Technologizer posts about Apple

This Dumb Year: The 52 Lamest Moments in Tech 2011

If you like botched products, corporate mishaps, and just plain weirdness, you had a fabulous 2011.

By  |  Posted at 6:17 am on Friday, December 30, 2011

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Americans, as Winston Churchill famously pointed out, can be counted on to do the right thing–after exhausting all other possibilities. It’s the same deal with tech companies. The wonders they bring us are many, varied, and never-ending, but they’ve always been accompanied by an equally rich assortment of misadventures and wrongheaded ideas. The successes and failures feed off each other, propelling the entire industry forward in herky-jerky, unpredictable fashion.

It may just be me, but I can’t remember many years as peculiar as 2o11 turned out to be for this business. Even demonstrably gifted and sensible people like Netflix’s Reed Hastings seemed to fall victim to a fever that made them do strange, ill-advised things. I hope that 2012 is a tad less weird, but 2011 has been fascinating to cover, and never, ever boring.

In hallowed Technologizer tradition, it’s time to recap the year in dumb. Celebrities, corporate intrigue, sex, violence–they’re all here. Gird yourself, people: Things are about to get really stupid.

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There’s No Way Apple is Releasing a New iPad at Macworld. (Is There?)

By  |  Posted at 12:26 pm on Thursday, December 29, 2011

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Tony Bennett closes out the last Apple keynote at Macworld--to date--in January 2009.

The great thing about the Apple rumors published at Taiwanese component-news site DigiTimes is that you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes it has scoops that really are scoops. Other times–many times–its rumors are strictly fictional. You can neither trust it nor ignore it.

Today, DigiTimes has a story I know I like, whether or not it amounts to anything. The site says that a source tells it that Apple is going to release two new iPads in January, with super-high-res screens. But the part of the rumor that’s entertaining is that DigiTimes’ source says that Apple will announce its new tablets at Macworld/iWorld–the conference formerly known as Macworld Expo –which is being held starting on January 26th in San Francisco.

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Apple Posits Fuel-Cell Powered Laptops

By  |  Posted at 7:00 am on Friday, December 23, 2011

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Imagine futuristic laptops even thinner and lighter than the MacBook Air, capable of running for several days or even weeks without recharging–Apple certainly is, as a couple U.S. patents published yesterday reveal.

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Goodbye Textbooks, Hello iPad

By  |  Posted at 4:38 am on Friday, December 9, 2011

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A technology shift is underway. The PC’s promise to transform how learning happens in the classroom is being realized by Apple’s iPad. Students and teachers in grade school through higher education are using the iPad to augment their lessons or to replace textbooks.

The iPad is especially helpful for students with special needs. Its simplified touch interface and accessibility features help these children learn more independently; aftermarket accessories assist in making the iPad more classroom-friendly.

In March, I wrote about how my mother learned how to use her iPad for basic stuff–like checking e-mail and browsing the Web–without ever having used a PC in her life. Students at all grade levels are finding it just as easy to use.

Jennifer Kohn’s third grade class at Millstone Elementary School in Millstone, NJ, mastered the iPad with minimal training. For the most part, the students didn’t need to be taught how to use their apps, Kohn says.

Kohn uses the iPad when it’s meaningful to enrich, extend, or introduce what students are learning in the classroom. Her class has used their iPads to interact with storybooks, brainstorm ideas for creative writing, and to learn mathematics. Math Bingo, an app that teaches kids math through gaming, is one of the top selling iPad apps  for education.

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First Look Flipboard Lands on the iPhone, Winningly

By  |  Posted at 9:01 pm on Tuesday, December 6, 2011

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When social-magazine app Flipboard debuted on the iPad in July of last year, it instantly became the closest thing yet to a defining app for Apple’s new program–a beautifully-done program that was beautifully tailored to the platform’s strengths. It was hard to imagine it running on any other device.

Starting now, you don’t need to try and imagine what it might be like elsewhere: Flipboard is arriving on the iPhone. It should be available on the App Store around the time this post goes live.

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Good rant by Gizmodo’s Mat Honan on the iPhone 4S’s Siri, a rare Apple product that’s being used as a major selling point even though it’s unquestionably unfinished. Me, I like Siri even in its current state–but Apple needs to follow up with a version that feels less like a beta and more like an Apple product.

