It appears that iTunes 10 has broken one of my favorite Mac features: "Add to iTunes as a spoken track". This kills an important part of my productivity work flow.
I have verified this on two Macs running 10.6 and iTunes 10. When you try to convert some text the gear in the menu bar just spins infinitely now.
Dan Grigsby, iPhone developer, avocate and founder of the popular iPhone news site and podcast 'Mobile Orchard' has decided to call it quits. He is abandoning iPhone as a platform and discontinuing the web site and blog. Apple's increasingly dictatorial control over the platform, and more specifically the recent decision to reject apps not written in Objective-C, C++ or C have finally pushed him over the edge. He is just the latest in a series of vocal iPhone developers to jump ship. The rational for his decision has been posted as his last entry to Mobile Orchard. You can read it here.
Here are some quotes which I think really get to the heart of the issue:
"Ask permission environments crush creativity and innovation..."
"Without exception, whenever Iíve taken built an app to capitalize on one of my ideas itís run afoul of Appleís policies... ...Apple could decide that this violates the Ts&Cs and kick me out of the program, thereby taking away my ability to support my family."
"Iím fine with Apple curating the App Store. If they want to treat the App Store as an extension of their brand, fine. If thatís their goal, they should decimate ó literally ó the store, stripping out the crappy-yet-inoffensive dross. But provide unrestricted, frictionless, off-store distribution a la Android.
"Iím a principled person. Appleís offended my principles. Consequently, Iíve decided to abandon iPhone development. I wonít work in this ask-permission environment any longer."
I think Dan is taking a brave stand. As an Iphone developer I continue to be concerned by Apple's increasingly Orwellian policies. I am still optimistic that eventually good will prevail, but I must admit that so far I don't see Apple steering away from the course they are on.
Ok, the count down is on. Time to make your predictions. Let's see who can get the closest to the actual thing. This time around I'm trying to restrict my predictions to what I think it will have rather than what I want it to have.
Here is my overly detailed prediction:
[Updated to compare with actual]
The article is pretty good, but I really got a kick out of the comments. I found this one part way down:
If Microsoft managed the Windows PC world the way Apple manages the iPhone/iPod touch world, Appleís revenue would be less than half of what it is today. Imagine:
Steve: Hi, weíve just submitted the Windows version of our iTunes app to the Windows app store.
Bill: Interesting. It looks like it duplicates existing functionality of the Windows OS, which includes Windows Media Player. Rejected.
Steve: What? There are similarities, yes, but iTunes provides a clean, easy to use interface for managing, purchasing, and playing music. Further, it allows Windows users to connect their iPods to their PCs and sync their music library seamlessly.
Bill: Sorry, our policy still stands. Besides, third party applications arenít allowed direct access to music stored on a userís PC.
Steve: But then how will we revolutionize the portable media player market and the mobile phone market, boosting our Mac market share and making billions of dollars in the process?
Bill: You wonít.
I wonder what revolutionary apps/gear/services weíll miss out on because Apple finds them inconvenient.
There are also some good comparisons betweens Microsoft's anti-trust case for 'including' I.E. and Apple's down right 'rejection' of competing browsers like Opera mobile.
I'm enjoying the negative press Apple is getting, because hey I'm sick that way. But in the end I just want them to open things up a bit, and stop being, you know, evil.
Before you spam me, let me state that I do realize that the iPhone is not an open platform and they have the right to do what ever they want with 'their' product. I think the point being made in the market however is that consumers really want it to be open. Now I'm no business major, but I think that sometimes, just sometimes, it is a good idea to give customers what they want.
killall -STOP firefox-bin killall -CONT firefox-binIt would be nice to integrate these commands when an app is hidden or shown, but for now this hack is good for saving battery life, or keeping your CPU cooler in hot weather!
This would be an interesting device, if they did it, and I wonder what model they'd use for software? Would all Mac OS X applications just run, or would they try to use an AppStore model with a new SDK designed specifically for it? After all, a device like that would have limited screen real estate, an accelerometer and a virtual keyboard... not many main stream Mac applications would be pleasantly shoe-horned into it. iPhone applications might assume a specific screen size, and might not look so great on a much larger screen.
Apple doesn't seem to make many niche products these days (Apple TV seems to be the exception), with their very clearly segmented Mac products, iPods and iPhones.
Still, I'd buy one just for web access at home while watching TV or lying in bed. Imagine if it could read Kindle books, too... could be cool.
I wasn't going to comment on this Macworld. I mean what is there to say? It is definitely in the running for worst keynote ever. But then I remembered this was the last one that Apple was going present at, so it is my last chance to make a comment on a Macworld keynote.
