Links referenced in Apple Tablet Chess

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This is the list of links and concepts from my last post some of which are already ready for an Apple Tablet and those concepts which can shift paradigms with more gestures and 3D for the UI and 3D FX within documents too-

3D and Realism

Times RSS Reader
Apple’s GUI Patent of 1995
Magic Cap OS
Headspace Lite
Bee Docs Timeline

VR Shopping and in-app upgrades
iVerse Comics

OpenDoc-like parts/drag-drop tools & services
Circus Ponies Notebook
Speak it

Easy Rich media creation
Magic move in Keynote 09!

Gaming and Entertainment
Dock the tablet into a larger screen- my 2009 wishlist
Wooble iBoobs (not tested, but pinch-shake apps will wobble the adult industry for sure).

As mentioned in the last post Apple used to innovate for survival, today it is in a position to innovate to shake the industry. Whether an Apple tablet shifts paradigm(s) or not, many of the cool apps/ideas on the Mac OS X and iPhone are already begging for a tablet and will change the way we work – in a very big way- by just running/porting them to a tablet.

It is all about is Apple’s Positional karma!
One more day to go!
26 January 2010


Apple ‘Tablet’ Chess

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Apple’s secretive approach is more like poker or bridge, where the others are left guessing. But concepts of chess (where the pieces are visible), can also be applied. We can anticipate natural advances to their core technologies of both the iPhone and the Mac, since a tablet- it better be so on 27th Jan- is in between.

Gradual positonal advances and tactical game changing experiments are imminent! Lets see what kind of chess Apple needs to play…

Apple’s Strategic Anchors- iPhone and Macs
The Mac and the iPhone are well placed as revenue earners and technically solid. 10 years ago Apple innovated to survive. Today it can innovate to unleash something experimental. (Tactics flow from strong positions!). It took many sharp steps for Apple to get here. But now it is time to overhaul some technologies, and shift paradigms…

So lets see which concepts Apple can address, some of which were unfulfilled dreams for Apple and for the industry-

1. Publishing and ebooks
Fluid Positional Play- advance core technologies from what they already are.
This is obviously what everyone is eagerly waiting for. eBooks already look nice- with page flips and annotations on the iPhone. But a tablet will make it look and feel like a book. Apple can, and this is a natural next step. Fluid Positional Play, considering core-quartz FX/transitions already in the OS X.

Scrolling and book dimensions are the major issues when it does not fit the tablet form factor. See Times RSS Reader for a cool newspaper like view for feeds on Mac OS X. But one can expect page tilting (to reduce scrolling) and subtle brightness changes with an accelerometer for enhanced feel.

2. Personalized 3D GUI
Tactical mobility on an open file! The competition is barely just catching up with Expose. 3D is far away.

Remember how an Apple Patent 08/052,865 was supposed to revolutionize a GUI with 3D icons in 1995. Unfulfilled!

Magic Cap tried to simulate a room with real objects (it was brilliant then in 1995), and even today there are 3rd party desktops which swivel and skew to give you a 3D look. But real 3D needs to be touched, not explored with modifier keys.

The road is clear, with multi-touch moving on steroids, and the widgets/icons are begging to be felt! The technical skills of rendering 3D with todays processing power and touch gestures makes this an ‘open file’ with both rooks aligned on it. Apple can then use 3D output in various fields- forcing tactics- to just boost almost all types of display, interaction and report generation.

Fast user switching of Mac OS X accounts already flips desktops as rotating cubes. This could well be the way Spaces works too.

For a feel of navigating space with interactivity try iPhone app Headspace Lite (like Apple’s Hot Sauce Browser in 90s). Or try BeeDocs Timeline (OS X) to get an idea of how a simple timeline can knock you over by 3D skews.

3. Virtual Reality-Shopping
in-app purchases was Apple’s Postional Shot!

Shopping online failed in the 90s because of cumbersome checkout processes and lack of realistic feel of products. The former, has already been solved with an app store and now in-app purchases makes every store or bookshelf- dynamic. iVerse Comics (iPhone app) update a bookshelf by push notifications already.

