Editorial

Apple vs. Nokia marketing: Nostalgia vs. nightmares

Both Apple and Nokia have just released new ads for their new gear, but the ads couldn't be more different. Apple's "Misunderstood" goes for nostalgia, a disconnected child who finds his holiday voice and reconnects with his family thanks to Apple's technology. Nokia's "For Work. For Play."... channels Tim Burton in a barber shop.

Check them both out and let me know what you think. How do they make you feel about the brands? About the devices? About the experience of using them and their ecosystems? About what you're likely to buy next?

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Why can I gift internationally with Amazon... but not iTunes?

Earlier today Apple enabled iBooks gifting. It's been a long time coming. Steve Jobs introduced the iBookstore alongside the original iPad in 2010, and it's taken until well after the 5th generation, iPad Air, shipped in 2013 for gifting to become available. I was ecstatic at first, because I'd been "forced" to use Amazon's Kindle service to gift ebooks until now. Finally, I thought, I could gift iBooks. But I thought too soon. Apple and iTunes, I quickly remembered, only allows gifting to someone who uses the same regional account you do. So, for example, I can only gift an iBook - or iTunes song or movie or App Store app or whatever - from the iTunes Canada store my account is in, to someone who also uses the iTunes Canada store. That eliminates a ton of my friends who just happen to live in the U.S., the U.K., and elsewhere. Amazon, by contrast, not only lets me use my Amazon.ca account to login to Amazon.ca or Amazon.co.uk, but it lets me gift Kindle books, send gift certificates, and even order real material goods, for friends in those countries. In this increasingly important way, Amazon is absolutely pantsing Apple and iTunes.

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Why the heck would anyone buy the non-Retina MacBook Pro? Well...

With the "standard" 13-inch MacBook Pro and its Retina display-equipped counterpart only $100 apart, you might think that few people would be interested in the older MacBook Pro. It's thicker, heavier, has a lower resolution screen, is less power-efficient and isn't as speedy. You'd be wrong. Turns out the "standard" MacBook Pro is still selling briskly.

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Forget $700. I think Apple is going past $1000. Just don’t ask me when.

Apple’s stock price has been on a tear since July. We’ve watched it climb from less than $400 to $564 as of this morning. I’m seeing plenty of articles discussing the likelihood of Apple returning to its previous highs of about $700 but it’s lot like any of this is being driven by major news. From where I sit Apple financial news hasn’t been anything terribly exciting lately. We’ve seen a couple of quarterly reports and some pretty normal announcements about how many new iPhone models sold on launch weekend. We’ve seen the new iPad Air rollout and we’re seeing analysts speculate about how many will be sold this Christmas season.

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The contextual awakening: How sensors are making mobile truly brilliant

When Steve Jobs introduced the original iPhone in 2007 he spent some time talking about its sensors — the capacitive multitouch sensors in the screen that let you use your bioelectric finger as the best pointing device ever, the accelerometer that enabled the interface to rotate with the phone, the ambient light sensor that adjusted brightness to fit the environment, and the proximity sensor that turned off the screen and capacitance to save power and avoid accidental touch events when the phone was held up to a face. Over the course of the next year, Jobs also introduced Wi-Fi mapping and then GPS so the iPhone could chart its location, and later still, a magnometer and gyroscope so it could understand direction, angle, and rotation around gravity. From the very beginning, the iPhone was aware.

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Siri: How far has it come in two years, and how far does it still have to go?

A year ago I wrote about the challenges facing Siri and Apple's services. Over the last 12 months, not much has changed in terms of the big picture. Siri processing is still completely server-bound, allowing the network to serve as a single point of failure even for local operations like setting an alarm. Siri still isn't prescient either, providing information only when you ask for it, but not when it might be needed anyway. I hold to hope that some of the advances we've seen in OS X filter across to iOS 8, but there are a couple of things Apple has already done that are worth mentioning.

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Tim Cook's iPad Christmas starts early

Tim Cook made a memorable comment on the last Apple quarterly conference call. He said it would be an iPad Christmas. With exactly 3 weeks before the jolly holiday, iPad interest seems to be solid, and I suspect Tim Cook will be proven correct. This morning mobile analytics firm Localytics shared some interesting data. They tracked usage of a variety of tablets and smartphones from Black Friday to Cyber Monday and compared the data against the prior week. And guess what?

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Lessons from Jony Ive: Caring, humanity, and more

I recently had drinks with a friend and the topic of Jony Ive's appearance with Marc Newson, on Charlie Rose came up. Even before he began mentioning his favorite moment, I knew instantly what it would be - care. Jony Ive, senior vice-president of design at Apple, doesn't give many interviews, yet he's the person responsible for so much of our modern technological culture. There were others who worked with him of course, no less than Steve Jobs and the Apple Industrial Design department to name but a few, but it would be almost impossible to overstate the influence Ive has had on the objects so many of us interact with every day. And he cares about those objects on a very human level.

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Maps - all maps - just aren't good enough yet

While everyone loves to beat up on Apple Maps - and not without justification - none of the existing maps apps are good enough yet. Whether it be data quality or user experience, they all still get it wrong too often to be acceptable, and that needs to change.

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Imagining a 13-inch iPad Pro

The minute Apple launches a new device, say the iPad Air or Retina iPad mini, rumors switch immediately to the next. In this case, a 13-inch "iPad Pro". After all, if there can be a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro, why not an iPad Air and iPad Pro? If Apple can make the iPad more portable, why not more powerful? Now, I'm not so much interested in the rumor — there will always be rumors — but in how Apple could realize such an object. Could iOS be scaled to that screen size, and what it would provide beyond the existing, 9.7-inch iPad, or the 11-inch or 13-inch MacBook Air. Previously I imagined a 4-inch iPhone, which became the iPhone 5, and a 7-inch iPad, which we later saw as the mini. Earlier this year I tried imagining a 5-inch iPhone, and... we'll see what happens with the iPhone 6. So now let's imagine a 13-inch iPad Pro...

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