When companies copy Apple’s software and hardware, what I find the most interesting isn’t what they copied, but where they deviated and implemented their own ideas. These deviations reveal the true design taste and intelligence these ripoff artists are capable of when left to use their own brains.
The latest example from Asia is Huawei’s new MacBook Pro imitation, the MateBook X Pro. The Verge’s Sam Byford has a first look video of it on YouTube. First off they’ve got a solid, derivative name.
The MateBook X Pro looks almost identical to Apple’s MacBook Pro. It’s super thin, and it has the same unibody aluminum frame first introduced by Apple in the MacBook Air in 2008. Shit, they even use the same name for the dark grey color as Apple, “Space Grey”.
The primary design deviation on the MateBook is the black bezel around the screen. It’s significantly smaller than the MacBook Pro’s bezel. Of course every design decision comes with a tradeoff. In this case, reducing the bezel around the screen to be almost nonexistent required Huawei to find a new home for the webcam, which is normally positioned inside the bezel at the top and center above the screen.
Their solution? Hide that littler bugger inside a key on the keyboard:
I think this is hilarious, but not because of where they put it. It’s hilarious because from what I can tell on The Verge’s video, it’s practically pointed at your crotch. Byford has to hunch down to get his face in view.
Do they test and troubleshoot products at Huawei? It seems to me realizing the webcam isn’t pointed at your face is not only pretty easy to catch, but also to fix. Just angle it up a few millimeters, right?
UPDATE: It looks like Dell doesn’t approve of eye level cams either.
Apple sold more watches than Rolex, Swatch, and the rest of the Swiss watch industry combined:
Apple is one of the biggest watchmakers in the world.
How big? Based on newly available statistics, it now seems certain that Apple outsold the entire Swiss watch industry combined last quarter.
Yep. The company best known for making iPhones outsold Rolex, Omega, and even Swatch last quarter — combined.
That’s according to Apple Watch sales estimates from industry researcher Canalys and IDC, and publicly released shipment statistics from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Canalys estimates that Apple sold 8 million Apple Watches in the last quarter of 2017.
Another industry who’s lunch Apple is eating.
Keep the success of Apple Watch in mind when you read stories about apps ditching it.
Slack is the latest app to ditch the Apple Watch:
Like Twitter, Amazon, and Google Maps before it, Slack is ditching its Apple Watch app. The team chat and collaboration platform for businesses quietly announced the news via an update to its iOS app. But, that doesn’t mean Slack will disappear entirely from your wrist.
You’ll still be able to respond to incoming messages on your Apple Watch courtesy of rich notifications — all that’s absent is the ability to view unread mentions. So, you may not be missing much after all, which sums up the essential problem with dedicated Apple Watch apps.
This move makes sense. The Apple Watch isn’t the iPhone.
For me Apple Watch is a glanceable, health-tracking, message notifier that unlocks my MacBook when I wake it up (my favorite feature).
I have no need for the apps on my Apple Watch to mirror the ones on my iPhone.
Over at The Verge, Vlad Savov tried the first phone with an in-display fingerprint sensor on phones made by Chinese company Vivo.
It seems to work great, and I always appreciate the refinement of old tech (even in the face of newer, better alternatives), but now that I’ve gotten used to FaceID, TouchID feels antiquated.
It’s great when I pick up my iPhone X and generic notifications expand to reveal their full transcripts when my face has been authenticated. I don’t have to touch anything.
My guess is companies like Vivo will tout in-display fingerprint sensors as a differentiator to the iPhone, but it will be interesting to see if people bite.
Apple apologizes for iPhone slowdown drama, will offer $29 battery replacements for a year:
Apple just published a letter to customers apologizing for the “misunderstanding” around older iPhones being slowed down, following its recent admission that it was, in fact, slowing down older phones in order to compensate for degrading batteries. “We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down,” says the company. “We apologize.”
Apple says in its letter that batteries are “consumable components,” and is offering anyone with an iPhone 6 or later a battery replacement for $29 starting in late January through December 2018 — a discount of $50 from the usual replacement cost. Apple’s also promising to add features to iOS that provide more information about the battery health in early 2018, so that users are aware of when their batteries are no longer capable of supporting maximum phone performance.
It’s bullshit Apple had to be called out this, but they’ve apologized and offered a reasonably priced solution.
I just upgraded from an iPhone 6 Plus to an iPhone X, but I think it’s still worth it to replace the battery on my 6 Plus.
Why did Apple let a few YouTubers scoop the first iPhone X reviews?:
Apple’s iPhone X — its most anticipated new phone in a very long time — goes on sale this Friday, Nov. 3.
