All 12 entries tagged Apple
October 10, 2006
May 02, 2006
Writing about web page http://www.apple.com/getamac/ads/
There's a great new series of adverts from Apple just out. They're called "Viruses", "Restarting", "Better", "iLife", "Network" and "WSJ", and they're simplicity itself; each advert starts out with two guys standing next to each other. "Hi, I'm a Mac" says one (the younger, more casually dressed guy). "And I'm a PC" says the other, more conservative figure. Can you guess how the dialog goes from there? Clever, understated humour.
(I want to subscribe to the Awesome Computer Review Weekly Journal.)
January 26, 2006
Writing about web page http://www.orbino.com/store/index.php?cPath=77
One of the well-known snags with iPods is that they scratch if you so much as put them in the same room as anything which isn't made of cashmere. So assuming you'd like to keep your shiny new toy in a reasonable state, some sort of case is a necessity. But where are the cases which are as good-looking and well-designed as the iPod itself? Here:-
October 24, 2005
Writing about web page http://itunes.stanford.edu
Stanford University has done a deal with Apple to host a collection of audio files at the Apple iTunes store. Here's what the Stanford home page looks like in iTunes:-
You can look for yourself if you have iTunes installed by following this link. It's not entirely surprising that Stanford would be doing this, since they're located close to Apple headquarters, and historically they have worked with Apple on other projects. And in fact, they're not the only, or even the first, university to do this; Apple mentions Duke and Brown universities as other institutions which are distributing content via the iTunes store. And quite a few individual academics have created podcasts and distributed them via the iTunes store (try going to the Podcasts page of the store and then searching for "university").
So what kind of content are Stanford distributing? Here's a screen-grab of the lectures that are currently available:-
It's a mixed bag, but there's some reasonably heavyweight stuff in there as well as some more general-interest oriented content. So why would Stanford – or any HE institution – want to distribute content in this way? I think there are pros and cons:-
- At the moment, they're clearly trying to reach not just current students, but alumni and anyone with an interest in the institution. But it would be perfectly possible to deliver content which is restricted to a smaller audience such as current students or just students taking a particular module.
- Right now it's just audio. But as iPod screens get bgger and better, I bet that future iterations will include images such as PowerPoint slides or photos, or even video.
- But isn't it a bit risky to distribute on such a locked-down platform? The iTunes store only works if you use the iTunes client and the client in turn only syncs with an iPod. So these aren't podcasts which just anyone can use; only iTunes using, iPod owning students can play. Bought a Sony MP3 player? Tough.
- Set against that, though, is the beautiful end-to-end experience that using the iTunes store gets you; students will be able to subscribe to series of podcasts (eg. all the lectures in a course) and whenever iTunes starts up it'll go and look for new episodes and download them automatically, and when they plug their iPod in, the content will immediately be synced.
- Plus they'll get the benefits of Apple's very well-distributed network to serve their content; Apple use Akamai to make sure that iTunes content is replicated at lots of servers around the world, so Stanford's content will presumably be similarly replicated.
- It's not clear to me whether the content that's being created is being recorded specifically for distribution in this way, or whether they're just recording ordinary lectures and other teaching events. If it's the latter, then I wonder whether the absence of the blackboard or the OHP or the PowerPoint will matter. If it's the former then I wonder how easy it will be in the long term to keep academics enthusiastic about this additional task of creating iTunes content.
So I'm not sure whether it's a smart choice or not. The same content could have been delivered as podcasts from Stanford's own servers almost as easily, and then there wouldn't be this iTunes/iPod lock-in. But they've had some good press about the deal; more than any of the many institutions who make audio files of lectures available for download in the boring old-fashioned way. The test, I guess, will be in a year or so, if they're still going strong and have grown the library as much as they currently say they plan to.
October 13, 2005
There's been a bit of chat on Steve's blog about the new iPods which can do video, albeit on a pretty small screen at a pretty cruddy resolution. A couple of posts on blogs elsewhere touch on this in interesting ways: from Boing Boing Glenn Fleishman observes:-
- Can't transfer TV programs.
- Not much content yet designed to play on it.
- Battery life while watching video is rated at 2 to 3 hours, thus not long enough for even a half-country-hopping flight.
- Can't burn the content you buy for it, so you suddenly have a storage and management problem.
- So this is for Greenwich-to-Manhattan commuters with disposable cash who don't watch Lost or Desperate Housewives the night before because they're too busy playing squash. They can watch DH on the way into work and Lost on the way back without running out of battery life… just barely.
