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When Stephen Fry met Jony Ive

Apple took the Internet by surprise by announcing Jony Ive’s promotion to Chief Design Officer through a Telegraph article — signed Stephen Fry. Even more interesting is that the Telegraph published the article on Memorial day when markets were closed.

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Apple and the Self-Surveillance State

Paul Krugman, for the NYTimes:

So, here’s my pathetic version of a grand insight: wearables like the Apple watch actually serve a very different function — indeed, almost the opposite function — from that served by previous mobile devices. A smartphone is useful mainly because it lets you keep track of things; wearables will be useful mainly because they let things keep track of you.

This is where the biggest software paradigm shift is going to happen with wearables. For a lot of apps, usefulness will not be measured in interactions “based on seconds instead of minutes”, but rather the lack thereof.

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Apple Watch Reviews

The review embargo for the Apple Watch was lifted this morning. I read them all so you don’t have to.

In summary:

  1. The Apple Watch is beautiful and very well-crafted
  2. The Taptic Engine is really cool. Taps vary depending on notification type
  3. Digital Touch and other communication innovations have potential, but are highly dependent on network effect
  4. Apple Pay works really well
  5. The interface can be confusing at times, which is to be expected for a new interaction model
  6. Glances and third-party apps can be slow, especially when fetching location data
  7. The motion detectors for waking the display on arm movement can be unreliable, at times the movement needs to be exaggerated
  8. Cool, fun but incomplete activity tracking
  9. You probably shouldn’t buy version 1 of the Apple Watch, but the concept is very promising

But if you really want to read one or two, here are the better reviews I’ve read today:

❯ Joshua Topolsky’s review for Bloomberg Business

❯ John Gruber’s opinion at Daring Fireball

❯ Farhad Manjoo writes an insightful and positive review for the NYT

❯ Ben Bajarin provides some pretty optimistic big picture stuff

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New Apple TV Will Not Support 4K Video Streaming

John Paczkowski, with yet another Apple TV scoop:

Sources in position to know tell BuzzFeed News that the 4th generation Apple TV will not initially support 4K video — a newer high-definition video resolution that delivers a more detailed, immersive picture. “4K is great, but it’s still in its infancy,” said one source familiar with Apple’s thinking.

My guess is that the next-generation Apple TV won’t ship with the A8, either. Apple is going to try to keep the entry-price as low as possible, and packaging the set-top box with a previous generation chip wouldn’t hurt. Besides, if it won’t stream 4K video, what’s the point in having the high-end, more expensive chip?

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Weekend Digest 1

❯ The Ten Commandments of Sushi

“Sushi is delicate,” Yajima-san tells me. “It’s easy for the rice to break or crumble when you use chopsticks. That harms the form. Also, when you use your hands, you feel the sushi. And you can get it into your mouth faster.”

Before he puts each piece down, he sweeps it along the black surface, as if using the rice to brush it. “That’s so it will stick,” he explains.

A nice 8-minute read (lots of images, I promise) about Yajima Sushi, a sushi-ya I now feel the need to visit.

❯ Long Baseball Games Are Not Boring. They Are Zen

The MLB is talking about making baseball games shorter. To me, baseball is a lot like fishing: The long wait between exciting moments only makes them more exciting. A shorter baseball game would be like fishing in a fish farm.

❯ iPhone Killer: The Secret History of The Apple Watch

Along the way, the Apple team landed upon the Watch’s raison d’être.

David Pierce from Wired got to talk with a few key persons involved with the creation of the Apple Watch — namely Kevin Lynch and Alan Dye. They talk about the importance of User Interface, making the Watch, and how your iPhone is ruining your life. Good read, if only for the exclusive access to some of Apple’s top employees. What’s with those non-scrolling images though?

❯ Conversations with Tyler Cowen: Peter Thiel on the Future of Innovation

Do yourself a favor and set aside an hour of your day to watch this. Some very insightful discussion on innovation, the future, life expectancy, and just how bad a name ÜBER is. The Q&A is a bit of a bore though, feel free to skip that.

❯ Joanna Stern Reviews the Samsung Galaxy S6

I am not afraid to say it: I love Samsung’s new phones, maybe even more than my own iPhone 6. Like a child who just found out that Santa isn’t real, I have spent the past week questioning everything I know.

A surprisingly good review for Samsung’s new flagship device. Colour me surprised.

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Amazon Introduces Dash Button

I suppose it’s April Fools’ somewhere in the world right now.

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Twitter Launches Its New Live Video App Periscope

There’s a whistle and a vibration in my pocket, and I pull out my phone and it’s John Hodgman. He’s sitting in an airport, in a Delta Airlines lounge, nursing what appears to be a whiskey on ice. He wants to talk.

