Posts Tagged ‘iPad’

Hey Tim, Innovate This!

December 26, 2013

This is an open letter to Tim Cook at Apple.

Dear Tim,

Is the BOD challenging you to innovate more and put more distance between Apple and your competitors? Here is the top item of my “Wish List”:

Integrate every aspect of user context into operating system services.

For example, innovate this (please) for my iPhone:

Don’t bug me when I am busy in an important meeting!

Scenario – I am in a meeting, and that meeting appears on my iCal calendar. I don’t want my iPhone to ring unless a) the caller is on my VIP list, or b) the caller is on the meeting invitation list. I think that would be simple to do. … or c) don’t bug me unless the caller is a higher priority than my meeting (a little more difficult).  Do the same for Messenger notifications and perhaps e-mail notifications, too.

This third consideration requires me to prioritize meetings and also prioritize people with more granularity than “VIP” or “Not VIP”.

And another nuance to consider – don’t silence my calls when I am traveling at the airport or at some other location where I don’t mind the call. I put travel and personal business on my calendar – perhaps every event needs an election to manage notifications contextually or don’t… Perhaps we need a sense of a) public place context and b) private place context.

Another example from my wish list:

Direct the user interface to the best device at hand! And follow me as I move about…

Scenario – I am watching a YouTube video on my iPhone. When I step into my media room, the YouTube video is automatically directed to my AppleTV. When I leave the media room, the YouTube video is directed back to my iPhone. When I step into my office, the YouTube video is automatically directed to my iPad Air.

This is a toughie – tougher still, what if I don’t start watching that YouTube video on my iPhone and start the video on my desktop Mac? This requires a whole new generation of display devices that are bonjour-equipped, and/or wi-fi equipped and/or blue-tooth equipped so that display devices advertise their capabilities and location to my various computing devices.

Perhaps there is a new device concept lurking, here. I had a dream that I carried a futuristic iPhone in my pocket. It was mostly battery – very small and dense, and it did not have a display. Whenever I moved to a different environment, my iPhone would always utilize the best nearby display device and always have access to my many TB of local storage on my desktop, and to my iCloud storage, too. My futuristic iPhone would automatically use the best devices for audio I/O, video I/O, gesture interaction and text entry that were in my immediate environment. Wherever I was, my future iPhone was working in the background to optimize my user experience by making use of the variety of devices that fill my environment at work, at home, in the car, and at friends’ offices and homes, too. In this sense, my future iPhone’s phone function had faded way into the background, and it really became an intelligent user interface gateway.

I want my Apple devices to incorporate user context into their services, Tim. I know that’s a tall order. I really understand how difficult this is. I think that only Apple can pull it off!

By the way, I am really pleased with my new iPad Air! Tim, this is a terrific Apple product that meets every expectation of mine and even exceeds a few!

What to do, what to do…

July 25, 2010

My PowerMac desktop computer gave up the ghost after six years of demanding use by me.  Sad, sad, sad… This puts me in an uncomfortable position of spending money, and right now, I don’t like the alternatives very much. What to do, what to do…

The PowerMac failed – this was an interesting failure!  One evening, I heard what I thought was a clattering sound from the area of the hard drives – “Ah-hah,” I thought, “a failing hard drive.” I have heard a hard drive or two in my lifetime “going south”, and this is exactly what I thought I was hearing. My hard drive in the PowerMac is mirrored, so I was reassured that everything would be quite salvageable. I also backup weekly, and I also use the Time Machine feature of MacOSX. “No Problem!” I figured I was in for some downtime, but I would be up the next day with a new drive in the drive bay to replace the bad drive. I finished up what I was doing, and shut down. I restarted from the MacOSX Install CD to diagnose my hard drives – the clattering sound persisted – even though both drives tested OK. Then, everything went “black screen”. What’s this? A wet handle under the rear of the computer?  Oh-oh – the liquid cooling system failed – I was hearing bursts of steam through a tiny hole… Rats – dead and beyond repair.

