An iPad for each and everyone of us

Just as the iPad came out some were complaining that the iPad does not have support for multiple users. You configure an iPad for one person and just one person.  In fact most applications you can use to really take advantage of the mobility of the device will require personal information.  Some examples of applications that you need to connect to a service in order to really take advantage of all functionalities are: Evernote, InstaPaper and all Twitter clients (obviously). I don’t expect that Apple will make any changes to iOS in this regard, however. After using an iPad for a few days I came to the conclusion that iPads are personal devices.  They are at least as personal as your phone where you have all your friends contacts, but I think it is even more so than that. In the iPad is an intrinsically personal device.  On it you will have your photos, your books, your magazines and other information of day to day usage such as TO DOs and so and so on.  It is not something to be shared by among several different people. Were it not for the fact that Apple is already selling every iPad they can make as fast as they can make them, reducing their price would quickly move the iPad to whole new level of sales, with many early adopter households buying additional devices, one for each family member.  iPads will be just like mobile phones in the future, every one will have...
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Apple starts receiving App submissions for iPhone 4

Yesterday Apple started accepting application submitted for running on iOS 4, the operating system of its upcoming iPhone 4.  This same operating system should find its way onto iPads in the second half of 2010. Among the new features of iOS 4 is he ability to run several third party applications at the same time and to organize your applications into folders.   Another improvement that will extend to the iPad when the new OS becomes available are a central Inbox view for multiple email accounts. The new iPhone will be available in stores later this month but no date has been set for the availability of iOS 4 for the iPad.  Owners of iPod Touch devices will be able to upgrade de OS for free when the iPhone is...
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Microsoft’s board should fire Steve Ballmer

Microsoft’s board of directors should fire Steve Ballmer, the company’s CEO.  Anyone with a bit of touch with reality and that has been following what is happening in the tech world over the past couple of years cannot think differently after watching Balmer’s interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at the D8 conference. When discussing tablet computers and specifically the iPad, Ballmer dismissed the explosive sales of the iPad mentioning that eventually there would be a number of devices “…that are light and don’t have a keyboard and will run Windows”.  Microsoft has been trying to get the tablet PC right for over ten years and I think that if you sum all the unit sales from all companies selling Windows based tablet’s they might not equal two months of iPad sales. Of course one expects that the CEO of a company to show some confidence that his company won’t have a problem in competing with others, but Balmer can’t seem to get the tone right.  He comes across as a person who has been living in another planet and isn’t aware that Apple has significantly changed the rules of the game for tablets. The fact is that perhaps he really hasn’t got a clue if you take smartphones as an example.  LG, Samsung  and Nokia which aren’t software companies had no trouble coming up with phones which tried to approximate the iPhone’s very successful interface, while 3 years later Microsoft is still struggling to get somewhere with its mobile phone OS. While discussing the future, Balmer was categoric that the future would be dominated by PCs, not lighter, simpler computing devices such as the iPad.  While PCs do dominate right now, after only two months 91% of the people that got an iPad is satisfied with the device and a large number of people seem to be using less and less their regular computers in favor of the iPad. On this Balmer states “The bulk of the market is going to stay with general-purpose devices.”  By general-purpose devices he means PCs.  A funny aspect of this is that to minimize the impact of having a kind of device for which Microsoft is not ready growing in the market, Balmer labels the iPad as a PC.  So, perhaps he is right… PCs will be used by the bulk of the market, but they will be iPad-like PCs. Through out the interview, Balmer is not convincing.  He knows that Microsoft is in a very bad position to compete in the smartphone and tablet markets, which are growing very fast, but he acts as if the company was handling very well these areas, which it very clearly isn’t. In contrast to Balmer’s position on what devices will be used by the bulk of the market in the future, you have a recent statement by SAP’s Chairman, Hasso Plattner, that “Apple’s iPad tablet computer will shape the way business is conducted”.   Mr. Plattner said that eight out of twelve customer representatives he met at the company’s Sapphire fair in May were using an iPad. If Microsoft’s board isn’t going to change its CEO then at the very need they need to get him some coaching on how show confidence without looking like the village...
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iAd: Rumors of renewed government interest

