✱ iPhone X: Why "The Notch" Exists by Evan Troxel

For all the complaints I've heard about "the notch" at the top of the iPhone X screen, I have a thought about why it exists. And yes, there are many ways my premise could have been handled, no doubt. But I think it was an intentional design decision. It's there to let you know where the "top" of the device is. It's otherwise a perfectly symmetrical design from the front. How else to you let your customers know how to orient the device when it's a perfectly smooth slab of glass? Like I said, I'm sure there are other ways but this one makes sense in this context.


We all know where our current iPhone bottom is based on the location of the home button. When you take that button away, users still need to know where the microphones and speakers are, otherwise there would be tons of complaints about not being able to discern the correct way to hold the phone (cue: "You're holding it wrong."). So now, instead of telling us visually where the bottom is, they're telling us visually where the top is.

Just look at the AppleTV Siri Remote complaints for a case study. There have been so many complaints of the remote being symmetrical visually.


✱ Happy 30th Birthday Mac - Here's My Story by Evan Troxel

Today is the day that the Mac turns 30, and it has changed my life. There's a chance it might sound lame to you, or pretentious or whatever, but It really doesn't matter. It's my story. I am and have always been a computer nerd, and am proud to have been a Mac nerd specifically. I was rooting for the company when it seemed like everyone had given up and was using Windows; when people were saying it was on its last leg and about to die. They started in a garage. I always believed in the little underdog company called Apple and I still love them like I always have.  Here's my Macintosh journey through the years.


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early apple computer and tablet designs by Evan Troxel

apple 'baby mac', 1985

apple 'baby mac', 1985

There are some amazing stories coming out of Apple these days, and there are some beautiful early designs (as well as some turds) to see in a new book by Hartmut Esslinger, a past designer at Apple who also founded frog design. It's really interested to see that even when the company was only 6 years into its existence, Jobs felt Apple was in trouble in a design-sense due to its product hierarchy and compartmentalized product design teams, and that they needed to do something drastic with design which ultimately set it on a course that hasn't stopped since.

In the book, Esslinger explains how ‘strategic design’ in business and society can and must bring about positive change through innovative creativity. A key component is the strategically extended definition of design as a convergent and humanistic amalgamation of technology, the environment and the economy.

You can see the prototypes and read a bit about the new book, Esslinger's story, and what it was like working at Apple back in the early 80's on designboom.

(via Daring Fireball)

Remembering Steve by Evan Troxel

It's the anniversary of Steve Jobs' death today. If you watch only one video, make it this one in which Jony Ive reminds us who Steve was:

Jonathan Ive - Tribute to Steve Jobs

From Apple's Celebration of Steve on October 19, 2011.

Jony on Steve's ideas:

But sometimes they took the air from the room, and left both of us completely silent. Bold, crazy, magnificent ideas. Or quiet, simple ones. Which in their subtlety, their detail, were utterly profound.
He treated the process of creativity with a rare, and a wonderful reverence. I think he, better than anyone understood, that while ideas can ultimately be so powerful, they begin as fragile, barely formed thoughts. So easily missed, so easily compromised, so easily just squished. 
He used to joke that the lunatics had taken over the asylum as we shared a giddy excitement, spending months and months working on a part of a product that nobody would ever see. Not with their eyes. But we did it because we really believed it was right. Because we cared.
His was a victory for beauty. For purity. And as he would say, for giving a damn.

Here's to you Steve. We thank you, and miss you.

iOS 6 Tips and Hidden Features - Advertising Privacy Setting by Evan Troxel

If you're like me, and have installed iOS 6, you'll want to turn on this switch immediately:

Don’t want ads following around your every swipe? Go to Settings > General > About, then flick down to Advertising. Tap and then slide on “Limit Ad Tracking.” Now you can keep marketers from bombarding you with targeted ads on your iOS device.

The other "hidden features" are pretty good too.

✱ New Panoramic Photos in iOS 6 by Evan Troxel

Panoramic images are super fast and easy to make now. Here's a sample:

A view of the studio. And Mark. Don't forget Mark.

I've used both 360Panorama (my preferred Pano app) and Photosynth in the past. Those both allow you to sweep up and down, and have gyroscopic modes as well for interactive viewing after the capture. All of these tools have their place. Apple's seems best suited for landscape photography and is not meant to be interactive.

