2015 College Football Playoff Hierarchy Part 2

The college football playoff rankings are out. They are mostly meaningless though because they represent what would happen if the playoff was today. Of course, it isn’t. So instead I present to you the hierarchy of college football playoff teams. I did this last year and my first version correctly nailed the four teams (meaning that after crossing things off that are eliminated the top four remaining spots on my list were who made the playoff), although not in perfect order.

Alabama is ranked higher my the committee, and most people seem to agree that they are right behind Clemson at the moment. But Ohio St. and Oklahoma St. still have the toughest parts of their schedule left. I struggle to see a 1-loss Alabama team finishing ahead of undefeated Ohio St. (who will have beaten Michigan St., Michigan and Iowa in consecutive weeks by then) or Oklahoma St. (who would added wins against Baylor and Oklahoma). Remember Alabama has Charleston Southern this week. A game that won’t help they in the rankings at all, while all the teams right behind them play quality opponents.

Notre Dame remains an interesting case. I have them slotted above a 1-loss SEC champ, which is starting to look incorrect. We shall see how thing shake out though.

I’ll update this again the week of conference championship games.

Who Possible Teams
1 Undefeated SEC Champ
2 Undefeated ACC Champ Clemson
3 Undefeated Big 10 Champ Ohio St./Iowa
4 Undefeated Big 12 Champ Oklahoma St.
5 1-Loss Notre Dame Notre Dame
6 1-Loss SEC Champ Florida/Alabama
7 1-Loss PAC 12 Champ
8 1-Loss Big 10 Champ Michigan St./Ohio St./Iowa
9 1-Loss Big 12 Champ Oklahoma St./TCU/Baylor/Oklahoma
10 1-Loss ACC Champ Clemson/North Carolina
11 Undefeated AAC Champ Houston
12 2-Loss Notre Dame Notre Dame
13 2-Loss SEC Champ Florida/Alabama
14 2-Loss Big 10 Champ Michigan St./Ohio St./Iowa/Michigan/Wisconsin
15 2-Loss Big 12 Champ Oklahoma St./TCU/Baylor/Oklahoma
16 2-Loss ACC Champ Clemson/North Carolina
17 2-Loss Pac 12 Champ Stanford/Utah

iPad Pro Launch Thoughts

Not being able to ship the two almost-necessary accessories for the iPad Pro at the product launch was a big mistake on Apple’s part in my opinion. Can you imagine the hue and cry we would have heard if Apple had shipped the Apple Watch, then as an aside said “Oh, by the way, your charging cable will ship in 3 to 5 weeks”?

I love AppleWorld.Today, and am a fan of Steve Sande, but this statement is a bit ridiculous. If these items were actually necessary to use the device, they would come with it. That is why the  Watch comes with a charging cable, and Apple would never release it without one. The iPad Pro can be used without the keyboard and pencil. It can be used with third-party keyboards and styluses. Is it as good in those scenarios? Probably not.

Apple’s mistake is that this is creating a huge perception problem because a lot of early reviews are lamenting the fact that the device is “meh” as a standalone iPad when everyone knows that the goal of this thing was to be a pretty good laptop replacement and a pretty good iPad replacement in one device. Without the keyboard and pencil it’s pretty much just a bulkier iPad with a bigger screen. The iPad Pro is probably best used with Apple’s keyboard and the Apple Pencil, but not everyone is going to use it with those exact devices, or any peripherals at all potentially.

Shipping the  Watch without a charging cable would have literally rendered it unusable in less than 48 hours. The iPad Pro lacking these things is more about a particular set of use cases, more like the lack of 3rd party apps on the  Watch if you want to make a comparison to that exact device.

The iPad Pro is what I have been waiting for since the iPad first launched. Not because I am going to run out and get one, but because I have long thought this is where the iPad was headed. Into an area more akin to replacing traditional personal computers as we know them. More and more people (especially those under 30) are forgoing a traditional computer all together in favor of just their phone, or a phone and tablet combination. I reach for my iPad Mini a lot more frequently than I used to. When I am sitting and watching TV it has pretty much replaced my laptop as my go to device. There are things that are not as easy to do, but some things (like Twitter and just general reading) are far better experiences.

