That iPhone is Outmoded

Shout to Squagles!  Square Bagles!

The iPhone won’t make it to the future.  Sure it’s Apple’s cash cow right now but I see it going away in importance over the next couple of years.

Think about Apple current main product categories:

  1. smartphones (iPhone)
  2. tablets (iPad)
  3. wearables (watch/iPod/headphones)
  4. set-top boxes (AppleTV)
  5. macintosh laptops and desktops

All of those work together in the apple ecosystem. Assuming you have them hooked into your Apple account, they all work together, and can handoff all sorts of tasks between them. They continue to add iCloud features that make the lines blur more.

#2, 3, and 4 above will be the focus over the next 5 years. The smartphone will continue to become less important in the mix.  Several factors are leading to this.

  • There is almost nothing the iPhone does that is unique from the other devices. It did it first, it does it from your pocket/purse, but it’s not the only device to do those things anymore. You can call people, take pictures, stream, and do all of that from other devices now.
  • Over the last 8 years, competition has caught up to many of the physical iPhone specialties – thinness, glass quality, battery life, feature set.
  • Apple’s sweetheart deals with phone carriers which helped to launch the iPhone in it’s first 5 years are gone and not coming back. iPhone is an expensive rig no matter who you go through.
  • Automobiles and transit are beginning to roll out wifi services and built-in GPS
  • Everyone has a smartphone and you only need one max, if one at all.


I see the mobile phone of the future going back to what it was originally used for in the 90’s – safety and vanity.

Safety is for the kids, the travelers, the person needing a lifeline no matter where they wander or work. The rest of us are on wifi 95% of our day and don’t need a cell radio at all.

Vanity is for the rich, the teens, the geeks, to impress us with an I don’t need wifi stance.

Perhaps security can be in here too, but it’s really hard to predict the future there. I can imagine a private cell network being more secure than a public wifi spot but there are many variables there.

We will all have tablets for the next 50 years, but the tiny pocket tablet is going away in importance soon. The wearable watch or badge or wallet will contain our cell radio (if needed at all) and all of the other devices already have wifi and location awareness.

Screen size is critical here. Walls will be screens wherever you can project onto them, so perhaps the iPhone has a future life as a pocket projector?


The design model for the future iPhone. If this thing had a cell radio, wifi, iOS, and a projector that could turn anything in front of you into a display….. well there ya go. Goodbye iPhone, hello iPin.

I guess it comes down to the iPin. This baby will have all of the iPhone’s location and connectivity features without that tiny glass screen in your pocket. If it can’t project to or take over screens in your vicinity then it will operate with voice or hand gestures.

I better get to go on a star ship. Maybe that’s why Apple cancelled the car project…?

[Squagles starts at 3:24]

Android vs iPhone – behind the scenes


From the front, the user space, this argument is tired. Both smartphones do whatever you can imagine at this point. Both are amazingly thin and packed full of sensors and features.

Behind the scenes though…. things are very different. Why does each OS exist? Who are the companies behind them, and what are their goals?

With Apple, you have a traditional computer retailer. They are a public company but very private and generally keep quiet about where the platform is headed. One thing is clear though, you can spend a lot of money with Apple. They have most of their own ecosystem – you can get the iCloud, buy stuff from their real stores or their virtual ones, get additional storage, service plans, accessories, classes, etc..  You know how Apple makes their money because you have to give it to them to get involved.

With Google, the people behind Android (since 2005), you don’t ever seem to give them any money. How can google be everywhere, doing everything, and no one is giving them any money?  It’s all targeted advertising.

Really? Ad banners make that much money?  Well yes and no.  It’s alot more than ad banners. Every bit of your movement online and on the phone is being tracked, packaged, and sold to the highest bidder. Then it’s repackaged and sold again and again. Google make untold amounts of money doing this with none of it going back to the user.

Facebook uses a similar model, without the phone hardware that google has.

It’s been claimed that Android represents choice. I take issue with that phrase.


Your choice is to have your profile and all your habits, purchases, locations, and interactions tracked by Google.

Your choice to have your profile sliced, diced, grouped, normalized, and sold to every Google revenue source (advertiser) possible for the rest of time with no revenue sharing going to you.

Your choice to have your history continually sliced, diced, labeled, invaded, and shared with every advertiser possible for the rest of time with no revenue going to you.

I prefer to make the advertisers work a little harder to find and profit from me. Google is ‘cool’ and hate on Apple if you want, but I trust Apple with my private digital life far more than millions of google advertisers.

Android was an awesome idea and I’d probably have one by now if Google never bought it. iPhone is an expensive rig and I barely use it anymore.

The charade here about freedom while using Android is ridiculous.

Bad guys will occasionally get into Android and iOS. Patch and business as usual. But the “good guys” are who you really have to worry about with the Android ecosystem.

Anyone can advertise with google, so nearly anyone can pay enough to access you whether you care or not.

Your future is being determined in private meetings between Google sales and 3rd parties from around the globe. None of this has anything to do with user space.

Android user space is the biggest private data collection scheme ever shipped. Which is why google paid g i i i i i i i i i llions for it when they saw it available.

Google is the biggest pay-no-attention-to-the-advertising-advertisering agency in the world, with Facebook being the 2nd. Call them search engines or social media if you want, but the scale and pace that those two data mine our personal business FOR PROFIT is alarming to me.

I either want a piece of that cut (make it non-profit so the tech is maintained but the users are paid) or give me old-fashioned private companies like apple and microsoft that I can own stock in without selling user’s souls to the wolves.

Google isn’t going to show you how/where/when they sell your data and they won’t share how much it’s worth to them.

Call it what you want…. profile, habits, demographics, searches…. it’s your online life, it’s who you are and what you do, and they have it for their own exploitation until the end of time.

“Targeted advertising” will become much more than what we think of it as now. They are just collecting all the data for free now, while they still can, and over the next couple of years will start to roll out the ‘customized content’ to sell us even more crap.

I’d rather have one point of concern/failure with my personal data, and do business with a company that derives revenue from everything else besides my private likes, dislikes and habits.

You can read google’s policies, apple, MS, whoever, and choose to opt in or opt out. You should also know that google doesn’t exist without targeted ad revenue. Apple exists just fine (fully profitable) as long as they keep you buying and subscribing to their stuff.

It’s simple to me — companies have a purpose which is to make money. They usually only have a couple of ways to make good money. Some promise free and find a way to profit beyond your control. Others just expect you to pay as you go, and with that they don’t have to hide the fact that they profit from your data, not your purchase.


Apple Is Fighting For Our Digital Future

The FBI is doing a criminal investigation on a mass murder committed by americans. Some call it a terrorist attack, some don’t. Either way it’s a high profile case for the Obama justice department.

The couple that committed the crimes worked for the county government in California. The investigation has requested and received all of their online records, cloud data, phone records, work data, SMS, banking, housing, and travel receipts.

The one thing the FBI hasn’t been able to get into is their work-assigned iPhones. The now deceased users had enabled full security with encryption on the most recent iOS and did not turn on cloud backup. They put in a 4-pin code like all of us and went about their business.

The FBI now wants to know what business those iPhones might have stored. Makes sense. Problem is they lost their chance to bypass the full lockdown mode, against Apple’s advice, and now they are locked out for at least a very long time, if not forever. It’s estimated it would take 20+ years to crack the iPhone using brute force, due to all of the layers of security iOS has in place in both hardware and software.

So the FBI is now attempting to force Apple to create an insecure version of iOS that could be installed on the phones that would then allow the FBI to crack the phones.


Apple is arguing that doing so would destroy the established security of every iPhone on the planet. They say it’s akin to building the master key to decrypt even the most heavily secured iPhone and they won’t do it. It’s software’s version of cancer, says Tim Cook, and he’ll fight the FBI all the way.

