Facebook Connects with iPhoto ’09

I don’t currently use iPhoto but this news from the Facebook developer blog makes a compelling case …

We are excited that sharing your photos with the people you care about has become even easier with iLife ’09, Apple’s new suite of applications that includes iPhoto ’09. Users of iPhoto ’09 can easily share and tag photos from iPhoto directly to Facebook. With help from Facebook Connect, photo tags from iPhoto ’09 can be added to Facebook and generate Facebook notifications. Additionally, Mac users can update Facebook News Feed and alert friends anytime they update their websites using Apple’s iWeb ’09 application. [Facebook Developers News]

Amazingly Apple has yet to roll out any real social features and Facebook seems quite content to come in and enable integration and conversation.  Connecting the desktop to Facebook is a very strong idea.  As I consider how our social sharing has evolved as more friends signed onto Facebook over the past year my Flickr usage has become more private family sharing and for my geeky screenshots and photos.  Facebook is where most of our social sharing of media happens and connecting through iPhoto is a very simple way to make that happen.

update – just noticed that Apple has a nice demo online.

Palm vs Apple

There’s no doubt in my mind that the Palm Pre is going to be a winner …. if they don’t get sued by Apple for patent infringement for the multi-touch BS that just went through. Engadget has a great analysis on the topic and shows how Apple actually borrowed a few tricks from Palm’s IP library … Should make for an a fascinating court case if it goes down. If the Pre does make it through without issue, it opens the door for others to implement multi-touch in a similar way … everyone could win.

Windows 7 “Plays to” DLNA Standards while Apple keeps it closed – as usual

While this feature is not currently in the open beta, Play To highlights Windows 7 ability to be both a control point and server in a DLNA network.  What’s so awesome about this is that a ton of devices already have this baked in and Windows 7 can auto-discover them as well as present itself to them.  It’s great to see how easily this system works with existing media devices and formats.

Seeing this feature though also raises the obvious opposite perspective from Apple’s model.  The iTunes system ONLY works with itself.  Sure it works on both Macs and PC’s but there is no way without some hacking to get your AppleTV to play with other sources.  Even then it does not function as a DLNA UPnP device like what was shown in the video.  There’s no way to share media from my Nokia Handset to my television without first syncing to my desktop and then copying – through iTunes – over to the AppleTV.

Apple’s closed system certainly simplifies the consumer experience though that’s only due to the substantially limited perspective on how we are allowed to share media in the home.  I have many more things captures media than just those made by Apple … and I know I’m not alone.

Thanks to eHomeUpgrade for the tip.

No serial for Apple’s iWork seems like a marketing move

I was reading about the lack of a serial key for iWork via Obsessable this morning and it occurred to me that while that is actually a pretty standard Mac thing, it could also be a way to encourage distribution and trial.  Sure you lose a bit, but more Mac users using iWork (which looks sweet) is a good thing and Apple can certainly afford the full “trial.”

The Samsung NC10 Hackintosh

About This Mac

I’m happily writing this on my Samsung NC10 in MarsEdit in version 10.5.6 of OSX. Courtesy of an awesome forum and guide, I was able to install OSX on a partition and now have this little trooper of a laptop triple booting across WIndows 7, XP and OSX. I’ve been going back and forth between Windows 7 and OSX and think I’ll get rid of XP at some point down the line when Windows 7 is ready for release.

At first I tried my own way with the OSX project, but discovered after failing (twice) that perhaps I should read the guide through and once I did it was actually very straight forward and relatively simple to do it. The experience of failure certainly helped as I know a lot more about the process, but in general if you are comfortable partitioning a disk and installing an operating system it’s really not so bad.

If you are considering this project, there are a few kinks that I still need to sort out and these are known issues currently being worked on by the community:

  • My screen brightness tends to be lower than I’d like when booting over battery power.
  • Sound through the headphone jack does not work.
  • Ethernet is not supported as the Marvel controller has no OSX driver.
  • In order to get wireless running you need to swap the wireless card, which I’ve done.
  • The trackpad is a bit less controlled than I’d like though I’ve been using a mouse with the system quite a bit anyway.

