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What Apple’s products could look like without Jony Ive leading design

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It’ll truly be the end of an era when Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive walks out of the massive sliding glass doors of Apple Park to design things at his new company, LoveFrom.

Ive and his team of close-knit industrial designers have blessed the world with many iconic products, including the iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch over the last 20 years. 

These are all devices that have changed the world. But in some ways, Ive’s obsession with stripping everything down to its purest form has also been the source of much frustration for users. Instead of products that provide the best form and function, in recent years, Apple products have felt too compromised.

Though many will view Ive’s departure from Apple as a turn for the worse — “The genius of Steve Jobs and Ive will never be matched; Apple is doomed!” — I see his leave as an opportunity for the company to embrace a new chapter of more sensible devices. Devices that are familiar, but better suit the many different kinds of users that have helped grow Apple into one of the most valuable companies in the world.

It’s unlikely Apple without Ive will vomit a dizzying lineup of new devices the same way the company did in the late ’80s to early ’90s under former CEO John Sculley. And I don’t expect Ive’s influence to suddenly disappear overnight. 

However, I strongly feel Apple’s industrial designers are at inflection point where they can step out of Ive’s shadow and improve on existing products by breaking with some of the principles he was so unrelenting on.

Next-gen iPhone

A thicker iPhone with a flush camera sure would be nice.
A thicker iPhone with a flush camera sure would be nice.

A decade since the iPhone’s introduction, Apple’s most revolutionary product now faces fierce assault from every direction. The iPhone no longer has one main rival (Samsung), but myriad competition, especially from China (Huawei, Xiaomi, OnePlusOppo, etc.) 

iPhone sales flatlined as prices became too high, hardware became more than good enough to last beyond two years, and Android phone alternatives have introduced irresistible mobile innovations such as notch- and hole-free displaysin-display fingerprint readers, and cameras capable of shooting ultra-wide photos and stunning night shots.

In comparison, the iPhone — as fantastic as the iPhone XR and XS/XS Max are — feel like they’re falling behind. This year’s new iPhones are expected to keep the same designs but add an ultra-wide camera inside of a big protruding bump.

New software and services, faster performance, and improved cameras are all great features, but consumers want more visible change for the iPhone.

Under Ive, the iPhone went on a diet until it became arguably too thin with the iPhone 6, which culminated in bendgate. Slowly, but surely, the iPhone has thickened with each new model going from the iPhone 6’s 6.9mm profile to 8.3mm on the iPhone XR.

I can’t speak for everyone, but anecdotally, I see more people with iPhone XRs than iPhone XS or XS Max. Not to mention almost everyone puts their iPhones in cases or carries battery packs or cases. This suggests to me people might not mind a thicker phone if the tradeoff’s for, say, a bigger battery or a camera that doesn’t jut out. It would be smart for Apple’s industrial team to take these use cases into consideration for any future iPhones.

“Consumers want more visible change for the iPhone.”

We’ve been hearing for years that the iPhone might switch to USB-C. It hasn’t happened under Ive’s watch. USB-C would mean one less proprietary cable to carry around. While it seems unlikely Apple would sever the healthy revenue it collects from third-party companies that license its Lightning tech, a thicker iPhone — even a millimeter or two — would allow physical room for USB-C to fit. USB-C would also endow the iPhone with iPad Pro-like functionality, like the ability to connect to monitors and USB-C flash drives.

A new smaller iPhone with a notch-free display and in-display Touch ID fingerprint reader could also compete with Android phones with the same features. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimsa 5.4-inch iPhone is reportedly slated for 2020 and a Credit Suisse analyst says Apple’s working on an in-display fingerprint reader, despite insisting Face ID is the better and more natural biometric system for iPhones.

I’d also love a design refresh that mirrors the iPad Pro’s straight edges and throws it back to the boxier iPhone 5/5S/SE days.

Future MacBooks and iMacs

Kill the Touch Bar, add a touchscreen, and bring back a memory card slot, please!
Kill the Touch Bar, add a touchscreen, and bring back a memory card slot, please!

