Good Reads for July, 2019

Every month, we’ll bring you a handful of gratuitously gifted, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes they’ll be explanations of potential Apple product strategy moving forward, reflections on the long-lasting legacy of a departing Apple staffer, or speculation about what the future holds for Mac software from the developers that build the apps you know and love. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • As June was drawing to a close, famed designer Jony Ive announced his departure from the company he’s been at for a long time. While Apple’s Chief Design Offer has given no official timeline for his departure, there’s plenty that has been said about Ive’s legacy and the lasting designs he’s leaving behind. The New Yorker writes that, for better or worse, we now live in Jony Ive’s world, whether that’s the iPhone that you carry with you every where you go, or the overwhelming sense that with every physical iteration of smartphones or other technology, we get further away from the physical world altogether.

The smooth, minimalist Ive aesthetic will make its appearance among other products in the world, to the extent that all of those products haven’t been already subsumed by Apple products.

  • The interesting thing about Charles Arthur’s piece about when and how Ive’s beautiful designs were bad design isn’t the contrast between good and bad designs, but more about what you never read in his two interviews with Ive. Sure, it’s nice to be reminded of the design dichotomy between the original iMac and its infamous puck mouse, but Arthur says that the trickiest thing about interviewing one of the most well-known designers in the world was about manipulating the flow of conversation between what Ive wanted to talk about, and what he wanted to talk about and could find the words to describe.

In my writeup of the first interview, I said that in those latter moments he sounded “like a man trying to describe God to a world without religion.” And that still seems true: I think he was someone used to describing what he did much more by instantiating it — making it physical — than painting verbal pictures.

  • Much ink has been spilled recently regarding whether we’ll see another architecture switch, with many saying the Mac is on the cusp of transitioning from Intel processors to ARM. AppleInsider points out that it’s been 15 years since the switch from PowerPC to Intel, and now we might be about to undergo a similar sort of transition, which may be executed in a similar fashion to the PowerPC to Intel move with a flicking of the switch. One day, a Mac will come with an ARM processor — it may be even be the recently-retired MacBook — and that will be that.

Apple’s move from being entirely dependent upon Intel chips for the future of its Macs to its status today at being superior to Intel in building a decade of advanced A-series mobile application processors bears some resemblance in the earlier history of Microsoft shifting from being the Office app vendor dependent on the Macintosh in the mid 80s to becoming the leading OS vendor in the PC industry just a decade later.

  • But computers are only as good as the software that runs on them, and Project Catalyst, announced at WWDC, is Apple’s plan to make it easier to move their already-great iOS apps to desktops and laptops running macOS. Now that we have a better idea of exactly what Project Catalyst entails, Ars Technica spoke to several Apple representatives and third-party macOS app developers about the future of Mac software.

Dubbed Project Catalyst, it promised to increase the number of quality native apps on the Mac platform by leveraging developers’ existing work in the arguably more robust iOS (and now, iPadOS) app ecosystem. But it does raise questions: what does this mean for Mac users’ future experiences? Will this change the type of software made for Macs? Is Apple’s ecosystem a mobile-first one?

Start the discussion at talk.appletalk.com.au