Watch the interview with Scott Forstall and original iPhone engineering team members

[VIDEO] Last night, the Computer History Museum hosted Pulitzer Prize journalist John Markoff as he interviewed forrmer iPhone engineering team members Hugo Fiennes, Nitin Ganatra and Scott Herz, followed by a second interview with Scott Forstall.

This is a historic interview. This team worked on technology that changed the world. They made the decisions that informed the design you know and love. And they worked with Steve Jobs.

The interview is full of wonderful anecdotes, well worth your time. I’ve embedded a YouTube video in the main Loop post. But if it gets yanked, give this link a try.

Enjoy.

Scott Forstall, original iPhone engineers, at the Computer History Museum tonight to talk iPhone origins

From the Computer History Museum schedule of events:

How did iPhone come to be? On June 20, four members of the original development team will discuss the secret Apple project, which in the past decade has remade the computer industry, changed the business landscape, and become a tool in the hands of more than a billion people around the world.

Scott Forstall, the leader of the original iPhone software team will take part in a fireside chat with Computer History Museum historian John Markoff. A panel with three of the engineers who worked on the original iPhone, Nitin Ganatra, Scott Herz, and Hugo Fiennes, will describe how the iPhone came to be.

That’s tonight at 6p PT. If anyone goes, please do take some video, share online. Wish I could be there.

What’s coming in tvOS 11, and what is still needed

Josh Centers posts about what’s new in tvOS 11, but then goes further, digging into what’s still needed.

I’d go further, and add the ability to support multiple Bluetooth interfaces, as I’ve written about here:

  • Pair two sets of AirPods to a single Apple TV: This would allow my wife and I to listen on headphones, each with a different volume level, a blessing for people with different hearing needs and for parents with sleeping infants.

  • Pass the audio through to HDMI while AirPods are active: This would allow someone with a hearing deficit to listen at a louder volume while the room gets the regular volume.

Terrific read.

Bicycle parking station in Rotterdam

[VIDEO] Apologies to whoever sent this my way, lost the original link, so no hat tip. Video in original Loop post. That said, I absolutely love this. Not sure if this was some sort of bot post (the voiceover is clearly automated), but the video itself is excellent. Great bike-parking setup.

New “creation of the iPhone” book hits shelves, some reviews go live

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

The book claiming to explore the secret history of the iPhone, The One Device, is now on sale in physical form ($19 at Amazon). You can also preorder the ebook for Kindle and iBooks as well; it will be released digitally on Thursday.

The book in question is The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone. Here’s a link to the book on Amazon. Looks like the Kindle version is available now, though it seems like this might only be in the US.

Authored by Brian Merchant, the book promises to detail the ‘untold account’ of how the iPhone was made. It features anecdotes from ex-Apple executives and top employees about the development of the secret project, as well as an ‘undercover’ trip to Foxconn and more. Early reviews of ‘The One Device’ are mixed.

Follow the headline link for details on the reviews. They are, indeed, mixed.

In iOS 11, App Store editorial comes out of the shadows

Jason Snell, Six Colors:

while the App Store has indeed had an editorial team for quite a while, Apple’s approach to App Store editorial has been nearly invisible. Editors select apps to highlight and might write short bits of text for use in collections, but for the most part the job has seemed to be more about curation than words.

This is not meant to disparage curation—it’s an important job and one of the ways the App Store can highlight the hard work of app developers who are making polished, impressive products.

Damn right! Curation is a skill and highly polished curation a valuable skill.

With iOS 11, though, Apple’s really showing that it has redefined what the App Store editorial team is for. In the redesigned App Store app in iOS 11, app highlights go way beyond buttons that would present an app’s App Store page when you tapped. The new Today tab is populated with full-fledged feature articles, with screen shots, videos, animations, pull quotes, and real writing.

The change is pretty impressive. To get a sense of this, take a look at the Monument Valley 2 screenshot in Jason’s post. That’s some beautiful prose there. And well written copy helps the user get a sense of the game’s value, helps the developer by spurring sales, and helps put more coin in Apple’s bank. Win, win, win.

World’s first water park for people with disabilities

Mashable:

A new water park called Morgan’s Inspiration Island was designed for people with a wide range of disability identities — and it’s mind-blowingly accessible. The park, which opens June 17 in San Antonio, Texas, is fully wheelchair-accessible and hopes to welcome people with disabilities through careful consideration in design.

