By Shadoe Huard

June 15th 2011

Growing Schisms   

With iChat

When the iPhone was introduced back in 2007, many believed that it made sense for Apple to include a mobile version of iChat, it’s proprietary chat and video calling application, in iOS. Such a version of iChat failed to ever materialize. In fact, nothing like iChat appeared in any form until 2010, when Apple opted instead to introduce FaceTime for video calls and in 2011 with iOS 5,  where iMessage arrived for text based communication duties.

While there isn’t any outstanding reason to question why Apple choose to create two new apps on iOS to fill in for iChat, there are some questions to be asked now that we’re seeing those appsinfringe on iChat’s space on the Mac. Despite being able to already do both video calls and messaging, Apple has left iChat in solitude on its own island, making FaceTime it’s own unique application. One might assume that if there were to be a Mac iMessage app, it would also be a standalone icon in your dock. Porting the same apps from iOS over to Mac OS makes sense from a usability standpoint. Having the same applications across both platforms makes it easy for users to orient themselves.

So why chose to port FaceTime over to the Mac rather than iChat to iOS?

One could argue that the early iPhone hardware lacked the front facing camera that would make video calls possible, handicapping much of iChat’s core functionality and appeal. While the release of the iPhone 4 solved that particular issue, it was FaceTime that got to take advantage of the new optics, not iChat. It’s likely that the advantage for Apple is how FaceTime and iMessage can be touted as new and unique features of iOS, equally useful for both promotional and strategic advantages. The term FaceTime is easy to understand and far more marketable. It’s a better bulletpoing in a feature list.

Now FaceTime is on the Mac as well and while Lion is still a month away from release, Apple has made no sign of dropping iChat or having it replaced. It’s continued existence reveals what seems to be a growing schism between different Mac users. On the one hand, it’s highly probably that longtime Mac users are still making frequent use of iChat, having grown with it over many years. Meanwhile, people considering a Mac for the first time because of their experience with an iOS devices are ignorant of iChat’s existence, looking instead on their docks for similarities between their new Macbook and their iPod Touch.

“Hey…FaceTime is on there too…”

Going forward, it’s obvious that FaceTime and iMessage will become far more popular platforms - if they aren’t already - than iChat ever will be. Yet, something has to give. It’s going to look increasingly bizzare to support two or more apps that are essentially the same. Will we see iChat be rebranded as something new?  Or will it simply fade to irrelevance and be completely replaced, as the trend seems to indicate.

With Thunderbolt

A few weeks ago, I outlined some scenarios for the future of Thunderbolt. My guess was that Apple would most likely introduce a Thunderbolt enabled iPhone before an iPhone that could sync wirelessly. My argument being that wireless connectivity, for a number of reasons, wasn’t an adequate replacement for tethered syncing yet. My own logic implied that the best way to push the adoption of Thunderbolt would be to require it on one of the world’s most recognizable and popular products, strongly encouraging consumers towards a new Mac.

Obviously, Apple doesn’t care so much for my logic.

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with choosing to go wireless now rather than later. If anything, it’s the best choice, I just wasn’t convinced it was feasable. One is left to wonder though exactly what part Apple thinks Thunderbolt is supposed to play in the future. From the Apple page on Thunderbolt:

Intel co-invented USB and PCI Express, which have become widely adopted technologies for data transfer. Apple invented FireWire and was instrumental in popularizing USB. Their collective experience has made Thunderbolt the most powerful, most flexible I/O technology ever in a personal computer.

The language is arranged together in such a way here as to emphazise how their partnership should result in nothing less than a revolution, and rightfully so. Thunderbolt’s abilities are such that it should really be the only port left on your Mac computer sometime in the future, capable of handling anything thrown it’s way. Unfortunately, there’s little reason to convince consumers to take the plunge. Here, the schism grows between wired and wireless connections. While Apple could still release the next iPhone with a Thunderbolt cable in the box, its’ lack of neccessity negates any incentive to adopt it. If iCloud works as proposed, it’ll be an even larger sign that wireless connections are primed to overtake physical inputs. No matter how good it is, an even better wireless option forebodes Thunderbolt’s fate as the next Firewire rather than the next USB: a niche feature for power users.

While it’s a tough pill to swallow for its’ partisans, it’s music to the hears of its’ detractors. Say what you will for the potential of Thunderbolt but there isn’t much to say about what you can do with it today. No Thunderbolt supported hardware is available on a store shelf. No PC OEM outside Apple is selling a computer with the technology.

