Tag Archive | "ipod touch"

Why I’d buy the rumoured 6″ Apple Tablet.

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https://www.umpcportal.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/ipodplus1.jpg

None of the Apple Tablet rumours up until now had interested me. A 9 inch, 10 inch or 12 inch slate just doesn’t excite but he latest rumour from Business Week does.

Apple has developed prototypes of two different tablet machines—one that resembles a large-sized iPod and boasts a 6-inch screen….Apple’s tablet may cost as little as $679, Doherty says. Then there’s the Apple software mystique. “Apple has a real opportunity to take the magic of the iPhone interface and give that more real estate to do the tasks,” Kay says. “It’s an iPhone, but bigger. It’s something that you know, but bigger.”

For fun I’m going to assume it has the hardware and software I previously talked about in my iPod Plus predictions article.

Hardware:

  • CPU: 800Mhz Cortex A8. Proven. Available. 2-4 times processing power improvement. ARM and partners would put a lot of effort into this to showcase their new products into new segments. Update: It’s already used in the iPhone 3GS.
  • GPS module and an electronic compass (needed for auto and pedestrian navigation)
  • Enlarge the battery to 150% and make it removable. (Due to increased usage model)
  • Data-only 3G module. Unlocked.  (No voice to avoid it cutting across partner products and to ease a global rollout through carrier deals.)
  • Improve video and 3D co-processing to enable a step-change in capability in these areas.  (HD 720P and re-stimulate the existing developers to enhance their games and make 2nd versions)
  • Screen/TV output (digital)
  • Mid-range built-in webcam
  • Good storage. 16GB-64GB storage options.
  • Include an FM transmitter and receiver. (In-car use)
  • Weigh no more than 300gm. Challenging but possible.

Software wish-list is here.

I currently use three devices regularly. My N82 (for email and RSS reading) my Viliv X70 (for lazy-boy surfing, navigation, online video and some IM and social networking) and my Fujitsu Loox U/B50N (for much the same as the X70 but it’s the one I take when I leave the house just in case I need to do more typing. I use online applications for blogging and word processing) A 6 inch iPod Touch would probably replace both the X70 AND the Loox.

  • Lighter and smaller than both the UMPCs I use regularly.
  • Better on-screen keyboard than X70. Comparable with Loox keyboard input speed.
  • Research purposes
  • More fun than an XP-based device
  • Easy Access to TV, Video, Podcasts via iTunes
  • Games
  • New scenarios such as augmented reality and other location services
  • More stylish
  • Use as coffee-table newspaper/digital frame
  • Navigation capability (probably at a cost though)
  • Video playback around the house (flash is important here and a potential show-stopper)
  • Ebook reading / Online reading
  • Potentially longer battery life

A 6 inch Tablet wouldn’t really be a traditional productivity-focused device like a ultra mobile PC is but more of a high-end MID. Much more personal and using leading edge Web2.0 methods to get things done. It would really suit the way I work and given 3G and multitasking, $700

Risks and problems:

  • Flash
  • Keyboard
  • Browsing Speed
  • Multitasking
  • Cost in Europe
  • New MID products being launched

We’ve discussed this before and many of you had some excellent comments. Bluetooth stack was a common worry along with keyboard and the browser which some of you think should support plug-ins as well as flash. Some of you wanted remote desktop support too. We’ve talked about resolution. 1024×600 or 800×480? 800×480 would be OK for me. How do you feel now that the iPhone 3GS is out and there are other products on the market? Would you prefer an Android-based device?

Fingers crossed for a September surprise.

Will Apple really release something drastically different from the iPhone?

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Original image from http://factoryjoe.com/blog/2007/11/05/apple-tablet-concept-the-ipad-touch/

Time draws closer to the event in which Apple is rumored to unveil a new, larger, touch oriented device. Let’s call it the iPod Plus (as Chippy coined it) essentially a device based around the concepts of the iPhone/iPod Touch (simple touch navigated software) but with less focus on the phone aspect and more focus on media and web interaction. No one knows for sure yet but people are imagining a small slate style device with a highly touch friendly OS with a screen ranging from 5-8 inch. Being a happy iPhone owner, I’m very excited about the prospect of a new device that could culminate the lessons that Apple learned from the iPhone and use the great part of that experience to power a new media rich device. As I think about what it could mean for the company to release a new device, which would probably have a very different size than the iPhone and also run software that isn’t directly compatible with the iPhone hardware, I wonder if it will really happen the way that it is rumored, considering the hurdles that stand in the way.

Software and Developers

Apple has set off some sort of revolution with their App Store, an application that makes it very simple for users to find useful software for their iPhone/iPod Touch. Since the release of Apple’s App Store, we’ve seen the App Catalog for the upcoming Palm Pre, the Android Market for Android powered devices, the Windows Marketplace for devices running WM 6.5, and the BlackBerry App World for certain BlackBerrys. The concept of an App Store is great for many reasons. The biggest of which are the ease in which users can find and obtain applications and the ease in which developers can distribute their applications. By providing a virtual store for all third party software, Apple makes it easy for developers to focus on creating applications instead of having to make round-about back-ends for activation codes if they wanted to sell their applications. The App Store is an huge draw for developers.

