Jan
24
2014

This Is My #Mac30

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Thirty years ago, Apple introduced the Macintosh with the promise to put the creative power of technology in everyone’s hands. It launched a generation of innovators who continue to change the world. This 30‑year timeline celebrates some of those pioneers and the profound impact they’ve made.  - Apple.com

Here’s my story. In 1994 I was a college-bound high school senior that loved art, especially drawing. I knew I wanted to use my creativity as a career but didn’t know exactly what to do. I remember the day when one of the art supply closets was reconfigured into a small, 3 computer lab. The computers were all Power Macintosh 6100/60s with a System 7 OS — and nothing like I had ever seen before. I cannot recall what art program was on them but they kept drawing my attention every time I went to art class. We got them late in the school year, so I was only able to play around with them as no formal classes were started until the fall — and I was about to graduate. We couldn’t afford anything like that growing up so I thought I was lucky to just have a few weeks to take in that new user experience.

After moving into the dorm for my freshman year in college, we had an Apple computer lab in the building and the Internet was still new and we didn’t know what to do with it besides looking up things we weren’t supposed to – come on, we were all 18 year old boys!. Anyway, we wrote papers on Macs and used search engines such as Webcrawler, Lycos, Go.com, and Infoseek. I didn’t see those machines as the creative machines that I played with in high school; rather, as machines that we were required to use to do homework. But I hadn’t forgotten about what awesome powers they possessed for being creative.

Jump to sophomore year in the fall of 1995. One of my roommates shows up after summer break with a 1993 Apple Color Classic and I realize what a fantastic little machine it was. Not only could I write papers and play simple games, but I could create little pixel drawings and use type! That feeling I had during my senior year art class was back. I finally realized what I wanted to do for a living and I had found my digital, Apple-carved canvas.

In the second semester of my sophomore year, I enrolled in an intro course to Graphic Design and loved/excelled in it. Being able to express my creativity on that new medium felt breathtaking. While taking design classes, I would do some evening computer lab work in the art building up on the third floor where they had a more focused lab used for computer graphics and “digital photography” — it was a new term at the time and people were excited. Along with my graphic design classes, I started a digital photography class and that was where I was first introduced to the Apple QuickTake Camera and Adobe design software. While graphic design taught me history, practice, typography, and what is good layout, digital photography taught me scanning, Photoshop/Illustrator, and basic HTML coding. It was the best of both worlds, really. I was getting my minor in art history as well so it felt like a very balanced approach towards getting my BA in Studio Art with focus on Graphic Design.

After graduating college in August of 1998, I knew I had to go into debt and buy the original Bondi Blue iMac. I loved the machine: an entire PC, wrapped in a space age color casing that wasn’t beige? Who wouldn’t want one? I used it for some small freelance work, Internet, and gaming. Soon after, I started my job as a graphic designer for a daily newspaper and worked on Macs every day. We had Quadras, PowerPCs that evolved into G3/G5/G5 towers and iMacs in the nine years I worked there. Not only did I have the design background but I now had the technical knowledge of how those machines worked as our IT admin only knew Windows so I was not only the Graphic Design Supervisor, I was also the Mac admin. In 2002 I added a Titanium Powerbook G4 – one of my favorite Macs of all time — then bought a Power Mac G5 Dual Processor in 2004.

In 2007, I completed the full circle and purchased another 24″ aluminum iMac, but this time a much larger and faster version. After almost 7 long years, the longest I’ve ever had a computer, the hard drive died just weeks ago. Rather than sell this (still) awesome piece of computing history, I’m going to give it a new hard drive and a second chance on life, much like Steve Jobs gave Apple one when he returned in 1997.

Apple has been such a big influence in my professional life and personal life. With devices like iPods, iPhones, and iPads, Apple has truly changed how their users have evolved and who they are today. It’s amazing how at one time a computer took up an entire room and now it easily fits in our pocket. The old saying is right,“the Apple (user) doesn’t fall far from the tree”. This is my #Mac30.

Jan
24
2014

Mac

To celebrate 30 years since the introduction of the original Macintosh (January 24, 1984), Apple has launched a special webpage and released a commemorative video focused on the impact that the Mac had on modern technology.

Thirty years ago, Apple introduced the Macintosh with the promise to put the creative power of technology in everyone’s hands. It launched a generation of innovators who continue to change the world. This 30‑year timeline celebrates some of those pioneers and the profound impact they’ve made.

In the video, Apple shows musicians, designers, photographers, teachers, scientists, and other users who, with the Mac, have been able to be more creative, more productive, and more satisfied with computers thanks to the Mac's constant evolution and refinement. In an interview with Macworld published yesterday, Apple's Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi shared their thoughts on rumors of “convergence” of iOS and OS X and stated how, because of its nature and design, the Mac “keeps going forever”.

Apple's special 30 Years site features beautiful photography and special icons for old Macintosh models displayed in a scrollable timeline at the bottom. Each Mac model has an associated story of how it was used – for instance, Apple talked to Moby, the Miller brothers (creators of Myst), and educators, among others, about the role that the Mac had in their lives.

Apple's mini-site focuses on people and their stories rather than computer specs. In the timeline, the only product-only preview photos are the original Macintosh (where there are photos of Jobs and part of the original Macintosh team) from 1984 and the latest Mac Pro, displayed in 2014 (even though it was technically released in 2013). Apple is also allowing readers to answer questions to a poll about their first Mac, with results displayed in each model's page under a “What people did with it” section. Unsurprisingly, Apple chose to celebrate human creativity instead of advancements in technology, which has been a common theme in the company's campaigns lately. The 30 Years site is exceptionally well done.