iAd: Rumors of renewed government interest
In the last couple of months several rumors of government interest in Apples activities have surfaced, gone away and resurfaced.  The latest rumor is that either the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Department of Justice would carrying out an investigation into the terms of the development agreement for Apple’s iOS which restrict the sending of user and device information to companies that produce or are controlled by one that produces mobile devices or operating systems. As AdMob was recently acquired by Google, it would fall into that restriction.  Currently AdMob is the largest player in the mobile ad space, but being blocked from almost 100 mi users of Apple’s iPhone, iPod and iPad would put a serious dent in the leadership position.  Not surprisingly, this has drawn criticism from Omar Hamoui, AdMob’s founder and CEO.  Omar Hamoui claims that this change is against the best interests of developers and ultimately end- users. The fact is that the letter of Apple’s proposed new agreement is clear.  There is no restriction to any ad serving service, but there are restrictions to manufacturers of competing products and services.  If AdMob had not been purchased by Google, it would have no issue with the new terms. Ironically the FTC approved the AdMob acquisition by Google citing that the entrance of Apple in the mobile Ad business was an indication that there was competition in this space. While I’m far from being an far from being an expert on US law, I fail to see how a company that does not hold a dominant share of any market should could be targeted by an anti-trust investigation (understanding that anti-trust is not the same as anti-monopoly). I can’t imagine any other electronics manufacturer being questioned as to why it wouldn’t allow data collection code from a competing manufacturer to be  used used in their products.  Can you see anyone questioning Nintendo why they won’t let Sony or Microsoft provided ad and data collection code to be included in games for the Wii?   How about Motorola and...
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Baen Free Library – a great source of ebooks for your iPad

If you like science-fiction or fantasy books and haven’t checked out the Baen Free Library, do so right now.  For a long time Baen has been making many of their books available for free download.  These are the same books you would otherwise purchase in paper or ebook form and they are available in multiple formats, including ePub which makes them ideally suited for reading on the iPad in any of various reader applications. I’ve been using Stanza on the iPod Touch to read ebooks for quite some time and now that Stanza for iPad is out I just loaded it up with several titles I purchased from Baen over the past year or to test it.  In looking for which books to load on Stanza I remembered that I hadn’t covered this topic here before and decided to remedy it. Baen publishes many accomplished writers with a focus on sci-fi and fantasy and they use the free availability of some of their titles in digital form to introduce readers to their authors.  One of my favorites is David Weber, author of the Honor Harington and SafeHold series.  The Honor Harington series is published by Baen and has several books included in the Free Library.  In fact it was through this sampling of free books that I had my first contact with David Weber’s books, so Baen’s marketing strategy seems to be...
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AT&T Security breach exposes information of iPad 3G owners

A security breach on AT&T’s website has exposed private emails of about 114,000 iPad 3G owners as well as their ICC-IDs (the IDs of their SIM cards).  This breach was accomplished by exploiting a vulnerability to specially formatted HTTP request which has since been fixed. A hacker group was able to automate the query for information process by creating a script to issue these special HTTP requests and thus obtain the email information for a long list of individuals which would seem to include many highly placed executives, politicians and celebrities which were early iPad 3G adopters. While this is certainly embarrassing for AT&T, it seems that it poses no eminent security risk for the people whose information was leaked beyond the inconvenience of  being likely to receive more spam email and greater exposure to social engineering attacks in the...
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The Pulse news reader and the stupidity of old media

