Over the past few years, the world’s biggest tech firms have scrambled to become players in the wearable tech scene. First, Android phone manufactures including the likes of Samsung and Huawei fought to beat Apple to market with their own smart watches, which hit the market and gradually faded to obscurity as the looming release of the very thing they fought to beat, the Apple Watch, drew closer and closer. Today, Apple is the undisputed king of the wearables sector, with their Apple Watch and AirPods growing in popularity more and more everyday as they eat up more and more of their respective market shares. But now, as more firms jump on the wearables train, the loosely defined industry has slowly begun to shift it’s focus-no pun intended- to a new form of wearable technology- not one that sits on your wrist, but rather on your face. For decades, AR headsets have been relegated to props in sci-if movies, but recently, the futuristic and theoretical technology behind them has inched closer and closer to becoming a reality. But as this technology becomes more and feasible and begins to be used in commercial products, what will happen to the smart watch? My theory is that the smart watch will function similarly as it does today, as a companion, rather than a stand alone device. However, what will be different for the smart watch as other wearable technologies come to market and rise to popularity, is that the smart watch of this fully wearable future will function more as a part of a greater wearable system than as a companion to more fully fledged to device. AR glasses won’t be able to replace the smartphone alone, but in tandem with smart watches, wireless earbuds, and more, it will lead us into a wearable future.
As time goes on, the iPad and the MacBook have grown closer and closer to converging. Arguably the greatest step towards this convergence was made recently with the addition of trackpad and mouse support to iPadOS, which gave the iPad one of the key features of a fully-fledged MacBook. Following this path, Apple is slated to release a new MacBook with an ARM processor next near, which would bring the two platforms closer together than ever before through unifying their processors architectures. But as the iPad inches closer and closer to becoming a fully-fledged laptop, the question begins to arise: should Apple just make the iPad a laptop that runs iPadOS. While this certainly seems like one logical evolution for the iPad in its current state, I don’t personally think that the iPad needs to adopt the form factor of a laptop to be able to replace a laptop. Having used the new Magic Keyboard with trackpad for a few days now, I can firmly say that the iPad feels more like a full laptop replacement than ever before, and I can also firmly say that I am happy with where the iPad is currently at in terms of being a laptop replacement. You see, the most “magical” part of the Magic Keyboard isn’t that it lets the iPad be a laptop, it’s that it lets the iPad be an iPad when you want it to be. The thing that makes the iPad an iPad is its versatility, and the new Magic Keyboard perfectly supports this versatility-based device. If you want to use the keyboard and effectively have a fully functional laptop, its as simple as attaching the iPad to the top of the keyboard and snapping it in place, and if you want to use the iPad as an iPad, all you have to do is pull the iPad away. This versatility is what makes the iPad so great, and to destroy it in the name of making the iPad lighter and more lapable would be a disgrace to Steve Job’s original vision for the product and the effective death of the iPad in the eyes of many.
When Siri launched with the iPhone 4s in 2011, Apple promised it would be it would take over the world. But its competitors quickly caught up. Within a few years, Google, Amazon, and even Microsoft all had their own digital assistants on the market, and, what’s more, they were better Siri. Today, the smart home is a rapidly growing market, with thousands of devices from thousands of companies, forming a tight-knit ecosystem with one device at the center: the smart speaker. As the smart home market began to emerge, Google and Amazon quickly got to work on their own smart speakers, soon after introducing their Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers respectively. However, Apple took more time to produce their offering, and when Apple’s smart speaker, the HomePod, finally came to market, Google and Amazon were already well established forces within the space. To add insult to injury, Siri had not improved much since its initial release, whereas Google’s assistant and Amazon’s Alexa had continuously received update after update, making Apple’s Siri pale in comparison. So the HomePod had an uphill fight leading up to its release, and, when that release finally came (after one delay), the Apple HomePod was met with mixed reactions. Consumers gawked at the hefty price tag, which put the HomePod several hundred dollars above its competitors, with notably less functionality. Even today, the HomePod lags behind Google’s and Amazon’s offerings in terms of sales, and while it wasn’t a flop, it can’t really be considered a massive success. So does the HomePod have a reason to exist? Well yes, but that doesn’t mean you should by it. It all has to do with the reason Siri is so “bad” in comparison to Google Assistant and Alexa, and, as an extension, why the HomePod is lacking so much functionality in comparison to the Google Home and Amazon Echo. The reason why these other digital assistants and the speakers they run on are so powerful and fast is because Google and Amazon use user experience and data to improve them, completely compromising their user’s security and privacy. Apple doesn’t do this, and this is why Siri lacks so much functionality in comparison. We need the HomePod not for what it is, but for what it represents. The HomePod is the last secure smart speaker on the market, and if we continue to use it, it will get better, until it is one day just as fast as Google and Amazon’s speakers, and ten times as secure.