I can understand the appeal of people starting to use their tablets as their only “computer”. It is way easier for me to do things on than it was a year ago, and the experience just keeps getting better. Eight months ago I would have said I was guaranteed to buy a new MacBook next year. Now I am not so sure.

I Should Use Siri More

Ben Brooks on talking to Siri:

Even just sitting here in my calm and quiet office, where there is no one else to know I am speaking to Siri, it feels odd to talk to Siri. Yet I feel fine doing it in the car. But once I leave the car for public spaces ‘Hey Siri’ becomes a non-starter once again.

There’s likely a great many psychological reasons for this, but I believe the biggest reasons it feels weird is because there is simply no way to look cool and talk to Siri, and there is absolutely no privacy when you talk to Siri.

Brooks eventually goes on to say that this isn’t the real issue, and the bigger issue is a lack of privacy. He insinuates that strangers will overhear you talking to Siri and chime in. I don’t really agree because that could happen with any conversation in public. I suppose there is a theory that people would be more inclined to interject if you are talking to a robot than to a real person, but still.

I think Brooks’ initial thought is on point thought. I use Siri all the time in the car. I use it occasionally at home. But most of the time I don’t want to use it in public. I don’t want to use it at work, and that is where a privacy issue can come up. It’s that in many of the cases where I want to use it, it probably isn’t appropriate. If I am walking by myself in the mall and really wanted to bust out Siri I think I could get over the embarrassment factor.

Siri has continued to improve greatly since it’s initial release. Using it seems much faster and more reliable than before. It is a great tool for responding to text messages in the car, or setting timers or alarms. I don’t use the fuzzy searching enough because I usually forget about it, but I am going to try to start using it more. I look up scores all the time and never think to just ask Siri. I am going to see what happens if I try to make more use of this amazing invention, and hopefully have something to report back later.

2015 College Football Playoff Hierarchy – 1st Edition

The first college football playoff rankings are out. They are mostly meaningless though because they represent what would happen if the playoff was today. Of course, it isn’t. So instead I present to you the hierarchy of college football playoff teams. I did this last year and my first version correctly nailed the four teams (meaning that after crossing things off that are eliminated the top four remaining spots on my list were who made the playoff), although not in perfect order.

I don’t think there are any big surprises here. I might have Clemson too high. They might actually be the four seed if both the Big Ten and Big 12 have undefeated champs. Notre Dame is really a wild card. They definitely don’t get in ahead of four undefeated conference champs, but would they get in ahead of a 1-loss SEC or Pac 12 champ? Speaking of the Pac 12 I think it’s too much in disarray to make it over a 1-loss SEC champ. Especially since that team could still be Alabama who is by far the best 1-loss team in the country right now.

The four undefeated AAC teams are interesting. Only one of them can make it out undefeated but they will have an interesting case if there are mostly 2-loss conference champions out there.

I’ll update this again in a couple of weeks.

Who Possible Teams
1 Undefeated SEC Champ LSU
2 Undefeated ACC Champ Clemson
3 Undefeated Big 10 Champ Michigan St., Ohio St., Iowa
4 Undefeated Big 12 Champ Oklahoma St., TCU, Baylor
5 1-Loss Notre Dame Notre Dame
6 1-Loss SEC Champ Florida, Alabama, LSU
7 1-Loss PAC 12 Champ Stanford/Utah
8 1-Loss Big 10 Champ Michigan St., Ohio St., Iowa
9 1-Loss Big 12 Champ Oklahoma St./TCU/Baylor/Oklahoma
10 1-Loss ACC Champ Clemson/Florida St./North Carolina
11 Undefeated AAC Champ Temple, Houston, Memphis, Navy
12 2-Loss Notre Dame Notre Dame
13 2-Loss SEC Champ Florida, LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss, Miss. St., TAMU
14 2-Loss Big 10 Champ Michigan St., Ohio St., Penn St., Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern
15 2-Loss Big 12 Champ Oklahoma St./TCU/Baylor/Oklahoma
16 2-Loss ACC Champ Clemson, Florida St., North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Duke
17 2-Loss Pac 12 Champ Stanford, Utah, UCLA

ESPN Screwed Up

I have been a fan of Bill Simmons for over a decade now. I love his columns, podcasts and books. His columns aren’t what they used to be, but his podcast is still my favorite listen on a regular basis. I doubt I (or anyone else) would have cared about Grantland if he wasn’t at the helm in the beginning. But I had grown to love it. It was one of the few sites I still checked everyday. I listened to several of their podcasts regularly, and none of this slowed down when Simmons left.

