What’s in store for AppleTV?

With Macworld coming this week I’ve been actively considering what’s in store for us and the one thing I’m hoping to see (almost more than an Apple MID) is an AppleTV strategy in conjunction with some updated products.

Apple could, as I’ve thought for a few years now, easily own the (still fledgling) media center market. While the current crop of MediaCenter PCs offer far more than AppleTV they are not really targeted at a mass market. Apple owners must add additional devices to handle TV recording and since Apple currently only officially supports the iTunes ecosystem from both a codec and content perspective it’s a tad limiting. That said, what it does it does very well.

It’s easy to add a Mac Mini to your system, which offers more power than an AppleTV, but the simplicity of the interface should be a benefit not a hinderance to getting access to content. Most people (not the geeks though we are most likely to want this first) do not want a keyboard and mouse a the TV. You want to lean back and use the remote… The AppleTV is a potentially perfect solution, but it needs to evolve.

What’s the grand vision? In my mind it looks something like this:


Assume it’s all open for change, and consider that Apple actually has most of these parts in place now though they just don’t all connect … yet.

  • I’m feeling the AppleTV is ripe to support an even larger drive than it has now, though ideally it would work with an Airport Disk / NAS which would give you considerably more flexibility and storage potential.
  • In addition to enhanced storage options, the AppleTV needs to gain the ability to record live television. In an ideal world that would come through CableCARD, though ATSC tuners would be acceptable as a consolation. CableCARD would let you record premium channels like HBO, while ATSC is limited to what’s coming in over the air and unfortunately is not even available in all markets.
  • Apple’s rumored Movie Store (rent and purchase) is likely to be shared at Macworld, and everyone believes that you will be able to purchase from AppleTV at that time as well. There’s no reason to assume (we are dealing with rumors here) that the store would not also support direct purchase of Music and TV shows. The iPhone already has a great purchase and sync function for music … seems like a logical extension to use in for AppleTV.
  • I’ve added Subscriptions to the iTunes store and hope we see this eventually. It’s probably unlikely for Macworld this year, but is something I hope Apple really considers. Rhapsody has led to purchase for me and subscriptions bust the walls down for people to actively sample.
  • The iPhone has some serious potential in my vision. Using Back to My Mac technology, the iPhone would be capable of controlling the AppleTV from within the home as well as anywhere you can get a connection. Apple actually already has the technology to control considerably more than just the AppleTV and the iPhone / (or iPod Touch) is a perfect form for this. Back to My Mac would just the way to do it from outside your home… Though it would potentially also offer a remote way to schedule recordings or purchases you want to watch upon your return.
  • I also see the iPhone as a new addition to where content can be streamed (not just synced). Through wifi and the likely 3G successor we’ll see this year, you get a remote viewing platform to rival SlingBox.

While I realize that adding LiveTV goes somewhat against the grain in the Apple ecosystem of iTunes, it’s an important component to the overall media center vision as it’s still the primary vehicle for how most people consume broadcast material. It would be trivial to add…

Another detail I did not include in the illustration, but I feel is important to note is that Apple should really open the capabilities of the box up to developers. A plugin SDK would enable a new world of opportunities for content providers and even more importantly the addition of codecs. Let’s face it, there’s a whole world of content well beyond the iTunes store and the Quicktime world and simply letting people view that as you can on your Mac would be a win. Of course that challenges Apple’s H.264 vision a bit and so I’ll just leave it as wishful thinking for now. There are always hacks to get around things…

Apple has nothing but opportunity with AppleTV. While it’s been a hobby since it launched it’s time to rip the doors off their hinges and define the market. It’s easily within reach.

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Apple Going WiMax – Doubtful

xohm + Apple

Not like Valleywag has ever been a keen source for Mac information.

“Our sources tell us that Apple may include WiMax, the high-speed, long-range wireless broadband technology, in an ultraportable 13′ notebook computer, and possibly across the entire MacBook Pro line. Just part of the rumor mill flying in preparation for Steve Jobs’s Macworld keynote next week in San Francisco, of course, but our source gives it a ’60 percent chance.’ AppleInsider has pictures of Apple’s banners inside the Moscone center with ‘There’s something in the air’ as a slogan. If true, this could be a risky move for Apple. [Valleywag]

A couple of considerations …

  • Apple chose NOT to go with 3G for the iPhone because it’s not in wide enough distribution.
  • Apple has chosen NOT to release a Blu Ray drive machine yet even though they’ve been in that camp for a very long time.
  • Apple did add ethernet, Wifi and Firewire before anyone and killed the floppy so you never know.

