Posts tagged ‘apple’
Let’s say you work for Apple. Pretty cool to start with, but you can top it – you work with the uber-secret new toys Steve Jobs loves to surprise the world with. Not only do you get to play with the new cool stuff, but once in a very rare while you actually get to field test it. And then you leave the iPhone prototype in a bar …
Unfortunately for one soon-to-be-ex-Apple employee, that’s exactly how the folks at Gizmodo ended up with what they believe is the working prototype for the next generation iPhone. A “source” found what seemed to just be a typical iPhone in a bar and, unable to find the owner, took it home. Only after discovering the case was a fake and a totally new kind of iPhone was inside did he realize something was different. Eventually, the phone made it to the rabid hands of Gizmodo, who promptly disassembled it.
As you might expect, it runs the new iPhone 4.0 software that was recently announced. It also comes with a chat camera facing the user to go with the normal opposite side picture-taking variety (which also seems to be upgraded as well). Most intriguing, though, is that the design of the phone itself – which has remained relatively unchanged since the beginning – has undergone a makeover:
At first sight, this new iPhone’s industrial design seems so different from the previous two generations that it could be discarded as just a provisional case. Even while the finish is so perfect that it feels right out of the factory, some of the design language elements that are common to all Apple products are not there. Gone is the flushed screen glass against the metal rim. Gone is the single volume button, replaced by two separate ones. Gone is the seamless rim, and gone are the tapered, curved surfaces.
Despite that, however, this design is not a departure. Not when you frame it with the rest of the Apple product line. It’s all the contrary: This new iPhone gets back to the simplicity of the iMac and the iPad. In fact, you can argue that the current iPhone 3GS—with its shiny chrome rim and excessively curved back—is out of place compared to the hard edges and Dieter-Ramish utilitarianism of the iMac and the iPad. Next to the iPad, for example, the new iPhone makes sense. It has the same feeling, the same functional simplicity.
So, much as some pundits have called the iPad an oversized iPhone, now it’s the iPhone that will be called an undersized iPad … Personally, I like the new design – I was never that happy with the rounded back of the iPhone … it just seemed to want to slip out of your hand like a slivered bar of soap. Interesting stuff, and if nothing else it’s good to see the folks in Cupertino aren’t remaining static in the face of the Droid challenge. It’s good to be king, but uneasy rests the crown …
UPDATE: Now Gizmodo has ratted out the Apple engineer in question – a guy by the name of Gray Powell. They give more details on how the phone was lost, and the guy is even participating in the comments on the thread, which is one of those things that makes alarm bells go off for me. Not sure what to think now … truly lost prototype or ultimate underground advertising … guess we’ll just have to wait and see!
Everyone does product rollouts, but no one does them quite like Apple – and today, we’re going to get one more example.
The tech world is a-twitter – literally and figuratively – over today’s mysterious meeting in San Francisco. Apple sent out crytic emails last week inviting the press to “come see our latest creation” – and you know that’s better than crack for the Apple fanboys and tech media alike. Let’s face it – when’s the last time you saw USAToday hyping a product launch from Dell … or HP … or any PC brand. Today’s event is likely to be bigger than most, however.
First, and most important, it should be the first time most of us have seen Apple CEO – and corporate compass – Steve Jobs since he returned from a leave of absence for medical treatment. When last we saw him, he was pale and gaunt – looking every bit the cancer patient he was rumored to be. Since he returned to the Apple Cupertino campus, he’s been said to be as busy as ever, and an active part of the development of the product expected to be released today.
And the product? All signs point to Apple’s version of a tablet computer – but you just know it won’t be your typical tabled. Informed sources say it will be a 10-inch unit running a beefed-up version of the MacOS that drives the iPhone. In fact, several interviews this morning with corporate partners seem to have spilled some of the beans, confirming that current iPhone apps will run on the new machine. Expect it to have Wi-Fi and possibly 3G connectivity, as well as enhanced multi-touch interfaces. It will no doubt sport a soft keyboard, but it will be interesting to see how Apple uses the additional real estate afforded by the screen size to improve the concept.
More important than the hardware, however will be the way Apple intends it to be used. Tablet PCs are nothing new – versions have been available for a decade. But they’ve always been one of those products that seemed directionless – no one really knew what to use it for. That’s where Apple can really shine – they’ve been masters of not only providing new products, but reshaping the niche in which the product resides. the iPod didn’t introduce the world to digital music, but it – and the iTunes store – revolutionized how we listened to music and watched movies. Similarly, the iPhone wasn’t the first so-called “smartphone”, but it was the one that convinced the masses go get on board. How – and what – will the iSlate (or iTab, or whatever the decide to call it) push the envelope?
At the same time that the boys in Cupertino have been hammering out the hardware design, the lawyers have been working with different media companies to secure distribution rights. Apple sees their new tablet as the opposite of a personal computer – this is a device to be shared … the ultimate media device. It will be used to watch movies and television, of course, but also read newspapers, magazines and books. Apple has long been a favorite of schools, and this device could see use as a way to replace textbooks. They’ve even shown it ot the folks at several major gaming companies to demonstrate its capabilities as a gaming device. Everyone keeps looking for the “iPhone killer” – Apple may just have the “PSP/Kindle killer” …
Frankly, it’ll be good to see Steve Jobs back on stage in his black turtleneck, stopping just before leaving to say, “Oh … one more thing …” and blowing us all away one more time.
More to follow …
From the beginning, Apple has had a knack for eye-catching – and sometimes eye-popping – products. You don’t like to throw around terms like “iconic”, but that’s exactly how to describe the series of products that have come from the minds in Cupertino: Macintosh … iMac … iPod. Even the ones that didn’t catch on, like the Lisa and Newton, were years ahead of the rest of the industry – often, to their own detriment.
From the moment it was introduced – hell, for a year in advance of introduction – everyone knew the iPhone would change the cell phone as we knew it. The first cellphone with a real operating system and real applications. That gorgeous screen and the seemingly magical touch capabilites. It was a winner from Day One, despite significant shortcomings. There’s a whole lot of iPhones out there right now, and I’ll bet it’s the only mobile phone you can name by it’s brand.
Well, maybe not any more. For years, people have been looking for an “iPhone-killer” only to be disappointed (hello, Palm Pre?). But it’s possible that the first legitimate challenge to the iPhone has arrived in the form of Motorola’s Droid. Powered by the Google Android operating system, the Droid can do pretty much everything the iPhone can, and then some. Elegant operation? Check. App Store? Check. But wait … there’s more! Seamless integration with Google apps? Check. Freedom from the lame-ass AT&T network that every iPhone user (and this BlackBerry one) is saddled with? Check. A real keyboard? Check and check!
I’ve yet to actually see one, but the reviews for the Droid are lavish. To be honest, I think a lot of them are driven by nothing more than the thrill that someone has finally gotten it right – or, right enough – and can legitimatelly challenge the iPhone. But it’s gotten people’s attention, not the least of which the legions of Apple FanBoys who are rabidly defending their brand. And even TIME named the Android their “Top Gadget of 2009” (with the latest iPhone 3GS coming in #4) – although, it’s probably worth noting they also named “The Princess and the Frog” their top movie, pretty much calling the whole deal into question …
I’m not saying that the Droid is the do-all, end-all – it has many of its own shortcomings. But for the first time, you see websites advertising their Android app alongside – and in some cases, instead of – their iPhone app. This is the one that will force Apple to step up and make real upgrades to the iPhone – starting with allowing them to be used on a network worthy of the platform. When they do that, I just might become another FanBoy iPhone owner. But if they don’t take the challenge seriously, they might just become a museum piece …