It’s important to note that had the FBI followed Apple’s instructions they could have forced those iPhones to do a cloud backup and then decrypted most of the data. But instead, someone at the FBI ordered the phone be reset with no backup, leaving it in a decrypted, locked, and defensive state, and they now regret that decision.

Apple losing this case could kill the iOS and it’s ability to safely store your financial, credit card, location, and health data. Apple could no longer promise you it’s your data to secure.

The ends do not justify the means.


tim cook abc news interview

That user could have nuclear plans encrypted on his iPhone. I support any brute force, seizure or other legal means available to the FBI to get the data.

But the FBI better not be able to compel Apple or any tech company to ship insecure products under the guise of security. The actions of one customer, no matter how heinous, cannot and should not destroy the security of millions of other innocent customers.


Time for Apple Watch?


Here’s a nice write-up from someone that has lived with the Apple Watch for half a year. He feels it’s in a similar place as the first iPhone iteration – not essential, highly flawed, yet still leaning into the future with simple and effective features he’s starting to appreciate.

I still don’t have one but his review sounds about what I expected. Apple follows a very tight script with these iOS products and all of them have gone through very similar stages of growth.



Apple’s Upcoming Music Announcement

Will it have anything to do with sound quality?  I doubt it.

Apple likes to roll out new products with slick presentations touting all of the improvements in the product, or how the new product improves upon an existing solution.

This new rumored streaming audio service (a re-branded Beats Music service) looks like more of the same – random, computer generated playlists or hunt & peck streaming at a compressed rate, trying it’s damnedest to sell you that same compressed copy to own.

No one wants to buy those compressed little MP3’s when you can stream them. If they were smart enough to offer an HD version of the song I bet people would buy more when streaming. I know I would.

A new walkman sounded better than the old one. What happened?

A new walkman usually sounded better than the old one. What happened?

Since iPod shipped 14 years ago, I can recall one single upgrade to the sound quality in Apple’s iTunes ecosystem. This was around 2009 when they introduced the “mastered for iTunes” program, that allowed you to deliver files in 24bit lossless but they would not sell the HD version, they reduce it to 320k AAC (apple’s version of MP3) and sell it for $1.29 a track instead of $.99.

All of this is why I have a PonoPlayer and haven’t looked back. iTunes was always a toy musically, and since they’ve made absolutely no effort to really improve sound quality in 15 years, it’s even more of a toy.

The sad thing is how popular it is, with millions of people listening to tinny, distorted audio devices playing horribly compressed files. None of it is necessary anymore but it lives on as “The modern way”.  A huge decrease in quality in the name of perceived convenience.

Walkman IV – The Return of Fidelity

[deep ominous movie trailer chord]

Walkman 1 (1980) – by Sony – stereo cassette – 2 headphone jacks – powered by 2 AA batteries for runtime of 20 hours.


Finally private jams!

Walkman II (1984) – Discman by Sony – compact disc – 1 headphone jack – powered by 2 AA batteries for runtime of 30 hours.


Finally digital private jams!

Walkman III (2001) – iPod by Apple – digital file player w/max resolution of 16/44 – 1 headphone jack – powered by rechargeable internal lithium polymer battery for runtime of 10 hrs per charge


Finally bootlegged private jams with no skipping!

Walkman IV (2014) – Pono Player – digital file player w/max resolution of 24/192 – 2 headphone jacks with 4 output configs – powered by rechargeable battery for runtime of ? hrs per charge


Finally master-quality in my ears like the artist intended!

You know I’ll have a review as soon as I get mine.


Wrist Input Is Just Starting

The Apple Watch could really change things. Fundamental concepts of how we interact with a device/machine are progressing and the new wearable iOS interface by Apple is opening huge opportunities to leave the interfaces of the 20th century behind.

bone-and-muscles-of-the-hand-31-638We know it has a touch screen and accepts voice commands, just like the android watches. I think those are both clumsy and greatly flawed interfaces. Voice control is on version 1000 and it’s still crappy. Touch works great when you can see what you are touching, but not so much on a screen the size of your fingertip.

The future lies in the other three input methods –

  1. The “Digital Crown”, Apple’s name for the multifunction wind dial that can scroll, click, and home button. This is the perfection of 15 years of iPod/iOS interface, shrunken down to millimeters. Every Apple wearable will rely on this scrollable interface control and I’m sure GoogSung will copy it soon enough.
  2. The motion sensing abilities, including movements like shaking, rising, falling, walking, running, and rotating. Imagine the possibilities here if the device is responsive to these various movements.
  3. The pressure sensing touch screen. Apple is not clear if it’s got 2 levels or more, but the touchscreen knows if you are hitting or caressing it.

Put that watch on the wrist of a drummer and think of the data it could generate! C’mon Apple, let the OS accept continue/cancel commands from movement…. turn in for Accept, turn out for Cancel…. Use different faces or run commands based on orientation & movement….. so many new ways to integrate the technology and hopefully assist us in finding some sort of modern happiness ;-).

If they went so far as to give the scroll wheel a slight tactile click and then standardize the clicks needed to get to various tasks, it would actually allow for a pattern-based navigation that could be used by an impaired user:

press button, 3 ticks up, turn wrist in = call home
turn wrist in while 1 tick up = go to latest message

This could be our future interface when a large screen or keyboard isn’t available, and I hope Apple will continue to put their R&D, marketing, and integration skills into building this out.

My take deals mainly with how we interact with the controls of the watch. Here’s a great overview of the ways this new platform could be used in the world.


Human Touches Computer, Computer Reacts

We all see pictures & commercials about smartphones. Some of us read specs and/or post opinions on the internet about the phone market. But very few study how we interact with the machine. People studying human-human interaction probably outnumber people studying human-machine interaction 1000:1.

Right now in the “smartwatch” (or wearable, or wrist computer) market there are 2 early interface models: Google’s Android Wear and the subset of iOS running on Apple Watch. Google went with very simple displays and relies on a combination of touch and voice to operate, for a total of 2 input methods. Apple took a more ambitious path by giving their Watch 2 more input methods: haptic (movements/touch+) & scroll/click using the wind dial, which Apple is calling the “digital crown”.

I don’t agree with this concept that Google’s simplified Wear interface is better than Apple’s upcoming WatchOS. My bet is on Apple using past experience and marketplace victories to develop a more cohesive, useful, and friendly wrist interface.

Apple Watch combines scroll/click, single home button, & multi-level touch gestures – three input methods perfected by Apple over the last 15 years and accepted by millions of users of all ages and types. To that they’ve added Voice control and Haptic input (rolls, shakes, vibrates). It will be interesting to see how much the user can do with each method.

Apple Watch OS input methods:
Input method 1 – Scroll & Click Dial
Input method 2 – Multitouch screen with 2-layer clicking
Input method 3 – Haptic (movement like shake or turns)
Input method 4 – Voice, interacting with Siri

Some mixing will be required for total operation, but will the user be able to pick an input method that suits them at that moment and use it for their entire task? The perfect UI would have all of those options completed, or at least have 1-2 input methods that allow you to control the entire device without relying on other methods.

Some example task chains:
Task1 – control Apple TV
Task2 – read and reply to a message or email
Task3 – read and interact with twitter feed and facebook timeline
Task4 – google something that leads to directions
Task5 – view calendar, accept invitation to meeting then get directions
Task6 – monitor your workout and sync workout data to your running totals
If the user needs to mode-change between the input methods to accomplish these types of tasks it could be clumsy, or worse, unusable. Imagine having to touch the screen, then scroll the dial, then touch the screen again, then click the dial button to get something done. No thanks.

