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Comment Re:not only that (Score 5, Insightful) 171

Google's preference order for the structure of the mobile market, from most preferred to least preferred, is probably something like:

1) Android is a popular, unified platform controlled by Google.
2) Android is a popular but fragmented platform, with carriers and handset makers doing whatever they like.
3) Android is an unpopular platform. Apple dominates the market, and has the power to lock Google out of mobile advertising.

Based on Google's behavior, it's clear their primary goal with Android was simply to avoid #3. Trying to achieve #1 would have required Google to exert control over the platform that carriers and handset makers would have likely objected to, this lowering adoption rates and increasing the probability of #3 occurring. So Google was willing to give up nearly all control, and settle for #2. They'd rather have a fragmented market than one controlled by Apple.

Comment Re:No mention of Apple? (Score 5, Interesting) 388

You're really drawing a false parallel here. The motivations behind Apple's deprecation of 3rd party platforms are pretty transparent.

Apple is ditching Java and Flash. At the same time, they're actively supporting legitimately open web technologies, they've relaxed restrictions on the use of third-party development tools for iOS, and they ship Ruby bindings for Cocoa (and Ruby on Rails) with every Mac.

I merely see Apple picking and choosing what third-party platforms it likes. And as nearly as I can tell, they're doing it on the basis of quality and meaningful openness. That is, not just looking at whether there's an open specification for something, or an open source implementation, but whether it's de facto controlled by a single vendor and what the intentions of any such vendor seem to be.

I don't think the timing of Apple's Java announcement in relation to the Oracle acquisition is a coincidence. Steve Jobs might be friends with Larry Ellison, but Apple is rumored to have also walked away from ZFS over concerns about how Oracle might handle licensing of it. I don't think Apple trusts Oracle's intentions at all. And who could blame them?

Oversimplification is always bad.

Quite.

Comment Re:Yeah nothing works anymore (Score 3, Insightful) 622

Apple explicitly has two supported mechanisms for creating iOS apps: the Cocoa Touch APIs, and open web technologies. And Apple has done quite a lot to improve the experience with the latter, including supporting HTML5 local storage and HTML5 application caching, which together allow for apps based entirely on web tech and distributed outside of the app store to be saved to the iOS home screen and run without network access. They also let such apps choose to hide browser chrome. Additionally, they've added multi-touch events to JavaScript, supported web geolocation features, and they're largely responsible for CSS3 animation (which is hardware accelerated on iOS devices).

Looking more broadly, Apple is the lead maintainer of WebKit (though I think Google makes about as many contributions these days), which is the most standards-compliant browser engine on the market, and has been the engine of choice for nearly every new browser and device released since WebKit became available, having now been adopted by Google, Nokia, RIM, Palm, etc.

Doctorow is doing something that's unfortunately all too common. By portraying them as enemies of freedom, he's making Apple into the bad guys he wants to be able to fight the good, righteous fight against. But the truth is that Apple doesn't oppose freedom in principle; their priorities are orthogonal to those of free software advocates. They want to make what they consider to be excellent products, and they want to make money doing it. Sometimes that leads them to embrace standards, contribute to the open source community, etc. Sometimes it leads them to lock down products because they trust themselves more than others to ensure the overall quality of the platform.

Comment Re:IE? Seriously? (Score 2, Interesting) 142

Our approach for public sites is to make them look not broken in IE, because a broken looking site reflects poorly on us. (The kind of user who's still using IE is not going to understand it's their browser.) But we often make things look "not broken" by just removing design features that IE can't quite handle. In other words, IE gets a site that's functional, but not necessarily pretty.

Also, we no longer bother with IE6.

Of course we're in a Mac-heavy creative field; I think we get more hits from iPads than from IE. So we can afford to ignore it a little more than most, perhaps.

Comment Re:Half baked (Score 4, Insightful) 235

All these companies seem to be saying to themselves "Wow, Apple sold 2M units and their product doesn't even have a camera or a USB port, and can't play Flash. If we make sure our product has those, we'll be rich!"