I don’t know the full backstory of why they let him go, it was probably justified based on his behavior the last year. But shutting down Grantland after the fact made little sense. In fact, it would have been far more logical for ESPN to double down, and try to not only keep Simmons from poaching the talent at the company, but also by trying to fill the void he left as soon as possible. I don’t know how you would do this, and Chris Connelly is a fine writer/editor, but he would not have had the same podcast presence as Simmons.

Letting the site and brand whither and die seems like an odd move. Supposedly those still under contract, and whom write about sports, will have their content show up elsewhere on ESPN.com for now. It sounds like all of the pop culture stuff is dead. The odd part is that the technical side of hosting a website itself, especially one like Grantland is pretty easy and low maintenance. It also couldn’t be costing ESPN anything anyone would notice on the balance sheet. So if they are keeping (at least some of) the writing staff it seems odd to make their content harder to find by people who are used to reading them.

If ESPN just wanted to pack up their ball and go home, I would have expected them to just fire everyone, and maybe they did that with a lot of people. It’s still unclear where people like Zach Lowe, Robert Mays and Bill Barnwell will have content showing up anytime soon. The fact that I haven’t seen any of them comment on such a thing makes me think they don’t really know either. It’s easy for a big entity to lose track of something like this, but the fans of Grantland were hardcore; a devoted following to be certain. Just flat out pulling the plug seems less like an economical decision and more a spiteful one. Maybe they didn’t like the support the current Grantland staffers were giving the former ones. Maybe they didn’t like Simmons screwing with the people that still worked there (although one would think a non-compete of some sort would have been an easy maneuver). Whatever the reason for canning the site, it remains a giant missed opportunity to find a way to make what was left work.

I have no idea what Simmons’ plan is. He hired a bunch of people who mostly did pop culture related things. His new HBO show won’t be out until spring, which seems like an eternity to make a TV show that won’t be scripted. He has some new “secret” project in the works for these people supposedly. One would assume it has to be backed by HBO or some other major entity though. It will probably take months, if not a year to really know what he is up to. It’s nice to have Simmons back in my life, but I am concerned that the payoff won’t be as good this time around, especially after a lengthy wait.

More on Web Trackers

Glenn Fleishman on his blog talking web ads/trackers:

But that assumes further that we have been disclosed with perfect knowledge every bit of JavaScript code and every image tracker and every site database and third-party database used in relationship to us when we visit a site, along with what information about us is being recorded, how it will be retained, how we opt out initially, and how we get the information removed later.

Because all of those arrangements aren’t disclosed on our arrival the first time (or ever), and require substantial hunting or the installation of a third-party desktop extension, like Ghostery, to assemble, can we be said to be bound by them? The implicit agreements there take way, way too much from us without informed and affirmative consent. It’s an unequal relationship.

Further, sites using one or more third-party network rarely know all the details of how information about their visitors will be used. Multiply that by dozens—I had 76 different remote items load on a recent visit to a major media site for which I write—and there zero

Emphasis mine. Man does Glenn nail this one. I implore every one to read the entire article. He starts with a nice analogy before elaborating into why the system is broken. All of his points are exactly my issue with it. It’s not about the ads themselves, it’s about all the data mining and tracking that goes on without your implicit consent. It’s the creepiness of seeing an ad for an exact item I was browsing at from the exact site I was browsing it at when I somewhere else on the web. It’s amazing to be that even the hardcore tech people I know are just finding out how horrible this actually is. I have been using Ghostery for years, and assumed that it was common knowledge in Nerdland. If people who work in tech are this surprised then the average person must really have no idea.

People are mad at Apple for allowing people to write iOS content blockers. It’s the same way content companies got bad when set top boxes (like the Roku) became a thing. Never mind that people could stream Netflix to their computers already, now that it was so easy to hook up to a TV, everyone cared. Content blockers aren’t new, they are just mainstream now. But like everything else, companies will adapt. iTunes didn’t kill music. The lack of Flash on iOS didn’t kill the web. Everyone having a smart phone didn’t (permanently) cripple cell providers. Instead one could argue they made all of them better for consumers. That is what is going to happen here. And the sites will quality content could really come out ahead.

