A future iPhone may sport invisible buttons, says the Times of India, because Apple filed a patent for a disappearing button or slider. I wonder what other incredible technologies Apple has patented that they may or may not someday use. How about making the iPhone itself invisible?
They wrote it, and I clicked on it. Mission accomplished.
It seems like only a month ago that the gods of silicon granted me an opportunity to cynically slam Facebook Home, the social networking giant’s attempt to seize control of the mobile platform. While the idea seemed sensible from their point of view, it has turned out to be less so for all other people. Andrew Leonard at Salon uses the word “disaster.” Here are some synonyms for disaster: catastrophe, calamity, débâcle, dud, flop, megaflop, and Zuckerberg (as in, we tried our hardest to gain market share in an increasingly competitive space, but unfortunately we just Zuckerberged it). Users of Facebook, known in the teen parlance I just invented as “zuckers,” love sharing tedious minutia with their friends, family, and advertisers, but apparently do not want shrunken heads floating around their smart phone home screens. Go figure.
Still, I am surprised by how quickly this verdict came in. One month later, and it’s already deemed a failure? It looks like the benchmark of success these days is immediate, rapacious adoption. Anything short of that, and you’re doomed. And considering the recent fate of Windows 8, not even record rates of adoption are enough. You need staggering rates of adoption! And you need them on mobile. I haven’t seen too many “Facebook is doomed”-style headlines, but the failure of such a high profile project that the company was clearly depending on to maintain its dominance surely warrants them. Many click-snatchers are saying Apple is doomed because their year-over-year iPhone sales grew by only 7 percent this year (in Apple-land, decline means a decline in growth, not anything like actual decline). In Facebook’s case, I guess there isn’t any decline, because there wasn’t any growth to begin with. Few people are downloading the Home app and even fewer are purchasing the HTC One with Home preinstalled. I think we may have reached the high water mark with Facebook and with Zuck’s tenure as the boy king of Silicon Valley. Another sign the winds may be shifting against him: his political action committee, also founded a month ago, is already shedding high-profile members. Facebook at least has one thing going for it, however: it isn’t run by this guy.
That’s an ironic question mark in the headline, by the way.
I’m following this on The Verge right now, so thanks to them for live-blogging yet another tech-vangelism gathering. Essentially, they want to make your phone “about people” instead of about apps. They will accomplish this by making your phone about Facebook apps but hide the functionality of those apps (i.e. the icons) behind a layer of live updates that will make you feel warm and connected while they use even more of your mobile activity to expand their data-mining/data-selling business. That’s the magic of openness, folks!
All this could be forgiven if the thing is useful. Whatever this thing is. It’s neither a phone nor an OS. It’s, I don’t know, a distraction skin?
Brian White , who will believe anything people in China tell him, is reporting that Apple’s forthcoming (and heretofore unannounced) iTV device features a power ring that will both function as a remote control and give its wearer mastery of Middle Earth. Sorry, mixed reference there, but hard to miss out on all the possible “ring” analogies. Personally, I think this is a ploy by Apple to force husbands to choose the company over their wives. In their hearts, many have already done so. But now they must choose which ring to wear, too. Imagine people walking around with these things. Nightmare scenario: iRing vs. Google Glass. Prepare for the 2014 tech culture wars. It’s all about wearable. Groan.
According to John Gruber at Daring Fireball:
Regarding Jony Ive and iOS: Word on the street is that iOS engineers with carry privileges all have some sort of polarizing filter on their iPhone displays, such that it greatly decreases viewing angles, thus making it difficult for observers to see the apparently rather significant system-wide UI overhaul.
I don’t know how badly iOS really needs an overhaul, and I know it’s become popular to argue that it needs an injection of freshness basically for its own sake, but if Jony Ive believes a redesign is necessary, perhaps it is, and perhaps it will be done tastefully. I happen to think Ive is the guy everyone forgets about whenever they lament the passing of Steve Jobs. Tim Cook is obviously not a replacement for Jobs when it comes to charisma, but running a gigantic company is about more than just charisma, and Jobs put in place more than enough highly talented people to more than make up for his absence. If Cook is the operations genius aspect of Jobs, Ive is the design aspect, and it doesn’t hurt that he has actual design training. He may also be the emotional aspect, which is quite underappreciated, but I think Jobs and Ive both have had an appreciation for design that forges an emotional connection between product and user. This is no mean feat. Cook wasn’t unemotional at Jobs’s official Apple funerary service, but Ive was the one crying. We clearly need someone at Apple who isn’t afraid to cry. Ive overseeing a redesign of iOS can only be good news. I have full confidence in him.
Says the man who probably used to manipulate stock prices at a hedge fund:
On “Squawk on the Street,” Cramer said he sees potential for Apple’s next product to go down in history as an epic disappointment, on par with Apple’s failed “Lisa” computer in the 1980s. “Whatever product that is coming out in September is a clear loser. We haven’t seen it yet, but it is a loser,” Cramer said.
That’s right. We don’t know what it is, but it’s already a loser. That’s not just prognostication. Cramer must have an actual time machine to be able to predict failure for “whatever” product Apple may or may not have in the works. Consumers will no doubt inhale dozens of millions of iPhones and iPads this year, but unless Apple comes up with another revolutionary product, it’s doomed as a company. According to Cramer, though, it’s doomed anyway. Because he says so. The Lisa? Seriously? You get paid to say crap like this?
LomoGoggles are probably something we all need more than Google Glass. Well played.
This year, it’s Google Nose (as well as a hokey “treasure maps” layer for Google Maps). Pretty clever, but also pretty worthless since you can only “share scents” on Google+, which nobody uses. I could probably figure out how to share the musty old library smell I liked on Facebook, but why make it hard for me? Even your jokes are lame attempts to get people to sign up for more of your vaporware, Google?
From Greg Sandoval at The Verge:
Much has been written about Apple’s plan to launch a Pandora-esque service this year. Now multiple music industry insiders have told The Verge that significant progress has been made in the talks with two of the top labels: Universal and Warner. One of the sources said “iRadio is coming. There’s no doubt about it anymore.” Apple is pushing hard for a summertime launch.
Makes perfect sense to me. More so than does a video game controller, at any rate.
At first glance, the prospect of Apple churning out a game controller of all things seems downright silly, but after chewing on it for a while the notion doesn’t seem quite as outlandish. You’d be hard-pressed to think of OS X as prominent a platform for gaming as Windows is (though some big-league developers are working to change that), but iOS plays home to a staggering number of games and it’s not inconceivable to think that Apple would want to enhance the sorts of gaming experiences available to iPhone, iPod and iPad users. As such, a game controller seems like the sort of thing that Apple would agonize over getting right, and it appears that Apple may have been doing just that.
At the risk of eating my words in the future, I’m going to state emphatically that all these rumors about Apple’s possible foray into gaming are bullshit. Apple likes to reinvent industries, not simply tag along. And they already have the most popular video game playing devices out there. Do they have something to gain by making either a dedicated console or, as this article suggests, a controller? As far as I can tell, video game companies aren’t making any money. Perhaps Apple thinks it can change that. If so, I suspect they will fold better gaming functionality (assuming there is even widespread enough demand for it, in Apple’s estimation) either into existing products or into whatever “iPanel” thing they might eventually come out with. But a controller? Sounds like a third party sort of thing to me. Licensing content or developing a system that’s open enough to allow developers both creative freedom and profits but closed enough to maintain Apple as the primary beneficiary? That’s more their style. Personally, I’ll be satisfied if they cut the green felt out of Game Center. Going after the geeks seems much less of a priority.