iPad Next

Still waiting for the next iPad. Having used an iPad from its second year on I have decided that it really, really needs an update in the usage department.

What do I mean?
I really have tried to use my iPad to take notes and to do real work, I have a blue tooth keyboard but it requires a table for me to use and is one more item to carry.  Really one needs pen, audio as well as keyboard input, and to be honest I would like keyboard and mouse input because the damn screen is not as easy to interact with as a mouse for heavy writing/editing.

For note taking I worked with just a stylus with several note taker apps but the poor wrist rejection and poor accuracy of the stylus make the payoff poor given the effort it takes to use well.  I bought the Jot blue tooth stylus and its accuracy is absolutely abysmal and the ‘feel’ of the hard nib on glass just sucks.

My little Moleskin note-book is better than the iPad.  It would seem to me that one could create a very useful iPhone size note pad if the screen were a little draggy like pen on paper and the accuracy of the stylus was as good a pen on paper.

There has been commentary about tablet sales topping out, especially iPad sales.  I think that’s because a lot of people who thought they could use the iPad or equivalent as a more general computing tool have slid back to using it as a consumption device and that makes the cost of these high-end devices too high.

To pick up more users and re-energize those of us who have found ourselves slipping into a reader only mode the iPad needs to replace the note pad.  That means the useable surface needs to expand to something more like 8.5 x 11 and it needs to have a high accuracy high feel-quality stylus. Letting the Surface Pro 3 and the Galaxy Tab S go without a strong response will slide the iPad into a lesser position and let MS retain and perhaps expand its Business core. It could even kill the iPad Air sales entirely since for a pure reader the iPad mini is a better deal.

So I hope the rumour of a larger iPad is right and that it has the technology required for a high accuracy high  ‘feel-quality’ stylus.  Even better if they can do this on the iPad mini and iPhone I would expect them to be leading the pack again.

This is not to say that the non stylus start of the iPad was wrong or that the capacitive touch interface should fade.  You do not always have or want the stylus or pen, and learning the new touch interface was important but as the market matures and the users understand how they do and could use devices their wants/needs expand.  And as the Galaxy and the Surface demonstrate to some degree the stylus/pen is a needed adjunct.

One thought here, sapphire might be a very good material for the right type of ‘pen’ sensor, hard enough to allow one to use a metallic tip perhaps?

 

WIRED | Why Apple Nailed ‘it’ again

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4 Big Ideas in the New iPhones That No One’s Talking About : BY KYLE VANHEMERT : 09.11.13

Not sure no ones talking about them but they are not looking at it from the right perspective…or not consistently. The 5C points out that personalization is a critical element but does not require a plethora of hardware versions to accomplish. Look at where Google/Motorola went with their customizable shell. The 5S finger print sensor, activity monitoring sub system and stepped up camera all point to the iPhones purpose as the center of your digital life.

Apple continues to lead even as the handset proliferation continues apace. The phone you own if you are serious these days is the iPhone and while others will backfill in the wake its Apple that still leads.

The 5 family is probably still in line with the concepts that Apple evolved under Jobs’ leadership. Not to say the team at the helm are only turning the crank. It’s also not to say that Apple couldn’t stumble, could miss a new wave, but right now they are in the lead and I don’t see much in the way of useful Tech they have missed yet. The iWatch and iTV, so far as I can see, have no traction because the technology is not here to make them special in the way Apple needs for their brand identity.

The iPhone/iOS is the anti Android and it will remain that way, while others like Nokia/MS, Motorola/Android and I think Samsung, SONY and even maybe HTC and LG, will evolve towards a more Apple like model. In the end the serious contenders will be variations on the Apple model with highly secure products that are your digital core.

Motley Fool // Is Sony the Next Apple?

Is Sony the Next Apple?
By Leo Sun – June 26, 2013

There is a lot of evidence suggesting that Cook doesn’t know where to go from here – Apple’s stock buyback, dividend, and bond sale all indicate that the company could become a slow-growth tech stock like Microsoft and IBM. The iPad Mini and iOS 7 also suggested to investors that the road ahead would be reactionary, rather than revolutionary.

… Sony has expanded into is the phablets category, … a 6.4-inch screen …seriously pushing the acceptable size limit of a smartphone.

