Apple Announces iOS 8 Available 17 September [verbatim, picture from Apple Inc]
Introduces New Messages & Photos Features, QuickType Keyboard, Extensibility, iCloud Drive & New Health App
CUPERTINO, California – 10 September, 2014 – Apple® today announced iOS 8, the biggest release since the launch of the App Store℠, will be available starting Wednesday, 17 September to iPhone®, iPad® and iPod touch® users as a free software update. iOS 8 delivers a simpler, faster and more intuitive user experience with new Messages and Photos features, predictive typing for Apple’s QuickType™ keyboard and Family Sharing. iOS 8 also includes the new Health app, giving you a clear overview of your health and fitness data and iCloud Drive℠, so you can store files and access them from anywhere. With more than 4,000 new APIs, iOS 8 allows developers to further customise the user experience with major extensibility features and robust frameworks such as HealthKit and HomeKit.
“We’re excited for hundreds of millions of users to begin experiencing iOS 8, with incredible features that offer new ways to use your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “iOS 8 also creates an extraordinary environment for developers, providing them the ability to create amazing new apps like never before.”
Messages in iOS 8 makes conversations more immersive. Simply Tap to Talk to share your voice. The same gesture also works for sharing photos and videos. Users can now share several photos and videos at once and easily browse through all of them within a conversation from one place. Group messaging gives you the ability to add and remove contacts, and the option not to be disturbed or to leave a conversation entirely. You can also choose to share your current location from within Messages for an hour, a day or longer.
In iOS 8, the Photos app brings powerful editing to your fingertips. Photos automatically straightens horizons, and with smart editing tools you can quickly adjust light and colour with a swipe. For deeper fine-tuning, you can access individual tools to adjust exposure, brightness, contrast, highlights, shadows and more. Developers can tap into the same robust framework as the built-in Photos app using PhotoKit, and with extensibility APIs, can make their own filters and editing tools available to users within the Photos app.
New predictive typing for Apple’s QuickType keyboard is smarter, more personalised and intelligently takes context into account, such as who the recipient is and in which app you’re typing. QuickType understands the way you communicate, suggesting favourite phrases, so you can write entire sentences with just a few taps. What the QuickType keyboard learns is kept private, encrypted on your device and never sent to the cloud. Third-party keyboards are also available, so developers can offer additional layouts and input methods system-wide, providing users more choice.
The new Health app gathers the information you choose from your various health apps and fitness devices, and provides you with a clear and current overview in one place. HealthKit APIs offer developers the ability for health and fitness apps to communicate with each other. With your permission, each app can use specific information from other apps to provide a more comprehensive way to manage your health and fitness. Users will be able to gather and monitor their own fitness metrics using apps such as MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper and Strava. Healthcare providers can now monitor the data their patients choose to share through apps such as Mayo Clinic or Epic’s MyChart app that will be used by Duke Medicine and Stanford Children’s Health/Stanford Medicine, among others.
HomeKit connects your home devices safely and seamlessly so you can better manage accessories like lights, thermostats, door locks and garage doors. By delivering a common protocol, HomeKit securely pairs and allows easy control over individual or groups of devices throughout the house.
Family Sharing with iOS 8 makes it easier than ever to communicate and share purchases. It automatically keeps everyone connected by creating a shared family photo stream and calendar, and provides an option to locate family members and their devices. Family members can also now browse and download each other’s eligible iTunes®, iBooks® or App Store purchases. Up to six family members can participate, each with their own Apple ID. Parents can create Apple IDs for children and, with Ask to Buy, require online parental permission for Family Sharing purchases.
iCloud Drive allows you to safely store, access and edit documents of any type. Make edits on one device and the most up-to-date version of your documents will be available across all devices, whether an iOS device, Mac®, Windows PC or on http://www.icloud.com. iCloud Drive brings new collaboration between apps, providing seamless access and the ability to work on the same file across multiple apps.
