WWDC Predictions: Hardware

This is the third in my prediction posts. Note I don’t take these too seriously. I’m usually doing well if I bat .500. I’m excluding Apple TV predictions which had their own post as I’m convinced Apple’s updating the hardware.

The real question is whether Apple is going to take its Watch initiative (which I’m lukewarm on) to the iPod. I think it’s a small chance, but I’d be more interested in an Apple Watch inspired iPod Shuffle reboot than the watch itself. Consider a plastic, slightly heavier, shuffle for $150. It has a screen akin to the small watch (but cheaper LCD) and no sensors. What it does have is bluetooth. I’d almost certainly get it. Will Apple do it? And if they do it would they announced it at WWDC or at the iPhone event in the fall? Probably the latter if it happens at all. But I’ll give it a 10% chance.

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WWDC Predictions: iOS

This is the second of my WWDC predictions focusing in on iOS. Obviously given the amount of shared code a lot of this will apply to OS X as well. My Apple TV WWDC predictions can be found here. My old iOS9 wishlist can be found here. I think this WWDC will be at least as significant as the introduction of iOS7 and its new UI. So I’m splitting these predictions up into product line.

I think iOS9 will have changes both fixing UI issues and long standing bugs but also with a much bigger focus on productivity apps. Apple knows the iPad is in trouble. It’s growth curve hasn’t just slowed but is decreasing year over year. Expect Apple to give one more big push on the iPad. If sales don’t pick up next year prepare for it to be “neglected.” This really is a turning point for Apple’s whole strategy going forward. Most suspect OS X and iOS will merge. But the very notion of a merger depends upon what happens with iOS in terms of productivity. Will we get a more productive iOS or will Apple simply make running iOS apps on the Mac easier? Expect moves in both directions but primarily on supercharging iOS.

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WWDC Predictions: Apple TV

AppleTVThe blog’s been pretty quiet of late as I’ve been extremely busy on other projects (including butting heads with trying to put an ObjC front end to a C++ project in Xcode). In past years though I made my WWDC predictions a few weeks out from the keynote. That’s far enough away so as to not be swayed by the flurry of rumors (often leaked) in the final few weeks before WWDC. Yet close enough so as to not be shooting entirely in the dark. Not wanting to break a tradition, here are my predictions. Since I think this will be a big year – even bigger than last year with the long awaited release of extensions – I’ll break it up into a few posts.

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Remote App: A Modest Proposal

I’ve not written much of late primarily due to just being so busy. However Gruber put up a tweet that made me think about the Remote app for the Apple TV. Apparently the Apple Watch has a remote app that’s actually useful for controlling the Apple TV. Color me surprised.

Now in some ways I love the Remote app. It makes typing quite easy however it’s just so clumsy because it takes so long to connect to the AppleTV. That lag means you’re apt not to reach for your phone. Throw in that it doesn’t have modes for the various oft used apps on the Apple TV and you end up with just a dumb remote. Typically I only draw out my phone when I’m going to be using YouTube and doing a bunch of searching.

Gruber mentions that the Apple Watch Remote stays active when it was the front most app. So every time you raise your wrist it’s ready to go. Why can’t they do that with the phone?

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Changes in Apple Blogging

One thing I notice as I read my rss feed and twitter. Posts about computers have changed a lot in recent years. The types of posts I used to love — hacks or tweaks that make things work better — are much rarer now. I thought about why and it’s largely because things either work or they don’t. When they don’t often there’s not much you can do about it anymore.

Todays Apple News

I’ll skip the discussion of the watch because as I said yesterday, I’m just not that interested in it. If you are go for it. Just be aware that traditionally 1.0 hardware releases from Apple age quickly. The original iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air became obsolete rather quickly and were initially quite limited. For a $1000 watch or $10,000 watch that’s a big deal. Most people I know buying expensive watches like the mechanics of the watch. Despite being in the same price range this is something quite different. It was also telling that Apple didn’t announce any way to upgrade the watch. So if you put down $1000 you may have a watch that’s semi-obsolete in two years. While they’re targeting the rich with these high end watches, I suspect most people paying that amount of money expect the device to work as well in 10 years. That’s quite unlikely with the Apple watch.

