Apple September Special Event 2016

September 11th, 2016

The Apple Event came by this week, bringing few surprises and confirming most of the things that were leaked in the weeks and months prior to it.

This time, rather than writing a massive article, I used my new podcast Cyber Intersection to do my commentary.

I had the pleasure of being joined on the show by Carolyn Nicander Mohr, author of The Wonder of Tech.

Listen below, or find the show on iTunes!

The Case For The Lack Of Leather

April 26th, 2016

Yesterday I spent quite a while browsing online in search for some good iPad Pro accessories (I’ll always refer to the big 12.9″ throughout the article). Specifically, I was looking for some good quality leather cases, as I’m growing more and more frustrated by the Apple silicone case.

My first stop was of course the Apple Online Store. Once you apply the compatibility filter for the big Pro, quite a sad page will be looking back at you.


Yep, this page hasn’t changed at all since November of last year, when the Pro was initially launched on the market. But the worst part of all, is how Apple is actively trolling their customers by showing a banner full of colourful and mixed cases compositions. And then you only get grey or white. That’s pretty bad.

You could also argue that the lack of Smart Connector accessories is pretty bad, but that wasn’t my point of contempt last night.

I was specifically disappointed by the lack of any leather case. I knew Apple didn’t release any new accessories on their store, but I was secretly hoping that somehow, by visiting that page I would’ve suddenly find what I was looking for.

Now, why leather, you ask? It’s because since Apple started introducing their leather accessories, they’ve always been the best on the market and the one and only type of case that I find acceptable for my devices. Every new iPhone immediately goes into a leather case1 and so my iPad Air had the same treatment. It is undoubtedly a premium and expensive case, but it’s totally worth the extra money.

What I’m still hoping Apple will eventually release their Smart Case. It’s the best case you’ll ever find, don’t even bother wasting your time on Amazon as I did yesterday, trying to find a similar alternative, you won’t. The Smart Case it’s great because it’s thin, but gives full 360° protection with a massive amount of style. The quality of the leather is great, giving a great feel in your hand while you’re working with your device.

So, while I was browsing the web yesterday, I started asking myself why Apple wouldn’t release such a case for the big Pro. I gave it a lot of thought and bottomline I think they won’t release it because it would get a ridiculous price tag; too expensive even for Apple standard. Let’s do some math, to try and estimate what such a case could possibly cost.

Currently you can buy a £65 leather Smart Case that would fit both the iPad Air 2 and the new smaller iPad Pro or you could get a £29 Smart Cover in silicone. The premium for the leather case is 124%. Now, consider the equivalent silicone Smart Cover for the big iPad Pro. It is currently priced at £49. If you apply the same premium, you will get a whopping £110. Technically this would still be cheaper than buying the combo of front and back silicone cover for the big iPad Pro, but on the other hand, Apple is not promoting the two as a pair, and so a leather iPad Smart Case would still represent the most expensive accessory sold by Apple for an iPad2.

Bottom line is that I would whatever amount they would set in a heartbeat. So please Apple, take a short trip to Italy and buy some leather for me, would you?


  1. How great is the Saddle Brown or the new Marine Blue case?! 
  2. Yes the Smart Keyboard is more expensive than that being priced at £139, but I’m not counting it as it is more than just a cover and primarily sold for its function as portable keyboard. 

Pay Your Way To The Top

April 15th, 2016

A new report from Bloomberg is potentially going to cast some shadows over the AppStore:

Apple Inc. has constructed a secret team to explore changes to the App Store, including a new strategy for charging developers to have their apps more prominently displayed, according to people familiar with the plans.

If this report will end up being true, there could potentially be massive repercussion on the majority of small indy-developers.

As of today, the AppStore is the home of several million apps, most of which are good, with an overwhelming majority of spam, copycat and just generally terrible second tier apps. The problem is that the search function is terrible and so it’s almost impossible to have to good app surface above the rest of the crowd.

Now, if Apple has really created a new team in charge to solve this issue, why would they keep it as a secret? The AppStore is one of the most public and direct channel that Apple holds in their hands, so it would only make sense for them to open up to customers and especially developers feedback, as they deal with the architecture of the store every other day.

The second part of the report is even more worrying.

Among the ideas being pursued, Apple is considering paid search, a Google-like model in which companies would pay to have their app shown at the top of search results based on what a customer is seeking.

Paid search? Ouch.