It just seems high risk to me to bet on WiMax as much as I’ve been starting to like the idea. The interesting angle with WiMax is the bring your own device. You just buy network access… not quite as simple as the iPhone all you can eat plan which is currently part of purchase, but considerably more open sounding than your standard voice+data plan. And of course there’s no reason why Apple could not shake that up as they’ve done to date with the mobile market.

ZDNet thinks there’s the opportunity for a few WiMax enabled devices. If this is happening, I’d really like to see an OSX Multi-touch MID much more than a WiMax iPod…

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Single or Multiple Device?

I’m clearly in the two piece camp at this stage of my mobile life.  Andy talks about the Camps of One or Many today  and links to another post written by Alan Reiter on the same topic.  Today I use the N95 with the N800.  I recognize the benefits of each as well as the overlaps but choose to use one of the other to maximize my enjoyment or enhance the experience across the two.  I’ve tried all in one with the iPhone and lasted a few months … A few years ago, I was a heavy Treo user and pushed that to the limits as well.

While I really see the enhanced benefits of browsing, reading and viewing photos and video on a larger screen, I also use my devices so heavily that having a second thing ready to back me up when the battery in one fades is quite helpful.  As we see the release of MIDs with embedded WWAN like the WiMax units shown at CES or the alluded to but not yet seen WiMax N810 from Nokia things will get even more interesting.

My normal day works something like this:

  • Wake up with the N95 alarm, and then check email and Jaiku on the phone right out of bed.
  • On the one hourtrain into NYC, I fire of the N95’s music player and listen to music or podcasts (which I update over the air through the day)
  • The N800 usually then slides out of my pocket and I tether to the N95 to start diving into my feed reading.  I usually also fire up IM, Email and Mauku, a Jaiku client.
  • Depending on which device happens to be capturing my attention at the time, I check in with Jaiku, Gmail, Twitter and Google Reader.
  • During the day I swap the N800 for a work issued blackberry as the second device in my pocket but really only use it for email as it actually sucks (yes sucks) at most other things.
  • My return trip is pretty similar to the morning though I’ve watching a fair bit of video over the past few months instead of feed reading on the N800.  I do multi-task with the N95 and find myself staying connected with Jaiku and email.

I also sporadically snap photos, shoot video (which upload or stream as they are captured).  3G service (ATT) kicks in after about 20 minutes in my ride towards NYC and substantially enhances the overall online experience…

I could probably do all of this on the N95, though it is actually more convenient to have two, in the same way it’s more ideal to work on two monitors.

When I had the N810, I was actually writing posts on the go, not just consuming them and that’s purely a factor of having a built in keyboard and the availability of applications like Maemo WordPy which is offline blog editor for the tablet.

Maybe it’s that I miss my Nokia N810 (still waiting to get a release version swapped with the proto I tested) or maybe it’s the sheer lack of excitement from this year’s CES, but now I really want to get a MID.  The Intel booth showed off all kinds of cool devices and for me this really is a category of interest.  I know MIDs are not likely to become mainstream in the next year (or two) but for the power user, they really fill a beautiful spot in my mobile life.

Typically  a MID is pocketable vs. a UMPC which is something you need a bag to carry.  This distinction is something that makes the experience for a mobile power user like myself.  I can’t see going to a single device anytime soon.  I think the SDK and pending apps for the iPhone are a very interesting thing to watch here, but more interesting to me would actually be a slightly larger connected tablet from Apple

Apple Ultra Portable to Dock into an iMac like system?!

apple docking system

This is such a cool patent I hope it’s real for Macworld this year. I’ve been reading about Apple’s potential products for MacWorld like most enthusiasts and the notion of an ultra portable (MID or UMPC) would be a very cool release. The market is certainly ready this time around – at least from my accounts of how things are working. A device that gives me full access to my stuff, locally and from the cloud and all in the same elegant Apple OS would be a home run.