Continuity features in iOS 8 and OS X® Yosemite bring your Mac and iOS devices together like never before. When your iPhone or iPad is near your Mac, Handoff lets you start an activity on one device and pass it to the other. Instant Hotspot makes using your iPhone’s hotspot as easy as connecting to a Wi-Fi network. Now the SMS and MMS messages that previously only appeared on your iPhone appear in Messages on all your devices. You can even send SMS or MMS messages directly from your Mac and make or receive iPhone calls using your Mac as a speakerphone.*
Additional iOS 8 features include:
• expanded security and management improvements for Enterprise, with new productivity features, including an extended level of data protection for key built-in apps and support for configurable Thread Notifications in Mail. Improvements in the way users are informed of how their devices are configured and managed further support the new mobilised workforce IT model;
• design enhancements that build off the stunning interface of iOS 7, bringing interactive notifications, quick access to key contacts, intelligent suggestions and the ability to quickly switch back and forth between the Inbox and Drafts in Mail; and
• Spotlight® suggestions beyond what’s on your device, including Wikipedia entries, places nearby and news articles.
The iOS 8 SDK, with over 4,000 new APIs, gives developers the ability to create amazing new apps like never before. The SDK delivers major iOS extensions, including new sharing options, widgets, custom actions and document APIs. Touch ID™ APIs enable developers to securely authenticate users within apps. Gaming on iOS 8 gets even better with Metal™, a new graphics technology for game providers to bring console-class 3D games to mobile devices. iOS 8 includes CloudKit, offering developers a complete and scalable back-end solution, eliminating the need for writing server code and maintaining servers. Swift™ provides developers with a powerful, next-generation programming language for iOS and OS X that’s fast, modern, interactive and helps them write safer and more reliable code.
iPhone, iPad and iPod touch customers have access to the revolutionary App Store, which offers more than 1.3 million apps** in 155 countries around the world. The App Store receives more than 300 million visitors each week.
Pricing & Availability
iOS 8 will be available as a free software update starting Wednesday, 17 September for iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPod touch 5th generation, iPad 2, iPad with Retina® display, iPad Air™, iPad mini™ and iPad mini with Retina display. New iCloud pricing includes 5GB free, 20GB NZD$1.29 inc. GST/month, 200GB NZD$4.99 inc. GST/month, 500GB NZD$12.99 inc. GST/month and 1TB NZD$24.99 inc. GST/month. Continuity features and iCloud Drive will be available on Macs running OS X Yosemite. In October, SMS Continuity will be available as a free update to iOS 8 and iCloud Photo Library will be available as a beta. Starting in October, with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Pay™ will be available in the US as a free update to iOS 8. Features are subject to change. Some features may not be available in all regions or all languages.
*Check with your carrier for hotspot availability; some cellular data charges may apply.
**App count refers to the total number of apps worldwide.
Apple will live stream Sep. 9 event on its website, Apple TV — Apple will be streaming the whole shindig on its site, in living colour. The stream kicks off at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday.
The live stream from the website will be available on Mac and iOS devices, and will also be available on second- and third-generation Apple TVs running software version 5.0.2 or later.
Meanwhile, not too far from Apple’s Campus 2 project, a temporary structure is rising for the company’s September 9 event, and new aerial shots captured by an amateur photographer using a flying camera drone offer a closer look at the mysterious white box that has generated considerable buzz (above).
Apple supplier accused of labour violations once again — Just days away from the unveiling of Apple’s newest smartphone, and quite possibly our first look at a wearable as well, the company is yet again dealing with allegations that one of its suppliers isn’t treating its employees well. According to a report by The New York Times, a factory operated by Catcher Technology has come under scrutiny for forcing employees to work excessive overtime as well as handle dangerous chemicals without protection.
Looking for security at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts — By now, the news that criminals have hacked into the cloud accounts of several celebrities and stole their photos—often including those of a personal nature – has been widely covered in the mainstream media, the trade press, and social media circles [and I wrote an Apple Watch article on the subject – on the front page of the site, click Apple Watch on the right]. Here’s Macworld’s take. Another Macworld str talks about the Russian made software that may have made it possible.
Terminal: a definitive guide — Finally, a well organised and definitive guide to Mac OS X’s Terminal app.
Super durable and stylish headphones Dandycan from Sweden is seeking crowdfunding on Indiegogo — Dandycan headphones are made of metal and leather, and you can get a discounted pair by supporting the venture on Indiegogo.
Swedish designer Daniel Åhman became fed up with how often he had to replace headphones. He decided to focus his energy on creating a pair of headphones that were beautiful, yet built to last far longer than anything on the market.
By pledging US$80, you get your own set of Dandycan headphones, along with a two cables and an extra set of ear pads – the normal price would be US$249. [I contributed $100 US – the extra $20 is to cover postage to NZ.]