My dilemma:

  1. A new Mac Pro starts at $2500 plus an eSATA PCIe card (plus AppleCare plus tax) – OUCH! For that money, I want at least eight years of service lifetime, and I didn’t get it from my last PowerMac. It’s a lot of money and a physically large cabinet. This is the utility I want, but for a steep price I don’t think I want to pay this go-around.
  2. My PowerBook is more than ten years old, and I am really hampered by this computer if it is to be my principle machine – I can’t use it in this mode for more than a week or two without impacting my ability to do my job. I would like a 13″ MacBook Pro, but Apple has not updated the processor to the new Intel i3 chipset, yet, and it doesn’t come with a non-glare screen option. I looked closely at the 15′ MacBook Pro, too, and it is a large laptop that will also cost me $2149 with a non-glare screen (plus AppleCare plus tax) – OUCH again… The 13″ PowerBook is almost “good enough”, but it just misses the mark. And there is no good MacBook Pro solution to interface with my eSATA port multiplier disk array cabinet.
  3. The Mac mini is intriguing. The MacMini Server is even more intriguing – for $1000 (plus AppleCare plus tax) – much less than a new PowerMac Pro or MacBook Pro… I get mirrored drives with the Mini Server – I just don’t need the server software, and Apple doesn’t sell the server hardware with the client software. Worse, this product has also not been updated to the new Intel i3 chipset, yet. Finally, like the MacBooks, there is no good solution to interface with my eSATA port multiplier disk array cabinet. Again, almost “good enough”, but it just misses the mark.
  4. The iPad – no camera, yet, and no printing capability, yet. Again, almost “good enough”, but it just misses the mark.

I need something right now, and I will need a second something soon. I don’t want to collect Apple products like I am “made of money” (I’m not made of money…).

Ever see the movie “1984”?  When the newscaster is MC’ing a TV talk show early in the movie and turns directly to the camera and asks, “What would you do, Mary?” actually asking each home viewer by name to personally participate in the discussion? Remember that scene?

Well, “What would you do (John, Paul, George, Chuck (no, not Ringo – got’cha), Bob, Sheri,  Jim, Bill, Liz, etc.)?” I just don’t see an optimal or even a reasonably desirable solution. If only Apple would “think different” – like me.

My plea to Apple:

  • Finish the transition from the older Core2Duo chips with updates to the i3.
  • Put an eSATA port capable of interfacing to port multiplier cabinets on all your products.
  • Sell the mini with two hard drives and an external SuperDrive – just like the mini Server hardware configuration, but without the server – and while you are at it, toss in choices for bigger (750 GB) and faster (7200 RPM) hard drives… And don’t forget the i3 chip and the eSATA port!
  • Get on the stick and push out a 2nd generation iPad with a camera, and support printing with iOS4.

Can you please do all of this before my birthday – it’s coming right up, and it would be a spectacular present! I can limp along until my birthday with my soooo old PowerBook.

iPad makes for Pretty Clouds

April 4, 2010

Yes, I am an Apple fan.  Not a “fanboi”, just a fan. I think the iPad will be highly impacting – I’m excited. Oh – and it will help to usher in the era of real cloud computing. There is a revolution coming in computing that really began just yesterday.

I have not been a fan of much-hyped “cloud computing”. Without continuous, ubiquitous, secure, high-speed “anywhere” net access, you can’t rely on the “cloud”.  Without a highly portable device with a large display and no other peripheral user IO attachments, whatever you could access through the cloud was certainly less convenient in a taxi that at the desk. The cloud was hyped as more than a remote content server architecture – it was envisioned for remote app services and “much more”, but if network performance was too  slow, the cloud became the weak link that would stymie productivity; and if the cloud was unavailable, productivity could come to a compete stop. Reliance on cloud computing architectures before now was simply premature or overreaching except for limited enterprise applications deployed on a relatively small-scale. If I can’t count on something 99.9% of the time, I won’t rely on it day-to-day (one reason I use a Mac). Until today, I was not excited about cloud computing. But its value equation has just changed.

Until now, a truly convenient, capable, portable client computing device with useful screen area has been a compromise with significant shortcomings. Smart phones – a four-inch display simply has too many limitations for me. A 6 pound laptop – overkill for much of what I do when I am on the run, and a strain on me if I lug it with me everywhere in the world I go. A netbook – nearly as large as a laptop, but compromises heavily on display and keyboard quality – not a desirable laptop replacement unless one is very highly price driven. I thought that the Apple MacBook Air was compelling, and it was joined by a small number of capable form-fit-function Windows competitors. The Air didn’t quite hit the “sweet spot”, though – close, but not quite – you still have to open it, boot it and connect it to a network to use it in the cloud. No 3G built is in, so you can’t count on the cloud always being available to you unless you use a peripheral cellular modem. The Air was not quite a paradigm shift in the product space – in form-fit-function it, like a netbook, was just a different laptop, and it was likely to be used like a laptop.