The amazing upside here is that OSX easily sees the Windows 7 partition and vice a versa. I’m able to use dial up networking for remote connections. Software updates appear to work just fine as illustrated in the following:

NC10 Hackintosh Software Update

Updating OSX Software

01/14/2009 - NC10 running Software Update

As I had previous discussed the wireless slot on the NC10 is pretty small given the size of the system and you need to have the right card to swap in. From everything I’ve read, the Dell series of wireless cards seem to be the most compatible across Windows and Mac OS. I chose the Dell 1490 which offers 802.11 a/b/g. While I’ve got an N capable router I have too many things that run on G and it did not seem worthwhile at this stage to pay more than twice as much just to say I had it.

Back inside we go … I removed the 15 screws on the underside and gently pried the cover apart. Here’s a quick shot of the wireless slot empty:

Samsung NC10 Wireless Card Slot

As you can see the stock card and the Dell are exactly the same side … unlike my attempt to get the Airport Extreme card in there.

01/14/2009 - Samsung NC10 Wireless Options

Once the card was installed I noticed as expected that Airport was not enabled yet. This is because the network port is tied to the previous hardware. Adding the new port is simple. Open the Network Control Panel and select the + in the lower right as seen here:

Adding a new network interface

You can name it anything you like and also remove the prior one which is what I did so the new one could actually be called Airport. As soon as I added this new interface it found my home network and I added a preferred network for my office and that connected instantly today when I got to work.

After that it’s up to you what you want to do … I’ve installed my core apps and synced in my personal data. While the NC10 is not of the same caliber hardware as a Macbook, the cost and bang for the buck here is substantial. The NC10 is showing around 6 hours of battery life which is far better than any MacBookPro performance I’ve seen yet actually a bit less than my experience in XP. I think Windows 7 and OSX are running a pretty close race in the battery life department here and to be honest while more is better with regard to battery life, I’m very pleased with 6 hours.

Gotta love the Mac!

iPhone opening new market opportunities

One of the things most people assume is that the iPhone is a luxury device and while that was true initially based on both the cost of the hardware and the data plan you are required to add, things appear to be evolving. According to a recent Comscore study:

“These data indicate that lower-income mobile subscribers are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to access the Internet, e-mail and their music collections,” said comScore’s Mark Donovan. “Smartphones, and the iPhone in particular, are appealing to a new demographic and satisfying demand for a single device for communication and entertainment, even as consumers weather the economy by cutting back on gadgets.” Comscore via Moconews.net

While in markets like India and China people tend to have fewer options for connectivity and digital entertainment, in this case people are proactively cutting back to cut costs as the mobile / portable experience is quite good. Apple continues to show that the user experience is THE key factor over just features and specs. A great deal can be achieved within their toolbox that suits a very mass audience. I hope others are paying attention …

Thinking Apple’s iTunes Genius is not really that smart

I’m finding the iTunes Genius feature to be pretty disappointing … The sidebar function is simply a re-branded mini-store from previous versions offering a mix of things I own and offers the usual :30 sec sample limitation. The Genius playlist function could be a whole lot more interesting than it is, but only shows me music I have in my collection … why? This seems like a massively missed opportunity enable rich discovery yet only looks to your collection to create a genre-based playlist. I can already do that, though perhaps instead of taking one click on an active track might take a few more clicks and random shuffle.

If I were Zune or Nokia, I’d be all over this as discovery and the subsequent purchases could really differentiate. Zune has announced their plans to offer Channels which are genre “stations” that sync to your portable player just like the Zune cards of your friends. These are features that can really start to show the power of the subscription model. Add to this the ability to sync over the air and you’ve got a very dynamic portable experience. It’s unclear what Nokia’s intentions are around discovery, but Comes With Music should reveal itself shortly and offer a large catalog of opportunity to subscribers. The current music store offers over the air purchase and download and the CWM package will do the same. Too bad there’s been no announcement (or discussion) around the US market yet.

