Leap Motion: A new Interface possibility for iPhone 6

A few weeks ago I received an email from a friend who is apparently very aware of my tech addiction.  The contents of this email pointed me to a an awesome product (some speculation) from Leap Motion. I had no choice but to pre-order one and the anticipation is killing me. Admittedly , this is more exciting for me  than for some as I spend a little bit of time in 3D realms making stuff. Regardless of my purpose, I am excited to see how developers can use the technology to enhance our lives.

 

As you can see from the contents of the video. This is basically a super sophisticated 3D mouse.  I am most suprised to see how accurate and responsive the device appears to be. If you haven’t watched the video you should do that now.

So why is this on an iPhone 6 rumor site? Besides the fact that it is awesome, I have to wonder if this tech will show up in future iOS devices. Adding a third dimension to interactivity could give the iPhone the “Wow” we’ve all be waiting for.

Looking Beyond iOS devices; If apple ever put this type of technology on an Apple branded TV, I think they would have a monster hit. Imagine Voice control and remote-less interactivity.

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Forstall Fired: What it Means For iPhone 6 and iOS

Those of you who have been following Apple news for the past week have undoubtedly heard of the departure of Forstall from the Apple Team.  While the departure was met with a fair amount of jubilation from Apple employees, I have mixed feelings about it. Scott Forstall has had a part in every major piece of Apple software since the introduction of OS X. His contributions have been a huge part of Apple’s success. I can’t help but wonder if this will hurt Apple in the long run or if a change will help bring some new things to Apple’s software.  While I think it’s a somewhat scary step for Apple,  the new changes may spur some good innovation.

The only reason I am optimistic about the restructuring, is the choices in talent set to pick up the slack. Putting Jony Ive in charge of iOS design is an exciting and interesting change. A change that makes me  believe that iOS 7 could look entirely different. Ivy has proven that he is no slouch when bringing functionally beautiful devices to fruition. It will be exciting to see how he will design the software to mesh with the hardware.

In addition to Ivy’s appointment, Craig Federighi will not be handling both OS X and iOS . This move is also interesting as I think it shows Apple is trying to further unify the two platforms.  Eventually I have to imagine Ive will design for both IOS and OS X and, the two platforms are going to be very similar. As time progresses I think OS X will become more like iOS and vice-a-versa until there is just one Software that runs on both. In this respect, Microsoft may actually be ahead of the curve with Windows 8. Lately OS X has been incorporating a lot of features of iOS  and I don’t think that trend will stop any time soon.

So! now that I have rambled on about the premise! The prediction for iPhone 6 will be a revamped look in iOS 8, and I expect it to look very sexy. We may even get these changes as soon as iOS 7.

Other Good Reads:

“Why Firing Scott Forstall Means iOS Will Get A Lot Better” Via Cult Of Mac 

“Scott Forstall and Jony Ive refused to attend each other’s meetings” Via NetworkWorld

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iPhone 6: The Need for Open Source

After a month of owning my iPhone 5 I am still pretty happy except in one aspect. The dock connector. While it is a necessary change that eventually had to happen, what I don’t find necessary is the need to close off the licensing of the new dock connector so third parties can’t roll out with cheaper converters and accessories. Furthermore, Why can’t Apple just publish their dock connector pin outs and bluetooth connection requirements?

Recently I bought a newer car that is just old enough not to have an aux input or an iPod connection. I have been holding out on buying an iPod stereo connection as I’ve known for a while now that Apple would be changing the dock connector. Then I got to thinking. What if I can just make a Bluetooth device that works with my existing iPhone? Why not just stream music over Bluetooth? That way I’m not tied to a dock connector and I can use any Bluetooth music player. Great! I’ve got the skills! I’ll just modify an existing stereo interface product and add a Bluetooth shield and an a small processor and I’ll be streaming music in no time. Enter Apple MFi. You can’t get details on interfacing with iPhone’s Bluetooth without becoming a developer and applying for the MFi program. So much for making my own Bluetooth device. Now my best options are paying for an older iPod interface and shelling out 30 bucks for the converter, or wait until Apple licenses the new connector. It’s unfortunate you need to be a developer to experiment with Apple technology.