So sometime this week, as usual, you’ll be able to read and watch a bunch of serious-sounding reviews, as Professional Gadget Reviewers critique everything from bezels to battery life.
But Apple did something different this year. It invited a handful of YouTubers you probably haven’t heard of to its fancy penthouse in New York, gave them some early hands-on time with the iPhone X, and let them publish their videos a day or more in advance of the official reviews. (It also let Wired/Backchannel’s Steven Levy write a “first first impression of the iPhone X” post because Steven Levy. It also gave one to Axios co-founder Mike Allen, who had his nephew play with it. And Mindy Kaling for Glamour. And The Ellen Show.)
These videos, published by channels including Booredatwork.com, UrAvgConsumer, Soldier Knows Best, and sneaker/streetwear blog HighSnobiety, are a little braggy, mostly positive (“man, it’s pretty good!”) and don’t feel like gadget reviews at all. For many of us, they won’t replace the utility of more sophisticated reviews, which are supposed to tell us whether the iPhone X is worth our $1,000. They’re not great videos, frankly.
I love that the nerds are butt-hurt that Apple gave the scoop to some “YouTubers” instead of the established tech sites.
Daring Fireball’s John Gruber laid the sarcasm on thick when he posted links this morning to all the YouTuber reviews (here, here, and here).
Admittedly, the YouTuber reviews are shitty, but I like seeing peeps in tech community throw their temper tantrums.
Relax, nerds. The legit reviews will be out soon enough.
Microsoft Has Stopped Manufacturing The Kinect:
Manufacturing of the Kinect has shut down. Originally created for the Xbox 360, Microsoft’s watershed depth camera and voice recognition microphone sold ~35 million units since its debut in 2010, but Microsoft will no longer produce it when retailers sell off their existing stock. The company will continue to support Kinect for customers on Xbox, but ongoing developer tools remain unclear. Microsoft shared the news with Co.Design in exclusive interviews with Alex Kipman, creator of the Kinect, and Matthew Lapsen, GM of Xbox Devices Marketing.
I find it a funny coincidence that Microsoft shuts down Kinect right when Apple is releasing an iPhone which has what is essentially a minaturized Kinect in it for 3D facial recognition.
Microsoft has a tendency to zig in the wrong direction while Apple zags in the right direction.
The other big zig-zag example that comes to mind is multitouch. When Apple got it’s hands on multitouch, it made the iPhone and iPad. When Microsoft got their hands on multitouch, they made the Surface.
No, not the tablet we know today, I’m talking about the big-ass table.
Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android mobile operating system, launched his own, new phone called the Essential Phone back in May and earlier today Dieter Bohn reported the Essential Phone dropped $200 in price (always a sign of a smash hit):
Essential is slashing the price of its eponymous phone, down to $499 at its website. That’s a $200 price cut from the original $699 price, less than two months after it began shipping to customers. There is really no other way to read the move except as a signal that it wasn’t selling well at $699 — especially given that the only US carrier stores it’s available in have “Sprint” above the door. It certainly doesn’t help that it now has to face the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL head-to-head.
I’m not sure what Andy Rubin expected. The market is extremely crowded, even if you take out the iPhone. Competing with just Samsung for Android market share is plenty of competition.
Let’s not forget the Essential Phone didn’t ship on time back in July.
Rubin’s first Essential blog post, Why I started Essential, kinda sorta sheds some light on things, but I’m still left confused:
For all the good Android has done to help bring technology to nearly everyone it has also helped create this weird new world where people are forced to fight with the very technology that was supposed to simplify their lives. Was this what we had intended? Was this the best we could do?
I left that night reflecting deeply on what was great and what was frustrating with the current state of technology today. After another long talk with my friend we decided that I needed to start a new kind of company using 21st century methods to build products for the way people want to live in the 21st century.
I don’t use Android devices, but are people “fighting” with their Android phones? I’m also not convinced the Essential Phone distinguishes itself from other Android phones like the Pixel 2 and the Galaxy 8.
Nerds are getting great at building products, but they have to get better at marketing them. I recommend they read every book by Seth Godin for starters.
A top Microsoft exec says the idea it will kill its Surface gadget business is ‘so far from the truth’:
To the guy that heads up Microsoft’s Surface products, the idea that the company is going to kill off its line of computers and tablets is laughable.
“It’s so far from the truth,” Panos Panay, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of devices, said on Monday, calling the notion the “tabloid rumor of the week.”
Panay was responding to a discussion last week by a panel of PC industry executives about the future of Microsoft’s hardware business. The executives, which included representatives from Dell and Lenovo, predicted the company would kill its Surface line by 2019, according to The Register.
Kill it. Stop trying to be Apple. Stop your new-found love of hardware-software integration, and for shit’s sake, stop using Alcantara on your products.
