Tag Archives: apple

Bug with Web Browsers in OS X Desktop

I came across a fun little bug with Safari and other Web Browsers (FireFox and Chrome) on the Mac OS X desktop when you run with two monitors.

I was using a TV display as a second monitor and had my main laptop monitor arranged underneath. The critical factor was that the OS X menu bar was positioned on the Laptop monitor. i.e. It was between the primary and secondary monitor.

Laptop as main display with menu bar. TV display above.

Laptop as main display with menu bar. TV display above.

When the Menu Bar is between the main display and the secondary monitor you can’t move a Browser window up on to the second monitor. This is an interesting bug that seems to impact many but not all applications. Lotus Notes, SameTime and Microsoft Office Applications seem to ignore the menu bar while Skype sees it as a boundary.

If you move the Menu Bar to the other screen these bounded applications can now move freely about the double desktop.

It will be interesting to see how OS X Mavericks behaves since it appears to be introducing the double menu bar. That looks to be a very welcome feature to avoid the need to mouse or track long distances between desktops to access menu bar features.

Jobs Was Right: Adobe Abandons Mobile Flash Development | Gadget Lab

The BlackBerry PlayBook was famously marketed as a Flash-capable tablet, though ultimately failed to deliver. Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.com

UPDATE 8:39 A.M. PST: Adobe confirmed it will cease Flash development on mobile devices in a press release published Wednesday morning.

In an abrupt about-face in its mobile software strategy, Adobe will soon cease developing its Flash Player plug-in for mobile browsers, according to an e-mail sent to Adobe partners on Tuesday evening.

And with that e-mail flash, Adobe has signaled that it knows, as Steve Jobs predicted, the end of the Flash era on the web is coming soon.

The e-mail, obtained and first reported on by ZDNet, says that Adobe will no longer continue to ???adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations,??? instead focusing on alternative application packaging programs and the HTML5 protocol.

???Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores,??? the quoted e-mail says.

In the past, Adobe has released software tools for mobile developers that create a single platform programmers can use to make applications that work across three major mobile platforms: Android, iOS and the BlackBerry OS. While it???s seemingly easier than learning all of the native languages for each operating system, some developers have claimed a loss in app performance when coding in a non-native language that then gets translated into other languages.

The move indicates a massive backpedaling on Adobe???s part, a company who championed its Flash platform in the face of years of naysaying about its use on mobile devices. Despite Flash???s near ubiquity across desktop PCs, many in the greater computing industry, including, famously, Apple Computer, have denounced the platform as fundamentally unstable on mobile browsers, and an intense battery drain. In effect, Flash???s drawbacks outweigh the benefits on mobile devices.

Flash became a dominant desktop platform by allowing developers to code interactive games, create animated advertisements and deliver video to any browser that had the plugin installed, without having to take into account the particulars of any given browser. However, with the development of Javascript, CSS, and HTML5, which has native support for video, many web developers are turning away from Flash, which can be a resource hog even on the most advanced browsers.

Apple made its biggest waves in the case against Flash in April of last year, when Steve Jobs penned a 1,500-word screed against the controversial platform, describing it as a technology of the past. Jobs and Apple disliked the platform so intensely, it has since been barred from use on all iOS devices.

Despite attempts to breathe life into Flash on other mobile devices ??? namely, Android and BlackBerry OS ??? Adobe has failed to deliver a consistently stable version of the platform on a smartphone or tablet. In WIRED???s testing of the BlackBerry PlayBook in April, Flash use caused the browser to crash on a consistent basis. And when Flash was supposed to come to tablets with Motorola???s Xoom, Adobe was only able to provide an highly unstable Beta version of Flash to ship with the flagship Android device.

???Adobe has lost so much credibility with the community that I???m hoping they are bought by someone else that can bring some stability and eventually some credibility back to the Flash Platform,??? wrote software developer Dan Florio in a blog post on Wednesday morning.

The drastic reversal in Adobe???s mobile plans comes in the wake of the company cutting 750 jobs on Tuesday, a move prompted by what Adobe labeled ???corporate restructuring.???

