The Flock: Another tech podcast
“The revolutionary display that folds where others can’t.”
Samsung’s superlative-filled Galaxy Fold webpage isn’t wrong in describing the phone this way. The Galaxy Fold can be folded a few times, yes. More times than, say, an iPad Pro. But things start to fall apart — metaphorically and literally — pretty soon after that.
Samsung: “Infinity Flex Display engineered to endure every fold.”
“The hinge is tested up to 200,000 folds.”
“It’s tested and retested for everyday durability.”
One way you can break your Fold’s display is to remove what appears, at first glance, to be a plastic screen protector from it. Do not do this. That is not a screen protector; it is essential to the structural integrity of the device. If you remove it, your Fold will die.
The necessity of a preinstalled, easily removable layer to the Fold’s functionality is a serious design compromise. Sure, compromises are to be expected in a young and emerging category such as foldables, but the issue isn’t just that Samsung designed the device this way — it’s that Samsung didn’t provide adequate warning of the consequences of the compromise.
The solution is not to put a note about the screen layer in the never-read instruction manual; it’s to have a prominent, unmissable software message during setup: DON’T TAKE OFF THE PLASTIC THING.
So, this problem is “fixable.” It’s bad to have a plastic screen, but at least Samsung can make people aware of it without going back to the drawing board.
But not all Fold reviewers whose units broke had made this fatal error. So what other issues exist?
Nobody knows. What is clear, though, is that Samsung’s fawning descriptions of the Fold’s durability are very off-base. This isn’t nearly as disastrous a rollout as the Galaxy Note 7’s explosive debut, as the Fold is still essentially a prototype and not expected to sell in great numbers. But it’s still bad because it’s a broken promise.
You should not buy a Samsung Galaxy Fold. Whatever your thoughts on the inherent compromises of a foldable device, this is a product that would be better kept to the labs. The Fold has three issues: 1) it’s way too expensive, 2) its build quality is subpar, and 3) basic, taken-for-granted elements of a good user experience are being excused.
Not until all three of these issues are fixed will the Fold be ready for primetime.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Internet, and about how terrible it can be sometimes. You’ve probably considered this as well.
Eventually I started trying to figure out what everyone would need to do to make social media a better place. Not what everyone should think, but how they express it. I’m a believer that the Internet itself is not the problem; the real issue stems from our tendency to treat online interactions differently than any others.
Below are the rules that form my code for online behavior. I recommend that you write some of your own. If we all did this, and put more thought and care into how we behave online, the Internet would be a better place. And maybe the world with it.
I have nine resolutions so far, and I’ve kept them as general as possible so as to cover more ground. The first six apply primarily to direct interactions with online strangers, while the last three establish what I want my general attitude to be.
The consensus among observers is that the 25 March event was not Apple-like. As far as what was announced, sure. However, although the things Apple unveiled are not things you would expect Apple to create, they were marketed and framed in a very Apple-like way. Apple News+, Apple Card, Apple Arcade, and Apple TV+ are all constructed based on the same core values as any other Apple product: privacy, simplicity, and the user experience. We can debate whether the services will actually achieve those ideals, but it’s clear from the slideshow that these are the advantages Apple is pushing.
No company lasts a long time by refusing to change. If Apple wishes to be successful far into the future (I assume it does), it must continue reinventing itself just as it has over the past four decades. Drastic change will certainly anger portions of Apple’s customer base, but that’s just how the ball bounces. The people who know Apple only as its former self always end up in the minority. Of course, not all change is good, so we should scrutinize every strategic shift Apple selects; but Apple can’t remain the way it is forever.
I’ll be concise with my thoughts on the services unveiled at the event. Mostly because, if you really think about it, Apple itself was rather concise. Not much information has actually been given to us, leading me to think this event would have been unnecessary if Hollywood hadn’t started shifting in their seats and wondering why Apple was silent for so long on the TV front. The lack of pricing information on Apple TV+ leads me to believe this was a slightly premature announcement meant to appease the TV industry, so any judgment about the success or failure of TV+ — or the other services Apple had to pre-announce — is equally premature. ...
It’s been a busy week. Catching us all by surprise, Apple spent three days launching some hardware updates via press releases ahead of its big software-focused event on Monday. In another reality, a keynote could have been devoted to the products that landed last Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; but this time, Apple wants the brightest spotlight on its next big thing.
Don’t be fooled by the quietness of these recent debuts — they are all significant entries into Apple’s larger product line and serve to flesh out the gaps between price points and spec sheets. You could call them “boring” updates, sure. But boring updates are a sign that a company has its head on its shoulders, that it knows what it’s doing. And boring updates are exactly what people want and need.
Apple has essentially rescued three products from their graves. Of course, no one expected the iMac or AirPods or iPad to die, but they were all trapped in the convoluted mist of uncertainty, the time in their product cycles when rumors of their next iterations had begun to stir and purchasing them would be a terrible decision. Before this week, you should not have bought these devices for the sole reason that their replacements were on the way. Now, those replacements are here.
Let’s go in Apple’s order of unveilings. ...
A major aspect of the “modern” design language of iOS devices from the iPhone X onward has been the use of gestures in lieu of physical buttons. The iconic Home button was replaced by a set of swipes from the bottom edge of the display: up for the Home screen, a drag up and pause for Multitasking, and so on.
Though I’m still holding on to my iPhone 7 at least until the 2019 iPhone refresh cycle, I have tested each of the “modern” iPhones extensively in Apple Stores, and I’ve come to the conclusion that these gestures are indeed superior to their predecessor.
I’ve also been thinking about why I feel this way. And I believe I have an answer: skeuomorphism is intuitive design, and gestures are inherently skeuomorphic.
Consider the gesture for going home on an iPhone X or later. As the user swipes up from the bottom of the screen, there is a direct response from the interface — in real time, the app minimizes back into its Home screen icon. This is skeuomorphic because the app window behaves like a physical thing being manipulated by the user’s thumb.
