June 29, 2017

Link: iPhone Review Redux: 10 Years Later, So Slow, So Small ☍

Joanna Stern takes a look at the original iPhone again for The Wall Street Journal. The article itself is a behind a paywall, but the video isn’t. Seeing how limited the original iPhone is in contrast with things people do every day on newer devices really puts into perspective how long ten years in tech can be.

Link: Defining the 21st Century ☍

Horace Dediu:

To summarize I can offer two numbers:

  1. 1,162,796,000 iPhones sold (to end of March 2017).
  2. $742,912,000,000 in revenues. $1 trillion will be reached in less than 18 months.

But more important than any of these quantifiable measures of success are the unquantified accomplishments. These are the changes we note only when flipping an A/B switch on a decade. The changes ushered by the iPhone have been as momentous as those of the Ford Model T. Or those of electricity, telegraph, radio or TV.

These are epoch-making technologies. They shape the fiber of society and the definition of quality of life. They obsolete entire economies and change the balance of political power. They shift the center of gravity of society.

To glimpse the change you only need to observe how we shifted how we spend our time. The fact that 2 billion people are using Facebook every day. That the device is looked at for 2 hours a day. That it’s unlocked 80 times a day. That it holds almost all our memories and our conversations and all our secrets. That it created new modes of communication and destroyed others, ancient and respected.

June 26, 2017

Link: The Tragedy of FireWire ☍

Richard C. Moss for Ars Technica:

Yet FireWire’s principal creator, Apple, nearly killed it before it could appear in a single device. And eventually the Cupertino company effectively did kill FireWire, just as it seemed poised to dominate the industry.

The story of how FireWire came to market and ultimately fell out of favor serves today as a fine reminder that no technology, however promising, well-engineered, or well-liked, is immune to inter- and intra-company politics or to our reluctance to step outside our comfort zone.

As someone who studied media production in the mid-2000s, FireWire was a technology I utilized on a daily basis, along with MiniDV tapes. As an interface, it always felt more civilized than USB, especially as it was so closely associated with Apple (and I know the iMac helped bring USB to the masses). Still, this is a great look back at the development of the interface and its ultimate demise.

Link: The MacBook Adorable ☍

Casey Liss reviews the MacBook:

I’m not here to discuss tomorrow; I’m here to discuss today. Today, I feel handcuffed every time I use an iPad. Even for the things I can accomplish, I have to jump through flaming hoops in order to do so. It’s not for me.

What I really want (what I really really want) is an iPad-sized device, with all the portability it provides, but with none of the drawbacks of, well, actually being an iPad.

There’s a lot to take from the review, as beyond the hardware itself, Liss touches on the idea of finding the right tool for the job. A lot of people need a computer like a Mac or PC to get work done, and it’s great that Apple is still building machines that can accomplish these tasks.

It’s really easy for people using a Mac to condemn the iPad-only crowd or vice-versa, but truthfully, more options are great. If there’s a Mac as convenient (minus cellular capability) to travel with as an iPad, that’s pretty remarkable and may have seemed impossible just a few years ago.

Link: Charging the Apple Pencil: Failed Design or Genius? ☍

Brian Renshaw:

Sure, it does look of ridiculous but when you are out in a coffee shop or in a meeting and you need to charge your Apple Pencil the last thing you want to do is pull out a charger plus a dongle to quick charge the device. Plus, when I leave the house to do some writing I just want to grab my iPad, which has an all day charge. I never need to think about bringing a charger with my iPad. I really don’t want to think about bringing a charger or even making sure my Apple Pencil is charged before I go out. The genius of the design is that I can insert the Apple Pencil in my iPad and charge it. A 5-minute charge always gives me plenty of juice for the rest of my session (actually a 15-second charge gives you 30 minutes!). At the very least, if I get up to go to the restroom or take a quick walk I can plug in the pencil and when I return it is good to go.

I don’t use my Apple Pencil nearly as much as I’d like, but any time that I do need a quick charge when I’m away from any wall charging mechanism, I’m reminded how good of an option using the iPad’s Lightning port can be. It may be a bit awkward, but there’s an often-overlooked convenience factor.