Archive for the 'iPhone' Category

01
May
10

Deja Vu

Recently. I’ve found the incessant screaming debate about and between Apple and its ban on the as-yet nonexistent mobile Flash player to be somewhat familiar. At first, I thought that it was just because its been going in since 2007 with the original iPhone announcement sans Flash. But no, we’ve had this exact same debate before, in the very recent past. In fact, its so recent, I’m surprised that it took this long for anyone to bring it back up.

Flash isn’t the first major third-party format that Apple has refused to bundle with its mobile devices. Years ago, when the only iThing was the scrollwheel iPod, we had another debate that sounded pretty similar to the one we’re having today. All you have to do is take Flash and Adobe, and replace them with WMA and Microsoft. Oh, and you can replace wannabe iPhone Flash developers with Real, Napster, Sandisk, Rio and a host of other names that no one gives a shit about anymore.

Back in 2003-2006, there were a host of Microsoft-supported players and services that were based on WMA. In 2004, Microsoft introduced Plays for Sure with the promise that this huge ecosystem of devices, services and software would all, well, play for sure. The same people who today are complaining about Apple’s draconian control over its own platform are the same ones who were predicting that the iPod would suffer the same fate that the Mac did in the 90’s. (Ironically, these same people are now making the same prediction about iPhone OS devices vs Android, using the same flawed reasoning.)

Back then, there was a constant barrage of stories about how the iPod’s hardware could decode WMA, but Apple locked it down for their own (evil?) purposes. Or the fact that if some hapless Windows user ripped their CDs with Windows Media Player, they’d be confused and frustrated when they wouldn’t be able to transfer those tracks to their new iPod. Even though iTunes for Windows is able to transcode WMA files to MP3 or AAC. Of course, in 2006, Microsoft killed Plays for Sure when it introduced Zune, using Apple’s iPod (and later iPhone) model.

Oh, and about AAC. Did you know that it just isn’t that much better than WMA? Kinda sounds like the argument that HTML5 can’t replace Flash because it doesn’t do everything that Flash does. Of course those things involve stuff like slapping DRM on streaming video or installing spyware Flash cookies that advertisers can use to track you across multiple websites (and that you can’t remove or prevent without messing with the settings of a folder buried in your /Library folder. Something no normal user would ever even find out about, let alone do.)

Am I saying that the Flash/iPhone OS situation is exactly like the WMA/iPod issue? Of course not. But they are analogous. Both involve Apple exerting control over its platform in the face of intense pressure from industry and industry watchers. But then, as now, Apple argued that it was under no obligation to support its competitors’ technology at the expense of its own and of the open standards that it was supporting (MP3 and AAC then and HTML5, h.264 and Javascript now). Then, as now, people accused Apple of acting as a monopolist that should be forced to open up by the government, even though Apple has done nothing to prevent competitors from selling competing MP3 players.

The big difference between now and then is that the iPod was always an embedded device, whereas iPhone OS devices are computers. There wasn’t ever any real expectation that iPods would do anything other than media. The expectations of iPhones and iPads are much, much greater. I have to assume that most of these expectations are from a tiny minority of iPhone OS users, but they tend to be both vocal and influential.

I’m certain that Apple is eventually going to have to cede more of its control over the platform in the platform. In the meantime, Apple will be working to move the industry away from proprietary technology that it doesn’t control to open technology that no one controls.

Postscript

I’m not arguing that no one but Apple should have or use proprietary tech, or that Apple feels that way. Windows Phone 7 is completely proprietary to Microsoft, as is Blackberry OS to RIM, and the good parts of Android (and its web apps) are to Google. This is not a bad thing. I’m just arguing that its a good idea for any company to try to control its own destiny as much as possible. And that technologies that are cross-platform should not be owned by anyone, but controlled by everyone. Apple likes the web because it can do whatever it wants to advance the state of the art, and can adopt what others have done, at will. If this wasn’t so, then why would Apple ever have allowed such a powerful tool as WebKit into its competitors’ hands?

Adobe is as guilty of this as much as Apple, if not more so, since Apple isn’t dictating what Adobe should do with Flash, other than make it run well on Macs. People have questioned why Adobe cares so much about Flash, since it gives Flash player away for free, and makes all of its money on creative tools. Well, the answer for that should be obvious. Despite the claim that Flash is open, that’s not entirely true. Most of Flash is open, but one crucial part is not: DRM. No Flash player other than Adobe’s can use DRM Flash content. Guess who licenses that DRM to media companies? That’s right: Adobe.

Adobe desperately wants Flash on iThings so it can make money licensing Flash DRM to companies that want to stream protected video to those same iThings. I mean, how many sales of CS5 is Adobe really going to lose because Flash apps are now banned? This was never about anyone but Adobe.

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13
Apr
10

Opera Mini

I tried Opera Mini for about an hour yesterday and deleted it after. Despite what a lot of reviews say, its a terrible, terrible browser. I can only assume that the great reviews on the popular sites are only testing Opera on their own popular sites and other popular sites that already exist in Opera’s server cache.

The problem is, I like to go to many sites that aren’t very popular and aren’t caches by Opera. In these cases, OM renders much slower than Safari and it looks like shit. The text is illegible and the CSS is totally broken.

