Geeks in the room would have you believe that Apple's new iOS 6 Maps are a complete catastrophy, the worst thing to ever happen in the tech world. Local businesses aren't in the right places, sometimes entire blocks away from where they really operate. Lush farmland appears where McMansions and big box retail centers now stand... seemingly every place on the Earth has something wrong.
The reality is somewhat less spectacular. True enough, some landmarks are out of place, others are missing entirely... and that's just inside the United States. Still, Apple's try at maps will live to be an elegant solution. For anyone who remembers Google Maps as a baby project in 2005, it was less than stellar- certainly poorer than the Apple implementation of 2012.
On the bright side, we now have turn by turn directions in the car - something Google outright refused to give Apple as it was an Android selling point. Also we have gained efficient vector-based maps that use considerably less cellular bandwidth and don't tax your mobile device's battery quite as hard.
The low-down details indicate that Apple and Google had a contract for map services set to expire in 2013. As Android came to prominence, and the two Tech Giants became less than friendly, it was evident Apple would have to find a new buddy in the map game. The Fruit started buying out map companies and forging alliances with others, but they had to figure out the gate it'd be rough.
It's never easy to leave one's comfort zone, it's much like sending your kid away to college after 18 years under the comforts of home. You know junior needs the college dorm experience- but he is used to your house... and suddenly mom doing laundry no longer exists, or cleaning up at all for that matter.
Some day, but not tomorrow or next month, Apple Maps will be better. It will trail Google Maps for the forseeable future, but soon enough the feature gap will narrow - and your average consumers won't care. Geeks keep score and have good memories for when companies did them wrong, but I believe this too shall pass.
As it stands today, we have two distinct operating systems delivering that Cupertino Koolaid (®?). The Mac ecosystem consists of your regular style computers. They've been around since '84, they tend to have physical keyboards and in some cases are meant to sit on desks-- and they've been packing Intel Inside since 2006.
In the other corner, we have the world of iOS. Nascent and impossibly popular, now in its sixth iteration and powered by proprietary, ARM-based, Apple-in-house developed A* processors. The Fruit develops these processors specifically to power their mobile, light-weight, fanless, less-powerful iOS devices... iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The processors pack the RAM and graphics abilities right on the chip, and allow for immense optimization and customization on a comparitively concrete list of devices.
On the Mac side, we tend to see gobs of power on hand, more than most of us ever need. Mobile device side, we get exactly what we need, with enormous battery life, for a beautifully curated user experience.
Here's a theory for you to disregard, completely. It would seem to be in The Fruit's best interest to some day... converge these two operating systems. You already see the tiny little building blocks encroaching into OSX Mountain Lion. Stuff like Launchpad (which pretty much wants to be an iOS springboard, but settles for a mouse pointer). The appearance of dedicated Notes, Reminders and Facetime apps... along with the notification center. I do foresee a world where the entry level Macs might someday be powered by A-line processors... possibly with quadruple cores and improved battery management. Keep in mind this convergence won't likely hit the iMac or Mac Pro first, I'd expect it on a MacBook Air first, if ever.
Let that rattle your brain for a bit, it did for me.
The current "popular kid" in desktop Mac world, so often forgotten and in the iPhone/iPad shadow, is the iMac.
Last receiving a form factor update in Autumn of 2009, the iMac is a trusty performer found on millions of desks worldwide. You see students writing reports on them, but also scattered all over design firms and music studios.
These days, for many users, the iMac carries the weight of what used to be Power Mac G5 tower territory, and even older Mac Pro models often find themselves replaced by a sparkling all-in-one. It's a mighty beast, with crazy 27" display panels and stunning hardware configurations, but it's just a little bit tired.
The current iteration of what is essentially the 2009 design carries a Mid 2011 model designation. Notably missing from this iMac model, but long present on the portables, is USB 3.0 technology, speedier solid state drives and faster DDR3 RAM options.
A lot of eager customers are secretly hoping (dreaming) for a retina-display-equipped iMac, and while I believe we'll see one, I don't expect this technology for awhile. The inherent difficulty in building panels of such high resolution seems to be the hurdle.
Not only is the panel pixel density a technical mountain, you need graphic processors capable of driving these resolutions at suitable framerates, and software that can support 2-4 times the pixels.
The benefits of high-density displays are plainly obvious on tiny 4" phone screens, and plenty helpful on 9" tablets and 15" laptop panels, but it might not be essential to the user experience on a 27" television-sized iMac display. Embraced when it arrives? No doubt. Necessary? Probably not.
You gotta figure that Sony, Sharp, LG, AU Optronics, Samsung and other panel peddlers have this kind of crazy technology baking in secret labs all around Asia & Silicon Valley, but these monster panels would be priceless, unstable prototypes. They aren't priced to move in quantities and won't be sourced into any model with high production runs.
