Because Ars Technica doesn’t seem to understand what “back to the Mac” means (seriously, the number of iOS and iDevice mentions is mind-boggling), I decided to put together my own list of what I’d like to see, and what I expect to see (because the two don’t necessarily overlap) from their press event Wednesday. First though, I am super pleased that Apple’s finally actually getting around to making a big Mac-related announcement for once.
So, what do I think we’ll see Wednesday? Well, based on the event’s invitation graphic, I think it’s a pretty good bet we’re going to see some demos of OS X 10.7, which will presumably be termed OS X Lion. Updates to the iLife and iWork suites are likely candidates, and probably some new portable hardware updates since the laptop lineup is coming due for a revision. But that’s sort of an easy guess, so what, specifically, will we be getting?
OS X 10.7 Lion
I think Quicktime updates are a pretty certain bet for 10.7. Quicktime X is still pretty nacent, and doesn’t seem to have gotten any attention in 10.6.x updates. Considering Apple’s ongoing quest to sever all ties with old frameworks in their OSes, some expansions to the new Quicktime X framework are almost certainly a lock. I don’t think these will get much presentation time because this is a press event, not WWDC, but I do at least expect them to show up on one of Steve’s giant “word cloud” slides.
FaceTime support in iChat is practically a lock too, and something that could chew up a good bit of time with an unnecessary demonstration. Apple’s been pushing this hard on the iPhone, and perhaps even harder with their new iPod Touches, so it makes no sense for it to get left out of their next desktop OS. Reports that FaceTime supports a multiple caller flag seem to support this theory as well, since iChat has supported 4-way video chat for a while now, and I don’t think Apple would cut that out just to support their new video chat protocol. Additional IM protocol support in iChat would be nice to see as well, but I’m not exactly counting on it, nor am I really pinning my hopes to a serious overhaul of the application. I know a ton of people would love it if iChat supported Facebook Chat, but given Apple’s current rocky relationship with the One Social Network To Rule Them All, that may not happen for “political” reasons (also, I don’t use Facebook, so I don’t really care). I’m also an Adium junkie personally, so unless iChat suddenly does everything Adium does (including letting me turn off the speech bubble chat theme), I’m not exactly going to be clambering to put it back in my Dock.
There will probably be some iPadification of a few core apps, if Apple’s web services are anything to go by. MobileMe’s Mail and Calendar apps have both gotten UI overhauls to more closely relate them to the iPad apps, rather than the traditional OS X application look-and-feel. Given the explosion of growth and mindshare that iOS has provided the company, I think it’s perhaps only natural that the UI bleed back into the Mac a bit to provide a more consistent experience for users, particularly those getting into the Mac because of the iPhone or iPad. I must admit, a better iCal would be awesome, and Address Book could use some love, because I don’t think it’s seen a material update since 10.2. A UI revision on Mail is also probable, though if that doesn’t happen, I may switch over to Sparrow at home once it supports more than just Gmail, because I’m something of a fan of Loren Brichter’s Tweetie for Mac/Twitter for iPad UI, and the full-blown Mail.app UI exceeds what I need from my mail client at home (work is another story, obviously).
I’ve heard a coule people bring up the fabled UI overhaul for the OS in general that was supposed to happen in 10.6, but I don’t really buy it. Discounting the larger radio silence on OS X in general since Snow Leopard’s release, I haven’t heard anything UI-related for OS X since the rumors of an overhauled UI for Snow Leopard were making the rounds pre-release. Rumor mill aside, I don’t think even Apple is ballsy enough to totally revamp the OS interface just two cycles after totally revamping and unifying the UI for Leopard.
A file system change to ZFS is a remote possibility, but probably not going to happen since, last I heard, Apple had stopped development work on building it into the OS. Given that 10.7 has been totally off the radar so far though, it’s possible they’ve been doing a lot in extreme secrecy (alternatively, it’s possible that not a lot has been going on at all, given the comparatively small size of Apple’s OS engineering teams).
Hopefully someone at Valve has been able to put their boot sufficiently far up Apple’s ass to get them to take graphics performance seriously, and support more of OpenGL in the process. Game performance demos would make a pretty decent Stevenote demo, though Steve may be a bit gun shy after showcasing Bungie back in the day and having them get bought up by Microsoft.
On a similar note, given the increasing importance of resolution independence on iOS devices, it would be interesting to see some of that work get back-ported to the Mothership OS. Resolution independence is probably a ways off in OS X though, given the long backlog of legacy apps that would probably break rather terribly if it were used. iOS doesn’t have this problem as much (though it does a little) because the developer community is smaller, more agile, more involved, and the platform is new enough that not as many apps have had a chance to fall off the update wagon.
Beyond these, OS X is a markedly mature product, so I’m not sure how much newness can be crammed into a typically flashy Stevenote. There’s certainly plenty of polish needed around the OS, but that’s mostly technical niggling stuff, and not something I expect Steve to spend a whole lot of time on in his presentation. I’ll tell you what I’d like to see in the final OS, though…
- Better SMB networking. The Vista/Win7 machines on my home network never show up in Finder’s sidebar. Granted I can manually connect to them, but frankly that’s annoying. While HomeGroup support would be awesome strictly from an interop standpoint going forward, it’s not on my personal “must have” list since there’s only one Win7 box in the house, and it’s the one hooked to the TV that we use for Boxee and Firefox.
- Thread out accessing externally-mounted hard drives. I swear to god if I have to see my computer beachball one more time just because my external drive has fallen asleep…
- Improve the fault tolerance for mounted network shares. If the network drops, please re-mount my stuff when it comes back. Please. You can even disappear the mounts while the network is down, just bring them back when it comes up again. I feel like I’m talking to a hostage-taker…
- Stacks, the way they were demoed in Leopard during WWDC. Namely, being able to create a pile of files on the Dock that I can use to keep track of stuff in a project I’m working on without having to manually create folders for everything. If that doesn’t work, then how about treating docked smart folders just like any other docked folder, instead of just a shortcut?
- On that note, how about maybe cacheing Spotlight search results for smart folders so I don’t have to wait for the search to re-query when I open a saved search folder?
Huh. Maybe I’m more of a FTFF guy than I thought… though I think I may actually have a crush on Column View. Seriously, Microsoft, get on that. Explorer drives me nuts because it doesn’t have Column View.
iLife and iWork
I will be pleased, but not exactly shocked, if iLife and iWork make appearances tomorrow, if only because I think the Stevenote isn’t going to have much to say about OS X. Barring something earth-shattering nobody could have predicted, I’m not expecting a lot of detail there because this isn’t a developer conference. So, because I think Steve is going to need more to talk about, and because they’re due for an update anyway, I think iLife and iWork are likely to come up. This is more of a wishlist of stuff I’d like to see from Apple’s suites than a “this is what we’ll get”-list, because I haven’t really heard a thing about the new suites other than that they might be coming soon.
Everyone’s talking about iDVD getting pulled from the line-up, and I think that’s likely… Apple’s been moving to media-less distribution for a while now, and iDVD in iLife ’09 didn’t even get an update. I forget if it even got any new themes. It’s definitely the least-used of the apps in my personal usage (aside from iWeb, which I never use), and I don’t think there will be too many crying if it goes, however great it is for tossing together something to show to grandma (though blessedly, I didn’t have to teach her how to use the DVD remote ). It might get put up in its current state as a downloadable app on Apple’s website for the DVD aficionados though.
iMovie will, hopefully, get some more pro-ish updates and more flexibility to its bevy of filters and effects. I think Apple lucked out in the personal movie editor arena versus Windows Movie Maker, as both companies seemed to go for a full reboot of their software at about the same time. I think Microsoft may actually be a little ahead at this point, but I haven’t used Windows Live Movie Maker in its latest incarnation to know either way. In any case, a more expansive –and better-performing – iMovie would not go unwelcomed.
I’d like to see iPhoto pick up photo-stitching support. Windows Live Photo Gallery’s photo fuse feature is also nice, if a bit creepy for how easy it makes it to fabricate photos of moments that never actually happened (seriously, digital image editing is starting to creep me right the frak out). Still, nothing wrong with adopting useful features. I don’t think it will get any broader social networking support, since it already has Flickr and Facebook uploads, and doing something like TwitPic integration seems to be a bit counter to the spontaneous “on-the-go” nature of Twitter.
iWork needs better Office document compatibility. It just does. What’s there now kind of works, for the most part, but not for anything beyond the extreme basics. Pages and Numbers are great programs (I never need to use Keynote for anything), but Pages chokes on the Word document “screenshots” that get sent to me with text mark-up all over them on a nearly daily basis at work, and I had to rebuild our Excel timesheet spreadsheet almost from scratch because Numbers exploded all over the calculation formulas. Again, I think this may be one of those bullet points that gets tossed up but not really talked about during the presentation tomorrow, but it would still be good to see.
It’s possible that there may be some announcement regarding iWork.com, which was launched as a beta with iWork ’09, and has been floating around as an undiscussed feature ever since. There’s never been any announcement of a “final release” launch, or any discussion of pricing (because it’s not supposed to be free once it leaves the beta, whenever that is). The iWork apps on the iPad have picked up the ability to access it, but that’s about it. If nothing else it would be nice to know that Apple realizes the server is still plugged in.
A new Macbook Air is almost certainly a lock, but possibly also spec bumps for the rest of the MacBook lineup. Rumor has the new Air coming in at 11″, with a minimalist RAM-shaped SSD and tons of battery. I have no idea how plausible that all is, but we’ll find out tomorrow I guess. Not a whole lot interesting to say about the hardware, really… I don’t have much of an opinion on any of it; what comes is what comes. Faster processors, bigger graphics cards in the Pro lineup, and perhaps an SD card slot in the 17″ Pro is all I’m really looking for in the updates. Nothing major to be sure, because otherwise the rumor mill would have spun out more Mr. Blurrycam photos from China by now.