For example, here’s this blog in Safari:

IMG_0344.PNG

And again in Opera:

IMG_0343.PNG

Completely asstastic. I have no idea why people were excited about this trash. In addition to the horrible rendering, its clear that Opera isn’t a real iPhone app. It has serious usability issues beyond its primary function. When scrolling, there’s no momentum, no bounce at the ends and no bounce to the top when you tap the menu. These things are included for free in UITextviews or UIWebviews. That’s why the crap browser that you can put into any iPhone app after about ten minutes of work is better than Opera.

I can’t believe that Apple approved this for any reason other than to a) demonstrate just how good Safari really is and b) to remove one more thing that the blogtards can scream about. It certainly wasn’t for the quality or utility of the app.

02
Feb
10

Use Cases

There have been more than a few good and thoughtful articles about the iPad over the weekend (along with a lot of stupid garbage). I wasn’t planning on adding anything else until I actually got my hands on one, but something interesting happened: everyone asked me if they should get one. I remain the sole tech person for two extended families, so that question wasn’t as straightforward as one might think. This is why there are so many reactions to the iPad and why so many “alpha geeks” hate it and swear they’ll never buy one, and why there are so many who like it. The question lies entirely in how the individual uses their computer. For the sake of brevity, I’m just going to present the use cases of a few people and then my own.


My Fiance

Current Gear: My old 2002-era 12″ Powerbook, iPhone 3G, 80GB iPod Classic

That Powerbook is a hell of a workhorse. It got me through the end of college and two years into my first professional job until I got the first-gen Macbook Pro that I’m using now. Since I gave it to my fiance, she used it through grad school and wrote her 900+ page master’s thesis on it. Its still going, but its time to move on. I told to wait until the Core i5 Macbooks come out before upgrading.

Despite not being a power user in the traditional sense, when she’s working, she is most definitely a power user. She really has no use for an iPad that I can think of. When she’s working, she spreads out all of her reference materials around her, so a single e-reader really isn’t going to cut it. The rest of the time, she’s happy to either use her iPhone or just grab my laptop instead of digging hers out of its bag (since mine’s always out anyway).

Verdict: She doesn’t need (or want) an iPad.

My Mom

Current Gear: Last-gen 15″Powerbook G4, Original iPhone

I would tell my mom to get an iPad in a cold second if not for two things. First and foremost, she’s a writer. She writes every day and has two published novels, and is working on numbers three and four, as well as a screenplay. She also wants to start podcasting her novels and blogging. The iPad simply doesn’t have enough content creation chops yet to pull that off.

The other reason is that she’s learning the more geeky parts of computer use. While the whole point of the iPad is that its for people who don’t care to tinker, the fact that both my dad and myself are such tinkerers always made her feel a little left out. Since he died, she’s had to learn to figure things out, and every time she learns something new or fixes some problem, she feels great about it. She spent her entire adult life thinking that she was too dumb to use computers, but now she knows what we all do: We’re not dumb, computers are, and we need to beat them into shape. She’s really enjoying herself, and I’m not about to take that away from her.

Verdict: She needs a new computer right now, that Powerbook is ancient. She wants a new laptop, but I think a 21″ iMac would be a better fit. Maybe an iPad for Christmas…

The In-Laws

Current Gear: Original Macbook, Blackberry Curve, Moto dumbphone

Not only did I suggest that they get an iPad, I suggested that they each get one and just use the Macbook to sync them. They need to use email and the web, but simply aren’t that interested in using the computer. There really isn’t all that much to sync, either. They don’t have any videos, audiobooks, apps, or anything beyond a few hundred music files. A single 16GB WiFi-only iPad is almost overkill, let alone two. In fact, the only reason why I suggested two is so I can set up each one with their own email accounts and avoid that bit of confusion. Depending on how powerful the maps app is, they might even be able to use it to plan directions. Or just use the web app’s printable directions. Assuming that the iPad really is able to send print jobs, they would almost never need to use the Macbook at all beyond firmware updates.

Verdict: Hell yeah, get two!

There are others, like my brother who should get one or my fiance’s brother, who doesn’t need one. It really all depends on the usage. So, what about mine? Like I said, I like my workstation setup the same basic way wherever I am.

Like this:
IM002672.JPG

And this:
IM002744

And this:
My desk RM313

And so on.

Basically, I like using the Macbook Pro as my main screen and use the secondary display for supporting tasks, like Mail, Omnifocus, iTunes and Preview. The main display gets Safari, Excel, Pixelmator, Scrivener, Lightwave, Xcode and the like. While I might move stuff around in the process of working, that’s the basic setup. Even the shot with the microscope is like that. In that case, the main work was counting hundreds of vials, so the laptop became the secondary display.

I was at a coffee shop on Saturday, trying to get some work done. While I was waiting for our latte, Claudia moved our stuff from our first table to a better one by the window. She mentioned that by bag was pretty heavy, and you know what? She was right. My bag is pretty heavy. I have the MBP, a Wacom graphics tablet and a book. I really don’t need to carry the tablet around, but I realized that I could really use an iPad as my secondary display there. I actually have a lot of ebooks and pdf’s already, but moving my active windows out of the way is a real good way to destroy my workflow. I can use iBooks, Stanza, Papers as reference when I’m writing or coding, and I can use the Photos app for visual reference when I’m using Lightwave. Additionally, I can use the browser, email and whatever else on the iPad instead of the laptop. The question there is do I want the 3G version, or can I stick with WiFi only? I suppose that depends on whether or not I can get on AT&T’s WiFi network without buying a 3G plan. There are an assload of Starbucks in San Francisco, and it would keep some strain off the cell network, but I seriously doubt that it’ll work that way.

