Christmas in October

Software Update Marathon

Today was Apple's largest simultaneous software rollout, ever, or at least for as long as I can remember. In no particular order, these items were released in the past 24 hours: * OS X 10.7.2 - adding iCloud support & other fixes. * OS X 10.7.2 - recovery partition update * iTunes 10.5 - adds iCloud support and is required for iOS 5 * iOS 5.0 - for iPhone 4S, 4, and 3GS * iCloud 1.0 - go to to convert your MobileMe account. I highly recommend you read Serenity Caldwell's iCloud article which should answer any questions you may have about the new service and the transition over to it. * iOS iWork apps: Pages, Numbers, and Keynote - adds iCloud document storage support * iPhoto 9.2 - adds iCloud integration with Photo Stream * Aperture 3.2 - adds iCloud integration with Photo Stream * Cards app - new iOS app * Find Friends app - new iOS app * Airport Utility app - new iOS app * iTunes Trailers app - new iOS app * Newstand store - new iTunes component to support iOS Newstand feature * iMessage network - adds support for iMessages in iOS 5 * Safari 5.1.1 - adds iCloud support and fixes bugs * AppleTV update - adds AirPlay mirroring support & iCloud support And while not released today, some customers have reported as to already having received their iPhone 4S devices early, despite that they were to be delivered on Friday. As a result, retail customers (not just review journalists) are now making use of the new Siri servers with their new iPhone 4S handsets. Whew. Did I miss anything? That is an impressive list. What other technology company has recently pulled off a software rollout on this scale and can report the only complaint from customers has been that downloads were slower than usual (because everyone is downloading the updates currently)?

iPhone 4S Reviews

While you are busy downloading the list of new software from above, take some time to read an excellent review of the iPhone 4S. John Gruber:

This is the easiest product review I’ve ever written. The iPhone 4S is exactly what Apple says it is: just like the iPhone 4, but noticeably faster, with a significantly improved camera, and an impressive new voice-driven feature called Siri. Want to see Siri in action? The Editorial Direction at Macworld, Jason Snell, posted a demo video last night:

This is listed above in the iCloud bullet point, but again, I highly recommend you read Serenity Caldwell's "Getting Started with iCloud". Even if, like me, you feel you are a know-it-all asshole who doesn't need to read anything that begins with the title "Getting Started..." suck it up and do it anyway. Serenity includes a few useful tidbits that even I didn't know about. Also, today's Talk Show episode over on 5by5 with Dan Benjamin and John Gruber dedicated almost all of its time to discussing iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S.

iPhone 4S Upgrade Eligibility

On the subject of the iPhone 4S: I do not plan to buy the 4S, as I am waiting for my AT&T contract to expire in order to switch over to Verizon next summer (or next fall - whenever the iPhone 5 comes out). However, I did use Apple's "eligibility check" web app to see my upgrade availability status. I was puzzled to find that AT&T won't let me buy an iPhone 4S at the subsidized price until February 12, 2012, despite my having bought an iPhone 4 on day 1 one of its release last year. Marco Arment did a bit of wrote an article on this very subject today. Useful stuff. Oh, and no sign of iTunes Match yet. Apple seeded iTunes 10.5.1 to developers last night, which has iTunes Match. I was under the impression that iTunes Match was supposed to roll out alongside the rest of these updates. Perhaps this means that there were a few bugs yet to be worked out still. Apple is probably focusing on those now, to hopefully have iTunes 10.5.1 out to customers by Friday (alongside the iPhone 4S launch) or perhaps next week?


John Gruber writing at Daring Fireball:

This is a fundamentally different vision for the coming decade than Google’s. In both cases, your data is in the cloud, and you can access it from anywhere with a network connection. But Google’s vision is about software you run in a web browser. Apple’s is about native apps you run on devices. Apple is as committed to native apps — on the desktop, tablet, and handheld — as it has ever been. Google’s frame is the browser window. Apple’s frame is the screen. That’s what we’ll remember about today’s keynote ten years from now. I think John has the best "big picture" take on yesterday's announcements.