Although the Ultra seems like a goofy attempt to capture some of the phablet market from Samsung, I believe that it could gain some serious ground when used in tandem with the SmartWatch 2 and a Bluetooth headset. Many consumers could stow the Ultra in a bag, while using the SmartWatch to check on basic information and tasks while using a Bluetooth headset to make calls or listen to music. To view movies, make video calls or games, the Ultra could be brought out and used like a normal tablet.

I’m no sure Apple has lost it’s mojo but I agree there is evidence of it.

I think that the latest iteration of blue tooth and general tech advances definitely plays to the padPhone+smartWatch+headSet combo and maybe, maybe Apple missed it.

Apple IMO also has missed the stylus revolution, pads of all sizes need sophisticated hand writing, sketch, art input capability to jump another level of ubiquitous usefulness.

I hope Apple is looking at things like 3D Printing, scanning and model manipulation and creation, in the same way they took on the 2D Printing world, there would be a real break out stroke.

The Apple Machine

I think there is some weariness in regards to apple product intros these days, I sense that the press (in general { there have been folks who’ve kind’a felt this way for a while}) is actually beginning to feel a bit used by Apple (and they are probably right though they only have themselves to blame.)  I feel the same way though I totally blame the press for not having the guts, smarts and knowledge to branch out more generally into tech reporting, there are vast areas of technology that are poorly covered and even ignored because they are boring old tech.  Much of this old tech is boring because no one reports on it and promotes it like Apple promotes their products…making it easy for the press to hang on like lampreys.

Apple uses the press as an advertising amplifier, its one of the things that the other tech companies have either lost or never had the ability to do.  It costs a lot to be a showman but it pays back, however its probably impossibly hard to quantify the cost or the payback to a financial guy before you go and do it.  Jobs knew what he was doing and how to do it in his bones, and inculcated it in the bones of his legacy but the MBA’s hate anything that is not quantifiable…this aborts new ‘Apples.’  But even at Apple, without Jobs, there is a good chance that the MBA’s will chip away at the Apple marketing/sales/advertising/etc machine in the name of profits and kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Apple’s iPad mini, its a steal…

There are arguments that Apples pricing power is limited and that the cost of making a premium small pad like the mini is something like 200 meaning that they break even at somewhere between 250 and 300 considering distribution and profit.  There were arguments for a 250ish (essentially subsidized) and 300ish (bare profit.)  Whereas the base 330 (ok 329 but don’t get me started on the last 9 pricing phenomenon!!) supposedly provides Apple with its traditional high profit margin.

Now this seems to beg the question how do these folks really know Apples costs?  Yes its a public company but to be honest there are a lot of details hidden in the financials that are really hard to parse. Apple is highly profitable but it also has very high costs relative to its competitors who are either one shot wonders or whose HW / OS work is subsidized by a primary line business which the machine; Google-Nexus tab, Amazon-Kindle, Barnes&Noble-Nook, are important marketing&sales outlets, not fundamental products as products…as much as some chattering set blowhards try to conflate the business models.

The iPad mini is something of a steal, if 200 is the cost of a good 7 in screened plastic housed small pad .  Why do I say this?:

  1. The above machine might have a higher resolution…but to be honest resolution is not the end of the matter, it enhances a screen, makes a small screen look better,  ut it does not solve the problem that you have to hold a smaller screen closer or display less info to make it readable at all.  And when you are a mature adult the eyes are not so good no more…so a 7.9 screen 40% greater area with the same resolution is (probably) a better deal.  And now one has to light up 40% more area so the battery has to have a bit more capacity, etc.
  2. The system has all the sensors including the reasonably good front and backside cameras of the bigger brother, which none of the smaller competitors match.
  3. It also offers a decent processor chip that has proven its chops on other machines making it a smooth and reliable operator
  4. It’s almost as light and compact as some of its smaller rivals because Apple traded bezel for screen to make it ‘handable’ and thus much more of a reading machine in competition with the near pure readers.
  5. It has universally praised design and build standard and remarkable ruggedness (that’s a projection obviously.)
  6. It has the AppStore infrastructure &
  7. It seamlessly integrates with all the other iGizmos from Apple (of which my family has many.)
  8. It’s a good size and capability set for children with their smaller fingers, lower strength, sharper eyes, etc.
  9. At 329 its a better deal for the K-12 educational market and oh by the way its big brother and the rest offer a grown up infrastructure for teachers.

