My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic for iPad
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Worlds Collide: The My Little Pony iOS Game

Sometimes there’s a perfect storm, when different avenues of my weird personality collide. The [My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic](https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/my-little-pony-friendship/id533173905?mt=8) game by Gameloft (for iPhone and iPad) is out. The game itself is free, but they’ll try to sell you coins and gems. The basic mechanic is a town builder similar to We Rule or Tiny Tower (and countless others that I lost patience with long ago), but set in Ponyville. And it’s absolutely lousy with MLP goodness.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic for iPad

Fans will be happy to know that Gameloft didn’t just phone this one in. The art is good. The voices are great (they use the original voice actors). The music is *perfect*. The cast is wide and varied, and more than likely includes your favorite background pony, no matter how obscure. There’s even sort of a plot/storyline, beyond just “build your town and get lots of stuff”. Derpy even plays her adorable part.

Nits to pick: there’s not much variety in the minigames (you’ll play a *lot* of bouncy ball and catch the apple to level ponies up), and some of them are kind of jerky and don’t feel quite right. I found a typo (Pinkie Pie’s name is misspelled “Pinky Pie” on her caption when she’s speaking, but is correctly spelled elsewhere). At its core, it’s just an addictive, nagging “come play with us!” game that will bug you to keep coming back. Progress can be slow at times, but that’s because they want you to cough up real money for bits and gems to speed things up. Typical for the genre. What will keep bringing you back are the ponies. They’re just so dang adorable!

The social aspect is also seriously broken right now. Besides the fact that “Gameloft Live” is hard to figure out (adding friends, etc.), there are widespread reports on [/r/mylittlepony/](http://www.reddit.com/r/mylittlepony/comments/12v8dv/mlpfim_official_iphone_and_ipad_app/) of simply not being able to connect with friends, service errors, etc. I might be willing to chalk it up to high demand on launch day – we’ll see how it goes. At any rate, I’m jabancroft on GLLive, if you want to add me. You can also connect with Facebook, but it didn’t find any friends for me. Could be because no one is playing/connected there yet.

There are a thousand ways this game could have gone wrong, and for the most part, Gameloft nailed it. The bronies are appeased (and lets face it, we’re the target audience, if for no other reason than we have more disposable income than six year old girls 😀 ).

See you in Ponyville.

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iBooks 3.0 Seriously Underwhelms

iBooks 3.0 was announced today at Apple’s event, and is available now on the App Store.

Is it just me, or does calling this update “3.0” feel like a overstatement? A new (continuous) scrolling mode (that doesn’t work with fullscreen), some new languages, and “iCloud” sync that, as far as I can tell, is *identical* to the sync it’s had from day one (suns reading position and lets you download purchased books)? That’s it? Am i missing something? This should have been a labeled a minor point release, not “3.0”. Oh, and iBooks Author got an update, too. Some new themes, and you can now make portrait-only books. Be still my heart.

Why do I even care? Because I’m an avid ebook buyer and reader (several per month). I love my iPhone and iPad and I love reading on them. I want to love iBooks. It’s gorgeous. But I find myself doing all my reading in the Kindle app (and hence, buying from Amazon). iBooks offers no benefits I can see over the Kindle app and ecosystem. I guess I’m kind of rooting for Apple to do something groundbreaking and spectacular here, not because I love Apple, but because I love books.

That’s why this “update” underwhelms. iBooks could be so much more.

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iPhoto Loves Cats, iMovie Fixes Shake, Keep Your ISP Honest

I’m really going to try this time, to narrate my work consistently. I’ve set aside time, I’ve got a great workflow for all of the feed items and other stuff that I collect, and I realized that all I need is to gather, synthesize, and summarize at the end of the day. So here are some things that I’ve found interesting in the last day (that didn’t morph into blog posts of their own as I started writing about them):

iPhoto 09 Recognizes Cats’ Faces, But Not Dogs

Apple’s iLife ’09 hit stores yesterday, and the wires are full of people reporting their experiences with its new features. One of the new new major features in iPhoto 09 (the other one being geotag/location support) is that it can recognize faces of people in your pictures. Apparently, it can recognize the faces of cats, too. But, for some reason, not dogs. Why does Apple hate doggies?

iMovie 09 Video Stabilization

The other iLife 09 feature that I’m excited about is iMovie 09’s new ability to stabilize shaky video. There’s lots of sample footage out there. Here’s some from from Beau Colburn (via Daring Fireball). It’s pretty impressive, and especially good news for owners of light little video cameras with small sensors, like my Flip Mino HD, which are extremely sensitive to camera shake. Can’t wait to try it out for myself.

