iPhone, iPod, iPad
With the September event behind us, it’s time to look forward to the next Apple event, as long as you’re not expecting new Macs.
To recap, there have been four Apple events in 2010:
- In January, the iPad was unveiled.
- In April, iPhone OS 4 was previewed.
- In June, the iPhone 4 was launched at WWDC ‘10, and iOS 4 was previewed again.
- In September, iTunes 10, new iPods and an Apple TV were launched, as well as iOS 4.1 and 4.2 previews.
If there’s been any trend in 2010, it’s found in what’s been missing. No Apple event, including WWDC, has seen the introduction of a new Mac. Even the redesigned Mac mini arrived with no more advance notice than the familiar yellow sticky note when the Apple Store went down. Don’t expect that to change this year.
The Return of the Air
The iMac and the Mac Pro were updated in July, the Mac mini in June. The MacBook and MacBook Pros were updated in spring, and can expect a minor, non-event update this fall. That leaves the MacBook Air, last updated in June 2009.
Recent speculation by Apple analysts suggests the company might be working on a 7-inch tablet to stay competitive with the incoming Android crop of devices sporting a similar design, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Our own Om Malik agrees, and for good reason, but I think otherwise.
While it is true that a 7-inch device would keep production costs down and allow Apple to drop the price of its devices further still, Apple doesn’t have anything to worry about yet in terms of being priced out of the market it essentially created. PC World recently compared prices between the Apple iPad and the Dell Streak, and found that the iPad came out the winner. Likewise, it will probably undercut the Galaxy Tab, though carrier subsidies on contract will make the Tab cheaper initially.
For app developers, the single most important step in preparing an app for sale is to ensure it’s been properly optimized for the iTunes App Store search. This process, called Search Engine Optimization (SEO), is both a science and an art. It requires putting yourself in the place of the consumer and trying to think like they would. Mostly, it requires answering one simple question: If I was looking for an app that did X (X being the main function of your app), what would I type into the iTunes search bar?
There are three searchable aspects of your app within iTunes. These are your company name, the app name and the hidden keywords field. These all hold equal bearing and don’t affect search order. In other words, if your company name is “Smash House,” by default, your app won’t appear before the app “Smash Brothers” or one that happens to have “smash” in its name. In other words, all apps are treated equal by the search engine.
If you are like me, you like your FPSs and RPGs on a desktop Mac with a mouse and keyboard (wired not wireless), your head-to-head Sports and Racing games on an HDTV-based console game system with a controller (wireless not wired), and the more social, location-based challenges on your handhelds with GPS capabilities built-in. So where does the iPad fit in to this perfect gamers lifestyle of infinitely available devices? I have found myself gravitating more towards graphically intensive puzzle games on my iPad. Not the tired old handheld favorites like Bejeweled, Tetris or Trism, but rather newer puzzle games with a lot more to offer both visually and with ever-expanding challenges and levels along a central theme.
Not even the iPhone 4 could stem the tide of Android, at least according to the latest rolling average for U.S. smartphone market share from analytics firm comScore.
, from 12 to 17 percent. In contrast, Apple, RIM, and Microsoft all saw decreases, 1.3, 1.8, and 2.2 points respectively, while beleaguered Palm somehow managed to remain flat.
So why didn’t the iPhone 4 provide at least a temporary increase in market share for Apple? The comScore report is a rolling average, April through July, while the iPhone 4 was launched on June 24. Further, the iPhone 4 is still supply constrained, still showing three weeks to ship at the online U.S. Apple Store.
In conjunction with the iOS 4.2 beta, Apple has issued a press release touting “AirPrint.” The trendily named wireless printing feature for iOS will be included with iOS 4.2 in November.
“AirPrint is Apple’s powerful new printing architecture that matches the simplicity of iOS—no set up, no configuration, no printer drivers and no software to download,” gushed Apple VP Philip Schiller.
