Apple Park Design

The Wall Street Journal: “A section of workspace in the circular, Norman Foster–designed building is finally move-in-ready: sliding-glass doors on the soundproof offices, a giant European white oak collaboration table, adjustable-height desks, and floors with aluminum-covered hinged panels, hiding cables and wires, and brushed-steel grating for air diffusion.”

Like so many people I couldn’t wait to see the inside of the new Apple Park building. From the outside it’s absolutely amazing. But the inside appears to be stark, cold. Of course this is my opinion and I haven’t actually been inside the building, which could change my mind because experiencing something for yourself can make a world of difference.

I hope you like white, stark, and cold?

I happen to have some recent experience moving into new digs. Agrian just completed construction on our new building and we moved in a couple months ago. By contrast our building is inviting, not stark. It has a design I’ve never experienced and I love it. Our building is basically split down the middle by common space. The main entrance is in the middle of the building, which is a rectangle, not a circle. That main entrance opens to a long hallway which ends in The Hub. It’s the heart of the building. It’s a reconfigurable space with a great kitchen on one side. The wall opposite the kitchen holds giant monitors stitched together. Yes you could play games on it, watch your favorite TV show, or whatever! It’s a great feature. Most of the time The Hub is configured with tables and booths so we have a place to eat together.

“Desks in the open-plan workspaces can be raised to standing level at the push of a button.”

Open workspaces? Ack.

Another feature of the new Apple Park space I’m not a fan of is open workspaces. I’ve worked at companies with open spaces and private offices, I prefer private offices. That allows me to make the space mine. The new Agrian building has a great layout, with private offices, fully adjustable desks, and big displays. Perfect.

I really need to take some pictures and share them. Another design choice I appreciate in our space is the use of texture throughout.

The only picture I’ve taken is of our exposed Server Room. It’s super easy for a server room to become messy. An exposed server room is a great way to embarrass folks into keeping it clean.

Our new server room. Nice and clean.

I’ve found over the years my environment affects my mood. I’d love to see Apple Park in person. It may be absolutely perfect, but from the article it doesn’t look like a place I’d fall in love with.

Does anyone else think it’s strange a design focused company like Apple didn’t locate in the middle of a city? I am. I don’t know why, but I am. Their new space is beautiful but was entirely too small for the company before it left the architects office. It only houses 12,000 people. For some reason I think Tony Stark when I think Apple. The Stark building in the Avengers seems Apple-like to me —with the exception of the big Stark lettering and it should be in San Francisco, not New York.

I could see the Apple logo in place of the Stark name.

I wonder if they’ll have tours at Apple Park? I’d like to check it out and see if my opinion changes.

The Apple Watch is just a watch

A wonderful bouquet of flowers.John Lilly [via Medium]: It is, fundamentally and essentially, just this: a wristwatch. If you’re someone who wants to wear a watch, this is a great one in many ways. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to wear a watch, this will not make your life better. In 2015, wearing a watch is a bit of an affectation — you have to want to have a watch on, you certainly don’t need one — and that’s true for this, too.

I don’t own an Apple Watch at the moment, but I probably will at some point because I will eventually have to write an app for the platform. Since its release I’ve thought long and hard about how I think I’d use it. I’m not a notifications guy. I only have a few on my phone, and I’d have fewer on my wrist; phone calls and text messages, but only from a select few. The one real benefit for me, and no I’m not joking, is the hope I miss fewer phone calls or text messages from my wife. Everything else the watch has to offer is fluff. 

What about the fitness stuff? I’m not sure this will work for me. I wear my watch loose on my wrist. It binds up otherwise. I tend to buy watches with link bracelets and I’ve broken everyone I’ve ever had, I don’t know how, but it happens. Hopefully the flubber sport band will keep that from happening, but I guess we’ll find out some day.

I will, of course, buy the least expensive 42mm model. The guts of the low end and high end models are the same, and the low end model is still ridiculously expensive at $349.00. I had the tiniest of hopes these things would run around $149.00, but Apple doesn’t do that. They can charge a premium and get it, so they do. I’m hoping this generation will drop in price dramatically once gen two ships. Hopefully it will be able to run version two of the OS. Call me a tightwad if you’d like, it’s a fair assessment. I have a hard time spending that kind of money on myself. 

Customization is something I’m really interested in. The only thing I’m hoping for as a developer is a watch face SDK. Apps are fine, but I want to customize the watch face. I could imagine having my Dumbledore watch face and I like the idea of it (yes, I own one of these watches.) Beyond that I have an idea some really brilliant designers will have fun creating watch faces. I could also see a one off market for rich people. Hey, if you spent thousands of dollars on a watch, you might spend thousands on an original work of art for your device, right?

Something else I really want to do is anodize the aluminum case. I have a hankering for a bright orange case with a custom built leather strap. This is the customization I desire above all others. I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull this one off given the hostile to fixers build of the watch.

