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I'm disappointed | On innovations

On My Mind
I'm disappointed | On innovations
By Martin Wiesemborski • Issue #21 • View online
🍎 Apple launched new iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches. No revolution, just the next iteration.
🚙 Volkswagen introduced their new brand identity which was received with mixed feelings
📝 Google’s G Suite is at a point where a word count overlay is introduced as a cool new feature (meaning: at a low point)
And all of this is just disappointing.

Obviously the elephant in the room this week is Apple’s keynote. So let’s get right to it.
In a mostly boring keynote, Apple didn’t really had much to show besides the expected updates that we got used to by now: the devices got faster with more powerful processors, the displays got brighter, with better contrast and higher color accuracy. And of course the cameras got better and a second (and third) lens at the back. These are just things we can expect from a new device at this point.
As usual, Apple is on top of the game when it comes to product videos. The intro video was just beautiful and I’m sure the video for the iPhone 11 will win at least some awards for sound design
They also changed the naming convention, again: What used to be the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are now called iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, while the former iPhone XR is just simply the iPhone 11.
So what is actually new?
There are some new colors and I really like the matt green finish of the iPhone 11 Pro, but this is hardly a reason to upgrade.
What could actually persuade people to buy the new phones is the camera. Or should I say cameras? The Pro now has 3 of them on the back, and 2 in the front, letting you shoot with a 52mm, 26mm and [new] 13mm ultra-wide focal length. All of them are impressively chained together and calibrated in the factory to make sure they produce the same image quality no matter the lens.
This deep integration enables cool new tricks like portraits of pets (yay!), optical zoom while filming and even slofies, a term Apple invented to describe slo-motion selfie videos which might become a thing or will never be heard of again, who knows.  
I also really dig the new ultra wide angle camera, which I always thought is way more useful than the telephoto one.
All I need now is a cute dog. And the new iPhone...
All I need now is a cute dog. And the new iPhone...
Walt Mossberg
For all the deeply technical new features on the Apple products just announced, which I’m sure will be awesome once translated into Steve Jobsian English, my two favorite things were: (1) always-on screen on the Apple Watch and (2) 4 more hours of battery life on the iPhone Pro.
iPhone as a Service
One big take away from the Apple event:
Instead of paying upfront you can now pay for the new iPhone on a monthly basis (at least in the US). This could be the first sign of a strategic shift: Apple, the services company, does not need to rely on hardware sales anymore. Instead they could turn to a subscription based business model completely, where you subscribe to the newest iPhone just as you would subscribe to Apple TV+, Apple Music or any other service. 
And a small, but interesting update:
Brian Roemmele

All Apple Stores will be Apple U1 Chip ready by the end of the year for HyperLocal exact spacial location of Apple products in the store, to a degree of .05 inches!