No touchscreen Macs. Just, no. Not happening. It makes no sense. Microsoft has been proving every day of the year that Windows is not suited for touch interfaces regardless of how much it supports it, and the Win7 Touch Pack is a pile of bolt-on hacks to try and make the experience not absolutely atrocious. Apple is not going to follow them down that rabbit hole.
Also, because it has to be said every freaking time, no headless consumer Mac tower either. Not happening. Get over it.
This is sort of the black sheep of the announcements that are likely to be made tomorrow. A new version of OS X seems like as good a place as any to slot in new MobileMe functionality, because OS X’s sluggish release schedule (versus the breakneck pace of iOS releases) is ultimately the lag point for those sorts of changes. As ever, it would be nice to see some sort of free MobileMe service get announced (maybe just email, contact, calendar, and bookmark sync, without iDisk, desktop sync, or Backup), or lower prices on the plans, but Apple is notoriously bad at lowering the price on stuff, and I don’t think they’re willing to ditch something that’s bound to be making them a fair amount of bank.
What’s possible is that Apple will use this event to discuss their new data center in North Carolina, and what exactly they plan on doing with it. iTunes streaming is a very remote possibility, but still more likely than a subscription music service, because there should be rumors to go along with that (as there have always been every time this hasn’t happened in the past), and there haven’t been any. More likely, I think, is expanded iDisk storage. What would be cool, but also probably unlikely, is a remote Time Machine backup service for 10.7 (ala Mozy, Carbonite, etc.), even if I did just spend a fair chunk on replacing my dead backup drive with a Drobo.
New Final Cut Studio? Aperture? Maybe? I dunno. Possibly. It’d certainly give Steve something to show off, but I don’t know how interested the press at large is going to be in being shown super high-end software for the creative crowd. Of course, since Apple doesn’t do trade shows and FCS is a pretty big deal that doesn’t (or shouldn’t…) just get tossed into an Apple Store update, it’s a possibility. Not a big one, but I won’t rule it out.
My thoughts, as always, are a bit lengthy to be able to cram them into 140-character fragments with any semblance of coherence (that was 127 characters right there), so here we go. Hopefully I can keep things punchy, even without the arbitrary character limit…
In fact, let’s try something new. I’ll do a one-word reaction followed by a more detailed commentary (hopefully still brief), so you can TL;DR as you see fit.
Nano: Slick. Looks like Apple may be either branching iOS again for the new device’s itty bitty square screen, or they’re aping the UI totally and running something else entirely custom underneath. My money is actually on a device-specific branch of iOS, since it seems like they’re trying to provide a stepping stone to the multi-touch interface of the iPhone and iPod Touch now. With the iPod Classic not even warranting a mention as part of the “complete iPod line update” this year, it seems clear that the purpose of the Nano is no longer to give people experience with the bigger iPod Classic’s UI and controls, but instead to get their feet wet in Apple’s new hotness.
Touch: Sexy. Interesting to see that its design is still using the rounded back rather than iPhone 4′s squared-off sides, despite being even more of an iPhone without the phone now. It’s also interesting that the back camera isn’t 5 megapixel like its cousin on the iPhone, but only just big enough to do 720p video recording (iPod Touch photos are 960×720 max according to the specs page). Guess they were a bit desperate for a point of differentiation between the two. Sweet that it supports FaceTime using email addresses; less sweet that it needs to be an email address that’s registered with Apple to work. Not helping the “open standard” mantra there, guys.
Classic: Who? Apparently still around, but unchanged in design, specs, and price.
Ping: Eh. I get the feeling Apple decided to roll their own social network because of Facebook being a total data mining ad whore, and nobody gets to data mine Apple’s customers but Apple. I think Jobs kind of tipped his hand to that when he explicitly mentioned the simplicity and ease of use of Ping’s privacy controls. Beyond that, I really don’t care. It’s getting increasingly difficult to succeed in being anti-social on the internet anymore these days…
UI: WTF? The new list view + album art is … interesting, I guess, but ultimately not a huge thing. The vertically-oriented traffic lights are just bizarre (way to stick to your HIG guns there, Apple…). Honestly, I’m actually more annoyed about the monochromatic Source List icons, though, because at least the close button is still in the same place. The lack of colorized icons in the source list is just frustrating, since color is one of those oh-so-important elements of UI design that help users quickly distinguish between objects (especially small ones). At least they tweaked the icons themselves to be more shape-oriented to compensate, but seriously. That’s just annoying.
Icon: Glowy. I’ll miss the CD, but given the sprawling nature of the app, I understand why it’s gone. The fact that it retains the musical notes seems like more of a formality than anything else at this point.
I’m at work on a limited-user account, so I can’t actually install the app here and get a feel for how it actually feels, but dear god I hope someone has bothered to do a code review of the thing, if only for the sake of the Windows users of the world.
Design: Teensy. I really don’t have an opinion one way or the other on the new design beyond that, except to say that evidently Sony has decided that matte black plastic with glossy inlaid text is in, and the world (including Apple) is following suit. At least Apple isn’t trying to pimp the Spider-Man font like it’s going out of style (because it is)…
Hardware: A4ATW! Interesting to see Apple continue to consolidate its chipset lines into Intel multi-core and A4 divisions on usage lines. The general-purpose Mac “truck” (lawl) computers get the Core 2 Duo and iN chips, and specialized devices like the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and now Apple TV get the A4. It’ll definitely cut down on the thing’s power draw, which is always good because the current one is a beast. Not sure how cool I am with the total removal of internal storage… streaming HD video content seems to be a little hiccup-prone on our wifi network. Of course, it’s sort of locked down to 802.11g speeds because of the iPod Touches in the apartment, and I haven’t bothered to spring for a dual-band router to fix that problem, so maybe bumping the network would solve that problem.
Software: Yay? I guess? I’m guessing the move to the A4 processor necessitated this, but, it’s being backed by a custom build of iOS with a 10-foot UI. At least, so sayeth The Gruber… Beyond that, there’s not really a whole lot new about the UI compared to Apple TV Software 3.0, just some reorganization. It’s cool that Netflix got added to the list of internet content portals, but the rumors of an app store for the device, and my associated musings on Apple taking on the console market are apparently unfounded. Stupid hobby… I would totally go for an Apple set top box that had a gaming controller and access to an App Store for games and entertainment titles, in addition to access to the iTunes media store, and cost $99 to $149. Given how dead-simple setting up an Apple TV already is (and how dead-simpler it is with the new version) and how easy it is to get your content onto it, with the right pricing structure and offerings, this could blow past the Wii for casual living room gaming and give Apple its much-coveted entry into the television space for content delivery. And speaking of content…
Content: Woo? Nice to see HD TV show rentals make an appearance (and assuming you’re not paying for cable and a DVR, 99¢ isn’t a bad price), but it sucks that it’s limited to ABC and FOX right now. Also, it kinda sucks that there’s no way to actually buy content on the Apple TV anymore… so much for that iTunes cloud-based streaming service that would store your stuff in the cloud that everyone was so sure of. As far as pricing is concerned, I’ve never actually had a problem with movie pricing for purchases or rentals. TV shows – especially HD ones – are frequently annoyingly expensive, but the season passes tend to be much better deals for that. Heck, I got the whole fourth season of BSG in HD for the cost of half of Season 4 on DVD (I paid something like $54 for it, and the DVD release for 4.0 was like $52). Warehouse 13 Season 2 is $30 in HD… even if SyFy does their stupid half-length season thing, that’s not a bad price for the show in 720p and near-immediate access to episodes past. (Of course, having gone to look up the price, Season 2 is no longer listed in iTunes. Awesome. Here’s hoping NBC/Universal isn’t being a douchebag again and I get the rest of the episodes I’ve already paid for. And people wonder why torrents are so popular…)
Boxee: Doubtful anymore, especially since the patchstick-friendly USB port has been replaced with a micro-USB port. Plus there’s the whole switch to the ARM processor thing… Not that I’ve bothered to Boxee-up my Apple TV in recent history. The only thing I ever used Boxee for was Hulu, so I could watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report without fuxing with the TV-attached computer, but between Hulu blocking Boxee and Comedy Central leaving Hulu, I really don’t care. The rest of my content is already Apple TV-compatible (sometimes by force), and the rest of the stuff accessible through Boxee just carries no interest for me. Plus, having a remote mouse/keyboard app on my iPad to operate the computer removes the annoying obstacle of dealing with tangled keyboard cords and insufficient wireless mouse range.
As those who follow me on Twitter are probably aware, I bought an iPad on Monday. Specifically, a 64GB WiFi+3G iPad, which will make traveling to Mysterium far less dull since I can load the thing up with easily a dozen full-length movies and still have room to spare for music and photos. But I’m already digressing. This is a long-ass post, so the rest goes after the cut…
In my opinion, the two most useful features that have been added to Safari 5 are the extensions API and Safari Reader. For those who may not know, Safari Reader is basically an Instapaper-like reformatting of page content to remove extraneous elements and focus on presenting the actual meat of the page: the article. It also merges multi-page articles into a single extended view so that navigating from page to page is no longer necessary.
