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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
It was incredibly touching to open Apple’s first-ever event at the Steve Jobs Theater with his voice. Before anyone stood on stage to tell us all about the new Apple Watch, the new Apple TV, or the new iPhones, it was great to hear Jobs talking about what keeps Apple, Apple. Amidst all the design details of the Steve Jobs Theater, from the revolving elevators to the exquisitely crafted staircases, Jobs shared words about being true to who we are, and remembering who we are. And with that, it was on with the show.
Well, kind of. Apple CEO Tim Cook had a quick spiel about Apple Park, this being the first event in Apple’s new space, and it looks pretty great. The new visitor centre, with its own Apple Store and augmented reality experience, will be open later this year, and just like you might expect, it’s all powered by 100% renewable energy.
Apple SVP of Retail Angela Ahrendts talked about Apple’s retail transformation. If you’ve been reading the news you’ll know what this is about; Apple’s been revamping the retail experience in a number of different stores worldwide, and they’re incredibly proud of transforming retail outlets into modern town squares. Ahrendts discussed a few new upcoming stores, including the return of the glass cube at Apple’s redesigned Fifth Avenue location, the Carnegie Library Apple Store, and Chicago’s latest flagship store on Michigan Avenue.
Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of meticulously memorised, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes they’ll be a comprehensive explanation of why ARKit is a big deal, or the latest breakdown of what made news in the Apple blogosphere recently. Other times, they’ll be an extremely technical read on a recent vulnerability that affected millions of iOS devices up until a few weeks ago. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.
- While recent news has focused on Apple’s removal of VPN apps from the Chinese App Store, none of this is particularly new. People have been talking about Apple’s “walled garden” for as long as the App Store has been around, and Motherboard writes about the long and storied history of Apple removing “objectionable content” from the App Store. All of this is true, of course, as is the statement that with more than nine years of the App Store, we haven’t seen any widespread malware threats.
Each day, Apple is tasked with a near-impossible job: keeping its sprawling App Store free from malware, blatantly offensive content, and spam. In order to do it, the company requires each of the App Store’s roughly two million apps, from iFart to Twitter, to undergo an extensive approval process.
Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of lightly laundered — if slightly longer — reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes, we’ll highlight what you can do on your iPad to make it feel like a true laptop replacement, discuss Apple’s famed culture of secrecy, or just reflect on how the original iPhone came to be. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.
- June marked the tenth anniversary of the original iPhone. While us Aussies didn’t get the original and had to wait until 2008 for the iPhone 3G to make its way to our shores, we’ve felt the iPhone’s impact just as much as anyone else has. Wired interviewed former Apple employee and “podfather” Tony Fadell, who says that for all of the advances that the iPhone has brought us, for every aspect of your life that has changed because the iPhone changed the game, it’s important to keep it all in perspective and not forget about “the analogue portion” of our lives. If you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend watching Scott Forstall talk about how the original iPhone came to be at the Computer History Museum, too.
And, even more so, it has changed how my kids are growing up compared to how I and my wife grew up. And sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes that’s a bad thing – and it requires all of us to make the proper changes in our lives to make sure we don’t lose the analogue portion of our life and we don’t just stay digital and mobile all the time.
Apple just blew through six major updates on stage at WWDC, telling us about the future of iOS, macOS, watchOS, and even the iMac and iPad. While the keynote was run at breakneck pace and went for close to two-and a half hours, the pervasive theme — besides rumours spoiling nothing — was that Apple are focusing on machine learning to power many technologies moving forward. When Cook’s update about Apple was brief and to the point — “Apple’s doing great!” — you knew you were in for a good time. Let’s break it down.
1. Apple TV
Amazon arriving on the Apple TV was the first cab off the rank, a seemingly minor update to the platform. Coming later this year, Amazon Prime Video will be good for all Amazon Prime subscribers, but less useful for those of us that live outside of the US or the UK don’t get all the advantages of Amazon Prime.
2. watchOS 4
Kevin Lynch was up next to talk watchOS 4, which features new watch faces, improvements to workouts, and the new ability for watchOS to talk to gym equipment to exchange information, so that both the watch and the equipment can share information that the other doesn’t have.
There’s a new proactive Siri watch face in watchOS 4, which tells you about upcoming things like the trip to work, upcoming meetings, and what the weather is like today. It’s powered by machine learning to understand your habits and learn about them over time, in order to tell you about what you want to know next, and the updates even change over the course of the day so they’re always showing you something relevant. The new Siri watch face joins the trippy Kaleidoscope (Apple’s version of an Apple Watch fidget spinner, to be sure) and new Toy Story animated watch faces featuring Woody, Jessie, and Buzz.
Improvements to workouts include smarts that allow multiple workouts during the same workout, workouts automatically starting a playlist of music, and some swimming-related workout improvements that can tell you how you’re doing when you take a short break at one end of the pool. Activity improvements compare you against your past self, encouraging you to move more than the previous month.
WatchOS 4 will be a free update this fall, which probably means after September.
Every month, we’ll be bringing you a series of somewhat scrutinised — if slightly longer — reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Whether they’re commentary on Apple’s latest project, a detailed analysis of how Apple keeps itself ahead of the competition, or reflecting back on ten years of the iPhone, they’ll have something for everyone. Bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.
- The standout piece from May was from Steven Levy, who over at Wired had a deep dive into Apple Park. Apple Park is undoubtedly as much of an Apple product as your iPhone or iPad is, from the attention to detail to the wood that made up the walls in offices, to the workplaces designed to increase collaboration between individuals and teams. (As a bonus, Levy’s piece in Backchannel tells us the story of David Muffly, the guy in charge of the trees at Apple Park.)
It’s probably more accurate to say that Apple Park is the architectural avatar of the man who envisioned it, the same man who pushed employees to produce those signature products. In the absence of his rigor and clarity, he left behind a headquarters that embodies both his autobiography and his values.