Wednesday, July 26, 2017

iPhone Plus Versus the iPad Mini - The iPhone Plus Ain't the Same As A Small iPad

Most who follow Apple closely will agree with me that it was disappointing Apple did not upgrade the iPad mini along with the rest of the iPad line.  Most predict that Apple will eventually let it go the way of the iPod now that the iPhone Plus screen is big enough that it may represent a good alternative for folks who want a bigger screen mobile device but doesn't want to go as big as the 9.7" iPad. 

Frankly, I think that's a pretty lame comparision and excuse.  First of all, the iPhone Plus is not a tablet.  I have the iPhone 7 Plus and I love it.  It's powerful, gets me through the day with no issue, and has the best camera as far as I can of any that I have ever owned.  But here is why I don't think it's a good replacement for the iPad mini.

The mini can do many things that the iPhone cannot do.  Split screen.  A little cramp but works well.  The iPhone doesn't do split screen.  Picture-in-picture is a feature that the iPad owns the iPhone.  The mini does that too but the iPhone doesn't.  I think it should and allow can easily allow it to do that but it doesn't.  It's obvious that Apple does want to keep some features that as exlcusive to the iPad. Which kinda says a lot about how Apple does not think the iPhone 7 Plus is a viable replacement for the mini.

Furthermore, the mini is more a productive device than the iPhone.  I've done my share of work on the iPhone but if you put the iPhone Plus and the iPad mini on a table and ask me to crank out a spreadsheet, drawing, or just about anything else, I'll reached for the mini every time.

So, it is perplexing that Apple decided to forgo upgrading the mini in 2017.  Perhaps, we might see an upgrade down the line, perhaps in time for the Holiday Seasons in 2017 or next spring when Apple may decide to use that time show off new iPads. 

The mini serves a need that the iPhone Plus can be a viable substitute for.  Reading, watching videos, or play games.  For other things that can offer greater productivity, the mini has the iPhone beat.  And let's face it, the iPhone Plus costs way more than the mini.  Some might say that's the reason Apple decided not to upgrade the mini and will eventually kill it off.  If so, it should have done that earlier this year.

My guess is that Apple does have plans for the iPad mini.  Maybe it'll get an biannual upgrade like the iPhone SE.  If it does, it makes sense.  The iPhone SE did not get an upgrade this year and if Apple does want to keep the mini in the lineup, upgrading the SE and the iPad mini at the same time next year would make a lot of sense.  That means I'l be more than willing to retire my current iPad mini and opt for the iPad mini 5.

Forget the 15” iPad - give me a 20” One

How do you like them 12.9" iPad Pros? I like then and I'm sure those who own one likes it too. Do it is inevitable that Apple will eventually come out with even bigger iPads that truly blends the line between a tablet and one that works just as well on a desktop. It'll be easier to lug around a tablet form factor than the iMac. Heck it'll be easier and lighter to carry even a 15" or 17" iPad than the 15" MacBook Pro.

So, instead of all that, let's just straight to the 20".  Let's face it, this won't be something you take to Starbucks but it'll be something you can move around your home, office, or studio.  And yeah, at 3-4 pounds for so, you can definitely move it around some.

Right now, I'm sitting in front of a 22" monitor and it's definitely heavier than what a 20" iPad Pro would be and, if it wasn't for the cables and the lack of any reason why I need to move it from my desk, it isn't difficult to move it at all if I wanted to. 

Plus, imagine really using it as a second monitor, perhaps, exclusive to this 20" iPad.  It's both a win-win for Apple and the user. 

Above all, look at the huge productivity spike you'll see with it.  I've done work on the iPhone going as far back as the 3.5" screen.  And then as the screens got bigger and the apps could do do more, I am now doing much more on the iOS devices, particuarly on the iPads.  And I've used them all - 7.9", 9.7", and the 12.9" iPads.  So, I imagine I can do a lot more on the 20" iPad Pro.

Imagine a split screen of 3-4 apps while allow space for other things like a keyboard or controls for apps and games.  You simply cannot do that on today's iPads or Macbooks.  Definitely not on the desktop Macs.

What Apple would have to do is to create a whole new way of utility on such a tablet.  It would truly revolutionize how we interact with computers in the future.  Yeah, gotta be revolutionary.  Because let's be real about this, one day, you can have a room where just the wall itself it a giant screen that you interact with. You can be sitting or standing while you interact with a spreadsheet, painting, or gaming with someone while also FaceTiming your buddies. 

So, I'm gonna go out on a limp here and say that a big, big iPad is something.  Perhaps, Apple is still waiting for the technology to catch up to their vision or it is simply still trying to figure out the best way to make it work in that unique Apple way.  Regardless, it'll happen when Apple think they've got something revolutionary.  And while I'm happy with my iPad 2, I would definitely be ready to buy a 20" iPad Pro because it would take computing to another whole new level.

Perhaps, it might not called the iPad when it does come out.  But who cares.  Just be ready for it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

iPhone Keyboard Development On the Original iPhone: Someone Will Figure It Out

Source:  CNBC.

Here is a story about the original iPhone and it's lack of keyboard compared to the most popular smartphone at the time: the Blackberry.  It was David versus Goliath though whether Apple or Blackberry was one or the either was uncertain at the time and only time will tell which we know already.  But the story behind how Apple's iPhone came to make up for not having a physical keyboard showed just how people will find a way around a solution if the necessity for the solution exists.