To achieve pain-free human-computer interaction requires the software and hardware working together to make task completion simple and stable. This is Apple’s specialty and they will keep their methods a secret until it ships so we will just have to drive it ourselves in a few months to answer the usability questions. I bet they are deciding some of those things now, and the WatchKit API they announced is incomplete at this point.

Battling screen size limitations (about the size of a fingertip), 1 hand operation, plus major battery and space limitations is making designers on this new platform cut corners. The google watches look like beta’s to me, and Apple’s watch looks very version 1.

Look back at iPod version 1 and iPhone version 1 for the model. Apple is following their script perfectly. That watch platform will probably get more updates in the first year than AppleTV has gotten in 5 years.

IMHO The smart watch could be the 21st century object of choice if it’s designed properly. We have predicted it coming for decades. A phone is still just a phone, and a tablet is great but it’s basically a digital book which is different than your personal sensor array on your body.

This could become our communicator pin, and it will become our safety net, our recorder of choice, our interface to the cloud when not in front of a large screen.

I think the concept of a “phone” on every person is long in the tooth. Robot calls, telemarketers & bill collectors that don’t really want to be paid are on the phone lines. Business is more and more done over text, email, facebook, maybe with a quick voice confirmation that VoIP can handle.

BTW — do Google watches really only have touch & voice for input? Touch is nearly useless when the screen is the size of your pointer. I would think the dial would get the most use. I wonder if Apple’s dial will accept 2 types of clicks, like a select click and then the home click? I don’t want to talk to my watch and I don’t want to have to move my finger out of the way every time to read something to click. That’s crazy if that’s how they work, i’ll have to watch some demos of the android watches.

Watch The Script & Watch the Apple Watch Become A Hit

The Apple Watch 1 follows the script perfectly for Apple’s version 1 products. If you look at their bottom line over the last 15 years, it’s a great script to follow.

First iPod — They said it couldn’t hold quite enough songs, couldn’t do enough other things than play music, and you needed a new mac with firewire to sync it. It was nearly useless on it’s own. People accused it of being a toy for rich kids, and without more features or capacity it would not compete against the existing MP3 players. Besides, Apple knows nothing about music so of course Sony will crush them.

So easy your grandma could use it.

Yet many overlooked it’s actual differentiating feature – the scroll-wheel interface. This is hardware and software working together seamlessly, something Apple focuses on. This simple round scroll wheel interface (an ancient interface brought to the digital age) meant anyone could manipulate the hardware, regardless of hand size, finger strength, or steadiness. It worked at all angles and fit perfectly into your hand regardless of what you were doing. A single thumb could do most of the operation.

The software end of the early iPod was a simple drill up, drill down mechanism that slid left and right. I’d say 90% of users figured out the whole operation in 2 minutes or less. That’s huge for a new product. Easy hardware. Easy software.

The advertising message — dancing to headphone music like a walkman, except this time, digital with a higher capacity (and white plastic instead of black!). Simple: “All people like music. All people like to dance (at least in private). This little object is the best, fastest, most obvious way to play music.”

Anyone argue that iPod wasn’t a mega successful product line?

First iPhone — couldn’t touch-type, couldn’t add any more apps, and you needed a decent mac to sync it. People accused it of being a toy for the rich. Without more features it could not compete against the Nokia’s and Blackberry’s of the world. Plus Apple knows nothing about mobile so AT&T or Sprint will crush them. Sound familiar?

Huh? Where’s the keyboard?

Yet many (less this time) overlooked the key differentiating feature: the touch interface running an actual touch OS. Touch and gestures – another ancient interface brought to the digital age.

The hardware: a dramatic black/silver slab with a chrome ring and what appeared to be a single button. It looked nothing like a phone. It was a “huh?” moment for most of us. Then the finger starts driving that huge bright screen, we notice there are a few extra buttons for pocket needs, and OMG I want one starts. Instantly all competition looks dated. Nearly everyone copied and today, 7 years later, probably half the phones on earth look like that first iphone.

The software was a shrunken OSX designed for touch input only. Companies like Microsoft had been demoing tablets and touch interfaces for a decade but hadn’t bothered to actually design a touch OS. The UI is dependent on the input mechanism so Apple did the work, in top secret, to develop an actual touch OS that worked on small screens. It had the stability of unix with the home button being the best Escape key ever made. You just always went home first, and the icons were always in the same place. Easy software to go with the Easy hardware.

So easy your grandma waited in line to buy one.

>Now there’s The Watch.
[Small-eyes have been left behind after a good run of what, 18 years of things starting with “i”?  #iWillMissU.]

Nice watch.

iSee nice watch.

The first watch – just an iPhone touch on your wrist, plus you need a new iPhone just to use it. Just a toy for the rich. The hardware – it looks like a watch, we were expecting that. No big surprise it’s a very generic looking watch with what appears to be 1 button and a winder knob for authenticity. It does have the most important new iOS chip – NFC payment chip. All the new weird health sensors and charging stuff is on the bottom, hidden while wearing. Easy to dismiss, but even easier to accept. Easy.

3 Apple UI's on 1 Device - Touch gestures, scroll-click, and single home with apps.

3 Apple UI’s on 1 Device – Touch gestures, scroll-click, and single home button/screen

The software is a lighter version of iOS, and actually relies on a full iOS nearby for some functions. I suppose this is very much in development over the next 6 months.

But that UI uncovers hardware features that aren’t obvious at first glance – besides the expected touch screen, the wind knob is actually the iPod scroll wheel and the iPhone home button in one! Win+Win could be sweet. That obvious button below it goes right to the contacts/social app – that’s new, but I get it. Why wake up, go home, and then select contacts each time? This is your communicator! There’s not even a dock/shelf to put favorites on the watch. [I bet they eventually let that button hook to other apps ].


Your away party.

Your away party.

The other feature hidden from the naked eye is the haptic IO – input and feedback. “Haptic” is when the machine physically shakes or moves to contact us, and we can shake or poke the machine to contact it. The watch screen knows how hard you are pushing it so it can do another layer of functions per touch. Then, like game controllers, the watch can do all sorts of fancy vibrates including left/right, heartbeats, and even relay tapped messages from another watch.

Haptic screen. Haptic vibrations. Sensor array on your wrist.

Haptic screen. Haptic vibrations. Sensor array on your wrist.

Overall, the input and UI for the watch is a new model. It combines 3 of Apple’s UI stalwarts into a single device: the touch screen gestures, the scroll wheel interface, and the single home button model.
Assuming it works nearly as good as the first iPods and iPhones, it should find similar success. By version 3 you won’t need an iphone or constant charging, and the competition will probably have adopted versions of the scroll-wind interface and haptic features. Welcome to the future, space cadets!

iWatch, iBuy?


Will Apple put out a wearable? The Android makers are going full speed into Android watches, regardless of reviews and actual ship dates. They want to appear to be flooding the market but I haven’t seen a single one out in the wild yet. But if Apple does iWatch you will start to see these things everywhere.

I’ve written some thoughts on wearables before, here and here. As we get closer to the possible announcement next week, I was thinking about this opportunity for Apple to define the market again. Remember, the iPod was not the first DAP, the iPhone was not the first smartphone, and the iPad was not the first tablet, but each of them came to define those markets within the first year.

A wrist-worn computer is a very different form factor than a phone, tablet, laptop, TV screen and desktop. This requires a completely different UI model. When working with new form factors it is critical to focus on core functions. It’s never enough to resize existing interfaces to the new screen. There are many things a watch can do that the others can’t. There’s also many things you can’t or shouldn’t do on a watch.