I’ve outlined before what the death of the 12-inch MacBook could mean for future Apple laptops. Namely, this is Apple’s chance to kill its almost controversial “butterfly keyboard” and switch back to scissor-style keys with more travel. Similarly, Apple can dump the Touch Bar and bring back the row of function keys while still keeping Touch ID inside of the power button like on the MacBook Air

Like the iPhone, I wouldn’t mind if Apple made the MacBook Air and Pro marginally thicker and heavier to add in a touchscreen (gorilla arm is such a myth), higher-resolution webcam with Face ID, a memory card slot, and MagSafe. These features would put MacBooks more on par with Windows-powered alternatives such as the excellent Surface Laptop 2 and Google Pixelbook.

And while Apple’s at it making MacBooks a few hairs thicker, why not make internal components like the storage, RAM, and battery user-replaceable again? Soldering the SSD and RAM is good for making thin machines, but terrible for upgrades, repairs, and adds to e-waste.

The iMac deserves a makeover. It's been seven years since the last redesign.
The iMac deserves a makeover. It’s been seven years since the last redesign.

iMacs could also use a post-Ive revamp beyond a space gray colorway; the current design’s gone virtually unchanged since 2012. As a desktop — a computer that doesn’t move around much (if ever) — Apple has a lot more room to be bolder.

Who is the iMac for? What do people want it to do that it can’t? I imagine creatives would love an iMac that borrows from Microsoft’s Surface Studio 2 and has drafting table-like capabilities. A touchscreen with multi-touch and Apple Pencil support using a tilting stand would be neat. 

Design-wise, I’d love a Retina display that reaches closer to the edges with slimmer bezels like on the upcoming Pro Display XDR and does away with the iMac’s “chin.”

Face ID login, a new Magic Mouse that corrects this horrendous can’t-use-while-charging design, and user-swappable storage and RAM, or even a screen that rotates vertically like the Pro Display XDR would reimagine the iMac as a formidable modern all-in-one computer.

Apple Watch, Apple TV, HomePod, and beyond

There’s not much that needs improving for the Apple Watch. A camera underneath the display like the one Oppo showed off in a phone for FaceTime calls would be killer.

The Apple TV could become the game console it’s always been meant to be with its own Apple-designed gamepad; it makes even more sense with the launch of Apple Arcade this fall. The Apple TV’s Siri Remote could also use tweaking — small changes so that it’s easier to know which side is up or down.

It’s hard to say how Apple could turn around the HomePod’s misfortunes. Maybe a smaller and cheaper version or one with a screen like the Google Nest Hub

The sky really is the limit for the industrial design team Ive leaves behind. I’m not saying they should run wild and pull a Samsung with future iPhones or MacBooks that use unproven technologies like foldable screens or even release the rumored AR glasses. But bumping utility — real practical needs — higher up on the priority list could help ring in a new Apple era that’s less tone deaf.

Source: https://mashable.com/article/apple-product-redesign-jony-ive/

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HUAWEI WON’T LAUNCH SMARTPHONE WITH HARMONY OS UNLESS…

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Although Huawei has officially launched the Harmony OS (Hongmeng). In fact, it’s been developed to Android OS on its smartphones. However, Huawei still emphasizes that the company is committed to staying in the eco-platform of Google. Recently, the Chinese communications and smartphone manufacturing giant said that there is no plan to launch a smartphone based on its self-developed system.

The above statement was made by Vincent Yang, senior vice president of Huawei, in a media event in New York on Wednesday. He pointed out that ‘we hope to maintain a set of standards and a set of ecology… Harmony OS is the company’s Plan B.”

Image result for harmonyos mate

This means that if the US continues to implement the ban and even refuses Huawei to acquire key components of the Android system including GMS and Play Store, then Harmony will play a preventive role.

According to Huawei, the amount of code in Harmony OS is much lower than that of Android. In addition to TV, Huawei is preparing to use it in smartwatches, in-car products and so on.

In addition, Yang hinted that Huawei’s next new flagship machine (which is widely believed to be the Mate 30 series) still runs the Android system. As for the switch to their OS, it will only happen at the last moment when the company is forced to disable Android.