I just spent 5 minutes watching a stranger play with a frisbee and her dog on this thing. Then I watched some dude walking around Brooklyn for 2 minutes. Absolutely nothing exciting happened. And it was awesome.

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Facebook Messenger Opens the Door to Developers

A bunch of new stuff at the F8 Developer Conference today. Zuckerberg took the stage to announce that Facebook will be opening up the Messenger app platform to businesses and developers. The app will soon allow you to connect with businesses, talk about recent orders, post GIFs, download apps — and of course inevitably buy stuff, too: last week, Facebook announced that you’d soon be able to send money through Messenger. Sounds great, but businesses will have to be careful with tying in too strongly with the ecosystem — they risk losing a lot of customer information and brand identity to Facebook.

Facebook has done a good job porting and monetizing the News Feed core from the computer to our phones. With Messenger, they’ve proven that they can build a mobile-first service that’s both enjoyable and wildly successful. The purchase of WhatsApp increasingly makes sense in the grand scheme of things and most importantly — can now be seen as a bargain at a cool $19 billion. Messaging is huge. And Facebook understands that.

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The Typography Cheatsheet

A comprehensive guide to using proper typographic characters, including correct grammatical usage.

Bookmarked for future and frequent use.

via Khoi Vinh’s excellent Subtraction.

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The Canonization of St. Steve of Cupertino

The Cook push for the beatification of secular Saint Steve, or more precisely his deification, elevating the former son of God into the equivalent God the father, has taken on the urgency of all cult leaders eager to keep the dream alive after the premature death of the savior.

Telling that it took me a few lines to realize that this was actually a satire article.

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Typographica’s Favorite Typefaces of 2014

Typographica lists their favourite typefaces of 2014. For every selection, they also include great write-ups. I found it to be quite inspiring while building The Currency. A must for anyone interested in typography.

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Where Is The Internet Boom?

The Internet is arguably the most important technology to emerge since 1990. Has it done anything for economic growth?

It seems it should have. Take a look at the growth of e-commerce. Or the rise of mobile banking in the developing world. Or the market capitalizations of Internet stocks in the Nasdaq. Everywhere you look, you see the Internet.

Except, as I will show, in economic data.

Counterintuitive and intriguing.

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Google Isn’t Giving Up On Glass

Schmidt told The Wall Street Journal that [Google Glass] has been put under Fadell’s watch “to make it ready for users.”

If it wasn’t obvious yet that Google Glass will be a complete failure, now you have it. You don’t simply take an advanced prototype and “make it ready for users”. With wearables especially, every decision in the design process ends up affecting the user. Sounds like they got the whole process topsy-turvy.

I’m confident that Google has the ability to build great software. They’ve proven that. But I have no reason to believe that they can bring a polished and well-designed hardware product to market. And from what we’ve seen with Google Glass, it just wasn’t designed with wearability in mind (see: glasshole).

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The ROI to Learning Foreign Languages

Your Spanish is worth $51,000, but French, $77,000, and German, $128,000. Humans are famously bad at weighting the future against the present, but if you dangled even a post-dated $128,000 cheque in front of the average 14-year-old, Goethe and Schiller would be hotter than Facebook.

Just putting this up here as late night motivation.

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Demystifying the Concept of Design →

Erika Hall of Mule Design, writing for the WSJ:

Design is merely the set of decisions you either make or set aside when you create your product. You cannot not design. Good design will contribute to your product being understandable, credible and valuable. “Bad” design leads to the opposite and often results from not making conscious decisions or of leaving those decisions up to people who did not have the necessary skills.

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The Four Horsemen →

Scott Galloway, speaking at DLD Conference:

I was asked to look at the four most dominant companies in digital and make some sort of predictions around who’s going to increase in value and influence and who’s going to decrease in value and influence

I felt exhausted after watching this. Then I watched it again.

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The Future of the Dumbwatch →

Marco Arment:

A common theory among existing watch manufacturers and watch owners, exemplified by TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver, is that the Apple Watch not only won’t hurt the existing high-end watch market, but will probably even help it

I agree. I think that the Apple Watch will get certain people more interested in classical watches and the craft of watchmaking. Also, the watch industry is in much better shape than say the smartphone industry before the iPhone launched, or the MP3 player industry before the iPod. I think if the watch companies play their cards right — emphasize their strengths vis-à-vis the Apple Watch (complex mechanics, handmade in Switzerland, the list goes on) — they might have a fighting chance. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they see growth in the next few years.

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(Unscrupulous) Business As Usual for AT&T →

AT&T is now charging their customers 29$ per month to not have their web activity tracked. Why am I not surprised?

