AirPlay Laying the Framework for AirPlay+?

Now this is all just a theory, not a rumor, certainly not a fact, just an idea.

That said, does any remember That little company that Apple bought out and then shutdown, which let you stream your music library to any computer using your web browser. Pretty sweet stuff.

Of course everyone thought iTunes 10 was going to bring Lala’s streaming framework into play, but that didn’t happen. Apple did announce AirPlay which lets you stream media from your iPhone/iPad to AirPlay compatible devices (such as the AppleTV), while cool, this isn’t quite what the masses had hoped for. At least the people that I know.

Enter AirPlay+. Here’s my theory, Apple wanted to get the media streaming down in a local area network type setting, where they don’t face the same bandwidth constraint / requirements as with internet streaming before they even touched it. Admittedly this isn’t much of an issue with music, but what if AirPlay+ let you stream videos as well?

Once they get things working well in that environment I expect us to see Apple roll out AirPlay+, probably as a $9.99 a month subscription based service that allows you to stream any media purchased through your iTunes account to any iOS device, or computer with iTunes installed. We’re talking movies and music videos, as well as your music library. At the same time we’ll see a refresh to the AppleTV software that will enable the same streaming functionality.

This would also be a prime opportunity to increase the value of MobileMe, by including AirPlay+ at no additional charge to MobileMe subscribers. And if we’re lucky, wireless syncing for iPhone/iPod touch/iPad will debut at or around the same time.

Removing the Vertical Buttons from iTunes 10

One of the first things I noticed about iTunes 10 was those ridiculously awful vertical buttons. Seriously, what were they thinking? And as a fellow developer pointed out, that even violates Apples own Human Interface Guidelines… Not to mention it’s a crime against humanity.

Someone much craftier than I figured out that all you need to do to restore those buttons back to their horizontial counterparts is open up a Terminal window and enter the following:

defaults write full-window -1

Press Enter, close Terminal and restart or open iTunes. You should see things are now back to normal.

How Apple spends $100 million… on a faulty product.

Here at Hijinks Inc. we tout ourselves as being ‘a technology blog focusing on reviews and tutorials,’ and I’ve yet to post anything really technology related. Sure, I cover the entertainment stuff, so that’s kind of a built in excuse, but when given the chance, I like to get in with the tech-y stuff as well.

This is making the rounds in the blogosphere today, and I found it interesting. These are some pictures of Apple’s $100 million iPhone testing facility, all for a product that gets released with flaws, you think they would’ve noticed the phone not working. Here’s the statement Apple released with these images:

Apple never releases a product without thoroughly testing it first. To do this, we built our multimillion-dollar antenna design and test labs. These labs feature 17 different antenna characterization chambers (or anechoic chambers) designed to accurately measure antenna and wireless performance.

Our anechoic chambers are connected to sophisticated equipment that simulates cellular base stations, Wi-Fi networks, Bluetooth devices — even GPS satellites. These chambers measure performance in free space, in the presence of materials simulating human tissue (“phantom” heads and hands, for example), and in use by human subjects. Over a one- to two-year development cycle, Apple engineers spend thousands of hours performing antenna and wireless testing in the lab.

Apple engineers tested iPhone 4 in a variety of scenarios, environments, and conditions in order to gauge performance. They spent thousands of hours in cities in the U.S. and throughout the world testing iPhone 4 call quality, dropped-call performance, call origination and termination, and in-service time. They tested iPhone 4 while stationary, at high and low speeds, and in urban, dense urban, and highway environments. In low-coverage areas and good-coverage areas, during peak and off-peak hours — iPhone 4 was field-tested in nearly every possible coverage scenario across different vendor and carrier equipment all over the world.

You can see the rest of the images after the jump. Continue reading How Apple spends $100 million… on a faulty product.

Things I’d Like to See From Apple

[ More Back to School Rebate Options ]

Every year Apple tries to bribe convince hoards of hipsters, wanna-be-hipsters, and just average American college students to make the switch (or upgrade) to a new Mac by throwing in an iPod touch for free (after rebate). They’re also greedy kind enough to let you upgrade to a larger capacity iPod touch and just pay the difference, but what I really hope to see this year is the option to cash that $200 rebate in on an iPad. Or hey, a rebate on the new iPhone would also be pretty sweet.

[ Universal Update Manager ]

Apple’s Software Update is ok, not great, but it at least beats Microsoft Update. However, I’d love to see Apple come out with Bodega like functionality (only better) for Software Update. Let me explain further.

Bodega allows users to browse available applications for OS X but it also tracks current versions and shows you which of your installed applications has an update available. While this is nice,  it’s not as “stupid proof” as I’d like, which is what I want Apple to step up and provide. Clicking the “Get” link (which must be done for each individual app, there’s currently no option to download all updates) in Bodega opens your web browser and downloads the DMG file for the update, but then you have to actually mount and install it.

