Editorials

Good Reads for July, 2018

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of whimsically wordier reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes these will be reviews of their latest laptop, inside stories from the annals of Apple history, or even timely republished interviews with Steve Jobs following the just-passed tenth anniversary of the App Store. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • July saw the first hardware update to Apple’s laptop lineup since June last year. Depending on which way you look at it, Apple’s timing was either perfect or way off the mark, as the refreshed 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro somehow managed to land right in the middle of a cacophony of keyboard-related complaints. The good news is, both machines got slightly more than the usual speed bump, making them the fastest and most secure Mac laptops ever released. As for keyboard reliability, while Apple’s stuck to their butterfly-switched guns and added a silicon barrier to prevent dust and debris from throwing a spanner in the proverbial works, it remains to be seen what long-term reliability is like. Samuel Axon from Ars Technica has the full review.

From marketing to design decisions, we can see exactly which professional users Apple targeted with this refresh: video editors, software developers, music producers, photographers, and, to a lesser degree, scientific researchers. The refresh doesn’t necessarily serve every kind of professional who has ever wanted a high-performance Mac, but it generally does an admirable job of offering something to get excited about for people in a wide range of professions.

Continue reading

Good Reads for June, 2018

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of very valid, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes these will be stories about little-known teams within Apple, discussion about the part design plays in both Apple’s products and others, or yet another post on using an iPad Pro as your primary computing device. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • Like many of us, Paul Stamatiou had used tablets before. And just like many of us, he never really got into them, finding their utility to be constrained — not quite as mobile as a phone, or as useful as a laptop. But after a few months using Apple’s largest tablet, he’s come to really enjoy the hardware and the software combination of an iPad Pro running iOS 11 — while multitasking features like Split View let you view more than one thing at a time, the iPad’s strengths lie in how effortless it becomes to focus on one particular task.

Even with all this new multitasking functionality, there’s one thing that still feels different compared to using a desktop OS. Doing anything on the iPad Pro is a focused experience. There’s no way to accidentally multitask. It’s a conscious effort you have to make. And even if you have two apps open in Split View, they’re taking over the entire screen and there’s nothing else that can distract you. No other apps partially in view in the background, no badged or bouncing apps in the dock trying to get your attention.

Continue reading

Good Reads for May, 2018

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of uniformly unedited, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Some of the time, they’ll be pieces you already read from other sources, interviews that should have appeared in the news but I felt deserved a little extra attention, or thought-provoking looks at the past or present state of technology and how Apple fits into the puzzle. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • We kick off this month’s Good Reads with Hodinkee’s interview with Jony Ive. For those that remember when this was first published in early May, this was more of a piece that focused on Ive as a watch designer. Benjamin Clymer compared and contrasted the differences between the technology-centric Apple and the sheer craftsmanship of traditional watch makers. Design is one aspect Apple prides themselves on, and that shows in spades with what they’ve done with the Apple Watch.

I think how much the Apple Watch has impacted watchmaking. And I realize, just like the iPod changed music and the iPhone changed personal communication, the Apple Watch will certainly change not only watchmaking but how we interact with the world around us. I am quite sure it will be for the better.

Continue reading

Good Reads for April, 2018

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of tastefully threadbare — if slightly longer — reads about the wonderful world of Apple. One in every three is guaranteed to be from Medium (or your money back), and at times, the others will be criticising recent Apple design decisions, praising someone else’s criticism, or even all of the above. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • Over the last month, there have been more criticism levelled at Apple’s HomePod than I care to admit. Some of those criticisms were even valid, particularly when it came to pointing out Siri’s failings when compared to the Amazon Echoes and Google Homes of the world. Over at TechCrunch, Lucas Matney defends the HomePod as part of Apple’s overall home speaker strategy, admitting that while Siri needs work, the strength of Apple’s ecosystem will be what gives it the edge over the other smart home speakers.

