My Thoughts On the iPad in 2010

For the iPad’s three year anniversary I’m not going to dwell on the thoughts of those that didn’t understand it back then (many of them still don’t), but these were my thoughts…

What always amazes me isn’t the [Apple] bashers’ lack of vision or imagination, or their misreading of the target market… or having learned nothing from previous Apple products’ successes… No, it’s the complete lack of originality in their arguments. I mean, it’s been 25 years since the Macintosh and they’re still calling Apple’s products “toys”

Dear Apple iPad Haters: Please Get A Grip (And A Thesaurus)

Touch devices need that input method close to their core, and an API to back it up. That’s why the iPad will be an incredible hit while tablet PCs will continue to fail, no matter what flavor of Windows you slap on them.

The Windows XP, Vista, or 7 UI Is the Tablet PC’s Biggest Weakness

I can’t understand how anybody can watch the videos for Keynote, Pages and Numbers and claim the iPad is “just a big iPod touch”. This device is going to change everything.

Apple iPad Guided Tour Videos: Don’t Tell Me This Can’t Do Serious Work

Right now the iPad is one-of-a-kind, no matter how many pundits blather about “tablets” having been around for 10 years. Those are laptops running a desktop OS with the keyboard snapped off. You don’t build the new paradigm with the old paradigm’s thinking.

iPad alternatives? Only if you stretch the meaning of “alternative”

However, I believe the fact that [the iPad] performs respectably for [some pundits] means it can be a laptop replacement for millions of non-geeks. They just don’t know it yet.

The iPad as a productivity tool

The result is the first and only practical tablet computer.… Apple rightly deserves credit for building what makes sense now, and not chasing failed “visions” from yesterday.

Microsoft: Getting tablet PCs wrong since 2002

Remember when tech pundits used to lead the charge for change, and get excited about new, powerful technologies that made things easier for non-technicians? Yeah, me neither.

What can we learn from the “moderated” Windows SuperSite blog?

increasingly, [iOS] is becoming “mainstream”. By this, I mean there’s less concern in the mind of the average consumer that a purely touch interface can work. No more garbage about how the screen will get too oily, you can’t use a software keyboard, etc. Put simply, the paradigm shift from keyboard/mouse to touch screen—at least for tasks most consumers do—is less of a question. As more and more consumers understand this, iPad sales will continue to roll.

What Sales of Two Million iPads Can Tell Us

It’s this [desktop OS] confusion that a touch OS simplifies. It isn’t just about touch, but about removing the complications of GUIs that have accrued over the years. To me, when I use the iPad I see something with current faults (just as the GUI had faults in the beginning), but it’s clear to me that every computer will eventually work this way.

Every Computer Will Work This Way

The tablet form factor is going to be huge. I’m already on record that it’s how “all” computers will work someday, and I don’t think critical mass will take as long as the GUI did, which is apparently what Forrester is expecting.

Forrester Research: Tablets Will Only Steal Sales From… Desktops?

Chromebooks: Not PC, Not Post-PC

Chromebooks are here and getting a lot of press, just as Netbooks did before them. But in a post-PC world the two categories have more in common than one might think.

For starters, let’s see where a Chromebook differs from the leading post-PC device:


Chrome OS doesn’t approach the rich app ecosystem of iOS. This is further diluted when no Internet connection is available, as some apps require. The basics are there, but the beauty of post-PC—like the beauty of PC—is a wealth of third-party additions to make the machine “yours”. In this regard iPad’s versatility goes way beyond a Chromebook.

Chrome OS is from Google. Let’s not pretend a primary function isn’t to gather data about you for sale to ad agencies. It lacks iOS’ easy user-controlled granularity of privacy settings per app, photo access per app, location access per app, etc., as well as default third-party cookie blocking, ability to reset device identity and more.

Cheap hardware built to look like a “real” laptop. A major design goal is to beat out the cheapest Windows laptops while not appearing to be a tiny netbook.

