Finally, An Apple Phone

It’s been rumored for years. But I am just about sick of hearing about it without seeing the real thing. But I guess all the patents Apple’s been making in the past year on touch-screen technologies have finally come to fruition. Today the Apple iPhone arrived. And as a direct result of it, my Apple stock jumped 7+ points, passing $92 per share… Sweet!

After having seen most of the fake iPhones and rumored features, I didn’t think Apple could surprise me. But what was announced today greatly surpassed my expectations on the GUI and usability. But someone’s got to play the devil’s advocate about the “misses” on this particular phone:

1. Not 3G.
2. I am guessing the battery is NOT removable. Is Apple banking on consumers replacing their phones every 2 years? Though people generally do it anyway, it’s annoying.
3. Storage is not upgradable (not by the user anyway).
4. The phone feature must work in order for the whole dvice to work; the caveat is, you MUST sign up with a network or else the entire device is just another paper weight. So I can’t just buy it for the PDA-ish features! Bastards.
5. What, no iChatAV?
6. No clearly stated standby time.
7. I am assuming no 3rd party developers can install their apps on the phone’s OS without Apple’s blessing.
8. Can’t transfer music/files wirelessly. Not that I care for Zune’s features, but it’d be nice to be able to sync with iTunes wirelessly. Isn’t it about time?
9. The phone surface is going to be all scratched up in the pocket. But then I guess Apple will probably ship it with some kind of sleeve when it’s available in June.

All in all, this is a pretty kick-ass first stab at making something they’ve never made before. Hopefully this will make the other phone makers piss in their pants so badly that it will improve the overall usability of cell phones in time. But Steve Jobs is right when he said today’s phones SUCK!

ReadyBoost Envy

I am rarely envious of anything from the Windows side of the world. And when I say “rarely”, it’s more like NEVER. But in Vista, there’s actually this ONE tiny feature that I hope the next version of Mac OSX would have — ReadyBoost. It’s basically a feature that allows a user to instantly increase the performance of a Vista-driven computer by simply adding flash memory! Sweet!

More features of Leopard (OSX.5) is to be unveiled on Jan. 9th, 2007 with Steve Jobs’ keynote speech at MacWorld Expo. I look forward to seeing what Apple’s been hiding for the past five months…

Rare Appearance of Steve Jobs

I don’t know where he found it, but Murdza sent me a link to City of Cupertino’s webcast archives. And in it, there’s a short appearance of Steve Jobs announcing Apple’s decision to stay in Cupertino for its second campus it decided to build.

Steve Jobs addresses the city council of Cupertino

To view it, you can download the Real Player file here. Or you can go to the webcast archive, under “CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS”, and in the “MEETING VIDEO” drop down menu, select “April 18, 2006” to download. When your player of choice launches, there should be a menu somewhere around the main video itself. Simply click on “Oral Communications”. Steve is the first one to speak.

Murdza said Steve looks drunk. I thought the image of him scratching himself didn’t look too graceful. But at least he was true to his all-too-cliche image… he wore a black turtle-ish long sleeve shirt with jeans. I wonder if he considers that outfit his uniform… I mean, I wear similar stuff all the time, but not to the extreme of wearing the same thing day in and day out… I guess the way he thinks is the same as how school administrators in most Asian countries think: Don’t get distracted by what you have to wear everyday to school/work. Thus, if everyone wears exactly the same thing everyday, there’s one less thing to worry about which allows one to concentrate on what matters the most — work.

Steve’s Play Ground

Sometimes being stubborn can really pay off big time, especially if you have the will to drive that stubbornness through walls. Steve Jobs did just that and then some.

Murdza reminded me of an article that Vanityfair is running on Steve Jobs and the 30th anniversary of Apple Computer. It’s a pretty long read with lots of comparative analysis to modern cultural icons. I was also surprised by the in-depth disection of the author’s keen observation on the trend o the tech/gadget industry in general…

An excerpt:

One counter-intuitive aspect of Jobs’s media sensibility is that it’s had little to do with content, that great sentimental area of media concern, and everything to do with hardware—the thing that nobody in the American media business has wanted to have anything to do with for two generations. Steve is really an appliance-maker.

