Like last year, Apple started this year's WWDC keynote with a clever video. But this time it wasn't a cheap shot at Android or a silly swipe at Samsung. It was a peek into Apple's design philosophy, a beautifully crafted response to anyone who has been questioning its commitment to innovation:
"If everyone is busy making everything, how can anyone perfect anything? We start to confuse convenience with joy, abundance with choice. Designing something requires focus. The first thing we ask is, what do we want people to feel? Delight. Surprise. Love. Connection. Then we begin to craft around our intention. It takes time ... there are a thousand no's for every yes. We simplify. We perfect. We start over. Until every thing we touch enhances each life it touches. Only then do we sign our work: Designed by Apple in California."
It was barely a minute, but it stuck with me throughout the two hours of pomp and circumstance that followed. Apple hasn't been dragging its heels or taking its eye off the ball. On the contrary, it's more focused than it's ever been.
The days leading up to Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference are always a frenzied affair, a bundled mass of nerves and anticipation filled with rumors, spy shots and black-draped banners. It's only natural to expect big things from this year's keynote, but like any Apple event, people are sure to be disappointed. So before the big day arrives, I thought I'd help temper expectations a bit by breaking down the odds — with an emphasis on design, of course.
As I was following the stream of Google I/O updates on my Twitter timeline last week, one thought kept popping into my head: Apple could never get away with this.
I'm not saying it wasn't interesting. Over the course of three hours, Google showcased its new Hangouts app and Google Play Music All Access service, some exciting developer tools and major updates to Maps, Chrome and Now, but anyone expecting a repeat of last year's show was sorely disappointed.
Ever since iTunes was introduced in 2001, Apple has continued to tinker with it, updating how it works and how you access and play music. iTunes 11 has introduced some interesting new interface components, but simplicity and elegance within iTunes are only skin-deep. The app remains a complex, frequently unwieldy beast, primarily because it now has to deal with managing all kinds of media on your Mac, including books, TV shows, movies, and apps. At best, you can sometimes hide the clutter, but iTunes is no longer an app with a razor-sharp focus.
The purpose of this group test, then, is to explore alternative apps that focus on the single act of playing music.
There's something of an innovation lull in smartphone design. While certainly a nice improvement over the 4S, the iPhone 5's 4-inch screen and panoramic camera are hardly breaking any new ground. The Samsung Galaxy S4 learned a few new parlor tricks, but for the most part it's just a faster and slightly larger S3. And for all its accolades, the HTC One's claim to fame is that it's not made of plastic.
It's like deja vu all over again. This fall, Apple and Samsung will return to the courtroom battlefield to argue about the same issues they've been arguing about for years. In fact, both companies will only be permitted to discuss exactly the same issues as a previously settled case. Well, mostly settled. Read on, we'll explain.
Nearly four months into 2013, Apple finally designed something new and interesting. And as usual, people can't stop staring at it. The Worldwide Developers Conference logo isn't usually something to get too excited about, but this year is a little different. Not only has WWDC become Apple's biggest event of the year, in all likelihood, this year's keynote is going to bring the first bona fide update to Apple.com since last October.
Perhaps we've all been a little too spoiled by iOS.
Our iPhones are filled with gorgeous, hand-crafted apps that give us years of refinements and upgrades for less than the cost of a latte. We expect every interface to be refined and elegant without giving much thought to the time or energy that goes into it; and thanks to the relative ease of developing for iOS and its multitude of users, developers can mostly afford to do so.
So, maybe you're thinking of buying a brand new iMac. Obviously, it's a powerful machine capable of editing high-definition video and running a multitude of professional design programs, but even the most determined creative mind needs a break once in a while. And when we think of unwinding, our thoughts quickly turn to videogames — so we decided to check out how the new Late 2012 27-inch iMac handles some of today's biggest Mac-compatible titles.
Now that the booths have been broken down, the awards have been handed out and the last bit of per diem has been fed into a slot machine at McCarran International Airport, there's a general sense that something was missing from CES. Somehow, among the thousands of exhibitors, products and prototypes, the biggest splash was a television that few consumers could afford and a keynote presentation that the greatest minds in tech journalism are still trying to figure out.