I’m certainly going to buy one and it won’t be a low-end unit, though I will also in the near future buy one of the new-new-iPads, with the understanding that its possible if not likely that Apple will upgrade the product again in 6 months.

Why is Apple doing this? It wants to dominate the space in most people’s minds like it dominates the smart phone, standard tablet, one piece desktop, and ultra-portable markets. It has moved sharply into these markets (which were not at the time particularly active) and dominated with yearly product refreshes of significance reinforced with a masterful media circus strategy.  They are late to the game in the small pad market having at first seen it as a value only market, they stayed out till they figured out how to roll it up into the Apple iOs business, which I think they have as explained above.

New Post 1 iPad First

iPad Mini Breakout ideas that seem really unlikely:

  1. It should have 2 (two) screens, one on the back in e-ink for pure reading and the regular one of the front for all the other things one does with an iPad. The reading screen should be able to run when the front screen and the radios are all shut down due to low battery power.
  2. It should have the same screen ratio as the iPhone 5 making it newer and svelte. 

Two worst decisions the new management could have made:

  1. offer the Mini as a Touch Maxi, i.e. without 4G
  2. cheapen it by taking out bluetooth or the higher memory options

What I expect:

  1. iPad 2 resolution machine with retina pixel size.
  2. iPad 2 cpu and gpu maybe a bit better
  3. Light with narrower side bezel, making it look like a large iPod Touch
  4. A very inexpensive basic unit but a pretty much fully rigged top end model that will offer compact footprint as competition
  5. iPhone 4 level camera on the back or better (Apple has realized that they have the point and shoot market at this point.)
  6. iPad 2 will be phased out

iPad , iPad

Not sure what I think about the iPad these days, it’s still the single most used computing device I own but to be honest its the one that I would give up first as well.

Which seems odd.  But while I can do many things with the iPad (reader, Music, light blogging, internet addiction) even creative and work related if I have to, it is by its nature more limited in the depth of work that it supports.  It allows one to create a document and presentation or spreadsheet very well but linking them together is far harder than on a PC.  The scientific calculators I have worked with are simply remarkable but their results are hard to integrate with other packages.  Pictures etc are the same, it’s not that the iPad can’t it’s just that with the App model and its flat file structure you cannot organize or cross pollinate work like you can on a PC.

I am sure that many out there would argue with this, they probably feel that the iPad is liberating or does this or that better than any PC, and they could be right.  I also think that I could get used to using the iPad for many more things, but the effort to change over and figure out how to do things differently would be a very deep time sink.

Don’t get me wrong, the iPad is a remarkable development, the culmination of many attempts over a long time, but it’s not clear that it’s the be all that some, even I, thought it  to be.

That said you’d have to pry my iPad out of my cold dead fingers if you just wanted to take it away now (though if you’re thinking of mugging me for it, you can have it, gives me an excuse to go buy a newer one.)

I am disappointed that no one has developed a better stylus technology, for the iPad.  It needs a pen like system as well as the finger painting mode (the Blue Tiger device that was being hyped a few months ago seemed promising.)  And I also feel that the iPad could do with a daylight readable screen at the current or only slightly higher resolution, with a longer battery life, faster processing and graphics and better error handling (than my old iPad v1).  One cool idea would be a two-faced version.  One with eInk on one side and the existing screen on the other.  That way you could do what you most often want to do in daylight, read and interact with documents, and you still have all the capability of the main screen on the other side.

Ah well, who knows what’s to come in the months and years ahead.  Hopefully someone at Apple will think of a better way of doing the things I want the iPad to do.

 

Another Celebrity Seeker…and the Apple Culture

As far as I can see the whole mess with Mike Daisey is the common American confusion between celebrity and profundity.  The Wikipedia entry above starts out :

“Mike Daisey (born 1976) is an American monologist, author, and actor best known for his full-length extemporaneous monologues…”

And that sums it up, he’s not a reporter, does not purport to be one and yet his monologuing is taken as a serious expose of Apple’s factories in China.  The whole problem is that NPR got confused about what they had, it was in some ways not even Daisey’s fault…until he denied any fault as with so many things today, “..it wasn’t the break in it was the coverup…” inept spinning.

Now Apple knows that its old core and even its younger adherents are biased to the progressive/lefty “down with capitalism” side.  Apple is also forced to build their products in China these days, they could not keep their products in the painfully but not prohibitively expensive category otherwise.  They will not purposely turn a blind eye to abuses at their Chinese factories, especially as they know that they are likely to depend on Chinese customers for a lot of growth in the not too distant future.  