Therefore, my theory is USB 3.0, improved RAM speeds, more solid state drive options, and possibly, as a long shot, the deletion of the optical drive/firewire ports. The cloud is the future and online delivery is the choice for obtaining new software offerings. Comparitively small 4.7 gigabyte optical discs that scratch or get lost are a 1990s story, so I imagine computer manufacturers are in a hurry to bid them adieu.
We'll see how it goes.
Since Nintendo has their hardware business (for however much longer) and thus no business interest to port their franchise titles over to iOS, it seems some enterprising developers are taking matters into their own hands.
This is the closest gameplay I've seen to Zelda on an iPad, and it looks amazing. No word on release dates but this is one of those "shut up and take my money" reflex purchases we all get sometimes. If only it could chat via bluetooth 4.0 with a PS3/Xboxesque controller for analog input.
Alright, it happened. Tim Cook and company got on stage in downtown San Francisco, and on that stage they showed us the next iPhone. It's actually the 6th iPhone, but they call it an iPhone 5. Confused? Yeah, me too, but that's marketing - I suppose marketers don't consider the 4S to stand alone. I disgress.
Like so many others, I was pretty much sold on this phone from rumors going on for months on end. Label me a fanboy, I officially am in this case. Formally unveiled and glimmering under theater lighting, I became 10x more fanboyish on keynote day.
In the early morning hours of September 14th, my sleepy eyes were lit only by the glow of the Apple Store iOS app (the only site wanting to shut up and take my money!), and I effortlessly pre-ordered my iPhone 5. White, 32GB, AT&T. A lot of folks go for black iPhones, I stand by my choice of white. Historically, white is the color Apple offered their customers when they needed them most. Some of you remember the dark ages prior to iOS greatness and stocks north of $700 per share... in those days, iPods were white, and iMacs and iBooks too. Ergo, I carry a white iPhone whenever Apple provides me the option (back in 2010, they famously couldn't).
Having had the phone in my paws for about 4 days now, I'll briefly report my findings.
This iPhone is the lightest in the device's history. It's immediately what I realized, this gadget is physically longer, but thinner, and much much lighter. You notice it. Mind you this device doesn't feel the least bit cheap, which is all too often the case for lightweight products.
The display. In a word, dazzles. It's got a better color gamut across the board, blacks are truly, completely black. Greens pop like crazy. The green bubble for a text message is a decidedly Slimer Ecto GREEEEEN that just screams. I don't know what pact with the devil Apple made to source us such godly displays, but I'm happy they did. Not only that, a few hundred extra pixels onboard for app devs to make smart use of.
The camera. Not a whole lot of new tricks here, except the A6 processor gets it going a smidgeon faster than a 4S phone, but this is also part of iOS 6 optimizations. Low light performance is especially improved, this phone doesn't see in darkness, it's no prime lense, but it's adequate and exceeds other phones in its class.
The precision. Closer to a Rolex watch than a common consumer device, the iPhone has nearly zero tolerance for gaps in the glass/aluminum plating, smudges/cosmetic blemishes, etc. I wager the company scraps a good deal of phones deemed not to pass exit checks over in China, and it shows. Fit and finish on my model is flawless. Reported claims of chipping black models exist, but it's not widespread.
Battery life is up, I'd guesstimate 10-25% more life for users depending on their habits with the phone/data options on the table. I'm seeing usage times from 100% to 0% of nearly 7 hours and 45 minutes, plenty acceptable to survive a day sans Mophie Juicepack case. You can expect this to fluctuate based on how you configure your own phone.
The slinkyness. There's few words I can use to describe how fluid and buttery the iPhone experience is. If you've used one, you know what I mean. There's no interface lag, no stickyness you sometimes encounter in the Android ecosystem. The onscreen keyboard keeps up at 60-80 words per minute. Animations in the OS don't stall out - this phone wants you to throw more at it- if you dare. The tried and true home screen icon grid remains strong as ever, if not a little stale. iOS 6 has a whole new list of tricks, but those have been discussed ad nauseum elsewhere.
The iPhone 5 is naturally the best yet, some critisicm comes from Apple abandoning their long-time partnership with Google for map services. This is a necessay evil. The "bandaid" had to come off eventually, so Apple fled the nest. As expected, you'll see growing pains in this department. In my opinion, turn-by-turn directions natively built in offsets this trade. Also, we can expect maps to improve steadily, but it's not going to be tomorrow.
If you're on the fence, do as so many have done - get this phone... or one of its 4S cousins - they're pretty close but why not save a few ounces in your pocket for a few dollars in your wallet?
When managers send emails containing spelling errors, run-on sentences, confusing to/too, your/you're, there/their, not spelling out numbers less than 10-- it really bothers me. I instantly erase their message without reading further. And yes I realize the irony of this run-on sentence.
