Daniel Eran Dilger in San Francisco
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Bored by iPhone 5? Careful, you might get what you’re asking for

Daniel Eran Dilger

An awful lot of media wonks are jumping on the bandwagon of registering their lack of excitement over the new iPhone 5. But what they’re asking for is far worse.
..
You want the surprise? You can’t handle the surprise!

“I’m impressed but bored!” seems to be the only thing the tech media can say in response to the introduction of iPhone 5. After all, they were all hoping for a series of secret surprises.

This comes after a year of their desperate efforts to find any clue of new hardware features hidden among Chinese blog postings detailing a new iPhone component or software features buried among web logs or leaking from developer’s lips.

It’s a bit like watching rich children pouting at Christmas because they already discovered what they were going to get after searching the house feverishly and begging their parents (and the nanny and Jeeves) for clues.

And oblivious to the fact that the gilded mansion they live in and eat their fatted calf liver on bone marrow at is all part of the ecosystem they seem to be complaining about as insufficiently entertaining. Why not just take a few laps around the pool and then stroll through the formal gardens? Maybe next year you’ll get a nice present to enjoy. And oh yes, you have a birthday coming up next month, too.

Clamoring for Android features

And then there’s the Android contingent, trying to pass off the newest iPhone as nothing more than catching up to what they’ve had over the past year (LTE and a bigger screen) while not matching features like NFC, wireless charging and, (in the most desperate reach I’ve seen) that “neat” S Pen (somebody actually wrote that).

But wait, if those things were compelling features, why isn’t anyone buying them? Yes, there are a number of people who like big (sometimes huge) phone screens.

But Apple already has a big screen. It’s called iPad, and Apple is actually selling lots of them. Android isn’t selling enough tablets to show up in Google’s usage stats as a blip. Nor music players nor any of the other wide range of devices its licensees were supposed to have the freedom to invent.

Android licensees are all just churning out the same kinds of boring phones they previously shipped with Linux/Java, before Google rebranded that platform as Android and told us that the mainstream, entrenched DOS of phones was now suddenly an exciting underdog platform battling the big bad Apple. What a wonderful reversal of reality that portrayal has been.

LTE now out of beta

Apart from the fact that Android licensees have been unable to deliver a commercially successful tablet, there’s also another well known reason why Android phones have been growing bigger even faster than the bellies of Americans: they’ve been the test dummies for LTE 1.0′s beta components, which were so big and hot and quirky that they required an oversized phone to house them.

Now make no mistake, LTE is great: it’s really fast, likely faster than your cable internet. And fast data is awesome (unless you restrict it to a tiny squirt of data allotment, as Amazon has in its super cheap Kindle plans). But having your LTE phone run out of battery while it’s sitting in the car charger because it uses more power than it can drink down is not so compelling of a feature.

Remember all the Antennagate and other invented contrivances that pundits have heaped upon Apple while they completely ignored the massively huge failings of every one of Android’s beta-quality releases running on junior-engineered, second rate hardware? Apple isn’t the beta tester of experimental technologies that aren’t ready for prime time. It can’t be. Tech bloggers wouldn’t stand for it.

LTE vs no LTE: winner was…

I’ve stated before that in a variety of technologies, Android licensees will be leaping first. But look at what that got the platform.

On Verizon, where 4G LTE has been THE linchpin of a strategy to defend against AT&T’s iPhone (and its faster performance compared to Verizon’s outdated, slow and impossible to upgrade CDMA EVDO), it did so little to move the needle that Verizon’s non-LTE iPhone 4 was a bigger hit.

At the end of last year, the non-LTE iPhone 4S continued to beat all of Verizon’s sales of LTE smartphones combined! And that’s saying something, because LTE was the big deal throughout 2011, and virtually all of the flagship Android phones included it.

Over the last year, through each quarter of 2012, the non LTE iPhone 4S continued to outsell all of Verizon’s LTE offerings together. It’s even more notable that the iPhone 4S on Verizon was tied to the slowest network in the U.S. (on AT&T, it could at least take advantage of faster HSPA service, at least where 14.4Mbps was available. AT&T’s 3G beats Verizon’s 3G hands down).