While I’m not currently a major traveler I would totally want this type of rig as it truly would offer the best of both worlds. From what I can tell this is probably something in the 5-7inch screen size like the EEEPC, rather than the Nokia Tablet and would not fit in your pocket, but would easily fit in a bag. Macworld starts on January 14th … getting close!

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Gmail IMAP arrives … sucks the life from my system

I’m not sure what your experience has been but Gmail IMAP is one slow ass system. On my MacBookPro, I left it running overnight to try and sync everything, but even today I am finding my system feels as though it is underwater. I see beach-balls and find navigating even my inbox to be rather torturous.

Gmail IMAP sucking on my MacBookPro

Force Quit seems to be the only way out … Guess I’ll stick to web Gmail for now. Perhaps I’ll get lucky and the 2.0 version will show it soon … yeah right.

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The Mobile Web: WebKit, Safari and the S60 browser

Web Browser for S60

I am sitting on a plane en route to the Web 2.0 Summit writing this on my N800, enjoying my time to write some things wihout distraction… aside from the guy in 11B reading this over my shoulder!

About two weeks ago, Tommi at the S60 Applications blog asked for feedback on the Nokia Beta Labs program. My initial thought is that it’s really a solid idea which enables the feedback loop via the blogosphere and certainly on the applications blog comments. I posted something similarly on Tommi’s site but now that some time has passed it seems that perhaps the focus could be on altering the existing status more rather than pushing out the new. Don’t get me wrong – I’m an applications junkie just like most of you, but I would like to see some renovation before building more.

When I attended the Evening with S60 event in NYC, I was told (incorrectly now) that the S60v3 FP1 browser would be released within 30 days to other S60v3 devices which was great news. I saw a massive spike in traffic after my update on this news which confirmed I was far from alone in looking for this type of update. Nokia, with the exception of Maps, seems to require a new unit to get what become device standard features (of course right after you) purchase your phone.

Of course, a long time has now passed and we’ve yet to see a release. Instead, we heard about the widgets which will be coming in FP2 probably in Q1 2008. Not to take away from widgets (I think I’ve seen the light a bit for very task specific information), the browser now seems a bit limited in one very key area thanks to some healthy competition from both the iPhone as well as Nokia’s own N800 . The iPhone has enabled a VERY rich use of tabs which make maintaining simultaneous activities online possible. The S60 browser can also do multiple tabs and actually does them quite well. There is NO WAY TO MANUALLY OPEN A NEW WINDOW.

The hack I’ve found for this is silly, and takes longer than I would like to get going, but has now become a part of my browsing process on the N95-3.

  • You first have to set the window preference to allow pop-ups. This will allow ads to pop up or under … no way around that I know.
  • Once this is on, you visit a site that forces links to spawn in new windows. My choice for this is the m.twitter.com site as it’s mobile optimized and loads very quickly. I can get a few windows going right away and move about my business. I usually maintain 3-4 tabs now…
  • Once you have a second, third or even fourth window open, you can press 5 to see your tabs and then using the nav key move either left or right to select which site you want. Pressing the center key selects and opens a more full view. From the tabbed view, you can use the left soft key to see th options for tabs which let you close either the current or all other tabs you have open.

The browser is the perfect candidate for a quick beta release through the labs. Many devices do not have enough RAM to browse in this manner (yet) and it’s probably more power user than mass feature, but isn’t that who’s visting and using the beta labs anyway? We should not have to wait for a Firmware release (which we all know wipes the device fresh) or worse, a new device to get such aseemingly small adjustment. This really should be something we just have in devices like the N95-3, N95 8GB, N81, N81 8GB, E90 and as well as future devicess that have enough operating RAM to make this possible – which should cover all N and E-Series moving forward, right?

The iPhone has really turned the mobile browsing experience up on its head. Regardless of their true capabilities, all mobile devices are being compared to the iPhone. The fact that the same engine is used in S60 and the iPhone makes this even more open to scrutiny.

The N800, which does not share the webkit engine, can go toe-to-toe with the iPhone even defeating it with some complex sites, but requires a second purchase. This is great for both Nokia’s bottom line (as well as non Nokia handset users) It is admittedly far more enjoyable to browse on the larger screen, it’s not something you always want in your pocket.

There are some great mobile web applications and services which have sprung up seemingly overnight to support the million plus iPhones… How many S60 devices are there? Considerably more…

A device like the N95-3 should not be hamstrung by a missing feature like this. The game has changed a bit now and we need to look how others are doing things and what can be learned to improve what we have and what’s to come.

