By Nathan L. Walls

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  • Encased/Raleigh
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  • Completed Snow Angel/Raleigh

Articles tagged “ipad”

Context is everything

Instapaper developer Marco Arment tries to articulate where Apple is going with the iPad by looking at where they’ve come with winding down internal modems (recent laptops, iMacs) and DVD drives (MacBook Air). By seeing how everyone has started using the iPad, Apple no longer needs to drive marketing the iPad to “productivity” concerns:

But, as often happens in technology, the iPad hasn’t “killed” the laptop at all — it has simply added a new role for itself. And that role doesn’t include office productivity for most of us.

Apple is now adapting to the market’s actual use by retreating somewhat from office productivity and pushing strongly into new territory — casual media creation — to see if that gets a stronger uptake in practice. I think it will be a lot more interesting than office productivity, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done in iOS to make it practical (especially regarding file transfers with computers).

In my mind, it’s less about media consumption or generation as much as it is an offering of a context switch. I know a lot of folks who, after the work day is done, don’t want to look at a computer. That’s where the inbox lives. But a tablet is a different context altogether. Non-threatening, non-stressful.

Another way of coming at this is my brother-in-law’s experience as an architecture and food photographer. A big DSLR means work while a rangefinder is for himself. Is it possible to take on the personal art with a DSLR? Absolutely, just as it’s possible to work with a rangefinder. Apple’s showing just this sort of thing by showing the iPad in use in schools and hospital. But that’s not likely what the rest of us are going to use it for. Context is everything.

What I'm expecting Apple to announce at WWDC

A little while back, I talked about what I hoped Apple would announce as part of the iPhone OS 4.0 announcement. I didn’t do particularly well, But there’s still a lot of room for surprises when all of the features in iPhone OS 4.0 become publicly known.

In a little more than a week, Steve Jobs is going to take the stage at Moscone West at the Worldwide Developers Conference and … say some things. Drawing from some of the speculation I’ve seen floating around, here’s what I’m anticipating:

  • The iPhone 4G formally announced
    • I suspect Steve is going to acknowledge Gray Powell from the stage in a never-to-be-repeated moment
  • Apple responds to Google I/O by fleshing out the iPhone OS 4.0 feature set
    • Faster MobileSafari performance. Apple and Google are going to race (and likely swap leads frequently) in terms of tuning WebKit’s performance for mobile devices
    • Free MobileMe – or a free, syncing, subset of MobileMe – for iPhone and iPad customers. This addresses Google’s cloud strategy with Android and hopefully improves the experience of setting down a laptop and picking up an iPad for apps like iWork
    • iTunes in the cloud – Based on Lala.com, if you’ve purchased the songs, you can listen to them from elsewhere
    • The last two items are facilitated by that giant Apple data center in Maiden, NC, even if they aren’t strictly developer related, they’re demonstrable technologies. I think I see a Dropbox-type, Document-centric thing happening that’ll improve how users work across multiple devices
  • Safari 5 announced. Plug-in/extension support, better recovery from quit/crashed sessions. And about damned time
  • A 27-inch LED Cinema Display, replacing the 30-inch Cinema Display as the 24-inch LED Cinema Display gains audio via Mini DisplayPort and a lower pricetag
  • Modest refresh of the Mac Pros (newer CPUs, no Blu-Ray). These will be announced by press release. As might the LED Cinema Displays
  • No demo of Mac OS X 10.7. Apple’s clearly focused on the iPhone OS this year. That’s fine, Snow Leopard kicks ass. A refreshed GUI can wait for next June

iPhone OS 4.0 prediction recap

Yesterday, I posted thoughts on what Apple would announce at today’s iPhone 4.0 OS event. Today, Apple announced seven “tent-pole” features. There are 100 or so other features, so while I can say I hit on some things, I can’t say I hit or missed on others.

  • Multitasking. I was right on being able to background and that it would be limited to the iPhone 3GS (and I presume the iPad). I was very wrong on how it would be implemented. Apple’s solution looks elegant
  • Fast user switching. No info, but I doubt it for the initial 4.0 release.
  • A more mature mechanism for notifications. Notifications are part of the background piece, but it doesn’t appear to be what I thought it would.
  • New maps features Unknown.
  • Lock screen widgets. Based on the brief lock screen I saw, I’m calling this a miss.
  • Lock screen emergency number dial. As above, a miss.
  • Unified inbox for Mobile Mail. A hit
  • Email signature differentiated by account. Unknown.
  • Multiple Exchange-account support. A hit.
  • A better document management method. Unknown.
  • No wallpaper on the iPhone. Very wrong.
  • No (native) turn-by-turn navigation. Not seen, but since they demo’d TomTom, I’m going to guess Apple’s not pursuing this themselves.
  • No video-conferencing support. Unknown.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with what was announced and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest this summer.

What I hope to see in iPhone OS 4.0

I have no particular insight into the iPhone OS development. I don’t have sources. I’m not an iPhone developer. But, since I found myself thinking about it earlier, I came up with a few things I’m hoping Apple announces as part of iPhone OS 4.0. I’m not claiming any particular ease, but these are generally things I think could be implemented elegantly and straightforward for the vast majority of users.

  • Multitasking. If they stopped here and allowed me to background Pandora, I’d be happy. If I was drawing up the feature, I’d have people explicitly ask for certain apps to run in the background vs. everything automatically getting to run in the background. With limited memory on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, users are going to have to specifically request a small subset of apps be able to run in the background. I can see this being limited to the iPhone 3GS and iPad since they have 256 mb of RAM.
  • Fast user switching. Or, some other method of allowing an iPad to be used by multiple people in a family and keep settings straight.
  • A more mature mechanism for notifications. As Fraser Speirs has requested, the ability to have a notification quiet period would be nice. There’s also room for having a way to review all notifications, particularly if you have several of them.
  • New maps features including cycling directions, terrain tiles and, for the iPad, street view.
  • Lock screen widgets. The iPad has the slideshow. I wonder if Apple might add the weather, the stocks widget or something similar.
  • Lock screen emergency number dial. There’s a number to call if your phone is found or you’ve been involved in some manner of accident.
  • Unified inbox for Mobile Mail.
  • Email signature differentiated by account. I’d like to keep the same signature for each domain I send from the same as my desktop. The iPad (as near as I can tell from the Mail guided tour) doesn’t offer this, but it would be a big step forward to thinking of it as a primary tool if it did.
  • Multiple Exchange-account support. Alternately, push support for Google apps like Mail and Calendar. Right now, the iPhone is limited to one Exchange account for email or calendars. If you have multiple GMail or Google calendar accounts, you only get push support for one (by way of the Exchange functionality).
  • A better document management method. Maybe it’s MobileMe, maybe it’s a Time Machine-like hands-off sync mechanism. Maybe iWork gets more robust. But somehow, someway, there’s something better than what John Gruber describes in his iPad review.

What I’m not expecting to see

  • Wallpaper on the iPhone. The app icons are too close together to really make out anything else.
  • Turn-by-turn navigation. I don’t have a great reason, I just don’t think it’s going to be there.
  • Video-conferencing support. I believe Apple’s thought this through and thinks the experience of holding a device in front of you for a video conference is going to suck.

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