How Nintendo Made the Toaster Fridge Work (and How Apple Can Too)

I was sitting with some friends when another one of our friends came in and excitedly started telling us about the latest Nintendo console. It was portable, took cartridges, had a touch screen in the centre that you could also interact with the games and best of all, you could wirelessly network with players nearby. You might think this was a year or so ago with the Nintendo switch, but it was actually more like 10 years ago when I was at university and the device was the nintendo DS.

Sure, some of the features I mentioned might have been exaggerated from their reality, but if you compare the original DS and the new switch, there is a lot in common between the devices. In fact now Nintendo’s highest end portable console, is also it’s highest end desktop console. It’s a great example of a toaster fridge, where they managed to combine two distinct lines of products and create a great experience for both.

Why the switch matters to Apple fans ?

Tim Cook famously said that people don’t want a toaster fridge, two devices which are good on their own, but bad together (like combining a toaster and a fridge). This is from the company that made the iPhone which combined a phone, camera, music player and internet communicator into one device (are you getting it yet?) And yet he referred to slapping a poor touch interface onto a desktop computer. Or a terrible desktop experience onto a portable device (basically critiquing Microsoft’s tablet strategy back in windows 7 and windows 8.)

On a personal notes, before I bought my iPad Pro I really debated some of the Microsoft “toaster fridges” like the surface. They certainly seemed better laptops than the iPad Pro, but much worse tablets. For me as a teacher, the idea of walking around with what is basically a laptop was a terrible idea.

However, there are rumors of iOS and macOS heading for a convergence and both devices are clearly influencing each other’s new features such as the dock in iOS 11 and Touch ID in the new MacBook Pros…so can Apple learn something from Nintendo on how to make a good toaster fridge? I believe they can.

But the switch isn’t perfect

I finally grabbed a switch last week and I’ve been impressed by it but I can attest that it isn’t perfect. The joy-con controllers are a bit of a compromise however you use them. On the device it feels like a long and wide device. In the joy-con holder it isn’t a great controller in comparison to something like the PS4 or Xbox controllers. So instead you may want the pro-controller, but then it isn’t really that portable. Plus, the docked device isn’t as powerful as the rival companies high end consoles. So there are “toast fridge” compromises in the switch, and yet the switch has won a tone of praise for it’s unique and daring approach.

Perhaps it is because the device is “good enough” even with these compromises. So the portable device isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough. Likewise the procontroller and the docked device isn’t as powerful as the latest Xbox, but it’s powerful enough. So how can apple make a good toaster fridge?

4 Lessons Apple can take from Nintendos strategy

1. Take your time

Nintendo took their time to make this change. If you look at the nintendo DS, it first came out 10 years ago. In the mean time Nintendo had another major console and several smaller portable devices. They didn’t rush the change.

2. Focus on a long term vision

The DS show strong hints of the switches design and it was refined. Likewise the Wii U’s controller also shows a preview of the switch in many ways, as do the Wii’s controllers for the joy-cons. All these elements fit within that bigger vision.

3. Keep the best parts and lose the worse

Likewise, all these great elements from previous consoles stuck around, but they dropped the poor elements.

4. Take the next natural step

Nintendo didn’t jump from the Wii to the switch, it took a transition step. Now admittedly, the Wii U wasn’t the best device for a few reasons, but it wasn’t terrible. My brother owned one and enjoyed it, it just didn’t seem to give people enough of a reason to upgrade. Likewise the gameboy advance became the DS which then became the 3DS and so on.

What’s next for Apple

So where does Apple go next? Well, in many ways you can see hints that Apple has been implementing this strategy. The MacBook is the most iOS like device apple has ever sold (even including the single port and tiny size). Likewise, and iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard and iOS 11 is the most Mac like iOS device ever (including a dock).

The next step might be to make an iOS device with a stuck in keyboard

We Need to Talk About the Smart Keyboard Bug

Hey Apple, it’s me. One of your most loyal iPad users. Sure I didn’t join the iPad club on day one, but I’ve been a long time iPad user and have for the last three years used it as basically my main computer (with a few rare exceptions). All this is to let you know that I’m on your side. I’m not one of these “Apple is doomed” fear mongers and I’m often one of the first people to give you the benefit of the doubt. But you seriously need to sort out this Smart Keyboard fiasco.

No I’m not talking about the hardware, sure I’d love it to work in portrait as well as landscape and I think the idea of a touch sensitive keyboard that could be used to control a cursor would be fantastic. No, instead I’m talking about the absolutely infuriating bug that plagues it. The one where it suddenly stops typing but you can still use keyboard shortcuts to switch apps or open spotlight.

It’s happened enough times to me that I’ve worked out that bizarre hack of pressing CMD+Space to get spotlight up and then closing it which often restores the keyboards functionality…after a couple of tries. But when you have to work out a crazy solution like that, we’re in the sort of territory that windows and android have been ridiculed for in the past.

Sort out the Smart Keyboard bug fiasco

Now, I’m sure you have smarter people than me working on the iPad software and I can’t imagine what is causing this, but it’s been going on since iOS 11 came out and it’s causing a lot of bad blood. It’s the combination of how frequently it occurs, the frequent software updates which haven’t address the bug and that it renders the device inoperable at a key moment.

Honestly, some people have left the iPad only club because of this bug and that’s a huge problem. Are you really going to sacrifice all that work to stop the decline of iPad sales figures just to throw it all away?

I Still believe in you

Look, I know you will see this right, I mean, if you don’t then the iPad Pro won’t succeed. It will decline and people will look at your lower price iPad…or worse, a Microsoft surface/ Chromebook with tablet mode. I just wish you’d hurry up already.

How to Save Podcast Show Notes to Evernote with IFTTT

This little tip came up on the Mac Power Users podcast thanks to Katie Floyd. She pointed out that you can set up IFTTT to get podcast show notes to you via IFTTT. This could be with IFTTT sending you an email with those show notes, or saving them to Evernote.

This second option intrigued me more as I had recently started backing up my blog to Evernote via IFTTT and saving other records or data. This has made it useful for finding bits of information or links which I quickly forget about. I can see how saving the podcast shownotes could be very useful for find a link to an app or article that I remember being mentioned one time but can’t quite remember when. So, I thought I’d set it up.

How to Set up an IFTTT action to save podcast show notes to Evernote

Step one: make sure you have an account

Obviously you need to have an Evernote account and IFTTT account to get going. You can download the apps below or click these links to set up an account

Step two: create a new applet

Go into “my applets” and click the plus at the top right hand corner to create a new applet.

Step Three: Set up your trigger

Now click on this and select RSS feed, you can search to find it. From the options, select “new feed item” and enter the podcast feed you want to follow. For example, to get the show notes from a slab of glass, enter

Step four: Set up your action

Now we have our trigger set up, so we need our action. Click on “that” and choose Evernote and then create a new note in Evernote.

Now we get into some fine details and this is where you may want to vary some elements. The default set up will have the feed item (so the podcast episode title) to be the title of note, and the content of the feed item (so the show notes) to fill in the note content (with some IFTTT additions). This is probably what you want, but when it comes to notebooks and tags, I suggest that you use a tag for podcast and the title of the podcast, as well as the topics of the podcast and perhaps a notebook for podcast show notes. Of course, this will vary depending on how you use Evernote, you may use a “reference” notebook or something similar for it.

Give it a go with your favourite podcast

If you are like me and for some reason have an Evernote premium account (stupid work windows PCs) then you may find that you don’t use anywhere near your Evernote usage…So why not try saving your favourite, never miss podcast show notes so you can easily find that thing someone referenced one episode.