The Pulse news reader and the stupidity of old media
During his opening keynote at WWDC 2010, Steve Jobs briefly showed the Pulse news reader as one of the applications available for the iPad, on the App Store.  On the same day the application was taken down from the App Store due to a complaint from the Times Company, owner of the New York Times (NYT). Originally I found out about this through Mike Cane’s irate rumblings in his iPadTest blog.  While he is always quite colorful in his writing, he has the great virtue of being direct and to the point.  This was stupid. I started to write this post much earlier when I first learned that the New York Times had issued a complaint against the Pulse news reader for how their content was being used by them.  As I looked up more information on this I found out that the application was back on the App Store, probably after removing the NYT’s RSS feed from the list of pre-loaded or suggested feeds.  I read about the Times complaint and while still thinking it was a bad decision on their part not to want to be pre-loaded into the reader app, I thought them within their rights to do so.  At that point I decided that there was no reason to continue writing abou this. This  changed when I came across a new update on the case where Robert Christie, a spokesperson for the NYT is reported to have said “We think it has been reinstated by error, and we have asked Apple for an explanation.” That got me worked up again.  After all, if the fellows remove the NYT from the pre-loaded list of RSS feeds there is nothing left for the company to complain about.    Oddly, it turns out that despite the developers having submitted a new version of the App for approval by Apple, it hasn’t been approved yet and it is the original App that has been made available again. Soon the new version of the App should be available from the App Store and the Times Company will have gotten its wish to be excluded from the default reading list of over 35.000 people who would be exposed to their content and which might click through to read more stuff on their site.  This move by the Times Company should have their stockholders yanking their hair out.  Turning away exposure to thousands of potential readers in a single act such as this is as dumb a move as I can think of. Let’s look a bit deeper into the complaint by the Times Company against the App.  There are three parts to the complaint, as I understand it.  First as a paid application they were making commercial use of the NYT intellectual property without licensing it.  Second, when the user selects an article it opens in an embedded browser, and it is therefore “framing” the site, which is against its terms of service and finally they were using the image of the NYT to promote their product. Let’s start with the last item.  I can understand the NYT not wanting their image to be used to suggest that they are recommending the App or in any way connected to it.  A fair point and essentially just a matter of replacing the screenshots published on iTunes to show the content of other sites that aren’t bothered by that. Now let’s look closely at the first two points. Pulse is a news reader.  An application designed with the purpose of reading RSS feeds.  If you don’t want people to be able to read your RSS feed in the applications that are designed to...
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Steve Jobs hints at iPods with cameras

During his keynote at WWDC10 this Monday Steve Jobs mentioned that Apple was going to sell 10’s of millions of FaceTime enabled devices.  Notice that he did not say phones, but devices.  As I don’t think that Apple is going to release a new model of iPad this year, that could only mean new iPod Touch models, equipped with cameras. It would be too soon to replace the first generation iPad, as Apple is barely keeping up with demand.  Adding a cameras and making the iPod more of a communications device Apple will be able to better differentiate the iPad and the iPod Touch (which is being referenced by many as the iPad Nano). In a couple of months we might be seeing invitations distributed to another special Apple media event to introduce a new line of iPods, which will include FaceTime...
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iPhone OS is now iOS 4

iPhone OS is now iOS 4
During his keynote presentation earlier today Steve Jobs announced a name change for iPhone OS.  The new version is now going to be called iOS 4. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense as with the iPad and iPod Touch both running the operating system there are actually more types of running it that are not phones than that are. The are some interesting new features in the new version of the operating system but it is too early to tell which of them will be available on the iPad and in which form, due to the hardware difference between the current iPad and the iPhone 4.  The new iPhone has two cameras which allow it not only to take pictures as previous models but to record video HD (720p).  As the iPad doesn’t a camera, features that are directly  related to video such as the new video editing features will not be present in the iPad, when it receives the iOS 4 update later this year. iPhones will now have their own version of the iBooks application making it easier for users of both iPads and iPhones to always have access to their books, regardless of which device is available at the moment. Apple has made available a web page with a detailed description of the major new features of the new iPhone 4 and thus indirectly of iOS...
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Sydney restaurant replaces menus with iPads

The Global Mundo Tapas restaurant in Sydney has replaced all its printed menus with iPads. The application that runs on the iPads is tied directly into the restaurant’s stock control so if something runs out, it just disappears from the menu. The menu is very interactive displaying pictures of selected dishes and providing wine recommendations that go well with the user’s selection.  If you are ordering steak, it provides you with the option of choosing how you would like it done and which sauce you would like to have with it. The orders are sent directly to the kitchen through the wireless network, leaving to the waiters the task bringing out the food from the kitchen once it is ready. If you are passing through Sydney and want to check it out, the restaurant is in the North Sydney Rydges Hotel.  I’m guessing they are going to have a large number of curious people coming in for a bite in the near...
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An iPad and a new Mac mini could be the definitive media hub

