I find myself on Disquiet, a blog run by Marc Weidenbaum, about once a week. I enjoy reading everything he wrote and shared during the preceding seven days in one sitting. And of all his regular features, the one I love best is how he aggregates the tweets he sent out during the week. When I asked him about this habit in an email, he responded: 

“I’ve found that the once-a-week habit has been useful, cyclically reflective. Often, the previous Monday feels very faraway in retrospect. Also, knowing during the week, in the back of my mind, that I will likely repurpose the Twitter material on my website makes me a little extra conscientious of what I am posting.”

Marc’s purposeful approach to Twitter results in stream of tweets with a seamless flow that reflects clear, insightfulthinking. In fact, I like the practice so much that I am going toshamelessly copy it. Below, you’ll find my first stab ataggregating (some of) my tweets from the past week. Next week, I’ll know I’m headed toward this final product, so perhaps my own flow will become smoother. If nothing else, this will allow me to easily remember what I was thinking about during aspecific time. And it gives me the chance to correct my grammar and spelling (When are we getting an edit button, Jack?).

  • Apple paid $230B to developers on App Store since its launch 13 years ago. That roughly Apple’s cut of 30% at $98.5B of the total $328B since launch. That’s about $7.5B/year. In its most recent qtr, @Apple sold $48Bn worth of iPhones. iPhone Gross Margin of 35% = $16.8B In a utopian world, Apple (Tim Cook) decide to take no cut from developers making less than $1 million a year. They can afford it.
  • I just noticed that I could use two HomePods as a pair using Apple AirPlay on my desktop. When did this happen? This is so great.
  • Safari browser redesign is a major improvement, but still quite jarring for someone like me who is used to the old-style browser. Tab clustering feature might be overrated, but then I am also not a mega-tabber like some.
  • In 2021 it is amazing to regularly experience a subpar mobile website experience made worse by pop-ups inviting you to sign-up for marketing drivel before even perusing the contents of the site. This bad design pattern is intentional as you can’t seem to find the X button.
  • This story about Kevin Durant by Sam Anderson in The New York Times Magazine is achingly poignant & masterfully written. It is not just a sports story. It is not a story about a sportsman. It is a story of a journey. The lead alone is worth reading, not to mention KD’s quotes.• Both iPadOS & MacOS Monterey are Apple’s most stable beta OS releases I have ever downloaded. Twenty-four hours later, I feel like they have always been on the iPad Pro 12.9 & M1-based MB13 Pro. So many subtle (but important) tweaks. It will make it worth upgrading in Fall 2021.

I don’t tweet about Apple this much all the time, but it makes sense that it was the focus this week — it was WWDC, after all.

June 12, 2021. San Francisco

 

You may have read the news that the University of Nevada, Reno, will give every member of its incoming freshman class an iPad Air (along with a keyboard and a pencil.) In and of itself, this development isn’t all that newsworthy, but it does hark back to something I have been thinking about for a long time: the coming — and necessary — paradigm shift in how we compute. 

Apple was once a much-beloved part of the US education system. Lately, Google’s Chromebooks have been taking over. They are cheaper, which may appeal to cash-strapped school districts. (By the way, kudos to Sarah & Ev Williams for giving $10 million to help the San Francisco school system.)

Now, suppose we can forget the politics of Google versus Apple. Personally, I don’t care either way. Chromebooks (like their Apple or Microsoft counterparts) are simply an extension of the old paradigm of computing — one that is heavily reliant on a keyboard, a mouse, and a semi-tethered setup. Sure, Chromebooks live on and benefit from the cloud, but they still pretty much rely on traditional computing. Whether it is Google Docs or Google Slides, nothing about them is remarkably novel. 

Essentially, the kids in school are getting trained on the classic model of computing. Meanwhile, at home, many of the same kids are growing up with touch devices — iPads, iPhones, and Androids. They are also growing up talking to (mostly) Alexa, (maybe) Siri, or (sometimes) Google Assistant. Every time I interact with my goddaughters — both are below five-years old — my jaw drops. They know FaceTime, iMessage, and other apps inside out, including stickers and other fun features. They are well versed in making a video call and having a chat.

And it is not just my goddaughters. I see kids who are handling kid-centric content on their touch devices with fantastic dexterity. Their engagement with interactive apps is higher than with static books, and they have more opportunities for visual learning. Swiping left or right for accessing or navigating through information is already part of their mental model of interacting with the digital world. I remember hanging out with some kids in Ladakh, and they were entirely at ease with their Android phones, typing, swiping, and taking selfies. 

The point of my soliloquy is this: we have a generation that is growing up with modern computing interfaces. Instead of creating new tools for education, we are still pushing the “classic” models onto them. Why? If computing has to become modern, then we have to use modern models for everything — from play to teaching and learning. 

Giving iPads or other tablets to kids will not achieve this goal on its own. It will require a complete systematic overhaul of the proverbial educational food chain. This must start with teachers, who need to become adept in teaching with new technology, not just the old paradigms. App developers, app store operators, and parents also need to internalize the idea of moving beyond the traditional interfaces for computer-based learning to more modern methods. That is how the paradigm will change. 

PS: I, for one, would love to see Apple introduce a program where, whenever I buy a new iPad (or any Apple device), I can give an iPad kit to a student. Sort of like what Toms did for footwear and Warby Parker did for eyeglasses.


Updated on July 12, 2021: California State University system will give a similar package to 35,000 of its incoming and transfer students in 2021. More here

The last time I bought a new iPad Pro was at the end of 2018, and I have been patiently waiting to order the new model with the M1 chip. Despite waking up very early on the April 30th morning to buy one from Apple’s website, I will still have to wait a few months to actually hold my new device. It looks like delivery is going to be sometime in late June 2021 or early July 2021. Whether it be for work or entertainment, I almost always prefer to use an iPad, so the wait is going to feel agonizingly long.