Google Launches Measurement Lab – Tools to Keep Your ISP Honest

Via the Official Google Blog, Measurement Lab is a suite of tools to help you test your connection speed, see if your ISP is throttling bittorrent, etc. Great way to learn more about your internet connection, and see if you’re ISP is not giving you all the service you would like.

That’s all for today. This was fun! Let me know what you think in the comments. I’ll try to keep it up, but no promises. 😉

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Keep Bad Apples Away From Your Team

I was listening to episode #370 of the This American Life podcast (which is one of my favorite podcasts), on the topic “Ruining It For The Rest Of Us”. At the beginning of the show, Ira was talking with a researcher who had done studies on the effect of “bad apple” behavior within teams. He looked at what effect someone who is a Jerk (insults other people, critical without offering a better option, etc.), a Slacker (doesn’t do any work, doesn’t seem to care, distracted), or Depressed (certain that ‘this will never work’, doomed to failure, etc.) has on the rest of the people on the team.

It’s obviously not a good thing. But what was surprising is that within 45 minutes, the other people on the team adopted the “bad apple” behavior. They started acting like the bad apple. Turns out it’s contagious.

This got me thinking about team dynamics, and the criteria we use when we build teams, interview people for a job, etc. When it comes to looking at the personality traits, and how well a person can fit within a team, it occurs to me that it’s crucial to avoid someone with those “bad apple” traits, because it will spread to the rest of the team.

Thinking back to teams that I’ve been on, I know this is true. I’ve seen it happen. And I’m really grateful that the team I’m on now at work, Intel Software Network, doesn’t have any Bad Apples to bring us down. I’ve marveled at how great the team dynamic is in this group since I joined almost two years ago, but only now do I realize that the lack of Bad Apples is one of the (probably big) reasons.

So keep Bad Apples away from your teams! It’s hard to make a person change behavior, and if you can avoid it, it’s probably better to not get into that situation in the first place.

Interestingly, the researcher on This American Life said they discovered an antidote to Bad Apple behavior – someone who exhibits strong leadership by asking a LOT of questions, of everybody. In fact, that person in the study was the child of a career diplomat. So if you do get stuck with a Bad Apple on your team, there may still be hope. :-)

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Liveblogging the October 2008 Apple Notebook Event

This post is where I’ll be posting my thoughts during the October 14, 2008 Apple “notebook” event, where it’s expected that they’ll be unveiling new MacBooks and MacBook Pros. I won’t be at the event, but I’ll be following it live at all the usual suspects’ locations:

And of course, I’ll be hanging around on Twitter and FriendFeed to see what people’s thoughts and reactions are. I hope they can handle the load. I’m starting this post the night before to be ready for the AM. It’s like Christmas Eve – the anticipation of what Steve Claus is going to bring us is palpable! :-)

Rumors of what is going to be announced range from new aluminum MacBooks (almost certain, given the spy photos we’ve been seeing) with Nvidia chipsets replacing Intel, a “real” Apple TV – a TV with Apple TV functionality built in – to the everlasting Mac Tablet/Giant iPhone/Newton 2.0 rumor, which has practically become a legend at this point.

The most interesting thing I think Apple’s likely to announce is a low cost MacBook. Rumors have been going around about a sub-$800 device. Some have wondered if this will be Apple’s entreé into the netbook world. Personally, I don’t see Apple doing anything with a netbook until OS X 10.6 Snot Snow Leopard is out, which should be in early 2009. Read why I think Snow Leopard is the critical ingredient for an Apple netbook. So what about this $800 system everyone is talking about? I think if they do anything, they’ll drop the price of an entry level 13″ MacBook to $800. It’s $1099 now, and I can see Apple making an aggressive move to get more people using Macs by dropping the price of their iconic laptop. You heard it here first.