The image quality and stitching are superb, and it works very fast. The captured image was huge, measuring 8,640 pixels wide. A message even popped up while I was capturing to let me know I needed to move down as I spun because I was slightly tilting up as I went. 

Apple named greatest brand of the last 50 years by Evan Troxel

Respect. The entire design team at Apple flew to London to receive awards for best brand and best design studio of the last 50 years. Let that sink in for minute. 

D&AD chief executive Tim Lindsay:

The people, companies and brands celebrated tonight are the true visionaries of the past 50 years of commercial creativity. Their work has changed the way we live our lives, the way we communicate and the way we perceive businesses and each other.

Design is important. Apple has changed how we perceive and interact with things. You should watch Gary Huswit's Objectified to get a sense of it.

The New Apple II User's Guide by Evan Troxel

Did you know you can get a brand new user manual for the Apple ][e published in 2012? I skimmed Chapter 3 : Beginning Basic (PDF). It brought back memories of my first go at making things on computers back in the fourth grade.

David Finnigan has written a modern day companion to the iconic Apple:

Written for everyone, The New Apple II User’s Guide covers the basics of the Apple, how to identify what model you have, the peripherals, and how to set up your system. The meat of the book then focuses on programming in BASIC. Learn how to use the text and graphics modes, the printer, and the disk system.

We had a ][e and it was the coolest thing ever until I saw my friends ][gs. I later bought a Commodore 64 in the fifth grade at the local Toys"R"Us with my allowance money. The 5 1/2" floppy disk drive was the size of a toaster oven. I also remember going to a NewEgg and seeing a Commodore 128 and an Amiga. It was amazing. I'm totally nerding out here.

My dad is so awesome for getting in on this stuff so early.

Via John Carmack

The Design of the iPhone 5 by Evan Troxel

Watch the video on how they made the iPhone 5. It's just amazing. It truly shows the lengths a team and company will go to for excellence. All in, is there another piece of technology that even comes close to this thing? Thanks for showing us a little bit of what happens behind the curtain at Apple.

But did you notice that Jony didn't say the design was based on pebbles or water flowing in a stream? Yeah, me too.

The New iPhone 5 by Evan Troxel

I didn't think I would be buying this, but after seeing it I think I have to. As this tweet explains:

I'm in the same boat. I would love a new Mac, but they don't have the one I really want yet, which is a Retina MacBook Pro 13". By far the iPhone is the most important computer I have, and it is something that goes everywhere with me. They have completely reinvented every aspect of it again. And there is no doubt that it was made for architects. Just look at that sexy, black monolith.

So what is it going to do better for architects?

  • Panoramic photos. We've been able to do this for a while, but now it's right in the camera app. This goes without saying, but since it's right there on the lock screen, it gets the most use. This is by far the best camera I've ever owned. I'm not talking about megapixels - i'm talking about ubiquity. 
  • Maps. These look gorgeous and it's something I use every day. You have to get to the job site somehow.
  • Facetime over cellular. For those times when you need to show something to someone in the office when you're out on site. This is huge. If only AT&T didn't suck so much.
  • Photo sharing. The new way to share photos directly with other people is huge. It's like having your own social network, and this will be great for project photos amongst team members. They can all comment on them easily as well.
  • That screen. This is probably the most underrated piece of glass on the planet. Now with the touch sensors built right in, it's even crisper and has more contrast. This will be great for those times when you need to review a drawing in a pinch. It's really unbelievable how small text can be and still be readable. And it's so much better now that the screen is even bigger.

These are the things off the top of my head. The new iPhone ships on September 21st with preordering happening on September 14th.

The Pros & Cons of Betting the Company on a Single Product by Evan Troxel

This is a fascinating read.

There are so many things I want to do... I just have to convince myself that the worst thing that could happen is failure. And failure isn't that big of a deal. But if that thing actually takes off, it could change the world. 

Suppose you were the CEO of Apple in 2005 when a couple of intergalactic visitors with time-warping technology offered you this bet:
Design and manufacture a small mobile device that seamlessly combines the functionalities of a cellular phone, a web surfer, an audio/video player and a small PC, and your company will double its market cap and establish a third mass-market computing platform after Windows and Macintosh.
Would you take it?
Before you say, “Are you nuts, why wouldn’t I?” ponder just a few of the issues involved:

Read through to the end. Steve had cajones.