Even if you disagree with the semantics of whether this qualifies as skeuomorphism, it’s undeniably more intuitive and understandable than a physical button. With a button, there’s a disconnect between what the user does and what happens on screen. That’s the very reason the design trend of the past three years or so has been to give devices as high a screen-to-body ratio as possible, even if it means eliminating buttons in the process. Most Android phones have a set of software buttons that perform the same functions as their physical counterparts, but Android releases are beginning the transition to a gesture-driven interface paradigm as well.
Skeuomorphism was murdered in iOS 7, but its ghost lives on in the modern iPhone and iPad. (I’m a big fan of the iPad’s gestures as well — on the iPad mini on which I type this, I only use the Home button to wake the device and scarcely ever for anything else.) The left-edge swipe to go back in apps such as Messages and Safari is another instance of skeuomorphism because it treats the different pages as physical layers that the user essentially “peels back.” If not in appearance, iOS is very skeuomorphic in functionality.
I wish gestures were adopted more widely by developers and in more of Apple’s system apps. For example, Bear, my writing app of choice, uses a swipe down to dismiss settings windows. In the iOS Mail app, sending a message causes the message card to drift upward off the screen; why not have the user swipe up to send a draft?
Skeuomorphism is intuitive, understandable. The Home button was perhaps the most intuitive physical button ever, with just the right balance of utility and simplicity. But again, every button creates a disconnect between the user’s action and onscreen responses. Gestures simply make more sense. If back in 2007 Steve Jobs had given people a choice between otherwise identical iPhones with either a Home button or the current gesture system, I believe the gestures would have been the more popular choice. We’ll never know, though.
Jony Ive may have buried skeuomorphism in an unmarked grave six years ago, but iOS borrows more from physical elements than we often realize. The beauty of skeuomorphism is that you don’t think about it; the best design often goes unnoticed. As it should.
Innovation is overrated.
The dictionary widget on my macOS Dashboard defines innovation as “a new method, idea, product, etc.” By that very vague definition, an innovation is essentially anything new. At all. Seriously. You could make anything new, and you’d be an innovator. Congratulations.
But newness is not inherently good, nor should it be idolized as such. Twenty-first-century consumerism would pose that we must kick the old ways of doing things to the curb and usher in whatever moneymaker lies beyond the horizon — and while that’s not necessarily bad, and imaginative ruts are to be avoided, sometimes the new isn’t always as awesome as it’s cracked up to be.
Some examples of this can be found in the ever-fluctuating modern technology market, where new ideas materialize weekly. Hole-punched displays, of questionable value as compared to notches of “old” (by which I mean less than two years ago), have been heralded immediately as the better smartphone design without further justification than their originality. The latest generation of MacBook keyboard is almost universally considered inferior to its more tactile predecessor, myriad reliability issues aside. Hardly anything presented at CES last month was more than a gimmick.
The latest trend to somersault into the tech community’s spotlight has been foldable phones (tablets)? I mean, come on, it’s a bulletproof pitch. Who doesn’t want to revert to the decades-old form factor we thought we had all escaped in 2007?
Okay, joking aside, there are some real reasons people cite for why foldables could make sense. That I wrote this article in the first place may suggest to you that I don’t buy into those reasons.
The general premise of the foldable is that it blends the smartphone and tablet form factors into a single device. Instead of having a small screen that you use for some things, and a larger screen that you use for others, why not just have a small display that folds out into a bigger one when necessary?
It doesn’t sound like a bad idea. But the problem is simple: the aspect ratios of smartphones and tablets are less than ideal for a foldable mashup of the two. Imagine two of your smartphone screens lined up side-by-side, as though your phone had unfurled itself into a tablet twice the size. As I considered this, an issue became apparent to me. It might be hard to visualize, so here’s the math.
The iPhone 6, 6S, 7, and 8 have a 16:9 display aspect ratio. Two 16:9 screens placed next to each other add up to a 16:18 ratio (the longer side maintains its length, but the shorter side doubles). 16:18 is way too close to a square to be valuable in any use cases for which foldables are being prematurely praised. Gaming? Doesn’t work too well on a square. Productivity? Same story. We have rectangular phones and tablets for a reason: rectangles offer more utility than squares. Even if you could manage with an almost-square tablet, it wouldn’t be as good as a bespoke tablet. ...
Apple’s 2019 has been off to a rocky start, but things aren’t all bad, right?
That’s not exactly the narrative the tech press is employing. Save for a precious few thoughtful writers out there, the Internet is mostly a nightmarish jumble of words strung together in the most eye-catching way possible. Absolute doom sells better than nuanced analysis. Pronouncements of disaster are better bait for the Internet’s click-fish than anything else. Sensationalism is a tried and true technique; why should we expect “journalists” to use anything else?
Anyway, a dedicated rant about the nature of Internet news can be saved for a later time. The topic at hand is whether Apple really is fated to some unclear, vaguely outlined demise because of this quarter’s issues.
By now, you know the story: Apple cut its revenue guidance for the first quarter of 2019 by several billion dollars. It’s clear to everyone, Apple included, that iPhone sales have been lower than anticipated; just check out the latest from Ewan Spence and Gordon Kelly to see a few dozen frantic pieces reminding us, production cuts! Nobody denies that Apple has a problem on its hands; the real discussion is about why iPhone sales are missing the mark.
Rather than launch into a long essay on the wider economic issues at play here, I’ll cut to the chase. Comprehensive analysis of Apple’s situation can be found elsewhere; if you care to read it, you probably already have. Instead of repeating the words of more qualified pundits, I’d like to dismiss some invalid analysis that’s being brought in. ...
CES will be filled with lots of pointless things.
Apple's stock isn't doing so hot.
Introducing Project Erasmus.
An awesome implementation of a menu bar on iOS.
Until now, Uluroo has written these articles in the third person.
Well, I'm done with that. It's gotten pretty tedious. I made the change on Twitter and find it very freeing. I don't have to dance around pronouns anymore.
It's rather convenient that the style shift is taking place at the start of the year. Happy 2019!
When something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.