But we’ll all know for sure in about 12 hours!

8:30 AM – John Gruber has a post up over at Daring Fireball wherein he seems pretty certain about what’s going to be announced. MacBook Pro with 2 GPUs and a glass no-button trackpad, similar update to the MacBook. No $800 device. Some other minor updates around the line. And a heretofore un-speculated upon new 24″ Cinema Display. Sounds about right, and John knows his stuff. We’ll find out soon.

10:00 AM – I’m here hooked up to the 60″ TV in the JF1 “living room”, ready to go. Got my tabs lined up, Brent Logan is here with me. Lay it on us, Uncle Steve! :-)

Tim Cook is talking about how awesome Macs are. Sold 2.5 million last quarter. Yada yada. Slamming on Vista. Playing a new Mac vs. PC ad. Mac sales have “beat the market” 14 of the last 15 quarters. Great market share. Already equalled 2007 sales in the first three quarters of 2008. We get it. And now Steve’s back!

Jony Ive: “I’d like to take a couple of moments to tell you about a real breakthrough we’ve had about how we can design and build our notebooks.” Here comes the “brick” announcement (aluminum cases machined from a solid billet of metal).

Steve on the new NVidia 9400 M graphics/chipset: “They’ve dubbed it the NVIDIA GeForce 9400 M — it’s an amazing chip. Chipset and GPU on one die — 70% is the GPU, 16 parallel graphic cores, 54gflops of graphics performance. It’s a stunner.”

New glass trackpad: larger, multitouch, glass surface (like the iPhone – should feel great!), the whole thing is one button, can assign multiple buttons via software. I like. Should appear in all new MacBooks.

Which brings us to the new MacBook Pro – just like the spy shots. Black bezel, aluminum and glass (like the iMac), black keyboard (like the Air), all connectors on one side, NVidia graphics and chipset, and the new “precision aluminum unibody” case construction. Oh, and all Macs will now have the “mini display connector”. Uh oh. I hate those.

(Took a break to keep up with the news and chat with people.)

The new MacBook Pro starts at $1999, goes to $2499 for bigger hard drive, faster CPU with more cache, etc. And the Pro line has TWO Nvidia GPUs. The 9400 M, and the 9600 GT (which has 512MB of RAM and 32 graphics cores). You can use the lower end one to save on power and extend battery life, or use “turbo” mode and use the faster GPU. So, 48 graphics cores in the MacBook Pro. The foundation for all of the multi-core/GPGPU stuff like OpenCL and GrandCentral in OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard has been laid.

The MacBook line also got updated. They’re keeping the current plastic case 13″ MacBook (most popular ever), and dropping the price to $999. Nice entry level model. The “new” MacBook is very similar to the new MacBook Pro. Precision aluminum “unibody”, NVidia 9400 M chipset, glass trackpad, glass display with black bezel. It also uses the new Mini Display Port connector. Besides the second GPU and an ExpressCard 34 slot, and a bigger display (15″ vs 13″), there’s not much difference between the new MacBook and the MacBook Pro. The new ones start at $1299. $1599 gets you a faster CPU, bigger hard drive, and a backlit keyboard (boo on Apple for not making that standard!).

The new MacBook and Pro are available for order today, should be in stores tomorrow.

The MacBook Air got an update – CPU speed bump, 120 GB hard drive or option for 128GB SSD, and the new Mini Display Port. Not much else changed (including the price). Available in November.

And there’s a new 24″ LCD Cinema Display. Edge to edge glass, very thin, looks great. Cool features include a wire bundle that gives you a MagSafe power plug to charge your laptop, a USB connection for the hub in the display, and the new Mini Display Port connector. $899, available in November. Looks to be the perfect companion to the new Macs. :-)

Oh, and Steve’s blood pressure is 110/70, in case anyone was interested. Now, for some Q and A.

Steve: “Blu-ray is just a bag of hurt. It’s great to watch the movies, but the licensing of the tech is so complex, we’re waiting till things settle down and Blu-ray takes off in the marketplace.”

Steve: “In terms of netbooks, that’s a nascent market that’s just getting started.” Says netbooks are a new market and “we’ll see how it goes.”