And a stubborn one. For most of his career, the rap has been that Jobs missed out on greatness and ubiquity ecause he insisted, unlike the folks at Microsoft, on tying his software to his machines. Perversely, it didn’t seem to matter to him, or even so much to register with him, that, as Windows claimed 97 percent of the P.C. perating-system market, software-is-everything/content-is-king became the market-making truth. His stubbornness here, his blindness, seemed like a business tragedy. Only for a bit of flexibility on Steve’s part, this could have been a Mac rather than a Windows world (ushering in an epoch of peace and happiness).

Except that one day in the near recent past everybody woke up and found out that while all the geniuses were blathering on about content this and content that, the media culture had, in fact, come to be dominated by machines. It’s Steve’s gadget-centric world which we just live in.

iPods, Razr phones, BlackBerrys, plasma screens, Xboxes, TiVos, laptops. Machines are the objects of desire. Machines are the habituating, behavior-changing things. Machines themselves are fascinating, life-enhancing, cool, sexy.

The medium is the message.

This article is so cool that I PDF’d a copy just in case the link disappears (and it almost certainly will). Many have written at length about Steve Jobs, but few offer an observation with a scope that encompasses everything this man is about (even the not-so-flattering stuff).

Old School Keynote Speeches from Steve Jobs

Murdza sent me this pretty neat link to some classic keynotes of Steve Jobs back in the days…. The one in 1997, his return to Apple, was probably one of the best ones. He pretty much laid out the road map that Apple has been doing, except at the time it all sounded like secret codes that only he and the Apple board understood.

For you diehard Steve Jobs fans, this is a great place to collect those speeches that you’ve always regretted not having a copy of (I know Murdza and I now have a copy!). For you new comers to the Mac, this was the Second Coming of Steve Jobs…

OH, and the site also has pretty much all the classic Apple commercials from the old days… Fun!

UPDATE 02.27.2006: Another site filled with Appple ads.

Steve Jobs’ Reality Distortion Field is Real

Steve Jobs’ MacWorld Expo 2006 keynote came and went. All last week I eagerly waited for this day to come. It’s not very cool that Apple has stopped web casting the keynote since 2003 (or maybe 2004?). But maybe the cost of keeping up with the bandwidth was just not worth it.

Whatever the reason. I intentionally avoided reading all those “live update” sites just so that I could watch the keynote in one piece and hear everything for myself. But instead of holding out, I started reading stuff from various Mac news sites.

So I read the headlines one by one…
Intel iMac with the same features but faster…. big deal.
iLife gets an update… blah… whatever.
iLife gets iWeb… yawn…
iWork gets an update… whatever… where’s the real news?
iPod gets Apple-made FM tuner… Um… two years too late…
Blah blah blah…

What a stupid boring keynote, I thought.

But then Apple made the keynote available for steaming. And Apple’s website was updated.

HOLY SHIT. I immediately got sucked into the reality of Steve Jobs, a whole other dimension in space and time. As the keynote progressed, he introduced products I’d already read about earlier. But for some unexplained reason, I felt excited, energized and wowed by everything he introduced (except the iPhoto and speed bench demos).

I have problem with one thing though…. MacBook Pro? What the hell is wrong with that name? MacBook? Com’on… give us something original like Apple’s been doing with one-word names on its applications. Or lose the “book” — that sounds so 2001!

Launching MacBook was a calculated move. PowerBook has been long overdue for a new life. And this delivered that for everyone who were just waiting for that new Intel PowerBook. PowerBook buyers are also known to be early adopters. They are not afraid of becoming Apple’s unofficial beta testers for the first generation of Intel Macs. They are survivors and fighters. Even if all the MacBooks burst into flame, they’ll get free replacements simply because they would be the same crowd who’s smart enough to get AppleCare!

