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Apple WWDC 2017 Kicked Off Today…

Today Apple launched their annual conference and here are a few major announcements that should excite anyone. I’m usually the first person to be unimpressed by Apple but heck the sheer volume of news is overwhelming.

WWDC 2017 Hot News

ARkit: a series of APIs for Augmented Reality on IOS. Apple demonstrated marker-less spatial awareness on stage. The APIs will have Unity support.

Revamped App Store : this is touted as the biggest revamp of the Store in 9 years.

IOS 11: this is being launched in beta for Devs who sign up for it. The OS has a slew of new and improved features including a mode to detect when you are driving for safety.

WWDC 2017 - IOS 11 feature list

New iMacs built for VR: Apple returns to the glory days of iMacs with powerhouse machines that are designed with spec to support VR. These iMacs are not the candy colored, plastic bubble desktops from the late 90’s. The design is not a lot different from last Apple desktops but it’s what’s inside that counts.

Mac OS High Sierra with Metal for VR built-in: hardware is important but the OS has to provide for the performance demands of VR.

XCode 9 announces over-your-LAN run / install / test /debug to your IOS devices wirelessly.

WWDC 2017 - Xcode wireless development

The Warptest POV

  • ARKit – does their markerless demo spell the end for AR trackers? If so, are Apple going to let it die a natural death or will they decide to restrict IOS AR apps to their APIs?
  • App Store revampbesides the App Store currently being a colossal pain for app discovery, how will these changes impact App Ranking. If there is something new to learn here, then the quickest studies will get a leg up on app rankings.
  • IOS 11 – the list of features is extensive but can I yell “finally” over driving mode and screen recording? Even though this is unquestionably a Beta release, expect the usual fear, angst and loathing as fanboi’s fight overtaxed servers, download and then cry foul at Beta meaning buggy.
  • iMacs with VR support & Metal for VR on Mac OS High SierraThis apparently needs a high-end Graphics card connected to the iMac / MacBook by cable to Thunderbolt port. Conclusion: Kludgy design for Apple but this might be the only way they could have delivered in time for WWDC.

 

In a nutshell, these are just some of the highlights. If you are a Mac or iPhone owner or developer then you should be reading up on what’s coming. I’m not going to grant Apple that they have finally innovated under Tim Cook but WWDC 2017 is going to shake things up and that’s good for Apple and good stimulus for competition.

Update: with the announcement that Apple have added screen splitting, drag and drop and “welcome to the 21st century” a File Explorer app, IOS 11 gets one step closer to Windows.

That’s fine, homage is the greatest admission that your competition got it right.

Game On.

WWDC 2016 Is Here…

I’m about as excited by WWDC 2016 as I was by their March 18th Product Launch. If Apple launches something innovative or ground breaking, it will be despite the management of Tim Cook. Not because of it.

WWDC 2016 - case in point

Everyone and their brother in the blogosphere are making predictions about what we can expect to see from Apple.

Don’t get me wrong, I want Apple to deliver radical, inspiring products. I want them to yell from the rooftops,

“Game on Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Amazon.”

What’s Your Vision, Apple?

Tim Cook has not delivered a clear vision for Apple the company. Not the way Satya Nadella has at Microsoft.

  • Are we expecting new feature laden versions or sweeping bug fixes for iOS / OS X?
  • Can we expect better development tools? Will they be subscription or not?
  • Will there be thinner or bigger devices launched or a total reimagining of MacBook?
  • Will Apple finally get their thumb out and compete for the colossal Cloud computing market against Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure?
  • Are Apple going to jump into the Bot revolution like just about everyone else and come on Apple, Augmented and Virtual Reality?
  • Most important, which apps will Apple shamelessly have copied in time for WWDC?

Apple seems to tease us with rationed tastings of their vision but no overall mission statement, why?

