Category Archives: Apple

Says AndroidSPIN: “iPhone Users Getting Fed Up, Switching to Android”

I’ve come close to being one of them.  Very close.  In fact, if I had the funds, I’d have two phones right now.

However, when I decide which horse to back (or any time I’m making software), I have to constantly remind myself that I’m a geek, and not representative of the population at large (the ones for whom I am making said software).  Apple is still doing it best for 95% of the people who would want a smartphone

That article’s author is particularly bad about remembering that, and quite frankly, the whole article is full of half-truths bordering on wishful thinking (hey, the site is called AndroidSPIN)…

  • “Open Source is what customers want.” No, it is not.  It’s what we geeks want.  Customers couldn’t care less.  They want something that works—the way they would expect.  Apple delivers.
  • “A lot of the iPhone users I’ve talked to are either switching to or already have switched to Android.” Ah yes, anecdotal evidence: so damning.  I’m sure the people he’s talking to are the type who would be switcher types.

I’m seeing a fair bit of misdirection in there on other topics, too.  I’ll cover them as I come across them.

Constant updates: All iPhone users get all iPhone updates simultaneously.  This is far from true if you’re running Android.  Depending on the carrier/device you have, Android updates may be far less frequent, or may never come.  For this reason, I always tell people that if they want an Android phone, they should lean toward a stock Android device, like the N1 or the Droid.

Listening to its users: Last time I checked, Eric Schmidt hasn’t been replying to Google customers’ emails directly.  :D  But specifically, what are users and developers asking for?  Apple dropped DRM from iTunes entirely… other media types are, ostensibly, next in line.  iPhone OS 4.0 has multitasking and background services.  The next iPhone (currently) has a front-facing camera.  Here, again, our community of hardcore geeks may be completely justified in feeling that Apple is not meeting their needs, but would seem that nobody is listening to the masses better than Apple.

Developer freedom: Time for my own anecdotal evidence, I guess.  I’ve got a half-dozen ideas for iPhone applications, all of which I’m sure would make decent money.  None of them would have any problem clearing Apple’s approval process.  I just attended a local iPhone developer group meeting which filled an auditorium with people who are shipping iPhone apps with no issues.  I find it hard to believe that any talented developer with a decent amount of creativity and imagination would have trouble doing the exact same thing.  I also catch a lot of Android fanboys griping about Apple’s process when they never even tried to get an iPhone app on the App Store.  If you’re just assuming, then your problems are your own, and you’re doing nothing to help the situation.  But if you did try, and your app was rejected, then get it on the Android Market quick, because if it sells well, that is the only thing that will convince Apple to let you do your thing on their platform.  Significant sales.

The Numbers Game: First of all, Android should be growing a lot faster than iPhone… it’s a wonderful product, it’s marketed well, and it has a lot more room to grow than Apple’s offering.  Android-based devices have, indeed, flourished lately, but you have to remember that that’s been in a marketing environment nearly devoid of Apple’s presence… Apple has been damned near silent since the launch of the iPhone 3Gs and prior to iPad.  That’s nearly a year of down-time for Apple, and it concides perfectly with Android’s growth curve.  Realistically, one has to expect that Android’s growth will slow significantly with the advent of the next iPhone and the 4.0 OS.

Would I love to have an Android device for my own uses?  You bet.  If I had the resources, would I develop for both?  Absolutely.   But when it comes to which platform I’m gonna back, I’m not moved from Apple’s offering, which also happens to be more than good enough for my personal needs.

As a side note, I laughed my butt off at the image of the Green Robot relieving itself on the Apple logo.  Very cute; well done.

[AndroidSPIN]

Palm Plays Dirty, Whines to Ref When Checked

Every so often, it seems that someone needs to be reminded that it is not illegal to have a monopoly, only to use the power of that monopoly to impede competition.  We all want to see the little guy succeed and compete effectively, forcing its competitors to react and improve.  The underdog, however, does not get a free pass to overstep its legal bounds, simply because they’re up against harsh odds.

