The iTablet: The Steve Jobs checklist.

iTablet

iTablet

From what we can glean from past experience, especially in Apple’s consumer products like the iPod and iPhone,  the iTablet must adhere to the following :

  • Must be a fashion statement. Just like the introduction of the conspicuous mug-me-white earbuds of the iPods.
  • Must be obscenely expensive. Not much to say about that!
  • Must need to be handled a lot in its operation and in doing so be obvious to others, to show the owner’s coolness and good taste (and for its free viral marketing contribution to Apple). The original iPod clickwheel, and the multi-touch screens of the other devices come to mind.
  • Must be missing at least one but likely many crucial features, to be introduced in releases 2,3,4… Just like the lack voice dialing, cut and paste, stereo bluetooth, 3G, etc. etc. on the first iPhone)
  • Must wear out quickly in some way needing one to upgrade to the next version, like the scratch-prone screens of the first ipods, and the fragile glass screens of the present generation of iPhone/iPod Touch.
  • Form over function is everything!
  • …and much, much more that I haven’t thought of.

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In praise of push buttons: my podcast player.

In praise of pushbuttons

In praise of push buttons: my podcast player

I use my mobile phone (iPAQ rw6828) as my podcast/music/audiobook device.

Why? Because of push buttons.

With the buttons on the phone I can:

  • play/pause and stop the track
  • skip forward (great for skipping those interminable twit ads).
  • skip back (to re-listen to a bit drowned out by traffic noise on my walks.
  • go to previous/next track
  • control the volume
  • go to the next playlist (to alternate between music/podcasts/audiobooks)
  • Toggle the touchscreen on and off

The volume/play/pase/stop/next track/previous track I can also do from my bluetooth headset.

I do have an iPod Touch but it isn’t my main podcast device because you have to fiddle with it too much to do much of the above. I am especially annoyed with the Touch bluetooth support that doesn’t include previous/next functions. Hopefully this will be fixed in a subsequent release.

My the way, the phone runs Windows Mobile OS and the great MortPlayer application

(Photo by williamli1983)

When can DRM be justified?

I had attended the recent Canadian Copyright Consultations Montreal Town Hall. It was very interesting to see the wide range of positions on copyright.

I’ve been reading a little and thinking about DRM. I don’t think DRM is a good thing, but even so, there are probably some areas where it makes some sense. I can think of two:

  1. Subscription services: Paying, say, a monthly fee for access to content. And that access ends when one stops paying for it.
  2. Trial software.

There may be other cases that justify it and certainly there is an argument that DRM is not justified even in these cases.

New iPod, iTablet, nixing Google Voice: Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Now that the pundits have spoken, here are the thoughts of a rank amateur on the forthcoming iPods and iTablet (with apologies to others with similar ideas):

  • The new iPod Touch will have a microphone and a forward-facing camera, used for VoIP calls over Wi-Fi with a native app. The app together with Verizon will be Google Voice-like supporting video with social networking flavor.
  • When away from a Wi-Fi hotspot, the Touch will  connect to the Verizon 3G network using:… the iTablet.
  • The iTablet will support tethering. It will be have fantastic battery life, and will be always on, even when in your backpack/purse, remotely accessible by your new iPod Touch (as well as older Touches or iPhones). It together with an iPod touch would support cellular-like calling over 3G. It would take a Steve Jobs to convince Verizon that the days of cell phones are numbered and that VoIP over 3G is the way to go, especially for video calls.
  • The iTablet will run iTunes. It must irk Steve Jobs that most copies of iTunes run on Windows despite Apple’s herculean efforts to make the Windows version run like a dog (very successful by the way). The iTablet will be an alternative that even Windows fanboys might be tempted to buy.
  • The iTablet will come with an thin and  light  Bluetooth keyboard. It can be used as an alternative to the touch screen.  The iTablet then can be propped up more vertically on its self-contained stand for more convenient viewing  (and to be better seen by the Starbucks crowd, as per Apple’s usual viral marketing genius).
  • The iTablet won’t be cheap, despite being subsidized by a data plan. Maybe $499 subsidized? But as always, fanboys will ignore the exorbitant monthly charges and compare the $499 to the price of  the cheapest Mac and think they are getting a wonderful bargain. Gee, thanks Steve.
  • The iTablet will have a large storage capacity for your music/video collection (and ebooks?)  and will always be online via the 3G network, replacing the functionality of the to-be-discontinued iPod Classic line.

I figure, why should only the experts have all the fun of having egg on their face, once these devices are  released with features that blow everybody away!

Tracking my morning walk with the iPod Touch

In investigating the iPod Touch location services functionality, I came across the Instamapper GPS Tracker app. It was meant to be used with the iPhone and it uses the location service to locate the iPhone and transmit its location to Instamapper where it is displayed on a google map.

I was able to cajole it to run on my iPod Touch (it can buffer up to 100 points) and took my Touch on my walk yesterday morning. I live in Montreal in the NDG area. I walked in NDG/Hampstead. This is the result:

My Morning walk in Montreal (Hampstead/NDG area)

My Morning walk in Montreal (Hampstead/NDG area)

iPod Touch, Location Services, how?

I recently installed OffMaps, on my iPod Touch. OffMaps is an app that lets one download maps (it uses OpenStreetMap data) onto the device. I planned to use it simply as a way to carry a map of Montreal with me to use on my walks.

It has a “locate me” button, and it was able to locate me while I was home, in range of my home wifi. Makes sense. I know that the iPod Touch/iPhone make use of Skyhook Wireless technology that can use surrounding wifi signals for location. What surprised me was the “locate me” generally worked on my walk, away from my wifi hotspot.

I understand that the location technology makes passive use of surrounding wifi signals, and then through a database lookup is able to translate this into a latitude/longitude.

On an iPhone this lookup can be done via the data connection. My question is how this lookup can occur on an iPod touch, where there is no data connection?