Six months ago, Apple announced a new API, internally codenamed Marzipan. Its purpose: to make cross-platform development easier by allowing macOS apps to run on the same code base and general interface as their iOS counterparts. Only having to write one app for two operating systems would be a huge effort-saver for developers.
It sounded too good to be true, and it was.
macOS Mojave shipped with four native apps that Apple had ported over from iOS. These apps were clearly examples intended to incentivize third-party creators into using the new API. Sadly, they were terrible.
Specifically, here’s why they were and still are terrible, and why Marzipan as a whole is, likewise, terrible.
So. What’s new with technology?
Nothing much. It’s been a quiet week.
What can we discuss? Oh, you know what? A trailer for Avengers 4 is probably co—
HEY LOOK, HERE’S A LOUD AND ATTRACTIVE TECHNOLOGY HEADLINE TO SHAKE UP YOUR DULL LIFE!
Writing for Forbes, Gordon Kelly is ready to add some intrigue and spice to an otherwise drowsy Internet, proclaiming, “Apple Leak Reveals Radical New iPhone Design.”
There isn’t an asterisk following the title of Kelly’s article, but there are enough caveats to this story to warrant three or four asterisks. It’s that serious.
Ever-reliable blog Patently Apple writes that supply chain insiders have revealed Apple is seriously considering bringing back the fingerprint reader. And with a modern twist.
Okay. Let’s slow down. The Patently Apple report — to which Kelly linked in that previous paragraph — does not state that Apple is seriously considering doing anything.
The report simply says that Apple is now sourcing most of its fingerprint readers from suppliers that also produce in-display fingerprint readers. But there is no indication that Apple has ordered in-display scanners from them; for all we know, Apple could still be ordering Touch ID sensors for Home buttons.
And, again, the report mentions nothing of what kind of technology Apple is “seriously considering” using. Apple’s plans are as shrouded in mystery as they were before you chose to read this article. If you want to keep score, the number of details Kelly has completely fabricated so far in this article is currently at one but is set to rise.
Remember that headline? The one about a crazy insane awesome iPhone design? What the heck are you talking about? This article is about the iPad.
Interestingly, this is said to be for next year’s iPads first but used as a trial ahead of introducing it in new iPhones.
There’s the second detail pulled out of thin air. Patently Apple never says this is a “trial run” for the iPhone — in fact, nowhere in the report is the iPhone mentioned.
Even the idea that the iPad could get in-display Touch ID and lose the Home button is speculation on the part of Patently Apple. Speculation is no problem; what is a problem is that Kelly treats this speculation as confirmed fact when no evidence supports it.
Kelly should — and, let’s face it, probably does — know better than to pull tricks like this on his readers. Time and time again, he’s proven himself less a journalist than a con artist. Every time there’s any story like this, however tangentially connected to a sensational headline, Kelly takes the bait and then makes more bait.
The headline of Kelly’s piece refers to a “Radical New iPhone Design”. The report he cites says nothing of in-display fingerprint reader technology making its way to the iPhone. What the report actually contends could be possible — that the iPad could move from Home button-powered Touch ID to in-display Touch ID — is also not supported by any evidence.
With the drastic mismatch between what Kelly claims in his headline and proves in his article, Kelly has downright lied to and misled his readers. There is no getting around it: zero evidence has arisen that any future iPhone will feature Touch ID reborn. Zero.
Kelly states very obviously that an Apple leak has revealed a radical new iPhone design and does not follow through in proving so. If that doesn’t meet your definition of lying, Uluroo isn’t sure what does.
So, seriously, has anything interesting happened in tech?
The history of design is full of tradeoffs. The future of design holds even more tradeoffs. Despite the protests of those who hold on to the past, industries are swept forward in the unstoppable flow of progress. Swimming against the current is, in the end, futile.
Now that you can reflect on this rather bleak picture of technological improvement, let us observe as yet another swimmer takes on the tide.
Writing for Business Insider, Christopher Curley throws down his gauntlet and declares, “I’ve used Apple computers my entire life. Here’s why I’m never buying one again.”
There is a slight jokiness and drama to Curley’s tone. Thus Uluroo hopes no one will object if he employs some slight jokiness and drama in response.
Curley starts off strong, establishing his status not as an Apple hater but as a street-cred-worthy friend of the family.
For most of my life, I’ve been more than just an Apple fanboy — I’ve been an Apple disciple.
Oh, man. We feel you.
My first computer was a Macintosh 512Ke, released the year I was born (1986), and I’ve been using Apple computers ever since.
No. A lifelong bond! Could this breakup get any worse? This is like a soap opera episode. Our hearts are already bleeding and we’re two paragraphs in.
I once got thrown out of a class in fifth grade for pitching a fit when my teacher had the gall to suggest that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates worked together to create the Mac.
A martyr for the cause! The religious parallels are intensifying.
So when I say I’m leaving Apple computers behind, it feels a little like leaving the church. But I am, and here’s why.
What, oh what, could have shaken this saint’s faith?
The answer is, sadly, progress.
Curley himself acknowledged the impact the MacBook Air had on its industry. The computer world is trending toward thinness and lightness, neither of which play nice with repairability. There are certainly PC manufacturers who make upgradeable machines, but that’s a dying design choice. By the time Curley seeks out his next dream laptop, he’ll have to complain about why he’s ditching computers altogether: soon there will be no modular laptops that are worth buying.
Features die for a reason. This time around, the reason is that the majority of people don’t need upgradeability anymore. Curley says the problem is Apple, not him — but he is the outlier here. Even now, he’s searching in a sparsely populated market that is only getting drier.
Holding on to the past has never treated people like Curley well. As nice as floppy disk drives were, they weren’t the future. As nice as the headphone jack was, it wasn’t and isn’t the future. Apple’s status as an industry trendsetter has proven these things true.
Design is full of tradeoffs: upgradeability for portability, wires for wireless, physical buttons for bigger screens. Not only are the holdouts in the minority, they’re ultimately missing out on overall better products.