Apparently, keyboard solutions Apple was develop just was not accurate enough.  I had been using the Windows Mobile devices and I know just how bad virtual keyboards are.  Perhaps Apple could have call it a day with what they had up to the point and it would have been better than anything else on the market but that was not enough.

So, Scott Forstall stopped development on other aspects of the iPhone until a viable solution was found.  It was a bit of AI and thinking outside of the box.  What they did was to make predictive typing smarter and with a neat trick where they expand the area around a letter they think users is likely to type next after the first letter of the word. 

It is an interesting story in and of itself but it showed just how people can and will find a solution to solve whatever their problem or obstacle is.  Apple's solution was the best they could come up and it worked well enough to overcome not having a real keyboard.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Major Feature for iOS 11 - Mouse Support

I'll get right to it.  There is no reason why Apple cannot provide mouse support on the iPad.  They can and they should.  It is certainly not an issue as far as trying to figure out the best US experience or the coding to support it.  It is likely Apple had mouse support for the iPad way, way, way back then but just decided that touch was what they wanted to go with.  It's likely that they've figured out the best way to implement a mouse on the iPad and even figured out the best and unique ways to use it.  And they just chose not to support it.

If I had to take a guess, it is an issue of philosphy.  Just like Apple will not support the Apple Pencil or touch on the Mac, it's the same as far as mouse support on the iPad.  After all, Apple is placing the iPad as  potential replacements for tens of millions of PC and Mac users, shouldn't they at least afford us some sort of a transitional UI experience?

Let's just say if that I can use a mouse with my iPad, I would be able infinitely more likely to use it as a productivity machine instead of using it only to satisfys my blood lust in Clash of Clans or blasting away aliens and zombies.  Sure, I'm using my iPad to do work.  But I have artificially limited to what I want to do with it.

Which brings me to this point.  Perhaps, Apple has seen data that shows how and what people are using the iPad for as far as work is concerned and having a mouse isn't necessary.  But it could be that others are also limiting themselves only types of work and apps that they can more easily use on the iPad becaue there is no mouse support.  And therefore, Apple's view on this issue is skewed. 

Then there is the issue of competition.  Both of Apple's major competitors in the mobile and PC markets, Google and Microsoft, both support more than one way for input - most glaring is that their OS support the mouse.  Forget the low-end of the mobile pool where Apple does not like to swim in but in the high-end, Microsoft has actually shown "courage" by coming out with a line of Surface products that are really a threat to Apple.  Sure, they're no Macs or iPads but they could be good enough for many of Apple's customers.  And yeah, they look nice too. (This is a jab at Apple's VP of marketing, Phil Schiller, who famously said it took courage for Apple to remove the traditional 3.5 mm headphone jack.  Apparently, many agree it was not really courage - Mashable, Techcrunch).

So, removing a 3.5 mm headphone jack doesn't really bring up courage in my mind but if it's simple philosophical stubbornness or bad data that has kept Apple from support the mouse on the iPad or the iOS devices in general, then perhaps, Apple could admit it and start supporting the mouse in iOS 11.  That would be kinda courageous.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Tablets Equal Today's Netbooks?

For many years after Apple introdued the iPad, sales were increasing at a rate that eclipsed even some of the best selling smartphones during their early days.  It was thought that the PC market would die of a quick death after the failure of the netbooks and there was no answer from the PC guys for tablets like the Galaxy.  Microsoft's own misguided attempt with the Windows RT versions seemed to have put to bed the dominance of the Android and iOS in the tablet market.  Windows was in trouble as PC sales slowed.

Well, not so fast.  The PC market did continue to decline for years but lately has shown some resilience and growth in some market even as the general world-wide sale has dropped.  It was mainly due to Asus (Gartner).

However, it doesn't seem like people who stopped buying PCs are replacing them with tablets either.  Hence, this is likely why the smartphone market continue to experience robust sales with annual upgrades. 

Now, the question is whether the tablet market is experiencing a netbook effect, albeit at a much slower place and likely won't go away entirely.  Tablets today a much cheaper than when they first came out and with better mobile and touch experiences.  And they are generally used for consuming media.  So, it is not as if upgrading tablets annually or even every 2-3 years is absolutely necessary. 

One could look it it this way:  either tablets are built to last longer than most companies expect or that there generally has been a lack of innovation in that market.  For instance, there is no reason why tablets with bigger form factors should not have just as good as cameras as their smartphone counter parts.  Go ahead, just charge more for it, Apple and Samsung.  And while Apple spent the last couple of years playing catch up with the pencil support with the iPad Pro, there has not been any notable innovation in the Android market either.  If anything, it's the integration of Google Play into Chrome OS that is most exciting but that had been anticipated for years. (Google)

So, there is still a chance that the tablet market can return to some growth but expericene has shown that it'll be overshadowed by smartphones and possibly gears that support augmented reality or virtual reality (unless tablet markers find a way to support AR/VR) and a PC market that just won't go away.  Growth will could come but slowly and the prominence of tablets of yesteryear will never return.  But hey, what company does not want to sell a few tens of millions of tablet each year?