A guide for developers who bring Mac apps to the iPad

“What do you want our iPad version to do?”

is the general question.

Even though an increasing part of my business is helping developers to answer this question and choose a path forward, I’d like to toss out some potentially self-sherlocking advice:

If we can do it on Mac, we want to do it on iPad.

It’s really that simple.

Yes, where iOS makes it possible and practical. But you really could just think of an iPad as a second laptop when it’s time to get work done. Alternatively, we could do a thought experiment:

Let’s say your Mac inexplicably disappeared right before your eyes, and was magically replaced with an iPad (Pro) and possibly a keyboard (where relevant). Your app also magically appeared on the first homescreen, and that’s all you get to use for the rest of today, this week, and this month to solve whatever problem your app tackles.

What do you want it to do?

Exactly—everything your Mac version does. And more, when you consider whether a MacBook can replace an iPad.


An update on my Brydge Keyboard for iPad

A little while ago, I tried out a Brydge Keyboard for my 10.5-inch iPad Pro. TL;DR: It’s a nice, solid keyboard that works well for its intended purpose. I returned mine because I often use my iPad for different things, but I still recommend the Brydge Keyboard if your main goal is to laptop-ify your iPad.

The good

It really is a solid keyboard. Weighing just over one pound, it’s a sturdy chunk of aluminum with a good overall feel. The two hinge arms are lined with rubber gaskets to help grip your iPad, but not so much as to make it difficult to remove. Coming from a rigid Smart Keyboard, it certainly is nice to be able to adjust the angle of my iPad like a real laptop.

Now, I’m a fan of low-travel keyboards like in the current MacBook (reliability problems notwithstanding) and even the Smart Keyboard. The Brydge Keyboard keys travel more than I’d like, but I still got used to it pretty easily.

Unlike Apple’s keyboard, the Brydge has a welcome row of shortcut keys for things like Spotlight, display brightness, volume, and more. It’s also backlit, which was handy.

Why I returned it

I want to be clear about this: I really like the Brydge Keyboard, and I recommend it. If you mostly or only want to use your iPad as an actual laptop replacement, the Brydge Keyboard is a great option.

But. I returned mine because I often use my iPad in that ‘slightly propped up by a Smart Cover’ configuration for stuff like reading, gaming, drawing, and music tinkering. There isn’t really a way to do that with the Brydge Keyboard, outside of perhaps keeping a Smart Cover on hand and switching to it, or awkwardly using my wallet or other items as a makeshift prop. I tried it, didn’t like it.

Apple’s Smart Keyboard has a few drawbacks. But it’s noticeably lighter, a bit thinner, and has that ‘Propped Up Mode’ that I want readily available. I also like that it uses the Smart Connector for power, which the Brydge Keyboard lacks. It’s a good ol’ fashioned Bluetooth keyboard, complete with the little annoyances of Bluetooth.

As I write this, it occurs to me that most laptop-style iPad keyboards probably have to be on the heavy side in order to act as a counterweight to balance the iPad. The Smart Keyboard probably gets away with its relatively light design because of the way it props up the iPad from the back.

Anyway, there’s my story. The Brydge Keyboard is really nice, but it just isn’t what I need.


The daily App Store

A couple months into the major iOS 11 App Store redesign, it’s become a daily “thing to check” for me.

The stream of content on the Today tab is consistently interesting, even if I don’t want every app. I enjoy the variety of pieces and roundups, especially the developer deep dives where they put a face to an app, so to speak. After all, there are humans behind all these little round squares.

My only minor complaint is that I wish the Apps tab would update more frequently. Rotating the entire thing daily sounds a bit much, but perhaps some parts could swap out more often than they do now.

Anyway, hats off to the App Store team.

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Thoughts on the Mac mini, running a business, and long teeth

Parts of the Apple community have been upset lately about the Mac mini left in update limbo for nearly three years. I get that the mini has a following. But at the end of the day, I don’t blame Apple for spending so much of its attention elsewhere. It’s a business, after all, and businesses have to spend time on things that are either important now or show strong signs of being important soon.

Here are a few things that might bring context to the situation.


Tim Cook recently answered a customer email about the Mac mini. Without offering any details of a forthcoming update, he stated that the Mac mini is “an important part” of the Mac’s future.