Looks like that’s it! I might update this post later with link to the video that was shown, showing off the new laptops, and anything else interesting that comes up today. Now, to figure out how to get one of these new bad boys into my hands! :-)

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Flickr’s new iPhone web interface = AWESOME (with screenshots!)

Saw word from John “Daring Fireball” Gruber tonight that Flickr finally launched an iPhone optimized web interface. Finally! :-)

Of course, I had to check it out right away, and I agree with John – it’s great. Possibly the best iPhone web interface I’ve seen. Really nice. There’s no way to upload photos from the site (though they do point out that you can upload via email, which I’ve been doing from the beginning from my iPhone, and it works really well). But that’s about the only thing I can see that’s missing.

Update – What Doesn’t Work: The things that work on the desktop but don’t work on the iPhone version are basically the parts of the site that use Flash – the Uploadr, the Organizr, the Map, and Video playback (you can still see video pages and their comments, you just can’t play the videos). Oh, and Slideshows. Everything else works. I see this as one big benefit of all the work Flickr did a long time ago to move as much of their interface as possible into Ajax and javascript, and away from Flash (which doesn’t work on the iPhone, and likely never will).

To check it out yourself, go to m.flickr.com on your iPhone or iPod Touch. I’m sure the other methods you can use to trick sites into thinking you’re using an iPhone will work, too. There’s even a nice iPhone Home Screen icon if you want to save a bookmark to it there, and launch it from the Home Screen.

I took a bunch of screenshots. Here they are, in no particular order:

Flickr iPhone Interface - HomeFlickr iPhone Interface - Activity
Flickr iPhone Interface - My PhotostreamFlickr iPhone Interface - Single Photo with Comments
Flickr iPhone Interface - Recent from ContactsFlickr iPhone Interface - My Favorites
Flickr iPhone Interface - Contact ListFlickr iPhone Interface - More
Flickr iPhone Interface - SearchFlickr iPhone Interface - Explore/Interesting
Flickr iPhone Interface - CollectionsFlickr iPhone Interface - Home Screen Icon

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Liveblogging the WWDC 2008 Steve Jobs Keynote

I’m pretty much counting on Twitter being down (or rather, turning into a smoking crater where their servers used to be) during this morning’s Steve Job’s keynote at WWDC. So I’ll be liveblogging it here. I’m not at WWDC, but will be following via various online tools, and geeking out with fellow Macheads at Intel while it’s going on. This post is mostly going to be my observations and opinions on the news, rather than actually breaking the news, so if you want to follow along as “live” as you can, check out ArsTechnica’s live coverage, MacRumorsLive’s autoupdating page, and Engadget’s live coverage. Twitter and Summize also have a page set up to track the news, but like I said, my money’s on Twitter getting obliterated (it’s already flaky this morning).

The world is about to change. New iPhone. The iPhone App Store. And then what? New devices? OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” (here’s my prediction on what that one really means). I can’t wait! This is better than Christmas! :-)

I’m in the new JF1 “living room” area at Intel, where they have a few tables set up under a 65″ plasma TV. I’m hooked up to it, using it as my external monitor, getting ready to scour the interwebs for each new tidbit as it makes its way from the mouth of Steve. I’ve got my Mountain Dew and some Pop Tarts. I’m ready. Let’s do this thing! :-)

Josh Liveblogging WWDC 2008 Keynote

Steve’s on stage now. We’re getting the best updates from the Ars IRC channel (#wwdc on irc.arstechnica.com). Steve’s talking about the enterprise features of the iPhone 2.0 software – calendar and contact sync, remote wipe, etc. Stuff we already knew. Now he’s bringing suits out on stage, from other companies. Stuff we hadn’t heard already – capability of viewing office documents, SharePoint access, VPN and two factor authentication (as in SecurID/SoftID). Cool…

Now talking about the iPhone SDK and how many similarities it has with the “real” OS X kernel and code. APIs are the same, line for line. Location-based services, 3D positional audio, how easy it is to develop for it and debug it, etc. Showing a new demo app, “Nearby Friends”, which sounds really cool. I’ll have to go back and watch the video of this, showing how easy it is to build an application, live. Talking about how much developers love coding for this platform. Yay, look how awesome we are!