And:

The tropical-themed park features six major attractions, including an accessible river boat ride and a wide variety of splash pads — surfaces with geysers, water cannons, and rain curtains. Splash pads, unlike pools, are more accessible to people with mobility-related disabilities, but still provide the full water park experience.

And, notably, anyone with a disability is welcomed into the park for free.

This is amazing. Clearly, this was a labor of love, created with accessibility as a goal, rather than financial gain. Park founder Gordon Hartman did this for his daughter Morgan.

Read the article. There’s a lot of detail on the park. Brilliant.

[H/T John Kordyback]

New FDA plan could mean big boost for Apple and Apple Watch

Yahoo Finance:

When AAPL released the Apple Watch, it included a heart rate sensor. It has proven extremely accurate in testing, recently coming within 2% of the numbers reported by an electrocardiograph (EKG). However, AAPL has never marketed it as a medical device, because doing so would mean FDA certification.

Once under FDA regulation, the company would have to get each Apple Watch certified, in a process that could require months. Having to go through FDA certification would also reveal AAPL’s products before release — something the secretive company would hate — and could delay rolling out software updates.

But:

The FDA just announced its new Digital Health Innovation Plan, and it could change everything.

Noting that digital technologies used in consumer devices “have the power to transform health care,” the agency is trying to streamline the process needed for FDA approval. With a fall target for the pilot program, the FDA says it’s considering creation of a:

“Third party certification program under which lower risk digital health products could be marketed without FDA premarket review and higher risk products could be marketed with a streamlined FDA premarket review.”

The implications for AAPL and the Apple Watch are huge.

Risky path, privacy implications abound. But a perfect path for Apple.

Jean-Louis Gassée: Apple Culture after ten years of iPhone, and that Phil Schiller snipe

Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note:

The scale of Apple’s iPhone supply chain operation demands military precision. Producing and selling 212M iPhones a year (in 2016) requires very different “people, processes, and purposes” than were needed when Apple was selling relatively modest numbers of Macintosh personal computers (4.6M units in its 2000 Fiscal Year, climbing to 5.3M units in FY 2006).

How did Apple grow from 5.3M Macs in 2006 to 212M iPhones last year, a 40X multiple? In one of his many Apple 2.0 strokes of genius, Steve Jobs hired an experienced supply chain executive, Tim Cook. With Jobs’ support and inspiration, the future COO and CEO assembled the necessary team, set new rules, and forged new partnerships. As quantity begets nature, Apple became a different company.

…although not entirely.

Another great read from Jean-Louis, including this take on the snipe at Phil Schiller as told in the about to be released The One Device — The Secret History of the iPhone:

Lovely. Besides looking at Schiller’s education and early programming experience, one has to ask how long would have Schiller lasted under Jobs if he wasn’t “technical enough”? As Monday Note readers know, I don’t agree with Phil’s every utterance, but the obvious disconnection with easily ascertained facts casts a shadow on the author’s credibility and motivations. Schiller rejoined Apple in 1997 and has worked directly for Steve and Tim ever since.

Read the rest of Jean-Louis’ post here. As for the book, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

Backing Into Apple Television

M.G. Siegler, in this Medium post:

No less than Steve Jobs himself said to Walter Isaacson in interviews for his biography that Apple had “finally cracked it” with regard to what they wanted to do in television.

That was six years ago. We’re still waiting to see the fruits of that labor. It’s starting to feel like we may never see them.

And:

We’re now seeing what Apple thinks it must do: compete with Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc. Apple spent a bunch of time suggesting they would not take this approach. Their original content was all about promoting Apple Music or whatnot. But you don’t hire these two guys if you’re not going all-in on content.

And by “these two guys”, M.G. is referring to Apple’s hiring of former Sony Executives Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg (the production team behind mega-hits such as Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and The Crown which, in my mind, is about as original as TV content gets).

More from M.G.:

If Apple can build a viable Netflix competitor, they’ll have decidedly more leverage. But they also run the risk of alienating the powers-that-be in Hollywood, just as Netflix turned from friend (licensing their old content) to foe (bidding for the first-run premium content).

Part of the challenge for Apple is putting up an ecosystem fence around Apple TV. They’ve been unable to negotiate the kind of terms that allowed iTunes to flip the music industry on its head. And Apple does not own a critical mass of content to pursue a Netflix-like strategy. Will “these two guys” be the start of the next generation Apple TV original content?

I like the play, looking forward to watching what emerges.

iFixIt on the Microsoft Surface Laptop teardown: “You can’t get inside without inflicting a lot of damage.”

I have long railed against construction that makes phones, tablets, and laptops difficult to repair. But this might be a new low.