So the absolutely slowest iPhone/carrier pairing in the modern world continued to beat LTE on the most LTE-pushing network in the world, in the SECOND YEAR OF LTE, a veritable eternity in the tech world.

If you think Android is winning in the LTE race, wait until Apple takes off the blindfolds, unchains its lead ball and finishes drinking the beer it is sipping, just inside the finish line. Google has absolutely squandered what could have been a monumental lead.

And if you’re “bored” to see LTE finally on the iPhone, or “hate” that Apple didn’t do LTE sooner, well there’s no time like the present to go stroke your big Android phone and build a mechanical robot contraption in your basement to pat you on the back for having been part of, as Microsoft and Nokia like to advertise, the big smartphone beta test program. But it’s now officially over.

And guess who is going to obliterate the biggest reason to pick an Android phone going forward? It’s that iPhone 5 Android fans are so bent about.

Catching up or smashing down?

With every iOS/iPhone release, Apple has targeted the top 2-3 reasons anyone has to buy any other phone. And like the history of LTE above, Apple hasn’t just played catch up, but has played a game I’ll call smash down.

Back when the novelty of apps made the “openness” of Android appear to be a compelling feature, Apple released iOS 2.0 with an actual App Store that leveraged Capitalism to ruin the TuxRacer sharing party.

The result was that Apple instantly owned the mobile software market and nobody since has been able to bite off even a tiny sliver. Sure, they can talk about an app library of millions of titles, but the crap percentage is really, astronomically high. There are still no great apps, and the apps that do exist outside of iOS are second rate space fillers that are littered with ads and often just don’t work.

Apple paired iOS 2.0 with an iPhone finally capable of 3G and GPS, the top two exclusive features of its competitors. That’s right, Apple was competing against 3G with EDGE for a full year on the original iPhone.

With iOS 3.0, Apple added video recording (!). It’s hard to believe that the first two generations of the iPhone couldn’t capture video clips. Apple also added support for Bluetooth A2DP (wireless stereo), a feature its critics thought was super important at the time. There were also a lot of things Apple added that nobody else had, like enterprise support and advanced developer tools (including push support), but those weren’t greeted as news by the “bored” critics crowd.

These accompanied the iPhone 3GS, which finally got a fairly decent camera, a digital compass (which Google had previous introduced for Android as a top feature related to StreetView) and a much faster SoC built around the ARM CortexA8 (you might call it the A3, but Apple never marketed it as such). If you’ve forgotten, this is the phone that launched just after the Palm Pre’s debut.

When the Pre arrived, there was much talk about how it was so fast, and had features that smoked the iPhone. Until the iPhone 3GS arrived and smashed it down. Apple just stopped selling the iPhone 3GS this month, more than 3 years later. It will still support it in iOS 6 over the next year however. Palm stopped supporting the Palm Pre before the first models went off contract.

In parallel to knocking the wind out of Palm, bored critics’ attention had already shifted to RIM’s Blackberry, and how important its addictive text messaging, physical keyboard and enterprise security was. And everyone outside the Palm camp assumed throughout 2009 that RIM beating Apple would simply amount to the company releasing a touchscreen phone that looked like the iPhone. No so. The Blackberry Storm demonstrated that copying the iPhone was no easy task.

After a terrible 2009 of getting knocked around by Apple’s rising iPhone, RIM desperately tried to get back on its feet with Storm 2, but that development turned into an even more elaborate cautionary tale about hubris and how fast a leader can fall. By the end of 2009, RIM’s important partner Verizon unplugged itself from the Blackberry and began trumpeting Android instead.

Thus the Year of Android began, and after six months of celebration, its supporters found themselves completely convinced that there was no way Apple could stuff all the demons back in the box and regain anything other than a shred of marketshare in a world dominated by a new Windows run by Google.

That is, until Steve Jobs introduced iPhone 4. The new model demonstrated how Apple would win: by delivering big leaps that not only caught up, but smashed down the exclusive features that differentiated its competition. It brought an iPad fit-and-finish and supplied not just a fast new chip and much better cameras, but also added new features that hadn’t been seen before, like its gyroscope.