The spread of Covid-19 has plunged the world into unmitigated chaos. As of May 1st, The deadly virus has claimed close to a quarter of a million lives, completely disrupting our way of life in the process. But Covid-19 isn’t only killing us, it’s slowly eating away at well established institutions, both in America and the world at large, and when this whole epidemic is over, the world we live in will be a radically different one. One area most affected by the spread of Covid-19 is the workplace. More than ever before, American’s are working from home, and when this is all over, many aren’t sure they’ll want to go back to the old way of life. Just on the surface level, such a massive shift in the way work would have massive implications for the way we live, more Americans working from home could mean drastically different societal roles, and the lessened presence of the office could completely overhaul real estate. On top of the differences in how we’re living, we’re also witnessing a colossal paradigm shift in where we’re living. Thousands are fleeing big cities to escape the firm grasp the virus holds over them, and experts are saying many won’t come back. Especially in the case of New York, this event has expedited the already growing trend of people leaving big cities for smaller suburban areas. The common factor between these two shifts in our culture, working from home and leaving big cities, is not that they were kickstarted by the spread of Covid-19, but that they were preexisting trends expedited by the spread of Covid-19.
If you ask almost anyone in Silicon Valley, they’ll tell you that services are the future of the tech industry, and it’s not hard to see that they truly believe that. Subscription services are everywhere today, they’re behind the way we watch tv, listen to music, edit photos, and even do our work. Tons of companies have found financial success through this business model, as it practically guarantees recurring revenue, the thing that investors want to see most, but despite this, Apple continues to see diminishing returns and subcscriber numbers with their own services. But why is this? How come one of the biggest tech companies in the world that has built an empire off of making great products failing where countless others have found great amounts of success? Well, the answer is simple. To understand why Apple is failing at services, one first must understand why they have succeeded in all of their other ventures. From the very beginning, Apple has succeeded by doing things differently. They were willing to take risks in the name of innovation and furthering the user experience, risks that allowed them to find success in innovative new products like the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. But when in comes to services, Apple’s don’t stand out all that much when compared to say Netflix’s, Spotify’s, or Hulu’s. They don’t offer any improvement on these services, only iterations, iterations that are frankly worse than the services they are iterating on. If Apple wants to succeed at services, they have to make Apple services, not HBO with an Apple skin on it, or Spotify with Siri support and a genuinely terrible user interface, they need to make the iPod’s and iPad’s of services, innovative new products that offer better user experiences than and genuine improvements on their competitors’ offerings. To put it simply, Apple needs to think different.