As the iFixIt folks make their way through the Microsoft Surface Laptop teardown, it becomes clear that getting inside is no easy task. And these folks are pros at taking things apart. It’s their raison d’etre, their primary gig.

The whole thing turns a bit ugly. Just look at the picture in Step 5. Here’s a quote:

Now that we’ve got a clear look at the plastic, it seems these aren’t reusable clips at all, but weak ultrasonic spot welds that we’ve been busting through. This is definitely not going back together without a roll of duct tape.

Yeesh. I wonder what plan Microsoft has for repairing these units when they start rolling in. Will they simply replace the cover, discard the old?

The backstory to Amazon’s swooping purchase of Whole Foods

Texas Monthly:

Monday, April 10, was going to be a big day for John Mackey, but he had no idea how big it would turn out to be. The co-founder, CEO, and spirit animal of Austin-based Whole Foods Market was flying to New York to launch a tour to promote the publication of his second book, The Whole Foods Diet (summary: Go vegan, or mostly vegan).

And:

As he stepped off the American Airlines flight at JFK (Whole Foods doesn’t own a jet, and Mackey flies coach), his phone lit up with urgent text messages and voice mails. A hedge fund in New York called Jana Partners had snatched up almost 9 percent of Whole Foods’ stock and announced that it would pressure the company to either overhaul its business or sell itself—perhaps to another grocery giant, such as Kroger, or to a less traditional player, such as Amazon. Mackey and other leaders might have to be replaced. A media frenzy ensued, and the PR team who had carefully staged what should have been a traveling celebration of their boss as a thought leader shifted into immediate crisis mode.

“From that moment on, I was drowning in it,” Mackey says.

Mackey built Whole Foods from scratch, instilled a set of principal beliefs, built a management team that followed those beliefs. Whole Foods continued to grow, and then the hedge fund folks smelled the deal that was possible.

Fascinating, horrifying (depending which side of the fence you’re on), and a tale as old as Wall Street.

Elon Musk’s plan to start populating Mars by the end of next year

In February 2017, SpaceX announced a mission to head beyond the moon. They’ll take two private, paying customers to finance the trip, and they’ll launch in late 2018.

This marks the beginning of Elon Musk’s dream of populating Mars, giving Earthbound folk a second shot at coexisting on a planet all their own.

The linked document is a very readable blueprint for this dream. Will it happen? Not clear. Could it happen? Read the paper. Seems doable, with the right dreamer at the helm.

UPDATE: There’s been a lot of argument about the feasibility of a ship to Mars, mostly focused on the radiation shielding problem (a lot of radiation, and shielding is heavy/costly to propel). Here’s a good thread on the subject, and the solutions being proposed. [H/T Alex Satrapa]

iPad Pro Diary: I thought I could resist the 10.5-inch model; I was wrong…

Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac:

Upgrading more often than the average person is an occupational hazard of gadget addicts – and even more so of tech writers. But I do at least try to resist when an update is a relatively minor one.

I’d hoped that would be the case with the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. After all, I already owned the 9.7-inch Pro, so already had some of the more advanced features like True Tone. And 10.5 inches isn’t that much bigger than 9.7 inches, right?

Still, I had to be sure, so I wandered into the Regent Street Apple Store to try one out

There’s something about this so-called goldilocks iPad Pro, something compelling, in the same way as AirPods are compelling, but calling out from an already mature product line.

Ben’s journey is an interesting read and rang true for me. I hear that iPad calling.

Jeff Bezos wants ideas for philanthropy, so he asked Twitter

New York Times:

On Thursday, Mr. Bezos sent a tweet to his more than 222,000 followers asking for suggestions for philanthropic giving. He specifically asked for ideas that could help the world in the near term, a contrast to long-term personal investments he has made in for-profit companies with social impact, like Blue Origin, a space firm, and The Washington Post.

Here’s the Tweet:

https://twitter.com/JeffBezos/status/875418348598603776

Amazing times we live in. Have a world changing cause worth supporting? Send Jeff a reply.

Apple Watch watchOS 4 wishes you a happy birthday

[VIDEO] A cool feature, true, but what really stuck with me watching this video (embedded in main Loop post) was how bright, vibrant, and smoothly animating that screen is. Far, we’ve come.