Apple’s design restraint should really be an advantage here. While other makers are going to put entire Android smart phones on your wrist, I fully expect Apple to define it’s own space with a very focused product that, at first glance, doesn’t “do as much” as the android wearables.

But much like the iPod and all subsequent iDevices, the advantage will be that Apple says “no” to all sorts of features that distract from the main functions.

Apple has probably determined 2-4 core features for iWatch, and will remove any other features that delude or counter those core functions. The first iWatch will be quickly attacked for what it can’t do, while those living with it will more than likely start to understand Apple’s design decisions as time wears on (badump!). Simple, consistent operation is the key to a smart watch, and that plays to Apple’s design strength.

I found Apple products to be designed for long-term use, while many other makers design things for the sales portion of it’s life. They appear to have lots of flashy features, more than the Apple, and at a lower price! What a deal! But much of what draws you in is fluff, crud, and marketing, and the day to day use of the device often lacks the “polish” of the Apple device.

Jon Ivey also likes going back in time to classic designs. The iPod was a melding of a 1960’s transistor radio and a 1980’s walkman. With his comment about Swiss watchmakers needing to take notice of Apple, that tells me they will push forward with a design that takes from some classic watches of the past.

If the simple iWatch v1 is successful, Apple will take 3-4 iterations to slowly add more power features and complexity. They smartly don’t compete on the feature checklist chart, they play the long game of daily use, enjoyment, and ultimately continued purchases in the Apple ecosystem.

IMHO you shouldn’t have to touch a watch very often, and when you do it should not require focusing on a small touch screen sort of thing. If it tries to do everything my phone can do but on my wrist it will fail. I want a new concept that might ultimately replace the phone (especially since I’m down to about 1 real phone call needed per day). I also have 2-3 fully capable screens near me at most times, and I don’t want that on my wrist 24/7. If my watch is constantly blinking and buzzing about every email and tweet I think they missed an opportunity to simplify.

I’d like to see time, weather, calendar and notifications on the main screen, with quick access to Nav, Messages, and Health tracking. I’d like to see it pair with a wireless headphone/mic so you can do some voice control and dictation of messages. I’d like the whole thing to to be very quiet and unassuming, using custom vibrations and maybe slight color changes to the frame to indicate.

The best UI mockups I’ve seen so far are the column-wristband types — where it’s iOS app icons in a single scrollable column on a narrow rounded band. 1 flick either way slides you into that app, maybe with a dock sort of concept that keeps the critical time/date info in front. It looks a little feminine to not have a big bulky watch head and I can imagine the jokes about everyone wearing Apple jewelry, but keeping that UI simple and brand new (it’s not a small smartphone) could be the key to Apple’s success.

iPhone as Medical Tricorder

The future is all around us. Our cars will probably never fly, but man we are getting some interesting tech in the last 5 years, driven largely by the worldwide adoption of iOS devices loaded with sensors and the software framework to exploit those scanners. Apple themselves are about to push their “HealthKit”, an API (application programming interface) to access and share health data as collected and processed by the iOS device.

The interesting twist isn’t on the tech side, it’s on the business side. But before delving into that, can you imagine the various advantages to tracking your body health datapoints in real time – how is your sleep this week, your protein intake, your blood sugar, your physical activity? I think we all inherently understand alcohol hangovers, but most of us don’t further tie our moods to our diet & physical health. If my device monitored 5-10 daily levels and I was really having a shitty day, I’d be curious to know what that looked like to avoid it in the future. Think sugar crashes, how much spicy food, hours sitting, lactose intolerance, miles pedaled, acid reflux, body fat, and more serious stuff like peanut allergies, HIV, and other human issues that some of us must manage.

The twist is that Apple, flush with money and influence, is trying to modernize the health insurance market in the US by working with major health providers and insurers. They have made key hires from that industry and have been working for years laying the groundwork. The end result being that HealthKit apps might actually share data with your healthcare providers, allowing them more accuracy, efficiency and hopefully better care.

If you are outside of America, this must be obvious. Who needs your health data more than your doctor? But in the states nothing medical is shared. Everyone has a data silo (which translates into a revenue source), backed up by a federally enforced rule known as HIPAA, and the patient is left to suffer. Yes, we often receive decent care and plenty of scans by expensive cameras, but it comes at a HUGE personal cost, much frustration, and there are many cases of misdiagnosis because of the lack of data sharing.

Apple knows “the iPod model” will keep working – make a device easy and portable enough, add features that actually work at a core level (not marketing me-too fluff like samsung), market it properly, and watch the thing take off. This healthkit thing, if done right, will make our iOS devices our medical iPods, and perhaps the waiting room dance will become as easy as checking into a flight with your iPhone.

I think we are about to get alot more physical with our phones, which is why I think I want a wrist iPhone instead of a pocket iPhone.

Now we can all scan B’Lana. I know I was scanning up and down back then. Hottest Klingon?


Apple Will Kill the Mini-Jack



Also known as the mini-plug, mini-jack, mini-phones, the 3.5 (mm) or just the headphone jack. This thing has been around since the 1970’s [actually 1870’s!], and I’m pretty sure Apple is going to take it out back and end it within the next year. Better send the kids off!

10 Reasons why they will do it  —

  1. It’s the main reason mobile iOS devices aren’t even thinner or smaller. Look at the Nano – almost all plug. No way they make a watch with that port. Lightning replaced the old iOS plug mainly for size, this is the next step in reducing size.
  2. The features of the mini-jack have already been extended by Apple as far as it can go, to pass power and controls over the 3rd ring in addition to the stereo audio.
  3. Mini-jack has never been known for sound quality, reliability, or interference management.
  4. Apple likes killing things that have become universal “lowest common denominator” standards. No one sticks up for the mini-jack anymore.
  5. The new thing in audio is HD digital, either from the device (Pono, Fiio, Walkman), or from an external DAC running out of the lightning port. The mini-jack doesn’t help much here, in fact most see it as a hindrance if you have to push hi-fi audio over it.
  6. The other new thing in audio is streaming to wireless speakers, which also doesn’t require a mini-jack.
  7. The 3-ring mini-jack has been the culprit in most of my iOS hardware failures over the years. I haven’t had alot, but they almost always involve the mini-jack. In talking to Apple Store employees, the mini-jack seems to be the main repair item on iOS devices, so it’s ripe for replacement.
  8. Beats and a few others are working on headphones that have an external DAC in the headphone and connect to the iOS device with a lightning connector. Beats now is Apple, and I think this is the new model for their headphones.
  9. Apple’s not particularly thrilled that you can use a pair of headphones circa 1982 to listen to an iOS device. 7 years ago that compatibility was needed for acceptance, but now that the whole world has portable digital music – time to buy a new kind of headphones.
  10. The pushback and “outrage” over abandoning this standard (and everyone’s existing stereo crap) is something Apple can handle, and actually seems to relishes in. They will probably show how their lightning connector has much better specs and allows so many more features over the wire. They love this differentiation. They want people to see it, go ‘let me see’, and then ‘wow that’s cool’. Old timers listing the reasons this is stupid are left behind with their thumb keyboards and their floppy disks.



Bye-bye mini-jack, it’s been a good run. I think you’ll stick around on non-Apple products for the next 10-15 years but the writing is on the wall, you are about to be replaced by the lightning connector or some other digital connector.


lightning connector


4 Year Old iPhone


Well the time has come, Apple has decided my phone is a little old to be included in the new fun. I have been happily using this single phone, a 32gb iPhone 4 in black glass, for many years now, running all sorts of ridiculous things and running most of my life through it.

This is my second completely amazing iPhone. In the early years I had a couple bad headphone jacks on the first gen model, but Apple replaced them no questions asked and I got a good one that I rode hard on the road that year. The plastic 3G’s were not the most reliable but my friend had one for years.