Love to hear your thoughts here…

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This iPhone Lockdown is Ridiculous!

iphone-lockThis has nothing to do with the Applications issue…

The iPhone is a completely locked device. Both the device itself as well as the SIM card from AT&T are locked. Of course, hackers have broken these things, but if you don’t want to have to break it to “fix it” you are pretty much out of luck in enabling features that are quite common for phones today.

Currently the iPhone does not support MMS or DUN and AT&T’s SIM is locked and prevented from offering these services to another device should you switch devices for the day (or longer). You can choose to have AT&T deactivate this SIM and activate a new (and different) SIM card for your other devices but this is both ridiculous and cumbersome since you would have to reverse the process in order to then use the iPhone. There’s nothing you can do except pay more money to use features most any other smart or feature phone offers. If you want the iPhone this is how it is. If you want another device in conjunction, AT&T is more than happy to sell you an additional line … and data plan!

I tend to use a lot of devices. I enjoy being with a GSM carrier so I can move between devices as the mood strikes me and usually choose the device that suits the need for that day or a particular trip. The Nokia N95-3 is an awesome (and open) device and the phone I currently want to be able to take full advantage. While I can use the 3G services AT&T offers on the phone with the iPhone SIM inside, I cannot send (wonder if I can receive) an MMS or use the phone as a bluetooth modem for my laptop or internet tablet. This is something I have long done (and paid for the privilege) with previous devices before the special iPhone plan was created. This special plan by the way includes unlimited data! I know even unlimited is limited (xxGB) in the TOS, but I should still be able to use (or even pay more if I must, to use) the device I want on the network I am paying to access.

I’m very frustrated by this situation and am not about to pay for a second phone plan or cancel the iPhone one and give AT&T and Apple the satisfaction of an ETF (~$170). I just want my 3G service in the N95 shared with my personal network of devices and when I want the iPhone for the day I am more than happy to deal with EDGE and WiFi. Is there an actual logical (not because Steve Jobs said so) explanation behind why this is impossible?

I’ve heard that PAN works with a Blackjack and iPhone SIM, but there’s no support for PAN in the Nokia’s that I’ve found… There’s a very interesting proxy access hack for the iPhone that seems like it would work on the N95, but there’s no proxyserver application that I’ve found. GNUBox looks promising, but is unsigned and rather complex to deal with.

Image found on Google… borrowed from ZDNet.

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Sharing your iPhone’s SIM card…? No DUN or MMS for you!

I use a variety of devices as I am sure you’ve gathered by now and I’ve encountered some interesting things when using the iPhone’s SIM card with my Nokia N95…

Because you’ve got Visual Voicemail set up from the iPhone, there’s no easy way to call the ATT number and get your messages. It’s an entirely different system. The trick is to call your own number from your cell and you’ll be right in your inbox.

You get a txt message when a voicemail comes through which looks like this:

Visual Voicemail Notice NOT on the iPhone

The first time I missed a call it admittedly took a few moments to realize what I was looking at. I’ve blanked out my phone number above, but otherwise that’s what you get. I just delete them now and call in for the message. Sometimes a second txt arrives after you’ve listened and deleted… This is clearly not Visual Voicemail.

As I’ve mentioned a few times in a some recent posts, the iPhone does not support the 3.5G services ATT offers but the SIM does not prevent that speed from coming through to the handset of your choice… No changes are required to enjoy this, just plug it in and roll!

The rub with regard to data is that there does not seem to be a way to use your non-iPhone on the iPhone plan as a bluetooth modem via Dial-Up Networking (DUN). I’ve tried my laptop (which immediately recognized the N95 and was ready to go with ATT) as well as my Nokia N800 Internet Tablet, but neither device was able to actually connect.

MMS also does not work at all.

Mms blocked! Mms blocked!

My guess is that the SIM has locked out these features since the iPhone does not offer them. I am having trouble accepting this on principle that I have unlimited data plan with messaging (and ATT can bill incrementally for MMS if they want). DUN I can accept as a slightly different deal, but should still be made to work as it always has before the iPhone.

If anyone has a working shared iPhone SIM DUN connection, please let me know! I know I fall into the minority here, but there’s got to be a way to get this working … before I have to call ATT.