It’s impossible to know whether Apple’s move here is an intentional decision or something that’s really just a limit of per track DRM. Subscription music (rental or own) is infinitely more flexible and lets you easily experiment with new music while per track, only lets you sample in small bites paying as you go.

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iPhone or iPod Touch

The most interesting thing about today’s Apple announcements are that the iPod can do “voice” with the new headphones. Pricing is particularly interesting at the 16GB range where the iPhone and iPod Touch are identically positioned at $299. The focus seems to be on voice memos for the iPod, but it’s going to take all of 5 minutes for someone like Truphone to get VOIP working given that it already runs on the iPod. The convenience of making a voice call is somewhat reduced without a built-in microphone, but the platform is certainly ready.

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iPhone 2.0

As noted previously I have not purchased the iPhone 3G and as of this moment see no compelling reason to do so … I did update my iPhone to the 2.0 software though after the update re-harvested the SIM for my other devices.

I like what I see in the app store, meaning I like how it works, but I am not finding any applications that are must have, OMG this is something that will drive me to the 3G device cool. The App Store is regardless, the best on-device implementation I’ve seen for application discovery and distribution. Works quite well in iTunes as also I should note, though 99% of my browsing has been on the iPhone itself.

I’ve loaded up mainly streaming music apps – Pandora, AOL Radio and Last.fm. All work well and as you’d expect delivering tunes based on your requests. I’ve only used them on Wifi, but as Angel can confirm, music streaming on EDGE seems to work fine too.

I’ve also checked out Facebook, NYTimes, Truphone, Remote, eReader and Bank of America. Facebook worked as expected though the iPhone web app was strong to begin with. The NYT was actually disappointingly slow. The m.site is much quicker on the iPhone or any other device for that matter. Truphone refused to connect I think because I was doing it without a SIM and that’s how it identifies you … eReader is cool and actually connected to pretty old Palm database. I actually updated my payment info with eReader and installed the app on my E71 … think I’ll be checking out some new eBooks soon. I don’t have an account with Bank of America, but I was curious how they were handling mobile banking … not much to see beyond locations until I login. Remote is the best app I’ve tried and that’s thanks to the Apple-centric home in which I live. I love how I can use my wife’s or my iPhone to connect to our shared iTunes library and stream tunes on the AppleTV. If I did not have an iPhone, it would be worth having an iPod Touch just for this functionality.

In general, I’m pleased with the update given I get essentially all the functions minus the 3G radio and onboard GPS with the 2.0 software. I stopped in the Apple Store in White Plains on Sunday for a Genius Bar appointment with my MacBookPro and spent some time with the new iPhone 3G just to see if I’d missed anything and should just buy it, but I left without a new device and am not regretting anything. The new hardware certainly feels nicer in your hand and I found the keyboard more responsive than the one on my device, which is odd given they run the same OS … If I was going to spring for one, I’d get the White which definitely looks elegant and seems to stay cleaner compared to the finger print magnet Black. Plus, I’d need to have 16GB just because …

I was completely unsuccessful at getting my work Exchange account to sync and am not sure what the issue is as the Mail for Exchange application syncs without issue on the Nokia handsets on which I’ve tried it. MobileMe has been a complete fail … Contacts and Calendar refuse to load and mail is just my .Mac which is already forwarding to Gmail. I’d probably stick with Gmail IMAP which supports IDLE and does “push.”

I’ve been reading reports on battery life and am not surprised. GPS and 3G eat batteries. It’s been my experience for a long time and that nice big screen on the iPhone can’t be helping in the power department either. People will just need to learn how to manage their activities a bit. Speaking of which I’m very curious to see what happens with all the apps people load and how that impacts the usability and navigation on the device. There are no sub-menus which is potentially easier to deal with, but you can only deal with so many pages of things.

