Good Reads for November, 2017

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of positively personalised, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes they’ll be in-depth analyses of Apple’s latest and greatest, how developers are designing for a never before-seen form factor, or the best review of any iPhone, ever. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • November was, somewhat unsurprisingly, all about the iPhone X. It’s been a month since the iPhone X was released to the masses and most apps are getting updated for the edge-to-edge display. The iPhone X is unlike any iPhone that came before it due to the rounded corners, no home button, and the TrueDepth camera system cutout that everyone keeps talking about, and that presents unique challenges for developers. Samuel Axon of Ars Technica talked to some developers about the changes they’ve had to make in their apps, and my only hope is that it all hasn’t been for notch.

The iPhone X is the most significant change to the iPhone in several years. It has a higher resolution and a different screen shape. It disposes of the home button and adds or changes touch gestures. Every one of those changes could create work for designers and developers… and then there’s the notch. You can expect more phones to do this, not just from Apple. But how do you design around it? How much work is it to adapt an app for it? Is it, as some critics say, bad design?

  • It’s fair to say that with the amount of thought that has gone into the design of Apple Park, it’s yet another Apple product, complete with intricate design details. To find out how Apple sweats the small stuff, we kind of have to talk to Apple’s Chief Design Officer. Nick Compton of Wallpaper interviewed Jony Ive about the finer design elements of Apple Park, unveiled at the same event as the iPhone X.

The building, though, is not a metaphor for open systems, or creative flow made concrete. It is a made object. Apple’s success has been built on higher-order industrialisation; not just designing beautiful objects that do all manner of new things but producing them in incredible numbers and at consistent quality. Its new building is, in some ways, the ultimate Apple product, in places using the same materials the company uses in its laptops and phones.

  • Soon after the release of the iPhone X, when all that had pre-ordered the device a week earlier or those that had lined up at Apple Stores and gotten a coveted reservation had received their devices, we started to see opinions of the device from regular folks. Ben Thompson of Stratechy was particularly impressed, saying that the iPhone X is Apple at its best. Despite the vast differences to any iPhone that has come before it, the iPhone X is a delight to use.

Moreover, it’s worth noting that the iPhone X is launching into a far different market than the original iPhone did: touch is not new, but rather the familiar; changing many button paradigms into gestures certainly presents a steeper learning curve for first-time smartphone users, but for how many users will the iPhone X be their first smartphone?

  • But the best “review” of the iPhone X has to go to Neven Mrgan. I use inverted commas for review there because Mrgan’s review is less of a review, and more of a, well, work of fiction with one very important point: the silver iPhone X is the best iPhone X.

I was reading a book in my living room on a stormy night when a knock at the door interrupted me. It wasn’t entirely unexpected, however, and when I opened the door, I wasn’t all that surprised to see the rain-drenched figure of Detective Hyller standing at my doorstep with an apologetic smile on her face.

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