Some dismissed it as empty promises, claiming that Cook simply said what any CEO would about a current product. But here’s the rub: it’s a great bet that Tim Cook’s (public) address gets a ton of email. He—or more accurately, Apple’s marketing department—could simply have sent that email to the circular filing bin with so many others. They knew responding to that email would spark media coverage and expectations.


As for why Apple hasn’t updated the Mac since December 2014, let’s do some fuzzy math on its sales over the last few years. Starting from a bird’s eye view, Apple sells around one Mac for every 6-10 iOS devices, at least in the low or normal quarters. By itself, the iPhone is a majority of Apple’s revenue.

Among those Mac sales, the various flavors of MacBook take a whopping 85 percent. That means desktops—iMac, Mac mini, and Mac Pro—are just 15 percent of Mac sales. Apple does not get more granular than notebooks vs desktops, so the mini’s portion of that 15 percent is anyone’s guess. My guess is the iMac takes the lion’s share of that 15 percent, followed distantly by the Mac mini and Pro.

In its most recent quarter (non-holiday, mind you), Apple sold 46.7 million iPhones, 10. Million iPads, and 5.4 million Macs. That means Apple sold, at most, around 810,000 desktops last quarter. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mac mini sold in the very low six figures, or less.


Businesses spend time on things that are either important or show strong signs of being important in the future. Retail employees spend time on assigned tasks. Actors focus (mostly) on projects that further their careers. Small business owners like myself spend most or all of their time on things that will help the business and support themselves and/or their families.

When we look at the numbers, and take a guess at what Apple knows about how and how often the Mac mini is used, I don’t fault the company at all for spending its attention elsewhere. Even if we get more speculative and try to look at products which experience big upgrade cycles, I have a hard time believing the Mac mini ranks anywhere significant. It sure seems to me like people swap out their smartphones, notebooks, and even tablets more often than Mac minis.


Looking at Apple’s numbers, perceived priorities, and statement of intent, I do buy that the company still cares about the Mac mini and plans to update it. If I were a gambling person, I’d bet it would be within the next year, give or take. A mention at WWDC 2018 would be convenient, but so would an addendum to either the iMac Pro event later this year or Mac Pro event early next year.

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Introducing the Finer Things in Tech Patreon

I’ve been running this site for a few years now, and back in March I launched a weekly newsletter that’s received wonderful feedback. I want to take both of these things to the next level, and I need your help to do it. That’s why I’m introducing the Finer Things in Tech Patreon.

A while ago, I removed all advertising from the site. The newsletter hasn’t had any ads either, and I want to keep it that way. I also want to bring you:

  • More web writing – I want to publish more tips and articles on the site, including reviews, explorations of tech, app recommendations, and more. I also want to expand beyond blog posts and into a resource.
  • Voices from others – I want to commission a truly diverse array of writers, developers, and others in tech about their journey, how to improve the industry, and other topics requested by you, my readers.
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  • Even more – I have a few more ideas, but I also want to hear yours. Get in touch and tell me why you supported my Patreon or what it would take to get you there. Would you prefer to support the site another way? Want a higher tier with unique rewards, or to see different topics or resources? I want to hear it all.

I’m open to adding other ways for you to support the site and/or newsletter, including Memberful and others. Let’s see what readers prefer.

The weekly newsletter is going supporter-only

One big change is that the weekly newsletter of tips and my recommended good reads from around the web is going supporter-only. All current subscribers will still receive it; I’m not dropping anyone. But if you are a current subscriber, please consider joining my Patreon newsletter tier to support my work.

Thanks for reading

I want to bring you even more writing, articles from great, diverse voices in the community, and some future surprises I’m working on. To make it happen, please support this site and the newsletter on Patreon, or let me know what would bring you on board.

As always, thank you for reading.


Thoughts on the Brydge Keyboard for 10.5-inch iPad Pro

I’ve had the Brydge Keyboard for my 10.5-inch iPad Pro for about two weeks now, and I have thoughts. My iPad is space gray, but I went with rose gold for the keyboard just to get a little funky.TL;DR: I’m actually split on it, moreso than most other recent gadget purchases. I have two more weeks before I decide whether to return it. But for now, here are some quick pros and cons I’ve seen so far.


Overall construction is solid. It’s a pretty solid chunk of aluminum weighing 520g / 1.14lb.

Ability to pick a display angle brings a ‘best of both worlds’ feeling to working on an iPad. In fact, because of the hinge design, you can actually lean it back farther than most Mac and PC notebooks allow.

