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Apple

  • From Nikhil Suresh’s blog:

    And then some absolute son of a bitch created ChatGPT, and now look at usLook at us, resplendent in our pauper’s robes, stitched from corpulent greed and breathless credulity, spending half of the planet’s engineering efforts to add chatbot support to every application under the sun when half of the industry hasn’t worked out how to test database backups regularly. This is why I have to visit untold violence upon the next moron to propose that AI is the future of the business – not because this is impossible in principle, but because they are now indistinguishable from a hundred million willful fucking idiots.

  • I am not interested in shelling out money to use productivity apps. This is for two reasons:

    1. Most productivity software has moved to a subscription model. No thanks.
    2. Apple provides these out-of-the-box on iOS and macOS. Seems good!

    If those two items resonate with you, you’ve come to the right place. There’s of course problems with staying with the Apple ecosystem. For example features and bugfixes typically only ship once a year. Sometimes, you get no features at all in a given release cycle! A small trade-off for inexpensive productivity apps.

    I love Obsidian. Especially because you get a lot for free. But, I keep coming back to the Notes App. It is simply too easy to use and frankly more available when I just need a place to jot something down. It also seems that Apple is making incremental steps to improve Notes, especially in the context of Apple Intelligence making its way to iOS users very soon:

    That being said, the true power of the Notes app lies hidden within another another app altogether… Shortcuts! iOS Shortcuts are the key to unlocking more effective productivity across the Apple ecosystem.

    I’m shamelessly re-posting Volkov’s iOS Shortcuts from his piece titled, The Digital Minimalist’s Complete Guide to Information Management in Apple Ecosystem:

    Basic with No Tasks:https://www.icloud.com/shortcuts/9f26253a78a7462b87eb29a374e88fe4

    Daily Plan based on Reminders:https://www.icloud.com/shortcuts/d980745a1468406cbc11f63df7cbb271

    Daily Plan based on Things 3 (latest version):https://www.icloud.com/shortcuts/b28b3936596d44fea7311cc92e59e6d9

    Daily Plan for TickTick (a bit different logic):https://www.icloud.com/shortcuts/47d10b291c9747c2b744059289c6ed33

    I recommend taking Volkov’s Shortcuts and editing them to your liking! For example, I like the ‘Basic’ shortcut as a base template. I edited the shortcut to always save a note in a Daily Notes folder and to always default to ISO 8601 date format (e.g. 2024-06-29).

    Probably anecdotal at this point, but I keep my Shortcut on my homescreen over the actual Notes app, so I can always tap right into my Daily Note:

    If you want my fork of Volkov’s daily note shortcut, you’re welcome to have it: https://www.icloud.com/shortcuts/d23d9cc51c1b433f9d2299db5bf676c4

  • Apple describes interaction with visionOS in their recently published Human Interface Guidelines:

    When people wear Apple Vision Pro, they enter an infinite 3D space where they can engage with your app or game while staying connected to their surroundings.

    The Vision Pro is a uniquely different kind of general computing device that operates in 3D space. Often referred to as spatial computing. Apple lists 7 fundamental interface guidelines to be aware of:

    1. Space: The Vision Pro offers a limitless canvas for virtual content and immersive experiences.
    2. Immersion: Users seamlessly transition between different levels of immersion in either Shared Space or Full Space modes.
    3. Passthrough: Live video from external cameras allows users to interact with virtual content while seeing their surroundings. Using the Digital Crown users can dial in and out of passthrough
    4. Spatial Audio: Sonic characteristics of the surroundings are modeled for natural audio experiences.
    5. Focus and gestures: Users interact with Vision Pro using their eyes and hands. Using their eyes to bring focus and tapping is called an indirect gesture. Interacting with virtual objects with touch is called a direct gesture.
    6. Ergonomics: Content is automatically adjusted or scaled relative to the wearer’s head for visual comfort.
    7. Accessibility: Vision Pro supports various accessibility technologies for customized interactions such as VoiceOver, GuidedAccess and more.

    P.S. Apple also published their Design Library and Templates for visionOS in Figma here. Enjoy!

  • Michael Steeber runs an awesome blog called Tabletops. It features stories and analysis of Apple Store’s visual displays and floor designs. His latest post caught my eye. Apple Stores used to feature wooden “headphone heads” in their music bays. I always thought they were quite striking, but it sounds like Apple is phasing them out:

    The Music bay, complete with its rows of spherical wooden heads, was part of the original set of Avenues introduced in 2015. It was perfectly suited for the on-ear Beats era and predated AirPods entirely. Apple began phasing out the display in June 2021, but at least two stores are still holding on: Apple Park Visitor Center, with its custom Apple Music display, and Apple Upper East Side, the first store in the world to pilot Avenues.

  • The iPhone has no doubt been a crazy success since the early days. But how did the iPhone end up being such a success? Speculation, rumors and the lack of a design-first company in the market left Apple wide-open to squeeze into a already crowding market of cell phones and catalyze the smartphone industry into the behemoth that it is today. It took years of research, iteration and trial and error to produce the first iPhones. Apple was prototyping devices in secrecy with fabricators in China as early as 2005 with Foxconn and Pegatron. Looking back, we can see the design lineage and early ideas that were afoot in the company.

