Posts Tagged ‘Safari’

WWDC: New-ish iPhone and a little more

June 7th, 2010 Comments off

WWDC, or World Wide Developer’s Conference, is one of the big events for Apple fans the world over. Steve Jobs, as he usually does, made the Keynote address and announced some new products and technologies as well as gave an update on the state of Apple. This event is also becoming the yearly introduction event for the next generation iPhone. This year was no exception.

The new iPhone is technologically superior to its predecessors and it certainly is a premium handset that any geek can be proud to own. Unfortunately, the design and most of the features were leaked months before the official introduction, deflating a lot of the enthusiasm for the product. To make matters worse, as we previously reported, AT&T’s new data plans put a big damper on the party.

So what does the new iPhone bring to the table? Quite a bit, including an incredibly high density screen, an improved antennae design, an upgraded back camera with flash, and a front facing camera for video conferencing, all in a newly designed package. Of course it is faster and has a bigger battery, but those changes would only be noteworthy if they were slower and smaller. The phone hardware just keeps getting better, which brings us to the software.

As part of WWDC Apple has rebranded the iPhone OS as the iOS. This makes a lot of sense since the OS powers the iPhone, the iPod Touch and the iPad. If you’re keeping score at home that’s 1 device that is a phone and two that aren’t. There have been rumors of an Apple TV powered by iOS, so a rebranding would make even more sense if those rumors are true. The new OS will ship on the new iPhones, but current iPhone owners will get a taste of the new OS a few days before those new handsets hit the shelves. This is a smart move on Apples part as it will reduce the amount of traffic hitting the servers as new iPhones need to be registered.

There was an announcement that Netflix would be coming to the iPhone in short order and while initially it seems like a great idea, with the new capped data plans from AT&T, we just can’t get excited about it. That beautiful high resolution screen pushes almost as many pixels as the iPad, which means an hour of video content could easily eat almost a quarter of the monthly pittance that AT&T is dolling out to its serfs. Without bandwidth to burn, any new software that consumes a lot of megabytes is going to be low on everyone’s wish list.

Which brings us to the double disappointment that is Facetime, Apple’s new <q>mobile</q> video conferencing application for the iPhone. The concept is great, you can video chat with people as easily as making a phone call and hitting a button, but the reality is not nearly as nice. Facetime will initially only be available when the iPhone is connected to a WiFi hotspot. This means you can video conference if you and your chat partner both happen to be near an access point, but otherwise you are out of luck. There are so many applications where Facetime could change how we interact, but if we have to be near WiFi, then it just doesn’t work.

Imagine being able to send back live video from a remote job site to get trouble shooting assistance. Imagine, because without 3G being an option, that’s all you’ll be able to do. No one will cheer too much even if Facetime is opened up to 3G since the minuscule bandwidth allotments or AT&T customers will render any sort of video chatting two expensive. While not as bad as the $21/minute original video phone from AT&T, the per gigabyte usage charges will add up fast enough to keep demand for video chatting at a trickle.

All in all the WWDC announcements from Apple were good, but we just can’t get excited over any of them. Will we be upgrading our phone, of course, we still get to our unlimited data plans.

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Apple’s HTML 5 Showcase

June 6th, 2010 Comments off

In its ongoing battle with Adobe over Flash and open web standards Apple has launched a new offensive. Recently Apple developed an HTML 5 showcase on that demonstrates the interactive capabilities and digital media power of web standards HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The showcase has demonstrations and links to sample code for a number of types of interactive experiences that might currently be done in Flash but could easily be done in HTML 5 instead. Among the demos are a photo gallery, a video player, a magazine layout and a transition sampler.

Each of the demos is focused on one aspect or another of the interactive web, but each is powerful in its simplicity. The video player let’s you scale and rotate the video as it plays which, while not terribly useful is a lot of fun. One can imagine a future where with a good server you could upload raw footage to YouTube and do some light weight editing to create your next social video sensation.

The photo gallery allows you to scroll through pictures horizontally or vertically in an attractive curved arrangement. If you’d rather see them in a less 3d arrangement, that’s available with the click of a drop down list. The transition browser shows several possibilities for future enhancements one could add to the photo gallery.

The two most visually impressive demos are the virtual 5th Avenue Apple Cube and and iPhone product explored. Both of these demos show how a designer can use these technologies to create truly immersive experiences without any proprietary plugins. The glass cube is fun to twirl around inside and giving the stack of iPhones a spin is a real treat.

Unfortunately, all is not well in these demos. For starters, the demos only work in Safari not because of any technical limitation, Apple just chose to prevent other browsers from working. If your browser supports user agent spoofing you can check these demos out for yourself in other browsers. This hearkens back to the bad old days where websites only worked in Internet Explorer and other browsers were locked out, even if they could properly display the sites. This is exactly the opposite of what open Web Standards are about and Apple really missed the target in this one.

Compounding the problem is the fact that these demos don’t just use Web Standards but they also use Apple proprietary extensions, sometimes even when there is an approved standard extension that could be used. That utterly defeats the fundamental argument this site was built to make, that Web Standards are preferable to proprietary add ons. At the end of the day it is this major oversight that renders the demos too hypocritical to take seriously. Hopefully this demo site will be revised over time to actually demo Web Standards, we’ll just have to wait and see.

You can find the demos online at