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Nokia N95 or Apple iPhone?

The iPhone and Nokia N95 are constantly compared these days as they represent the über device from both Nokia and Apple. Aside from this detail they really target very different audiences. The iPhone is a more mass oriented unit while the N95 goes for the higher end prosumer mobilista. The gadget lust associated with the iPhone however, has attracted plenty of geeks and potentially higher end users… Since I have both and have extended experience using them over a good amount of time, I thought I’d share my views on how they stack up.

Smartphone or Feature Phone?

As reluctant as I was perhaps initially to say this, the iPhone is not a smartphone. It is however, a truly fantastic feature phone and one that all phones and handheld devices will be measured against based on some fantastic software engineering. The browser is amazing to use and media playback is outstanding. If you are an iTunes user it does not get any easier to sync your photo, video and music content. Apple has also made it very simple and straightforward to sync your contacts, calendar and bookmarks. Bookmarks are of particular interest given how strong the browser experience really is.

The N95 is able to do all that I’ve mentioned so far with the iPhone, though configuring sync takes a bit more effort and it’s not possible on Mac to sync bookmarks… PC Users can use Nokia’s PC Suite. That said, the N95 really takes it up a notch with regard to applications. While this is a particular sore point for the iPhone community after the latest firmware release, the latest iPhone apps still did not compare to what can be done with the N95.

At the basic level of things, the iPhone can only send SMS messages to a single recipient; disables the ability to forward an SMS to another person and offers no MMS. I tend to email pics over MMS, but it’s nice to at least have the option of receiving an MMS message which has happened more than a few time with family picture sharing. The iPhone can also only use purchased tracks from iTunes as ringtones. The N95 can do it all here including using any sound file you like for a ringtone.

Marketing can really create the perception that something is more than it is and it would be hard to find fault in the Apple strategy which to date has been executed flawlessly. Because Apple is targeting a mass audience they have developed the popular perception that the iPhone is everything that you need in a beautiful simple package. They are right too — assuming you fit in the demographic set. Nokia on the other hand has taken a very different approach with their devices in general and more specifically here in the US where the carriers tend to own the relationship with the consumer. The current Open campaign has had a few bigger impressions (spreads in the NYT) but is for the most part a more targeted approach designed to appeal to the more intense mobile user. The best way I can sum this up is something quite a few of the mobile blogging community has shared:

The iPhone is for consuming content, while the N95 is for creating it.

Another way might be to say one is for passive use (predominately reading) while the other is far more active (sharing back). The N95 can of course be used to consume content and does a very good job, though when compared to the Apple ecosystem it falters a bit. This is not to slight the Nokia effort, but more to compliment the Apple one. When you control the entire flow, you can do special things not available to someone working with a number of different components from different parties. The N95 does have some very cool tricks. Using the video center application, you can browse, download and view video from a variety of sources like YouTube and beyond. The upcoming release of Flash Lite 3 will support .flv files which means we’ll be able to view video on a web page. Of course the iPhone can do this today – but only for h.264 content.

The N95’s 5MP Camera and flash shoot gorgeous still and 30fps video at a very high resolution. Nokia likes to say DVD-Quality which is a stretch in my opinion, but the results are seriously good and something that plays very well on a large screen. Out of the box, the N95 is ready to post fullsize (EXIF included) images to Flickr as well as video to Vox. With the addition of third party apps you can post content to an array of sites which enables you to live blog or lifestream as you go. The iPhones 2MP camera takes pretty good shots in well lit environments, but no video and when you choose to send a picture, the iPhone automatically forces things to scale to 640×480 and simultaneously strips the EXIF data out.

Speed baby, Speed!

While I am sure we’ve all heard the line that the cost to the battery of 3G did not make sense for the iPhone, it’s hard to ignore if you live in a covered area. Having now truly experienced 3G(UMTS) and even 3.5G(HSPDA) it’s hard to go back to EDGE which is simply pokey by comparison. Both the N95 and iPhone have 802.11 G WiFi connections, but when you download or stream content over 3G on a train or in a car,you start to expect more than what you can get from WiFi. Of course if you really just want to be able to glance down and see that the latest email is in your inbox, EDGE is just fine.

The N95 can also be used as bluetooth modem for your laptop or Internet Tablet if you like which is something that cannot be said for the iPhone. It’s when you start to really explore online or transfer larger files that you really want the speed.