Right now no one wants to pay for content on the web. There are too many sites to read for anyone to really be able to charge money. Heck people aren’t willing to pay $2 for a piece of software. But what if the model shifted hard? If the concept of content blockers dries up revenue from a traditional sense, companies will be forced to make money other ways or die. That could mean that the amount of available content decreases, lowering supply, but not demand. That could allow quality content creators to charge for their content.

Either way, the current model has to be changed. And if companies block me from viewing their sites because I am disabling their shady tracking code, so be it. I’ll go elsewhere.

Pygmy Reviews #64 – TV

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (Netflix)

One Line Description: The prequel to the movie of the same name (minus the subtitle) about the first day of summer camp.

The 2001 movie about a summer camp that this (mini?) series is a prequel to has become a cult classic. It’s crazy, bizarre, often off brand humor appeals to a particular set of people, but the enormously (now) famous cast intrigues almost anyone between the ages of 25-40. Paul Ruud, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Michael Ian Black, Ken Marino, Elizabeth Banks and many more recognizable faces represent Gen X+Y formidably. The movie takes place on the last day of camp, and it seems crazy that so much stuff is crammed into one day that they could fill an entire movie. The TV series is about the first day of camp, and is spread over the entire series, which is even crazier. It’s pretty amazing to watch how different things were at the start of camp, and how all in the first day things seem to pretty much get all the way to how they are in the last day of camp. Considering how insane the first and last days are, one would think there would be a lot more changes in between, but that’s the ironic part about it. The other ironic part is that this movie uses the same actors playing the same characters, so even though they are all 14 years older now, they are supposed to be playing characters 3 months younger.

There are some great additions to the cast, including three Mad Men alums (Jon Hamm, John Slattery and Rich Sommers), plus Josh Charles and Jason Schwartzman. Overall the cast is huge, but there is enough time to get everyone from point A (this show) to point B (the movie) without anyone feeling short changed. Some of the plots are lame (Elizabeth Banks’ story was my least favorite), but some are downright awesome, like Gene the cook (played by Christopher Meloni). Anyone that didn’t like the movie will hate this show, hate it. But anyone that liked it will love it. It’s amazing to me that was worth it enough for Netflix to make this, especially since this cast could have not been cheap.

Graceland – Season 3 (USA)

USA has been making original programming for a while now. Until Mr. Robot earlier this year, the only USA showed I loved to this point was In Plain Sight, which I mostly watched because I like Mary McCormack. For some reason Graceland has been the other USA show I was drawn to. The premise is basically that a bunch of undercover government agents from various agencies (FBI, DEA, ATF and ICE) live together in a beach house while working their own cases. This devolved quickly and now in season 3 it’s easy to forget that everyone isn’t FBI and on the same team. This is because there seem to be at most two cases going on and the entire group is working on all of them together. The Customs agent never seems to actually have his own work to do, and there doesn’t ever seem to be any formal request to work across agencies. Also the rules that are broken, and corners that are cut has gotten a little out of hand at this point. There is little reason any of these people should get away with what they do, and it doesn’t seem like they ever have to even report in. It’s an easy watch, and my investment at this point is mostly as background noise more than anything. If you haven’t gotten into this show by now, don’t, it’s not very good.

Married – Season 2 (FX)

I have always been a big fan of Judy Greer. She is unquestionably someone you would recognize if you don’t know her by name. She is a “that girl” of movies, but she is funny and it was cool to see her get a starring role. That is a big reason of what drew me to this show originally. I also love Jenny Slate, but she left the show early in season 2. The rest of the cast, Nat Faxon (Greer’s on-screen husband), Brett Gelman, Paul Reiser and John Hodgman are good as well. Gelman is apparently all-in on playing quirky, eccentric characters like he has in pretty much every show he has ever been in. The show is about Greer and Faxton as a 40-something (?) couple with three kids who are just trying to hold it all together.

Most of the people involved in this show are known for their dry sense of humors, so there aren’t a ton of over the top moments, but that isn’t a bad thing. Season 2 definitely focused more on Gelman, which was probably a necessity with Slate departing, but it’s weird to see so much focus on him when the show is called Married. I really enjoy the cast, although not as much without Slate, but this show still isn’t on the same level as FX’s other new(er) comedy, You’re the Worst. It’s more “real”, but not as funny. It is by no means a bad show, but it’s far from great either, and season 2 was definitely not the solid follow-up I hoped for.

