good reads

Good Reads for July, 2017

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of meticulously memorised, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes they’ll be a comprehensive explanation of why ARKit is a big deal, or the latest breakdown of what made news in the Apple blogosphere recently. Other times, they’ll be an extremely technical read on a recent vulnerability that affected millions of iOS devices up until a few weeks ago. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • While recent news has focused on Apple’s removal of VPN apps from the Chinese App Store, none of this is particularly new. People have been talking about Apple’s “walled garden” for as long as the App Store has been around, and Motherboard writes about the long and storied history of Apple removing “objectionable content” from the App Store. All of this is true, of course, as is the statement that with more than nine years of the App Store, we haven’t seen any widespread malware threats.

Each day, Apple is tasked with a near-impossible job: keeping its sprawling App Store free from malware, blatantly offensive content, and spam. In order to do it, the company requires each of the App Store’s roughly two million apps, from iFart to Twitter, to undergo an extensive approval process.

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Good Reads for May, 2017

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a series of somewhat scrutinised — if slightly longer — reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Whether they’re commentary on Apple’s latest project, a detailed analysis of how Apple keeps itself ahead of the competition, or reflecting back on ten years of the iPhone, they’ll have something for everyone. Bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • The standout piece from May was from Steven Levy, who over at Wired had a deep dive into Apple Park. Apple Park is undoubtedly as much of an Apple product as your iPhone or iPad is, from the attention to detail to the wood that made up the walls in offices, to the workplaces designed to increase collaboration between individuals and teams. (As a bonus, Levy’s piece in Backchannel tells us the story of David Muffly, the guy in charge of the trees at Apple Park.)

It’s probably more accurate to say that Apple Park is the architectural avatar of the man who envisioned it, the same man who pushed employees to produce those signature products. In the absence of his rigor and clarity, he left behind a headquarters that embodies both his autobiography and his values.

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Good Reads for April, 2017

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a series of handpicked, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes they’ll be about what Apple is doing with a product purchased by a single-digit percentage of Mac users, other times, they’ll be a critical analysis of what Apple are doing with the Mac as a whole, when the news is filled with rumours of new and shiny iPhones. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • Early in April, Apple did something unprecedented and invited some select few to Cupertino to discuss the future of the Mac Pro. You can read the full transcript of the discussion over at TechCrunch, but the gist of it is that Apple knew they had made some wrong design decisions with the 2013 Mac Pro, design decisions that ultimately delayed any kind of hardware refresh to the tune of being untouched — no spec bump, much less a hardware refresh — for over 1200 days.

In the interim, we know there are a number of customers who continue to buy our current Mac Pro. To be clear, our current Mac Pro has met the needs of some of our customers, and we know clearly not all of our customers. None of this is black and white, it’s a wide variety of customers. For some, it’s the kind of system they wanted; for others, it was not.

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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 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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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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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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