January 2010 Archives

Apple's iPad Tablet Includes Cool New Apps and Features

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First published: 27th of January 2010 for Technorati

Calling it "way better than a laptop, way better than a phone," Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled his company's long-awaited iPad tablet-style multi-touch device Wednesday.

The device weighs just 1.5 pounds, has a 9.7-inch color display and a custom built dual CPU and graphics chip. The 16GB model, without a 3G radio, but with Wi-Fi, will cost $499, 32GB and 64GB models, also sans 3G, are priced $599 and $699, respectively. Models with 3G radios will cost an extra $130.

The WiFi-only models will be shipping in 60 days worldwide, while the 3G included models ship in 90 days.

Alongside their new iPad dubbed tablet device, Apple introduced a number of iPad specific applications and service to enhance the productivity and usefulness of their new mobile device.

Some of these new applications, such as an eReader for books and a mobile productivity suite have been circulating along side the tablet rumors itself for the past few months. Here is a quick run down on the new tablet's features:

iBooks is an iPad specific app for reading books with the mobile device's color display, similar to Amazon's Kindle.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs demonstrated the application, which features a virtual bookshelf containing the user's personal collection. Users can also sample a number of books, such as those available on the New York Times bestseller list, before purchasing. From there, the books are downloaded and placed onto the iPad's virtual bookshelf for reading.

"If you've used iTunes or the App Store, you're already familiar with this," Jobs said.

Published content will initially include books from publishers HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hachette Book Group, with more to come over time.

iWorks for iPad
Apple also announced a mobile, multi-touch version of iWorks, their productivity suite, that includes Numbers - a spreadsheet application, Pages - a word processing application - and Keynote a presentation application.

Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, gave a hands-on demonstration of the new iWork which provides users with the ability to work on important documents on the go.

The three applications will be available for download from the iPad App Store for $9.99 each.

Cellular Service
While Apple CEO Steve Jobs said there are no international plans to reveal yet, the company did make an announcement about US availability. Specifically, Apple is continuing its partnership with AT&T, which will offer two data plans for the iPad; 14.99 for a limited 250MB data plan, and a $29.99 unlimited plan with free access to AT&T's nationwide Wi-Fi hotspots.

Moreover, while the data plans, as announced, are limited to AT&T, the data plans themselves are contract-free and can be purchased -- or canceled -- at any time directly from the iPad.

However the 3G-enabled version of the iPad does increase the base cost of the iPad itself, starting at $629.

TV Subscription
One rumor that didn't come true was a TV subscription plan in which people could watch all their favorite TV shows for a flat $30-per-month fee on the iPad.

According to The New York Times and AppleInsider, a number of networks passed on Apple's proposed plans. In fact, Apple has had a rocky relationship with a few networks, including NBC-Universal, which at onetime pulled all its content from Apple's iTunes Store.

Now that national cable provider Comcast owns NBC, relations may become even more strained as Comcast's perspective of alternative distributions methods, such as iTunes, are viewed as a threat to the company's core business.

The Long Road Ahead for Apple's Tablet

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First published: 26th of January 2010 for Technorati

Apple is set to announce a "major new product" tomorrow, according to CEO Steve Jobs. Most anticipate the new product to be a mobile, tablet-like computing device, something akin to an iPhone's bigger brother. So meaningful is the new device that Apple's outspoken CEO has reportedly said that the tablet "will be the most important thing I've ever done."

Yet chances are most people won't see Apple tablets in everyday use until sometime next year at the earliest, if recent history is any guide.

That's not to suggest the tablet will fail to be successful. It's kind of hard to make major pronouncements about a device that has yet to be unveiled.

However, consider when Apple announced its equally anticipated iPhone in January 2007. The total number of cellphones sold worldwide in the first three months that year amounted to 256.4 million units. Yet when the iPhone was finally available in June of that year, Apple and AT&T sold a small fraction of that: just under 1.4 million for the final six months of 2007.

