No doubt Apple is another after Steve Jobs’ death. This, of course, is not necessarily a bad thing. Jobs was very good at many things, but we know that Apple was a complicated company in many ways, especially in its relationship with the press in general.
Many of these rules were established by Katie Cotton, Apple’s former head of corporate communications, who retired in the middle of last year. With his departure, Steve Dowling took over and is proving to be a much more open person in this regard.
What we have seen out there from Apple employees (whether they are vice presidents, directors or even lower office) giving interviews is not in the comic. And with the launch of the 21.5-inch iMac with Retina 4K screen, the Magic Keyboard, the Magic Mouse 2 and the Magic Trackpad, that was even more in evidence.
When interviewing Kate Bergeron, John Ternus (both leading project engineers) and Brian Croll (vice president of Macintosh product marketing), the journalist Steven Levy became the first to enter the Input Design Lab Apple (where she does all the tests with keyboards, mice and trackpads). Talking to the three – and Phil Schiller (senior vice president of worldwide marketing) – Levy shared some beautiful details about the creation of the iMac and peripherals.
Before going into the details of the products themselves, the laboratory deserves mention! They are machines and more machines that test everything on these peripherals.
But it doesn’t stop there, after all those who use the products are human beings, so nothing more logical than filling a hand with sensors to understand exactly the behavior (muscle and memory fatigue, acoustics, precision and other tests) resulting in typing by some minutes / hours on a given keyboard – and they do that there too.
Apple usually makes prototypes that are larger than the normal size of the product to see if their schemes work – remember the piano from the movie “I Want to Be Great”, with Tom Hanks? So, it’s right there… ?
The tests also involve an acoustic room to develop the perfect sound of a Magic Mouse 2 click, a touch of the Magic Keyboard key or the surface of the Magic Trackpad 2. There are also machines that test the behavior of peripherals on different surfaces and much more – Levy’s article is worth visiting, if only to see the different images from the laboratory.
But back to the products – which are obviously very connected to the laboratory itself -, although they are not perfect (a pity that, even with all this apparatus, Apple still creates a mouse that is not able to be used on surfaces such as glass and a keyboard that doesn’t have a backlight) it’s amazing to see the attention that Apple has when creating anything, be it the company’s golden egg hen (iPhone) or a “mere” keyboard / mouse that comes with iMacs.
Reading Levy’s article, we have a real sense of how much time Apple invested in these accessories, although looking at everything quickly we see the same thing. This idea is even greater with the Magic Mouse 2, which has an external structure practically identical to that of the first generation of the mouse. But when we learn that Apple invested hours and hours redesigning the mouse foot because it was not satisfied with the noise it made when being dragged from side to side, or that it managed to put all the keys (which are now bigger) in a smaller (total area) and thinner keyboard.
The iMac itself, by the way, is a product that many companies probably would not pay as much attention to if they were in the role of Apple. When we think that iPhones represent more than 50% of the company’s revenue and that computers “are becoming more and more like trucks”, it would be normal to see it gain less and less attention. But no, the Mac is still something very important to Apple, regardless of the revenue it generates.
Schiller could not have been happier in his explanation to Levy. According to him, ideally we will always use the smallest device possible to do as much as possible before opting for the next (largest) product in the line.
They [linha de produtos da Apple] are all computers. Each of these computers is offering something unique and each is made in a simple way that is quite eternal. The watch’s job is to do more and more things on your wrist so that you don’t have to pick up the phone so often. The phone’s job is to do more and more things that might make you not need your iPad, and it should always be trying, trying hard to do that. The iPad’s job is to be so powerful and capable that you never need a notebook. Like, why do I need a notebook? I can add a keyboard! I can do all those things! The notebook’s job is to do everything to the point that you don’t need a desktop, right? He has been doing this for a decade. And that leaves the poor desktop at the end of the line, what is his job?
Your job is to challenge what we think a computer can do and do things that no computer has ever done before, to be increasingly powerful and capable, so we need a desktop because of its capabilities. Because if all he’s doing is competing with the notebook and being thinner and lighter, then it doesn’t have to exist.
And then there are the iMac differentials, starting, of course, with the incredible Retina display that now supports the P3 standard, which offers 25% more colors than the sRGB. For that, Apple had to invent a new LED coding standard that generates greater intensities of reds and greens and that, through a color filter, would create this whole range of colors. After that, they went after suppliers capable of implementing this new scheme. An alternative was the technology called quantum dot, but Apple ended up rejecting everything because it used the toxic element cadmium. After a while, however, they finally managed to find a way within what they wanted without any environmental disadvantage.
Even Microsoft became the subject of this chat, after all, for each “yes” Apple needs to say many “no”, and one of these negatives is to put a multi-touch screen on computers, something that competitors (like Microsoft) do . The – today – partner of Apple (which even participated in the last presentation of Apple demonstrating the Office suite on the iPad Pro) recently launched some interesting products and that generated two reactions in Schiller.
Despite not following the event (at least that’s what he said), Apple’s marketing boss reinforced something we already knew: from an ergonomic point of view, Apple has studies which prove that this type of interaction is totally uncomfortable on a computer – unlike products like iPhones and iPads, which were created from the beginning with the idea of interactivity with your fingers. “These two worlds have different purposes, and that’s a good thing – we can optimize everything around the best experience for each one and not try to mix them up into a more common experience,” said Schiller.
Couldn’t miss a little pin, right? And with good reason. Schiller took the opportunity to comment that Microsoft’s entry into the computer market (this is the first time that the company has launched a notebook) has only proved that Apple was right in its strategy (to create both the hardware and software of its products) since the start. “It’s amazing that a single event has validated a lot that Apple does, putting us on a higher level. And that’s flattering. ”
If you enjoy these behind the scenes stories, be sure to read Levy’s articles. ?
[via Daring Fireball]