Howard Blume and Teresa Watanabe, reporting for The Los Angeles Times:
A Microsoft representative urged the board to try more than one
product and not to rely on one platform. Doing so could cut off
the district from future price reductions and innovations, said
Robyn Hines, senior director of state government affairs for
Read that again. A Microsoft representative urging people not to rely on one platform.
And his work on the show made possible Vic Mackey, Al Swearengen,
Walter White, Don Draper and every complicated, riveting anti-hero
(or worse) who followed him. “The Sopranos” was an enormous hit,
and told the business that the old rules need no longer apply.
Sharon Terlep, Dennis Berman, and Shira Ovide, reporting for the WSJ:
Microsoft Corp. was recently in advanced discussions
with Nokia Corp. about a purchase of the Finnish
company’s device business, according to people familiar with the
matter, in a marriage that could have reshaped the mobile-phone
The talks have faltered, they said. One person said talks took
place as recently as this month but aren’t likely to be revived.
I do not mean to imply to that Neven Mrgan is either foolish or
possessing of a little mind. This is not a straw man argument. I
mean to say that it is foolish for a designer to rely on intuition
to inform design because it yields repetition and blinds them from
new opportunities. A small mind is a limited mind and using
intuition as a guide will yield nothing new, only that which
“feels right.” Or to put it another way, what “feels right” is
what your mind is used to.
Apple is going to let OS X be itself, and let iOS do the same.
Multiple times during the keynote we heard an exec say “ten years”
— in reference to needing a new case design for the Mac Pro or in
coming up with names for OS X. This is awesome news for Mac
developers and what we’ve been wanting to hear for a long time
now. Apple still cares about the Mac and you really felt like they
meant it this year. From the session content to talking with
employees about OS X issues to parity between new frameworks
introduced on iOS and OS X- the Mac is still getting a lot of love
down in Cupertino.
One of my key takeaways from last week is that it’s not just user interface design where Apple has increased collaboration under its post-Jobs/Forstall management structure, but they’ve increased engineering collaboration too. There was far less “iOS this”, “OS X that”, and much more “here’s how you do this on Apple platforms”.
Apple today announced that HBO GO and WatchESPN are now available
directly on Apple TV joining the great lineup of programming
offered to customers. iTunes users have downloaded more than one
billion TV episodes and 380 million movies from iTunes to date,
and they are purchasing over 800,000 TV episodes and over 350,000
movies per day.
The idea was fairly simple, though complex in the making: for
those of us in big metropolitan, light-polluted areas like Chicago
who can’t see the night sky very clearly, we wanted to travel to
this beautiful, dark section of rural Nevada and then bring the
stars back with us, capturing a full night sky to be played back,
in real time.
4K resolution — twice that of most movie theaters.
But whether we accept the idea of a grid or not, here’s the bigger
point: no icon designer I’ve asked thinks Ive’s grid is helpful.
In that sense, it’s wrong. The large circle is too big. Many apps
in iOS 7 use it: all the Store apps, Safari, Messages, Photos… In
all these icons, the big shape in the center is simply too big.
Every icon designer I’ve asked would instead draw something like
the icon on the right. To our eyes — and we get paid to have good
ones, we’re told — this is more correct.
Press coverage is disproportionally focusing on the Home screen
(about which more in a moment), but the reality of day to day
usage is that you’ll spend time in apps. Where there were
previously gloomy cubbyholes and low ceilings, there are now
floor-to-ceiling windows, skylights, and clean surfaces.
I think it’s an enormous improvement, and a typically
Joel Santo Domingo, reviewing the new 13-inch Air:
Road warriors and jet travellers rejoice, we’ve found a laptop
that will last all day and well into the night. The newest Apple
MacBook Air 13-inch (Mid-2013) lasted an astonishing 15-and-a-half
hours on a battery test that makes most current mainstream
ultrabooks and ultraportables cough and die after four to six
hours. The fact that the system gives up very little if any
day-to-day performance is astounding.