Apple's Social Networking Choices

When Ping was first released last year, very briefly, it was possible to connect your Facebook account to your Ping account to share your Ping activities or find new friends on Ping. This feature was pulled at the eleventh hour due to breakdown in negotiations between Facebook and Apple. Ping launched without support of a major social network to piggyback off of for friend recommendations. Sometime over the past year, and I'm not sure when as I only noticed it recently - which goes to show how often I use Ping, Twitter was added to Ping. Under your Ping account, it is now possible to connect Ping to Twitter to have it share your Ping purchases & likes. Clearly this would not have happened if Apple & Twitter had not formed some sort of relationship and began working together. This brings us to yesterday's announcements where Apple revealed that Twitter will now be deeply integrated into iOS 5. Twitter now sits on the main settings menu alongside items like Mail, Phone and Safari. On the details screen of the Twitter menu, users can log into their Twitter account directly or, if they don't have it, click a button and install Twitter's official Twitter client. That is huge. Apple clearly has doubled down on Twitter. They've integrated Twitter on various send menu's throughout iOS such as in the Camera app or Maps app. Notice they didn't even mention Facebook once during the whole keynote. To me, this sounds a lot like what happened when the original iPhone came out. Apple knew they needed a carrier to launch the iPhone on. They approached Verizon. Negotiations fell through. They turned and found AT&T more receptive and went with their second choice. Apple approached Facebook. Negotiations fell through. They turned to the second biggest social network and found Twitter more receptive and went with their second choice. The only part of the story we don't know yet is, will Facebook come crawling back to Apple in 3 years asking for equal treatment that Twitter got? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm not sure this is as an important issue as being able to carry a handset on your mobile network, but the whole situation just seemed oddly coincidental to me. I think if someone with proper sources could ever discover the details behind all of this, it would make for a good story.

WWDC Predictions Roundup & My Own Predictions

Tomorrow at 1:00 PM EST Steve Jobs takes the stage to unveil the details of Lion, iOS 5, and iCloud. This past week I wrote about how there were rumors that Twitter would be integrated deeply into iOS 5. Since I commented on those links, Robert Scoble claimed to have confirmation on this very topic. According to his Tweets on the matter, he appeared excited. Not sure how much stock I put into Scoble, as he is easily excitable, but he's right as often as he is wrong. We'll see I guess. Yesterday, Leander Kahney wrote for Cult of Mac:

When Apple reveals iCloud at WWDC on Monday, it’ll have the kind of impact the iPod has had, predicts Kevin Fox, a Silicon Valley software veteran who’s worked at Apple, Yahoo and Google. “The rumblings are huge,” says Fox, lead designer at Mozilla. Fox worked on Newton software before designing Yahoo’s chat service and then software for Google (including Gmail 1.0, Google Calendar 1.0, and Google Reader 2.0). He continues:

... given the complete failure of MobileMe over the last decade there’s no way Apple would introduce iCloud] on such a pedestal unless it’s incredible. My guess is that iCloud is to MobileMe as iPhone was to Newton: a complete, deep, polished solution after an underwhelming market failure. Leander was quoting from a post that Fox [wrote on his blog, I wont repost his long list of potential features as they aren't exactly predictions, but just things he's hoping to see. Go read them yourself. The latest supposed "exclusive" source was also reported by Leader Kahney at 4:33 am this morning. Before I go into what Leander posted this morning, I wish to link to this snippet John Gruber posted last week: New Airport Extreme and Time Capsule? Seth Weintraub: Our sources noted that Airport Express has been plentiful but supplies of TimeCapsule and Airport Extreme have been tightening globally the way products usually do before a refresh. What we do know is that Apple has been internally testing Time Capsules to cache Software Updates for both Mac and iOS devices. The way we’ve heard it works is that the new Time Capsule learns which devices connect to it via Wi-Fi. It then goes out to Apple’s servers and downloads Software Updates for those products. There might be something to this. What if this is a way for iOS devices to do software updates without being tethered to a Mac or PC — including device backups, synced when the device is charging? From John's commentary, I can't tell whether he has heard these same rumors himself and he is skeptical about them or if it's the first time he's hearing of them to. Whether this bit of information is right or wrong, I find it interesting that it mentions the Time Capsule. Now, to come back to Leander's "exclusive" post referenced above: In addition, it’s rumored that Apple’s wireless Time Capsule backup/router will get a big update. Here’s how iCloud and the new Time Capsule will work, according to a source close to the company who asked not be identified. It’s pretty surprising: According to the source, Apple has developed a system to make users’ Time Machine backups available through its new iCloud service. This is the “Home Folder” access concept that we’ve detailed before (how it will be accessed using NFC iPhones and the role of the Mac App Store). All your files and data — pictures, videos, Word and Excel documents, and so on — will be available anytime, anywhere, on both Mac OS X and iOS devices. The surprising thing is, iCloud won’t be fed through Apple’s massive new data center in North Carolina, as you might expect. Instead, the system will be based on Time Capsule, Apple’s wireless router and hard drive backup that’s currently sold in 1TB and 2TB versions. As rumored, Time Capsule will be updated, becoming less of a local backup and more of a personal cloud server, like the newer souped-up NAS (Network Attached Storage) drives from companies like Iomega (we reviewed one here). The new Time Capsule is rumored to run on iOS and come with embedded A4 or A5 CPUs. ... The source said it will be added to future versions of OS X and iOS — but they didn’t know which versions of OS X and iOS. There appears to be no sign of it in beta releases of Lion, which has been available to developers for months. Apple has kept iOS 5 under tight wraps, and it may be ready for this system. The article continues on explaining more details that aren't really newsworthy, but later on he updates the article to include: Actually, it looks like the technology is already built into Lion. The Auto Save, Versions and Resume features in Lion look an awful lot like a smart file-management system designed for the cloud, resembling the way iOS and Google Docs save and manage multiple versions of documents. In addition, Time Machine in Lion is tightly integrated with Versions, making it more of a realtime backup system. “… Versions] also appears to be used to make Time Machine much faster to open, as the Time Machine user interface can now access local snapshots take between remote backups, a sort of ‘instant Time Machine.’” See AppleInsider: Inside Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: Auto Save, File Versions and Time Machine I hope that his source is wrong. I was looking for a system that phones home to a server that Apple maintains for me. I do not wish to have to run a Time Capsule in my own home and be reliant on that for iCloud. Still though, Gruber's rumblings about Time Capsule and this mention of Time Capsule all in the span of one week... Where there is smoke, there is fire. Now, as I was keying this post, Gruber posted his typical WWDC-eve post with his 'official' predictions, or non-predictions. [John Gruber on Daring Fireball:

WWDC 2011 Prelude


If I were to publish everything I know regarding tomorrow’s announcements, it would be a short and decidedly unsensational article. What I know are a handful of minor features at the edges. The big picture regarding iOS 5 and iCloud — and how the two interrelate — is an utter mystery to me. These things have been as well-kept secrets as any major projects from Apple in recent years. iCloud’s expected music storage has of course leaked, but that’s almost certainly the inevitable result of Apple’s dealings with the music labels. Music storage is a feature of iCloud; iCloud is not a music service.


