It’s hard to even think of a witty way to start this post. I can try to seem restraint about my enthusiasm or I can shower Apple with joy. I don’t really want to do either but the fact is that I’m overwhelmingly satisfied with this year’s showing by Apple at WWDC. Three pieces of software were shown that are either game changers or major improvements to existing products. OS X Lion is a wonderful refinement to the venerable OS. iOS 5 takes the fight back to Android (and wins). iCloud is the first cloud service I really, really want. Let’s jump in. Continue Reading
This morning, Apple uncharacteristically pre-announced the oft-rumored “iCloud” service – a new cloud-based syncing and media streaming system run through MobileMe. Apple will fully unveil the technology at WWDC. Why the company has announced this service instead of surprising an audience at WWDC is a mystery, but I can imagine it frees up more time for iOS and OS X Lion. In the meantime until WWDC on June 6th, speculation is at a fever pitch about what the new service will offer.
iCloud’s most hoped for feature will be a cloud-based music player. Many media outlets report that Apple has inked contracts will all the major music labels to allow for their content to float on Apple’s servers and be dished up on demand. Hopefully, Apple will allow users to mirror their iTunes library onto their “iCloud” account and access their music on the go. From that service users can listen to or download new music to their mobile devices. That alone would be a great new feature for iTunes, since currently swapping music on my iDevices is an arduous process of syncing up the entire phone. If this could be done anywhere on a Wi-Fi or 3G signal, swapping in a new album would be far more pleasant of an experience. Apparently Apple is also scrambling to get movies and TV shows on board too, though that may be a later release and not operate on 3G networks. Either way, having a cloud music streaming service backed by the impressive library of iTunes would be a major blow to Google’s Music Beta program.
Media streaming is not the only feature of iCloud though. Rumors also indicated that the service will integrate with MobileMe, allowing for wireless syncing of calendars, contacts, and email between your phone, the MobileMe service, and possibly your home computer. I’m hoping that the service will also allow applications to be synced back to your computer through the cloud, or at least tell your computer to download new applications that you’ve put on your phone or iPad. This wireless sync is a major part of what I want in iOS 5 and would make backing up and adding data to your phone are far faster and more pleasant experience. Course this is only speculation as of now. We’ll wait until WWDC to get all the goodies on iCloud plus iOS 5 and OS X Lion. It’s gonna be a big day.
So we’ve talked about iOS 5 and the features I feel it needs to compete against Android, but that’s only part of the equation. As much as software defines the iPhone, hardware plays an equally important role. Over the past few months, Android handset makers have become acutely aware that the key to success requires slaving over a new handset that stands out from the crowd. New show stoppers like the HTC Incredible S, Samsung Galaxy S II, and Motorola Atrix show much stronger attention to detail in their design than previous generations of Android handsets. The iPhone 4, for the gorgeous slab it was in 2010 and remains today, still seems a bit long in the tooth for this market. It’s time for an update in a major way. Here’s the checklist for Apple’s iPhone 5 or 4S or whatever it’s called. This stuff should happen now, not in a later model. Continue Reading
This year’s WWDC will be all about the software. OS X Lion will be a major revamp of Apple’s desktop software as the company tries to reunify its two operating systems. We’ve seen good glimpses of the new OS from several developer previews over the past few months. While the final pieces of Lion will be provided at WWDC, Apple’s going to have to unveil everything about iOS 5 at the event. We know nothing about Apple’s fifth iteration of the popular mobile operating system beyond speculation and rumor. Still, maybe that’s enough. iOS is a great OS that still needs a lot of work in order to go toe-to-toe with Android. A more elegant interface and experience cannot hold off its feature deficiency for long against Android’s rapid improvements. So, here are the features iOS 5 needs in order to bring the fight to Google. Continue Reading
As Apple is prone to do, the company has announced the date of the World Wide Developer Conference, taking place in San Fransisco from June 6-10th. Apple seems to be placing heavy emphasis on software at this year’s event, giving sneak peaks at OS X 10.7 “Lion” and presumably iOS 5. However, this has thrown into question any introduction of hardware. Isn’t the iPhone 5 supposed to be launched at the event? Is the iPad 3 coming? Any Macs? Is Apple even going to make a new phone ever again!!? People feel lost without definite answers, and speculation is rampant. Let’s sort through it all and figure out what’s what.
But why on earth would Apple forego the launch of the iPhone 5? Wouldn’t that be crazy? We can chalk this up to a few possible reasons.