For those that have run into the Car stereo Issue that I have, I think I may have found a fairly elegant solution. Now I just have to wait for one to be available:

Currently Android is the big leader when it comes to open source interfacing with their devices. There are already development boards which allow you to connect and talk to android devices over the connector or Bluetooth. While the business model works for the time being, I can’t help but think Android will eventually pull ahead when it comes to third party accessories. Sure the big players such as Sony and  Logitech will roll out with their Apple devices, but closed off standards make it difficult for hobbyist to experiment and invent.  As Kickstarter has shown, A lot of good invention can come from small time hobbyist. If more and better devices become much more available(And cheaper) on Android, consumers could start second guessing their new iPhone purchases. This seems to be a throwback of the PC vs Mac battle from the 80’s.

Conversely, I don’t think Apple has much to lose by opening up the pin out and Bluetooth standards.  Tinkerers, can experiment, and then pay Apple the fees to bring a product to market as a licensed product. I think  A big part of the iPhone success is attributed to the fact that it’s so easy to download Xcode and learn iOS for free. The model should be Develop for free then pay to license. Not the other way around. Quality control can be handled in the licensing.  For these reasons, I think there may be a good chance that iPhone 6 will impose more open standards. At least I can only hope.

 

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iPhone 6 Concept Design

While looking at the current trends in smartphone technology it has become apparent to me that there is somewhat of a dilemma on what screen size is best. Apple kept the screen narrow on the iPhone 5 so the phone could be operated easily with one hand. Other smartphone manufacturers have began to realize that people don’t care as much about one hand operation as much and that there is a preference for a larger screen.  Moreover, the trend I’m seeing is Tablets are getting smaller and phones are getting bigger. Eventually I’m guessing they will both converge into a single device. An iPhone Tablet so to speak. Since Apple needs something radical for the iPhone 6. I have taken it upon myself to design an iPhone 6 concept  that can give users the best of both worlds. Introducing the iFlip.

I know the design is somewhat basic, and I’m sure Apple would do a much better Job. This is merely a proof of concept. If Apple executed this well it could be very popular. The trick I see here is minimizing or eliminating the seam from where the back and front pieces come together. They would also need to make both halve’s close to half the thickness of a current iPhone model.

Any thoughts here? Would you want one or is this completely moronic? If your opinion is of the later, try to keep it constructive.

 

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iPhone 6 Rumors Begin to Emerge

Less than a month following the iPhone 5 release the rumor engines are faithfully cranking away. This month the evidence is pointing toward  biometric scanners. The source of speculation comes from a recent filing at the patent office from Apple regarding biometrics.

While this particular patent is as broad as you would expect from any Apple patent, the focus seems to be more around a method of hiding a biometric scanner(or any sensor they feel like hiding)  through the use of Polymer-Dispersed Liquid Crystals. This technology is something you may have seen before used in glass for the purposes of privacy.

So what does this tell us about Apple? Well for starters they are thinking about adding fingerprint scanners to their devices. Added security is good but it also may indicate that they plan to incorporate features that need better protection. Enter NFC. Speculation is pointing toward the idea that Apple is in fact considering NFC payment technology for iPhone 6 and I can’t think of any more secure way of paying electronically than fingerprint authentication. 9to5mac reports that Apple has assigned Microlatch, a fingerprint security company , to develop NFC tech.

An NFC payment method makes sense after the recent release of Passbook. Payments over NFC would be a logical upgrade to the current Passbook app. Apple could very well be taking small steps toward standardizing mobile payments.

The PDLC technology sounds like a really cool “WOW” feature as well. I have a feeling that desipite NFC, we will see some use of the technology because it is simply awsome. iPhone users have been waiting for Apple to push the envelope with something cutting edge and a fingerprint scanner hidden under privacy glass is just that.  The idea is so 007, and it aligns well with the Apple innovation stigma.

