Category Archive: Tech

I call BS on the iPhone Nano rumor

Oh, the rumors! They wash to and fro amongst a frenzy of bloggers and tech journalists, devouring them like piranhas on a baby calf. One of the latest is that Apple is going to release an “iPhone Nano” – a phone a third to half the size of the current iPhone (whatever that means). And they’re going to sell it for $199 with no contract! Sources cite the need for a less expensive phone to lure in the low-end market who might want an iPhone, but can’t afford it.

Newsflash: the iPhone already costs $199. And it’s the full-sized iPhone 4 with all the bells and whistles.

Monthly pains

The reason the iPhone isn’t being adopted by price-conscious consumers isn’t the $199 price point – it’s the cell phone plans that require a $30/month data plan which means your minimum monthly bill is $60 with only 450 minutes and no text messages included.

And if you purchase an “iPhone Mini” you’re still going to have to activate it with a carrier who is still going to charge you the same, high monthly rates. So you’ve gained exactly…nothing.

Except that you have a smaller, less functional phone with fewer features.

So the only real benefit is no contract. But that has nothing to do with price. And the people who care about not having contracts so they can switch to the latest and greatest gadget probably don’t want a low-end version of an iPhone.

Not to mention the headache it would cause developers to have to worry about slower processors and different screen resolutions/dimensions.

Besides, if you want a budget iPhone, Apple doesn’t need to mass produce a separate model – you can pick up a brand new 3GS right now from AT&T for $49.

Don’t eat your young

Putting an iPhone Mini with no contract at $199 cannibalizes their iPod Touch sales. Currently, the lowest priced iPod Touch has 8 GB storage and sells for $229. I don’t think Apple is going to kill that cash cow.

By the way

I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention, but Apple doesn’t do low-end.

Streaming Only Version

There is also the idea floating around that the iPhone Mini/Nano/Unicorn will be streaming only – all your music, videos, pictures and contacts will stream over the cell network to/from your MobileMe repository in the sky. This would mean minimal on-board storage which would cut the cost of producing the phone and allow Apple to hit the $199 price point.

While I think this could be the future, I don’t think the future is now. For one thing, it would suck your battery life faster than you can say “Boom”. Second, carriers are starting to impose caps on data usage. What was once an unlimited data plan, AT&T now caps at 2 GB per month. Take a lot of pictures and videos of your kids? With no on-board storage every 5 mpx picture and 720p video would be uploaded instantly, blowing through your data in no time at all. Overages, I believe, are $20/GB. Ouch.

Time will tell

I could be completely wrong on this. Bloomberg thinks I’m wrong. The Wall Street Journal thinks I’m wrong. But I’m going to stick to my guns on this one. Unless El Jobso (may he recover quickly and fully) has some crazy black magic up his turtleneck’s sleeves I don’t think we’re going to see the iPhone Nano anytime soon.

Thoughts?

A new perspective on net neutrality

In the privileged West, we have been talking about net neutrality as a question of whether we can watch movies well. In the Middle East, net neutrality has a much more profund meaning: as a human right to connect. When Mubarak shut down the internet, when China shuts down Facebook, when Turkey shuts down YouTube, when America concocts its own kill switch, they violate the human rights of their citizens as much as if they burned the products of Gutenberg’s press.

- Jeff Jarvis, Gutenberg of Arabia

I believe that whole-heartedly; the right to a free, open and unencumbered Internet is fundamental to democracy. Net neutrality is as critical today as Gutenberg’s press was in his time – it’s the linchpin of people’s voice and power and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

BREAKING: iPad 2 tagline announced

iPad 2 Tagline
Click for full-size.

A magicaler and more revolutionier product at an unbelievabler price.

Did I figure out the screen resolution of the iPad 2?

There’s been lots of talk (at least in the nerdy online circles I hang out in) about the iPad 2 and particularly whether or not it is going to have a “retina” display, similar to the iPhone 4.

The iPhone 4 doubled the amount of pixels on the phone from the previous model. If you aren’t aware, that’s an insane amount of pixels. Apple claims there are so many they are indistinguishable to the human eye. It’s a beautiful display.

The problem with the iPad doubling its resolution is that it would put the screen at 2,048 x 1,536 which is an astounding 3,145,728 pixels.

How astounding is it? It’s a million more pixels crammed in a 9.7″ screen than Apple’s own 21 inch (1920 x 1080) iMac has.

