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.

  • The Verge tells us about the rise of Anker, an electronics accessory manufacturer that so far, has seen somewhat limited adoption outside of the US. Started by a former software engineer from Google, Anker’s main claim to fame is now battery packs, cables, and chargers. They’re a company that has flourished because our battery tech is as good as it gets — Anker’s cables and chargers fill a void, keeping us connected, keeping us switched on. And they’re doing a hell of a job.

And where Apple and others failed to develop products of their own like multi-port wall plugs and portable chargers, Anker saw the opportunity and capitalized on it. The company is quick to fill gaps created by smartphone manufacturers. When Apple removed the headphone jack on the iPhone 7, for instance, Anker saw a giant opportunity to begin producing new dongles and other cable adapters to help consumers adjust.

  • Brad Ellis wants us to ditch the navbar in favour of reach navigation. Our thumbs aren’t getting bigger at the same rate that smartphone screen sizes are, so instead of forcing us to stretch and contort our digits into increasingly less comfortable positions, why don’t we re-think our user interfaces so that they’re usable with one hand again?

As devices change, our visual language changes with them. It’s time to move away from the navbar in favor of navigation within thumb-reach. For the purposes of this article, we’ll call that Reach Navigation.

  • Ever since Apple became one of the most valuable companies in the world, Apple naysayers have claimed they’re behind the competition. The “Apple is doomed” narrative is usually followed up by statements such as “Siri isn’t as reliable as Google Now”, or “Apple needs to catch up with the latest in smartphone design”. AppleInsider writes that being constantly behind benefits Apple, acting as a competitive advantage because they get to see what everyone else is doing, then do it better.

Examine a decade of history recounting the various companies leisurely crossing the tracks just ahead of the Apple Train, while the media cheered them on as being avant-garde rather than fated for death. Consider why their celebrated efforts to crush Apple with various “iPhone-killers” failed. Note: because this game involves capitalist enterprise, points are awarded in dollars rather than pats-on-the-back or participation trophies.

  • May must have been the month for 10-year reflections. A developer’s perspective on the iPhone from Adrian Kosmaczewski was one such look back, focusing on the development of the iPhone as a platform. While the web has changed a lot, native development for the iPhone is as strong as it ever was, and now, we get to look back on Cydia and the very first iPhone SDK, all while looking forward to what Apple will announce at WWDC in the coming week.

The iPhone turned out to be a far, far bigger platform than any of us could ever imagine. In this talk I am going to take you in a trip back in time, to remember frameworks, people, companies, events and projects that have marked our craft in the past decade. […] This is the story of the best-selling electronics consumer product in history, and how it shaped the mobile industry.

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