The ESV Reader’s Bible: First Impressions

ESV Reader’s Bible from Crossway on Vimeo.

Adam Lewis Greene’s Bibliotheca project has certainly opened my eyes to the concept of a more reader-friendly, less reference-heavy Bible design experience, and I’m not the only one. Nearly 15,000 people pledged over $1.4 million toward his ingenious Kickstarter project that had an initial goal of $37,000. That project is now closed on Kickstarter, but for now you can still order a set through Greene’s own website: Bibliotheca.co.

I’m sure Bible publishers have taken note, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see more of this kind of Bible from them in the future. That said, some have already been thinking along those lines. When I expressed my fascination with Bibliotheca on Twitter a friend pointed out that Crossway already has a product on the market called the ESV Reader’s Bible. I was so thrilled that my wife and I ordered two copies. We’ve been reading them now for a couple of days, and I wanted to offer a few initial thoughts.

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Design is about compromise. With Bibliotheca, Adam Greene wanted to provide more opaque paper than what’s typically found in a Bible. Thicker paper means a thicker Bible, so Greene chose to split his edition into four volumes. The ESV Reader’s Bible chose to keep the Bible in one volume, and therefore went with the more traditional thin “Bible paper”. That’s a definite downside, but it is convenient to have the Bible in one volume. The Reader’s Bible is available in different coverings. I chose the cloth-on-board hardcover style. It looks great, and it feels even better when you hold it in your hand. It comes in a nice slipcase and features two ribbon bookmarks. This is handy since my wife and I are starting in Genesis together but I also want to read the New Testament separately.

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The text is presented sans verse numbers in a single-column, paragraph style similar to what you’d find in any novel. The text is a bit small, but the font is very readable. Chapter numbers are included, but they’re pushed off into the margin, so they provide as little distraction as possible given the choice to include them. The top of the page provides a verse range for the material covered on that page, so you do still have some sense of where you are in the traditional format if you choose to look up there. The red header color is very attractive. There is no reference material and no footnotes. Like Bibliotheca this is all about the reading experience. 

Part of me does wish they had excluded the chapter numbers to really provide that immersive experience, or had substituted breaks that match the content better than our traditional chapter breaks do, but that’s a minor quibble, if I can even call it that.

This doesn’t take the concept as far as Bibliotheca does, but for around $20 on Amazon, it’s a great place to start if you’re not ready to spend $75 on Adam Greene’s project. I’ve only been reading it for two days, but my initial impression is that it is indeed an easier and more pleasant way to read the Bible.

Now that you’ve read my review, you really owe it to yourself to check out J. Mark Bertrand’s review over at bibledesignblog.com. Again, it was through Bibliotheca that I discovered Mark’s work, but he’s been championing the concept of a reader’s Bible for quite some time, and has written thousands of words on the topic of Bible design over the years. Really good stuff.

Bibliotheca

I had started seeing social media posts about Bibliotheca in the last few days, but it wasn’t until a couple of days ago that I actually sat down and watched the above video from Adam Lewis Greene’s Kickstarter project. His main goal seems to be to enhance the experience of reading the Bible through intelligent, beautiful design.

Honestly I’d never really thought much about the physical and visual design of the Bible, but Greene makes some great points about how modern Bible design prioritizes reference over reading. Almost every Bible you’ve ever seen is laid out in two columns per page with a center channel filled with reference notes, often with copious footnotes at the bottom of the page. As Greene points out, there’s nothing wrong with that way of presenting the Bible, and a lot of good reasons for doing it that way. However, there’s also room for editions that strip all of that away to enhance the experience of actually reading the Bible.

To that end, Greene (who comes across as the Jony Ive of Bible designing in the above video), has done a few key things. He’s stripped out the chapter and verse numbers (those are relatively late additions to the Bible), laid out the text in a custom-designed font in a paragraphed, single-column layout, and used more opaque paper. (Bibles are notorious for using super-thin, partially transparent paper.) A single-volume Bible with paper like that would be extremely thick, so he’s broken the text into four volumes. He’s also put a ton of attention into the materials and binding style. It’s very clear that Greene is both learned and thoughtful in the areas of typography and book design.

