While I can respect the attention to detail, the tone of this article gets a little close to “product/company worship” for my taste.
For the math geeks in the audience, I can summarize: the curves on both Apple’s hardware and their iOS 7+ icons have a continuous derivative at every point. For the hardware, this leads to smoother highlights on the corner when the light catches it. The app icons are made that way to be consistent with the hardware.
Frankly, from my perspective, I wonder if all this attention to external aesthetics has compromised attention to the OS and the hardware.
It’s rather unlikely that the folks drafting curves in AutoCAD are doing double duty as OS engineers.
yes, but here “attention” means organizational priority (manifesting as team management quality, team size, team experience etc), not individual engineers. In smaller companies such priorities are often reflected in individual engineers' time prioritization, yes, in larger companies it’s different.
Apple has enough resources that it can’t be a penny-pinching tradeoff. If there is a deficiency in the OS and hardware, it is just that, a deficiency.
Sure, but it’s a deficiency driven by the internal prioritization - and, in my enterprise experience, is typically unrelated to “not having enough dollars” but “not having enough focus”. Solving the problem means increasing the organizational visibility of the teams responsible for OS/HW, and that’s not something extra money can solve.
To be fair, OS and hardware has never been a priority for Apple. They’ve always prioritized the product. That’s why macOS only runs on Apple hardware (without some jiggering). Because they’re selling you a product, and the software exists because the product demands software exist, not because Apple is interested in making good software.
I like to think that macOS doesn’t run on other hardware (legally) so that they avoid legal issues around monopolies. Back in the 90s Apple clones were prevalent, and they ran Mac OS. I was young, but I don’t recall clone companies being sued out of existence or anything (would love more context). But, MSFT had legal problems with their strategy of windows on every computer. By controlling the hardware, and the OS, it’s easy to make your own rules, me thinks.
The clones you’re referring to from the 90s were all officially sanctioned by Apple (see Wikipedia). When Steve Jobs returned in 1997 he brought an end to the program and since then Apple have been pretty quick to chase anyone making clones.
There’s nothing about being vertically integrated that changes the rules about monopolies. If anything, it makes it easier for competitors to say “you’re a monopoly!” if you’ve gone that route. Apple isn’t concerned about anti-trust actions, for the most part, because they simply don’t have the market-share for that to matter.
Microsoft’s problems had nothing to do with the popularity of Windows and more how Microsoft used that popularity- mostly, by bundling a browser with their OS in an era when browsers weren’t considered free (as in beer) software.
If anything, it makes it easier for competitors to say “you’re a monopoly!”
That seems counter intuitive to me, but IANAL. It seems like it would / should be perfectly legal for Apple to say, “you cannot develop software to target macOS, or iOS,” and then sell you only their own software. Or, allow you to write whatever you want, but bundle their own apps (like they do). But! Only because they control the whole experience. I can’t have macOS without buying a computer from Apple. I can simply boycott Apple if I don’t like this.
But, consider Windows. In the 90s and early 2000s (and maybe now too? I don’t know), you could buy a shrink wrap copy of Windows off the shelf. But you didn’t have to unless you were upgrading. That’s because MSFT used anti-competitive practices. If Dell wanted to offer pre-installed copies of Windows on their machines, they could buy an OEM license, and save tons of money (making it possible to charge less for PCs), or they could buy full licenses and charge more for their machines. Naturally consumers want a cheaper option, and so companies like Dell were boxed into OEM deals, and consumers Windows. Suddenly, the difference between Gateway and Dell was branding and stock RAM configuration.
Microsoft was marketing Windows as an enabling experience. It’s just an OS. You can buy Microsoft Office, or WordPerfect, and Photoshop… All this software from these other vendors is compatible with Windows! Build your software for Windows! It’s designed for Windows! To run on ANY PC! And they marketed that. Constantly. So, when they bundled IE, suddenly that claim, and that sort of “promise” became even more anti-competitive. It was an unfair advantage, since everyone was forced into having Windows already to begin with.
I don’t know if that matters, but that’s always been my take on it.
That seems counter intuitive to me, but IANAL.
Nor am I, but anti-trust laws treat monopolies like decency laws treat pornography: you know it when you see it. Apple, by running its own walled garden app store that explicitly prohibits apps which compete with its own applications, is clearly being anti-competitive. But that’s not enough to run afoul of anti-trust laws, alone. There are a lot of other factors, like whether they have a dominant market position, whether there is other competition, and whether there’s any signs of collusion between them and other actors in the market- which is why they did get in trouble for price fixing with the iBooks store (which for the record, I think was a dumb decision, as was the Windows/IE decision).
Anti-trust laws are designed to limit vertical integration, but not prevent it. What is generally not allowed, for example, is owning the mine, owning the refinery and foundries, and then selling steel to the car factory (which you also own) at below the market rate.
Solving the problem means increasing the organizational visibility of the teams responsible for OS/HW, and that’s not something extra money can solve.
Right, exactly. That’s why a deficiency in the OS is probably wholly unrelated to dollars being thrown at the industrial engineering at the expense of OS engineering.
It’s not an either-or situation, it could easily be both-and if Apple wanted to, which is why the initial assertion of “external aesthetics [compromising] attention to the OS and the hardware” is a rather silly false dichotomy.
Agreed. It’s most likely related to all the companies eyeballs being thrown at industrial engineering at the expense of OS engineering - which is, I believe, the point kghose is advancing :)
It’s easy to spend money in an enterprise, and I wager Apple’s OS engineering team isn’t suffering financially relative to the industrial design team. It is very hard, however, to end up on your four-over-manager’s yearly goals unless your team directly aligns with your five-over-manager’s edict to make beautiful products.
I wonder if all this attention to external aesthetics has compromised attention to the OS and the hardware.
Or the sense of care given to industrial design could have created an environment where taking the time for excellence was known to be allowed, and perhaps motivated the OS folks to do the same. Who knows, if the design team didn’t try so hard, maybe the OS would be shittier too?
My guess is OS work just has shorter lifecycles and is generally more “rushed” than the industrial design and hardware. I mean, hardware can be years in the making. Industrial design has many prototype phases too. They still have to churn out OS updates in the meantime.
For a layman like me, this article wasn’t very enlightening. I finished reading unsure if it was a prank or a real argument.
I already lost it at “squircle”.
They tell me it is good but since Android apps have switched more and more to the Apple shapes, I found them harder to distinguish. Before there was color and shape, now all are the same shape. I am not sure this is an usability improvement.