WWDC 2013: My prediction roundup


With the WWDC keynote happening later today (instructions to watch it are here), this is as good a time as any to look at my recent Apple predictions. Fortunately, I wised up and started labeling with “Prediction:” on Twitter, and Twitter lets us download our full history, so my predictions are pretty easy to find. Here are my recent predictions that could come true at WWDC 2013.


  • Prediction: In less than a year, we’ll will forget Apple Maps was mediocre at launch, and wonder why it took them so long to make their own.
  • Prediction: iOS7 will drop August 2013 (ahead of iPhone 5S), will be a drastic improvement, including a possible overhaul of the entire UI.
  • PREDICTION: Third-party apps are coming to Apple TV in 2013. Multi-media, games, new app categories – this will be a game-changer.

Apple Maps

This was from September 2012, so I still have a few months. That said, Apple Maps has improved quite a bit, but is still not stellar. For my original prediction to come true, I really need iOS 7 (which is now all but confirmed) to include a major update to Maps. On one hand, this seems inevitable, but on the other hand it seems like Apple is throwing maximum resources at a UI redesign, so maybe they don’t currently have resources for the under-the-hood improvements needed to bring Apple Maps up to par with Google’s offering.

iOS 7 overhaul

Also from September 2012, this one is more or less a lock and doesn’t seem like much of a prediction at all, but the context is important here: Last September, iOS 6 was still fresh (released on September 19), Scott Forestall was still at the iOS helm, and there was no sign of a major redesign in the offing. iOS had looked the same since its initial release, five years earlier, and the look and feel seemed to be fully entrenched, with Apple adding more skeuomorphic touches over time.

But then Scott Forestall left in late October, and Jony Ive was given oversight of Human Interface design, sending a strong signal that Apple would redesign iOS this year. This is a substantial change: I don’t recall anyone predicting that Forestall would be out, and Ive would take this type of role. But once it happened, a substantially redesigned iOS 7 was virtually inevitable.

Third-party apps for Apple TV

Fast-forward to 2013, and I’m predicting Apple TV will support third-party apps this year. To be fair, I’ve basically made this same prediction every year since 2009 (implicitly in 2009, took 2010 off, 2011, 2012, 2013), so this isn’t an unusual prediction for me to make. But Tim Cook teased “exciting new product categories” on the previous Apple quarterly earnings call, so maybe this is finally happening. Seems like the most likely new categories are TV and wearable tech.

The thing I’m most excited about is the iOS 7 update. I can’t wait to see an iOS 7 demo.

Some stuff I got wrong last year

In the interest of full disclosure, these are two predictions I made that ended up being way off base. Those came and went a while ago, but they signal a pretty big shift in Apple’s release strategy. That change makes it tough for me to feel good about hardware releases, which is why I don’t have any hardware-related predictions for WWDC 2013. I don’t understand what Apple is doing with hardware release cycles, so I don’t feel good about making those predictions right now.

That said, I had a sneaking suspicion that I was going to be super wrong (this is one of several “I could be very wrong” tweets I sent leading up to the iPad mini announcement last fall):

Sometimes you eat the bear…

Make Better Hashtags With Camel Case

There you are, casually perusing Twitter, when all of a sudden you’re forced to decode a jumble of letters–you’ve run into a garbled hashtag. “I don’t even like word jumbles!”, you shout at your poor, startled roommate, who fell asleep on the couch watching Mythbusters re-runs again.

You didn’t sign up for this, right? You’re only messing around online because you’re procrastinating on a paper that’s due in 12 hours–you’re trying to avoid thinking hard about words and letters and English. No, it’s not fair that the Internet gave you this hashtag to decode, but there’s nothing you can do about it now. You just have to soldier on, decode that sucker, feel that twinge of disappointment when the effort isn’t worth it, and move on to the next Tweet.

But you can do something to help future generations: start using Camel Case for your hashtags, and maybe the change you make in the world will boomerang and make your life better in the future. I took to Twitter on Valentine’s Day to try and get the word out:

Camel Case is a way to write human-readable, multi-word strings sans spaces and special characters. Basically, you capitalize the first letter of each new word in the string, so you can see the individual words at a glance. It’s been around for a long time in computer programming and chemistry, whose taxonomies involve long, continuous strings of words and individual characters. Most user-facing applications and interfaces don’t need Camel Case because they’re usually pretty comfortable with spaces–they’re designed to be human-facing, human-readable interfaces–but you may have seen Camel Case in online usernames (“FrankTheTank”) and a few other places.