1) Supply. Supply is a huge issue with the Japanese earthquake which affects the creation of batteries and semiconductors used in the creation of most consumer goods. This fact, along with the raging demand for iPad 2s, may be creating a dearth of A5 chips that Apple wants to use in the iPhone 5.
2) Design. I think it’s no secret that Apple was expecting the iPhone 4 design to be an enduring shape and style for at least a few generations. Antenna-gate ruined that by revealing a critical design flaw. Apple could continue to use the iPhone 4 design (we’d survive) but there’s a chance they don’t want to. So for the last year the iPhone team has been scrambling to make a new design, perhaps? This R&D time has probably pushed back any production dates for the new design. Along with that, there’s the fact that the A5 is a big chip, almost twice the size of the A4. That’s trivial in the iPad, but Apple could be having a hard time squeezing the A5 into an iPhone without cutting out battery capacity or aggressively under-clocking the processor. Oh, and there’s always the possibility of 4G integration in a fall release.
3) Schedule. There are rumors surfacing that Apple is just redoing their product release schedule and shifting the iPhone to a fall release. Makes sense since the iPods are now pretty much old news and you might as well announce the iPod Touch upgrade at the same time as its sibling, the iPhone.
Whatever the reason, I would expect a lack of iPhone 5 at WWDC to be a mild hiccup, we’d get over it. The real question is what iOS 5 brings to the table. Lion is pretty much understood, but what’s on the mobile front? Last year it was all about multitasking and nailing the coffin on Flash support. This year my big hopes are three things: revised notifications, new messaging system, and widgets. Everyone hates iOS’s notifications. It needs to be less obtrusive. I don’t know what implementation Apple will do, but something that could not interrupt you and provides some info of what the content of the notification is. I want a new messaging system where I can write a message without actually going to the message app, just let me write a quick response by clicking the notification and bring up a text box. And widgets are really important. If the lock screen offered some form of dashboard with very small widgets for weather, mail, calendars or messages, it would be great. When I get a buzz in my pocket, don’t make my dive into the phone UI just to see I have junk mail. The iPad would flourish with this feature.
Whatever happens, you can be sure I’ll be here on June 6th to analyze and over analyze everything we see.
Apple’s annual World Wide Developers’ Conference (WWDC) is close at hand. As opposed to Apple’s usual consumer-oriented press conferences like Macworld and their private shows, the WWDC is meant to appeal to developers for the Mac platform. The event is notable for having literally hundreds of demos of new technologies for OSX, along with seminars and lectures to share ideas amongst the industry’s best and brightest. This year’s event, planned for June 7th, will probably continue to focus more on the iPhone as WWDC ’09 and ’08 did as they were the launch pad for iPhone OS 3 and 2, respectively. This year we can definitely expect to see the proper introduction of iPhone OS 4.0 and probably that new iPhone that has been floating around the world because of some Apple snafus. However, there is always the hope for something unexpected. Remember, last year Apple also showed off the finished looks of OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” and updated the 13-inch Macbook to its new “Pro” status. Here’s what I would like to see at the event:
New iPhone and iPhone OS 4 (duh)
This one is a little too obvious but it deserves repetition. iPhone 4.0 is going to be a slam dunk release of their rapidly maturing mobile OS. And it has to be. This year both Google and Microsoft have shown off heavily reworked versions of their phone software, with Android 2.2 “Froyo” bringing huge performance enhancements plus Flash support and Windows Phone 7 bringing a completely rebuilt design. Not only that, but RIM is prepping the release of Blackberry OS 6, which is bringing some stronger multitouch support and a new browser. Luckily for Apple, iPhone OS 4.0 isn’t a lazy update but may be the largest change yet. The update is slated to have hundreds of new APIs for developers, better performance, and some sweet and much delayed multitasking. The iPhone itself is still a pretty strong contender, but the hardware on the 3GS is showing some age compared to new phones like the Nexus One and Droid Incredible which are running 1Ghz Snapdragon processors. Apple knows the new target is 1Ghz clockspeed and could be dropping in the iPad’s A4 chip into the new iPhone for a major performance boost. This, coupled with more RAM and maybe faster graphics, will certainly make for an A+ update like Jobs said. The new iPhone will also sport a better display, improved cameras, and a super sexy new design. But there could be more surprises lurking in the darkness, like a possible redesign of the current 3GS as their cheaper option to replaced the 3G. Continue Reading