Also, I thought the wording in The Guardian article was a bit odd:

They should not be tracking subscribers’ internet activity or monetizing that activity. AT&T should be ashamed of itself for putting profit over privacy.

Isn’t this what most modern web services/companies do?

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New Apple TV Set Top Will Debut This Summer →

Whole lotta smoke for there not to be a fire. Looks like we’ll be getting a Siri-assisted, App Store-equipped Apple TV in the summer. 

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The Potential of Bumpy Pixels →

I think the power of the haptic engine has been wholly underestimated, and isn’t being talked about enough. To me, this was the biggest announcement at Apple’s Spring Forward event. It has the potential to add a completely new layer to software — one that you can feel. This is huge from a UI standpoint, and even more so from an accessibility angle. Oh and while we’re at it, I wouldn’t mind Apple replacing the slightly irritating vibration on the iPhone for a nice, gentle tap.

Announcements like this just show you how ahead of the curve Apple is in comparison to the competition.

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Conversation With the Inventor of the Aeropress →

You reuse your filters?

I did for years. And my wife was always saying to me, “Alan you don’t have to reuse filters, you have all the filters you want,” so I’m not doing it so much anymore.

Great interview with Alan Adler, the inventor of the Aeropress. If you don’t own one of these things yet, do yourself a favor and head right over here before you read the interview. Truly the best 30 bucks I’ve spent since I bought that holographic Charizard card in ’99.

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Ready to Ride? →

I think the pitch goes a little something like this:

Starting today, no more rubbing shoulders with poor people. Leap. Now on the App Store.

San Francisco is out of control.

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Send Money to Friends in Messenger →

It’d be nice if Apple made this possible with iMessage. Facebook? No thanks.

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Nintendo Announces Partnership With DeNA →

The company has announced that it will team up with DeNA, a major Japanese mobile gaming company, to make smartphone games featuring Nintendo characters. The two companies “intend to jointly operate new gaming applications featuring Nintendo IP, which they will develop specifically for smart devices”

Great news for Nintendo fans and shareholders. The stock is up 27% a few hours after the announcement. This partnership shows that Nintendo understands mobile much better than people give them credit for. Also, the approach they’re taking — only original games built for mobile, no ports straight from the console — is without a doubt the best option they have in making a significant entry into mobile. I sincerely hope they succeed.

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Digital Dog Collar →

I hate the new Apple Watch. Hate what it will do to conversation, to the pace of the day, to my friends, to myself. I hate that it will enable the things that already make life so incremental, now-based and hyper-connected. That, and make things far worse.

Timothy Egan for the NYT going especially hard on the Apple Watch. The “always connected, always visible” aspect is what I dislike most about wearables. Word on the street is that they make checking your notifications easier and faster. Sitting on your wrist, I assume they also make them pretty hard to ignore. I understand the Taptic Engine is designed to make notifications less obtrusive, but they’re still a nagging call for attention. If the Apple Watch manages to make notifications less annoying — that’ll be the killer feature.

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Meerkat →

The new App Store sensation is a live streaming video service. Its massive spike in popularity comes just in time for SXSW, also. It’ll be interesting to see how it does now that Twitter has pulled the rug from under them.

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How Apple Will Make The Wearable Market →

Thus, in order to estimate just how important the Apple Watch might be, it’s essential to step back from the world as it is and consider the world as it might be, and, having done that, consider just how significant a role Apple’s offering might play.

Ben Thompson imagines a not-so-distant future where Apple Watch is our digital footprint — our interface to the so-called ‘Internet of Things’.

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The Next Thing →

This is not to say that Islam in France won’t continue to be problematic or that the extreme right won’t continue its rise or that the respectable republicans won’t be as fatuously self-destructive as Houellebecq imagines them to be. The next thing is just never likely to be the same thing. The fun of satire is to think what would happen if nothing happens to stop what is happening. But that’s not what happens.

Michel Houellebecq — professional satirist, enculé — wrote a new book. You can buy it in its original French version here. My copy is on its way.

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The Man Behind the Apple Watch →

Yet another exclusive piece with direct participation from Jony Ive. Apple is really putting the design team front and center leading up to the Apple Watch event.

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Sony’s Smart Glasses →

Self-explanatory.

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Fraud Comes to Apple Pay →

Abraham said it’s not “an anomaly” to see fraud accounting for about 6% of Apple Pay transactions, compared to about 0.1% of transactions using a plastic card to swipe. He noted that fraud rates vary by issuing bank.

Seems like the banks’s verification system is at fault here, not Apple. In making the new card entry as hassle-free as possible to encourage Apple Pay adoption, they skimmed on security.

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