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IP Obesity: How the iPhone Could End Apple Prosperity

Chess Game Photo

While Browsing my favorite Nerd store(Sparkfun.com) I came across a good article on IP Obesity . I’m not sure if this term is a a creation of Nathan Seidle’s or it originated elsewhere, but It’s a good term to describe what happens when companies shift their focus from creating intellectual property to protecting it. In the Article, Nate talks about how Kodak was once way ahead of it’s time with the creation of  the Electronic Still Camera. Kodak filed a patent and spent their efforts trying to protect it. As a result, Canon was rewarded for their focus on innovation and Kodak was penalized for their focus on protecting IP. Nate then goes into the benefits of Open Source Hardware and how it encourages better innovation and quality. While I don’t agree wholly with Nate’s views I do agree that after a short time, companies “should create value that is harder to replicate”. Good Ideas will be copied, and filing suite against everyone is pointless.

Apple’s iPhone division is now bigger than all of Microsoft and for all in intends and purposes it appears as though Apple is at the top. The question is, will Apple continue Innovate and maintain their “cool” image or will they fall into obscurity and be labeled “Dull” as Microsoft has. For now it appears as though Apple is not in danger of being “uncool” any time soon, but I feel as though they may be heading down the wrong path in a few ways.

Anti Google Agenda 

Politics are now a bigger part of the iPhone than they ever used to be. The last iteration of iOS 6 seemed to be more of a political move to get rid of Google rather than increase usability. Two of the most used features of the iPhone were Google Maps and You Tube. Each of these Apps were axed in favor of Apple maps and they didn’t even attempt a new video solution. While I like some of the features of the Maps, I don’t think they were quite ready for public consumption. Both moves were clearly driven by politics. I don’t think I need to get into why politics are bad for Innovation. I read an excellent article recently on Vanity Fair  by Kurt  Eichenwald on the subject of Microsoft’s troubles with politics.

High Profile IP Lawsuits 

The Apple-Samsung lawsuits are another source of my concern. I think this lawsuit was damaging to both companies. Samsung was labeled a copycat and Apple has started to look like corporate thugs that will steam roll any threat to their IP. I have to say Samsung has done a good job at looking like the victim here though. Both companies are also appearing frivolous as they attempt to block each other’s products from being sold in the US.  This sort of litigation suggest to me that Apple has started to focus more on protecting IP. At this point, the Balance of creating and protecting IP seem to be OK, but time will tell how long that balance is maintained.  We can only hope that Apple doesn’t let new Innovation suffer in favor of protecting their once innovative products.

Less Passion 

Comparing this years Keynote to previous events where Steve Jobs was in charge, I really think Tim Cook lacks the passion for the products that Steve Jobs had. Steve Job’s passion in Apple products gave him the uncanny ability to get us all excited about Upcoming products. For now it seems as though Apple is kind of rolling on the steam of the iPhone and the iPad. Now business is good and should carry the company for a few more years. Soon However, Apple will need a completely new product. Jobs was able to create a market for the iPad where everyone had failed previously. I’m not so sure Tim Cook has this ability. I have no doubt that Tim Cook is capable of running Apple and he has already proven to be great at managing the supply chain. Steve Ballmer was also very good at what he did before taking the reigns as CEO of Microsoft. Cook seems to be emerging as a more charismatic leader, but I am still a bit worried that his path will be reminiscent of Ballmer’s.

Apple made a good move when they created the iPhone and transitioned from their focus on iPod. Now the iPhone is still a popular best seller but it is starting to lose a bit of it’s glamour. Apple will need a follow up market and they can’t afford to ride out the success of the iPad and iPhone for too much longer. Competition is getting bigger and soon the smartphone industry will be just as saturated as the PC industry today.  In the short term iPhone 6 and iOS 7 will need to bring something new to the table, and Tim Cook needs to show a bit more passion about it when they arrive.  I’m rooting for Apple and hope that they don’t fall victim to the same plagues of Kodak and Microsoft. Inevitably though, all empires fall and new ones Arise.

