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Digesting the new Apple Announcements

Was on my way back from Burning Man when the latest Apple announcements came out. The iPad Pro plus Apple Pencil combination looks like it will give Wacom some heartburn. The larger form factor of the iPad Pro combined with the 3D touch should enable some new forms of interaction; it will be interesting to see what developers do with this, but it’s going to take a while before the ecosystem gets comfortable.

Same goes with WatchOS 2.0 and the new tvOS. That’s a lot of stuff for devs to embrace, especially when they are scrambling to prepare for the iOS 9 release. I know I have a lot of woodshedding to do, including an update to iBuddha for iOS 8 compatibility, and perhaps an iBuddha for Apple Watch.

I don’t think the expansion of the ecosystem is a bad thing at all, and it’s likely to weed out a lot of casual hobbyist developers. The companies most able to take advantage of this explosion of alternatives will be bigger companies, but that also creates an opportunity for someone to provide smaller developers with tools for building apps that can run appropriately across all the platforms. Games are going to go crazy on the new Apple TV, especially if you can handoff from your iPhone or iPod. These announcements are the fruit of the Handoff work that was done in Yosemite; Apple is playing a long game, and it’s not obvious how any one move is supposed to stack up.

More when I’ve had a chance to digest the announcements further and look at docs on the new OS offerings.

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Mobile Links for week ending April 5, 2014

An analysis of apps in the Apple App store by price, ratings, etc. Some interesting insights, including that 60% of the apps in the app store have no ratings.

WWDC 2014 tickets will be offered via a lottery You have until 10am PDT April 7 to register for a chance to attend, and people will be notified that evening. Given the limited size of the conference, which has maxed out at 5000 attendees to maintain a 5 attendees-per-Apple-engineer ratio, this is my first chance to go in years.

This analysis of Apple’s Arm processor micro architecture suggests that there is a lot of untapped power that iOS apps aren’t using yet.

This new tool provides a quick way to generate code to animate iOS transitions.

With Amazon’s new Fire TV and a rumored new offering from Google soon, this may very well be the year that iOS apps move to the Apple TV. The LA Times compares the current crop of TV boxes here.

Clearly the streaming media race is heating up: Amazon is rumored to be going after Spotify with a new streaming subscription service soon.

Speaking of Spotify, their newest version on iOS is beautifully designed, and very in-line with the iOS 7 aesthetic, with a content-forward look-and-feel. I haven’t had time to completely explore it, but really like what I see so far.

Microsoft has announced Cortana, their answer to Siri and Google Now. While the reference to the character from Halo probably resonates with the Xbox crowd, it seems like an obscure choice to pick for an already underdog mobile platform. I had no idea who Cortana was myself, having never played Halo. The interesting thing about the feature is that it’s powered by Bing — this may be the time for Bing to actually shine, the Bing team has some great technology that has been largely ignored, but maybe mobile is the right venue.

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Mystery “magic trackpad” could signal something big

Apple has gotten a Bluetooth trackpad approved by the FCC. So, what would you possibly do with this? You don’t need it for one of their laptops, they already have a trackpad. Potentially you could use it with an iMac or Mac Pro, but why bother with Bluetooth?

I’m picturing this as a remote for an iOS-based Apple TV, or an HD version of the iPod Touch that has a TV cable. Either combination would let you run iOS apps on a TV and control them from your couch.

All the rumors about a new AppleTV with limited storage based on iOS sound more and more like an iPod Touch with an AppleTV app. It actually makes some sense — you could buy or rent the movies you want, put them on this device, and actually take your movies over to a friend’s house to watch on their TV by plugging in an adapter cable. A 16GB iPod Touch could hold 4 or 5 feature films in about a third the space of a Blu-Ray movie box, and of course the chips are out there for higher capacity. Even better, the WiFi connection could let you serve streamed content as well, like the tons of podcasts and YouTube already available, or cloud-based iTunes video. It’s not a stretch to think of an iPod Touch HD that could play full 1080p over HDMI.

This Apple TV app could just run on an iPod, iPad, or iPhone, too. You just bring the remote and the adapter cable for your friend’s TV, and it’s Movie Night.

Now all Apple needs to do is get content owners to get real about TV and movie pricing on iTunes, and they could have a real business instead of a hobby. The technology for these and even cooler services is not the challenge, it’s getting content owners to agree to reasonable terms for the selling of content that is still often available for free on broadcast TV, or can be rented for $1 from RedBox.