Apple Pro Mouse: Steve Jobs on Mouse Design


Cult of Mac: Former senior mechanical engineer of product design at Apple, Abraham Farag shares how he and his team ended up with the Apple Pro Mouse:

“It all started with a model we did not have time to finish,” he says. “We had made six of these great form models to show Steve,” he recalls. “They were fully done, with all the parting lines cut in for buttons and different plastic parts, and all the colors just right.” At the last minute, the design team had decided to create a model that would echo the look of the Topolino mouse which shipped prior to the hockey puck. The only problem was, the model wasn’t finished. They hadn’t had time to draw buttons on to the model to indicate where they would go.

“It looked like a grey blob,” Farag says. “We were going to put that model into a box so people wouldn’t see it.” However, when Jobs turned up things went awry.

“Steve looked at the lineup of potential forms and made straight for the unfinished one,” Farag says.

“That’s genius,” he said. “We don’t want to have any buttons.”

“That’s right, Steve,” someone else piped up. “No buttons at all.”





Why Apple’s Adoption of Sapphire May Not Have Much Impact On Corning


Forbes:

Using the amount for Gorilla Glass sales to Apple and the Trefis widget for Corning’s specialty materials revenue (below), we can assess the impact Apple’s move to sapphire will have on our stock price estimate. By reducing the specialty materials revenue by $187 million for 2014, we will be able to simulate a loss of sales when Apple stops purchasing Gorilla Glass from 2014 onward. We can see that our stock price estimate for Corning declines from $18.88 to $18.56, a decrease of $0.32.

To assume Apple’s move to sapphire for cover glass applications will stop at Apple seems wrong; most likely all of Apple’s competitors such as LG, Samsung, Sony, etc. will also shift to sapphire cover glass for their top-of-the-line smartphones. And that most likely will have quite a bit of an impact on Corning’s Gorilla Glass business.





Sony NEX-5 with 16mm f2.8 Pancake Lens


I purchased this Sony NEX-5 mirrorless camera thinking it would be the default camera I would take everywhere. The camera body is exceptionally small for a body with an APS-C image sensor. I even went through the trouble of selling the zoom lens that came with it and purchased the 16mm f2.8 pancake lens to keep it as portable as possible. Well it didn’t turn out that way, and I blame my iPhone. The photo quality is nice, but the not-so-fast 16mm lens doesn’t do very well in dim environments. Macro shots are difficult too. Yes, I understand the lens isn’t designed for it. And I believe it is 100% my fault for not equipping the NEX-5 with the proper lens to do what needed it to do. But my primary goal was to make it small enough so that it would be portable enough. It turns out the ideal camera was the one I already had: my iPhone. So it’s time to say good bye to my Sony NEX-5. Off to Craigslist it goes.





LG G Pro 2


Dan Seifert, The Verge:

The G Pro was LG’s first phablet-style device that made sense — its 5.5-inch display was right in line with Samsung’s offerings at the time and it included a number of software tweaks to take advantage of the larger screen. The G Pro 2′s 1080p display expands to an even larger 5.9 inches, and it’s just as nice to look at as before, with great viewing angles and color accuracy. It’s just bigger now. Nearly half an inch sounds like a lot on paper, but in practical use it doesn’t demonstrably change the experience. It just keeps LG up with the Joneses, surpassing the 5.7-inch display on Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 and matching monstrous smartphones from HTC and others.

Five point nine inches. I understand there are people who want to carry only one device. To them an artificially small phone paired with a tablet is unnecessary when a large smartphone like the LG G Pro 2 can take the place of both. There are some challenges with this though.

One is, how do you carry the thing? If you’re a metrosexual (or someone who doesn’t give a damn about what others think about you and all you care about is efficiency) in Seoul, San Francisco, Manhattan, and many parts of Western Europe you simply put it in your purse, whether you’re a man or a woman. But what if you’re just a regular guy who puts his phone in his pants? I’ve tried putting the Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 2, and other large phones with thick cases into my jeans. They do fit in my front and back pockets, but it’s not comfortable. I don’t like how I look with the massive rectangular bulge in my front pocket. And I’m always worried someone will pocket my phone if I leave it in my back pocket. Something as big as the LG G Pro 2 will be an easy target.