The security state operates as a ratchet. Once you click in a new
level of surveillance or intrusiveness, it becomes the new
baseline. What was unthinkable yesterday becomes permissible in
exceptional cases today, and routine tomorrow. The people who run
the American security apparatus are in the overwhelming majority
diligent people with a deep concern for civil liberties. But their
job is to find creative ways to collect information. And they work
within an institution that, because of its secrecy, is
fundamentally inimical to democracy and to a free society.
Remarkably thoughtful essay; if you read only one thing this week, make it this.
Week-old roundup of day one designer commentary on iOS 7. I was right about one thing: it’s polarizing. Two remarks I very much agree with:
What was outlined today looks like a very rational base on which
to extend the OS — somewhat timeless, far more timeless than what
we had before.
I think the design had to be reset so that newer interaction
models could surface. More gestures, more animations. They added a
physics engine to the SDK. It’s like a pendulum swinging from
obvious visual affordances to engaging kinetic ones. The parallax
effect, the physics of the messages bubbles and I’m sure many
other ‘kinetic’ behaviors are new to devs in iOS7. Apple wants
apps to use more motion and less visual design.
The design and goal is clearly focused on listeners purchasing
music — but even so, iTunes Radio feels like the first truly
modern take on what terrestrial radio wishes it could be. Radio
was always meant to be a promotion tool, a way to sell more music,
but without being built directly on top of the world’s biggest
music retailer, it was always too distant from the marketplace to
be more effectual. Now a “buy” button lives next to every song, or
a wish list one for those hesitant, and it feels like this is how
modern radio should function.
Agreed; iTunes Radio is well-done and well-designed. I’m a little surprised Apple is making everyone wait for iOS 7 to get it.
According to the Financial Times of London (paywall), Richard Yu,
chairman of Huawei’s consumer business group, said at the launch
of its latest smartphone offering, the Ascend P6, in London: “We
are considering these sorts of acquisitions; maybe the combination
has some synergies but depends on the willingness of Nokia.”
I can’t find one person who has been using the Nexus 7 for an
extended period of time, and hasn’t seen a massive downgrade in
performance. Just what kind of downgrade are we talking here? I
cannot pick up my Nexus 7 without experiencing problems like a lag
of ten seconds, or more, just to rotate the display; touches
refusing to acknowledged; stuttering notification panel actions;
and unresponsive apps.
I tried the basics at first, like a factory reset. I then moved onto
drastic measures, like rooting and installing CyanogenMod 10.1
(which I thought would surely fix everything, since I’ve used
faster devices with lesser hardware, and performance problems were
merely a lack of software optimization). And nothing seems to work.
My first-generation iPad from 2010 works just as well as the day I bought it. Actually, even better, because iOS has gotten better.
Update: A lot of pushback from readers on my claim above, arguing that their first-gen iPads have been rendered slow and unstable by iOS 5 (the last OS to support the hardware). My son uses mine for iBooks, watching movies, and playing games. Mileage clearly varies with other apps. (And yes, the App Store app in particular is a bit crashy.)
Brian X. Chen, reporting for the NYT from the e-book price-fixing trial:
Both parties showed their evidence on a projector screen. Apple’s
legal team used a MacBook to shuffle between evidence documents,
stacking them side by side in split screens and zooming in on
In contrast, the Justice Department’s lawyers could show only one
piece of evidence at a time. One video that Mr. Buterman played
as evidence failed to produce the audio commentary needed to make
The race to the bottom. Deceptive low-now, high-later pricing.
Scam and clone apps. Shallow apps with little craftsmanship that
succeed, but many high-quality apps unable to command a
sustainable price. The “top” list encourages all of these —
we’d still have them without the list, but to a substantially
Apple has always placed a priority on protecting our customers’
personal data, and we don’t collect or maintain a mountain of
personal details about our customers in the first place. There are
certain categories of information which we do not provide to law
enforcement or any other group because we choose not to retain it.
For example, conversations which take place over iMessage and
FaceTime are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the
sender and receiver can see or read them. Apple cannot decrypt
that data. Similarly, we do not store data related to customers’
location, Map searches or Siri requests in any identifiable form.
