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higher ground

Monday,  01/05/15  10:21 PM

Marco Arment thinks Apple has lost the functional high ground, in a piece which has received wide attention and spawned wide discussion.  (He regrets having published this, but I'm glad he did; the article raises some important issues.)  I have to agree with the concept; Apple's software *has* become buggier and harder to use.  It might still be better and easier to use than Windows or Linux (or Android), but that's the wrong measure. 

It used to be that Apple strove for greatness and sometimes achieved it, now it seems they're content with goodness and often don't get there.  As users, we are more concerned with their apparent lack of ambition than their lack of achievement.  We want them to be great.  Onward to the higher ground!

Part of that striving of old was shown by Apple's pre-announcement of the Apple Watch, an ambitious play to enter a new market (and perhaps, create a new platform category).  We still don't know when it will start shipping - late-first-quarter, by current analyst estimates - but already we are starting to see accessories starting to come out, like this charging dock

Dawn spacecraftAwesome: NASA spacecraft approaching dwarf planet Ceres.  Ceres is of course the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, thought to be remnants of a disintegrated planet.  And after Ceres the Dawn mission will visit Vesta, another dwarf planet in the same orbital belt.  "Orbiting both Vesta and Ceres would be truly impossible with conventional propulsion. Thanks to ion propulsion, we're about to make history as the first spaceship ever to orbit two unexplored alien worlds.

Who doesn't love this stuff?  (Look at the way the Philae lander captured our attention!)  Every time I see pictures of these spacecraft I have to remind myself "this is not a movie".

Hmmm slash yawn: California starts building its high-speed train system.  It's cool that it is happening, but what it is is not that cool.  A massively expensive fast train between South Fresno and North Fresno is not that compelling.  LA to San Francisco would be different, but the right-of-way necessary to make that happen is not available. 

Intel are betting $25M on smart eyewear maker Vuzix.  So be it.  This seems like such an important category, despite the stumble Google Glass has experienced.  Of course it will be the perfect platform for visual search applications... 

Just looking at the Vuzix solution, nah, it's not going to work.  When someone cracks the "smart eyewear" code, they will look like ordinary glasses.  The camera will be hidden and the display will be integrated into the lenses of the glasses.  I would not be surprised if Apple were working on this already.  In fact, I would be surprised if they are NOT working on it.  Each new product category riffed on an old one; iPods looked like PDAs, iPhones looked like phones, iPads looked like computers, and smartwatches look like watches.  Smart glasses are going to have to look like glasses to be accepted.