MacStories Reading List: January 22 – January 29

Another week gone by, another Reading List collection of great articles we’ve found around the web in the past seven days. This week saw the release of Apple’s Q1 2012 results, with an impressive 37 million iPhones sold and over $40 billion in revenue for the quarter. Interesting discussions, however, are still happening around iBooks Author, textbooks, and publishing tools. Not to mention The New York Times’ articles detailing Apple’s supply chain in China, and the experience of an Android user trying an iPhone for two weeks.

It’s time for another Reading List, so curl up with your favorite browser or read-later app, and enjoy the links we’ve collected for you.

Matt Gemmell shares some cool ideas about what could be built with iBooks 2.0 besides textbooks. A personal favorite: HTML5 tutorials.

Earlier today I posted a list of fifteen suggestions, and received a few more in response, and thought I’d write up that list to hopefully inspire potential authors and even traditional publishers.

iBooks Ideas, Matt Gemmell (@mattgemmell)

Michael E. Cohen has a different take on Apple’s iBooks Author coming from an educational background with years of experience. A good read.

I spent more than a quarter of a century in the thick of educational software development and interactive multimedia production, under the aegis of both educational institutions and publishing companies. Most of those for whom I developed such materials claimed the same magical pedagogical powers for the stuff on which I worked that Apple claimed for iBooks Author last week. Then, as now, it was over-reaching marketing nonsense. But most marketing is just that: over-reaching nonsense.

- Why iBooks Author is a Big Deal, Michael E. Cohen (@ lymond)

If you’re designing the next great iPhone app, you might want to take a look at Ken’s breakdown of a popular navigation element these days, slide-out panes.

With the launch of Facebook for iPad, Facebook has again introduced a new mobile pattern for navigation and this time they’ve created something simpler and more elegant: slide-out navigation. More significantly, this pattern has quickly gained traction and is now being used by more than several notable iOS apps.

- New iOS Design Pattern: Slide-out Navigation, Ken Yarmosh (@kenyarmosh)

Michael Gartenberg’s column over at Macworld illustrates how app curation historically takes over raw numbers.

It’s good to have content for a platform. A platform that lacks diverse and interesting content is doomed to fail. But even going to back to game consoles, in the post-Atari 2600 world most game platforms simply don’t let just anyone make games for their consoles. Third parties need to get their content approved. It was a way to make sure there wouldn’t be a glut of mediocrity killing the platform.

- It’s not about the numbers, it’s about quality, Michael Gartenberg (@gartenberg)

A fantastic piece by The New York Times on Apple’s (and many others’) decision to manufacture its devices and computers in China, rather than the United States.

In 2007, a little over a month before the iPhone was scheduled to appear in stores, Mr. Jobs beckoned a handful of lieutenants into an office. For weeks, he had been carrying a prototype of the device in his pocket.

Mr. Jobs angrily held up his iPhone, angling it so everyone could see the dozens of tiny scratches marring its plastic screen, according to someone who attended the meeting. He then pulled his keys from his jeans.

People will carry this phone in their pocket, he said. People also carry their keys in their pocket. “I won’t sell a product that gets scratched,” he said tensely. The only solution was using unscratchable glass instead. “I want a glass screen, and I want it perfect in six weeks.”

After one executive left that meeting, he booked a flight to Shenzhen, China. If Mr. Jobs wanted perfect, there was nowhere else to go.

How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work, Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher (@cduhigg and @KeithBradsher)

Charles Duhigg and David Barboza follow up on the above NYTimes piece, this time looking at the problem from the workers’ perspective. An interesting piece that saw an email response from Tim Cook to Apple’s employees.

In the last decade, Apple has become one of the mightiest, richest and most successful companies in the world, in part by mastering global manufacturing. Apple and its high-technology peers — as well as dozens of other American industries — have achieved a pace of innovation nearly unmatched in modern history.

However, the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious — sometimes deadly — safety problems.

- In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad, Charles Duhigg and David Barboza (@cduhigg and @davidbarboza2)

Dr. Drang takes a look at iBooks Author and how it could be possible to automate the process of creating ebooks with it.

I might want to make an iBook one day, but I can’t imagine myself writing an entire book as a single “file” (it’s not a single file, but it looks like one in iBooks Author) in an environment like a word processor or page layout program. I gave up working in a word processor ages ago and have no intention of going back, but even if you like using word processors, you wouldn’t put a whole book in a single file, would you?

- iBooks Author, Dr. Drang (@drdrang)

An Android user gets to use an iPhone as his main device for two weeks and reports back. In the end he chooses Android, and the perspective is really interesting.

To be completely fair – I don’t have the iPhone 4S (so I haven’t played with Siri), I haven’t really used iCloud at all, and the advantages in UI quality and battery life are a big deal. So unlike some of the extremists out there who can’t understand why someone would pick iOS/Android, I can see the appeal of “the other side.” But after using the iPhone 4 for two weeks and after seeing some of the improvements in my Xoom from Ice Cream Sandwich, I can safely say that unless the iPhone 5 (or whatever comes after the 4S) brings with it a huge change, I will be buying another Android device next.

- A “Fandroid” Forced to Use an iPhone 4 for Two Weeks, Benjamin Tseng (@BenjaminTseng)

C.Y. Reid speaks clearly about the real advantages of iBooks Author, and publishing for digital platforms.

You are not losing your work to Apple. What is wrong with people? Did you seriously think, off the bat, that this is something Apple would gamble with? Taking Amazon’s reach and market share into account, this sounds even more stupid than it did before. You keep your goddamn prose, you’re just allowing them to be the only person to sell the iBook file! What other platform were you planning to run an ebook with widgets and HTML5 on, your wristwatch?

In Favour of iBook Author, C.Y. Reid (@ReidFeed)

A detailed look at Course Manager in the new iTunes U app by Brad Larson.

iTunes U has proven to be an excellent way of disseminating educational content with its existing video, audio, and document collections, but the new iTunes U courses shown last week make the service a lot more valuable. These new courses are enabled by the free iTunes U application for all iOS 5.0 devices (unfortunately, a lot of the functionality is not yet available in desktop iTunes). The iTunes U courses provide better organization of material related to specific classes, class notes and status changes that sync across multiple devices, and facilities for updating classes with assignments and announcements.

My experience with the new iTunes U Course Manager, Brad Larson (@bradlarson)

Another great post on Macworld|iWorld 2012, and what it means to not only getting to attend sessions and tech talks, but to meet the people behind the apps we use and the blogs we read as well.

So, yeah, the talks were fun and everything, but the real reason I came to San Francisco (and the reason I’ll be back) is the hands I was finally able to shake.

- Macworld 2012 — Thoughts, Reflections, Reactions, Brett Kelly (@inkedmn)

MacRumors’ Eric Slivka comments on the controversial topic of attribution on the web, and why it matters to link “to the other guy” on your website.

The politics and competitiveness of the Apple news and rumor world and broader tech universe certainly aren’t unique, but any failure to attribute to the best of our abilities is a disservice to our readers. Nobody gets all the scoops, and sometimes most of the time it’s fine to give a tip of the hat to the “other guy”.

Show some respect, and you just might get some in return. And even if you don’t, perhaps you’ll sleep better at night (or during the day or in small catnaps scattered around the clock). Given our line of work, good sleep is frequently a precious commodity.

- On Attribution, Eric Slivka (@wildcowboy)

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