Tag: Apple

Facebook Aiming to Undermine AppStore With HTML5 Effort

MG Siegler at TechCrunch broke a story today that, if true, sends a strong signal that Facebook plans to attempt to subvert at least some of Apple's heavy-handed control of iOS (iPhone, iPad, etc.) apps through the AppStore. According to Siegler, who claims first-hand knowledge of Project Spartan at Facebook, the plan is to get a sizable number (80 or more) of current AppStore-successful developers to create apps in HTML5 rather than Flash and to make those apps available through Facebook as a medium/platform.

I've made no secret of my belief that Web apps, as contrasted with native iOS apps, are the real wave of the future in smartphone development. But it's been clear for some time that the biggest problem wasn't going to be development tools or platform access; rather, it was going to be the issue of how developers could get their Web apps into consumer hands easily and in large numbers. Facebook has the potential to play that pivotal role here. Apple won't. Google, with its Android plans, probably can't either. That really leaves Facebook to do this work and become solidified as the third player in the Big Time Dev Game for smart devices.

With its massive installed base of users, many if not most of whom are regular visitors to the Facebook space, these guys could provide a huge marketplace for the right kinds of apps.
And therein lies the potential Achilles Heel for FB. Facebook apps, almost without exception, are time-wasters, mind-numbers and thumb-twiddlers. While they're popular among a big portion of the FB crowd, it remains to be seen if enough users of that social net service are ready to look to FB to be a provider or publisher of more serious business, productivity or utility apps that run in a browser and take advantage of iOS device attributes. I hope they do but I'm pretty skeptical about the potential here.

Does Apple’s iMessages Move Kill SMS?

At yesterday's Apple Worldwide Developer Conference, the company announced that the next major release of its iOS will include as part of its Messages framework a new feature called iMessages. This feature will allow owners of iOS-based devices to send rich media messages back and forth absolutely free. Not only that, these messages will have a number of advantages over the costly SMS traffic now offered as a premium service by all the major cellular carriers. As MG Siegler opines on TechCrunch, this may ultimately kill SMS and with it the stratospheric profit margins the carriers have been enjoying for lo these many years.

At the very least, again as Siegler points out, this move will force Google to implement a similar feature set within the Android OS, which in turn will relegate the outrageously expensive SMS messaging to cross-device traffic only. Given the affinity effect (which suggests that folks who are iOS device users tend to have friends who are also iOS users, and the same holds true for Android users), the ultimate effect could well be the death of SMS or a price reduction to zero or nearly so.

Among the cool features of iMessages over SMS are receipts and notifications when the other party is typing a message in an iMessages thread.

I just like the way Apple continues to innovate and to make their customers' user experience top of the line. I'm willing to pay extra for that consideration. Obviously I'm not alone; Apple says there are now 200 million iOS devices out there. That means at least 100 million iOS device users. That's a big family.

Why Doesn’t This Monitor Fill Up Properly?

I recently picked up an Ativa 240HP flat-panel display to augment my MacBook Air's puny screen when I'm working at my second office location. I like the monitor a lot but I'm frustrated at not being able to get full-screen coverage for the Air.

When I set the display to 1920×1080 resolution, the image fills up the center of the display area, leaving a space of about 1/2-3/4 inch top and bottom and about an inch on either side of the image area black and unused.

 My business partner uses a Sony laptop and it fills the entire display quite nicely, thank you very much.

Any ideas why?

Developers Beginning to Drop iPhone Plans?

It appears from this article on Ars Techica today that Apple's widely publicized and uniformly hated iPhone AppStore policies and management are beginning to catch up with the snazzy company. A couple of key developers have publicly announced that they will no longer develop apps for the Apple smartphone platform due not to the market but to the channel. This is a ridiculously untenable situation for Apple but the company has passed up numerous opportunities to do the right thing by its developers and has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to their legitimate complaints.

Arbitrary rejections of software submissions based on ill-considered and poorly documented reasoning by an apparently largely bureaucratic neophyte group of screeners has frutstrated dozens if not hundreds of iPhone developers. While it is hard to know whether the underlying policies on which rejection is based are sound and logical or just anti-competitive, it is clear that both the process and communication with developers are deeply flawed.

Apple needs to fix this. Now. It is only a matter of time before this attitude — on the parts of both Apple and the developer community — causes Mac developers to begin to reconsider their commitment to Apple platforms and technologies. And without that particular flavor of loyalty, Apple oculd be in big trouble, fast.

Installing Snow Leopard, a Scary Halloween Story

Yesterday I finally got around to upgrading my main system to the new OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" release. This release was reputed to be relatively insignificant and unimportant and blissfully easy to install so I figured I'd take advantage of a Friday night in which I had social obligations to run the upgrade on auto-pilot. Maybe it was because it was Halloween eve or something, but what a freaking scary experience it turned out to be.