Posted by Harry at 9:49 am

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How the iPad 2 Became My Favorite Computer

By  |  Posted at 4:23 am on Monday, December 5, 2011

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My iPad 2 and ZaggFolio, in the press room at IFA in Berlin, September 2011.

Can the iPad replace a PC?

Ever since Apple announced its tablet nearly two years ago, the Internet has been awash in discussion of this question. Most of it has had a pretty theoretical feel and has gravitated towards conventional wisdom. A piece by Gotta Be Mobile’s Will Shanklin comes to the typical conclusions:

Whether you can replace your laptop with an iPad is going to depend on what your needs are. In early 2010, casual computer users could arguably replace a laptop with an iPad. Now it’s a no-brainer. When it comes to content consumption, a tablet is lighter, more portable, more comfortable, and more personal.

If part of your life involves creating professional-level content, tablets still have a long way to go before becoming your primary device. They don’t qualify now, and they won’t next year. Customers aren’t used to spending more than $10 for most tablet apps, so those consumer expectations could slow the march in this direction too.

The answer, therefore, hasn’t changed too much in a year. Tablets are moving in a “primary computing” direction, but they aren’t exactly sprinting. Maybe we’ll check back next year to see if the “tablets are for content consumption, notebooks are for content creation” cliche has changed. Right now it’s as true as ever.

I respectfully disagree with Shanklin. I think it’s possible to use an iPad as one’s primary device for professional-level content creation. Actually, scratch that. I’m positive it’s possible–because I’ve been doing it for the past three months, and I’ve been having a really good time.

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Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land has the best piece I’ve seen on why the iPhone 4S’s Siri can’t find abortion clinics–and scads of other things–and why that isn’t the result of a conspiracy.

Most often, Apple waits to release stuff until its exceptionally polished. With Siri, it unveiled something that’s a beta in the classic sense of the word: an unfinished product. I’m glad it did, but the company is catching (rather silly) flak in part because people expect Apple products to just work.

 

Posted by Harry at 9:45 pm

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What Price Office for the iPad? Who Knows!

By  |  Posted at 1:31 pm on Wednesday, November 30, 2011

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The Daily story by Matt Hickey on a possible iPad version of Microsoft Office which I mentioned yesterday is continuing to make news. And one part of the story that has folks excited is the notion that the Office apps might go for $10 apiece:

The thing is, The Daily’s story doesn’t claim to have any inside information that even hints at the $10 price point, let alone confirms it. The article is a gumbo of scuttlebutt and supposition–and downright incoherent in spots–but here are the relevant paragraphs:

In addition to an iPad-ready version, a new edition of Office is expected for OS X Lion sometime next year. The current version of the desktop package, Office 2011, officially supports iOS versions up to Snow Leopard. A Lion version, likely available via the Mac App Store, is widely expected. Windows, too, is due for an update, with Office 2012 currently in beta form.

It’s assumed that both of these would work with Office 365 as well as mobile versions, such as Windows Phone’s Office Hub. Because it would be compatible with these full suites rather than as stand-alone apps, the pricing will most likely be significantly lower than existing Office products. In fact, it’s likely the cost will be around the $10 price point that Apple has established for its Pages, Numbers and Keynote products.

If you fully understand these two paragraphs, you’re a lot smarter than I am. Putting aside the fact that it says Snow Leopard is a version of iOS rather than OS X, it makes reference to the next Mac and Windows versions of Office. Then it says “it’s assumed” (by whom?) that “both of these” will “work with” Office 365 and Windows Phone.

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Samsung Taunts Apple

By  |  Posted at 10:02 am on Wednesday, November 23, 2011

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Behold Samsung’s new commercial for the Galaxy S II:  
 
 
 
It’s a pretty clever ad–certainly more so than most that make fun of Apple, and even if its claims about 4G are questionable–and if it ticks off iPhone owners, that’s apparently OK. In an interview with Steve Kovach of the Business Insider, Samsung marketing honcho Brian Wallace says that the company isn’t actually trying to convince iPhone owners to switch to Galaxy phones. It’s addressing users of other Android handsets, and using Apple fans as a target of satire.  
Side note: All ads that mock Apple do so based on the notion that the company’s customers are style-obsessed young people. I’ve come to think of this as the Unicorn Tears theory. And I don’t think it bears much resemblance to the reality of Apple’s user base.  
 