An Adobe representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Flash is dead on mobile. One advantage Android theoretically had over iOS is going away.

Dear Aunt TUAW: How do I enable AirDrop on my older Mac? | TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Great tip for OS X Lion users on older Macs. You can enable AirDrop via the command line. By default AirDrop is only enabled automatically on the newer Macs with certain WiFi chipsets.

I may have to try this on an older mac that I have.

the understatement: Android Orphans: Visualizing a Sad History of Support

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Great analysis to compare Apple v Android in the area of OS updates.

The pice that struck me was this assessment:

“Apple???s way of getting you to buy a new phone is to make you really happy with your current one, whereas apparently Android phone makers think they can get you to buy a new phone by making you really unhappy with your current one.”

Why Microsoft???s Skype purchase means a Face-off with Apple???s Facetime

Microsoft???s purchase of Skype for $8.5 billion in cash is a massive bet for the tech giant.

Although it look like it may well have over-paid by $4.5 billion, and bid against companies who weren???t seriously in the running (Google and Facebook), owning Skype means Microsoft has a much better positioning in mobile.

But that???s not all.

The implications of this deal for Facebook are actually far more interesting. Since Microsoft is an investor in Facebook, the latter will now have deep access to its investor???s assets.

Being able to Skype from within Facebook means Mark Zuckerberg will not have to build his own VOIP communications platform ??? a seriously complex affair for 600 million users. Plus, the social network already has tie-ins with Skype.

But it also means both Microsoft and Facebook now have a stick with which to beat Apple and its emerging comms platform, Facetime.

With Facebook integration Skype will not be so heavily linked to an actual device ??? as Facetime is with Apple devices. Note that Microsoft has pledged to ???continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms???.

This means Apple is going to have to really pull of the stops on its communications strategy. Perhaps that???s what the new server farm is for?

The iPad Falls Short as a Creation Tool Without Coding Apps | Gadget Lab

At Apple???s tablet event last week, there was one noticeable absence: games.

Apple frequently uses games to show off the computing power of its mobile devices, but this time, Steve Jobs was driving home the message that the iPad is a tool for creation, not just a fancy plaything.

???This is not a toy,??? Jobs said after a demonstration of iMovie for iPad. ???You can really edit movies on this thing.???

Later, after a demonstration of GarageBand for iPad, Jobs repeated it: ???Again, this is no toy.???

Priced at $5 each, iMovie and GarageBand were the only apps demo???d last Wednesday on the iPad 2. These apps aren???t brand-new, because they were previously Mac apps, but bringing them to the iPad is a significant move.

Touchscreen tablets may become an ideal platform for multimedia creation with tools like these.

Historically, iMovie and GarageBand have been popular on the Mac because of their affordability and ease of use. With these two apps, Apple pioneered tools for Joe Schmo to create music and movies ??? skills that were previously exclusive to professional musicians and moviemakers with expensive hardware and software.

As a professional Final Cut Pro videomaker myself, I was personally frustrated that Apple kept making it easier and easier for anyone to replicate my technical skills with much simpler tools. (To be clear, beyond my selfish needs, I did view iMovie as extremely beneficial for creators.)

Now Apple???s making these same creative tools more accessible to an even broader audience, on an even more affordable device, the $500 iPad. The touchscreen interface is so intuitive that even children and grandparents have been able to pick up iPads and figure out how to use them in a few minutes. Now they could potentially launch iMovie or GarageBand and create some movies or music.

While touchscreen tablets are less than ideal for typing out long blog posts or writing novels, they may become an ideal platform for multimedia creation with tools like these. For that reason, these apps may be even more important than the iPad 2 itself.

But Apple still has a lot of room to improve if it wants the iPad to be a platform for creation. Going forward, one key area of creation that Apple should focus on is a tool to create apps.

Creative Coding

Programming is one of the most creative things you can do with a computer, and the iPad could potentially be a powerful tool to introduce this form of creativity to many people, particularly children.

