The health of a platform: thinking about Maps and remembering the days of IE

The Past

Back in the late 90’s (boy that feels like a long time ago), the Mac was in a tough spot. 

Steve came back to the company and delivered the very first iMac. It was priced and packaged just right. The hardware was extremely well designed. Then came the MacBook Pro. Beautiful.

The thing holding these computers back was the browser.

It was clear by then the browser would forever change the desktop computer experience. But the problem was obvious: Mac users had to choose between two poor browsers. Netscape had gotten bloated and slow. And Microsoft was making obsessed with embrace and extend, so Internet Explorer ran like garbage on the Mac — although it ran beautifully on a Windows machine at the time. 

The same was true with Microsoft Office. Microsoft Office ran beautifully on a PC but it’s Mac counterpart was awful. It’s still true today. Just ask anyone who uses Outlook (or remember Entourage) on a Mac. 

Apple’s response: Safari, Mail & Keynote. 

Safari was pretty bad when v1 shipped. But today it’s just as good as Chrome in my experience. And I’m happy that Mac users have a choice in browsers.  And Keynote presentations shine where Powerpoint just stalled out. And every Mac user I know would prefer any mail client over Outlook (remember Entourage!). 

The Present

This past week I picked up two new phones. An iPhone 5 and a Samsung Galaxy III. They are both sweet. Truly amazing. I use both. 

But it’s clear even before using Apple’s own Maps app in iOS 6. Google Maps on Android is vastly superior to Google Maps on iOS 5. It’s truly night and day.

The same is true for Gmail. Google’s mail client on Android is superior to their iOS version. Google Voice on Android is vastly better than Google Voice on iOS. 

Sound familiar? 

I think Apple had no choice but to create their own Maps apps.

Just like the browser in age of the desktop, Maps is a critical app in the age of mobile. The harsh difference of course is that Apple booted Google’s Maps app being built into iOS 6.

Yet I believe being built into the iOS is more of a hindrance than a benefit for Google (e.g. YouTube). Recall built in apps don’t get upgraded until the entire OS gets updated. 

This is the opportunity for Google to change the cycle of history and these platform wars. I’d love to see Google step up and create a kick ass version of Maps for iOS *and* Android. It would take courage and conviction and it would be inspiring. 

Random Sunday thoughts

I don’t have a particular topic to share but a few random thoughts I thought I’d jot down.

1. I get asked a bunch about digital photography workflow. I try to keep things simple. I shoot everything in Raw. I bring it all into Adobe Lightroom. I nuke the ones that are out of focus. I apply VSCO presets to the ones I love for film emulation. Couldn’t be easiser. I back up everything to Crashplan. 

2. I bought an iPhone 5 on Friday. I heard there were long lines at the Apple store so I was surprised when I saw zero lines at the Verizon store in Union Square. I walked in and out 20 minutes later. 

I got one a black one for me and a white one for @laurensabet. My wife and daughter both feel like the lighter weight makes it feel cheap (compared to the iPhone 4S). I think it feels nice. I also love how even with a bigger screen, I can still use it one handed. I know the new maps has a bunch of clear shortcomings, but it hasn’t been an issue for me personally and I’m a heavy maps user. The killer feature for me is LTE. 

3. LTE on the iPhone makes browsing a joy. But apps just seem to snap into place. Easier to post a photo. Foursquare checkins are faster. Streaming music is smooth and wonderful. Getting online this fast is such a thrill. I feel like LTE in your pocket with amazing software is the mobile world we have been always waiting for. 

4. I had a chance to say a few words at the Tumblr all hands meeting on Friday about the 5 year anniversary. It was great to meet see the old timers (hah!) and meet so many new people too.

5. Sunday nights are my nights to cook for the family. It’s not easy when you’re the only vegetarian in the house. But my kids put up with me :) 

6. The weather has been beautiful around here lately. I’ll end this post with a snap I took the other day in the South End. 

We celebrated Ellie’s 11th birthday today. She had two requests. Ride at the barn and hang out with her friends & family. Done and done.

Happy birthday. You’ll always be my little girl. 

(Nikon D800 | 300mm, ISO 1000, f/5.6, 1/320sec + VSCO Kodak TRI-X 400)

Behind closed doors

Last year we heard friends of ours were getting a divorce. Lauren and I were surprised because they looked like the happy couple over so many years. 

But as the old saying goes, it’s hard to tell what’s going on behind closed doors. 

This week we watched Mitt Romney behind closed doors. We learned what he believes, how he thinks and maybe most importantly, how he feels

When the sound bites aren’t being contrived, when the cameras are allegedly off, and when it’s the doors are closed, the truth comes out. Way out. 

I thought conservative David Brooks nailed it in his opinion piece for the New York Times. Go read the whole thing but here’s a taste:

This comment suggests a few things. First, it suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits. Who are these freeloaders? Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Social Security or Medicare?

It suggests that Romney doesn’t know much about the culture of America. Yes, the entitlement state has expanded, but America remains one of the hardest-working nations on earth. Americans work longer hours than just about anyone else. Americans believe in work more than almost any other people. Ninety-two percent say that hard work is the key to success, according to a 2009 Pew Research Survey.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet with President Obama behind closed doors. It was a room of 20-ish people from the tech community. It was a bunch of 1%-ers.

The group discussed a number of things that are important to a continued vibrant tech industry including things like immigration reform, computer science in our middle and high schools, importance of women entrepreneurs, patent reform, net neutrality, and more. 

And natually we had an opportunity to hear the President’s view of the challenges and vision for the country. 

He spent a significant amount of time about how he cares about the many folks in this country that live below poverty. How many children live below poverty. How our schools need to educate care of all of our children. The importance of healthcare for those that need it most. The importance for equal treatment regardless if you are gay or straight. And yes, the idea that when our country needs it, the richest people need to pay their fair share without loopholes. 

He talked about the need for the wealthy to do their part without reservation, without apology and without sugar coating it. It made sense. It was compelling. (I’ve written about my thoughts on taxing the wealthy so you know my position).

I wish someone snuck in a video camera and recorded the whole damn thing secretly. Then you would see the guy behind closed doors is the same one we see on TV.