Video Clips


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Google Android to Launch Sept 23rd

The International Herald Tribune headline reads "Google's Android no match for iPhone - Yet". As Google is a company, much like Apple, with a corporate culture that encourages outside-the-box thinking, incredible innovation and wiz-bang design, we've all been enthusiastically waiting Google's unveiling of Android.

The handset being previewed is the HTC Dream, a gold or beige touch screen with a slide out tiny keyboard that all together has a retro-70s look and feel. The software desktop design doesn't make its own statement, instead choosing a file folder metaphor and a flat blue one-dimensional viewing plane. From what I've seen, it is unimpressive from a visual design standpoint.

Android is a mobile phone and computing platform to rival the Apple iPhone. Google's designers have promised that the Andriod will being using some of the best iPhone break-throughs such as touch screen technology, built in accelerometers, open platform and a developer SDK, with a user-interface that maximizes ease-of-use and graphics. Android also presented the possibility of a rich cloud-based computing set of tools integrated with Google's web storage and interactive applications.

Significantly, the Android promise was that a smart phone with a clever software interface could be purchased and owned without an excessive AT&T exclusive contract.

While searching for more information on Android I came across the presentation (video above) given by a Google engineer. Presentations like this one boggle the mind. In his demonstration, things don't work, the connection and loading of pages is slow, and his claims of coolness are not matched by what he is showing. His demonstration of how Android works could not have made me more uninterested in the handset or less impressed with the software. I was excited about Android but this guy almost killed the joy I had built up in my mind for a Google phone.

And I am always astonished that companies like Google and Microsoft never seem to be able to surpass Apple design. I want them to break the mold because it is good for us as end-users. And they have the sample product right in front of them to analyze, dissect and improve upon. Google says they don't think they can match "the consumer experience" of the iPhone. I ask: "Why not?"

There is much to be improved upon with Apple's iPhone. If Google says it cannot surpass it then they are not seeing it clearly as a consumer device and how it integrates into mobile computing and the users needs. The iPhone was a paradigm shifting innovation in smart phones and mobile computing but it is far from perfect. Apple has left out critical functionality and not delivered on performance specs that exist out there in other devices.

Why do we have to be disappointed with the Android launch on September 23rd?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Banned by Apple" A Status Category

This week Apple banned another third-party iPhone application from distribution through the Apple Apps Store.

Podcaster is an app like Diggnation On The Go and Mobility Today, that allows iPhone owners listen to podcasts directly on their phone. Apple banned Podcaster because, as they explained in a letter to the developer, it duplicated the functionality of the podcast features in iTunes.

Let's make it absolutely clear that Apple in all its developers forums and public announcements of the rules governing placement in the apps store, namely software that could be called: “Porn, privacy, bandwidth hog, unforeseen, malicious, illegal,” that "duplicated the functionality of iTunes" was not one of those rules for developers to follow.

Alex Sokirynsky, the developer of the rejected application, found Apple's explanation confusing since many small applications available for the iPhone duplicate and expand upon existing functionality of the iPhone.

A host of applications that do calculator functions, weather apps, expanded notes, calendar, etc. would confirm Sokirynsky's observation. Other bloggers and computer publications speculated that Podcasters function of allowing iPhone users to download multiple podcasts directly to the the iPhone and iPod Touch by-passing iTunes was of greatest concern to Apple.

Expressing outrage with this reasoning, blogger John Gruber accuses Apple of anti-competitive behavior stating: ""Let's be clear: forbidding 'duplication of functionality' is forbidding competition. The point of competition is to do the same thing, but better."

In my estimation, Apple has made a bad decision by banning Podcaster. First, Podcaster cost $9.99 and wouldn't likely gain much pentration that Apple would notice a shift in its podcasting traffic on iTunes.

Coming as the next in a line of developer rejections -- NetShare (an application that allows you to use the iPhone as a modem) Pull My Finger (an silly app that makes 18 sounds of flatulence) and "I am Rich" (a $1,000 application with a picture of bling) were all pulled by Apple over the course of the past few months -- banning Podcaster has raised the ire of Apple iPhone developers.

From an end-user perspective, Apple's ban of Podcaster undermines the demarcation between legit reasons for keeping Apps out of the App Store and anti-competitive behavior. Apple has every right to protect users from Apps that crash or unstable, apps that don't play well with either the operating system or other apps, and apps that do nasty, unwanted, and unintended things to its users. But what Apple has done with both Podcaster and NetShare is increased the level of suspicion and cynicism about its corporate behavior.

And now the developer community is expression anger at Apple for their capricious actions. Apple's apps bans bring more attention to the applications than they deserve. And the ban creates ill-will among a developer base Apple certainly wants to cultivate rather than alienate. These developers might easily run to another platform such as Android to build their apps.

On its face, with a ten buck download charge, Podcaster is not a winner but Sokirynsky now enjoys the status of being "Banned by Apple."

Monday, September 8, 2008

Apple "Let's Rock" Announcements

Tomorrow's "Let's Rock" show marks another big Apple iPod product upgrade announcement when the company is expected to upgrade the iPod Touch, iPod Nano, and new versions of iTunes (8.0) and QuickTime 7.2.2.

Many of us are hoping for an iPhone upgrade to 2.1 in hope that it will fix the crashing, dropped calls and bad battery performance we've been experiencing since the big July roll out of the 3G iPhone, MobileMe, and the Apple Apps Store. And it would be nice if they can fix MobileMe to work as one would intuitively expect it should work.

Friends who are still sitting on the fence before jumping off and buying an iPhone have said they would like to see the iPhone upgraded to 16GB and 32GB models, boosting the hardware capacity just enough to live out period of the terms of their excessive 2-year AT&T contract.

And it would be nice if Apple could fix the really annoying constant problem with upgrading Apps from the Apps Store. I've gotten to the point where I am untrusting and apprehensive when upgrading Apps since it crashes the iPhone (everytime) and it erases all the settings and writes over all the files in those apps. It just doesn't act like you would expect stable and user friendly Apple applications to act.

You can read in various regions of the internet people expecting a sub-$100 iPhone. Ain't gonna happen my friends.

Apple has become increasingly conservative and more corporate in the past year. Their upgrades and changes to technology, I think one can safely bet are going to be creepingly incremental and piece meal. While the iPod Touch will become sleeker and skinny, you should not expect to see added features like a camera, a microphone for voice recording or dictation or hardware improvements that might justify paying more for it than an iPhone.

One feature Apple is hoping to thrill us with is it Genuis Bar the only new feature being added to iTunes. This is rumored to function something like Pandora or a new app in development called Stitcher, whereby the application learns your song and radio preferences and then suggests or puts together playlists from your iTunes library and the Apple Store. While this feature will certainly be welcomed, it is not a radical new idea or approach to digital media devices. It's not going to Rock Your World as tomorrow's event suggests it might.

Apple seems to want to position the iPod Touch as a pocket gaming machine and to keep the Touch from overlapping in capabilities with their iPhone, presumably because Apple now more fully enjoys the revenues coming from the AT&T contract kickbacks than it does giving its customers awesome features.

I can tell you the one big feature I want for my iPhone is the ability to use my iPhone without an AT&T contract. Right now it is the only feature I want Apple to be working on.

Plain and simple: I should not be bound to undesirable terms and conditions, terrible service and a corporate culture that cares little for its customers in order to own an Apple product.