The idea that the form of a product should correspond to its essence does not simply mean that products should be designed with their intended use in mind. That a knife needs to be sharp so as to cut things is a non-controversial point accepted by most designers. The notion of essence as invoked by Jobs and Ive is more interesting and significant—more intellectually ambitious—because it is linked to the ideal of purity. No matter how trivial the object, there is nothing trivial about the pursuit of perfection. On closer analysis, the testimonies of both Jobs and Ive suggest that they did see essences existing independently of the designer—a position that is hard for a modern secular mind to accept, because it is, if not religious, then, as I say, startlingly Platonic.— Form and Fortune is an essay about Steve Jobs and Apple's design philosophy by Evgeny Morozov.
Android apps can secretly copy photos [SLNYT] "Android apps do not need permission to get a user's photos, and as long as an app has the right to go to the Internet, it can copy those photos to a remote server without any notice, according to developers and mobile security experts."
Rick Santorum released an anti-Romney ad in January that borrows ahem liberally from Apple's famous 1984 ad. Weirdly, it also copies Apple's second Super Bowl advertisement, Lemmings, which was viewed as insulting to its audience and became a legendary failure. (Via Ken Segall, a former creative director at Apple who writes, "Note to Rick: if you’re going to copy Apple’s marketing success, try not to copy its failure as well.")
David Pogue weighed in yesterday about the Nightline piece on the terrible working conditions in Apple's subcontractor factories in China. Mike Daisey has been trying to engage with Mr. Pogue, but it hasn't gone well. Here's his final response to Mr. Pogue's story.
Apple has released a developer preview of the next version of OS X, named Mountain Lion. A key new feature is Gatekeeper, a security system that will allow users to decide what type of applications can be installed or launched on their personal computers. While some security experts think its a good idea, others worry about it being subtly used to discourage users from installing non-App Store applications. Macworld has coverage of the entire update, while Daring Fireball recounts a personal demonstration.
Is Webkit, the web browser engine used by Safari and Chrome, turning into IE6? Concern is growing that reliance on proprietry CSS features marked by vendor prefixes could be breaking the web.
If people thought Apple's voice assistant Siri was conservative, then Iris, a similar feature for Android (which uses the search engine ChaCha), will blow their mind.
Please be advised that the FBI’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) release regarding (STEVEN PAUL JOBS) is now available.
Slam poet Marshall Soulful Jones performs "Touchscreen".
Google, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Disney, Pixar, Intuit and Lucasfilm are facing a lawsuit for their for their "no poaching" agreements (Bloomberg, TechCrunch). [more inside]
In a move seemingly inspired by the This American Life episode Mr. Daisy and the Apple Factory (previously), Apple has released a list of its suppliers (PDF) around the world and is voluntarily allowing a third party to audit the working conditions at those factories and make the results available to the public. The third party will be the Fair Labor Association, who also monitor Nike, New Balance, and Adidas.
“You need a thousand rubber gaskets? That’s the factory next door. You need a million screws? That factory is a block away. You need that screw made a little bit different? It will take three hours.” Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher of the NY Times give an in-depth report on Apple's migration of electronics manufacturing to Asia and its impact on middle class Americans.
Possibly inspired by Al Gore, Apple announces a new iTunes U app, textbooks for iBooks 2.0, and iBooks Author, so you can create your own interactive books.
Act One of this week's This American Life finds Mike Daisey, self-described worshipper in the Cult of Mac, visiting Foxconn, where many of their products are manufactured. It's an incredibly well told and heartbreaking story. [more inside]
A leaked memo by India's Military Intelligence indicates they eavesdropped on a U.S. government department (USCC) that reports to congress on "the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship [between the U.S. and China]" using "lawful intercept" backdoors provided to the Indian government by Apple, RIM, and Nokia. (previously) [more inside]
"“Out of the crooked timber of humanity,” Kant wrote, “no straight thing was ever made.” Not even an iPad." "[A]ll the credit you give Steve Jobs for the ecstasy must be equal to the blame for the agony." Gary Sernovitz on Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs (previously), and Mike Daisey's The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. [via]
"Because we don't know how to make a wheel that is still generally useful for legitimate wheel applications but useless to bad guys."
Cory Doctorow's 28C3 talk The Coming War on General Purpose Computation (abstract, transcript) warns that "the coming century will be dominated by war against the general purpose computer, and the stakes are the freedom, fortune and privacy of the entire human race." [more inside]
Didn't get that Apple product you wanted for Christmas? Jonathan Mann, with the help of Twitter, composed a song for you: WTF?! I wanted an iPhone! If that doesn't quite rock your world, Mann composes and performs a song a day, so there ought to be something you like.
Jack Goldman died this month. Mac? Windows? X11? You may think of visionaries who shaped technology as you know it. You might imagine that they were the original thinkers or visionary businessmen. You're wrong. The guy who laid the foundations started out trying to invent the electric car at Ford, before being hired to Xerox creating the legendary PARC labs that invented computing as we know it; he lived to see his prediction that "...any electric car produced in our lifetime will have to be a hybrid" come true.
In 1985, Apple started the "Apple University Consortium Europe" collaboration program, and one of the first universities to enroll was that of Lund, Sweden. To celebrate the collaboration, Apple CEO Steve Jobs came to Lund - and a 16 minute film of his visit has now been found and been made available by the University of Lund. You can see the clip here (.mov).