It presents significant technical hurdles. First, battery life to power all those pixels would be tremendous. Add to that the required processing power and the tight quarters of the iPad’s internals (can’t exactly cram a bunch more batteries in there) and it seems nigh impossible…at least at a competitive price.

So what if the iPad 2 didn’t double the iPad’s resolution, but instead doubled the iPhone 4′s retina display resolution?

Current iPad: 1024 x 768

iPad 2: 1920 x 1280

It’s not double, but it’s significantly better. And more feasible. And easier for iPhone app developers to scale their apps to the new dimensions.

I’m frickin’ brilliant.

Except I’m not.

@hughroper is though.

Hugh pointed out my proposed dimensions would change the aspect ratio from 1.3 to 1.5, something not seen in the pictures above, and also not something El Jobso would likely tolerate.

Lame.

Thanks to the good folks at 9to5 Mac for the image. Cruise on over there to see more evidence of my much anticipated muse.

Dream product: Apple Home Server

What I’d really like is a single place to host all my photos, music, movies and videos. Why? Because having multiple computers is a pain (whine, whine, I know). I’ll explain.

Family outing

We went on a family outing on Saturday. We took the nice camera and took quite a few pictures. When I came home I moved the pictures from the camera to our old iMac. I went through and tossed some of the obviously bad pictures and left the rest for my wife and I to sort through when we found the time.

The problem

There’s no simple way to get the curated pictures of that event onto our laptop from the iMac. Sure, I could export them to a folder then put that folder on a USB drive then plug that USB drive into the laptop and import the pictures into iPhoto. But that’s a pain. And what if we end up editing/deleting pictures on the iMac after I do that? Then the pictures on the laptop aren’t current – I’d have to do all the work twice.

Phones are cameras, too

Getting media onto the phones is one problem. Getting media off of our respective phones and to our computers/each other is another issue all together.

My iPhone syncs with my laptop, not the iMac. To get the pictures from my iMac to my iPhone requires that I do all of the above steps, plus sync my iPhone. But my wife’s iPhone is synced to the iMac, so she has the exact same problem, only reversed. So I don’t get the pics/video she takes on my phone and she doesn’t get mine on hers.

Redundant, but not in a good way

Let’s say we jumped through all the hoops to keep everything up-to-date. It means we have the same pictures/videos/music taking up space in four different places: two computers and two phones. So your one gig family video is taking up four gigs of space. When you multiply it across all gigs and gigs of music, pictures and videos it can be expensive.

Of course, that redundancy does serve a purpose – you always have your files with you, even when you don’t have an Internet connection. So an option would be nice.

The Apple Home Server

What I want is an Apple Home Server (AHS). I can dump all my pictures, videos, movies and music into one place and have it accessible on all my devices. The server would work with Time Machine so I could have an on-site backup as well as a Carbonite/BackBlaze off-site backup. I could choose which things I wanted to keep local copies of (but still keep them synced, ala Dropbox/iDisk) and which things I wanted to stream.

For example, I want the last six months of pictures automatically stored on my laptop, but anything older than that I want to stream from the AHS. And the interface would be seamless – it would all look like it was right there on my laptop. Of course, I could pick and choose one-off files to keep locally as well.

All the files are available on my Apple TV, through the web (ala Pogoplug), and on my phone.

Bonus: this would greatly reduce the amount of hard drive space required on laptops, making SSD (solid state drives) much more feasible.

Family outing, take two

So, let’s reimagine the scenario from this weekend if I had a real fictional Apple Home Server.

Pictures and videos we shoot with our iPhones while we’re out and about are uploaded from our phones to the AHS before we ever get home, instantly viewable by grandparents in Oregon.

When we get back to the house and plug in the nicer camera, the photos are dumped onto AHS via iPhoto, divided into Events and scanned for facial recognition. As soon as that’s done, I can open the photo app on my iPhone, or iPhoto on either of my computers, and see today’s pictures.

One download to one location. Accessible anywhere.

Snow Leopard Server and Time Capsule

Something like this kind of exists. But only kind of. The Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server. It’s made for businesses rather than homes and while it has some awesome features, it’s not what I’m looking for. Mainly because it starts at $999.

Instead I’m thinking of a revamp of Apple’s neglected Time Capsule. It already has the built-in storage and networking capabilities. And with the added functionality described above, I’d happily pay $299 for a 2 TB version.

What do you think? Pie in the sky thinking? Or could Apple really come up with something like this? What would you be willing to pay for it if they did announce it? Let me know in the comments.