It’s my suspicion that iBook will be replaced with a, quite simply, MacBook (no Pro). I believe this is a consolidation of Apple’s new branding strategy (just look at the iPod line of products) in an effort to tighten its image and focus in products. I wonder what the new PowerMacs will be called.

Out of all this, one thing did surprise me. Kyung, of all people, pledged his allegiance to the new MacBook Pro if there was ever a 17″ version. But claims OSX would be replaced by Linux and Windows as soon as he gets his hands on one.

In conclusion, Steve Jobs’ Reality Distortion Field is for real. But I am still a little bit disappointed with what came out of this year’s MacWorld Expo (MacTV?). I will be eagerly waiting for other announcement throughout the rest of the year for that “one more thing” announcement.

Brush with Greatness

Reading the story of a couple of programmers meeting with bigwigs at Apple Computer vividly reminded me my own brush with greatness at Apple Computer… A tale of what might have been. Although I didn’t meet with Steve Jobs myself, I was grateful to have met the head of the hardware division at Apple.

The story is a bit lengthy (more like, REALLY lengthy). But it’s a nice read for geeks who want to kill time. I personally just picked the parts I wanted to read and skipped around.

via [Gus Mueller]

Programming on OSX with Objective-C

Slashdot effect takes center stage again as geeks from all over the world discuss Apple’s Xcode and Objective-C (a variant of C; a quick and dirty how-to here).

It all started with a simple email exchange between one programmer with Steve Jobs:

From: Nitesh Dhanjani
Subject: Re: Will XCode+ObjC ever suck less?
Date: December 25, 2005 5:27:02 PM CST
To: *****@apple.com

I look forward to the improvements! Thanks,

Nitesh.

On Dec 25, 2005, at 5:10 PM, Steve Jobs wrote:

I guess we disagree. First of all, .NET with CLI and managed code runs SLOW, so most serious developers can’t use it because of performance. Second, the libraries in C# are FAR less mature and elegant than those in Cocoa. We are working on a better implementation for garbage collection than we’ve seen out there so far, but in the end its a performance hit and an unpredictable time that is not good for some kinds of apps.

Steve

On Dec 25, 2005, at 2:36 PM, Nitesh Dhanjani wrote:

Objective C is old and clunky. Its almost 2006, and I _still_ have to look out for yucky pointers? I’d love to be able to write native apps with Ruby (or even C#!.) There are open community projects in progress that are trying to bind ruby and C# (mono) with Cocoa, but I’d love for Apple to step in and make this happen faster. Today, Microsoft seems to be _way_ ahead of the development curve – with their .NET implementation, you are allowed to code using a plethora of languages (C#, Python, VB, etc), as long as the interpreter/compiler follows the IL specification – pointers don’t matter, garbage collection is done for you – ah the beautiful world of managed code.

Having said that, most native OSX apps are still beautiful and well designed. Imagine how much better we could do if the developers had a more flexible choice of languages? I can _bet_ you a lot of OSX app developers use Objective C because they have no other choice.

Nitesh.

On Dec 25, 2005, at 3:11 PM, Steve Jobs wrote:

Actually, Objective C is pretty great. Its far nicer than most other ways of writing apps. What don’t you like about it? What do you like better?

Steve

On Dec 25, 2005, at 11:59 AM, Nitesh Dhanjani wrote:

Hi Steve

Will it ever be easy to write native OSX GUI apps? Objective C sucks.

Thanks,
Nitesh.

More geeks talking about it here.

It’s been said that Steve Jobs has a team of secretaries that comb through all his emails on a daily basis. I guess he ain’t taking chances on important messages. But it’s gratifying to see Jobs himself working on Christmas day having replied to this Nitesh guy several times throughout the day. Impressive stuff. Being a geek, a perfectionist and a workaholic at the same time can pay off sometimes.