Here we go again. The clouds part, and another iPhone descends from the heavens.
What mystical secrets will be written on the device’s extra-large, 640-by-1,136-pixel Retina display? Will there be earthshaking new features? Will it contain the answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything?
Not likely. Apple has entered a new phase in the evolution of its iPhone line, and you can pretty much forget about radical reinventions from now on.
The iPhone is now a mature product, and as with many mature products, the chief innovations will interest chief financial officers more than tech reporters like me: Expanding to new international markets and new carriers. Reducing dependence on sometimes-antagonistic partners like Google and Samsung. Marginal improvements to major features. Enough new features to maintain parity with chief competitors. And a few nifty extras, like rainbow colors (my favorite speculative iPhone 5 concept), to keep customers feeling special.
At this point, Apple has settled into its favorite spot: A comfortable No. 2. That’s because the company has always prioritized profits over market share and is happy to cede the latter as long as it can hang on to the former.
As everyone knows by now, iPhones and iPads are built in huge Chinese manufacturing plants where tens of thousands of people work 12-hour shifts for little money, have little privacy, and are exposed to toxic chemicals and unsafe conditions every day. We’ve been hearing similar stories across other industries for years, but this one’s on us — the tech community.
That’s right — all of us. It’s not just Apple. Motorola (whose acquisition by Google got a green light this week) and Nokia are doing it. Toshiba, HP, Dell, and Sony all use factories the New York Times reports as “bleak.”
It’s virtually guaranteed that behind every gadget stands an army of underpaid workers and polluting factories.
In Star Trek IV, Scotty picks up a computer mouse and speaks into it, trying to get the machine’s attention. “Computer! Computer!” When nothing happens, someone tells him to use the keyboard. “How quaint,” is his bemused response.
You might feel the same way in 10 years, if someone hands you a computer without a voice interface. That’s because we’re on the verge of an explosion in interactive, interpretive computer voice control.
“The technology is just beginning,” said Norman Winarsky, the head of the venture arm of SRI, a legendary Silicon Valley think tank. “This is real artificial intelligence and real technology.”
Steve Jobs, the cofounder and former chief executive of Apple, has died. He was 56.
Jobs was a visionary leader who, more than any other single person, reshaped the face of consumer technology.
He was often quoted as saying “we’re here to put a dent in the universe.” He did exactly that.
From his earliest computers, co-developed with Steve Wozniak, to the smartphones and tablets that his company developed, Jobs showed a singleminded dedication to building products that were easier to use, better-looking and more intuitively useful than what had gone before.
He liked to say that Apple’s products were “magical,” and if that’s the case, he was the marketing and technology magician behind the curtain.
And if they weren’t exactly magic, Apple’s products were certainly a sufficiently advanced technology.
Apple fans who expected an iPhone 5 today were disappointed.
Instead, all Apple unveiled was a phone that’s 2 times faster, with 7 times faster graphics rendering. It’s got a battery that’s good for a full day of talking, almost, and more than 3 solid days of listening to music. The camera is substantially improved, with a faster, f2.4 lens and an 8 megapixel sensor, and it records 1080p HD video. It’s a worldphone, meaning it will work on just about any cellular network around the world, both CDMA and GSM.
Oh, and you can talk to your phone, and it will answer your questions, thanks to a new feature called Siri.
The list of iconic designs Steve Jobs made possible is long. But his most brilliant and ambitious design may be Apple itself.
Jobs, who announced his resignation as Apple’s CEO yesterday, is rightly hailed as one of the most design-savvy executives in the electronics industry. He’s also an impressive architect of business structures.
In the coming years, with Jobs out of the leadership role, we’ll see just how well-designed the company he spent 15 years assembling really is. My guess is that it’s very well put together indeed.
Jobs has been working on this “product,” Apple Inc., for a long time.
An iPhone floats in front of the space station's cupola, in this rendering by Odyssey Space Research.
When the final space shuttle mission launches later this year, two iPhone 4s will be on board.
The iPhones will be running an experimental app called SpaceLab for iOS, designed by Odyssey Space Research. Once the space shuttle Atlantis docks with the International Space Station, crew members will use the iPhones to conduct four experiments, using the iPhones’ cameras, gyroscopes, and other sensors.
Newly-approved Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan is a Kindle user, while longtime conservative Justice Antonin Scalia wields an iPad.
This nugget of information appeared in a recent video clip on C-SPAN. Both justices use the devices (plus hard copy printouts) to read the vast quantities of written material they must wade through — up to 40 or 50 briefs for each case, Kagan says in the video above.
The news, however, made us wonder about something of far more pressing national importance: Is this a deep ideological divide on the Supreme Court?
Would Scalia see things differently if he read opinions on the monochrome Kindle? Does Kagan need a dose of iPad color, and maybe a round or two of Flight Control HD between court sessions?
Are Kindle-wielding Justices writing angry “Mactard” and “fanboi” comments on the opinions of their opponents, while the Mac-loving faction refuses to talk or even think about anything that wasn’t designed in Cupertino?