Better late than never, they say. Years after the first round of colors, Apple decided to take popular advice and grace us with a Product RED iPhone 4/4S bumper. Pretty snazzy, just in time for hotly rumored next-gen iPhones that possibly won't fit in this thing.
No word on that purple bumper I wrote about some time ago.
For quite some time now, the "geek public" has been clamoring for a new feature to be brought to Apple's venerable iPad platform. The feature is one which has permeated desktop operating systems for at least the past 15 years, multiple user support.
In essence, the iPad as a tablet device allows and assumes one "user" to benefit from the experience at a time. While one can establish multiple email/internet accounts on the device, when you hit that home button, the apps on the screen are the taste and choice preferences of one user, the owner.
The technical challenge of implementation isn't the delay I'd speculate. Rather, the issue becomes that if you can create two, three or 12 virtual user accounts on an iPad, what incentive is there to buy two, three or *12* physical iPads?
Time will tell if IOS 6 or a later release beyond will bring the world this kind of optioning. Nice? Convenient? Logical? Yes to all, but it doesn't make the case for those families/businesses which would have bought two iPads, when one iPad can eventually serve two users more easily through this new software support.
In this day and age, all these crazy mobile devices lead to a huge market for their respective third party accessories. These cases, sleeves, pouches, docks, stands and bags come in all shapes and sizes, and serve a great variety of purposes.
All that being said, it amazes me how poor the quality often is on these products and the premium prices they can still command. Cases made of shoddy plastics and flimsy silicon gel retailing for upwards of $40 in some cases, if not more.
I myself rather enjoy the understated and elegant official Apple iPhone 4/4S bumper cases, which are hardly protective, but don't get too much in the way of a very stylish device. They're simple yet effective.
The third party, gray market is chock full of rip-offs of this bumper design -- all in colors Apple would never bring to market, some two or three toned.
Why after 2 years we can only purchase the same 'ole "official" iPhone bumper colors is a shame. Costs next to nothing to offer red, or a darker blue, or a purple if we wanna get wild.
More importantly, the build quality is excellent on the 1st party bumpers, and should they fail, the Fruit will replace 'em under your iPhone's warranty or AppleCare plan! Convenient.
This is just a wake-up call to those accessory manufacturers… and those of you cutting corners, you know exactly who you are. In life, one generally gets exactly what one pays for.
For reasons unknown, sometimes Mac OSX just refuses to connect to available WiFi networks. It sometimes happens to frequent travelers, other times to college students. In any case, help is on the way.
This solution assumes your Airport hardware is in good, working order - and luckily that's usually the case.
Very simply, we're opening a new Finder window (Command-N) and then navigating ourselves as follows: Macintosh HD > Library > Preferences > System Configuration.
In this folder you'll find several plist files the operating system uses to find networks, join them and remember DNS choices, preferred networks, etc etc.
Simply moving these files to your trash can and rebooting the Mac may restore your wireless connection and save you one less trip to your Genius Bar!
It's 2012. The mobile landscape is dominated by the iOS heavyweight and the Android mobile ecosystems. While Nintendo's long-standing hold on portable gaming remains present, it can't be ignored that buyers (gamers) are voting with their wallet, and they're choosing Apple, or Samsung, or Google, basically anyone but Nintendo. Adults who game (those who have the spending power) overwhelmingly choose devices that can answer a phone call, send a text, pull a stock quote AND run Angry Birds… not a one trick pony that plays Zelda, but does it pretty well.
For obvious business interests, Nintendo has thus far maintained their age-old agenda and continued to design and market their own hardware in-house. Doing otherwise could turn them down Sega's path, which never fully recovered their previously lofty perch after becoming a software-exclusive shop. I like Sonic on my iPhone as much as the next geek, but it cannot be denied that the Sega of 2012 is not the company that brought the world (and my den) the Genesis in 1991.
In voice of my own selfish interests, I long for a time I can have Mario stomping goombas on my iPad screen. I want to gallop across Hyrule Field on Epona and make friends with a Goron in all the glory of a dazzling multi-touch retina display. Still, I acknowledge what this would mean for the Big N. It means giving up their hardware control… and creativity. It's akin to Apple allowing OSX to run on "any ole PC box I had lying around". It's all too easy to say "gimme Mario on iPhone" but the reality is, the first party games and hardware control make up the core, essence and soul of the Nintendo brand.
So for now, we wait. Wait for a Nintendo Virtual iOS console app? Wait for a monthly subscription to Nintendo titles? Wait for a Nintendo phone that goes up against the big boys?
I won't soon be buying a new DSi… but I would purchase Ocarina of Time app for a full $49 the same day.
*I am aware that one can emulate licensed games on all types of mobile devices in an unofficial capacity, but I'm looking for the squeaky-clean, lawful method here.