That is apparent as Apple recently announced that the one billionth application was downloaded from the App Store. Just throwing out some rough numbers, let’s say that 50% of the applications downloaded from the App Store were free and that the other 50% cost just $2.99. If 500,000,000 applications have been downloaded at $2.99 each (Apple takes 30% of the price of the app), then you are talking about $448,500,000 of profit directly into Apple’s pocket by doing no more than providing a framework on which developers can reach an audience. Clearly the App Store and the concept of applications is very important to the success of the iPhone/iPod Touch, and I would say that Apple would need to think long and hard before coming out with a new device that would be unlikely to support some 35,000 applications which currently run across the entire iPhone/iPod Touch (gen 1 and 2) line of devices.

If they were considering this, I don’t think that Apple would release a device that is essentially a giant iPhone. More likely it seems that they would release a media rich device using an improved version of the iPhone OS (which is actually based on the full fledged OSX). Given the larger dimension of the device, and the likelihood that it won’t be phone, I think that Apple will have designed a new navigation philosophy and will probably want that experience to translate over to applications. Thus I don’t feel that they could simply port over all of the applications currently available in the App Store. Not only would the existing applications not work without scaling on a higher resoultion screen, but these apps would need to be rebuilt entirely for this new device to be compatible with the improved version of the iPhone OS and to function using the same navigation principals as Apple established with the device, as many apps in the current App Store have a consistent interface design that works to make system-wide finger navigation viable.

By releasing a new device based on different principals of user interaction and making current App Store applications incompatible, Apple would be throwing its current library of 35,000 third-party applications out the window and additionally they would be trying to split their strong base of developers.

As a developer who wants to sell an application, it would be hard for Apple to convince you to start developing for a new device that doesn’t have backward compatibility with the old devices. Any developer would realize that the current audience, which includes anyone with a 1st or 2nd gen iPhone or iPod Touch, would be much larger than a newly released device. And why might someone spend the time developing an application for the newer hardware when the audience would be so much smaller. Sure, eventually the numbers would start to even out, but it would be hard to get the ball rolling and see the same widespread development of applications on the iPod Plus as we’ve seen with current App Store apps.

Apple’s steady strategy for said devices has been based on compatibility. Even while coming out with new generations of the two devices, Apple has made it clear that they want every application in the App Store to be able to run on every generation and model of their ‘touch’ series of devices. Why break the trend now? There is definitely a time to move forward and come up with something new but Apple has seen great success with their current strategy and it might be too early for them to jump to new hardware and thus, new applications that would require that new hardware to function.

Nintendo is a company that works using a similar strategy of backward-compatibility. The company is responsible for one of the most successful handheld game consoles and part of that has to do with the fact that the handheld gaming system can play the same games from the previous handheld game generation released all the way back in 2001. Similarly, Nintendo’s Wii console can play games from the previous generation that was also released in 2001. While the Nintendo Wii definitely isn’t the most powerful of the three current gaming consoles, it is doing better than the other two in sales, partly due to its backward compatibility.

Size and Portability

I’ve recently come to realize how great the iPhone is as a gym companion. Heading to the gym to do some exercise with the iPhone in a holster on the waist has plenty to offer one who is doing various gym activities. Music is the most obvious thing that comes to mind. It couldn’t be easier to put together a playlist and with the included earbuds, you can change tracks easily using the button on the cord without even having to look at the iPhone, one can even answer and hang up calls with the same button and the ringtone comes right over the earbuds. Beyond just listening to music, the iPhone can be great for web consumption when on the stationary bike. Some people like to read a book using the little shelf on the bike, but the iPhone sits there just as well and provides a portal into one’s online life. Its great to be able to exercise while checking twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, etc.

While hunched over and tapping my fingers around on the iPhone’s small screen, I realized how great that the little magazine/book shelf would work with an iPod Plus. Imagine a 7 inch screen sitting flat right there where a book might go and offering a great touch navigated media experience. You could read full web pages and easily flick your way up and down the page to see the contents without having to frequently pinch zoom. Considering more powerful hardware, you could have a nice twitter app running in the background that would notify you of new updates using a Growl style notification system. Sounds great to me, but when I considered that the iPhone simply comes with me to the gym in a holster on my waist, I wondered how I would carry such a device with me.

With a 7 inch screen I don’t think it would be very pocketable. It wouldn’t be the companion style device that could play music for you while lifting. What does one do with a device that sits between the size of a pocketable phone and a notebook? The iPhone is usable while walking because it can be held in one hand an operated, but a device such as that which has been rumored sounds like it would need to sit down on a table and have the attention of both user’s hands in order to be operated. Sound familiar? That’s right, notebook basically needs to be put down on a table and have interaction from both hands to be effectively used, and I don’t think that Apple wants to compete with their own notebook line. Apple hit the sweet spot when coming up with a device that could be used with one hand and slip into the pocket with no problem.