He’s also clearly on to something. His Kickstarter project, which ends Sunday, had an original goal of $37,000. As of the time of this writing he had received nearly a million dollars in pledges! He’s already more than accomplished his goal, and I suspect Bible publishers will take note of his accomplishments. There’s clearly a market for Bibles which focus on readability and beautiful design. Most importantly, Greene’s work has gotten people talking about the Bible. He’s been featured in highly read secular publications. Because of his work, people are going to meet the Lord for the first time.

Getting a set of Greene’s books isn’t cheap, but I was considering backing him until a friend pointed out that Crossway publishes the ESV Reader’s Bible. While it lacks the high-end, first edition feel of Greene’s work, it is similar in that emphasizes reading over reference. My wife and I ordered a couple of copies of the ESV Reader’s Bible and can’t wait to start reading together!

A Trip To St. Augustine

St. Augustine, Florida has always been my favorite place in the world. We went many times when I was a kid, often for my birthday. This year I was blessed with the opportunity to take my family for the first time. Jessica and I had taken a trip there together years ago, but this was the first time I got to take my kids, and I had a blast!

If you’re unfamiliar with St. Augustine, you really need to check it out. It was founded by the Spanish in 1565, so it predates the founding of Jamestown and the arrival of the Pilgrims by decades. It’s really about the closest thing you can get to an Old World city in the U.S. The mixture of great beaches and rich history are what I love about it.

We spent a lot of time at the beach and at the pool, and the kids loved both! Last year Marty was way too young to appreciate the beach, and Noah was scared to go in the water. This year they both took right to it, and had a blast playing in the surf and digging in the sand with their beach toys! Noah walked up and down the beach with his grandmother collecting shells in a bucket.

We also took the time to take in some of my favorite sights. As a kid, my favorite thing to do in St. Augustine was to visit the Castillo de San Marcos, the 300+ year old fort that the Spanish built to protect the harbor and the city. It’s about the closest thing to a European castle you’ll find in the New World. It was an absolute delight to take my son to tour it! He’s still a little young to fully appreciate it, but I loved getting to take pictures like the one above! I also took the opportunity to stroll down St. George Street, the ancient city’s main thoroughfare, and check out some of the shops. A few of us adults even climbed the more than 200 steps of the St. Augustine lighthouse to take in the incredible 360-degree views. While we were in town we also took the opportunity to tour a replica of Ponce de León’s ship that was visiting the harbor.

I love this shot of Noah and me standing in front of one of the lion statues that guards the Bridge of Lions. Noah was a little wary of that big guy!

My family has been blessed with the opportunity to take some great summer vacations in recent years, but this has been by far my favorite!

Doctor Who

I’d wanted to start watching Doctor Who for years, but I was daunted by the fact that this is a show that has been running, off and on, since 1963. There was a lengthy hiatus that eventually resulted in a renewal of the show in 2005 that has continued to today, with a new season to start in August. Starting with 2005 seemed like the logical place to begin, but I was concerned that without the previous 40 years worth of content I wouldn’t be able to get into it. I had seen a few episodes of the Tom Baker era as a kid, but not enough to really grasp what the show was about. In early 2013, I finally sat down and plunged into Doctor Who, and tonight I finally finished with everything available on Netflix and Amazon Prime starting with the 2005 series. Crucially I have yet to see The Day Of The Doctor or The Time Of The Doctor, and will be scanning those streaming services frequently until they arrive. What I can definitely tell you though, is that starting with 2005 is the perfect place to jump into this wonderful series.

So what is Doctor Who? Well, it’s part sci-fi/horror, part adventure, and part comedy tossed into a blender. The protagonist is a 1,000-year-old, two-hearted alien called the Doctor, the last of a race called the Time Lords. He travels through time and space in a device called the TARDIS that is disguised as a mid-twentieth century London police box. The box is small on the outside, but gigantic on the inside, making it a great storytelling device. I love the DeLorean in Back To The Future, but it’s really rubbish as a time machine. It stands out in any century, and it’s difficult or impossible to operate in eras or areas without good roads. But a little blue, nondescript wooden box can fit in anywhere and anytime. The Doctor almost never travels alone, but rather takes with him a companion or companions. They’re almost always human and almost always young and female. The companion is the stand-in for the audience. She provides a person for us to relate to, and for the Doctor to explain important plot points to. The writers of the show also devised an ingenious way for multiple actors to portray the Doctor over the years. When the Doctor is near death he regenerates and looks like a completely different person.