Currently there is no way for people to use the iPad to make programs. Furthermore, the touchscreen interface already doesn???t seem ideal for traditional coding, and there???s no easy way to look under the hood of an iPad to understand how to create software.

Without a proficient programming environment readily accessible on the iPad, Apple???s tablet paints a bleak portrait for the future of programming.

???I think the iPad generation is going to miss out on software programming,??? said Oliver Cameron, developer of the Friends iPhone app. ???Kids don???t need Macs anymore.???

It doesn???t help that Apple enforces strict rules around how iOS apps must be programmed, which occasionally results in some collateral damage.

Take for example Apple???s rejection of Scratch early last year. Scratch for iPhone was an app for kids to view programs coded with MIT???s Scratch programming platform.

Apple rejected the app, citing a rule that apps may not contain code interpreters other than Apple???s. This rule appears to be specifically designed to prevent meta platforms such as Adobe Flash from appearing on the iPad, thereby allowing Apple to keep its iOS platform to itself.

The young community of Scratch programmers, however, doesn???t pose a threat to Apple???s business, and the rejection of the Scratch app shows how Apple???s developer rules can harm the art of programming.

???I think the iPad generation is going to miss out on software programming.???

???I think it???s terrible,??? said Andr??s Monroy-Hern??ndez, a Ph.D. candidate at the MIT Media Lab and lead developer of the Scratch online community, when Scratch was rejected April 2010. ???Even if the Scratch app was approved, I still think this sends a really bad message for young creators in general. We have a forum where kids post comments, and they were really upset about this.???

Furthermore, Apple has especially frowned on the act of hacking iOS devices. It???s worth noting that programmers can still tinker on the iPad by writing code for ???jailbroken??? (i.e., hacked) devices.

But Apple has created the sentiment that hacking iOS devices is a criminal activity. Jobs has described Apple???s cracking down on iPhone hacks as a ???game of cat and mouse.???

In the past Apple vigorously fought attempts to legalize jailbreaking on mobile phones. The company eventually failed in that effort when the U.S. Copyright Office added jailbreaking to a list of exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act???s anticircumvention provisions, making jailbreaking cellphones lawful. However, the iPad is not covered by that exemption, because it???s not considered a phone, and therefore the lawfulness of hacking an iPad remains uncertain.

The criminal stigma surrounding iOS hacking is disappointing, because many of our best coders learned a great deal by thinking outside the box, breaking the rules and hacking around with systems. Take for example, Alex Payne, an engineer at Twitter.

???The thing that bothers me most about the iPad is this: if I had an iPad rather than a real computer as a kid, I???d never be a programmer today,??? Payne said in a blog post last year when the original iPad debuted. ???I???d never have had the ability to run whatever stupid, potentially harmful, hugely educational programs I could download or write. I wouldn???t have been able to fire up ResEdit and edit out the Mac startup sound so I could tinker on the computer at all hours without waking my parents.???

And then there???s software programmer Mark Pilgrim, who reminisced about the days when personal computers were truly ???personal,??? meaning a user could do anything he wanted with his device without feeling like a rebellious rule breaker.

???You could turn on the computer and press Ctrl-Reset, and you???d get a prompt. And at this prompt, you could type in an entire program, and then type RUN, and it would motherfucking run,??? Pilgrim said in his post last year when the iPad launched. Pilgrim and Payne agree that children learning to program with an iPad won???t get the enlightening tinkering experience they had.

That???s unfortunate, because in our digitally driven economy, programmers are more important than ever before, and it???d be beneficial for people of all ages to learn some code.

If Jobs really wants the world to view the iPad as a platform for creation, it seems like an opportune time for Apple to release a suite of basic programming tools for iOS devices. This could be a simple tool that creates some rudimentary iOS apps (plenty of apps in the App Store would be considered subpar anyway), and purchasing it should include a free developer???s license for kids to get started programming.

It??
?s great that Apple???s iPad will give birth to some more musicians and moviemakers, but we can???t forget the people who make hardware extra special: the programmers.

Hey, Apple – why not at least give us an AppleScript Editor for the iPad/iPhone…

Apple Aims To Take NFC Mainstream; Perhaps The Greatest Trick They???ve Ever Pulled?