Meanwhile, these vendors seem totally oblivious to the all the things Apple got exactly right with the iPad (form factor, battery life, consistent touch-optimized UI, integration with the existing iTunes ecosystem, revenue generation features for third-party developers built into the system, ability to draw on existing iPhone/Mac developer pool obsessed with user experience, etc.). The companies doing this are going to end up with buggy, slow, awkward devices that consumers won't touch, and they'll be scratching their head saying "But we have more features! It makes no sense!"

HP is pretty much the only company that seems to have a coherent response to the iPad. It's rather obvious what happened to their Windows 7 based Slate device. They were planning to ship that as their response to Apple, but then someone at HP actually used an iPad, and said, basically "Holy $h!t, we're not going to match this by taking a Windows 7 netbook and ripping the keyboard off". And fortunately for them, WebOS -- which has the potential to be a very credible tablet platform with a bit of reworking -- happened to be for sale.

Disregard any tablet running a desktop OS; they've been on the market for years and nobody wants them. And disregard attempts by companies that know nothing about platform-building to adapt current smartphone versions of Android (or desktop Linux distros) to tablet use. They'll do it badly, and hardly anyone will write apps with such monstrosities in mind.

Watch HP with WebOS. Watch Google, when they get around to doing a real tablet version of Android. Watch Apple (obviously). And watch Microsoft, when it eventually occurs to them that they need to do a tablet version of Windows Phone 7 rather than pushing desktop Windows 7 on tablets.

Everything else will prove to be an irrelevant sideshow.

Comment Re:Maryland already has this (Score 2, Informative) 393

This is rather reminiscent of the arguments about healthcare. Opponents of reform have claimed that it would institute 'rationing' (which, actually, the reform that has passed so far hasn't, but meaningful cost controls, which we desperately need, would). What they ignore is that the current system also limits available care; it just do so on a far less efficient basis because, since nobody wants to openly admit that rationing goes on, it can't happen based on an open and transparent cost/benefit analysis.

So, yeah, you can reject remote shutdowns of central AC units on an ideological basis... but 'rationing' is going to occur anyway when demand exceeds capacity. It will just take the form of rolling blackouts/brownouts. Which are, of course, much worse than carefully managed short-duration AC shutdowns because they effect all devices in a house (they can even damage equipment) and there's no way to make sure they don't happen to houses where they could cause really serious harm because people rely on life support equipment, etc.

Comment Re:Apple slows down innovation on all fronts (Score 1) 497

You're playing the ever-popular "assume Apple is doing whatever a generic evil corporation that can't see past next quarter's profits would do, and ignore what Apple is actually doing" game.

We saw these kind of claims before with the iPod; people who insisted that Apple didn't really want to get rid of DRM; they wanted to keep it, because the lock-in helped sell iPods, and they were just pretending they wanted to kill it so people would hate the record labels instead. But of course Apple really did want to get rid of music DRM, because they understood it annoyed people and the iPod would do just fine without it. And they did get rid of it as soon as the labels would let them. In fact, they reportedly put a fair bit of pressure on the labels to let them get rid of it.

Apple has already implemented several HTML5 features on the iPhone that make web apps more competitive with native apps, like the ability to save such apps to the home screen, run them full-screen (without browser UI), and (if they use the HTML5 application cache) even run them offline. I can't think of any reason to do this just as part of some program to kill Flash, which has always been totally irrelevant to App Store vs. web apps (because the iPhone has never run Flash).

They also added access to multitouch events to JavaScript, added some meta tags pages can use to tell iPhones how they should be scaled/scrolled, etc.

Apple makes a lot more money selling devices than selling apps/music, and the know it. So far, Apple every Apple action has been consistent with Apple actively trying to make the web a first-class platform on iPhone OS devices. They're presumably doing this because they can actually think ahead, they understand that with them or without them the web will emerge as a major applications platform, and they want to be on-board shaping that future and making sure that their platforms don't get left behind.

Comment Re:Hilarity (Score 1) 497

It would be very funny if Adobe, just for spite, decided to stop making it's high end graphic design products compatible with Apple hardware. And figured out a way to make them not work via virtualization on Apple hardware as well.

Adobe has had delusions of being a serious platform vendor ever since they merged with Macromedia and got ahold of Flash, but Creative Suite is still most of Adobe's revenue, and a majority of Creative Suite sales are still Mac based. I've seen numbers as high as 75% (see end of article).

