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Apple Park Design Detailed by Jony Ive for WSJ

Credit: Mikael Jansson for WSJ.

Credit: Mikael Jansson for WSJ.

Christina Passariello published a feature story for The Wall Street Journal today titled, “How Jony Ive Masterminded Apple’s New Headquarters.” It contains many new details about Apple Park, all framed in the context of an interview with its chief designer, Jony Ive.

Regarding the question of which Apple employees will occupy the main building of Apple Park, Passariello comments on a diagram outlining the locations of each division inside the four-story headquarters:

The fourth floor will be home to the executive suites (including Ive’s design studio), the watch team and part of the group working on Siri, which will also occupy a fraction of the third floor. The Mac and iPad divisions will be interspersed with software teams on the middle levels.

One of the primary themes behind the campus mentioned by Ive is that of collaboration, creating natural places for employees to meet together – whether formally or informally. Among those places is the massive main cafeteria; “Ive imagines it as a central meeting point...leading to the kinds of serendipitous encounters that could give birth to new ideas.” Unlike many other major tech companies, the cafeteria’s food will not be free, but it will be partly subsidized.

The inner ring of the building, referred to by Ive as “the parkland,” will serve as a place to get some fresh air and have chance encounters with coworkers, but it will also host more official gatherings like the company’s weekly Friday afternoon “beer bashes” that often include featured entertainment. And in addition to making for a nice work and play environment, many of the parkland’s numerous trees will also serve a functional purpose of being “regularly harvested to provide fruit for the campus kitchen.”

The Steve Jobs Theater’s main public-facing purpose will be to host new product keynote events, but Apple will be using it for a variety of company-only functions as well, including “seminar talks, small concerts and meetings with Cook or Ive that will be simulcast to every pod on campus.”

Ive and his design team are not yet working at Apple Park; they’re scheduled to move in within the next few months as one of the last teams moving. Therefore it appears that by the end of fall, Apple Park should be up and running as home to all its planned employees.


Cochlear Launches First Made for iPhone Hearing Implant

Today Cochlear introduced a new cochlear implant sound processor that serves as the first such device directly compatible with iOS devices. The company’s press release states:

With the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor, people with a Cochlear Nucleus Implant can now stream sound directly from a compatible iPhone, iPad and iPod touch directly to their sound processor. They will also be able to control, monitor and customize their hearing on their iPhone or iPod touch through the Nucleus® Smart App available to download for free from the App Store®.

The Nucleus Smart app also includes a feature resembling Apple’s ‘Find My iPhone’ called ‘Find My Processor.’ Especially helpful for children who may be more prone to losing their sound processor, this feature employs an iPhone’s built-in location services to determine the last place the processor was connected to its paired iPhone.

Sarah Buhr of TechCrunch notes that today’s announcement is the fruit of a lengthy period of research and development within Apple in response to the growing issue of hearing loss.

Apple...has spent a number of years developing a hearing aid program within the company. Apple soon developed a protocol the company offered for free for hearing aid and implant manufacturers to use with their devices.


Streaks 3 Review

Streaks helps you set personal goals and stick them using a combination of reminders and tracking. One of the hallmarks of the app, and what undoubtedly won it an Apple Design Award in 2016, is its obsessive attention to ease-of-use. By the very nature of its mission, Streaks is an app in which you shouldn’t spend a lot of time. Whether it’s in the main app, widget, or Apple Watch app, Streaks is designed to remove the friction of turning goals into habits by tracking tasks in a way that doesn’t become tedious, which makes it important to be able to mark items as completed quickly and easily.

It’s been interesting to watch Streaks evolve. As Streaks has added functionality and customization options with each version, the simplicity of its design has remained the app’s core design principle. One of the apps most opinionated design decisions from the start was to limit users to tracking just six goals. Limiting the number of goals was meant to constrain users to an achievable number of goals and helped reduce complexity.

When I heard that Streaks was doubling the number of goals that can be tracked and adding in-depth statistics and other customizations, I immediately wondered whether that could be pulled off while maintaining Streaks’ signature design. The answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ Version 3.0 of Streaks not only remains true to its roots, but it’s also the best version of the app yet.

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Connected, Episode 152: British Man in a Van with a MacBook

Stephen tries to help Myke with his laptop as The Rock is having a great day with Siri. Then, Federico breaks down Siri changes coming this fall.

On this week’s Connected, we talk about Siri – both as an assistant for The Rock and in terms of what’s coming with iOS 11. You can listen here.

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Adobe Flash’s Days Are Officially Numbered

Adobe announced today that it has set the end-of-life date for Flash, its popular technology for displaying animations and other multimedia on the web.

Adobe is planning to end-of-life Flash. Specifically, we will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to these new open formats.

Apple has a long and storied history with Adobe and, more pointedly, Flash. When the first iPhone launched ten years ago, one of the chief controversies at the time surrounded the fact that Safari on iPhone OS did not support Flash, and Steve Jobs made it clear that it would not support Flash.

This stance grew into more of a sticking point for prospective consumers in 2010 when Apple’s new tablet, the iPad, did not support Flash either. Sparked by the newly revised controversy, Jobs laid out his thoughts on the issue in a piece simply titled “Thoughts on Flash.” His closing words predicted the technology could not survive in an increasingly mobile-first landscape.

Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice...New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.


Mailbutler – To Increase Your Email Productivity [Sponsor]

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Mailbutler is just as effective at managing messages you receive. When you need to focus on your work, you can pause your inbox until you are ready to deal with it. Mailbutler also makes unsubscribing from unwanted email much faster than hunting for that tiny ‘unsubscribe’ link buried at the bottom of a message. As you process messages, Mailbutler can even turn them into tasks or Evernote or OneNote notes, which is a more effective way to handle actionable and reference items than letting them sit in your inbox.

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Our thanks to Mailbutler for sponsoring MacStories this week.

Siri Featured in Apple Ad Starring The Rock

Apple released an advertisement showcasing Siri starring former pro-wrestler turned film star, Dwayne (‘The Rock’) Johnson. Teased yesterday by Johnson on Twitter and Facebook, the video, posted to Apple’s YouTube channel, features Johnson accomplishing a long list of life goals with the help of Siri during a single day. The tongue-in-cheek spot highlights several Siri features such as:

  • reading Johnson’s schedule;
  • creating a reminder;
  • scheduling a Lyft ride;
  • getting the weather forecast;
  • reading email;
  • displaying photos;
  • texting someone;
  • converting measurements;
  • playing a playlist;
  • starting a FaceTime call; and
  • taking a selfie.

The Siri ad is a clever and entertaining way of explaining the breadth of tasks that can be accomplished with Siri, from the basics like weather forecasts to less well-known features like taking a selfie.