August 31st, 2012 § §
It’s pretty clear that Apple is going to release a smaller form factor iPad next month. You can ignore all the leaked hardware and rumors and focus on the most reliable sources for Apple sanctioned leaks; Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal. As Gruber pointed out in his musings about the new iPad it’s hard to not see Apple’s hand in this.
If you think these stories appearing within a day of each other in the two most-respected business publications in the U.S. — at the same time the Nexus 7 reviews began appearing and the device started shipping to customers — is merely coincidental and not a strategic competitive leak from Apple PR, then I would like to invite you to play in my poker game.
If you haven’t read it then I highly recommend the rest of Gruber’s post as I think he makes some persuasive arguments regarding screen size, resolution and form factor. What of the internals though? For that we can turn to Marco that has used his extensive server logs and the fact that Apple shrink the die for the iPad 2 CPU to make an educated guess.
As far as I know, this was the first time Apple invested in a die shrink mid-cycle for any of the iOS devices. They haven’t even done it for the still-sold iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4. The decision to revise the iPad 2 internals, therefore, seemed a bit odd at the time, but makes a lot more sense now.
If so, this suggests that the iPad Mini is, effectively, an iPad 2: an A5 with 512 MB of RAM and enough GPU power to drive the Gruber Display, but not a Retina Display.
So far pretty solid but this analysis sealed the deal for me.
It’s a textbook Tim Cook supply-chain move: selling the last generation’s hardware at a lower price point to expand marketshare.
I’ll be very surprised if we have anything but a smaller iPad 2 come September.
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April 23rd, 2012 § §
If you have ever tried to type “omw” on an iPhone or iPad you may have been surprised that it was replaced with “On my way!”. This is the default keyboard shortcut that came with iOS 5 when it launched last September alongside the iPhone 4S. Given the slew of other features and the esoteric history of “keyboard shortcuts” it is no surprise that they didn’t get much attention but I have come up with a few that I find incredible useful.
The ones on top are not terribly interesting. “np” being replaced by “No Problem!” fixes an auto-correct that was the bane of my existence for a time. Someone would text me with a “thank you” and I would reply “np” and hit send. Since “p” is right next to “o” auto-correct would ever so helpfully change it to “no” right before it sent the message which is kind of the opposite of “no problem”. I replaced “lol” with “that is hilarious” because typing lol is very easy but being something of an old school nerd I can’t stand that phrase anymore. I rarely use fmin because I don’t remember it.
The most useful shortcuts are “@@”, “1321″ and “sb”. Using “@@” to enter your email address is a great time saver and it ensures that you don’t mistype your email address. It wasn’t until I added this shortcut that I realized how often I have to type my email address. If the form was built properly you will even get an @ key on the first screen of the keyboard. No “shift” required. “1321″ is great because I don’t have to remember it. I just start typing my mailing address and bam! “sb”, “la”, “sf” & “nyc” are great city replacements as well. I almost made one for my zipcode before I realized it would save me nothing.
To add your own shortcuts do the following on your iPhone or iPad
- Tap Settings on your home screen
- Tap General
- Scroll down to Keyboard and tap it
- Tap Shortcuts and then the + button in the top right
One thing I found confusing at first was that you type the phrase (eg: 1321 Main St) first, and then you type the shortcut (eg: 1321). Perhaps this makes perfect sense to you but for me it was completely backwards.
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October 10th, 2011 § §
Jump yourself over to an alternate universe where Apple’s iPod doesn’t wipe out all of its competition. Perhaps they leave it tethered to the Mac too long or a competitor swoops in and steals their thunder. For the sake of simplicity lets also assume that they went on to develop the iPhone and iPad as they currently exist today. In that world I believe the iPad would simply be yet another marker along tablet failure highway. While I do believe that the iPad is a remarkable device it’s consumer faith that has allowed it to become the runaway success.
Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field
The iPod was the first device to come along that allowed your average consumer to listen to digital music on something besides PC speakers. It opened up the wonderful world of downloadable music to a group of people that had been too intimidated or too busy to learn how to use the myriad of tools needed to listen to an MP3. Assuming the user actually went through the arduous task of learning how to use these tools they would still be woefully unprepared for trying to choose an MP3 player. The long list of features would be almost entirely meaningless and the sheer number of choices would leave most consumers in a state of decision overload. Put yourself in the shoes of one of these consumers and imagine that a friend of equal technical savvy is showing off their new iPod. They load up iTunes, buy a song and plug in their iPod to sync. Already you would be impressed at the simplicity of the process and when you actually pick up the device and navigate down a few intuitive menus to find yourself listening to the latest Avril Lavigne hit you would be stunned. All within 5 minutes. Tops. You have now witnessed the birth of the “Reality Distortion Field”; it had nothing to do with Steve Jobs and everything to do with an expectation of usability. Apple has always promised to deliver a superior user experience and they rarely disappoint. It’s reliability that brings people back, not some magical marketing aura.
While the tech elite chalked the success of the iPod up to the fashion symbol of using white headphones they were completely blind to revolution that was taking place around them. As people discovered a product that did what they wanted it to in an intuitive way they were quietly changing the way gadgets were built. When Joe Shmoe found himself able to make a purchase decision without having to rely upon his 18-year old nephew he became the target. Instead of being able to impress buyers with feature charts and acronyms gadget producers would soon find themselves having to focus on esoteric things like usability and aesthetic design. As they would soon find there was a sleeping giant ready to dominate that field.
The iPod introduced people to the Apple ethos of “it just works” but it was the next six years of product upgrades that cemented Apple’s title as king of usability. What is now known as the iPod classic was gradually improved without losing usability while side products like the iPod shuffle impressed consumers with it’s compact size and minimal feature set. Yes that’s right, minimal feature set. By taking things away Apple has made their products simpler, easier to use and ultimately more attractive to consumers. By improving without cluttering they showed consumers that newer can indeed be better. I dare you to find someone who upgraded MS Office for anything but .docx compatibility.
Enter the iPhone
People have been carrying around crappy feature phones with little incentive to upgrade to so called smartphones. So wait, it’s bigger, uglier, shorter battery life and comes with a task manager? Thanks, I’ll keep my Nokia+iPod combo that gets the job done. With that kind of landscape it’s no wonder the iPhone and it’s open source clone Android were runaway successes. All Apple had to do was announce a new phone and I’m guessing most iPod users would have bought it sight unseen.
I don’t believe Apple could have jumped straight from the iPod to the iPad and achieved the same level of success. The iPhone proved to the world that Apple was not a one-hit wonder. They entered a new market and promptly put the entire industry to shame. Apple’s role as a market disruptor was solidified by the success of the iPhone.
A new product category
Building upon these successes Apple was able to repeat it’s most impressive feat yet; they created a new product category. Up until now all so called tablet computers had merely been desktops that you held in your hand with no discernible advantage. Windows had been in development for 20 years with the keyboard and mouse in mind so how would allowing someone to essentially hold their monitor in their lap improve the experience? Clearly it didn’t as nobody had been able to sell a table computer with anything approaching success. Apple took the opposite approach. Instead of giving people a desktop in their lap they decided that there was a product category somewhere between a smartphone and a laptop computer that needed to be filled. Nerds were incredulous and called it a giant iPod touch but consumers would once again prove them wrong.
Perhaps we should not have been so surprised that Apple was able to create a new product category though. After all they had done it before with this thing called the Personal Computer.
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