If you’re wondering why Apple has been so focused on building its own SoCs and CPU architectures, this is the reason why. There’s a fixed amount of power you can dissipate in the form of heat in these mobile devices while still maintaining a good user experience. Performance per watt is the gating metric for success in mobile, and shipping high IPC/low frequency dual-core SoCs at 32/28nm is the best optimization available to a company like Apple today.
Exploring the details of the A7 just shows how powerful it is, and reveals some of the clever tradeoffs made in order to achieve that power.
Apple, unlike Google, or Facebook, or even Microsoft, is not a services company (as long-suffering iCloud/MobileMe/.Mac/iTools customs can attest), and so, to prescribe any sort of goodness to their decision to not retain user data is much less useful than an examination of what actually matters to their bottom line. And, as a hardware company, that means the supply chain. And that means people like Bibek Dhong.
Ben Thompson makes a very good point that it is not enough to judge the morality of a company like Apple just based on its privacy practice, which is primarily a byproduct of its business model and not a moral choice. It is much more appropriate to use metrics that are instead a reflection of its actual business, such as evaluating the supply chain.
That means that Google has gone from having at least 31m users on the iPhone in April 2012 - and perhaps as many as 35m in September 2012, based on a model using a sliding scale of maps ownership - to around 6.3m who are using it monthly on iOS 6 and above.
Wow, hadn’t realized how big an impact Apple Maps has had on Google Maps’ usage. Not the impression received from just reading most tech news, surprise surprise.
AnandTech’s review of the new iPad Air provides a detailed look into the technical side.
When I reviewed the iPhone 5s I didn’t have much time to go in and do the sort of in-depth investigation into Cyclone (Apple’s 64-bit custom ARMv8 core) as I did with Swift (Apple’s custom ARMv7 core from A6) the year before. I had heard rumors that Cyclone was substantially wider than its predecessor but I didn’t really have any proof other than hearsay so I left it out of the article. Instead I surmised in the 5s review that the A7 was likely an evolved Swift core rather than a brand new design, after all - what sense would it make to design a new CPU core and then do it all over again for the next one? It turns out I was quite wrong.
It is astounding, and often overlooked, how much Apple’s chip engineering has accomplished in just a few short years.
“When I am an old operating system I shall wear… leather?”
– John Siracusa in his Mavericks review. (My favorite line in another one of his wonderfully detailed OS X reviews.)
“Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product. That’s not simple.”
– Jony Ive in Jonathan Ive interview: simplicity isn’t simple
Didn’t think it would happen, but I too want a spatial Finder now after reading this.
The innate skills that humans exhibit when dealing with spatial interfaces have evolved over millions of years out of necessity. Huge (and seemingly disproportionate, given a “common sense” view of “intelligence”) portions of the human brain are devoted to processing and interpreting visual information, and coordinating physical actions based on that information.
This morning, I watched the videos of the iOS 7 interface again, and I saw a bunch of rushed designers unable to stabilize an uneven interface. It’s worth remembering that Ive took over Human Interface only 7 months ago, and they redesigned the whole phone in that time. Straight up: seven months is a ridiculous deadline.
My initial, knee-jerk, reactions about iOS 7 were very harsh on the icons. They seem rough and amateur compared to the seemingly more intuitively and cleverly designed apps that they lead to. That disparity between the icon design and the app design really disappointed me. After reading this piece by Chimero, it seems more appropriate to realize that they may be a product of a tight deadline and likely improved in future builds or releases.
Really, the entire post by Chimero is a fantastic read.
One of the things that’s interesting about design [is that] there’s a danger, particularly in this industry, to focus on product attributes that are easy to talk about. You go back 10 years, and people wanted to talk about product attributes that you could measure with a number. So they would talk about hard drive size, because it was incontrovertible that 10 was a bigger number than 5, and maybe in the case of hard drives that’s a good thing. Or you could talk about price because there’s a number there.
But there are a lot of product attributes that don’t have those sorts of measures. Product attributes that are more emotive and less tangible. But they’re really important. There’s a lot of stuff that’s really important that you can’t distill down to a number. And I think one of the things with design is that when you look at an object you make many many decisions about it, not consciously, and I think one of the jobs of a designer is that you’re very sensitive to trying to understand what goes on between seeing something and filling out your perception of it. You know we all can look at the same object, but we will all perceive it in a very unique way. It means something different to each of us. Part of the job of a designer is to try to understand what happens between physically seeing something and interpreting it.
I think that sort of striving for simplicity is not a style. It’s an approach and a philosophy. I think it’s about authenticity and being honest. Not just taking something crappy and styling the outside in an arbitrary disconnected way.”
– Jony Ive
Intuitiveness has become unhelpfully conflated with familiarity. The reasoning is simple enough: things that are already familiar don’t have to be re-learned, so we assume that they’re more “intuitive”. That’s a big assumption, but we treat it as if it’s fact.
A nuanced and very intelligent look at what Jony Ive may bring for software design by Matt Gemmell.