You’ve got clippers for your nails, earbuds for your ears, pluckers for your eyebrows, and charcoal masks for your pores… but what about your phone? What about when you need to clean and maintain those ridiculously tiny speaker and microphone holes, or that charging port that is surely getting filled with lint from your pockets? Yeah, you use a safety pin or a paper clip, don’t you, you savage!
I’ll confess, I’ve dug out lint from my charging port with a safety pin too. That’s probably because I had no idea something as specific as the PurePort existed in the first place. Built explicitly for cleaning your ports, jacks, and cables to prolong their life, PurePort is a multitool (and also a fidget spinner) that comes with all the tools you need to keep your device… um, well groomed, shall I say.
Any dust, dirt, or lint in your ports can make effectively connecting your charging cable rather difficult, but more than that, it can damage your cables as well as your phone. Lint can cause electric arcing which can damage your phone’s or cable’s connector pins by causing them to blacken through oxidation. PurePort’s set of tools helps clean out your port without damaging any circuitry the way a sharp metal object like a safety pin would. It comes with a set of brushes designed to scrub any dirt or lint out of the port, while smaller tools make it effective to reach those difficult spots too, helping you clean your speaker grill, microphone, and even earpiece. PurePort even helps you maintain cables by scrubbing the black oxide layer off your lightning connector. An abrasive head allows you to buff the oxide right off, making those cables last longer than they would have, because nobody’s got time to buy a new $999 phone or shell out 20 bucks every time your cable stops working properly… right?
Thanks to a couple of patents we’ve found online, it’s pretty certain that Microsoft isn’t just taking on Google’s Stadia with its own cloud-based gaming service, but is also going gung-ho into the hardware side of things too, with detachable controllers you can clip to your phone for the most portable Xbox experience ever imagined!
Based on patented designs, these conceptual Xbox Cloud controllers give us an idea of what the real thing would feel like. Two controller-halves clip onto either side of the phone, turning it into a handheld gaming console, complete with everything you need to play Xbox’s signature titles. The controllers come in a variety of colors, just like the original Xbox ones, and feature all the keys, buttons, and joysticks, including BOTH the left and right triggers on the top!
Designed for immersive landscape gaming, the controllers come with two flippers that hold your phone gently but securely from the sides, while memory-foam pads make sure they don’t press any buttons. These side flippers are ideal for phones with no bezel, because this makes sure the controllers don’t overlap the screen from the left or right. Both halves of the controllers connect to your phone via Wi-Fi to deliver a seamless gaming experience that’s absolutely lag-free. They even come with their own speaker units that deliver gameplay audio in stereo… but if you’re the kind to rely on headsets, fear not! The Xbox Cloud controllers have their own headphone jack too, with support for wireless headsets and earphones as well! Delivering enough charge for a nice long gaming session, the Xbox Cloud controllers have their own independent batteries (accessible and switchable from the panels below) and charge by docking into a special cloud-controller charger too. What a great time to be alive!
Look at Native Union’s Marquetry Wireless Charger and tell me that it doesn’t look like a fancy table coaster you’d find at IKEA or Bed Bath an Beyond! That’s always been Native Union’s niche though… the intersection between tech and fashion.
Native Union’s Marquetry range is all about exploring color palettes in their triads. The colors are a marvelous combination of rich hues that complement each other really well, and borrow from palettes found in fashion. Marquetry makes use of navy blues, nude pinks, and even brings style to a combination of different values of gray. Native Union’s Marquetry Wireless Charger comes with a circular design, and is hand-crafted from leather. Sporting the signature Marquetry color combination, the charger looks like decor when not in use, and promptly begins charging your phone the minute you rest it on the dock. The wireless charger isn’t flat either, but rests at an inclined angle, making it easy to use your phone while it’s charging, in both landscape as well as portrait… plus with its output of 7.5W, it should juice your smartphone in absolutely no time, so you can go back to admiring it as what it truly is – a stylish piece of tech-infused decor!
Amidst a whole variety of leaks, from glass units to chassis photos to even leaks by case-manufacturers, it’s rather easy to get a fair assumption of what the iPhone 11, due to debut this October will look like. However, designers Ben Geskin and Aziz Ghaus took things one step further and imagined what NEXT year’s iPhone might look like. Here’s a look at Ben and Aziz’s take on iPhone 2020!