Yes, Google made a huge business out of this model, but I’m not confident that Apple could achieve similar results in this space. The problem with the AppStore is not just the search function. The biggest issue at play here is that the store is kind of a black hole. Developers drop their apps in and somehow, sometimes they show up on the other side, available to customers. To make a paid search model work, Apple has to increase the level of transparency of the all infrastructure. In particular Apple has to clarify the set of rules that regulate its store. Nowadays app gets rejected for all sort of strange reason. Or even worse, they get accepted, they stay in the store for a few days or even just hours and then they get removed without a good explanation1. Imagine a developer, especially a small one, gearing up to release a brand new app and deciding to pay to get to the top of the list, only to suddenly be shut down few hours later? How would this work in this complicated environment?

Of course we need to apply the big footnote here, that this report is just a rumor and Apple hasn’t of course confirmed or declined, but we know that when Apple puts together hundreds of engineers in the same room, something is definitely boiling under the hood.

I guess we may see something in this year WWDC. In the meantime I’ll keep using Google search.

  1. This Reddit case is just the latest in a long and complicated story. 

Throw Back Friday

April 11th, 2016

The other day I was doing some research about the iPad, and I’ve come across something really funny. It’s a small piece that I wrote back in 2011, when we were on the verge of the release of the second generation iPad.

Why I’ll probably switch to an iPad

A big 10″ display, a great way to enjoy your media, while remaining very compact and easy to carry around. I just saw great potential in that device, a perfect mix both for productivity and relax. Anyway, I’ve resisted to the first generation. As you know, for a gadget of that kind, the first generation is always afflicted by some limitations that create a good but not perfect experience for the user, both in term of hardware and software.

That was a good call by me.

A new design, thinner and lighter, more power inside. A perfect mix for my need. I think that the iPad will really become a laptop for many users around the world. Easy to carry around to perform the majority of tasks an average user need to do. I hope also that Apple will preview it’s iOS 5, maybe with a differentiation between the iPad and the iPhone version, in order to really take the best from this tablet.

Apple should’ve asked me to create their marketing campaign for the small iPad Pro, see, already in 2011 I was onto the iPad as a laptop thing. You could almost say that I was a precursor of our own time.

The other interesting bit is how I was already hoping that Apple would’ve done something different with iOS as to really take advantage of the new big device. I guess we are not there yet1, but I won’t stop hoping for that to happen! iOS 10 will be the one, won’t it?!

Finally, there’s a bit in that article that didn’t hold up to the time very well:

If all this things will happen next week, I’ll be ready to say goodbye to the iPhone and say welcome to the iPad.

Don’t ask me why I would’ve written such a stupid statement, but I did and nothing will ever be able to erase it from the internet. I’m just happy I was very wrong!

  1. Massive white and empty space between icons on the iPad Pro, yes I’m looking at you! 

If Only I Knew What They Were Saying

April 8th, 2016

As the title says, I have no clue what this song is about and yes I know, it’s a pretty terrible song overall anyway. But the technical realisation is absolutely perfect.

Make sure to watch it on your smartphone in portrait mode. If you use an iPhone it will look even better.

RUN and RUN / lyrical school 【MV for Smartphone】 from RUNandRUN_lyrisch on Vimeo.

8 Years of Apple

April 1st, 2016

No, the title is not a mistake.

I know that today Apple celebrates 40 years since the day it was officially incorporated by the two Steve and the one Paul, but I wasn’t even close to be born back then. So instead of reliving the entire history of the fruity company, I thought it might have been fun to relive my personal history with the Cupertino brand.

The Trojan Horse

It all started with the second generation iPod Touch, not immediately after the release, but almost a year later, during my first year of Erasmus in Ireland. One of my friend was the first one I knew with an iPhone 3G. At the time I was already following everything that was happening in the Apple ecosystem, but very much as a spectator only. I still remember the keynote of the original iPhone and I was completely blew away by it. At the time I was rocking one of those HP Windows Phone that had to be used with a stylus because the keyboard and every other icons were ridiculously tiny. The iPhone was clearly the revolution.

The original iPhone never actually made in Italy (at least not in an easy way), so I could only dream about it. Its successor, the iPhone 3G was the first model that became ubiquitous in Europe1, and became for me a sort of obsession. At the time I wasn’t in a position to afford it, so I went for the second best thing I could buy: the iPod Touch.