There was only really one announcement made that didn't invoke loud snoring, and even it wasn't a surprise. So I'm only going to comment on one of the announcements, one product, and even then only one feature of that product. I want to talk about...
The 17" Macbook Non-Removable Battery
Not the part about the fact that you can't replace it yourself, or that you can't carry a second one for long trips. Not even about the fact that without the battery door how are you going to upgrade the RAM or the HD like you can with the other Macbooks. Not about the 179.00 replacement cost. Or the fact that in typical Apple form they are telling you that a product's negative feature is actually a huge positive. No I mean the battery.
They are talking up the battery big. Since the rest of the 17" Macbook is old news by now I guess it's really all they have to talk about. An 8 hour battery in a 17" notebooks is impressive there is no doubt. I am pretty sensitive to marketing hype however, especially from Apple. Also I spent considerable time last summer researching and experimenting with the various high current, high capacity battery technologies, so I want to fill in a few gaps in what they are saying.
Here are a few quotes lifted from they keynote and the Apple site.
"A giant leap for batteries"
"innovative new charging method"
Has anyone out there experienced the BSOD that is apparently being caused by the new Itunes 8 update? Don't get me started on iTunes for Windows.
There is an on going drama unfolding regarding Nullriver's new iPhone App 'NetShare'. Netshare is an iPhone app that implements a SOCKS proxy and allows for limited tethering (without Jailbreaking your phone). Apparently you can buy an additional app for your Mac or Pc that will tunnel all your traffic through the proxy. When the app first appeared it generated quite a bit of buzz. Then it was yanked without warning or explanation. A short time later it was still available via direct link, then back on the store and people where purchasing it like mad. It has now been yanked again. Clicking on the direct link now yields the message shown above. Nullriver does not feel that they violated any of the developer agreements and points out that a carrier's restriction on tethering is not allowed in many countries where the iPhone is sold. The above error message seems to indicate that if Apple does allow the app to be sold, the US will be blacked out.
More rumors on the Apple Macbook Touch (i.e. Apple Tablet) over at Gizmodo and others. I'm telling you this thing is coming. The main reason I know is because Steve said he'd never do it. Just like he'd never make a PocketPC (ala iPhone). The crazy thing is that tablet pcs (which have been out forever) are stupid... until Apple makes one! Then they are going to be the hottest thing Steve ever invented.
Here are some fan boy quotes on Giz's page: "want want want ", "This will be my first Mac. This would cause me to cross over from the PC side", "Sweet mamajama. Let it be so. "
Hi, my name is John, and I'm an Apple hater. Well at least that's what they make me say at Apple haters anonymous. You see, I have a problem. I've been hating Apple since 1982, the year my beloved Commodore 64 came out (may it rest in peace). That's a long time. A habit practiced that long becomes a part of you. But I am working on it. A few years ago I started a 12 step program, and I'm slowly making progress. I'm on step 6, and in this program it requires me to face the thing I hate head on.
After months of agonizing deliberation I found myself at the Apple store asking an overly cheerful associate to bring me the cheapest Mac they sold. At the mention of the word 'cheap' I saw a momentary crack in the facade as a sneer flashed across his face. But it was gone almost as soon as it had come, and he happily trotted of towards the back off the store. Before I knew it he was back and although there wasn't a cash register in sight my card was swiped, and a receipt was produced from thin air as if by magic. When my head cleared I found my self standing back in the mall holding a small white box with Apple logos on it.
I took the Mac mini home with some apprehension. After an hour or so into the relationship, it was clear we were not going to get along. I criticized its OS, it said something about my mother, I called Steve Jobs a name, and it refused to output anymore video. Check mate. The next day I went back to the Apple store and swapped it for one that wasn't set to evil. I got off to a rocky start with this mac too, but after a while we called a truce. Now it sits quietly on my desk, and through the magic of VNC, it happily serves up its bouncy GUI to whatever PC I happen to be using - at home or away. It doesn't complain that is is surrounded by PCs or that it is connected to Microsoft products. I no longer tense up when I look at it. I call it Minime.
So am I converted? No, far from it, but I am learning tolerance and that is real progress. Soon I hope to be ready for step 7. Hi, my name is John, and I'm trying real hard not to be an Apple hater.
The rumor mill has just lit up again with speculation of an Apple Tablet or some sort of uber iPhone due out mid this year. There is even talk of a surprise press conference as soon as next week. In all honesty, these rumor are always running at about the same volume, you just can't hear them sometimes through all the noise.