If you start with the 2005 season you’ll work your way through three different Doctors: Christopher Ecclestone, David Tenant, and Matt Smith. My heart wants me to call Tenant my favorite, but my brain says it should be Ecclestone. Tenant is an amazing actor who put such a distinctive stamp on the character. His doctor has a tremendous sense of humor, and is frequently light-hearted, but can be serious and earnest when the time comes. Matt Smith is a fine actor, but his portrayal of the Doctor felt like a caricature of Tenant’s Doctor, and rarely strayed from being eccentrically goofy. He was also saddled with Amy and Rory for most of his tenure, and I didn’t care for them as companions. Ecclestone only played the Doctor for one season, but to me his portrayal suits the character best. He’s not handsome and he’s older which meant the writers didn’t try to put him into an awkward romantic situation with his companion. He also had a dark, almost reckless edge to him, befitting of a character who has taken part in a massive war that raged across time and space and all but wiped two species from the universe. This Fall we get the Doctor’s latest regeneration, played by Peter Capaldi, and I can’t wait. He is exactly the type of person I was hoping the show runners would go for. He’s older, and from what little they’ve showed us of him in the form of teasers, he appears to have a dark edge to him.

As with any series you get a few bad episodes. You also get a lot of ho-hum monster-of-the-week episodes. But every now and then you get a truly great episode, and those are some of the best of what’s available on TV. I always recommend the third season episode “Blink” to people who are thinking about trying out the series. It’s a little unusual of a choice because the Doctor’s barely in it himself, but it’s one of the best episodes of the entire series. If you like that episode then I think you’ll enjoy watching the whole series.

A lot of you are way ahead of me and have been Whovians for years, but if you haven’t given Doctor Who a try, you really should. If it seems weird at first, stick with it. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Apple Discontinues Development Of Aperture (And Likely iPhoto)

As someone who is certified in Aperture 1.5 and Aperture 2 I was interested, but not shocked, to hear the news that Apple is discontinuing development of its pro app for photographers. (It’s still for sale on the Mac App Store at the time of this writing.) Here’s a statement that Apple provided to Jim Dalrymple as recorded on his website The Loop:

“With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture,” said Apple in a statement provided to The Loop. “When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS X.”

The wording above bothers me. Though they don’t say it, and I don’t think they intended to imply it, you could almost read that as Apple saying that the new Photos app will obviate the need for Aperture. But there’s no way that can be true. Aperture was a niche app for professional photographers and advanced hobbyists. Though iPhoto was definitely the app that best met my photography needs, there are a lot of photographers who really need advanced organization and editing tools, and I doubt Photos is ever going to deliver that. These photographers will now have little choice but to make the switch to Adobe’s Lightroom. Making that kind of switch is no small task.

When Apple announced at WWDC a few weeks back that Photos would be coming to OS X early next year, you couldn’t help but wonder if that meant the end of iPhoto. It didn’t occur to me that it might spell the end of Aperture. Apple’s above statement doesn’t mention iPhoto, but Dalrymple and others are reporting that iPhoto too will be going away. I’ll miss the iPhoto brand, but the app itself has definitely gotten truly bloated in recent years. A clean slate might do some good there. Will all of my Events be converted over though? What about the originals/edited version relationship? I’d definitely love it if Photos got Aperture’s versioning system, but I doubt that’ll happen.

Dalyrmple concludes his piece thusly:

Apple was very clear when I spoke with them this morning that development on other pro apps like Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro is continuing. Professionals in those app categories should not worry about their apps—they will continue as normal.

That may well be true, but if you currently use one of Apple’s other pro apps you’ve got to be a little bit concerned. Aperture has become the latest victim of Apple’s ever widening product portfolio. (And subsequent lack of focus/interest on small profit products/areas.) I don’t believe that this is a Steve Jobs versus Tim Cook thing, but the reality is that Apple isn’t the same company it was ten years ago. In most ways that’s a good thing, but in some ways it’s not.

