Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Apple's 9-12-2012 iPhone 5 - Glorious, if not Anticlimactic, Keynote

Oddly enough, the new iPod Nano was probably the biggest surprise of Apple's latest Keynote, hype event. Yet, I agree with many of the posted critiques; the Nano's icons do look ridiculous.
Apple says its core biz is software with superior design. Seems an unfortunate miss on the new nano code...
The loss of the old Nano is a tragedy. That was one of the coolest little things Apples ever made. Of the 1/2 dozen product in their store, I always gravitate to that one. Makes one of the coolest watches around... :-)

All they had to do was add Bluetooth to that little guy, (perhaps integrated caller ID, text and MMS to the iPhone) and they really would have had a winner!
(RIP) Rest In Piece, cute little 2011 iPod Nano
Meanwhile, I'm not sure just copying a two year old, OLED Sony Walkman design & functionality is the best way to keep up an "innovator" charade. Certainly not with a device that lacks any ability to leverage their app store.
At least they further eliminated the usefulness and aesthetics of any existing docking accessories without an adapter. An adapter will look just great on a "nano" version of tech.

Not to mention, they're back to a video capable, small iPod product, but without camera or camcorder capability. Well, I guess we know what the next big, exciting, update for this product line will be.
...What a tiresome marketing cycle!

As for the iPhone 5 itself...
If Apple didn't posture themselves as the Gods of design and "simple solutions", "that just work", it wouldn't be so darn ironic and satisfying at times to point out their shameful contradictions. This was a big, Apple day, so here's a Big D reply.  ;-)  (I live near Dallas)

We knew they were going to once again abandon standards... But why the one that connects you too, and provides power from, the rest of the world!?!?

It would have been a welcomed surprise today if apple had innovated a "transitional" plug that accepted both the 30pin and the new style, "lighting connector". (Great name, I love things that plug into a wall socket, to feature the description of "lighting" on the other end; featuring exposed contacts no less.) A flexible, dual capable plug on this phone, would have offered a transitional opportunity for at least this one product line. (Who are we kidding with this "space constraint" story? They had room left over at the bottom to oddly, I mean "innovatively", relocate the headphone jack.)
There is a reason the new USB 3.0 Standard fits retro, USB 1.0 and 2.0 ports on existing PC's.  This is the way good standards are written and designed.  Apple's desire to so blatantly squander the investments of literally millions of loyal customers by ditching the 30 pin connector, they've insisted on using for every other iPhone and Touch product is rather shameful. They should have ditched it when they got rid of the need to power a hard drive, and worry about various analog standards of connectivity and output! (Everyone isn't made of money, and carriers don't subsidize the handful of a dozens charger and adapters you would need to compensate for this loss.)

Not to mention the 1000's of products still hanging on shelves and within millions of homes and cars which need some ridiculous adapter to further challenge the brilliant "fit and finish"! All the chargers folks struggle to keep handy at the office, night tables and next to their PC. When they've already had to avoid, simple, unified USB solutions.

USB 3 micro B
"USB 3 micro B" (which includes HDMI) would have been more than adequate, and then could have at least, value justified this solution as move towards an industry standard; such as the HDMI inclusion on the new Macs. (Apple could have even acted like they came up with it; as in Apple's CDMA-LTE Qaulcomm designed and manufactured LTE chip or the new cortex A15 CPU ironically designed and manufactured by Samsung.) They could have called their USB knock-off plug the "UB Apple, no flip, no magnet plug"! Taadaa...)  Don't they already utilize mini-USB, on their smallest iPod form factor?? So there is no rhyme of reason to their "innovation"-vs- conformity???

Since existing iPhone owners will be expected to buy and learn to use cumbersome adapters in order to utilize future docks and apple add-ons. I would see more purpose and advantages in simply learning more about adapting the use of Apple iPhone product with the actual industry standards of the world.

Just buy any multitude of adaptations on Amazon:

Perhaps most surprising is Apple misplaced, yet repeated tendency these days, to further acquiesce only partially towards the rest of the mobile computing industry.  Simply bizarre timing, allegiances and delivery. To finally introduce a 16:9 screen! Really! When one of your primary goals from the get go was to sell iTunes store related media; and your CEO at the time was chairman of Pixar, but it never dawned on you in the initial iPhone / Touch design to make it a 16:9 product?
4:3 = 1940 NTSC TVs   ::   16:9 = early 2000's HDTV
Apple is the maker of Final Cut Pro HDTV video editing software, for goodness sakes!! Obviously the odd, dated aspect ratio of not only the original iPhone, but also the current iPad, has no real, solid justification. I guess it is just "art"...!  Although, I thought such claims; certainly where related to consumer electronics; should typically hold merit in both form and FUNCTION. Meaning a media playback device that honors the intention and viewing experience of the media it plays.