Narcos – Season 1 (Netflix)

One Line Description: The rise of Columbian drug cartels in the ’80s, with a focus on Pablo Escobar

Netflix just keeps churning out new content and this is an interesting subject matter. It’s far from perfect, and definitely not on the same level as Orange is the New Black or even House of Cards, but it still has plenty of pros. The show tries it’s best to stick to actual history, and even weaves in actual photos, clips and news reports from the actual events, even though this means that the face in these does not match the actor playing Pablo Escobar. Many shows would not take that chance, but it works well here. The performance of Escobar jives pretty well with stories you hear about him, and the mid-80s setting is pulled off pretty nicely.

But the show has serious pacing issues. The 10-episode first season starts off before Escobar is really anyone. And it jumps around a lot in the first 3-5 episodes to bring things to a certain point that it then sticks with for the rest of the season. This feels weird. It’s one thing to spend a couple of episodes providing backstory mixed in as flashbacks or something, but it’s odd to jump forward as such an uneven pace. The narration is also just terrible. It is probably necessary with the unusual pace of the story in order to keep viewers aware of what is going on and how things are jumping around. Boyd Holbrook just does fine as the main DEA agent, but as the narrator it just doesn’t work for me. The weird pacing of the show also meant the last few episodes feel like they took forever. It’s a well done show, and at moments it’s very good, but it’s not consistent enough, and could use some polish for season 2.

Thoughts on Michigan’s Loss

Seems fitting for me to write something about the excruciating loss by the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday. It was one of the most surreal moments I have ever experienced in my life (I know, #FirstWorldProblems). With 10 seconds to go it sure seemed like the only way Michigan could lose is if everything possible broke against them, and then it did. Looking back at the final play, so many things had to go wrong. Not only did the ball have to get fumbled, but fumbled in a way that Michigan St. could scoop it up without just falling on it. Then that had to be quick enough for them to get some speed and blockers. Then the runner had to stay in bounds and not get tackled before the goal line, which very likely would have meant time would have expired.

The perfect storm.

I saw a statistic that MSU had a 0.2% chance of winning the game at that point, or 1 out of 500 for those of you bad at math. That means that there was a chance. It’s possible MSU could have returned the punt for a TD, but in this case they had no one back. This meant that if Michigan gets the punt off it’s going to bounce and roll and eat up much of the remaining 10 seconds. It’s possible that the punter could have fallen on the ball and MSU could have completed a hail mary, but Michigan’s secondary had been great all day. It’s possible they could have kicked a field goal, but they were going into the wind and their kicker has been lousy all year. They knew this was their only shot, and they rightfully brought the house.

This is the worst way to lose a game. It was The Play without the band on the field. I have said numerous times since it ended that I would rather have lost 55–0. Because at least in that case hope would have been long lost. I wouldn’t have already received congratulatory text messages from so many, including the comical exchange of my cousin saying “now beat OSU” before texting me back two hours later to tell me he just found Michigan lost. I hadn’t turned the game off, but after they stopped MSU on 4th down I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. I hoped Michigan would get the one first down they needed to take a knee to end it. Of course that never happened.

I am rarely anything but an emphatic pessimist, but I think back to August. There is no way I thought Michigan would be ranked 12th at any point this season, let alone heading into the Michigan St. game. I didn’t think they would outplay MSU for 59 minutes and 50 seconds the way they did. I didn’t think this game would matter. I was hoping for 8–4. I would have been happy with 7–5. Jim Harbaugh has been everything I hoped for and more so far. These guys could still beat Ohio St. this season. And sure Brady Hoke had a monster season in his first year out too, but this feels different. They are doing this with a quarterback who is just out there to not lose the game.

This loss stings. It stings worse because it was against Michigan St. But that is old hat at this point. Michigan played this game tough. They are trending in the right direction and have a bunch of winnable games left. It sucks to lose that game. Hats off to Michigan St. for never giving up. I am not from Michigan. I didn’t go to Michigan. I can’t understand the “little brother” mentality because of that. MSU hasn’t looked that way in the last 12 years I have been following Michigan football. But Michigan is still ahead of the curve. And these guys could beat Ohio St.