My iPhone 5c

Last night I bought my first iPhone in five years: a blue iPhone 5c. I had an original iPhone starting in 2007 and purchased an iPhone 3GS two years later. In the summer of 2010, just a few months before the birth of my son, that iPhone met an untimely demise in a washing machine. Since then my wife and I have only used feature phones. We certainly would have preferred to have iPhones during those years, but opted for the money savings that not having a data plan and upgrading every two years brings. When my seventeen-month-old daughter decided a couple of days ago that my phone needed to take a swim in the toilet, the time seemed right to rejoin the 21st Century. I got the blue 5c and my wife got the pink one.

Now, in many ways this was a terrible time to buy an iPhone. We’re likely three months away from the debut of new iPhone models, but my daughter wasn’t taking that timing into consideration. Honestly though, I’ve wanted the iPhone 5c since Apple announced them last September. I never really liked the design that Apple introduced with the iPhone 4. It was beautiful, to be sure, but it had a very cold, sterile look to it. That’s really been a hallmark of Apple’s design choices with the Mac too for the last several years. Additionally, the sharply defined edges made the iPhone 4 (and its successors up through the 5s) feel uncomfortable and at times painful to hold. Then along came the 5c (perhaps the most awkwardly named iPhone to date). It’s more or less the guts of the iPhone 5, but with a brightly colored polycarbonate back. While not as comfortable to hold as the 3G and 3GS, it’s much easier on the hand than its recent siblings, and it re-introduced a whimsical, multicolored pallette that Apple had been famous for, but had relegated to the iPod line in recent times. Indeed, the packaging the 5c comes in resembles that of the iPod touch.

Another reason why I was satisfied to purchase the mid-range iPhone model is that iPhones have matured to the point that even the 5c, based on a soon-to-be two-year-old model is still a darn good device. The 5s is without question a more advanced phone, but for me it simply wasn’t more advanced enough.

When the iPhone 5c was just a rumor, before it launched, I really thought it would do extremely well, perhaps even outselling the 5s. Boy was I wrong. Although Apple has sold millions of them, the 5c has apparently not done what Apple expected it to. It’s very likely that there won’t be a next generation replacement for the 5c when new iPhones get announced this Fall. I’m betting the 5s moves down to that slot. I think that’s kind of a shame.

Though I haven’t been on an iPhone in four years, I’ve been a heavy iOS user via three different iPad models. Still, it feels like almost an all new experience using iOS on a phone. Is Passbook any good? I have no idea, but I’m going to find out. This is also the first iPhone I’ve spent any significant time with that has a 4” screen. I like having more screen real estate, but it’s almost awkwardly tall. While I can still use it one-handed, it’s a workout to reach my thumb up to the upper-left corner to hit a back button. But, the Retina screen is incredibly good to look at. It’ll definitely be interesting to see what form factor the new phones take this Fall. Still, I’m very happy with my purchase and the next two years look bright.

Review: World War Z

Warning! Massive spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk!

Zombies have certainly been having a field day in popular culture throughout the last decade plus. There have been loads of zombie movies, and The Walking Dead has been one of the most popular shows on TV for several seasons. Of course, zombies are terrifying in and of themselves, but what makes them really scary is that they rob their victims of identity and agency. It’s that “fate worse than death” scenario that made the Borg so scary in Star Trek. Unfortunately, zombie movies are filled with cliches. World War Z is a mix of those well-worn cliches with some genuinely interesting twists on the genre.

The protagonist of the film is Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a former U.N. investigator who has left that life to settle down with his wife and two daughters. The movie really gives no pretext to the zombie crisis. One minute everything on planet Earth is normal, and the next the Lane family is suddenly running for their lives from hordes of ravenous zombies that convert their victims in seconds. The first act of the movie deals with Gerry and his family as they race for a rendezvous with a helicopter sent by Gerry’s old U.N. boss who needs Gerry’s help to try to find a solution to the zombie problem. The first act is a massive zombie movie cliche, but it executes on that cliche pretty well. It’s the middle act that really drags the movie down.