Webkit does not equal Safari…

While both the N95 and the iPhone use webkit as the core engine for their browsers, the iPhone has pushed things much closer to a desktop experience. The focus on enabling tabbed browsing really makes the iPhone infinitely more useful. I usually leave a tab open to Gmail and another to Jaiku. Links from email (I also use POP and IMAP) open in a fresh tab which does not disturb existing sessions. Safari on the iPhone is also smart enough to restore my tabs if it should happen to crash – or even if you restart the device. The N95 cannot open a second tab or window even though the N95-3 has enough RAM to enable multiple window surfing, it is not possible – yet. Perhaps a candidate for a future beta labs release….

The Full Internet Myth

Sure you can choose to browse the full version of a sites on either device, but the best (as in most efficient use of your time) is still through the mobile web. This is my opinion of course, not a fact, but I’ve spent enough time reading on the small screen to believe that a mobilized site can deliver the meat of what you want / need without the BS associated from the larger view. Aside from vastly improved load times on EDGE, fewer system resources are used to render the page as well so it can really seem quite speedy.

The iPhone does offer some slick tricks with the screen rotation and tap zooming but I tend to only take advantage of that on a WiFi connection as it’s annoying to wait when on the go.

Open or Closed?

The iPhone was hacked to enable applications, but it seems destined to be a hack for the time being (once the latest firmware is again hacked) rather than being an open system for applications and owner freedom. While I enjoyed using AppTapp to download and play with the applications that were available to iPhones, they were in no way competitive with the current roster of applications for the S60 platform. Sure some of this can just be based on the maturity of S60 over the few months old iPhone system, but it really comes down to how both companies view their devices.

The proper path to develop for the iPhone is through the Safari browser which currently limits you to online only services without local storage, access to basic phone features like contacts or calendar let alone more advanced ideas with presence or easy access to the phone’s data connection. There is no current API for more serious development.

On the N95, it is quite easy to add applications that suit your need. I regularly snap pictures and videos and as noted above usually opt to lifestream them to flickr on the go using a variety of tools. Zonetag can access my location data which can be shared along with the EXIF data in the full scale image as it uploads. I run a version of Gmail built in Java that gives me a very similar experience to the fuller web version (archive, delete, spam, tag views and search…). Jaiku integrates with my contacts to share presence status and enables me to easily maintain contact within my social network. I use Handy Weather to download forecasts automatically every few hours and use the information as my screen saver so at a quick glance I get an idea of what tomorrow will be like. I can choose from a selection of mapping applications that can take advantage of storing content locally on a memory card and using the GPS features as I like. There are countless other examples.

Beyond applications, the N95 is sold as an unbranded unlocked device while the iPhone is sold only with a contract for ATT service. An unlocked and unbranded device means you get to choose what you do with it and what (GSM) carrier you want. If you travel, you can easily swap the SIM card for another and pay local rates or use a pre-pay if you want. You make a plan decision on the iPhone during activation and need to stick it out for the term of your contract. I was already and ATT customer so it was not a big deal, but this is something to definitely consider…

What device is for you?

I am asked frequently which is better and that’s a really hard call because it really comes down to how you think you might use the device moving forward. The iPhone’s strength is that it offers an easy way to do more than most people have ever considered on a handset. Advanced users may soon see past the UI beauty and yearn for more power and there’s only one way to go there. I’m hoping that Nokia is paying enough attention (as I believe they are) and makes a few adjustments through either the beta labs or just directly in future firmware to the browsing experience which is the only current weakness in the N95-3.

For now I am still actively using both, though with a single SIM card I have to decide daily based on what I think I need. The N95 is currently in my pocket …

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Sip. Buy. Repeat … another day perhaps

Apple - iTunes - Starbucks

I tried the Starbucks iTunes store yesterday at a few Starbucks in NYC but failed to get to work at all. I was able to connect to the T-Mobile HotSpot which directed me to the Starbucks captive portal page, referencing the music, but the iTunes application repeatedly failed to connect.

The store was supposed to be live yesterday and seems to be referenced on the portal page… just no luck getting through. I’m not sure whether it’s not really live in all Starbucks or if they were just having some technical difficulties yesterday.

