Through my tireless efforts to find new and interesting topics with which to entertain you each week, I happen across lots of patents. Some are absurd, many are dull and dense, but for the most part, the one thing they have in common is that they're nearly impossible to extrapolate.
Still, they make for fascinating reading. At the very least, it's a peek into the Cupertino development process, a rare chance to see what the company is working on between revolutions. For example, in December, Apple was granted a patent for a "Curved touch sensor" that consists of "depositing and patterning a conductive thin film on a flexible substrate to form at least one touch sensor pattern, while the flexible substrate is in a flat state and wherein the flexible substrate is a glass substrate." (Honestly, that was the clearest description I could find.)
Keyboard design isn't something that generally gets a whole lot of attention.
Back when they were our primary input devices, keyboards were mostly viewed as cumbersome necessities, plastic nuisances that extended ungracefully from the backs of our PCs, resting lifelessly on our desktops with little character or personality. Even on laptops, where the keyboard can make or break the design, they were often an afterthought: cheap, flimsy keys crammed into fixed spaces, with little attention paid to how they felt under your fingers or where the optimal position for the mouse might be.
Not too long ago, web apps were the saviors of the new world — rich, universal programs that needed little more than a browser to deliver their power. Steve Jobs believed in them so wholly he nearly bet the entire future of the iPhone on them, telling developers during its launch: "You’ve got everything you need if you know how to write apps using the most modern web standards to write amazing apps for the iPhone today."
And at least one developer still believes that's true.
Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines innovation as the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices or methods. But when we're talking about technology, that definition doesn't quite tell the whole story. It's not just the unveiling of some new or better design--it's making as big a splash as possible before anyone else can even get in the pool.
It was once a relatively slow process. Every few years an exciting new product would come along that indelibly altered the landscape: color televisions, VCRs, Walkmen, iPods. It was given room to grow and evolve until something inevitably better was born out of its influence.
You know, there's a reason why the iPhone is classified as a smartphone.
It's not because it has a touch screen or because it has more features than a flip phone. It has nothing to do with its design or LTE networking or sensors, nor is it because of its 64-bit chip. Quite frankly, it's not because of anything that it does, but rather what it can do — boundless capabilities made possible by hundreds of thousands of native apps, tiny programs running on a dedicated, independent operating system. They don't need any assistance; install them and they just work.
Back in 2007, some people questioned whether the iPhone was truly a smartphone since it lacked this basic ability, but today the term is applied much more loosely. Anything that can be controlled by an iPhone is suddenly a smart this or smart that, and we seem to have forgotten what actually makes these gadgets intelligent.
And that includes all those watches everyone keeps talking about.
After the initial shock of the sweeping design changes that came with iOS 7, many iPhone and iPad users are still trying to adjust. But get this: more changes are on the way. As Cult of Mac reports with a comprehensive gallery of the changes in the third iOS 7 beta, eight new features will likely make significant modifications to the existing look of iOS 7.
It's been quite a year for iOS. Jony Ive's redesign shook things up, but developers once again stole the show, taking the Helvetica Neue Light ball and running with it. From slick, minimal buttons to beautiful fonts and menus, 2013 was the year iOS apps fully matured and finally left its iPhone OS roots behind. So without further ado, here are my favorite designs of the past 12 months.
It's easy to write off 2013 as a year without any real design innovations. The first great smartwatch is going to have to wait till next year — sorry, Samsung and Pebble — and we didn't get a new Apple product that wasn't a riff on a previous one. And Google didn't make any headway with Glass.
But it wasn't a lost year by any stretch. We might not look back on 2013 as the watershed year that 2007 was, but even without a big bang, there were a number of advancements that made us look, touch and think just a little different.
Newspapers and magazines have always been about content, but somewhere along the way it got lost in a sea of flashy graphics and one-your-face advertisements. But the new generations of tablet publications are working hard to strip away the clutter and open up a whole new world of reading on our iPhones and iPads, even if we have to use Newsstand to get to it.
Even more than its trademark lowercase "i," Apple's surnames come with certain expectations. Air implies tremendous lightness and thinness. Mini means small, but not less. And Pro is the absolute cream of the crop, the finest mix of power and performance money can buy.