Gerry is sent to South Korea because a previously ignored memo from a U.S. military base mentioned something about zombies before the worldwide crisis began. When they arrive they find a group of grizzled soldiers who have been keeping the local zombie horde at bay. They don’t find patient zero, but they do find an imprisoned CIA employee who was caught selling weapons to North Korea. He fortunately has a wealth of super-relevant information about the crisis. He tells Gerry that Jerusalem has managed to keep the zombies out of their city. Despite the fact that he seems like he might be crazy, not to mention the fact that there’s no good reason why this shady character would have this information, Gerry decides that’s where they should go. He and his pilot go to Jerusalem where apparently the Israelis got word of the impending zombie apocalypse ahead of time and improbably built a massive wall around the entire city to keep the hordes out. This was perhaps the most ridiculous plot point in the whole movie. It seems like a construction project of that magnitude would take months if not years to complete. Besides, Jerusalem is a major international city. It seems like the story of why Israel was building a giant wall would be massive news all around the world for months and yet the movie acts like it happened quickly, in secret, with no one caring. You get the feeling that a lot of these set pieces were put in the movie because they would be cool to see on screen, not because they make a lick of sense in the context of the story.

Finally, Gerry boards a passenger plane and diverts it to a world health organization research facility in Wales. However, right before they arrive at their destination a zombie who apparently was just hanging out in the cargo hold for several hours gets into the passenger compartment and proceeds to convert almost everyone on the plane before Gerry blows a hole in the side of the plane with a grenade. That has the advantage of sucking out all of the zombies, but crashes the plane in the process. The chances of anyone surviving a plane crash like the one depicted in this movie are next to zero, but Gerry and his Israeli soldier friend not only survive, but are well enough to walk miles to the W.H.O. facility. They do this with absolutely no harassment by zombies. Because. The third act goes back to being a massive cliche as Gerry and his crew have to get through a zombie infested wing of the facility.

If you’re a Doctor Who fan impatiently waiting to see how Peter Capaldi will do as the twelfth doctor, you get to see him act in the third act of the movie where he plays a character identified only as W.H.O. doctor. Spooky. Actually, it would have been super convenient for everyone if the Doctor and the T.A.R.D.I.S. had shown up there at the end. But alas.

World War Z is exciting and suspenseful, and the concept is compelling, but it’s hampered by the ridiculous plot devices in the middle act. It feels a little like J.J. Abrams’s first Star Trek movie in that the plot makes no sense if you stop to think about it, but it’s moving at such a frenetic pace that you might be able to get through the movie without caring about the details. The movie it really reminded me of though was 2012. Both movies feature worldwide catastrophes. Both feature a man rescuing his family (though WWZ fortunately only has to deal with that during the first act) and both feature characters zipping around the world on a mad dash involving improbable rescues. 2012 makes all that work because it doesn’t take itself seriously and because Roland Emmerich is so talented at giving even minor characters wonderful little emotional moments. World War Z on the other hand takes itself completely seriously and in most cases doesn’t take time to make you feel very much at all when a character dies.

But, let’s end on some positive notes. Brad Pitt does a good job, though he’s pretty dry and wooden. I liked how the movie showed you his thought process as he began learning how the zombies behaved and how the infection process worked. There were some good touches like Gerry taping a magazine around his arm to keep the zombies from actually biting him. The fast zombies weren’t exactly unprecedented, but it was at least a break from the typical slow-moving zombies. The whole masking agent vaccine was also a pretty interesting way to deal with the crisis. The movie definitely left the story open for a sequel, and honestly I wouldn’t mind seeing it, despite the definitely flaws this movie has.

Star Trek V Turns Twenty-Five

I remember being a kid when Star Trek itself turned twenty-five. My brother and I had the twenty-fifth anniversary video game, and I had a bunch of baseball card-sized Star Trek cards. Today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek V. Wow, I feel old. Most people rank Star Trek V the worst of the series. Those people have clearly not seen Star Trek: Nemesis. Star Trek V is not a good film, but there are some wonderful things about it.

It has some of the best character moments of the franchise. If you’re a longtime fan of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, the campfire scenes are extremely charming. The whole bit about Kirk always knowing that he’ll die alone was crazy but wonderful and it’s a tremendous shame that the writers of Star Trek: Generations didn’t allow things to play out that way. (And don’t give me that line about the deflector control scene realizing Kirk’s self-prophecy. Kirk died in front of Captain Picard. Not alone.)