Five Thoughts on Michigan Football

1. It’s the Little Things

There are lots of little things in a football game that can really add up over time. Special teams can play a subtle role even without big returns or long field goals. Jabrill Peppers ability to field punts (he is a fair catch machine), and the coaching staff’s trust in him to do so, save the Wolverines tons of field position over the course of the game. That coupled with punter Blake O’Neils ability to drop punts inside the 20 with ease, and often inside the 10, mean that Michigan can win the field position game. That is huge when you have a great defense and not a high powered offense.

2. Jourdan Lewis

Jourdan Lewis is quietly one of the best cornerbacks in FBS right now. MGoBlog referenced This tweet about how much of a shutdown corner he has been. Those numbers are sick. Especially when you consider that he is almost always on the #1 WR and that Michigan mostly seems to play press coverage. He also has solid leaping ability which allows him to defend bigger receivers. Time will tell, but this guy has first round pick written all over him.

3. Not as Predictable

This is more difficult to quantify, but Michigan’s offense does not feel as predictable as it did under the Brady Hoke regime. Each week it seems like Michigan has added a new wrinkle of some sort. Sometimes these things appear based on what worked last week (like the zone reads for Jake Rudock in the Northwestern game). Other times these appear to be classic examples of showing something one week and then running the exact counter to it the following week when the other team will be looking for something specific.

4. Talent Utilized

Brady Hoke was a good recruiter. He was a good position coach. But his loyalty to Al Borges, as well as other shortcomings made it difficult for him to succeed as a head coach at this level. I have no doubt he will be back coaching someone’s defensive line soon. But back to recruiting. He did not leave the cupboard bare. There is loads of talent on this team, most of which his staff just couldn’t develop, or find the best ways to utilize. One has to wonder what Devin Gardner could have been under the tutelage of Harbaugh and Jedd Fisch. In the meantime this defense looks unworldly, and there is a lot of growing talent on offense. Amaroh Darboh has been a bit quiet so far this season, but Jehu Chesson is turning into Steve Breaston 2.0 (MGoBlog has been banging this drum all season so h/t to them). De’veon Smith looks like a legit Manball © back. Jake Butt looks like the next great college TE to come out of Harbaugh’s system. On defense, guys like Jeremy Clark are going from “uh oh” starters to “oh yeah” starters. This is all one of the reasons this team looks like it’s getting better every week. The talent is there, it just has to be utilized.

5. Harbaugh to the NFL

People love to talk about how Harbaugh won’t stay at Michigan long. How he is destined to go back to the NFL. The guys on the Solid Verbal Podcast even made jokes about Michigan fan’s reaction to this. It’s not impossible to seem him going back, but it doesn’t seem like the slam dunk move everyone makes it out to be. First of all, he was in the NFL last year, and he left it. He didn’t have to leave it. There were unquestionably teams interested in him, and more that would have been if they thought they had a shot. The Miami Dolphins just fired their head coach. Their owner is Stephen Ross, a Michigan alum and one of the people who pushed Harbaugh to Ann Arbor. He could have fired Joe Philbin last year and had Harbaugh if he thought he could get him. Harbaugh has been a college coach before, for longer than he was an NFL coach. He knows what the job is and how it’s different. He likely shares the personality of guys like Saban and Spurrier, both who briefly tried the NFL and came back to college. They are control freaks who want to run a tight program exactly their way. This is hard to do in the NFL when your players make more than you and are far more often looking out for themselves far above anything else. There were plenty of reports of Harbaugh clashing with players. It’s really possible that he said “enough of this” and realized he was better suited for the college game. Sure it could have just been the timing of the job being available. Sure he might go coach the Bears or the Colts (with Andrew Luck) someday. It’s possible. But it’s not happening next year, or in two years. And if he brings Michigan back to the elite level they were once at, it’s hard to see him walking away from that for new headaches.

iOS 9 and watchOS 2 Thoughts So Far

It’s already been two years since Apple redesigned iOS. It’s hard to believe this is the third version of iOS with the new design. It’s hard to argue that there are a ton of drastic changes in iOS 9, although there are some game changers for anyone who uses the iPad with an external keyboard. Instead some of the best improvements in iOS 9 seem to be the minor ones.

