Good Reads for November, 2014

Every month, we’ll be bringing you no more than a handful of slightly longer — but always worthy of your time and attention — reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • A lot has been said about the famed Reality Distortion Field of Steve Jobs, and how the late Apple CEO manipulated perception when he was on stage. A rare look from one German journalist from Medium tells us what it’s really like, and as it turns out, it’s less smoke and mirrors, and more about a carefully controlled media presence. It’s overly critical of Apple in some places, in my opinion, but it still makes the cut this month.

Three years after the death of its charismatic founder, Apple is doing all it can to maintain this reality distortion field, mainly by exercising total control about anything that is reported about the company or its products. In contrast to Apple’s design philosophy this strategy does not manifest itself through clarity and elegance, but through a subtle and sometimes questionable toying with our, the reporting journalists’ vanities and dependencies.

  • Despite all the negativity that has come to Apple recently (and by recently I mean in October — I’ve heard very little in November), there are those that think Apple are going in a different direction than people think they are. Seth Godin is one of those people, and he says it might be time to consider Apple as a luxury tools company, instead of the tool maker they’ve traditionally been seen as.

The luxury maker doesn’t really fear hearing that her food isn’t cutting edge. On the other hand, she lives in fear that she won’t be seen as an essential choice by the fashionable elite. And the tool maker works to avoid the opposite problem.

  • It’s fairly safe to say Apple Pay has made a huge impact in the US, thanks in part to a lack of contactless payments over there. But it’s more than that: Stratechery’s Ben Thompson explains how Apple creates leverage by having a fantastic user base. This, in turn, makes partnerships with music labels, telcos, and now, banks almost too easy.

This explains the situation that Apple’s payment initiative is in today: Apple Pay as an experience works incredibly well, Apple’s customers are eager to use it, the credit card networks fully support it, banks are falling over themselves to not only sign up but to pay Apple 0.15% of every transaction for the privilege, but retailers, particularly big chains that pay the most in credit card fees and reap the most benefits from data collection, are much more hesitant.

  • You can say a lot about Android versus iOS, but until you’ve used both platforms you don’t really know what it’s like. David Ruddock of Android Police looks at both the iPad Air 2 and Nexus 9 in a mostly subjective comparison of how the two flagship tablets fare against each other, and while the Nexus is better in some areas, it’s also considerably worse in others, too. A fair and balanced review.

Meanwhile, the iPad Air 2 is, frankly, the gold standard in tablets. It has the most (and I’d argue, largely, the best) apps, it has what is probably the best mobile chipset on the market, it’s by far the nicest tablet from a quality standpoint, and it has an awesome display.

  • We’re kind of fans of the rainbow Apple logo here at AppleTalk, so we end Good Reads for November with a love letter to the Apple logo from Macworld. Think Retro is a new column from the company which recently announced a shuttering of the print edition of the magazine, and they’re off to a flying start.

And I guess they’re right—the current, clean logo, which these days you usually see as a simple silhouette or lit up on a laptop lid, certainly doesn’t seem retro like the rainbow one. But for me at least, it’s just not as exciting. There’s something wildly satisfying and compelling about these old badges—the promise, always delivered-on, of an experience like no other available at the time.

Header image: Macintosh Performa 200 by Flickr user Ken Fager. Licensed under CC by NC SA.

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