The 2020 iPhone is interesting for a large number of reasons. It builds on the iPhone 11, which hasn’t really launched yet, but the world has a pretty decent idea about. In non-Apple fashion, the 2020 iPhone won’t be an iPhone 11S, but will rather be a heavily updated model, which Ben thinks will feature an iPad Pro-inspired frame that’s flat, and not rounded like current iPhones. While the iPhone rumored to release this year will have 3 lenses on the primary shooter, Ben and Aziz have imagined a quad-shooter iPhone with four lenses performing some heavy-duty photography. The notch still remains where it is (Apple is too invested in it to opt for a punch-hole design), but is much smaller, and doesn’t feature FaceID, but rather has a ToF sensor that performs the facial recognition. Two other very interesting developments are A. the fact that the phone is 5G capable, a feature that now seems possible, now that Apple has acquired Intel’s modem business, and B. buh-bye Lightning Connector! The 2020 iPhone concept uses our favorite Type-C jack, finally restoring peace in the jack, port, and dongle world! Oh, and if you’re not a port-and-cable person yourself, the iPhone still features a glass back with wireless charging capabilities… but with a camera bump that massive, do expect a bit of a wobble as you place it down on your wireless charger, or any flat surface.
Amidst a whole variety of leaks, from glass units to chassis photos to even leaks by case-manufacturers, visualizers Ben Geskin and Aziz Ghaus have created what I can safely assume is one of the most informed, reliable representations of the iPhone 11 that will debut this October.
The iPhone 11 will be interesting for a large number of reasons. For starters, it’s the first iPhone to debut after Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jonathan Ive’s exit from the company last month. While Apple’s design team is in safe hands with Evans Hankey and and Alan Dye leading the team (designer Marc Newson made his exit too), this marks a turning point for Apple’s design ethos, which for the past 25 years was spearheaded by Ive. The second reason why all eyes are on the iPhone 11 is that it features not 2, not 3, but 4 lenses on its primary camera setup! Arranged in what looks like a rather awkward format, given that there are 5 elements now on the camera bump (4 lenses and a flash), we’re left with something that’s strangely asymmetrical and just odd-looking, especially by Apple standards. I’m honestly waiting to see the quality of images this iPhone captures though.
Other than that, there isn’t much of a difference between the future iPhone and models from the last 2 years. The notch still prevails, although there’s just 1 visible camera lens in the render rather than the entire array of sensors that formed Apple’s FaceID security system. Edges on the iPhone 11 aren’t rounded anymore, and feature a flat design that we haven’t seen since the iPhone 5. Apple has, however, stuck to the glass back, primarily for wireless charging purposes… but with a camera bump that massive, do expect a bit of a wobble as you place it down on your wireless charger, or any flat surface.
The Film Rig, as its name quite aptly suggests, allows you to film content on your consumer-grade camera, while minimizing the hand-jitter that often comes from handling small, lightweight equipment. The way it works is simple… With two grips for better control, spaced apart so your jittering hands don’t translate onto the video you’re capturing, the Film Rig helps videos appear more stable. Just like you’re much more likely to hold a tray full of glasses much more efficiently with two hands than with one, Sandmarc’s Film Rig gives you the dexterity and control you need to operate your smartphone camera or action camera, getting you videos that don’t need digital stabilization.
The Film Rig is ergonomic, robust, and versatile. The two grips come with textured surfaces, while the rig itself adds a tiny bit of weight to the entire setup, giving you something to control, while being light enough to walk or run with. The universal clamp on the front works with all smartphones, as well as action cameras like the GoPro, and mounting systems on the base and the top allow you to connect various other accessories to your the rig, from microphones, to external flashes/lights, and even tripods so you can rest your rig after you move around with it. Designed to bring a level of control to your sufficiently powerful pocketable camera, Sandmarc’s Film Rig works almost like a gimbal, but without breaking the bank!
I applaud the effort, but your smartphone’s Screen Time or Digital Wellbeing feature telling you how much time you stare at your screen isn’t going to help. You’ll feel guilty about being on Instagram 2 hours a day, but awareness doesn’t break addiction. Designer Matteo Bandi has a much better solution… confiscation.