I shot some admittedly poorly focused video below via N95 as I was hoping to bring home the goods on how it worked… instead, I failed at each store.

iPhone successfully updated to 1.1.1

I took the plunge and restored and reflashed my iPhone yesterday. I had previously downloaded the update to 1.1.1 but waited to get home from my trip to take care of the update. Fortunately, things went smoothly and I was able to re-activate and restore my data as it was…. minus my apps and custom ringtones and previously stored photos, which I expected based on previous updates.

For the record, I used AppTapp and had installed a slew of new applications as well as used SendSong to make a purchased iTunes track a ringtone. My screenshots taken with the Dock app are long gone, but the ones I wanted to share are posted on Flickr. While I had installed AnySIM, I did not run it to try an unlock my SIM card, which I think helped in smoothing out the process.

With the update to the iPhone I am back to the store ringtones, no new apps and of course the release of the WiFi Itunes store. Here’s a quick overview on how it works … and yes it’s WiFi, you cannot connect to it over EDGE.

iTunes - Purchased on iPhone

After you purchase and re-sync, you’ll see this in iTunes…

In general the update is very solid. The basics as you’ve probably read elsewhere by now are that you can program the home button to double-tap into the iPod and when locked a doubletap floats the playback controls which is super handy. There’s also the addition of auto-punctuation with a double space after a word which is a nice tweak and something that will please those coming from Blackberries.

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Amazon MP3 Auto-Import to iTunes

This was incredibly easy to figure out, but still something worth sharing as it substantially enhances the Amazon MP3 store experience if you manage your music on iTunes and sync with an iPod / iPhone. By default, the music will be added to iTunes, but this actually leaves a second copy in the Amazon MP3 folder outside of your iTunes Music folder. With a simple switch in prefs, you are all set.

Amazon MP3 Downloader - Preferences

I was actually going to post on how to get things to auto-import into iTunes using a Folder Action Script, but Amazon already hooked that up by default …

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Where are the AppleTV remote tools?

Apple - Apple TV

In our home, the AppleTV is one of many sources we can select within a distributed A/V system. I can play it in a single room, outside or distributed through a few zones and even the whole house. This is great and something we do almost daily, though I don’t like that I have to move to a room (or go inside) to find a TV in order to change the album or artist. The only thing the remote (and we have it re-programmed into universals and wall panels) can do without seeing what you are doing is change the track or start and stop the music. If there was a way to control things via iTunes a whole world of opportunities would open to 3rd party controllers as well as web connected devices as there are today for managing iTunes with an Airport Express.

I know Steve still regards it as a hobby and since the release of the AppleTV, the only changes we’ve seen have been an update to include streaming YouTube and a larger capacity hard drive. A software hook that lets iTunes (or an iPhone!) control things would be quite helpful and more than just a nice to have for advanced users like myself. While the initial purpose of the device is to relay iTunes to a TV, the limits seem like they by design for some reason rather than considering the possibilities of how something like this would be used. As it happens we have a few Airport Express units connected here and we will be enabling one into the house system next week, but it seems silly to have to make a decision about which iTunes connection we want to use, when it’s all being fed by the same library.

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Native iPhone Apps with AppTapp

I’ve been playing with Nullriver’s AppTapp / Installer.app for a few days now and I have to say it’s very cool. To get started you simply download the right version for your device, disable auto-sync (only temporarily) in iTunes and connect your iPhone. During the installation process, you choose which firmware your iPhone is running and things then install onto your device.

Once the installation process is complete, you’ll see a new icon on your iPhone’s screen which is the Installer application. This name is a tad misleading as it’s far more of an applications manager than simply an installer. Unlike my experience with the Nokia N800’s maemo linux, there are no repositories to learn about, everything just happens from within the program itself. By everything, I mean you can browse and install new applications, get notices on updates and remove things you no longer want. All of this is arranged in nice tabs at the top of your screen.

Keep in mind that installing applications and hacking around with the iPhone is something you do at your own risk. I had downloaded a version of the installer before the last iPhone firmware update (1.02) and ran into crashing issues as a result. I restored my iPhone via iTunes two times before realizing there was a later version available to try.