On top of that, iOS 4 bought multitasking that worked without requiring user-fiddling and the manual power/RAM management tricks that Android users needed to perform, just to play music in the background and support GPS navigation apps. Apple wasn’t just catching up, it was smashing down, with new initiatives that took on Amazon, Google and Nokia at once with iBooks, iAd and FaceTime.

iPhone 4 trounced the Android ecosystem so intensely that Verizon’s “Droid” initiative, initially intended to replace sagging Blackberry sales, required some help of its own. In six months, iPhone 4 was on Verizon, and rapidly doing that trick where it embarrassed all the 4G phones put together.

iPhone 4 performed so well that Apple let it continue for an extra fifth quarter before introducing iPhone 4S, in a world where most new smartphones have a half life of three months. Last year’s iPhone 4S, armed with all around updates but only one major new feature exclusive to other iOS models (which, unlike any other platform, continued to get major OS updates), obliterated sales records.

iPhone 5 layers on the same kinds of incremental updates we’re used to seeing on mature product lines, like say, the Macintosh: faster speed, better cameras and video, an enhanced design, new connectivity, and an intense focus on new software features that are actually useful.

Wait, how does Apple win without the gimmicks of losers?

If this review of how Apple has consistently smashed down larger and more powerful rivals hasn’t convinced you that Apple’s strategy isn’t suddenly going to fail because iPhone 5 isn’t following the gimmick-laden plans of companies that haven’t done nearly so well, then let me get more specific.

NFC is a gimmick. It lets you do things you might as well do with a piece of plastic. Want to update funds on your proximity transit pass? Why not go on the web and do that? Want to “bump” to share? Why not use email? Or Facebook? Or an iOS app from 2008? Want to make a purchase? Well if the vendor is sufficiently savvy enough to know what NFC is, they should be able to handle Passbook or Square or any number of more convenient things that people actually use. Like say, a credit card.

Not even the NFC-pioneering Japanese seem very worried about iPhone 5 not having NFC. And look what NFC has done for Google’s platform over the last year or so: which is to say, nothing but open up security issues. I’ve never seen anyone pay with NFC, despite living in a city Google has overrun with NFC payment systems.

My bank issued me a debit card with an NFC chip. I tried to use it but it very rarely ever worked. I’m not sure it ever worked right. Whenever I tried to tap to purchase, the vendor would just take the card and swipe it. Imagine if Apple had rolled out such a stupid feature just to earn a checkmark at Android4life.com. My bank has since issued me a new cards without the chip.

And what about wireless charging? If this were related to wireless sync, there might be gold at the end of the rainbow. Imagine erecting a Tesla tower at work and home (and perhaps in your car) and never having to plug your phone in again.

But “wireless charging” is actually just induction charging, making it really only suited to kitchen hot pots or cordless shavers and electric toothbrushes in the bathroom, where you might not want wet metal-to-metal connections. What purpose is there having a “charge pad” you have to lay your phone on, rather than a dock you stick it in? Both need to plug into an outlet.

Wireless induction charging didn’t do anything for the Palm Pre apart from making it thicker and giving it a more expensive charger option. It’s the kind of useless feature that companies introduce when they don’t have the market power to do really novel things like design a custom processor or develop a new manufacturing process or create entirely new software solutions coordinated with the top leaders of other industries (like, say, Passbook).

Android fans like to quip that all Apple does is patent rectangles and round corners, but the fact is that Apple invents the technology Android licensees will later fail to copy correctly, while Android licensees invent the stuff Apple passed over, like the Newton Message Pad’s stylus and those NFC features Apple certainly had the capacity to add if it were interested in inheriting NFCgate.

Be careful of what you wish for!

Would it be better if Apple focused on bringing to market a series of non-functional, useless, security-impaired, bug-ridden “features” that “we’ve never seen before”? I don’t think so.

It’s not working for Android.

That leaves me a bit concerned when I read the Wall Street Journal reporting ‘fair and balanced’ coverage of Apple that devotes most its paragraphs to outlining the things Android2meIsLife.com thinks are important.

