Apple could kill wireless carriers, but will they?

Steve Jobs with the original iPhone at its announcement in 2007
Image via AppleInsider

When the first iPhone came out, it was seen as a bold move against carriers. The phone marked the first time that carriers such as AT&T and Verizon didn’t have complete control over the device their cellular network was powering. Many manufactures followed Apple in their move against carrier, opting to design the phone and determine its features first and then go to carriers, and the cellular service industry as a whole lost a major foothold in the mobile computing space. But now, 12 years after the original iPhone changed the world, Apple could finally abandon cellular carriers and possibly destroy them once and for all. Today, in a report published by Bloomberg, it was announced that Apple could reportedly ditch cellular carriers in exchange for their own first party cellular network. According to the report, the network would utilize satellites to provide cell service to users. This would mark the first time in the history of the smart phone that a company would break away from carriers and such a move could drastically disrupt the carrier industry, and possibly even destroy it. With a company as far reaching as Apple, the power that cellular providers hold could finally be stripped away from them. This would have obvious benefits for users, such as increased privacy, possible lower costs for cell service, possibly a better user experience by not needing to use SIM cards, and cleaner design through the removal of said SIM card. But with those clear upsides comes less clear downsides, the biggest of which being antitrust issues. A world in which Apple owns the phone, the operating system, and the cellular network is a pretty clear analog to the time when the Bell-Ma telephone company owned the phone and the phone lines, a fact that led to their splitting up due to an anti trust case. While Apple could allow other phone manufacturers to utilize their cellular technology, an idea made more plausible due to their recent track record of playing nice with other tech giants, something tells me Apple wouldn’t want to do this, as they could use the technology as a possible selling point for future iPhones, as a feature not available on other devices. At a time where Apple is already facing demands to be split up, this would just serve as another argument for an antitrust case against them. But all this relies on whether or not this rumor is true. If it is, this could be a major step in the future of mobile computing, but we will have to wait and see if they can truly replicate move to the same effect of the one they pulled with the first iPhone, 12 years ago.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a bad movie, but it’s my favorite Star Wars movie.

You’ve seen the reviews, you’ve heard it’s a bad movie. And it is, but Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a great Star Wars film, and my favorite Star Wats movie, next to A New Hope. Rise of Skywalker is an incoherent mess. It has nonexistent pacing, a in-cohesive narrator, and events that probably could have taken up a whole movie are cramped into the iconic opening crawl. But through all of this, the latest Star Wars film is a masterpiece in its franchise. When I first watched A New Hope when I was 10, the shear site of the final battle to destroy the Death Star gave me a feeling inside my heart that I had never felt before. It was a feeling of epicness, one that made you fell a part of a bigger universe, whether that be on the side of the Rebellion, or of the Empire. I had relentlessly pursued this utter tingling joy I felt that time I first learned of the Jedi and the Rebel Alliance and the Empire for years. I watched every prequel, sequel, and spinoff made, even the Holiday Special, countless times in pursuit of this feeling. I read every novel I could get my hands on, played every game I could find, but no matter how deep I dug into George Lucas’ universe, my craving for this feeling was not quenched. That was, until today. Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker gives me that same feeling I felt all those years ago, and I love the film for that.

Design of the Day 12/18/19: A minimalist modern day typewriter designed for distraction-free writing.

We’ve all sat down to get some work done and find ourselves 45 minutes later scrolling through reddit without having typed a word. the PureWrite was designed to prevent such distraction and allow for “Pure” writing, where a writer can work on a piece free of any distraction. It is simply a keyboard with a small four inch screen to display your work. You can export your documents by plugging in the PureWrite into your main computer with the USB-C connection, or you can transfer files over wi-fi.

What makes Apple’s new alliance with Amazon and Google so significant for Tim Cook’s Apple.

