You have to admire the ingenuity of these guys – they’ve got the bones of a SIP client running on an iPod Touch (not an iPhone).
The problem (why does there have to be a problem?) is if Apple wanted anyone to talk on an iPod they wouldn’t have named it an iPod now would they? Sit back and wait for the Apple hammer to fal. Personally I hope they get something finished before the lawyers turn up, and I don’t even have an iPod Touch.
apple, ipod, sip
Ars Technica has a great review of the new Apple TV. Quite why one would want to buy one of these things is completely beyond me:
…It cannot share an Internet connection with another device, and it cannot broadcast music to Apple’s Airport Express. You cannot attach an eyeTV to it, or any other TV tuner for that matter (and therefore it cannot record TV shows). It can’t play most codecs out of the box, you can’t buy content directly from the iTunes Store, and it has very limited tech specs…
Even ardent mac addicts must question the appeal of this. There is nothing compelling about it beyond the improved 12 foot interface.
Meanwhile, my Mac Mini will survive only until I find a MythTV/Linux setup that can replace it in terms ease of use. If only Apple would open up FrontRow in the meantime, the nice folks at Elgato could complete the integration that we all crave. The big question for me at the moment is if OS 10.5 (Leopard) will contain an improved Front Row interface.
- Ergonomics: Two potential barriers here. First, I’m really not sure about having to use both hands (one to hold, one to point) to use a cell phone. Seems like a step backwards in HCI to me. My mum uses two hands to type SMS messages (makes me smile) but ten years of thumb based typing is a tough habit for me to break. Second, the absence of tactile feedback means unsighted use will be difficult. No more reaching into your pocket to mute, texting ‘y’ or ‘n’ replies under the table in meetings or at dinner etc. And then there are those folks with poor sight who much rather depend on tactile feedback rather than go looking for there glasses every time they want to use their phone.
- The battery. If it is sealed into the casing heavy users will not be able to swap a drained battery for a spare charged one. Now, if I’m on a trans-atlantic flight I don’t want to arrive in the U.S. with a dead phone just because I was catching up on podcasts (and video content) on the way over. The second concern with the battery relates to OS X. How efficient is a recently ported OS X kernel at running on embedded hardware, compared to purpose built mobile operating systems like Symbian?
- The iHandcuffs. This is a problem I have with Apple’s whole approach to managing media creation and consumption on their hardware. (Also see Apple TV vs Mac mini for a related discussion that brings further context to what Apple are trying to achieve)
- No Java support and only ‘maybe’ Flash support in an internet browser? Someone think of the YouTubers! And what about all those useful J2ME apps?
- OS X but no third party applications. Sorry, I don’t buy the justifications given. Sounds like Apple either couldn’t be bothered publishing a polished SDK or actually want to build higher walls around that garden.
- The true cost – â‚¬1000+. Those example estimates are based on network plans that include flat rate data access (which does not exist in Ireland yet).
- No 3G. Just when the European mobile operators are ramping up their 3G access. Plans to deliver 3G at sometime in the future but why not now?
- The screen. My phone goes into my pockets and backpacks along with keys, sand and other scratchy things. How durable will the screen surface be? Can it be replaced after a year of wear?
- The iPhone trademark issue. Bad news, pissing off Cisco like that and it all smells of pots calling kettles black given Apple’s history of protecting. No doubt this will hurt Apple in the long term.
- The native screen resolution of 480×320. Transcoding video to natively fit odd resolutions like this (shared by the recent iPods) is a pain in the ass.
- 2 megapixel cameras with no flash really are useless, they shouldn’t have bothered.
I’ve no doubt that the iPhone is a major kick up the arse for the big mobile handset manufacturers (Nokia/SE/Motorola) but remember even if Apple sell 10million+ iPhones that is still only around 1% of the total mobile phone market. There is still lots of time for the big three to react.