Disagree though you may with Apple’s choices, is it really worth pitching a fit over? Is it really worth rejecting the brand altogether when before long, the industry will follow Apple’s footsteps? Or are we maybe taking things to the extreme because that gets us more clicks?
To reiterate, Uluroo doesn’t have a problem with Curley’s desire for better repairability. But putting the blame on Apple is where Curley gets it wrong.
Apple has been faced with a tradeoff. It has taken the route preferred by the majority of its consumers. Those who don’t like it can leave if they want, but Uluroo bids them good luck in finding a better solution in a linear world that is moving toward the future and not the past.
Apple hasn’t exactly had the best month in its history. In accordance with holiday tradition, let the bells of Apple-doom spirit ring.
Navneet Alang, writing for The Week, says that “Apple is finally paying for its hubris.”
But. Guys. Slow down. Alang wants us all to know that we’re on the same side! He likes iPhones too.
Color me surprised. Just a few months ago, Apple announced its new phones, iPhone XR, along with the XS and XS Max — and I thought they had hit it out of the park.
Having established a relationship with his readers up front, Alang takes them by the hand and presses on to present the cold, hard, sad facts.
It seems I was mistaken. Though it’s still too early to tell how bad things are…
Maybe Alang should stop here instead of writing a full piece based on the assumption of disaster? Just a thought.
… a pall now hovers over Apple as reports of cut production targets and weaker sales have sent the stock plummeting 25 percent.
Reports. Not just any reports — supply chain reports, the most reliable kind! What Alang is saying is that although it’s too early to know for sure, supply chain rumors are enough for analysts to pronounce Apple doomed.
Oh, by the way, The Flock is a new weekly podcast reviewing the latest happenings in the tech world, co-hosted by Uluroo and his good friend Jason.
It’s only a matter of time before MacBooks are updated with thinner bezels and the TrueDepth camera system to match Apple’s other product lines. The question is which, if any, of Apple’s previous all-screen transitions the Mac will mimic.
The iPad Pro models each got a different treatment. The 11-inch model was created by making the screen of the 10.5-inch model larger while keeping the same portable body. The new 12.9-inch model, on the other hand, retained the same screen diagonal while getting a dramatically smaller footprint.
When — not if — the MacBook line receives its next major redesign, which of these approaches will Apple take: larger displays or smaller bodies?
Turn your attention to the 12-inch MacBook. Hey there, little guy! For Apple’s most petite notebook, the choice is clear: the chassis cannot get any smaller without serious compromises.
Let’s say Apple wanted to shrink the MacBook’s side bezels, even just a little bit. The problem is that the laptop’s keyboard already extends all the way to the very edges of the body. If Apple made the frame any smaller, the keyboard would go from full-size to… not full-size.
Anyway, though, the side bezels on this one are actually just about the same as those on the newest iPad Pro. If Apple wanted to preserve symmetry among all the borders, it wouldn’t make the bezel any thinner than the one that holds the TrueDepth array.
That brings us to the MacBook’s top bezel, which could stand some shrinking… but to shrink that bezel would be to cut into the real estate currently allotted to the trackpad, which extends to the very bottom edge of the laptop.
The MacBook isn’t getting any smaller than it is now. That leaves the other option: making the screen bigger in the same body size. If Apple were to give the MacBook nine-millimeter side bezels all the way around, as the iPad Pro has, the new screen size would be… Pythagorizing now…
12.99 inches. Almost the size of a traditional 13-inch laptop.
Speaking of 13-inch laptops, let’s move on to the MacBook Pro. This one shouldn’t get any smaller, either — again, the trackpad goes all the way to the edge of the body. If it were to get a bigger screen in its current chassis size, that one would be…
And finally, the 15-inch MacBook Pro — which once again shouldn’t get any smaller due to its trackpad — if given an all-screen revamp, would have a display diagonal of…
There are some considerations to make for the Pro laptops. The keyboard and trackpad setup could be shifted further toward the hinge. Anyway, these measurements are a good indicator of just how insane the ever-nearer redesign of the MacBook lineup will be.
Apple could go from having 12-, 13-, and 15-inch laptops to having 13-, 14-, and 16-inch laptops. As ever, Uluroo’s guesses are never going to be exactly correct — the actual products will probably fall somewhere in the general ballpark of those measurements.
Whatever the case, the next MacBook redesigns are going to be interesting.
In case you hadn’t noticed, Apple products are looking a little different than they used to.
During the months leading up to the launch of the iPhone X in the fall of 2017, the elusive smartphone was referred to in software as the “modern iPhone.” This description is accurate: the iPhone X rewrote the playbook on the iPhone’s form and function.
Apple was right when it said the iPhone X was the start of the path for the next ten years of technology.
Earlier this year, anticipation for the redesigned iPad Pro rose when iOS 11.3 named a “modern iPad.” At the end of October, the dream was realized: the new iPad Pro models were the same massive rethinking of the iPad that had taken place a year earlier with the iPhone X.
The iPhone and iPad have been affected in slightly different ways by the “modern” design language. For the iPhone, it meant a glass back and a curved chassis; the iPad was thinned and flattened, harkening back to its original ancestor from 2010.
But the modern iPhone and modern iPad have shared some characteristics as well. There are three major traits the “modern” moniker has brought to both of these platforms.
First, and most prominently, modern Apple devices have thinner bezels (and, generally, larger displays). The iPhone XS Max and the 11-inch iPad Pro are the two best examples; they have very similar chassis sizes to their predecessors, yet they sport much bigger screens.
Second, modern Apple devices include the TrueDepth sensor array. Uluroo refers to the hardware system itself rather than Face ID because TrueDepth is about more than just biometric security: it enables Memoji, Animoji, and other augmented reality features.
Third and finally, gestures are these devices’ primary form of navigation. The physical Home button is no more; in its place is the Home indicator, which can be swiped in different fashions to access the multitasking view, the Home screen, the Dock, and other currently open applications. Control Center lives in the top-right corner of the display.
Thin bezels, TrueDepth, and gestures: these are the hallmarks of Apple’s modern design language. The iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad were the first three Apple products to go modern.