First, I got a message from the installer that said the DVD was dirty and that I should clean it and try again. I had just taken the DVD out of its protective sleeve, handled it carefully, and put it into the player. I ejected it and examined it and I didn't see anything defective but I carefully wiped it anyway. After restarting the process, I didn't encounter that issue again.

Second, I went away and left the installer running. When I came back, I was greeted by a blank gray screen with the chasing arrow circle. No idea how long it had been that way though it seemed like it was probably a long time. I waited another 20 minutes or so thinking I might have come back mid-reboot but when nothing changed, I powered off the iMac and restarted it. That got me to my Finder desktop so I figured the install was done. I tried then to install an HP printer driver that required Snow Leopard but it told me that I was still running 10.5! WTF?

Third, I re-inserted the upgraded DVD and restarted the installation. Sure enough, it came up and started to run exactly as if no upgrade had happened in the first place. Wow. Very strange.

Fourth, after this incarnation of the upgrade seemed to finish running, the system shut down, came back very slowly (not so unusual after an upgrade) and then I saw a dialog on the screen that said that in order to run something called NotificationExec, I'd have to install Rosetta! Huh? Rosetta is the OS9-compatibility box, right? And Apple stopped supporting Rosetta and OS9 quite some time ago. So what was this about? Well, I had one of those infinite dialog box experiences. I must have clicked the Cancel button on 30 or 40 of those dialogs, which kept reappearing. I tried terminating the process to no avail. I was finally left with no choice but to power the unit down and back up again.

Fifth, when the system came back up, it went into that same dialog process again. Unbelievable! I noticed that as it did so, it was at least launching my startup software between dialogs. So I stayed with it and eventually the dialogs stopped appearing and I had what appeared to be a full install. I ran the HP printer  update and that ran fine, so my system apparently at least thinks it's running Snow Leopard.

Sixth, I then launched GraphicConverter, one of my 10 most frequently accessed applications. I got the dialog box warning me this was the first time I'd launched this program. WTF? Now I'm concerned that some system settings got blasted by the install disruption and I'm looking forward to a weekend of painful attempts to get my system stable again. But once I OK'd that warning dialog, the app ran fine.

Seventh, somehow this system seems to have lost its recollection of local network nodes. The one that serves as my file sharing server from which I run NoteShare, shows up in Finder but NoteShare won't see it and won't let me share from it. The server is fine because I can run my Air's version of NoteShare and access its files just fine. As I write this, I'm still stuck on this problem and I have no idea how many more I'm going to encounter.

I wonder what is unusual about my setup that would cause this much confusion around this experience. I'm not finding any other reports of such major glitches trying to upgrade to a version of the system that I clearly didn't need to upgrade to to begin with.

Scary indeed.

What Do iPhone, Health Care Have in Common?

Users of the iPhone have no choice of phone vendors. Consumers have no real choice in health insurance. Both create bad situations.

If you're an Apple iPhone user like I am, you're stuck using AT&T for your cellular service. That means that you get less adequate service than any other iPhone user in the world and less than almost all other American cell phone service providers, including AT&T's non-iPhone customers! How's that make you feel?

AT&T's U.S. iPhone customers cannot use two important features of the phone simply because the telecom behemoth has chosen not to make them available We can't send and receive photos, sound files or movies directly on the phone using messaging. And we can't use the phone as a link between our computers and the Internet, a technique referred to as tethering.
That is pure unadulterated crap. They only get away with it because they know that we love our iPhones enough that we're not going to toss them because the service provider sucks and treats us arbitrarily. I've written the FCC and the FTC asking for an investigation of these discriminatory practices. (These aren't the only such decisions AT&T has made; I'm just focusing on two for the moment because they are ticking me off.)

Similarly, in most parts of the United States at least, you as a consumer/employee have little or no choice when it comes to health insurance. You get the plan your employer decides to offer. Period. You may get a few "menu" options to make you feel like you're in control, but you're not. Pricing among plans is like gas price differences: for all practical purposes, non-existent. But you cannot affordably purchase coverage that is better or more closely suited to your own needs even if such a plan is available because your employer selects one plan for everyone. Some larger companies offer employees a choice of multiple plans but that practice appears to have fallen into disuse in a difficult economy.

This is the ultimate reason a public option is absolutely essential to real health insurance reform: it is the only meaningful way to provide true choice to consumers. And only when faced with true choice that consumers themseles can exercise directly, without employer intervention, will health insurance companies have to become reasonable and competitive in their business practices. Otherwise, they are effectively able to operate as monopolies within given market segments or geographic territories.

How do I get this iPhone removed from my rectum where AT&T has shoved it?