Sidekicks, developed by Bandi during his MA at the Royal College of London, is a series of electronic devices and appliances that literally use your phone as their on/off switch. Designed as a desk lamp for working, a speaker for leisure time, an alarm clock for the end of the day and a projector for watching a movie, Sidekicks literally need you to dock your phone in them to work. Place your phone in the designated area and your gadget powers to life, allowing you to use it. The phone’s screen turns into the product’s interface, allowing you to control it, while limiting your use. By confiscating your phone in order to work, Sidekicks offer a much more ‘cold turkey’ solution to our smartphone addiction problems, punishing us at first, but eventually allowing us to consciously live in the moment… plus using the phone’s screen as a control panel for the product itself? Absolute genius!
Who’d thought that for just a mere $400 (as listed on Blackview’s global store webpage) you could get a phone that’s half the price of an iPhone but doubly awesome. Meet the Blackview Max1. Coming from a company known to make some of the most durable, rugged smartphones on the market, the Max1 is unusual because it wasn’t built to be a rugged, robust beast. It was built with a projector fitted right inside the phone’s frame. The Max1 isn’t particularly thick though. At just 10.2mm thick, it’s impressively slim, and ditches the audio jack, but fits something much more incredible. A 720p laser projector sits on top, capable of broadcasting an image that Blackview says can go up to 200 inches (16.6 feet) in size.
If you had asked me 5-6 years back if a projector built into a phone made sense, I’d probably have a very different answer for you. In 2019, the Blackview Max really starts to make a world of sense. While we’re trying to kill bezels and make phone screens bigger, the Max1 has a unique way of offering a large-screen experience without the large screen. Netflix would look super good on the Max1’s projected display, with its fairly good 720p HD resolution and colors that look extremely good when the projection’s at around the sweet-spot of 50 inches. The phone comes with a Projector button in its drop-down menu, allowing you to toggle the projector feature. It makes up for this feature with a large 4680mAh battery that gives the phone 5 hours of projection time, or a good day’s worth of battery if used normally. The phone runs Android (obviously), and comes with a single rear camera and a dual front-facing camera. It builds in a fingerprint sensor too, on the back (I personally don’t care too much for facial recognition).
In 2019, when phones are literally bending over backwards to gain our attention (while also offering us bigger screens), the Blackview Max1 is pretty impressive. With a price tag that shows exactly how far your dollar travels within the Android ecosystem, the Max1 is both reasonable and impressive. Plus, that projector will prove extremely handy when we say hello to Google’s Stadia service! Imagine playing A-list games on a smartphone… and not on a crummy 6 inch screen, but rather on an impressive 200-inch display!
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With Sir Jonathan Ive’s exit from Apple just days ago, it’s finally the end of an era that Steve Jobs envisioned back in the 90s. Ive left his design agency Tangerine to formally Apple in 1992, recruited by Jon Rubinstein at the time. It wasn’t until 1996, when Steve Jobs made a return to Apple (an almost-bankrupt company at the time), when Jonathan Ive’s career really took off. Along with Ive’s eye for design, and Jobs’ attention to need, detail, and usability, the two formed one of the most successful creative alliances in recent history, taking the company to a valuation of $665 billion in 2011, around the time of Jobs’ demise, and finally to the trillion dollar mark in 2018.
Ive’s journey at Apple can be distinctly broken down into these phases, that roughly fall into the decades too. We’re here to look at the work of Jobs through the lens of time, as he went from product to product and strength to strength with each passing decade. The video above provides a very rare look into Ive’s and Apple’s elusive design process, while the products below aim to codify and categorize Ive’s 27-year-long design journey with one of the most innovative companies on earth. Here’s a look at Jonathan Ive’s 27 years at Apple, in products.
1992-96 Jonathan Ive leaves Tangerine for Apple. Steve Jobs hasn’t made his comeback yet.
There honestly isn’t much to look at here. This was pre-Jobs comeback, when Apple was facing financial difficulties. Ive made his way from Tangerine to Apple, only to realize that most of the design team was being let go of. Rumor has it, he almost tried to quit around the same time, but was pep-talked into staying by Jon Rubinstein. Ive, under Apple, designed a few not-so-successful products at the time… like the Newton MessagePad, shown above. However, his experimentation with transparency (top right) led to a few breakthroughs later when Steve made a comeback.
1997-2011 Apple’s renaissance period under Jobs and Ive. Apple Design follows Dieter Rams.