At least one staffer at Ars Technica has gone out of his gourd over this feature. He complains that Apple is being hypocritical by providing users a means of blocking ads on the web while building an unblockable ad framework into their mobile OS. However, I feel that the author, his like-minded co-workers at Ars, and the innumerable knee-jerk anti-Apple commenters are missing several key points that distinguish what Apple has done in Safari 5 from what they’re doing with iAds in such a way as to make the two situations incomparable.
First, Apple is not blocking ads with Safari Reader. They’re still loading the page in its entirety and serving that to the user with the option of then going into what is basically a super-accessible “printer friendly” view to read the content of the page. Considering how piss-poor some website layouts are when it comes to presenting content over irrelevant material (multiple navigation sidebars, inline and sidebar ads, overlay ads, intellitext bubble ads) from a reader’s perspective, this is a welcome addition to the web.
Ars argues that since Safari Reader auto-loads every page of a multi-page article in rapid succession, ad providers are likely to discount impressions on later pages as robo-loads designed to artificially inflate a site’s ad usage statistics. This is where Ars has a semi-valid point, but ultimately the widespread implementation of multipage articles on the web trumps whatever altruistic pro-advertising stance they may wish to take. While Ars argues that somehow, by definition, multipage articles are only those articles that are more expensive to produce (using their 24-page Snow Leopard review as an example), the simple fact of the matter is that many websites are already artificially inflating their site’s ad usage statistics by breaking even modestly-sized articles up across multiple pages, to the point where it has become a pain for users to actually read the content they came to see (how many “top 10 X” articles have you seen that are needlessly split into 10 one-paragraph pages loaded down with multiple ad placements?).
I do not fault Ars for breaking their Snow Leopard review up into 24 different pages. In fact, I tend not to fault Ars much for any of their multi-page articles, because they are well-implemented. Each page has a generous amount of content on it, a comparatively small number of ads, and the splits are done in such a way as to improve the readability of the article as a whole by reducing page size into manageable chunks. I would certainly not want to see a single-page article the length of their Snow Leopard review (and entertainingly, I just checked… Reader won’t be offered when viewing that review in the first place!). That’s just mentally and visually daunting. Still, the side effect of this decision to be intelligent about how they serve their content means I’m less likely to use Safari Reader when viewing an Ars article. In the end, Ars wins more ad revenue from me by doing the right thing with its content, while people who are already doing their best to game the system by making their content hard to access are going to be the losers because people will essentially be voting with their wallets by activating Safari Reader to get the whole Top 10 Most Awesome LOLcats of 2009 article on one freaking page.
Secondly, Ars is making a false equivalency argument when it comes to the nature of what ads Apple is willing to support and what it’s willing to “block”. Setting aside the fact that Apple is not blocking any ads with Reader, and that ad impressions on multipage articles are being discounted by the ad provider based on past abusive behavior, there is a fundamental difference between web ads and ads in applications that the author seems to be missing, either unintentionally or willfully.
Ads in applications have always been unblockable (at least by the average user… people who know how to use the hosts file and configure their router to block requests to specific domains are the exception to the rule here), whether they’re on the desktop or the mobile device, but have also been comparatively tame and tolerable for most users. If you want to get rid of them, you generally have to pay for that ability, and that ability is (usually) provided. Ads on the web – by their very nature – are much easier to block, and due to the abusive extremes web advertising has been taken to, people tend to be much more inclined to block them first and ask questions never.
Thus, asking Apple to provide an opt-out switch for iAds is inconsistent with years of general ad practices in applications. Beyond that, it would put Apple at a competitive disadvantage on their own platform, as other ad networks already provide unblockable ads in iOS applications which Apple would get absolutely reamed for if they tried to allow users to block against the wishes of the developers or ad networks.
Honestly, I just don’t see anything intellectually dishonest or hypocritical in Apple’s actions on both Safari and the iOS when it comes to ads. Apple is driven by a desire to give users the best possible user experience. In their opinion, existing ad platforms “suck”, not just for users, but for developers as well, who aren’t getting as much value out of existing advertising as maybe they could. So, to improve the user experience on their mobile devices, they’re offering their own ad platform. In the opinion not just of Apple but also of many web users, reading stuff on the web “sucks” too, depending on where you go to read it. So, to improve the user experience on the web, Apple provides Safari Reader as a way to get around efforts made by obtuse web developers and content producers to make actually viewing their content as odious as possible in a desperate (and in my opinion, self-defeating) attempt to drive up ad revenue.
To be clear, I don’t think Apple is in any way trying to be altruistic towards web users by building Safari Reader. It is, however, an entirely intended consequence of selfishly trying to make something they themselves enjoy using, and then sharing it. At the end of the day, stuff like this improves their profits by providing a better user experience than their competitors, which is all that really matters, corporately speaking. However, I don’t think Apple is being intentionally antagonistic towards advertisers or the people who use them on their websites as a whole, nor do I think they’re being hypocritical in their behavior. They’re just being incidentally antagonistic towards ad networks and websites that are already being antagonistic toward their readers, and even then only in one small metric (multipage articles) whose real-world use in no way matches up to Ars Technica’s altruistic “multipage articles cost more to produce, and so require more ad revenue” argument. While this may be true (and entirely acceptable) for their multipage content, the web as a whole has an entirely different reason for creating such content: it artificially drives up page views on content that’s no more expensive to produce than Ars’ “etc” posts, and that’s just fsking annoying.
In the end, Safari Reader continues the fine browser tradition of empowering users, and will likely have even less of an impact on actual ad revenues than the invention of the pop-up blocker. Bringing iAds into the argument is nothing but a non sequitur which ignores the differences in advertising usage and history across two very different platforms. It also ignores the present realities of mobile advertising, and the proposed solution would put Apple at a competitive disadvantage at best (by only blocking iAds), and draw the ire of its competitors and developers at worst (by allowing users to block all ad platforms). Pretending that Google isn’t up to the same practice with Android, and not tearing them a new one as a result, is just downright disingenuous.
So it looks like the idiots in Microsoft’s marketing department responsible for the laughably inaccurate “IE9 is more awesome than Firefox” list that I deconstructed last year is at it again, this time comparing Windows Live Essentials to iLife ’09.
I’d first like to put aside the absurdity of Microsoft comparing and contrasting the two creativity suites in the first place. The simple fact that this chart exists demonstrates how prevalent the “Macs are better creativity machines” meme is in the marketplace. You just don’t do stuff like this when you’re in a confident leadership position. And you especially do do such a piss-poor job of fact-checking your claims.
Second, this is being written in advance of the WWDC keynote, which could change some of these arguments depending on what Apple decides to announce. This most heavily applies to MobileMe’s pricing, which is rumored to be getting a serious overhaul today. Still, I’ll be going to battle with the facts I have, not the facts I want.
Ultimately though, there is a degree of apples-to-oranges comparing going on, largely because Microsoft considers Apple’s lack of support for Microsoft’s services as dings against Apple, but frequently fails to ding themselves for failing to support MobileMe (ah fairness, wherefore art thou?), but also because Microsoft keeps having to drag other OS X applications into the chart to fully compare the two suites since Essentials includes stuff like an IM client, mail client, and (bizarrely, IMO) parental controls which are built into Mac OS X. But bizarre comparisons aside, how accurate are they? Well… not very, I’m sad (but not surprised) to say. I’ll be tackling this section-by-section, so hang on for a lengthy bitch-fest .
Cost & Multitouch Support
What a bizarre (I know, I keep using that word) category heading. Whatever. I don’t think either of the “cost” columns really accurately portrays the cost of purchasing these two offerings. First, iLife comes free on every new Mac, so the effective cost of the suite itself is effectively nothing for those reading this chart from the Windows side of the fence. However, new Macs start at $599, so on the other hand there’s a hidden cost to be factored in there. From the other side of the fence, buying a new Windows 7 machine (or at least a new Windows 7 license) to run Live Essentials is between $100 and $250, depending on which version you buy and whether you skirt legality with OEM or system-builder licensing (unless you’re a student, in which case you may be able to get it for right cheap).
Ultimately this pricing thing feels like a huge gimmick spun up by marketing to intentionally misrepresent the facts of the situation as they pertain to their target audience. People interested in actually comparing the capabilities of these two suites for the purposes of buying a new computer are likely to be taken in by Microsoft’s implicit claim that in addition to getting that new $600+ machine, they’ll need to spend $79 to do anything “useful” with it, which makes Apple’s offering look even worse in comparison to getting a new Windows machine (which may or may not be cheaper, depending on the user’s needs) and getting a free software bundle on top of it.
Further, Microsoft seems intent on wrapping MobileMe into the iLife suite as well, which is by no means necessary for taking advantage of the capabilities of any of the iLife software. Sure, it allows you to take advantage of additional outlets for sharing, but it’s not like you’re locked into Apple’s platform end-to-end if you go with iLife. But sure, whatever, point to Microsoft for offering their cloud services for free. We’ll see how long this advantage lasts though.
Finally, the multitouch thing just kills me. How many people are going to take this bullet point seriously? First off, Apple doesn’t sell touchscreen devices that will run iLife, so the point of being able to use screen-based multitouch in their software is moot. More importantly though, who the hell cares about this feature in the first place? Are there really that many people with touchscreen computers aching to be able to rotate their photos with their fingers? Ugh. Points for the feature sprawl, Microsoft, but nothing else.
From here out, we get into the nitty-gritty stupid. Let’s leave Adium out as a free downloadable alternative multi-chat client and just stick with Microsoft’s decision to put MSN Messenger and iChat head-to-head.
Okay, MSN Messenger (from here out, MSMM) supports YIM, iChat doesn’t. Fair enough. And shock of shocks, iChat also doesn’t support the arguably arcane and proprietary “Office Communications Server”. Shocking.