Overall the iPhone 4, 4S, 4, and 5C are all really well made devices. Getting pushed into the new model coming soon isn’t so bad when you know it’s gonna be such a great device.


iWatch Your Health

Finally, mainstream consumer technology has noticed the health of the consumer. Instead of computers just making us fatter, lazier, and more spoiled than ever before, there’s some pushback in the form of wearable health tech, and it looks like Apple might be the driving force here.

Last week they announced their HealthKit API to developers, which is a nerdy way of saying “Here, build things”. Healthkit is a set of frameworks to track, share, and communicate calorie consumption, sleep activity, blood glucose, blood oxygen levels, and other health metrics.

Any mobile iOS device (not AppleTV) will be able to act as your sensor array and primary tracking system. Macs will probably be able to track but not monitor, as they do not have the same mobile sensors as iOS devices. This is not revolutionary but evolutionary, as the iPod has been helping people track their jogging performance for almost a decade now, and of course GPS is used for tracking your travel by bike or foot. The health section on Apple’s App Store has been buzzing.


It gets really interesting when you factor in a possible new mobile iOS device – the iWatch. If you shrink down the key elements to the iPhone5 and put them behind a curved glass wristband, well then you might have something.

I think it’s technically possible beause most of the battery life in an iOS device is used to power the display. The smaller display requires a smaller battery. The removal of all ports except a lightning connector also saves a ton of space. Apple has spent their billions the last few years working on both curved glass and custom battery shaping tech. If the whole band is battery there’s plenty of space. Have you seen the size of some current watches? Plenty of volume if you can work in that rounded shape.

If Apple gets a touchscreen iOS watchband to market I think they could have a winning product. It’s all about the feature set – what it can and more importantly can’t do. Do you need your “cloud” in your watch? Do you need the full internet? Do you need wifi, 3G, etc?


Perhaps Apple will say no. Your watch should tell the time and help monitor your body metrics, at least version 1. Maybe if it’s within bluetooth range of a trusted device it can sync or use internet, I don’t know. Perhaps they cram those radios into it, we will just have to wait and see. I know Apple has been combining and reducing the size of their various mobile radios.

I also know my life could use a simple sleep tracker, calorie counter, exercise tracker, and electronic medical record holder that also knew my schedule, my contacts, and my habits. These apps exist as stand-alone concepts, but each one has to be configured to your liking and then your data is not shared with any other systems.

The Healthkit API could finally force the sharing of this data, both for personal goal encouragement and for medical professionals tasked with providing you care.

(BTW – This weekend I saw a Samsung ad saying ‘the future is here now’ with their smart-watch prominently displayed. Apple could counter with an ad that shows their smart-watch doing various things with the tagline ‘our future works’ ;-))


HD Apple Rumors Swirling


Rumors are flying that Apple is about to include 24-bit audio in it’s new iOS products, both from the software end of things and hardware – updating the Lightning cable for faster interconnects when HD Audio is being used with external devices, and designing some new earbuds to capitalize on the higher quality source.

This isn’t immediately tied to their rumored acquisition of Beats Music, but it certainly affects the same markets.

Reading through internet opinion it’s heartening to see many applauding a focus on sound quality. But the usual suspects are pushing’s “science” saying <= 16/44 is all you need. I sense a shift that those people are being grouped with the claimants of “1080p is useless”.

Arguing against higher digital resolution is arguing against a reality that will always pass you up. We are still learning about sound and hearing and these bad assumptions of the past will fall into disuse as time marches on.

Other interamus’ claimed that “the 10 people that bought a pono must be upset”. Actually, no, this validates Pono’s cause, and if iOS products can play 24-bit files the market for HD audio will open wide.

Pono will always sound better than an iPhone or iTouch, because there’s several more parts of the signal chain that pono goes upmarket on, and Apple goes general purpose.

Is This The iPhone Replacement?

Another good iWatch story, talking rumors and potential developments. Here’s my previous thoughts on it from last year.

I think the golden era for the smart phone is dwindling. They will probably never go away but (given skype, facetime, google hangouts, webex,, etc.) phones have already stopped being the only/best way to voice communicate with people.

Aple iWatch concept

Now that’s a watch I’d wear proudly. I want my pocket back! Hey Rosie, why aren’t you picking up? I want my Funk.

If Apple gets even 50% of the existing iPhone functionality into a watch I’ll be a customer. I want my pocket back. All of these new features that an iWatch might do are just extra. I’d love to have a heart monitor, workout computer, and bike computer on my wrist at all times. I’d love a small shock or silent vibration to notify my inner wrist. I’d love to be able to do basic button controls on the face and use voice to handle large text entry. Hopefully they also make some slick, nearly hidden bluetooth headset.

I actually could see apple going more sci-fi and not calling it a watch at all. They could be working to “reinvent” the watch, much like they reinvented the PC, the walkman, the smartphone, and the tablet computer. It is becoming much more of a Star-Trek like communicator and tri-corder than a phone or watch.

1980's Star Trek communicator badge

“I wonder if I can click this thing and get out of here without those guys seeing?”

The Star Trek “Communicator Badge” responded to voice control and acted as a general health and location monitor. The iWatch would do all of that and more. Come to think of it, the current iPhone is becoming more and more like the Star Trek “tri-corder” from the 80’s, which gave it’s user a strong sensor and visual array to supply data readouts needed for space crew people – structural, gravitational, air-quality, language translation, and ambient readings.

Since we aren’t on a spaceship meeting alien races we don’t require some of those, but many of them are available from the internet with a properly configured smartphone. Trek had great technology, but they didn’t have GoogleMaps, WeatherUnderground, Wikipedia, Foursquare, Twitter, Youtube, Skype, and Flash bootleg sites. Their versions appeared to be closed and military-based (supplied by the institution and programmed by the institution). So much of our data is open-source or crowd-sourced, and ad-supported. But it’s there and in 2014 we are finally getting close to sci-fi of the 1980’s.

Uglier than Androids!

Tri-corder models for many purposes. Not much uglier than non-Apple phones.

What a Perfect iWatch Could Do

Wearable computing has been in R&D for decades and the “smartwatch” seems to be imminent. But there’s rarely a perfect new product. Apple is known for disrupting markets and instantly making existing products passe (including their own), but their first versions are usually basic and their disruption sometimes takes several iterations to take hold.

Samsung was first to market here with the Galaxy Gear, but it’s very limited and has a horrible battery life, and besides mounting on your wrist, it won’t give you anything a cheap smartphone can’t provide in a better, more powerful way. It also requires a smart phone nearby to be configured to perform many of it’s advertised features. Samsung made this “watch” require a phone, and it’s not being received well.


Apple’s name has been attached with an ‘iWatch” for several years now, and most people such as myself believe that Apple could indeed deliver such a device out of the box that has enough battery life and features (ecosystem) to be a viable product. There’s also debate about whether a smartwatch should be a companion device, or, if like the iPhone and iPad before it, we will see people downsizing and modernizing to 1-2 devices instead of 3-5. This is the crux of The Secret to Apple’s iWatch Success: Self-Sufficiency.