As every year, right before Apple’s WWDC conference the rumor mill is working overtime.  There are rumors about updates to the Mac Mini, to the Mac Pro and even Apple’s Cinema displays that everyone and his dog has been predicting will get a 27-inch model to match the panels used in the iMacs. Instead of joining in the attempts at predicting what Apple will do, I’ll take this opportunity to describe what I would like to see it release. There area a lot of different uses for a Mac mini and one of them is to used in conjunction with a large TV for watching movies from iTunes, of slide shows of your pictures, etc.  For some time Apple has been offering Apple TV as a device that can do these things, by remotely accessing your other computers to stream content or streaming directly from the iTunes store, so why would using a Mac mini to do the same be interesting? Well, while it is obvious that the Mac mini ($599) costs a lot more than Apple TV ($229), it also can do a lot more than just playing musing or videos.  It can store a lot of digital media, play DVDs, and let you browse the Web for example.  Since it would be connected to a TV, it wouldn’t really need that monitor it doesn’t come with. While it would be interesting if we could use an iPhone or iPod as a remote control for the Mac Mini, it would be really amazing to use an iPad to control it. If, using a new version of FrontRow with explicit support for iPad integration  you could browse your video collection: Movies, TV Series… Go through your music and photo albums.  When you found something you wanted to watch or listen to, you could just flick it off of the screen towards your TV and it would go on the big screen and start playing. The iPad could also function as a wireless keyboard and trackpad for Mac mini, allowing you to have full control of the computer connected to your TV, without the need to have a keyboard or a mouse laying around in your living room. Another interesting aspect would be for Apple to enable the iPad to stream content from your iTunes library.  This would go a long way towards making a diminutive Mac mini the true digital hub of a family.  All family members would be able to listen to music and watch videos streamed from the home’s central media hub: a Mac Mini.  This computer, connected to the big screen in your family or living room would be the central storage for your pictures, music, movies, etc. Of course, given the already mentioned price difference between the mini and the Apple TV, Apple might want to implement such a feature by connecting the iPad and the Apple TV.  In this case, I the table would be turned and instead of the iPad being used as an accessory or add-on to control a Mac, it would become the primary player with the Apple TV becoming some sort of video connection accessory. In this case I would be in favor of the iPad being able to control the Apple TV, but also of it being able to stream its media content to the TV wirelessly. I don’t expect Apple to make any similar announcements this week, but this would certainly be an interesting way of using different Apple products together and getting a result the is greater than the sum of its parts. * This post was originally published on Macs &...
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AT&T considering extension of unlimited iPad data plan

Rumors have been floating around all they that AT&T is considering extending the availability of its current unlimited data plan for the iPad, which is being cancelled and replaced by a new plan limited to 2 GB of traffic.   The plan that is being retired was offered for $29.95 while the new plan will be offered at $25,95.  For this difference of $4 you are taken from unlimited data traffic to a mere 2 GB. Its no wonder the unlimited plan is being cancelled.  I seriously doubt that many people would choose to have the limit with such a small difference in cost. AT&T made a huge mistake in presuming that people wouldn’t be using the iPad much in the 3G network and is now compounding that mistake by misshandling the situation.  The way the unlimited access plan is being withdrawn goes against the way the iPad was marketed by Apple and looks like company was baiting users to buy the device and increase the prices of the data plan once a large number of devices were sold. It seems that the current plan will be offered to anyone that buys an iPad before June 7th.  Everyone that contracted the unlimited plan will be able to stay with that plan, but if they cancel, they won’t be able to get it back. Having an unlimited data plan which you could pay for only when needed, without the requirement of a long term contract was, again, one of the major selling points of the iPad in the US, so there is going to be a lot of people outraged at this sudden change in the rules. AT&T is blundering along in this issue and Apple is sure to catch a lot of backlash because of...
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Will Wired for iPad still be a success after a couple of issues?

Will Wired for iPad still be a success after a couple of issues?
Wired Magazine made its debut on the iPad recently and seems to have done well for itself.  With 24,000 units sold and downloaded in the first 24 hours, things are looking good for Wired.  But, are they really? There is another number about the magazine that is quite troubling: 527.  The first issue of Wired for the iPad has a wopping 527 MBs of size.   So what?  Well, that is a lot of megabytes for a single magazine issue, specially when you consider it relative to the storage space of a base model iPad: 16 GB. If all magazines were to have similar size a base model iPad would only be able to store 32 magazine issues in all, and that would only be if the owner decided that he didn’t need any applications, videos, music, etc. Somehow I don’t think that people that want to read Wired digitally, on a recurring basis, i.e. become subscribers are likely to find this issue size okay. The size of the first issue is not necessarily of concern to readers, however.  A recent post on AppleInsider describes what a curious developer was able to find out about the Wired App, when digging around in a Jailbroken device and it is really surprising. The entire content for the magazine is included in the form of large images.  Essentially there are two very large images for each page of the magazine.  One image for viewing in landscape and another for viewing in portrait. What this means is that the Wired App has almost no functionality built-in, limiting itself to displaying the right images depending on which page you are reading and in which orientation mode and playing videos or sounds when certain points are touched by the user.  One reviewer on the iTunes store that gave it a bad review described it as being a PDF with videos, but from a technological  point of view it is way worse than that as PDF files are actually script files an thus smaller and more flexible than mere images. It is interesting to note that this does not detract from the quality of the content offered by the magazine, which appears to be identical to that contained in the printed paper version. With over 800 reviews the Wired App currently enjoys a full five stars rating. Hopefully the current low-tech, high-download-size situation of the Wired App will be resolved in the near future as Adobe further develops is digital magazine publishing product, which right now seems to be something that was put together in great haste in order to allow customers such as Wired to go proceed with their digital publishing strategy, after Apple cut the legs out from under Adobe’s original plan of having a Flash cross-compiler to transform Flash based applications into native iPhone OS applications. Right now Adobe’s solution to the situation helped Wired get to market with the  first iPad issue which has seen good sales, but if Adobe doesn’t work on this solution it will end up being a real problem for their customers, as people start to realized that the publications are eating up all the space in their...
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The iPhone paved the way for the iPad