Aside from usernames, the most common user-facing, non-spaces, multi-word user interface element is probably the hashtag. But for some reason, people haven’t adopted Camel Case for their hashtags. The result is that hashtags are as much of a nuisance as a tool. But they don’t have to be! Here are some examples of hashtags with and without Camel Case:


  • #followfriday
  • #justsayin
  • #nofilter
  • #happybirthdayjosh

WithCamelCase 1

  • #FollowFriday
  • #JustSayin
  • #NoFilter
  • #HappyBirthdayJosh

See how much easier it is to read the Camel Case hashtags? The Camel Case hashtags are still clumped up, but at least we immediately know where their words begin and end, making it a lot easier for us to process and decode them.

So, do yourself and everyone else a favor and use Camel Case for your hashtags. Your followers will thank you.


My weird battlemodo with Gizmodo about sharing ShareAppeal

Gizmodo does a feature called “Chatroom” where they post a question and ask readers to weigh in with their opinions, insight or whatever. I was recently browsing Gizmodo when I saw a Chatroom feature entitled: “How Do You Share Links Between Devices?

It turns out I spent about a year building a thing called ShareAppeal, which can be described as “a way to share links between devices”. I thought, “Hey! What are the odds that Gizmodo would ask a question, and my answer would be, ‘I actually built a web app specifically to do that thing!’?” Not only that, but it was a Chatroom, so the whole idea was to get people to chime in and tell other readers (and Gizmodo) their solutions to this problem. Serendipity: I had a great answer to Gizmodo’s question and I could tell people about ShareAppeal, and the people I would be telling have to be interested in what ShareAppeal does because they’re reading comments on a post about what ShareAppeal does. Everybody wins!

Not so fast! I hadn’t registered for Gizmodo because I basically don’t comment on posts on any site. I’m more of a grazer and not one to dig in and leave comments. I occasionally comment on something, but it’s really, really rare. So I registered for an account, linked it to my Twitter account, and viola!, I could leave a comment:

I actually created a web app (ShareAppeal.com) specifically to facilitate link sharing. Each user has a reading list. Mutual followers can share links directly to each others’ reading lists, comment on links, save others’ links to their own reading list. It also integrates with Twitter to pull in links from my feed, so they’re easier to find and save for later.

It’s come in handy for me and my friends.

I tried to give a summary of what it does without being too spammy, and avoided any kind of “call to action”. I hit “reply” and let it fly.

Then I waited a while. Since I had just registered for a new account, I figured maybe it took time for the account to get verified or something. After some hours, it still wasn’t showing up as a comment on the Chatroom, so I reached out to Gawker Media Support 1:

I added a comment to this post several hours ago, and it’s not showing up. I can see it when I’m signed in, but not when I’m signed out. Did I do something wrong? Thanks! Joshhttp://gizmodo.com/5961477/how-do-you-share-links-between-devices

My username (Gizmodo) is JoshuaDoody, and I’m authenticated via Twitter.

To be honest, I didn’t really expect much to come of this email. It was a Sunday afternoon and I didn’t know if this was even the type of question that Gawker would answer.

But, I did get an answer, and it was a pretty good one 2:


It looks like your comment was probably marked as spam, due to its self-promoting nature (unfortunately, we only allow self-promotion in a limited capacity) Try re-wording your comment ( make it more casual) and try reposting. Let me know if anything else comes up!

–[Support Guy]

Gawker Media Help Desk

I wanted a little more clarification since I wasn’t exactly sure how to address the “self-promoting nature” of my comment since I would have to self-promote to some extent if my reply were to have any substance. I figured I’d try replying to the email to see if I would get another response:

Hi [Support Guy]

I’ll try rewording, but it would help to know if there is something specific I could do to avoid being spam-flagged in the future. Is it ok to have the URL for my web app in my comment? Do I need to reduce the description? It would also be great if there were something to tell me “your comment got canned as spam – try again”. As far as I can tell, I have no way of knowing what happened to my comment after I posted it.