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iPhone 5 You Tube Parody

While You Tubing for iPhone 6 tidbits I came across this iPhone 5 Parody. I thought it was pretty funny in it’s own exaggerated way. I think in a suttle way, it does bring up an interesting question. Will Apple ever change the width of the iPhone? For now it seems as though they are sticking to the ease of use with one hand motto. I can’t rightfully tell which would be best. The funny thing is about this video, there were a few things that a ridiculously tall iPhone would be awesome for. As a guitarist, I particularly liked the guitar App.

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iPhone 6 Exceeds All Expectations

The title of this post is a completely theoretical headline, but it is a headline I would like to be true. While most of us a reasonably happy with the new iPhone 5 it seems that the general sentiment is that the iOS look and feel is starting to bore us. The other issue is the rumors were so spot on that there really wasn’t any surprise. Everything that happened to the iPhone 5 was predictable. Predictable isn’t exciting. Moreover, Competitors have caught up in a lot of ways and in some cases surpassed the iPhone.

I think the biggest reasons Apple fanatics cling solely to iPhone is based mostly on iOS and the Apple ecosystem. iOS was easy to use and it “Just Worked”. With the release of iOS 6 , Apple has lost some traction on that last statement. iOS 6 comes with some nice flash and a lot of familiarity but it doesn’t “Just Work” when it comes to Maps. Unfortunately for Apple, customers seem to care a lot more about maps than they would like right now. Most of these things will likely be fixed and addressed in due time as new software bugs are are inevitable. The problem is, People were generally happy with the Google maps with the exception of turn by turn. Now we like the turn by turn addition, but we don’t entirely trust them yet. As a committed iPhone user, these bugs don’t bother me as much as the somewhat antiquated look of iOS. I feel like I’ve been using the same phone for 10 years. It works great and I agree with the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mantra, but I like a change every once in a while too.

Fortunately, the group sentiment seems to agree as iOS 6 user satisfaction is down from when iOS 5 was released. This kind of hint is something I think Apple will notice. iPhone 6 will probably get a nice iOS refresh and hopefully we’ll get it with the iPhone 5s.

Looking at the trends of iOS releases, Apple releases a new revision of iOS every year. I think it is likely  iOS 7 will get a good refresh but I’m guessing Apple will focus on fixing issues for that revision more than a complete redesign. Therefore, I think iOS 8 will be a good candidate for complete iOS refresh. A refresh could be a good move to bolster iPhone sales by the 5s release date however.

As far as the iPhone 6, I think Apple will take note of the rumors and features that people are complaining about. People seem to want wireless charging, better battery life, and a bigger screen. These are all things that are predictable and will very likely show up. I think Apple will surprise us with the iPhone 6 though. They will introduce one feature, either software or hardware that will wow us. Something as groundbreaking as the Retina display was with the iPhone 4 release. Apple needs to surprise us to keep their well respected image of innovation.

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iPhone 5: Follow Up Review

Now that I have had a week to play around with the iPhone 5 the new phone nostalgia is gone and I can give a practical review of iOS6 on the new hardware.

Still love the Speed

I am still amazed at how the speed is with the new iPhone. With a good 4G connection websites load almost as fast as my land line high speed connection. Before switching to the iPhone 5 I did notice that safari was a little quicker even on the iPhone 4 running iOS 6. As I am a data junkie, this is the big winner for me.

The A6 chip is really fast too. I have yet to see the iPhone 5 hang up or even hiccup on any task I have given it. Everything is smooth and quick.

Siri is cool, but I’m not sure how much I’ll use it

I really like the efforts from Apple in creating better voice navigation. To this day I am still impressed with how well Siri understands voice commands. With that being said, unless you are alone in a car, I feel ridiculous talking to my phone.