I don’t really care if Apple provides an interface for browsing available applications for OS X (heck, they already have a downloads section on their website), what I’m looking for is an extension to Software Update that allows developers to incorporate the option of updates being available via Software Update.

For example, most applications when first launched ask if you would like to check for updates automatically on start-up. What if instead/or in addition it gave you the option of having updates appear via Apple’s Software Update? That way when OS X checks for updates weekly it will notify you of all available updates both for Apple products and the third party software you’ve opted for it to keep tabs on.

[ iPhone Apps as Widgets ]

I’ve spent a lot of money on iPhone apps and I know I’m not the only one, and now that I have an iPad I’m turning into an app snob, I don’t like using apps on my iPad that aren’t native, it’s just plain annoying. I also find myself using my iPhone less and less, so what if Apple blessed us peons with the option to run iPhone apps as widgets (both standalone or in Dashboard). Might make me feel better about all that money I spent on apps.

While it’s not a perfect concept, I admit, I think potential issues like multi-touch interaction with the apps could be easily over come with the use of those shiny multi-touch track pads all the new MacBook Pro’s have.

The Inevitable iPad Post

Let’s face it, you knew it was coming. Apple finally releases a tablet, I’m going to have to post about it.

Depending on who you ask, the iPad is either a grand gift to us mortals from Steve Jobs or complete rubbish, now I’d argue it’s neither. Step back for a second and think about it objectively.

[ The Basics ]

While nowhere near perfect, the iPad is a step in the right direction. Apple has gone about developing a tablet in the right manor at least, they’ve designed an OS with the primary focus of using touch input, too often you see a tablet running the same software as every other computer, this just doesn’t work. Trying to tap little icons and file menus is not a convenient way to use your computer.

The idea isn’t new in and of itself and Apple certainly wasn’t the first to figure this out, the problem with all the other attempts is that they were custom UI applications that ran on top of Windows, so they didn’t deliver anywhere close to a the expected functionality.

Side note: In a sense this still holds true for the iPad, since it is limited in what it can do, you’re not getting the full computer functionality. But at least this is masked by a flashy new user experience, which works.

[ The Oversights ]

Lack of multitasking is almost a death blow by itself (but it’s fixable via jailbreak or software update if Apple chooses). Think about it, would you buy a brand new shiny computer if it advertised that you could only run one program at a time?

Not one USB port. Remember that whole thing where Jobs was saying how this is the perfect device to enjoy your media with? Well, geez, sure wish I had a USB part so I could copy media that didn’t originate from iTunes. And no, I do not accept the Camera Connection Kit as a solution, I shouldn’t have to pay more money just to copy my files to the iPad without using another computer.

No Flash support. Sadly Flash is, in my mind at least, a necessary evil. At least until Hulu moves to HTML 5 + H.264 (fingers crossed).

Network streaming support. I’d really love to see iTunes support media servers (for video streaming) on the iPad, while not a make or break feature, it would be nice.

Home screen widgets. Seriously, have you seen how much wasted space there is on the “slide to unlock” screen? I’d ship a few widgets with it, upcoming calendar events, recent emails, weather, maybe RSS feed support.

[ The Brilliance ]
While I disagree with Ives statement that the iPad is magical, it does hold the potential to redefine the casual users interaction with technology. The promise of being able to roll out of bed (or not) and check your email without waiting for a computer to boot up is rather appealing. Especially when that’s all you need to do.

Portability meets versatility. Depending on your needs, the iPad presents a cheaper way of staying connected. I have clients who pay for internet access and have a desktop just to check their email and browse the web. With built-in 3G for $14.99-$29.99 a month and the added convenience of being able to take it anywhere, it might catch on.

Battery life. 10hrs of video is pretty slick, especially with a 9.7″ screen. The standby time of 1 month isn’t shabby at all. I’m considering turning one into a carputer, no boot time thanks to that 1 month standby time, hooked into a DC charger to keep things rolling while in motion. Tempting me thinks.

[ The Bottom Line ]

While not for everyone, you can’t deny that for a new product release it has its merits. And I do believe that future versions (both software and hardware) will lead to a much more useful platform.

In the interim we’ll likely have to rely on the ingenuity of jailbreakers to provide some of the missing features, good news is that Backgrounder has already been ported to the iPad (mind you just the simulated software version).

My biggest concern is how long it took Apple to push major software updates for the original iPhone, hopefully they don’t make the same mistake with the iPad. In my mind, this is of the utmost importance, since Apple currently has a solid advantage over the competition which they might lose it rather quickly if they don’t address some of the iPad’s shortcomings.

Whenever they become available I plan on picking up a couple of them, after which I’ll post an update to this post and a full review. Who knows, maybe I’ll hate it,