‘Welcome to Swift Blog’

From a new Apple blog dedicated to its new programming language:

This new blog will bring you a behind-the-scenes look into the design of the Swift language by the engineers who created it, in addition to the latest news and hints to turn you into a productive Swift programmer.

Who would ever have thought we’d see the phrase “behind-the-scenes” in anything coming from Apple?

Could be a very interesting blog to follow.

Also—Xcode is now available to any registered Apple Developer—even the free level.

RandomMaccess LookBack: On the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh, a look at the 20th

On the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the Macintosh, RandomMaccess takes a look at how we covered the Mac’s last big milestone — its 20th anniversary. A lot has changed since then: The iPod and iPad were still top-secret projects somewhere deep in the bowels of One Infinite Loop (or its Area 51 equivalent). Apple was enjoying the explosive success of the iPod and the company’s resulting resurgence. And of course, Steve Jobs was still alive.

Although the article is now 10 years old, I think a lot of the analysis still applies to this day — although perhaps one result of Jobs’ absence is an executive team that allowed the retrospective Apple is hosting on its site today. It’s hard to imagine Steve permitting such an emotional walk down memory lane.

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RM Flashback: How we covered the introduction of the iTunes Music Store

decadeOn the 10th anniversary of the iTunes Music Store, we thought it would be fun to turn back the clock and take a look at how we covered Steve Jobs’ introduction of the service. The event also introduced iTunes version 4 and the third generation iPods, with what turned out to be a short-lived redesign and a capacity of up to 30GB — “up to 7,500 CD-quality songs,” according to Jobs, in an analogy that might not have much meaning for today’s music buyers.

Read on for our “as-it-happened-coverage” of the birth of a music industry sea change.

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‘Remembering Steve’

Apple dedicated its homepage to a beautiful video tribute to Steve Jobs, to mark the first anniversary of his death. Listening to the video, I was struck by how many of the great moments I was fortunate enough to witness in person.

Following the video is a message from Apple CEO Tim Cook:

Steve’s passing one year ago today was a sad and difficult time for all of us. I hope that today everyone will re?ect on his extraordinary life and the many ways he made the world a better place.

One of the greatest gifts Steve gave to the world is Apple. No company has ever inspired such creativity or set such high standards for itself. Our values originated from Steve and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple. We share the great privilege and responsibility of carrying his legacy into the future.

I’m incredibly proud of the work we are doing, delivering products that our customers love and dreaming up new ones that will delight them down the road. It’s a wonderful tribute to Steve’s memory and everything he stood for.

– Tim

About those Apple Genius ads

They’re not cool; they’re not “Steve” ads; I don’t like them. But they may be appeal to “non-Apple” folks, and if that works, that’s fine. They’re also the first Mac-rather-than-iOS-device-ads I’ve seen since the “I’m a Mac” spots, and that makes them a good thing.

Read more in my latest article on The Mac Observer.

On over-the-air updates and other iOS magic

[I neglected to link to this post I wrote over at The Mac Observer, but as I watched my son synching his new iPod touch over WiFi this Christmas, these thoughts came back to me; I figured they should be here as well. – Editor.]

Apple released iOS 5.0.1 yesterday, mainly to address battery issues and add multi-touch gestures to the original iPad. The most remarkable feature of the update, though, had nothing to do with what it contained and everything to do with how it was delivered: the update was the first to be delivered and installed over the air (OTA), with no tethering to a computer (indeed, no computer at all) required.

This is not new to Android users, but it was a welcome event for iOS users. Since I heard about the update on Twitter before my devices notified me, I didn’t get to see how the update might have announced itself (it at all.) Once I knew about it, though, it was a simple matter to go to Settings: General: Software Update, where my iPhone 4 — and, later, iPad 1 — dutifully notified me there was an update available. Both my devices were almost fully charged, so I ignored the warning about plugging into a power source, and the updates downloaded and installed without a hitch.

Another new update method got considerably less attention yesterday. Apple released version 7.6 of its Airport software. Just for fun, I fired up the new iOS Airport Utility on my iPad, and sure enough, the app informed me of the available update and allowed me to install it without having to go to my Mac at all.

I suppose the Airport update shouldn’t have seemed all that amazing — after all, it’s a remote update whether it’s done from the iPad or a Mac. But this is the one that gave me the bigger “living in the future” feeling. One that reinforced the notion that my iPhone and iPad are not just satellite device for my Mac. They are peers, and in more and more instances, provide a better experience than those “real” computers.

Steve Jobs dead at 56

Steve Jobs: 1955-2011

Steven P. Jobs, the co-founder and former CEO of Apple, has died, according to a statement released by Apple’s Board of Directors:

We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today.

Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.

His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts.

Earlier this evening, his family issued this statement:

Steve died peacefully today surrounded by his family.

