Editorials

Good Reads for February, 2017

Each month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of jokingly jovial, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes, they’ll be about how Apple has lost its way and needs to buy another big-name company to stay afloat — or not, as the case may be. Other times, we’ll be looking for replacements for macOS like this hasn’t all been done before, or wondering about what Steve Jobs had in mind for the iPad, in a post-computing world. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • A rebuttal to Ian Bogost of The Atlantic’s piece about the myth of Apple’s great design from Nick Heer of Pixel Envy, tells us about this whole “design” thing. What is “sufficiently great design”, anyway, and could you say any Apple product released in recent memory has it? If Apple products didn’t have some semblance of design, whether we’re talking about the how it looks or how it works, would the company be doing as well as they are? You be the judge.

Everything that has ever been designed has required a series of decisions based on what’s possible, what’s necessary for the final product, and what reasonable compromises can be made for everything to work correctly. “Sufficiently great design”, in this context, is also about making choices and compromises that produce a better product in typical use.

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Good Reads for January, 2017

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of intelligently instigated reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Normally they don’t appear as part of the daily news, even though the news covered tangentially-related events, such as the iPhone’s first tenth birthday, or Apple’s 2016 in review. All I know is, you’ll need to bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • If we’re starting this edition of Good Reads off with anything, we’re starting it with a story about the history of the iPhone. The internet history podcast takes us back to 2007, when Apple Computer, Inc, was riding on a wave of iPod-related successes, and the Mac was flourishing because of that. Then the iPhone was announced, Apple dropped the “Computer” part of its name, and, well, you pretty much know the rest.

And so, a skunkworks tablet project became a skunkworks phone project. At the very least, by 2003-4, in the form of various initiatives, Apple was hard at work on some sort of portable device that would merge the iPod with a phone and become an all-encompassing unitary device.

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Good Reads for November, 2016

Every month, just when you had thought I had forgotten about publishing a new instalment of Good Reads, we’ll be bringing you a selection of highly heralded, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes these will be interviews with prominent Apple execs on contemporary topics, or commentary on how the Apple blogosphere is increasingly cynical of the biggest company in the world. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • November saw the release of Apple’s latest and greatest. The new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar divided Apple enthusiasts into one of two camps, the majority of whom thought that Apple’s vision of the future was a little too expensive, and a little too reliant on dongles for those of us still living in the here and now. The other camp pointed out that this was the first major redesign of Apple’s laptop lineup since the Retina-class machines were introduced in 2012, all at a time when we had all but thought Apple had forgotten about the Mac. Over at Medium, Steven Levy discusses the importance of bringing touch input to the Mac, with words from Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller about some of the decisions that went into making the Touch Bar a thing.

We care about the feedback but we know that the fundamental difference on where their opinions are coming is between those who had a chance to use it and those who haven’t. There are people who want us to innovate faster and when we do there’s people who say, ‘Whoa, whoa, you’re going too fast.’ That’s just a balance in the world.

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Good Reads for October, 2016

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of fashionably featured reads about the wonderful world of Apple. At times, they’ll have commentary on whether Apple’s oldest product lineup still matters, or an explanation of why Tim Cook is the new Steve Ballmer. Other times, it will be well-reasoned commentary on how Apple has no idea what its doing anymore, or an explanation of why your next iPhone won’t be made of ceramic. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • When Apple teased invites to its October event with the “hello again” tagline, it kind of set people up for disappointment. I mean, there’s no way Apple wouldn’t have known what those words meant to the Apple faithful — once the tagline of the 1984 Macintosh, to see it used for marketing what turned out to be an entirely unworthy set of updates is heartbreaking. Not only was a third of the Mac lineup updated, but updated in such a way that some are saying Apple has no idea who the Mac is for.

It’s strange — there’s nothing actually wrong with what Apple announced: USB-C on the Mac is great, a thinner, more powerful machine is intriguing and, while it’s too early to say, the Touch Bar could possibly be a gimmick, but it could be useful for helping people discover what shortcuts exist as they use the computer.
The thing is, I can’t figure out who this is for other than those who are on really old machines.

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Apple’s October 2016 Event Wrap Up, Emoji Bar Edition

Provided you didn’t have unrealistic expectations of Apple’s October 2016 event, you weren’t left disappointed. Apple announced a Touch Bar and Touch ID integration on the redesigned 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pros, both thinner, lighter, and more space-efficient than their predecessors. Minor adjustments to the rest of the portable Mac lineup and a new Apple TV simply called “TV” rounded out the rest of the announcements. The rest of the news, and our full summary of the event, follows below.

