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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.

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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?

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  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. 

The guys at CNET Roadshow have a nice roundup of the best cars that have appeared so far across the vast MCU.

My personal favourite? The Acura NSX Roadster concept that you can see in the 2012 The Avengers.

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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. 

Star Wars Special: C-3PO

April 14th, 2016
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Ever wandered why C-3P0 appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens with a bright red arm the first time we see him?

Well, now we finally get to know that! As teased by J.J. Abrams in the Secrets of the Force Awakens documentary, a special Marvel comic has just been released to tell us the story behind the red limb.

In a surprisingly moving and maybe uncharacteristic story, we travel with C-3P0 and friends, along a very dangerous road. I don’t want to say much more, to avoid spoiling any surprises, but it’s a nice take on the nature of droids and their man-made consciousness; a rare behind the scene at what’s going on inside a protocol droid’s circuitry.

You can get it right now on comiXology for £ 2.99 (Or any fine comic book store). A no-brainer insta-buy if you ask me!

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The Lonely Planet team has outdone itself once again. They’ve just release a new travel guide called: Toilets: A Spotter’s Guide, which they describe as follows:

Loos with incredible views, lavish lavatories, outstanding outhouses ­ all are featured in this pictorial guide to the world’s most stunning toilets. Whether they’re high­tech or arty, amusing or amazing, each toilet has a photo and a description of its location. More than 100 restrooms to remember are featured, from Antarctica to Zambia.

I must say, flicking through the preview, you can see some amazing places.

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Squatting on the edge of a cliff, 4600m up the flanks of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the Barafu Camp takes the concept of a long-drop toilet to an elevated level.

They’ve got a nice sense of humour too.

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.

What’s The Time?

April 6th, 2016
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If you need such a complicated graph – you’re doing it wrong

I’m a big fan of F1 and unfortunately in the last few years I had to witness my favorite motor sport digging its own grave.

I’ve been following the sport since I can remember. F1 is actually one of my earliest memory, unfortunately linked with the tragic death of Ayrton Senna in 19941. Back then, and all throughout the 90s and early 00s, F1 has always been a synonymous of innovation, adrenaline, fast and entertaining races and grand spectacle.

Now, it’s becoming a massive moving advertising billboard. A traveling circus in constant need of fresh money. Who are the losers in this transition? The viewers of course.

The latest development in this downward spiral is represented by the new qualifying format introduced in Melbourne. A new timed elimination system that was supposed to increase the competitiveness of the qualifying sessions and increase the engagement of the sport.

The results? For the past two races, the track has been empty for almost 3/4 minutes each session, reducing the track times of all cars and basically destroying any show.

During the first race in Australia, all the teams clearly had no clue of how to manage the new format. Almost all the teams got caught in the time trap half-way through the out lap, wasting tires, time and viewers patience. It was so bad that during the Q3, which was supposed to be the big shootout between the 8 fastest cars left, everyone did barely one lap and Hamilton started celebrating his pole position with 3 minutes to spare on the clock, with the team in 8th place not even bothering leaving the pit.

In Bahrain last weekend, teams seemed to have acquired a slightly better understanding of the new system, which meant that they drove even fewer laps than the week before. Getting the timing right meant that almost everyone only drove for one lap as the elimination system doesn’t give you enough time to go out, back in to refuel and change tires and back out.

The funny thing is that all the teams agreed to the new system before the start of the season, it wasn’t imposed from above. Now everyone, drivers first, are trashing the new qualifying system.

To make things worse, just before the last race, the teams got together with Jean Todd and Bernie Ecclestone to try and agree on an “improved” solution. The drafted idea that came out is now proposing to oblige all drivers to take at least two laps every Q session and to use the aggregate time to decide the standing order.

Vettel didn’t seem to like the idea, as The Guardian reported:

As Formula One’s masters lurch towards another doomed-looking meeting on Thursday in an effort to resolve the new and catastrophic qualifying format, Sebastian Vettel has described the proposed aggregate system as a “shit idea”.

He’s not the only one with a bad feeling about this. His opinions were echoed by former team mate Daniel Riccardo:

Qualifying is one lap, that one perfect lap. To have an aggregate it starts to sound more like endurance racing, or something. I wouldn’t be too keen on that, no.

To be honest I wouldn’t be that keen either on that idea. I so fondly miss the days were we had cars running around for an entire hour, slowly building up pace and speed, leading to a spectacular gran finale where everything could’ve realistically happened. Nowadays you can predict the order of the qualifying without even having the teams actually going out on track. It is pretty sad, especially from a viewer point of view. It’s note a coincidence that F1 has been steadily losing viewers (both on track and on TV), and all the changes that the FIA made in these recent years don’t seem to offer a solution that will bring back the fun.

I’m definitely not in a position to advise the FIA on how they should run their sport, but I believe that as it’s the case in many situations, even with F1 the principle should be that less is more.

Less stringent rules, more freedom to develop and bring innovation. F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of automotive innovation, but since the FIA started to heavily regulate the engines and the spending limits for the cars’ development, the sport started morphing into something it never was: a fair playground. It may sound controversial, but the F1 was a better sport when it was less fair. Big teams with big budgets were free to develop and innovate as much as they wanted. Also, cars were designed by real innovators, engineers who had real ideas and they were driven by pure passion. Today cars are mostly designed on paper by thick rule books issued by the FIA, leaving little to no room for teams to bring their own unique take on what an F1 car should really look, sound and perform.

Despite all my rants, I’ll keep watching the next F1 race, and the one after, because I still love the sport and what it represents. I just wish we could turn the clocks back and be amazed once more.


  1. At the time Internet wasn’t a thing so I remember following the updates on Senna’s condition via the Televideo (Teletext) system in my TV. Yes, Televideo