The italicized sentence that follows is fourth-hand information, at best, and also the sort of thing that many of you might have already guessed based merely on your own hunches and hopes. But here goes: Don’t think of iCloud as the new MobileMe; think of iCloud as the new iTunes. Syncing data between devices tends to work best when there’s a canonical store. I.e. with Dropbox, you might have three, four, five devices syncing data on the same account. The canonical central store, however, is Dropbox’s cloud-based server. With iPhones, iPods, and iPads, the central store for almost all data stored on the devices is iTunes running on your Mac or PC. With iCloud, that should shift to the cloud. iTunes, the desktop app, currently syncs the following things with iOS devices: audio, movies and TV shows, iBooks e-books, App Store apps, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, notes, and any sort of files shared between iOS apps. All of these things would be better served syncing over-the-air via the so-called cloud. Gruber continues on, and you really should go read his entire piece, but I think the most important parts of what he wrote are quoted above. For what it's worth, I'll give my opinions, which are by no means backed by any sources of my own. In no particular order: 1. I think OS X Lion GM seed will be released to developers. It will be released as soon as June 14th but no later than June 28 to the public. 2. iOS 5 Developer Preview 1 will be released to developers. 3. I could maybe see iCloud DP1 being made available but has Apple ever released a developer preview of a web based app before other than the beta versions of Mobile Me Calendar & Mail last summer? Those didn't have APIs associated with them though. It seems like me they would need to preview them if they wanted developers to build them into their apps and test them though. This one is a big maybe. 4. Some sort of Twitter integration with iOS 5. Not sure if it will be a very simple share-your-photo-on-twitter menu item on the Send Menu in the Photos app or what. It could be "huge" as Scoble says. 5. iOS 5 / Lion / iCloud integration. Deep. I think iCloud needs to have this to avoid become just another Mobile Me iteration. 6. No hardware (of course). Just wanted to remind anyone who hasn't gotten the memo yet. 7. I have a hard time believing any of the Time Capsule related rumors. By locking iCloud into Time Capsule I feel Apple would be making a big mistake. I truly hope this is not the case. 8. iCloud will have some sort of streaming music component. 9. iOS 5 will have a revamped notifications system. I feel there will be much disappointment if it doesn't. I think Apple is well aware of this. 10. Improved interface for accessing, organizing, and viewing apps in iOS 5. Gruber makes a very good point. Folders helped alleviate this pain but it was akin to putting a bandaid on a compound fracture. Power users need a better solution and considering just how many apps are downloaded by all iOS users, not just the geeks are power users these days. I'm sure there will be much more news tomorrow than these 10 points I have listed here, but these 10 items are the ones I feel most confident about. Numbers 3, 7, and 10 are the ones I doubt the most, but I left them in there anyway.

More iOS 5 & Twitter Integration Speculation

Shawn Blanc posted two links to interesting posts which have more speculation related to possible Twitter integration into iOS 5 system-wide. The first link is to a post by Anil Dash who writes:

But in short, the hardest, most expensive technical part of building a web-scale Twitter competitor already exists in Apple’s infrastructure. What’s missing, in an odd reversal of Apple’s usual pattern, is a well-designed, simple user experience that makes people want to participate. Could a small team of developers and designers within Apple make a credible realtime messaging service with first-rate native clients on every important platform? Could they graft on a simple, REST-based web-style APIs to the complicated, old-fashioned API that enables push notifications right now? It'd be a lot like building a usable, delightful user interface on top of well-established, but complicated, technological underpinnings, wouldn't it? I wonder if Apple has those skills. The other post Shawn links to is by David Silva, who writes: Look at the way Android integrates both Facebook and Twitter into its OS. With that system wide integration I can now scroll through my contact list, see a pretty avatar that is automatically pulled from my friends accounts and also read/reply to recent status updates as well as browse through all of their Facebook pictures all from within the contact card. He later speculates on the specifics Apple could expand on: * DM and @reply options from within your contact card just like FaceTime, text email and call. * Tweet pictures and video direct from the Camera app. * Read and write Twitter DMs direct from the “Messages” app just like regular text messages. * Twitter avatars in your Contacts cards.

Twitter's New Photo-Sharing Service To Get iOS 5 Integration

MG Siegler writing for Techcrunch:

We’ve heard from multiple sources that Twitter is likely to have a big-time partner for such a service: Apple. Specifically, we’re hearing that Apple’s new iOS 5 will come with an option to share images to Twitter baked into the OS. This would be similar to the way you can currently share videos on YouTube with one click in iOS. Obviously, a user would have to enable this feature by logging in with their Twitter credentials in iOS. There would then be a “Send to Twitter” option for pictures stored on your device. John Gruber, on Daring Fireball: So close to the bigger story, but yet so far. Imagine what else the system could provide if your Twitter account was a system-level service. Perhaps this whole OAuth/XAuth issue is about to become null & void for 3rd party client developers?