So let’s brainstorm — what would the perfect iWatch do for you? We won’t have an on-screen keyboard or 4G built in. We could have a bluetooth headset and a few on-device buttons. The primary interface will probably be voice beyond the tiny touchscreen, basic watch-like frame buttons similar to iPod/iPhone/iPad. Before any science fiction we should look at the ecosystem apple has already developed, and how another iClient – one that lives on your body – could integrate:

  • iTunes Music & Media – control playback of local iTunes’, tune in iTRadio, stream media from your iT, manage apps that are iWatch compatible
  • Mail – display or read messages aloud, take dictation for new messages, attend/don’t attend meeting invites, notification updates
  • iCal Calendars – display or read events aloud, add new events by voice, receive notifications and directions for every meeting
  • Safari browser – view bookmarks, get RSS feeds, add bookmark
  • Messages/FaceTime – read messages, speak messages aloud, compose messages by voice or list, do facetime video conferencing
  • Contacts – look up people, add voice notes or dictate notes, get notifications on birthdays & anniversaries, Find My Friends by location
  • Automator macro tools – run Automator actions on your mac remotely – this is the pathway into remote control of your macs and your home
  • Finder tags & Spotlight search – run spotlight search on your macs, use QuickLook to see results, call up a tag and iWatch shows you all it’s files
  • Time Machine backup – run backups, browse backups, use QuickLook to peek back in time
  • AppleTV – remote control for AppleTV, manage your channel queue’s without disturbing playback, take over the display (Picture in Picture?) using watch, for instance, “Open <bookmark>, display on AppleTV”
  • Health monitoring – I’m not sure what app manages this, but Apple has been working with Nike to perfect athletic monitoring software, and an iWatch touching your wrist all day could deliver all sorts of health data.
  • Siri voice control – critical for all of the above. No on-screen keyboard and a small screen makes voice the primary interface. All existing Siri features should work on iWatch, and new voice-centric features should grow.
  • Other ideas for the wrist iClient?

I think the secret to Apple’s success here will be the software ecosystem integration. Hardware is mostly done – an iPod nano-touch can be mounted on the wrist already but it’s not quite “the iWatch”. What kind of hardware would we need to do all of this? We will need at least 1 camera, a wi-fi radio, a bluetooth radio, a curved touchscreen,  some flash storage, and enough battery life to get through a day. This is all doable now.

For experimentation – cover up everything but a square inch of your iDevice screen, and use Siri to imagine working with a screen that small. Most powerful uses would require voice OS to accomplish your task. This is an advanced Siri that can accept simple variables on input, and adjusts her output for the lack of screen. Most of the changes are on the output end, from what I see.

So will Apple put it all together and do an iWatch? I’d pay $200-$500 to get a wrist device that could do even 50% of what I’ve listed above, and most of that is possible already in the iEcosystem using a phone or tablet. Maybe they drop the term ‘watch’ and call it iI, pronounced I & I rastafarian style!


Big Dumb Droids

Those giant Android tab-phone things with the super bright low-res screens are pretty annoying. Everyone thinks they are the UPS guy walking around with those plastic monsters.

Choice is good, so I don’t want everyone with the same kind of phone. But I laugh when I see those monstrous boxes full of half-working software and average hardware. They aren’t quite as ridiculous as the ‘convertible’ laptops that want to be tablets, but they are close.

In the states people get these droid phones for almost nothing, and spend most of their time trying to figure out how android works (or what android is) and where their data just went. They break often and get a new one of a different brand and start over. Droids are the new wannabe phone, with Droid users often seeking approval or even adoration from iPhone folks. It’s 24/7 tech support and staring at that giant thing, no slipping it in a pocket.

Usage style/case is my sticking point. A “phone” is a portable communication device, usually pocketable or in a purse. It is designed specifically to be used while in motion – standing, driving, etc.. You can pack a lot of features in there these days, but holding one to your ear and comfortably talking should be the primary one.

A tablet is a portable screen that can do most/all of what a smart phone can, plus a screen that’s just big enough to make it a usable from 5-15 feet away. Those of us with good tablets (iPads) know that they get used in every room of the house to bring internet, gaming, newspapers, ebooks, email, etc. to wherever you happen to be resting in the house. Mine does probably 100 things a day, some pretty important.


Apple went down this route and has been very successful – a phone is for your pocket/purse and your viewing only, a tablet is book-sized, displays, and travels. A laptop/desktop is for production or power-user work. These are 3 usage cases.

I think Apple might stick with 3 modes, but I think the iWatch could take the slot from the iPhone if they can get enough battery life out of it. The days of a private viewing slab that lives in your pocket might be ending. If the watch device holds the cell radio, using wifi or bluetooth it could go back to being the personal communicator device, and the iPad mini or biggie becomes your screen for general purpose use. Hopefully Apple people won’t put iPad minis to their ear and look nearly as stupid as giant droids.

More on these ideas later.

Save The Music One Hertz At A Time

OK I have been listening to mp3’s for about 15 years now, and I have to say I’m ready for the next digital format. I want 96k minimum range (192k preferred) so it almost sounds as good as my albums. I want 24 bit so it makes my modern multi-speaker systems work at all volumes. I can cheaply have enough storage to handle it. I want my music’s emotion back!

WOODSIDE, CA - DECEMBER 15: CEO of Apple Steve Jobs sits at his home in Woodside, CA on December 15, 1982. IMAGE PREVIOUSLY A TIME & LIFE IMAGE. (Photo by Diana Walker/SJ/Contour by Getty Images)

WOODSIDE, CA – DECEMBER 15: CEO of Apple Steve Jobs sits at his home in Woodside, CA on December 15, 1982. IMAGE PREVIOUSLY A TIME & LIFE IMAGE. (Photo by Diana Walker/SJ/Contour by Getty Images)

I primarily listen to funk, rock, hip-hop, soul, and only a bit of classical, and I miss the full range of Bootsy’s bass, Eddie’s guitar, and Al’s voice. Friends who listen to opera, voice and classical probably avoid MP3 already, but the real culprit is the concept of “CD-quality”. This equals 16/44, and this is simply not sufficient in 2012. It was not even sufficient in 1973 when everything was analog. Only the convenience and laserness of CD’s convinced us that this was about as good as we were going to get. Real technical limitations of 1982 CPU technologies made it the best we could get cheaply.

This was 1982 people. The mp3 format is built on top of the CD format, and audibly it’s a disaster. We have nearly regressed back to the dynamic range of a 1920’s turntable. All those compressors (yeah you dubstep) just make it worse. Remember when the meters really moved?

If you could measure music’s emotional content in a data unit it would be clarity through it’s full range. The days of compressions built on top of dead formats should end.


I support any movement to improve the sounds entering our ears. All we want to hear is the same thing in the Steve Jobs photo above.



Music Halo

This guy nails it. He nailed it 11 years ago and he nails it now. It’s the power of and passion for music that continues to drive our finest human accomplishments. Apple showed that sticking to your passions and delivering your best possible product can eventually pay off.

capsulethins-nano-4g-clrPeople who dislike Apple’s style or politics have been loving those stock prices the last 10 years. Apple now pulls in more revenue from iPhone alone than the total of Bill Gates’ sad remains of a powerhouse’s entire product line. The tables have definitely turned from the 80’s & 90’s in several markets. Apple’s support of progressive employment and corporate policies, while turning such a healthy profit, is finally justifying their stance. Bottom-line really is the only justification in the corporate world.

So whether Apple maintains this lead or gets passed by the knock-off and bootlegs (again), their story this last decade has been an amazing ride. That first iPod syncing to iTunes then going out in the world, white click-wheeling away with just our songs at first, then our calendar, then notes, then games, then phone calls and and and….. it’s been a wild ride. I was at a meeting of non-tech people today and over 50% of the devices in the room were Apples. Crazy success story this iOS.

Fanboi? You Are An Idiot

If you find yourself using the term fanboi or fanboy to attack people who buy Apple products, you are an idiot.

How does the name calling feel? Idiot.



I have used Apple products for over 25 years. Most bought with my own money, some bought by employers. Almost every one was excellently built and provided me with many years of hassle-free computing.