Laurence Luckinbill had the misfortune of playing a poorly-regarded villain, but his acting in Star Trek V is superb. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve quoted the little speech Sybok gives to Kirk: “The people of your world once believed the world was flat. Columbus proved it was round. They said the sound barrier could never be broken!… It was broken. They said warp-speed could not be achieved.”

But for all the good, there’s a lot of bad. Bad special effects, a pretty lousy story, and some really over-the-top silly jokes. Deservedly or not William Shatner gets a lot of grief for his job as director.

I still contend that this is far from the worst Star Trek movie ever made, though it’s in the bottom third, for sure. It’s still better than most of the TNG movies and Into Darkness. If you’re new to Star Trek, don’t start here, but do get around to it once you’ve spent a lot of time with these characters in the series and other movies.

I doubt Apple had Star Trek V in mind when they named their latest Mac OS “Yosemite”, but it’s cool that they announced it a week before the twenty-fifth anniversary of Captain Kirk free-climbing El Capitan.

WWDC 14 Recap: OS X Yosemite

Yesterday Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference with its traditional keynote. Unsurprisingly (given that this event was aimed at developers) there were no new hardware announcements. What we were treated to instead were some incredible software announcements for OS X and iOS. (It still feels weird and a little wrong not to put the word “Mac” in front of OS X.) Here I’ll focus on the updates to OS X. Later on I’ll have a piece about iOS 8.

OS X 10.10 Yosemite

This was the news I was most interested in hearing. Though most of my personal computing time is spent on an iOS device, the Mac is my first love. We all suspected that 10.10 would bring a major design overhaul, but would it also change the way OS X works and make the Mac no longer feel like a Mac?

Yosemite certainly brings the biggest visual overhaul that OS X has seen since its inception, but joyfully it still feels like a Mac. OS X and iOS have been influencing and informing each other for years now, but I’m delighted that Apple still believes in developing one OS for touch and another for a mouse and keyboard. Certainly Yosemite brings the OS X interface back in closer alignment with that of iOS. It’s “flatter” and introduces more of the pastel color pallet that iOS 7 gave us. It has a lot of whimsy, and I’m a big fan of whimsy in moderation. In some ways in harkens back to the classic Mac OS. The only thing missing are the delightful Platinum system sounds and Siri’s voice saying, “It’s not my fault.” The classic Mac OS was friendly and whimsical, whereas when OS X debuted it had a focus on photo realism and was a bit austere. That said, the Dock is delightfully a throwback to earlier versions of OS X the way it encapsulates the icons rather than serving as a stage for them to stand on. It thankfully also gets rid of the little light bulbs that indicate when an app is running and replaces them with black circles that are similar to the black triangles that OS X had for years. (This is a good move.) It also seems like OS X has a very unified design in Yosemite. It makes me wonder though if apps automatically get the new window look or have to be totally rewritten.

There are also a lot of features that will bring your Mac and iOS devices into tighter synergy. Handoff allows your Mac or iOS device to know what the other was doing so you can pick right up where you left off when you switch devices. Brilliant. All of your Messages data is synced between devices including SMS messages. You can now receive or make a call right from your Mac without touching your iPhone, and there’s a new hotspot feature that configures itself so you don’t have to setup the hotspot on the phone before jumping on your Mac.

iCloud Drive feels like the return of iDisk, though rather than working as a mounted volume it’s simply a folder that automatically syncs with iCloud the way other modern cloud-storage solutions work. This has been a much needed feature since MobileMe gave way to iCloud. Speaking of iCloud, Mail Drop seems like a really useful feature. Now you can send anyone any attachment up to 5 GB without worrying about the limitations of mail servers.

At long last AirDrop now works between your Mac and your iOS devices! No more emailing yourself files. This was something a lot of us have been waiting for ever since iOS got AirDrop.

I almost never use Notification Center, and I don’t know if I’ll use it more often in Yosemite or not, but adding widgets certainly helps. I gave up on Dashboard years ago, but this might get me using widgets again. We’ll see.