In his public life, Steve was known as a visionary; in his private life, he cherished his family. We are thankful to the many people who have shared their wishes and prayers during the last year of Steve’s illness; a website will be provided for those who wish to offer tributes and memories.

We are grateful for the support and kindness of those who share our feelings for Steve. We know many of you will mourn with us, and we ask that you respect our privacy during our time of grief.

In recent years, Jobs has battled a rare form of pancreatic cancer and underwent a liver transplant and took two medical leaves from the company. In late September, he stepped down as CEO of Apple, saying “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.” He was named Chairman of Apple’s Board of Directors, a position he held at the time of his death.

Jobs famously asked John Sculley if he wanted to “sell sugar water for the rest of your life or come with me and change the world?” and he did just that, transforming entire industries with visionary devices and software including the original Macintosh, the iMac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone and iPad. He took Apple from a startup that assembled computers in a garage to arguably the most successful company in history, and along the way lead the company through one of the most dramatic turnarounds in corporate history.

In addition to running Apple, Jobs also ran NeXT, whose NeXTSTEP operating system became the basis for MacOS X; and Pixar, a computer animation company that produced such hits as “Toy Story,” “Finding Nemo,” “The Incredibles,” “Up” and others. When Pixar was acquired by Disney, Jobs was named to Disney’s Board of Directors.

Apple’s website offers a tribute to Jobs, a single black and white photo with the text “Steve Jobs 1955-2011.” The company is encouraging the public to share their “thoughts, memories, and condolences” by sending an email to

Bill Gates, founder and former CEO of Microsoft and sometimes-partner/sometimes-nemesis of Jobs, posted a statement on his personal blog:

I’m truly saddened to learn of Steve Jobs’ death. Melinda and I extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends, and to everyone Steve has touched through his work.

Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues, competitors and friends over the course of more than half our lives.

The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come.

For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely.

From Job’s bio on the Apple website:

Steve Jobs is the Chairman of the Board of Apple, which he co-founded in 1976. Apple is leading the consumer technology world with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, its family of iPod media players and iTunes media store, and its Mac computers and iLife and iWork application suites. Apple recently introduced iPad 2 which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.

Steve also co-founded and was the CEO of Pixar Animation Studios, which created some of the most successful and beloved animated films of all time including Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars and Ratatouille. Pixar merged with The Walt Disney Company in 2006 and Steve now serves on Disney’s board of directors.

Steve grew up in the apricot orchards which later became known as Silicon Valley, and still lives there with his family.

Conan’s editors love new Final Cut Pro X

I haven’t really chimed into the controversy surrounding the release of Apple’s Final Cut Pro X (disparagingly referred to by some as “iMovie Pro’), but I thought this clip from the Conan O’Brien show illustrated the criticism perfectly (and hilariously). That an upgrade to a professional editing application could be fodder for a late night talkshow bit is telling as well.

Technologizer: How vulnerable are Macs?

In his latest Technologizer column for Time, Harry McKracken takes a reasoned, thoughtful look at the current state of Mac security and comes to much the same conclusion I did: while Mac malware is still more reliant on social engineering than technological exploits, there’s no such thing as risk-free computing.

(The) fact that the recent spate of Mac attacks could be worse doesn’t mean that Apple types don’t need to think about their computing safety. It’s not just the possibility of more OS X malware. Instead of putting a particular operating system in the crosshairs, nogoodniks are turning their attention to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, where they spam users, steal identities, and generally do their best to wreak havoc. They don’t care whether you use Windows or a Mac, as long as your guard is down.

Like me, Harry does not run any anti-virus software on his Mac, noting “security software isn’t without its own downsides. Even the best packages require a certain amount of babysitting; the worst ones get in your face, bog down your system, and teeter on the brink of being more of a hassle than the dangers they’re meant to protect you against.”

Until and unless Mac malware gets a lot more sophisticated, I’ll continue focusing my defenses on the social engineering side of the issue. Don’t open attachments unless you know what they are, be careful about where you surf and never—never—install a program you’re not absolutely confident came from a safe source.

Apple spells out keynote for WWDC: Lion, iOS 5, ‘iCloud’

Apple made the unusual move of spelling out the topics for its WWDC Keynote next week:

Apple CEO Steve Jobs and a team of Apple executives will kick off the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) with a keynote address on Monday, June 6 at 10:00 a.m. At the keynote, Apple will unveil its next generation software – Lion, the eighth major release of Mac OS X; iOS 5, the next version of Apple’s advanced mobile operating system which powers the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch; and iCloud, Apple’s upcoming cloud services offering.

Apple rarely — very rarely — tips its hand about keynotes and is generally even more tight-lipped about upcoming products and services. The only time I can recall them doing so is when they feel the need to manage rumors and keep a handle on expectations, which I think is what’s going on here. They want to emphasize that there will be no hardware announcements (read: no iPhone 5 or “4GS”).

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