This is one of the tenets of post-PC, yet Chromebooks are bulky and heavy by any iPad standard. Further, battery life is no better than a “regular” PC notebook.

Netbooks are cheap PCs with small screens and cramped keyboards. They fizzled in the marketplace when it become clear they don’t offer the UX of a conventional Windows laptop. Meanwhile, Chromebooks are “regular” laptop size to avoid the netbook stigma, but remain cheap by ditching the PC OS for Google’s data-gathering tools.

There are many ways to cling to a familiar past while cheating the experience in an attempt to reduce cost and appear “new”. Netbooks and Chromebooks take different approaches but the result is the same: their UX is unlike the laptops they’re designed to imitate. In many ways Netbooks and Chromebooks are the ultimate skeumorphic design. Designed to look like the familiar laptop form we’ve known for 20 years, but in reality being no such thing.

If you want a laptop for its usability and legacy functions, by all means get one. Mac or PC, there are plenty of excellent choices on the market. But be realistic on either cost or functionality. If you’re not, then one way or the other you’ll be disappointed.

Haikus Written During Today’s WWDC Keynote

With much excitement
Today Apple announces
Samsung’s next products.

Dear iPad 1 folk:
No iOS 6 for you.
Best Regards, Apple.

Developers meet.
Let’s stop all this software talk,
Get to the hardware.

Play long video,
Announce whatever they want
After crowd’s asleep.

Apple’s MacBook Pros:
Can competitors keep up?
Dell just peed their pants.

Biggest question now
With Retina display MacBooks:
Will Porn sites upgrade?

iOS upgrades
Get to user base quickly.
Android’s never do.

Samsung design team
Brainstorming, they ask Siri
What do we do next?

iOS 6 adds
Ugly faces everywhere.
FaceTime cellular.

Maps’ navigation:
Users love, competitors
Won’t know where to turn.

A Test Post Using WordPress iOS App

At the time the first version of WordPress for iOS came out, I was looking for an alternative to blogging that would be less work, and more iOS-friendly. That first WP version was a disaster. Little functionality, and a crashy, buggy piece of code. Horrible, really.

I ultimately settled on Posterous for blogging, and loved it. Unfortunately, it’s been sold to Twitter and its future does not look bright. I’m looking to move off of it, so am visiting WordPress again—on my old site—and it’s latest iOS app. This time on the iPad.

Continue reading

Android vs. iPhone: Is Choice Enough?

If I like Android and hate my new carrier, Sprint, I can switch to Verizon and get the Incredible. If I have an aneurysm and love AT&T, I can get the Aria. If I want a small screen, I can do that. If I want a physical keyboard, I can find a device that does that. But for iPhone, I simply would have to take whatever Apple offers and believe that their choices are right for me. I’ve chosen Apple many times and will again in the future, but I don’t think I should buy into a system that restricts my choices when another one is out there that enables my choices.

The article is a long and honest assessment of one man’s reason for switching to Android from iPhone. By “honest”, I mean it doesn’t appear to be a page-hit or iPhone-bashing piece, but rather a sincere opinion. Still, that doesn’t mean the opinion isn’t misguided, and even a little bit misleading.

A lot of the article hinges on Android’s “momentum” and how it may soon be as good as the iPhone, but that makes no sense. If being “best” and having momentum matter the iPhone leads right now. By that criteria he should be using an iPhone and, in a couple years when his contract expires, he can survey the landscape for what’s “best” again. 

The “best” argument isn’t what rankles me, however, it’s the so-called choice. Proponents of this line of reasoning—and the article adheres to it strongly—tout it as the iPhone against a mythical phone with features from who-knows-how-many handsets. No matter what feature you want, the argument goes, you have that “choice” (though it seems to ignore that the iPhone is a choice as well).

But what if you want several features? Maybe the Nexus One appeals to you, but you want a hardware keyboard. Oops. Or maybe you want the Evo, but also want AT&T. Oops again. Or maybe you want the Droid but with Apple’s App Store. Blasphemy! The point is, “choice” does not mean you get the phone of your dreams. There will be compromise. Period. At the end of the day, after the “choice” you still end up with just one phone for two years. Will that one phone—not a device imagined from features of others—be better than the iPhone (also a choice)? Will it be more or less of a compromise? In the end that’s all that matters. 