There is one thing about the watch that really disappoints. I had high hopes Apple would make a timeless classic, instead they opted for a throwaway commodity. When I read about the System on a Chip (scroll down to read about the S1) they had designed for the watch I had imagined the ability to open the case and swap out the system with a new generation. It would appear, based on the iFixit tear down that Apple sees this device as a throwaway gadget. That’s kind of sad. A timeless classic would have been so much nicer, especially for the versions that cost over a thousand bucks. Real watch makers build timeless pieces. Apple has added the commodity thinking we have in tech. Just throw it away and buy the new one. I’m as guilty of this line of thinking as the next person. 

Apple will learn a lot from generation one. Eventually the watch could replace the phone as a primary communication device for text and voice. For now, it’s a 1.0 with nowhere to go but up. It’s off to a good start.

Update: After posting I ran across this tweet. I see more and more like this each day. I dont think this is a signal of the watches failure. It’s just the reality of it. It’s a nice watch.

Another thing to note: I take reviews, like those at John Gruber’s excellent Daring Fireball, with a grain of salt. John makes his living from his support of Apple, and their products, and is never harsh. He finds the best in everything Apple does, and there is nothing wrong with that. I try to seek out neutral parties on the subject, which is hard to do. Most people either love or hate Apple. I felt like John Lilly’s comments were pretty neutral.

Vesper Pricing

A wonderful bouquet of flowers.Q Branch: “Now that Vesper supports all iOS device layouts, we’re raising the regular price for the app to $9.99. With fast, reliable, unlimited sync, we think that’s a great value.

I think the idea of a sustainable business is the right way to look at this, but pricing an app at $9.99 isn’t the proper solution. The proper solution is to charge for their “fast, reliable, unlimited sync.” That’s the value, the app is just a way to get to your data.

The idea of apps is wrong footed, it’s about services. Mobile and Web are the two important clients in that equation. Sure, having a native Mac app would be fantastic, but Web is a better choice to spend your time on, especially for a note taking application.

Here’s an example; Evernote. The value of Evernote is the ability to not only take notes, but get to them from Mobile and Web. We pay for the backend service to keep our data secure and easily accessible. At $45 per year it’s a real deal.

A better play for apps like Vesper is an annual subscription service.

Twitter, buy Path

Here’s another of my strange acquisition desires; Twitter should buy Path.

It seems, for some strange reason, there’s a bit of Facebook envy at Twitter. Maybe media reports just make it seem that way, maybe it’s true, I don’t know. One thing is for sure, Twitter lacks certain functionality. I think Path could give them some of that functionality.

Path is a much better version of what Facebook would like to be on mobile. Path is beautifully designed, easy to use, and limited to following a small set of people. You can still share your Path adventures outside your immediate network, but your timeline is limited inside the application. It’s perfect. Not only is Path a better Facebook, it’s also a darned good replacement for Instagram. The photos feature is solid and it has all the nifty filters people have come to expect in applications (if you need more filters you can always get them via extensions.)

Another nifty addition would be Hipstamatic. I love this funky camera app but a lot of what it does could be redesigned as an awesome set of extensions (I could be very wrong about that.)

The bottom line is, Twitter could get a lot more functionality with the purchase of a single app.

Tim Tebow, Football Player

Tim Tebow is one of those guys, you either love him, or hate him. At one point I couldn’t stand the guy, but that was mainly because I can’t stand the Florida Gators. I now like him. By all accounts he’s a great young man, but I digress.

Let’s talk about Tim Tebow the football player. Not Tim Tebow the quarterback, Tim Tebow the football player.

It’s no secret the New York Jets made a mistake acquiring him in the off season. It seems the decision was made in the corporate office and Rex Ryan was told “Make a spot for this kid.” Obviously Rex didn’t have a place for Tim Tebow.

This morning ESPN’s Adam Schefter shared a quote from an unnamed NFL General Manager:

“I think his career is over without playing another position.”

That’s a very bold statement, but probably has some validity.

Trading Places

Do you remember Pat White? If I’m not mistaken, and I could be, Pat White was encouraged to change positions once he reached the NFL if he wanted to have a career. He decided not to take that advice and insisted on remaining a quarterback. He lasted one season as a backup with the Miami Dolphins and was cut the following season. He hasn’t played in the NFL since.

How about Michael Robinson? Do you know who he is? He’s the fullback for the Seattle Seahawks, and a darned good athlete. Here’s the deal. He was a quarterback out of college and was encouraged to change positions. He was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2006, he listened to his coaches, became a running back, worked hard, and the rest is history. He’s still playing in the NFL.

Here’s another great example and a name you probably won’t recognize. Jim Jensen. Jim Jensen earned a roster spot on a Miami Dolphin’s team each year he played by being a football player. He was a quarterback by trade, but how can you play that position when you’re on a team with Dan Marino? You can’t. You have to play other positions. Over his career Jim Jensen was known as a great special teams player but played quarterback, wide receiver, and running back. The man kept two pair of shoulder pads on the sidelines in case he was needed at quarterback. He wasn’t a star, he was a player. He is a guy that wanted to play the game so badly he’d do anything. That man is the definition of football player.