Now, 270,000 of those sales were in the first 36 hours of availability, making for a successful launch to be sure, but it also made the iPhone a highly rare device. In fact, the iPhone didn't become as widely visible in everyday life until the fall of 2008, after Apple released the updated iPhone 3G model which has since sold some 36 million times worldwide.

Or consider Apple's near-ubiquitous iPod. When first released in the fall of 2001, they were only compatible with Apple's Mac computers and was sold only 376,000 times in 2002. Not until the fourth generation iPod in 2005 did Apple sell some 22 million units, transforming the iPod to into the cultural icon it is today.

iPod Sales According to Wikipedia

All of this might explain why Apple is rumored to first be focusing the new tablet as a family media device rather than a personal media device, according to a Wall Street Journal article last week. "Apple focused on the role the gadget could play in homes and in classrooms," the WSJ reported, envisioning "that the tablet can be shared by multiple family members to read news and check email in homes."

In other words, no matter how revolutionary Apple's new product may be, it will likely take time, even after the initial buzz and availability, until the iTablet -- or whatever Apple choose to name it -- will become a household word.

Apple's iTablet is About Mobile Productivity

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Now that Apple has officially sent out invitations to various members of the media to "Come see our latest creation" next week, January 27th, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, let us consider what exactly that creation will be.


Apple's Invite


iTablet, iSlate, uSlate, whatever the name affixed to the device will be Apple will most certainly be rolling out a tablet-sized mobile computing device. For the most part I agree with tech-writer Andy Ihnatko in terms of the devices hardware configuration, will have data access via WiFi and cellular, 10'' multitouch screen, a solid state drive (SSD) - but I think it will be of a larger capacity than 32 GB), et al.

I also agree, for the most part, on Andy's comments about functionality. The UI will be designed for the issues of carrying and working with a 10'' slab of computing hardware - on the go - "Think about how a user interface would have to incorporate those observations. Now imagine that you've been doing this experiment for four years and not four minutes. That's a very long list of observations. If you didn't come up with a workable solution, don't worry: I think Apple has", after all Apple has been applying for a number of patents over the years on this very issue.


From Patently Apple's Apple: The Tablet Prophecies

Ok fine, but what exactly will it do? What will you need it for?

Well, I'm glad you asked, because those are very important questions, as AppleInsider recently noted. In the long history of hand-held sized computing, there is a very short list of market-wins, PDAs, such as the Palm Pilot, MP3 devices such as the iPod and smartphones, such as the Blackberry.

That is it.

Apple's Newton was an amazing technology for the time, but was oversized and overpriced as a personal organizer. Microsoft's Tablet PC never really got the third-party software support it need for the form factor to find a home1 and as AppleInsider recounts history's trash-bin is littered with companies and devices that never even made it that far into the public conciseness.

So as history as our guide, for it to make its way in the world, Apple's iTablet will need to definitely answer the question, what can I use it for?

Well let us consider the key feature of Apple's other hand-held devices:

  • iPod is for Entertainment - First for music on the go, followed by video on the go (watching video first, now watching and shooting video) and games (with the iPod Touch)

  • iPhone is for Communication - Yes of course there is an App for that, but even before the App store the iPhone was about communication: Voice, Text (Email, SMS) and Web

So the iTablet will be about ... Productivity!

But wait, I hear, what about those rumors about print publication and eReaders? And, I hear you say you already have a mobile device for productivity, your laptop?

Why yes, a laptop is for productivity on the go, and Apple is looking to redefine what a mobile productivity device is. 

Consider, what are the problems with using a laptop? It's heavy and cumbersome to carry, doesn't have access to cellular networks by default and it takes a long time to start up and be, well productive.

An iPhone on the only hand is always on, not just always turned on, but always connected. Your on the road, you get an important email and presto, your at work. 

But wait, that email has an attachment, and 10 sheet spreadsheet and oh, bother this graph is completely wrong and oh, look the formula is off and, well guess you'll have to boot up your latptop now while you wait for your airplane. Good luck finding a power outlet that hasn't already be staked out by some other traveler.

