I realise that it's hardly news that the iPhone turned out to be a once-in-a-generation/once-in-a-lifetime hit for Apple, but Jason Snell's chart of a decade of Apple growth really drives home the point.
That last chart, in the context of all the ones leading up to it. "Wow!" really is the word.
Following on from yesterday's post, Ron Moore says all sorts of things about season 2:
"You're going to see things that happened in real life, but happen faster and in slightly different ways," Moore promised. "So things like the coming of the personal computer, internet, variations on communications and email and cell phones and all that. You'll see it in a more rapid advance. And the actual models and prototypes and pieces of technology that are being used are not exactly what happened in real history… you'll see variations on it. We went back and looked at some of the early prototyping and different branches that some of the technology could have gone off in the '70s and '80s, and chose to go down some of those paths. So, you'll have a different spin and a different feel to it. The further the show goes now, the more science-fiction it's going to become. We're getting more aggressively into areas that never happened."
Sounds promising. 1
[Via Adrian Hon, posting to FanFare]
So, For All Mankind closed with a slightly loner-than-usual season finale that perhaps signalled that when next we see these characters they might have moved beyond the Apollo era.
Be sure to stick around for the post-credit scene for the first season finale. I really hope that signals another jump forward in the timeline, because for all that I've enjoyed the course of the show's first season I'd also been mildly worried that we were going to spend forever on the alternate Apollo programme and I really want to see this show go further along the alternate timeline than that. (I did joke about Ron Moore ending the show with an appearance from a Cylon, but one commenter over at MeFi Fanfare last week posited that the show will end with the discovery of a black monolith on the lunar surface and morph into a 2001: A Space Odyssey prequel Works for me.)
The finale revealed that the first commander of the first US base on the moon wasn't the cold-blooded murderer we'd thought he might be last week, but I do wonder whether some time in season two someone will discover evidence that the base had been visited by the enemy and our putative hero will find himself having to own up to what went down in the preparation for his rescue mission for his rescuers. Will NASA file it under "Who cares? It all worked out in the end (except for Deke.)" or will there be a scandal when it turns out that our hero Ed (assuming he remains in the programme and ends up, say, as head of the Astronaut Office some day) realises that he recognises Mikhail, his newly-appointed opposite number on the Soviet side?
I'd still love to know whether Ron Moore's plan is to spend seven seasons exploring how a different timeline plays out in the lifetimes of the current characters, or whether they're going to throw in enough time jumps that we get a picture of the ramifications of a different start to the space race. Given that we've spent significant time following the story of Aleida, our immigrant space enthusiast in the first season, I can't help but wonder whether her character 1 will pop up again before long, possibly after a couple more time jumps to give her time to have a reason to be in the story again. I mean, she might just show up years later as a member of the public watching what's going on in the space programme rather than working in it, or it might be that her story was mostly a way to reveal her father's story and how the FBI's efforts to enhance security were mostly pointless, but I have a feeling she's destined to be more involved than that.
I have a feeling, just given the economics of how TV casting works and the notion that it's risky to press the reset button and demand that audiences get used to a largely new cast in a different scenario in the next season, that they'll stick with rolling out the story covering the near future. A show that sticks with the 1970s generation of astronauts could well be every bit as much fun as the first season has been for folks like me2 but my preference would be for a show that ends up a few hundred years hence, one that reveals that because the Russians and the Americans were working in parallel on the Moon3 they ended up customarily working together and ended up extending that practice as they fanned out into the depths of the solar system. Heretical thought: might it have made very little difference, what with all the major players being basically extensions of the military powers' armed forces and thus somewhat disinclined to cooperate with their potential enemies?
I completely understand that modern smartphones deliver ridiculously high-quality video recordings and that when you put them in the hands of a professional they can produce impressive results like Snowbrawl...
... but can you entirely blame me if I sit here with the thought "Dammit, those phones are expensive: be careful with them!" running through my head as I watch them capering in the snow and letting loose barrages of snowballs at one another?
Not sure how far that's a sign of my getting old or of my getting less affluent (or both!), but it does remind me of how far I'm not part of Apple's target market for this sort of TV ad.1
One day I'm going to have to upgrade from my current iPad Mini 4 to some variant of an iPad Pro and I'm going to face the dilemma of how badly I want/need to turn my iPad into an iPad Borg:
The BoltHub essentially "bolts" - really, it sort of clamps - onto the top right of your iPad Pro in landscape orientation, with an ominous-looking, short-run USB-C cable connecting it to the USB-C input. Once attached the device gives you a 4K HDMI slot, one slot each for Micro SD and SD cards, a plain old USB 3.1 port running at 5GB/second (suitable for thumb drives), a USB-C passthrough port to make up for the one you gave up to attach the BoltHub, and even a 3.5mm audio jack to replace the one that Apple so bravely omitted.
Have to confess the iPad Borg designation fits the BoltHub so well and I'd completely missed it. The iPad design just doesn't look like it needs anything added to it, and yet it so plainly does. The BoltHub looks so wrong, and yet they've clearly tried so hard to make it look as unobtrusive as it can given the hardware limitations.