Also, it seems like it might help to have smarter spam filters. Technically, my post is self-promoting, but I’m directly answering the question “How do you do this?” with “I created a web app specifically to do this.” It’s not like I’m spam-bombing random threads with random links.

Anyway, thanks for the reply. I’ll try a more generic comment. It would be really helpful to know if I can include a link to my app, though.


I wasn’t sure if there was an automated spam filter or if a person was reading and moderating comments. I figured maybe the link to ShareAppeal was being auto-flagged as spam or something.

Support Guy replied as I was writing my new comment:


Including the link shouldn’t be a problem, again, just reword it so that it sounds more like a recommendation than self-promoting – regardless, let me know if anything else comes up.

–[Support Guy]

Gawker Media Help Desk

And I went ahead and replied a few minutes later:

[Support Guy]

This is really helpful – thanks for taking the time to respond to me and point me in the right direction.

I’m writing another comment now – hopefully this one gets through.



PS I’m sensitive to how hard it is to police spam and self-promotion. I just thought it was strange that the point of this particular chatroom was, “How do you do this?” and it seemed like the only acceptable responses were things people already knew about (Evernote, Chrome extensions, iMessage, email, etc.). Seemed to defeat the purpose of the post (finding ways others hadn’t thought of). BUT, I get it now, and I’ll give it another shot. Cheers!

And I posted my revised comment to the Chatroom:

I used to either email links or send them on Facebook or Twitter, but it was tough to keep track of stuff scattered all over the place, and the links themselves would get buried under other stuff or just lost. So I just ended up creating a web app (ShareAppeal.com) specifically to help me save links and share them with my friends.

And I sent off another email to let Support guy know that I’d tried again, hoping maybe he could help shepherd my new comment through the moderation/approval process:

[Support Guy]

I created a new comment, but can’t find a way to do anything with the old one (delete it). Two questions:

1. Is there some way to delete the old one (if it even matters).
2. Here’s my comment – if there’s anything you can do to help it through the spam filters, that would be great: “I used to either email links or send them on Facebook or Twitter, but it was tough to keep track of stuff scattered all over the place, and the links themselves would get buried under other stuff or just lost. So I just ended up creating a web app (ShareAppeal.com) specifically to help me save links and share them with my friends.

Thanks again for your time and help


This is where things start to get a little weird, and I realized I probably wasn’t going to be able to post any meaningful comment to the Chatroom. Support Guy replied and even suggested a rewording of my comment:


Unfortunately, due to our terms and conditions, we are not allowed to delete any comments ourselves, however, it shouldn’t matter anyway.

As for the comment: Again, it sounds a bit too ad-like (keep this in mind: not only do you have to go through the spam-filter, but you also have to go through the mods who read this stuff- if it sounds too much like an ad/too much like self promotion, they’ll dismiss it too)

Try something like this: “I hated the fact that there wasn’t a way to keep track of all the links I wanted to share/send. so I said, screw it, I’ll build my own app. So far, it seems to be doing the trick (try it here: <link> ) – let me know what you guys think!” [Emphasis mine]

Keep it casual (again, don’t make it sound like an ad /too much like self promotion) and keep it to the one comment (if you continue to promote in general, the system will probably mark you as a spam account). [Emphasis mine] Again, we don’t allow too much self promotion, but if you’re proud of your app, then make it more about you than the app itself. (tell us what led you to make this app in the first place, rather than why people should use it- see the difference?)

Any who, let me know if anything else comes up!

–[Support Guy]


Gawker Media Help Desk

Well, that’s a little odd. The content of his suggested comment is more or less the same as mine, except he’s using exclamation points and actually asks people to visit the site. He also switches to a sort of college student dialect. He recommends keeping the link, though.

The stakes have also been raised: I’ve now submitted two comments that are apparently being flagged as spam, and there’s a risk I could get marked “as a spam account” if I keep trying and failing. So this is a nice little Catch-22: I can water down my reply so it’s non-specific or mentions other services that people already know about, and that’ll probably get posted; or I can try to answer the question specifically (which seems to be the purpose of the entire Chatroom) and risk getting marked as a spam account. What to do? I decided to just hope my latest comment made it through the filters, but not to try posting again lest I be banned.

