The latest posts tagged with appleThursday — June 21, 2012
When it comes to television, I have no idea what that could be.
In his time with Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs is famously quoted making reference to a future implementation of tv. Isaacson wrote:
And he very much wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant. “I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,” he told me. “It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.” No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. “It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”
Ever since then, speculation around what Apple has in mind for its upcoming television set has run rampant. The press and blogosphere has even come up with a code-name for this imaginary, unannounced product: iTV.
“It’ll have Siri!” they say. “You’ll just tell it what you want to watch and bam! there it’ll be.”
“iTV will cost twice as much as similarly-sized televisions and will sport a quad-core A6 processor,” the pundits proclaim. “And Microsoft’s Kinect is going to to be its top competition for redefining what we think of in terms of remote control.”
Here’s the thing… that’s all made up. Complete fabrication. Totally invented by people who have no idea what Apple is really up to.
Take the remote control part. Television manufacturers have been trying for years, nay decades, to re-invent the remote control. It’s fraught with a number of difficulties beyond just the human-machine interface. It’s a bigger problem than that. For example, one significant roadblock to an improved television remote is the set-top box and its own remote control. And if you think about it, the set-top box and every other form of tv input is where the real challenge lies.
You don’t just watch “television”. You’ve got over-the-air channels, plus digital video from a service provider (cable, fiber, satellite) as well as streaming service like Netflix, not to mention your various gaming and miscellaneous inputs (DVD, Blu-Ray, Apple TV, and VCR for you stone-agers out there still). And how many of those also have remote controls (or joysticks or frickin’ balance boards or free-form motion capture, whatever)?
No, the problem is not the remote control itself… that’s just a symptom. The root cause of the “confusion” which was driving Jobs to the “simplest interface” has to be all the inputs.
We could be glib and suggest that iCloud integration would handle all of that… but that’s not realistic… unless… Apple intended to jump into the content distribution game, like Comcast, Time-Warner, and Dish Network. But if that were the case, I’d expect we’d be hearing about secret negotiations underway with the major media companies. Apple’s secrecy is the stuff of legend, but not so with any of the necessary partners. Further, iCloud integration wouldn’t reduce the number of back-of-TV inputs products like Xboxes, Wiis, and Playstations from companies that have zero interest in leashing their cash cows into Apple’s ecosystem.
Like I said before, I have no idea what the simplest user interface imaginable might be that Jobs has tasked Apple to work on. But I think we can guess at some of the characteristics that Apple will use to approach the challenge.
See, there has to be more than just nifty remote controllery. There’s no single remote control concept that can meet all possible needs. And as far as remote controls go, there’s nothing - and I mean nothing - that can replace physical off/on as well as volume and channel up/down buttons, or if you’ve got the right kind of DVR, the 30 second instant skip-ahead button. Speaking commands: fine… until some inadvertent background noise changes the channel on you. Motion capture: okay… until your kid is watching Dora and when waving to the characters on screen, turns off the tv.
So look at the iPhone. It’s a technological masterpiece. It brought multi-touch and a user interface so responsive, it’s magical… and which, years later, the competition still can’t match. And that’s all good stuff… but do you know where the other paradigm shift occurred? Apple cut out the carrier from the sales and support experience. That’s huge. That’s why Apple can push OS updates to all of us as soon as they’re ready, without waiting for months while the handset manufacturers and carriers get their act together (as Motorola explained for the just-released-but-not-available Ice Cream Sandwich update to Android). Basically, Apple cut out the middle man in terms of the hardware and software delivery to the benefit of us all.
That’s why I think the iTV will need to elicit the same kind of paradigm shifts as the iPhone did. There undoubtedly will be some technological wizardry brought to bear. But also, Apple will have to blaze a new trail when it comes to the delivery of content to the television screen. And I mean a trail so blazing new that, like cutting out the carriers from iPhone sales/support, it won’t even look a potential trail from this side to us. Only after it’s done will we see it for what it is. At least, I think that’s what they’ll have to do to be successful.
Sorry, I don’t have any real specifics for you. I’m a nobody with no sources of hard intel. But I’m eager to see what’s coming down the pike from Apple in 2012. And I hope they figure out a way to deliver on Jobs’ vision for television.
I’ve been reading a lot of riffs lately comparing the upcoming ribbon toolbar in Windows 8 Explorer to the current minimalist design of the Finder in Mac OS X. From most Apple-focused pundits, they view it as a failing of design. They point out that most typical users can arguably achieve the same results on a Mac without 137 different mousable actions. Microsoft must be mired in groupthink and is therefore is unable to winnow out the unneeded elements.
I think they’re making some correct aesthetic assessments, but for the wrong underlying reasons. (I’m looking at you Gruber, Marks, Dalrymple, etc.)
Yes, Apple has less menu items, buttons, whatever in their Finder interface… but not because “it looks good” or for any other aesthetic. They put less in the Finder because they think the user shouldn’t have to be aware of the functionality at all. Just look at the Auto-Save and Versions capabilities introduced with Lion. If Apple has its way, you shouldn’t have to worry about saving a document/file. It should simply be automatic.
This is even more clearly evident in the iOS devices. The user has zero ability to interact with the underlying filesystem at all.
Microsoft is taking the completely opposite tack with Explorer. They don’t want to hide filesystem operations from the user… they’re actually trying to expose more of the commands and actions.
You know what’s more confusing/time-wasting/frustrating than having a lot of items to choose from? Having none when you know what you want has got to be there somewhere.
And so this all comes down to compromise. Apple’s compromise is that they cannot give regular users their perfect vision of UI… yet. As far as power users go, they can fall back on the UNIX command-line.
Microsoft is, I think, in some ways actually closer to their perfect vision. They want everyone to be power users and are willing to make buttons out of anything to do it.
Believe it or not, I don’t even know who I want to be right.
I do think that the entire point of computers is to alleviate the need for us to perform redundant, simple tasks. Why should any novice user even care what a file is at the disk level?
I also get that something as trivial as deciding who to share one’s photos with has a range of repercussions at the OS level. Maximizing the performance of such intentions can frequently require an in-depth understanding of what’s actually happening on the network, in the OS, on the disk.
I like this kind of competition. Both sides have merits and both have drawbacks. It all comes down to dealing with people, but defining who those people are - or, more correctly, who they will be - is the real challenge.
I can’t wait to see where this all ends up 10 years from now.
[In iOS,] when you’re choosing your alarm sound, double-tap it instead of single-tapping it. You’ll select the sound without auditioning it first. And that should let everyone sleep better.
It’s this kind of thoughtfulness and attention to detail that makes using Apple operating system devices such a joy.
It’s this kind of nuanced detail that’s not documented and impossible to find that makes using Apple operating system devices so frustrating to use.
In a post last week, I asked, “… if the [iPhone] 3GS will be able to run [iOS 5] as well as subsequent dot releases”.
At today’s Apple World Wide Developer Conference, it was confirmed that the iPhone 3GS, as well as both iPads and the two latest iPod touch models, will indeed be able to run iOS 5.
That doesn’t mean that Larry Dignan’s speculation will pan out, of course. This was just one aspect that I personally felt would be relevant. It’s gonna be really interesting to see what comes down the pike alongside the new iPhone later this fall.
Old 13.3” model started at $1,499.
New 13.3” model is thinner, with better display, longer battery life, and all Flash-based storage… at a lower price (starts at $1,299). Apparently, the 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU is unchanged.
New 11.6” model is smaller and lighter with slower 1.4GHz CPU, starts at $999.
Steve Jobs says that they view these as the future of Macbooks.