At least they still avoided the convenience of a removable battery or user expanded memory. Who wants such things after all, in a product that continues to upgrade its camera(s); and subsequently render traveling with additional point-n-shoots less necessary. Heaven forbid you travel Europe or head to a once in a lifetime event and shoot more 1080p video than your phone's built in memory, (combined with all your existing apps, music, and bought movies) can hold.  ...Just give em another two years I guess, to "innovate" that.  They can call it the "mini-micro-nano A6 SD".  ...sweet!

(Every other phone in the world "gets it"!)
And don't even get me started on the nature of all the swelling Li-Ion batteries, naturally bloating after a few 100 recharge cycles. That chemistry has certainly done wonders for the mouse pad, located above MacBook batteries and countless bright spots on ageing (but far from old) iPhone screens. Just allow your loyal customers to plop in a new one; without spending a $50-$80 bucks in service fees! ($30 fee variants are dependent on the model; who knows why? It's like the obscure pricing on added internal RAM. Absolutely, NOTHING to do with current industry pricing.)

Being a self proclaimed "artist" really shouldn't instill in you a pride, which prevents you from learning from your repeated mistakes!  ...but who are we kidding...?  An experience in "standards", consumer loyalty, value and satisfaction only a "fanboy" could truly appreciate.  Thank God for long-term, subsidized, carrier contracts!
(Heaven forbid, you keep your oddly proportioned phone, slap in a NET10 SIM, and get unlimited everything for $45 bucks a month, on the same AT(and)T towers. ...a'la European style, GSM value; as it should be.)

P.S. Still no true multitasking! Really! What is the point in more CPU cores, when you can't seem to author more apropos, multi-threaded OS code?  More on this in the previous blog entry:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

An Apple a day... keeps the long term carrier contracts updated

There are those who have little doubt tomorrows announcement of Apple's new iPhone, will result in one of the largest example of sales in relation to upgraded hardware in the history of computing and mobile tech.  And if you look at the data, where related to existing early version of iPhone still being utilized (since it's 2007 release) and the many reasons one would have to wish for an updated device; i.e. bigger screen, fast data speeds, an updated version of iOS; there are reason even more current devices will be traded in.

There is also Techbargains survey, which shows that 22 percent of Android users are willing to dump their current handset for the new iPhone, while 38 percent of BlackBerry owners say they will buy the new iPhone. However, it is far easier to sell to existing customers than it is to convince people to switch platforms. Surveys also indicate the strongest demand for the new iPhone are current iPhone owners.

64 percent of iPhone 4S owners say they will buy the new iPhone, along with 71 percent of iPhone 3G owners. However, the crowd most eager for the iPhone 5 is iPhone 4 owners, with a massive 74 percent saying that they will buy the new iPhone. Keeping in mind, less than 20% of U.S. based iPhone owners would ever pay full price, at a time of sale, for such a device. 80+% depend on deep carrier subsidies in order to consider their purchases or upgrades. Nonetheless, there is little doubt the carriers are ready to entices with typically incentives for upgrades, involving additional 2 year extension to existing contracts, or renewals for those who completed their last sentencing.

Little can be said for any "innovations", or new tech being the real impetus for the iPhone update this week. The aging iPhone platform is at least 18 month to two years behind other hardware offerings.  Apple should have upgraded it' data speed 12 months ago. And only the cheapest handhelds, still feature 3.5" screens. And none of those the odd squarish aspect ratio Apple originally choose.  Regardless, there are many who have waited for their fair shares of years to see a refresh and many will be excited to dump there old equipment.
I obviously have no cell phone carrier, nor Apple loyalty left in me...
And perhaps excitement for a new, improved, belated update to iPhone's hardware, is better left for aesthetic assertions; as in, .04" thinner-esq ogling; as well as other less-technical anticipations and critiques.  If so, sorry for focusing on some of the more techy restraints and lacking, missed opportunities of the highly anticipated iPhone 5 update.  But I do think it is worth noting why, even this update, will be lacking in so many, typical Apple fashions.

I'm afraid, once again, it will be more about Apple marketing and gifted hype, than anything having to do with a true innovation or significant advances in technology for the industry. (An explanation from a former Apple CEO, as to the real magic of Apple: )

Avoiding the obvious criticisms of still preventing it's HD, multiple mega pixel shooting public from being able to insert or remove a 64GB micro SDs whenever they choose. And staying away from any goals one would ever have of replacing their battery (either once it's li-Ion naturally bloats, after continued cycles, or) while on a long trip or away from a recharging venue. Let's just talk Connectivity, OS limitations and form factor. (Not in that order.) :-)

Obviously no reason to further "innovate" here. Just huge reasons to "catch up." Resolutions need not be improved, since by Apple's own claim, their ppi (326 pixel per inch, to be exact,) is already at a "retina limitation".  Of course trusting such magical claims and definitions of perceptions or end user limitations, evidently has more to do with marketing BS, than any individual measure an optometrist would offer; pertaining to the varied nature of each individuals visual acuity.  Unfortunately, less the less inspired, but more prudent, judicious nature of conserving the use of excess pixels when their redundancy is useless (such as when watching a 1280x720 HD offering from the iTunes library,) and instead focusing on CPU, GPU and LCD conservations providing for much better battery life.