Anyway, there is no way that an iPad could be a laptop replacement for me. But as a portable second screen that will replace a bunch of heavy stuff in my bag? And all I need to carry is something like this?That’s tempting, very tempting. And that’s just for doing work on the run. Like I mentioned earlier, my laptop is pretty much always on and out. Sometimes that’s because I’m working, but a lot of times, its also just because I’m browsing the web. I don’t need my laptop for that. An iPad would be perfect for the times when I just want to sit back and read. Or when Claudia takes my laptop out of my hands again.

I don’t really understand all of the anger about the iPad. Once you think about it, there really is a niche for it. Its just that its a different niche for different people. For some people, there’s no need for it, for others, it really is a laptop replacement for other people, its a nifty supplement. For me, its both of those. I’m keeping my iPhone, I’m keeping my laptop (at least until I can get a Core i5!!!) and I’ll be using an iPad as my second monitor when I’m out and about.

26
Jan
10

The Tablet

So, tomorrow brings us The Tablet. The mythical gadget that people have been hyping for years, and more recently, losing their fucking minds over, is real. I don’t care. Really, I just don’t see the need for a 10″ tablet in my life. I’m only willing to accept the limitations of my iPhone (or any modern smartphone) because it lives in my pocket. Once I have to toss something in my bag, its competing with my 15″ Macbook Pro. I’m assuming that those laptops are going to be upgraded with Core i5 chips soon, so that’s some serious competition for my money.

But I’m not here to sit back and chuckle smugly at the Appletards who’re going to be lining up to buy this thing. Quite the contrary. I’ll be following the liveblogs and am fully prepared to be blown away. I just don’t see the need right now. The thing that I’m excited about is the software. Tablets have been around forever. There’s not going to be anything surprising about Apple’s hardware. It’ll look slick as hell, probably have an iPod dock connector and probably have the first PA Semi silicon. Its not going to run Mac OS X. Microsoft has done that for years and it sucks. Its not going to run the iPhone OS, because its not a one-handed device. So logic dictates that it will be something in between. The fact that the top Apple execs are openly talking about how great it is leads me to believe that its going to be damn good.

Like other people, I’m pretty sure that the Tablet OS is going to be more iPhone than Mac. What has me more excited is the fact that Apple doesn’t like to duplicate effort, which means that a lot the Tablet OS is going to make its way into the iPhone OS. I’ve been complaining about the philosophy of the iPhone OS since at least 2.0. I have 117 apps sitting in iTunes (but many of those aren’t installed on my phone). If an app is beyond the second homescreen, I just search for it. Likewise, if a contact isn’t in my favorites list, I search. Its just not worth expending the mental effort to recall where all this crap is. Having an app-centric homescreen is no longer tenable. The homescreen needs to be favorite-centric with the apps moved to their own area. Android gets this very, very right. I don’t use more than 10 or so apps on a daily basis. Likewise, I don’t call more than 3 numbers daily (and only have nine favorites). I want these to live in my homescreen, everything else can live in a searchable database elsewhere.

The same is true for notifications. Modal notifications suck. You can only see one at a time, and only the most recent one. They interrupt what I’m doing and force me to ignore them or leave my current app to take care of them. There’s no way around it, and Apple must know it. Android has a much better way of dealing with notifications with its shelf. WebOS has an even better implementation than Android’s. Both the iPhone and Tablet OS’s need multitasking. The Tablet is not going to get away with running one full screen app at a time, especially with the hardware that I suspect its going to be sporting. Honestly, the same is true of the iPhone. Apple’s rationale of battery life and memory doesn’t really hold water with the 3GS. I’ve been running Backgrounder and Pro Switcher on my 3GS for months now and I have to say that having Tweetie, Instapaper, GV Mobile and whatever doesn’t harm the battery. In fact, the thing that was impacting my battery the most was push Gmail. When I went back to regular IMAP, I was shocked at how much that positively impacted my daily battery life. As much as that says about Google’s inability to run a mobile push server, it says that much more for the 3GS to have backgrounding turned on.

Make no mistake: the 3GS has the hardware chops to run full, native backgrounding.

With that being said, both the iPhone and Tablet need a graceful and intuitive way to kill apps. While I’m at it, neither OS should allow third party apps to run in the background in the first place without being explicitly told to do so by the user. Not everything needs to run in the background all the time, or even at all. Palm has a really good thing going in WebOS with the card metaphor. Pro Switcher stole the idea and it works really well.

So, yeah, that’s really all I want out of tomorrow: a useful homescreen, backgrounding added to the SDK and a non-shitty notification system. I won’t mind if Steve blows my fucking mind with the MOST IMPORTANT THING HE’S EVER DONE, but that would just be gravy.

On the other hand, if Apple releases a Core i5 Macbook Pro with Lightpeak wrapped with hookers and blow as one more thing…

13
Dec
09

iPhone Syndrome

Updated to add the original link, fix some spelling and grammar errors and because the 3GS has a 3mp sensor, not a 5mp. Not that it changes my point.

This was yet another stupid story that made the blogosphere rounds yesterday, and which I really couldn’t be bothered to spend any time on, since I figured that it was the same Apple-users-are-all-cultists bullshit that people like to run for link bait. But John Dowdell over at Adobe couldn’t resist chiming in and adding his own two cents. Since the idea of jd accusing anyone else of suffering from Stockholm is the height of irony, I just had to check it out.