Now comes the game demos. First up, Sega, talking about Super Monkey Ball. I have a love/hate relationship with that game on other platforms. The “party” parts of the games are really fun, but the “roll the monkey in a marble across this platform surrounded by a bottomless abyss on all sides” are freaking FRUSTRATING. In the keynote, they’re saying the demo looks awesome. Full “tilt” control using the accelerometer. Will be available “at the launch of the app store” for $9.99. Not a bad price – people were speculating that iPhone apps would be a lot more expensive – $20 to $40.

Now demoing an eBay app, which sounds technically cool, but honestly isn’t very interesting to me because I don’t use eBay. Now they’re talking about an app called “Loopt” (“connecting people on the go”), which Ars is excited about, but I’ve never heard of. Sounds like “friends on a map, showing you what they’re doing”. I’m not to keen on the idea of these kinds of apps, but I guess I’d have to see a GOOD one in action to really decide.

BTW, thanks to Brent, Matt, Tod, and Jerry, who are sitting around the table, correcting my mistakes and typos as I write this. :-) Matt’s trying to listen to a live audio stream, which is sort of working, but it’s more delayed than the Ars IRC feed (which is AWESOME! FAR better than any other way I’ve done this before. Thanks Ars! :-) )

Matt listening to a WWDC keynote audio stream. Sort of.

Showing a Typepad blog authoring app, that’s going to be free at the app store launch. Yawn. Show me a generic XML-RPC compatible editor (I can has MarsEdit for iPhone please?) or something that’ll work with WordPress and I’ll be interested. I’m sure that will come soon enough. And an AP “see local news and photos based on your location” app. Sounds kind of dumb – how much news do you know of that has specific location information, more than just “Dateline: this city”? Meh.

Next up a game developer showed off a couple of games that look cool (kind of hard to get a sense of them when I’m reading text descriptions in an IRC channel – I’m sure we’ll see lots about the games soon enough). And an indie dev who works in the insurance industry made a really cool virtual musical instrument app called “Band” that he developed in 8 months in his spare time. And now talking about Major League Baseball. Woo! Not.

Now showing off a bunch of medical reference/learning applications. Talking about med students and K-12 education. I love the idea, but how many K-12 students do you know that have iPhones (or would be allowed to have iPhones by their school’s policies)? Still, very cool ideas, and it’s great that these applications are coming, and relatively easy to develop.

Enough with the 3rd party app demos. I want to know what Apple has to show us today!

OK, now Forstall’s talking about the lack of a good chat platform, and how to receive notifications from your apps while they’re not running. He says the WRONG solution is background processes, because they sap battery life and performance. (And now he’s showing how Windows Mobile does this, and making fun of it! :-) ) “We have come up with a far better solution.” A push notification service to all developers. When your app is running, you’re connected to a server. When you quit, the connection dies. Apple maintains a persistent IP connection to the iPhone, and 3rd parties can push notifications through that server to the phone (badges, sounds, alerts, etc.). Alerts can include buttons to automatically launch your app (so it doesn’t have to stay running the background), and the phone only has to maintain one server connection (presumably to Apple) to make this works. Works over wifi and cellular. Coming in September. I have to admit, this seems like a really clever solution to a really tough problem. We’ll see how it works out in real life!

Steve’s back on stage, and talking about new iPhone 2.0 software features. Contact search, iWork (create and edit iWork docs – cool!), bulk delete and move in email, save images from emails, new calculator, explicit content filters, and new language support for Japanese and Chinese character input – draw them with your finger. That’s a welcome feature for a lot of people, I’m sure. The 2.0 software update will come in early July, will be free for iPhones, and $9.95 for iPod Touch owners (gouged again!).

Now on to talking about the app store. Wireless download and install, automatic updates, devs set prices and keep 70% of revenues. “We FairPlay apps” – FairPlay is iTunes’ DRM for music, so that means that apps will be locked (and presumably, cracked shortly thereafter – FairPlay has a reputation of being pretty breakable). If your app is larger than 10MB, you can only install over wifi. Enterprise apps can be deployed on the intranet, downloaded to your computer, then synced and installed via iTunes. Sounds like a good solution for corporate apps.

