Google Minus
I suspect we’ll look back on Google+ as one of the worst strategic moves Google ever made. It has cost them dearly in talent, morale, and the quality of their other products.

Arment nails it — Google Plus was a huge gamble with all that he listed and more at stake. But that’s just it, Google had to make that gamble. It’s not like they could sit back and watch Facebook eat their lunch.

At face value, Google Plus seemed to be a pretty good alternative to Facebook, but in the end attempts at “differentiation”1 like Circles were more trouble than they were worth.

Again, all this is to say that Google had to try.

For their next attempt2 at a social network to be successful, Google will need to start with something more modest. Facebook began as a place to connect with other college kids, Twitter as a place to share 140 characters of plain text, and so on.

An average user won’t spend hours learning how a new service works only to find out it’s basically Facebook. After Google has sold users on a concise vision for a better social network, they can gradually inundate users with bloat, just like the rest — but no sooner.

  1. Or could it have been a genuine attempt at improving the sharing-privacy balance on social networks? 

  2. And don’t worry, they’re going to keep at this until something sticks. 

Sonora 2 Beta

I’ve been trying out the Sonora 2 Beta for a week or so and I can easily recommend it over iTunes.

Obviously, it’s not going to sync your iPhone or play iTunes Radio, but it does a stellar job at giving you easy access to your music without having to deal with all the iTunes cruft. 1

  1. I’ve been loving my new Retina Macbook Pro, but I’ve been disappointed that even after spending upwards of $2000 on a machine, that iTunes scrolling inexplicably lags. No such issue in Sonora. 

Beamer 2 Released

My friends over at Tupil just released a very nice update to their already great app, Beamer and I was lucky enough to receive an early review copy.

Beamer lets you stream any movie file from your Mac to your Apple TV. While you could definitely accomplish this for free with AirPlay mirroring, I’ve found a few main advantages to using a dedicated app like Beamer:

1. Not having to futz around with mirroring settings.

2. The ability to keep using your Mac as usual.

3. An uncanny support for just about any video file I throw at it.

4. Integration with the Apple TV remote.

If you’re interested, there’s some sort of a limited trial available —when that’s over it’s fifteen bucks and well worth it.

Paper for Reminders

The result of a Saturday morning messing around with AppleScript. I hope you like it! 

Saying Goodbye to AppStorm

As of December 31st, the AppStorm network of sites will no longer be updated. This is the end to around four years of publishing across six network sites. The decision was made after unsuccessful attempts to sell the network, despite its combined subscribership of around 160,000 people. While parent company Envato hasn’t yet confirmed this publicly, the email announcing this change was sent to the network’s writers yesterday.

I don’t usually post “breaking” news here, but I felt this story was worthy of an exception. Although I haven’t written for AppStorm since August, it was my first online paid writing gig as well as one of my favorite sites for app news.

As to why its shutting down, that’s a matter of speculation. My guess is this was just the result of Envato trying to trim the fat. Mac.AppStorm was great, but splitting resources between six different sites no doubt had an effect on the quality of them all. In the end - a few great things are always better than a bunch of okay ones and I think that’s a lesson Envato will be taking to heart with it’s Tuts+ and marketplace sites.

It’s been a great run for AppStorm and I wish their contributors nothing but the best in their future endeavors.

A Listmaking Trifecta

I’ve never been satisfied with any single to do list/note taking application. Every tool I try is either too much, too little, too ugly, or just plain bad. In the past couple of weeks, though, I’ve accidentally developed a “system” for managing my notes and to do lists - here’s what it looks like.

  • Reminders takes care of anything with a hard-and-fast due date or time.
  • The new Simplenote is something of a junk drawer with lists of ideas, places to go, recipies to try, and basically everything else. It’s also where I draft longer articles, but that’s for a different post.
  • Begin is the incoming star of my setup. I won’t go into too much detail on how it works, except to say that I use it exactly how the developer intended, which is rare.

All these apps are stored in a folder in my dock called “Do” and thanks to iOS 7, it feels incredibly smooth and natural to add a task in any of these apps.

In a poor attempt to minimize the apps on my phone, I used to try to consolidate these things into a single app. The reality is that it’s better to have three apps that each do one thing great than one app that does three alright.

The End of Oval Office Speeches

It’s all just speculation, but from the point of view of a casual observer, this seems pretty spot on. We’ll just have to wait for the tell-alll in a few years to know for certain, though.

The Ultimate Cable Box

After reading Nilay Patel’s glowing review of the TiVo Roamio Pro, I was struck by a few things:

  1. TiVo is still making actual products?

  2. They’re really good, too?

At $600, I’ll pass, but it’s exciting to see an honest effort at making a decent STB pay off.

"Cadillac Has a Vision"

The Coupe is amazing in it’s own right, but the convertible is one of the best looking cars I’ve ever seen - the rediscovery of the essence what made American cars so great in the 50’s and 60’s.

It’s a throwback to when “convertible” wasn’t almost exclusively synonymous with this and, not to mention, when Cadillac made some of the best cars in the world.