Godammit. I really loved Muhammad Ali. My all-time greatest hero. A great athlete, funny as shit, and a giant of a man because he gave a shit about something other than himself. He stood up for what he believed in, and he shone a light on all kinds of injustice. Rest in peace Ali.
SAN FRANCISCO — Look carefully at the cracks in the sidewalk around Apple’s new flagship store in San Francisco. They all line up with architectural elements of the store.
Some are continuous with the metal panels on the exterior walls. Some line up with the windows, and the huge glass panels that make up the 42-foot high front door. Some of the cracks are continuous with the stone floor tiles inside the store.
In turn, the joints in the floor line up with panels on the wall, which line up with the lighting panels on the ceiling.
In fact, most of the lines in the store — the edges of the glass balconies, cutouts in the middle of the tables, the edges of shelves and drawers — all line up with other elements of the store.
Some of these lines run continously from the sidewalk in front of the store all the way through to the tree-lined plaza in the back. It’s a bit crazy, when you examine it, and very, very difficult to pull off.
I’ve seen the future of Wi-Fi. It’s called Eero. It comes in a pack of three, costs an arm and a leg, but boy is it worth it.
Eero is a slick system of mesh-connected routers that blanket your whole house in Wi-Fi. Eero promises to eliminate dead spots, make restarts redundant, and offer blazing speeds from the basement to the attic.
In my tests, Eero performs as advertised. After years of Wi-Fiheadaches, and an Apple Time Capsule that barely worked, we now have fast and reliable Wi-Fi all over the house.
Ask Amazon’s Echo smart speaker “How much does the Earth weigh?” and she’ll rattle off the answer in pounds. It takes about a full minute and is genuinely amusing. It’s just one of many surprises up Echo’s sleeve (see this crazy list of Echo Easter Eggs on Reddit). It proves she is by far the best computer you can talk to. Sorry Siri.
And now there are two new members of Amazon’s smart speaker family, both with significant advantages. I love them both, with a couple of caveats.
The various auto designers and experts interviewed by Motor Trend speculate that Apple will try to redefine the car “experience.” They talk about stuff like acoustics, and look and feel, rather than specs like miles per gallon or engine torque.
They predict that Apple will bring a better “user experience” to the car of the future, not just a better physical product.
This reminded me of interviewing Apple’s designers for my Jony Ive book. They explained that the design group takes exactly this approach when thinking about new Apple products. Instead of starting with chip speeds or screen resolutions, they begin by asking each other how the new product should make the user feel.
The departure of veteran Apple industrial designer Daniel Coster is significant because, like the Mafia, no one ever leaves Jony Ive’s design studio.
Coster, a core member of Apple’s design team for more than 20 years, is perhaps only the third member of Ive’s tight-knit industrial design group to leave in almost two decades. And one of the others died.
When Steve Jobs was around, Apple’s product events were about the products, and little else. Yeah, Jobs would often start with corporate issues, but he usually boasted about how the company was absolutely crushing it.
By contrast, the first 25 minutes of Monday’s event — almost half of the hour-long presentation — focused on things only tangentially related to Apple products. Cook and his lieutenants discussed government snooping, privacy, recycling, the environment, renewable energy, creating platforms for sustaining customers’ health — and even protecting Chinese yaks.
Jobs used to touch on issues like these, but under Cook, they’ve taken center stage. Cook has turned Apple’s product events into showcases for corporate responsibility.
Lust List: DropTech protective case for Apple iPad Pro by Gumdrop
Apple charges a whopping $599 to repair a broken screen on an iPad Pro. With its 13-inch screen, yeah, the Pro has a lot of glass, but 600 bucks is nearly as much as it costs to buy a new one. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either.
So I’m grateful that my iPad Pro is safely ensconced in the equivalent of a big, rubbery safety blanket. Gumdrop’s DropTech Case looks like a flattened tractor tire, with big ridges on the back for maintaining a grip. It’s not elegant by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m confident it’ll save me a trip to the Genius Bar.