Bloomberg has an interesting report tonight, but they have the headline all wrong. Apple Plans Service That Lets IPhone Users Pay With Handsets ??? is technically correct (assuming the report is true, of course), but it completely downplays the potential ramifications of what Apple is apparently attempting to do. If Apple can nail Near-Field Communication (NFC) and tie it directly into their already-established iTunes payment system. It could change everything. It could transform Apple from the biggest technology company in the world, to the biggest company in the world, period. By far.

Granted, that???s a very big ???if??? in the above statement. And there are many unknowns from this report, which I???m simply extrapolating out. But there???s also a lot that makes sense, if you think about it.

First of all, Bloomberg???s Olga Kharif reports that Apple will build NFC chips into the next iteration of the iPhone. That should be absolutely no surprise ??? in fact, we reported on it months ago. Plus, given that rival Google has already done this for the Nexus S Android device, it has gone from a no-brainer to a must-do.

What is somewhat surprising is first of all that the report only mentions the new iPhone ???for AT&T??? and not Verizon. And secondly, that NFC is said to be built into the iPad 2 as well.

It???s hard to know what to make about the former. Perhaps that???s just a slip up? Or maybe AT&T really will get the iPhone 5 first?

The iPad 2 talk is conceivably more straightforward. Typically, NFC is associated with mobile payments, but don???t forget that it can also be used for a host of other short-distance data communications. In fact, it could well be that NFC becomes a staple of most Apple products for beaming information instantaneously and securely over a short distance. Things like photos, movies, etc. Also, imagine if the iPad is in your bag or purse, it could certainly still be useful when it comes to paying for things by sending a signal to a receiver a few inches away.

But the key to this is really iTunes. Or more specifically, the payment system within iTunes that is already in use by millions and millions of people around the world.

The obvious main reason that NFC hasn???t taken off yet for payments is the lack of hardware support. But one reason that???s been slow to come is that manufacturers likely know that there???s simply no good payment processing system behind any of the current ideas. In fact, the best possible way for things to start moving is probably for the credit card companies to do this themselves and get the ball rolling. But while they are testing the technology, they don???t seem to see the need to disrupt a system that is already working.

So why is this becoming a big deal all of a sudden? Well, everyone???s ears perked up when they heard Google would be including NFC chips in the Nexus S. But the same basic problem remains. For all of Google???s strengths, they have not been able to nail a payment processing system. Yes, they have Google Checkout. But customers clearly prefer competitors like PayPal. The situation is so bad that they???ve even had to start including carrier billing options in Android so people will finally start to buy apps on a whim. Users are simply not doing that as much as anyone would like with Google???s current payment structure. And the system is to blame.

And the same issues will likely hold up their NFC ideas as well. And we???re already seeing the fact that while the Nexus S has NFC built-in, you can???t do anything with it yet.

Enter Apple. The technology giant does have a proven payment system. One with over 100 million accounts set up with built-in credit card access. But those interviewed by Bloomberg for the story suggest that Apple aims to go farther with NFC:

The main goal for Apple would be to get a piece of the $6.2 trillion Americans spend each year on goods and services, Crone said. Today, the company pays credit-card processing fees on every purchase from iTunes. By encouraging consumers to use cheaper methods ??? such as tapping their bank accounts directly, which is how many purchases are made via PayPal ??? Apple could cut its own costs and those of retailers selling Apple products.

And why would customers do that instead of using a credit card? Because a new piece of regulation may soon make it cheaper to pay via debit rather than credit. Apple could be in the right place at the right time with this.

Also from Bloomberg???s report:

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, is considering starting a mobile payment service as early as mid-2011, Doherty said. It would revamp iTunes, a service that lets consumers buy digital movies and music, so it would hold not only users??? credit-card account information but also loyalty credits and points, Doherty said.

In other words, it could be an evolution of the payment system within iTunes to allow for rewards, and other flexibility.