“Global” Back Button

Android has long had a universal back button that takes you back to the last place you were, iOS finally adopted something similar, and now when leaving one app and going directly to another (either via share sheet, notification banner or other links within an app) it is easy to return to the place you came from without returning to the home screen or double tapping the home button to bring up the app switcher. This is a minor thing, but it saves a small amount of time very often. It is especially useful when an email or text notification pops down and you don’t want to use the quick actions. It is also useful in something like Pocket or Tweetbot when you want to view something in Safari but quickly get back to where you were.

Highlighting the Back Button

Spotlight Changes

Renamed just “Search”, and mostly centered around Siri at this point, the search screen and “extra” home screen have gotten better; swiping to the right now shows suggestions and news. So far the “nearby”, news and other new search capabilities haven’t done a lot for me, but using Search as an app launcher seems better than ever. It’s fast and the icons/touch areas are larger and easy to hit. The suggested apps seems to show a combination of recent and frequently used applications, but seems to skew mostly towards frequently used, which isn’t a bad thing.

Siri Search Default

Siri Search With Results

Universal Linking

Basically the concept is that iOS can intercept links to certain websites and redirect them to an application. So when clicking on a link to Amazon or IMDb instead of Safari loading the page, the app get’s loaded instead. Not only is this very hit or miss for me, but it can actually be frustrating at times. For example, this seems to work as advertised on my iPad, but does not work with the same links on my iPhone. Also, because Split View/Slide Over has to be implemented in every application it can mess up workflow when trying to use it. For example, when writing things (like a blog post) in an app, then using Slide Over to bring up Safari and search for something on IMDb, clicking on a link doesn’t bring up the IMDb app in the Slide Over, but instead opens the entire app full-screen. This will become less of an issue as more apps add support or Split View or Slide Over, but in the meantime it’s annoying.


  • The ability to sort Notifications by “Recent” and not group by App is a nice touch. This removes the ability to clear all notifications by a single application (replacing it with the option to clear an entire day). Depending on how you use notifications this could either be good or bad.
  • iOS remembers what app you use most with connected devices and suggests these in the handoff area of the lock when connected. For example, when my phone pairs with my car Bluetooth Downcast shows up since I mostly listen to podcasts in the car. This saves some tapping around if I want to play something other than what I last played or I am having problems resuming playback (which happens sometimes).
  • The new Music app (which hit before iO 9) is atrociously bad. I was super excited about the “Up Next” queueing system borrowed from iTunes, but it’s so much harder to find what I want to listen to, and it’s completely unintuitive in many ways.

watchOS 2

The  Watch has been mildly disappointing for me so far. While it serves some nice utility it’s not a “must have” device for me like the iPhone is. If you offered me the option of a secondary device to the iPhone I would pick iPad over  Watch at this point. The promise of watchOS 2 was supposed to take this product up a notch, but so far the change has felt extremely subtle.

The two changes I was most looking forward to were third party complications (basically what widgets you could display on the watch’s face) and third party apps actually running on the the watch itself. The latter was supposed to make up for the original state, which forced apps to display information from the phone paired to the device each time it’s loaded. This caused apps on the watch to take time open and/or refresh, which not only seemed annoying, but kind of silly. The downside is that most apps have not released new versions of their apps yet, and so there are very few that are benefitting from this new capability. As a result, if there is a titanic shift coming with watchOS 2, it still has a ways to go.

There was a couple of minor things I really liked. The addition of a multi-color watch face livened up the look of things a bit. Previously the watch face would only show headings in one chosen color (the left picture below). The multi-color face allows for the different complication specific colors in the right picture.

Watch Face with One Color Watch Face with Multiple Colors

Most of the other features haven’t done much for me. The “time travel” feature that allows you to spin the dial on the side of the watch and adjust time forward or backward and have complications update for the specified time, seems just OK to me. With the complications I am using only the date, calendar and weather move forward. I could have sworn that the battery indicator was supposed to adjust as well, but no dice.I can’t really see for the most part how this is faster than just looking at both you calendar and weather separately for the remainder of the day versus spinning this dial furiously forward. Oddly when turning it back in time only the date changes. The calendar, weather, activity dial and battery indicator could all make sense to show back in time. Since none of them do it’s hard to see why going back in time is even a function.