Predictably, it was a pile of horseshit pondering all the same complaints that people have had about the iPhone since it was announced. The only novelty is that iPhone users now have a psychological disorder and Apple gets a free ride in the press. Right.

Anyway, here is their list with my answers.

1. The first iPhone was not a 3G phone: What do you need 3G for? You can easily use the iPhone without using a 3G network and anyway, 3G is not particularly widespread, so this is not a problem.

Actually the first iPhone didn’t have 3G because the 3G chipsets available were massive battery hogs. Network speed was sacrificed for battery life. This isn’t a secret, Steve Jobs said as much in the intro. No one liked EDGE or thought it was better than 3G and everyone was expecting a 3G version.

2. The phone cannot send MMS: There is no need to send MMSs, hardly anybody sends MMSs.

MMS is inferior to email and is primarily used by phones with shit cameras and no real data connections. Can you send multiple full resolution 3mp5mp images via MMS? Yeah, didn’t think so.

3. You cannot forward a SMS: This is a function that hardly anybody uses and was therefore not included in the first iPhones.

So what? It was added in one of the first OS updates. If it was such a dealbreaker for anyone, they shouldn’t have bought it. I’ve never forwarded an SMS and really only use it at all with people who don’t have push email on their phones.

4. The phone has a poor camera: The built-in camera is perfectly adequate and the iPhone takes fantastic photos with its camera.

It is adequate. If you can take decent photos with it, it’s adequate. It’s not a GREAT camera, but I don’t think anyone outside of Apple’s marketing claimed otherwise. Anyway, the best camera is the one you have with you.

5. It is not a real Smartphone, it cannot multitask: The phone has all the necessary functions and the OS is technically superior compared to other Smartphone OSs currently on the mobile market.

Again, the iPhone has always been capable of multitasking. The phone, safari and iPod apps all work in the background, as do a bunch of unix daemons. Apple has just refused to open third party apps to background rights so far. It is widely expected that Apple will do so in the future, possibly as soon as iPhone OS 4, if only to deny the competition a bullet point. Do people actually like the fact that the Pre has trouble answering calls in time due to its multitasking model?

6. The iPhone cannot multitask, resulting in a great number of applications being unusable: The absence of multitasking is a deliberate design decision resulting in a faster UI.

See my point above. If you honestly think that the iPhone can’t multitask, then you’re a moron. My jailbroken iPhone has Backgrounder on it that uses a private API that allows apps of my choosing to run in the background. This has a cost in both stability and battery life, but it works. So yes, it was a deliberate choice on Apple’s part, not a technical limitation of the platform.

7. You can not change battery on the iPhone: How many customers run around with spare batteries? None or very few.

Again with the battery argument? Its not just “very few” people who swap batteries on a regular basis, its “almost no one.” Even some analysts who were complaining about that admitted that they don’t swap batteries. Its simply a non-issue. The only time I ever had to swap batteries was because it died, I had to swap the sim card or to do a hard reset because it ate shit. None of those have been a problem with my iPhone or that of anyone I know.

8. Apple decides which applications you can install on the phone: This is good, because Apple thereby ensures that you do not get inferior programs on your phone.

There have already been instances of apps being removed from the store because they steal contacts or are otherwise malicious. Apple has a point here.

9. The app store is a closed universe: Apple knows what is best for end users, which is good for the many iPhone users.

The App Store has been an amazing success, both for customers and developers. Before the App Store, mobile apps were poor quality, expensive and buggy. The App Store has a lot of problems, not the least of which is Apple’s opacity and inconsistency. There is a lot to improve, but the idea is a good one. Opening the phone to side loading is something that a lot of people would like to see, but not too likely to happen.

10. The phone does not support Java, so games need to be developed especially for the iPhone: Java is slow and not properly integrated with mobile phones, games for the iPhone are much better because they are directly developed for the iPhone.

Fuck Java. Are you seriously bitching about the lack of shitty Java apps on the iPhone? Java is slow, because Java apps require a JVM to run. That’s a Java Virtual Machine, running on a mobile device. Why do you think that Sun developed a mobile version of Java? As opposed to Cocoa Touch, which runs native, compiled code that’s optimized for the platform. There’s a reason why people refer to Java’s promise of “Write once, run everywhere” as “Write once, debug everywhere.”

Oh, and fuck Flash too. Flash is a buggy piece of shit that runs like ass on anything that isn’t IE on Windows. And since goons like Dowdell feel that minority platforms like OS X and Linux with their “inferior” browsers aren’t worth their time, Flash will continue to suck. Remember that video that Adobe put out demoing Flash on the Pre? Notice how the Pre’s battery went to shit? Think catching a couple of videos is worth that?I don’t. There’s a reason why Apple blocks non-cocoa or webkit code interpreters.

11. The app store contains numerous small trivial commercial programs: The app store’s large selection gives users the freedom of choice and the many small programs help make the end users daily lives more fun.

Small trivial commercial apps? How exactly is that a problem? Considering that the big advantage that Windows has over the Mac is games, this strikes me as a bit insane. The App Store also has non-trivial apps and big games. There’s a reason why the store has categories like games, productivity, utilities, health, business among many others. How exactly does the presence of paid fart apps detract from the platform? I haven’t purchased one, and the fact that they exist doesn’t affect my experience at all.

