Opinion ▪ July 9, 2015

The tech sector does love its hype. Every new product is revolutionary. All new apps are ground-breaking. Everything anyone ever launched is going to change the way we do X. Almost without exception, it isn’t, they aren’t and it doesn’t.

But the iPod in 2001 definitely qualified. That simple, clever marketing slogan – “a thousand songs in your pocket” – beautifully summarised something that really was revolutionary. For the first time ever, we could carry close to a hundred albums in a device that slipped into our pocket and could go everywhere with us. Most of us listened to a lot more music in a lot more places.

It also propelled Apple along a new path. It’s no exaggeration to say that without the iPod, there would likely never have been an iPhone. The iPod revolutionized music and also transformed Apple.

But there have been a couple of recent signs that Apple no longer views the iPod as an important product …  expand full story

Opinion ▪ July 7, 2015

Bryan Jones has taken close up images of the Apple Watch screen, magnified such it is possible to discern the individual pixels and sub-pixels. The images show the arrangements of red, green and blue light that make up the images users see on the Apple Watch Retina Display.

Jones compares the screen technology with that of iPhone screens (shown below). They look quite different likely due to the fact that Apple Watch uses an AMOLED display rather than a LCD. iPhone pixels are tightly packed together with the red, green and blue aligned vertically. With the Apple Watch, the blue sub-pixels act as spacers for the stacked red and green sub-pixels. Jones also notes that the imaging specs are a lot smaller than compared with an iPhone which seems to be in aid of maximising battery life. When zoomed in to this level, it means you can see a lot more black space. Jones says this contributes to the Apple Watch’s excellent contrast ratios.

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Opinion ▪ July 6, 2015

There isn’t any question that Apple’s working on a larger-screened iPad: early details leaked in 2013 and have been followed by dimensional drawings and prototype shells over the past year. All of the leaks suggest that the “iPad Pro” or “iPad Plus” will be nearly identical to the iPad Air 2, except with an almost 13″ screen and four (rather than two) speaker grilles. Few of the leaks have suggested major new design elements, such as an extra connector port, an integrated stand, or a stylus; no one believes Apple will even rotate the rear logo to signify a preferred horizontal orientation. In short, the “iPad Pro” will likely be a bigger-screened iPad Air, much as the iPad Air was just a bigger version of the iPad mini that preceded it.

Despite once-credible reports of an early 2015 release, the big iPad was apparently pushed back at least twice so Apple could focus on making more iPhones. Since it’s supposedly been rescheduled for a fall release, I wanted to pose a question: given what we (think we) know about it, do you believe a bigger-screened iPad without other major design changes will be compelling enough to succeed?…

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Opinion ▪ July 1, 2015

Like many other people, I signed up for Apple Music yesterday because it was intriguing and free. Having skipped earlier subscription music services, I didn’t have Spotify playlists to worry about losing or importing, and I hadn’t experienced truly unlimited access to a giant music selection before. Apple Music’s sign-up process turned out to be great: attractive, simple, and just personal enough to learn my tastes without feeling creepy. It’s also likely to win long-term customers: sign up your family, and after 3 months, someone’s going to insist on keeping Apple Music (or just forget to cancel it).

But once the sign-up process is over, Apple Music repeats a mistake that Apple made earlier this year with the Apple Watch: throwing users into the deep end of a big new pool without adequate guidance. Despite all the talk of importantly human-curated content, Apple Music is oddly and robotically silent when it should be actively guiding new customers through a brand new service. In prior years, Apple held back products until they were polished enough that anyone could use them immediately. These days, Apple releases major products with enough rough software edges that customers and reviewers are (rightfully) complaining about learning curves and unintuitive interfaces.

As of today, Apple has a new VP of User Interface Design, Alan Dye, who is taking over software-side responsibilities from Apple’s vaunted design chief Jony Ive. In light of the Apple Watch and Apple Music launches, both of which were criticized for unnecessarily complex user interfaces, I’d respectfully suggest to Mr. Dye that fixing this problem should be a top priority…

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Opinion ▪ June 26, 2015

Ads are things we all love to hate. While some can be amusing, and others can be useful, drawing our attention to products or services we weren’t aware of, mostly we view them as things to tolerate at best – and to be profoundly irritated by at worst.

Some think they have a simple solution to this: using an adblocker. Adblocking software has existed for desktop browsers for many years, but to date there haven’t been any effective blockers for iOS.

All that could change with iOS 9, however, with content-blocking capabilities built right into the platform. If Apple chooses to allow adblockers into the App Store (and we don’t yet know yet for sure that it will), that could require advertisers, ad networks, publishers and readers alike to up their games …  expand full story

Opinion ▪ June 23, 2015

App Store Confederate Flag

Apple’s App Store should join Amazon, eBay, Walmart and others in boycotting the Confederate Flag

[Update 6/25/15: Apple has begun removing apps that “use the Confederate flag in offensive or mean-spirited ways” without removing apps with “educational or historical uses”.]

Apple’s Tim Cook added his voice to the chorus of CEOs speaking against displaying the Confederate Flag on Sunday, indirectly referencing it as a symbol for racism. In a tweet, Cook called to honor the lives of the victims in last week’s tragic South Carolina shooting by “eradicating racism & removing the symbols & words that feed it.” An Alabama native like myself, Cook has been a strong proponent for equality during his tenure as CEO, often speaking out against the South’s tarnished history and the changes we still need to address.

With major physical and online retailers including Walmart, Target, Sears, Amazon, eBay, and Etsy now publicly supporting the boycott against the Confederate flag by removing merchandise that displays it, I believe it’s time for Tim Cook’s Apple to join the campaign by removing digital goods that display the Confederate flag on the App Store. expand full story

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