Since the moment I took it out of the box I was completely sold. I had opened the doors to the Apple Trojan horse and I knew there wasn’t going to be an easy way back. That iPod also served for me as the first introduction to the world of jailbreaking and all the wonders and new functions you were able to add to a limited device. I clearly remember the pain related to having to do everything through my HP laptop (more on that later), but I soldiered on, because the reward meant I got to play with an awesome portable device.

The more I kept using the iPod Touch, the more I kept fantasising about owing an iPhone. Still, I wasn’t in a position to afford one.

Going full circle

The Christmas of that year my awesome parents made me a great gift, in the form of my first MacBook. It was the unibody white plastic MacBook. What a joyful machine. Light years ahead of my two years old HP juggernaut. With that machine, I was for the first time fully invested in the Apple ecosystem and that’s when you realise how things work much better when they are under the same roof. Or in this case, they both have the same apple on the back.

It’s now summer 2009 and the iPhone 3GS just went on the market and the iPhone 3G, got a price reduction. At the time I was living in Brussels and with my first pay check I sized the opportunity: I sold my iPod Touch and I bought myself an iPhone 3G, 8GB(!). It was the middle of the summer but for me it was like Christmas again. I vividly remember the day the phone arrived because it had been brought to me by a friend that came to visit from Italy. A quick hug to greet him and then it was all business putting on charge my new toy.

Never looking back

After the iPhone 3G, I became kind of obsessed with the iPhone. Because I was already a year late to the cycle, I skipped the iPhone 3GS and went straight to the iPhone 4. This was also my first all-night queue at an Apple Store. At that time we still didn’t have an Apple Store in my town Turin, so we two other friends we went on a trip to the closest store in Milan2. That night was great. I met lots of other Apple fans and we had so much fun waiting in queue, playing board games, drinking beer and just discussing on all the different reasons that brought us there. The common denominator was definitely the passion toward the company, but also the pure love for an amazing technology that still to this day doesn’t fail to impress.

The iPhone 4 was particularly exciting for me, because it was the first iPhone that I bought in time and so I was fully synced with the Apple software schedule. One thing that I remember of the iPhone 3G is that it became very quickly much slower with the new iOS releases, so much so that jailbreaking was at the time the only way to actually use the device.

The iPhone 4 never became my favourite design-wise. The materials were great, but it always felt very sharp in the hand and never was a very comfortable device for me.

The year after I decided I wanted the iPhone 4S on Day 1. Remember that Italy is never included in the first release wave, so the iPhone 4 was a Day 1, but only for the second way. This time the, I went with a friend to the Apple Store in Nice, France, which is a country always included in Apple first wave. There, I finally got my Day 1-1! Again, a very very enjoyable time, excluded for the moment a random group of forty Russians invaded the queue, disrupting the order we kept all night. In the end we all got our brand new shiny iPhones, so it was still ok.

All The Screens

While keeping myself busy with the iPhone business I obviously kept my eyes open in regards of all the other product lines. In particular just around this time my White MacBook was really struggling to keep up and that’s what prompt me to switch to a MacBook Pro, specifically the first generation with a Retina Display. This thing looked and still looks amazing. Not being able to see the pixels on the screen, made the display stand out from a millions miles away. It’s a joy operating such device and still today it remains a beautiful machine.

Also of course, an iPad made its way into my life. The first one was the iPad 2, which quickly was replaced by the first iPad Mini as at the time it didn’t make sense to me why you would want to have such a big device3. The iPad initially for me was more like an impulse purchase rather than a real necessity. I ended up using it for some web browsing, occasional gaming and not much else. Also, the iPad was still very much a new concept and the software (both the iOS and the third-party apps) was still in its infancy and very much just a bigger iPhone.

One More Row

The year after was the year of the iPhone 5, the first model with a bigger, actually just taller, screen; giving us one more row of icons on the Home Screen. It was September 2012 and in the meant rim I had moved to the UK, a country that again is always included in the first wave of release by Apple. This time no queueing outside, just a painful early morning online pre-order that guaranteed the delivery on Day 1. Less fun and rewarding, but so much more comfortable. This iPhone is also the only one that lasted for two years, since I’ve skipped the iPhone 5S. Touch ID alone didn’t seem enough of a reason to switch and I decided to wait and see what a completely new design was going to bring to the table.

That was also the period when, after the iPad Mini, I came back to the bigger brother as the first iPad Air was first introduced. It was more powerful and it had that beautiful Retina Display that I was missing so much on my Mini. That’s the iPad that stayed with me for the longest time, until last November.