That last sentence separates Apple from many other companies.
Darby Lines, on Apple’s new “This Is Our Signature” campaign:
In my opinion this has been, from the return of Steve Jobs at
least, the singular goal of Apple. Not to make all the moneys, not
to dominate markets, not to impress bloggers but simply to make
products that enhance our lives.
Apple spent nine months in complete silence — from the release of the iPad Mini through last week. The only thing they announced in that interim was the ouster of Scott Forstall and corresponding reshuffling of executive responsibility. No new products, no new designs. And the business and tech media lost their shit over this, declaring an end to Apple’s ability to innovate. Apple’s “This Is Our Signature” mantra is in defiance of this superficial demand for an endless stream of new new new. Apple is saying they’re above the churn of the news cycle, and if you don’t understand that yet, they don’t care. You’ll either get it through your head eventually, or you will never understand Apple.
Judging from my inbox, Twitter and Messages, people are losing
their minds over iOS 7 and some of the changes Apple introduced at
WWDC last week. Here is my advice to you — sit back, take a deep
breath and relax.
There are a few things you need to remember about iOS 7. First,
it’s nowhere near finished in terms of design or functionality.
Apple engineers stopped adding or changing the operating system
before WWDC so they had a stable build to show during the keynote.
It’s not done.
iOS 7 is so far from done that maybe there is a story here, in that Apple has a mountain of work ahead to get iOS 7 ready for actual release this fall (presumably, coincident with the release of new iPhone and iPad devices). But to judge iOS 7 beta 1 as you would a release version is silly.
My thanks to Squarespace for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Squarespace puts world-class design in your hands and provides everything you need to create your own website in minutes. Squarespace websites are different. They’re designed to be simple, modern, and to look great on every device. With Squarespace, your personality, products, or content are always the focus.
Apple has set fire to iOS. Everything’s in flux. Those with the least to lose have the most to gain, because this fall, hundreds of millions of people will start demanding apps for a platform with thousands of old, stale players and not many new, nimble alternatives. If you want to enter a category that’s crowded on iOS 6, and you’re one of the few that exclusively targets iOS 7, your app can look better, work better, and be faster and cheaper to develop than most competing apps.
Recorded earlier this week in front of a live audience in San Francisco, I was joined on stage by Guy English, Scott Simpson, and a cavalcade of very special surprise guests. I’m pretty happy with how this show turned out.
Droid Life, “That Moment When iOS 7 Became Android”:
We’ll have so many more thoughts on the way related to iOS 7,
but we thought we’d start with the eerily similar lock screens.
Floating bubble live wallpaper, minimal clock, fading on the
actionable icons, semi-Roboto font, etc.
Helvetica Neue Ultra Light, “semi-Roboto”. OK, then.
The truth about the greatest commercial of all time — Think
Different — is that the intended audience was Apple itself. Jobs
took over a demoralized company on the precipice of bankruptcy,
and reminded them that they were special, and, that Jobs was
special. It was the beginning of a new chapter.
“Designed in California” should absolutely be seen in the same
light. This is a commercial for Apple on the occasion of a new
chapter; we just get to see it.
This morning, I watched the videos of the iOS 7 interface again,
and I saw a bunch of rushed designers unable to stabilize an
uneven interface. It’s worth remembering that Ive took over
Human Interface only 7 months ago, and they redesigned the whole
phone in that time. Straight up: seven months is a ridiculous
No one has questioned whether Jony Ive can lead a hardware design team. Whether he could lead a software design team, however, has been the biggest question facing Apple over the last eight months. In fact, it might be the biggest question facing Apple, ever, because it’s another way of asking whether the company could produce innovative software without you-know-who at the helm of the ship.
Today, we have our answer, and it is a resounding yes. Jony Ive can lead a software team.
The key, I think, is that his approach, and Apple’s as a whole under its post-Forstall organizational structure, is not to view this as two different things, hardware and software, but rather as a single thing: design.
