While Apple has been hugely successful in selling phones and tablets, it has little traction in social networking, which has become a major engine of activity on the Web and on mobile devices. Social media are increasingly influencing how people spend their time and money — an important consideration for Apple, which also sells applications, games, music and movies.
Apple has considered an investment in the hundreds of millions of dollars, one that could value Twitter at more than $10 billion, up from an $8.4 billion valuation last year, these people said. They declined to be named because the discussions were private.
Interesting take on the recent iPad release event. I find the branding of the iPad as “the New iPad” particularly bad design — when the next “new iPad” comes out, bloggers and forum posters will suddenly have no way to succinctly distinguish them. Forum posts regarding the 2012 model will likewise be instantly made outdated. There’s a certain psychological impact to buying the “new” product, but it seems outweighed by the absurdity of having an “old” product that’s been out for just one year.
As widely predicted, Apple has updated its Apple TV accessory. This isn’t an overhaul but an update: The new box offers better resolution and software upgrades.
The new device will support video in 1080p, and Apple will now allow users to redownload movies they’ve already purchased from iTunes, like they’ve already been able to do with TV shows, via Apple’s iCloud service.
AppleTV in 1080p! The best solution for streaming media is still a Mac Mini running Plex, however.
Apple revamped its notification system in iOS 5, introducing a Notifications Center that was strikingly similar to Android’s notification scheme. Apple added its own refinements, such as the ability to add widgets displaying the weather, stock prices, and other frequently-updated information. But the basic approach—notifications displayed at the top of the screen accessible through a pull down gesture—is virtually identical to the approach Google invented.
Users benefit from this kind of copying. Google’s notification scheme was better than the original iPhone notifications, so it is in iOS users’s interests for Apple to copy the idea. The alternative—a world in which companies scrupulously avoid using each other’s ideas—would be much worse. It would become impossible to buy a smartphone incorporating the best innovations from across the industry.
Inventing in the dark
Legally, the question is whether Google infringed on Apple’s patent, copyright, or other possessions. Google appears to be on safe ground from a copyright perspective. Android is built on Linux and uses a Java-like virtual machine; iOS is built on Darwin and uses NeXT-derived Objective C frameworks. We don’t know of any allegations that Android was developed with literal copies of iOS code.
But whether Google infringed on Apple’s patents is a harder question. And it would have been especially difficult to answer as Google was creating the first versions of Android.
Patent law generally gives a firm like Apple one year from the public disclosure of an invention to file for a patent on it. Apple unveiled the iPhone in January 2007, so the filing deadline for iPhone-related inventions would have been in January 2008. After filing, there is an additional 18-month delay before applications are made public. So if Apple filed an iPhone-related patent application on the last day before the deadline, Google wouldn’t have learned of its existence until July 2009—almost a year after the first Android phone hit the market.
Who does this benefit, other than board members and shareholders? Patent / copyright laws are absurdly out of date, a remnant hundreds of years old which no longer makes sense for today’s climate of innovation.
Having been the subject of questions regarding its collection of user locations in the past, Apple has been sent a letter over concerns that developers may be accessing and storing user data on its products.
Congressmen have addressed a letter directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook, regarding transmission of user data, and the privacy safeguards in the app store. This, in response to the recent Path privacy debacle, and realization that the problem is more endemic to the app industry than many users are aware of. Check out the extensive (if not terribly well written) list of questions, perhaps even demands, they propose, after the jump:
The Problem – Smartphones, tablets, and video game consoles are powerful computers with lots of untapped potential. Yet many of these devices are set up to run only software that’s been approved by the manufacturer. Modifying a device to run independent software – known as jailbreaking – is important to programmers, enthusiasts, and users. But jailbreaking creates legal uncertainty. Some device manufacturers claim that jailbreaking violates Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which carries stiff penalties.
The Solution – EFF is asking the U.S. Copyright Office to declare that jailbreaking does not violate the DMCA, and we need your help. In 2010, the Copyright Office said jailbreaking smartphones doesn’t violate the DMCA. This year, we’re asking them to renew that exemption (otherwise it will expire) and expand it to cover tablets. We’re also asking for a new exemption to allow jailbreaking of video game consoles.
Please help the EFF fight for your rights by clicking through the link and submitting your own documentation of how jailbreaking enables you to do work, better! I’m attaching an example of my own letter to the office, below:
If we actually had a reliable source of app intent/scheme bindings, then a whole lot of interesting possibilities would arise. Instead of silently failing when an app tries to call up a recipient app that isn’t installed, the OS could request to download and install it. You could have apps rely on each other, so that downloading and installing one implies automatically downloading and installing its prerequisite building-block sub-apps.
Most of all, you’d be able to reliably link to and from other apps, almost as if they were web sites. It would be so easy to do — yet Apple and Google have both let this possibility languish untouched for years. I’m on record as predicting that HTML5 apps will take over from native apps in a couple years’ time. The ability to link to and from them — in other words, to partially restore the hypertext dream — isn’t the main reason why, but it’s definitely a contributing factor.
Interoperability can only benefit the (well-informed) user. As someone recently looking into the iOS development game, I’m surprised at the moves Apple has made to limit and not-list the various types of open URL chemes already available.
Adobe developer relations lead Mike Chambers has posted a lengthy explanation of why the company decided stop development of the mobile browser version of Flash.
Well, that’s that. Adios, Flash.
This week marked the launch of UltraViolet, a new digital locker system that would allow users to purchase content in one physical or digital format and access it across all platforms via a cloud-based system. The service came about through years of negotiation and collaboration between major studios, manufacturers, and retailers, but not everyone in the industry was on board — Apple and Disney were among the two biggest holdouts.
We’ve now learned why Apple declined to participate, and it’s pretty much the same reason Disney did. Apple has quietly been working on its own cloud service, expected to launch in late 2011 or early 2012, and has been working out deals with studios to allow videos purchased through iTunes to be streamed on any Apple device including iPhones, iPads, and Apple TV.
“Digital music locker”? Gosh, even themovie studios’ metaphors sound dated. A locker? Really? That particular metal device is pretty ill-suited to convey the freedom of syncing and listening to your music anywhere you go. A locker? That idea… just stinks.
Think of all the times you’ve found yourself Googling stuff on your iPhone to settle a friendly debate with friends about a movie or athlete. There are a million things mobile users query Google about every day on their phones, but I theoretically could have used Siri to look up that entire list for me, and with much less effort on my part.
For Google, this is not good news.
Google recently stated during its testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee that a whopping two-thirds of its mobile search traffic comes from iOS devices. If even half of those users eventually migrate over to Siri for the majority of their basic inquiries from their iPhones, Google’s mobile search business could find itself in flux. When roughly 66 percent of your mobile search traffic comes from a platform that now has an “intelligent assistant” making its own queries without the help of Google, a strategy change may be in the cards sooner than later. So far, Google is remaining mum on Siri.
Siri: Apple’s secret software ninja? Sneaks in through your phone, ends up taking over your life. In such a nice way.