If the 3D enhancements and touch gestures as indicated earlier, are done, this will pave the way for virtual shopping (what the heck cover flow alone might do it). Again all that is needed is a tablet to deliver goods and content- in a form factor that makes sense. Charging for the delivery is what an in-app purchase is all about. A silent chess shot with definite purpose.

4. OpenDoc, again?
some preparatory moves can be seen… contextual services!

In the 90s when Apple was looking for the next big OS with multi tasking and all that, they worked on OpenDoc- a radical new way to work. There would be no monolithic applications! Just tools which would select themselves, based the ‘part’ you worked in. So every document would be like a layout program with many different parts- images, spreadsheets, text etc. The user could also install tools such as spell checkers from one vendor and say a formatting feature from another… too ambitious for the 90s…

But even though applications will not go away, this was what the internet needed then- as each brilliant programmer and designer could focus on their own niche skills- and the user would stitch the apt tools together. Photoshop plugins are a good example of how every developer does not need to re-invent the core editing program.

But if you see the Mac OS today, you can see widgets/HUDs hovering all over, small drag drop utilities which just do a simple but relevant task well – Collage tools (Posterino), Image sizing (ImageWell). You also have Outliner and Notepad files as a package– which can embed other files of any kind (How about Circus Ponies Notebook on a Tablet?). iWork 09 spreadsheets are already smaller purposeful sections instead of an ugly giant grid.

Most importantly, the services menu is now context sensitive in OS X Snow Leopard. So spell checkers, text expanders and text to speech type services which are universal will perhaps be enhancing the ‘text parts’ in a document, without switching apps. TapIt4Me and Speak it (iPhone apps) are waiting to offer their services to every text snippet – anywhere.

Even if a super-document centric paradigm is not adopted, if each document can host any media/data type and active widgets (web 2.0 style but as local apps), and they can be edited or run in their own ‘part’ – a enhanced document model will be the new big thing.
You will not have to make a presentation- that will be the way you work!

Something tells me that Apple may shock everyone here with a game changing document model… may be not… but for sure hybrid docs which absorb all types of data are a natural progression, sooner or later. (can I please scribble and annotate inside any document?, not just PDFs in Preview or PDFpen).

5. Multimedia for reference/education
forget chess- this just needs a tablet and docking options… (and Hypercard, anyone?)

CD-ROMs were supposed to replace text books? didn’t… they were slow in the 90s, needed a clunky computer to load one. Most importantly, creating a multimedia demo, required fiddl
ing in timelines or lots of programming…

Now with solid state memory and rich media tools, this looks solved. In fact all that is needed is a tablet- the iPhone has some cool AV annotation tools (SonicPics), Diaries/Journals with rich media (Organizer), and with a spotlight like search and tagging mechanism- reference work will be multimedia centric. For a kiosk like presentations- just take a look at how much can be accomplished by just one – magic move in Keynote 09!

6. Network Computing!
Deep positional play- with many silent steps over a few years…

This was yesterday’s promise of Java and Netscape. But it is possible only today with Amazon S3, Dropbox and other clouds, that we can assume to save and open all data from a server. Then any Tablet will be ‘my’ tablet- as the data ain’t in it. But if this will happen, it will happen with small but well planned steps-deep positional play- hosting more apps online, then backing up and synching data online… eventually saving data online.. until we will have an empty tablet- Tabula Rasa! …an iSlate! The Tablet might just silently or incidentally fulfill the network-is-the-computer mantra

7. Gaming and Entertainment
Tactics to get every kid and adult on to the OS X ecology

My awareness about Computer Games is unfortunately not developed beyond chess. I do love sports but am not a Video game buff. But with touch gestures and even basic 3D, there will be scope for a different type of gaming- on the tablet and where the tablet is just an input console for another gaming gadget. (or if we could dock the tablet into a larger screen- see my wishlist).

Also, the entertainment apps invite you to touch, pinch and shake (Wooble iBoobs)…I cannot say how well it works, as I have many other things to buy, but I guess a larger form factor will help… umm this is more about Apple’s chess positions not kamasutra.. though some excel in both (@pogonina, a Chess GM).