It’s also why I don’t think Apple needs to be as worried about getting a $50 product like the Home Mini or Echo Dot out there, because while Amazon desperately needs a low-friction connection to consumers, Apple doesn’t gain as much by putting a tinny speaker into a can that will do even less than what “Hey Siri” on your iPhone could do.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Good Reads for February, 2018

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of ravishingly rectangular — if slightly longer — reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes they won’t actually be reads, or about how Apple is the world’s most innovative company. Sometimes, they won’t be exactly about Apple per se, but you know what? Those ones make for the best stories. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • This isn’t the first time I’ve pointed out a video in Good Reads, and the bad news is, it probably won’t be the last. The good news is, Motherboard’s mini-documentary on how iFixit became the world’s best iPhone teardown team gives us the behind-the-scenes perspective of a company that believes in everyone being able to repair their own devices. Plus, some of it was shot in Australia, because thanks to the magic of timezones, we get the privilege of being among the first to get hands-on with new iPhones.

The most important thing that happens when a new iPhone comes out is not the release of the phone, but the disassembly of it. The iPhone teardown, undertaken by third-party teams around the world, provides a roadmap for the life of the iPhone X: Is it repairable? Who made the components inside it? The answers to these questions shift stock markets, electronics design, and consumer experience.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Good Reads for November, 2017

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of positively personalised, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes they’ll be in-depth analyses of Apple’s latest and greatest, how developers are designing for a never before-seen form factor, or the best review of any iPhone, ever. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • November was, somewhat unsurprisingly, all about the iPhone X. It’s been a month since the iPhone X was released to the masses and most apps are getting updated for the edge-to-edge display. The iPhone X is unlike any iPhone that came before it due to the rounded corners, no home button, and the TrueDepth camera system cutout that everyone keeps talking about, and that presents unique challenges for developers. Samuel Axon of Ars Technica talked to some developers about the changes they’ve had to make in their apps, and my only hope is that it all hasn’t been for notch.

The iPhone X is the most significant change to the iPhone in several years. It has a higher resolution and a different screen shape. It disposes of the home button and adds or changes touch gestures. Every one of those changes could create work for designers and developers… and then there’s the notch. You can expect more phones to do this, not just from Apple. But how do you design around it? How much work is it to adapt an app for it? Is it, as some critics say, bad design?

Continue reading

Good Reads for October, 2017

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of openly opined, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes these will be profiles of Apple execs, some smart thinking about the way Apple do business, or perhaps even a video about an oft-forgotten Apple product, the likes of which was never seen again. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • It’s pretty easy to see Angela Ahrendts’ influence on Apple Retail. In the three years she’s held the position of Senior Vice President of Retail, we’ve seen an entirely new breed of Apple Stores appear, ones with more of a community feel and focus than the transactional and technical assistance from the stores of old. Buzzfeed’s profile of Ahrendts paints the picture: retail is dying, but Apple thinks they have some ideas that can turn the tide. Now, if only they could do something about taking the entire online store offline every time they need to update it, we’d be in business.

And now, after streamlining and simplifying the company’s e-store, Ahrendts is turning to its brick-and-mortar storefronts, overseeing an ambitious redesign, and taking the reins of an organization that went through a tumultuous 10 months under former executive John Browett, who was eventually fired, leaving Apple retail without a leader for 18 months.

Continue reading

Good Reads for September, 2017

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of notoriously notarised, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. August was particularly quiet in the Apple blogosphere so there were no good reads to be had, but we’re back now that Apple has announced and launched a few new products that give us some hint of what the future will hold. Bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • September saw the launch of iOS 11, which was always going to be a deal whether you were getting a new phone or not. Changes across the board meant that we expected some rough edges in the early betas, but leading up to the iOS 11 Gold Master, things just didn’t seem to have the same level of attention to detail that Apple has previously shown. A bug affecting Mail accounts using Outlook.com, Exchange, or Office 365 somehow made it into the public release, and even though it’s now been fixed, there are other tiny design inconsistencies all over the place, all of which contribute to making iOS 11 feel somewhat less polished than previous releases.

The unfinished feeling in iOS 11 mostly comes from UI and animation. UI elements in iOS are quite inconsistent, mixing a variety of UI elements, which might look quite similar but introduce a disconnected feeling for UX. The inconsistency of those elements majorly stems from those UI element updated in iOS 11, such as Large Title and new Search Bar. In my opinion, those newly introduced elements, which might be unfamiliar and new even to Apple engineers, have caused many inconsistent UI experience in iOS 11.

Continue reading