But on the other side of the fence, I think John Gruber is also absolutely spot on when he says :-
Apple is simply kicking ass with iPod hardware engineering. In just one year, they’ve dramatically shrunk the thickness, added a larger full color screen, increased capacity, increased battery life, and added photo and video playback. Which is not even to mention how much better the Nano is than the iPod Mini. I’m hard-pressed to think of any other hardware company doing as much innovative product design and engineering as Apple’s iPod division.
Even if, like me (and Chris, and others) you don't see the attraction of this particular iPod iteration, I think Apple's track record with the hardware is just dazzling.
January 12, 2005
Writing about web page http://www.gizmodo.com/gadgets/images/iProduct.gif
but the body text that follows it on Gizmodo's site is well worth a read.
January 11, 2005
December 29, 2004
Writing about web page http://www.thinksecret.com/news/0412expo2.html
According to this report from the normally-reliable ThinkSecret, Apple will announce a $499 (£262) Mac at Macworld Expo on January 11. The idea seems to be to offer something with the following characteristics:-
- Enough performance for web browsing, email, word-processing, iTunes and iPhoto, but no more.
- No monitor; the assumption is that this won't be the first PC in the house for most buyers, so it can share a monitor with whatever you've already got, or you can spend as much (nice 20" LCD) or as little (17" CRT) as you want. (Maybe there will be TV-out too?)
- Ethernet, 802 wireless, Firewire and a 56K modem onboard as well as USB2, so it'll be easy to get it connected to the internet or your iPod or your camera.
- Living-room form factor – thin, small, quiet. Maybe even styled like a hifi or TV component so that it can go with your stereo or under your TV.
For years, Apple have said that they don't want to compete in the sub-$800 desktop space, but it seems that the enormous success of the iPod has persuaded them that many iPod owners would also become Mac owners if it could be made cheap enough. I think that's exactly right; at around £300 or so, I'd buy one just as a media server, and so I suspect would other iPod owners.
November 17, 2004
Writing about web page http://www.panic.com/extras/audionstory/
Fascinating account of what happened to a software house making MP3 software for the Mac once iTunes appeared. My favourite quote (when the narrator gets a meeting with Steve Jobs):-
I remember he asked, "Do you have any other ideas for apps you want to work on?" I replied, genuinely, "Well, we've got an idea for a digital photo management program…" and he replied with a simple, "Yeah. Don't do that one."
Writing about web page http://www.duke.edu/ipod/
Duke University in North Carolina has given all 1,650 members of its new first year intake an iPod. They assert that iPods have the potential to become a powerful educational tool; smaller than a laptop and with longer battery life, so that it can be genuinely ubiquitous and pervasive for its users. The iPods come pre-loaded with content such as the orientation schedule and the academic calendar, and there is a Duke Uni page on iTunes where students can download audio files of lectures and other content. Students are also given a microphone so that they can record on to their iPod, for example when out on field classes.
It's an interesting idea, and there's no doubt that Duke were smart to pick a device which for many students will be a desirable object in its own right (the student gets to keep the iPod after they graduate). But I wonder how much value there will turn out to be in an audio-only device? How many lectures turn out to be useful if all you have is the audio, not the slides or the OHPs or the whiteboard? And iPods don't support bookmarking or any other sort of indexing that would let the user do more than just listen from start to end. Perhaps next year they'll go with the iPod Photo so that the PowerPoint slides show up too.
There's also no mention of whether the students get any kind of preferential deal at iTunes as part of the package. Free iPods and cheap iTunes; now that's the way forward…
July 26, 2004
So, if you're into MP3 players, it likely won't have escaped your attention that Apple have once again updated the iPod. Short version: it's a bit thinner, the battery life is up from 8 to 12 hours, and it's 100 dollars cheaper.
When I first heard about this, I was underwhelmed. The sorts of features I had been hoping Apple might consider for the iPod included:-
- Line-in recording for use at gigs or round at friends' houses.
- FM tuner
- Recording from the tuner (and although I'm not desperate to see it myself, doesn't it seem logical that once you have a hard disk, an FM tuner and a powerful OS, that you might as well throw in Tivo-style recording for the radio, so your iPod could automatically record every episode of The News Quiz for you?)
- Simple removable hard disk operation rather than stopping me seeing the MP3s on its disk.
- SD card slot to archive my digital photos on to its hard disk.
But perhaps I'm wrong: there's a cogent analysis here suggesting that Apple have in fact fixed exactly the two things that they needed to. The only area where iPods lag behind the competition is battery life and price; 8 hours is right at the bottom of the scale for MP3 players, and $500 (for the 40GB model) is right at the top of the price scale. So maybe what they've actually done is opened up the market to a larger proportion of the population, for whom the existing aura of cool and the new lower price might be enough to persuade them that now's the time to buy.