I hope Apple locks up its engineers in an ivory tower surrounded by a wall of curved glass and plants around that acres of apricot trees patrolled by security guards, just so they aren’t tempted to ever begin chasing the suggestions offered by “bored” pundits who think what Apple should really focus on is impressing and surprising the people who just sat through Samsung, Nokia, Amazon and HP briefings that outlined how they’re doing things Apple isn’t (and pay no attention to the results).

33 comments

1 berult { 09.13.12 at 2:32 pm }

When I look at the iPhone 5, I see a black slab of outer space, granite-like, pulsating material that’s been grounded into more or less reflective surfaces by some wise, albeit distant civilization, and passed on…along a sapient axis…to earthly imprints, for some further sapience calibration…

…and on the otherworldly packaging, one can read the warning to timidity of purpose, and modesty of ambition:

“To handle with dare”

I agree with Sir Jonathan; this phone, in all its symmetrical asymmetries, …begs to differ. A real slab in the face for the competition.

2 bOMBfACTORY { 09.13.12 at 4:07 pm }

Good points DED. Apple has consistently shown they have an excellent ‘BS feature’ filter.

3 airmanchairman { 09.13.12 at 5:59 pm }

The “bored” crowd continue to underestimate Jon Ives’ hardware design skills, which appear to be approaching those of the legendary master Katana swordsmith Hattori Hanzo (Kill Bill, geddit?). Reality will kick in slowly, as the new iPhone’s specs already stack up comfortably with its competitors, and when people get their hands on the sucker…

One seasoned Verge blogger who handled the new gadget compared the machined consistency of its edges, surfaces and corners to “jewellery”, and spoke of such shock at its lightness when he picked it up that he nearly dropped it…

Can’t wait to hold it in my hand (64Gb white, thank you very much); methinks the girls rather than the geeks will get this one big time…

4 enzos { 09.13.12 at 8:49 pm }

A slab in the face is a wretched pun!

The new iPhone looks like a usable work of art. It should sell by the truckload in Oz as there’ll be a lot of built up demand from the 4GS that didn’t run on Telstra’s 4G network (which didn’t offer much coverage back then but is at 45% now should reach 80% of the country by 2013.)

5 enzos { 09.14.12 at 1:38 am }

Saw this after my comment New iPhone 5 likely to be revolutionary http://www.abc.net.au/technology/articles/2012/09/13/3589143.htm
and what he means by the headline is that – existing LTE phones being rubbish to use – the fact that it will take LTE *mainstream* in Oz will be a revolutionary change in the mobile scene.

6 HCE { 09.14.12 at 12:43 pm }

Let me strike a small dissenting note here. While I agree with you for the most part, I think you are being a little too flippant in dismissing the advantages of a larger screen. Now that I am well north of 40, my eyes let me know the advantages of a larger screen right away. At my age, it isn’t just the resolution of the screen that matters but the physical size of the letters – and upping the font size causes other issues (like requiring you to scroll up/down back/forth a lot more). While I am sticking with the iPhone for now, I confess I am tempted by the 4.5 to 4.8 inch screens of the new Android devices. No, it won’t fit comfortably in my pocket but then I have been using a holster for my iPhone anyway for some time now. And no, carrying an iPad around is not a solution.

I am hardly the only person who thinks this way. I’ve seen too many friends and coworkers go to Android (or think seriously of switching) because of this problem – and these people are not open source true believers or Apple haters. It isn’t as if they are trying to economize and buy cheap phones – they are buying the top of the line Android models which are as expensive as the iPhone. It helps that Android is a lot better in terms of user experience than it used to be – pretty much all the Android users I know today are very happy with their phones.

It is hard to generalize from such isolated anecdotes but my feeling is that there is a growing number of people who are getting tempted by the big screen sizes of the Android devices. I think it is a mistake by Apple to not release larger devices.

