‘Looks By Dr. Dre’

Khoi Vinh, commenting on the fashionable aspect of Beats headphones:

If you take a look at Beats’ headphones product catalog, it looks a lot closer to, say, the Nixon watches catalog than any catalog of technology products. Beats’ headphones, like Nixon’s watches, are oriented such that the primary selection criteria are looks and style; you’ve got to wade through those before you decide which model you want. By contrast, on Apple’s site, you’ve got to choose your model before you can choose your style—or, put another way, you choose what you want it do, first, and then you get to choose what you want it to look like.


‘Kara Swisher Is Silicon Valley’s Most Feared and Well-Liked Journalist’

Benjamin Wallace profiles Kara Swisher for New York Magazine:

The combination of access and toughness has made Swisher a preeminent arbiter of status in a Silicon Valley where constant turmoil is taken as a sign of innovation and vitality. She isn’t exactly Bob Woodward, soberly transcribing the as-he-thought-it aphorisms of Washington potentates, nor is she Hollywood’s Nikki Finke, holed up in her secret lair and firing off incendiary, career-vaporizing emails. Instead, she might be the Valley’s Walter Lippmann, who occupied a nexus of journalist, counselor, and kingmaker in a mid-century D.C. being remade by the arrival of a new imperial Establishment.


‘Apple Has Done More For Accessibility Than Any Other Company’

Mark A. Riccobono, NFB president, clarifies the organization’s position in wake of Reuters’s story:

I thought the chatter around the resolution would fade away until some media reports made inaccurate assertions about the resolution, its content, and what actions the NFB will take to carry it out. Many of these inaccurate assertions have been fueled by a provocative and poorly reported article from the Reuters news service, linked here only for reference. Reuters has already been forced to correct the article because it reported, inaccurately, that the National Federation of the Blind once brought suit against Apple, Inc. This never happened, although a demand letter was sent regarding the accessibility of iTunes and iTunes U, and the Massachusetts Attorney General opened an investigation. Those actions resulted in a voluntary agreement with Apple that was a significant step in getting us the accessibility we experience today.


On Swarm’s Problems

Caitlin McGarry, writing for TechHive:

The iTunes ratings for Swarm are lower and the reviews more vicious than on Google Play, where the app has a 4-star average, but even fans of Swarm are asking why Foursquare needed to unbundle itself in the first place. The company amassed billions of pieces of location data with its popular check-in function—it kept people coming back. You could earn points and badges, become mayor of your neighborhood restaurant, and even unlock discounts just by checking in. Swarm shed most of the gamification features that made Foursquare a success. You can still compete for mayorships, but against your friends instead of everyone. Badges are gone, replaced with stickers. (Ugh, stickers.)


On the NFB, Apple, and iOS Accessibility

Christina Farr, writing for Reuters:

[A]dvocates of the disabled want the problem solved by the company at the center of the app world — Apple. Rival Google Inc, whose Android operating system drives more phones than Apple, is also under pressure, but as the creator of the modern smartphone and a long-time champion for the blind, Apple is feeling the most heat.

Apple hasn’t been a steady champion. In 2008, the National Federation of the Blind sent a demand letter to Apple even as the Massachusetts attorney general began an investigation into the accessibility of iTunes. Apple eventually agreed to pay $250,000 and add captions and other accessibility improvements to iTunes. Since then it has added more such features to its iPhone, iPod, iPad and Apple TV products.


‘Tim Cook: Damned If He Does, Damned If He Doesn’t’

John Gruber, commenting on yesterday’s WSJ profile of Tim Cook:

Last year Apple desperately needed new products and Tim Cook was failing as CEO because Apple wasn’t delivering them. Now that they seem poised to deliver new products, Cook is “spreading the company too thin” and even a successful product won’t affect the bottom line so why even bother, right?

Look for that refrain to be repeated; it seems to be the new Apple narrative.


Regarding Intelligent Location-Based Security

John Gruber, commenting on, of all things, an Apple patent:

Location-based security for iOS has long been a hobby horse of mine. This patent describes a system that sounds exactly like what I’ve longed for: the ability to have my iOS devices turn on without a passcode while inside my home, but require a passcode or TouchID anywhere else.

I’d love to have Touch ID be contextually aware — am I at home or not? — and adjust accordingly.

‘A Company Made of People’

Allen Pike shares his thoughts on Tim Cook’s Apple:

Today, the people, their personalities, and their values are starting to shine through. Beginning with the leadership “changes to increase collaboration,” through the departure of Katie Cotton as the head of PR, to the most open WWDC in memory, it’s become clear that this is intentional.


Of course, this is a shift, not a revolution. Apple will never get to the point where their culture tolerates, say, employees publicly tweeting that their CEO should step down. Indeed, as a public company with fierce competitors, they’re obligated to maintain decorum and secrecy around things that are materially sensitive.


On ‘The History of the Walkman’

Carl Frazen for The Verge, on 35 years of Sony’s iconic music player:

The first of Sony’s iconic portable cassette tape players went on sale on this day, July 1st, back in 1979 for $150. As the story goes, Sony co-founder Masaru Ibuka got the wheels turning months before when he asked for a way to listen to opera that was more portable than Sony’s existing TC-D5 cassette players. The charge fell to Sony designer Norio Ohga, who built a prototype out of Sony’s Pressman cassette recorder in time for Ibuka’s next flight.


‘How the Future Looked in 1964: The Picturephone’

Damon Darlin, writing for the NYT’s The Upshot blog:

Bell Telephone’s Picturephone went on display at the 1964 World’s Fair, but it went into actual commercial use on June 24, 50 years ago.

From a booth set up in Grand Central Terminal, a person could talk to a friend in Chicago or Washington while also seeing them on a small video screen. The friend would also have to go to a special booth in those cities to take the call. The price for the novelty of a three-minute call was $16.

That would be equivalent to $121 in today’s money.