Good Reads for October, 2015

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a hand-picked selection of the best, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. While these picks could have easily made it into the daily morning news digests, I feel they deserve some special attention because they bring up a particularly important point, or cover some important topic that explains how Apple does what it does, and how they do it better than any other company. Bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • With the recent launch of the Apple TV, what better way to kick off another instalment of Good Reads than with a piece from Universal Mind about the importance of apps coming to the big screen. There will be challenges, of course, but if apps coming to the big screen means publishers who weren’t interested in mobile get on board with apps for the new Apple TV, then that’s a win, in my book.

The tvOS App Store is set to kick off a new gold rush where third-party developers push the boundaries and create a broad range of disruptive new experiences. Like the iTunes Store did for music before it, the tvOS App Store lowers the bar for small content producers to sidestep incumbent distribution systems and access larger audiences.

  • With games on iOS being an ever-increasing market of free titles with in-app purchases, copycat apps that attempt to mimic the gameplay of other more popular titles, or just premium titles that are drowned out by the deluge of lower-quality games, I often wonder what it is that makes certain games more successful than others. The secrets behind the success of Monument Valley takes us behind the curtain, showing us the design process and highlighting the little details that make it great.

The inspiration for Monument Valley, for instance, was his layman’s interest in architecture and the work of Dutch artist M.C. Escher. Ken also wanted to take video games in a new direction. His audience would be those who engage with games for all the usual reasons, like improving skills, engaging with opponents, and, yes, having fun and slaying dragons.

  • The recent iMac update brought 5K displays to the 27-inch model across the board, introduced a new 4K display for the 21-inch model, and also a piece from Steven Levy at Medium, who tells us about the inside story of Apple’s new iMacs.

There are many reasons why Apple is the world’s most valuable company. Tim Cook is celebrated as a supply chain Maester who has internalized the focus on innovation that his predecessor inculcated in the culture. Jony Ive has drawn global raves for making Apple a design icon. Its marketing and branding practices set industry standards. But a visit to the lab where its legacy products — computers — are made suggests another reason.

  • Indeed, it’s this dedication to design that makes Apple so successful, as Neil Cybart writes Apple uses good design to marginalise industries. It happened with the iPhone, it happened with the iPad, and the Apple Watch, and there’s a damn good chance it will happen again with whatever Apple are doing with cars. The “form over function” rhetoric may be peddled among Apple naysayers, but Apple’s latest financial results tell the real story.

The iPhone relegated the mobile phone to a single app. Apple Watch is being positioned to turn the modern Watch industry on its head. Apple’s ambitions with the automobile will be nothing short of a transformational shift in how we think and use automobiles. When a company places only a few big design bets every few years, the resulting bets need to be huge, and Apple positions good design as the guiding light with all of its bets.

  • Mashable talked to Apple SVP Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller and John Ternus, VP of Mac and iPad engineering, and in case you weren’t entirely sure of the importance of good design at Apple, Apple’s perfectionism machine strives to produce innovation with every iteration. It all reads like a PR puff piece, but there’s no denying there’s a certain truth to the words that tell us what the culture at Apple is really like.

Talking to Schiller and Ternus, it occurs to me that the concept of Mac fanboys and fangirls is inside-out. The so-called cult of Apple doesn’t begin and end outside its headquarters and Chinese factories. It is a part of Apple itself, a sort of cult of perfectionism that has been driving product development for 20 years.

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