I’ve stood in lines to buy new Apple products. I’ve waited at the Apple Store to talk to a Genius. I’ve done a lot of observing of Apple customers, and while it’s possible that the company’s customers include more style-obsessed young people than average, I don’t think such folks dominate. Mostly, the Apple customers I’ve seen look like America. They’re young, old, hip, square, smart, clueless, pretty, ugly, admirable, alarming, and–like people in general–what former New York City Mayor David Dinkins used to call a gorgeous tapestry…



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Chris Foresman of Ars Technica conducted an ambitious comparison of the iPhone 4S camera vs. an Olympus point-and-shoot and a Canon DSLR (as well as Samsung’s Galaxy S II phone). The results weren’t conclusive: Foresman says that the best camera is the one you have with you, which was always true and always will be true. But the story’s worth reading and the image samples show just how far camera phones have come.

Posted by Harry at 11:32 am

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The Lost Interview: Steve Jobs, Unfiltered

By  |  Posted at 10:05 am on Monday, November 14, 2011

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Even an Apple cynic like myself must admit that Steve Jobs drastically changed the world we live in, and mostly for the better. I’m writing this on a Windows computer, I have a Creative Zen music player, and my smartphone is powered by Android. Yet I doubt that any of these would be in existence today without innovations for which Jobs played a significant role.

He was also a charismatic leader and public figure, who held people in thrall with his product announcements and presentations.

But does that mean you would enjoy watching a 16-year-old, 70-minute, videotaped interview, visually consisting of one continuous close-up of his face?

Surprisingly, the answer is Yes. That charisma, combined with the simple fact that Jobs had some interesting things to say back in 1995, make Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview–a film playing in special theatrical engagements around the country this week–a reasonably interesting and informative film. But it could have been much better.

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If you’re not sick of thinking about the end of Flash on mobile devices already, people are still writing stuff about it that’s worth reading:

Adobe’s Mike Chambers gives several reasons for mobile Flash’s death, but the first he mentions is Apple’s rejection of it:

This one should be pretty apparent, but given the fragmentation of the mobile market, and the fact that one of the leading mobile platforms (Apple’s iOS) was not going to allow the Flash Player in the browser, the Flash Player was not on track to reach anywhere near the ubiquity of the Flash Player on desktops.

And Mobile Opportunity’s Michael Mace–thoughtful as always–says that greed did Flash in:

So here’s what Adobe did to itself:  By mismanaging the move to full mobile browsing, it demonstrated that customers were willing to live with a mobile browser that could not display Flash.  Then, by declaring its intent to take over the mobile platform world, Adobe alarmed the other platform companies, especially Apple.  This gave them both the opportunity and the incentive to crush mobile Flash.

I agree that there were a bunch of reasons why mobile Flash never amounted to anything, but I still think one of them trumps all others: It didn’t work. If it had been fabulous, even Apple might have had to reconsider the situation.

Posted by Harry at 1:38 pm

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Apple has released iOS 5.0.1, its first update to iOS 5. It fixes a few things–most notably the bug(s) that left some users finding their batteries draining at an unnaturally rapid clip. See the screen shot above for other issues it addresses.

I haven’t installed it yet, since the battery glitch didn’t seem to affect my devices (and, last time I checked, I wasn’t Australian.) But I’m intrigued by the fact that it’s the first iOS update that most folks will get that’s installable over-the-air, with no need to download it to a computer first. (Until iOS 5 came along, over-the-air updates were a nifty feature that Android users had and iOS ones didn’t.) If you’ve snagged the update–either wirelessly or with a computer as middleman–let us know how it went.

Posted by Harry at 5:47 pm

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Wait, in the United Kingdom, Siri is a guy?

Posted by Harry at 7:28 am

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Tweets and blog posts are reporting that Siri–the iPhone 4s’s coolest feature–isn’t working, at least for some folks. (When I try it right now, she’s telling me she can’t connect to the network.)

Posted by Harry at 1:01 pm

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