Neil Cybart: Detailed thoughts on the HomePod

Neil’s a smart guy and this is a fantastic read. A few tastes:

Apple is not overselling the device’s speaker capabilities. In a somewhat controlled environment resembling a typical living room, HomePod’s sound output clearly stood out from that of Amazon Echo and Sonos Play 3. In fact, it made the Amazon Echo sound like a cheap toy, and the Sonos Play 3 sounded so inferior, I wondered if something was wrong with the Sonos.

And:

HomePod’s value isn’t found in asking Siri for sports scores or controlling the kitchen lights. HomePod’s value is found in an A8 chip controlling a series of microphones and speakers.

HomePod is a computer capable of mapping a room and then adjusting its sound output accordingly. This is another way of saying that HomePod is able to capture its surroundings and then use that information to tailor a specific experience to the listener. It is easy to see how collecting data and then using that data to improve the experience will position HomePod as an augmented reality (or maybe we should say augmented hearing) device.

Augmented hearing, a very specific form of augmented reality. And this is key to the future of HomePod. More from Neil:

A few augmented reality examples include the HomePod recording and copying the sound from one location or room and then replicating that sound in another room. This would be game changing as it would be as though we were in a completely different room even though we hadn’t changed locations. An adult would be able to speak to a child in another room by simply talking out loud in a regular tone thanks to multiple HomePods.

The idea of speaking to someone in another room in a conversational voice is just one (albeit fantastic) capability that could be unlocked by HomePod. Being a great music delivery service is a bit of a trojan horse to get one in the door. But the HomePod (in your house) and AirPods (out and about) are much more than music delivery devices. They are extensions of the ecosystem.

Startup making paper out of stones, not trees

Bloomberg:

To make a ton of regular paper requires 100 tons of water, TBM says, while its Limex paper is made without water. In place of 20 trees, it uses less than a ton of limestone, as well as 200 kilograms of polyolefin. The five-year-old startup recently raised an additional 1 billion yen ($9.1 million) from an existing backer, and aims to list its shares by 2020.

Limestone is plentiful, water, obviously, not. Surprisingly, paper use is growing rapidly, demand said to double by 2030. This is an interesting play.

Inside Walt Mossberg’s gadget museum

Nilay Patel, The Verge:

Walt Mossberg is retiring this year — he’s already written his last column, hosted his last Code Conference, and taped the final episode of Ctrl-Walt-Delete in front of a live audience in New York. But Walt’s also assembled an impressive collection of notable gadgets over his two-decade run as a reviewer and columnist, and we asked him to talk us through some of the more notable items as he cleared out of his office.

This isn’t everything — there’s far too much for that. But there’s nothing quite like Walt talking about gadgets and what they mean, and we tried to pick a few that defined their moments in a way few products now seem to do.

It’s been incredible having Walt on The Verge team, and we’re all going to miss his insight, wit, enthusiasm, and charm. I hope you enjoy this look at him doing what he does best: explaining technology to people who love it just as much as he does.

Love this. Lots of history, with Walt sharing favorite gadgets he’s accumulated over the years. I’ll miss having you around, Walt.

Siri’s iOS 11 evolution

[VIDEO] Nice video (embedded in the main Loop post) from Mac Rumors, showing off Siri’s deep-learning powered iOS 11 voices, as well as advances in contextual awareness. Well done, worth watching.

The 30 best Mac games of 2017 (so far)

I’m a fan of Mac gaming, look forward to the updates to the MacGamerHQ top lists. This is not a competitive list (which game is #1, etc.) but more a curated list that you can browse to see which games appeal to you.

Me? I’ve got my eye on Obduction and The Witness.

Ikea products are now available on Amazon (False alarm, all sold by 3rd party sellers)

Kottke.org:

Ikea products have long been available on Amazon from 3rd-party resellers, but now Ikea is officially selling hundreds of their products on Amazon. Among the items that caught my eye are the iconic blue Frakta bags, the best kids’ drinking glasses ever made (we have dozens of these…love them), a kids’ foot stool, the Swedish meatball sauce packs, and those ubiquitous Glimma tea lights. Also, lots of rugs, picture frames, candles, bedding materials, and many of the other things that are good to stock up on.

Go to amazon.com and do a search for the word Ikea.

This seems like a huge step for Ikea and a win for Amazon.

UPDATE: Jason updated his page, calling into question his original take. But take a look at this particular link. Note that the seller is listed as IKEA and that IKEA is a link. This seems different than all the third party IKEA product resellers. Disagree?

