Good Reads for August, 2018

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of voraciously vicarious, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes they’ll be thoroughly thought-out concepts of doing something a little differently on iOS, a walk-through of creating fluid interfaces that make even the blandest of apps a pleasure to use, the story of a company that time has seemingly forgot, or even debate about whether we should forgive Steve Jobs for being a terrible father. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • Over at the UX Collective blog, Kévin Eugène shares his concept called iOS Mogi which takes an idea originally centred around making Siri useful in more contexts and applying that across the board to bring a better level of multitasking to the entirety of iOS. Instead of having a screen just for interaction with Siri, a non-intrusive panel drops down much like the banner notification would, only these “Live Notifications” are capable of pretty much anything without — at least not completely — interrupting what you’re currently looking at. There’s plenty of animated GIFs so you get the idea, but it’s the kind of thing that seems obvious when you see it.

Since the beginning, I have wanted to find an elegant way to bring multitasking to the mobile, and splitting the screen was never an option. I wanted something that was more coherent with the mobile approach, and I hope you find that Live Notifications are a good step into that direction.

  • Nathan Gitter was inspired by a session at WWDC this year about designing fluid interfaces, so that’s what he did. If you’ve used an iPhone X, then you know what he and Apple were talking about: the gesture-based interface that makes it feel like you’re using something real, something that has a real user experience instead of just manipulation of ones and zeroes. His article covers the philosophy of fluid interfaces, examples of fluid interfaces in action, as well as advice for designers and developers about where and when to use fluid interfaces in their own apps.

A fluid interface might also be called “fast”, “smooth”, “natural”, or “magical”. It’s a frictionless experience that just feels “right”. The WWDC presentation talks about fluid interfaces as “an extension of your mind” and “an extension of the natural world”. An interface is fluid when it behaves according to the way people think, not the way machines think. Fluid interfaces are responsive, interruptible, and redirectable.

  • This lengthy history of General Magic opens with the line that you’ve probably never heard of the company. I certainly hadn’t, although that’s probably not too out of the ordinary — there are probably dozens, if not hundreds, of Silicon Valley companies from the dot-com era that I’ve never heard of. But as pointed out by NYMag’s Select All column, General Magic was spun off from Apple in the early 90s, featured original Apple superstars like Andy Hertzfeld and Bill Atkinson, had the backing of Sony, Motorola, and AT&T, and they might just have invented the iPhone two decades too early.

Chances are that you’ve never heard of General Magic, but in Silicon Valley the company is the stuff of legend. Magic spun out of Apple in 1990 with much of the original Mac team on board and a bold new product idea: a handheld gadget that they called a “personal communicator.” […] In other words, General Magic pulled the technological equivalent of a working iPhone out of its proverbial hat—a decade before Apple started working on the real thing. Shortly thereafter, General Magic itself vanished.

  • In a few days, Lisa Brennan-Jobs’ memoir Small Fry will go on sale, and we’ll be able to read about what Steve Jobs was like as a father. Unfortunately, that particular story isn’t exactly all sunshine and rainbows like you might have been expecting, with the Apple co-founder often portrayed in a poor light when it came to being a father to a daughter he initially denied was his own. It’s unfortunate, yes, but Brennan-Jobs unquestionably forgives Steve Jobs, which begs the question: can we?

In passage after passage of “Small Fry,” Mr. Jobs is vicious to his daughter and those around her. Now, in the days before the book is released, Ms. Brennan-Jobs is fearful that it will be received as a tell-all exposé, and not the more nuanced portrait of a family she intended. She worries that the reaction will be about a famous man’s legacy rather than a young woman’s story — that she will be erased again, this time in her own memoir.

Notable Replies

  1. kyte says:

    I wish Siri had a different name… I find I cant use the word “serious” within her hearing, or she starts listening to whatever is about, and its usually the TV. :-/

  2. kyte says:

    That was a very good read. History I never knew. Good stuff.

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