8. Augmented Reality (AR)
in another game of chess? with Steve you never can tell though- camera, GPS, action…


So what impact will a successful tablet have, assuming it becomes a must-have gizmo like the iPhone? If Apple does pull of half of what is possible, based on their Positional Advantage, of having a priority on key technologies of modern times – as in the iPhone and OS X – it could get every single tablet buyer to be a Mac user of sorts. Even now, every iPhone user is using a mobile version of OS X, but not really getting any work done- in the desktop sense. So an avid iPhone user is not Mac user, as such.

But the same may not be true for a tablet, which in all likelihood will not just be a content consumption device. If you create or do work on an iSlate – or whatever it is called- you are then close to being a Mac user as well.

In fact, the Mac vs PC wars may be about to end… as the iSlate will convert both of them, gradually… So Apple’s positional path will then be- Mac technologies came to iPhone; both iPhone & Mac+more touch/3D come to an iSlate (now); iSlate technologies back to the Mac (like iPhone touch gestures enhanced Mac trackpads)…

The only major issue, is still about doodling and scribbling, which touch interfaces are weak, since fingertips are not precise and obstruct vision. Either an additional stylus or a virtual one, will surely be needed. Many iPhone apps try to address it in many ways, but Apple needs to nail this.

Let’s see- 27th Jan ain’t far away… 2010 may not just be 2010!

Time to catch up some sleep.

Mumbai, India
24 Jan 2010

iPhone vs Android is like Mac vs PC?

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So the buzz is that Android sales (OS for handhelds, from Google) may tip the iPhone by 2012? Sounds like a Mac vs PC debate. Well sort of, but the Mac debuted in 1984, when PCs had already been pushed by IBM with DOS. However, Apple was in the Personal Computing business earlier than the PCs and was already the pioneer to beat. So there is some similarity here, but this time

1. The iPhone is already in by a few years, so developers have invested in this platform. Legacy is what dictates the future more often than creativity (unfortunately), but in this case Apple has both.

2. Buying apps from a store which guarantees one-click download, no silly forms each time you buy something for $0.99 and ensuring -what you pay for you will get for sure. This is what the iPhone App Store has achieved.

This however, does not mean that things cannot change. We live in a world where you cannot predict technological breakthroughs (in price or paradigm).

Now getting to the heart of the debate-

3. iPhone and Apple products are proprietary as have always been. Android is open source based on Java, and will run on various hardwares (like Windows on PCs), whereas the iPhone/Mac OS run on Apple products.

My view about this open/close issue has always been that Apple never lost out to the PC for this fact, but had more to do so with Macs in 1984 were way ahead of their time for most programmers to learn a GUI and event driven model, when all they could do was write print commands on a black screen. 1984, User friendly = developer demanding, and the Mac was always the second choice for those learning computer programming.

However, today Apple has done a brilliant job in making sure that developers get all the resources to learn and build for their platforms. User interfaces and GUI libraries are object oriented with tools/support from all over the web. So there is no reason a developer who wants to do just simple things -like a report or costing for internal use, needs to stay away from a platform which demands sophistication (the DOS printouts were not WYSIWYG, but useful enough to output as rows on a dot-matrix).

Being ‘closed’ will not dictate the future of iPhone, though Android will get market share being licensable to third parties. Personally, I’d care less if Android has more numbers in 2012, as many handheld devices will do many trivial things for which an iPhone or smart PDA will be an overkill.

In fact, this time it may be a win-win for all.
The generic devices running Android are truly open (unlike generic PCs which had a proprietary Windows on top). The world always needs many generic tools which can be tweaked- which Android can be right for. The world also needs nifty gadgets which have everything consistent and designed insanely right. This can only happen when a platform is closed and developers see the same API but things can be fine tuned inside. Apple will deliver that-as proven time and again. 68K-PowerPC-Unix-Intel, yet the Mac is not that different in experience!

4. So the key for Apple is to keep an eye on development ease and productivity- if someone comes out with a radically easier way to code (you never know!) and programmers can build something in minutes instead of days, Apple can adopt/promote it.