Enter the iPad! I won’t be buying the first version of Apple’s iPad. Give me a camera in the display bezel, though, and I am sold. Grab my pad of paper, a few magazines, my iPad and “dash”. It’s all the same size, all fits in my hand and bag. Over time, leave out the pad of paper and magazines and toss in a bluetooth keyboard, and I am set! But what does this new iPad product have to do with cloud computing? I’ll tell you:

1) The iPad has PAN/LAN/WAN networking (Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n and 3G HSPA/EDGE), and the 3G is speedy-fast, pay as you go and relatively inexpensive month to month.  The networking is as ubiquitous and as versatile as you can buy, and the 3G WAN carries only a first-cost penalty unless you use it. Can a netbook do all that networking out of the box without peripheral devices? The cloud is there 99.9% of the time right out of the box.

2) The iPad includes a super web browser, a flexible IMAP/POP-3/Exchange e-mail client, an address book, a calendar, a to-do-list, a photo browser, a movie presenter, and even more included with the supplied software. For a few dollars more, you can add a word processing, spreadsheet and presentation application suite. The iPAD is location-aware out of the box, and with the optional 3G data feature comes extensive GPS features, too. It does 99.9% of what I need to do on the run – anywhere in my office, my home, or in between, or anywhere else in the world I happen to be right out of the box.

3) The iPad is a spectacular content consumption and presentation engine – not a content creation engine. This is the paradigm shift that distinguishes the iPad from other devices in the same price range. The iPad displays H.264, MPEG-4, M-JPEG and AAC media and a large number of file formats including aiff, mp3, wav, avi, mov, m4v, mp4, html (supporting HTML5, Javascript and CSS3), jpg, gif, tiff, txt, rtf, pdf, Microsoft Office doc & docx, ppt and pptx, xls and xlsx formats, and Apple iWork key, numbers and pages formats. Flash aside, 99.9% of the files I use are supported by the iPad right out of the box. Can your smart phone display all those files? They will all come from the cloud right to you – whatever you want whenever you want it wherever you are.

4) The iPad is 1-1/2 pounds with a 10 inch touch display (no mouse required) and an all-day battery. It’s light in weight, and the display technology is superb. It’s touch-screen gesture interface is well designed and quickly learned – almost “natural”. The dock connector can connect to an external VGA display and to a limited range of USB devices including some comeras. It is “instant-on”. I will want to hold it and use it – and so will you. It connects to the cloud, and you will, too, through it.

5) The iPad lives seamlessly in the “Apple” cloud – the App store, the iBooks store, the iTunes store, your iTunes purchase library, your shared iPhoto library, your collaboration services, your sync’ed e-mail, calendar and address book – and your iDisk in time, I’m sure. Just like your Mac laptop and iPod Touch combined – it makes fuller use of the Apple cloud than any other single Apple product, in other words…

6) In time, the iPad will be able to live well in “other clouds”, too – I bet it does so right out of the box for many other cloud services by other providers – the Google “cloud” of GoogleApps, Docs or Gmail for starters (the Google cloud is comprehensive and extensive), or the Microsoft “cloud” of Live Meeting, Communications Online  or Web Apps for starters.

7) If your content lives securely and for the long-term in the cloud, you won’t need terabytes of local storage in your hands. A few gigabytes of local storage is all you need for what you need now. That’s another paradigm shift – a barrier that the iPad begins to shatter.

8) Competition is coming – you can count on it – maybe an Android/ChromeOS Google device that could take advantage of a much larger cloud of services than Apple’s. And Microsoft is always lurking – maybe a WindowsMobile/WindowsCE gadget in time, too…

I bet that in time – in a short time, the iPad will get: multitasking (maybe just window and memory management), a camera and iChat features, peripheral hard drive support, printing services and a wrist strap for those of us with the “dropsies”. Maybe even Flash flv content support, and maybe even GSM voice services in addition to the 3G data services.

Sometime, you don’t need a “killer-app” to start a revolution in computing – you need a “killer-it” – or in Apple’s vernacular, a “Killer-i” like the iPad. With one highly successful product will come a swarm of wannabes and capable competitors – a critical mass of devices and content consumers will finally flip the switch to the ON position for the cloud. Now, the cloud will be useful and something I can rely on – and you, too. And the iPad is as convenient as you can imagine. And there will be more to come. I’m sold on the iPad – and now on the “cloud”!