March 29th, 2012
It is perplexing, to say the least, to observe the simultaneous rise and fall of “apps”. Their rate of disappearance from the desktop is eclipsed only by their rate of appearance on the mobile platforms. Currently, both the iPhone and the Apple “markets” list more than 500,000 apps. My sixth sense tells me more may be on the way.
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October 6th, 2011
“We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.” — Steve Jobs
This is a part of 3 favorite quotes by Steve Jobs. This line is the epitome of all successful product development. Best products are the ones that we create that we wanted to use. Whether it is the user interface, the back end, the wires, what have you – it should really be the best, even if no one will ever see it. This strategy is very different the strategy of General Motors, which tried to save money by building auto parts that were outliving the car itself to lower specifications. Well, their stock results are a bit different too.
August 27th, 2011
When you’re young, you look at television and think, There’s a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that’s not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That’s a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It’s the truth.
Steve Jobs, in Wired, 1996. Reading this quote alone is more fun than reading the entire interview.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
Steve Jobs @ Stanford, June 2005.
We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.
When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.
Steve Jobs, circa 1985, talking about importance of design
May 31st, 2011
Ok, so my new iPad2 froze today, and I had to do a hard reset. But oh well, things like that happen, so no worries.
But this, I do worry about – I can almost never figure out whether my iPad is really connected to the Internet or not. Over the weekend, I had a chance to spend some time at the beach. The beach had no wifi, but the hotel did. Only, that the iPad wouldn’t really catch it. It would say it did, but not really.
Here, iPad says it is connected to the hotel wifi..
But it is not really connected, nay!
I tried to disconnect wifi, reconnect, sleep on, sleep off, bla bla, about 3 times, and then gave up. Perhaps for the best.
May 20th, 2011
[This is an iPad vs Netbook review, not an iPad vs Xoom review, since I don't have a Xoom yet. I do have an iPad2 and a Dell netbook.]
Let me begin by stating the obvious. iPad has 3 significant advantages over a netbook:
- Better form factor: iPad has a better form factor compared to the netbook. It is smaller, you don’t really need to “open” it. It is very convenient to work on in the plane, and is lighter than most netbooks.
- Boots up quickly: iPad boots up instantly. (Someone will correct me that that is an iOS vs Windows 7 distinction, and I will correct them to say that I don’t care.)
- Battery: iPad’s batter lasts about 8 hours, compared to Netbook’s 4 hours. When I am teaching, my lectures are about 3 hours long. With netbook, this works OK, but if I work an hour or two before the lecture on the netbook, it cuts close. With iPad, if it is fully charged before the class, I can work on it for 2 hours before, run my lecture, and still have enough to work on the metro back (or the flight back, if needed).
Now, there are a few things in which iPad is worse than a netbook. Before I describe them, first, a word of caution. All of these things have been written after directly working on iPad. Even this blog post has been written from iPad, so I can take in the full experience. So, this has all of my experiences, not things I heard. Secondly, for most of these things, there must be work arounds, some settings, some apps. I am interested in knowing about them. But I am comparing an out of the box netbook versus out of box iPad. The only things I added to the netbook were Microsoft Office and Firefox, and to iPad, I added iWork.
- Airplane mode or work offline. Apple has this reputation of being user friendly. So, as i took off on my transatlantic, I launched my iPad and got ready to do some reading, I turned the airplane mode on. As I go through my email and catch up with old emails, it gives me a prompt about every two minutes, “can not connect to server”. Well, duh iPad – you are on airplane mode. This is never a problem in the netbook with the dreaded windows systems, you set it to run in work offline mode, and it never complains. Now, now, someone will likely show me how to achieve that effect using iPad using a friendly “offline mode helper” app, but I didn’t shell out 500$ to install apps so that my iPad can do things that my 380$ netbook does out of box. (This point was written while actually on the flight, and my next seat passenger Sarah said that the little popups about connection in airport mode were “retarded”.)
- No Alt tab. It is not that hard apple, you can do it. We desperately need it. Clicking on the “home” button and going to menu, and clicking on mail, and copying something, clicking on the button again, clicking on “notes” and then doing the paste is not my idea of efficiency, even though yes, it is a very slick apple experience. I am more into getting things done, even if they come with that ugh kloogy windows experience. 7 clicks to do a thing at can be done with 2 is not good.