(The Apple Watch Series 4 is arguably the modern Apple Watch. Uluroo does not believe the Watch will ever get the TrueDepth system or gesture navigation because those features are simply not needed. The Series 4 is about as modern a Watch as we could ask for; the only major changes it will see in the future are even thinner bezels and a thinner chassis.)
So, what’s next? ...
An occurrence has occurred! You know what that means: Apple’s on borrowed time!
Okay, maybe that’s not exactly the thought process Ewan Spence employs when he decides to write things, but it’s pretty close.
Oh, dear heaven.
Apple has pushed a message of innovation and excellence with the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max smartphones. That confidence isn’t being picked up by consumers, and more signs are appearing that sales of the 2018 handsets are falling below Apple’s expectations.
To what is Ewan referring? Supply chain reports, of course! Because those are always indicative of a product’s success...
Mmm… who wants some delicious, home-made controversy stew this Thanksgiving? The Internet, apparently, as it’s doing what it does best: cooking up the controversy.
Turns out, as YouTuber Zack Nelson discovered, metal bends. Specifically, the metal chassis of the new iPad Pro.
If you dig your thumbs into the back of the tablet and apply enough pressure, you’ll have a fine little arch of an iPad. Which should have been a surprise to no one.
But alas — it was quite the surprise. Following Nelson’s less-than-pretty durability test of the iPad Pro, the Internet exploded. Gone were the days of carrying iPads in our back pockets? Of casually playing iPad tug-of-war? What the heck, Apple?
If, by chance, anyone had sought a balanced, thought-out analysis of the situation, they would have been largely out of luck. The few people who took advantage of common sense were drowned out by the sheer volume of non-common-sense-informed commentary. But who cares about common sense, anyway?
Hopefully, you do, so here are Uluroo’s two cents.
Uluroo is in the “Why are you bending tablets anyway?” camp of this controversy. Because seriously, why are you bending tablets? First, the real-world situations in which you could damage an iPad are so few that any concerns are minute. Second, as YouTuber Quinn Nelson points out, this problem is in no way unique to the iPad Pro.
Also, have you ever tried bending a laptop at its hinge before? Not a pretty sight.
Purposefully bending an iPad doesn’t prove bendgate is real, it proves you’re a [jerk].
Now, there is obviously nuance here. As with any tablet, durability is something to consider. If you want an iPad Pro, a case is a worthy investment. But you should have been using a case anyway. The bendiness of the iPad does not mandate any protective action that shouldn’t have happened otherwise.
Just be careful with your $799-plus tablet. As if you wouldn’t have been already.
Please, dear Internet, stop blowing this situation out of proportion. Metal bends! Tablets are metal! Tablets bend! Congratulations, you’ve completed a syllogism!
This shouldn’t have been the shock that it was. Haven’t we been told since we were children that anything is possible if only we try? Well, if you try, you can make things bend.
Welcome to our wonderful world, brought to you by physics.
One of the few constants on which we can rely in these dark times is the certainty that those who misunderstand Apple will invariably continue to misunderstand Apple.
Ewan Spence, again writing for Forbes, once again is back again to tell us — again! — that it’s any day now that Apple will tumble off the towering cliff of its own success. Again.
Bom bom bom, it’s the Apple doom drum!
As the vital festive sales period approaches, are consumers falling out of love with expensive iPhones?
Given that iPhone sales grew year-over-year and the ASP went up by 28%, it seems that the answer is no.
Has the growth in iPhone sales finally forced Apple into a new course of action?
Ewan seems to be referencing the “Poor iPhone Sales” mentioned in his headline. iPhone sales were not poor, as a quarter-second glance at the numbers illuminates. Maybe Ewan means the slowing growth in iPhone sales, in which case we can have an actual discussion. But c’mon, Ewan, don’t make Uluroo complete your ledes for you.
And can Tim Cook’s Apple change the story around its business from a story of popular hardware to one of software and services?
Is that what they’re even trying to do?
Here’s another rhetorical question: should Ewan Spence still be covering technology?
Okay, that wasn’t so rhetorical.
Let’s start with Apple’s decision that it will no longer be reporting the sales numbers of the iPhone.
Yes, let’s. Uluroo has been waiting for almost two weeks to pounce on Ewan’s inevitable incorrect take on this situation.
Given the flat annual sales of the iPhone since the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus launch, the story about rising numbers no longer belonged to the actual unit sales, it belongs to the increasing margins and increasing average selling price.
What Ewan neglects to mention is that unit sales are going flat across the entire smartphone market, so the only way for anyone to achieve growth is to get more money out of each purchase. Sadly, the world has a finite population and markets saturate over time.
Unit sales are no longer an important metric of success, and none of Apple’s competitors report them anyway, so why expect Apple to do so?
Per usual, Ewan also avoids — whether through ignorance or deliberate obtuseness, Uluroo is unsure — the fact that Apple’s last quarter was incredibly successful by the only meaningful standards. But alas, this kind of market share-obsessed tunnel vision is to be expected from Ewan Spence.
If you’re going to sell success, you need bigger numbers. With the iPhone XS Plus [sic] clocking in at $1500 in some configurations the scope for larger margins and higher selling prices is pretty much priced out the market.
Maybe there isn’t much more room for higher-priced iPhones. We’ll see. But there also isn’t a whole lot more room for growth, either. The smartphone market is saturated and mature, and people hang onto their phones for longer.
Hiding the iPhone numbers means that the focus can be placed on the increasing revenue from software and services, rather than hardware revenue.
This is not what is going on at all. Apple is not trying to change its focus from hardware to services when the iPhone, as Ewan even acknowledges, composes 59% of Apple’s revenue. It’s not like iPhone unit sales were ever precluding knowledge of growth in services.
I suspect that Apple thought it would be quite a long handover period, but this week reports of reduced iPhone XR production line confirms the softening demand for the ‘affordable’ $750 smartphone.
Right. Every year supply chain rumors claim that Apple’s latest whatever is meeting low demand. Every year these rumors turn out to be hot air.
