Good Reads for May, 2016

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of hand-picked — if slightly longer — reads about the wonderful world of Apple. May turned out to be a pretty quiet month for Apple thinkpieces, so this time around we’re doing something slightly different by pointing out a few shorter posts, then going back to some Apple Watch commentary that was missed out last month. Bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • Apple’s new Union Square Apple Store is the first of its kind. Despite featuring some of the same general features as other Apple Stores, right down to the glass staircase, the floor-to-ceiling glass wall, and brightly-lit wooden tables showcasing Apple products in the best possible light, it’s a new kind of Apple Store, one with an 37-foot screen, an indoor seating area with trees implanted into seats, and cute wooden stools with nested leather seats. Jean-Louis Gassée says it sends a clear message.

Seriously, this is a business run by serious adults. They make mistakes, but this isn’t one of them. This is a retail chain that has defied conventional wisdom, broken all revenue per square foot records and become an icon, envied and copied. The new site (preceded by a smaller implementation of the new design in Brussels) sends a clear message: this is what we think of ourselves, this is what we think of our customers.

  • While people are debating the merits of one voice-powered AI over another, or wondering whether Apple will win in the upcoming AI wars (more in this in a moment), Steven Aquino is over at TechCrunch pointing out how Apple continues to lead in the accessibility stakes. Not that Android doesn’t have accessibility features, but in terms of awareness and innovation, iOS is ahead of the pack.

With iOS, Apple has created a rich and diverse set of tools for people with disabilities that enable them to use an iPhone with as much ease and delight as their non-disabled peers. It’s for this reason the accessibility features on iOS are widely regarded as the best in the industry. This is no small feat, one that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially if you remember what cell phones were like before the iPhone came along.

  • Walt Mossberg of The Verge speculates on what’s next for Apple, and how the company will fare if it pivots to AI like so many suspect it will. Phone sales are slowing and reaching some kind of plateau thanks to years of iteration, and many suspect voice-powered personal assistants all but chosen as the next big thing. The question is, are Apple up to the challenge?

After Apple bought Siri, the giant company seemed to treat it as a backwater, restricting it to doing only a few, slowly increasing number of tasks, like telling you the weather, sports scores, movie and restaurant listings, and controlling the device’s functions. Its unhappy founders have left Apple to build a new AI service called Viv.

  • Joe Cieplinski has the trifecta of Apple Watch articles, one year after the release of the wrist-worn wearable. His first piece talks about apps, glances, complications, notifications, and the dreaded, inconsistent slowness that every Apple Watch owner has experienced. He says the Watch appeals because of a few very specific reasons, which is not dissimilar to what you’ve been saying in our discussion on the topic in the forums. Finally, he wraps things up by saying there’s a few areas in which the Apple Watch could improve that aren’t just beefing up the hardware.

That does mean that to many, for now, the Watch seems like an optional device, rather than essential one. It all depends on your needs and wants as a user. For me, the Watch already has all it needs to justify being on my wrist all day and night. For others, it may take some new features that come along a year or more down the road. For people who love their old analog Watches, it will probably take even longer, as their wrists are already occupied. This is the way of things.

Start the discussion at talk.appletalk.com.au