But what about the other side of the coin? It???s fine if Apple builds NFC into their devices, but there still needs to be equipment to read them. There???s a bit on this as well:

Apple has created a prototype of a payment terminal that small businesses, such as hairdressers and mom-and-pop stores, could use to scan NFC-enabled iPhones and iPads, Doherty said. The company is considering heavily subsidizing the terminal, or even giving it away to retailers, to encourage fast, nationwide adoption of NFC technology and rev up sales of NFC-enabled iPhones and iPads, he said.

You can expect Google to do the same. But again, Google doesn???t have the iTunes infrastructure in place to make this happen in a real way. Apple does. If they get a piece of that $6.2 trillion market, there???s no way they could downplay it as negligible revenue, as they try to do with the app and music sales cuts. It could conceivably be one of their biggest money-makers. And it could completely disrupt a number of industries.

But let???s not get ahead of ourselves here, he says 1,000 words later.

Apple image

Website: apple.com

Location: Cupertino, California, United States
Founded: April 1, 1976
IPO:

1980

Started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple has expanded from computers to consumer electronics over the last 30 years, officially changing their name from Apple??? Learn More

Google image

Website: google.com

Location: Mountain View, California, United States
Founded: September 7, 1998
IPO:

August 19, 2004

Google provides search and advertising services, which together aim to organize and monetize the world???s information. In addition to its dominant search engine, it offers a plethora of online tools and platforms including:??? Learn More

Information provided by CrunchBase

A Really interesting article about the growing interest in Near Field Communications. The most interesting piece is about how Apple can tackle the challenge of getting Near Field Communication receiving devices out in to the marketplace.

Let me tell you how I think they will do this…

Apple understands the Consumer Electronics market. They know how to design and build easy to use devices.

So, You know that “Hobby” device: AppleTV. It is now an iOS device that costs $99 (retail). I think Apple can easily reconfigure the AppleTV, remove the HD TV output and add in a Cellular chip set to supplement WiFi and configure it with an iOS application that can handle the NFC transaction receipt. Then implement a logging utility to deliver payment confirmations, may be via WiFi or USB (They already have USB onboard the AppleTV for diagnostics purposes) and you have a device that Apple could discount well below $99. By including a Cellular Chip set they can sell the device via the cellular carriers who could discount the device to zero dollars when bought on a contract. Businesses could easily add the device to an existing cellular contract.

What do you think? Is this plausible?

Watching the live feeds from #D8

I am reading the live feeds from the Steve Jobs Keynote session at D8 All Things Digital conference.

Meanwhile Engadget are also doing a great job with pictures and liveblog coverage.

Some thoughts from the coverage:
– Rupert Murdoch looked out of touch reading his speech from a crumpled set of papers. 

– Walt Mossberg asked about the future of the iPad and betrayed his PC centric view of the world. The iPad is different. Asking if a faster processor is needed for video editing and other content creation tasks misses the point of the iPad. The iPad is a window in to the cloud. As we see more services delivered in to the cloud the iPad will act as the UI in to the cloud. When that happens the dependence on local processing is diminished. What becomes more important is the network. It is a faster network that will really unleash new services and content creation and editing possibilities on the iPad and the iPhone.

The Exhaustive Guide to Apple Tablet Rumors – apple islate – Gizmodo

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There could well be 3G connectivity in the forthcoming iSlate from Apple. Why do I say that? Here’s my logic:
1. Announcing in January with availability to follow a few months later fits with requiring the device to go through FCC approval. Announcing before the submission puts Apple in control of the announcement rather than risk leaks from the FCC.
2. If it didn’t have cellular capability then it would be just like a MacBook or iPod Touch and you would expect Apple to announce and ship simultaneously, or at worst case with just a few weeks delay.
3. Adding a 3G modem allows Apple to distribute through the wireless carriers. It could fit with releasing to Verizon on their new LTE network. The iSlate is not an iPhone and hence doesn’t violate the AT&T exclusivity agreement in the USA.
4. Distributing through one or more wireless carriers allows Apple to get the price subsidized. Remember, the 32GB iPhone 3GS is a $699 phone, like many other smartphones – when you buy it without a contract.