The Mature Smartphone Market

The end of smartphone innovation:

This autumn Apple will release a new iPhone design, and the fact that it postponed a new design and kept the 6 design for three years instead of two suggests it has something that will attract attention. However, it will really still ‘just’ be another iPhone. Meanwhile, we have some indications that Apple is working on AR glasses (of which more later) and certainly was working on a car project – but neither of these is likely to see a mass-market consumer release for a year or two at the least (cars perhaps longer). So, expect a lot more ‘innovation dead at Apple!’ stories.

This is paralleled at Android, I think: the new developer release of version ‘O’ has lots of good work and solid worthy stuff, but nothing world changing. Again, the cry will go up, “innovation is dead!”

Evans is skeptical on voice being the next hot tech. He’s more bullish on augmented reality (AR).

It seems like only yesterday the iPhone was released, but in reality it debuted 10 years ago this past January. The smartphone market is mature, so everyone is anxious about what comes next.

Like every other tech company, Apple’s goal now is not to predict the post-iPhone future, but to invent it.

Categories:

Product, Technology

Planet of the Apps

Apple has a new reality TV series called Planet of the Apps launching this year (no release date yet).

This show looks super cheesy and it seems like they’re trying way too hard to be cool having celebrity judges like Gwyneth Paltrow and Will.i.am (let us not forget the crappy smartwatch Will.i.am announced in 2014). It feels like they smashed Shark Tank together with The Voice and tweaked to make it more Silicon Valley-ish. And the name: Planet of the Apps? Oof.

As designer who has designed mobile apps, this show does not appeal to me at all. My opinion might be in the minority, but I’d much rather see designers and developers pitching and collaborating with venture capitalists and mentors on mobile app ideas without all the glitz and glamour.

Apple’s products are all about paring something down to it’s essence. Why couldn’t this philosophy be applied to their original content?

The whole thing feels very un-Apple.

via 9to5Mac

Categories:

Entertainment

“I have a girlfriend, but she lives on the other side of the country.”

Francisco G Delgadillo, Executive Creative Director of Brand at Oracle, on the people who do work for Apple, but can’t share it:

“How dare I suggest he remove from his pitch one of the most valued brands in the world, one of the most beloved brands by the creative community?”, I thought to myself. But I went on to tell the creative director that without any meaningful details, his “we do work for Apple, but we can’t show you”—and customary companion Apple-logo slide—was an irrelevant reference and could potentially have a negative impact on my assessment of his presentation.

I’ve talked to designers over the years who’ve done work for Apple, so I’m very familiar with their strict confidentiality agreements. Hell, what doesn’t Apple try maintain secrecy about?

I think it sucks people can’t share the work they did for Apple, but I guarantee every one of them knew exactly what they were getting into before they agreed to work with Apple.

If you or your agency was great enough for Apple to pick, then your portfolio is already rock-solid. Stop crying you can’t add the the Apple logo to your client logo page on your website. You come across like the kid in school who brags about having a girlfriend he met over the summer, but she lives far away, but trust him, she exists.

Categories:

Uncategorized

Tags:

 /  / 

“they wind up dangling on the outer cradle of my ear”

Apple AirPods review: wireless that wows, earbuds that don’t:

If you’ve had trouble with EarPods staying in your ears, there’s a good chance you’ll also struggle with AirPods. There are slight differences in the shapes, which you can see when you put them side by side — EarPods are a bit more round and AirPods are slightly more contoured, which makes them a bit more comfortable — and Apple says this means AirPods should fit more ears than EarPods.

That doesn’t mean AirPods stay in my ears, though. They don’t. Every time I wear AirPods it’s a constant battle to keep them in. They don’t fall out immediately, and when I first twist them in I can get what feels like a snug fit. But they inevitably slide out, especially in my right ear.

When this happens they wind up dangling on the outer cradle of my ear, where sudden or even not so sudden movements knock them loose. Standing up from my desk, turning my head too fast, chewing through a bag of pretzels, touching down on a runway in an airplane — these are all situations where AirPods popped out of one of my ears because I wasn’t constantly readjusting the fit.