I also found this a little confusing since it really wasn’t any different than mine except it seemed to have been run through a “regular guy-to-college guy” translator or something. I sent off one last email to Support Guy (never got a response on this one):

[Support Guy]

Thanks again for your input. Honestly, I think my second comment is much less self-promoting than your example. For instance, I don’t ask anyone to give me feedback (that seems spammy to me).

Is there any way a mod could see my post and manually evaluate it? Or maybe the author of the post/chat room on Gizmodo (Eric Limer) could see it and approve it?

It seems like the system is sort of breaking down here. I think my answer to the chat room’s question is about as direct AND unique as possible. I’m not asking for clicks, spamming, etc. your example and mine are only  SLIGHTLY different and almost all the difference is in style, not content. The main difference is you ask for feedback and I don’t.

(I’m not trying to pick a fight here. I’m genuinely unsure how I could contribute to that thread and answer the author’s question any better or more directly.)Thanks again for the dialogue – I hope you’re having a good weekend!


And so, neither of my comments was ever posted to the Chatroom. I didn’t try again because I was concerned about being flagged as a spam account. But what’s crazy is mine might have been the most unique possible answer to the Chatroom. The whole reason this particular Chatroom was useful is that the ways people already share links are pretty hacky: Open a new tab in Chrome so it syncs through the cloud – that works for one person, but what about sharing with someone else? Evernote – same thing. I actually had a unique take on the question, but I wasn’t allowed to post because I was sharing info on a tool that wasn’t already mainstream. Round and round we go.

It would’ve been great to share ShareAppeal with people who could really use it, not only because I think it’s a great little app, but because they may have given me new feedback that I haven’t gotten from the current beta testers. That seems like a win-win to me. But my comment was no match for Gawker’s convoluted comment approval system. C’iest la vie.

What would make an iPad Mini compelling? (HINT: Color e-Ink.)

iPad Mini rumors have been flying for a while now, and Apple is allegedly sending out invites today (October 10) for an announcement on October 17. 1 This is different than my normal predictions and prognostications because, frankly, all of this is very murky to me. I’m really just thinking aloud, and writing what I think.

I should also emphasize that I think I’m very wrong here. The most logical iPad Mini would just be a smaller iPad with an almost-Retina display, amazing battery life, Lighting connector, and full-fledged iOS 6. But that’s boring, and I don’t see what it really adds to Apple’s product line. This post is really about how I think Apple could design an iPad Mini so that it adds something new and game-changing to the market place, but my predictions probably aren’t realistic.

Summary (in case you don’t feel like reading the whole thing)

  • I don’t really understand the niche that the iPad Mini would fill
  • If Apple does release an iPad Mini, they should’ t call it “iPad” anything – they should call it iPage
  • iPage should have a color e-Ink screen
  • To keep costs down, iPage would have to be a feature-poor iPad
  • iPage should run a lightweight version of iOS
  • iPage should start at $199 for a 16GB version (maybe the only one)
  • iPage should offer a $100 option for cellular connectivity

I don’t really understand the niche that the iPad Mini would fill

Will there be an iPad Mini announcement? It seems dubious to me, but the rumors are pretty loud and strong, so I have to give them a lot of weight. I don’t quite understand why Apple’s iPad needs a small cousin to compete with Kindle et al. The biggest problem with releasing an iPad Mini is the price point.

Price point – There’s been a lot written about this. The best piece I’ve seen is from Gizmodo: “The Single Biggest Question about the iPad Mini“. Basically, it’s tough to figure out where iPad Mini would fit into Apple’s pricing scheme. It would have to be cheaper than a “full-size” iPad (right?), which means it would land smack on top of the iPod Touch in Apple’s pricing structure. So, consumers could buy an iPod Touch or iPad Mini for the same price. That seems odd to me. I don’t think it’s a showstopper, but it would be strange to see an iPad Mini competing with iPod Touch.

