David Gelphman's Blog


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Save PDF to iBooks

New in iOS 9 is the ability to save web pages as a PDF document to iBooks. It is a feature that is near and dear to my heart, in part because it is the last major feature I worked on at Apple before I left in early 2013.

What users of iOS 9 may notice is that Safari offers a new item in the Share Sheet: “Save PDF to iBooks”. They may think of this as a Safari specific feature.

iOS 9 Share Sheet

 

But the Photos app also allows this, as will every iOS app that presents printing using the iOS “Share Sheet” (in iOS programming parlance, using an ActivityViewController). If an app can print via the Share Sheet then “Save PDF to iBooks” automatically appears as well.

During my career at Apple I worked primarily on the printing subsystems of Mac OS X and iOS. Much of that work was on the software plumbing needed for users to print on paper. But a portion of that work was enabling the ability to produce a PDF file corresponding to what otherwise would have been printed output. Save as PDF from the print dialog was part of OS X since version 10.0 shipped in 2001.

When creating the printing system for iOS, allowing for the ability to create a PDF reproduction of the results of printing was a goal of the design from the beginning. To me it seemed almost more important to allow users to capture content to store on their device to take with them (or email or whatever) than it was to produce pieces of paper. The design of the printing system allowed for it but the user facing feature was left out. So in the summer of 2012 I worked on an early implementation of what is now shipping. And I’m thrilled that it’s now out.

Executives at Apple talk about the desire to “surprise and delight our users”. Well I experienced that firsthand when I got a notification from Apple’s “Tips” app on my iPhone soon after updating to iOS 9. For me the (ironic) surprise was that the tips app was telling me about a feature that I worked on. And I was delighted to see that it was finally shipping. 

Save PDF to iBooks Tip

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Macintosh Then and Now (Updated)

I originally wrote this in January but thought I’d update it for the introduction of the first Retina iMac, especially since the original Mac and the Retina iMac are priced identically. It’s amazing to see how far the Macintosh hardware has come over the 30 1/2 years of its existence. 

Original Macintosh January 24, 1984

Single-core 8 MHz Processor, 16 bit Motorola 68000
128 KB RAM
9 inch, 1 bit per pixel, black and white CRT display, 512×342 pixels, 72 dpi
One 400 KB single-sided floppy drive
2 RS-422 ports
OS: Mac OS 1.0
Number of swaps to copy 1 floppy disk: 4
$2499 in 1984 dollars.

Retina iMac October 16, 2014

Quad-core 3500 MHz Processor, 64 bit Intel Core i5
AMD Radeon R9 M290X graphics processor with 2GB of GDDR5 memory
8,000,000 KB RAM
27 inch, 24 bits per pixel, color Retina LCD display, 5120×2880 pixels, approx 218 dpi
One 1,000,000,000 KB Hard Drive
4 USB 3 ports, 2 Thunderbolt 2 ports, 1 Gigabit Ethernet port, SDXC card slot, Bluetooth, Facetime HD camera
802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible
OS: Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite
Number of swaps to copy 1 floppy disk: huh?
$2,499 in 2014 dollars.

Not to mention how visually different the computers are today.

 


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The Day Before the World Changed

Apple Comm Meeting – June 28, 2007 – Town Hall, 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA

Comm meetings at Apple happen a couple of times a year, with no particular schedule. While I was at Apple the meetings consisted of Steve (and later, Tim Cook) talking about the most important company news at the time. After the planned remarks, the floor was opened up for questions and if Steve or Tim could not answer the question, the entire executive team was there to provide an answer.

But the Comm meeting on June 28, 2007 was different. This Comm meeting was being held the day before the first iPhone was going on sale. I didn’t work on the iPhone development team but I could see it was going to be a game changer. A lot of people could see that at the time. Now everybody can see that it was.

Take a moment to remember what smart phones were like before the iPhone was introduced. Here’s a still frame from the iPhone introduction at Macworld in January 2007. Today’s world of mobile phones bears no resemblance to those of 2007.

Apple iPhone Intro

Town Hall at Apple’s Infinite Loop campus is a small auditorium that was used as the locus for Apple’s Comm meetings. It was where the people running the meeting were located. But these events were for all employees and because the number of employees was numerous and people were spread across multiple sites, there were a number of remote viewing locations on Apple’s campuses in Cupertino as well as other places in the world. Town Hall holds only about 300 people so essentially everyone watched the Comm meetings from one of many remote locations on various Apple campuses where it was broadcast in real time. Typically I would go to Caffé Macs which could hold a large number of people.

For this Comm meeting I wanted to be inside of Town Hall rather than watching from one of the remote viewing sites. I wanted to be in the room. That meant going very early to get in line. Even after arriving probably 2 hours early it was still hard to get in but Bunny Laden, Howard Miller, and I managed to get seats at the back of the auditorium. We’d made it in.

The buzz in the room was extreme. Steve’s arrival on stage was met with huge applause. He looked triumphant. I don’t remember a lot of details about what was said but mostly remember just the feeling of excitement about what was to come.

One big moment was when Steve announced that Apple was going to give an iPhone to every Apple employee. The excitement that was already present went up tenfold as everyone leapt out of their seats into a huge standing ovation that lasted quite a while. The cheers and yelling got even louder when Steve said that it would be the (larger) 8 GB capacity iPhone we would all be getting.

During the Q&A portion a lot of people in the audience had questions. After one or two questions about the iPhone, someone asked about something that had nothing to do with the iPhone or the whole point of the meeting. Steve was taken aback. The next question was similarly irrelevant to the meeting at hand. Annoyed, Steve answered that question with something like: “Today isn’t the day to talk about that. Today is the day to reflect on what we’ve done and what is going to happen.” THAT was why I wanted to be in that room. To hear him talk and reflect about what the team had done and what was going to happen.

If you are reading this blog, the chances are great that if you pull your phone out of your purse or pocket and look at it, you’ll see something like mine. If it isn’t an iPhone it almost certainly looks more like an iPhone than one of those phones Steve waved at during the iPhone introduction at Macworld.

Apple iPhone 5 transparent small

Of course every day is the day before the world changed because the world is constantly changing. But the feeling of anticipation and excitement I had about the future of technology that day was unlike any other I had while working at Apple. On the day before the world changed.