As Apple announces beta versions of various software, developers will go thru their annual 7 stages of coping:

  1. An Apple engineer leaves a new (unreleased) iPhone in a bar.
  2. WWDC 2016 announces the new betas: try to download and site is overloaded by requests.
  3. Downloads start working but lag is awful.
  4. Downloads of OS / Development tools / other software in beta installed to work devices and users begin reporting all the bugs.
  5. Apple reminds people these are beta versions.
  6. Remembering that this is just like last year.
  7. Guilt, anger, recrimination, despair and multiple conversations in Twitter and Facebook over how to roll back.

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The Warptest POV

Apple is THE frontrunner with consumer mobile devices. That said, Apple today is not Apple under Steve Jobs.

Meanwhile, Microsoft are planning a party for developers after WWDC and to truly rain on Apple’s parade, announced their acquisition of LinkedIn today.

Am I annoyed at Apple for not bringing their A Game? Yes. Challenge the market, push your competitors to compete and don’t fall back on the same old successes.

Forget “Game on Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Amazon.”… “Game on APPLE, bring it.”

Another Apple Product Launch … Yawn

March 18th will see Apple Product Launch 2016. The Verge and others are predicting the iPhone5se and the iPad3.

This post will be the litmus test for if you are a real Apple fan. Hold onto your iHats.

So the annual Apple Product Launch event is on 18/03, so what? I can count on one hand innovations made over the last five years. The ugly battery case that slipped through when they (probably) locked Jony Ive in the store closet doesn’t count. Yes, the Apple watch is a thing of beauty, but where are the glory days of Apple innovation?

Apple Product Launch - ugly battery case

Apple = Gillette = Apple

So Apple will continue on their slippery slope of Gillette Mach X marketing, more blades or in this case bigger / smaller, thicker. There will no doubt be the usual integrations into the next version of iOS paying homage to various killer apps out there (cue cries of the death of said apps across various tech blogs) but you know what, I don’t care.

I’m totally, utterly unexcited. I have no high hopes from Apple. This is the point at which the Apple fans (note: lack of the term “fanboi”. I think it’s a bit derisive of the consumer who has a personal preference.) are getting really annoyed at this post.

To all of you feeling that way, hop in a time machine. I’m sure there were similar cautionary posts to Nokia and Blackberry on forums or early blogs. Of the Apple users I know about 50% dislike 3D touch on the iPhone, Developers are driven to tooth-gnashing rages at every Xcode update that breaks their deployment environments and then we have reports of software quality and security issues. Meanwhile Tim Cook spends more time trolling and trashing the competition than innovating.

Don’t get me wrong, other than that awful battery-case, Apple design remains a delight for the most. The Mac Book Air on my desk cons me every time I use it into subconsciously thinking it has a touch screen.

At Mobile World Congress today 3 companies are dazzling others, showing that features or design can be innovative:

CAT released their latest S60 Android field-rugged, waterproof phone with FLIR thermal imaging. No fad feature, this and the phone itself will be invaluable for builders, contractor and other professionals. Not just wannabe spies.

Apple Product Launch - CAT S60

LG launched their new G5 Android smartphone. The LG site shows a variety of LG branded modular add-ons ranging from custom, wireless earphones, camera grip, 360-degree camera and more. In addition, the phone (as seen below, image clipped from the LG site) has a unique battery changing method. Seeing clips of the battery being changed at MWC reminded me of something. Let me know what you see.

Apple Product Launch - LG G5

That’s right, this is day one at MWC, three weeks before the Apple Product Launch. What else are we going to see?

Meanwhile HP has caused half the professional tech blogs to ooh and ahh at their Elite x3 super-powered Windows Phone with their spin on Continuum support. Meanwhile the other half of the tech blogosphere is having meltdowns about how dare HP defy their reports that Windows Phone is dead, no less innovating.

The Warptest POV

I’m going to disappoint you. I want an innovative Apple. I want Tim Cook to get up at the Apple Product Launch and blow my socks off with new features and designs. Concepts that will push the competition to rethink their own ideas and raise the bar.