I mean seriously, what exactly is the problem here?

12. It is difficult to use the touchscreen for fast SMS messaging: The touchscreen makes the phone easier to use and you quickly get used to it.

I wrote this entire post on my iPhone, using the Squarespace app. No mobile keyboard is as good as a fullsize keyboard. There are people who need a physical keyboard and there are those that don’t. The only right approach is the one that works for you. Arguing that just because you can’t type fast or well on an iPhone, no one can, well I call bullshit. I type pretty damn fast and use both thumbs and using Blackberries hurts my thumbs. And the Droid’s keyboard is unusable unless you look at it. And the Pre’s keyboard is too small for me. I could go on. No keyboard is perfect and every keyboard is unusable for someone.

13. The iPhone is a low technology phone packaged in a sleek design: Apple has taken the combination of the design and UI to the next level, therefore the technological specifications don’t really matter.

Low tech? How exactly is the iPhone low tech? Every Android phone except the Droid is using the same processor as the original iPhone from 2007. Every smartphone that isn’t from Apple, Palm or a Nokia N-series has 256-512MB of built-in storage and relies on micro sd cards for expansion. That’s a bug, not a feature. You can only install apps in the built-in memory, not on the sd card. Seeing as how I have 1.5GB of apps installed with more siting in iTunes that I’m not using, I fail to see how Apple’s approach is low tech. Additionally, the iPhone 3GS that I’m using has the most powerful ARM processor available, which is shared only by the Pre, the Droid and the N900. (The Snapdragon has a higher clockspeed, but is an older architecture than the Cortex A8.)

The iPhone was the first to ship with a multitouch capacitive glass display. Every touchscreen device previous used a plastic resistive display. Its soft keyboard is still best of class, as is its browser, which pioneered real mobile web browsing. Please, please tell me how much better Blazer or Pocket IE were than Safari. Even better, tell me how much better they are now.

What exactly about any model iPhone is low tech? Other devices might have better specs here and there, but when it comes to the total package, none of them came close. Its only now that devices are providing similar experiences.

14. The quality of the phone is poor, calls are often interrupted and network coverage is poor: It is a good phone, these problems are due to the operators’ networks and not the phone.

Apple doesn’t run any cellular networks, it builds the phone. Carriers that are not AT&T do not share AT&T’s limitations. AT&T is the only major carrier to not include MMS at launch and the only to not allow tethering. The iPhone has average call quality, which is not helped by the weakness of AT&T’s network.

15. You can only purchase the iPhone from operators chosen by Apple: Apple has spent a great deal of time and energy selecting the best operators for customers.

Um, welcome to the cell phone industry. Usually, its the carrier dictating which devices it carries, and what features and software it runs. Again, in countries that are not the US, the iPhone runs on multiple carriers. The only real requirement is that the carrier have a compatible GSM network and be willing to do business Apple’s way. Verizon and Sprint don’t operate GSM networks and T-Mobile uses an oddball frequency. There will not be an iPhone on Verizon until they use a global GSM standard.

Tell me, there are GSM Droids and Pres in existence. Why are they not available on AT&T?Why is it bad for Apple to do exclusive deals, but not Palm or Motorola?

16. The iPhone is targeted at a niche segment and will not be able to develop further: Apple has succeeded in designing a phone for people that appreciate design and user friendliness.

I don’t really understand this one. The iPhone opened smartphones to the mass market. Apple is selling more year over year. The niche that Apple is targeting is the one that is willing to pay for data plans or willing to pay for an iPod Touch.

Who really thinks that Apple has hit the peak of the iPhone market? Surely there must be some data to back that up, right?

17. The iPhone does not support memory cards: Iphones already offer the necessary memory people require and end users can choose between two models, one with a little memory and one with a great deal of memory.

16GB is a little memory? In what reality? A 16GB micro sdhc card costs at least $40 and can’t have apps installed on it. SD cards are a crutch that hobbled devices that can’t be bothered to include enough built in memory.

18. You can not install your own browser: The browser Apple has designed is so superior that you do not need any other browser on your phone.

Mobile Safari is the best mobile browser on the market. This has been confirmed several times by various sources. You can get webkit-based browsers on the App Store today, so that argument is total bullshit. But what about other browsers? What, like Opera or Fennec or IE? Compared to webkit, opera (the real opera that actually does its own rendering) is really slow. Fennec isn’t a real product yet, and IE? What a fucking joke. There’s a reason why Safari, WebOS, Android and soon Blackberry all use webkit.

So the real complaint is that there’s no competition for webkit. Well, that’s really on Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera then, isn’t it?

19. You cannot use the iPhone as a modem for your portable PC: People that have an iPhone do not need their portable when on the move.

Um, actually, you can. That was one of the big features of OS 3, remember? The fact that AT&T still doesn’t allow it is a source of constant complaints. Its just that rational people know to complain about AT&T, not Apple. The fact is, the iPhone can tether right now and does with useful carriers and even with AT&T using hacks.

20. There is no radio in the phone: You do not need a radio in your iPhone because the iPhone supports iTunes that offers almost unlimited music.

Yeah, the radio on the zune really helped it kick the ipod’s ass. Yeah, there’s no FM radio in the iPhone. There’s a simple reason why Apple gets away with that. Its because no one cares. Radio has the advantages of shitty reception, DJ’s who never shut the fuck up and lots and lots of commercials. (Commercial) Radio sucks and you know it. Hell, you can even get NPR, Democracy Now! and all sorts of radio and tv shows as free podcasts or iPhone apps. The inability to recurve terrestrial FM is clearly not an issue. Besides, how many smartphones have FM radios, and for those that do, how much use do they get?

