apple tech

Punching down: should Apple fans mock the Pixel 2’s missing headphone jack?

Yesterday, Google announced two new flagship phones: the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Because they offer the premiere stock Android experience, and because they boast great hardware (like a terrific camera), the devices will likely prove very popular with those outside the Apple bubble.

Some pundits inside the Apple ecosystem weren’t quite so receptive. Instead of praising Google’s improved design chops or its industry-leading AI features, they mocked Google for removing the Pixel’s analog headphone jack.

Now, maybe turnabout is fair play. Last year, Google poked fun at Apple for nixing the 3.5mm port on the iPhone 7. So why shouldn’t Apple-focused writers do the same thing, now that the Pixel has followed suit?

For me, the problem lies in Apple’s dominant market position. Apple’s handset business dwarfs Google’s in both unit sales and profit.[1] Whereas the iPhone has made Apple tremendously powerful, supremely confident, and unfathomably rich, the Pixel remains little more than a side project for Google.

So when Apple fans snarkily ridicule other companies’ devices, they do so from a lofty perch; it feels like “punching down” on Apple’s behalf. That may not be wrong, per se, but it’s not very funny, either. The world’s most dominant technology firm doesn’t need an army of apologists, patrolling the Internet for proof that Apple was right. Apple can look out for itself; it’s no longer the downtrodden underdog of the 1990s, struggling just to stay afloat.

Yes, this is a double standard. Is it fair if Google aficionados snidely deride the iPhone, while Apple’s followers hold their tongues? Maybe not. But when your team is winning, good sportsmanship demands that you dial down the trash talk. After all, nobody likes a sore winner. ■

  1. Google has likely shipped 1–2 million of the original Pixel since its October 2016 launch, whereas Apple sells over 200 million iPhones each year. Its dominance doesn’t end there; from a marketing perspective, Cupertino owns the mobile mindshare and can suck the atmosphere from the room with every announcement. Technologically, Apple’s A-series chips decimate the competition in benchmark tests. And finally, Apple’s strategic decisions steer the entire industry, charting the course in everything from hardware deprecation (e.g. the headphone jack) to accessory sales (the iPhone will make Qi chargers ubiquitous) to software features (every flagship phone now includes a ‘portrait mode’).

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Google founder’s flying cars

Google’s co-founder, Larry Page, has invested heavily in a startup focused on flying cars. What might synergy between his two companies look like?

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Google Home(land Security)

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Tilt Brush

Painting from a new perspective: Tilt Brush lets you paint in 3D space with virtual reality. Your room is your canvas. Your palette is your imagination. The possibilities are endless.

VR grows more interesting by the day; it’s encouraging to see the medium do more than port first-person shooters.

For example, this VR painting app (launching with the HTC Vive headset) is intriguing for both artists and art-lovers. Imagine stepping into a comic book or viewing a portrait from your preferred, alternative angle.

Be sure to check out the demo videos.

UPDATE: Watch Glen Keane play with Tilt Brush. Keane helped animate several classic Disney films (e.g. The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast)

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The Pixel C’s intriguing keyboard case

Walt Mossberg on the $149 keyboard accessory for Google’s new Pixel C tablet:

It’s sturdy and heavy enough to form a fair base for lap typing. And it has a very clever, very strong, magnetic hinge, which allows you to tilt the screen smoothly but confidently at a wide variety of angles. Not only that, but, while the keyboard is Bluetooth, it charges inductively from the tablet, so you never have to plug it in.

Reviewers have panned the Pixel C’s software, but I’m more interested in its primary accessory: a premium keyboard that attaches via dedicated magnets housed in the tablet’s case.

After a few weeks with a keyboard cover for the iPad Air 2, I’ve grown bullish on the tablet-with-keyboard trend. But for tablets to truly replace laptops as our workhorse machines, we need more keyboard designs like the Pixel C’s[1]—and fewer like the iPad Pro’s “Smart” Keyboard. Apple’s fabricky cover relies on goofy origami folds to prop up the iPad. Like the Microsoft Surface’s Type Cover, this design proves top-heavy and unstable when used on your lap.

The iPad Pro and iOS 9 seem to indicate that Apple now takes tablet productivity more seriously. To keep the ball rolling, next year’s iPads should make keyboard support a primary hardware feature, rather rather than an accessorized afterthought.

Step one? Steal that nifty magnetic hinge.

  1. The Pixel C’s keyboard isn’t perfect. There are no dedicated function keys for things like volume controls or screen brightness.  ↩

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“Stop rooting for brands.”

Stop rooting for brands. Root for competition.

Joshua Topolsky, The Verge, via Twitter.

Apple fans should hope that Windows 8 tablets sell like mad. Android nerds should cheer when a hot new app debuts exclusively for iOS. Microsoft nuts (they do exist!) ought to celebrate if the iPad cannibalizes PC sales. The products, ecosystems, and devices we love will only get better if other products, ecosystems, and devices force them to.

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Apple iOS 4.1 release steals Google’s thunder.

Talk about timing. At the very instant Google was announcing a major revamp of its premiere product, Apple rolled out an update of its own.


Now this could be coincidental.

But maybe Apple saw an opportunity here–a chance to steal press from its chief rival in the smartphone space. After all, relations between the two companies haven’t exactly been friendly as of late.