Posts Tagged: apple


Today was a special day. In all of my years covering consumer technology, and all of my years attending Apple’s keynotes, this is the first one that I’ve been able to devote my full and undivided attention to. Typically, I’m responsible for slinging upwards of 200 images into a liveblog viewer, frantically attempting to decipher the ideal Kelvin setting while matching the speed of my partner in crime — and when that man is Tim Stevens, that’s no easy feat.

Today I witnessed an Apple keynote with fresh eyes. I had no immediate duties, and I was able to absorb the presentation in a new way. I’m obviously interested in the product announcements on a personal level, but as a watcher of this space, I focused more on the undertones of the keynote. What struck me most during the event were items that seemed to fly by most of those who were there to expressly cover the news, and as an unashamed power user, I was heartened by a few of them.

For starters, Apple spent an inordinate amount of time in today’s presentation focused on the power user. From (perhaps overly long) demos of advanced OS X Mavericks features to atypical spiels involving the most granular of technical specifications, the “Computer” of the former “Apple Computer” was in full force today.

Increasingly, Apple has focused on the consumer. The mainstream adopter. The person who fell first for iSomething, and may or may not have ever used a Mac in any serious fashion. Given how those businesses have scaled, it makes sense from a number of standpoints — financial, mindshare, etc. Today, the iPad was given equal treatment with a new Mac Pro and a new desktop operating system. To me, that’s saying something.

The Mac Pro was in dire need of a refresh, but Apple surely knows that even a revised model is only going to sell to a sliver of its consumer base. Heck, most visual professionals would’ve been content using the old cage with updated internals, but Apple still devoted a sizable chunk of resources to rethinking the desktop. Apple’s doing more to lead society beyond the PC than any other company in its class, but today, the Mac Pro was given its time to shine.

Whoever’s making the call to allow engineers to fine-tune the company’s most powerful products, despite the fact that few will be sold, should be praised. I was beginning to worry that the complete and total consumerization of Apple was a sealed fate.

OS X Mavericks is also a refreshing update. The most recent OS X updates reeked of iOS in far too many ways. Instead of developing ways to increase efficiency, enhance customization, and bolster the multi-tasker’s ability to simply get more done, OS X was creeping into simplified territory. Mavericks introduces tabbed Finder windows. I’d wager that a woefully small slice of OS X users will bother to craft new workflows around the ability to suck multiple Finder windows into one space on their desktop, but today, Apple showed me that it does still care about those folks on some level.

I was also able to fully appreciate just how fundamentally different Apple is from its primary competition. The keynote began with a replay of an inspirational design video that debuted at WWDC — not a thing new about the clip, but CEO Tim Cook came forth to drive home this point: Apple is focused first on being a company that amazes, and last on the numbers that Wall Street watches. Mind you, I’m not saying this as a delusional fan of Apple’s work, but on a human level, who could fault a corporation as large as Apple for attempting to quantify success using “delight” as a factor? If you’re working in a numbers-obsessed field, my guess is that you’d be elated if anything of this sort played a role in judging your own progress.

All in all, it was a something of a hodgepodge show. A bit of iPhone, a healthy helping of culture, an overload of demos from Apple’s first-party software team, a shocking amount of technical talking points related to a black cylinder that I can only wish I needed, and a re-envisioned pricing strategy on the tablet front. The company managed to touch on pretty much every single part of its modern business in one keynote. (There was nary a mention of iPod, but it no longer reports iPod sales in its quarterly earnings.)

A final takeaway: Apple strikes me as the kind of place that wants its customers to trust it to build amazing things. How many “delighted” iPhone users are going to buy whatever wearable Apple decides to build without reading a single review? A lot of them. The company has managed to execute on a singular philosophy of delight in a way that’s most impressive, but in doing so, has raised its level of responsibility tremendously. Cook made clear that he cared little about letting Wall Street down — he’s not going to build a phablet in four months or a headset tomorrow just because he’d move some units. He seems far more concerned about ensuring that the next Apple product is as good (if not better) than the last.

That’s becoming a tall task, but as I personally know so well, there are indeed good problems to have. 


Two books in one year? It happened, somehow. After wrapping up iPad Secrets earlier this year, I started work on another Secrets book — this one, for the iPhone. Following the release of the iPhone 5, I was able to finish up iPhone Secrets, and I’m happy to say that it’s on sale now at the usual places.

It’s a book that looks at tips, tricks and helpful information in managing and taking full advantage of one’s iPhone 4, 4S or 5 through iOS 6.


I had a great time putting this one together, and I’d like to once again thank Wiley for their support (and Mary James in particular).

