Amazon integrates Audible into Kindle for Android and iOS

; Amazon today introduced Whispersync for Voice to its Kindle apps for Android and iOS, allowing users to switch between reading and listening inside just one app. The feature combines Kindle ebooks with their companion Audible titles using Amazon’s one-click…Read more ›



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Jony Ive Discusses Design Philosophy, Relationship with Steve Jobs, and Future of Apple in New Interview

In a lengthy interview with The Sunday Times (via 9To5Mac), Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design Jonathan Ive discussed a number of topics including his philosophy on design and collaboration, the strong relationship he had with former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and the future of Apple along with thoughts on new product categories.

Speaking on his approach to design, Ive stated that he starts on a project by imagining what „a new kind of product should be and what it should do,“ revealing that his design team consists of 15 people from the United States, New Zealand, Japan, Australia and Britain. Ive added that the majority of work amongst his team happens in his office, which consists of computer controlled cutting machines and a large wooden bench that resembles a Genius Bar for new products and prototypes.

Ive also discussed his tried-and-true approach of perfecting a product’s design:

[Ive] spent „months and months and months“ working out the exact shape of the stand of the desktop iMac computer because „it’s very hard to design something that you almost do not see because it just seems so obvious, natural, and inevitable.“ When he has finished a product, even one as fresh and iconic as the white headphones that came with the first iPod, he is haunted by the idea: could I have done it better? „It’s an affliction designers are cursed with,“ Ive frowns.

On the topic of his late friend and former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Ive spoke out against the negative comments about Jobs’ tough management style, stating that the former CEO had unique characteristics which led to great work:

So much has been written about Steve, and I don’t recognize my friend in much of it. Yes, he had a surgically precise opinion. Yes, it could sting. Yes, he constantly questioned. ‘Is this good enough? Is this right?’ But he was so clever. His ideas were bold and magnificent. They could suck the air from the room. And when the ideas didn’t come, he decided to believe we would eventually make something great. And oh, the joy of getting there!

When asked about wearable technology and whether Apple will make an iWatch smart watch, Ive replied that there are „obviously rumors about about [Apple] working on one“, but stated that he would „obviously“ not be talking about the subject, likening the rumors surrounding the iWatch to „a game of chess.“ Recent reports have pointed to Apple currently developing such a device to be revealed later this year, which may include health-tracking features and integration with other iOS devices.

Finally, Ive answered as to whether he’d stop working at Apple if the company could no longer make innovative products, and gave his optimistic vision for the future:

„Yes. I’d stop. I’d make things for myself, for my friends at home instead. The bar needs to be high.“ But, he adds: „I don’t think that will happen. We are at the beginning of a remarkable time, when a remarkable number of products will be developed. When you think about technology and what it has enabled us to do so far, and what it will enable us to do in the future, we’re not even close to any kind of limit. It’s still so, so new.“

Traditionally a quiet figure, Ive has been very instrumental in Apple’s success since assuming his role after the return of Steve Jobs in 1997, designing some of Apple’s most successful products including the iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

Currently, he leads Apple’s Industrial Design Group and oversees the company’s Human Interface division, a position he took in October 2012 after then-Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall left the company. Ive also directed the effort behind iOS 7, which was released last September and featured a completely new design in addition to various other tweaks.




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Apple Executives Consider Thirty Years of Macintosh, Say iOS and OS X Convergence ‘A Non-Goal’

To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the unveiling of the original Macintosh – tomorrow, January 24, 2014 – Macworld has published a lengthy interview with three Apple executives to discuss where the Mac has been, and where it is going. Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi, and Vice President of Software Technology Bud Tribble – who was a member of the original Mac development team – all shared their thoughts and the full article is well worth a read.

Among the more interesting tidbits from the interviews is one particular statement from Federighi, where he notes that while iOS and OS X do share some cross-pollination of features and design, they will not become one operating platform without good reason. He says that the Mac has „been honed for over 30 years to be optimal“ for keyboards and mice, while attaching a touchscreen to a PC – or a keyboard to a tablet – without a good reason to do so makes for a bad experience.

„We don’t waste time thinking, ‘But it should be one [interface!]’ ‘How do you make these [operating systems] merge together?’ What a waste of energy that would be,“ Schiller said. But he added that the company definitely tries to smooth out bumps in the road that make it difficult for its customers to switch between a Mac and an iOS device. For example, making sure its messaging and calendaring apps have the same name on both OS X and iOS.