First demoed at the Apple Event in September, AirPrint will initially work with HP ePrint printers or shared printers on a PC or Mac. HP ePrint printers use unique e-mail addresses to receive documents from devices with e-mail capability, supporting a variety formats including Microsoft Office, PDFs, rich text, HTML, and others, though no mention is made of iWork.
Back when Apple announced the free case program for iPhone 4 at a special press event in July 2010, September 30 seemed so far away that I gave little thought to what Cupertino had in store for iPhone 4 owners once the free case program concluded. Now, that day doesn’t seem very far away at all, and Apple’s made clear what’s going to happen.
Basically, the free case program will come to an end, with the company no longer offering a free case to all iPhone 4 customers automatically through the app created specifically for the purpose. Also, the 30-day full refund policy for dissatisfied customers will be ending too, with the refund policy returning to normal. Typically, Apple charges a restocking fee on returned iPhones of 10 percent, which has been waived for the duration of the program.
Reiterating much of the iOS presentation by Steve Jobs, a new web page adds a few details to what iOS 4.2 brings in November. As Steve Jobs said, “it’s all about iPad,” and that’s a shame because it should be about the cloud.
iOS 4.2′s major features include multitasking, folders, wireless printing, and AirPlay, the latter a renaming and expansion of AirTunes to include video. Of course, multitasking requires apps written for iOS 4, and can have the same drawbacks as on other iOS devices: performance and battery life. Folders are fine, and the enhancements to Mail, a unified inbox, threads, and opening attachments in third-party apps, will be great.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the third-generation iPod shuffle. The lack of proper controls was just not my thing. Today, with the release of the fourth-generation shuffle, Apple seems to have seen the light and gone back on itself (something it doesn’t do often).
The new shuffle brings back the buttons found on the second-generation model, but the body is squared-off rather than rectangular, so it’s smaller. How much smaller? The new one is 1.14″ high, 1.24″ wide, and .34″ deep. Compare that to the size of the second-generation, which was 1.07 x 1.62 x 0.41 inches, and it turns out to be about 15 percent smaller.
The new iPod nano was announced today alongside upgrades of all other iPods (besides the notably absent classic). It got a touchscreen display with the multitouch features Apple is known for. If you turn it around expecting to find a camera lens, though, you’ll be disappointed. The nano’s traded that in for a clip.
The new form factor is quite small (only marginally larger than the shuffle, in fact, at around 1.5 inches square). The 1.54-inch TFT touchscreen boasts a resolution of 240×240, which should be plenty for showing off the album artwork or even getting a look at some of your favorite pics. It could also work well as fancy watch, as one Apple exec is planning on using it, according to Jobs.
Despite the presence of the touchscreen, the new nano is not without physical buttons. There’s a sleep/wake one on top, along with who physical volume +/- controls. Ports on the bottom include a 3.5mm headphone jack and the standard 30-pin dock connector.
The “main entree” on the menu for today’s Apple event, the fourth generation iPod touch, was largely what rumors have led us to expect, and expectations were high.
As in years past, the iPod touch has followed in the footprint of the iPhone. The latest iPod touch incorporates Apple’s Retina Display, the Apple A4 CPU, and three-axis Gyroscope. The iPod touch also has two cameras, one in the front and one in the back.
The front camera is for FaceTime, which will work both with other iPod touches and iPhones. The back camera does not appear to have a Flash — market segmentation, anyone? The back camera will take HD video and allow editing on the device. Oddly, no mention was made of still photography.
iOS 4.1 was, as expected, announced during today’s annual September keynote, and includes a slew of bug fixes, and a few new features.
iOS 4.1 includes bug fixes for proximity awareness, Bluetooth, and performance on the iPhone 3G. The iPhone will now be able to take High Dynamic Range photos, upload HD video over Wi-Fi, and rent television shows on the go. Also making its debut is the Game Center, which is all about social gaming on iOS devices.