming a lot easier to see the argument that the iPad is the future of computing.

WWDC 2017: Here’s hoping

Solid list of WWDC wishes from Jason Snell on SixColors. I’d go along with his predictions/wishes here and throw one more in along with it (which I also hoped for last year) - system wide dark mode on iOS/Mac OS.