Let’s see if this makes sense: not only does Apple need to release a cheaper phone lest it go out of business, when it does release the cheaper phone, no one wants it. You can’t demand that Apple change strategies and then complain that your proposed replacement strategy is failing.
Last year the iPhone X saw weaker than projected sales, with the balance made up by the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.
The iPhone X was the top-selling iPhone in the year it was available. This analysis checks out beautifully.
If XR sales are as weak as analysts suggest, and the XS and XS Max sales are only ‘in line with expectations (set up the iPhone X), then Apple’s decision to hide the sales figures may kick in just as the iPhone hits a downwards curve.
“You know what? What if iPhone sales are about to go down?” is the technology equivalent of “You know what? What if Earth flies out of the Sun’s gravitational grip?”
The only thing we’re learning is that iPhone sales are no longer growing substantially. The thought that sales are about to hit a decline is nothing but speculation. It is not journalism. There is zero evidence to support that contention.
What happens to Apple’s drive to increase revenue from services as it sells fewer devices? Because you still need hardware to run your bespoke services on.
It seems that Ewan has no clue about the difference between slowing growth and decreasing sales. Apple is not selling “fewer” devices. It’s just not selling a massive number more. This is no bigger a problem for Apple than for any other company that inevitably faces the same conditions.
Tim Cook has lifted Apple to be a trillion-dollar company. Can he keep it up with his dangerous decision to change the storyline away from the iPhone?
Apple is doing nothing of the sort. All it’s doing is ensuring that the focus remains on the important measurements of the iPhone’s success.
But, of course, Ewan Spence will be Ewan Spence and look at things in the worst possible light for Apple. Even if it means ignoring, denying, or making up facts.
Apple is an interesting paradox. Its expensive devices will lead to its doom, but its more affordable devices meet weak demand. Its focus on the iPhone is dangerous, but its imagined shift to other sources of revenue is risky. It’s the most valuable company in the world, yet it’s perpetually doomed.
The higher you fly, Apple, the farther you fall. But somehow you manage to fly higher every time.
Maybe the problem isn’t Apple. Maybe the problem is the people who make money writing about it.
Hey, some new Apple stuff was released a couple days ago! Has anyone published some —
— hot takes?
One of the unspoken rules in the tech community is that your best judgment of new products is within the first day of purchase. It’s just science.
Business Insider’s Dave Smith is here with the verdict on the iPad Pro after much deliberation.
I was so excited about — and so let down by — the new iPad Pro.
It’s really been quite the emotional roller coaster. For one day.
On Thursday morning, I was at the Apple Store once again — to return everything I had purchased less than 24 hours ago.
Decisions! They’re best made with spontaneity.
Given the steep price of the iPad Pro — it starts at $800 but quickly gets into laptop or desktop territory — you would expect it to be able to do laptop or even desktop things. Nope.
This guy knows! He spent a whole day with the thing! Well, almost a day.
This is still an iPad, like the one you bought years ago.
Smith acts as if this is a surprise but Apple’s own marketing seems very clear that the product is indeed an iPad.
Yes, it's faster and prettier than before. But it should not be mistaken for a work computer.
Those are fighting words. Specifically targeted at the many people who get by just fine on an iPad.
Ultimately, I don't recommend the iPad Pro if you need to do work.
Funny you should mention that, because Uluroo is coincidentally writing and publishing this article exclusively from his iPhone and suspects it would be a heck of a lot easier on an iPad.
Mice and trackpads are second nature to most people, even more so than touchscreens. Nowadays, we expect every display around us to respond to a tap of the finger, but we get genuinely disconcerted when there isn’t a cursor where we think a cursor should be. This is one of the reasons the iPad, a touch-and-keyboard-only device, has faced opposition as the new form of all-purpose computer. Many people just can’t get past the idea of using a laptop without a mouse or trackpad.
Some think Apple is already solving this problem. Ben Bajarin says the Apple Pencil is the iPad’s mouse killer:
I’d argue that what can be enabled by pencil, gestures, and software, will take precision input to a level not possible with a trackpad/mouse.
But this is only true for specific use cases such as drawing and handwriting. Try using an Apple Pencil to select text or move the insertion point while typing on the Smart Keyboard Folio. It just doesn’t work. What makes a mouse or trackpad so powerful is that it’s on the same flat surface as the keyboard — the user doesn’t have to reach up off that two-dimensional plane. The Apple Pencil cannot and never will match that kind of convenience.
There’s a good reason why a traditional mouse would be terrible on an iPad. iOS’s touch targets are huge, and selecting one of them with a cursor would just be awkward. This is why Marzipan apps in macOS Mojave — take News for example — look so weird: a mouse is designed for more densely organized information. Put simply, iOS is more spread out.
This is why Uluroo had always thought trackpads on iOS would make no sense. But why assume that the iPad would get a normal cursor? What if the iPad’s mouse acted like the Apple TV remote?
Halfway through writing this article, Uluroo finally figured out where he had seen this idea brought up before. John Gruber suggested this eighteen months ago, based on a tidbit Steve Troughton-Smith found in iOS 9 back in 2015. Apple hasn’t done anything since then, so Uluroo is just going to make the suggestion a second time.
If you recall, tvOS does not have a cursor, per se. Interface elements expand slightly to indicate that they are selected. The user swipes on a trackpad-like surface, and tvOS selects the next item in the direction that was swiped. There is no freeform cursor; the “focus point,” if you will, only moves between designated elements.
Imagine if the iPad behaved that way. The cursor wouldn’t have to move through a bunch of dead space to get from one interface element to another; rather, it would simply jump from target to target. This system would have the convenience of a trackpad that remains on the same plane as the keyboard, but it would get around the annoyances that come with a traditional cursor being jammed into a touch interface.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for Apple fans and haters alike — and the fun just got started for real at Apple’s latest media event. You almost certainly know what Apple revealed in the presentation two days ago, so Uluroo will just cut to the chase and state his impressions.
