Jony Ive

Always with the raw & fresh perspective on Apple, John Gruber gives his take on Jony Ive leaving Apple:

I think Tim Cook is a great CEO and Jeff Williams is a great COO. But who’s in charge of product design now? There is no new chief design officer, which, really, is what Steve Jobs always was. From a product standpoint, the post-Jobs era at Apple has been the Jony Ive era, not the Tim Cook era. That’s not a knock on Tim Cook. To his credit, Tim Cook has never pretended to be a product guy, which is exactly the hubris that John Sculley succumbed to back in the early ’90s, leading to the Newton being launched far before it was ready and the Macintosh platform languishing.

My gut sense for years has been that Ive without Jobs has been like McCartney without Lennon. Or Lennon without McCartney — take whichever analogical pairing you prefer. My point here is only that the fruit of their collaborations were, seemingly magically, far greater than the sums of the duos’ talents and tastes.

It’s too soon to know anything. As Gruber mentions, Apple’s product roadmap stretches at least 5 years into the future, and in that time Apple will figure out a replacement that makes sense. Or they won’t. Who knows. I don’t.

…and then I read John Siracusa’s tweet and I can’t un-see it:

Folks who wanted someone to be fired over the butterfly keyboard: happy now?

He’s 100% right. OK, at least 50% right.

Up until 2016 did you ever have reason to doubt the integrity of your MacBook’s keyboard? I’ve been buying Macs since 2000 and I never had a reason to doubt them. My current laptop is a 2015 MacBook Pro, the one with the flawless keyboard.

Steve Jobs had an ego the size of California and he could be a salty motherfucker, but he would admit to a fuck-up if he had to. He did it (begrudgingly) in 2010 in response to the antenna issues in the iPhone 4, otherwise known as “Antennagate”.

As Gruber mentions, Ive no longer has a Lennon to his McCartney, so we never got an apology.

It is interesting that the ‘solution’ to the iPhnoe 4 antenna issue was a plastic bumper to cover the edges of the device and the ‘solution’ to the MacBook Pro butterfly keyboard was a silicon membrane covering the individual key mechanisms. Covering up the problems versus fixing them.

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Product

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Samsung continues their time-honored tradition of copying Apple.

Samsung hasn’t just copied Apple’s product design once, they’ve done it repeatedly for over a decade now. At least they’re consistent. Today’s announcement of the new Galaxy Fit is no different.

A quick look at their product renderings shows they’re not only ripping off Apple’s watch face aesthetic, but the Nike+ design style too.

Apple Watch vs Galaxy Fit Apple Watch vs Galaxy Fit

Categories:

Interface, Product

“…but the deeper software integration from the foldable display just isn’t ready yet.”

Lenovo let Chaim Gartenberg at The Verge get his hands on their new foldable PC.

For me, it all boils down to this quote from Chaim:

Unfortunately there’s just not a lot we can show off here. There is a functional (!) version of Windows running on this hardware, but the deeper software integration from the foldable display just isn’t ready yet.

It’s important to experiment with new form factors for devices, but when you’re bringing a product to market, it’s much more important to have your use cases figured out and your software ready and working.

This reeks of trendy novelty and a complete lack of deep thinking. Lenovo appears to be riding the foldable wave started by Samsung back in February.

What’s the use case for a folding laptop?

Would I buy this to replace a tablet or a traditional laptop?

Where’s the benefit in saying “me first!” with a piece of shit?

Categories:

Product

There’s a first for everything.

John Gruber on the MacBook keyboards:

I consider these keyboards the worst products in Apple history. MacBooks should have the best keyboards in the industry; instead they’re the worst. They’re doing lasting harm to the reputation of the MacBook brand.

I just started a new job and normally I get excited because that means I get a brand-new MacBook Pro.

This is the first time in my 19 years as a graphic designer I’m not looking forward to getting a new machine.

And that sucks.

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Product

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Is that you, Suunto?

News came last week that Alphabet’s health division, Verily, got clearance from the FDA to test the EKG feature on their smartwatch. Remember, last year Apple introduced this feature on the Apple Watch Series 4.

Anyway, that’s not the follow-the-leader news that caught my eye. It was the watch photo featured in the Verge story. It reminded me of a watch I had seen before:

The reason I know about the Suunto Lumi is because I bought one and wrote a blog post on it in 2009.

Everything is a remix.

LG’s “hybrid” smartwatch

Engadget’s headline: LG’s first hybrid smartwatch is mix of ambition and compromise

Ok, that smartwatch represents neither ambition nor compromise, that’s called shitty design. It looks like something a freshman year product design student would turn in for their first assignment.

You’re not convinced yet? Check out this tweet from Avi Greengart showing the flapping watch hands in action. That’s straight up hilarious.

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Reply Hazy, Try Again Later

Over at Slate, Will Oremus lets us know Alexa is losing her edge:

As recently as a year ago, Amazon single-handedly controlled the global smart speaker industry, with a market share upward of 75 percent, according to estimates from two of the leading market watchers, Strategy Analytics and Canalys, based in Singapore. Amazon itself boasted in a February earnings report that it had sold “tens of millions” of Echo devices in 2017. That figure included not only its flagship Echo smart speaker but the Echo Dot, Echo Show, and other Echos, the company clarified to me (though not other Alexa-powered gizmos, such as the Tap or Fire TV). It makes sense that Amazon was crushing the competition, because there wasn’t much competition yet: Google had just launched the Home in late 2016, and Apple’s HomePod was not yet on the market. The Echo has been available since 2014.

Would-be rivals faced an uphill struggle. Amazon’s head start in smart speakers resembled the daunting leads that Apple famously built in portable MP3 players, smartphones, and tablets. But Apple’s high prices at least gave competitors an opening to build cheaper alternatives for the mass market. Not so with Amazon. Because it viewed Echo partly as a path to Amazon purchases, the company sold its smart speakers at affordable prices, opting to maximize sales rather than profit margins. How could latecomers compete?

First off, Oremus is being selective with his MP3 player timeline.

Apple entered an already crowded MP3 player market when it launched the original iPod in 2001. The classic and often quoted ‘BrownFury’ on SlashDot said what all short-sighted nerds at the time were thinking, No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.

Table stakes, erroneously determined by the dorks, had been set. Apple was a day late and a dollar short. Except they weren’t.

Amazon was first to market with the Echo, but not best to market. The smart speaker product segment is still a young one and it’s unclear which one(s) will be the winner(s). A few weeks ago I questioned the value of a speaker you can order things from (will this blog entry look cute and naive in a decade?).

As I see it, Google seems to have the biggest lead in AI assistants and voice recognition/dictation, but Apple will be releasing iOS 12 in a month which includes Siri Shortcuts, something I’m very excited about.

Maybe Apple ends up dominating the premium end of the smart speaker category, mirroring what they have been doing with the iPhone for 10 years, while Google and Amazon fight for the rest. Maybe Google winds up the winner.

We don’t know. Won’t know for a while.

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