June 9, 2012
Applesauce: All Things Apple
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com
Welcome to a very special episode of Applesauce.
WWDC is right around the corner – should the weekend be a corner to be rounded – and the internet is abuzz with excitement. For those of us unable to make the pilgrimage to the beautiful Bay area, following along on the various tech-themed blogs and news sources will simply have to suffice.
Seeing as this is a developers conference, it´s likely not too much news will be coming from Moscone after Monday´s keynote. Rather, there may be some news, but most of the exciting, juicy bits will be locked under NDA, and developers break that blood oath under great threats of peril.
So, what´s in store for this year´s WWDC? Will we see new Retina display Macs? Brand new iPhones? Will they make any mention of the Rumored Apple Television?
Bring your green hat. We´re going through the quad and into the gymnasium to have our Applesauce.
For all the talk of what Apple has done and is doing, nothing is more exciting than what Apple MAY do.
An interesting concept, to be sure. After all, Apple´s no slouch. They´ve already given us so much and have already created numerous innovative products.
And yet, the more they give, the more we want.
I´m not entirely sure we can be blamed, though.
After all, they´re a company who is synonymous with all things cool, exciting, innovative and new. We expect them to completely dismantle the television industry in much the same way they dismantled the music industry, calmly and slowly explaining to them that people love music, and music fans will pay for what they love.
It´s only a question of when Apple will give us 4G LTE in our phones. We know they usually aren´t the first in anything, unless that anything is getting rid of old, outdated technology. We´ve been watching our Android friends brag about their incredible download speeds for over a year now, and the only way we could defend ourselves was some excuse about battery life and a carefully worded and well-rehearsed mantra of “I can wait until Apple puts it in the iPhone, I can wait until Apple puts it in the iPhone.”
It´s a clever mind game they play, what with their patience and their intense secrecy. All over the tech-sphere, companies are releasing crap every day of the week, constantly throwing new things against the wall, hoping that somehow some money will stick to it. Not Apple. Until this point, they´ve been more than content with 2 to 3 big announcements a year (now that they´ve pulled out of MacWorld). They´ll quietly update their Mac line a couple times a year, letting the media do all the advertising for them. As a company, Apple doesn´t give a lot of FaceTime to the world, but when they do, they´re beaming with excitement for their latest and greatest and completely sold on the idea that these new products will radically change the world, even if they don´t.
With all that said, it´s completely understandable why this year´s WWDC could be absolutely monumental in the history of Apple.
As mentioned above, they already have our attention. We just know that whatever they do, it´s going to be great. Insanely great. And even if we aren´t all that impressed, it will be fun to watch the likes of Google and Samsung quickly try refute their new product or change their existing products to compete with Apple.
(Actually, Google outdid themselves this year and already tried to one-up Apple with a product they haven´t even announced...)
Building on top of the given excitement that normally accompanies a WWDC Keynote are the rumblings and rumors we´ve been seeing for several weeks. Will there be a new iPhone? Macs? TV? Maybe something really cool that we don´t even know about...
No matter what they announce, it´s completely possible anyone with nearly any Apple device stands to receive something new, breathing fresh life back into their aging devices.
As it stands, Apple is in the right position to give us something completely new and give our older devices an extra oomph in power.
The new Macs, if they even show up, will more than likely be just as drool-worthy as anything else shaped in aluminum and glass from the Ive Design Studios at 1 Infinite Loop. It´s the cruelest of all cruelties: We´ll likely start lusting for these new devices right there in front of our current devices, calling the images up on our old, non-retina screens, carefully tracing the edges and lines of the sleek new bodies on our greasy, old trackpads.
And what of Siri? Will this WWDC be her debutante ball, her final coming out to the world as Apple presents her as a developed young Intelligent Personal Assistant, fully blossomed and matured from her juvenile beta days?
Any New Retina iPad will become new once more, allowing users to do all the things iPhone 4S users have been able to do for nearly a year.
It´s also likely Apple will show off several new tricks it´s been teaching Siri, not the least of which is how to get along with other apps. Since the very first day my sparkling white iPhone 4S landed on my doorstep, I´ve always dreamed of the day when I could say, “Siri, play my Calexico Pandora Station!” or “Siri, are the Rangers winning?”
Hell, I´ll be honest with you...I´d mostly just like Siri to understand me on the first attempt, rather than have to embarrass myself in front of strangers as I painstakingly annunciate “SIRI, ASS-K. MY. WIFE. WHAT. BUH-RAND. OF. TOY-LET. PAY-PER. SHE. LIKES.”
Going even deeper than Siri, Apple is almost certainly going to announce iOS 6 next week. After all, this is first and foremost a developers conference. If Apple wants any kind of support for these new devices, they´ll need the backup of their developers. After all, asking Siri where one can find a lady of the night makes for a fun demo and all, but the real cool stuff comes from outside of Apple´s sparkling white walls. After all, apps like Flipboard, Instagram, Pandora and Shazam are usually some of the first we show off and recommend to new iOS users.