There are many arguments for and against the iPhone, on the other hand there is no doubt that Apple has some of the most loyal end users on the market and that iPhone users will go out of their way to defend the phone they love and worship.

Love and worship? Fuck, will we ever be free of the myth of the Apple cultist? People like their iPhones because they’re actually very good devices with a great interface. People who live in Google’s ecosystem might be better served using Android, and Blackberries work great when your company uses BIS for its email.

There’s not really any need to defend either Apple or the iPhone. Both are clearly doing well on their own. The thing that really gets me is this notion that anyone who uses one and likes it is somehow delusional or mind controlled by Steve Jobs. Its not perfect, but imperfection is clearly not the same as being bad.

The Droid lets you run Google Voice out of the box, but it scrolls like shit and can be seriously unresponsive. The much-vaunted Android Gmail app is slow and has to use the menu button to do all sorts of tasks that the iPhone’s Mail app handles more smoothly through use of its toolbars.

There are many similarities to the Stockholm Syndrome and from an outside perspective there is little doubt that many mobile phone manufacturers are most probably envious of the users on Apple’s platform.

Somehow I doubt that this was written by any sort of qualified professional.

In reality the iPhone is surrounded by a multitude of people, media and companies that are happy to bend the truth to defend the product they have purchased from Apple.

Where exactly is this Apple-worshipping media?Everyone, including Apple blogs, is critical of Apple’s handling of the App Store and AT&T (well, not this guy, but macmacs can blog too). The problem is that there are so many people, like whoever wrote this shit, or jd or Enderle or whomever that write blatant lies and stupid shit. There’s a reason why the Angry Mac Bastards have so much material to work with every week. This guy seems to have confused “truth” with ” shit I wish was true.” Notice there were no sources given ever, for any of his points, especially for his armchair psychological diagnoses.

There are indeed many similarities between the Stockholm Syndrome http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome and what we have taken the liberty to start calling the “iPhone Syndrome”

No, there aren’t. Unless you were taken hostage by an evil iPhone, which case you have bigger problems.

– and if you are one of the many other phone manufacturers: Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG, HTC etc., you will most probably be very envious of the euphoria that Apple has invoked in their customers

Here’s a hint to those manufacturers: make great hardware tightly integrated with great software. Make an awesome user experience. HTC is getting there. Their hardware is really good, Android is still pretty rough, at least compared to the iPhone.

08
Sep
09

Fights With MacMacs

Earlier I made the mistake of commenting (negatively) on a RoughlyDrafted.com post here. I’m not innocent here as I flame-baited the thread by linking to John Welch’s immensely entertaining takedown here. Dilgar seemed to be getting a bit defensive, so when I posted my own comment here, he got all pissy about it.

I’m posting my response not because I feel wronged or offended, I just wanted to share the stupid, especially when it comes from a real-life Artie McStrawman.

[Disclaimer]

I am not an IT goon and have neither an Exchange server nor a Snow Leopard server lying around to play with, so my response is written from the perspective of a knowledgeable user. You have been warned.

[/Disclaimer]

I think your perspective has been contaminated by the vitriolic strawman attacks posted by John C. Welch in his franticly unprofessional frustration outlet known as Bynkii.com.

Just because you think it doesn’t make it so.

When you say “the idea that MobileMe is a credible Exchange alternative is a joke,” where did you get the impression that I wrote of MobileMe as a drop in replacement for the majority of Exchange shops?

When you wrote this: “With Snow Leopard and the iPhone each now providing their own client layer for accessing Exchange Server, Apple can now offer its users alternative access to other server products as well, from its own MobileMe and Snow Leopard Server offerings to web services from Google and Yahoo. This effectively turns Microsoft from a direct seller into a wholesaler that has to deal with Apple as a middleman retailer.”

That very strongly implies that Exchange and MM are in direct competition. While SL Server is a more credible drop-in replacement/alternative to Exchange, MM is most certainly not. MM is just that: all about me. It has no groupware functionality at all, even between members of a family plan. In order to share calendars, I had to build a hack that goes through Google calendar and BusyCal, which requires at least one of our Macs to be on to sync everything. Its an ugly solution for something that should be built-in, especially considering how easy it is to share calendars using Google. If it wasn’t for the fact that Google tends to mangle my contacts, I would seriously be considering dropping my MM.

Your next line, “The fact is that MobileMe is and always has been a consumer solution, and Apple has always billed it as such (Remember “Exchange for the rest of us”?)” is correct, and harmonizes with what I did write, that MobileMe offers an Exchange alternative for “us,” that is users who don’t need or want to spend $25,000 on an entry level Exchange infrastructure.

Then why compare them? As if a $25k solution is in the same ballpark as a $100 one. An apples to apples comparison should be Exchange vs SL Server and/or MM vs Live/MyPhone vs Google. Exchange is not a consumer product and MM isn’t for business (or even for groups). They’re totally different markets with different needs. If there’s any confusion on my part, its the fact that you weren’t clear about the distinction between them.

The problem with reading delusional, fact bending, strawman burning, poop flinging rants like those published by Welch is that you end up repeating talking points that have no connection to the discussion at hand. You might as well sit in front of an AM radio spewing lather about death panels, Kenyan birth certificate forgeries, and how public insurance will turn the USA into Nazi Germany.