There’s still a shortage of really compelling applications, but there’s quite a bit to play with here for the adventurous iPhone user. The Mobile Twitterific application looks gorgeous and seems to work very well — though as best as I can tell does not continue to update in the background. There are some IM apps but they currently only support AIM/ iChat. I’m looking forward to seeing multiple service support with background notification which will really be a killer addition. Much of what I’ve done thus far has been tweaking the interface on my iPhone. I’ve updated my dock image background (DockSwap), adjusted the Main screen flow with SummerBoard and added some new WallPapers and Ringtones as well as used SendSong to make any track I’ve got ring. I’ve also dabbled with the just released Colloquy (IRC) and played a few games. While I’ve installed SSH, NES (Gameboy anyone!?), Books (ebooks reader) and MobileFinder I have not had a chance to try these too much yet.

There’s little to no documentation with most things listed in the Installer directory, so take it slow if you are not really sure or confident. Nullriver is planning to eventually release the system for installation as well as the package format into the OpenSource community which will be a great addition to how things work now. I’m not that familiar (as a non-dev) with what’s required to release apps, but I’m hoping people start picking up where some of the early releases are headed.

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Nokia responds to new iPhone pricing… with MOSH? Apple sticks it right back… to the early adopter?!

Techcrunch reports on an interesting adwords response by Nokia to the latest iPhone news and pricing. Of all the things Nokia could have offered, MOSH seems an odd choice. Their pitch is that you can salvage your lost $200 with the free content offered by the MOSH social sharing network. Sorry to say I’m not feeling that …

When I actually did a search for the same terms I found an ad from Apple which was even more frustrating!

iphone price drop - Google Search

That might be a bit hard to read, but it says – Congrats, Late Adopters iPhone drops $200. Now you get all the iPhone for 2/3 the price and links to store.apple.com. This is like salt in the wound for the early adopter while I was initially bummed by the price cut news, this makes it infuriating! I’m a big boy and made the choice to stand in line and have fun with the rest of the faithful on iPhone day. I can handle a price change or even a new product, but for the price to be cut so drastically so quickly and then to have it rubbed in my face like this by Apple is just wrong.

I’ve tried a few more searches (refresh) since capturing that screenshot, but neither Nokia nor Apple’s ads are showing for me which says they’ve either reached their threshold for cost or someone noticed and had things removed immediately.

UpdateSearchengineland snagged a shot with both ads running head to head.

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iPhone IM – Just not practical yet

Lot of chatter today of the release of Meebo for iPhone. I checked it out and it’s nice, but think that Beejive’s Jivetalk which I’ve mentioned previously, is the superior client. They both get the job done in an elegant way, but Beejive has better contact management and enables a float on top of either your buddy list or current chat if something comes in from another buddy. Both let you log into multiple services simultaneously.

In both cases though, I find myself only using IM on the iPhone when I am checking in with something because without either sound or vibration notifications, IM on the iPhone remains a limited experience. I don’t want to leave my IM Safari window open as my primary activity unless I’m actively chatting and when you move on, IM might as well be off since you have no way of know whether something is happening.

Apparently Apple’s Web 2.0 Safari “SDK” did not include hooks into the system audio… Until someone figures this out or Apple let’s me run iChat or Adium directly, I’m leaving IM on the sidelines for regular use.

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Nokia N95 with US 3G Support – Coming Soon!!

Om Teases us today with a taste from a recent meeting with Blake Krikorian, CEO of Sling Media and his proto Nokia N95 with US 3G! I’ve heard this was coming and actually thought it might be here this month, but this is the first proof it’s out there and getting ready for this market. An 8GB US 3G N95 is a VERY compelling product and one that even with the more complex S60 UI can take it to the iPhone.

I would have a hard time wanting to use my iPhone over the N95 on 3G. Let’s hope it also comes with more RAM to push this into a no contest launch!

“The conversation was lively, but what was most interesting was that Blake walked in with a Nokia N95 and started showing off the streams off his cable box. I was surprised because my N95 can barely stream audio on the herky-jerky EDGE. And here I was watching smooth video with perfect audio.

It was an early trial unit with the ability to support the U.S. flavor of 3G (HSPDA-High-Speed Downlink Packet Access), according to Blake. A few calls to well-placed sources after the taping confirmed that Nokia (NOK) has plans to release the U.S.-optimized N95 this September. That would be a good catalyst for U.S. sales for N95, because this is a device that shines on 3G networks. I took it along on a trip recently and found it quite useful.” [GigaOM ]

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