I reckon that barring accidental damage I'm probably going to get at least another year's use out of my iPad Mini 4 before either the feature set of iPadOS 14 or fading battery life on my current device forces my hand on a replacement machine. Who knows, perhaps by the time I have to face this Apple will have Sherlocked the makers of the BoltHub by offering a similar device of their own? Different vendor, same issue.
Rui Carmo is, rightly, a little less optimistic than most of the Apple-focused commentariat about the notion that Apple forking iOS to create an iPad-specific variant marks a new era for the iPad:
I have a profoundly different take on what "work" means than Federico-like one of my friends said the other day, there is a lot more to the "work" that we do than, say, wrangling Markdown documents.
The crunch will come when Apple find themselves needing to make a change to the fundamentals of how iPadOS works - like, say, removing or hugely relaxing the 10-minute limit on how long apps are allowed to run in the background (except for media players and suchlike) before iOS kills them in order to let an iPad work more like a real computer would. I'm sure they'll start with a bunch of easy wins like that, but at some point they'll find themselves having to make harder choices and we shall see what happens then.
I'm not saying they can't do it - they certainly can - just that when the first iPadOS is still in beta it's a bit early to assume that Apple will do the right thing, especially if that right thing also has an impact on the user experience on Apple's most important product.
So, do we file a high-profile article like this one under "Affectionate mockery" or "Fukng Hll pple, neveer mindd getting Oprh n stge, SN'T IITT TIIMEE YOU SORTD TTHIS KYBOAAARD OUTT!"
Keeyboarrd 101: Mostt lapttops havee keeys tthatt usee a scissorr-swittch meechanism tto prreess down. Sincee tthee ttwo intteerrlocking pieecees arree rreelattiveely ttall, tthee keeys havee morree "ttrraveel."
[Via The Tao of Mac]
From a story about the idea that while Apple are moving into producing content directly they are keen to differentiate Apple's own content from the sort of grittier, adult fare that seems to be a hallmark of the ongoing Golden Era of Television Drama. In particular:
Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly killed a semi-autobiographical drama about Dr. Dre's life. Named Vital Signs, the drama had scenes that included drug use, sex, and guns. Those scenes were apparently too scandalous for Apple to feature. Which prompted this observation, from commenter ignite ice:
macduff wrote: Why did Apple commission a Dre series in the first place? Apple bought out his company for $3 billion, did they not bother to do a background check on Dre? His gangsta rap is hardcore.
It would seem, at least on the surface, that although they bought his company, they forgot about Dre.
Sad to say, the Apple Store and Greg Knauss have a little problem:
[Including...] the phrase "iPhone XR" or alluding to some announced, advertised, demoed but technically theoretical new phone will result in another rejection, up until October 26, 2018, when something will be released. Maybe it will be a flamethrower, or humane treatment for Foxconn workers, a phone for less than I paid for my first car! Who can say?
I know this is a ridiculous fight. I know that I agreed to this particular barrel of foolishness when I signed up to be an Apple developer. I know this is small potatoes, and that the country is on fire. I know that millions of people are battling every day for their dignity and their families and their lives. But, goddammit, this is a bridge too stupid, and I can't cross it.
I'd somehow failed to notice that a documentary about the Apple Newton had been released: Love Notes to Newton is a mix of historical footage about the machine's development and tributes to the dwindling band of Newton aficionados who have tried hard to keep their Newtons in daily use in the modern world where the smartphone in your Pocket utterly outclasses its ancestor.
It's fair to say that the Newton was an inspiring failure: Palm were the most visibly successful company that tried to follow in the Newton's footsteps, but they didn't ever get beyond the geek market. While few users refer to their smartphones as a PDA that's just what it is. The biggest difference between a smartphone/PDA and a Newton is that the Newton's operating system took great pains to revolve around collections of object-oriented data that it made available to any other program on the device, where modern smartphones run standalone Apps and tend to have tighter constraints on what data is visible to different apps. To a large extent, if you can trust Newton fans to be objective for a minute, is that smartphones substitute sheer processor horsepower for smart software.
It's tantalising to wonder what could have happened if the Newton had survived a bit longer after the return of Steve Jobs to Apple: might the improvements in Newton OS 2 (and whatever might have come to pass in Newton OS 3 if they'd got that far) have allowed the platform to flourish, or was it unfortunate enough to be a revolutionary product from a company that couldn't afford to wait for it to outgrow the bad reputation it was saddled with because they over-promised what it was one day going to be capable of, and doubly cursed because it was a highly visible effort by a recently ousted CEO to be a visionary in the mould of his predecessor/successor?
The thing is, right now Apple's iOS team would look at this documentary and think it couldn't happen to them. It not only can, but one day it almost certainly will.
Anyway, Love Notes to Newton is definitely worth a watch if you have any sense of how things were when John Sculley was running the show and it wasn't at all clear where Apple's next hit product was coming from.
[Via 512 Pixels]