As far as Uluroo can tell, it’s the MacBook Escape with Touch ID, a different processor set, and a lower price point. Surprisingly enough, Apple chose to keep the MacBook Air branding; this seems to be an attempt to play on the notebook’s history as one of Apple’s most beloved products. What remains to be seen is whether customers are happy to cough up $1199 for this iteration.
The price, the ports, and the keyboard are the only things Uluroo imagines could be obstacles to the MacBook Air’s success (it has two USB-C ports and the third-generation butterfly keyboard from the latest MacBook Pros). If it cost $999, it would be a massive hit. Again, we’ll have to wait and see how things turn out.
It’s externally the same as the Mac mini, save for the space gray finish. As rumors suggested, it’s very much geared toward pros. Surprise — it has vast performance improvements over its four-year-old predecessor! The $799 starting price seems nice for consumers, but pros will likely want to upgrade the processor from an Intel Core i3 to an i7 for another $300. The Mac mini is a good deal at the entry level, but note that it can get expensive quickly.
Predictably, this was the least interesting portion of the entire event. No comment.
Put simply, these appear incredibly close to being perfect devices. The early complaints about them are almost exclusively related to limitations in iOS rather than flaws with the hardware. The iPads’ design and performance have hit the sweet spot; the Apple Pencil appears vastly improved; and iOS 13 will turn the iPad into a more capable, versatile device than it has ever been.
The price is the only major issue with the iPad Pro, or at least many consumers will think it is. The 11-inch model starts at $799 — which Uluroo thinks is justifiable given how vastly improved it is over the 10.5-inch device. The 12.9-inch model, though, starts at $999. If you’re not an integer person, that’s a $200 price hike just for a bump in screen size.
Consider also that these tablets start with 64 gigabytes of internal storage. If you’re trying to use an iPad Pro as your primary computer, you’ll definitely want to get the 256GB storage tier — which costs $949 on the 11-inch model. Add a Smart Keyboard Folio (which, by the way, looks very nice) and you’re heading into MacBook Air cost territory.
Regarding the prices of these new products, Uluroo isn’t trying to feed into the “Apple is doomed because prices!” narrative. The iPhone X cost strategy has worked for Apple over the past year — as iPhone average selling prices indicate — and it’s going to continue working. It’s just disappointing that these remarkable devices are being pushed out of many customers’ price ranges; but again, this is not a problem for Apple.
It’s also becoming clear that Apple is preparing for the drastic shift from Intel processors on Macs to chips designed in-house. If Uluroo remembers correctly, the name “Intel” was spoken once in the entire presentation. The A12X chip is insanely powerful, and performance tests have shown that it gives the MacBook Pro a run for its money. Apple’s silicon is getting close to outpacing Intel’s; it’s certainly improving at a much quicker rate. Uluroo expects the first entirely Apple-powered Macs to arrive in late 2020.
A note for those wondering where some other Apple products went: Uluroo anticipates a spring 2019 media event or press release wave wherein Apple announces the seventh-generation iPad, the fifth-generation iPad mini, AirPods, and AirPower.
To Uluroo, the MacBook Air and iPads Pro are far more exciting than the iPhones launched in September, and Uluroo is very eager to get down to an Apple store and check them out in person sometime after 7 November. Apple is preparing to step fully into the next age of computing — one where mobile devices are more powerful than ever and powerhouse devices are more portable than ever. We’re witnessing the next step in that direction.
The past decade has shown that custom faces have massive potential. If Apple believes in its developer community, if it believes in its users’ judgment, if it believes in the App Store, if it believes in itself — it’s time to open up the Apple Watch. To do anything less is to deny it a chance at an iPhone-sized revolution.
Apple has trapped 3D Touch, the epitome of its engineering and interface prowess, in a cage of its own design. There are two ways to solve this. The first solution is freedom: giving the technology the attention it deserves and supporting it on more devices. That possibility is looking increasingly unlikely. Which brings us to the second cure for the deep tap's ailing. Death.
In the wake of Apple's latest product announcements and shipments, the Internet is ablaze. Luckily, though, the wildfire of news hasn't yet burned up the Forbes contributor network's clickbait generators. One repeat offender is here to tell us that things are operating as usual on his end — but not on Apple’s.
Serial sensationalist Gordon Kelly is sticking to his guns and delivering bad news the best way possible: blowing everything out of proportion. For those unfamiliar with his work, most of Kelly's headlines follow the recurring format of “[Something] Has A Serious Problem” or “[Something] Has A Nasty Surprise." Kelly justifies this by calling the articles part of a series, but it's really just a stunt he knows will get him easy clicks.
iOS 12 is crucial for Apple.
Making any problems with it catastrophic to the company.
In my iOS 12 Upgrade Guide, I said Apple mostly succeeded... but warned users to wait a week in case any problems arose. I hope you did...
Because now, of course, there's A Serious Problem...
Some people have gotten the impression that the little video Apple presented at the start of the September 12 keynote — the one set to the ever-legendary Mission: Impossible theme — was actually a tease of new features coming to AirPods in the future.
To start, let's look at the argumentation behind the theory: first, the woman in the video says, "Hey, Siri..." and Siri responds on the AirPods. Second, she runs through some water and makes a lot of splashes and the AirPods are fine. The two features allegedly shown are native Hey, Siri support and some degree of water resistance, both of which have been consistently rumored over the past weeks.
Now, some reasons why this is very, very unlikely...
To boil it down as easily as possible: It's an iPhone X, but cheaper.
For a starting price of $749, its compromises are few: an LCD display, a single camera, an aluminum frame, IP67 rather than IP68 water resistance, and no 3D Touch.
Its strengths: six beautiful finishes, a 6.1-inch edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display, tap-to-wake, the A12 chip, and Face ID.
Oh, and by the way, its single camera can still use Portrait Mode.
It also has 90-minute-better battery life than the iPhone 8 Plus. The XR comes in 64, 128, and 256GB storage tiers.
Again, starting at $749. This thing is going to sell like hotcakes.
The iPhone XS is aesthetically similar to the iPhone X, except for the new gold finish (which looks amazing). There's a 512GB storage tier, which costs... a lot.