In his recent interview at the D8 conference, Steve Jobs explained that they started out working on the iPad and then decided to put that on hold and apply the technology to creating a phone.  While the phone was probably a more difficult endeavor, as the battery needs to be much smaller, but still be able to power a reasonably large display for many hours, it was certainly a good decision. Mobile phones are a constant in almost everyone’s life in this day and age.  This allowed Apple to bring the iPhone, which is an incredible device, to the attention of a huge number of potential customers as people would inevitably be exposed to it when shopping for their next phone.  Anyone who came into contact with the original iPhone was immediately impressed with how easy it was to use it and to do things which you wouldn’t previously do with a phone such as browsing the Web. In a short time the iPhone was not only talked about a lot, it was being used by a lot of people which only helped to get more people in contact with it and informed about its qualities.  Having most other major phone manufacturers trying to create similar looking phones that tried to mimic the interface and features of the iPhone couldn’t have hurt any. When you see as I’ve seen this week a multi-page full color magazine ad of a Sony Ericsson phone (xperia) comparing it to the iPhone to convince you that it is the best phone, this tells you who everyone considers to be the best phone on the market. Bad idea from the marketing guys at Sony Ericsson that seem to think that showing their phone’s screen through a cut-out picture of the iPhone and saying that only their phone shows you integrated information on your friends from email, Twitter and Facebook is a major selling point.    Humm… I’d hate to have Tweets coming up in the middle of my emails, or emails in the middle of my Tweets, for that matter.  Okay, I haven’t seen it so I shouldn’t criticize it, but it just seems that saying that your phone  is better than the iPhone because it does Twitter and Facebook is as stupid as it can get. But I digress… The fact is the iPhone created the perfect user perception of Apple to pave the way for the iPad. The iPad is a great idea and while there are still one or two guys insisting in saying that it is a fad that will soon pass as consumers come to their senses, most have repented already and have at least shifted to saying that it is not a device for everyone but that there are groups which will find it useful. Just about everyone that owns an iPhone or an iPod Touch had a pretty good idea of what to expect from an iPad and I dare say that most of those people were not disappointed.  This immediately provided Apple with a large number of people (over 80 million) that had very little reservations about buying an iPad in regards to not understanding how it would work or the quality of the device.  Many of these people might not consider that they had a need for such a device and many might have been put off by having to work with a software keyboard, but that would still leave a large number of people willing o buy the device without really having all that much information about it. These people helped spread the word to others and soon we had this crazy demand and...
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AT&T will stop offering an unlimited data plan for the iPad

It seems that it didn’t take long after the iPad 3G was released for them to realize that they were wrong, and that the iPad would not really be used in Wi-Fi mode most of the time.   Let’s be serious… Who in their right mind would commit to purchasing a much 25% more for a device that can be online all the time, without really planning to use them so. People must certainly be using their iPads to get online through the 3G network, as that is why they bought a 3G model.   The fact is that AT&T will be discontinuing the unlimited plan which now costs $29.99/month and replacing it with a $25.00/ month plan that has a 2GB data cap. An extension to the allotted traffic usage of 1 GB with at cost of $10.  While most people would, of course, prefer an unlimited plan, 2 GB is not an unreasonable traffic volume and the availability of the extension at a slightly reduced cost per gigabyte is not bad...
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