The Apple Watch was the first big new product line for Apple since the death of Steve Jobs, and, needless to say, it had a lot riding on it. Leading up to its announcement, speculation around the Apple Watch ran wild, with many heralding it to be the next iPhone. But now, 5 years later, has the Apple Watch lived up to those lofty expectations? Well, yes, for Apple it has at least. When the Apple Watch was finally unveiled, it was met with some deal of disappointment. Some of this disappointment was understandable, as the Apple Watch could never live up to the insane amounts of hype surrounding it, but, on the other hand, some of this disappointment was definitely warranted. Ever since its release, the Apple Watch has felt more like an iPhone accessory than a stand alone device, with it falling closer to Apple’s AirPods than to its iPhone in terms of functionality and impact. But this doesn’t mean that the Apple Watch has been a letdown by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just not what we expected it to be. The Apple Watch is part of a broader technological future, wearables, where our computing is relegated into smaller, simplified computers that we interact with in more subliminal ways. The Apple Watch was never meant to be a stand alone device, it just wouldn’t work as one, instead, it is meant as supplement to preexisting devices, one that simplifies and advances the user experiences of those preexisting devices overall, most notably in the way in negates the need to use those other devices for the simpler tasks that the Apple Watch can complete. Like I said, the Apple Watch is a device for the future, where our computing needs are divided and spread out across multiple computing platforms, platforms like AR headsets, wireless earbuds, and, currently, smart watches like the Apple Watch. While this future isn’t quite here yet, for now, the Apple Watch offers an excellent companion to the iPhone for its health and fitness capabilities, messaging and calling applications, and more simplified tasks that negate the need to look at your iPhone.
Perhaps the most famous story of failure in Silicon Valley is that of Theranos. A unicorn company poised to take over the valley with billions of dollars worth of runway and massive amounts of hype backing it, it seemed the that health tech firm’s success was inevitable. But today, the name Elizabeth Holmes, and as an extension, Theranos, is not synonymous with success, instead, it is synonymous with fraud and corruption. But its times like these where the firms failure hurts the most. Theranos hoped to bring widespread instant blood testing to the market, which, in a global pandemic like this, would have made testing for viruses and diseases significantly less of a struggle.
Out of all up and coming technologies, AI has-almost indisputably-the greatest amount of hype surrounding it. This hype largely stems from the fact that AI’s true potential is relatively unknown, making its theoretical potential limitless. While this certainly does make it difficult to accurately gauge the true potential of artificial intelligence, some of its theoretical applications are incredibly intriguing and have true potential. People have found ways to cram artificial intelligence into practically ever use case, which might make you think that almost all practical use cases have been covered, but in reality, this isn’t the case. Perhaps the greatest use case for AI has not been discovered or in any case-realized-as of yet, and in my opinion, this overlooked use case is more accessible programming. Over the past few decades, as computing has become more and more ubiquitous, programming has failed to become noticeably easier to adopt with it. While coding has certainly become more user-friendly in certain aspects, it largely remains too difficult to be accessible by the masses. But AI could change this. AI and, as an extension, machine learning could help to make programing drastically easier and more accessible to the general population. By allowing for simpler commands and scripting by using machine learning algorithms and pattern recognition, machine learning could allow for more versatile syntax for programming languages, meaning coding would be significantly easier to adopt. But why does this untapped application have so much potential? It’s simple, more and more people would be able to realize their ideas if they had the ability to program them into reality, and when we can all realize our dreams, the world becomes a better place.
Over the past ten years, Apple has slowly but surely built up a case for the iPad being a replacement for the traditional computer, and as an extension of that, the Mac. But even today, Apple continues to release new and improved Mac models, with even more rumored to be on the horizon. So, in a future where almost everyone uses an iPad for their daily computing needs, where does the Mac stand? The best answer seems to be as a device to do the list of things the iPad can’t do, which, thanks to rapid innovation, is constantly growing smaller and smaller in size. The remaining contents of this list are becoming more and more made up of edge cases, but there are a few that may never be able to truly work on the iPad. One such case that comes to mind is enterprise use. Because of the iPad’s hallmark portability, enterprise server use is one application that the iPad will most likely never be able to handle to the same extent as the Mac does. Another use case is app and web development, which typically requires machines more powerful than those developed applications are running on in order to maximize said applications performance. However, besides these two use cases, which have relatively low user bases, the iPad should soon be able to do most of the most important things the Mac can, negating the need for it almost entirely.