The keyboard feels mostly pretty good overall, though more on that below. It’s also one of the few backlit keyboards for iPad, and lighting is good.

The shortcut bar is useful. Granted, iOS 11 has a lot of Mac-like keyboard shortcuts now. It’s still nice to have conveniences like display brightness, media controls, and keys for Home and Spotlight.

It’s easy to place and remove the iPad from the hinge. I often like to use my iPad with no keyboard, so I prefer options that don’t require a body case or other stuff that gets in my way. It’s easy to just pull my iPad off Apple’s Smart Keyboard, and I’m happy to say it’s the same with the Brydge. Its two hinges have rubber covers to help grip the iPad and keep it in place, so I can carry the setup around like a classic notebook. But it’s also easy to use a little tug and remove my iPad entirely.


The Bridge Keyboard’s design blocks some new iOS 11 gestures. I wager the keyboard is a solid chunk of aluminum to provide a weight offset for balancing the iPad on a hinge. But that also means it’s so thick that I can’t really swipe up from the bottom of the display for the new iOS 11 Dock or App Switcher, which I vastly prefer over the Command+Tab switcher. One perk, or perhaps a workaround: you can still double-press the Home button to display the Dock and App Switcher, at least for now.

Key travel is more than I’d like. Context: I’m on the other end from many in the Apple community—the shorter the key travel, the better. Current hardware defects of the MacBook and Pros aside, they’re my favorite keyboards I’ve ever used.

That said, the Brydge Keyboard (and most iPad keyboards I’ve used) has more travel than I’d like, though it isn’t a deal breaker. In the early days, I was making far more typos than with any keyboard in recent memory. I can adapt though, and I got used to it over these last two weeks. The missed characters and typos are mostly gone.

No Smart Connector support. It’s an old school Bluetooth keyboard. The batteries in most of these keyboards last so darn long, I don’t mind it much. But power through the Smart Connector, like Apple’s keyboard, would be nice.

At some angles during lap use, the hinge allows iPad to lean back a little more than I’d like. It less of a big problem, more like a minor, occasional annoyance. I suspect Brydge designed this primarily for desk use, where the rubber feet on the hinges would help keep the iPad at a steady angle.

The weight is something to consider. With an iPad already at 477g / 1.05lb, this package becomes a 2+ lb machine, which is in 12-inch MacBook territory. Apple’s Smart Keyboard is noticeably lighter (there’s no weight listed at Apple.com). I don’t think it’s a huge deal for most folks, but it’s probably something to be aware of.

Still on the fence

Even after writing all this out, I’m not sure whether to keep my Brydge Keyboard or return it and go back to Apple’s. I need to spend more time with mine, and I’ll let you know if I discover more as I spend the next two weeks to make my decision.

[Updated] Logitech will swap out my Circle 2 wireless camera for a wired version


The wired camera arrived, a full retail unit with a box and all the extras to boot. In fact, I double-checked the box and their original response with instructions. They never stated that I need to ship the wireless version back, and I have neither instructions nor even an address to do so. I guess I get to keep it. Color me impressed.

Earlier this year, Logitech announced wired and wireless versions of Circle 2, its home security camera. They’re weatherproof, have a lot of clever mounting solutions, and are dead-simple to set up. Logitech also promised HomeKit support would arrive in an update shortly after launch.

In full admission, I made the mistake of preordered a wireless Circle 2 camera based on Logitech’s promise. I figured it was a large, established company, so this wasn’t exactly like betting on a Kickstarter from an unproven “I just quit my job to make a thing” person.

About two months ago, the camera arrived right on time. I briefly set it up to make sure I liked the app and it would fit my needs. Everything checked out, so I waited for HomeKit support.

Good news: HomeKit arrived pretty quickly.

Bad news: only for the wired version. It seems wireless is SOL, based on a request or restriction imposed by Apple.

Last week, I got around to emailing Logitech about my situation, and requesting a swap to a wired version. I explained that my wireless has been sitting on a bookshelf since day one, so it was in perfect condition. I figured I had about a 40/60 chance of getting the swap. After all, I fully admit I was outside the initial return policy.

To my delight, Logitech responded with offering the swap. I need to send some details about my purchase and serial number, and we’ll get under way.

I’ll update you once the swap is hopefully made. But so far this has been a great solution to an unfortunate hiccup.