The exact opposite is true for USB 3.0. It goes without saying that rollout of a new input device takes time, but Thunderbolt is racing against the cost advantages and interoperability that USB 3.0 offers. Thunderbolt might be faster than USB 3.0, but it’s a case of “Win More” rather than a true advantage. USB 3.0 will probably be more than most ever need for the foreseeable future. Apple and Intel’s trump over USB was it’s stable of iOS devices, providing millions of consumers an instant reason to switch. Without that ace, nothing currently stands in the way of USB 3.0 adoption getting an enormous and possibly insurmountable head start.

Thunderbolt might not be out of the game yet but now neither is the possibility of seeing USB 3.0 on a Mac.

Posted at 12:24am and tagged with: tech, apple, readlater, one column, iChat, Facetime, iMessage, Thunderbolt, messaging,.

June 12th 2011

Windows 8 is Fundamentally Stuck in the Past   

There is no basis for comparison of the two tablet strategies and neither approach is necessarily wrong yet because we are talking about a new category of computing that is currently a fad and will evolve into a mainstream category over time – and that will be shaped soley by consumer demand, not by what companies like Apple and Microsoft want us to think.

The above passage is from Aaron Holesgrove, in a post attempting to discredit John Gruber’s reasons why Windows 8 is fundamentally flawed as an iPad comptetitor. Whether you agree with Holesgrove’s petty semantic arguments or not (I don’t), he is right that both Microsoft and Apple are taking different approcahes to their mobile computing platforms. It’s unfortunate that he doesn’t realize that’s the flaw.

Gruber’s argument isn’t that Microsoft has a problem because it choose not to “copy” iOS; there isn’t anything wrong with having a different idea of the future of computing. The problem is that Microsoft sees the future of computing looking exactly as it does today and as it has for the last two decades. The Windows 8 demo showed just how attached Microsoft is to the Windows Operating platform going forward. Holesgrove thinks the iPad is merely a toy, but that’s because he -presumably- doesn’t enjoy Apple’s view of how computing ought to look like in the future. Holesgrove, both mistakenly and short-sightedly, believes that Windows 8 tablets aren’t trying to compete with the iPad, but rather against iPad and Mac computers together because he believes iOS devices are only complimentary to the Mac platform, while Microsoft is trying to create tablets that are “full screen computers”.  For Apple however, iOS is the future.  We’re already seeing that belief creep into Mac OS with Lion. Whenever Windows 8 actually ships, iOS and Mac OS will be well on their way to being indistinguishable from each other. Whether that’s the right approach or not is irrelevant. The point is that the folks at Cupertino believe a paradigm shift in computing is possible.

Conversely, Microsoft is unable to perceive the possibility of something, anything, beyond the status quo of computing today. That’s the fundamental flaw. 

For better or for worse, Microsoft leadership thinks Windows, as it is, will still be the best, most approchable computing operating system five, ten years down the road. Wherever big picture decisions are made in Redmond, it’s agreed that Windows Phone OS and the Metro UI are second class citizens to Windows. Merely compliments.

Too bad consumer demand has shown it’s time for a change.

Posted at 8:20pm and tagged with: tech, windows, 8, apple, ios, ipad, win8, readlater, one column,.

Couldn’t fit it into this week’s ATN, but this is probably the best quote I’ve heard in a while. Sums up the situation perfectly if you ask me.

Posted at 7:35pm and tagged with: tech, quote, lessien, diogenex, apple, iOS 5,.

The toddler stage for iOS is over.

June 10th 2011

A Random Collection of OSX Tips & Tricks

These types of articles are a dime a dozen, but Robert Lo Bue shares a few tips I hadn’t even heard of before, so it’s worth a look.

No. 6 is just gold.  Wish I’d known about that a long time ago.

Posted at 7:30pm and tagged with: tech, apple, mac, osx, tips, tricks,.

All Together Now, June 10th 2011

   1. John Gruber

   2. Craig Grannell

   3. Horace Dediu

   4. Ethan Kaplan

   5. Marco Arment

   6. Stephen Hackett

All Together Now is a collection of quotes picked from the web this week and curated together into a particular perspective of my own.

Posted at 2:30pm and tagged with: tech, apple, WWDC, music, quotes, readlater, together, iOS,.