What’s more interesting to me is that the rumors of the thunderboltless retinal Air were true. I discussed the issue of USB-C then. The biggest problem is that while USB-C can do video it’s fairly limited. Go up in resolution terribly far and you lose most of the USB features of the connector. 

The big debate back in January was whether this would indicate Apple’s dropping Thunderbolt. While I wasn’t expecting the new Air to be released today – primarily due to some rumor sites saying it wasn’t ready – it unfolded about as I expected. By keeping the existing Air and MBP lines as is I think we’re seeing a strong indication from Apple that Thunderbolt is here to stay. It just appears that Apple is positioning the new Air as an ultraportable laptop with associated tradeoffs.

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On Tomorrow’s Event

I’m not too excited about tomorrow’s event. I know it’ll primarily be about watches and I also know I’m not apt to buy a watch anytime soon. I just hate jewelry — watches especially. Back in school I’d wear one so I’d know the time and always take it off during class. I just hated the feel of it on my wrist. And of course after a few months I’d invariably forget it and loose it. By the time I went to college I just stopped wearing watches and have never regretted it since. 

For the Apple Watch to matter to me it’d have to do a lot. I like the idea of workout stats. But it’d have to do a lot more and most importantly do them well. Inaccurate sensors are worse than no sensor at all.

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New Office

As you may have heard there’s a new preview of MS Office out for OSX. If you’re curious Jason Snell did a nice overview today. Ars has a nice ongoing discussion about it as well with active feedback from one of the main developers. Overall I’m very excited about it. It looks vastly better than any version of Office has looked since the classic Mac days. I’ve mostly switched to Apple’s iWork for everything. I suspect I’ll still use it a lot. However Apple’s recent regression still hasn’t fully been fixed yet. There are several areas where I find iWork very frustrating.1

There are a few problems, such as some issues with font rendering (no sub pixel anti-aliasing) and some unusually high CPU activity at times. Overall though I’m very happy about it. I do wish they’d lose their toolbar in preference for a sidebar like iWork uses or even better the old floating windowoid Microsoft used to have. Screens tend to have excess space on the sides rather than the tops.

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  1. Primarily it still has very limited Applescript support and its ability to print labels is vastly inferior to MS Word’s.

Apple Making a Car?

I’m still very skeptical Apple is making a car. This reminds me of the whole “Apple’s solved TV” from a few years ago. Guess what. We have exactly the same TV device we did when those announcements were made. Just now with a whole bunch of new channels I can’t use unless I already have cable.

There’s probably something going on. However Apple plowed right into the problem of content managers not wanting a revolution with the TV which is why nothing changed. With cars, if anything, it’s worse. There are a lot of regulations. It’s probably the most over regulated industry in America. Just the Federal regulations are restrictive. Go to the state level it gets worse with the few people owning car dealerships having lots of ridiculous regulations to ensure no competition. These regulations make it extremely hard to innovate. 

Consider using cameras to replace the mirrors and achieve better wind resistance. Buzz. Illegal. Want those cool LEDs that European manufacturers use to avoid not blinding drivers? Illegal. Sell cars direct to the public? Illegal. I’m not against regulations. I do wish the government would actually review regulations intelligently more regularly. Because there are sure a lot of dumb ones.

Anyway if Apple thought the media holders kept innovation down just wait until they see what happens with cars.

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Still reading the New Yorker article. However the following comment by Nick Heer was, regardless of the details of the article, pretty perceptive.

Ive certainly has a lot of pressure on his shoulders. After Steve Jobs resigned his CEO post, and again after he died, Apple’s stock price was — perhaps surprisingly — unaffected. But if and when Jony Ive leaves Apple, I can’t imagine their share price and their perceived future viability would be unaffected to the same or greater extent. Jobs left a willing and public successor, Tim Cook, in his wake; Ive doesn’t have anyone like that. He is both irreplaceable, and yet he must eventually be replaced.

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Trying to figure it all out a post at a time