Be A Player

Yeah, yeah, I’m an armchair analyst. What NFL loving person isn’t? I think Tim Tebow should think about becoming a fullback or possibly a tight end. He’s a big kid: 6’3″ tall and 236lbs. There is no doubt he’s a winner and he works very hard. I find it curious General Managers are writing him off after seeing what he did in Denver. Really? How can you not believe he’s a football player? That’s right, a football player, not a quarterback, just a player.

We’ll see if he lands with a team in 2013. As a fan I certainly hope he does.

Pssst, can you imagine what Bill Belichick could do with him? That’s a scary thought.

Why I prefer Twitterrific

I’ve wanted to post why I prefer Twitterrific as my Twitter client of choice for quite a while now. Here it is, in all its glory. No, I don’t work for Iconfactory, and I wasn’t paid to write this. I’m just a fan of The Iconfactory and their work.

Simplicity

It all comes down to simplicity. You can tell the Designers and Developers at The Iconfactory spent a lot of time keeping Twitterrific simple. It has a thoughtful, very simple, yet very powerful interface. First off they chose a different navigation method than most Twitter clients. They use nested table views to get guide you to your Twitter Timeline. At first blush some may think it’s too many steps, but it’s not at all. Sure the first time to move through it it takes a few taps but once you’re to your timeline you don’t go back much, at least I don’t.


Figure #1: Tap on the account name to begin navigating.

Figure #2: Tap on the Timeline you’d like to view

The Timeline

One you arrive at your timeline in Twitterrific there are a few really nice features. First, since they used a different navigation scheme you’re not presented with an ugly tab bar at the bottom that takes you between timeline views. Yes, I consider that a feature. It’s a simple refresh button and a button to launch the post editor. Simple, right?


Figure #3 Light and Dark Timelines

The other thing I’d like to point out is the color coding of tweets. I have a couple of images above for you to consider. The one on the left is using the Light Theme, the one on the right is using the Dark Theme.

Notice the different colors? Replies, to and from, are a different color than standard tweets in your timeline. Colors are also different if you’re mentioned in a tweet but not being replied to directly. You can see that in the dark timeline on the right, the bottom tweet. It’s a lighter brown color than a direct reply in the dark theme. I really like this. If I’m trying to catch up with tweets I scan scroll through them quickly and stop right on replies. I don’t show it here but Direct Replies are also shown in a different color making them super easy to find in your timeline.

Inline Images

Another really nice feature is Inline Images. When you tap on a tweet you’re taken to a view of it that isolates it and if it contains a link to an image, it supports lots of services, you’ll see the image show up right below the tweet. This is another really nice touch and more proof Iconfactory paid close attention to the Design and UX.


Figure #4: Dark and Light Tweet Details with Inline Images.

The Post Editor

The Twitterrific post editor has a nice little touch I haven’t seen in other Twitter clients, at least not presented like this. When you go to reply to a tweet you can see the person’s tweet right below the editor, and it shows you the name of the person you’re replying to. This is really nice just in case you want to refer back to the tweet while replying. It keeps you in the editor, no need to cancel back to your timeline. I also really like seeing my avatar right in the editor, just in case I’ve replied to someone from the wrong account. Hey, it could happen!


Figure #5: Reply Editor with tweet preview.

Overall Twitterrific fits my use of Twitter perfectly. That may not be the case for everyone, but I certainly like it.

Manton Reece on Free Apps

Manton Reece: “Free apps and the problem of exclusive distribution are linked. Get rid of free apps, and the store can support itself naturally. Get rid of exclusive distribution, and Apple can be more creative about charging developers who do want to participate in the App Store. If Amazon isn’t happy with Apple’s terms, users can install the Kindle app outside the store and it doesn’t cost Apple anything to maintain.”

I can’t see this happening, but I’m sure a lot of folks would like to see it. I don’t happen to be one, at least not today.

The state of television

Yes, I watch my share of television, I admit it. There’s no mistaking I love movies and a great television show gives me a bit of that movie feel I like so much. The problem with most television today is it’s all about reality shows, and the free stations are full of that garbage. Something I really have zero interest in. I know folks love American Idol, I could care less, they love The Bachelor, meh, I could care less. I fit into a different demographic, although I don’t know what it’s called. It would be something like “People that think reality TV sucks” demographic. Yes, that’s the one I’m a part of. For some strange reason that demographic is better served by cable stations. Yes, of course they have their reality shows, but they also have some of the best programming in television today.

Here’s what I’m watching these days, when I get the chance, most of it on pay stations.

You’ll notice there’s one free station in the mix, NBC. Parenthood is a great show amongst a bunch of turkeys on network television. You’ll also notice there’s is a little problem with my list. Three of the shows I love to watch are on the same night, at the same time. Southland, Justified, and Parenthood are all on Tuesday’s at 10. Thank goodness for online viewing and DVR’s.

UPDATE: After receiving some comments I needed to make an adjustment. Here are a few more TV shows I enjoy.