Make no little plans. 1 Innovate, borrow, rework, recreate, redesign, until you have something that’s better than you could have imagined. 2 [Allow] consumption to conform more closely to people’s lives. 3 Address a problem they never knew they had. 4 Shit. 5 Excuse me, my iPhone is buzzing. 6

June 9th 2011

The Creation of Joy

Great post by Ethan Kaplan on the struggles and challenges of the music industry. 

If ever Apple published a  “guidelines to success” manual, creating a joyful experience would probably be at the top of the list.  Microsoft and Google could use such a manual.


Article found through MG Siegler

Posted at 1:57am and tagged with: tech, music, apple, joy, fun, success, industry,.

June 6th 2011

On Notice.    


  • popular iOS app developer and twitter clients.
  • Google
  • Blackberry
  • Facebook
  • Dropbox
  • Amazon
  • Media conglomerates

We just announced our new OS for all our iOS devices. We think there’s something for everyone in iOS 5. Hope you like it.



P.S. : Godspeed.

Posted at 2:21pm and tagged with: tech, apple, wwdc, mac, iOs, one column,.

June 6th 2011

10 Quick Guesses on iCloud, iOS 5 and Lion    

I was going to make a full list of predictions for WWDC tomorrow but there are so many articles on the subject that there is no point trying to subjugate you with detailed predictions of my own. Instead, I’ll make 10 guesses in no particular order and tomorrow afternoon we can all have fun picking me apart on how wrong I was. 1 Without further delay:

1. iCloud includes a tiered payment plan. Free for a small amount of storage, say 2GB. Pay for more.

2. iCloud will sync versions and autosaved files on Lion. Dropbox probably dead for most people.

3. Media streaming in some fashion. Only over Wi-Fi. See here.

4. Users will now be able to perform initial and future syncs of apps and data on iOS devices over Wi-Fi.

5. Speaking of iOS, there will be a developer API for syncing data, games saves etc…Not necessarily linked to iCloud.

6. MobileMe rebranded to focus on email, calendar and contacts only. Gets cheaper.

7. iTunes purchases moving forward are either stored in your iCloud for streaming (over Wi-Fi) or downloaded as usual with the device restrictions currently in place.

8. Revamped notifications on iOS 5 and app integration. Twitter, I’m looking at you.

9. Lion and iCloud ship within a month. iOS 5 in time for arrival of new hardware. Lion GM beta highly likely available tomorrow.

10. Cold water on Time Machine conspiracy theories. Refresh probably only to include some sort of simil-iOS and ARM chip powering the device. More likely to see it include AirPlay media streaming than iCloud server functionality. 2


1. Or I can gloat about how right i was. Whichever.

2. It would be really surprising to me that you could use a Time Machine as your own server. It would imply that users be able to specify where iCloud should sync data to and from. At that point, Apple might as well just let you use your own external disk or your home computer to do the same thing. Besides, picking where to sync your data would add a layer of complexity for the average user that I’m convinced Apple is trying to avoid in the first place. What happens if you’ve already paid for a year of service and decide to get a Time Machine afterwards? Or what if you start with a Time Machine and then switch only to the online service? What if you have more data on the TM that you can get with an online account? How would the two sync together? That’s just more layers of complexity.

Posted at 12:42am and tagged with: readlater, one column, apple, WWDC, tech, iCloud, lion, iOS, 5, rumors,.

June 3rd 2011

TUAW Gets a Redesign

Seems inspired by this.

Or maybe this.

Or this.

I guess this is their “laser like” way of trying to prove to Apple they’re legit enough to get press passes now.

Posted at 12:02am and tagged with: tech, tuaw, one column, apple, blog,.

June 2nd 2011

Why Windows 8 Is Fundamentally Flawed as a Response to the iPad

John Gruber:

But I think it’s a fundamentally flawed idea for Microsoft to build their next-generation OS and interface on top of the existing Windows. The idea is that you get the new stuff right alongside Windows as we know it. Microsoft is obviously trying to learn from Apple, but they clearly don’t understand why the iPad runs iOS, and not Mac OS X.

Watching the D9 liveblog, I got the same sense of despair and bewilderment one feels seeing the prettiest girl in school date the school’s biggest jerk. Expanding the Windows Phone UI over to tablets and the desktop proper is a brilliant idea. The Metro UI is clearly something Microsoft can build a future with but unfortunately, the decided to layer it on top of the ancient carcass that is Windows 7.

So frustrating.

Posted at 12:30am and tagged with: tech, onecolumn, microsoft, windows 8, apple, ipad, tablet,.