Stagnation does not benefit the consumer. Poor software quality and Developer tools undermine the industry.

For those of you who wonder, I work with iPhones, assorted Android phones and possess an HTC 8x, Lumia 820 and 950XL Windows Phone. I have a Lenovo Yoga and Mac Book Air on my desk. I use Ubuntu at least several times a day. I’m about as exposed to cross-platform / device / OS as it gets and I hope that Apple really does something different.

Perhaps we will get radical battery redesign, beautiful looking but drop-proof, waterproof phones. The real thing that puzzles me is the limited exploration by Apple of the cloud. As Amazon, Microsoft, Rackspace and others boldly build for the cloud, what are Apple doing? iCloud is consumer storage and productivity apps. Where is the innovation to cloud development akin to Microsoft or have they ceded this race to Azure?

So is this the canary in the coal-mine, the warning sign, the tolling bell for Apple or should we prepare to be wowed? What do you think the Apple Product Launch has in store for us?


Blood on the water in the App Store?

The dust from Apple WWDC is only starting to settle and many a startup who had an App in the App Store is discovering that the announcements yesterday may have made their contribution to the App Store redundant. One example of this that everyone in my twitter feed cited is the marvelous whose social GPS and mapping app may be feeling the heat from Apple implementing their own maps but I’m not so sure.

My question though is why are people acting so surprised?

Quotes…

Let’s refresh our memory how they feel at Apple:

“We’ve been there before, and intermediate layers between the platform and the developer ultimately produces sub-standard apps and hinders the progress of the platform.” this was a quote from Steve Jobs in a Download Squad article explaining why they were slapping down Adobe.

App Store - steve-jobs-3g-iphone

“They are lazy. They have all this potential to do interesting things but they just refuse to do it. They don’t do anything with the approaches that Apple is taking, like Carbon. Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it is because of Flash. No one will be using Flash. The world is moving to HTML5,” also credited to Steve Jobs.

Hindsight is always 20-20…

It’s easy to look back and slap your forehead as you see your app “emulated” by new features in iOS6 and wonder why you exclusively developed for the App Store.

If you have to roll the dice and have limited resources for development then of course you are going to gamble on the biggest market share and most popular platform.

Still you have to ask, “What does Apple view as the point of the App Store? Is it what it seems or is it a proving ground to discover and emulate 3rd Party Apps for incorporation as new features into the next iOS?”

The Warptest perspective…

I don’t believe that Apple ever intended to use the App Store in this manner but the analytics that come from consumer habits and purchases are a siren call to market researchers that simply cannot be ignored.

  • In reality no unicorns were slaughtered or dreams were shattered yesterday.
  • There was a huge wakeup call to App Startups that the competition got tougher from yesterday.
  • If you are a Startup or App developer intent on success you had better release a new groundbreaking App shortly after WWDC to gain the maximum ground in your niche.

The knock-on effect is that long term Apple has just given a huge boost to Windows Phone and to an extent Android as well.

app store - smartphones101

Apple are not the only game in town and the Windows Marketplace is virgin territory, until now mostly ignored by many of the same Startups and App Developers who are feeling the pain right now.

App store - The Undiscovered Country

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

(Image courtesy of IMDB’s prodigious movie database)

So if you are reading this and you have ignored Windows Phone development then let me say you continue to do so at your own peril. The Windows Phone SDK download link is .. it’s a brave new world for those willing to seize it, are you?

An Apple Engineer Walks into a bar..

Yesterday I was sitting in front of Tweetdeck reading the feeding frenzy that inevitably develops prior to an Apple iProduct release when it occurred to me that something was missing from it all:

Jokes aside the anticipation for the new product release and rampant speculation were as strong as ever.

The morning after..

It’s the day after the release of the new iPad and people are strongly divided between excited and displeased.

What the experts think..

I just read Hillel Fuld’s take on it  – if you read two blogs on Tech, his should probably be one.. after mine of course.

