Good Reads for January, 2016

Another year, another month, another Good Reads. In case you’re new, every month, we’ll be sharing the best, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes there will be think pieces on why Apple’s design has strayed from the path, or why Tim Cook is the worst CEO since Steve Jobs, but the only thing we know for sure is that they’ll always bring a kind of discussion to the table that we don’t generally see in the daily news. Bring your own Instapaper account or read-it-later service of choice, because this is Good Reads.

  • With Apple’s financials being released earlier this week, it’s time for some in-depth analysis on where Apple is going with all that cash. With close to two thirds of Apple’s revenue coming from the iPhone, Neil Cybart of Above Avalon writes that Apple is currently the iPhone company, but given that Apple themselves have predicted iPhone sales falling off next quarter, what’s next?

[…] there are clues that Apple not only has little interest in that strategy, but has already been thinking of new products in an effort to move beyond the iPhone. Management is aware that iPhone growth will not continue indefinitely and that at a certain point Apple’s resources will be better spent coming up with new products that can do an even better job at making technology more personal.

  • F.lux has been in the spotlight recently, but for all the wrong reasons. Their attempts to bring F.lux to iOS devices through some Xcode side-loading failed when Apple told them it was a violation of the Developer Program Agreement in November last year. Then just two short months later, Apple announces it’s bringing it’s own version of F.lux, called Night Shift, to iOS 9.3. It’s one of the more blatant Sherlock-ings we’ve seen recently, and the story of the light-shifting app is fascinating.

Developing f.lux, it turned out, was more complex than either Lorna or Michael initially thought. And in the seven years since they started working on the app full time, Michael and Lorna have realized what they’re really on is a mission to change the way that we sleep.

  • With the privacy debate heating up overseas and in our own backyard, thanks to the government’s decision to implement mandatory metadata retention, we start wondering why Apple is one of the only companies that’s defending encryption. Tidbits’ Rich Mogull has a decidedly US-centric take on Apple’s position, but his points are applicable regardless of where you live and what your government is (or says it isn’t) doing.

Apple is nearly unique among technology firms in that it’s high profile, has revenue lines that don’t rely on compromising privacy, and sells products that are squarely in the crosshairs of the encryption debate. Because of this, everything Apple says about encryption comes from a highly defensible position, especially now that the company is dropping its iAd App Network.

  • The entire team behind legendary virtualisation products VMware Workstation, Fusion, and Hosted UI was laid off this week, which means WMware Fusion on the Mac probably isn’t going to be around for much longer. A tribute to the team that worked on one of the best names in Mac virtualisation space, written by a former VMware staffer, tells us about a team that built two similar, but different products.

Fusion was a very different product in some ways than Workstation, but it was also very closely related. While it didn’t focus on many of the power user features that Workstation offered, it did take many of those features and reimagine them for more casual users. It also shared much of the core code that Workstation used, meaning that features could more easily be ported across and bugs fixed just once.

  • Complaining about Apple is nothing new. But lately, it feels as people are just jumping on the bandwagon without considering what it’s like to be Apple right now. Software quality used to be Apple’s forte, back when they didn’t have millions of people using their devices in millions of configurations, and now that there are a billion active iOS devices out in the wild, issues are bound to crop up that can’t be anticipated or tested against. Keeping up with Tim Cook’s Apple is a near-impossible feat, but the ones you should be feeling sorry for are developers.

In barely three years, design consideration for iOS has gone from two sizes to twelve. When accounting for orientation, twenty-four distinct layouts are required. Twenty-four to account for devices which support iOS 9. Madness.
Consider technologies like CloudKit, HomeKit, and CarPlay in addition to nearly continuous updates and improvements to familiar frameworks. Earlier this month, Apple announced an iOS 9.3 public preview. The updates are non-stop. Gone are the days when WWDC contained all the new shiny.

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