Frankly, I don’t even want to address the knuckle dragging, sexualized fantasies Welch manages to inject in every rage tantrum he writes, even if they might include random jabs as me.

His point, that there is only one market on earth, and only one problem solved by one solution, is so simple minded that it doesn’t deserve discussion. Apple is rapidly selling its services to users who don’t need Exchange. Nobody is suggesting that Exchange Server installations are directly competing against MM or SL Server, any more than FileMaker Pro is pitted against Oracle or SQL Server. There’s still a big market for FM Pro.

OK, exactly which of his “talking points” did I mindlessly repeat. He brought up some very specific technical inaccuracies which you failed to address. I pointed out the obvious (and non-conspiracy theory) reason why MS would license Exchange to Apple (and Google) and mentioned my personal experience with MM and connecting a SL Mac to an old Exchange account. Neither Welch nor I insinuated that there’s only one email market, but there two markets that use Exchange: Big organizations and SMB. MM is a poor solution for either one. Its that market that uses Exchange, and since you were comparing it to MM, the logical conclusion is that you were mentioning those markets.

Also, for the AM-radio crack: fuck you. Using flowery language to hurl your shit doesn’t make it smell any better.

In the mobile market, MM offers a superior alternative for anyone who wants a personal account that provides desktop/mobile sync and push messaging, and lacks a connection to a huge corporation that has invested millions in building an Exchange infrastructure.

Clearly, but that’s like being surprised that the sky is blue. (Although, I’ve lived in SF long enough to know that it is a pleasant surprise when there’s a blue sky, but you get the point.) Again, no one uses Exchange who isn’t using it for business, so why bring it up? Consumers use Yahoo, Hotmail/Live and Gmail or their ISP for email. So yeah, if you want the features that MM offers, its a good value, but that’s hardly worthy of analysis.

Microsoft has a very strong position in corporate messaging, but it isn’t making much headway in mobile messaging, thanks in part to the failure of Windows Mobile. RIM has eaten up Microsoft’s business prospects in the mobile push messaging arena. That’s why Microsoft is desperate to associate the iPhone with Exchange. It’s also happy to have SL apps working with Exchange.

I don’t know what you mean here. If you’re talking about BES, then we’re still on Exchange. If you’re talking about EWS, then we’re STILL on Exchange, but including WinMo, iPhone, Pre, Symbian and HTC Android builds. Basically every non-BB smartphone and a bunch of dumbphones. MS isn’t doing nearly as much work to integrate the iPhone and OS X with Exchange as Apple is. Apple has far more to gain from the proposition than MS does. Again, we’re dealing with entirely different divisions of MS here. Exchange cares about Exchange, not WinMo.

Will SL apps help Microsoft sell upgrades to the now two year old, current version of Exchange? It doesn’t matter if it does. Mac users who think Apple should have made SL apps support old versions of Exchange dating back to 2003 or 2000 are simply pinning the problem on the wrong vendor. It’s Microsoft that has changed its strategy and API enough to leave Apple with less than ideal options.

The new Outlook for Mac will likely also use EWS, as even Microsoft sees MAPI as a pile of old spaghetti code.

SL is not at all likely to get companies to upgrade their Exchange servers, which as you like to point out, is a very expensive undertaking. I also don’t think that either Apple or MS is to “blame” for anything. Clearly, MS is going to be using its own new standard for upcoming products. Whether or not Outlook 2010 will be backwards-compatible remains to be seen. Also, MS now isn’t allowed to break from the past or update their API’s? I thought we all wanted MS to embrace the future (or at least the recent past). That’s why people are still bitching about Win7 still having the registry, etc. Apple building its own apps to connect to other people’s services is nothing new. Office for the Mac has been shitty for years, but MS screwed Apple over by switching to something new? Something Apple likes to do itself quite a bit, BTW. Color me unconvinced.

Apple is adding Exchange support to SL to increase the visibility of Macs and bypass the third rate clients Microsoft has provided Mac users. The fact that Microsoft keeps moving its own goalposts in terms of the latest Exchange features is no surprise. It’s not Apple’s goal to beat Microsoft at its own game. Look at how unwinnable that has been for WINE, OpenOffice, or any other attempt to clone Microsoft’s proprietary protocols.

Which is why Apple licensed it. The reason why all of those projects suffer from such high levels of suck is because they have a religious devotion to the GPL that Apple doesn’t share. Updating their software with new features is hardly “moving the goalposts,” especially since this is the first time that Apple has offered this level of integration.

As I pointed out, Apple’s goal is to offer workable Exchange support while focusing on delivering products targeted to its own customer base, sharing much of the investments made. Apple isn’t trying to make SL apps on par with Outlook, it’s making its own MobileMe and SL Server on par with its own support for Exchange, enabling and encouraging Mac users to switch to Apple’s own offerings wherever possible.

But you were talking about MM in comparison to Exchange. Users don’t use Exchange or SL Server, they use Outlook, Entourage or Mail.app. Mac users aren’t going to switch from Exchange to SL Server; that’s generally not a decision they get to make. MM exists in parallel to Exchange. It offers value for an individual similar to what one gets from Exchange, but since one generally uses Exchange for work and MM for personal stuff, there is little room for overlap or “switching.”