Apple is in the news for all the wrong reasons just before a major ‘event’. You may have heard that some celebrities have had compromising images of themselves published online. Bad enough, maybe, but the real shock seems to be that the images came via hacked-into iCloud accounts.
Quelle horreur! This is iCloud? Isn’t Apple’s iCloud super-secure?
Well, yes and no. iCloud is super secure, but no matter how secure it might be, I can access all my data, images, settings, mail, schedule etc by entering in my Apple ID email address and my Apple ID password. Which means that if you have those two things, so can you, no matter how many layers, encryptions, secure servers, double-entry security, firewalls and protection levels there might be. After all, that’s the point – to give you access, with your Apple ID and password, to your stuff.
Unfortunately, we live in a veritable snowstorm of passwords these days. We need increasingly complex and different ones for everything. Most people don’t have a hope of remembering them. I have three main ones and the passwords based on these all vary. Some combine two in different ways. some just add more characters or capitals or … you know the drill. So how to remember? Write them down … yeah, right. That’s a massive security risk right there. (My password document is hidden on an invisible volume … behind yet another password!)
Of course it’s easier to use the one password you easily remember, perhaps with an appended 1, 2 etc for different things. But if you use the same password for everything, someone gaining that one password has the key to the gates of your informational kingdom.
Social mining — Also, if it was easy for you to come up with in the first place, chances are it’s not that hard for someone else to guess too, particularly if they do a little ‘social mining’. It’s not exactly difficult to get someone’s email address. We pass them around like we used to pass around business cards. On Facebook, you mention you still miss your first dog Boodle and you were born in 1970 … Boodle1970 becomes an obvious password for someone maleficent to try. Now they have your Apple ID email address and your password. And you thought you were safe …
So if you’re one of those people who accepts every Facebook friend request, even from people you don’t know, you should probably rethink that strategy.
But back to iCloud – yes, it is very secure. Its users, unfortunately … not so much. Apple released a statement on Tuesday (pictures, in part, above) claiming that stolen celebrity photos released over the US holiday weekend were the result of targeted attacks on individual accounts, rather than a breach of iCloud security or, significantly, Find My iPhone, which was another potential hack-avenue posited by some. Apple said, in an Apple Media Advisory, it was continuing to investigate.
There was, by the way, a Find my iPhone exploit, but Apple patched that really fast and reckons it wasn’t involved.
Boris Gorin, head of security engineering at FireLayers, agrees that iCloud security probably wasn’t the culprit. “The images leaked have been gradually appearing on several boards on the net prior to the post at 4chan – making it reasonable to believe they were not part of a single hack, but of several compromises that occurred over time.” In fact, he thinks the celebrities may have been hacked while connected to an open public Wi-Fi network at the Emmy Awards. If they accessed their personal iCloud accounts, attackers connected to that network would have been able to intercept and capture the username and password credentials.
But the bigger picture is the cloud. I met someone just this week with a little MacBook Air – they don’t have much storage space – and all her documents were in a 1TB Dropbox account. This means they’re accessible anywhere, sure, but it also means she doesn’t have a personal backup of them.
If someone stole her laptop, they’d also have access to all those documents.
As for nudie photos, you’re more than welcome to have nudie pix of yourself wherever you like – but in the cloud? At least you are responsible for the security of your own devices. You have to hope whichever vendor handles your cloud services is at least as secure, in practice, as you are, although preferably a whole lot safer still. When I trained people at the ASB, the only two apps people weren’t allowed on their company iPads were Dropbox and Google Drive, thanks to breaches they’d already suffered and/or other security concerns.
Of course, for many things, the cloud (aka a folder on a hard drive somewhere you access over the internet) is very convenient – but just remember, you don’t actually know who’s looking after them, or where those files actually are. And yes – cloud services make an extremely attractive target for the ever-eager hackers. I’m not saying it’s your fault if it happens to you, I’m saying ‘be careful and think about what you put where and why’.
But just to show you how serious this is being treated, the FBI is currently ‘addressing’ the stolen photos, and Apple says that it’s working with law enforcement to help identify the culprits.
I wish them success.
Apple Timer helps you count the minutes until the next Apple event — Apple Timer is a new project born out of the success of last year’s WWDCTimer. The website provides a simple countdown clock for each upcoming Apple event, down to the second. Currently the site lists the September 9 iPhone event and next year’s WWDC, but more events will be added as they become available.