So far, the only real new thing we´ve heard about from iOS 6 is a not uncool version of Maps. Then again, to those of us who have been following Apple for a few years, this is old news.
Exciting news, sure, but mostly old.
After all, Apple practically admitted themselves they would release such an app early last year when it was discovered the iPhone was storing some location data. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how Apple handles all of this new (to them) data and how well they both implement it and serve it up. Another fun thing to think about re: Maps: Apps like Waze take a crowd-sourced, social approach to traffic. Meaning, if one Waze user approaches a jam, information – such as distance and speed – is sent to other Waze users, alerting them to the upcoming slowdown. Users can also report accidents, blockages on the road and speed traps. This app works wonderfully with one caveat: You have to have the app to use it. Here in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, the app works well. We hate our traffic here and anything we can use to beat it is welcomed by us. I can´t help but assume, however, there must be 5 iPhones on the road for every 1 iPhone with Waze. Were Apple to implement a similar feature in their Maps app (and I predict they will) they could generate an insanely accurate and up-to-the-minute traffic system. After all, as we go, so go our iPhones, and they might as well talk to one another while we drive them around.
There will probably be a few other rough edges or loose ends for Apple to tidy up around iOS which will make the experience all the more enjoyable for us, and it´s likely we´ll “feel” these improvements more than we´ll “see” them.
Then there´s the issue of Mountain Lion.
Much has been made of the iOS-ification of OS X since Lion came out last year. It makes for a good debate: Should Apple “dumb down” OS X for users who decided to give the Mac a try after falling in love with their iPad or iPhone? Integrating things like Messages, Notification Center and Reminders is one way to make the two devices resemble one another and move towards a “universal language” for all things Apple.
Or, on the other hand, should Apple leave the two experiences as different as they are and focus on making the Mac faster and stronger when it comes to regular desktop applications? Part of combining the two experiences is a little behavior called “sandboxing,” which could prohibit any apps from talking amongst themselves, such as a text editing app automatically syncing with Dropbox, or anything else functional and useful. iOS apps are already sandboxed with very few exceptions as to what apps can say to one another. However, Gatekeeper, Apple´s new high-security measure which will be baked into Mountain Lion, should bridge the gap between these apps. Basically, as long as an App is digitally signed by an approved and licensed Apple developer (they have to be to sell their app in the App store in the first place) then the apps can speak with one another.
Another iOS feature to come to the Mac is Airplay Mirroring.
Of course, it´s nothing new to be able to stream your music from iTunes to your Apple TV. I´m sure there´s also some out there who will laugh a snarky laugh when reading this, muttering something Airfoil and having been able to do this all along with the right tools. Yeah, fine, whatever. Bringing it seamlessly to the ecosystem, however, greatly improves the experience. Not only will you be able to stream whatever video is playing in your Mac (that is, of course, unless some entertainment industry mucky-mucks decide to step in the way) you can now stream home movies and presentations from your Mac to the Apple TV. Apple introduced this in iOS 5, allowing iPad and iPhone users to stream Keynote presentations and other home creations to the Apple TV. Since the Mac is still more powerful than any iOS device, the opportunities just expanded exponentially
Finally, new iPhones.
This I don´t expect to see. However, fellow redOrbit writer Lee Rannals and I agree that we also wouldn´t be surprised if Cook and friends came to the Keynote prepared to announce the new 4-inch-ish Jesus Phone.
After all, just as the rushing currents of the rising streams mean Spring is on the way, so too does the seemingly open pipeline of iPhone leaks announce an impending release.
In the past 2 weeks, we´ve seen the same parts show up from different vendors, a video of said parts days later, and 2 wireless pre-paid carriers announce they would pick up the iPhone.
And this news was released today: T-Mobile is “testing out” their 4G network at Moscone Center this week.
According to T-Mobile, “The time and location of this test is just coincidental.”
Considering whatever the new iPhone will look like and what features it will have, Apple will have to talk about it next week, if only to the developers. If they are planning on releasing a 4-inch iPhone this October, they´ll have to count on the silence and tight-lips of their developers for nearly 4 months. Furthermore, with a few notable exceptions (the very first iPhone, operating systems, iPad“¦) Apple rarely announces a product months and months before it actually releases.
Apple really has to choose the lesser of two evils. Do they announce the iPhone this week and make us wait for four months before we can get our hands on one, or do they jeopardize their new “double down” pledge of secrecy and hope developers and their supply chain can tighten up their leaky edges until this fall. Given what we´ve seen so far, it´s hard to believe anything about the new iPhone will be a surprise if it´s announced and released any later than next month.
So, I´m not holding my breath“¦but I wouldn´t be surprised, either.
Of course, we´ll be staying on top of all the news to come from Moscone West in San Francisco next week and waiting anxiously for Monday´s Keynote. Will Sir Ive have the pleasure of announcing a brand new product? Will a snobbish developer write a scathing report about the quality of the Bay Area´s food trucks? Will journalists everywhere employ the use of threes? Stay tuned, friends. RedOrbit.com will have you covered.