„To say [OS X and iOS] should be the same, independent of their purpose? Let’s just converge, for the sake of convergence? [It’s] absolutely a non-goal,“ Federighi said. „You don’t want to say the Mac became less good at being a Mac because someone tried to turn it into iOS. At the same time, you don’t want to feel like iOS was designed by [one] company and Mac was designed by [a different] company, and they’re different for reasons of lack of common vision. We have a common sense of aesthetics, a common set of principles that drive us, and we’re building the best products we can for their unique purposes. So you’ll see them be the same where that makes sense, and you’ll see them be different in those things that are critical to their essence.“

Macworld editor Jason Snell mentions that though he brought an iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air to the interview at Apple’s Cupertino campus, he ultimately chose to take notes on the MacBook – something not lost on the Apple execs.

„You had a bunch of tools,“ Federighi said, pointing at my bag. And you pulled out the one that felt right for the job that you were doing. It wasn’t because it had more computing power … you pulled it out because it was the most natural device to accomplish a task.“

Schiller said Apple believed that the Mac „keeps going forever“ because its differences make it really valuable. The current Mac lineup looks very different from what Steve Jobs introduced thirty years ago, but Apple clearly considers it crucial to the future of the company.

Images courtesy Shrine of Apple




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Apple Executives Speak on the ‘Low-Cost Phone’, Android’s Fragmentation Issues

In a lengthy cover story interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Apple CEO Tim Cook, along with Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi and Senior Vice President of Design Jonathan Ive, discussed a number of topics with the magazine, such as the launch of the new iPhones including the upcoming lower-cost iPhone 5c, and thoughts on competitors, and the recurring accusation of the lack of innovation that the company is said to have had in recent years.

Speaking about the iPhone 5c and the opinion of Apple selling a “low-cost” phone, Cook stated the following:

“We never had an objective to sell a low-cost phone,” says Cook. “Our primary objective is to sell a great phone and provide a great experience, and we figured out a way to do it at a lower cost.”

Cook also spoke about Android devices and topics such as the market share between the two mobile operating platforms, stating that “It’s even more a two-operating-system world today than it was before,” and adding to that point “when you look at things like customer satisfaction and usage, you see the gap between Android and iOS being huge.” Cook also spoke about Android’s device fragmentation, an issue Apple has long pointed to as being a problem for both users and developers:

In Cook’s view, the incompatibilities between various Android versions make each an entirely different species. The Android operating systems are “not the latest ones by the time people buy,” he says. A recent survey of smartphones sold by AT&T showed 25 Android handsets; six did not have the latest operating system. “And so by the time they exit, they’re using an operating system that’s three or four years old. That would be like me right now having in my pocket iOS 3. I can’t imagine it.

Fragmentation creates complexity and what Cook calls a “compounding problem.” “It will show up in developers,” he says. “It will show up for people that no longer have access to certain apps. It will show up in security issues because if you’re not moving your customer base to the latest version, then you have to go back and plug holes in all of this old stuff, and people don’t really do that to a great degree.”

The Apple CEO also spoke about the rise and fall of mobile electronics maker Nokia:

If one part of Nokia’s story is validating, the other is cautionary. When Apple got into the mobile business, it was Nokia’s world. The Finnish company was considered something of a miracle worker. “I’m old enough to remember when Nokia had margins of 25 percent, and there was absolutely no way they were going to be dislodged from their leadership position,” says Kuittinen of research firm Alekstra. Says Cook, “I think [Nokia] is a reminder to everyone in business that you have to keep innovating and that to not innovate is to die.”

Cook last spoke to Bloomberg Businessweek in December 2012, and discussed the management shakeup at Apple initiated by the departure of former iOS chief Scott Forstall, stating that the changes were “driven by desire for increased collaboration.” Apple will begin selling the lower-cost iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s tomorrow, September 20, throughout its retail stores and online store.




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Tim Cook and Eddy Cue Exercise Stock Options, Cue Nets Over $12 Million [Mac Blog]

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Senior Vice President Eddy Cue exercised stock options last week with Cue netting around $12.4 million for selling his common stock, according to documents filed today with the SEC.

Cue sold 24,580 shares of common stock at a price of $504.18 for a total haul of $12.4 million. The stock that he cashed in is part of the 100,000 shares he received as a bonus when he was promoted to Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services in 2011. Half of those shares vested on August 24, 2013 while the second half will vest on August 24, 2015 if Cue is still with the company.

The remaining 25,420 shares of Cue’s stock were withheld at the price of $501.02 per share to satisfy the minimum statutory tax requirements on vested RSUs.

Cook had 72,877 shares converted on the same day and though he did not sell any of his shares, he withheld 38,028 for tax purposes. Cook owns a total of 87,316 shares of stock and will see another 100,000 shares vest in August 2016. Apple’s CEO may also receive up to 800,000 additional shares over the course of the next 10 years provided he meets performance benchmarks.