The headline from the announcement on Apple’s Newsroom
Image via

Ever since Tim Cook has become CEO of Apple, the company has been more open to cooperating with its competitors. Through moves like putting the Apple TV app on non-Apple smart tis and finally allowing Siri support for Spotify, Apple has demonstrated that its isolationist ways are behind them, with the company embracing new policies of cooperation with other companies. Today, Apple took the biggest step in working with other rivaled companies. In an Apple newsroom briefing, the company announced an alliance with Google, Amazon, and Zigbee Alliance ( group of companies that make smart home products like Phillips and Ike that have a reestablished standard for smart home products). The four have allied with each other with the goal of creating a uniform smart home experience that will hopefully make smart home devices more user friendly and accessible. Prior to this arrangement, these parties each had their own proprietary smart home standard. This often made it difficult for users to distinguish which smart home products worked with their devices and could often restrict them from buying smart home devices that might not work within the ecosystem they were locked into. What makes this alliance particularly significant for Apple is the shift in their policy that this agreement signifies. While, as I previously stated, Apple has been cooperating with other companies more recently, all of these cooperations had some aspect that was beneficial for Apple. In the case of putting the Apple TV app on non-Apple smart TVs, Apple was able to expand the viewer base of their streaming service, Apple TV+, to people who may not be in the Apple Ecosystem. Apple benefited from allowing Siri to control Spotify as it gave people another reason to buy their smart speaker and helped to close the gap between Apple’s voice assistant and those of its competitors, like Google’s Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. What makes Apple’s alliance with the other companies different from prior instances of cooperation with competitors is that there is no real big financial incentive for Apple in this agreement. In fact, one could even say that Apple could lose money as part of this alliance due to the fact that they will no longer be able to charge a premium for the only smart home devices that work in their ecosystem. Apple is not in this alliance for financial gain, they are purely involved to make user’s experiences with their products more fluid and seamless. This is what makes it such an important moment for the current Apple and Tim Cook, as Cook’s background as an industrial engineer, a position that is essentially based around finding unique ways to cut costs and maximize profits, has been blamed for sacrificing user experience in the name of a profit, but this announcement clearly demonstrates that Apple still puts user experience above all.

Design of the Day 12/17/19: A Modern Day Polaroid

I wanted to make the Polaroid, a classic and iconic device which is notoriously ig and clunky, be more portable. So I dreamt up the idea of making the Polaroid foldable with a hinge in the center which is capped with two hooks for a shoulder strap. It doesn’t have a display on the rear as you would use your phone for the viewfinder to cut down on costs on an already obsolete device.

Why is it so hard to make a good game streaming service?

Google Stadia came out this November and has largely been seen as a flop.
Image Via ShareSTADIA

The Netflix of games, it sounds simple, doesn’t it. Well, apparently making a good game streaming service is harder than it sounds. Many companies, big and small, have tried to create such a promising service before. First it was OnLive, who produced a set top box device that could stream games to your living room for a monthly fee. While it showed promised, OnLive’s idea proved to be too far ahead of its time, and the company shut down in 2015. Then Nvidia tried to make their own vision of a games streaming product, which had promise thanks to the reputation of the company behind it. Like OnLive, however, Nvidia’s game streaming platform never got off the ground. Most recently, Google attempted to do the impossible with their take on game streaming service, called Stadia. However Stadia seems to have a similar fate as its ancestors from OnLive and Nvidia, as the platform has seen a plethora of issues since its launch in November. Foremost is the lack of a non premium option at launch, which forces users to cough up a hefty fee to pay for the “founders edition”, which is essentially a payed beta. Like a beta, Stadia has seen many software related issues, which include causing the phones and chrome casts that the platform is running on to overheat. Reports have also come out that, while Google promised games would be playable in 4K at launch, this is not the case for most of the current titles. These issues have caused many to preemptively shrug Stadia off as flop and has caused those who though that Google could finally succeed where companies like OnLive and Nvidia went wrong loose hope. But we can’t loose hope yet. While Google was making headlines for its buggy platform, Xbox was testing out its own game streaming service, called XCloud. Early testers praised the streaming service for finally cracking the nut on game streaming, and many of these testers seem to think that Xbox could finally be the one to succeed with game streaming. Xcloud uses a different approach from competitors. Instead of streaming games from a datacenter, Xcloud takes a path that better fits the technological landscape we are in right now rather than producing a platform that is ahead of its time, like its predecessors. Xcloud streams data from Xbox owners’ console to whatever device they want, allowing them to use entirely their own hardware, unlike other companies that essentially rent out pieces of their own hardware for you to use. Another benefit of Xbox’s product is that the company behind it is purely a video game company. In recent years, Xbox has become closer and closer to a synonym for gaming, and out of all of its predecessors and competitors, its foot is farthest in the door when it comes to gaming. These two advantages together could give Microsoft what it needs in order to finally succeed where the others before it have failed, but time will tell, Xcloud is said to launch sometime next year and we will have to wait and see if my predictions were right or if I will have a post titled exactly the same next year