Victor Russell Mead at Via Media has the best overall take on the Daisey mess, I won’t go into it any more.

However thinking about Apple and China does bring up other issues about manufacturing and the outsourcing of said.  Two Questions of Apple: 

  1. The iPad, iPhone, iPod are all flat, sandwich build products, why not automate the production and do it in the US?
  2. Aren’t you  afraid of giving your products intellectual property to the Chinese, who have quite blatantly set about appropriating everything they can from anyone with good ideas?

And the answer is the same in both case.  Apple has an extremely short product cycle most of the time and tries to keep their products under wraps until the last second. They use a very deep supplier base on the Asian shore to the fullest extent, the parts are cheaper and more available there, and Apple parcels the parts out so its hard for their competitors to figure out what’s coming until the last month or so before introduction.  Final assembly of many gadgets is the most labor intensive part of the process and the hardest to automate, it can be done but if you are only going to build the product for a couple of years then completely rejigger why put the capital into a fixed site?  And its the Social IP of how you design and proof out a product like the iPad in a very short time that is the secret sauce as much as anything else.  And that IP the IP of the Apple way, the Apple Corporate Society, that gives them the edge, and its not one that anyone can copy easily.  The whole infrastructure of design spin, parting out, having multiple products at various levels of development at one time, and staying mum, that keeps Apple ahead, their competitor’s head’s spinning and the Apple paparazzi merrily dancing in trail.

Creative destruction in it’s meme’s

20120110-232657.jpg Steve Jobs, our Guttenburg, RIP

VodkaPundit, via Instapundit, has a very good point to bear in mind in this the season of CES(RIP?)

When jobs came back to Apple he brought a self operational version of Creative Destruction, the dynamic heart of real capitalism we saw at work in the late eighties to early oughts, the idea that products, product lines even companies do not, should not, live forever but be overtaken by better solutions.

The iPhones 5 years old, it seems reasonable to think there is something next and no reason for it not to be targeted at eventually gobbling the iPhone as we know it.

What set of features would you build into a new personal product that might change the world?

Apples iEmpire

I’m sure what I’m going to say has been said before, I intimated it the other day for that matter, but Steven Jobs left Apple with an iMpire (i Empire)  that no one has been able to keep up with.  One way of seeing his legacy, the way he and others may have seen it was as the tools required to interact with the world of data.

Our world (in the metaphysical sense) started out as a place of brute  physicality.  As society developed and technology humans began to plan, and then we began to record information remote from our brains, and then ideas and concepts, some of them completely disassociated from the physical world we lived in.  Some people began to ‘live in their head’ could do so without getting eaten or starving because society could afford to support them, and even awarded them for some of the things they could bring forth (art, science, technology in the abstract.)

This evolution has continued to the point where a large part of our world has become intellectual, it is now a world of data that can only be accessed with the right tools.  But this world is not a static one where you just look in and pull out what you want, there is a vast amount of creation and manipulation required.  But this requires a set of tools that provide mirror simple access to the world of data.  Mirror simple, because all you need to do with a mirror is hanging it up and look into it and it does its job.  If technology requires you to carry out arcane incantations and hand motions to provide access to the data world then its to some extent impeding you.

Look at it another way, there is ongoing work in the DoD that eventually will allow a pilot to look around and see the world outside the cockpit as if the aircraft were not there.  We need the inverse, the ability to peer into the data world and do what we need, from any point at any time, for an uncountable multitude of reasons…

  • On the Go Data Access + Comms
    • iPad (Fire hose of access, lite content creator, iPhone in chief?)
    • iPhone
    • iPod, Touch (can we see this as the low end iPhone) Nano (does this eventually become the iPhone Nano, the iWatch….which it already is, almost)
  • The Links
    • Commercial Front End
      • ITunes
      • AppStore
    • The Linking memory
      • iCloud
  • Content Creation
    • Mac
    • Mac Mini (beginner)
    • MacBooks
    • AirBook (on the go content creation, iPad with keyboard)
  • Home Data Center, access heavy, creation light
    • Apple TV
    • Mac Mini
    • iPad

 So Apple as a complete iCology now; the problem is that we really need the rest of the tech world to catch up.