We’ll have to see what happens when apps get access to background processes in the fall. For now, there’s still no multitasking, cut and paste, and bluetooth does not support DUN, A2DP or keyboards. My iPhone is likely to remain largely unused …

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I just wiped my Apple Address Book

Due to some cosmic craziness, the Address Book on my Mac Book Pro had swelled to over 140,000 contacts! 141,674 to be exact. There were actually even more but I was successful in killing a few off.

Apple Address Book Sync Malfunction

I have no idea what caused the duplication bug to occur, but it was way too much for the system to handle and I needed to take a fresh crack at things. There were simply too many to select all and delete or even run the built-in duplicate finder.

~/Library/Application Support/AddressBook in case you are wondering where to find the source data. I trashed the whole folder.

Features vs. Experience

While this post is not really about the iPhone it is the standard for experience and should be mentioned briefly. I’m sure plenty of people will be willing to debate the feature end as well though given the device is still playing catchup with hardware, I’ll leave it at that.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve received two new N-Series devices, first the N82 and more recently the N78. While the N82 handily beats the N78 in specs, I find myself enjoying and choosing to use the N78 more. Part of this is that it’s a new gadget ,but as I’ve thought about it it’s really the updated S60 OS. Feature Pack 2 (S60 3.2) really is a terrific update. There are many subtleties as I discussed in my overview and it’s hard to go back – not hard to use, but I am quickly growing accustomed to the new way it’s done on Symbian and not looking to revert. I am still carrying choices around – N78, N82, N95 at the moment but find I am even skipping over the 3G N95 for the moment to get the better experience from the OS.

Now if I had a second SIM card … I’d absolutely be using the N95 for the faster data access and tethering capability. That’s a considerable expense though and a luxury I’ve yet to convince myself I need.

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The important details from the iPhone announcements

Price is killer. 3G and GPS for 199(8GB) or 299(16GB). Though subsidized, it’s a very strong offer and should appeal to the masses in a big way.

MobileMe… I’m looking forward to getting this working and love the idea. Sync is very important and something that’s not very easy to do and usually not that simple for the end user. Apple seems to have nailed this for the key pieces of your mobile life – PIM and Photos. I like it. I also like that my .Mac account will just become MobileMe.

The applications marketplace is nice, but I did not see anything that really turned me on in the demos. I’m not much for mobile games, though the graphics were impressive. I already have a DS and a PSP and rarely use either …

Nokia’s probably feeling good about the hardware side of things today, though the MobileMe details really crush the still yet to be delivered Ovi service. The simplicity of it all is where Nokia seems to still struggle. There’s nothing like that on Windows Mobile or Blackberry either, but only Nokia has been pushing their new service model…

As for my own usage, I’m standing clear of the new iPhone for now. I’ll try the 2.0 software when it’s released and look forward to Exchange sync and potentially the VPN access … Otherwise the device is still basically the same. Camera has not been improved at all though the battery life being reported is very strong and something I look forward to hearing about.

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iPhone 2.no

While I am ready to be surprised, I just can’t see racing out to get the new iPhone. Last year I waited in line, had a blast, (was tortured by activation) and generally enjoyed using the iPhone but after an initial honeymoon phase (3months) I moved on and have really not looked back. It’s been about a year since the iPhone was released and I’m reflecting on the most popular post I’ve ever written.

I think I should reiterate that I am not a normal user. I am a power user and push devices to their limits frequently. I have given this some considerable thought lately thanks to the influence and full effect of the hype machine. For me, and I would imagine a lot of other mobile power users, the iPhone lacks some key details and features we have had for years. Some of these things are likely to equalize but from what I have seen in both current applications and the leaks from the SDK my needs appear to be best met elsewhere.

I have yet to meet a mobile device whose battery can last as long as I need in a day – including the iPhone and I’d expect HSDPA to have the similar battery crushing power it has on other devices. I’ve had good to excellent photo and video capture on my handsets for several years and am not willing to give that up, period.