– HCE

7 John E { 09.14.12 at 5:02 pm }

good points by DED, nevermind some over-generalizations about Android et al.

what the technocrati are missing, esp those who were not at the iPhone event and so have no actual hands-on facts to support their ennui, is how the “look & feel” of the iP5 are very much different. but consumers will notice immediately when they see and hold one for the first time, and they will be “wow’ed.”

the much lighter weight combined with solid aluminum – not plastic -body and a larger screen with the most accurate color yet are, in fact, near revolutionary. esp for 4G hardware, as noted. these are all state-of-art technology “upgrades.” once held, anything else will suddenly feel clunky and/or cheap.

we will all have to see for ourselves if the many other improvements, both hardware and software, are also as impressive. a smart pundit would wait until they try one out fully too. but the bored people, frankly, aren’t smart enuff to wait for that.

i expect the iP5 will be a smash hit with consumers. so next month the same bored guys will be writing about either now they goofed and missed what should have been obvious, or more whinnig about iSheep, Apple hysteria, clever ads, etc etc etc.

get ready,

8 berult { 09.14.12 at 8:27 pm }

@enzos

“A slab in the face is a wretched pun!”

Old enmities die hard, …don’t they enzos…? But you’re right, …it would’ve been far more a-proppos had I bitten my tongue …and mis-used the pun on …you… 
…my bad.

9 enzos { 09.14.12 at 8:33 pm }

@HCE As another presbyopia sufferer (as most over 45 yo are) I can see your point (through +2.5 correctives!). Though once eyes go to my extent you have to put on glasses whether it’s 3.5″ or 5.5″, and it’s the same usability issue that Apple is considering: that the current width is the largest that a typical small adult can access with efficiency and comfort one-handed. Larger screens would mean a second XL-sized model and Apple believe in keeping things simple. A larger (say 4.5″) iPod touch, OTOH, would be most welcome.

10 HCE { 09.14.12 at 10:08 pm }

@Enzos

I really don’t care that much about one handed operation. Yes it’s nice to have but I’d rather have a bigger screen. Why not have a couple of screen sizes? You can keep the same aspect ratio and resolution – so app developers will not be affected. Why does Apple insist on one screen size for the iPhone? After all the MacBook Air comes in two sizes!

– HCE

11 curtis119 { 09.15.12 at 12:14 am }

Daniel,
you have previously published phenomenally successful essays such as: “History of…”, “Apple vs …” “Much ado about…”, “Unraveling …”, “10 Reasons why…”, etc.

Not to mention the whole “…Myth…” series of essays. Plus a ton of others too numerous to mention. Those essays were thought provoking and well researched. Thank you.

Lately you have been publishing much shorter and less well thought out “blog” pieces. Although they I thoroughly enjoyed them, they were not as well received as your previous precedent setting “essays”.

This article seems to be a step towards that same high quality essay writing that you are so famous for. As a long term reader of your personal blog and of appleinsider.com I welcome this trend back to the days of yore.

Here’s hoping that you are going to bust out with some serious essays about the history and future of the industry with that flair and accuracy that only you are capable of.

Mike

p.s.
a few of my “Internet friends” and I were discussing this site and the topic of whether you are gay came up. As a gay dude myself, my opinion was “I don’t know but I hope so ’cause he is really handsome”.

My friends are all straight and agreed that you were gay because “only chicks and gay dudes like iphones” (caveat: I am a former Gentoo Linux Developer if that tells you anything about my “Internet Friends”).

I could care less and don’t expect or want you to answer. I just thought it was a funny insight into the minds of my heterosexual counterparts in the FOSS community.

[Dismissing someone's opinion because they are "gay" has little to do with a person's actual sexuality, as I hope you are aware. It's a common technique for winning arguments when all one can muster is a personal attack that seeks to ostracize the other person among their unsophisticated friends and "win" by default.

It's likely that your friends aren't really big on science either, but there's well documented studies that indicate that men who identify as being uncomfortable around homosexuals and who use "gay" as a favorite pejorative are actually deeply repressed homosexuals themselves who are expressing contempt for their own conflicted identity.

And, of course, if iPhone users were all "women and gays," as your "straight" friends like to say, it makes one wonder why Verizon is selling more iPhones than those 4G Android models combined despite the "very manly" DROID!!! Verizon commercials touting more overreaching machismo than Axe body spray ads directed at teenage boys with confidence issues.

Also, if Android is so "no homo," then why is the gay man-finder app "Grinder" among the very short list of popular apps that have actually made it to the platform (along with the man-pleasing "Angry Birds," of course)?