Hopefully America’s northernmost Barnes & Noble will get a copy of this one, too!

Places to pick it up:

(If you’re looking for it elsewhere, the ISBN is 9781118339039)


On October 3rd, 2011, I boarded a plane from Tokyo to San Francisco. The reason? A week earlier, Apple had invited me to its headquarters in Cupertino for a press event, an event that would undoubtedly lead to the unveiling of its next iPhone. Around 12 hours after I arrived, I co-liveblogged the unveiling of the iPhone 4S with Tim Stevens. It was Tim Cook’s first solo press event as Apple CEO, and it never occurred to me that anything was different.

Cook pulled off an Apple event in spectacular fashion. The cadence was correct. The adjectives were correct. The flow was correct. The mood was correct. It speaks volumes about Cook’s respect for Steve, and it’s proof — at least to me — that Cook has devoted his working hours over the past months and years to learning how to best fill a pair of shoes that will never truly be filled again. At least, not with the same mold.

After 5+ years at Engadget, this was my first time on Apple’s campus. I’ve felt exceedingly privileged to devote my working life to Engadget and the consumer technology industry as a whole, and it was a remarkable privilege to be able to bring the latest creation from Apple to our readers. It’s truly humbling to do the work that I do, and showing up at 4 Infinite Loop reminded me once again what a fantastical world we live in. A day later, the man that co-founded Apple and literally invented products that have entirely reshaped the world passed away. I can’t help but wonder how much Tim Cook knew before going on stage, but he handled the event with poise, regardless. That should not be overlooked. It’s a situation that many would’ve faltered in.

I woke up, back in Tokyo, stunned and saddened by the news. The gravity of the situation is incredible. A sitting president of the United States of America paused to issue an incredibly heartfelt statement on the loss of one of America’s beacons. I was fortunate enough to co-liveblog Steve’s final keynote as an Apple employee: WWDC 2011 in June. The photo below is the final one I took of him, as he was walking off of the stage and the entire crowd within San Francisco’s Moscone West was rising to applaud his appearance. I count myself lucky to have even come this close to a man that will unquestionably go down in history books with the likes of Albert Einstein, Alexander Bell and Johannes Gutenberg.


What saddens me most about the loss of such a luminary is how the future of consumer technology will be less, in some way, without Jobs around. It is incredibly rare to invent something that you can convince a global audience is worthwhile. It is even more rare to do it on multiple occasions, even with enormous industry pressures and plenty of pundits. The iPod, for all intents and purposes, defines the portable media player universe, despite being almost universally panned for its absurd price tag and limited reach upon launch. People that don’t even understand, or care to understand, technology still adore the iPod. This is part of the reason that Jobs’ death is impacting more than just technologists. Even music lovers are fully aware of how their lives have been improved by the introduction of the iPod.

Jobs, and the wildly talented team that he placed around him, quite substantially changed the game with the iPod and iPad. Are they perfect products? No. But the lightbulb, even in 2011, still emits too much waste heat. I don’t see anyone disputing the game-changing nature of that.

My job, and the lives of my friends, colleagues and peers, was made more interesting by Steve Jobs. Regardless of the state of consumer electronics as a whole, there was always one man that we could count on to shake things up. Be it the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, or his unwavering stance to never adopt Blu-ray despite plenty of reasons to do so, he simply made life more interesting. And in most cases, more enriching.

In closing, it’s hard to express exactly how saddened I am by the fact that Jobs will not be around to invent anything else. He invented the iPod and iPad, amongst other things, during my short stint on Earth. I can assure you that the next 30+ years would’ve been filled with even more inventions if Steve were still here. I hesitate to even hazard a guess at what would’ve come next. Would we even have Android without iOS? Would Windows 8 be taking the approach it is without iOS and OS X? Would there be any pressure at all for RIM to innovate without any of the above?

I sincerely hope that Jobs spent as much time as he could pouring whatever knowledge he could into the mind of Tim Cook and the people surrounding him. America needs that breed of innovation to continue. The world does, too. As dark as today seems in the world of technology, my hope is that entrepreneurs, startups and technologists celebrate the life of a visionary by pushing themselves further than they ever thought possible. I can’t say for sure that I’ll ever have the privilege to write about another person with the same level of impact as Jobs, but I want to. Badly. I hope that Jobs has proven that technology can change the world, time and time again. I hope that he has proven that mere mortals are capable of engineering the impossible. And I hope — for the sake of Google, RIM, HP, Dell, Samsung and every other company and consumer wrapped up in the technology universe — that Apple continues to innovate in the way that it has in recent years. Trust me, we’re all better off if it does.


Can I bring an Android phone to Apple HQ? Yes!