Good Reads for September, 2019

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of intriguingly interspersed, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes these will be insightful commentary on recent Apple events, hopes for what future Apple services will bring to the table, or simply reviews of Apple products that you may not ordinarily read. All I know is, bring your Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads. And yes, we’ll still be doing this even though the daily news is no more.

  • Apple’s September 2019 event saw the announcement and release of a new entry-level iPad, the Apple Watch Series 5, as well as updates to some of Apple’s services that we had already seen or heard about previously. But it was the iPhones 11 that stole the show, with the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max garnering all the attention as Apple widened the perspective with new ultra-wide lenses on all devices. M.G. Siegler describes how, despite this year’s iPhones being iterative upgrades on those of previous years — as they have been for a number of years now — Apple are still doing enough new stuff to make this year’s iPhones the ones to buy.

The iPhone is now officially a camera. I mean, it has been a camera for a long time. The most popular camera in the world, as Apple is quick to point out each and every year, a decade on. But now it’s really a camera, as today’s keynote made clear. The key parts of the presentations for both the iPhone 11 and the iPhone 11 Pro were all about the camera. As Phil Schiller said in his portion: “I know what you’re waiting for, and I am too. Let’s talk about the cameras. Without question, my favorite part about iPhone.”

  • Apple Arcade launched last month, and all the opines I’ve read about Apple’s $7.99 per month, all-you-can-play gaming subscription service wax lyrical about the quality of titles available on the platform. Regardless of how you feel about Yet Another Subscription Service, everyone seems to have the opinion that Apple Arcade showcases the best of mobile gaming, in a landscape that was otherwise filled with in-app purchases designed to nickel and dime you. Above all, Apple Arcade seems sustainable in the way that games weren’t without over-the-top monetisation methods, and as Matthew Panzarino writes over at TechCrunch, he hopes it makes room for weird, cool, shit that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

I know that there may be action-oriented and big-name titles in the package now and in the future, and that’s fine. But there are many kinds of games out there that are fantastic, but “minor” in the grand scheme of things, and having a place that could create sustainability in the market for these gems is a great thing.

  • Hodinkee’s review of the Apple Watch Series 5 tells us about how new materials and one new feature worth talking about make this the best Apple Watch ever. While others would call this kind of update iterative, it’s the best kind of iterative update; coupled with watchOS 6, the return of the Apple Watch Edition means that the Series 5 can once again occupy a price point that would make even an iPhone 11 Pro Max blush. But you’re probably here to read about how the new titanium stacks up against the aluminium or stainless steel finishes, but as it turns out, the best thing about the Apple Watch Series 5 is how it sucks you right back into being more than just a fashionable timepiece.

This is the first time we’ve seen a titanium Apple Watch and it’s an interesting move from Apple. It sits between the steel and ceramic models in terms of price and it offers a more luxurious option that’s still a great choice for people using their Watch as a fitness device. This fusion of function and indulgence fits in extremely well with Apple’s current thinking on the Apple Watch as simultaneously a wellness and fashion product.

  • The Verge names the iPhone X power button as their button of the month for September, even though Apple no longer refers to it as the power button. No, the side button (or sleep/wake, if you have a slightly older model) stopped being able to turn off the device by itself with the introduction of the Face ID-equipped iPhone X, which is both commentary about the evolution of the power button and a reflection of the changing priorities of physical buttons and switches on devices that move to increasingly gestural-based input. Maybe one day we’ll do away with buttons altogether, but that’s still a long way off.

Power buttons are a subtle reflection of trends in modern technology. When smartphones first came about, nearly every phone had a power button on top of the device. As screen sizes grew, and that top edge got farther and farther away from the reasonable reach of most thumbs, the power button migrated to the side. When screens grew larger and home buttons went extinct, the power button got built-in fingerprint sensors. And Apple is no different: the iPhone power button experiences the same trends.

  • Vanity Fair has an excerpt from Disney CEO and outgoing Apple board member Bob Iger’s biography about how he remembers Steve Jobs. In a lengthy recollection of the Apple co-founder, Iger describes numerous periods through the late 90s and early oughts that describe the relationship between Iger and Jobs, and by extension, Disney and Apple, made only more complicated by Jobs’ involvement with Pixar and the rocky relationship Disney had with Pixar at the time. Disney buying Pixar was a huge deal back then, and Iger sought advice from Jobs, who was not only Disney’s largest shareholder, but also just a good friend.

But the relationship between Steve and my predecessor, Michael Eisner, started to falter. Attempts to renegotiate the terms of the deal or to extend the relationship met with failure, frustration, and rancor, and in January 2004, Steve made a very public, in-your-face announcement that he would never deal with Disney again.

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