Monday, April 19, 2010

No MicroSD card. Only iTunes to sync to! Why Apple, why?

I reader of my previous blog post asked me to comment on the "MicroSD slot and moving away from iTunes syncronization for all media".

I didn't think I would have much to say about it, but it turned out there is a lot...I mean a lot. I hope I can make it short.

Let's consider for instance the ultimate music player if technology was not a limitation. Let dream of the ultimate music device and see if MiroSD cards and Syncing options are there to be found!

I will start with something I believe with to absolutely true about Apple and the future of it music players.

If Apple could make a music player that had no screen, ports or even physical controls of any kind, and still play the music you wanted to hear the moment you heard it played already, they would. And they are trying...

What does that say about the company, about Steve Jobs? It says that the only thing he considers of importance is the actual listening of the sound. The buttons are not important, the headphones are not important, even the artwork is a distraction and god forbid you mention the storage capacity. Its all about listening to the right music at the right emotional state.

How can Apple possibly create a player that does that. There are two sides to the question. A hardware and a software one. I will give you a hint for each: Software is kind of Pandora style but taking much more variables such as time of day, calendar appointments, speed of movement, acceleration, hearth rate, temperature, background sound. All wrapped up in one super intelligent Genius. Now that you have seen the software part, having to guess the hardware it easy: Wireless connection, GPS, accelerometer, heart monitor, thermometer, microphone and so on. There player might consist of more than one device, some of which will be embedded in the clothing and the shoes. The part that goes into your ear might be less visible than a in-ear headphone bud.

Now, where in this futuristic picture do you see any kind of optional storage or syncing? You don't and here is why.

The most fundamental mistake that people assume when it come to music is that people want to be able to make a choice. Any kind of choice. Choice about whether to have MicroSD card or not, choice to have a red or a green colored player, choice to listen to the Beatles or Queen. I have come to believe to the bottom of my heart that it is in fact quite the opposite. People do now want to chose, they do not want to decide, do or even look when it comes to music. They just want to listen. That is the secret behind the long existence of radio, because someone else decides it for you. It's convenient. Pandora has taken things one step further. It learns from your listening preferences and make you a personalized radio station. While there is indeed an initial choice, the whole point of services like that are to deliver the music you like without you having to make the choice every time.

Now, when you grasp this concept you start to wander, if even choosing the music I play is not something I want to do, why would I even bother to decide on where to store it or what program it will sync with. Why do even things like storage and syncing exist? Why would I have a limit on the music I can cary with me? Do I care if I actually carry the music with me, it I can here it anytime I want?

When one asks important questions like that, it becomes obvious that beyond iTunes, it is not another syncing program. That will only bring limited conform to the people that lie to themselves about the choice question. Beyond iTunes is CloudTunes or just iTunes. Really just iTunes. No interface, no syncing. It all there connected to your phone at all time. You may pay some initial fee to get started but its all there available to you and to your smart software to decide on the next song.

And while Apple is expected to deliver this CloudTunes still, the question of MicroSD cards or the removable storage option has already been decided and the CloudTunes will just put the finishing nail on it. In fact, on the quest for the ultimate iPod, Apple removed this choice very early....with the very first iPod, back in 2001. One has to be insane to think Apple will introduce it back. Quite the opposite... they are planing to sacrifice even more things. Just look at the iPod Shuffle and how that nicely sits on the path to the ultimate music player.

Now, for some the above thoughts may be all pie in the sky type of stuff, so here are some more of todays reasons for not using MicroSD cards and different sync methods or programs.

Let's see how one uses removable storage today. You plug it into you computer, you load it manually with music and then you plug it into your device expecting it to recognize everything. There are several problems with this scenario.
  • you lose time for loading the stuff on your card
  • you can add a song with bad quality, broken file or missing tag
  • you are dealing with folder and hierarchal structure, which no user should be doing
  • the date will likely contain no information about which song was played
  • unless you use a special software to structure the content on the card, you may have to find the music the old fashion Winamp way.
  • how do you know which content is purchased from you, and which is not?
There are many other reasons against MicroSD cards, ranging from minor one, such as "another thing to loose" to why not just build it into the device, seal the whole and save on manufacturing cost.

The only practical use from flash cards is perhaps to transfer your pictures from a camera to the iPhone via an 30 pin dock connector/SD-card adapter.

Regarding the issue of wireless syncing. It is practical for some services like contacts but not for media file. They are too big file inability for devices to link to each other without a common WiFi router is also an issue. As long as I have a need to charge my device I have no problem docking it to the computer for syncing too. If I had to do full wireless syncing, I would have had even bigger battery issues.

So while wireless streaming makes sense, wireless downloading of files does not. We will move beyond the desktop iTunes, when all its content goes online, when the bandwidth is sufficient and when the right business model present itself.

