Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Ten Years of Apple on One Page

Benjamin Mayo:

Apple entered the 2010s just as the iPhone began to explode in popularity. The iPhone became the most successful consumer product, ever. Sales surged for another five years and still make up a majority of Apple’s revenues.


In an on-stage interview a couple months after the iPad was released, Jobs told Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher his vision of the future of the computer industry, comparing PCs to ‘specialist’ trucks and iPads to mainstream cars.


The first-generation MacBook Air was sleek but slow and expensive. Apple’s second stab at the ultrabook was a huge success.


iCloud is now a foundational feature across all of Apple’s platforms but it didn’t start to become a thing until 2011 with iOS 5.


Apple brought Retina to the iPhone in 2010 but it took another two years for the high-density screens to make their way to the iPad and the Mac.


The culmination of Jobs demise, Forstall’s ousting and Ive’s new found mandate over all of Apple human interface resulted in iOS 7. Apple redesigned the entire aesthetic of its mobile operating system in about eight months.


Swift debuted with big ambitions to be a universal programming language spanning app development to low-level systems programming, with expressive syntax and more safety guarantees than Objective-C could provide, whilst also pushing for bare metal performance and efficiency goals.


The 15-inch MacBook Pro was the straw that broke the camel’s back, as far as Apple’s alignment with the professional market. It would begin to rectify the relationship and appeal of its pro products in 2017 but a ‘truly great’ MacBook Pro would not be available for another three years.


As a financial event, this would just be an amusing statistic of history but of course this result had ramifications on Apple’s product plans. Apple doubled down on Services initiatives as a way to show investors underlying long-term growth potential in its business.

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> "whilst also pushing for bare metal performance"

How is Swift doing in this area?

This is way too glowing of a summary for Swift. Let's try:

Swift debuted and stayed in beta for 5 years, constantly introducing churn and slowing app devs. Coincidentally, same can be said of most iOS/macOS releases during that time. Swift remains an over-complicated mess to this day. Objective C without the C was a lie.

"Eschewing physical hard drives, the MacBook Air’s iconic taper design was achieved by going all in on solid state storage. The SSDs were soldered directly onto the logic board, which was bad for repairability but good for miniaturization. In the following years, all of Apple’s laptops adopted the soldered SSD approach."

This is not correct, none of the Macbook Airs until the Retina redesign had SSD storage soldered to the logic board, they were all removable. That, along with the better keyboard, made them still a good alternative to the redesigned Retina Air. (Also, the 11" Airs are nice little machines and highly underrated.) Even the Macbook Pro didn't switch to soldered SSD storage until 2016.

"Much of the fanfare around the Retina MacBook Air in 2018 originated from the fact it had kept so many elements from the 2010 iteration."

I just don't understand how or why anyone would make that statement. If you ask me, the 2018 Air has more in common with the 2016 Macbook than the 2017 Air. From the keyboard, to the display, to the lack of useful ports, to the lack of an adequate cooling mechanism. The previous 7 years of Airs were all literally identical from the outside (aside from the microphone holes, anyway).

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