Judge refuses to invalidate Apple patents — In the continuing legal tangle between Samsung and Apple, a federal judge has denied Samsung’s request to invalidate a pair of patents related to the iPhone’s slide-to-unlock feature and unified search, Mac Observer reports. Both patents are part of Apple’s infringement cases against Samsung, which have thus far swung firmly in Apple’s favor, to the tune of over US$1 billion across both rulings.
Comic: A history of Apple mice, part one — Macworld and Rich Stevens of Diesel Sweeties present Multitouch Theater, a weekly cartoon about Macs, iOS, and everything in-between. This week: An oral history of Apple mice, part one. [No, it’s not called ‘Maus’.]
Flash Professional CC 2014 review: Minor tweaks a boon to developers — With Flash Professional CC 2014 Adobe is slowly pushing Flash as a universal vector animation tool for Web designers. No longer limited to Shockwave Flash (swf), Flash can export to other formats such as WebGL, SVG, and HTML5. This is great for long-time Flash developers who need this flexibility, but Flash Professional CC 2014 also includes new features that allow designers to enhance their creative potential.
Periscope Pro review: Keep an eye on your domicile with this Mac surveillance app — Maybe you’re going out of town for a while; maybe you live in a rough neighbourhood; maybe you just wonder what your pets are up to all day. No matter the reason, the NZ$64.99 Periscope Pro from ZipZapMac can help you keep an eye on your domicile. Periscope Pro regularly takes video from your Mac’s camera, a connected webcam or a third party IP-enabled camera which can be anywhere. What triggers the recording is up to you.
Shares of $AAPL Top $100, Flirt with record closing high — Shares of Apple Inc. topped US$100 in intra-day trading on Tuesday, trading as high as $100.525 per share in heavy volume. $AAPL’s all-time closing high is $100.30 on a split-adjusted basis, set on September 19th, 2012. The stock briefly traded over $100 per share two days later, but this is the first time it has crossed that mark since.
As of this writing, $AAPL was trading at $100.43 (NZ$119.24), up $1.27 (+1.28%), on heavy volume. Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley, meanwhile, explains why Apple’s stock price is poised to explode.
iTunes Festival 2014 adds Paolo Nutini, Lenny Kravitz, Elbow — Apple’s 2014 London iTunes Festival lineup just filled out a little more with Paolo Nutini, Lenny Kravitz, and Elbow all getting show dates. The annual music event includes 30 days of free concerts from big name artists at London’s Roundhouse, but tickets are available only through a lottery system.
Apple previously announced Maroon 5, Beck, Pharrell Williams, Sam Smith, Blondie, Kylie, David Guetta, 5 Seconds of Summer, Calvin Harris, and Chrissie Hynde will be performing, and there are other artists on board.
The concerts will be streamed via Apple TV, so music fans that don’t win show tickets can still see the performances. Show dates and times are available on Apple’s iTunes Festival website (pictured above).
Easily run Windows on Macs — Have you ever wanted to easily run Windows applications & PC games on your Mac? [No!] If you do,
CrossOver 13 has you covered and now you can install your Windows software right onto your Mac without a Windows license, without rebooting, and without a virtual machine.
Your Windows applications and games integrate seamlessly on your Mac OS X and run alongside your other Mac applications.
Day One review: A Mac app that’s so nice, you’ll actually maintain your journal — Bloom Built’s superb Day One (Mac App Store link) makes keeping a journal easier than ever, thanks to smart features and a beautiful, welcoming interface. It costs NZ$12.99.
Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android grow to 96.4% of smartphone market as competitors shrink — IDC says the two-horse race for smartphone operating system share continues to obliterate competitors, as Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android were the only two platforms to see growth in the second quarter of 2014, the latest data from IDC claims.
Kids Making Healthy Choices: An app with lifelong positive consequences — Kids Making Healthy Choices is an NZ$3.79 app based on an award-winning set of children books designed to promote healthy eating, teach tolerance of overweight friends (so bullying can be avoided), and instill a respect for health and well-being through fun and educational games and activities.
Warhammer 40,000: Carnage at 70% off for a limited time — If you’ve got a hankering for killing orcs but you’re living on a budget, there’s good news from Roadhouse Interactive. For a limited time, their side-scrolling action RPG Warhammer 40,000: Carnage (pictured above) is available for 70% off in the iOS store. The title normally sells for NZ$9.59, but thanks to the discount you can get it for NZ$2.59.
