good reads

Good Reads for November, 2019

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of kindly knitted, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes, these will be interviews with Apple execs about what it’s like to face and respond to what seems like years-long widespread criticism of one aspect of Apple laptops, thoughtful reasonings behind some of the slightly more baffling decisions Apple seems to make, or simply highlights of the best of Apple Arcade. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • Apple may have quietly released the 16-inch MacBook Pro in mid-November, but it made a big splash. Mostly because it came with a different keyboard than the divisive — but anecdotally unreliable — Butterfly-style keyboard found on every post-2015 MacBook Pro and every Mac laptop today. Of course, Apple being Apple, it wasn’t enough to merely switch to the old keyboard design, they also made a number of other changes to the keyboard: a real escape key, better key spacing, more thoughtfully positioned Touch Bar, and separate Touch ID. IFixit called it a throwback to a time when Mac laptop keyboards were good, then gave us plenty of details about what changed in their teardown.

The new Magic Keyboard in the 16-inch MacBook Pro uses a scissor switch that looks almost identical to the switches in the desktop Magic Keyboard, and MacBooks sold before the butterfly blunder. The switch is two plastic pieces, crossed, with a pivot in the middle to control key movement. It’s more robust than butterfly switches, and there’s more space to tolerate debris within its movements. This is backed up by the lack of a membrane around the keys, and the lack of an extended warranty (so far) on this keyboard. Apple seems confident about durability (or noise levels, perhaps).

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Good Reads for October, 2019

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of jokingly juxtaposed, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes these will be timelines of Apple service launches, reasonable explanations of recent Apple software quality issues, or deep-dives on all the ways the camera in the latest iPhone is the best one ever. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • It feels like we’ve been talking about Apple’s streaming video service for so long, and this weekend, all of the rumours finally came to a head as Apple finally launched Apple TV+. There are now a few dozen episodes of a handful of TV shows available to watch, stream, and download, all of which represent Apple’s first foray into the world of original programming. Reviews are mixed, but it’s early days yet for something that’s been years in the making. The Hollywood Reporter takes us a look at the long, bumpy road to Apple becoming a content creator in its own right.

Apple executives have acknowledged entertainment isn’t their expertise. "We don’t know anything about making television," senior vp software and service Eddy Cue, the architect of the company’s TV+ strategy, told audiences at South by Southwest in 2018. "We know how to create apps, we know how to do distribution, we know how to market. But we don’t really know how to create shows."

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Good Reads for August, 2019

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of hastily handpicked, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Whether they’re explainers on the current state of play when it comes to iOS zero-day security exploits, what happens when you’re locked out of Apple’s walled garden, or ways Apple could be better dealing with providing user information without resorting to the alert hammer for every potential security/privacy issue, they’ll all tell a story that probably won’t have already been shared in the daily news cycle. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • Wired has a brand-new article on Google’s disclosure of long-standing websites hacking iPhones. By performing complex exploit chains that work on several different versions of iOS, these websites have been silently compromising iOS devices for years, with the idea being that we now know of a serious security issue we don’t really think about when we think of traditional hacking of any kind, iPhone or otherwise. But given the prevalence of the web on basically any device you can connect to the internet, maybe it’s time we did. It’s an eye-opener, for sure.

The attack is notable not just for its breadth, but the depth of information it could glean from a victim iPhone. Once installed, it could monitor live location data, or be used to grab photos, contacts, and even passwords and other sensitive information from the iOS Keychain.

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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.

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Good Reads for June, 2019

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of fantastically formatted, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes they’ll be postulation on Apple’s strategies for its hardware and software platforms, unanswered questions about recent major Apple product reveals, or detailed explanations on how Apple is pushing the privacy and security boundaries with one of their latest features. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • MacStories kicks us off this month with their piece telling us about the differences between Catalyst and SwiftUI. While there’s a lot to be said for Apple revealing two major methods of building apps at the same WWDC, the two are actually very separate in what they’re supposed to do. The dichotomy between Catalyst and SwiftUI, as explained by John Vorhees, gives us some idea of where this is all headed, even if that that future has only just begun.

So, if Catalyst isn’t fully automatic and SwiftUI is the future of UI development across all Apple’s platforms, why introduce Catalyst now? The answer lies in a product realignment of the Mac and iPad relative to each other and the rest of Apple’s product line that’s designed to address weaknesses in both platforms’ software ecosystems.