Apple talked a lot about the Photos app in iOS 8, so I’ll save a lot of that for my iOS 8 post, but they also talked about the app coming to OS X early next year, several months after Yosemite ships. What they didn’t talk about is how this will affect iPhoto. OS X apps have long been able to browse the iPhoto library and access photos. Will this replace that functionality? Will this new Photos app replace iPhoto? If so, will it replicate all of the editing and organizational features of iPhoto? It certainly didn’t look like it from the very brief mention the app got. It’ll be very interesting to see how that plays out.

All in all this was a stellar update to OS X, far more exciting than the meager update we got last year with Mavericks. I think most people will be pleased by the visual overhaul, and bringing greater synergy between Macs and iOS devices while letting each be distinct is exactly the right road to take. I’m very excited about Yosemite, and at this point I can only hope that my poor little six-year-old iMac can run it!

Matt Yglesias Contrasts Apple And Google

Matt Yglesias, writing at Vox:

There were two striking pieces of business news this week from America’s leading technology brands. On the one hand, Google unveiled a prototype of an autonomous car that, if it can be made to work at scale, promises to end mass automobile ownership while drastically reducing car wreck fatalities and auto-related pollution. Meanwhile, Apple bought a company that makes high-end headphones.

Which is to say that Apple’s playing checkers while Google plays chess.

I don’t doubt that this represents Yglesias’s sincere opinion, but everything about this piece feels like it was designed with SEO in mind. Take the headline: “Google wants to reinvent transportation, Apple wants to sell you fancy headphones”. The implication is: “Google’s doing something important while Apple’s trying to entertain you”. Think about it. You could replace the second half of that headline with any company/product in the world:

"Google wants to reinvent transportation, Colgate wants to sell you fancy toothbrushes"

"Google wants to reinvent transportation, Bissell wants to sell you fancy vacuum cleaners"

Leaving Apple out of the equation for the moment, humans have a tendency to undervalue the importance of “mundane” technology/products in their lives. Seriously, when we go down to our local grocery store we ought to marvel at how much work went on by the hundreds of companies whose products we see on the shelves. We don’t even see the thousands more companies that these companies have to do business with in order to make the bread, or meat, or medicines, or makeup available to us for shockingly low amounts of money, relative to what was involved in producing them.

So bringing Apple back in for a moment, let’s say that all Apple made and sold were “fancy headphones”. Just think for a moment about how, in the grand scheme of human history, we aren’t far away from an era in which if you wanted to listen to music in your home you had to learn how to play an instrument or have a family member that did. The fact that today I have multiple ways in my home to play millions of songs from around the world recorded over many decades is no small thing and enriches the lives of billions of people.

Now realize that in addition to making headphones, Apple also makes an array of other types of products, including ones which allow a human being to communicate with another human being on the other side of the world and that on that same device he has access to what amounts to nearly all of the world’s accumulated knowledge at his fingertips.

What Google has already been able to do with automated vehicles (dare I go off on another rant about how awesome regular old vehicles are in and of themselves?), is indeed amazing and could have incredible ramifications for improving the lives to billions over time. Or it could all come to nothing. At this point it’s essentially vaporware. One of the core differences between Apple and Google is that Google likes to throw a bunch of things at the wall and see what sticks, and Apple (at least in the last fifteen years) tends to focus on putting a lot of effort into a smaller amount of products that typically don’t get abandoned quickly. Is one of those business models right and wrong? Not inherently, though in the long run the market will decide. Regardless, people seem to always want to cast the technology landscape as a battle between Apple and Google. Are there areas in which the two companies compete? Absolutely, and fiercely. But there are also areas in which they cooperate, and both have product lines that the other doesn’t even have an entrant in. Both have the capacity to continue making products that change the world (for better or worse), and both have the capacity to be little more than footnotes in the history books 100 years from now.

Yglesias closes his piece thusly:

The future’s going to belong to companies with the will and the ability to take big, uncertain risks on big projects.

This is nothing but meaningless hyperbole for a variety of reasons. Some companies have and will take big, uncertain risks, fail colossally, and disappear. Many more companies will go along for a century with little fanfare making tidy profits on things we all take for granted. Apple and Google, right now, fall in the middle of those two extremes.

(Via Daring Fireball)