Apple has adopted new tactics in its patent war against the handheld industry. Last summer, Apple has transferred patents to the patent troll Digitude Innovations, using a shell company operated by Digitude's primary investor, Altitude Capital Partners. In December, Digitude filed suit with the International Trade Commission alleging patent infringement by almost every mobile manufacturers except Apple. (pdf filing) [more inside]
"The PC is dead. Rising numbers of mobile, lightweight, cloud-centric devices [represent] an unprecedented shift of power from end users and software developers on the one hand, to operating system vendors on the other ... This is a little for the better, and much for the worse." - Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard Law Professor (via battellemedia.com) [more inside]
Graphic designer Susan Kare was responsible for much of the look of the original Mac operating system. Now, you can take a peek inside the notebook where she sketched out on graph paper the icons for cut and paste. (previously)
As the encore for their 12th annual moe.down Festival in Mohawk, NY, the band members of the festival's namesake, moe., paid tribute to the recently-deceased Steve Jobs by performing their song Crab Eyes ... entirely on iPads. [more inside]
Sixth grader codes iOS apps, gives TED talks, and - generally - makes me feel like I've been lazy my entire life.
lululemon athletica, the "yoga-inspired athletic apparel company", has rapidly become a brand fixture in the Pacific Northwest since its founding by Chip Wilson in 1998. Recently, a strange ode to Ayn Rand appeared on their website, and a "Who Is John Galt?" advertising campaign has adorned company packaging this November. Meanwhile, one of their employees has been convicted in the bizarre murder of a co-worker, in which the employees of a neighbouring Apple Store ignored the victim's cries for help.
What touchscreens lack is something called affordance. It’s a lofty term for an object’s built-in ability to tell you how it works. A doorknob affords turning. The button on a car stereo affords pushing. A touchscreen affords nothing. It relies on software for any affordance, which in turn relies on total immersion for the user.... The days of analog affordance are gone. What we want, apparently, is to surround ourselves with touchscreens of varying size—tiny ones in our pockets, medium-size models for our laps and dashboards, and massive versions for our walls. We want tomorrow’s vintage shops to be lined with identical, blank, anonymous slabs. We want things to be vessels for software, and nothing more. - A Slate piece asks if touchscreens are becoming too ubiquitous
The New York Times have published the eulogy Mona Simpson delivered for her brother Steve Jobs at his funeral, which includes his last words. Now it you'll excuse me, I think I have something in my eye...
Walter Isaacson, author of a just-released authorized biography of Steve Jobs, talks to Steve Croft of 60 Minutes [single-page view] about his brilliant, mercurial, often difficult subject.
The iPod turns 10 Today marks the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the iPod. Touted in a low-key presentation as a player that would let you carry 1000 (!) songs in a player the size of a pack of cards (!), the 1st gen model didn't really impress techies (or mefi), though consumers quickly fell for the stylish white and stainless player. In the ensuing years, Apple kept plugging away at new models, and today, few even remember that Apple was late to this game. (previously)
Why are computer voices mostly female? Apple's 1987 vision of a computerized personal assistant was originally male. Siri's voice is female in the US and Australia, but male in the UK and France. [more inside]
The Great Tech War of 2012: Apple v. Google v. Amazon v. Facebook
"What kind of a**hole enters his game in the IGF before it’s done and then decides to delay release for 2 years?" The creator of Monaco discusses the philosophy of one or two buttons in gaming. His answer: None. (NSF People who don't like Penny Arcade.)
Another mind numbing tumblr blog- shit siri says. Apparently Apple Purposely Gave Siri Some Attitude. Here is a cnet demo of siri on youtube.
Did Dropping Acid Make Steve Jobs More Creative? Awkwardly omitted from his many obituaries, Steve Jobs said that "doing LSD was one of the two or three most important things I have done in my life." Was his experience (portrayed in this reenactment) the source of his creativity?
In 1987 Apple predicted a complex language voice assistant built into something called the Apple Knowledge Navigator, a tablet computer. With today's announcement of the refined (and integrated) version of Siri, it appears they were less than a month off.
In a New York Times op-ed called "You Love Your iPhone. Literally." branding consultant Martin Lindstrom says that his fMRI experiments show that iPhone users' brains "responded to the sound of their phones as they would respond to the presence or proximity of a girlfriend, boyfriend or family member ... they loved their iPhones." The piece has drawn intense criticism from neuroscientists, who have called it "complete crap", "terrible, terrible", and "truly hideous".
Mike Daisey, monologuist, author and gadfly, will be streaming the live performance of his 24 hour monologue, All Hours of the Day, from 6 PM PST today until 6 PM PST tomorrow. He remains cagey about what precisely the show is about, but early reports indicate that bacon will be involved. [more inside]
Microsoft announced today that Internet Explorer 10, part of Windows 8 and a massive UI and structural redesign, will come in two flavors: a desktop app that will continue "to fully support all plug-ins and extensions, " and the flagship version intended for touchscreen devices called Metro, which will be as "HTML5-only as possible, and plug-in free". Specifically, Metro won't support Adobe Flash. [more inside]
The Shrine of Apple--a (sill in progress) archive of photos and specs for Apple's complete product history.
Suck on it Applesoft. "Everyone was baffled when Google made those crazy bids for the Nortel patents last month. Remember? They bid things like the distance from the earth to the sun, the number pi, and some other wacky numbers from mathematics." [more inside]
When Brandon left for camp, his last words were, "stay out of my room!" Unfortunately for Brandon, he has the
meanest most awesome family in the entire world. [more inside]