Opinion Stories June 1

AAPL: 98.46

-1.40
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For all of its shortcomings, the Apple Watch has redeemed itself for me with its fitness and health tracking features. I wear it primarily because it’s a watch but I like (the idea of) having Siri always there plus access to important alerts instantly. The sports watch part can be ignored if you’re not interested, but being one device means its still there if you decide to explore activity tracking later.

That’s been my experience. I generally ignored activity tracking for the first year, but decided at the end of March to use the start of April as a reason to pay attention. The Activity app uses week- and month-long streaks to mark achievements, so the start of a new month (like today) can be motivating.

My real goal was to lose weight using Apple Watch as a motivator. Two months in, I’ve been very happy with the results so far and have to give Apple Watch plenty of credit for pushing me forward. My routine also involves iPhone apps, smarter food choices, and some basic equipment, but closing the Activity rings is the most compelling part.

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Opinion Stories May 31

AAPL: 99.86

-0.49
Stock Chart

When Siri originally launched on the iPhone a little over four years ago, we postulated that it would be a world-changing event. A personal assistant in our pockets that could handle real-world requests felt like the future. When it launched onto the Apple Watch, it was described as potentially being the quickest and most fun way to interact with the wearable. Then when it came to  the Apple TV, it became the fastest way to disseminate the content you want to watch across multiple apps.

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Apple’s conservative approach to the iOS status bar on iPhone and iPad is easily one of the clear design victories over Android’s unruly approach. Android, by design, will show separate icons for each Twitter mention, Instagram comment, Facebook alert, and any other alert, which I personally find to be overwhelming and just plain ugly. iOS doesn’t allow app icons to clutter the status bar. Instead, it uses temporary banners, lock screen messages, app icon badges, and the Notification Center curtain to show you what you’ve missed. But I have noticed a few examples lately where the iOS status bar has gotten sloppy and needs some real attention before iOS 10.

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9to5toys 
iPhone concept image by Yasser Farahi
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That Nikkei report claiming that Apple is moving to a three-year cycle on major iPhone refreshes would be huge news if true.

Apple currently has a very well-established ‘tick-tock’ cycle where we see a new form-factor every two years, and new features within the same casing on alternate years. That’s a very efficient approach: Apple generates new demand each year without having the pressure to design a whole new model each time.

Some will upgrade every single year; others will be more influenced by design, and buy in ‘tick’ years; others will be more concerned about features, and will buy in ‘tock’ years. The result is that every year, you have a bunch of customers eager to buy.

A switch to a three-year cycle would seem a dangerous one – so could it really be true, or is something else going on … ?

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Opinion Stories May 27

AAPL: 100.35

-0.06
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Jason Snell has written an interesting piece at Macworld, berating Google for using its Material Design user-interface in iOS apps. In other words, Google ignores all the iOS conventions and instead makes its iPhone and iPad apps look exactly like Android ones. This can be seen in everything from the ‘white card on gray background’ overall design all the way down to small details like using vertical rather than horizontal dots as a menu icon.

He argues that Google is acting like Microsoft did back in the early 90s, suddenly making its Mac apps look and behave like Windows ones. It is, he suggests, arrogant …

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Opinion Stories May 26

AAPL: 100.41

0.79
Stock Chart

Last year, I wrote a Feature Request asking that Apple give third-party apps access to Siri, and generally work at beefing-up both the intelligence and the capabilities of its intelligent assistant. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an opinion piece pointing to the fact that Viv is exactly what Siri should have been by now.

This week, a report suggests that I may finally be getting my wish. Apple is said to be not only planning to offer a Siri SDK to all developers, but also building an Amazon Echo/Google Home type box that will embed Siri more deeply in the home through integration with HomeKit. We will, says the report, find out more at WWDC.

If true, the implications could be profound – perhaps even meaning that we’ve hit ‘peak app’ …

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