Posts tagged “ipod”.

Apple’s tablet vs. the Newton: what will it take to make the switch?

March 17th, 2009

newton2touch

Let’s say the improbable happens during the iPhone 3.0 media event today and Apple releases the rumored 10″ iTablet.

Are we then looking at the proper heir to the Newton MessagePad?

Back when I first started Newton Poetry, a few months after the iPhone came out, people were talking Newton 2.0 in the form of a larger-form iPod Touch: 10″ screen, iPhone OS, touch-screen input, etc. Even before that, as far back as 2002, rumors told of the Return of the MessagePad in some form or another.

Now the rumors are back, with evidence to boot, and meanwhile the iPod Touch/iPhone gets an update from Apple that could make its usability as close to the Newton’s as ever before.

Think about it: cut and paste, to-do and notes syncing, some kind of premium app store for business-centric applications.

Perhaps the only questions that remain are which rumored features will Apple leave out and wait to install next time? Over time, the iPhone will surely eclipse the Newton in its feature set (it may have already).

For us Newton users, how many features does it take for us to accept the iPhone as the successor to the Newton?

There are still Newton-like features missing on the touch screen platforms: a wide-open application base, handwriting recognition, innovative file system, and kick-ass battery life. Newton users never have to worry about Apple rejecting a great app, or of losing service thanks to AT&T’s sub-par network.

But still. Eventually, Newton users will have fewer and fewer excuses not to make an upgrade of some kind. If the very thing Newton die-hards are looking for – a bigger iPod Touch with full PIM capabilities – comes out in the next few months, will a lack of handwriting recognition be enough to hold off on making the purchase? What will be left lacking?

The Newton has more personality than devices twice its size and half its age. Part of it is its pioneering spirit, and part of it is its clever UI. Is that enough to make people hang on to their eMates?

Granted, no solution works for everyone, which is why some Newton users will never accept a system that (a) doesn’t allow for HWR and (b) features a crap-tacular battery life. The simplicity and intuitiveness of the Newton OS has lasting power, too. Apple may have had a hard time figuring out what to do with their device, but Newton users have no such hesitations.

Hell, with an iTablet, we still don’t know if we’ll get some kind of watered-down Mac OS X or a beefed-up iPhone OS.

Maybe some of my co-MessagePad fans can shed some light on this thing for me. Is this idea of the giant-sized iPod Touch enough to satisfy what you’ve been missing since 1998? Does anyone think an Apple tablet/netbook thingamabob gets released at this iPhone 3.0 event? Will some Newton users be forever locked in a world that existed 10 years ago?

Let me know in the comments.

Defending the white 16 GB iPhone 3G

November 3rd, 2008

White iPhone 3G 16 GB

Frankly, I’m tired of everyone picking on the white iPhone 3G.

When it was announced, the wow-it’s-girly comments began almost immediately. Who could imagine buying such a wimpy, weanie, feminine piece of gadgetry? Anyone who opted for the white 16 GB iPhone was immediately branded a girly man (unless you’re a girl – then, for some reason, it’s okay).

I say, enough. It’s time for the critics to realize that white is a great modern tradition among Apple products. Are the same folks who laugh at the white iPhone willing to laugh at the white iMac or iBook G4? How about the “new” discounted MacBook? What about the prevous iPod models?

I’ll agree: Apple is moving to black and metal. Even the new iPod Classics come in metal or black, and the once-white MacBooks and iMacs are moving to the iPhone-like fit and finish. Over the last few years, Apple has moved from white to aluminum.

So maybe that’s why the original iPhone, with it’s metal enclosure, was my favorite. It was the device that kicked off Apple’s new design sensability. Seeing the rest of the product line, maybe the black iPhone makes the most sense now that we can’t have a metal one anymore.

But telling me the white iPhone is some how the namby-pamby choice among the 16 GB versions is to ignore almost seven years of iPod, iMac, iBook, and even MacBook history. Apple picked white because of its clean, no-frills look and snow-white aesthetic. Just because Apple doesn’t do white anymore doesn’t mean its the lesser choice. We tucked white iPods in our pockets for years, and we lived right through it. I still carry my 30 GB iPod video around and no one picks on me.

Truth be told, no one picks on me about my white iPhone, either. Maybe they’re too amazed by my phonesaber or the cowbell I can tap with my finger.

Just be thankful we have a choice this time around. The Newton came in one color: green. Sure, there was rugged camo green and see-through transluscent green, but green was it.

Now we have choices, and I’ve made mine. I’m so proud of my white iPhone 3G that I bought a white Countour case for it while I was at the Chicago Apple store. It’s missing the shiny Apple logo on the back, but it’s gleaming white, and I love it. Now my main Apple devices – my iBook G4, iMac G4, and iPod – all match perfectly. I wish the iPhone still came in aluminum, I really do, but since it doesn’t the pearly-white phone will still fit comfortably in my pocket, thankyouverymuch.

All you white iPhone haters can purchase your black model and join the sheep that are too nervous to grip a beautiful piece of gadgetry in public. Maybe you’re prejudiced against the purest of the color schemes. That’s fine. We won’t agree. But can we at least agree that, no matter what color people opt for, the white iPhone 3G isn’t such a bad choice after all?