Apple bans the use of two potentially harmful chemicals in final device assembly — Apple has banned the use of two potentially harmful chemicals in the final assembly of its devices. This ban was confirmed by vice president of environmental initiatives Lisa Jackson in a statement posted on Apple’s Environmental Responsibility website.
Apple is requiring its manufacturers to remove the chemicals, benzene and n-hexane, from the assembly process and to test all cleaning agents and degreasers used in the final assembly of devices for these chemicals. The company is working with manufacturers to find safer alternatives. [Image from Apple’s website].
Apple releases Safari 6.1.6 and Safari 7.0.6 with security improvements — Apple on Wednesday rolled out updated versions of its Safari Web browser for OS X, bringing fixes for WebKit corruption issues and other security concerns.
According to the security release notes accompanying Apple’s latest Safari versions, the new software address a WebKit vulnerability that could allow for termination of arbitrary code after a user visits a malicious website.
Safari 6.1.6 and Safari 7.0.6 are free downloads that can be accessed via Software Update. The new software is available for OS X 10.9.4 Mavericks, OS X 10.7.5 Mountain Lion and OS X 10.7.5 Lion.
Tom Hanks makes a writing app — If you’re a Tom Hanks fan, Apple is giving you the chance to chat with him today on Twitter. At 9AM US PST (12PM US EST), Hanks is taking questions via the @AppStore Twitter account about his new writing app, Hanx Writer.
The app, which launched yesterday, is a word processor styled like an old fashioned typewriter, complete with authentic sound effects and the inability to delete what you’ve typed. Ok, so there’s an option in the settings menu to turn on the ‘modern’ delete key, but using that just feels like cheating when you’re tapping away on an app like this. Hanx Writer is free, but you can buy some customisation options like new typewriters and styles.
Watermarker review: Easily protect the publishing rights of your photographic work — Sharing your pictures is always a risky proposition: Regardless of whether you just email them to a friend or post them on a social network, you never know when someone is going to reuse them, without your permission, in a way that you do not approve of.
Watermarker 1.3 (NZ$9.99) gives you a way to solve this problem by superimposing a mark of your choosing to an existing picture, thus “stamping” with your particular imprint. The app supports three different types of watermarks: text, an image, and strike-through (a set of diagonal lines that cross the image from opposite corners, thus making it unusable in a production scenario).
Apple’s new ‘Your Verse’ iPad ads focus on music, community engagement — Apple on Monday unveiled two new additions to its well-received Your Verse advertising campaign for the iPad, this time focusing attention on Chinese electropop group Yaoband (above) and Detroit community activist Jason Hall.
How to optimise broadband while on vacation — Broadband speeds tend to be better for home and condo rentals than some motels and hotels because they’re plumbed with connections typical of the surrounding neighbourhood rather than offering a shared, bulk connection. Hotels often use such a shared connection for dozens-to-hundreds of rooms with the result being slow going. Christopher Breen tells you how to get the most out of connections while travelling.
Monument Valley recovered development investment in one week — Monument Valley is one of the best games on iOS device, (it won an Apple Design Award this year) but it didn’t conform to the free-to-play trend and that meant it wasn’t a guaranteed success. It’s absurd, but the game’s NZ$4.99 price tag is considered ‘premium pricing’ these days. Thanks to the game’s huge word of mouth appeal, it managed to make back its development investment after just one week on the market.
Speaking at GDC Europe, Lead Designer Ken Wong explained that the game has found a way to appeal to non-gamers despite being a paid download. “For many of them, this is the first game they’ve ever finished,” he said.
MagBytes 55S – view it in your browser or right-click (or hold down the Control key and normal-click) to download the PDF.
On iPad, Open the link, tap the area along the top (which I coloured blue in the PDF) and you get the option ‘Open in iBooks’ if you’d like to add it to your iBooks library.
Apple confirms purchase of personalized talk radio service Swell, shuts down app — Apple has indeed purchased Swell, a personalised news radio application, Apple confirmed on Wednesday NZ time, after promptly removing the free download from the iOS App Store.
The plight of the Indie iOS developer: is the App Store broken or is this much ado about nothing? — Instapaper and Overcast developer Marco Arment recently penned a blog arguing that Apple needs to do a whole lot more to direct users to higher quality apps. Under the current set up, Arment articulates that the “top lists” on the App Store tend to skew far too often towards low quality apps, rip off apps and cheap clones.