Personalization (Scenes/Themes). Wow. Because I always thought MSMM was way more beautiful to look at than iChat. Why is this always such a huge bullet point when all it ever seems to do is make your application even uglier than it is by default? And seriously, games? This is an IM client, not a full-on replacement for fucking Facebook.
And now, the first of many actual inaccuracies (rather than pointless marketing fluff): iChat does indeed support tabbed chat. It’s had it since Leopard came out in 2007. It’s even on Apple’s feature sheet for iChat! I found this in 5 seconds by googling for “ichat tabs” images. Maybe Bing just doesn’t find that result… (oh my god, it really doesn’t!)
Beyond the falsehood of the initial claim that iChat can’t connect to Facebook Chat (yes it can, Facebook Chat uses Jabber, which iChat supports), I’m guessing that the rest of this is accurate, if irrelevant in my opinion. MSNM is a bloated pig of an application (as evidenced by the fact that it has games built into it) that tries desperately to be a social media hub by taking on huge swaths of functionality that are poorly designed (again, in my opinion) and make the application less capable for its original purpose: instant messaging.
A couple of final notes on this section, though… first, is anyone actually using this impossibly vague “Web Activities” feature? And is it just me, or is Microsoft actually working hard to make sure that you’re less productive at your computer by incessantly telling you about what all of your hundreds of Facebook friends are doing right this very instant?
Finally, what the hell kind of email integration is MSMM capable of that iChat isn’t? iChat ties into your address book to pull contacts into your buddy list (which I guess is technically Address Book integration on the Mac)… beyond that, what other aspects of my email would I even need to have integrated? Explain, Microsoft! Vague, unexplained bullet points in a vast sea of feature lists do not a convincing argument make!
Does Microsoft have an MSMM client in the App Store, or are they just proclaiming that since apps in the App Store support MSMM, they have an iPhone client? A search for “MSN Messenger”, “Windows Live”, and a review of apps published by Microsoft in the App Store revealed no first-party Messenger clients, so I’m not sure why they get a check mark here when iChat – which uses chat protocols equally well-supported in the App Store – doesn’t. The rest is fairly tech-y… IM on the web I can see as being marginally useful in out-and-about situations, but “IM Developer Platform”? You’re really pushing that as a client-relevant feature? Also, iChat may not specifically support SMS and mobile chat, but AIM – which iChat integrates with – does. Just because Apple hasn’t poured unnecessary resources into duplicating others’ work in creating mobile AIM clients doesn’t mean you can’t use them.
This whole category feels improperly targeted, to be honest. Microsoft is running their own social network through MSN Messenger on top of the MSN Messenger (sorry, Windows Live Messenger) client application, so they get to claim a ton of ecosystem benefits that iChat can’t, because Apple isn’t running the AIM network. That doesn’t mean iChat is less capable, as is implied, it just means that if you’re tied into the AIM network, you need to use other pieces of software when taking advantage of non-desktop-specific use cases.
Here we go…
Top People: I’m assuming this lists the people who appear most frequently in your photos. In that case, I can’t easily find a way to replicate this feature in iPhoto. Fair enough.
Photo Finder Filters: For quick searches using the search bar, yes, iPhoto only allows one type of filter at a time (name/rating/tags/etc.). However, I’m not above creating a quick, disposable Smart Folder to do a search on multiple criteria. This seems to be something of an Apple-ism: want to find something quickly? Use a general search. Want to find something a bit more involved? Use a Smart Folder.
Batch Face Detection Confirm: Um… iPhoto does this. I’m not at home with my library of face-tagged photos, but I’ve done it before. It’s not hard. I think it’s a tied to a button in the bottom toolbar actually. Fail again, Microsoft.
Microsoft wins this category fair and square with some more advanced photo editing capabilities, especially the content aware fill-like Photo Fuse (which I think is just kinda creepy) and panorama stitching. I’m amused that it took them until Wave 4 to add a retouch feature though.
Publishing & Sharing
Flickr Sharing: It’s like Microsoft doesn’t even bother opening these applications before comparing them to their Windows Live counterparts. Flickr sharing is indeed supported in iPhoto. In fact, again, this is even called out by a huge “Flickr” button in the bottom toolbar!
Share to Windows Live: “for MobileMe”. What? If anything, I guess I should give Microsoft credit for giving iPhoto a check mark here, but I guess the alternative was to add another row for “Share to MobileMe” which Photo Gallery would have failed at.
Plugins: Not really a huge deal for me, and I can’t imaging it being one for many others, but whatever. Point.
Native Sign-in: Again, vague feature is vague. iPhoto features integrated, native sign-in with MobileMe (I just opened iPhoto for the first time on my work machine and all of my MobileMe albums were already accessible), but not Flickr or Facebook. Of course, “publishing partners” under Photo Gallery’s check mark is equally vague, so I can’t say for sure if Photo Gallery automatically signs you into Flickr or Facebook either. In any case, fail for not mentioning the integrated MobileMe sign-in when touting your own product’s Windows Live sign-in.
Video & DVD Apps
A lot of the reasons Movie Maker wins in these feature comparisons is because Apple completely rebooted iMovie a couple of years ago, and has yet to rebuild the feature list in the new product. And to be fair, comparing your release to your competitor’s current release is pretty standard. Still, for those looking for more capabilities without springing for Final Cut Express, iMovie HD is still floating around the Interwebs.
AutoMovie from movies, photos, music: iMovie does a limited version of this, but I don’t have the media at work to test the extent to which this is still true. iMovie HD did a lot better in this arena.
Auto-preview effects, transitions, & animations: Again, the new iMovie doesn’t live preview against your own content, but the non-rebooted version did. I can’t imagine this disparity persisting for many more versions, but Apple does have a bad habit of pushing people into the more expensive solution sometimes unnecessarily, so we’ll have to wait and see. If we’re lucky, Apple getting some competition in the “free” media editing software space should help spur faster development.
Publishing & Sharing
So remember in the Photo Gallery/iPhoto comparison when I said it was a wonder Microsoft gave iPhoto a pass on publishing to Windows Live? Yeah, they reversed course here for no readily apparent reason and split out Windows Live and MobileMe into their own rows. Also, Microsoft continues their Facebook hard-on. Was Facebook video publishing even available when iLife ’09 was released? I expect that if not, it’s something that will be remedied in the next release of iMovie. Apple’s getting better about social networking outside of their own services.
I need to check at home to verify the output resolution claim, but I also don’t really have any 1080p video to work with, so… yeah. Also, I’d much rather have h264 video than WMV. Seriously. Finally, video mail? How important is that to people, or are we just padding the feature list again? Besides, I can do video mail… it’s called a private YouTube video with the link sent via email, or a video uploaded to MobileMe with the link sent via email. Way more efficient, and way less likely to consume the recipient’s entire email quota.
I can’t believe Microsoft is actually tooting Apple’s horn here by promoting Mail.app’s Exchange support. But hey, I did make the point at the beginning of this post that these guys are idiots .
Why is Mail listed as having an attachment file size limit? I’ve never run into an attachment size problem in Mail.app. If that’s a mail provider limitation, then be specific about that, MS. People can use Mail.app with Hotmail, which I’m guessing is where your claim of unlimited file size for photo attachments is coming from. I’d still much rather cloud-source the files than potentially destroy the recipient’s ability to receive more mail by stuffing their inbox… not everyone uses your services, Microsoft!
Point for irrelevant “Slim Cal” feature… can’t say I’ve ever needed or missed the integrated calendar from Outlook after moving to my Mac at work, where I use the calendar a lot more than I do at home.
Conversation threading: again, Microsoft fails at actually knowing what they’re talking about. Mail’s supported threaded conversations since at least Leopard, if not Tiger or before (I came in on Tiger and don’t really use the feature, so I can’t say for certain when it showed up).
I have no idea what “integration with cloud storage” Microsoft is talking about here that Mail doesn’t support. Mail.app can access any web-based mail service that Live Mail can, plus a few more that may support Exchange ActiveSync, which Live Mail doesn’t.
Here again, Microsoft is going for an apples-to-oranges comparison between Writer and iWeb. They serve different purposes and different audiences, but they tried to shoehorn them into a single feature comparison chart. The end result is that neither really looks exceptional in all categories (as would be expected when comparing to products with wildly different aims). Bullet points like “Familiarity with Microsoft Office” just make it look like they’re trying too hard to come up with downsides to ding iWeb for. This whole section doesn’t even deserve a more drawn-out review.
Once more I’m puzzled as to why Microsoft is offloading parental controls into a separate, non-bundled product, but whatever. I’m betting they’re using Family Security to trojan the rest of the Live Essentials platform into the computer by promoting that Live Essentials (through Family Security) can give you more control over how your kids use the machine.
I’m not even sure why most of these check marks are in this list, since they pretty much exclusively apply to Windows Live and Family Safety themselves. About the only thing you could possibly give them credit for is the live website filtering. Everything else is either totally irrelevant to a Mac user, or OS X supports out-of-the-box.
Music Creation Apps
I’m entertained that Microsoft is even choosing to promote the fact that this is something you can’t do with Live Essentials. Aside from that, I’m not sure why they aren’t using the GarageBand icon, or why GarageBand isn’t spelled correctly (there’s no space in “GarageBand”).
To be fair, this list is a bit better than the IE9 vs. Firefox/Chrome/Safari chart they came up with last year. However, there are some pretty incredible and glaring inaccuracies that even a brief usage of the apps in question would reveal. Plus, the majority of the pro-Essentials check marks are relatively obscure features that seem to be there mostly to give Microsoft something to brag about, rather than something that would provide actual utility to the user (particularly in the MSMM/iChat comparison). Between that and the obscure FUD-ness of the pricing at the beginning of the chart, it seems like this was hastily thrown together to meet some new demand from management that they counter the “Macs are better at creative stuff” meme in advance of whatever Steve might say at WWDC today. D-, Microsoft.