Since my PowerBook died, I've been using a Vista powered Lenovo T60p, which isn't bad as far as PC laptops go. I do really miss the reliable sleep, overall sleek design, and ease of Wi-Fi handling that my deceased PowerBook had, though. I really don't need the optical drive except for the occasional ripping of a CD that I buy, or the even rarer DVD based software install. I'd be perfectly happy to leave the optical drive at home, only for use in those special cases.
The current line up of Mac Books is already very slim, it's hard to image how much more slim they'd get without the DVD drive baked in.
My main concern with the ultra-portable would be the limited size of the flash disk: I'd want enough space to stash media and a parallels vm.
Mac Santa Deals offers a discount of 20% off for software made by a different set of independent Mac developers each day until December 24. If you missed a previous day's deals, you can still get them for 10% off.
With only 5 days left before Apple's big Leopard launch Steve Jobs is facing a difficult decision, probably the most difficult decision in his career. He has two different "And one more thing..." announcements sitting it front of him and he has to choose which one to present. He could take the safe path and announce some lame partnership with McDonald's, iTunes movie rentals, or Facebook integration etc. Or he could finally push the button on the big one. The secret weapon with the shiny red button. The one he as been carefully laying the ground work for all these years. The one that will finally allow him to get his revenge over getting sand kicked in his face by that little nerd Bill Gates. I'm talking about cutting OSX free to run on any PC.Continue reading "Steve's Big Decision"...
Steve now announces that he will open the iPhone (and iTouch) to 3rd party apps in Feb. It's taking a little longer than than hoped because they are trying to protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks according to big Steve. Of course the apps will have to be digitally signed (i.e. approved by Apple). Still no mention of the distribution model. But I think we can assume they will be sold through iTunes.
This is another example of why you can't really believe anything Jobs says. Was it really necessary to tick off the dev community by lying to them about the web being the app model? Would it have been that hard to be honest and say - "Yes we are working on it, but it isn't ready yet."? Oh right, that might have hurt the share price.
Apple's New iPod Lineup
NBC pushes Apple for more money and threatens not to renew. Apple cuts them loose early and spins it their way. Consumers will find it hard to side with NBC on this one.
Ok it's my turn to put on the Crackly tin foil hat and make some random Apple predictions for the upcoming 12 months.
In today's Apple town hall they responded to a question about multi-touch macs with "...we're not sure it makes sense in the Mac. We'll categorize it as a research project for now". Yeah right. One thing I've learned from Steve is that when he says 'no' what he really means is no, not right now. Remember that whole thing about Intel processors or maybe that they wouldn't do a pocketpc (umm, the iPhone is basically a pocket pc phone edition, a very slick and cool version of, but still a pocket pc - get over it). So here we go ...
So, I got an iPhone.
I didn't mean to, but on Friday night as I came home from work, I realized that the Apple store would be open until midnight and their web app showed that they had some iPhones still in stock. I walked over, since it's only a couple of blocks from the shuttle stop and my apartment, thinking that if they had any left, I'd get one.
The store was packed with people trying out pretty much every Apple hardware type, but there was a huge crowd around the demo iPhones. As I walked in the store, I asked one of the greeters if they had any left. He didn't ask "Any what?", man, he just knew. Freaking Apple, how do they do it? This was 11 PM on a Friday night, and a computer store was packed!
Anyway, there were loads left so I bought the 8 GB version and went home. Total time in the store: less than 10 minutes, most of which was spent in line waiting to pay. Given my neighborhood, I was hoping that I wouldn't get rolled and end up as the first iPhone theft victim.
I should be so lucky, given what happened next.Continue reading "myPhone"...
I just got back from the Apple store where I got to play with an iPhone for about 10 minutes. My thoughts: It is a pretty impressive consumer phone. The keyboard worked better than I thought it would, not perfect, but pretty usable. The UI was slick. The browser worked better than anything I've used on a PDA or smartphone. It rendered the handful of sites I hit very well. One was unreadable in portrait mode, but rotating to landscape zoomed it up just enough to read. The media player was slick, videos looked good. There are some inconsistencies though like the fact that you can only use the keyboard in landscape with Safari. Also only a few apps even work in landscape, e.g. the doc browser does not. Overall not a bad device. Certainly better than any cell phone I've ever owned. ;)
Just a post to start a discussion on Job's keynote at the WWDC.
To seed the discussion:
1. Sweet iPhone development model. Use the Web??
2. Safari for Windows. - Why?
In related news, it looks like the Apple stock bubble burst (or just lost some air) shortly after the keynote, losing 4 bucks before the market closed. As a result my manually guided sell stop fired and I am no longer an Apple share holder. I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing yet, but at least it was one of the few times I actually made money in the stock market.