Russian government asks Apple to hand over source code amid spying concerns — Russia’s Ministry of Communications and Mass Media has suggested that Apple should open its source code for government inspection to ensure that the iPhone maker is not complicit in enabling US intelligence services to spy on the world’s largest country. [Surely they’re Putin us on?]
Effects Studio for iOS takes photo effects to the max — There are so many apps for editing and adding special effects that it’s pretty hard to keep track of them all. I’ve reviewed so many that they can become a misty blur. Effects Studio (NZ$1.29) takes adding effects to photos way beyond where most apps go but still manages to offer the basics, so it does stand out from the crowd.
Instagram launches Snapchat competitor ‘Bolt’ in selected markets — A week after rumours that Instagram would launch Bolt, the Facebook-owned company soft-launched the new time-restricted image and video messaging app in New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa.
iPhone gets first free app for encrypting voice calls — For all your spies out there, an open-source project has released the first free application for the iPhone that scrambles voice calls, which would thwart government surveillance or eavesdropping by hackers.
This interview appeared on the Herald in my Apple Watch blog, but it had to be edited to fit. The full version appears here – it has more depth and detail about Apple, near the end.
• Tim Cook, in a release to CNBC, described Haunted Empire: Apple after Steve Jobs (NZ$17.99) partly: “This nonsense belongs with some of the other books I have read about Apple. It fails to capture Apple, Steve, or anyone else in the company.” My reading of the book doesn’t support this view. It wasn’t a biography of Jobs anyway, yet it does present an insight into a secretive company that’s almost impossible to get any information about, despite the extent to which it is watched. Would you care to comment?
Yukari Iwatani Kane — Apple doesn’t normally comment on individual books, so I think I clearly hit a nerve. The comment also came out in the early afternoon of the first day of sales, so it did make me wonder if he had actually read the book. If he did, I’m flattered that he thought it important enough to spend his work day reading it. :-0
• Were you disappointed with the backlash to your book from Apple commentators, or were you expecting it?
Yukari Iwatani Kane —Whenever anyone writes about Apple, emotions always run high. I’m very happy with where I’ve come out in my book. It wasn’t meant to be a pro-Apple book or an anti-Apple book. It’s rational assessment of Apple’s position, based on my reporting of nearly 200 sources all over the world, looking at the issues from every angle possible.
• It seems to me Apple commentators had issues with your conclusions rather than with the main text of the book. Personally I found Haunted Empire richly-detailed and insightful. But I think it’s because commentators – including myself – have a kind of emotional buy-in to Apple and it’s really easy for us to feel defensive. We feel like we need to defend Apple all the time, at least those of us with longer associations, as we go back to when Apple was an outsider that seems to be assailed from all sides. What’s your own position within this spectrum?
Yukari Iwatani Kane — That’s a very insightful thought. You may be right – I’m in Japan right now promoting the book, and the Apple fans here have been very frank about their assessment of the book. They basically say what you say — that my book rings true to what they think as well, but it was very difficult for them to hear my conclusion and that they still cling to the hope that Apple will continue to be as great as it has been.
I personally am a user of Apple products, but as a journalist, I’m really not pro-Apple or anti-Apple. I saw Apple as a case study, and emotions really didn’t factor into my reporting. I should mention however that when I started writing this book, I didn’t know what my conclusion was going to be because I started working on it shortly after Steve died, and I didn’t know what was going to happen. I understood how challenging it was for any hugely successful corporation to lose a founder-visionary, but I thought that if any company could get through it without missing a beat, it would be Apple. It was all of my reporting that led me to my conclusion, not the other way around.
• What do you think drives Apple’s fandom? I can’t think of any other brand that has anything like it on such a scale.
Yukari Iwatani Kane —I can’t think of any other brand that has anything like it either. It’s a huge source of strength and power for Apple. No one can begrudge them that. They’ve cultivated this over the years.
I do think though that there is a bit of a danger in the company focusing too much on the Apple fans. Apple’s business caters to a mass market now, so not every user is an avid Apple fan. Yet, whenever Apple announces a new product or an ad or holds an event, the loudest, the most enthusiastic voices come from the fans. That’s terrific for Apple, but If they use that as a barometer for what everyone thinks, I do think they will get a wrong read sometimes on how something is being received. When I say this, one example I’m thinking of is some of Apple’s recent ads. The fans love them, but average consumers aren’t impressed.
