The big loser this week, though, was Microsoft. They’re simply not even part of the game. RIM looms large, as BlackBerrys continue to reign as the best-selling smartphones in the U.S. But Microsoft? They’ve got nothing. No interesting devices, weak sales, and a shrinking user base. Microsoft’s irrelevance is taken for granted.
As usual, John Gruber nails it. Microsoft really has no chance at catching up with either Apple or Google at this point, and it’s pretty stunning. They entered the game way too late, and, as far as I know, it’s still going to be a while before the first Windows Phone 7 handsets come out. They’ve already lost the mobile war.
However, as Gruber mentions, things between Apple and Google are getting very interesting. While I admittedly have not been all that satisfied with my Droid experience so far, it’s a promising platform, and I really love how much Google is pushing cloud technology. A cell phone should operate completely separate from a computer, and that’s something Apple just hasn’t done right yet.
Apple’s feeling threatened by Android, as they should be. So they’re systematically targeting and eliminating major reasons why someone would choose Android over iPhone.
But they haven’t yet hit the biggest one: availability on different U.S. carriers, specifically a CDMA edition for Verizon.
Bingo. If the iPhone came to Verizon tomorrow, I would seriously consider ditching my Droid and paying full price for it.
Super simple docking station for your MacBook or MacBook Pro.
Daniel Dilger goes through exactly why Flash just won’t work on a touchscreen device. I mentioned this a little while back–it’s totally unreasonable to think that applications and games developed for a mouse and keyboard can be easily ported to a completely new interface.
Fraser Speirs argues that most of the anti-iPad sentiment is “Future Shock”:
For years we’ve all held to the belief that computing had to be made simpler for the ‘average person’. I find it difficult to come to any conclusion other than that we have totally failed in this effort.
Secretly, I suspect, we technologists quite liked the idea that Normals would be dependent on us for our technological shamanism. Those incantations that only we can perform to heal their computers, those oracular proclamations that we make over the future and the blessings we bestow on purchasing choices.
He nails it. While an iPad wouldn’t be my computer of choice (at least in its current form), I could certainly see it being the perfect device for the less tech-savvy audience. This could be the perfect product for my grandparents, for instance.
Also of note was one of Steven’s proposed improvements for the iPhone/iPad platform:
A way of sharing data between applications. Something like the clipboard, but bigger. This is not a filesystem, but a way of saying “bring this data object from this app to this app”. I’ve made this painting in my painting app, and now I want to bring it over here to crop it and apply filters.
I really like how Android has approached this problem. If, as a developer, you want to create image editing software, you don’t have to know how to access images from other applications, but rather, you just ask the OS for a list of all files that match a certain type (an image, a video, etc.). Then, the OS knows which programs store files of that type and it returns a nice, condensed list of all of them. The user never has to worry about exactly which app stored the image, because it’s all taken care of for him.
As usual, I enjoyed reading John Gruber’s musings on the iPad. I was intrigued most, however, by his thoughts on the iPad’s support for hardware keyboards:
Having used the hardware keyboard yesterday, though, it is clearly a secondary form of input. You cannot even vaguely drive the iPad interface by keyboard alone. […] There are some glaring holes. For example, in iPad Mail, when you start typing in the To: field to address a message, and the iPhone-style autocomplete suggestion list appears under the field, you cannot select from it using the keyboard. You have to touch the screen. […] It just seems like it’s not finished yet.
What struck me as interesting is how similar this is to Android development’s biggest drawback: hardware fragmentation. Due to the vast array of Android devices, app developers have to consciously design their apps to support several different input methods. This may seem fairly trivial, but it is actually a fairly significant problem, especially for games and more complex UIs. In the Android Market, some games and applications just don’t work without a hardware keyboard, likely because the app developer didn’t take the time to consider touchscreen input. Apple seems to now be encountering this problem as well.
Maybe John’s right, and this is a rough edge that will be smoothed over when the device launches. But, there’s more to it than just fixing iPad Mail. What about the 140,000 apps in the App Store? They certainly weren’t built with any considerations of keyboard navigation, so the experience is likely to be sub-par, unless the developer has taken the time to support an input method that he or she might not even have access to (assuming he or she doesn’t own an iPad).
If keyboard support is solely intended for text input, as John suggests, a lot of users will be confused. Standard operations, such as tabbing between fields and navigating via arrow keys, are expected behavior when a user is given a keyboard. It would be frustrating to have that taken away. Certainly, Apple could fix this issue by the time the iPad hits the market, but for a platform that preaches ease-of-development due to the uniformity of its hardware, it’ll be interesting to see how it’s handled.
I especially liked this bit:
Used to be that to drive a car, you, the driver, needed to operate a clutch pedal and gear shifter and manually change gears for the transmission as you accelerated and decelerated. Then came the automatic transmission. With an automatic, the transmission is entirely abstracted away. The clutch is gone. To go faster, you just press harder on the gas pedal.
That’s where Apple is taking computing. A car with an automatic transmission still shifts gears; the driver just doesn’t need to know about it. A computer running iPhone OS still has a hierarchical file system; the user just never sees it.
MacWorld rounds up Snow Leopard’s new features. “Smart Eject” sounds like it’s going to be super useful:
When you first attempt to eject a disk, the eject manager actually sends out a signal to its own subsystems and other programs, asking them to relinquish their hold on the volume if that’s possible. If that fails because a program really is using the drive, Snow Leopard will bring up a window telling you which program doesn’t want to let you eject the disk. You can then switch to that program, quit out of it, and eject the disk.
Excellent timelapse video of the creation of a Macworld cover, from the initial photography to the final layout.
John Gruber tells the tale of Ninjawords, a simple dictionary app for the iPhone that was given a 17+ rating by Apple:
But Ninjawords for iPhone suffers one humiliating flaw: it omits all the words deemed “objectionable” by Apple’s App Store reviewers, despite the fact that Ninjawords carries a 17+ rating.
Amazon, of course, does not restrict the sale of English dictionaries, either in print or for the Kindle. The Kindle, in fact, ships from the factory with a built-in dictionary, The New Oxford American Dictionary — the very same dictionary used by Mac OS X’s built-in Dictionary app. Like any good dictionary, it contains listing for all of the words deemed “objectionable” in Ninjawords by the App Store reviewers.
Actions like this and the Google Voice fiasco are really making me think again about buying an iPhone when it comes out on Verizon (hopefully next year).
One of the biggest changes is that Snow Leopard now counts data sizes in base 10. In this example a 320GB hard drive shows as 320GB as opposed to 297GB
This is going to be weird–if you take a file from another OS and put it in Snow Leopard, its size will increase (even though it still takes up the same physical space). Not sure how I feel about this.