‘Why iPadOS Still Doesn’t Get the Basics Right’ →

Speaking of Federico, he just published a banger of an article over on MacStories, discussing all the ways that iPadOS is still a mess, 14 years after the launch of the original iPad and 9 years after the launch of the first iPad Pro:

I started using the iPad as my main computer when I was stuck in a hospital bed and couldn’t use a laptop. I kept using it because once you get a taste of that freedom, it’s hard to go back. I will continue using it because none of the alternatives match Apple’s hardware quality, app ecosystem, and pure delight. But loving something doesn’t mean ignoring its flaws. And iPadOS is a flawed operating system that still doesn’t get the basics right and, as a result, drags down the entire product line.

I’m looking forward to the new iPad Pros, but I can’t shake the feeling that the same old iPadOS cycle is about to begin all over again.

I hope the iPadOS team at Apple reads every word of this then prints it out and tapes it to the wall.

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NYT: Apple’s AI Push to Focus on Siri →

Tripp Mickle, Brian X. Chen and Cade Metz:

Apple is expected to show off its A.I. work at its annual developers conference on June 10 when it releases an improved Siri that is more conversational and versatile, according to three people familiar with the company’s work, who didn’t have permission to speak publicly. Siri’s underlying technology will include a new generative A.I. system that will allow it to chat rather than respond to questions one at a time.

[…]

Apple executives worry that new A.I. technology threatens the company’s dominance of the global smartphone market because it has the potential to become the primary operating system, displacing the iPhone’s iOS software, said two people familiar with the thinking of Apple’s leadership, who didn’t have permission to speak publicly. This new technology could also create an ecosystem of A.I. apps, known as agents, that can order Ubers or make calendar appointments, undermining Apple’s App Store, which generates about $24 billion in annual sales.

While “AI apps and agents” are a ways off — ahem — Apple’s not wrong to think defensively about the iPhone as newer, younger technologies come on the scene.

There is one part of this article that jumped out at me, though:

Apple’s top software executives decided early last year that Siri, the company’s virtual assistant, needed a brain transplant.

The decision came after the executives Craig Federighi and John Giannandrea spent weeks testing OpenAI’s new chatbot, ChatGPT. The product’s use of generative artificial intelligence, which can write poetry, create computer code and answer complex questions, made Siri look antiquated, said two people familiar with the company’s work, who didn’t have permission to speak publicly.

I would bet money that Apple has known Siri needed serious work long before ChatGPT showed up on the scene. If not, then, in the words of Elon Musk… concerning.

Crushed →

The Verge’s Emma Roth:

Apple has apologized after a commercial meant to showcase its brand-new iPad Pro drew widespread criticism among the creative community. In a statement provided to Ad Age, Tor Myhren, Apple’s vice president of marketing, said the company “missed the mark.”

“Creativity is in our DNA at Apple, and it’s incredibly important to us to design products that empower creatives all over the world,” Myhren told Ad Age. “Our goal is to always celebrate the myriad of ways users express themselves and bring their ideas to life through iPad. We missed the mark with this video, and we’re sorry.”

As of this writing the ad is still up on Apple’s YouTube channel.

Mark Gurman: John Ternus on Future Apple CEO Shortlist →

Mark Gurman, writing at Bloomberg, about who could be the next CEO of Apple, assuming Tim Cook sticks around long enough for the torch to pass over Jeff Williams, who is 61 years old, just two years younger than Cook:

If Cook were to stay that long, people within Apple say, the most likely successor would be John Ternus, the hardware engineering chief. In a company whose success has always come from building category-defining gadgets, the ascension of a hardware engineering expert to the CEO job would seem logical. Ternus, who’s not yet 50, would also be more likely than other members of the executive team to stick around for a long time, potentially providing another decade or more of Cook-esque stability.