Newton MessagePad was a preview of the enterprise iPhone

October 27th, 2008

By some accounts, businesses are snatching up Macs more and more these days. 9 to 5 Mac says the use is quadrupling, while some say the increase isn’t so great. But for the subject to even be noticed, something has to happen.

In fact, something is happening: Apple, whether directly or indirectly, is telling the enterprise market, “we’re not so bad.”

Apple tried this years ago. The Apple III was meant to be a business model PC. So was the Lisa. But their cost or glitches, combined with IBM’s early dominance, relegated Apples to the “creative” and education markets. Hippies love Macs. Suit-and-tie professionals? Not so much. At least that was the perception.

Then Apple created a tool that was tailor-made for business: the Newton Messagepad.

More… »

On being a member of the Newton ‘tribe’

October 22nd, 2008

Marketing guru Seth Godin has a new book out, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. As a way to promote and brainstorm the book, he invited an online “triiibe” to make a book of their own. It’s available for free on Seth’s blog (which is great, and updated every day).

In the free, PDF version of the “Tribes” book, I couldn’t help but notice how many times Apple is brought up. On page 17, an author talks about the not-so-first-in-line Polish iPhone buyers. On page 51, the iPhone unlocker tribe gets its day. “Think Different” is listed as a War Cry on page 41. On page 60, Tom Bentley describes how he’ll be a Mac guy for life after his first experience:

The Mac tribe, of course, has been written about extensively, as has Appleís design magic. There have been some clunkers, but in the main, many are marvelous advances in computing and design. Iím not quite the zealot fanboy who would immediately flame online columnists who question any aspect of the Macintosh Creed, but I get where the fanatics are coming from. Iím in their tribe, after all.

“I am now part of the Newton tribe” sparked my interest at first glance, even if the actual article was about Newton running shoes. Even there, though, Marcus Galica talks about how Newton-wearing runners recognize each other out in the wild. Remember when that was true for iPods? How iPod wearers would give each other “the nod” or “the look”?

Apple’s relatively smaller user base than PCs gets a mention on page 63 (“I’m a Mac, I’m a PC”). Online groups and surfers and ethnic groups are all mentioned in this “Current Tribes Casebook,” but Apple gets its a big share (perhaps more than fair – is that my “tribal mind” talking?) of the attention.

I joined the Apple tribe three years ago in November, and I haven’t looked back. More recently, I joined the Newton tribe (and the jogging tribe and the local brewery tribe, and perhaps a few more), and it’s been a heckuva lot of fun.

What would be written about our little group of holders-on and our big green friend?

Apple quarterly results: Number of the night

October 21st, 2008

298,000

That’s how many people (half of 596,000) bought a Mac at an Apple retail location who have never owned a Mac before. Three hundred thousand people just last quarter, shopping at Apple’s 247 retail locations, who have embraced the Mac way of life.

That’s about 2,400 Macs per store, per quarter. Overall, Apple sold 2.6 million Macs this summer.

It’s amazing. So many people are switching, Apple is having record-breaking quarters (read the full transcript of today’s quarterly earnings call).

That, and with 13 million iPhones in the hands of users – more than 10 million sold this year alone – an increasing number of people are switching to the Apple way of doing things. More Macs, more iPhones (about 7 million last quarter), even more iPods (11 million sold).

Says Steve Jobs:

We don’t yet know how this economic downturn will affect Apple. But we’re armed with the strongest product line in our history, the most talented employees and the best customers in our industry. And $25 billion of cash safely in the bank with zero debt.

Who can argue with that? And zero debt? Apple is living the Dave Ramsey lifestyle and they probably don’t even know it yet.

Those 300k new users? Let’s embrace them, and welcome them with open arms. Their life is about to get a whole lot more fun.

New Macs copy Apple gadget design…again.

October 15th, 2008

It’s interesting that Apple chooses to transfer the look and feel of its gadget line into the Mac aesthetic, especially with its new line of notebooks.

The iMac G3 and G4 stood out on their own. They didn’t look like anything that came before them. The iBook G3, when it was released, copied the iMac G3 design (and maybe a bit of the eMate look), unifying the consumer model Macs:

The iMac G4 (see below) was a pioneering design. Then Apple released the iPod, and suddenly the iMac G5 took on its design:

The promotional video for the new iMac said so itself: the rounded corners, the brilliant white, the giant color screen – all of it in homage to the iPod.

Since then, Apple has unleashed the iPhone, with its reflective glass, aluminum casing and black borders, onto the world:

Sure enough, the Macintosh line was soon to follow. First the (admittedly sharp) aluminum iMac:

And now the new MacBook and MacBook pro (with the Air):

Apple seems to take the consumer line of Macs and make them look like whatever new handheld device that’s hot that year. Even the new 24″ display follows this trend. The only Macs to resist these choices are the Mac Pro and Mac Mini, but that’s only because they were metal to begin with.

(An aside: what would a Newton-inspired Mac look like? Would it be a rubberized green?)