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about Palm’s hack that allows them to sync with iTunes.  Apple released an update to iTunes, which closed that hacking method.  Now, Palm has updated the Prē to use a lower-level hack, restoring iTunes sync capability.  Apple will soon respond in kind, and they have every legal right to do so.  They would, in fact, be derelict in their duties if they did not.

At the same time, Palm has built upon consumers’ misplaced sympathies by complaining to the USB governing body that Apple is using its Vendor ID unfairly to limit access to iTunes. A lot of people like to scream that these actions are like “the ‘Man’ keeping Palm down,” which is an unfair assessment; Apple has done nothing to keep Palm from reaping the rewards of their own efforts, and Apple is certainly not obligated to share any of their own success with Palm.

Palm has created an iPhone alternative, the first new smartphone to really compete on level ground with the iPhone. Apple has done nothing to prevent this, nor has it made any specious claims to deter people from buying the Prē.  And now, having done that so successfully, Palm is equally free to create their own media player and sync software solution which integrates seamlessly with the Prē.  Apple would not want to stand in their way, and they are legally prevented from doing so.

Palm is NOT, however, free to force Apple to allow their device to sync with iTunes.  They are violating several licenses and agreements with their actions, and they haven’t a legal leg on which to stand.  A few points:

  • Apple owns their USB vendor ID. It is prohibited for Palm to use Apple’s ID at all, let alone in the fraudulent way in which it is using it.
  • Apple owns iTunes. They are free to set the license for its use, and to restrict its connectivity to a selected set of devices manufactured by themselves and by their partners.
  • Customers are free to vote with their dollars. If Apple’s restrictions impact the consumer negatively, buyers will take their business elsewhere.

And the final nail in the coffin of Palm’s legal chances:  Apple is probably open to the idea of the Prē syncing with iTunes! Oh, but make no mistake… Palm would to have to pay (whether monetarily, through a partnership, or with some other concession) a fair price for the privilege of integrating with iTunes and benefiting from Apple’s hard work.

There is no legal quandary here.  If Palm wants into iTunes, they need to pay up.  Otherwise, they need to STFD and STFU before something bad happens to them.

Apple closes a window, opens a door

I recently learned of Apple’s decision to make Macworld 2009 its last.  While this news is somewhat sad to hear, it’s hardly unexpected; Apple has been steadily eliminating many similar events, including Apple Expo, Macworld Tokyo, and Macworld Boston, for several years now.  And while this turn of events may be difficult for many Mac fanatics to swallow (perhaps even harder for the third parties who convene there to sell Mac-focused goods and services) it’s really not bad news, and the move actually makes a lot of sense on Apple’s part.

For a decade, Apple has been throwing this party: a Mac-specific event designed to rally the troops, getting the faithful together and spreading the word about what they’re putting on store shelves next.  It is a truly grand event, and in years past, it’s been well worth the massive expenditure required to make it happen.  But things are different now.  Apple no longer needs to hold their own party to get people to pay attention; what tech-savvy individual doesn’t know when a new iPod comes out these days?  Or when Mac OS X gets a major update?  Apple has earned the coverage in major publications — and even in the mainstream media — necessary to keep the masses informed about the big announcements.

But not every Apple product is Mac OS X, iPhone, or iPod.  What about updates to their computers, or other hardware such as displays, Apple TV, or Airport?  How will those less-prominent products gain exposure?  The answer is simple: they will do it at the same conventions, electronics shows, and expositions where every other manufacturer does it.  After years of (undeserved) obscurity, Apple has finally earned the right to sit at the same table as the likes of HP, Intel, Microsoft, and Dell; so it only stands to reason that they be a major player at the same established events to show off their new offerings.

By abandoning their solo show and attending the big industry events, Apple doesn’t have to shoulder the expense of the logistics associated with a major convention (building, staff, food, networking, etc) and they can focus their resources solely on their own booth, which will be much more grand as a result.  The best part is that Apples presence at the show, and the shiny new products announced therein, can be directly compared and contrasted with those of their competitors’.  The Apple advantage will become all the more clear to the consumer, and Apple will need to be all the more focused on maintaining their lead in the marketplace.

