Times of India: ‘Apple may get 2-3 years’ breather on sourcing norm’

Sidhartha & Surojit Gupta, The Times of India: The government is expected to allow Apple to open its own retail outlets in the country without any sourcing requirement for two-to-three years as it tries to work out an arrangement under which the Cupertino, California-based company will agree to local purchases once it gets a stronger toehold in the country. And I thought this was messy politics before; I’m not surprised anymore. Here’s the events so far: Indian government waives the local-sourcing requirement. Tim Cook visits India. Indian government revokes the waiver (but the Prime Minister can still revoke the revocation) Indian government is reportedly still considering the waiver Indian government says local sourcing norms are lax on Apple for 2-3 years. I stand by my theory that the Indian government made these decisions fully cognisant of the power dynamics and who had the upper hand. None of this was executed without proper thought. I think it’s a smart move when you see it through the government’s eye. If all goes as they plan and Apple sets up shop, what is Apple going to do when the 2-3 year limit approaches and there’s still no 30% local-sourcing? Wind up their premium stores and go back to selling through third-parties they’ve partnered with? I’m sure Apple sees through this. (I find it funny how the angle here is that of giving Apple a ‘breather’. From the looks of it, the government seems to be quite interested in bring Apple onboard and not, instead, giving Apple a concrete ’30% or you’re out’ directive. Also, on the off-chance that it happens: If you read a story tomorrow that reads ‘Indian Government waives local-sourcing norms for Apple’, you know which way the scales tipped.) UPDATE: Dave Mark, The Loop: This would be a foot in the door for Apple. Hard to imagine the government would force Apple to close all their Apple Stores once they are operating, especially since they would become a local employer and a shutdown would mean job loss. Dave’s viewpoint and mine are made from different perspectives and I find the contrast fascinating. A summary: Between Apple and the Indian government the party that has more to lose at the end of the ‘breathing period’ would be under pressure. Dave thinks it’s the Indian government and I think it’s Apple.

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Two pre-2000s Apple stories charmed with clandestinity, for your weekend reading pleasure

’The Graphing Calculator Story’ Ron Avitzur chronicles his story of The Graphing Calculator. It’s a tad lengthy but it’s worth every second, every scroll. I hate using the adage but if there’s one thing you read this weekend, let it be The Graphing Calculator Story. You’ll enjoy it. ’Quick, Hide In This Closet’ In googling to know more about the story above, I came across another one like it titled ‘Quick, Hide In This Closet’. It’s written by Andy Hertzfeld on Folklore (a site that you should definitely bookmark if you like stories about Apple’s history). A little shorter than The Graphing Calculator, it’s geekier and — in true Folklore fashion — entirely raw Apple.   I was honestly looking for something to quote from both these stories to capture your interest but a) I couldn’t pick just one and b) I didn’t want to give away even a bit of it. As I’ve come to realise with books that are classics, the covers usually don’t have a summary of the story; they just hold strings of words that express the story’s excellence.

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Lorem ‘ducking’ Ipsum

loremfuckingipsum.com : An idea that’s delightful in concept and beautiful in execution (via. The Loop). From their About section: If you’re struggling to come up with your next great concept, put down that other ipsum text and drop this like it’s hot into your design comp. This colorful blend of inspirational text is sure to get those lost creative juices flowing and generate a big thumbs up from your client, creative director, or professor. You’re already one step closer to wild success. So how much fucking copy do you need?

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9To5Mac: ‘Former Apple ad guru Ken Segall says company is losing touch with its heritage of simplicity’

Ben Lovejoy writing for 9To5Mac: Ken Segall, the former Apple ad consultant who coined the iMac name, wrote the copy for the famous ‘Think different’ campaign and authored the book Insanely Simple, says that Apple is beginning to lose touch with its heritage of simplicity. He gave his assessment of Apple’s ‘state of simplicity’ in a piece for the Guardian.[…] While the Guardian‘s headline makes the piece seem entire critical, it’s actually very balanced … He points out that Tim Cook may be a very different person to Steve Jobs, but was hand-picked by Steve to take on the job and is fully aware of his own strengths and weaknesses. Segall also looks at both sides of the product line-up debate. Segall then lays out reasons why he thinks this sort of complexity comes with an expansive product line that’s essential for Apple as it continues to grow and serve a broader audience. So, yes, if you judge by absolutes, today’s Apple seems more complicated than last decade’s Apple. But if you factor in how far and wide Apple’s businesses have spread, and judge each arm individually, the simplicity is still palpable. (For some reason Apple Music’s example seems to be stuck in my mind: Even though it’s widely considered a poor execution, the initial pitch was simplicity — ‘One single thought around Music’.)