UPDATE2: And it turns out that that IKEA link is just a link to group IKEA products, but they are all sold by third party sellers. The update from Jason’s site:

I am an idiot. All this Ikea stuff on Amazon is from resellers…the same stuff that’s been available for years on the site. (Same deal with all the Muji items on Amazon.) I mean, they are still genuine Ikea products and some of it isn’t even available from Ikea’s online store. Anyway, not such a huge deal. I was wondering why Ikea would be adopting such a if-you-can’t-beat-‘em-join-‘em attitude towards Amazon; turns out they’re still just trying to beat ‘em.

Feh. But thanks to all the commenters and Twitter folks for steering me straight.

iPhone manufacturer Foxconn eyes Wisconsin for new plant

Associated Press:

A Taiwanese company that assembles Apple’s iPhones and other electronics is considering building a plant in Wisconsin that could employ thousands of people and give Gov. Scott Walker a huge political boost as he prepares to run for re-election.

A person with direct knowledge of the negotiations who was not authorized to speak publicly confirmed to the Associated Press on Wednesday that the state is in talks with Foxconn. At least one other upper Midwest state, Michigan, is also pursuing the plant.

This could be a rumor, could be Foxconn simply exploring options, could be Foxconn setting up a bidding war between Wisconsin and Michigan. No matter, this has interesting implications in terms of Apple potentially building future product in the US.

Apple is quietly working on turning your iPhone into the one-stop shop for all your medical info

Christina Farr, CNBC:

Imagine turning to your iPhone for all your health and medical information — every doctor’s visit, lab test result, prescription and other health information, all available in a snapshot on your phone and shared with your doctor on command. No more logging into hospital web sites or having to call your previous doctor to get them to forward all that information to your new one.

Apple is working on making that scenario a reality.

And:

CNBC has learned that a secretive team within Apple’s growing health unit has been in talks with developers, hospitals and other industry groups about bringing clinical data, such as detailed lab results and allergy lists, to the iPhone, according to a half-dozen people familiar with the team. And from there, users could choose to share it with third parties, like hospitals and health developers.

This day can’t come soon enough. The sharing of medical data, in a safe, secure, and privacy respecting manner, is a space ripe for disruption. Apple is the right player to make this happen.

Morning Consult poll on potential HomePod buyers vs Amazon Echo, Google Home

Apple’s HomePod and Google Home show as a distant second to Amazon Echo. You can see the polling data here. Most of this is due to price.

That said, the HomePod is just an announcement, not yet a product in the wild, something people can actually fully experience. The fact that the HomePod is pretty much tied with Google Home, a product that is currently shipping and in people’s homes, tells me that there is a strong potential market for HomePod.

With price as a strong decision point for buyers, I suspect this data means the market will segregate into strong layers, with Amazon owning the cheap seats, Apple owning the higher tiers, and brand loyalty dividing the areas in between.

Walt Disney’s original, personal map of Disneyland up for auction

CNN:

Disney started W.E.D. Enterprises (for Walter Elias Disney), went looking for cheap land in Southern California, and recruited artists and art directors from various studios. They began designing aspects of the park, as Walt’s brother, Roy O. Disney, lined up meetings with potential investors: banks and TV networks. But with those pitch meetings just days away, Walt realized he had no big visual for his vision; he needed a show to go with Roy’s tell. “They had all these elements, but they didn’t have them all together in something they could present to investors,” explains Van Eaton.

So, on a Friday, Walt called Herb Ryman, a friend and former Disney artist known for working quickly, with an audacious idea: draw a huge, detailed map of the proposed park.

Fascinating story, a one-of-a-kind collectible. The map goes on the auction block June 25th, expected to fetch north of $500K.

See what the coming eclipse will look like from your town

From the solar eclipse simulator:

Join us in this first-of-its-kind citizen science project, gathering scientifically valuable data from the total solar eclipse that will traverse North America on August 21, 2017.

Type your zip code or town name into the search field and you’ll see (drag the slider or hit the play button) a simulation of the eclipse that will unfold on August 21st.

What Apple thought the iPhone might look like in 1995

The Atlantic:

Apple has always been fond of dreaming up hardware and software from a not-too-distant future, and there are glimmers of the iPhone in Apple’s history since long before the rumors about the device were taken seriously in the early 2000s. More than a decade before the smartphone was unveiled, Apple shared with the computing magazine Macworld a semi-outlandish design for a videophone-PDA that could exchange data. (Smartphones eventually made the PDA, or personal digital assistant, obsolete.)

The prototype for the device, published in the May 1995 issue of the magazine, is something of a missing link between the Newton and the iPhone—though still more parts the former than the latter.

Interesting look back. Be sure to take a look at the pictures.