Weekly interviews from the world of Apple by Leander Kahney, editor and publisher of the Cult of Mac blog and co-host of the ever-popular CultCast podcast. Lots of Steve Jobs stories.
The Apple Design Process of Demos, Decisions & Feedback with Ken Kocienda
Curious what it was like to work at Apple during its Golden Age of design? What exactly did the creative process look like? On this episode of the Apple Chat podcast, I sit down with Ken Kocienda, a programmer who spent 15 years at Apple during the Steve Jobs era, working on the first versions of the Safari web browser, iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. His new book, Creative Selection: Inside Apple’s Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs, chronicles his experiences working at the company and offers an inside look at the creative process that made the team successful.
Apple and manufacturing with Instrumental CEO Anna-Katrina Shedletsky
Manufacturing processes haven’t changed much in recent years, even with dramatic advances in technology. Consumer electronics are still almost 100% handmade, even at companies that supply the best of the best -– like Apple.
On this episode of Apple Chat, I interview Anna-Katrina Shedletsky, former product design engineer for Apple, about the challenges of manufacturing electronic goods at massive scale. Shedletsky's new company, Instrumental, makes machine-learning software and associated hardware that monitors assembly lines and allows design engineers to troubleshoot manufacturing problems with agility.
Shedletsky and I discuss the current state of assembly-line manufacturing around the world, and in particular, how a large-scale manufacturer like Foxconn operates. We talk about the unique challenges facing large-scale manufacturers, including how to ramp up production for the holiday season, and how to manage the sheer scale of building products like the iPhone.
We also discuss in detail how manufacturers and design engineers work together on optimizing the yield that comes off a production line. We discuss how companies determine what goes onto the “bone pile” (units not fit for consumers) and how the threshold changes depending on the product. And we talk about where automation fits in the process, and her views on automation replacing humans on the assembly line.
Finally, Shedletsky explains how Instrumental takes machine learning designed in the consumer space (for things like Netflix search recommendations) and applies it to the manufacturing industry.
The job of a designer with Oliver Seil of Belkin
“The job of a designer is to be a psychologist…”
Industrial design is something that a lot of manufacturers used to outsource.
Companies would design a product and then contract with a firm of outside design consultants to slap a good-looking skin on it, and hope for the best.
But in the last decade or so, lots of companies have gotten design religion. Design has been brought in-house, where it can shape products from the very get-go. There’s an obvious source for this idea — Apple.
This week we talk to Oliver Seil, the Senior Design Director of Belkin International’s Innovation Design Group.
Belkin is an accessory company based in Los Angeles that has grown into one of the biggest suppliers of mobile accessories. It’s has a big portfolio of products, from iPhone and iPad cases to battery packs, surge protectors, networking gear and its line of WeMo home automation products.
We talk to Seil about Belkin’s products and design process; the surprising complexity of USB cables - and why they cost so much; and of course, why Apple has had such an enormous influence on design and manufacturing.
Apple and the environment with filmmaker Sue Williams
Sue Williams is a New York-based documentary filmmaker. Her new film, Death by Design, takes a sobering look at the electronics industry and it’s toxic environmental legacy — both here in the US and in China.
The film starts in Silicon Valley, which has a horrible record of environmental pollution. The industry appears to be nice and clean, but has a long and toxic history of environmental damage. Silicon Valley is home to the most Superfund cleanup sites in the country.
And now that the industry has offshored most of its manufacturing overseas, the environmental problems have been exported right along with it.
Currently touring film festivals around the world, Death by Design is a sobering, behind the scenes look at the cost of the devices we so consume in some measure of ignorance.
What it was like to work for Steve Jobs with Lawrence Levy, former Pixar CFO
Steve Jobs enjoys a mythic reputation as a technology and business genius. After his death, it often seems like he dreamed up products like the iPhone and iPad from whole cloth, single handed.
But a new book by the former CFO of Pixar, Lawrence Levy paints a very different picture of Jobs at work.
In Levy’s book, To Pixar and Beyond, out this week, Jobs is portrayed as very human and vulnerable. He doesn’t have all the answers, and he makes tons of mistakes. He doesn’t scream and yell. He’s not the tyrant we expect him to be.
It’s one of the first books I’ve read that realistically details how Jobs worked, and it’s surprisingly relatable. Plus, there’s a whole chapter devoted to a whiteboard meeting.
iPhone sex toys with Suki Dunham, founder of OhMiBod
This week we talk to Suki Dunham, cofounder of OhMiBod, a company that makes a line of iPhone and iPad controlled female pleasure products.
Suki used to work at Apple, where she learned a lot about product design, packaging and marketing, which she applies to her business selling high-tech vibrators.
So far so good
He's gone off on his own. Leaving behind Erfan and Buster. So far the interviews are good.
Great Stories & Fascinating Information re: Apple & Tech
I find these podcasts to be absolutely fascinating. So far, each show has given a glimpse, however brief, into the complicated world and back channels of how the Apple eco-system operates. This show acts as the informational plaques that describe each art piece in a museum which provide historical context and connect an otherwise arbitrary conversation piece to real people, emotions and events that we can relate to, making the devices in our pockets, more than just soldered silicon and glass. I hope the show continues. I'll even subscribe to Tunnel Bear if I have to.
Podcast was Interesting but...
I liked the interview, but it would keep cutting out and when I tried to get back to where it was, it would start all over again and then I would have to try to find where they were in the interview.
Also, Leander talks too fast.
The information was good, so that made up for the problems with the podcast.