Now for something completely different: Mobile Me, new mobile service. Worst kept secret in the industry – this is basically .Mac done right – “Exchange for the rest of us”. Works on Mac, PC (woo!), and iPhone (double woo!). Push your contacts, email, calendar, and files into the cloud, and keep them in sync across all devices. But I do this already with Google – Gmail, Reader, Docs, Calendar. Will be interesting to see how this compares. Or maybe MobileMe will just be powered by Google. The site is me.com. Going into a demo now – I’ll check this out myself later, see if it’s worth it. It’s a cool idea, regardless. $99/year, 20GB of storage, and there’s a 60 day free trial. Expensive for what you get. I’ll probably pass. “Available with iPhone 2.0 in early July”. So, does that mean no iPhone until early July?

OK, now he’s talking about the new iPhone. “Next challenges.” 3G, enterprise, 3rd party apps, more countries, more affordable. iPhone 3G introduced today (big surprise!). Even thinner. The back looks plastic, black. Solid metal buttons. Same display and camera. Flush headphone jack (yay – no more adapters!). Improved audio. Feels “even better” in your hand.

3G = faster data downloads. Email attachments and downloads. Doing a video demo speed comparison between EDGE and 3G. 3G is faster. Duh. Comparing to other 3G phones. It’s faster. Of course it is. Tell us something new! Show us pictures! Their claiming “great battery life”, which was one of the big concerns with previous 3G chipsets (which were also too big).

Talking about location services now, and “GPS”. The question is, does it have REAL GPS (satellite-based, not tower based)? From the demos (tracking a drive down Lombard street), it looks to be the real thing. Or at least, good enough to pass for it (smooth tracking, etc.).

More countries – they’re aiming for 12 countries for the 3G launch, with a stretch goal of 25 70 (!) countries over the next several months. Hear that sound? It’s the bottom dropping out of the international iPhone resale grey market. 😉

More affordable. It started at $599, sells now for $399. 3G 8GB iPhone is $199. Yow! Nice! 16GB is $299. And “something special” – a white one, 16GB. Same price. Saying launch in 22 countries on July 11. I wonder if the U.S. is one of those countries? Showing a new iPhone commercial. Twice.

Jobs has left the stage. No “one more thing”. Nothing on Snot Snow Leopard OS X 10.6 (though they said there will be a session after lunch to talk about it, that’s under NDA). Bummer! I still held out hope for a new hardware class of device, Atom powered. Oh well – there’s always MacWorld 2009 in Januuary!

This was fun. Ultimately, there’s no real new hardware. We all knew about the new iPhone and its features ahead of time. Kind of bummed that it won’t go on sale for a month, but that gives me more time to save up my pennies. 😉

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Why I think Apple OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” is for upcoming Atom-based devices

It’s the week before Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). That means the rumor mill is in overdrive. I’m not immune – it’s fun to speculate! :-) Take this post for what it’s worth. I don’t have any inside information, I don’t know any secrets, I’m just guessing and having fun.

Besides the new 3G iPhone (which is almost a certainty), the other juicy tidbit that surfaced this week was news of a new operating system revision – OS X 10.6. Jacqui at Ars got the scoop, letting us know that it’s supposed to be called “Snow Leopard”, move completely to Cocoa (dropping legacy Carbon support), and that it will be for Intel processors only (dropping support for the PowerPC chips in older Macs), and not contain any new features, only enhancements to stability, performance, and security.

But a few things just don’t add up to me. It sounds plausible that a new operating system would get announced at the Developer conference (as opposed to a consumer event), to give developers time to get ready for its release. I could buy that it’s Intel-only – they’ll probably drop PowerPC support at some point. But it does seem a little soon to be talking about the next OS release – OS X 10.5 Leopard has barely been out 8 months. And people would be reluctant to plunk down the $129 that Apple has always charged for a new release of Mac OS X if it doesn’t have any new features.

Then, yesterday, it hit me. What if this new version of Mac OS X, 10.6 “Snow Leopard”, isn’t intended for Macs at all, but for a new class of device altogether? Say, the long-rumored Apple tablet device, a Mobile Internet Device, based on the new Intel Atom processor?