By the way, while shopping around, I noticed something a bit surprising about my new purchase. It turns out that the fully loaded 12.9-inch iPad Pro is currently the most expensive M1 portable computer you can buy. You pay more for the fully specked out 12.9-inch screen iPad Pro than you do for the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Both have the 8-core M1 chip with 16 GB memory and 2 TB of storage, but with the iPad you get a 5G modem and an XDR display. And a much better camera for Zoom calls.

The MacBook Pro is $2,299. Meanwhile, the iPad Pro is going to cost you $2,399 — and that’s before you shell out about $450 for a keyboard and a pencil.

If you include those additional (and necessary, I would argue) items, then the iPad Pro’s final price tag — $2,877 — is higher than any other M1 machine. It’s more expensive than even the new iMac, the fully loaded Mac mini, and MacBook Pro. The Mac mini with the same M1 chip and specs (and 10 Gb Ethernet) costs $1,799. The new iMac is going to set you back $2,499, but that includes a keyboard and a mouse.

iPad, sure has come a long way! 


This got me thinking about the day Steve Jobs first showed off the iPad on stage. I was deeply impacted by the release of the iPad. It brought up fond memories. My first aha moment with the iPad was when I gave one to my mother, nearly a decade ago. It made me realize that for once we had a device that delighted grandparents as much as their grandkids. And that’s what made the iPad special. It has been more than a decade and my iPad has been a constant companion through the years.

For some odd reason, there is a perception that, when it comes to Apple’s line-up of products, the iPad is the runt of the litter. This may not come as a surprise at this point, but I think this line of thinking is incorrect.

Just take a look at the numbers! 

Earlier this week, Apple reported earnings for its quarter ending March 31, 2021. The iPad brought in a revenue of $7.8 billion, up 79% versus the same quarter in 2020. In comparison, the Mac division (which benefited from a new M1 chip launch) saw revenues of $9.1 billion, up 70% over the same three months in 2020. The iPad is inching up on the Mac!

Strategy Analytics, a market research firm, noted in a recent research report that Apple’s share of the tablet market during the first three months of 2021 was 36.7%, up 6.6% compared to the first three months of 2020. During the same period, it shipped 17.8 million units, a jump of 75% from 9.6 million units in the first quarter of 2020. 

That means iPad took market share from both Android and Windows-based tablets during the first three months of the year. Researchers from Strategy Analytics seem to suggest that this demand for tablets could be more sustainable. They seem to believe that tablets are a beneficiary of the shift towards working-from-home, a trend accelerated by the pandemic. 

Another factor working in favor of tablets in general, and iPads specifically, is how quickly and seamlessly they can go from being a device for work to a device for fun. 

I use my iPad to watch baseball, cricket, and Formula 1 races. I use it to read long articles and even Kindle books.  And nothing compares to watching YouTube on my iPad. As someone who uses Adobe Lightroom Cloud to store his raw photos, I use the iPad for most of the cataloging work — from rating photos to deleting the ones that don’t make the cut. And I do that while streaming music to my home music system.  

Could I do all of these things on my laptop? Of course, I could. But the iPad has a better screen, better audio, and — most importantly — an easily detachable keyboard that lets you literally cut loose and leave work mode behind. 

So, while I may have been a bit surprised to find myself buying the priciest M1 computer available when I went to upgrade my iPad, I can confidently say that it was money well spent. If only it would get here already!

My order of AirTags arrived this morning. I got a four-pack, because, why not? I got them engraved because, again, why not?

At first blush, they are much larger than I thought they would be. Though, I like the curved coin-like look and finish, which is typical Apple. By comparison, Tile had a better form factor, but I was not too fond of their finish. At some stage in the future, I will delve into Tile vs. AirTags and the strategic importance of AirTags for Apple.

Setting them up was smooth, and using them in my tiny apartment is a no-brainer. The real-life test, of course, will have to wait until I start traveling again. For now, the biggest question is: what should I do with my AirTags?

I can (and will) replace my decade-old keychain. Apple’s own keychain models are excessively priced, so I am going to give them a pass. I really like the new Horoween leather keychains from Nomad Goods, one of my favorite brands. They have multiple accessories for AirTags, so I need to figure out which one I really like.

The biggest problem with the AirTag luggage tag is that it is the first thing a thief would sees — just before they cut it off from the luggage. That is why I like the new Stretch Fabric Mount accessory from Moment, which sticks to any fabric surface. This will definitiely be going inside my camera bag. It is probably the smartest product I have seen for us camera nerds — the Stretch Fabric Mount is hidden and will make it difficult for a would-be thief to know that there is an AirTag on board. The only bad news is that it won’t be available for another couple of months. For now, I am using black gaffer tape to hide the AirTags on the inside of my camera and my duffel bags.

I have one left. What should I do with it? Suggestions? (Comments are open.)

May 12, 2021, San Francisco


In an interview with Hodinkee, Patek Philippe’s Thierry Stern explains why his mega-luxury brand won’t bother making a smart watch, unlike other watch brands such as Montblanc and TAG Heuer.

Am I going to fight against Apple, which has nearly the same budget as I do in R&D, except they have five more zeros at the end of it? I can’t compete with that. It’s another way to fabricate watches. We have always been dedicated to mechanical watches, this is what we know and what we enjoy. Working on something electronic may be fun, but it’s not my business. You have to give it to the pro, and I’m not a pro in this type of technology.

In this age where everyone wanting to do everything, all in the name of growth, it is refreshing to see a company that is sticking to its knitting. I like that he knows the reason why they are who they are. That understanding has allowed them to grow and be able to create value and desire for their products. I really wish more companies were as focused on their own excellence rather than chasing growth for the sake of growth.