Good Reads for January, 2018

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of painstakingly penned, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes they’ll be gripes about how the MacBook Pro has lost all semblance of being a pro-level machine, a bunch of questions and answers about Apple’s massive cash stockpile, or a wish list for the next version of watchOS. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • It’s not really a read, per se, but I thought I’d point out the craftsmanship behind the WWDC 2017 Lightbox by Josh Tidsbury anyway. His gift to members of the Technology Evangelism group at Apple this year, following their work at WWDC, pays homage to both the cube of the Apple Design Award, with the aesthetic that only wood can bring. The amount of detail that went into the creation of these little wooden mementos is a testament to the kind of attention to detail that makes Apple great.

I wanted to create something of a keepsake for each of the other members of our team as a personal gift to each of them. I’ve always loved the aesthetic of the Apple Design Award, and wanted to create something of an homage to that design, but using my favourite material: wood.

  • If you have questions about Apple’s substantial cash stockpile, Horace Deidu’s Apple Cash FAQ has answers. If you’ve ever wanted to know what the implications are for Apple to hold such a large amount of cash, and what that means financially for the company and its shareholders, you should be reading this. It’s an eye opening look into the world of corporate finance, when there’s accountability to shareholders to take into account and not just an eye-watering and borderline unfathomable number that represents Apple’s cash on hand.

To the nearest million, as of the end of September 2017, Apple’s cash and investments totaled $268,895,000,000. Note that this includes investments in the form of short- and long-term marketable securities. Long-term marketable securities are not always accounted as “cash” because strictly cash is considered a liquid asset and some securities may not be sufficiently so. Nevertheless, most analysts would agree that Apple’s securities are sufficiently liquid to qualify as cash. Note that for archaic reasons this cash is separated into US and non-US holdings with $17 billion located in the US.

  • WatchOS will be turning five this year, and if the trend of previous years is to be followed, we’ll likely see a new version of watchOS unveiled at WWDC sometime in June. A relatively modest watchOS 5 proposal from Matt Birchler tells us about the features we’re still missing out on. While it’s true one of the biggest is custom watch faces and always-on ambient faces, there’s also plenty of low-hanging fruit that would be nice to have, given how Apple’s wearable OS is now somewhat mature.

It strikes me this year that we’re hitting the 5th major version of watchOS. This is not a brand new platform anymore, even though the Apple Watch feels relatively new in the grand scheme of things. […] you get the feeling that watchOS updates don’t need to be that substantial anymore. The market is growing well for Apple, and they don’t have a competitor who is eating their lunch right now in terms of market share or functionality. Apple is basically the king of both sales and features when it comes to smart watches. There simply is not a better option out there today.

  • A lengthy article from Forbes poses the question: has Apple lost its design mojo? It’s something that’s been said a lot recently, given the amount of changing technology and the moves Apple needs to make to stay ahead of the pack, but that doesn’t give the company a free pass on some unusual design decisions it has made. Has Apple’s design fallen by the wayside? Or is this concern vastly overstated, a byproduct of being the top dog? Read the article and you be the judge.

If your friends and family are anything like my friends and family, you’ve been hearing a lot of complaints about Apple design recently. In fact, enumerating the ways Apple design fails consumers seems to have become an international pastime. Google “Apple design sucks,” and you’ll find a never-ending litany of the seemingly infinite ways that this ostensible paragon of design excellence misses the mark.

  • The New York Times has called upon Apple to build a less addictive iPhone, but I’m not sure that’s entirely their problem to bear. With technology addiction becoming a rising concern for many, it’s easy to point fingers at the companies who make our devices and tell them to fix it. But even if it’s not entirely their fault, they’re probably best poised to address the problem. (See also the New York Times piece on whether the answer to phone addiction is a worse phone.)

For one thing, Apple’s business model does not depend on tech addiction. The company makes most of its money by selling premium devices at high profit margins. Yes, it needs to make sure you find your phone useful enough to buy the next one, but after you purchase your phone and sign up for some of its premium services, Apple doesn’t really need you to overdo it. Indeed, because it can’t make infinite battery life, Apple would probably be O.K. if you cooled it with your phone a little.

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