Year after year I watch coworkers fight with their non-Apple hardware, fight with their windows software, fight with their horrible tech support, and generally lose the individual platform argument with me. Many now use macs, pure switchers as they were called when they were rare.
Continue reading

Surface Thoughts

Lots of discussion around about the new tablet coming out from Microsoft. They are calling it the Surface and while competing with the iPad, they are taking a fundamentally different approach to the device.

Philosophically, MS has shown their usual penchant for completely missing the point. Anyone who has enjoyed using an iPad, especially lately, should find the Surface confusing and clunky. Anyone who has avoided the iPad and calls tablets toys to discount their use will probably be surprised at how ackward both the hardware and software is on the Surface. Here’s why:
Continue reading

Mobile Crystal Ball


OK, quick hit, how I see the next 2 years playing out in the critical mobile OS area:

Microsoft buys or otherwise takes over Research In Motion and quickly picks up corporate market share by building a direct bridge from Blackberry to Windows Phone 8. Consumer use of Win8 still lags overall by usual Microsoft standards but they turn around this backslide of the last few years with solidly designed products. First Surface tablet is deeply flawed but gets some things right, and gets their toe in the tablet space.

Apple holds their ground. iOS is up to version 7 and unless your politically against Apple, is the standard-bearer in both design, app development, and the ever important PROFIT per app and per phone. The AppleTV grows to be a new voice/arrow controlled interface into iOS and your personal apps, running on every big screen in your possession if you are an Apple person. Apple people will continue to buy any and all Apple products and being in someone’s presence, and especially residence, will make it clear if they are ‘Apple people’ or not, sort of like religious or being into a particular cause or lifestyle.


Google continues to stumble with Android except in the area of total units shipped. Basically every free phone in existence runs some variation of Android, and there are thousands of variations by then. Google doesn’t care much because it profits off the chaos. Remember all those Android users and developers needing to google how to upgrade their phone or how to troubleshoot. Android is the new Windows95 – no one likes it but it’s everywhere. The real winner here is Linux, as the nerds continually take (back) over the Android world.

Don’t see any newbies making major moves. There’s always the game systems but game systems are game systems. If you run your life through a game system I don’t think you have lots of recurring income.

If we agree that market share in the US today is 40-30-15-5 Apple-Android-Blackberry-Windows, I can see a market in the US as 45-20-35 Apple-Android-Windows

My First Apple Prediction

Ya right, but it is one of my first published. Just off the top of my head, I’ll post my announcement prediction before they get to announcin’:

  1. iOS 6 will ship this summer. New features include Apple-built mapping with some industry-leading bells and whistles, extensive AirPlay integration with everything Apple, a new iPod music app, more Siri integration with other databases (both local and network), new iLife iOS apps with some whiz-bang features, and something on the digital wallet front so we can pay for things with our iPhones.
  2. OS X Mountain Lion is ahead of schedule and shipping soon, digitally only. Those of us on Snow Leopard will be screwed again. It’s getting harder and harder to use professional software on the Mac because Apple is forcing your hand on software upgrades and the developers make the user pay. But most of us will upgrade anyway because Apple is still 10x better than the alternatives.
  3. Apple TV is real and it’s a compelling product. It’s basically a big screen TV running iOS through the TV and voice interface (as opposed to the touch interface). This screen can do everything the current AppleTV and Roku products can do, such as stream HD from hundreds of sources served through a ‘Channel Store’ / ‘App Store’.But it can do so much more: go full-screen using voice control on your personal database apps like Address Book and iCal; run iOS apps that list information such as recipes and study guides, display iBooks interactively, query the web using Siri, browse with a TV-friendly Safari, play your movies, photo slideshows, and even Youtube, and yes, play real iOS games adapted for the TV interface. Basically a 6 foot wide iPad you talk to (or use the remote when you are sick of yelling at the wall) – most Apple users will start saving for one immediately.The killer feature of the iScreen might be buried though – it features a universal video search much like the current iOS does left of the Home screen. This search will be the google of video, both live and archived, both privately owned and publicly shared. For example – type your favorite band name into this thing and you will see every TV appearance, every DVD, every Youtube bootleg, every film appearance, every MTV and VEVO video, even if they are going to be on HBO or NBC this week – basically every instance of video past, present, and future on the subject.So this thing will hang on your wall, possibly not replacing your current TV, but forming a new place in the house – like the kitchen or dining room, a home office, even over the mantle. Wherever it is you can talk to it or remote control it. Yes the future is now – walk into your house, say what you are thinking, and up comes a screen full of every type of video imaginable on the subject. Say “next” or “back” to select, “play” to load, and “pause” to go grab a drink. While watching a movie and you forgot to check something: “pause movie, go to web, my blog, resume movie”. My favorite – live playlist creating: while playing a song in the music app “create playlist, add all 2MERICA, save as Ego Trip” and so on.Nothing like this has been done before and I really don’t know how Apple would get access to all of that data, but this is just what I feel they are working on.

That’s it. I’ll have to tune in in 24 hours to see how?prescient?I am.


The iPad of 1997

It was called a Newton, it had a kindle-like screen, handwriting recognition, great software, and was still smaller than a modern netbook. Check out this in-depth look at using the final model of the Apple Newton, circa 1997.

The guy is right – there’s things it can do that 2012’s iOS, Android, and Blackberry’s still can’t do.

Then again, sitting next to a loaded iPad 3, that Newton does seem about as powerful as a legal pad. Progress in fits and starts.

Upon Jobs second time running Apple, he killed the Newton product line and started work on the iTunes/iPod/Pad/Phone lines that drove the company to dominance.

Hopefully developers in and out of Apple are still working on transferring some of those great Newton features into iOS. I’d use the handwriting recognition, the text markup features, the data handling, even the play dial-tone feature on my iPad.


The Microsoft Copy Machine


I’ve been following the Windows8/Metro debut online and it struck me that this is one of the largest examples of Microsoft being a “me-too” type of company I’ve seen in a while, complete with a fatal flaw in their copied version. My rambling thoughts:

First, the basics (if you haven’t watched the previews yourself): Windows 8 is coming, perhaps by the end of 2012. Unlike Apple, MS likes to show things off way before they are finished, and they are focusing on previewing their new touch-based Windows shell called “Metro”. I call it a shell because it runs inside of/on top of traditional windows and doesn’t appear to have it’s own boot routine, networking, filesystem, security, or hardware driver layer. Those sorts of things appear to still be handled by Windows. Of course it has a snazzy modern-looking interface and can be touch manipulated. Like Apple’s industry-leading iOS, it also has a curated application environment (aka a company AppStore). Continue reading

Touch the Music


Here’s a nice overview article on some of the tech that’s changing music making, particularly the iPad. As someone who’s produced several tracks with just a laptop, an interface, a mic, and a midi board, this is a big change. 8 years ago when I would show up with the above parts some people didn’t believe I could do quality remote tracking with so few items. The iPad with a few good apps and the right cords ends up replacing a few more pieces. Continue reading

Stop Calling Me Old! And Get Off My Lawn You Damn Kids!

1st Atari releases it’s retro video game pack for the iPad, containing most of their original stand-up games ported to the iOS.

Then someone mocks up an iPad-to-arcade kit for April Fools Day. Wouldn’t that be cool? Yay Photoshop and imagination.

Then the geeks get to work and turn the gag into an actual working product. Introducing iCade:

It’s a $100 product that requires screwing the box together and mating the controller with the iPad through Bluetooth. Then you slide your iPad in place whenever you want to play old-school! My money is on this thing getting more use than most xbox setups.

[As of today it only works with the (badass) Atari game packs, but an SDK has been released and supposedly other iOS game developers will be adding iCade controller support asap.]

Now if I could just slide my Toyota into the shell of a 1967 GTO I’d be all set.

