My daily readings 01/29/2010

  • tags: iPad

    • But, while some people may be disappointed that it’s ‘basically a big iPhone’, I don’t think they realize the potential for a whole new breed of  multitouch applications, and a slew of new usage scenarios. The simple addition of a larger screen (and a faster processor) allows for much deeper applications that just weren’t possible on the iPhone.
    • I believe that the biggest app areas for the iPad will be news reading and games (two areas already huge on the iPhone). Creative applications also stand to gain a great deal on the iPad. The launch presentation featured the Brushes app – Apple chose this app out of hundreds of thousands of apps because it’s easy to see how much better it is with a larger screen. There’s less need to zoom in / out and you can work on a larger canvas. Hopefully with a few additional brushes this app could be a very serious tool for artists. Having direct hands on contact with the screen makes digital painting so much more attractive than trying to paint with a mouse, or even a stylus.
    • Location-based services will be pretty useless since I doubt most people will go for the 3G option. There’s no camera either, so photo taking, video conferencing and augumented reality are out.
    • In terms of new features offered by the SDK, I can’t really go into detail since it’s covered by a NDA. However, I will say that Apple has addressed one major gripe of creative app developers, which is that there is no built in way to exchange files with your desktop computer. This shortcoming should now be solved (and it’s used by Apple’s own iWorks apps).  The rest of the new additions mostly focus on new GUI elements which take advantage of the extra screen space.
  • tags: iPad

    • If we leave aside the downsides, we are left with two major things here:

      – Simplified computer that the majority can handle fully on their own without someone’s help. They can choose what apps they want, get rid of ones they don’t want, etc. It does take the stress & overhead away from installing stuff on your machine. That means people will install stuff.

      – Assumed location awareness, connectivity, camera (eventually), mic, headphones, accelerometer, ambient light sensor along with the UI is a genuinely new paradigm

      Those two things together have the potential to be a very big deal.

    • I commented on a previous post that I wouldn’t read another iPad article, because all the ones I had read were tripe that bludgeoned the device for ideological reasons, or praised it because it’s shiny.

      However, I respect Joe Hewitt’s iPhone work and other writings, so I checked out his article, and I finally got some real insight. This is certainly the best iPad article I’ve read so far. The idea that we need to re-imagine all of our current software with the capabilities of a large, responsive touchscreen is a good take on the release.

      The only thing that worries me is the risk… what’s the chance people don’t buy these things? Apple has had a flop or two in its past, and even though I develop iPhone apps, I’m a bit leery of developing iPad apps.

    • I can’t claim to be an Android expert but coding Java in Eclipse is a big pain in the butt. Some people love Eclipse. I am not one of those people.

      With respect to iPhone/iPad development, Cocoa is the most beautiful and consistent framework I have worked with. It’s the best implementation of MVC I’ve worked with. Objective-C is a little crufty but message passing languages are so much more elegant than method calling languages like C++/C#/Java.

      With respect to Android based tablets, Google has done a huge disservice and fragmented the market by pushing Chrome OS for tablets.

  • I a software engineer from Santa Cruz, CA. Some of my work includes Facebook for iPhone, Firebug, iUI, and early Firefox.

    tags: iPad

    • Most of the iPad reactions I’ve read have been negative, but I have been completely satisfied with what Apple announced. iPad is exactly the product I’ve been wishing for ever since I wrapped my mind around the iPhone and its constraints.
    • I spent a year and a half attempting to reduce a massive, complex social networking website into a handheld, touch-screen form factor. My goal was initially just to make a mobile companion for the mothership, but once I got comfortable with the platform I became convinced it was possible to create a version of Facebook that was actually better than the website! Of all the platforms I’ve developed on in my career, from the desktop to the web, iPhone OS gave me the greatest sense of empowerment, and had the highest ceiling for raising the art of UI design. Except there was one thing keeping me from reaching that ceiling: the screen was too small.
    • Beyond just Facebook, most of the apps I used most on my iPhone also suffered from these limitations, like Google Reader, Instapaper, and all image, video, and text editing tools. The bottom line is, many apps which were cute toys on iPhone can become full-featured power tools on the iPad, making you forget about their desktop/laptop predecessors. We just have to invent them.
    • iPad is an incredible opportunity for developers to re-imagine every single category of desktop and web software there is. Seriously, if you’re a developer and you’re not thinking about how your app could work better on the iPad and its descendants, you deserve to get left behind.
    • Given my concerns about the way Apple runs the App Store, you might expect me to jump on the bandwagon screaming about how Apple is evil and iPad is the death of open computing. Nonsense. My only problem with Apple is the fact that they insist on pre-approving every app on the App Store. The store may not be open, but the iPhone/iPad platform itself could hardly be more open to tinkerers of all ages.
    • It makes native apps more like web apps, which are similarly sandboxed, and therefore much more secure. On Macs and PCs, you have to re-install the OS every couple years or so just to undo the damage done by apps, but iPhone OS is completely immune to this.
    • So, in the end, what it comes down to is that iPad offers new metaphors that will let users engage with their computers with dramatically less friction. That gives me, as a developer, a sense of power and potency and creativity like no other. It makes the software market feel wide open again, like no one’s hegemony is safe. How anyone can feel underwhelmed by that is beyond me.
  • tags: iPad