I’ve never ever used Apple’s included earbuds with any of my iPhones over the last 9 years — or any of my iPods before that — specifically for this reason.

When earbuds don’t make a perfect seal around my ear, half the bass escapes and sounds like shit. I’ve never understood how people can enjoy using Apple’s earbuds.

For years I’ve been using $15 Sony earbuds. They sound decent and cheap enough that I keep one pair in my gym bag and one pair on my desk. Most recently the model I’ve been buying is the Sony MDREX10LP/BLK In-Ear Headphones.

Categories:

Music, Product

Tags:

 /  / 

Your Stuff, Your Responsibility

Apple will replace a lost AirPod for $69:

Following a slightly delay, Apple’s wireless AirPods are ready to order. They’re small and sleek, but the lack of cords has put a nagging thought in the back of my mind: I am guaranteed to lose one, if not both within a few weeks. If you’re equally forgetful, or happen to commute in jam-packed subway carriages, you’ll be happy to hear that Apple will replace a single AirPod for $69 (£65). Given a fresh pair costs $159 (£159), that seems like a reasonable fee. Similarly, a new AirPod charging case will set you back $69 (£65), for the inevitable “I threw it out thinking it was floss” stories.

I’m so confused by this story.

Why is Apple responsible for replacing something you lost?

Life has become way to easy for humans when this is the stuff we get frustrated about.

Categories:

Business

Tags:

 /  / 

Microsoft Surface Studio

On October 26th, Microsoft unveiled their new all-in-one, touchscreen Surface Studio.

From everything I’ve seen and read about it, it looks like an amazing integration of hardware and software. This integration used to be the sole domain of Apple, but now Microsoft and Google are coming to realize the practical and financial benefits of controlling the whole widget.

First thought: will this machine make me move to Windows? No.

Second thought: will this machine make other people move to Windows? I’m not sure.

It’s in Microsoft’s DNA to be a day late and dollar short on everything they’ve done, at least for the last decade. Windows Phone was late, their Surface tablets were late, and now an iMac competitor. I’m feeling a little déjà vu with the Surface Studio.

Microsoft is like the kid in college who needs until the summer to finish their thesis paper. Sure they might turn a great paper, but everyone else has moved on.

In case you forgot, the original Microsoft Surface was a big-ass, $10,000 table. In 2007, when the original iPhone launched and the race kicked into high gear for dominance in mobile computing, Microsoft decided to go big and impractical. Now let me be clear: the Surface Studio is way more practical than its great grandpappy was, but there still is a wiff of impracticality in it.

Microsoft is going after the high-end, creative segment of the desktop market with the Surface Studio, a segment dominated by Apple. They’re barely making a dent in the mass market with their phones, tablets, and laptops. So now they think they can eat Apple’s lunch and steal away desktop users? It’s possible, but I’m not convinced.

On the other hand, there’s been considerable backlash over the new MacBooks Apple announced, but we’re only a week out. Let’s see where we are this spring. We’ll be seeing new Mac desktops by then too.

Dammit, Apple. You’re Supposed to Be the Ones With Good UI Design.

The grand appeal of using an e-reader is the ability to own a large library of books without adding to the colossal weight of one’s possessions. Ever since I moved away from print books I’ve been able to remove hundreds of pounds of clutter from my apartment and from my life. Storing books digitally has improved my quality of life. That being said, the various e-readers that are out there have an obligation to provide a good user experience, and they do that through design.

In the past I’ve taken Amazon to task for user interface design that I felt was subpar. Since it’s introduction, Kindle for the iPad has gone through numerous updates to its UI, and while still not perfect, it provides a fine balance of text and whitespace. The only reason I don’t use the app regularly is because Kindle doesn’t have continuous scrolling. Enter iBooks, the e-reader app from Apple.