Design flourished when Steve Jobs made a comeback in 1996. The iMac G3 and the iBook explored curves, and the use of transparency and translucency. Jobs was adamant that the insides of the computers be beautiful enough to showcase to the world, rather than make more white boxes. Ive’s design efforts went into making ‘computers sexy again’.
Ive’s obsession with transparency evolved further, while products that were previously curved, started taking on a more slick appearance. Shown above are the Apple Cinema Display, the iMac G4, and a rare non-Apple product, Harman Kardon’s Soundsticks that were designed by Ive!
Nothing put Apple more on the map than the iPod. It revolutionized everything, and truly made Jobs stand out as a visionary, and cemented Ive’s role in the company. The iPod also owed a big debt of gratitude to Dieter Rams, who’s design language at Braun truly began influencing Ive’s work. The circular jogdial, the no-nonsense design, the philosophy of “Form Following Function”, and the liberal use of white, all were owed to Dieter Rams. While naysayers saw this as Apple ‘not being original enough’, iPods flew off the shelves, and Apple finally became a household name.
As iPods grew popular, Ive strived hard to make them sleeker too. As a result, the Nano and the Shuffle were born. With an iPod for everyone, these came in a variety of formats, stored as many as 2000 songs, and now came in color! Another subtle innovation was that Ive discovered the material that would change the consumer tech industry forever… aluminium.
Aluminum allowed Ive to truly explore Apple’s new aesthetic of beautiful, premium, and sleek products. Aluminum was abundant, could be machined to precision, and Ive even devised a way of utilizing spare aluminum parts from the Mac Pro to make the MacBook bodies (discussed in Gary Hustwit’s Objectified). Ive pushed the limits to how beautifully sleek products could be made, and in 2008, Steve Jobs walked out on stage with a Manila envelope, carrying the world’s thinnest laptop within it… the iconic 19.4mm MacBook Air!
One more thing… arguably the three most important words in Apple’s history. The iPhone is considered to be Jobs and Ive’s magnum opus. So much is owed to the birth of the iPhone. Industries, companies, technologies, materials, the iPhone created them all. The first iPhone, introduced in 2007 was the first true smartphone. It came with a touchscreen you could use with your fingers, and boasted of Apple’s iOS and the birth of the app marketplace. Further iterations only grew better. The iPhone 4 came with a glass front and back, but a slick aluminum frame that made it one of the thinnest phones of its time. It was the perfect size (some still believe so even today) and had Siri, Apple’s voice AI. In 2012 came the iPhone 5, a reiteration of its successful predecessor, with a standard-setting aluminum unibody, a revolutionary 16:9 display, and the world’s first fingerprint sensor on a phone. The iPhone 5 was considered to be the last iPhone co-created by Jobs and Ive.
The iPad debuted in 2010, just a year before Jobs’ demise. Ive designed it to be the sleekest tablet on the market, following the footsteps of the iPhone and the MacBook Air, although the idea for the iPad came to Jobs much before the iPhone. Jony developed a device so iconic that it remained the only strong contender in the tablet market with practically no competition for roughly seven years.
2012-19 Apple finding its post-Jobs identity, & becoming a trillion dollar company.
The 2013 Mac Pro came at a time of uncertainty. Two years since the death of Jobs, Apple was looking for its next great product. The iPhone and the iPad proved to show how great Jobs was at envisioning new products. Apple hoped a redesigned Mac Pro would show people that Apple was still capable of innovation. Jonathan Ive’s redesign didn’t receive much praise, and was often referred to as the trashcan Mac, for its dustbin-shaped appearance. For the people that bought it too, the Mac Pro had quite a few problems, ranging from its heat issues, to the fact that it wasn’t easy to upgrade… a pretty necessary feature considering how much the 2013 Mac Pro cost.
The following year was one of redemption. Apple’s recent recruitments to the design team included designer Mark Newson and CEO of Yves Saunt Laurent, Paul Deneve. These two stalwarts aided Ive in building consumer electronics that were comparable to fashion items, with their sheer sense of style (and even a price tag to match). The Apple Watch was born, kicking off a wearables market. It featured a small screen, a touch-sensitive UI and a rotating crown, all encased in a remarkable aluminum body. The watch came with wireless charging, and featured a built-in heart-rate sensor… a feature that would soon define the Watch’s use-case. As a consumer-friendly medical wearable.