Possibly the most interesting thing is that the report indicates Apple is ditching the Apple TV-specific branch of OS X for the iPhone OS. This is indisputably a good move. Apple TV’s software is still built on 10.4 Tiger, while the Mac has advanced to 10.6 and the iPhone OS branch of OS X is nearly 4 revisions along now. It always struck me as odd that Apple would put so much effort into maintaining a major product on such a legacy platform (by Apple’s standards, anyway) when the newer releases of both OS X and the iPhone OS are so much more capable.
Also interesting (and a point of pride given that I freaking called it! ) is that the Apple TV is moving to Apple’s A4 processor, away from the tremendously underpowered mobile Pentium-era chipset in the current model. Again, this makes considerable sense, because it reduces development expenses and complexity across Apple’s product line. Apple’s done a good job at demonstrating the power and efficiency of their custom silicon through the iPad (and presumably the new iPhone), and leveraging that hardware in another product seems like a given. Apple TV’s form factor and performance needs are much more suited to an ARM chipset than anything from Intel. Hopefully this will also bring the device’s power consumption down to more “environmental checklist”-friendly levels.
Given the paucity of onboard storage space (only 16GB SSD), I think this rumor also dovetails nicely with the rumors of an upcoming cloud-based iTunes service that have been floating around since Apple started building their new North Carolina data center, and which intensified after they bought Lala earlier this year. It’ll be interesting to see how this service ends up working, and whether it will allow users to upload their existing non-iTunes content into the cloud for universal access.
The thing that interests me most about this rumor, though, is the possibility that Apple could open up the Apple TV as a new platform for applications. Depending on how they approach this, it could be as simple as allowing services like Netflix and Hulu to stream their content onto the device through custom apps, or it could be as advanced as a full-on gaming console-type device. I think the “standard” approach would be to limit the device to audio and video playback, with the basic Apple remote for navigation, since that’s what most people would likely be buying one for. However, provided it had a Bluetooth radio in it (and why not?), it wouldn’t be difficult to expand support to more complex inputs such as dedicated controllers – or even iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad inputs – for gaming.
As I mentioned in my iPhone OS 4 post-mortem, Apple has a significant amount of support on their mobile platform for gaming (and now with Steam on the Mac, growing support for gaming on their desktop platform as well, hooray!). Major companies like EA and UbiSoft are developing major titles for the iPhone and iPad. Why not build on that support by expanding from the mobile space into the living room? With additions to the iPhone OS like Game Center, a robust platform for development, high-powered and highly-efficient hardware drawn from the mobile space, and serious support from major publishers, I think Apple could easily leverage their success with the iPhone OS into a major play for the living room by providing a familiar and broadly-supported platform to the masses who have already bought into Apple’s media ecosystem through iTunes.
The one potential sticking point in the gaming arena is the paucity of onboard storage. 16GB isn’t a lot for games designed for the TV, presumably complete with major-platform price points and gameplay length. I sort of hope that Apple differentiates the line-up with larger-capacity devices (up to 64 or 128GB) and supports cloud storage of apps and app data so you can swap out titles as you play them without having to worry about losing your games or your progress.
Will all of this happen? Perhaps, perhaps not. Regardless, the potential is there for Apple to swing straight from their success in mobile computing into a play against Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and now Google for control of the living room, using their experience with the “hobby” of Apple TV as a springboard. If nothing else, ideally the promise of third-party streaming services like Netflix and Hulu will come to pass. Given the rumored $99 price point, that may not happen as Apple may seek to make money off of this device through services rather than the actual hardware, but one never knows. I kind of hope this ends up being the “One More Thing” for the WWDC keynote despite Engadget’s assertion that it won’t be mentioned, because with the next iPhone essentially being a known entity already, it’d be nice if there were something like this to announce and flesh out to retain a certain level of interest and surprise. Assuming Apple plans to open this platform up to developers, WWDC seems like as good a place as any to get the word out – even if it doesn’t ship the product until later this year – so that the device can hit the ground running with a broad range of applications already available for it. I don’t think the iPad approach of scaling existing apps up to fit TV screens is going to work at all for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that TVs aren’t multitouch-compatible. There’s going to need to be a longer lead time on 3rd-party development to build apps that are Apple TV-compatible; existing apps simply won’t translate despite the commonality of the underlying architecture.
Hey, this tech pundit stuff is easy! Why can’t I get paid for it?
The interwebs are abuzz today with Gizmodo’s comprehensive tear-down of what’s very probably the next generation iPhone. With that buzz has come some of the long-standing complaints and gripes about Apple’s mobile business, and I wanted to weigh in with my thoughts on them, plus the new iPhone.
Apple’s still playing catch-up
For playing catch-up, Apple is doing a pretty darn good job of selling their crappy products. For some reason usability for the masses never factors into the equation for people who like to cite their 5-year-old Japanese-imported phones with feature lists as long as a school bus and a user manual the size of War and Peace. That’s not to say that the iPhone is perfect, or that it already does everything anyone would ever need (if that were the case, there would be no new iPhone), but Apple is usually very serious about usability, and tends not to build in a feature until it kicks some serious ass. This is why the iPod, while not the first MP3 player, is the most popular one, and why the iPad, despite being nothing like what the geek crowd wants from a tablet, has already sold over half a million units in its first two weeks.
So, kudos to Apple for taking the time to get a feature right, and I’m glad they’re (supposedly) bringing some of the geekier stuff like video conferencing to the device, along with improvements to the guts like a better camera and display.
The iPhone is still a single-carrier device
Largely only in the States, but I get that this is a serious problem for some people. Choice is always good, after all. However, I think AT&T netted themselves a pretty considerable exclusivity contract and has been working overtime to mend fences with Apple on sore points like New York and San Francisco connectivity (to the point where they actually gave the Apple staff some cellular network training to try and reduce problems), so overall Apple is probably not as hard-pressed to find another partner now as they were a couple of years ago when the AT&T hate was in full swing, along with their exclusivity. Apple is also in something of a tough spot because the next most likely iPhone carrier is Verizon, who uses a completely different cell radio type that’s probably on the way out, thanks to an inevitable LTE roll-out in the future. Given the choice, I don’t think Apple would want to spend the extra R&D and manufacturing costs on a CDMA phone when a better alternative is up-and-coming (and how better to drive roll-out and adoption than with an Apple-branded product?).
I’d love to see the iPhone come to T-Mobile since, in the States, they use the same kind of network as AT&T, but their comparatively small size is probably off-putting to Apple, and their willingness to hop into bed with Android as a flagship product platform probably has probably also chilled Apple’s opinion. For that matter, Verizon being so focused on the Droid is probably not helping their iPhone chances either. Apple is a fickle bitch, I’ll give you that. I’d still like to see the iPhone on T-Mobile though, if only because their plans would likely be less ass-rapey than AT&T’s.
The App Store approval process is terrible
Yes, it is. And while I think it’s in Apple’s best interests to keep their platform well-policed, I think there are a few things that could be done to alleviate some of the tensions in the developer and platform openness communities.
First, turn the approval process over to a third party, so that Apple can’t be seen to have a vested interest in controlling the store’s content to reduce competition. Apple made a huge stink with its rejection/indefinite hold of the Google Voice app, and aspects of the approval process that allow Apple to reject an app for “duplicating core functionality” are nothing but trouble for them in the future if they continue to grow in mobile computing influence.
Second, stop rejecting apps based on content. The marketplace is a perfectly viable place to let apps with really terrible purposes or content get dumped into oblivion; Apple doesn’t need to lend a hand by preventing those apps from coming to market. Regulation based on intent is really hard, and demonstrably prone to inconsistencies. If someone wants to put a porn app in the App Store, give them a category to put it in, and give users a filter to exclude that category if they don’t want to see it. Heck, building in a filter system so we can hide portions of the App Store we don’t care about would be awesome regardless of whether it led to an “explicit” category.
Now, if developers can be shown to be making malicious or duplicitous use of the App Store (such as selling single-site RSS readers to make money off of the content without that site’s permission, or stealing a user’s contact information without their knowledge), then yes, reject and/or pull their apps from the store. Anything else, though, should be left to the users to patrol, rank, and reject from their own devices. I know Apple is trying to maintain a certain appearance of being family-friendly (as Jobs’ comments during the iPhone OS 4 Q&A illustrate), and that’s hard to distance yourself from when you’ve built the application store for your product directly into your sync software, but properly established with parental controls and such, I think it would result in more positive press for Apple than negative.
Apple is being duplicitous and/or greedy by charging iPod Touch owners for OS updates
This is one that really kind of blows my mind. I mean, seriously, when did we decide that mobile operating systems were free? I know the iPhone seems to set an “updates are free” precedent, but that’s because the cost of the updates are amortized into the cost of your service contract with AT&T. You’re still paying for updates, just not as explicitly up-front. For iPod Touch owners, there’s no service contract (or revenue amortization, ala Apple TV) and thus, no way to pay for updates surreptitiously, so you get charged for an upgrade. And honestly, paying 5 or 10 bucks for an entire major release of an operating system is a pretty damn good deal regardless of the device it’s running on. I’ve never had a problem paying to update the OS on my iPod Touch (and I do seem to be the only person on the internet who feels this way sometimes) because the device did what I needed/wanted it to do when I got it (as a present, full disclosure), so any improvements to its functionality are things I’m willing to pay to get.