Apple prides itself on the quality of its design. One can see it from the look and feel of Apple’s signature hardware, to the way fonts render in OSX, and everything in between. Which makes this so inexplicable:

ios10ibooks

That is a screenshot of a page in iBooks, with continuous scroll turned on, after an update to iOS 10. The margins to the right and left are too small, leaving the text crowded to the edge of the screen. When using one of the new model iPad Pros, the text is less than an inch from the edge of the device. The width of the text also interferes with the eye’s ability to flow from one line to the next. What happened to all that whitespace that designers value so much? It used to be there. This is a screenshot of the same text taken in iBooks from an iPad running iOS 9:

ios9ibooks

The second screenshot shows a much better use of margins. I know there are charlatans out there who prefer text to be much closer to the edge, but they’re wrong. Luckily, a solution that satisfies most users should not be that difficult for Apple to implement. The Kindle app already has a margin selector in the same menu where a user adjusts fonts and background colors. The settings in iBooks does not. As of right now, the experience in iBooks on the iPad has been degraded by the decision to close the margins. Were Apple to add a margin selector, it would be a vast improvement to the app.

Tags:

 /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  / 

Apple and McLaren

Financial Times: Apple in talks on McLaren supercars takeover:

Left to right: Eddy Cue sits on the board of Ferrari, Sir Jonathan Ive has fondness for Aston Martin, and Phil Schiller owns a McLaren

Apple has approached McLaren Technology Group, the British supercar engineer and Formula One team owner, about a potential acquisition, in the clearest sign yet that the iPhone maker is seeking to transform the automotive industry.

Whaaaaaat.

I’m envisioning a very, very affordable car.

UPDATE: Nevermind.

Categories:

Uncategorized

Jaded and Fickle

Farhad Manjoo doesn’t think Apple is cutting edge anymore:

The absence of a jack is far from the worst shortcoming in Apple’s latest product launch. Instead, it’s a symptom of a deeper issue with the new iPhones, part of a problem that afflicts much of the company’s product lineup: Apple’s aesthetics have grown stale.

Apple has squandered its once-commanding lead in hardware and software design. Though the new iPhones include several new features, including water resistance and upgraded cameras, they look pretty much the same as the old ones. The new Apple Watch does too. And as competitors have borrowed and even begun to surpass Apple’s best designs, what was iconic about the company’s phones, computers, tablets and other products has come to seem generic.

And

It’s not just that a few new Apple products have been plagued with design flaws. The bigger problem is an absence of delight. I recently checked in with several tech-pundit friends for their assessment of Apple’s aesthetic choices. “What was the last Apple design that really dazzled you?” I asked.

This article could have been written 5 years ago. If people keep writing ‘Apple is Doomed’ stories, I suppose there’s a chance they’ll eventually come true.

I’m curious if automobile news sites complain that the Porsche 911 doesn’t delight anymore. That the design is basically the same as was last year and the year before that.

Perhaps the problem isn’t with Apple’s design chops, design chops I feel are still top notch. Perhaps the problem is with Manjoo and people like him. It’s easy to become jaded and fickle. It’s as if people expect (demand?) the things they buy will solve all their problems and constantly delight them in the process.

I think what happened is Manjoo was given a creative writing assignment: Apple presented a great, albeit iterative product lineup, we need you to show us why is was shit. If this was the case, Manjoo was doing a great job until the last two paragraphs:

And while Apple has slowed its design cadence, its rivals have sped up. Last year Samsung remade its lineup of Galaxy smartphones in a new glass-and-metal design that looked practically identical to the iPhone. Then it went further. Over the course of a few months, Samsung put out several design refinements, culminating in the Note 7, a big phone that has been universally praised by critics. With its curved sides and edge-to-edge display, the Note 7 pulls off a neat trick: Though it is physically smaller than Apple’s big phone, it actually has a larger screen. So thanks to clever design, you get more from a smaller thing — exactly the sort of advance we once looked to Apple for.

So Apple’s design prowess is in trouble, but Samsung continues to make smartphones that are practically identical to the iPhone. So this means what? Samsung’s industrial design is superior to Apple’s?

And then comes Manjoo’s final caveat:

An important caveat: Samsung’s software is still bloated, and its reputation for overall build quality took a hit when it announced last week that it would recall and replace the Note 7 because of a battery defect that caused spontaneous explosions. To the extent that making a device that doesn’t explode suggests design expertise, Apple is still ahead of Samsung.