If I can get over the ridiculousness of talking to my phone I do like the addition of movies and restaurants. I have used it a couple of times and it is really helpful. The UI experience is also very slick and now you can ask Siri to launch Apps. I think the reminders are very handy and they work very well.

It would be nice if Siri had some basic functionality without internet. I asked Siri to play a song for me the other day without a network connection and she couldn’t. As an iPhone 4 user previous to this revision I haven’t yet delved into all of the things Siri can do. I’ll most likely write a good write up on Siri in months to come.

 

iPhone 5 Screen shot of Honolulu, HI

Maps 3D feature is fun to play with

I’ll be honest. I haven’t really needed to use the maps for anything but searching for local stores. While I won’t say that the maps were bad at searches, they aren’t as good as Google maps. I can’t blame Apple for this as Google has been collecting a database for years and Apple has only just begun. Patience people.

One of my favorite things to do with the Maps is just pick some cool place I haven’t seen and do flybys in 3D. I have checked out Las Vegas, Rocky Mountains, and some other cool landmarks. I had trouble finding Mount Everest(the actual one) and mount Rushmore. These are all things that I’m sure will come in time. Now I can plan my next vacation in 3D! [click to continue…]

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Rumors We Didn’t See on iPhone 5

Now that iPhone 5 is out and the specs are all in. Some rumors came true and a large amount of rumors did not. While the iPhone 6 debut will most likely be another two years from now, I still like to fantasize about which of those rumors will show up on iPhone 6 or even the iPhone 5s. This is assuming Apple continues the current naming convention, but then again, why wouldn’t they when there is so much free advertising.

Waiting In Line for iPhone 5

Wireless Charging

I was really hoping for  a surprise on the iPhone 5 here. With some of the new competing phones coming out with wireless charging I was beginning to wonder if they knew something I didn’t. Turns out they didn’t but, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on the iPhone 6 in addition to the new connector. The caveat is that it probably won’t play well with any existing standards.

 Liquid Metal Casing

We didn’t see any liquid metal features on this year’s release, but I’m betting now it will show up on the iPhone 6. The engineering was reported to be very difficult for the iPhone 5 and Liquid Metal could make it easier to jam more stuff into a small space while maintaining durability. Apple also renewed their exclusivity contract for two more years.

 Quad-Core Processor

While I was not expecting Apple to go with a quad core processor this time around as it would probably effect battery life too much, I do expect a quad core processor to show up on the iPhone 6. The 5S will probably jump in processing speed by like 30% or so. As this benchmark suggest, more cores is not always better. iPhone 5 beats out the Galaxy SIII despite having two fewer cores. We’ll see if these numbers hold up as more rigorous testing happens in months to come.

Curved Glass

This rumor could go either way, It really comes down to whether or not the design fanatics at Apple decide that it is more aesthetically pleasing.

Near Field Communication

This was another Rumor that many sources were convinced would show up. I think Apple released Passbook to test the waters in this pool. This could definitely show up on iPhone 6 and Apple definitely has the pull to standardize it.

Wireless Everything

There were also rumors that Apple will not only go to wireless charging, they would remove all hardwired connections. I think this concept would be cool and it will eventually be the way of the future. For now, wireless data transfer rates are too slow. In two years, this may be viable.

Service Independent Siri

Currently Siri is basically useless without service. I feel like Apple will fix this issue at least in part for iPhone 6 and maybe even iPhone 5s. At the very least, we should be able to control our music and have our texts read to us.

Fix Map Bugs

The new Maps App has had a number of blunders, but the biggest issue is walking and bus routes. If you want walking and bus routes you’ll be redirected to the App store to find a better Map app. I’m thinking this will be addressed for the iPhone 5S release or maybe even sooner.

Now that iPhone 5 is out the rumor community will be inevitably drumming up more outrageous rumors about future the future iPhone. I like the new hardware a lot but I’m hoping the next time around I will get a bit more wow. Something truly groundbreaking.

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