As I have said in the past, the retail use of this system with Apple Pay is astounding!
Want a quick recap of the whole event? Here you go:
Apple iPhone 11 and 11 Pro event in 11 minutes
Apple iPhone 11 and 11 Pro event in 11 minutes
Don’t have 11 minutes to spare? Here it is in just 2 minutes
Apple Event in a flash
Apple Event in a flash
Volkswagen. Das Logo.
Big splashy redesigns are always a hit or miss. The design community (and everyone who thinks he has an important opinion to share), feels almost obligated to become a critic. And in 99% of the cases, the feedback is negative, almost troll-like. One of the bigger controversies has to be around slack’s redesign. A 6 year old company changed its branding and everyone went nuts.
Now, imagine a well over 75 year old brand do the same. Obviously, no matter the actual outcome, everyone will hate it. You can make it even worse if the new logo resembles an old logo from the past. Everyone will now not only hate you for the new logo but also blame you to be not original.
I’m in no way a logo expert, but I can understand the necessity behind the re-design in the first place. The old logo with its 3D elements, the shades and overall level of detail feels kinda out of date if you compare it with contemporary logos from say Tesla, Google or General Electric. They all are flat, optimized for the use on small screens and only use a few colors (if any).
And with a major shift in corporate structure and vision, it only feels right to reflect this through a new brand identity.
Is it a good logo? Is it original? I don’t know. And honestly in a few years, no one will care but just accept it for what it is. Until a new one comes around the corner.
Also, in the press announcement, VW said 19 internal teams as well as 17 external partners have worked for well over a year on the re-branding. With so many stakeholder involved, it’s almost predictable that the final result will be the lowest common denominator.
Google Docs / G Suite
On Monday, Google announced a breakthrough product innovation for user of Google Docs (a cloud-based text editor by Google):
Instead of going to Tools > Word Count each time you want to view this information, now, you can simply select Tools > Word count > Display word count while typing to continuously display it in the lower left corner of your doc
Wow, what a game changer.
When Google Docs launched in 2006, 13 years ago, it really was a game changer. It was free, ran in the browser and later added realtime collaboration. Sure, it lacked some of the features that users knew from Microsoft Word, but it was a perfect alternative for most of them. Unfortunately, Google stopped there and the feature set has been almost unchanged since then. Which really is a shame, because there is so much room for improvements. No wonder there are so many startups entering the market in the last few years, trying to claim the productivity throne.
Googles makes a ton of money by selling companies a product suite called G Suite, that includes Gmail, Calendar, and many other tools including Google Docs (= Word), Google Presentation (=Powerpoint) and Google Sheets (= Excel). This line-up of products could be immensely powerful if combined in meaningful ways.
Why can’t I drag and drop contacts that I have stored in Google Contacts into a Google Sheets document to create a contact list or share tasks? Or embed a Google Sheets table in Google Docs, that syncs automatically - in both directions.
In general, I would love Google to think of Google Drive more as a massive data base that every application can pull data from. For example to reference a calculation from one file in another one. Which sounds like a no-brainer to me. And it would make the whole G Suite so much more attractive.
This isn’t rocket science. Notion does this perfectly well already. Almost everything can be tied together to create synergy and efficiency.
Dropbox, a direct competitor in the enterprise cloud and productivity market, is investing heavily in Paper, a new way to think about text editors. It’s an interesting mix of Google Docs, Confluence and a bunch of other tools and allows you to embed tools like Figma or an inVision prototype but also media like YouTube videos or Soundcloud files, assign task and deadlines, and so much more.
Paper is what Google Docs could have become if Google would actually invest in innovation instead of putting a real time word count at the bottom of the screen.
Even Microsoft is more innovative right now than Google, as you can see in this cool demo video:
Randy Chapman
Really quick video demo of the #MicrosoftTeams Room Content Camera in action.

As soon as you select Content Camera, it finds the whiteboard in the room, frames it, zooms in. When you step in front, you're translucent. Then it builds out drawn content as it sees it. Really cool!
If Google would think about G Suite more open-minded and re-think what productivity means, they might even come up like this:
Olesya Chernyavskaya
Are you sitting with correct posture right now? My new experiment detects your posture and blurs a screen if it’s poor. Made with @TensorFlow.js #PoseNet model.

Check it out and read about creation process here:
Side note
If you do a little research you will very quickly see that most of Google’s now flagship products were initially developed by a different company that Google simply bought and made into what they are now. This goes for YouTube, Google Docs / Google Drive in general, Android, Google Maps and so many more.
This isn’t to discredit Google. Apples does this as well. So do most of the companies we think of as innovative. But the next time you speak to the manager of a company who says his company needs to become more innovative, just like Google, and come up with cool stuff at much higher rate: Remind him that most of Google’s products were just very smart acquisitions. And that many of them fail as well (and end up in the Google Graveyard).
One more thing
There is one more thing I am disappointed with: my subscriber count. This is issue #20, which means that for 20 weeks now, I’m sitting down every week to write this newsletter. I still love doing it. And if you like it as well, it would be awesome if you share it with your co-workers, friends or even your mum. I promise to stop with the bad puns in return. Deal?
Did you enjoy this issue?
Martin Wiesemborski

I'm a freelance UX strategist. Think of this newsletter as everything that is on my mind (hence the name): New and emerging tech and design trends, tools and ideas that I stumble upon and think are worth talking about.

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