Predicting 2010: iPod and iPhone

The dawn of a new year never fails to make me excited about all the potential for new devices we’ll inevitably see released. This year is no different, and for Apple’s (s aapl) iPod and iPhone, there are some storms that have been brewing for quite a while that should break in 2010. Hope you packed a raincoat.

I recently came across my still functional (including decent battery life) 30GB iPod Video while rooting through my drawers looking for a proprietary USB cable. After I charged it and booted it up, the palpable feeling of the HDD platter spinning up, and the faint sound that accompanies said action reminded me of just how far we’ve come, and of how far we’ve yet to go with Apple’s portable devices. Here’s where I think we’re headed next. Read More about Predicting 2010: iPod and iPhone

Apple Patent Describes Smart Remote Technology

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office yesterday published a patent application Apple made way back in 2008 for “Pushing a User Interface to a Remote Device.” So, then…Smart Remotes. Cool!

MacRumor’s Eric Slivka reports that the patent’s lead inventor is William Bull, now Yahoo’s Senior Director of Mobile User Experience, but once upon a time Apple’s iPod User Interface Manager. The so-called “father of the iPod,” Tony Fadell, is also credited.

The idea is simple; portable media devices — such as iPods and iPhones, for example — have their own on-board Graphical User Interface (GUI) and, usually, a built-in screen. Thing is, we don’t always want to take our iPhone out of our pocket when we’re listening to music (or, if you’re me, catching up on podcasts while washing the dishes). Read More about Apple Patent Describes Smart Remote Technology

New Patent Application Suggests Apple Tablet Could Have Pen Input

tablet_patentApple (s aapl) apparently isn’t exclusively devoted to the idea of finger-based multi-touch input on all its devices, a recent patent applications shows. The patent application, found by Apple Insider, describes the use of a pen-like stylus to operate an “ink information” input system, and references tablet computing applications for the new tech by name.

“Ink information” refers to handwriting technology, specifically. The patent describes that previous attempts in this field, including in Apple’s own Newton device, have been insufficient to the task in the past. It suggests that the addition of an “ink manager,” a kind of go-between interpretive process, might reduce the occurrence of mistaken or misplaced ink detection. Read More about New Patent Application Suggests Apple Tablet Could Have Pen Input

Weekly App Store Picks: October 23, 2009

The long-awaited weekend has finally arrived and with it comes the opportunity to consider purchasing some shiny new Apple (s aapl) hardware. If you’re looking for a distraction from those wallet-emptying new Apple toys, I suggest you check out my picks from the App Store.

This week’s picks are all about distractions, I’ve selected four apps to take your mind off everything else. My top pick is NFB Films, the National Film Board of Canada’s official iPhone app. Plus I’ve also been looking at Jamie Oliver’s 20 Minute Meals, Rebtel and Mr. Bounce.

NFB Films (Free)

appicon_nfb_filmsKnowing little about the National Film Board of Canada, I was admittedly drawn to the app for other reasons. You see, I’m a long-time fan of Boards of Canada, a Scottish duo who make crackling, whistful electronic music. The pair are known for borrowing samples — and even their name — from Canada’s NFB.

The app itself has absolutely nothing to do with the musicians. It’s actually a meticulously archived selection of videos plucked from the National Film Board of Canada’s brimming library. There’s both classic and current content, organized into categories such as Classics, Documentaries, Animated Films and Social Issues. It’s worth noting that these aren’t clips — the videos are feature-length presentations.

For such a vast quantity of content, it’s encouraging that the app is focused on usability. Browsing content feels just like Apple’s own iPod app, you can mark videos to be watched later, or send to a friend too. There’s even a button to find out what other nearby users are watching. And all this for free, too. It’s really quite brilliant. It’s a truly wonderful app and the NFB should be commended for allowing us all access to such a fantastic collection. Read More about Weekly App Store Picks: October 23, 2009

Wacom Bamboo Touch Tablet: Multitouch Mouse Replacement?

Bamboo1I was lucky enough to get my grubby mitts on a Wacom Bamboo Touch tablet recently, one of the newly-released models from the popular input device maker that supports multitouch finger input. It’s the basic model that only supports touch, which is ideal for me, because I already have a Cintiq and don’t need the pen tablet functions. Read More about Wacom Bamboo Touch Tablet: Multitouch Mouse Replacement?

Rumor Has It: Apple’s Tablet to Be Verizon Subsidized

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Now that the rumor mill has settled on October as a launch date for the still-unconfirmed Apple tablet device, it’s getting around to explaining just how said device will be sold to the public. At this rate, someone will be fondling a production model in low light and taking blurry cam photos by next Tuesday.

The Street is reporting (with a fair degree of confidence, I may add) that not only is an Apple (s aapl) tablet a done deal, it’s a deal done with Verizon (s vz). A source, who asked not to be named, speaking to The Street said that Verizon will indeed be offering a subsidy on the new device for customers who sign up for a mobile data plan to be used with it. Though the two companies will be working together to mitigate consumer costs, their relationship won’t be as chummy as the Apple/AT&T relationship, according to the source. Read More about Rumor Has It: Apple’s Tablet to Be Verizon Subsidized

Verizon Buzz Sparks Rumors of Two New Apple Products

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The Internet tubes have been awash with rumors of Apple (s aapl) and Verizon (s vz) talks targeting a working relationship in 2010. While Verizon CEO Lowell McAdams has confirmed that they have talked to people at Apple, he’s otherwise not giving up any details about the discussions. BusinessWeek, however, who conducted the interview with McAdams, have found other sources that say Apple is working on two new products that might see distribution through Verizon Wireless.