I’ve been chewing on this for a while, and it all makes sense. I can’t find anything that refutes the idea. And the more I think about it, the more I think I’m right. :-) I haven’t seen anyone else speculate along these lines (though I could be wrong), so if that’s the case, I may get to say “you heard it here first!” :-)

Here are the reasons I think the new OS is for a new class of Atom-based, non-Mac devices:

  1. A “tablet” device, bigger than an iPhone but smaller than a MacBook, has been rumored FOREVER. How many appearances has it made it to John Siracusa’s WWDC and MacWorld Bingo cards? 😉
  2. An Intel Germany executive was recently quoted as saying Apple would be launching an Atom-powered mobile internet device at WWDC (this was later denied by Intel).
  3. Banners were spied at the Moscone Center this week with “OS X Leopard” and “OS X iPhone” on them. Some have speculated this might mean Apple is going to license OS X to 3rd party manufacturers. But what if it means there will be a new class of device that runs OS X that’s not a Mac computer, but isn’t an iPhone either?
  4. It doesn’t make sense to do a whole new OS release (10.5 –> 10.6), with a new code name (“Snow Leopard”), but not add any new features. If they were just going to improve performance, security, and stability, that’s what point releases, like the recent 10.5.3 update, are for. For every one of the six “full” releases of OS X, up through 10.5 Leopard, they’ve charged $129 for the upgrade, but each version has added significant new features. People won’t want to plunk down money for 10.6 without new features, but if 10.6 IS for a new class of Atom-based devices, it would make sense to classify it as a whole new release, with a new version number and code name, since it won’t be sold on its own. The “Snow Leopard” code name also seems to indicate something related to Leopard, but different. No previous OS X code names (Puma, Panther, Tiger, etc.) have had such a close correlation.
  5. Dropping support for legacy technology, like the PowerPC processors, and dropping Carbon for Cocoa, has to happen sometime. But the timing makes perfect sense if 10.6 is for a new class of device that won’t even have those technologies. No need for PowerPC support if the devices that run the OS are going to have Intel Atom processors. No need to maintain legacy Carbon applications if Apple wants to encourage developers to write new applications in Cocoa for this new class of device.
  6. As I was talking about this idea on Twitter a while ago, @davechen pointed out a Gizmodo article that says 10.6 will still support PPC chips. But what caught my eye in the article was this little tidbit: “A number of drivers didn’t load on a Core 2 Duo MacBook, because it was using a 64-bit kernel and the drivers were only 32. The kernel was not only 64-bit though.” I could be completely wrong here, but I think the Intel Atom processor doesn’t have the 64-bit capabilities that the Core 2 processors do. So the seeming backwards step of not having 64-bit drivers could make sense for Atom.
  7. Maybe developers will use a new version of the iPhone SDK to write apps for these new devices. Perhaps that’s why the SDK has been Intel-only from the beginning. Apps for the iPhone are compiled for its ARM processor, completely different from either Intel or PPC architectures. But why complicate things with PowerPC stuff if you wanted to expand the SDK to create apps for the Intel x86 architecture in Atom (which could compile and run natively on Intel CPUs).

Like I said, it’s just a lot of guessing and speculation at this point, but I think it holds together pretty well. If Steve Jobs wanted to say “oh by the way, we’re introducing a whole new class of device” during his WWDC keynote on Monday, he’s want to give the audience full of developers a heads up so they can start writing apps.

Think I’m on to something? Want to debunk my thinking, and tell me I’m full of crap? You’re welcome to. Maybe this will attract the notice of the Macalope or Daring Fireball’s Jon Gruber, and I’ll get the full “you’re an idiot, and here’s why” treatment from them. *swoon* Either way, it should be fun! Only a couple more days until WWDC, and we’ll know if I’m right or wrong! :-)

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I Have the Coolest Keyboard in the World – Apple Wireless Keyboard

It’s been over a year since I got my beloved MacBook Pro (when I joined Intel Software Network). For most of that time, I’ve been using one of the previous generation Apple Wireless Keyboards – the one with the white keys and transparent base. It’s been a great keyboard (even though the white keys get filthy, and the transparent housing lets you see all the disgusting gunk, dust, and board chow that gets caught in there). A couple of weeks ago, I was helping our department admin order an Apple keyboard for someone else in the group, and she asked if I wanted one. What do you think I said? 😉 A day or so later, in email, she asked if I wanted wired or wireless. I thought for a minute – the new Apple Wireless Keyboard doesn’t have the full size separate number pad, arrow keys, and PgUp/PgDown/Home/End keys (the wired USB version does). Could I live without those? I decided to give it a try.