The unification scheme makes the hardware sharp and easy to market, but some choices should be optional – like the glossy-only screen option. Sure, slick glass looks great on the iPhone, but on a graphic design machine like the MacBook Pro? Some color-conscious designers are non too pleased.

I don’t have strong opinions either way. The consistency across the Mac line makes aesthetic sense, and helps us distinguish between revisions. The G3 line, for instance, featured translucent, colored plastic (except for the PowerBooks). The G4 line had smooth gray (PowerMac and PowerBook) or ice white designs (iMac and iBook):

The Intel era has featured a mish-mash of the G5 designs and the new, iPhone-inspired Macs. As it stands now, the iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini, the new display, and the portable line all hold up to design consistency, with a little wiggle room:

[click for larger image.]

Personally, I was a fan of the white consumer Macs with the metallic pro line. But times, and designs, change – and all the Macs are looking pretty darned good. In fact, this is probably the most consistent design scheme ever. All metal, all the time.

What do you think of Apple using its iPod/iPhone look on the new Macs?

Smartphone OS comparison at Gizmodo

October 14th, 2008

Owning an iPhone and a Newton, it’s always fun to poke around at other mobile operation systems when I get the chance. The other day, I put my stylus on a Palm for the first time, and got to play around with it for a bit.

Gizmodo puts all the major smartphone OSes – RIM’s Blackberry, Apple’s iPhone, Windows Mobile, for instance – against each other in a run down of features, pros, and cons.

The only classic mobile OS in the bunch is the “basically dead” Palm OS in the Centro, which is sad, considering (a) the Palm OS looks so dated with the other systems and (b) Palm succeeded where the Newton did not in a lot of ways. Now it’s a dying system.

‘Newton Poetry’ in Spanish: Newt in translation

September 24th, 2008

¿Qué te hace tan especial?

It seems iPodizados has taken my iPhone-vs.-Newton post and reposted it in Spanish. Now, it’s “11 formas en que el Newton sigue siendo mejor que el iPhone.”

Cool. At least they provided a “fuente” link.

Apple brags of iPod environmental efforts – finally

September 15th, 2008

Macworld UK reports that Greenpeace is pretty pleased about Apple’s new environmentally-friendlier iPods, announced at Tuesday’s “Let’s Rock” event.

A few years ago, Greenpeace launched a frontal assault on Apple’s supposed lack of electronics recycling and “iPoison” prevention. The group took Apple to task for not doing enough to ease the “toxic chemicals” and “short life spans” of iPods and Macs. Even today, despite Apple’s progress, Greenpeace remains vigilant:

“Greenpeace is on guard, watching future Apple announcements and holding it accountable,” [Casey Harrell, Greenpeace International campaigner] said. “What we’d really like for Christmas is to see Apple remove toxic chemicals from all its products, and announce a free, global recycling scheme. Now, that would make a very tasty green Apple indeed!”

We should all applaud Apple for removing a lot of the poisonous junk from their iPods and Macs, but I’ve argued that Apple’s problem isn’t a lack of environmental stewardship – it’s that they don’t brag enough about their efforts. Now that Steve is pointing out Apple’s work on the e-waste front at these events, their “green” image can only improve.

This is a good example of the good things that can come from customer and organizational pressure from the bottom up: Apple had a decent environmental record, but thanks to heavy lobbying (and a board member named Al Gore), we can probably look forward to more checklists like the one Steve Jobs showed on Tuesday.

iPhone cut and paste preview: how the Newton did it

September 8th, 2008

The idea for cut and paste on the Newton is simple: scribble a word, press the stylus on the word until the highlight marker appears, highlight the word, and then either (a) double tap and drag or (b) just grab the word and drag it to the side of the screen (above – but there’s a great video demo over at Mental Hygiene). Your “clipped” word will appear on the side of the screen, slightly smaller and truncated.

When you want to paste, simply grab the word with the stylus and drag it where you want it. It’s not true “cut and paste” because the word doesn’t disappear, but the effect is similar.

There is also “primary” clipping, says this site:

…which is the last clipping that you touched with your stylus. Some applications have “cut” and “copy” and “paste” menu options, for the benefit of people with keyboards — if you choose “cut,” a clipping is automatically created on the side of the screen and becomes primary. If you choose “paste”, the primary clipping is unhooked and pasted in.

But with screen real estate at a premium on the iPhone, a mini-word on the side might be too large still. How do you “grab” a word? Or highlight it? Can you have multiple items in your clipboard? Can we trust a cloud-based method, after MobileMe’s ups and downs? Will it be a third-party solution, despite Apple shutting down the OpenClip project? Is there a smarter way?

The technical side of cut and paste is far beyond my grasp. Besides, others have handled the explanation of how it was done far better than I could. But we can learn from the past. Just like the Newton and its standards (highlight, pull and drag, double-tapping for the keyboard, etc.), the iPhone has standard ways of doing things. Perhaps all that’s needed is a new standard, such as a hold-and-click, or like the keyboard buttons that MagicPad showed us.

But with evidence that copy and paste is on Apple’s to-do list, we’re left to wait it out.

Any ideas on how the iPhone should do copy and paste?