• You obviously have a huge depth of knowledge about your subject – I was particularly fascinated with the information about the factories in Asia. I haven’t read such a personal exploration before. I found it moving to get an insight into those lives. How did gathering this information this affect you?
Yukari Iwatani Kane — Thank you so much! Those sections took a lot of time and work, so it’s very gratifying to hear you say that.
I found the situation in China to be extraordinarily complicated. What I learned about conditions there was sad, but what I wanted to convey was much more complicated — I do think that Apple has a unique opportunity to set an industry leading standard in its relationship with the suppliers, and obviously the factory worker is the one who bears the brunt of the pressures from Apple when it negotiates lower prices, but the company is a for-profit entity, not a charity. I understand why things that have happened have happened. I also think many of the problems in China are beyond Apple’s ability to fix them (though it is Apple’s reality regardless). As the sociology professor in Beijing, Ma Ai, told me, China is going through an industrial revolution.
As part of Apple’s story, I thought all of it was relevant because it’s something that they don’t have much control over, yet they are being blamed for much of it and pressured to fix it so it’s very much a challenge.
• Was there any official reaction to your book from Apple?
Yukari Iwatani Kane — Just the Tim Cook comment
Yukari Iwatani Kane — Nothing unofficial from Apple, but I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people who have worked at Apple and with Apple, telling me how much they loved the book.
• Seasoned Apple fans seem quite happy with Apple’s pace of releases, whereas the newer audiences engendered by the launches of iPhone and then iPad plus those who follow the money markets constantly berate Apple for not releasing new products. What’s your opinion on this? (Is Apple bound to release new items to maintain its growth and position?)
Yukari Iwatani Kane — It seems understandable that true fans will be mostly happy with Apple whatever they do, since that’s the definition of being a fan. For me, I look at Apple as a business case study about what happens when a company loses its visionary-founder at the height of its success. So the fact that they haven’t released anything isn’t interesting in and of itself. What’s interesting is the reasons and dynamics behind it.
In some ways, it’s irrelevant why some people are happy and some aren’t because it’s Apple’s reality that it has to deal with all of them. Part of what makes Apple’s position so challenging is that there are so many interested parties now with different opinions about where Apple should go and what it should do. They include shareholders, board members, the executive team, employees, media, developers, suppliers, Apple fans, and the mass market consumer. In the past, Steve had such a firm control over the company AND he was so persuasive that all of those people were willing to buy into what Steve wanted to do because there was no question that Apple was Steve’s company.
• More generally, the whole concept of ‘empire’ these days is predicated on growth. Do you think it’s possible in this day and age for an empire to simply maintain its position?
Yukari Iwatani Kane — I think an empire can evolve. Apple’s moves of the last few months are interesting because you see Tim Cook’s rational and operational mind at work. The great thing about Apple when Steve was around was that there was so much innovation. But the bad thing was that there was also a lot of chaos. There are probably a lot of things that Apple can do to maximize on sales and profits, and that would be an area that Tim would excel in. Like the IBM announcement – Steve never cared for B2B but that doesn’t mean it’s not a business opportunity. Of course, this probably means that Apple will start looking more and more like Microsoft. But maybe that’s not a bad thing.
I don’t think it’s possible for any company to keep growing and innovating forever because at some point, the company gets too big to maneuver nimbly. In Apple’s case, Tim Cook can never be Steve Jobs no matter how hard he tries, so he might as well try to be the best Tim Cook he can be, which is what I think is starting to happen.
Apple may not be the magical, game-changing company it has been in the past, but it could be a very successful company that can reliably churn out revenues and profits.
• Did you ever meet Steve Jobs yourself? (To me, apart from his brilliance and vision, I imagined he’d be the last guy in the world I’d have ever wanted to work with)
Yukari Iwatani Kane — Yes. It was a bit of a strange meeting because I started covering Apple for WSJ when he was sick, so he wasn’t available to the media for a long time. I didn’t meet him in person until shortly after the iPad announcement during an editorial meeting with the WSJ, which was also after I broke the story about his liver transplant.
I went up to him after the meeting to introduce myself, and he looked at me for a very brief moment before he said, “I know who you are.” But we ended up having a pleasant conversation about Sony, which I used to write about when I was a correspondent in Tokyo.