Apple - appboy blog post

I like what Hillel had to say and agree with a lot of it but would Joe Consumer feel the same way?

Perhaps the Naysayers and the Disappointed are thus  because the bar for expectation has been raised so high with iPhone4S (Siri)? Or could it be that MWC was taken by storm by a revitalized Nokia (41 megapixel camera-phones, gorgeous Windows Phones etc)?

The Warptest POV

This may be a device with a stunning display, longer battery life and uber-speed but hardware spec has to be experienced to be believed, especially at that price point. Whereas a phone that converses with the user like a virtual girlfriend, well you had even me at “converses..”:

Apple - converses

At the end of the day we need to take a critical look at just what Apple is offering us and ask:

  1. Is it worth the price to buy this?
  2. Am I getting full value bang for my buck?
  3. Is this going to be disruptive innovation or just an upgrade of what I have?
Only you can answer these for yourself, but you should probably be sharing your opinion either way with Apple.
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Adobe was the recipient of a harsh series of criticisms this week from Steve Jobs regarding Flash technology.

Jobs was reported as saying,

“They are lazy. They have all this potential to do interesting things but they just refuse to do it. They don’t do anything with the approaches that Apple is taking, like Carbon. Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it is because of Flash. No one will be using Flash. The world is moving to HTML5,”

Let’s be honest here, HTML 5 whilst a competitor for Flash is new. Testing and real world usage will show it to be buggy too. Are we going to hear an attack on HTML 5 for not delivering in a few months.. perhaps.

I don’t think it has anything to do with Flash being buggy or the so-called primary cause of Mac crashes. I think it has to do with another flagship product of Apple’s: QUICKTIME.

  • Flash is more or less ubiquitous on the web.
  • Flash is going to be the definitive format for all major Smart Phone video except iPhones.
  • Flash is and has been an immensely versatile platform which in turn has led to Air and Flex.
  • Flash is simple to install as a browser plugin.

Now admittedly Flash works way better in Windows than apparently in Apple OS land or apparently in Linux. Just this week my sister asked for some tech support for Flash on Ubuntu.. lucky me.

Having tested Flash on PC and MAC several years ago and up to today I am aware of some bugs but it just didn’t sound right. So I asked myself, what did I see as the reason?

I was visiting Apple’s Movie trailer site and looking at which moview I wanted to see but was going to miss at the Cinema (I have an impending arrival Birth v2.0) and I was admiring the GUI and function of Quicktime on the Web:

despicable_me  quicktime_movie_trailer

The higher screen capture shows the neat  menu selection options in Quicktime in Windows and IE8. The second screen shows the sleek gloss back controls and plugin details from right-click.

The same trailer in Flash from our good friends at YouTube:

flash_movie_trailer

Now I need to see these in Mobile Land but I suspect that the real fight is to turn Quicktime into a real competitor for Flash.

My personal experience with Adobe generally and Flash specifically as a QA / Tester who found any bug(s) related to our usage of their plugin was that I reported the bug and scenarios to reproduce and I got a response, a rapid response expressing interest in what I had found.

I don’t really mind what Steve Jobs reasons are for his comments. He is Steve Jobs and well I am me. I think in his position he is entitled to criticize his competitors any way he sees fit.

Keep in mind though, the important word here is competitor. So hopefully competition here will benefit all of us the end user with more stable, versatile cutting edge technology particularly in mobile land.

flashplayer_100x100 compete QT

This is about 90% off topic unless you count that I watched this on QuickTime from their trailers website:

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – This is the title for the new movie expected out on May 22nd this year.

For those of you like me who are young/old enough to remember going to see Raiders of The Lost Ark as kids this is a real treat to see another sequel of a fun, exciting adventure flick.

Whilst I don’t normally write off-topic here having seen the trailer which is about 50% mash-up of clips from previous movies and just enough new scenes to tempt us I can only say this … I can’t wait to see this movie.

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