Another challenge is becoming less and less of a problem, but it really does look awkward when you’re having a phone conversation with a 5.9-inch slab to your face, especially if you have a smallish face. In countries like South Korea most mobile communications is done via instant messaging anyway, and voice communications in crowded buses and subways isn’t usually the polite thing to do. Yes, I understand there are Bluetooth headsets and the earphones with mic that came with the phone, but a lot of people don’t like using either when moving about. A Bluetooth headset is still too nerdy, and messing around with the cables is not much fun. Using the speakerphone is an option when you’re home or in your office with the door closed, but again not going to happen when you’re in public. I’m pretty sure some of us are already used to seeing people put massive smartphones to their faces to talk. In the future a 6-inch device on someone’s face isn’t going to phase anyone.

For people who want a single mobile device, a phablet like the 5.9-inch LG G Pro 2 is certainly appealing. Just make sure you have a comfortable way to carry it and note it might look a little awkward, for now, to have it mashed to your face when talking.





Dell UP3214Q


Christian Eberle, Tom’s Hardware:

If you’ve made it this far, it should be fairly obvious that Dell delivers a winning product in its UP3214Q. Yes, the price of admission is substantial, but this is a bleeding-edge product that performs far better than most first-gen technology. If you have the necessary graphics hardware, the UP3214Q is a true plug-and-play 4K solution.

Asus gave us excellent build quality with its PQ321Q, but Dell goes a little bit further. This is the most metal we’ve seen in any computer component outside of a case. Not only do you get a slick aluminum band around the panel’s perimeter, but the entire base and upright are made from the same material. We also really like the easy snap-on installation of those parts.

Feature-wise, the UP3214Q is quite complete. Three digital inputs take care of any potential (and relevant) source. We would have really liked to see HDMI 2.0 compatibility, but admittedly that interface is still in its infancy, having only been ratified a few months ago. Both DisplayPort connectors support full resolution at 60 Hz though, so long as your video card is multi-stream-compatible. We also applaud the inclusion of four USB 3.0 ports and an SD card reader.

US$3500. Steep even for a 31.5-inch 3840×2160 IGZO IPS LCD from Sharp with a 98% Adobe RGB 1998 color gamut.





4K Monitors by Apple


Richard Padilla, MacRumors:

Apple’s OS X Mavericks 10.9.3 beta appears to have built-in support that enables all compatible 4K displays to be set at a “Retina” resolution, with an option for 60Hz output. The compatibility was first discovered by Twitter user @KhaosT, and was tested with both the Late 2013 Retina MacBook Pro and redesigned Mac Pro in conjunction with Dell’s UltraSharp 24 Ultra HD Monitor.

Cool.





This Is Why It Feels Like Apple Stopped Innovating Three Years Ago


Nicholas Carlson, Business Insider:

The reason it feels like Apple has stopped innovating to so many people is that the last time it tried to do what it does best — perfect a technology that allows humans to interact with computers — it failed. And that was two and a half years ago. The last time it succeeded was 2006 — eight years ago.

Carlson is referring to Siri. I don’t think Apple failed with Siri; the perfection of Siri is on-going and will take some time, longer than it did for the mouse, GUI (Mac), click wheel (iPod), and touch display (iPhone). For Siri to succeed Apple needs to deeply personalize Siri to each user. That requires understanding where the user is (quiet versus loud environments), what the user is doing (working out or reclining on a sofa), whether or not the user is stressed (driving during traffic hour and late to a meeting or slightly inebriated and relaxing under a palm tree), etc. The rumored iWatch might be the missing piece. With biometric sensors and environmental sensors iWatch could provide data about the user to fine-tune Siri to make it work closer to 100% of the time.