In the US 3G is still new so that’s a push, but …the applications, local storage, over the air downloading, 5MP camera with Flash, video recording, java, flash in the browser, enhanced bluetooth profiles (keyboards and stereo headsets) are all key pieces to what I look for and need. I often keep applications (other than email and music) running in the background. Cut and Paste are also things I use many times a day …

The browser of course still remains the golden ticket for the iPhone. The manner in which pages load and render on the large auto-rotating screen is excellent and has yet to be contested on a phone in my experience. The iPhone’s email client with HTML is also very strong.

While the application store is going to be a big deal, the trick for the iPhone will be how to prevent the user from getting in the way. What I mean by this is how do you manage more than a handful of icons in the iPhone UI. Looking at my father’s iPhone recently he had two full screens of icons for all of his bookmarks, I mean web apps. My wife’s device has been handled by the kids and is a mess as well. When additional applications arrive the desire to try will be high for many. The more you add the more complicated it gets and the less bullet-proof the experience becomes.

The iPhone’s greatest success has been the broad mass awareness (and relative adoption) of mobile connectivity and I am grateful for that. I hope that the next generation continues to push things as we all stand to benefit.

Things might change on Monday … I’ll be watching just like everyone else!

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AppleTV Gets Day and Date with DVD Release

Gizmodo confirms Apple will be releasing movies from the major studios on the same day to AppleTV as DVD. I honestly prefer the quality of AppleTV over my Cablevision on-demand system and like the extra functionality of portability to my iPhone or iPod. Even with these details though I really hope this is just the first step.

As I’ve said a few times here, DVD release should not be the end game. It’s theatrical release and I’d be willing to pay a premium for the privilege. There’s limited value in getting just the movie on the same day I can get the full DVD. Helping my wife and I see a movie that’s being released to theaters — something that’s quite hard for families with young children — would be truly powerful and worthwhile.

For now I think I’ll keep on buying those DVDs I want and just ripping them for portable use.
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Renault and Nokia to cobrand a crap car?

The Nokia Renault?

This makes absolutely no brand sense. Why would you take a high end device like the Nokia N95 and pair it with a low to mid-range Renault?

The car comes with Nokia’s integated GPS as well as car kit (naturally) to pair with the N95. The integration of GPS is an interesting move, but that could have been something on it’s own. The co-branding is the bit that just feels wrong to me. I guess my American bias is working overtime here against Renault, but a VW Jetta / Passat seems like a more appropriate choice. And yes I know about the iPod integration there … competition is a bitch.

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iPod touch is now a “mainstream Wi-Fi mobile platform”

Trojan Horse activated …

‘We believe one of the iPod [touch’s] future directions is to become the first mainstream Wi-Fi mobile platform, running all kinds of mobile applications,’ company executives said.

The iPod touch led a significant amount of Apple’s iPod shipment growth during the first quarter, particularly in Japan. Though US iPod sales came in relatively flat year-over-year, the Apple executives said they were happy to sacrificed sheer unit volume in the short term for a long-term objective.

While the executives didn’t explain what the iPod touch’s future directions would entail, the statement marks a reversal of Apple’s previous approach to the iPod line. While introducing the fifth-generation iPod a few years back, chief executive Steve Jobs said that the device remained ‘all about the music’ — a statement now challenged by equal attention to web browsing and other wireless data features. [Appleinsider]

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A couple of days with the iPhone has me right back to the N95

In honor of Macworld this week, I put my SIM card back in the iPhone and charged it back up and after the keynote I was excited to to update all my Apple kit and I did as soon as I got home that night. Interestingly (or not) that’s when my interest sorta fell into whatever mode. The Quicktime, Itunes updates were nice and revealed the rental marketplace, but AppleTV is still two weeks away and the platform on which I’m most likely to use it. The iPhone updates while nice on the surface really don’t offer a whole heck of a lot. The biggest change being the enhancements to Google Maps, which are indeed quite nice.

Changing my home screen around and adding web shortcuts however is a total non-started for me at this point. I don’t find adding a bookmark to my home screen to be enabling any additional speed to the process – especially since I tend to keep a few tabs (the ones most likely to appear on my home screen) open at all times in Safari. Dropping back to EDGE only speeds and seeing the limits of the camera were also bummers and not having any legit applications like Jaiku, Gmail, Shozu among others … The addition of multi-address sms messages is something that should have been there from the start and is only worth mentioning that it’s there.