You’ve already killed Windows Phone, just take Surface out back behind the barn and put it out of its misery.
Hodinkee’s Ben Clymer reviewed the Apple Watch Series 3 (via Daring Fireball):
Will anyone be trading in their Lange Double-Split for an Apple Watch? Certainly not. But, will the average Lange owner buy an Apple Watch, wear it on the weekends, and then, after a great workout with it, decide to leave it on next for a vacation to the beach, and then maybe on casual Friday to the office? It’s possible. Apple products have a way of making someone not want to live without them…So while certainly not direct competition for haute horology watchmaking right now, the Apple Watch is absolutely competition for the real estate of the wrist, and years down the road, it could spell trouble for traditional watches even at a high level. When you realize you just don’t need something anymore, there is little desire to buy another. At the lower end, I believe the Apple Watch is a serious threat to those less faithful wearers of analog watches.
He’s right. Apple Watch will not replace high-end, analog watches, but it is a threat to a portion of the analog watch market.
Just the fact that Apple Watch is being seriously reviewed on watch enthusiast sites like Hodinkee is confirmation of Apple having encroached on the territory of old school watch makers.
Yesterday was Apple’s Keynote where they unveiled the ‘all screen’ iPhone X.
They also posted an instructional video on how to design for the iPhone X, and it’s unibrow.
I would love to know what level of rage Jony Ive is feeling about this:
I understand the unibrow is there because it houses all the of the fancy facial recognition sensors and phone speaker. I also understand having an edge-to-edge screen has become table stakes, but that indent is like a huge itch I can’t scratch.
I’m sure there are dozens of physical prototypes Apple designers created where there isn’t a unibrow and I’m curious how and why this version of the iPhone X beat out the others.
After a series of reported delays and developmental challenges, Fitbit is finally ready to unveil its first smartwatch. The timing is appropriate, given that this is the tenth anniversary of the company’s first tracker. The Ionic is Fitbit’s most modern device to date, featuring a colorful LCD touchscreen and advanced sensors. It also serves as the launchpad for some new Fitbit services, like a fully fledged operating system called FitbitOS, contactless payment and a subscription-based custom workout guide called Fitbit Coach. The company needs the Fitbit Ionic to be successful — its sales have slowed in recent months, and it faces a lawsuit over its use of haptic feedback. Judging from the few days I’ve had an early version of the Ionic, it appears to have the potential to resuscitate Fitbit’s waning business.
Fitbit’s smartwatch is absolutely horrendous looking. I can’t imagine any man or woman with even the slightest bit of fashion or design sense would want to wear it.
If Apple had created this watch they’d be torn apart by the tech press (and rightfully so), but since this is Fitbit, they get an A for effort. How cute.
Leaked Microsoft memo reveals high Surface Book return rates:
Microsoft dismissed Consumer Reports’ Surface reliability ratings last week, but a new internal memo sheds some light on the issues that the software maker has faced. Consumer Reports surveyed 90,000 tablet and laptop owners and found roughly 25 percent of Surface users have encountered issues by the end of the second year of ownership. Paul Thurrott has obtained an internal memo about Microsoft’s response to Consumer Reports, and it appears to suggest that high Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book return rates could have impacted Consumer Reports’ findings.
Computer scientist Alan Kay said, “People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.” Steve Jobs famously brought it up when he unveiled the iPhone in 2007.
I’m thinking this quote applies to everyone except Microsoft.
Amazon and Tencent Back Smartphone Maker Essential:
Essential Products Inc., the smartphone maker founded by the creator of Google’s Android mobile software, confirmed it has a new $300 million war chest as it prepares for the seemingly insurmountable task of taking on Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Inc.
The startup on Wednesday unveiled the large roster of investors taking a chance on it, including Chinese internet company Tencent Holdings Ltd. TCEHY 0.28% and Amazon Inc.’s AMZN -0.69% Alexa Fund. Essential also disclosed that Best Buy Co. stores and Amazon.com Inc. will be its retail launch partners in the U.S.
But the company stopped short of the big reveal: When exactly its $699 titanium-encased smartphone will be available.
Great, Andy Rubin’s company has 300 million dollars. Good for them. They still haven’t shipped their Essential phone.
One more clarification: they aren’t taking on Apple, they’re taking on Samsung. Samsung is the largest manufacturer of Android phones in the world with a 48.7% share. Huawei is a distant 6.4%. They need to tackle Samsung before they tackle Apple.
After reading the features of the Essential Phone, I can’t list any competitive advantages it has. It has top-of-the-line specs (as of 2017) and an edge-to-edge screen (quickly becoming table stakes).
The Essential Phone hardly represents traditional competition, let alone asymmetric competition.