Nano-Dot Patterned Sapphire Substrate for LED


Oji Holdings Corporation:

Oji Holdings Corporation has established the fabrication technology of patterned sapphire substrates (PSS) for LEDs which improves the performance of front luminance of LEDs by more than double compared to that of LEDs with non-structured sapphire substrate, by applying the technique of precise coating with fine particles.

Compared to a conventional flat sapphire substrate with a 385nm wavelength, the front luminance of a nano-dot patterned PSS is more than double, and total luminous flux is 1.8x. What does this mean? To attain the same brightness:

Of course brightness can be more than doubled using the same number of nano-dot PSS LEDs. New displays using nano-dot PSS LEDs will sport roughly double the brightness or double the battery life or somewhere in between.

There has been much talk of Apple’s development agreement with GT Advanced, a manufacturer of sapphire substrates. Many conjecture sapphire will be used as a cover glass for iPhone, displacing Corning Gorilla Glass. Other usage cases might be to secure direct supplies for camera lens covers, Touch ID covers, and perhaps as a sapphire cover for the much rumored iWatch. Another usage scenario might be for sapphire substrates for LEDs. In this scenario, Apple and GT Advanced would manufacture PSS and supply them to LED manufacturers, which in turn would be used in backlight units that go into displays for iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, iMacs, and monitors.





“Is Apple still king of the hill?”


via John Gruber. From Daisuke Wakabayshi’s video interview with Yukari Iwatani Kane, author of “Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs”:

Daisuke Wakabayashi: The one big question that hangs over Apple, anyone who follows Apple, is, have they lost their touch? Is Apple still king of the hill? After two years, what’s your conclusion?

Yukari Iwatani Kane: I think the answer is obvious to me. The answer has got to be yes. This is a company who had revolved around Steve Jobs for so long, I mean that was something that Jobs himself went out of his way to make sure of. And the people there are conditioned to operate, to play off of his strengths and weaknesses. And so now you’ve got this completely opposite guy in Tim Cook, who is I think brilliant in many ways, but in different ways. But so they’re going through some growing pains in that. […]

Wakabayashi: A normal great company, but maybe no longer an iconic company?

Kane: Right.

A normal great company. Apple might no longer be a special great company, but merely a normal great company. Is that bad? Well, it’s less exciting, for sure. But I’d group the competition (Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC, Lenovo, Microsoft, Google, etc.) as not even normal great companies. The chances of any one of these companies leapfrogging Apple by building something insanely great is not big. On the other hand, the chances of Apple building something insanely great is probably less than it was when Steve Jobs was calling the shots, but I’d hazard to guess it’s still more than any of the companies mentioned above. We’ll have to be content with just a normal great company making normal great products, but I’m hoping once in a while we’ll get to see something exhilarating.





Apple CarPlay


Dan Moren, Macworld:

Most people probably don’t ever think about the software in their car. And with good reason, too, since most automakers aren’t exactly consumed with a passion for developing software. Even in the cases where car companies do want to pimp the software features, the spotlight’s always going to be on the newest model — they don’t have too much interest in continuing to update the software on older models, especially when it comes to adding new features.

Sound familiar? Because to me it’s reminiscent of the state of the cell phone market prior to about, oh, 2007.

I have older cars from about 10 years ago and neither have enough software in them to warrant any thought. As long as the ‘software’ works and injects fuel into the cylinders at the right time I’m good. New cars are different.

Several months ago a friend and I drove down to Los Angeles in a brand new Lexus ES350. I don’t know what you call the middle column where all the buttons are, but when I took a look at it I felt as though I needed to learn a new operating system. It wasn’t a good feeling. There was even a mouse-like thingamajig to move the cursor around. I kept wondering what would happen if this little computer crashed.

