John Gruber’s review of the new iPad Pros starts off by telling us about impressive CPU performance that’s on par with the latest MacBook Pros in both single and multi-core benchmarks. The new Apple Pencil is great, improving on all the ways that the original was such a breakthrough product in the first place, and the size reduction of the 12.9-inch model makes it more attractive if you want an iPad to use on the couch, even if it’ll likely be the most expensive couch computer you will buy.
The usual conference call with investors wrapped up Apple’s quarterly financial results last week, with Six Colors having the full transcript of what Apple CEO Tim Cook and co had to say. In short, it was another record quarter for Apple financials, off the back of a higher average selling price for iPhones, record services revenue of over US $10 billion and 27% year-on-year growth. As pointed out by AppleInsider, Apple execs also discussed emerging markets and the difficulties associated with them, as well as the potential impact of almost every foreign currency decreasing versus the US dollar over the past 12 months, if not more.
Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of warily waterproof, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes they’ll be commentary on how iPhones are hard to use, in-depth technical deep dives on iPhone camera minutiae, or what developers think the Apple TV needs to succeed as a gaming platform. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.
- Joe Clark says iPhones are hard to use. He provides numerous examples of obscure features and curious design decisions that make iPhones hard to use for anyone with even minor accessibility needs, all gated by near-impossible burdens of knowledge that mean only the most switched-on Apple enthusiasts, the people that follow and watch Apple keynotes where features are demonstrated, know how to use everything. Even then there’s probably still things you or I don’t know about. While I’m inclined to agree with the general gist of what he’s saying, I wonder: what technology product with over a decade of history doesn’t have some kind of usability problem? And how much of these “problems” he brings up aren’t specifically iPhone issues (although it may certainly exacerbate the issue), but ones more applicable to technology in general?
Very advanced, very tuned-in people learn about, and learn how to use, new Apple features by watching them being demonstrated onstage during Apple keynote events. Then there’s everybody else. […] With an alleged one billion “iOS devices” in use over a decade, Apple’s mistakes are the butterfly effect writ large. Anything that people could get wrong, or simply not know about, will be gotten wrong or will go unknown by tens of millions.
Apple’s fourth quarter final results tell an all-too-familiar story. The company made US $62.9 billion in revenue, with $14.1 billion in profit. The Apple press release has their financials in plain text, otherwise there’s the lovely graphs from Six Colors which make Apple’s financial results much more digestible. The iPhone continues to account for more than half of Apple’s quarterly revenue, with services setting a new record of $10 billion in revenue, about 16% of Apple’s overall quarterly revenue. Given that the analyst conference call is still ongoing at time of writing, we’ll get to that on Monday.
After every Apple event, there’s so much news it’s hard to know where to start. I must apologise, because I am absolutely going to miss stories that you think should have been covered in the news, but I promise I’ll try and get to everything over the next few days. But let’s start with MacStories and their overview of the new iPad Pros. The return of a straight-edge design reminiscent of the iPhone 4 gives us a look at what the future of computing looks like, and apparently, that future has magnets. 107 of them allow accessories such as the new Apple Pencil to connect, as well as the Smart Keyboard Folio case. Hands-on impressions talk up the edge-to-edge display and reduced footprint of the 12.9-inch model, although people continue to point out non-backlit keys as the main negative of the keyboard case.
Earlier this month Apple Design Chief Jony Ive talked to Wired at their 25th Anniversary event. At the time, reporting on the event focused on what Apple are doing and the extra features they’re adding to their products, all in an attempt to curb the phenomenon known as smartphone addiction. Like recent profiles of Ive have touched on, Wired’s piece now tells us the story of unpredictable innovation, or the idea that when companies upend entire industries, “change is rarely foreseeable, and seldom unambiguously good”. In an age where we’re just realising what the impact of the internet is having, it’s something worth keeping in mind and thinking about.
The New York Times published a story last week about the human-centric approach to news curation in Apple News. It’s low-key a profile of Apple News’ Editor in Chief Lauren Kern, former editor at the New York Magazine, who explains that the Apple News team puts a lot of care and thought into the stories they feature. The human approach to news curation is almost surprising, given the news industry’s tendency towards algorithm-driven analysis and content that’s biased towards clicks, rather than content.
It’s new iPhone XR day, but Apple’s latest newsroom post is showing off photos shot by iPhone XS owners using the new Portrait mode, now with depth control. Adjustable depth of field lets iPhone XS owners choose how much background blur they want to have, with Apple saying that a future update will allow variable background blur to be previewed in real-time.
Apple’s newsroom page says the reviews of the iPhone XR are in. And now that you can no longer pre-order what many are calling the best-priced iPhone ever and get it delivered on Friday, that makes it as good a time as any to read some reviews. John Gruber of Daring Fireball writes that although people are wondering what the catch is with Apple’s only LCD iPhone this year, it’s a case of mostly minor tradeoffs, and getting most of the latest and greatest without paying the associated premium.
Although reviews of the iPhone XR aren’t quite out yet, Engadget has a great piece on the iPhone XR that includes an interview with Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller. Schiller confirms that Apple doesn’t assign any specific meaning to the letters, but his personal take on it is that the S and R in this year’s iPhone X revisions are like the letters used to denote special models of sports cars. And like those special models of sports cars, the iPhone XR brings most of the tech of the iPhone XS to everyone at a slightly lower price point and in a range of bright new colours.