There is a deep intellectual rigor to the design of iOS 7, and it’s hard not to see it as being profoundly informed by Ive’s background in hardware. In hardware, design is limited by physics: weight, density, size, connections, seams. Software doesn’t face those design limits. The old design of iOS 6 took advantage of that lack of limits, to its detriment. In iOS 6, you open a folder on the home screen, and linen is something you see underneath. You pull down Notification Center, and linen is something you see over. It’s both over and under. Hardware doesn’t work like that, but software can, because software can show you anything, conceptual logic be damned.
The design of iOS 7 is based on rules. There’s an intricate system at work, a Z-axis of layers organized in a logical way. There is a profound reduction in the use of faux-3D visual effects and textures, but iOS 7 is anything but flat. It is three dimensional not just visually but logically. It uses translucency not to show off, but to provide you with a sense of place. When you pull the new Control Center panel up from the bottom of the screen, its translucency lets you know that you haven’t gone somewhere new, you’re just looking at something over where you were.
There’s a sense of place, depth, and spatiality in iOS 7 that makes it feel like hardware. A real thing, not pixels rendered on glass. It’s as though Ive has brought the same design goals that have always informed Apple’s hardware to software. And here, his team isn’t limited by physics. Planes can have zero thickness. But it’s a system, in the truest sense of the word.
iOS 7 is not perfect; this new design framework will evolve and improve over time, just like iOS’s original aesthetic did. But it’s a conceptual foundation that corrects all of the excesses of the original iOS aesthetic. It’s radically different but not disorienting. Less flashy, less bling, more subtle, more refined.
This is the first product of the post-Jobs Apple. The result shows that in some ways Apple’s software design has gotten better, because it was Jobs (and Forstall) who had a penchant for exuberant textures and gimmickry. Jobs’s taste in hardware was nearly perfect, but his taste in software had a weakness for the saccharine. Wood grain, linen, Rich Corinthian leather, etc. It was all just sugar for the eyes. This is a weakness Jony Ive’s software taste clearly does not suffer.
The software is now of a piece with the hardware. Two sides of the same coin. Not hardware design and software design. Just design. ★
Tim Cook, one year ago, to Walt Mossberg: “We’re going to double down on secrecy on products.”
12 months later, here we are, on the cusp of WWDC 2013, and nobody outside Apple seems to have any idea what Apple is set to show tomorrow. Cook’s words to Mossberg were anything but empty. The most secretive company in the industry got more secretive. We know Jony Ive has been leading the software design of iOS and OS X. We can be pretty sure they’re going to show us what they’ve been up to. But no one seems to know just what that is.
Yours truly included — and I couldn’t be happier. I haven’t been this in the dark about what Apple was set to announce in a keynote since the original iPhone introduction in January 2007. I’ve seen some speculation over the past few days that Vesper’s UI was informed by advanced knowledge of iOS 7. It was not. In fact, if anything, I expect Apple to zig where we (Q Branch) have zagged, in some ways. (And if iOS 7’s reveal does make Vesper seem at least somewhat presciently designed, chalk it up simply to our being able to tell which way the design wind is blowing.)
The thing to focus on — now, during the anticipatory lull, and tomorrow, once we have the actual design before us — is not merely what it looks like. The quote I keep coming back to is this classic from Steve Jobs, 10 years ago: “Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
Whatever has changed in iOS 7 has changed for reasons other than fashion, or difference for the sake of difference.
The original iPhone was designed for a world where smartphones were horrid little button- and scroll-wheel-driven devices, and where proper humane computer interfaces were driven by mouse and trackpad cursors. The iPhone blended the two — the size and cellular networking of the smartphone, the humaneness of Mac-style UI design — and did so by introducing something new. The touchscreen.1
The design of the iPhone software was entirely informed by the fact that this was a new experience, it was nothing like using an existing smartphone, nor anything like using a Mac or Windows PC. It needed training wheels to get people up to speed. Thus, to name one small example, why iOS buttons have tended to look so very button-y. To inform the user, as clearly as possible, that this is a button that can be tapped.
