Apple

A 8-post collection

The best laptop hinge ever designed

iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard

I haven’t used it yet – as far as I’m aware, no one outside Apple has.

But the new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro looks fantastic.

Sure, it has the trackpad that many have been clamouring for for many years, but it’s the hinge that blew me away.

I felt the previous keyboard covers for the iPad were some of the most confusing products Apple has ever made – the hinge and flaps were so complicated. They always reminded me of when you have a large map and you try to fold it back up to put it away and can never quite fold it exactly as it needs to be.

This new hinge – with the ability to adjust the screen on multiple axes – appears to give the user more options in viewing angle than any current laptop.

It begs the question – if it's great for the iPad, would a "floating cantilever" not be great for MacBooks too?

Apple’s storytelling

If there was an event where Apple expressed the importance of telling stories, it was their services event earlier this year where they launched Apple TV+. Every other word at their March event was either “Services” or “Storytelling”.

But everyevent features storytelling from Apple. They’re incredible at storytelling. And I always enjoy seeing the stories they want to tell with each product announcement they make.

Yesterday’s event was no different.

From a product perspective, it’s hard to get excited about year-over-year device upgrades these days – when phones are objectively “more than good enough” for the overwhelming majority of customers.

How do you make people want something new when what they have is good enough? You tell a great story and make sure millions of people hear that story.

Here are the stories I took from Apple’s September event:

  • iPhone 11 Pro: this is a professional video and stills camera in your phone. Stop thinking you need a camera and a phone and get this.
  • iPhone 11: the new iPhone is tough as nails and the battery lasts longer. It’s also a bit cheaper. What more do you want from us?
  • Apple Watch: this watch will change or save your life, or both. And we’ve got the watch for you – pick from a thousand variations.
  • Apple Retail: everything is fine despite Angela Ahrendts leaving. To prove it, here’s two new initiatives and a beautiful redesign of our most famous store.
  • AppleTV+: We are taking this content thing seriously. We’re not messing about and one way or another you’re going to end up watching these shows.
  • iPad: This is a platform of its own now. It’s not a bigger sibling of the iPhone. We’re going to keep pushing the price down at the low end and keep pushing the tablet paradigm to its limits at the high end.
  • Apple Arcade: Families, we get you. Don’t worry about the slimy games out there trying to nickel and dime you. We’ve got fantastic, exclusive games for you, and for just $4.99 / month you don’t need to worry about your children racking up a huge credit card bill for fake coins ever again.

The stories Apple didn’t tell

  • The Tile competitor: a new way to find the stuff you own. Never lose another gadget or item around your house. Seamlessly integrated with your existing Apple devices. Tiny price compared to the iPhone you’ll be buying soon – why not buy a pack of 10 Apple Tiles? They’ll make a great stocking filler.
  • The pro story for anything other than iPhone. Mac Pro, iPad Pro, MacBook Pro all are waiting for their time to shine.


By innovation only

Every September, Apple announces new iPhones without fail. Here’s a QuickTake of the 2019 iPhone event.

Intro animation

Apple kicked the event off with a beautiful introductory animation that many would describe as an artistic homage to the soon-to-depart Jony Ive. Regardless of the meaning behind this animation, it's utterly delightful.

Apple Arcade

Apple Arcade

Apple's first focus was to talk about Apple Arcade – the gaming subscription service announced earlier in the year. Some great games, nothing too much new other than official release date and official price of $4.99 / month.

Because Apple controls everything here, it’s going to be available in 150 countries on launch. Relatively easy for Apple to do, very hard for anyone else.

AppleTV+

See – a new show coming to AppleTV+

Apple’s Netflix competitor was also announced earlier in the year, and Apple has been teasing more and more trailers in the last few months.

Nothing new to report from the event except: Apple is aggressively pricing this. Not only is the service $4.99 / month – half of Netflix – but they’re also giving everyone a free year on any new purchase of an Apple device.

Aggressive pricing is perhaps required here – Apple is playing catchup, and their catalogue is tiny right now. They’re building from zero.

But with original content there’s a lot to be said for having 10 incredibly well produced and popular shows over 100 mediocre ones. Only time will tell whether Apple’s high quality production will equate to popularity.

iPad

New low-end iPad

The lowest end iPad gets an update. Apple also took the time to remind us that the iPad has its own OS now. I’d expect the really exciting iPad news to be about the iPad Pro which were massively overhauled in the last year – maybe there's time for an October event before Christmas.

Apple Watch

Apple Watch Series 5 with always on display

The headline for the Apple Watch is health. Health health health.

The heartfelt stories Apple shared about customers whose lives had been impacted and / or saved as a result of wearing Apple Watch were nothing but heart warming and made you want to well up. The story is clear: Apple Watch is not a product, it’s a living, breathing example of technology serving the human race for good, not evil.

It's very easy to get caught up in the emotion but then you do need to remind yourself it's a consumer device that costs $399 or more and will last for approximately three years before it needs replacing.