On a final note, if you still want to attend an Apple-cultural event, I would recommend you think about downloading the free Xcode developer tools, learning about Cocoa, and writing your own Mac OS X or iPhone application.  Then, attend Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, where you can experience the same familial atmosphere which can only be created by a bunch of extreme Mac-heads learning about new Apple technologies.  While MacWorld’s time has passed, I can’t imagine that WWDC (which has enjoyed explosive growth over the past two years) would be going away any time soon.

Jailbroken iPhone? Change that root password safely!

When you jailbreak your iPhone these days, SSH (secure shell) for remote connections is automatically installed.  It’s really handy to be able to connect, but there’s one issue:

The root password for every single iPhone (1.1.4, anyway) is “alpine”.

This means that by default, when SSH is enabled, anyone can connect to your device and wreak havoc.  It’s wise to do something about this, so one of the first commands savvy users will type in after connecting is…

# passwd root

…to set their own password.  This is actually a bad idea, because the passwd tool doesn’t work correctly on the iPhone (it’s not a normal function of the device) and you’ll wind up stuck in an endless crash loop.

But fear not!  There is a way to change your password (and, if you happen to have gotten stuck in that loop, fix the issue).  It’s all detailed on this page at matsimitsu.nl, for which I was immensely grateful.

If your 1.1.3 or 1.1.4 iPhone is jailbroken, go do it, and be successful with it.

Open Is Good, Usable Is Better…

… even in the Mobile space.

Unless you’re living in a Faraday cage, you’ve seen the Internet hype around Android, Google’s mobile platform. The iPhone-alternative seekers and FOSS evangelists are engaging in a collective circle-jerk around it, because it has the potential to “beat the iPhone” and bring open-source to mobile. I think it will definitely have a profound impact on mobile devices, and there’s no disputing that an open mobile platform is exciting, especially one backed by Google. But guys, I’m not ready to circle up just yet. My apologies.

Yes, Open Source is definitely awesome, but its potential for “beating the iPhone” is limited. If there’s one way that Apple humiliates everyone else, it’s with their ability to make something universally usable. Personally, I love all that Android’s open nature has to offer the hardcore power users and developers. Open-source is great, offering infinite freedom for niche geeks like you and I, but that doesn’t translate to something that’s going to make it in the mainstream market.

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Bill Gates Smokes The Good Stuff, Man

marijuana2.jpg
Picture of Gates actually smoking the good stuff
not found, due to the fact that he is a colossal nerd.

It never ceases to amaze me.

Bill Gates can say whatever he wants, and everyone just believes it. It doesn’t have to be true, nor accurate. Sources are not required for his data. I don’t even think he needs to use real words.

“Windows Vista dumple splort nooka plix, brumity chubba chubba chubba <tongue click> bortnoy esparghery.” — Bill Gates

And that, apparently, is everyone’s cue to run out and buy Microsoft’s latest pile of mediocre-ware. Also, he said he wants a Frosty from Wendy’s. Equally baffling is this marvelously delusional diatribe:

“Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine.” — Bill Gates, NewsWeek

Wow… by comparison, the first statement actually makes more sense. It must be nice to be able to spew utter nonsense and have the world continue to see you as some kind of corporate hero and saintly philanthropist. I don’t think I’ve heard a such an ill-advised challenge posed since President Bush’s infamous “bring it on” schtick.

Now for some reality: No exploits have been found that allow a Mac OS X machine to be completely taken over, certainly not without some kind of user authorization or direct physical access to the computer. Out of the box, Mac OS X is still untouchable. Issues have been found in certain applications and web site, but nothing that allows a “total take over”.