So, yeah, abandoning Mac support, for Adobe, would be about like abandoning Windows support for vendors in most other markets.

Comment Re:It's not a computer, it's a living-room applian (Score 4, Insightful) 750

But we like doing those on a computer.

You might. There are a lot of people who outright hate the way current computing platforms work. You just don't see this articulated in forums frequented by tech enthusiasts, because tech enthusiasts are, basically by definition, people who like the way computers work...

And having played with an iPad, I have to say, even a fair number of tech enthusiasts will probably find they like the way this works better. I mean, really, managing window clutter and file system hierarchies, interacting the the computer via a device that provides only a single point of interaction, messing around with software installation and uninstallation, waiting around for the computer to respond, having to sit at a desk (even with laptops) for non-akward ergonomics.

How good is the user experience with current computing devices, really? Are you sure you wouldn't rather have a little super-responsive nearly zero-maintanence device with 10 hours of battery life?

Comment Re:Requirements defined by the user (Score 1) 750

The windowing issue is distinct from the multitasking issue, I think.

You can't really assume that just because the entire industry does things one way, that's the right way to do it; there are very few companies in the industry that are actually willing to reexamine basic assumptions like this.

Do most people really want windowing? Geeks certainly do. But a lot of more casual users, in my experience, never really get comfortable with window management, let alone find it useful. Multi-window interfaces also let application developers essentially foist responsibility for managing application presentation off on the end user, often with negative consequences.

It's not completely clear how certain types of tasks will be performed in post-window user interfaces like the iPad's. In the specific use case you mention, the obvious answer would be copy and paste, but there are other tasks where the answer isn't quite so obvious. I suspect this question will be answered over the next few years, as Apple adds additional capabilities to the platform, third-party developers figure out how to solve people's problems, and other post-window systems like Chrome OS show up. It will be interesting to watch. UI is actually a living field again, after ~20 years of desktop stagnation.

Comment Re:iChat? Really? What about multi-tasking? (Score 1) 750

You hit the 'Home' button, go do whatever you're doing, and come back. Yes, the chat app will technically quit in the background, but it will re-launch almost instantly, and you'll be notified of any new incoming messages via push notifications even while it's closed, so what's the difference?

There are really very few use cases for which actual multitasking (or, more accurately, allowing third party background tasks) is required on a device like this. Playing background audio from third-party apps (it works just fine from Apple's apps) or periodically sending location data or some other data to a server in the background are about the only things you can't do with the current model.

Anyway, Apple's supposedly previewing iPhone OS 4 on Thursday; maybe that will allow third-party background tasks.

Comment Re:Ok, so... (Score 5, Insightful) 443

If you can really look at the iPad and think Apple should have just shipped a netbook, then not only have you completely missed the point, but the next 10 years of computer industry evolution are going to be very confusing for you, as the mainstream market increasingly ignores the tech specs that geeks obsess over in favor of user experience considerations that are far more relevant to normal users.

Comment Re:Monopoly or not. (Score 1) 439

Apple did take some cursory technical steps to prevent OS X from running on generic hardware. They were easily bypassed, and Apple (being rather more clever than the record companies or, apparently, Microsoft) is too smart to get into a DRM arms race or to believe in some sort of "trusted computing" utopia where the end user's system is actually controllable.

Basically, Apple's attempts at making OS X harder to run on non-Mac hardware are more about making sure people know they're doing something they shouldn't be (see e.g. the name of the "Don't Steal Mac OS X" kernel extension), and about making the process annoying enough that only enthusiasts, rather than mainstream users, do it. They don't seem to care a bit about the Hackintosh hobbyists.

Comment Article summary appears to have it backwards (Score 5, Interesting) 131

The initial NYT article about the acquisition said it was only talent related, while a more recent Reuters article has the following quote:

A source familiar with the matter said the iPod, iPhone and Mac maker is seeking new ways to expand iTunes to move it beyond being a predominantly download service for songs. The source asked not to be named.

"Apple recognizes that the model is going to evolve into a streaming one and this could probably propel iTunes to the next level," said the person.

The truth is, nobody really knows what Apple is up to. Which is, of course, just how Apple likes it. I wouldn't put it past them to have deliberately leaked a couple of conflicting stories just to keep everyone guessing.

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