The Series 5 features an "always on" display while maintaining all day battery – I didn’t realise this was possible today with current tech. Very cool to see it shipping in a device that I thought was still at least another generation out.

iPod Nano ad from 2007
Apple Watch Series 5 intro video

It never fails to amaze me how Apple comes up with new visuals to promote

How much do you care about the details?

The details are not details. They make the design. – Charles Eames

I was lucky enough to get a new Apple Watch this week – the Series 4 Nike+.

Apple Watch box and lid.

The packaging is beautiful as with any Apple product. Compared to my Series “0” original Apple Watch, the packaging is different – being a sport model it's unboxing the Series 4 is slightly less theatrical, but it’s still delightful and the details astound me.

One point that stood out – there’s hardly any documentation, but the paperwork that is in the box is carefully crafted down to the last detail.

Apple Watch face, bezel, and paper border radius.

Look at the border radius and shape of the paper – look at the border shape of the watch, the screen of the watch, and even the wrapper that goes around the paper. Even look at the previous image and see the box cut-out that holds the paper in place.

They all match up. And that’s not by accident.

Imagine the time and effort it took to ensure that happened internally – from the graphic design of the leaflet, to the collaboration with the printing team to the facility where they cut the paper stock. To the quality control to ensure it always looks perfect and not wonky or misaligned.

All this effort for a detail that almost no one will pick up on. But almost everyone will feel it.

iPhone X

I've spent about a week with iPhone X now.

While I doubt the world needs another review of Apple's latest device, every time people see it they have questions, so here's a few thoughts I've been keen to jot down.

When you work in the software world, it's easy to get so caught up in the latest gadgets, innovations, and ideas that you forget most people in the world don't live and breath tech every day.

Last weekend, I popped home to Kent to celebrate bonfire night, let off fireworks, burn an effigy of Harvey Weinstein, and talk iPhone X with my extended family.

A conversation with my uncle

So, how’s this one different to your old iPhone?

Well. It’s got no home button. It’s just all screen.

Oh right…

Yeah! So you used to use your fingerprint to unlock (like an animal) – you now use your face.

So does it actually work?

Yeah! It really does! Look let me show you!

Tries Face ID. Points it to my sister – nope. Points at me... – It works!

(This was a far more successful demo than at the Apple keynote)

Oh cool, so is that the difference then?

Well, no, that’s not all, you can now use the tech behind Face ID for loads of other cool camera stuff – like… erm… well it’s got Animoji.

Animoji?

...

Yeah, let me show you...

So this is what we've done with the world's most advanced technology? Talking poop?


To a lot of people, iPhone X is simply "this year's iPhone".

They haven't watched the keynote. They haven't studied the Apple site in detail for ridiculous amounts of time. They haven't been tuned in to MacRumors for months.

Thank God for that – most people are far more grounded and sensible with their time than me.

My last iPhone was an iPhone 6 – I was thrilled to get this device back in 2014. That iPhone introduced one of the biggest changes to the lineup – a highly anticipated larger device with a larger screen.

But in the three years since then, Apple's "lack of innovation" has seen a swathe of incremental improvements compounding to make switching from iPhone 6 to iPhone X a huge step up in experience.

Face ID

Touch ID is an action. Face ID is invisible.

We talked a lot about "courage" last year when Apple removed the headphone jack launching iPhone 7. Arguably it took even more courage to remove Touch ID in favour of a totally new, unproven technology as the primary way to authenticate iPhone X.

On day one, I'll be honest – I had a few hiccups with Face ID. I didn't realise how often I unlock my phone when it's very low compared to my face. I wear glasses too – and when I first set it up, I didn't have them on.

After a few hours of mild frustration, I set Face ID up again, and since then I haven't

The best Watch face

I'm in San Francisco this week for a conference, and it was only when I was getting off the plane from London that I got another reminder of just how helpful the Apple Watch can be in daily life.

When I first started using my Apple Watch, I used to set my Watch face to whatever Apple's marketing shots showed – usually one of the analogue faces because they visually look great.

But in recent months I have been more comfortable with setting my watch exactly how I want it to work for me, even if that means it doesn't look like a minimal Dieter Rams watch on my wrist.

I've found I've settled on the "Modular" face as the most practical watch face for my daily life.

Modular

Modular watch face on Apple Watch

The density of information on the face is exactly the right balance for me – any more information and everything would be too small to see. Anything less and I need to dive into the OS of the Watch to find what I need – nobody's got time for that.

With the Modular face, everything is just a tap away. I find myself jumping into my Activity Rings far too often every day to check on progress (the screenshot above was taken just after I woke up – I promise).

This face is perfect for anyone who travels a lot. Being able to switch on a secondary time zone in just a few taps is incredibly helpful. Sure, analogue watches have had the ability to set secondary timezones for decades upon decades, but the ability to say "I want to put the time in London down here now" makes it so easy and so effortless that you actually make use of the functionality.

The Apple Watch is a great watch

There's a lot of pressure from the tech media to push the Apple Watch to replace the iPhone in some way. That's not the Watch I want to see any time soon.

