Good Reads for March, 2018

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of spectacularly scrumptious — if slightly longer — reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes these will be reflections on a decade of iPhone programming, a look at the HomePod’s place in the home, or forgotten stories about Apple’s video game console. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • Early on in March we saw the tenth anniversary of the iPhone SDK. The Iconfactory’s Craig Hockenberry tells us about how it was when it all started, from jailbreaking the original iPhone to see what could be accomplished outside and ahead of the official SDK itself, lamenting the original proposition of slow, JavaScript-based apps versus the speed and power of the native apps of the time, and the iPhone’s very first Twitter app. Now, iOS development is a lucrative business in and of itself, with an audience of millions.

The iPhone SDK was promised for February of 2008, and given the size of the task, no one was disappointed when it slipped by just a few days. The release was accompanied by an event at the Town Hall theater. Ten years ago today was the first time we learned about the Simulator and other changes in Xcode, new and exciting frameworks like Core Location and OpenGL, and a brand new App Store that would get our products into the hands of customers.

  • Over at AppleInsider, Daniel Eran Dilger tells us about HomePod’s place in the home and as part of Apple’s greater strategy. Everyone says Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home currently beat out Apple when it comes to voice-powered smarts, but the future of those voice assistants paint is a bleak picture of the future. Dilger also points out that while Siri’s capabilities are limited compared to the Alexas and Homes of the world, the integration with iOS devices and the Mac is what will make it pull ahead, regardless of how half-baked that integration is right now.

Unlike other smart speakers, Apple’s HomePod is a sophisticated array of computer-controlled speakers and mics designed to deliver effortless audio playback of streamed music, news and podcasts, as well local audio from Macs, Apple TV and iOS apps including Pandora and Spotify. It also integrates with HomeKit devices, select iCloud apps and Apple’s Siri voice assistant, without the same voice-only intent of Alexa or Google’s Assistant.

  • With technology, it’s tempting to chase the best. Federico Viticci knows that story all too well, having done just that for the past few years. His recent experiences with AirPods, Apple Watch, and HomePod has changed all of that, allowing him to realise that despite the desire of wanting the best tech, sometimes having stuff that’s simply designed to work well together — as is the case with Apple’s hardware and software — is sometimes better than having a hodgepodge of stuff from half a dozen different manufacturers. It’s this comfort of Apple’s ecosystem that undoubtedly keeps a lot of people using Apple products, too.

Probably for the first time since I started MacStories nine years ago, I feel comfortable using Apple’s services and hardware extensively not because I’ve given up on searching for third-party products, but because I’ve tried them all. And ultimately, none of them made me happier with my tech habits. It took me years of experiments (and a lot of money spent on gadgets and subscriptions) to notice how, for a variety of reasons, I found a healthy tech balance by consciously deciding to embrace the Apple ecosystem.

  • Australian author Richard Moss’ recently-released book The Secret History of Mac Gaming has all kinds of cool stories about how the Mac influenced gaming as we know it today, as well as spawning plenty of iconic franchises. I’d recommend buying the book to read all of the stories, but an excerpt on published on Ars Technica talks about just one: the story of Apple’s Pippin, which launched as a low-cost Macintosh designed for the living room. (Note that isn’t the first time we’ve covered the Pippin in Good Reads.)

A stripped-down Mac packaged as a living room multimedia system could fit the charter, but only on the proviso that it was neither built nor sold by Apple. Sirkin explained that what Apple could do was lead the engineering and design of the product and then charge a per-system licence fee to Bandai. The manufacturing, marketing, and branding would all be Bandai’s responsibility.

  • In true Good Reads fashion, we close out this month’s edition with something that’s not a read, even if it is long. The Computer History Museum’s mini-documentary on the origins of QuickTime includes takes from the original team from Apple that developed it, in an almost 90-minute long video that’s well worth a watch if you’re into that sort of thing.

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