But if you take the strengths of the laptop with that of the iPhone, well you get one hell of a productive device.

This is nothing short of revolution! This is, after all, Steve Jobs' Apple!

Oh and that eReader stuff, that will just be some App available in the App store. After all the iPhone was not only built on the success of the iPod, but incorporated the iPod's key functionality as a secondary feature. The iTablet's secondary feature, you'll be able to purchase and run third-party iPhone and iTablet-specific apps too.

In The Pudding

Granted this is speculation, my interpenetration of the various rumors that have been circulating over the years.

If your looking for proof of this interpretation, I can't offer you any, at the moment. I can however point to two interesting side rumors, that Apple has been working on a new, web-based version of their productivity suite iWork and that they recently contracted to build a new data center in North Carolina to support growing web-based "cloud computing".

Oh, and recall that Apple has recently reduce the number of laptops it sells.

That and of course Google's netbook running Chrome and their web-based Google Docs suite and well, if Apple announces a new, distributed version of iWorks next week alongside their shinny new tablet, I say, there is your proof that things are about to get very interesting...

1 Not wishing to give up on anything, Microsoft, at CES, released alongside HP their "Slate PC", which represents - I suppose on how and what your counting - Microsoft's third attempt at tablet-like computing. Once upon a time the knock on Microsoft was they needed three revision to get something right - think Windows 3.1 - for marketplace success. So I suppose one should keep an eye on their Microsoft now...

Mark McGwire Admits To Steroid Use

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First published: 11th of January 2010 for Technorati

Mark McGwire today released a statement to The Associated Press that he did in fact use steroids during his 15 year professional playing career in baseball, including his single-season home run record 1998 season.

Heavy speculation that McGwire used steroids or human growth hormone has followed him almost since that very same record breaking season.

McGwire and fellow former Oakland Athletics team member Jose Canseco, along with New York Yankess's Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte have publicly admitted to using steroids during their recent playing careers. With many other suspected players including Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and David Ortiz being implicated in the past, baseball been forced to toughen its drug program twice in the past five years. Prior to the 2004 season, baseball had no mandatory testing program for active players.

"Baseball is really different now -- it's been cleaned up," McGwire said. "The commissioner and the players' association implemented testing and they cracked down, and I'm glad they did."

McGwire's statement comes on the heels of his appointment as a hitting coach for his former team, "Now that I have become the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, I have the chance to do something that I wish I was able to do five years ago."

But, with his public admission to using steroids, McGwire refocuses the open question in baseball, what to do about the players, known and suspected and their playing records?

Should players such as McGwire be eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame? Or even be allowed to work in baseball at all?

Since baseball has not outright banned players who have tested positive for or have admitted to using steroids McGwire is indeed still eligible to work in baseball as well as be included in the Hall of Fame.

In fact McGwire recently received 23.7% of the vote among baseball writers for inclusion into the Hall in 2010. While that vote total is well shy of the 75% needed for induction, McGwire obviously has some people pulling for him, including St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, "they [McGwire and Sosa] did more than just hit home runs, they brought fans back, they brought baseball back," Wainwright said, "There's people in the Hall of Fame who have done much worse."

While it remains to be seen if McGwire or any other "steroid-era" player will make it into the Hall of fame, the fact that McGwire has admitted to and now has a chance to watch out for the use of steroids will be closely watched over the coming season.

Hall of Fame or not, changes are fans of baseball will take recent assertion to heart. When asked if he felt that players of this era should have an asterisk by there name if voted into the Hall, Hank Aaron, a Hall of Famer himself, replied "If they're guilty that's what you should do," Aaron said. "If they're guilty they should come in with that because that, from what we gather, is part of why the record is where it is."

About the Author

Paul is a technologist and all around nice guy for technology oriented organizations and parties. Besides maintaining this blog and website you can follow Paul's particular pontifications on the Life Universe and Everything on Twitter.


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