As rumored, there's a 6.5-inch variant. And it looks yyyyuuuuuuugeeee. It's called the iPhone XS Max[imum Super Savage Supreme Monster]. Apple's emphasizing the size comparisons to the iPhone 8 Plus.
Face ID is now faster. Uluroo's curious to see how much better it is in real-world use.
The iPhone XS series is powered by the A12 Bionic, a 7-nanometer chip. The power efficiency improvements are impressive.
The cameras are improved. Most impressively, the bokeh blur on Portrait Mode photos can be adjusted after you take the photo.
Bethesda's demonstration of the A12's power makes Uluroo very curious to see how the A12X on the iPad Pro models in October will perform.
The phones have IP68 water resistance, an improvement.
The XS Max's battery lasts 90 minutes longer than the iPhone X.
The showstopper is the huge display, obviously. It amplifies every other refinement.
Series 4 is beautiful. The new faces look amazing, the ceramic back looks far nicer and more serious, and the case is thinner.
On the internal side, ECG is going to be a game changer (as the applause at the keynote confirmed). The new S4 chip is a big deal. And, again, somehow they made the case thinner.
Starting at $399, or $499 with cellular.
Don't forget, the Series 3 now starts at $279, which might make it a better deal for some people.
Mike Brown, writing for Inverse, brings us the, well, inverse of the general consensus on the Apple Watch Series 4.
Rather than make tough choices about what to do with the (admittedly small) amount of real estate, the company seems to have thrown in everything but the kitchen sink.
Nobody is forcing anyone to use this watch face. For power users, people's reactions have shown, it's a welcome improvement. Apple is taking its market-winning strategy one step further, and Uluroo — along with most of the Internet — loves it.
One of the most essential criteria for the long-term survival and adoption of an operating system is the capacity to grow and change. This is especially true in today’s market landscape, where multiple platforms are perpetually competing with one another and vying for users’ attention. Software is like hardware: if yours doesn’t change, someone else’s will...
A lot has changed since the Macintosh was first unveiled in 1984. Computers age — or, rather, new ones become more capable than the old — far more quickly than people do. Over the last three decades, Macs have become exponentially more useful and more intuitive, both on the hardware and software sides. But for all its change, macOS still contains many remnants left over from its past...
Apple recently became the first trillion-dollar company, but we know it’s not going to grow much bigger for the very obvious reason that it’s not planning to get into any new product categories. Which makes a ton of sense...
Jobs’s reasoning was simple: news flash, for most tasks, using your fingers is more convenient than using a stylus. The reasoning behind Apple Pencil is that for handwriting and hand-drawing, a stylus can do certain things better. Jobs didn’t dismiss the idea of a drawing utensil because that technology wasn’t what people meant by “stylus” in 2007. Apple Pencil is meant to be used alongside touch, not in lieu of it, so it doesn’t fall into the primary interaction category...
Last year, Apple pulled a fast one on pundits who were attempting to guess the names of the 2017 iPhone lineup. Lots of people expected the iPhone 7s and 8, the iPhone Pro, iPhone Edition, or whatever; but, in Uluroo’s memory at least, iPhone X wasn’t a common guess until the final days before the event at which the device was announced...
We’ve seen some laughable iPhone clones over the past decade, but none of them have been quite as pitiful as this. Motorola is the latest smartphone manufacturer to get on the Apple-copying bandwagon, and its new handset, the P30, essentially looks like a bad attempt to mimic Apple’s design prowess...
This isn’t the first time a notch has been smaller than the iPhone X’s. Even the Essential Phone, which was released before the iPhone X, had a single-camera notch that was quite small. Nobody said it “put the iPhone X to shame” because they were reasonable enough to understand the added utility Face ID brings to the iPhone X’s notch...
Had Steve Jobs seen the modern Apple Pencil, who knows what he would have said? But the Pencil, whether on iPhone or iPad, does not fall into the category of primary input devices Jobs collectively condemned...
Uluroo doesn’t expect to have landed precisely on Apple’s plans for the devices; this is a fun way of seeing just how much the iPad Pros can change. Uluroo isn’t betting money on the accuracy of these estimates, but they’re definitely more accurate than the guesstimates that have been given so far...
The one thing investors can be sure of in the wake of this historic accomplishment is that whatever market strategy got Apple into the trillion-dollar club must be scrapped and replaced with whatever its smaller competitors are doing...
Why is it that we can’t talk about this without mentioning market share? Uluroo will make this very clear: iOS’s market share is irrelevant. Apple is still making loads of cash, which is far more important than worrying about the number of customers it’s getting...
Okay, Uluroo understands that technology reporters have to write things and that rumors are a great way to do that… but seriously? The latest in the jumble of 2018 iPhone news interprets a report in a way that defies common sense and makes things out in the worst possible way for Apple. Sound familiar? Yeah, it unfortunately happens way too often...
So if “Has it been radically updated in the past few years?” is your litmus test for whether a category is alive or dead, you’re looking at it wrong. We aren’t the ones developing these new devices, so we have no idea whether a significant change is in fact around the corner. But even if it’s not, by no means should we draw the curtains on the category...
Apple spent about 40 minutes at WWDC talking about the new features coming to macOS Mojave, but don’t you think it seems like Apple was ignoring its laptop/desktop platform? ...
Is the Mac a “second-class citizen”? No. Apple’s investing iOS’s app market into it, and it wouldn’t be doing that if it thought the Mac were a serf to the royalty of the iPhone. Regardless of the size of their respective markets, both the iPhone and Mac are important parts of Apple’s business. Neither of them is dying anytime soon...
Apple didn’t kill the “fun” that came with the diversity in the early smartphone market, Samsung and everyone else who copied it did. Why are we blaming Apple for the industry’s choices when Apple has no control over what other companies do? ...
Apple is rumored to be announcing a 6.5-inch “iPhone X Plus” this September. The ever-running rumor mill generally leaks schematics for the new iPhones months in advance, and this year is no exception. Except this time, the leaker gets a key detail wrong about the device he’s bringing into the light...