Stephen Hackett

17 posts on MacStories since November 2016

Stephen is the co-founder of Relay FM, where he hosts several podcasts. He also writes the blog 512 Pixels and shares a home office with way too many old Macs. He's been covering Apple since 2008 and has a dogcow tattoo on his right ankle.


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The Initial iPhone SDK

None of these apps were built by third party developers.

None of these apps were built by third party developers.

As noted by Craig Hockenberry, it has been a full decade since Apple shipped the first version of the iPhone SDK to developers.

It's hard to remember today that, in the beginning, the iPhone didn't have third-party apps. It came with a handful of built-in apps written by Apple for things like checking stocks and the weather, jotting down quick notes, making calendar events and reviewing contact information.

These apps were, for the most part, self-contained. The rich environment we enjoy on iOS today where apps can share lots of data with each other just wasn't present in 2007.

The outlier in this paradigm was Safari, which put the Internet — or at least the parts that didn't require Flash — in the palm of our hands.

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A History of the Xserve: Apple’s One Rack Wonder

Within the next few months, macOS Server as we know it today will be going away, with many of its services being deprecated. Things like hosting calendars, contacts, email and wikis are going away as Apple focuses the product on "management of computers, devices, and storage on your network."

This shouldn't come as a surprise. macOS Server has been languishing for years, with many of its most common features being integrated into the mainstream version of macOS.

For fans of macOS Server, this just another in a long string of disappointments over the years. But none of them were as big as the cancellation of the Xserve, Apple's rack-mountable 1U server, back in January 2011.

Remember this thing? Not many do.

Remember this thing? Not many do.

Running the risk of reopening old wounds, let's look back at this unusual product and its nine year lifespan.

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The MacBook Air: A Decade’s Worth of Legacy

Today, all of our notebooks are thin and light. We've traded our optical drives in for a series of dongles and our spinning hard drives for fast, silent SSDs.

It wasn't always like this. Once upon a time, notebooks had optical drives and a full array of ports, complemented by features like removable batteries.

A decade ago, we entered the current era of notebook design when Steve Jobs pulled the future out of an envelope.

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The Lisa

When thinking about the earliest days of Apple, it's easy to recall the Apple I, the Apple II line and the Macintosh. However, there's one more computer that defined Apple's early years. This computer was ground-breaking but incredibly expensive, and exposed many things wrong within Apple itself.

The Lisa launched 35 years ago next month. Today, it is mostly considered as a precursor to Mac. While that is true, it doesn't come close to doing this computer justice.

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The Original Apple TV: Ushering in a New Era of Entertainment

Today's Apple TV is its own full-fledged platform. While it is more expensive and less popular than other some other media streamers, the Apple TV has come into its own. The current device can stream 4K HDR content, play games and even be used as a calculator.

The original Apple TV didn't enjoy such a wide feature set, and it wasn't treated as a full-blown product by the company, which repeatedly talked about it as a "hobby."

To understand that attitude, I think it's important to go back to when Steve Jobs first previewed the device in September 2006.

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Going Out on Top: The iPod mini

Very often in life, we see things like products, athletic careers and even relationships end way later than they should. When this happens, sometimes the end goes unnoticed and with little fanfare.

Occasionally, things end on a high note, like when an athlete announces their retirement after winning a championship or a band calls it quits after a massive album and tour.

In the world of Apple products, the iPod mini is an example of the latter. It's perhaps the best example of Apple killing one of its darlings.

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Reliving that Snow Leopard Magic

Enthusiasts of all types always have that one special obsession. For muscle car people, maybe it's one particular year of Ford Mustang. Photographers always have a favorite lens, while baseball players may have a favored bat or glove.

Ask almost any macOS fan, and they'll tell you that Snow Leopard is their favorite version of all time.

There are a bunch of good reasons for that, beyond pure nostalgia.

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HomePod Follows in iPhone 4’s Steps

The HomePod firmware that was accidentally posted last month by an Apple employee has led to a wealth of knowledge about Apple's upcoming iPhone.

Most leaks in recent years have come from Apple's expansive supply chain. A rear shell here and a camera component there slowly fill in the details about unreleased hardware. It's a slow process normally, but one the rumor cycle has become accustomed to over the years.

The HomePod is obviously different. While the accidental leak contained just software, inside its depths were details about all sorts of unannounced features. Developers even found icons depicting the next-generation iPhone.


This isn't the first time that Apple has leaked from the top about an upcoming iPhone.

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Three Tiny Laptops

The 12-inch MacBook with Retina display is a marvel of engineering. It packs the power of macOS into a tiny chassis that weighs just two pounds. You can carry it and an iPad before you reach the weight of the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

There are, of course, trade-offs when it comes to such a small machine. The single USB-C port is a show-stopper for many, as is the under-powered — but fanless — Intel CPU.

The fact that compromises are needed to make notebooks thin and light is nothing new. Over the years, Apple has made several bold moves in this direction. Three really stand out.

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