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Making a case for Playgrounds on the iPad

Rumblings about Xcode for iPad have made their rounds about the Internet since a while. The driver in conceiving Xcode for iPad for me was that Xcode would make an ideal manifestation of the ‘Pro’ moniker, further pitch the iPad as a productivity device and serve as a handy tool for developers who’d appreciate the added portability. Now I don’t know enough about how far Xcode is spread along all dimensions to state reasons why Xcode for iPad isn’t feasible — I’m still a beginner, writing Swift for iOS apps — but it’s obvious that Xcode for iPad — if it ever exists — cannot be an as-is port of Xcode on the Mac. Instead, I’d like to make the case for Playgrounds for iPad and why I think it’s a competent solution to a lot of use cases: Playgrounds are a very potent tool. Granted you’re not making an iOS app using Playgrounds anytime soon but you can definitely take your iPad with you to a coffeeshop to tweak the code that corresponds to that one screen of your iOS app, optimising your algorithm ever so slightly. For the app our team is working on, I needed to familiarise myself with Bézier Curves. All experimentation towards this purpose was done in a Playground. Once satisfied with what I wrote, I copied the relevant pieces of code to the original app. Playgrounds are a really really powerful medium for learning Swift. Nearly every Swift tutorial I’ve come across that didn’t need to be an iOS app, was explained through a Playground. One of the reasons (the one that stood out to me the most) for this is that Playgrounds allow you to add stylised text (headings, lists etc.) and the output for functions, inline with your code. So, if you call a function add(2,3), the live output, in this case 5, can be displayed right under the line where the function was called. The official Swift blog has some pictures for illustrations. This one ties in with the previous point. Playgrounds for iPad would serve as a huge proponent in Apple’s aims to make Swift ubiquitous. Apple has said it wants Swift to be everywhere and the language people use when programming for the first time. Those iPads at schools would make for excellent terminals for people new to programming to pick up coding on the iPad. (One could literally open Swift’s documentation and a Playground document in a split view to practice Swift.) I’ve been talking about Playgrounds for iPad in the context of the iPad, visualising the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch form factors. But what about the iPad Mini and the iPhone? Xcode for iPhone and iPad mini are a tough sell. Playgrounds are a natural fit. Additionally, a Playground’s sandboxed and lightweight nature makes it an ideal fit for iOS’s design paradigms. I would even entertain the idea that Playgrounds may have been conceived with the iPad in mind. (A few days ago Fraser Speirs tweeted about Pythonista’s capabilities. If you’re not familiar with Pythonista it’s a fully-featured IDE for Python. Fraser’s point was that those who think Xcode for iPad would be too complex should have a look at Pythonista. Again, I’ll steer clear of the arguments against Xcode for iPad but since Pythonista was on my wishlist for a while, I decided to buy it and fire it up. The instant I saw the first screen of code, I thought: This feels exactly like a Playground, for Python 1.) Of course if Apple releases Playgrounds for iOS, more questions arise: UIKit would probably be included, but what about AppKit? What sort of precedent does this set for other apps on the App Store? If you ask me, the prospect of learning and experimenting with Swift on my iPad is simply marvellous! A Pyground? Do excuse me. ↩︎

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Limited Thunderbolt displays at Apple stores

Joe Rossignol, MacRumors (via. John Gruber): With WWDC 2016 around the corner, limited in-store availability of the Thunderbolt Display will naturally stir speculation about a possible refresh to the standalone monitor. As always, however, the stock outage could simply amount to regular fluctuations within Apple’s inventory channels, or Apple could be making room for ongoing store renovations. […] Only the late 2013 Mac Pro, late 2014 or newer 27″ Retina 5K iMac, and mid 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro with AMD Radeon R9 M370X graphics are capable of driving 5K external displays, however, and each setup requires using two Thunderbolt cables per display. The lack of support is due to bandwidth limitations of the DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4 specs on current Macs. […]Apple could opt to release a 4K Thunderbolt Display instead, but supply chain considerations make this unlikely, so the company’s exact plans for the future of its standalone display remain to be seen. There are two aspects of this story that interest me: Compatible hardware and price. As Joe writes, only the Mac Pro, the latest 27” 5K iMac and one specific model of the MacBook line can drive this rumoured 5K Display. When Phill Schiller launched the 5K iMac in 2014, he brought up a standalone 4K display for a juxtaposition with the 5K iMac saying professional monitors cost around $3000; the 5K iMac is a better display with a whole computer attached to it at $2499. So what would Apple’s standalone 5K display cost? Now, sure, Apple could release a 4K display but that just means they’re producing a 4K display in addition to the imminent 5K display, since 5K is what people seem to be asking of Apple. (Of course price is not a concern for the targeted audience; they probably have or will have the computer to do justice by the display.)

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