Now, having exceeded my own expectations and goals, I will shut up.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Why This Picture of 4G iPhone makes sense

Update: A lot happened in the days following this article. I can only smile at the confirmation on most if not all my assumptions by the leak of the year. :)

Is this the iPhone 4G?

One thing is certain. It is some sort of iPhone. Whether it is just a prototype or the production model is another story. One other thing is certain. It would not be called the iPhone 4G.

There are however some very interesting details about it that give away the fact that it's a next generation hardware by Apple. I believe its actually a revolutionary approach to building phones, just as Apple did with the unibody Macbooks.

It's not a fake by any means and I hope Apple will not change stuff just because they lost a prototype.

Here is what I noticed:

1. No screen bezel. All aluminum frame
While the screen bezel was a beautiful touch, it was actually part of the supporting structure for the components. With this new model, Apple has taken a new approach to internal hardware design. As seen from the pic showing the internal hardware, the main supporting structure for the device is a 1 or 2 piece unibody aluminum frame.
The advantages here are quite obvious too:
  • Maximum torsion strength and minimum weight
  • very cheap to produce
  • machine process commonality with all other Apple products
  • fully recyclable
  • access from top and bottom with equal ease
2. It has a full edge to edge top and bottom glass cover.
How revolutionary is that? Apple has to work some obvious problems like, will it crack easily it the iPhone is dropped, is the brick form-factor comfortable to hold and all these finger print smudges. However the advantages are way more impressive:
  • Perfect signal reception
  • Almost no cost to manufacture
  • fully recyclable
  • scratch resistant
  • easy to replace if broken
  • no holes needed for camera or flash
  • iMac/iPad approach to screen gorgeousness
  • glass panels help with bending moments
3. Size and feel of the new design
While, there is no way of knowing how much it would weigh or the exact size, I suspect this to be the thinnest iPhone yet, perhaps around 10 mm or less. The overall size however, remains the same. The report that is had been found in an existing iPhone 3G case is interesting. Replacing a plastic back and steal frame with all aluminum and glass parts does sound like it could reduce the weight somewhat.

4. Front Camera and LED flash
While these were all expected, integrating them behind the glass for protection is well....ingenious in a way only Apple can achieve. It's just so simple, elegant and efficient. There is just one LED component, while all other phones feature two.

5. Ports, button and other notes of interest.
  • Volume controls are now two separate buttons which should dramatically make it easier to press, improve reliability and damage tolerance
  • SIM card port is moved to the right side. Kind of logical since cramping too many openings on top would have made this section of the phone substantially weaker.
  • It's interesting if the small hole next to the headphone jack is noise canceling microphone. It makes more sense to have one now, since in video chat you will not hold the phone close to you for clear audio reception.
  • I cannot say much about the internal except that they look even more beautifully and efficiently laid out. The speaker/microphone assembly actually looks quite substantial. Possibly finally solving the 3 year complain of good output volume.
  • The two seams on the aluminum bezel do indicate a two piece frame assembly. I actually think, they will be gone on the production model. There is no reason Apple cannot manufacture the frame as a single part, aka unibody.
  • The new design absent of complex curved shapes will be much more easy for case/dock developers.
  • The flat back, thin design and OS 4 features will allow for one longtime dream of many users: An iPhone case with slide out bluetooth keyboard.
  • I really like how Apple how found a way to simplify the whole design down to it two favorite materials: Glass and Aluminum. First the Macbook Pros, then the iMac, now the iPad. The iPhone could be next, followed by the iPods.
  • I cannot stress this enough. Apple has found a way to produce just 2 glass and 2 aluminum parts that hold all other non Apple produced components. If they also put in their own SoC silicon now, this phone will have an incredibly low production price, giving Apple's phone not just quality but cost advantage. How do you beat that HTC?
I have never been more confident in the future of the iPhone platform than after writing these thoughts. Apple is taking an all out engineering and design assault on how a smartphone is made, innovating right down to its internal design.

This summer's iPhone will indeed going to be a " A+ upgrade" as his highness Steve Jobs said.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Flash Domination

These are the reasons why I watch Starcraft these days. There is just one player out there, who just dominates like no other in the history of the game.

This is the Ultimate weapons, this is Flash

The only player to go beyond 70% in 1 vs 1 record.
All time: 272-111 (71.02%)
Last 6 months: 70 wins - 14 losses (83.33%)

Source: TeamLiquid

P.S. ELO is a measure of skill. Generally speaking you get more points for beating better players and you also loose a lot by falling to a player with low ELO. The more points you get, the more you fall in the ranking when you loose. Untill Flash, no one had come close to the 2400 mark.