Apple had missed the boat with Hypercard in the ’80s (hypertext links in a stack of cards, leading eventually to the web/http) and then with Applescript ’90s (GUI Scripting/Recording has by far been the most productive non-programmers tool- but Quickeys and OneClick were needed!).

ObjectiveC may not hold up too long when Java and Ruby are languages that most programmers talk in. The good news is that they are ahead with Ruby support on the Mac.

Win-win for all? We will need to wait a bit longer. I had the same hope in last year’s blog article

10 Oct 2009

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Scalable iTablets!

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We can have tablets from 5×7 inches (personal) to 2 feet (tables at work/library/copy center) if required. Scalable iTablets! They only have logic for touch and display and if feasible networking.

iPodTouch 64Gb has more speed and space than Mac minis and iBooks just few years back… It is slimmer than iPhones, so if docked into tablets, overall thickness will be acceptable.

To begin with Apple will (if) roll out tablets which are monolithic… but it will be really disappointing if we cannot have touch/display devices for various purposes but which use the CPU/Data consistently from one source- your iPod….

Mumbai India
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@saumilzx #ideas #wishlist 091006.1

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In 1999 my iMac was 233Mhz, had 128Mb RAM and 12Gb space.I also had a Powerbook Duo laptop in the early ’90s, with a dock (monitor, keyboard, mouse no CPU). The laptop was grayscale, but when docked, it became a desktop Mac with thousands of colors.. when done, eject laptop like a floppy… and go.

2009: iTablet or iMac or whatever, can perhaps be sold in different form factors, at low cost- just as screen with a docking slot… hmm…iPodTouch is already 64Gb, 500Mhz+… please!!!

Mumbai, India
8 Oct 2009


iPhone 3G delivers the Original Internet Promise?

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I have always maintained that the commercial fallout of the internet and B2C in the 90s was not due to ‘revenue model’ issues. It was the interface, stupid! And the interface is not just a point and click thing- it about the way you interact with the machine to accomplish tasks- or rather avoiding those cumbersome things that you should not be doing, which undermine the very ‘reach-out’ advantage of the net.

What was, or rather is needed for B2C to succeed is tracking user identity and therby enabling smooth payment processing, and an assurance to the user that he will be able to get what he paid for. Also assurance is needed that the user will not misuse what he pays for, by eSharing it. Then one could pay 10 cents for a cybercard, without filling up forms and learning various shopping cart interfaces- not to mention the dozens of passwords to be managed. If you like something, and I am willing to pay the price, it should be done, without any further interaction. Also, the buyer must not be able copy-paste and misuse content.

The promise of simplicity of buying and paying for something is perhaps here at last. The user now just has to decide what he wants and whether the price is right or not- rather than wait for Javascript to tell you that your zip code is incorrect! The iPhone/iTunes System is perhaps delivering the original promise of the internet, today, which could have been done years ago by prepaid internet cards to track users and products and pay as you go- but without getting into mechanics of forms and e-commerce nonsense.

Go Apple, go! They better not mess up in India! Every rural and small town in Asia needs the iPhone/iTunes app & content distribution- not just to buy stuff but to be able to publish their little dreams and earn just enough to live on and dream another day…

15 July 2008

iPhone vs Android

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Google is releasing Android, an open source platform for handheld devices. They will not manufacture devices but will license it to vendors. Sounds like the Apple v Microsoft days of the ’80s. iPhone will have an advantage of tightly integrated interface with the phone/pda to create a product(s) which is sleek and easy to use, whereas Android will try to be ubiquitous but every vendor will close it the way they want to.

As a first reaction, Steve Jobs has done well in slashing iPhone to $199, a move which Apple had missed during the early Macintosh days. However, since Android will be Java/Open Source based you can expect portability with genuinely different hardware, not like DOS/Windows on PC clones which were not offering a compelling difference as such.

Are we entering the Golden Era of Personal Computing and Communication?
Proprietary gadgets to offer seamless and customized functionality for a given task, whereas Java based devices to help deploy variety of useful and general purpose products to meet flexible demands.

Perhaps, hopefully…

6 July 2008

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