Why iRight on iPad


I said “Wow those things are gonna be everywhere”, and just a year later I think about half of my extended family has one. And these are people who are not necessarily mac people, some not even technology people in general. I’m amazed. Sadly, still not a shareholder.

The Android verse iOS battle is good theater and good for the industry, so I keep tabs on it and occasionally argue with my geek friends. But the debate that gets me annoyed enough to post up here is the one about tablets in general.

You may have noticed that some people on the nets still see tablets as a fad, nothing more than the latest toy. Statistics and their own eyes tell them otherwise, but I’m old enough to remember when GUI’s were for toys, when color was for toys, and when plug-and-play was for toys.

So to these latest skeptics I present my “Why the iPad* is better than your non-tablet computing device” test:

1. Stand up. Stretch.

2. That’s it. If you are still reading this you are uncomfortably leaning over your non-tablet, or comfortably holding your tablet after a nice stretch. Or perhaps you are on your phone, holding it near your face with sore triceps and squinting eyes, wishing you had a bigger screen (and a more concise author).


Still not convinced? Pull up some recipes on your non-tablet and set it on the counter while cooking. On the counter or in most places not your hand, the phone disappears and a laptop is foolish. Don’t get too excited and try to hold a laptop like a tablet, you get cracked frameitus. eBooks aren’t just for fiction — any PDF you own or want on your slate at all times. Print? have on you at all times. Hey! your toddler is screaming for speed, show him speed.. and Mater… and that pimp car one. Good boy, now go play with your Transformers and let daddy play with a real transformer.

[By the way, I do think they hatched the plan for the iPad around 1999 when they were shipping a version 0.01 of the iPad known as the iPod, and then set about building all the infrastructure for it over the years. The patience to wait until everything was ready (including the supply chain) to then turn it all on is impressive.

Once they turn on full iOS capabilities in AppleTV and license Airplay to other manafucturers — If you go all-in with Apple and get your PC’s, mobiles, TVs, and stereos talking the iTunes talk, welcome to the afterfuture, people. ]

*oh that, just saying this test would work with a xoon tablet too, but iPad 2 is the top of the class right now. it’s about the tablet form and the touch interface, not the branding.

Atari Equals Childhood Happys

This is excellent. Atari has had about 200 owners since their glory years, but whoever managed to keep the vintage code safe and sound is a hero. This is a new release of over 100 classic Atari titles on iOS, along with new multi-player over Bluetooth features and a shared game launching hub. The prices are excellent and they even packaged up similar titles into Game Packs, a most excellent idea. Go Atari, whoever you are now!


The Day I Cut The Cord

I hate TV. I watch too much TV. How much? Anything more than an hour a day equals too much. I can get a weeks worth of sitting around done in one lazy night in front of the the TV. I always said If I just wrote/played music or worked on my other projects instead of watching the boob tube then Hello Productivity!

Plus nowadays, I just turn off the TV to end up on Netflix, Hulu, or watching a DVD for another couple hours. So I’ve finally done something I’ve wanted to do for years — yes, today the man is coming to shut OFF my cable.

It’s called “capping the line” according to my friendly cable company rep, who’s voice dropped to a silent defeat when I told him I want to keep my broadband and get rid of the cable package. He must have known from my cheap package and the tone of my voice that I wasn’t going to be talked out of it.



I think I’ve lived with cable about 29 of the past 30 years so it will be an adjustment for sure. I’ll have to report back after a few months.

But for now, today is the big day, February 2011, goodbye Pawn Stars. Goodbye Top Chef. Goodbye Operacion Repo. Goodbye Sportscenter. Goodbye Daily Show and Colbert. Goodbye Chelsea Lately. Goodbye Tosh.O. Goodbye anything else that I can’t find (or won’t bother to watch) on the internet.

If I can survive this cold-turkey I’ll probably end up with Apple TV and an iPad sharing more media than ever before to every room in my house. But at least it will be things selected by me, and my preferred* ‘promotional messages’ will be selected by me also.

*yeah right

These Are Not The Droids You’re Looking For


{( WAVE ?)}. ?Jedi Magic or Near Field Communication? We shall find out soon.

I already have friends calling me my mispronounced Apple-Speech name so it should be something to see the rollout – nothing like a misfire on your paypal account to ruin a week.

I gotta say one big thing I think Star Trek missed is how all this cool gadgetry will be used for games and diversions.

Instead of the complications of building (and scheduling) an actual holodeck, seems like we will just bring the virtual reality right into real reality with us.

Foursquare, Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon, etc. all tracking where we are and hooking us into a fully location-aware, environmentally aware, internetly-aware, and personal-life aware device sitting right on our bodies at all times. We want our Hulu and Youtube and www and navigation and social boards/walls/twitters and all they really want from us is the ability to pry more $$ out of our accounts without us realizing it.

It’s cool though, welcome to the 21st century, one of our own making. I know mother nature could still shut it all down and start over so we just have to progress to the next level.

He Beat Me To It (Again!)

My boy Damon from Gorillaz is rambling forward yet again, pushing to release the first major project recorded on an iPad this holiday season. I’ve messed around with the 4-track recorders and many of the synthesizers and other iOS instrument apps. This should be an interesting test of the new platform in regards to production, something that iOS is just starting to progress towards.

I’ve put my iPhone apps into DJ sets for years but yet again the Gorillaz captain is moving the bar. Can’t wait to hear what he comes up with!


Touching on the Pad

The ipad is gonna be everywhere in 1-2 years. All those people saying “how could I replace my laptop with that” are lying about how much work they do. Most people I know spend at least 75% of their time in front of a computer doing exactly what the ipad is made for – consuming/sorting their media, browsing the web, and reading or composing short text blurbs like IM, email, and internet postings. I personally produce music and develop software – 2 things iPad v1 can’t do. But that doesn’t mean everything else I do with my mac can’t be more conveniently done wherever I want with the pad. And look at iPod/iPhone as a model — you know iPad v3 will add the missing features of earlier models (like a camera, the phone app, hulu, an outlook client, and theater sound to list a few).

Think work. Think any job that doesn’t keep you in a cubicle all day. Think about a private app store for an enterprise, stocking only their approved apps. Think about your work database, your POS system, your customer list, etc. being on a pad being carried around the office or around the neighborhood/route. Ever walk with a laptop or a netbook? It’s the UPS brown-tablet for the rest of us, doing things way more exciting than collecting our signature.

Think about presentations without a $1k projector. Ever pass a laptop around a large room or conference table so everyone can see up close? Yeah right. The pad will be there making laptops look like corded phones. Oh it’s so sensitive looking with that thin screen, better not get too close or lean near it! I love my macbook pro, but clamshells have never been cool unless you are baking them.

Oh yeah phones… yeah, think of all those people grabbing their iphone to do everything. Can’t get that damn thing out of their hands! Yes the pad is like a larger iPhone. Think about that, it’s not an insult. The only real thing hindering the iphone now is screen space. So the iPhone goes back to pocket-mobile only, and the iPad becomes local-mobile. You are not gonna write or browse on an iPhone if an iPad is nearby, but to me crouching in front of a laptop on a table is starting to remind me of getting up to change the channels.

I think security and deployment software will be needed on the iPad, and I’d consider investing in carrying cases, handles, sterile stylus’ and cleaning products. There’s a ways to go, but just like the iPhone, entrepreneurs should lead the way with software and hardware to bring the 21st century to us (finally).

But it will be everywhere, and like the iPhone it will take other companies 2 years to even come close to it. I predict it being a complete lifestyle changer, like the web itself. Remember when people would try to live using the internet only? Same thing for the iPad — it will do so much so easily we won’t ever go back to before it.