Summing it up

There are certainly a lot of factors that go into the creation of a new device and I’m sure that Apple looks into this stuff with much scrutiny before trying to push a big new product. While I would love to see an iPod Plus device with a large screen that featured a great new interface and the ability to consume media rich content, I think that it is unlikely to see anything radically different from an iPhone. It doesn’t seem likely that Apple would release a device that is more powerful, isn’t compatible with the apps in the current App Store and also sits at a size that competes with the MacBook line of notebooks. What’s more is that Apple doesn’t want to split their developer community, and would have a hard time starting up the wildfire of rapid application development that was part of success of the current ‘touch’ series of devices.

Second Gen iPod Touch faster than original

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ipod touch

Word has been spreading around lately that the second-gen iPod Touch [Portal page] has a faster CPU than any of the previous Touch devices (including the iPhones). This was a bit strange when I first read it because I own an iPhone 3G, and it was easy to see that in comparison, a friends second-gen iPod Touch was visibly faster when there were on-screen GUI actions. I thought that because it was so clear that it was just a known fact that the second-gen iPod Touch was faster. And yet here I am writing this post to let people know that in fact, the second-gen iPod Touch has a faster clock speed than the original iPod Touch, as well as the iPhone EDGE, and iPhone 3G.

From what I’m looking at, it appears as though the ARM CPU in the second-gen iPod Touch is different than those in the other Touch family devices (at first I thought it was simply a change in clock speed). Second-gen iPod Touch: 523MHz, up from 412MHz in the rest of the family of devices. Regardless of the slightly updated CPU, I think it is possible for Apple to turn up the clocks on the other devices to reach the same speed, however there are other important factors to consider before doing that, the biggest of which is battery life. It seems as though the second-gen iPod Touch’s hardware is quite a bit more efficient than the original iPod Touch. Even with the more powerful CPU, the second-gen iPod Touch has better battery life than the original. Here is a list from greatest speed to least for the Touch family:

  1. second-gen iPod Touch
  2. iPhone 3G
  3. iPhone EDGE
  4. first-gen iPod Touch

In my personal experience with all of these devices I would say that the speed differences between the iPhone 3G, iPhone EDGE, and first-gen iPod Touch are entirely unnoticeable. Only when you compare these devices to the second-gen iPod Touch can you see a difference.

The real question is why didn’t Apple mention this increased CPU speed (they didn’t mention it IIRC) especially if they managed faster speed with improved battery life? Maybe they meant to limit the CPU to the same clock as the rest of the devices but it slipped by them? Hopefully we won’t see games that cater to the second-gen iPod Touch’s faster CPU. At this point, every piece of software is interoperable across the entire Touch family, it would be a shame to see software that ‘works’ on the other three devices, but is really meant to be run on the second-gen iPod Touch.

iPhone 3G, GPS, App Store

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iphone 3g

As you have most likely heard, Apple today announced the iPhone 3G at their annual WWDC event. The phone’s most obvious new feature is the HSDPA 3G cellular data connection that now enables the phone to have faster cellular internet connectivity. This replaces the old iPhone’s EDGE technology which was on the dial-up end of the internet speed spectrum. HSDPA in the iPhone 3G is closer to wi-fi speeds as demonstrated by Apple. The phone itself has changed very little cosmetically. We’re talking about millimeters in size differences, and a plastic back on the iPhone 3G instead of easily scratched aluminum. The iPhone 3G will be available with a black or white back.

Probably the second most significant hardware change is the addition of GPS. Apple says that the iPhone 3G will use a combination of GPS, wi-fi and cell towers to pin-point the position of the user. The iPhone EDGE used Locate Me, a function that provided a rough estimate of the users position based on cell tower information. With the addition of GPS the system is accurate enough to locate the street the user is on and give driving directions, something that couldn’t be done due to the inaccuracy of the Locate Me technology of the iPhone EDGE.

Another one of the anticipated upgrades is to the iPhone’s operating system. The iPhone 2.0 firmware will be released when the iPhone 3G comes out on July 11th. At the same time, Apple will make the update free to iPhone EDGE users, and available to iPod Touch users for $9.95. The 2.0 software will bring some increased functionality to the current feature set including things such as mass email management and contact searching. Additionally, 2.0 will bring the App Store onto the home screen of iPhone/iPod Touch users, and will allow them to download applications wirelessly to their device. The store will offer a combination of free and purchasable applications. Developers who charge for their apps keep 70% of the cost; for those who will be releasing free apps, Apple has said there will be no charges to the developer. Along for the ride in the 2.0 firmware is a lot of support for enterprise users including VPN connectivity, Exchange support, and more.

This time around Apple has worked with AT&T to subsidize the iPhone to a more attractive price point. The iPhone EDGE was released as an 8GB model for $599 USD, while an iPhone 3G will only run you $199, with the 16GB version following at $299 (of course this is all with a contract from AT&T). In addition to reduced pricing, Apple has stated its goal to release the iPhone 3G in 70 countries this year.

Check the technical specifications on Apple’s website for the dirty details of the new phone.

We’ll have some thoughts from the UMPCPortal team in a later post. Is it a MID? Is it good value? Does it improve the Internet Experience? What about video and cam capabilities? Bluetooth profiles improved?

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