As reported by 9to5Mac, Apple is also celebrating 30 Years of Mac with special window displays at its retail stores. As part of Apple's press tour for the Mac's anniversary, ABC's David Muir interviewed Tim Cook, Craig Federighi, and Bud Tribble; the full interview will air tonight, and a first excerpt is available here.

Apple PR:

Apple today announced that customers spent over $10 billion on the App Store in 2013, including over $1 billion in December alone. App Store customers downloaded almost three billion apps in December making it the most successful month in App Store history. Apple’s incredible developers have now earned $15 billion on the App Store.

In the press release, Eddy Cue calls it “the best year ever for the App Store”. Apple said that developers updated their apps for iOS to bring “content to the forefront while increasing the overall efficiency and performance of their apps” and it notes that several hits of the year were created by developers outside the US. In terms of numbers, Apple confirms that over a million apps are available on the App Store, with 500,000 made for iPad.

Dec
17
2013

Last night, Apple published its annual “Best of iTunes” list, which includes editorial picks for the best releases in music, movies, TV shows, apps, books, and podcasts of 2013. The special page, featured across the entire iTunes Store, can be viewed here.

For apps, as in previous years Apple has picked apps and games of the year, runner-ups, and other notable app releases of the year. The App Store category is organized in iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps; this year, Apple has included sub-sections as “Trends”, listing apps belonging to popular categories such as photo editing, productivity, and multiplayer games.

On iOS, Apple has picked Duolingo and Ridiculous Fishing as app and game of the year for iPhone, and Disney Animated and BADLAND on the iPad. For the Mac, Apple has chosen Wunderlist and XCOM: Enemy Unknown as app and game of the year; on the Mac App Store, Apple hasn’t included Trends, opting for a simpler “best apps” and “best games” organization.

Last year, Apple picked Day One and Deus Ex: Human Revolution as winners for the Mac; Paper and The Room for the iPad; and Action Movie FX and Rayman Jungle Run for the iPhone.

We have compiled the full list of apps below.

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As in previous years, Apple has released a free “12 Days of Gifts” app for iPhone and iPad owners that will give them access to exclusive offers for free content on the iTunes Store. This year, the app is available for US customers as well, although Apple notes that not all content will be available in all countries; the promotion will run from December 26 to January 6, 2014.

From 26 December – 6 January, you can download a gift each day—songs, apps, books, movies, and more—with the 12 Days of Gifts app. Each day’s gift will only be available for 24 hours, so download the free app to make sure you don’t miss out.

Right now, the app comes with a countdown that shows how many days are left until the first free item becomes available; upon first launch, you’ll be asked to accept push notifications (to be notified when offers are released) and to confirm the country for your iTunes Store’s Apple ID.

The app has an animated background reminiscent of iOS 7′s dynamic wallpapers, and there is a built-in FAQ to learn more about downloads. Apple has also included an “Add To Calendar” button in the share sheet: tapping this button will create a recurring all-day event in your default calendar to remember to download the daily gift for every day of the promotion.

You can download the app here.

Maureen Farell has a list of all the companies that Apple acquired in 2013 (that we know about). Cue is the most interesting one to me – I used to be a Greplin user before it became Cue and those guys knew how to contextualize data from various sources, which would be great for Siri and Notification Center's Today view. The lack of European location startups is curious.

The Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc. has acquired social-media analytics firm Topsy Labs Inc. for more than $200 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

Of all the acquisitions that Apple did in 2013, this is one of the most interesting ones to me. Topsy was capable of analyzing trends in tweets and it was one of the few official Twitter partners with access to the full Twitter firehose (including all tweets starting from 2006).

There are many possibilities opened by this kind of access and technology. At TechCrunch, Matthew Panzarino imagines that Topsy's technology could be useful to improve Twitter search tools built into Siri:

There is also a slim possibility that Apple may want to use Topsy's stored trends data and firehose access to improve Siri search. It could provide Siri with a reliable way to present people with trending topics and search results according to Twitter when queried.

As Panzarino also speculates, however, I believe that there's real potential in Twitter analysis algorithms used to augment iTunes and App Store discovery for media, and especially apps. Imagine being able to determine in (almost) real-time the kind of buzz that an app is getting by analyzing tweets sent by humans (not bots or websites) about a new app release. I've written about this before, and smaller third-party companies have already tried to provide their own layer of App Store discovery tools by triangulating signals from App Store charts, online reviews, and social networks.

And, of course, there's the TV rumor: Twitter has become the de-facto destination for real-time TV commentary by millions of watchers, with the company going as far as surveying a subset of users about live TV viewing habits in their latest iOS app update. Topsy's firehose access and algorithms could have endless potential for Apple's rumored television plans.

As John Gruber notes, it is a curious acquisition. Apple may have bought Topsy for its team or technology or patents, but the fact that Topsy was highly specialized in Twitter tools and that Apple already has native Twitter integration in iOS and OS X creates several interesting scenarios. Although, as we've seen with the Chomp acquisition, this kind of changes can take a long time.

Nov
4
2013

Remote

Earlier today, Apple released an update to the official Remote app for iPhone and iPad that brings an iOS 7 redesign and support for the latest version of iTunes. While I wouldn't consider myself a heavy user of Remote, I like to keep it on my iPhone for those times when I have friends over for dinner and my MacBook is playing music in the background. The new app doesn't come with groundbreaking new features but it's got some iOS 7 design decisions worth pointing out.

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Tim Cook:

In terms of new product categories, specifically, if you look at the skills that Apple has from hardware, software, and services, and an incredible app ecosystem, these set of things is very, very unique, I think no one has a set of skills like this, and we obviously believe that we can use our skills in building other great products that are in categories that represent areas where we do not participate today. So we’re pretty confident about that.