Crossy Road

Jason Snell writes about a new-to-me game for iOS, Crossy Road:

Crossy Road is a free iOS game that’s inspired by Frogger. You’re a creature (many are available, some for free, some via in-app purchase, though so far as I can tell none of the creatures actually affects gameplay) jumping across lanes of traffic, railroad tracks, treacherous waters, and the like. Eventually you get run over. Your point total is the number of spaces forward that you’ve advanced.

I saw Jason’s post this afternoon, and downloaded it right away for my iPad Air. The game is so good: fun, addicting — and accessible. I need to try it on my iPhone, but so far I’m very impressed by Crossy Road.

Check it out.

‘The Executive Action That Tore a Nation Apart’

Andrew Prokop, writing for Vox, tells the story of when FDR tried to move Thanksgiving:

Since the late 19th century, Thanksgiving had traditionally been celebrated on the final Thursday in November. But in 1939, Roosevelt’s seventh year in office, that last Thursday fell on November 30. And that left a mere 24 days of shopping time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Retailers believed this would lead to less money spent on holiday gifts, and would therefore hurt the economy (and, of course, their own bottom lines). The solution seemed obvious — the date should be moved one week earlier, to Thursday, November 23. Roosevelt agreed, and announced on August 15, 1939, that he would do just that, with an executive proclamation.

[…]

At the end of 1941, Congress passed, and Roosevelt signed, a joint resolution setting Thanksgiving as not the final but the fourth Thursday in November. Essentially, that means that Thanksgiving will fall between November 22 and 28 — never on the month’s last two days. The new law struck a sensible balance between the business interests of retailers and Americans’ beliefs that Thanksgiving shouldn’t be too early, and it has lasted ever since.

If President Obama tried doing this today, Republicans would move to impeach him.

‘Darren Wilson’s Story Is Unbelivable’

Ezra Klein, writing for Vox:

[O]n Monday night, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch released the evidence given to the grand jury, including the interview police did with Wilson in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. And so we got to read, for the first time, Wilson’s full, immediate account of his altercation with Brown.

And it is unbelievable.

I mean that in the literal sense of the term: “difficult or impossible to believe.” But I want to be clear here. I’m not saying Wilson is lying. I’m not saying his testimony is false. I am saying that the events, as he describes them, are simply bizarre. His story is difficult to believe.

(via John Gruber)

‘Of Course It Won’t’

Marco Arment, commenting on the news that Twitter’s new search API will be off-limits to third-party clients:

This is just the next step in killing third-party apps. Twitter doesn’t have the guts to just end them outright, so they’re just gradually inflicting passive-aggressive wounds over time to quietly shove them into the sunset.

We’re all just one compelling feature away from leaving our third-party apps on our own. For some of us, this full-archive search will be that feature. What’s next remains to be seen — I suspect direct-message enhancements may be — but I bet third-party clients will lose half of their users within two years without Twitter ever having to explicitly kill them.

More and more people I know and talk to on Twitter use the first-party, official client — and for good reason(s). I’ve long been a diehard Tweetbot user, but Marco’s sentiments are right on: Twitter wants apps like Tweetbot (and Twitterrific) to die.

I love Tweetbot, but maybe it’s time to see what the future (read: Twitter for iOS) inevitably looks like.

‘San Francisco Public Defecation Map Highlights a Shitty Situation’

Steve Dent, writing for Engadget:

As far as serious interactive maps go, Human Wasteland is one of the strangest we’ve seen. Created by civil-engineer-turned-web-developer Jennifer Wong, the project plots human excrement “incidents” reported by the public to SF311. Her project won a hacking contest put on by real estate site Zillow, an ironic honor considering the city’s contentious housing issues. The highest concentration of crap is at a downtown alley next to the financial district, right in a high-traffic area frequented by tourists.

No real threat of poop here in the Richmond district, thankfully.

On Apple’s Manufacturing Scale

Ben Einstein, “No, You Can’t Manufacture That Like Apple Does”:

What happened when Apple wanted to CNC machine a million MacBook bodies a year? They bought 10k CNC machines to do it. How about when they wanted to laser drill holes in MacBook Pros for the sleep light but only one company made a machine that could drill those 20 µm holes in aluminum? It bought the company that made the machines and took all the inventory. And that time when they needed batteries to fit into a tiny machined housing but no manufacturer was willing to make batteries so thin? Apple made their own battery cells. From scratch.

I’m continually amazed at the lengths Apple goes to in order to do what they want — and the scale at which they do it. I’m admittedly tired of Tim Cook’s “Only Apple” meme, but in this case, it’s absolutely appropriate. No one else in the industry has the ken to hoard CNC machines or the world’s supply of sapphire. This is why Apple’s industrial design is second to none.

(via The Loop)

Jason Snell’s iPad Air 2 Review

As usual with all of his reviews, Jason offers an excellent take:

[W]hen I look at the power that Apple’s dropped into the iPad Air 2, I’m convinced that the use of iPads as everyday tools will just keep on growing. These devices are in their infancy; the iPad has existed for less than five years, and is now on its sixth generation. They’ve come a long way, and in some ways the software hasn’t really kept up with the hardware.

A device this powerful deserves software that takes advantage of it, and every time I try to use a professional tool with my iPad I end up getting frustrated at how much slower the touch interactions are than just using an old-fashioned keyboard and mouse on my Mac. For the iPad to truly be a productivity tool, it needs to allow me to be roughly as productive as I can be on my Mac—and right now for most of my uses it’s just not. The hardware is willing, but the software is (in many cases) still too weak.

I’m very happy with last year’s, still-for-sale iPad Air, but the Air 2 seems like a helluva device.

More on Native Versus Web

MG Siegler chimes in with his thoughts on the “Web is dead” meme:

Anyway, the web isn’t dead, it continues to flourish with millons of new wonders sprouting up each day. What’s odd is that we’re perhaps no longer using a web browser as much to view these contents. And that’s because we’re increasingly mobile, and native apps provide a better experience and more functionality.

Also, I think the concept of “browsing” the web is different than it used to be. Again, apps have altered this. Content is now just as often pushed to us rather than us pulling it from the web. This isn’t better or worse, it’s just different. A mobile-focused experience for a mobile computing time.

Native Versus Web

John Gruber, “Native Apps Are Part of the Web”:

Users love apps, developers love apps — the only people who don’t love apps are pundits who don’t understand that apps aren’t really in opposition to the open Internet. They’re just superior clients to open Internet services. Instagram didn’t even have a web interface for years, but native app clients for iOS and Android didn’t lock Instagram into anything. Their back-end is just as open as it would have been if they had only had a web browser client interface. They just wouldn’t have gotten popular.

[…]

It’s just a conceptual simplification. Instead of a web app running inside a browser running as an app inside an OS (three levels of abstraction), we just have apps running within an OS (two levels). Simpler, easier, more elegant.

While, as Gruber rightly points out, there are plenty of good (even great) Web apps — I would cite what Apple’s done with iCloud.com as a good example — the truth is that native apps are part of the same Internet. It’s just that, I think, native apps offer superior experiences and functionality — and in this mobile-first, always-on-the-go world of ours, experience is what really matters.

CurrentC in a Nutshell

Ken Segall, "CurrentC vs. Apple Pay: The Battle of Greed vs. Convenience":

CurrentC isn’t a savings plan for customers — it’s a new profit center for retailers, with a candy-colored shell to help it go down smoother.