Look around you. Any street corner. Any office. Any shopping mall. Any restaurant. You will see people tapping on touchscreens. We all get it now. iOS-style computing is no longer novel; it is now the standard interaction model for personal computing.
The primary problem Apple faced with the iPhone in 2007 was building familiarity with a new way of using computers. That problem has now been solved. It is time to solve new problems.
The training wheels can now come off. That’s what I think Apple’s going to do tomorrow.2★
No, Apple did not invent the touchscreen. But the iPhone was first product to bring a touchscreen to the mass market. It was the first touchscreen device that mattered. ↩
I’ve been thinking mostly about iOS 7. But a new version of OS X is due as well. Last year they showed 10.8 months in advance; this year, nothing. So I think big changes are coming to the Mac as well. But what? I have no idea. None.
“We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft
has to lose,” Jobs said. “We have to embrace the notion that for
Apple to win, Apple has to do a really good job. If others are
going to help us, that’s great. Because we need all the help we
can get. […] The era of setting this up as a competition between
Apple and Microsoft is over.”
Betteridge is off the mark on this one. That quote from Jobs was very specific. It came at a time when Apple was not making great products, and when Apple’s fans and perhaps even employees were locked into a mindset that the wrong platform — Windows — had won. That Windows’s almost unimaginable success, its spectacular rise to worldwide ubiquity, was an injustice — one that only Apple could right. He wasn’t claiming that for Apple to succeed no one had to lose, only Microsoft (and, really, Windows in particular — as opposed to then-future initiatives like MP3 players and mobile phones, where for Apple to succeed it certainly helped that Microsoft lost).
Note too that Jobs’s message was bitter medicine. He was surrendering a war that the audience wanted Apple to continue fighting. As Jason Breitkopf noted in a comment on Betteridge’s piece, Jobs was booed, resoundingly,1 by the Macworld audience several times during his announcement. Page’s message at I/O was greeted with applause. Page was telling the I/O audience what they wanted to hear, that Google is something other than a ruthless, greedy competitor.
I’m not arguing that Apple is not also a ruthless and greedy competitor. In fact, my piece yesterday had nothing to do with Apple — only Google. (I should have left Android and the iPhone out of it, as that was the only oblique reference to Apple.) The difference is that Apple hasn’t claimed otherwise. Again, Jobs wasn’t claiming in 1997 that no one had to lose for Apple to win. The drum I’m trying to bang here is not that Google is a greedy competitor, but rather that Google is a greedy competitor that presents itself as anything but — as a sort of peaceful, whimsical, happy-go-lucky techno-futurist corporate utopian — and that rather than see this pose as absurd, many people, Googlers and Google users alike, buy it.
“We are really pleased with our revenues but our goal isn’t to
make money. It sounds a little flippant, but it’s the truth. Our
goal and what makes us excited is to make great products. If we
are successful people will like them and if we are operationally
competent, we will make money,” he said.
Mere spin? Perhaps. But those statements from Jobs and Ive are not absurd. If they’re not the absolute truth, they’re at least truthy. Whereas Larry Page’s pablum regarding Google not being pitted against other companies is farcical. Tim O’Reilly had a good line about Microsoft a decade ago:
Microsoft gets a lot of heat for not leaving enough on the table
for others. My mother, who’s English, and quite a character, once
said of Bill Gates, “He sounds like someone who would come to your
house for dinner and say, ‘Thank you. I think I’ll have all the
That’s Google today. What major tech giant has Google not pitted itself against? Whose mashed potatoes do they not seek to take? Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, Oracle, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon — Google has made enemies of all of them. The difference between Google’s predatory rapaciousness today and Microsoft’s of yore is that Microsoft wore it on their sleeve, they owned it, celebrated it.
Seriously, watch the video. E.g., around the 2:30 mark, when Jobs announces that Internet Explorer will be the new default browser for Mac OS. The audience is outraged. (And Jobs, clearly, was prepared for the reaction.) ↩