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Good Reads for May, 2019

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of excellently emotive, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes these will be pieces giving us sneak peek of what the future of iOS apps will look like, cases for how one popular Apple product is terrible for the environment, a story of two tech giants squeezing out the little players, or a deep dive on how Apple puts security features to the test in a relentless pursuit of privacy. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • In just a few short days, we should have a much better idea of what Apple’s plan for the future of its software platforms will be. Marzipan is how Apple are going to have iOS apps run on the Mac, and thanks to some digging from well-known developers, we now have a decent idea of what that future looks like, and how the transition will go. Craig Hockenberry gives us the past, present, and future of iOS apps on the Mac by telling us what to expect from Marzipan.

What I’m going to focus on today is how this new technology will affect product development, design, and marketing. I see many folks who think this transition will be easy: my experience tells me that it will be more difficult than it appears at first glance.

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Good Reads for March, 2019

Every month, we’ll bring you a handful of carefully curated, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Some will be commentary on the sad state of logging bugs for Apple, others will lament Apple’s one-size-fits-all strategy for certain accessories, while others still may speculate on Apple’s strategy with regard to various aspects of their business. All I know is, bring your Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • March saw the release of updated AirPods hardware. Now with optional wireless charging case and a new wireless chip for always-on Hey Siri capabilities as well as a little more talk time, Apple’s AirPods can now be seen everywhere. The tiny earbuds have exploded in popularity seemingly overnight, and GQ spoke to Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive to try and find out why. As it turns out, there’s a lot to like about AirPods, but it’s more than that, too. When Ive was asked about why using AirPods for the first time leaves you looking like a puppy might look at a butterfly, he said:

I think this was common on the initial reaction to the AirPods—it’s a reaction based on an academic understanding of them, rather than a practical daily understanding of them. What we tend to focus on are those attributes that are easy to talk about, and just because we talk about them doesn’t mean that they’re the important attributes. All that means is they’re the ones that are easy to talk about.

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Good Reads for January, 2019

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of automatically attractive reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes they’ll be comparisons about the difference 10 years makes when it comes to app design, interviews with Apple execs, or running commentary on the state of Apple technology as it affects us today. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • We kick off Good Reads this year with a visual comparison of apps since the introduction of the App Store way back in 2008. While we’re now past the 10th year of the App Store, the recent introduction of the 10 Year Challenge is a good opportunity to see the changed design paradigms of iOS apps, whether that’s less typing input overall, less prominent buttons to interact with, or even changes to overall navigation style. We have larger screens than ever before, and at times, that means more of a focus on content, as shown on the Flawless blog on Medium.

Just last year App Store celebrated its 10th birthday. In 2008 it launched with 552 apps and some of them are still live inside your iPhones. Time has passed and design trends have changed dramatically. #10yearchallenge is a good opportunity to see how fast the evolution is and notice changes in the oldest iOS apps. Can you spot the difference?

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Good Reads for November, 2018

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of youngish yucatecian — if slightly longer — reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes they’ll be interviews with Apple executives on Apple’s latest and greatest, in-depth technical explanations of how Apple’s custom silicon beats out the competition against any metric that you care to name, or what hurdles the iPad Pro still needs to overcome to accomplish Apple’s lofty goals. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • Before we get to all of that, a lengthy piece by Justin O’Beirne points out plenty of changes in Apple’s new maps. Covering just 3.1% of the land area of the United States and 4.9% of its population, Apple’s new maps are leaps and bounds ahead of any previous iteration, and in some cases even better than Google Maps. Despite the tiny coverage area, the improvements are significant and real, although there’s a few oddities that can be explained away by the application of algorithms to mapping data. Still, there’s still plenty of work to be done, and on top of that, Apple needs to scale if it wants to catch up to the overall quality of Google Maps.

In “Google Maps’s Moat”, we saw that Google has been algorithmically extracting features out of its satellite imagery and then adding them to its map. And now Apple appears to be doing it too. All of those different shades of green are different densities of trees and vegetation that Apple seems to be extracting out of its imagery. But Apple isn’t just extracting vegetation—Apple seems to be extracting any discernible shape from its imagery.

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Good Reads for October, 2018

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.

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