Right now, the Apple Watch for me is a really versatile timepiece, an addictive fitness tracker, and a handy way to check notifications on the go. If it keeps getting better in those three areas then I'll continue to be a very happy customer.

Apple Watch: One Year On

Those who know me won't be surprised to hear I picked up an Apple Watch on the first day it came out.

I hadn't been as excited to own a gadget since the original iPhone back in 2007. Seeing Apple enter a new category is always an exciting time, and with the hype surrounding the launch of the Watch, this was no let-down.

Would the Apple Watch be "the most personal device yet"? Would the Apple Watch change my life in any significant ways? Apple's promotion of the device certainly suggested it would, but it seemed too early to confirm or deny these suggestions after a few weeks of owning the product.

Exactly one year in, I feel I've given the Watch enough time to form a solid judgement on the device and the platform as it stands today.

What I love

It seems fashionable to bash the Apple Watch right now, so let's start with something positive – what I love about the device.

Bands

The bands for Apple Watch are designed and made with extreme care and attention to detail. They make many other watch bands (otherwise known as "straps") look like junk.

It's not just the fancy Milanese Loop or Steel Link Bracelet that are beautifully designed, though. The Sport Bands are actually my favourite – they're the most comfortable by far, they're playfully coloured, and they're refreshingly simple compared to almost every other watch strap I've ever seen.

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Every first-party band epitomises Apple's design ethos of simplification. The Sport Band is ingenious in its ability to keep securely fastened to your wrist without needing an extra buckle or clip. The fastening mechanism took a little getting used to in the first week of owning it, but once mastered, it's easy to do with your eyes shut.

Wearing the Apple Watch with Milanese Loop on Boxing Day

I was given the Milanese Loop for Christmas (Bands make a great present, and extra revenue stream for Apple), and so had a reason to change my band. The Milanese Loop is beautiful and great for wearing on smarter occasions.

Until receiving the Milanese Loop, I never had a reason to switch out the Sport Band, so I didn't appreciate a big chunk of Apple's pitch from the start – switching bands is easy and, dare I say it, fun. Again, the simplicity is ingenious. No tools required, just a button to push and slide out the band.

What's great is that with every band it feels like you're refreshing the whole Watch. One day it's a playful gadget on your wrist. Next it's a smart and sophisticated (albeit, electronic) timepiece.

Fitness

No gadget has impacted my day-to-day exercise regime like the Apple Watch. I won't profess to be an athlete, not by a long shot, but the Apple Watch has profoundly changed my attitude towards fitness.

It all comes down to the concept of task completion. I have to complete my daily fitness goals. The activity rings have become

Notes on WWDC

Last year, I was blown away by WWDC. The number of announcements, the significance of the announcements, and the speed at which they flew through 2 hours of keynote were simply staggering.

Between Steve's passing and the WWDC keynote of 2014, it felt like Apple's announcements were in a wilderness period – the difficult transition from a company led by Steve to an all new management structure. WWDC 2014 showed the world – the developer community in particular – that Apple was back.

2015's WWDC kicked off with a very un-Apple-esque, but amusing video involving a cast of over a hundred people, including actual actors, gearing up for a big rehearsal for the day itself. Once the fanfare of the video had reached its peak, it transitioned smoothly into the typically minimal keynote stage, ready for Tim to do his thing.

OS X

El Capitan. I have every confidence the pronunciation of this name will come easier than Yosemite. Switching to San Francisco as the system font across all platforms feels like a solid choice that unifies all of Apple's devices both in hardware and software, yet it didn't get the focus it deserved during the keynote. The typography of the OS is not a small detail in my opinion, but perhaps that's just the design geek in me shouting out.

I don't understand why Apple is so determined to tie Safari's progress to the annual release cycle of the OS. Chrome is developing at a staggering pace continuously throughout the year, while Safari makes one giant leap every year. The new Safari looks great, but I wish it would continue to develop in the weeks and months after it launches, and keep pace with Chrome as we move into 2016.

Split View looks neat. I am not sure how anyone can look at that with a straight face and say it's not copied from Microsoft, but it's a great feature that needed to make its way to the Mac.

The cursor callout is perhaps the best feature to have ever been invented in the history of computing. Anyone with an iMac or external display, or anyone who uses multiple displays, will benefit from this every single day. This is such a seemingly obvious, but great feature that no one else thought of. It's Apple at its best.

iOS

Everyone loves Craig. He is perhaps the best keynote presenter Apple currently has. He knows how to make the crowd laugh, and he comes across natural. It felt like this years' performance was less slick and polished than last years – there were more minor slip-ups, and more jokes that ran on for longer than the laughs of the audience. Perhaps less time was spent in rehearsals this year? Perhaps the schedule was shuffled around at relatively late notice? Craig's performance was still great, it just didn't quite match last years'.

It seems iOS 9 is more focused on stability and refinement than ever. Perhaps the right call considering the vocal criticism from the developer