Editorials

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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Apple’s WWDC 2016 Event Wrap Up, We Knew Nothing Edition

For the first time in a long time, we knew nothing — or at least, very little — about what Apple were going to announce on stage at WWDC. Of course, we knew we’d be seeing updates to all of Apple’s major software platforms, but the new features and improvements were complete unknowns. Those expecting hardware announcements were left disappointed, but otherwise, there was plenty for Apple to cover.

Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off the 27th Worldwide Developer Conference, welcoming the attendees from 74 countries as part of over 13 million registered developers. Of the 5000-plus attendees, 72% of those are first-time attendees, and what’s more, 120 are under 18. The App Store now has over 2 million apps, with 150 billion downloads, and Apple has paid over $50 billion directly to developers.

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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.

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Good Reads for April, 2016

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of carefully-considered, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes, these will be a look back at how a product is doing, one year on, and other times, a deep-dive into why Apple didn’t invent some new-fangled thing you see every day on the web. Bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • Before we get into some pieces discussing the Apple Watch one year after its release, I want to point out that Apple did not invent emoji. Emoji are everywhere on the web these days, and Apple and other smartphone manufacturers are adding new emoji with almost every point release of their operating systems. But not all emoji are created equal, and what you see on one platform may end up being (very) different on another.

Granted, the iPhone did have a 20-month head start at exposing the English-speaking world to emoji. Plus there’s that whole thing where Apple features are mysteriously assumed to be the first of their kind. I’m not entirely surprised that Apple’s font is treated as canonical; I just have some objections.

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