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Good Reads for September, 2016

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of genuinely grandiose reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes, they’ll contain speculation about upcoming Apple products, or analysis of why the latest iPhone is the worst one ever. Other times, they’ll be lengthy review of operating systems, followed up by the usual “Apple is doomed” commentary. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • John Siracusa may not be writing reviews of Apple’s Mac operating systems on Ars Technica any longer, but that doesn’t mean Ars Technica has stopped reviewing them. Now known as macOS, Sierra 10.12 adds new features in the way of bringing Siri to the Mac, as well as improvements to core OS apps such as Photos, Messages, and smarter storage management features that eschew much of traditional file management away from users. But once all that’s said and done, it’s still an iterative release that runs on ageing hardware — even if that hardware runs any task you wish to throw at it comfortably.

Sierra is a perfectly fine operating system update. Like other yearly macOS releases (and the new periodic Windows 10 releases), it makes solid improvements without pulling the rug out from under users of the current version. It cuts hardware from the support list somewhat arbitrarily, but those aging Core 2 Duo systems can’t be expected to last forever and they’ll still get El Capitan security updates for a couple of years.

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Apple’s September 2016 Event Wrap Up, Courage Edition

Here’s the summary you were looking for: the headphone jack is dead, there’s these new wireless headphones called AirPods, and Apple did their own quick-fire, 107-second wrap up of the event so I don’t have to.

Check out the iPhone 7, Apple Watch Series 2, and AirPods product pages on the Apple website, and post up a comment in the September 2016 event topic in the forums.

Good Reads for August, 2016

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of enthusiastically endorsed — if slightly longer — reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes these will be interviews with Apple executives, other times they’ll be deep dives into how Apple’s artificial intelligence and machine learning is making a difference in the day-to-day of millions. Bring your own Instapaper account or other preferred read-it-later service, because this is Good Reads.

  • August was apparently the month for interviews, and Fast Company led the charge with their piece on Tim Cook’s Apple. It just so happens that August 2016 happens to mark Cook’s fifth year at the helm of one of the biggest companies in the world, and Fast Company’s interview with the Apple CEO paints the picture of a leader who has to constantly face the music on every facet of Apple.

But, in the five years under Cook, Apple’s revenue has tripled, its workforce has doubled, and its global reach has expanded rapidly. […] Cook has shown a great capacity for getting improvements from every corner of the company, and for then deploying those gains across a wider canvas of software, hardware, and services than Jobs ever had at his disposal. He will never be as flashy as Jobs, but he may just be the perfect CEO for the behemoth Apple has become.

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Good Reads for July, 2016

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of vehemently vetted, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes they’ll be interviews with former Apple employees, discussion around how Apple’s user interface is changing (some say for the worse), or odes to a device long lost in amongst a billion iPhone sales. Bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • Over at The Macro, Craig Cannon interviews Apple employee numero uno, Bill Fernandez. In a series that focuses on early employees at tech companies, Fernandez tells the story of how he became the first employee after Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Mark Makkula incorporated the company. “Startups” weren’t really a thing back in the days when Apple was in its infancy, and just like Jobs, Fernandez was laid off from Apple only to rejoin the Mac team in the early 1980s.

Well, I definitely wanted to work with them. You know, I had worked with Woz and Jobs on projects for years and they were two of my closest friends and we got along well together. And sure, it was great working with my friends. It was also great having the opportunity for us to build our own computer, so yeah. It was great. I just thought, “Let’s go build our own computers. This is awesome.”

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Good Reads for June, 2016

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a perfectly picked selection — if slightly longer — reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes, they’ll be deep dives into how Apple’s latest rumoured move is user-hostile, or how the major facet of Apple’s software success is evolving into a slightly different beast. Other times, they’ll be deep dives into Apple’s upcoming file system. All I know is, you’ll need to bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • Of all the rumours in June, none generated more clicks than Apple’s as-yet-unconfirmed decision to remove the venerable 3.5mm headphone jack from the next iPhone. Sanity and logic was thrown out the window as internet commenters argued for or against the removal, which is pretty much how it played out in our own discussions on the topic. Over at Medium, Steve Streza tells us why Gruber’s rebuttal against a “user-hostile move by Apple” as described by The Verge completely misses the point.

It seems pretty reasonable that a user would not want hardware compatibility issues, DRM-encumbered music, or significantly more expensive headphones. And users already have lots of devices compatible with the 3.5mm headphone port. Therefore, to remove the port in a way that is not user-hostile and stupid, Apple would have to provide more value and benefit than they are taking away, on top of whatever new features they provide.

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