Last week, the new keyboard arrived, and I’ve been blown away by it ever since. :-)

It’s Bluetooth, which means that it will work with more than just Apple computers. It does have some Mac-specific keys, though, like Exposé and Dashboard. It also has the traditional Apple volume up/down/mute, and eject keys, and this latest version adds media shuffle controls – Play, Next, Previous, etc. – which to my delight work to control iTunes even when I’m in another application (like right now, writing this in MarsEdit). But the amazing part of it is just how freaking thin and light it is:

Apple Wireless Keyboard, Old and New

It is much smaller than the previous full sized keyboard. The little roll at the top/back holds 3 AA batteries. One end of the “roll” unscrews for battery access, and the other houses the power/pairing button.

Apple Wireless Keyboard, MacBook Pro

The keyboard is almost exactly the same size as the actual keyboard on the MacBook Pro:

Apple Wireless Keyboard, MacBook Pro
Apple Wireless Keyboard, MacBook Pro

So how has it been to use it for a few days? It took some getting used to. My fingers had to relearn the spacing/layout of the new keyboard, but that happens with any keyboard. And now that I’ve gotten used to it, I’m in love. The feel is wonderful. Even though the keys are shallow, and the whole thing is very thin, the tactile response of each keypress is lovely. The old keyboard feels mushy and stiff (at the same time) and bouncy by comparison.

Do I miss the full size number pad? Not really. Once, today, I was typing a phone number or a zip code or something, and my hand went to reach for it, then realized it wasn’t there. Not a big deal. The arrow keys are in roughly the same place (and exactly the same place as on the MBP itself), and the trick of using Fn+Left, Right, Up, and Down for Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn is the same thing you have to do on the integrated keyboard, so that, too, isn’t really a big deal. I do kind of miss the dedicated forward Delete key, but again, Fn+Backspace does the trick, just like on the MBP.

Overall, I love this little keyboard. I pick it up and wave it around at people, just to marvel at how thin it is. And it just looks so darn cute sitting on my desk, being all tiny next to the huge stuff that surrounds it (the old Apple Wireless Keyboard, my 24″ monitor, my MBP, etc.).

This would be the absolute perfect home theater PC/living room computer keyboard if it had some sort of integrated pointing device or trackpad. So thin, light, and beautiful! :-) Now, if they would only update the design of the Mighty Mouse to match it’s thin, aluminum companion…

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Apple’s iPhone/iPod touch Web Application listing has launched

Looks like the rumored Apple site that lists webapps you can use on your iPhone or iPod Touch has launched:

www.apple.com/webapps

AppleWebApps.jpg

I find it amusing that the site itself, when viewed on my iPhone, is not “optimized” for iPhone viewing. That is, you have to scroll around and navigate the page just like a “full size” web page. Which works really, really well on the iPhone, so it’s not a big deal, but still, I chuckled.

As far as what apps are listed, of course the “big” ones like Facebook and Digg are included. I also discovered the iPhone versions of Fandango (for movie listings and tickets – we needed this one!) and WeatherBug.

These two are quite useful, and nicely done, and I hadn’t heard of them before. Besides that, I found the rest of the apps to be, well, boring and derivative. I guess I’m jaded. But I’m honestly disappointed that this is the best that Apple could do to harness the creativity and genius of people out there who WANT to write great apps for a great device.

You’ll also find links to Apple’s documentation on iPhone web app development linked from the page, and you can submit your own web app for consideration/inclusion in the directory. And there’s an RSS feed to subscribe and receive updates when new apps are added, though I’m getting a “page not found” error for the feed right now. Guess no web site launch is perfect.

I guess this is as close to a software development kit as we’re going to get. *sigh* Anyway, go check it out if you have an iPhone or an iPod touch, and bookmark any that you find useful! :-)

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