• What about Tim Cook? Have you met him?
Yukari Iwatani Kane — Yes, he is a very pleasant person to speak with. I respect him
• It seemed to me Jobs could reverse course almost completely without losing much face. For example, the 1984 ad painted IBM as the enemy, and then IBM was making the PowerPC chips. Microsoft was first an ally, then an enemy, then Gates was on stage with Jobs to ‘save’ the Mac. Even the switch to Intel scared Apple followers. Do you think Tim Cook has the strength of character to make changes this radical within Apple?
Yukari Iwatani Kane — I don’t think it’s an issue of strength of character. I think it’s the difference of someone who is a founder and someone who isn’t. Just think about the dynamics around the fact that Apple’s board used to report to Steve, but Tim reports to the board. John Sculley told me that when he took over in the ’80s, he felt like he was subject to more questions about decisions than Steve had been, and I’m sure that’s true because he didn’t have the moral authority that Steve did. Tim is in the same boat.
Add to that, Steve’s supernatural ability to inspire and persuade – people trusted his vision even if it sometimes led to failure because he was so convincing. It’s what people refer to as the reality distortion field, and it’s not something you can pass on. You either have it or you don’t. Tim doesn’t have it. The ramifications of that are deep because it’s not just about convincing the consumers, it’s about convincing employees, the board, shareholders, suppliers, developers, media and everyone else, who is emotionally or financially invested.
• My feeling about Apple under Cook is that it’s somehow ‘nicer’. What’s your feeling?
Yukari Iwatani Kane — I respect him tremendously. My portrayal of Tim is based on interviews with probably two dozen people who have worked with him directly. I think who he is helped make Apple’s operations possibly the best in the world. But obviously you can’t expect someone who accomplished that to be cuddly.
People are multi-dimensional and full of conflicting personality traits. Tim is smart and he’s tough and disciplined, but he’s also a good son who calls his mother every week and he sincerely cares about people and wants to do good. That’s what makes him so fascinating because he’s in a job that requires him to be as tough as nails to excel, and he is, but he deeply admires Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr, which suggests an emotional depth that he doesn’t share with anyone.
• Where do you think Apple will be in two years?
Yukari Iwatani Kane — I think Apple will continue to be very successful from a sales and profit standpoint, but the sense that it has lost its innovative edge will continue. How Apple executes in the next couple of years, especially with respect to new product categories, will be crucial for determining where Apple will be in five, ten, fifteen years.
[• I stand by my fascination with this book – it’s an excellent read • ]
Apple issues 2014 Environmental Responsibility Report
Apple has updated its Environmental Initiatives website and has issued its 2014 Environmental Responsibility Report. The update fulfills a promise from Earth Day in which Apple said that it would more frequently update consumers on its environmental progress and the report highlights significant advances in clean energy usage
Apple has pushed its attention to new levels with the hire of former Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson last year. 9to5Mac has more information.
Diversity at Apple
At this week’s Sun Valley conference in Idaho, Apple CEO Tim Cook told Bloomberg reporters that Apple will release diversity data on its workforce. Cook did not specify when this data release would come, but it’s the first confirmation from Apple that the company is planning to release such data. A CNN report from March detailed Apple as one of the several technology giants that have objected to releasing the information.
Diversity reports, such as one Facebook released on its workforce a couple of weeks ago, typically detail demographics in terms of ethnicity and gender. Apple has been criticised for having both a mostly male executive team and board of directors, but Cook has added Angela Ahrendts to the executive team and has been seeking new board members in recent months (and there’s Lisa Jackson , as above). Recently Apple appointed Denise Young Smith as the new head of Human Resources.
[Um-hm … what do you see in the picture, above?]
Cue and Cook at Sun Valley
As expected (due their appearances on the guest list) Apple CEO Tim Cook and Senior VP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue were in attendance at this week’s Sun Valley media conference in Idaho. The WSJ’s Doug MacMillan shared the above photo of Cook walking around the Sun Valley resort. The Information’s Jessica Lessin spotted Cue, and the executive provided a witty response to Lessin’s question about TV deals.
iTunes U 2.0 has iPad-based course creation, student discussions
Apple has issued a significant update to its iTunes U application for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The application focuses on enhancements for both teachers and students, and the application was first announced by Apple last week alongside the new Back to School retail initiatives.