We are now jumping to the end of 2014 when the iPhone 6/6+ made their first appearance. The design of the device was absolutely elegant and a decidedly step forward compared to any previous model. It was an insta-buy and despite the initial indecision, I ultimately went for the little brother and settled for the 6. Because again, why would you want such a big device in your pocket?4

The Most Personal Device

After the iPhone 6, the next big thing that Apple presented us with was the Apple Watch. Touted as the most personal device ever created by Apple, they released three different configurations of the device: same internals, but different cases, from Aluminium to Gold, passing through Steel.

By now you should know what happened. I bought myself an Apple Watch Sport.

This time it wasn’t a Day 1 purchase because I was very much on the fence regarding this device. I’ve always worn and loved mechanical watches. They are beautiful pieces of engineering and a precious object that can pass through generations within a family. I bought anyway. I had mixed feelings toward it since the first day and after a few months of daily usage it went back into a drawer and now it’s waiting in a box ready to be shipped to my buyer. I’m not say the Apple Watch is a bad device, I think the entire category still hasn’t found an appealing formula to actually make a smart watch and interesting proposition.

Go Big Or Go Home

And now we are finally getting to today, or better late last year, the year when I realised I had got it wrong since the very beginning. 2015 quickly became the year of bigger is better.

When the iPhone 6S was introduced, I took it as an excuse to update to the bigger 6S+. Phone-wise is the best decision I’ve ever made. The big screen is stunning and it allows me to do so much more than ever before. So much so that sometimes I find myself preferring it over any other device I own.

And then of course it was the year of the iPad Pro. Where should I start? To me the iPad Pro is the most transformative and disruptive device release by Apple in recent years. This truly is the future of computing, if not for the masses, definitely for me. Since I got it, I barely use my MacBook. And why would I do that? The Pro does everything the MacBook does, but it does it much better, faster and in a much more polished way. The iPad Pro also very much transformed the way I work in the office. It became the only device I take in meetings, an indispensable device to sketch, design flow charts and handle emails. I could use my iPad Pro for about the 80% of all my regular tasks and day after day I’m actively trying to push that percentage as high as I can.

What’s Next?

That’s always a good question to ask yourself. It has only been 8 years for me in the Apple world but they’ve certainly be very productive and packed years. I’ve loved every single device I’ve owned and I was always amazed by the new ones coming in. Every year I think to myself that there’s no way they can actually do better. And of course every year they do, leaving me stunned like a child in front of his first bicycle.

  1. To this day, the design of the iPhone 3G/3GS is by far my all-time favourite. 
  2. Turin and Milan are very close to each other, but at the time it still seemed like a crazy adventure. 
  3. Oh boy. 
  4. Oh boy x 2. 

iPad Pro In The Wild #2

October 7th, 2015

Apple is doing the round with the new iPad Pro. After a stop at Pixar, they moved to their good friends at Disney.

The testing seemingly went well for Disney. “Let’s order a bunch,” product manager Paul Hildebrandt said at the end of a Periscope stream showcasing the device. In a separate Periscope steam, Disney animators Jeff Ranjo and Jeremy Spears used the iPad Pro to draw caricatures of each other. You can view the replay of that process at the links below.
Disney’s team of designers tested the iPad Pro with illustration apps like Pro Create and FiftyThree’s popular Paper, both of which have already been optimized for the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

The results once again was extremely positive. Be sure to check out the Periscope session where you can see the device in actual operation, with a specific focus on the Pencil and its good responsiveness.

One fun aspect of the Periscope video: the Disney artist being surprised by the fact that the Pencil is not bundled with the iPad Pro, but it’s a separate $99 purchase.

Apple Watch Hermès Unboxing

October 6th, 2015

. A special orange cardboard box outside the standard white plastic Apple Watch box, with a matching orange post-purchase carrying bag.
. A Hermès embossing on the microfiber lining of the plastic Apple Watch inner box.
. Hermès-branded papers, including both instructions and their cardboard sheathe.
. The Watch itself, with the premium leather Single Tour band attached.
. An orange-accented pairing pattern for the iPhone’s Apple Watch app.
. Customizable Hermès watch faces, including optional complications and the ability to reduce the hour numbers on the display.

Typical attention to details. I like the single loop shown in the video, but I definitely prefer the double tour much more.