If you doubt that, come back in 5 years and tell me how MobileMe compares to MyPhone or whatever Microsoft is offering for its dwindling Windows Mobile platform. Then tell me how much progress Exchange has made in expanding its market share compared to SL Server. Exchange will certainly still be making Microsoft money, and more money that Apple makes in the enterprise by some factor of ten, but Apple isn’t about winning dominance, it’s about making a better product. And for many Mac users, MM is a superior alternative to running their own Exchange Server.

You’re asking me to predict what an Apple service will look like in 5 years? I can say pretty confidently that MM will still be a consumer product and will not be a viable replacement for Exchange. And since MM is already superior to MyPhone/Live (even though both have features that the other lacks), I don’t know what point you’re trying to make here. As for the progress part, I think you got turned around. Its Apple that needs to catch up to MS. Apple is adding features to OS X server that make it more enterprise friendly, but here Apple’s solutions are immature. I have no doubt that Apple will continue to improve OS X server, but MS’s services are robust and mature already. Hell, Apple HAD to use EWS for the iPhone, since OS X server only gained the ability to remotely manage iPhones with SL. Its nice that Apple finally supports its own product that’s been on the market for more than two years, isn’t it?

14
Mar
09

Wither iPhone OS 3?

OK, so Apple’s going to lift its skirt on Tuesday and show us all what its been working on since last year. For most people, this is basically non-news. The chance of Apple releasing anything that you can buy or even use outside of a development environment is basically zero. For me, as a daily and enthusiastic user (and wannabe developer), this announcement will provide me with endless drool-worthiness that will consume my every waking thought until I can get my grubby hands on new hardware come June.

Or something like that…

In all seriousness, this event is interesting simply because we’ll get to see where the iPhone is headed for the future (or next year or so, until Apple changes again). While that’s all well and good, but the real fun is with the fact-free speculation! I am clearly not above, as might be inferred by my woefully inaccurate Macworld 2009 prediction (most of which eventually came true, as of last week’s refreshes, so there!) so I’ll stick my neck out again.

BGR has said that the big news will be MMS and tethering, neither of which I care about, so if that’s the extent, I’ll be wanting that hour of my life back. Luckily, I seem to have a bigger imagination than BGR, so I think that the big news will be a UI overhaul, which includes better app management, greater use of background processes and real resolution independence. These three things combined make for a much stronger and larger iPhone OS ecosystem.

I have 62(!) apps that I downloaded from the App Store, plus the default apps that can’t be removed plus a couple of jailbreak apps (Qik and Winterboard) all spread out over seven pages and the dock. I have made some attempts at organization, but I find myself flicking between app pages way too often, and its gotten irritating. I don’t know what the best approach to app management on the iPhone is, but I do know that this ain’t it.

I’m expecting that the iPhone v.3 hardware, unlike the iPhone 3G, will have some significant upgrades. Newer, better SoC, more efficient, more storage flash RAM, but most importantly, more RAM. More than anything else, the limited 128MB of RAM in the iPhone (EDGE and 3G) is the limiting factor. I wanted an iPhone 3G until I realized that its guts were basically the same as the original. It was basically a 2008 phone using 2007 hardware. I figured that Apple would have to do a hardware update every year, so a two-year upgrade cycle should work for me.

I don’t think there’s any way that the v.3 iPhone won’t have significantly more horsepower to throw at the OS. Clearly, looking at the hardware that’s in the Pre, that 2009 vintage smartphones are significantly more capable than 2007 phones. Or, let me put it this way: if Palm was under the same constraints that Apple was under when it was developing the iPhone, the Pre wouldn’t have been possible. This should go without saying, especially when you compare what Palm was shipping when the iPhone shipped to the iPhone or the Pre. There’s such a difference between the Pre and the Treo 750 or 680 that the only thing that gives you any indication that they were made by the same company is the logo is the same on both.

Apple has now had two years of real-world experience of how to interact with a mobile platform and how to tweak hardware to the limits of its capabilities. I’m hoping that Apple grows the iPhone’s anemic RA from 128MB to at least 512MB or, even better, a gig. I think that lots and lots of RAM is essential for a good mobile experience. Of course the CPU, which may or may not be a new PA Semi design will be more efficient and sip less juice, probably have better antennas and there’ll be more flash memory. All of this is good, but the memory’s the key. I think we’ll know for sure if true background processes are in the new SDK.

The Pre has a great UI and an interesting paradigm. Clearly, Apple is not going to blatantly rip off Palm’s UI, but there are some really good ideas there. The really interesting thing is one that won’t have an immediate payoff: resolution independence.

Currently, the iPhone’s UI is based on bitmapped images. This assumes that the iPhone’s screen will be the same size and resolution. I’m also assuming that the v.3 will have the same size screen, if only because the iPhone has to remain pocketable. It can, however, have a higher resolution screen. A resolution-independent SDK allows Apple to do this without breaking third-party apps. Just like how Apple held its original SDK event in order to give developers enough time to populate the App Store when it launched, Apple again needs to give developers time to update their apps to take advantage of the new features. Apple has updated the original SDK several times since it was announced and since the App Store went live, usually with no announcement. By making such a big deal about the 3.0 OS and SDK, Apple is putting developers on notice by making sure that every iPhone user will be aware of the new features and will be demanding them when 3.0 goes live. If the iPhone OS goes resolution-independent with version 3.0, you can bet that there will be an Apple tablet this year, and it will be running on the iPhone OS, not Mac OS X.