It is nice to think Apple will finally be abandoning the obscure aspect ratio & dismal size of it's current ridiculous screen design.  I think when Apple copied the LG Prada's capacitive touch screen phone & design, (despite the many Sony consultations, advising otherwise,) they should have avoided the temptation to duplicate LG's anemic size and aspect ratio; since it was never befitting to any offerings within the vast Media library Apple enjoys it's users to purchase from. 

(Of course when they introduced the iPhone it had no direct app store connectivity, and it was still sold as a "companion device", to systems still offering less support of HDTV than to DV, despite 2007 being late into HDTV production demands. Who knows what take Apples eye so far off the ball?)

However, it is rather shameful to think of all the 10's of 1000's of extremely costly accessories and automotive interfaces, the new "Dock Connector" will render useless without some ridiculous adaptation. Typical of dumping Firewire 800 for Intel's Fiber Channel, or finally ditching Display Port for HDMI. However, you would think by learning that their "innovations" are either very limiting or not worth the publics support, they might have at least chosen to standardized this products main dock connector and the public's opportunity towards an already comprehensive and widely adopted solutions, such as the USB 3.0 Micro B / HDMI capable, hybrid connector.

(Apple does such a great job at repackaging commodity hardware, while insisting on trying to venture out on a limb where related to methods of connectivity to third party peripherals; but such practices are a HUGE disservice to its customers. I know the goal is control and "pigeon hole" folks towards "Apple Only" options, in order to up sale and licencing requirements; but it sure seems like a dated concept!)

I doubt there will be much mention of Apple being no less than a year and a half late, offering any headset based 4G support. Instead I'm sure Apple will spin their desired focus towards issues like finally, officially, functioning (without crippled, stunted data bandwidth,)  on the T-Mobile network as much more than it is. (A new carrier is certainly the best way to increase sales, with a now dated platform,)  This more broadly capable radio can be touted as more than it is given the fact T-mobile opted for the more "international standard" of LTE frequencies; whereas AT&T unfortunately bought into a crippling partnership with Qualcom, thereby limiting it's opportunity to a rather North American standard of LTE "bandwaves", I'll call them. ;-)
(However, it will be interesting to see how apple avoids the inevitable law suits promised from Samsung over this upgrade; given the recent billion Apple garnered from Samsung over the physical shape of their phones. More here on Samsung LTE patents and Apple potential infringement: )

This was an ironic choice between the two major U.S., GSM carriers; given the fact, such compatibilities where related to Voice and HSPA frequencies experienced an opposite favoritism in the past.  AT&T equipment is much more globally compatible (200+ countries) than is T-mobiles, once you leave North America.

But what Apple won't share with you, if they choose to tout "Global or GSM Carrier compatibility", is the fact that their U.S. sold, incredibly subsidized equipment, is NEVER able to reap the typical benefits of international, i.e. GSM freedom or compatibility, when traveling. Due to Apple's unparalleled arrangements with carriers, preventing unlock codes from providing anything more than a placebo effect, when attempting to use overseas SIM chips.  (Hence the reason, NO ONE, can fault Apple's innovations, when it comes to contracts and patent buyouts and the incessant "trolling" that follows!)

I imagine there will be little to no talk about "Mulititasking", since there is little change in opportunities to Apple's redefined version of crippled-tasking, worth mentioning. Will be interesting what they imply any additional cores will do for the sake of new "revolutionary" apps (other than perhaps more Nvidia GPU's, for the sake of better gaming.)

Android running as a VM on top of Linux is hardly a "limitation", given any modern CPUs ability to handle multiple threads of simultaneous instructions. In fact it lends itself incredibly to exploiting modern, multi-core CPU and GPUs.  While maintaining a less current version of the Google OS; which either shipped with your phone, or the version your provider chose to OTA upgrade; is much less of a hassle or disappointment than completely disabling the bizarre imitation of "multitasking" Apple devised; when using one of their 1st or 2nd gen devices.

As far as choosing between "crippled" or limited, mobile OS experience, Apple has gone above and beyond in their contrived implementation of iOS.  It is VERY ironic, given the impressive UNIXesq background, the infusion of BeOS offered OSX when that transition was made after reinstating Steve Jobs. Apparently his "vision" of the future of mobile CPU's just wasn't as astute. Perhaps understandable since, as he put it, "they are not a hardware company."