Also, more specifically on the subject of the Apple TV, I don’t think Apple’s really putting a lot of effort into that project anyway, so the resource commitments are probably small enough that even if they weren’t amortizing the cost of the device out over 2 years of financials, sales of their other products could easily fund Apple TV OS development without impacting the company’s bottom line.
I do also want to express some initial thoughts on the supposed (but very probable) iPhone Gizmodo got their hands on over the weekend, so here we go.
First, I’m very pleased that the thing isn’t rounded on the back like the 3G and 3GS are. That’s always struck me as an odd design decision for something that’s going to spend at least a fair amount of time on flat surfaces like desks (and it’s even more perplexing that the iPad does this too, since it’s even more likely to be a desk-mate device). I also think the new design integrates the device better with the rest of Apple’s product line, which is pretty much defined by aluminum-and-glass-oriented industrial design with lots of rounded corners and flat faces. The 3G and 3GS just seem like such bizarre departures from that approach, and the 4th-gen device seems to bring it back into the fold alongside the iPad. I really, really hope this design trickles down into the next-gen iPod Touch too, because I’d love to get my hands on one of those.
Second, the overall industrial design of the device is very interesting. It’s something of a break from Apple’s “no seams” policy, though that may change with the final device. In any case, the all-glass face and flat aluminum sides give it a certain amount of visual heft and maturity that the current design lacks. The glass/ceramic/plastic back (there’s uncertainty as to what it actually is) also looks very nice, with a matte finish that both mimics and counter-balances the all-black face, giving it a nice symmetrical, balanced feel.
Some people have said that it looks like Apple took a page from the Zune HD in the design of the new device, and while there are similarities, I don’t seem the resemblance to the Zune as much as I do to the rest of Apple’s products. This seems like an migration back towards Apple’s dominant design aesthetic, more than a desperate grab at Microsoft’s overtly-industrial industrial design.
Finally, the higher-res display sounds like a really nice improvement, and the OS already supports pixel-doubling applications on the iPad; a slightly more improved implementation would do just fine with running apps pixel-doubled in the same physical space as the original device. I’m also honestly glad they’re not going with OLED displays, because their daylight usability really is crap.
So it looks like I was both close and far off on my predictions for the new iPhone OS that Apple previewed today. I wanted to post some thoughts on how well I did, as well as a general collection of thoughts on Apple’s presentation itself. So first, how well I did on my predictions.
I don’t think this was a huge surprise for anyone, but it was still very nice to see it actually happen. I was mostly wrong about the UX for it though, and to be fair the rumors weren’t entirely correct either. The Dashboard widget toolbar interface (as opposed to the rumored Exposé interface or my conceptual Safari web pages interface) is an interesting decision on Apple’s part. The design details are perhaps the most interesting thing to me, actually. The iPhone OS dock now reflects the desktop OS X dock across all platforms. I find this interesting mostly because the original iPod Touch firmware had a similar dock UI, but changed to match the iPhone in a later update. Now with the iPad and the new iPhone OS, everything is switching over to the glass Mac dock.
I like the spread of features being made available to developers to create backgrounded applications, and totally understand the way that multitasking is being handled on the iPhone for battery life reasons… tying into services that the OS offers is way less intensive than everybody writing their own services to do whatever they want whenever they want, and with the possible exception of RSS feed fetching in the background (something which can technically be done with push notifications when the app is tied to a service), this handles pretty much every use case people have been griping about on the iPhone.
I was of two minds regarding the multitasking behavior after the presentation was over, but the hands-on stuff from Engadget and others has given me a pretty good glimpse into how everything works, and I’m pretty pleased with it. I’m still not sure if apps will continue to spawn into the multitasking dock until the system runs out of memory, and how it will remove them from that dock at that point (presumably on a least-recently-used-first basis), but other questions like how apps get into the app switcher (by default) and how to remove apps from the app switcher (press and hold to bring up a minus symbol) have been answered to my satisfaction. Overall, I’m pretty impressed with the implementation, even if it’s nothing completely ground-breaking.
Something else that was pretty much a given, though the additional Mail improvements are also nice, especially the “open attachments in 3rd party apps” feature. I’m looking forward to seeing the video of the presentation that Apple will inevitably release tonight so that I can see stuff like mailbox switching and threaded conversations “first-hand”.
Home Screen Contacts
This one didn’t seem terribly likely to me, but I included it due to the rumor mill’s general enthusiasm for the idea. Not really surprised it isn’t there, but then Apple also didn’t show off all of the new features in OS 4.0, so it might be tucked away for devs to discover while they tinker with the beta. Combined with the new Springboard folders, that might be a relatively useful speed dial feature.
Springboard Wallpaper & API Enhancements
I’m somewhat surprised that there wasn’t more of a focus on the developer side of the new OS, but everyone does love new shiny features they can brag about, so I’ll take what we got for what it is. That said, I’m glad to see the iPad Springboard improvements making their way into the iPhone/iPod Touch release, and look forward to finding out if the other API improvements like embedded video content have made their way in as well. Guess we’ll have to wait for the developers to get their hands dirty.
Nothing mentioned on this front. This may be another wait-and-see thing, but it may just not be in Apple’s plans for the iPhone builds of the OS since Apple doesn’t treat the iPhone as a work productivity device the way they do the iPad. They may just not feel that file store/sync is as important on the smaller-screened devices.
New Lock Screen
I’m also honestly not all that surprised by this one not showing up, but I don’t think the final nail can be quite put into the coffin yet. During the Q&A Engadget asked about it, at least as far as the iPad is concerned, and the response from Apple was somewhat cat-and-mouse-y, with Jobs saying that they had just released the iPad on Saturday, and on Sunday they rested. Given that the iPad release of iPhone OS 4.0 won’t be until the fall, it’s possible they have a few bonus features planned for it which they’re holing close to the vest right now.
New Push Notifications UX
This is the one I’m perhaps least surprised and most frustrated about not happening. I do like that apps can now generate notifications locally though, and hope that developers do so in a mostly unobtrusive manner by using icon badges and sound alerts more than the annoying modal pop-up dialogs. This should be a big hit with to-do list apps and such, so that they can update their application icons with new badges without having to be launched first.
Home Screen Organization Improvements
As may be obvious based on the fact that I only gave this a 5% chance of happening, I’m very surprised by the addition of folders to the OS, but also greet it warmly, because it’s something that’s become more and more necessary as the App Store continues to overflow with new apps.
Thoughts on Apple’s Event, by Tent Pole
First off, before I get to the feature focuses, I’m excited by the possibilities of Apple opening up 1,500 new APIs for developers to get their hands on, and can’t wait to see what comes of it as a result. I’m also looking forward to seeing what secrets Apple has slipped into the SDK for developers to discover and take advantage of that weren’t mentioned during today’s presentation. Now then, on to the big top!
Again, I’m glad this is finally coming, and it’s nice to see that Apple will once again be out ahead of Microsoft in the mobile arena by the end of the year in pretty much every respect when compared to the Windows Phone 7 OS. I’m not at all surprised that only the iPhone 3GS, the Gen3 iPod Touch, and the iPad will be getting all of the new hotness including multitasking, but am a bit saddened (though not entirely surprised) by the fact that original iPhone and iPod Touch owners are out in the cold entirely. Oh well, the mobile space has grown and shifted dramatically since the iPhone came out in 2007, so it’s not entirely unexpected that these platforms would need to be cut loose eventually when the software is now doing WAY more than it was ever originally designed or intended to do. The fact that we’ve gotten the 3.0 OS is no small wonder.
I very much like the fact that third-party apps are being given access to the iPod controls on the lock screen, the “return to call” double-height information bar (for stuff like Skype), and the headphone hardware controls. This again provides for a better framework and a consistent UI that users don’t need to re-adjust to when using third-party apps instead of first-party ones.
Folders & Wallpaper
I like these. I even like their implementation, because it’s pretty much as drop-dead simple as you can get. The auto-naming feature based on the category of the app in the App Store is pretty clever too. Being able to keep folders in the dock is double nice, and the UI is very slick (and even slicker after having watched the Engadget hands-on video), even if the folders are limited to 12 apps each.
The wallpaper on the Home Screen is also a nice touch, though obviously both of these are nothing revolutionary (or even new, for jailbreakers).
So, unified inbox, multiple Exchange accounts, and threaded conversations. IIRC from the Ars coverage, you can even save searches. No word on content searching though, which is something of a bummer. Anybody with a dev account want to give it a spin? In any case, this pretty much matches all of the major selling points of Windows Phone 7′s mail client.
Third party app support for attachments is also great to see. Very pleased about that one in particular (though unified inbox is still #1 for me).
Um, yay? I’m not entirely sure why this is a tent pole feature for Apple, but kudos to them for back-porting it from the iPad I guess. The wireless bookmark and position sync is interesting… based on this and a couple of other things it seems like Apple is starting to get closer to a fully wireless sync process with iTunes, which would be nice to see.
This isn’t really something I’m particularly interested in, but again, kudos to Apple for improving their position in the marketplace. The wireless application roll-out and device management features are perhaps the most interesting things here for me, because as I mentioned in my iBooks comments, it look like Apple is sort of building a wireless sync process piecemeal. It’d be nice to see more expansion and consolidation of these concepts further down the road.