WHEN WILL HUAWEI LAUNCH A SMARTPHONE RUNNING ON HARMONY OS?

According to Yang, Huawei currently has no plans to launch the smartphone running their own OS. But if the US maintains the ban, the situation may change.

P.S. Earlier, we have heard the first smartphone to come with this system will be the Mate 30 Lite. But now, after the statement of Huawei executive, there is no reason to think so. Although, in the case of Huawei, everything is possible.

Source: https://www.gizchina.com/2019/08/22/huawei-wont-launch-smartphone-with-harmony-os-unless/

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Facebook loses Oculus executive who led its mobile VR efforts

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Another Oculus executive who played a key role in Facebook’s VR efforts is leaving the company. Just a few days ago, Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell headed for the exit — now, Variety has revealed that Max Cohen, Oculus’ head of mobile, is also peacing out. While Facebook refused to give the publication an official statement, Cohen’s LinkedIn page confirms his departure. His current position says he’s an “explorer” who’s “learning new skills.”

Cohen joined Oculus as VP of mobile just a few weeks before Facebook’s acquisition and headed up several projects over the years. He led the Gear VR program and Oculus’ Samsung partnership, and he also led the development of the standalone Oculus Go VR headset. In addition, he started the Oculus Quest program, which spawned a standalone headsetthat’s able to play desktop-quality VR games.

What Cohen’s departure means for Oculus remains to be seen. As Varietynoted, Facebook is holding the Oculus Connect developer conference on September 25th and 26th. The social network is expected to reveal its virtual and augmented reality plans, so we’ll most likely hear about some of the projects Oculus is working on during the event.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/08/21/facebook-loses-oculus-head-of-mobile-vr/

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Samsung Beats Apple As AirPods Face Embarrassing Defeat

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If you are looking for the best wireless earbuds for your phone’s music, then Samsung is going to be very quick to point out that its Galaxy Buds have picked up the first ‘excellent’ rating for sound quality by a wireless device. Meanwhile Apple is going to be licking its wounds as the AirPods sit in a lowly 49th place in the same chart.

Galaxy Buds charge wirelessly atop an S10 phone during the Samsung Unpacked product launch event in San Francisco, California on February 20, 2019 (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images)

Galaxy Buds charge wirelessly atop an S10 phone during the Samsung Unpacked product launch event in San Francisco, California on February 20, 2019 (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images) GETTY

The rankings come from Consumer Reports’ study of the market, and it picks out a number of key features. Kim Eun-jin reports for Business Korea:

The Galaxy Buds were ranked first with 86 points, while AirPods, which are used by about 60 percent of wireless earphone users, came in 49th with 56 points.

Consumer Reports ranked the wireless earphones based on an evaluation of their sound quality and designs.

In terms of sound quality, only the Galaxy Buds received the “Excellent” grade. Consumer Reports said that the Galaxy Buds were one of the first portable Bluetooth earphones to achieve the highest sound quality grade.

The first is the aforementioned sound quality. Given the AirPods hang in the ear in the exact same way as a brick designed to look like Douglas Adams does not, and the Galaxy Buds fill the outer ear with optional ‘wings’ this should not come as a huge surprise to anyone who has experienced both.

Power was also highlighted. Not only do the Galaxy Buds offer more battery capacity with the six hours of advertised audio time reachable, the carry case (which tops up to allow for another seven hours) comes with wireless charging as standard.

Finally there’s the price. Once you pick and mix from Apple’s options to build a similar package of AirPods to the Buds, you realise that Samsung’s package significantly cheaper.

North Rhine-Westphalia, Cologne: A man wears AirPods, Apple's wireless headphones in his ears (Photo by Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images)

North Rhine-Westphalia, Cologne: A man wears AirPods, Apple’s wireless headphones in his ears (Photo by Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images) GETTY

The report also acknowledges that Apple is the market leader here with sixty percent of the wireless earbuds market. As with most Apple products, you don’t have full feature parity, and what you do you have is more expensive than the competition.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2019/08/19/samsung-galaxy-buds-vs-apple-airpods-wireless-headphones-best-winner-loser/#41384d6163e3

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