If Moren is right and these newer cars generally don’t get software updates, maybe that’s a good thing. What happens when in the middle of downloading the update the connection gets cut? Or has there been updates that ‘crash’ the car’s operating system? What happens when that happens? Reboot? Maybe there’s a good reason why operating systems on a car don’t get updated or updated all that much. I do know Tesla sends over-the-air updates; I wonder when we’ll see an operating system crash because of a faulty patch.

Apple’s CarPlay doesn’t seem like it will significantly change how automobiles are updated with new features, new or old. CarPlay is like AirPlay for cars, but not quite. AirPlay lets iPhone or iPad users connect to big TVs. The value is in allowing content on a small screen to be displayed on a beautiful big screen. CarPlay connects too, but in the examples below it seems we get to connect to much inferior displays.

The CarPlay implementations do not seem to be well thought out. The user interface requires you to take your eyes off the road and unto a tiny screen with ugly flat icons and up and down buttons, and then demands you engage them with your finger, at every point. (Well, except for the texting app.) So far CarPlay doesn’t seem like it’s a runaway hit. Let’s look at three CarPlay implementations that were shown during the Geneva Motor Show.

Ferrari

When watching the CarPlay demonstration on the Ferrari, I couldn’t help notice she had to tap on the up and down buttons. No gestures? Does Ferrari and Apple really think it’s a good idea to search for and tap up and down buttons? And there seems to be a delay between touching the icons and the system responding.

After the lady called John Appleseed the screen changes and four buttons appeared on the bottom: End, Mute, Keypad, Add Call. Do these two companies really think someone driving a Ferrari FF will be looking down at the horrible resistive display, find which button to tap, take one of your hands off the wheel and then tap it? Looks absolutely disastrous.

The lady explains that iTunes Radio is a great way to choose what you want to listen to and get back to driving. From what I can see the driver will not be driving at all fiddling with iTunes Radio. I would think a more safe and enjoyable experience would be to simply say, “Siri, play my GoFast playlist.” All of this poking around nonsense is ridiculous.

The icons, obviously directly imported from iOS 7, are comically simple compared to the luxurious cabin interior. Even the red-outlined physical buttons look more sophisticated. Perhaps it was the terrible display with washed out colors that is making the icons look worse than they actually are.

Volvo

Unlike Ferrari’s decade old display technology, the demonstration on the Volvo Concept Estate seems to sport a gesture-capable touch display. The black is much deeper and is better integrated into the overall design. The colors are richer than those of Ferrari’s but the flat cartoonish icons don’t go well with the non-flat design of real objects in and around the car’s interior.

But I can see the same problem: What do you do when Siri does not recognize the person you want to call? Or where you want to go? You start selecting icons, scrolling down lists, etc. That’s how things are today with existing systems and CarPlay doesn’t seem to be much better.

Both Ferrari and Volvo used sending a text solely using Siri as an example of CarPlay’s innovative features. The funny thing is I can already do exactly this with my iPhone, mounted on the windshield.

Mercedes-Benz

What can I say about Mercedes-Benz’s implementation of CarPlay on its C-Class other than that the company should have simply built an iPad mini mount and used Bluetooth-enabled speakers. That’s it.

CarPlay seems half-baked. The only reason Volvo’s implementation didn’t look outrageously idiotic was because the interior somewhat matched the high-tech look of CarPlay. CarPlay on Mercedes-Benz simply looked out of place and Ferarri needs to hire a team of people who knows something about modern displays.

Apple is a company known for doing both hardware and software. The company does that so crap like Ferrari’s CarPlay implementation on the FF doesn’t happen. The absence of gestural scrolling is inexcusable on such a car. Apple works like no other on integrating hardware and software so external industrial design and internal operating system design doesn’t clash as they do with the C-Class implementation. And where are the reviews of CarPlay when the car is actually in motion?

From what I’ve seen CarPlay doesn’t seem like what the iPhone was to the smartphone industry back in 2007; CarPlay reminds me of the Motorola ROKR the “iTunes Phone” in 2005, a dud.





   



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