This is just incredible. Apple effectively building their own mobile (and free!) X-box Live service for developers and tying it straight into the OS is a fantastic move, especially for a company that has historically eschewed games as a platform of interest. It’s a really powerful answer to Microsoft’s X-box Live integration in WinPhone 7, and I’d be interested to see if this is something that eventually makes the jump over to the desktop OS in the next major release. If Apple can get as serious about building a quality gaming platform on the desktop as they are in the mobile space, Microsoft will have some serious competition on their hands, because let’s face it: Games for Windows Live still sucks rocks through a straw.
As unlikely as it may be, I think this also opens the door for Apple to get into the console gaming business, and seriously expand the Apple TV market by tying it into the Game Center. Obviously this will require some new hardware, but with Apple having an in-house chip designer (or two), and the obvious power available behind their existing mobile devices, I think it’s much more doable today than it ever has been before. Apple’s already got all of the big gaming studios on-board with the iPhone and iPad… leveraging their existing expertise with Apple’s mobile platform by hooking it into a TV is almost a no-brainer.
I think this was the biggest news to come out of the event, because I don’t think anyone saw it coming, and it has the potential to completely redefine the mobile gaming space (again) before Microsoft ever gets their first WinPhone 7 device out into the public’s hands. If they move fast enough, Apple could very easily put out a console device tied into the iTunes Store by the end of the year and start some very serious competition with Microsoft for the living room.
Terrible, terrible name. I liked the “AdKit” name that was floated earlier, though that may also be in use as the developer-side term for the mobile marketing toolkit itself.
I’m actually quite positive on this framework, because to be honest, Steve’s right: I rarely click on ads in apps, even ones I’m actually interested in, because I know it’s going to pull me out of the app I’m using, and I Have Things To Do Right Now. Giving devs a framework for providing ads that they don’t have to think about, while giving users a better experience with the ads they decide to click on that isn’t disruptive to their usage of an app is a win-win as far as I’m concerned.
The thing that annoys me, honestly, are the idiots who are intentionally misunderstanding Apple’s ad framework and using it to knock the OS as being ad-driven, even for paid apps, simply because they can’t bitch about multitasking anymore. Anyone who says anything along the lines of “why is the iPhone OS serving me ads in paid applications?!” is deliberately misstating the facts of the situation. This is a framework for developers to use instead of services like AdMob, to serve you ads where they were already planning on serving them anyway. Paid applications will only have ads in them if the developer wants to put them there, and the OS itself isn’t going to just start throwing ads at you.
I also want to give Apple kudos for showing up Adobe yet again by making incredibly rich, dynamic ads using nothing but HTML5, and for deliberately making a point of that during the presentation. Just one more nail in Flash’s coffin at this rate. It’s weird to see a company push so strenuously for an platform over which it has no control in an effort to ostracize a closed platform it also doesn’t control, rather than making its own closed platform (*cough*Silverlight*cough*), but ditching Flash for an open standard is to everyone’s benefit, not just Apple’s, and it’s nice to see them dragging Microsoft kicking and screaming into the future of the web in the process.
Versus Windows Phone 7
I don’t really think Microsoft has much going for it now with Windows Phone 7 beyond the X-box Live service integration. The WinPhone 7 Home Screen’s big claim to fame is the live-updating tiles, almost all of which can also be done now using the iPhone’s combination of local and push notifications, and I personally prefer the icon-based home screen UI of the iPhone to the sea of solid color and text that is the WinPhone 7 home screen UI. While theoretically the live tiles can be used to push stuff like weather info, the only thing I’ve seen demoed that the iPhone can’t do is photo pushing, which isn’t that huge of a thing to me. I’d love to see Apple live-update the Weather app icon the way it does the Calendar app though. Also, I find the constant movement of the live tiles incredibly distracting, like I’m looking at a web page full of Flash ads. Ugh.
I’m entertained that the iPhone will have better mulitasking support than WinPhone 7 will at launch, because Microsoft has confirmed that apps like Pandora won’t be allowed to continue running in the background in a way that actually matters (i.e. playing music). It’s still not full multitasking like what you get on the desktop (or WebOS [whose multitasking seems possible largely because so much of its application base is WebKit-driven], or possibly Android), but it’ll do the job for 99.9% of the usage cases people have been grumping about over the past 3 years, and the multitasking behavior is otherwise on par with Microsoft’s “suspend and resume” architecture. I’m also entertained that the iPhone will have copy and paste this winter, while WinPhone 7 will not. And for some reason the pundits aren’t nearly as apoplectic over Microsoft not having this feature at launch as they were over Apple leaving it out.
I also think WinPhone 7′s “hubs” are slightly overblown when it comes to their level of importance and game-changery. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see someone build iPhone applications that replicate the functionality of the People and Photos hubs, pulling in information and updates from multiple sources and sending updates to various networks as well (in fact, I’m pretty sure these already exist), and with the new APIs for photos and such in version 4, it should be even easier to build stuff like that.
Again, Microsoft’s biggest built-in advantage over the iPhone is X-box Live. If they can spend the next 7 months getting developers to build high-quality games with multi-system support (desktop, X-box, and WinPhone), I think they’ll easily hold onto their place as a gaming king-pin. Apple’s nipping at their heels now in the mobile department, and has been for some time. The new Game Center services which Apple is building around their iTunes empire (based on the Engadget walkthrough, you log in with your iTunes user account) are sure to cause Microsoft some stress, and as I mentioned earlier, this positions Apple well to launch into the console arena using what they’ve learned from their mobile ventures to build something really awesome and bring a more serious device to the war for the living room than the Apple TV has been.
Overall, this was a pretty sizable, quality update. Not everything in it is revolutionary – or even new to those who have already jailbroken their devices – but for those of us who don’t want to futz with breaking out of the walled garden, it’s nice to see these improvements come to the general populace. It’s frustrating that the first-generation touch devices are excluded from this upgrade entirely, but it’s understandable, given that Apple’s mobile devices have changed so much in the past 3 years. My Gen1 iPod Touch is starting to get noticeably sluggish running 3.1.3, so I don’t think 4.0 would be a terribly good idea anyway. I’m also a little frustrated that the iPad won’t get 4.0 until this fall, but like I said before, there’s probably additional work to be done getting it ready for the iPad, and some extra bonus features may squeeze their way in as well, so I’m OK with that. I’m also much more enthused about getting an iPad now (like I wasn’t already, haha), knowing what’s in the pipeline for it with the 4.0 upgrade.
So Yahoo News has a blurb on 13 glaring iPod shortcomings. Having spent at least half an hour messing around with one at Best Buy on launch day Saturday, I’d like to provide my thoughts on these reported shortcomings. Most of them seen to stem from a continued insistence on misunderstanding the use cases for the device that Apple has been doing a pretty consistent job of highlighting in their PR.
I wouldn’t consider the iPad any more awkward than trying to walk around using a netbook on the go. In fact, I’d personally consider it less awkward in that respect. Yes, it’s more awkward than a phone or an iPod Touch, but it’s designed for portability, not mobility. It’s a “sit on the couch and use it”-type device, not a “check Facebook in the line at Subway”-type device. It’s still easier to carry or pass around than a laptop or netbook; it’s a “casual use” device, not an “incidental use” device. Trying to use it for something it wasn’t really targeted at as a use case is obviously going to be awkward.
Yes, it is. And if it were a phone this would be a serious problem. But again, that’s not the use case it was built for. Sitting with it in your lap or resting beside you on the table is probably far more what Apple’s got in mind for the thing, considering that’s how everyone in their guided videos and press material is using it. That said though, even in the considerable time I spent standing at the Apple booth in Best Buy with the thing in one hand, it wasn’t that heavy. I decided to put it down after about 20 minutes to do some typing tests (which I’ll address later), but it wasn’t a pain to hold up, and was actually a bit easier to hold in landscape mode (not sure why, it just felt better that way… good thing iPhone OS 3.2 supports a landscape Springboard). Keep in mind, also, that I’m not exactly the most buff person on the planet… I’m more of your typical stringy weakling nerd type.
Maybe you can use the “it’s heavy” thing to justify keeping it away from your kids though .
I really have nowhere to go on this one, because I just don’t agree by any means with this assessment. Of course, I wasn’t trying to carry it under my arm at Best Buy, but even holding it in my hand, I didn’t feel like I was going to drop it, or that there was going to be some serious issue with carrying the thing around with me from place to place. Perhaps this would become evident if I spent more time with the device, but after 30 minutes, the “slippery” contention doesn’t match my experience.
There screen has too much glare
Am I the only person on the planet who isn’t annoyed by glossy screens? Am I the only person who remembers back all of 5 years ago to the time when we had glass-fronted CRT displays (and flat-faced ones, at that!) without wondering how on Earth we managed to actually get any computing done with all that glossy, reflective, shiny glare in our eyes?
Seriously. Yes, the screen will show reflections, and light can be a bit of a bother, but here’s the thing: I used this device at Best Buy, which isn’t exactly a glare-friendly place with all of its fluorescent lights, and I had no problems with reading the display while poking around with the Star Walk and iBooks apps (both of which I think require a certain extra level of focus and display clarity to use well). Maybe I’m just extra good at focusing on the screen and not the reflections. In any case, it’s no more or less bothersome than the iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, and iMac displays (these being the other glossy Apple displays I’ve had experience with over the years), and their glossiness has never bothered me that much at all.
Forget reading in the sun
I didn’t get to walk outside with the iPad I was messing around with at Best Buy, but I’ve also never had major issues with using my iPod Touch in direct sunlight either, so somehow I doubt that the experience is markedly worse on the iPad (and if it is, I’ll stand corrected). Just be glad Apple didn’t use an OLED screen in the thing… I’ve seen pictures of a Zune HD in direct sunlight and could barely tell the thing was even on.