News of the new devices comes via the oft-cited source of “people familiar with the matter” (as if people unfamiliar with the matter would be able to offer any information at all), one of whom reports actually having seen one of the devices. That one is supposed to be an “iPhone Lite,” details beyond which are not revealed. A “Lite” version of the iPhone has been a pet rumor of Apple followers since almost the advent of the iPhone itself, so it’s unsurprising to see them cropping up again. Presumably such a device would have less storage, maybe no camera, and perhaps lack Wi-Fi and other features. Read More about Verizon Buzz Sparks Rumors of Two New Apple Products

Reporting for Duty: Apple’s iPod Touch

ipodarmy

The iPhone (s aapl) may be taking steps toward breaking into big business, but its little brother is already well on its way to becoming a career soldier. Apparently the iPod touch is becoming quite the staple for U.S. soldiers working in Iraq, partly because it’s such a versatile device capable of replacing and/or augmenting many items in a soldier’s standard kit. The touch is also a relatively cheap piece of hardware considering its usefulness, at least when considered in the context of military hardware.
Cost is not the only advantage the iPod touch has on the battlefield. It’s lightweight, durable (though for military deployment, they usually get some kind of special sheath to add to their in-built resilience), familiar to soldiers, and customizable. According to one Army official in Baghdad (via Newsweek), they also apparently have yet to be hacked by opposing forces. I can picture the new “Get a Mac” ad now, with John Hodgman getting hacked by an insurgent.
The main reason the iPod touch is so handy is its versatility as a development platform. As the App Store ads claim, “There’s an app for that,” and that includes things like translation, tactical mapping, networking/communication, surveillance, image recognition and ballistics calculation. Gun mounts and touch control mean that soldiers can do all of these things while keeping a hand or hands free for other activities and devices, some of which might save their life.
With military action becoming more and more a technological affair, expect to see the combat role of the iPod touch grow even more. Future iterations could prove even more useful, and ordinary consumers might benefit, too. If Apple adds hardware features to make the device more appealing for military use, the rest of us could reap the rewards. I’m thinking a camera and additional types of wireless antennas would be top priority from a military standpoint, and I’m sure consumers wouldn’t complain either.

Weekly App Store Picks: March 28, 2009

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Welcome one and all to the weekend, a time for rest, relaxation and fresh pickings from the App Store.

Before checking out this week’s apps, we’ve got seven days worth of Apple (s aapl) happenings to run through.
First up, the week kicked off with a scathing review of the Daniel X graphic novel — an utterly dull comic-book barely improved by its leap to iPhone. Later in the week though, I took a look at Tumblr’s official iPhone app, turns out that it’s a brilliant tool for capturing moments while on the go.
On Tuesday, there was a curious new addition to UK retailer Play.com’s store: the 16GB iPhone 3G. Apparently taking advantage of EU regulations — ensuring the availability of SIM-free mobile phones — the device’s are retailing at a hefty $900.
Midweek, Apple introduced cross-border shopping for twenty different countries via their online store. Unfortunately, our own Darrel Etherington was less than pleased to discover that Canada has been left out of the International shipping fun. Plus, owners of the unibody 17″ Macbook Pro were also treated to a firmware update fixing graphics issues with the system.
Bringing an end to the week’s Apple happenings, over at GigaOm.com, Om Malik received a tip-off concerning a new app for iPhone: Skype. That’s right, there’s rumored to be an official Skype iPhone app, due for release very soon. Unfortunately, for me, it may be too little too late: I doubt that it’ll be feature-packed enough for me to swap over from Nimbuzz.
Moving on the apps, this week I’ve been looking at Bowman, Gengo Lite, AudioBoo and Elemental Monster TD. Read More about Weekly App Store Picks: March 28, 2009

Vuze Brings Easy Video Conversion to Apple Devices, but at What Cost?

vuzeI admit, I am a reformed Azureus user. When I made the transition from Windows to Mac for my primary machine, one hang-up that came with me was my devotion to Azureus, a program which (as I was soon to discover) was fast becoming unnecessarily resource-heavy and bloated, especially compared to lightweight Mac alternatives like Transmission, and more recently, uTorrent. I abandoned Azureus long before it stopped being open source and become Vuze, that Frankenstein beast of a media download manager.
Because I care about you, I actually installed the newly released version of Vuze on my MacBook today, even though it was painful to do so, and my notebook’s fan started working overtime the moment I did. The reason? Vuze now offers a quick and easy way to get video content in to your iTunes library and onto your iPhone, iPod, or Apple TV without getting your hands dirty with complicated conversion software. Read More about Vuze Brings Easy Video Conversion to Apple Devices, but at What Cost?