Somewhat misleading is the flippant way the author suggests that if he doesn’t like a phone he can just switch. But that’s hardly true. As a subsidized phone, once you buy it you’re in for (on average) two years. So, no, if you hate your new carrier, you can’t just switch to Verizon. Not without a hefty Early Termination Fee. Or is money supposed to be no object? Sure, you can switch after two years, maybe 18 months, but does that matter if you’ve made the wrong compromise to begin with?

Google is completely open except when they’re not

Like any company, Google is open in what doesn’t make them money and proprietary as heck in what does. Android is open (under the Apache license, not GPL — which should give the philosophical FOSSies pause) but Google certainly hasn’t opened their search or AdWords platforms. Likewise Apple open sources WebKit (which Google uses for their browser) and OpenCL and Grand Central and FaceTime, but keeps their crown jewels equally closed. So enough already with the open stuff. You give me free services so you can mine my data, I sell my soul to you to use them. Deal. Just don’t insult my intelligence while doing it.

Good article. It’s not the lack of “open” in Google’s business I take issue with—it’s just a business model, and a successful one at that. No, it’s bullSchmidt statements from their CEO that bug me because he’s rarely called on it.

Perhaps, albeit slowly, more and more tech writers will catch on like the one above. The open-but-not-really vs. closed-via-tiny-wall argument detracts from the actual products anyway. Offer something great, not rhetoric.

Unlike iOS, Android Users Play Upgrade Roulette: Maybe you get it, maybe you don’t

Some of the cause for the updates is likely to be HTC, which only said 2010 phones would be updated. As such, the only HTC phones on Sprint to carry Android 2.2 are likely to be the Evo 4G and possibly the Legend. Samsung hasn’t explained any of its plans for the Moment, but the company has developed a pattern of declining to upgrade phones beyond one revision.

Only phones from 2010? Only one revision? Wow. That’s some harsh upgrade terms right there. And don’t think other hardware manufacturers and carriers will think any different.

For all the good press Android 2.2 has received, little has been written about the tiny percentage of phones that are actually going to run it. The vaunted Evo doesn’t have it yet. Even unreleased phones like the DroidX will debut with 2.1.

Notice that there isn’t just one upgrade villain. Various manufacturers and carriers will have their own rules about what’s happening. Too bad for the user who wants to upgrade but realizes the decision is not his.

Still, this is what Google wrought by design. Their goal is to get as many “Androids” out there as possible. Version consistency is not a priority because they all display Google’s mobile ads, which is the entire point of Android in the first place.

Though disappointed by this, I’m not surprised. I’ve compared the Android distribution philosophy to Windows Mobile before, and this is more proof of it.

Sure, Android is better than WinMo, but saying you run “Android”—unless you’re a geek—doesn’t tell us much because of the many hardware/software iterations. Typical users will be running the original version that came on the phone two years later when they buy a new one because upgrading was too much trouble, or they didn’t know they could, or it wasn’t an option. The more Android devices sell, the more this will be true. The carriers and manufacturers are too busy with the latest spec sheet-based offering (10 megapixels, anyone?) to worry about the user who bought one three months ago.

Compare this to the iPhone. Much is made of Apple’s yearly iOS introductions, with critics claiming it’s all hype or they’re just catching up. I disagree, but none of that matters. What matters is that every year iPhone owners get an upgrade that significantly improves their existing phone and it costs them nothing. They just plug into iTunes and click Install. Further, only with iOS 4 has Apple finally dropped a device. But that original iPhone is three years old, and was already “made new” twice; we’re not talking about an HTC phone bought seven months ago. 

The reason iPhone owners watch Apple’s new iOS announcements closely is because they know their phone can upgrade to it. Meanwhile, Android users excited by 2.2 a month ago are still waiting, most likely to be disappointed.