Fingerprints are annoying
Hey guess what, it’s a touch-screen device! And while the iPad may end up being the thing everyone points to in the future as the reason why large-format touch displays never really took off, I think this one’s a bit petty. But then again, this may be a personal thing (like reflections and sunlight readability), since fingerprints on my iPod Touch never seem to annoy me as much as they do other people. Still, glass display or not, touch-screen devices are going to have fingerprint problems. Duh. If you obsessively polish your desktop display after someone points at something on it, you should probably avoid touch-screens as a general rule.
It doesn’t multitask
No. It doesn’t. And we knew that going in. If this is news to you and it actually matters, then you’re probably not who the iPad was made for. The people who don’t know it doesn’t multitask are the same people who very probably don’t care, because they have Internet Explorer open full-screen on their home computer (if they even have one), and might have iTunes or Pandora radio playing in the background. And guess what? iTunes plays in the background on the iPad, too! The people who do know that the iPad doesn’t multitask are the ones most likely not to actually really need an iPad, because they’ve already got a desktop, a laptop, a netbook, and a smartphone. In this case, the iPad is simply not for you, so stop grumping about it.
Really, I’ve never really gotten the “OMFG NO MULTITASKING!!!!” argument. Clearly it hasn’t detracted from the iPhone OS platform’s performance in the marketplace thus far. Would it be nice to have for those rare edge cases like Pandora (or possibly an IM client, but that’s more of a notifications UX issue than anything else) where being able to run a third-party app in the background would actually improve the behavior of the device? Sure. But because iPhone OS applications don’t (or shouldn’t, if they’re well-designed) behave like desktop applications when you close them, it’s not that big of a deal.
Just for kicks, while I was at Best Buy I launched Pages, opened a document, and scrolled down a few pages. Then I left Pages and opened Safari, ostensibly to look something up or copy some text out of it. Safari opened immediately and the page was responsive to commands as soon as the application was done filling the screen. Then I left Safari and went back into Pages. Pages remembered what document I’d opened and remembered where I’d scrolled to in that document, so I was right back where I left off, with maybe 2 seconds (at the most) taken to launch the app and re-initialize the document. For the light computing use case that this thing was intended for, that’s perfectly acceptable.
This argument may even be a moot point by the end of the day on Thursday (at least conceptually), depending on what the iPhone OS 4.0 preview brings. Practically speaking, it may be an argument for another few months after that, but with a guarantee that the experience will become more robust without additional expense quite soon, and for free (because Apple’s not going to charge for iPhone OS 4 on the iPad, according to Ars Technica).
Also, I question the article’s assumption that Apple wants you using this thing as a primary device for “hours at a time”. I’m likely to spend hours on it at a time, yes, but with an understanding of what it’s for: watching movies or TV shows, listening to music, getting some light work-related stuff done, and browsing the web. I’m not going to try and replace my desktop with it; that would be stupid.
The browser is limited
I’m amused that their other argument against the iPad browser is the fact that Google Docs is read-only. I’d bet $20 that this will be something Google corrects within a month, because their current mobile docs site for MobileSafari targets the iPhone and iPod Touch, neither of which make terribly good text editors. There’s also Google Docs apps in the App Store that will grant you this functionality now for a price, but given Google’s swift update to Gmail for the iPad, Google Docs very likely isn’t far behind. In any case, this isn’t something that’s Apple’s fault or an iPad shortcoming because MobileSafari can’t handle the full Google Docs interface. It can, Google’s just not serving it yet.
The virtual keyboard stinks
No. No it doesn’t. I wouldn’t want to try and write a novel on it, but I got through my “I realized the moment I fell into the fissure…” test typing paragraph without a single spelling error (I use the Myst intro for a test paragraph because it’s several lengthy sentences long, uses every letter of the alphabet, and I know it by heart), which is well more than I can say for the iPhone keyboard. The landscape keyboard is a lot easier to use than the portrait one, but both are serviceable, and the landscape one is almost exactly like typing on an Apple aluminum keyboard, just without the physical response of the actual keys depressing.
Now, I’m also not someone who’s good at touch typing, and my WPM count is never going to climb into the hundreds, so it might just be that I’m not running into the limitations that more savvy keyboard users have with virtual keyboards. YMMV here.
There’s no USB port
No. No there isn’t. Very perceptive of you. However, again this isn’t supposed to be a primary computing device for heavy workloads. There are printer apps in the App Store (though none currently support the iWork apps… I’m sure they’ll get there though) if you really desperately need to print something from the device, but otherwise, print content from your desktop or laptop, which you almost certainly already have if you’re using a printer in the first place.
I’m also amused by the “you can’t hook an external hard drive to it” argument here. Because external hard drives just scream “portable” to me…
If you can tell me what, besides a printer, scanner, or external hard drive, you’d want to plug into a USB port on the iPad, I’d love to hear it. The first two you’re already likely to have hooked up to a desktop or laptop, and the last wouldn’t make any difference if you could or not, since the iPhone OS doesn’t really support open access to external drives anyway (you can count this as a drawback, but not the missing USB port). I personally have nothing I’d need to plug into it, and the last time I used a printer when I wasn’t at work was… about a week before Mysterium 2009. For something that was done on my desktop because it was a complex graphic design project.
iPhone-only apps look terrible
Yeah, they do. However, not all developers are gouging assholes looking to turn another bit of profit by selling us iPad-only versions of apps we already have so that they don’t look like crap on the iPad.
Example: Agile Web Solutions, the guys behind 1Password, are selling a universal “Pro” iPhone/iPad app for $14.99. If you already had 1Password Pro for the iPhone, you get the iPad version for free with the latest update, even id you don’t have an iPad. If you don’t have the iPhone version, you can buy one just for the iPad for $6.99 (an iPhone-only version is also available for the same price). The Now Playing developer and the WordPress guys are also following this strategy, offering iPad versions of their app via a free update to the existing one for the iPhone. Others, like the What’s On devs, are making iPad-specific versions of their apps but not charging anything for them (which is nice, since the apps are also free on the iPhone).
In some cases, I’m actually amazed that the software being offered is as cheap as it is… Star Walk is a good example here. A full-featured planisphere app loaded with information and magnetometer/accelerometer-driven “point it at the sky”-style star-seeing is only $4.99. That’s just amazing.
Given the more prolonged (yet casual) use case the iPad is built for and the larger area for productivity the device affords, I think apps can deserve to charge more for what’s being offered. I do actually think devs deserve to get paid for their efforts, after all… (and I also really hope that Cyan does real justice to Myst and Riven on the iPad by releasing versions with larger graphics).
The price is too high
Oh FFS, Apple could give this away and people would still complain about the price. Remember when it was going to cost $999 and people were being optimistically wishy-washy on that price? Do I wish it were cheaper? Yeah, but then I wish everything was cheaper, because I don’t have a lot of money. Lucky for me, I seem to be getting a string of good but small web development jobs that will finance my 3G iPad within a month or two, so I’m not going to gripe about the price. Again, this isn’t a shortcoming, it just is what it is. If it’s too expensive, then don’t get one, but that’s a personal decision that you have to make for yourself after you evaluate what the device is worth to you.
Apple’s not likely to drop the price either the way they did for the iPhone when it first came out. The iPad slots nicely between the iPod Touch/iPhone and the MacBook on their pricing chart, starting just above the iPod Touch and ending just below the entry-level MacBook. There’s nowhere for this product to go price-wise without impinging on Apple’s carefully-configured linear price/features escalation metric.
It doesn’t replace anything
Where did Apple say it was going to? Which part of the “between a phone and a laptop” slide in the unveiling presentation did you not grasp? I guess you could argue that it’s supposed to replace/usurp the netbook, and on that point I think you may have an argument, but based on my experience with netbooks, they could use some replacing/usurping.
If you already have a desktop and a laptop, then no, this device probably doesn’t have much relevance for you, because you already have your preferred mobile computing platform. It’s even less relevant if you already have a desktop, a laptop, and a smartphone like the iPhone. However, that doesn’t describe the vast majority of people who use computers, and Apple’s not really trying to sell to you.
If, however, you’re like me and only have a desktop machine (and an iPod Touch, whose utility is reduced due to a janked headphone jack), the iPad presents an interesting alternative to the traditional laptop or netbook purchase.
I actually debated with myself about getting a refurbished or Craigslisted MacBook for a couple of weeks before the iPad launch, because a 16GB WiFi+3G model was going to cost about as much as a laptop would. In the end, though, I decided to go with an iPad because it was more convenient for how I’d want to use it: on the couch, or face-to-face with someone else like a client, doing simple web browsing, checking email, reading, watching videos, listening to music, light writing, and preliminary design work for websites and graphics. Stuff that I can then take back to my desktop machine and refine the hell out of, but which I can very quickly, easily, and (most importantly in the client scenario) personally share with other people in a very physical format. I know it’s super-cliche to bring up the physicality of viewing content on the device, but it’s true: stuff just feels more real and tactile on a touch-screen tablet device than it does on a laptop or desktop, because you’re not separated from it by a mouse and keyboard, you’re interacting with it directly, and that resonates powerfully with people.
Ultimately, this list of 13 shortcomings seems like a re-hashing of what’s been said about the device in the 3 months since its announcement in January, none of which is really new information. Now, for things that might actually sway you from buying an iPad for practical reasons after assessing whether its capabilities are in tune with what you want/need from a portable computing device (something which, IMO, is best done by actually messing with the device in question and not reading about it on the interwebz), Engadget has a nice quick run-down of issues being reported by the early adopters that may give you pause (none of which I can substantiate one way or the other because I didn’t get to spend that much time with it).