I'm willing to give Apple the benefit of the doubt for now, but I'd be very disappointed if I couldn't write applications for it (though I'd still buy one). If they do release an iPhone SDK, that'll be the end of Windows CE. They could even make the SDK run only with Xcode and Mac OS X, so iPhone developers would have to buy Macs...
Note, in the left image above, that there seems to be one application missing... what could the fabled 12th app be?
Also, new iPhone ads.
I went last year and met several interesting people in our MacDev group. Apple also hosts a bash on their campus mid-week, which I didn't attend since I didn't relish the idea of driving down the 101 from San Francisco to Cupertino and back just to get a chance to shop in the Apple company store. The day after the party, I found out that Apple provided buses... Doh! This year, the bash will be walking distance from Moscone, so I'm going.
I imagine that there will be some interesting product announcements at WWDC; certainly the already revealed iPhone will only be 2 weeks from shipping, but I'm hoping that there are some finalized screen shots of Leopard. At WWDC 2006, they showed some Leopard features, but specifically mentioned that the UI was not final "to prevent copying"... I'm guessing that the current generation of Macbooks and iPods are getting close to a refresh, and the Mac Pro towers could use a smaller form factor.
I've been using Windows computers since Christmas of 1996, and various flavours of Unix machines provided by my university since 1990. The Windows machines have significantly improved usability over OpenWindows or XWindows or whatever ncurses based terminal environment runs on linux these days. But the usability improvements of Windows always seem to be offset by some issue or other plaguing my computers, and there is always the threat of malware, like the nasty Sony rootkit, which I have no idea how to detect let alone remove.
In the summer of 2004, I decided to get a Powerbook running Mac OS X. There were plenty of good reasons to buy one before that time, but it was only then that the feature set added up to something irresistible: Xcode, GarageBand, Camino, iLife, Delicious Library and of course, the OS itself: an incredibly polished and beautiful user interface with a solid Unix core. It certainly helped that I'd been enjoying using my iPod for all of music needs (including my alarm clock), and the hardware is extremely well designed both technically and aesthetically.Continue reading "Experiment: X"...
Within days of the iPhone (tm) the Pocket PC and Palm communities have created skins that mimic a portion of Apple's new iPhone interface. And in typical Apple fashion they wasted no time threatening to sue everyone involved, or even reporting on this topic. Which means they are threatening bloggers yet again, even though their last attempt to do this was thrown out of court, after the judge claimed the bloggers were protected by the first amendment.
So after seeing the iPhone I can't help but wonder if Microsoft will pay attention and resurrect the PocketPC phone edition form factor. They haven't exactly killed it off yet, but they have only really been focusing on the smartphone for the last several years. Someone in the MS Mobile group should be very embarrassed right about now. MS had this form factor out for 8+ years and couldn't produce an interface even remotely close to what Apple managed to do. Arguably this is not Apple's first mobile device interface, but the Newton was a long long time ago.
Actually one thing that I never understood was why some 3rd party developer didn't come up with a nice finger driven interface. I've tried nearly all the PocketPC mp3 player software out their and not one would let you drive it completely with your finger. Excluding the iPhone's ability to sense more than one finger at a time, everything else in the interface is completely achievable on existing PocketPC hardware.
Well you can't be a tech based blog and not talk about Apple's new product announcements. I would have posted something yesterday but being a historically anti-Apple guy I needed some time to calm down and gain some objectivity. (I have to remind myself that I'm an Apple share holder so what's good for them is good for me also). This event was all about the iPod and iTunes. Keeping focus is one of Steve's things so that explains why the 24" iMac was announced last week instead.
There were lots of things announced, but no real surprises (if you follow Apple rumors that is). The only real surprise is what was not announced - the wide screen iPod. (Yeah people also keep talking about the iPhone, but I don't see that happening). My top three announcements:
WriteRoom is an interesting free word processor for the Mac that blocks out the rest of the screen so you can focus on the words.
Bootcamp 1.1 Beta is now out. Notable features include; Apple Key right mouse click support as well as XP drivers for the iSight and built in microphone.
Stevie-O's keynote is first thing tomorrow, so I'll post "as it happens" updates here.
Given the recent delay of Vista, Apple could make some serious progress in increasing its market share. If I were Steve Jobs, I'd go straight to Dell and HP and license Mac OS X to them, but ONLY to sell to corporate customers. Apple could charge 10% of the cost of Windows, and still come out way ahead due to the market share gains. It's not like Apple would lose in hardware sales, since that business segment wouldn't buy Macs anyway, and Dell and HP wouldn't be licensed to sell OS X to the consumer market. Support for hardware would fall on the licensee.