Ok, so Apple continues to break sales records with their phones, has top-rated customer satisfaction but somehow, “The real danger is in Apple’s long-term reputation.” Not Samsung’s reputation because I guess we all know they’re rip-off artists so they get a pass.

Categories:

Product, Technology

Tags:

 /  / 

‘Less & Better’ Not ‘More & Shitty’

Apple is going to remove abandoned apps from the App Store:

It’s cleaning time in the App Store. Apple sent an email to its developer community indicating that there will be some upcoming changes in the App Store. If an app no longer works or is outdated, it’s going to get removed from the App Store. And it’s about time.

“We are implementing an ongoing process of evaluating apps, removing apps that no longer function as intended, don’t follow current review guidelines, or are outdated,” Apple wrote.

And:

And Apple is not going to stop at abandoned apps. The company will also fight spammy app names. For instance, if you search for “Instagram” on the App Store, one of the first results is an app that is called “[app name] Photo Collage, Picture Editor, Pic Grid, F…” and then it gets cut off.

It’s about time. I’d rather have less & better than more & shitty.

Categories:

Product, Technology

Tags:

 /  / 

Spotify: “Mom! Apple isn’t playing fairrrrr”

Spotify: Apple is holding up app approval to squash competition:

Like other apps, Spotify had been getting customers to foot the bill for Apple’s App Store billing fees by charging an extra $3 a month. It recently launched a promotion for the second time that gave new users three months of service for a dollar, if they signed up on the web. As you can imagine, that didn’t make Apple too happy, and the company reportedly threatened to pull the app entirely unless Spotify stopped pushing the deal for iPhone owners. It complied with the request, but it also nixed the iTunes billing option in the iOS version which lead to the current dispute.

On one hand, I feel like this ends up hurting happy Spotify and Apple customers. Elizabeth Warren recently accused Apple, Amazon, and Google of anti-competitive practices. This issue with Spotify only adds fuel to the fire.

On the other hand, why should Apple make and exception for Spotify and wave the App Store fee? It seems as though the Google Play store also charges 30% fees like Apple.

Categories:

Business

Microsoft: “Our stuff is so valuable, we’re giving it away!”

Microsoft is giving students a free Xbox One with Surface Pro 4 purchases:

Microsoft is tempting students to buy a Surface Pro 4 this week with a new promotion running at its retail stores in the US. The software maker is taking $300 off when students buy a Surface Pro 4 and Xbox One. “So basically a free Xbox One with the purchase of a Surface Pro 4,” says Terry Myerson, head of Windows and devices at Microsoft, in an interview with The Verge. The deal goes live today and will run until August 14th.

Has Apple ever had to give away hundreds of dollars worth of tech to get kids to use it?

Categories:

Product, Technology

The Unbearable Heaviness of iTunes

Vlad Savov at The Verge asks how many Apple engineers does it take to fix iTunes?:

In the ranking of unpleasant life experiences, using Apple’s iTunes lies somewhere between filing your taxes and having your wisdom teeth pulled out. It’s not good even at the best of times, but two weeks ago it was downright harmful to one James Pinkstone of Atlanta, who found 122GB of his own musical creations had been deleted by Apple’s renegade software. The response from Cupertino has been swift and decisive, with two engineers being sent out this weekend to diagnose the cause of Pinkstone’s agony and try to fix it.

Excellent fucking question!

The problem with iTunes is that iTunes does waaaaaay too many things now. It manages not just your tunes, but your movies, podcasts, apps, and, if you like, your iPhone/iPad syncing (I rarely use iTunes to sync my iPhone).

Originally, iTunes handled your music, and then syncing your music to your iPod. It’s actually doing the same thing now, only with many more different media types for multiple devices.

Something clearly has to change, whether it’s rebuilding iTunes from the ground up, like they did when they scrapped iPhoto for the new Photos app or breaking iTunes up into discreet applications for different tasks/media types.

Categories:

Human Experience

Tags:

 /  /  /