- Image editing. Snapshots and editing are a pain. My work involves a lot of application review – seeing how “it” looks. When the app does not look perfect, i take a snapshot and mark it up. It is this “image” editing aspect that the apples a re supposed to be good at! But it appears that you need an app for image editing. I am beginning to realize that a certain percentage of Mac or iPad users’s time goes into reviewing the apps in the app store.
- Keyboard. Shift/upper case in the keyboard. BB is really smart, it has this mechanism to upper case something simple by holding the key for an extra half a second or so. Apple hasn’t yet caught on to this intelligence. You need to use shift key, which is really inconvenient. For example, if I want to type CVS, this requires me to type shift, c, shift, v, shift s. Or I can lock shift, using: shift shift c v s shift. No comparison with BB in typing, even with a larger form factor.
- Keyboard. Generally speaking, the on screen keyboard is not as smart as it can be. After all, that is the biggest benefit of a soft keyboard, it can change. I hope Apple fixes this in an OS upgrade. For example, even my GPS keyboard is smarter in flipping between upper and lower case. At the very least, when you are in upper case, it shows you the letters in upper case. When you are in lower case, you see the letters in lower case. You should not have to look at the shift key to see which mode you are in.
- Notes. Notes has no undo. Are you kidding me? Also, Notes has zero formatting options. Truly the devil (Microsoft) has spoilt me. I am used to basic formatting even in tasks, calendar notes, everything.
- Mute. Mute is not mute. You go into a board meeting, and dutifully mute your phone and your iPad using the super convenient mute button. However, it only mutes your app, not the advertisements in your app. This is really fishy, how can an app override the hardware mute switch? This is on the boundary of ridiculous and incredible, so don’t believe it if you don’t want to. But if you have experienced it, you of course believe it, and then it is hard to justify this.
- Screen sensitivity on periphery. It is not as easy for the kids as I had heard. My 3 and half year old can’t easily play YouTube videos on it. Why? Well because the way some kids hold it, their fingers are touching the edge of the iPad. So, the finger stroke in the middle of the screen (to play the video) constantly gets ignored. I am sure in a later version of iOS, fingers that are not moving at the edge of the screen are going to be recognized as “holding” fingers, and not counted as touch. But the future is not when I am writing my review. (I had heard a line that “iPad” experience for kids is magical, but my own experience entirely defeats that.)
- Configurability. You can’t rename the apps or their shortcuts. This again is the kind of configurability that we have come to expect. For example, I have this app called “perfect downloader free”. (This app allows me to download PDF links in safaris browser to the file system. Now, the mere fact that I need to have an app to download links from my browser to my device is a shame, and that itself should be a point. But I digress.) Due to its name, the only thing that I see on my iPad is “perfect…free”. Of course, those two words don’t really tell me what the app is. So, I try to rename this to “Downloader”. But, apparently, I can’t rename things.
- (I saved the best for the last.) No user file system. It is kind of hard to believe, yet the near first thing that you notice, but iPad has no user recognizable file system. While it must have something internally of course, the user can’t really see anything with a semblance to “My Documents” or anything like that. So, for example, when you use the downloader utility that I mentioned in the previous point, it downloads all the files, and keeps it in a giant list. You can’t create folders/sub folders etc. Just put them in a list. To say that it is rather limiting would be an understatement of epic proportions. Now now, I am sure that there are some apps for this, but enough said about the apps already.
So, whats the conclusion? My conclusion is what many others have said many times. iPad is still largely a content consumption device. Content creation is still a pain on it. Note taking (with noted caveats), emailing, using web to do my task management, delivering lectures etc works OK. Creating long documents on it is still a pain.
I will finish this by pointing out one more argument on each side. One positive thing about iPad is the Garage Band app, which is a killer app ($4.99). Another negative thing about iPad is that there is no Microsoft Office port available for it. There is a reason why Excel and PowerPoint are popular, and whether or not you agree with the choice of apps, people want the capability to freely mix apps with devices.