Ternus is well-liked inside Apple, and he’s earned the respect of Cook, Williams and other leaders. “Tim likes him a lot, because he can give a good presentation, he’s very mild-mannered, never puts anything into an email that is controversial and is a very reticent decision-maker,” says one person close to Apple’s executive team. “He has a lot of managerial characteristics like Tim.” Christopher Stringer, a former top Apple hardware designer, called Ternus a “trustworthy hand” who’s “never failed with any role he’s been elevated to.” Eddy Cue, the Apple executive known as Cook’s closest confidant, has privately told colleagues that Ternus should be the next CEO, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

If you’ve been paying attention to Apple events over the last few years, you will already be familiar with Ternus. He’s been the presenter for all sorts of hardware announcements. Not surprisingly, there are those at Apple who don’t love the idea, as Gurman writes:

“They got a real big problem,” a person close to Apple says. “Ternus is a great guy, but he’s honestly really junior. He comes off as just one of the guys in the room, not like a refined executive or a person in charge. Being the CEO of a multitrillion-dollar company, you better command presence in the room.” Another person says the internal criticism of Ternus is that he needs to assert himself with more force, adding that he seems to know this is where he’ll need to improve. The fundamental question, says one person close to the matter, is whether he’ll be ready to take on the role when Cook steps down.

Other names that come up include Craig Federighi, head of software engineering, a recognizable face among Apple’s biggest fans who’s known internally to be conversant on corporate issues well outside of his purview, and Deirdre O’Brien, its head of retail and a Cook confidant, according to one former executive. People close to the company consider them unlikely successors.

@BenRiceM on Mastodon:

Terrible headline suggestions:

“One good Ternus deserves another”

“Mom says it’s my Ternus to be CEO”

“How the tables have Ternus”

Perfect.

The Problem’s Never the Hardware

Today’s Apple event has come and gone, and in its wake are some new iPads, a slightly saner iPad lineup, and some questions.

The biggest one for me is this:

Does Apple know what the iPad actually needs?

Right before debuting new iPad Pros, John Ternus said that Apple was “gonna crush the limits of what you can do on iPad.”

iPad Pro

As nice as the new OLED display looks, and no matter how powerful the new M4 may be, the iPad’s problem in 2024 — or another year for that matter — is the software. Fourteen years into its lifespan and the iPad still can’t seem to fully shake off its iPhone OS roots. Almost everything Apple has attempted to bolt atop iPadOS to make it more useful for more people has come with weird tradeoffs. Look no further than something like Stage Manager, or that just today Apple announced a version of Final Cut that can use external drives for project storage.

(Don’t get me started on file management on iPadOS. It’s still such a mess.)

I fully understand that iPadOS has to serve an incredibly wide range of customers, from little kids to people who want to earn their living using just a tablet, and I don’t envy the folks at Apple who are trying to move the platform forward without alienating a wide swath of the iPad’s user base.

There is a lot of good in the iPad. Running the same library of apps as the iPhone is a big deal, and doing so in a more secure way than traditional personal computers is an even bigger one. The combination of a touch screen, the Apple Pencil, and traditional input methods like a keyboard and trackpad makes the iPad extremely versatile.

However, as I wrote yesterday, the iPad can never become what Apple promised unless Apple drastically changes course here.

Maybe Apple is okay with that. “The Mac is back from the brink,” you may say, “so why not have two platforms and let people choose which one is best for them?”

I think that’s the reality we’re living in now, but I’m not sure anyone has told Apple. The company seems to continue to believe that the iPad is a general-purpose computer, and it’s just not, at least for a lot of people. When WWDC rolls around in a few weeks, I suspect iPadOS will continue on the trajectory it is currently on, and I think many of us find that a bit underwhelming, especially given how incredible the iPad’s hardware is.

What Goes Around Comes Around →

Jason Snell has written what a lot of us have been thinking: that the best thing for the future of the iPad could be the Mac:

It’s funny how the Mac keeps coming back into this, isn’t it? There’s a good reason. The Mac is Apple’s do-it-all computing platform, and thanks to the boost from Apple silicon, it’s really doing better than ever. That mid-2010s malaise when it felt like Apple had no clear idea about the Mac’s future, which coincided with the possibility that the iPad would ultimately replace it, is gone.

Instead, the Mac is a key that can unlock the limitations of Apple’s platforms. One of the best features of the Vision Pro is its ability to connect to a Mac and display the Mac’s interface in a large virtual space. The Vision Pro becomes a stronger product because macOS exists, and integrates with visionOS.

Unless Apple drastically changes course with iPadOS, the iPad can never become what Apple promised. Maybe the future of computing was with us all along.