26 June 2014

Link: Cheap iPod touch Gets Camera, Color Options ☍

Looks like Apple is trying to simplify the lineup, unload some extra inventory, or just get more iPod touches in the hands of everyone:

Apple today announced its 16GB iPod touch is now available in vibrant colors and equipped with a 5 megapixel iSight camera for just $199. The entire iPod touch lineup features the 5 megapixel iSight camera with 1080p HD video recording, brilliant 4-inch Retina display, Apple’s A5 chip and FaceTime camera. iPod touch features an ultra-thin and light anodized aluminum design and is available in pink, yellow, blue, silver, space gray and (PRODUCT) RED. iPod touch comes in a 16GB model for $199, 32GB for $249, and 64GB for $299.

For those keeping score at home, the iPod touch is sort of a weird mix of iPhone 4 (5 megapixel camera), iPhone 4S (A5 processor), and iPhone 5 (long display) and hasn’t had an update since the iPhone 5 was released…unless you count the prior low-end model.

24 June 2014

Link: Essential ☍

Federico Viticci:

A decade ago, with no iPhone, no mobile Internet, and no apps to help me along the way, I would have probably ended up risking my life trying to stop a car on the highway to ask for help at 1 AM. Yesterday, the iPhone allowed me to stay safe, call the police, and give them my exact position in a matter of seconds. The apps that I use every day provided a solution to a real problem that could have turned out much worse. I was constantly connected with other people and information I needed was only a few taps away.

Amen to that. A couple of years ago, I was driving with a friend and shredded a tire on the freeway late at night. We ended up using our iPhones to illuminate changing the tire and navigate back home along less busy roads since we were riding slowly on a donut spare. Although not as scary as Viticci’s story, I still saw the value of a do-everything connection to the world…even if that was an EDGE connection in the country.

20 June 2014

Article: On the New iMac: If It’s Good Enough for the MacBook Air…

I wasn’t originally going to write about the new low-end iMac, but I found myself talking with some geek friends about it over the past few days. It’s such a fascinatingly odd machine that I thought I’d weigh in on some observations…

Link: Amazon’s Whale Strategy ☍

Ben Thompson (via John Gruber):

The question, though, is if the Fire phone is perfect for Amazon’s customers. Just because someone loves Amazon doesn’t mean their entire life is about buying things. And while it’s true that Amazon has gone to great lengths to make the Fire Phone compelling as a phone, it’s still an inferior offering as compared to a high-end Android phone or especially an iPhone when it comes to things like apps. In this respect it’s fair to compare the Fire Phone to Facebook Home and the HTC First: just because people love Facebook didn’t mean they wanted Facebook to dominate their phone, and by extension, their lives.

Moreover, I was troubled by the faint sense of hubris in yesterday’s presentation; it was 45 minutes too long and included far too much self-congratulation and navel-gazing. We get that the design process for Dynamic Perspective was hard, but that doesn’t mean we care. More broadly, Amazon is a horizontal company: they ought to be serving everyone. Having their own phone introduces the wrong sort of incentives when it comes to Amazon’s efforts on Android and the iPhone; it’s the same danger I see in Microsoft focusing on both services and devices.

I watched coverage of this event on a few sites, and also ended up being bored about halfway through. While I enjoy Amazon and was excited to see their phone offerings, I felt that too much time was spent on the multiple cameras and 3D effects with Dynamic Perspective. It doesn’t really offer something that will change my life or solve something that my almost two-years-old iPhone 5 can’t. Although Firefly looks like a great feature, the rest of the device seems to be more of the same (design, price, features), and I just keep find myself asking “Why?”

Link: Steve Jobs and Sushi ☍

Buster Hein for Cult of Mac (via MG Siegler):

Before Jobs died in October 2011 he made one last hire – Toshi Sakuma. With the fast-paced lifestyle weighing on him, Sakuma decided to sell the restaurant. Unable to find a quick buyer, Jobs offered Sakuma a job at Caffè Mac where Apple employees can still go to enjoy the sushi Jobs loved for a quarter century.

The restaurant was set to close on October 7th, and according to Nobi, Jony Ive’s secretary scheduled a reservation and mentioned a special guest (presumed to be Jobs) would be joining. A cancellation soon followed when news of Jobs’ death broke.

Kaygetsu’s last day of business was the same day as Steve’s funeral.

Link: Buy n Large Prime ☍

Stephen Hackett:

While Amazon isn’t killing the planet — and probably won’t send us all to space when Earth is so polluted the human race faces extinction — it’s not hard to imagine a world in which the company’s sheer size and ubiquity make it impossible to avoid. Amazon is already my default when it comes to purchasing all sorts of items. As the company grows, I’m only more likely to use my Prime account more and more often.

All that said, I like Amazon for the most part. I don’t think the company is evil, but I don’t want to be in a chair having everything I need to me delivered to my fingertips automatically.

I agree—I live fairly close to a number of retail stores, but Amazon often beats them with price, variety, and sometimes even getting items to me quickly. Although I don’t necessarily enjoy shopping I do like it as an excuse to get out of the house.

Link: New iMac Has Soldered Memory ☍

OWC takes apart the new low-end iMac that was introduced Wednesday:

Now that we’ve had time to teardown the new iMac, unlike the $1,299 iMac, we found this iMac has the memory soldered to the motherboard removing any possibility of adding additional memory. Users will be permanently locked in to the 8GB of memory, as there is no Apple factory upgrade option.

Normally, I’d be crying foul, but 8GB is a pretty generous amount of RAM on a Mac (4GB tends to handle everyday tasks quite well and will likely for awhile). This probably cuts costs, simplifies the build process, and it’s not like 21.5″ iMacs have really had easy-to-upgrade RAM since 2012. I’m more concerned about a likely-failure-prone hard drive in those machines.

17 June 2014

Link: Susan Kare, Iconographer ☍

The e.g. Conference has posted a twenty minute video of Susan Kare speaking (via Elliot Jackson):

Susan Kare walks us through some key points regarding the design of icons and symbols. Kare is an artist and designer and pioneer of pixel art; she created many of the graphical interface elements for the original Apple Macintosh in the 1980s as a key member of the Mac software design team, and continued to work as Creative Director at NeXT for Steve Jobs.

This is an interesting video, as it demonstrates the design process, but also made me think about the trend towards clarity and simplicity in the design of OS X Yosemite and iOS 7.