It’ll also be interesting to see how Apple fare in their dealings with the large European and Asian mobile network operators. Cingular, with their 58million subscribers are small fish in comparison.
I suspect I’ll be sticking with my K800i or one of it’s successors.
Since it’s inception I have bought a few tracks from the iTunes Music Store, initially one out of curiosity and subsequently a few out of necessity and then occasionally one or two because I came home drunk from the pub and just wanted to hear a particular song. Happens to the best of us I’m sure. So probably no more than 10 or 15 in total – now that I try check, I can’t find a way to get a total from iTunes.
Two home macs and a few of windows (work) machines later and I’m now noticing that there are some tracks I cannot authorize on my current work laptop. I was aware of the 5 machine authorization limit when I bought the tracks but I’m now, sooner than expected, discovering that even seemingly flexible DRM like that does not suit my digital lifestyle.
Now I know that my digital lifestyle tends to be an accellerated version of that of normal computer users (I bought my first MP3 player back in 1998) so I’m now finding myself pitying the fools who are buying large quantities of digital content from the iTunes Music Store (soon to be a Movie Store too?). They could use something like QTFairUse6 (hey, that would be illegal!)to strip the DRM and yes they can burn everything onto physical media for safe keeping but does anyone think online purchasers do that? Right after they do regular backups of the rest of systems (yeah right!). There will come a time when they will realize their purchased digital media collection is no longer acessible – man I’d be pissed.
All in all, the whole thing is kind of putting me off listening to music. I’ve even coined a term for it – DRM fatigue – and the same phenomenon seems to be affecting sales of Blue Ray and HD-DVD drives. When system vendors and/or content rights owners make it that difficult to access content (intentionally or unintentionally) consumers eventually get tired of bothering (remember programming VCRs, anyone?)
apple, drm, hardware, music
Excellent, Elgato have released an EyeTV 2.3 update that adds a full 10-foot user interface. And it can be controlled using the Apple Remote just like Front Row. It’s not quote TIVO yet but it’s a huge step forward – kudos to Elgato for listening to their users!
I’m now that close to buying a Logitech Harmony remote for my living room – the Apple Remote is cute but the 6-button design is slightly too minimalist to control a Mac mini based HTPC (and control a Philips Cineos TV and a NTL STB). The only blocker at the moment is this damn NTL DVB-C STB (a Pace Micro DC221. Two problems:
- It uses an odd IrDA based infra-red signal protocol that most learning remotes cannot transmit. Red-Eye solves this problem with a “translator” and the same guys also have a Red-Eye Serial that specifically mentions support for the DC221.
- There doesn’t seem to be much/any support in EyeTV for changing channels on the external digital STB. I did find a tool called EyeCaptain that does support mapping external channels to the EyeTV composite or S-Video input but it doesn’t say anything about controlling the current external channel.
Of course if NTL would just let me use my own DVB-C receiver then I’d be give them back their Pace box, and all my problems would go away. All I can say is roll on the arrival of DTT in Ireland (yes, I know, I’m not holding my breath)…
apple, mac, tv
[Update: Fixed - the link to metrics.apple.com seems to have been updated to a correctly configured server, securemetrics.apple.com. Shame they didn't bother testing it before putting it live...]
Deciding to comment on the Apple Discussion about the Front Row DRM issue I’m having, I tried to log onto Apple Support and but my browser immediately warns that while trying to connect to https://metrics.apple.com it was presented with a certificate owned by *.112.207.net. 207.net, despite the alarm bells it might set off, is owned by Omniture (cookie monsters – read the privacy statement here, for what it’s worth)
Does anyone bother test this stuff before it goes live or is gathering those metrics far more important? If I am Joe Mac User and I want to log a support issue with Apple what would my reaction be? Umm, panic, followed by the old “should-I-shouldn’t-I” OK/Cancel button shuffle. Incredibly shoddy, for any commercial website, let alone the website of the shining light of computer usability.
Try it yourself.
apple, https, internet, mac, security