I think the iPad Mini will have to start at $199 to compete with the “eReader” market that it belongs in. Presumably, the reason Apple would create this device is to compete with the Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To really compete in that world, $199 is almost mandatory. What’s odd is that Amazon and Apple have entirely different (opposite, really) business models. The Kindle is a loss-leader designed to give Amazon customers an easier way to buy stuff from Amazon 2. So, there’s the stuff people buy (songs, movies, etc) from Amazon, then there’s the way for them to buy it (Kindle Fire, e.g.). Apple does the opposite: their stuff exists to make the Apple ecosystem a richer place so that customers will buy their hardware, which is where they make all their money. So, in order for Apple to enter this space, they’d be creating profit-making hardware to compete with loss-leading hardware.

To be clear, I think Apple can do this 3, I just don’t understand why they would. Apple could probably create a great sub-$200 competitor for the eReaders out there, but I don’t see what they would gain from that device. Apple doesn’t want to sell music or eBooks just to sell them – they only sell those things to make iOS devices more useful. Trying to figure out the utility of a $200 Apple eReader keeps landing me in logic whirlpool.

I’ve been pretty good about iPad predictions in the past 4, and I’ve followed the iPad very closely, but I don’t quite understand why an iPad Mini makes sense. All that said, why not get into a hypothetical “iPad Mini is happening!” mindset and make some predictions?

If Apple does release an iPad Mini, they shouldn’t call it “iPad” anything – they should call it iPage

I’d expect Apple to differentiate the iPad Mini from the iPad itself. The iPad isn’t an eReader, it’s a tablet PC. But the “iPad Mini” wouldn’t really be a tablet PC so much as a super fancy eReader. My guess is they would differentiate it from the iPad by calling it something completely different. iPage seems logical, except it conflicts with their Pages word processor.

iPage should have a color e-Ink screen

I think the next big display breakthrough will be color e-Ink with refresh rates that make it possible to browse the web and flip through color e-magazines. There has been a lot of ambiguity about the resolution of the “iPad Mini” display (mostly that it won’t be Retina, but will still have pretty good resolution). This could be because the new display isn’t the same technology used for current backlit displays.

One thing Apple really focuses on is making it easy and pleasurable for its users to consume content on its devices. They’re in the midst of a full-on Retina update to everything they sell. It’s time for the next big thing, and that thing could very well be color e-Ink. Other firms have tried this 5, but the bottom line is that current technology just can’t refresh fast enough to be useful. It takes too long to draw the screen, so flipping pages or looking at anything that moves just doesn’t work very well. If Apple solves this problem and makes a 7″ color e-Ink screen technology (I would call it “Perfect Print” or “Print Perfect” or something like that) that allows for page flipping and animation, that would be a game changer.

iPage with Perfect Print would introduce some technical challenges for the user experience. Swiping and scrolling would probably have to be rethought so that they’re more efficient and economical. Unless they’ve made huge strides with refresh rates, we won’t be able to just swipe down and watch our Twitter feed inertially scroll by – e-Ink just couldn’t keep up with that.

To keep costs down, iPage would have to be a feature-poor iPad

My guess is that these Perfect Print displays would be expensive, which means Apple would have to cut some functionality elsewhere to compete at the $199 price point. What they would cut, I don’t know, but I have a few suggestions.

iPage should run a lightweight version of iOS

I don’t think this device would run a full version of iOS, but a slimmed-down version (think Apple TV). Mobile Safari might look more like the “Reader” functionality available now – no video, but a clean way to read and maybe see embedded (static) images. Email should be ok. Newsstand would obviously be a big part of the device.

iPage should start at $199 for a 16GB version (maybe the only one)

The baseline iPage would start at $199. Storage would start at 16GB, and that may be the only option. I think on-device storage would be a great place to cut costs since most of the stuff consumed on the iPage would be eBooks and that sort of thing–all stuff that could just be “streamed” from the cloud. It probably won’t have a camera, and LTE would be extra.

iPage should offer a $100 option for cellular connectivity

Getting all that stuff from the cloud is obviously easiest using WiFi, but Apple likes to give customers full mobility, so I expect a cellular option for $100. The pricing for this option is tricky, as the iPad cellular option is $130, but I just don’t see how they could offer a $130 add-on for a $199 device.

Final thoughts

I don’t understand the need for an iPad Mini, but if they do it, they should call it iPage, start innovating color e-Ink technology, and make it $200 or less.

If Apple could revolutionize e-Ink and make it really sharp, with great color saturation and faster refresh rates, I might just buy one. Otherwise, I’ll probably just stick to my iPad.