  • tags: iPad, product, strategy

    • In the MMO genre, this divide is called “themepark vs sandbox”. A game like World of Warcraft is a themepark – you’re given a lot of direction in terms of where you’re supposed to go and what you’re supposed to do. EVE Online is a sandbox – you do whatever you want and you get fewer roadsigns that say “go this way” or “beating this means you win”.

      Current computers are sandboxes – you can do with them whatever you want, run arbitrary code, create your own workflow, and operate without rules. The iPad is a themepark – it has specific programs that do specific things, and then it’s got little roped off paths between them. For many users (the proverbial Mom), a well-developed theme park is more attractive, because all they really wanted to do anyhow is ride the roller-coaster or the Ferris wheel. People like the average Hacker News reader (or even the average reddit or digg reader) can’t stand the roped off paths, but for Mom, those laid out sidewalks are a relief.

  • tags: iPad

    • In today’s (western) world, not having any computer at home makes life difficult. My mom needs some way to check airline ticket prices, to find out the weather, to go on Facebook, to buy movie tickets, to check her email, to call me on Skype, and a thousand other little uses that aren’t very taxing or challenging for either her or whatever device she’s using.

      She doesn’t really need a computer in the same sense that I do, though. As a programmer, I need a machine that is powerful, that I can mess with under the hood, that I can do everything with. My mom needs a reasonably priced machine that Simply Works and does all those simple things that she wants to do when she’s at home.

    • Apple has grandiosely claimed that the iPad is creating an entirely new product category, and I think they’re right.
    • A better comparison is with the Nintendo Wii. While Sony and Microsoft competed in the cut-throat market of consoles for gamers, the Wii also created a new product category: consoles for everyone else. It worked pretty well for them – it turns out that there’s a lot more non-gamers than gamers, and making a device that appeals to 95% of the population sells better than making one that appeals to only 5%.

      And that’s exactly what Apple is doing: making a slick “uncomputer” that’s tailored to those people who don’t actually need a computer. Many gamers ended up buying Wiis too, and I’m sure many geeks will buy iPads, but the real money-maker will be those who don’t even have a Mac, and probably won’t ever have one because it’s too expensive and they don’t need it.

    • The only question, in my my mind, is, what will these people do when their cheap old Dell finally clonks out? Right now, to use an iPad and iPhone effectively, it seems you still need some kind of base station. So when the old Dell gives up the ghost, will people buy another one? Pony up for an expensive Mac? Or simply decide that the iPad is good enough and they don’t want another laptop?
  • tags: iphone, stanford, course

    • This week, Stanford has started rolling out a new App Development course (get it in video on iTunes), one adapted to the new iPhone operating system that Apple released last summer. Two lectures have been released so far. More will get rolled out on a weekly basis. Please note, these courses also appear in our collection of Computer Science Courses, a subset of our larger collection of Free Courses from leading universities.
  • tags: ipad

    • Another carryover from the iPhone ecosystem — and not a favorable one, in my humble opinion — is the requirement of syncing your iPad with another computer as the primary content management system for the device. Assuming it works the same way as your iPod or iPhone do now, you’ll only be able to associate your iPad with a single other device — and that’s a dealbreaker for a growing number of households that have media strewn across several computers, hard drives, network attached storage units, and beyond.

      You’ll be downloading content from the web and through the iTunes content store directly from the device, of course, but what about that set of files just brought home from work, or that collection of videos I want to dredge out from an old backup drive. In order to get them over to the iPad I’d have to first dump them into iTunes, then perform a sync operation — instead of being able to simply drag and drop them over Wi-Fi or simply hook them in via USB Mass Storage (a great standard that’s been around forever!). There are third-party iPhone apps that allow file transfer via Wi-Fi, but how many steps are we needlessly adding to a process that was uncomplicated by USB Mass Storage years ago?

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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