The stock grants come approximately two weeks after Apple SVPs Phil Schiller and Dan Riccio sold their stock options.

The transactions were made in accordance with SEC Rule 10b5-1, which means the executive notified the SEC of a plan to sell shares months ahead of the sale to avoid any accusations of insider trading.




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Bob Mansfield to Focus on New Products, Other Execs Take Over Management Duties

Earlier this week, Apple executive Bob Mansfield stepped down from his management duties at Apple in order to focus on ‘special projects’ – reportedly working on the development of entirely new products for the company.

Now, 9to5Mac has additional details about how the shake-up affects other executives.

Dan Riccio, who was promoted to lead Apple’s hardware engineering teams when Bob Mansfield first retired last year, will gain oversight of the company’s antenna design teams in addition to his current leadership of Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod engineering.

Jeff Williams, who, as Senior Vice President for Operations, has been Tim Cook’s right hand man for years, will take over the job of managing Apple’s special projects engineering teams, while Mansfield gets to continue working with Apple’s newest and most cutting edge designs without the distraction of management.

According to a source familiar with the former Technologies team, there has been a lack of formal internal communication regarding the reasoning behind the management shift. However, the company did make the new executive roles clear to these employees. Even with the lack of communication, sources say that the change is not unprecedented. Over the last couple of months, Mansfield is said to have been increasingly focused on chips (and some aspects of wireless) while delegating his other teams to other executives.

9to5 goes on to note that though Mansfield would like to retire at some point, he will likely never fully leave the company. Given the lengths that Tim Cook went in order to keep Mansfield at Apple, it’s likely he will be given free reign to work whatever hours and on whatever projects he wishes.


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Jeff Williams and Bruce Sewell Cash in Apple Stock Worth Nearly $15 Million [Mac Blog]

Two filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reveal that Apple executives Jeff Williams and Bruce Sewell each sold tens of thousands of shares of Apple stock on Monday, netting both millions of dollars.

Bruce Sewell, Apple’s general counsel and Senior Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs, sold 37,172 shares for approximately $15 million while Jeff Williams, who serves as Apple’s Senior Vice President of Operations, sold off 36,819 shares of stock, also earning approximately $15 million.

Bruce Sewell and Jeff Williams were among Apple executives who were awarded 150,000 RSUs in 2011 as an incentive to remain employed at Apple. Half of those shares vested on June 21, 2013. The other half will vest on March 21, 2016. In addition to 75,000 RSUs vesting in 2016, Sewell and Williams both have thousands of shares of stock remaining.

The transactions made by Sewell and Williams were in accordance with SEC Rule 10b5-1, which means the two executives notified the SEC that they planned to sell shares months ahead of the sale to avoid any accusations of insider trading.


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Jony Ive Gets Title Change, Now Senior Vice President of Design [Mac Blog]

Following the launch of the Jony Ive-led streamlining of the iOS user interface, the designer himself has seen his job title receive a redesign as well. Ive is now the Senior Vice President of Design at Apple; previously, he was SVP of Industrial Design.

Jony Ive’s Biography Page from Apple.com (Old: Left)
Ive received a promotion of sorts back in October when he was put in charge of Human Interface teams – software design – in addition to his previous duties as head of Industrial design (via 9to5Mac).


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Apple Announces New Airport Base Station and Time Capsule with Faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi [Mac Blog]

At today’s Worldwide Developers Conference Keynote, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller announced a new AirPort Base Station and new AirPort Time Capsules, featuring sleek new designs and improved internals.

All of the devices feature 802.11ac WiFi, which allows for 40 percent faster data transmissions at the same distance as the previous models. They also feature beamforming, which is electronically steering antenna directions. All of the new products are available for purchase from the Apple Online Store today.

The AirPort Extreme Base Station is priced at $199.

The Time Capsules come in 2TB and 3TB variations and are priced at $299 and $399, respectively.

Apple has released new firmware updates for both the Base Station and the Time Capsule.

This update is for AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule base stations with 802.11ac. It resolves a rare issue that may cause the hard drive in AirPort Time Capsule or a hard drive connected via USB to become unresponsive.

Apple has also released an update for the AirPort Utility App for Mac and iOS.

Use AirPort Utility to set up and manage your 802.11n and 802.11ac AirPort base stations, including AirPort Express, Extreme, and Time Capsule. AirPort Utility 6.3 allows you to configure and manage the new AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule with 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and includes enhanced remote management capabilities.

AirPort Utility for iOS can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

AirPort Utility for Mac can be downloaded from Apple’s software update website.


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