Now, shall we take a quick look at the security record of your widely-installed OS, Bill? I don’t think we need to… it’s well established that there are hundreds of serious exploits in Windows XP, and new ones ARE discovered every day. It also doesn’t take a whole special campaign (such as the Month of Apple Bugs event) for people to find them in bunches. Glass houses, Bill.

And now for the real fun: despite all of the truly impressive (no sarcasm here) security features in Windows Vista, most exploits, viruses, worms, and Trojan horses made for Windows XP continue to work just fine in Vista. It really is all flash, and very little substance.

What’s got me so riled up is that no matter what Bill Gates says, no matter how full of utter crap he is, his word is gospel, and people continue to fund the Microsoft machine. Nobody will rebuke, nobody will retort, nobody will call him out on the utter lies he spreads.

Fine. I guess it’s up to me.

You go to hell, Bill Gates. You have no taste, no craftsmanship, and no passion, and it shows in virtually everything your company makes. You could change things… if you cared, you could make everything work seamlessly; but that’s not why you’re in business, now is it? You don’t fool me, and someday soon, you won’t be able to fool anyone else. Microsoft is a parasitic entity sucking the life out of the computer industry, and you, Mr. Gates, are a shining example of exactly what money can not buy.

iPhone Missing Needed Applications

iphonehockey.png
No, iHockey is not one of them. Cool, though, huh?

When the iPhone was unveiled, I had never wanted to own a new gadget as badly. For ten years, all I’ve ever wanted was a Newton with a phone. Suddenly, here was the Apple device to meet that specification. I was overjoyed.

Now, some time has passed, and I’m able to look at things through a more analytical lens. Bathed in the light of reality, it is clearly apparent that, despite everyone’s expectation otherwise, the iPhone is not for me… not yet, anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the device, and I think Apple’s hit a home run here… we’re just waiting to see how far the wind actually carries it. I think it has the potential to change a lot of thinking where smartphone design is concerned, and it makes Windows Mobile look like a joke. The overall concept, design, implementation of the device: I am in love with it. My reticence stems from very specific needs, which are twofold: Continue reading

Larry Bodine Needs a Hug

A gentleman by the name of Larry Bodine was “suckered” into buying a Mac. He gave it a “thorough” test cycle, and posted an “assessment” of his experiences with his “silvery box of frustration”. I have rarely ever seen such inflamatory, sensationalist, and blatantly false “information” cobbled together in what can only be described as a rant. A batshit-insane rant.

I read this article, and fumed quietly to myself for some time. Now I need to vent, and besides, I can’t let Wil Shipley have all the fun, now can I? My responses to many of his points are below. Now… where do I start?

“…can’t view Web sites properly…”

Which sites? You don’t provide any.

“…not compatible with Microsoft Word…”

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IDBUX: Radio Menu Items

Windows Radio Menu  Mac Radio Menu

What happens when I select “List”?

Here’s a truly rare bird: a UI heuristic where most GUI toolkits get it right, but Apple (Cocoa) goes horribly wrong.  In the above example, what will happen when “List” is selected?  On the Mac (right), It’s not clear, is it?  Will “List” also become checked, or will “Large Icons” become unchecked?

In virtually all pull-down menu implementations across all platforms, there are basically three types of functionality for any menu item (which does not have a submenu, and is not a separator):

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IDBUX: Make Use of Application Roles in Finder

Editor / Viewer

Respect These Roles!

When developing a Mac OS X application, you can specify what extensions your app can open.  Furthermore, you can specify, for each document type, whether your app is able to open that document for editing, or just as a viewer.

So why is it that I can not utilize this differentiation in the Finder?  For any given “.jpg” file, why can I not choose to view it (using Preview.app), or edit it (Adobe Photoshop CS2.app)?

The experience could be simple enough:  double-click to view, triple-click to edit.  Command-O to view, Option-Command-O to edit.  Think of the time you would save that is otherwise spent tediously dragging an image to an icon in the Dock.

With the capabilities now built into the core of Mac OS X, the “Open” command just doesn’t cut it.  I Demand Better User Experience.