Among other noteworthy design achievements, Apple acquired Beats by Dre., a company that considered Robert Brunner’s Ammunition as their design partners (Brunner was an ex-Apple design lead). Alongside that, Ive’s team even designed the iPhone 6, a smartphone with an incredibly slick design that received mixed reviews, while also being one of the most sold smartphones in the world. Ive’s obsession with slim devices finally led to what became the Bendgate. The iPhone 6 was so thin, it would bend if kept in your back pocket. Apple eventually fixed the problem in the iPhone 6S with a stronger chassis and a harder aluminum alloy. The 6S also gave birth to the era of Rose Gold, a color that Apple debuted in 2015 which became a standard in almost all subsequent iPhones and even in the new MacBook Air.
Later in 2016, Apple announced the iPhone 7, which infamously ditched the headphone jack. The absence of a 3.5mm jack on the phone meant the release of the Airpods, Apple’s incredibly small truly wireless intelligent earbuds. Perhaps not the most consumer-friendly decision, the Airpods were a runaway business success. The Airpods were convenient, incredibly well-paired with the iPhone, and came with touch-sensitive surfaces that let you control playback as well as the iPhone’s core features without taking your phone out. The Airpods were sleek, well-built, and came with their own charging case that you could carry around with you. 2016 was also the year Apple killed ports on the MacBook, leaving just a USB Type-C port and a headphone jack (a strange decision there) on the side. The 2016 MacBook also ended the tradition of having glowing Apple logos on MacBooks.
2017 saw the release of the HomePod, Apple’s foray into the smart-speaker market. Ive pretty much revived the cylindrical design (of the Mac Pro) to create a powerful speaker capable of throwing out high-fidelity sound in all directions with equal intensity. The smart-speaker featured a touch-sensitive upper surface, and could respond to “Hey Siri”. Available in white and black, the HomePod came perhaps too late, with Amazon beating Apple to the smart-speaker market by three whole years.
Towards the end of 2017, Apple announced the AirPower, a tray capable of charging all of Apple’s wireless devices… simultaneously. The announcement was perhaps a little premature, considering two large things. A. The Airpods didn’t charge wirelessly, and B. The technology wasn’t perfected yet. Ive’s design showed how easy it was to lay your products on the AirPower mat and have them charge, but Apple’s engineering team couldn’t get it to work without heating up tremendously. The AirPower was finally shelved in 2019.
2017 also marked a full decade since the launch of Apple’s greatest product ever, the iPhone. Alongside the iPhone 8 (which was due at the time), Ive designed the anniversary iPhone, titled the iPhone X. With a stellar dual-lens camera capable of clicking portrait images with computational blurring, the iPhone X actually sold more than the 8, even with its $999 price tag… and its notch! The notch became a standard detail for almost all other smartphones to follow, as Ive’s vision for a truly bezel-less smartphone became more and more possible. It also meant saying goodbye to the good old TouchID and hello to Apple’s new FaceID, its revolutionary facial recognition system. The new iPhone was also a departure of sorts from Ive’s love for aluminium, since the metal wouldn’t support wireless charging.
The 2018 iPad Pro was the tablet every creative professional needed. With an incredibly powerful processor (as powerful as the Xbox One), a great camera, a redesigned stylus (that charged wirelessly), and virtually no bezels, the iPad Pro became a standard for the creative industry. It also came with a Type-C port, showing users exactly how versatile the tablet was designed to be, as it could be connected to pretty much any other device, and not be inhibited by Apple’s lightning charger.
As Apple’s hardware sales slowed down (nobody wanted to buy a new iPhone every year), the company finally made a pivot to services. The Apple Card was one of them. Machined out of titanium, the card was an exercise in sheer minimalism, thanks to Ive and the design team. it came with a machined Apple logo, and an etched name on the card… that’s it!
Ive’s last product at Apple, the Mac Pro sent quite a few mixed messages. At the time of his death, Jobs made it clear that Ive’s work was not to be interfered with, and he was answerable to no one. The Mac Pro 2019 was proof of Ive’s free reign. It came with a dual-machined airway system that gave the Mac Pro an appearance of a glorified cheese-grater, with an incredibly hefty price-tag. Apple’s trillion-dollar valuation, and Ive’s ability to design without any constraints resulted in one of the most talked about designs of the year so far… that’s until Ive finally put in his resignation along with Marc Newson to form LoveFrom, an independent design outfit that considered Apple as one of its top clients. Let’s see what the 2019 Apple October event has in store for us!