Good Reads for May, 2015

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a few slightly longer – but always worth your time – reads about the wonderful world of Apple. From in-depth looks at location icons to opinion pieces on what’s happening in the land of mobile gaming, we’ll be covering the best reads the web has to offer. Bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • While we’re breaking the unofficial rule of Good Reads and including a read from the previous month, last month’s look at Apple’s Spotlight Location icons from the Mercury blog show off a wonderfully designed set of pictograms for various locations and points of interest within Apple’s Maps. Say what you want about the data, but the icons are pretty great — and it’s super cool that they have country-specific icons.

There were many icons that I was only able to find in Japan. For those of you familiar with how much more detail typically appears on Japanese maps, this is pretty unsurprising. Unlike maps in the rest of the world, Japan’s maps call out every traffic light and have special branded icons for some businesses such as 7-Eleven, Lawson, FamilyMart, Starbucks, and several others.

  • One of the earlier Apple Watch reviews tells us that the future is now. Stephen Orth owned a Pebble before his Apple Watch, and while he didn’t like some aspects of the Apple Watch at first — no “always on” feature to tell the time, limited battery life — it’s hard to fault the impeccable hardware design. The apps aren’t quite there yet, but that’s to be expected of a brand new product category. We’ll see the first truly great Apple Watch apps all in good time, I’m sure.

So, naturally, I placed my order for the 42mm Space Gray Apple Watch Sport promptly at 12:04 am on April 10, right after the Apple online store opened. I still wasn’t sure if I’d keep that order, or cancel it, but I wanted to make sure I would get a watch early-on as I knew there’d likely be a shortage. I had been intrigued with the watch since the first rumors, but I didn’t know if it was really going to work for me personally.

  • But for every person that liked their shiny new Apple Watch, there was one who didn’t. Engadget’s Mat Smith tells us he regretted buying an Apple Watch, because it does as much as he expected it would, and not much more. His phone is always as near as his Apple Watch is, and with the limited interactions possible with the apps he uses, he’s wearing it without getting much out of it. It’s more evidence that the Watch is, indeed, ahead of its time.

I bought this because of what it could do beyond those mere timepieces. Indeed, it can do more, but it doesn’t do enough. Not yet. It doesn’t illuminate my life like my first iPhone, or revolutionize my work routine like the take-it-anywhere MacBook Air.

  • Neil Cybart’s analysis of Jony Ive’s recent promotion to the newly-minted Chief of Design position at Apple says it’s the closest thing to the unofficial role Steve Jobs held at Apple. Cybart’s take on the whole thing is filled with smart ideas, like the fact that Ive’s promotion had been planned all along, or that his new title is mostly ceremonial.

I look at this news as paving a sustainable path for Jony Ive to continue guiding Apple. In the process, we also now know the future leaders of Apple’s design efforts. When we understand how Apple turns ideas into products, it becomes clear that Jony’s new role is the closest thing yet to the unofficial role Steve Jobs held at Apple. We are in the midst of Jony Ive’s Apple.

  • Mobile gaming is a weird one. Triple-A games are basically non-existent, yet there are titles making their creators hundreds of thousands of dollars — sometimes per day. In-app purchases and micro-transactions rule the roost, not caring what you think, and despite the abundance of free to play titles, the market is lucrative enough that developers are still throwing time and money in the hopes of making it big. Over at Touch Arcade, Carter Dotson tells us not to worry about mobile gaming, while his colleague Eli Hodapp says there’s exciting things ahead.

Absolutely anyone in the video game industry that’s even remotely paying attention to what’s been happening has seen how much mobile has grown, and it’s easy for boardroom meetings to come to the conclusion that if you’re also not getting into mobile game development, that’s money you’re potentially leaving on the table.

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