    Early on, there was a bet that the clickwheel, an invention of the successful iPod could be re-used in the iPhone. Thanks to @DongleBookPro, and (a few others over the years), we have some interesting images of late Acorns OS. Apple installed numerous diagnostic tools on these devices such as fabricator diagnostics, carrier and engineering diagnostic UI. Hap Plain of Cult of Mac put together this video showing just how rudimentary some of these early P-series iPhones worked here:

    The rudimentary touch-operated Acorn OS that ran on these prototypes eventually were refined and became the much beloved iOS. For further reading I recommend 9to5mac’s piece on the history behind Acorn OS and how it came to be.

  • According to this official tweet from LA Metro:

    It’s happening! It’s long been known that LA Metro has been working on upgrading its TAP system, and it’s about time. Contactless payments are clearly the future. New York City has had it for nearly a year (although, not all 472 stations support it yet). I wonder if TAP contactless will be live by the time iOS 14 hits the ground running?

  • The short answer: it’s unclear.

    What is clear, is that the streaming wars are becoming increasingly expensive. Everyone is vying for the customer’s prime-time attention. Just to watch the latest new original series X on streaming service Y is a mind-bending calculation. Just between those two variables alone, and conservative estimates on new original content: roughly 10 services with original content, 5 new series per year at 10 episodes each, comes to about 250 episodes to stream. That’s roughly 250 hours worth of content to stream pear year. America’s greatest export is after all, entertainment.

    That’s a lot to keep up with, and that doesn’t even include cable studio production releases that come from favorites such as FX or SYFY.

    Professor Scott Galloway makes a great point that SVODs that have an economic flywheel (e.g. companies that attract customers via Prime or iPhone sales, and enjoy the benefits of staying within those ecosystems such as Prime Video or Apple TV+ respectively) are immune to economic downturns. A couple of obvious giants that fit that mould are Amazon and Apple:

    Chart: No Mercy / No Malice, Professor Scott Galloway

    Following that rubric, Disney+ doesn’t enjoy the flywheel designations and Netflix is experiencing an especially painful truth — producing original content is very expensive:

    I’m not even sure Netflix gets out alive. Netflix is now the US economy, vulnerable to a spike in interest rates as it takes on increasing amounts of debt to fund staggering investments in original content. The original gangster can’t rely on gross margin dollars from Mandalorian action figures, handsets, or paper towels (no flywheel). The key question is can Netflix’s first-mover advantage/skill be replicated in other markets.

    If Netflix isn’t careful, when the next recession or economic downturn hits, (reminder: the American deficit is nearing $1 Trillion) it’s entirely possible that Netflix won’t survive.

  • Apple generates $27M in profit every couple of hours.

    That’s important to understand because the fuel for that economic furnace is powered by people. You’d think it’s devices (and it is really), but at the end of the day, it’s people who assemble these ivory devices. Apple’s device sales generate the bulk of their cash. That’s why Apple has been focused on other revenue segments such as services and entertainment recently. Foxconn, is Apple’s primary fabricator and production darling, located in Shenzhen.

    The majority of confirmed COVID-19 cases are in China, and as The People Republic of China contains its spread, only a fraction of workers are allowed to go back to work. Foxconn is deeply affected by this. Only about 10% reported back to work in Shenzhen last week. That’s painful for Apple, but for Foxconn, every day they aren’t producing, it eats into their margins as production estimates slip. They’ve begun to recall workers back to their factories in phases according to the Financial Times.

    If only Foxconn would’ve built this mysterious factory in Mount Pleasant sooner. In fact, Foxconn has yet to manufacture a single thing in Wisconsin at all. They risk losing their Republican-apportioned tax credits and now they risk their razor-thin margins due to an outbreak that could have been contained much sooner.

  • Photo by @benjaninja8 via Imgur:

    iPhone camera placement and product design, 2007 – 2019.
  • Stasior has an incredible resumé. A small selection of the giants he’s been stationed at include: Amazon, A9, Alta Vista, (and now Apple joins the A-list) Oracle and various positions at MIT before that.

    According to CNBC’s reporting, he led the growth of Apple’s machine learning initiative which wasn’t siloed to the Siri product alone:

    He said that he expanded the team from 70 engineers to more than 1,100 people and that he “played the leading role in bringing modern machine learning to Siri and Apple.” Apple said in 2018 that Siri was being actively used on more than 500 million devices, and earlier this year the company said that Siri would sound more natural in the forthcoming iOS 13 release. Apple previously made gains in this area through AI work.

    Microsoft has always been a company who grows throw acquisition, but recently they’ve been on a hiring spree. Which isn’t normally their modus operandi for acquiring talent. Something tells me they’re laying the pipework for an aggressive regime of ML and Voice growth in the coming years.

    I find this to be curious timing. Given Apple’s vestigial connection to its Jobsian past. Jony Ive has essentially severed that connection with his departure and newly launched design firm LoveFrom. Apple hasn’t engaged in this sort of assault from software and hardware competitors in decades.