This morning after two days of straight iPhone use, I swapped the SIM back to my N95-3 and was immediately reminded why I love this device. It’s fast. Applications run quickly and in the background and I can multi-task like the power user I am. The addition of DUN let’s me fire up my N800 as well and take advantage of both devices to their respective limits. I tend to push things pretty hard (if you had not noticed) and the I reach the limits on the iPhone rather quickly.

One note of interest … while I previously thought the battery on the iPhone was amazing, I’m feeling considerably closer to reality now after two more days of full use. I have no problem reaching the 20% warning in a day and in fact if i don’t trickle charge during the day will run out of juice quite a bit more quickly. That said the battery is certainly more robust than the N95’s and I’m used to charging through the day, but don’t let anyone tell you the iPhone can handle the torture of intensive use without needing a refill before the day is over.

All of this is bringing me back to my initial conclusions on things. The iPhone is truly a mass market device that is designed to bring aspects of mobility many of us take for granted to a much wider audience. While certain aspects of the experience are undeniably wonderful (browsing, syncing and connection switching to name a few), they don’t outweigh the needs (HSDPA, DUN, Applications, image and video capture, and local storage) I have on which the iPhone falls very flat. I can’t help but think how nice that upcoming N958GB NAM device is going to be when it arrives … a larger screen is always a good thing for reading as much I do on the go.

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AppleTV Take 2

Apple - Apple TV - Features - Movies

As I am sure you know, I was really looking forward to an update to the AppleTV and Steve largely delivered today!

The new software (available in two weeks) will bring a completely revised interface, direct downloads for purchase and rental of movies as well as purchase of TV shows and music. I love the flickr integration (it’s what I use) and am looking forward to putting some of the new 720p HD content to the test.

There were some clear concessions to get the studios to play here. HD content is substantially limited compared to SD for movies and there’s no day in date with DVD releases as my cable provider currently offers.

I’ve seen some rather ridiculous criticisms from people on twitter about the lack of 1080p material. This is just a spec and most people do not have systems capable of showing the differences anyway. Before you say this is like the edge vs. 3g claim on the iPhone it’s not. It’s real. Anyway …

A legitimate critique here and not something Apple can really do to fox is that HD rentals are not transferable to your Mac. The HDCP copy protection baked in will not allow it. It also may not allow you to play through an analog cable converter if you are connected that way… just be warned. Copy protection of this kind is pretty strict. I hope the likely to follow HD purchases will be allowed to sync as there’s only so much space on the drive – even the larger of the two.

There are a few things missing:

  • There’s no way to expand the storage capacity yet. I checked the Apple support docs and there does not seem to be any reference to external USB storage, Airport Disk or Time Capsule which is a shame.
  • I’m assuming that Apple has also not added the ability to control playback on an AppleTV without the TV. As it stands today, it cannot be used like an Airport Express for audio output.
  • No way to record live TV… I had a feeling this would be missing as it directly competes with the sale of content from the iTunes store, but it’s still the way most of us view TV — from TV. Elgato has made some beautiful updates to their eyetv software with the v.3 release and this will definitely complement the AppleTV nicely. Even better though would be a direct add-in for the AppleTV to record without a computer… like if that USB port accepted the eyetv hybrid
  • More important to me than the DVR piece though is the ability to support other codecs. We know the hardware is capable and this would seriously open the box to let it do what we all want. Again, not very Apple… but it would be quite nice.

None of the missing pieces are deal breakers … but would be very nice to have. All the new stuff with the UI and iTunes store come in today’s AppleTV (after the software update) and new boxes being shipped will get a nice price cut which should hopefully increase adoption. Apple’s got a very compelling system here even with the knocks. I might just have to upgrade my original unit for the larger drive as I have a feeling there’s going to be quite a bit of downloading in our house.

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