And to answer your question, I don't think I'm really all that handsome, but the guys who are into me seem to think I am - Dan]

12 studiodave { 09.15.12 at 3:20 am }

@ curtis119

Your comment about the only type of people that like iPhones shows just how small your world really is. I don’t fit into either of those categories and I like the iPhone. I just ordered two.

13 enzos { 09.15.12 at 11:16 am }

@HCE I’m sure they’ve had this discussion at Apple as well, many times and in detail. With the iPad I’m guessing the HI people believed the smaller unit was an acceptable compromise: the full size being optimal for two handed adult use, the small size optimal for kids, etc.. For a phone I’m guessing one handed operation by a small adult was their mandatory starting point for a phone (there are many situations when making a call where you can’t use two). That doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen just that the argument against (that it’s primarily a phone) is always going to be there. And Apple don’t do things just because they can be. (Typed on the 13″ MBA coz the 11″ was too small for me).

14 HCE { 09.15.12 at 12:28 pm }

@Enzos

No disagreements here. I’m sure they’ve talked about it and decided against it. Overall I think that it is a good idea to limit the number of models. This time, however, I think they are making a mistake.

– HCE

15 kdaeseok { 09.15.12 at 3:11 pm }

iPhone 5 is not boring.
This article is.

16 The Mad Hatter { 09.15.12 at 7:20 pm }

There are still no great apps, and the apps that do exist outside of iOS are second rate space fillers that are littered with ads and often just don’t work.

This is true of iPhone apps as well. There are a few superb apps (Pages, ExoPlanet), and a huge pile of junk. Sturgeon’s Law applies everywhere.

As to eyesight issues, I’m 56, and bifocals have been a life saver. Of course it also helps that Apple screens are optimized for what they display, I find the screen on my antique 3GS clearer than any competing phone.

Re the Palm Pre being faster – don’t ever try to boot one of those things up. You’ll have enough time to cook dinner while you wait.

What I am interested in is FireFox OS. It’s straight HTML5 architecture looks to have some huge advantages, and could complete the Microsoft Death Spiral.

Wayne

[It's not that there isn't any trash filling space in the App Store. Even Apple admitted that 10% of apps haven't been downloaded in a month (kind of like BlackBerry sales these days!) The difference between iOS and Android is that iOS has a wide variety of high quality commercial games, is by far the leading place to find new apps and services, and is where virtually all custom corporate development occurs. Android isn't just second, it's virtually at zero in these fields, tied with WP7 and webOS.

That's why Apple actually highlighted that 90% of the App Store's library saw downloads every month. If you actually look at Android's Google Play market (which you can on the web), you'll find the vast majority of apps are actually garbage like a MP3 or wallpaper or knockoffs posing as apps. -Dan ]

17 Mike { 09.16.12 at 12:36 am }

kdaeseok wrote:
iPhone 5 is not boring.
This article is.

I wondered when the personal attacks would start coming. Now I know that Dan was right when he wrote this article. It never really is true without some critics to say how wrong he is without providing justification, even if that justification turns out to be a false choice.

18 gslusher { 09.16.12 at 2:02 am }

@HCE:

“Why not have a couple of screen sizes?”

Expect to pay $50-100 more per iPhone. It would cost a lot to outfit two distinct production lines, buy two sets of chassis and screens, carry the extra stock, etc.

19 kdaeseok { 09.16.12 at 2:12 am }

Hey actually I’m agreeing to Dan, saying that iPhone 5 is not boring :D
It’s just that he’s using 50 words when 2 are enough.
Read the last paragraph -one sentence- again, and tell me how many times you had to breathe?


I hope Apple locks up its engineers in an ivory tower surrounded by a wall of curved glass and plants around that acres of apricot trees patrolled by security guards, just so they aren’t tempted to ever begin chasing the suggestions offered by “bored” pundits who think what Apple should really focus on is impressing and surprising the people who just sat through Samsung, Nokia, Amazon and HP briefings that outlined how they’re doing things Apple isn’t (and pay no attention to the results).

20 HCE { 09.16.12 at 8:52 am }

@Gslusher

I don’t see why costs have to go up that much. As I said before, Apple can produce the MacBook Air in two sizes and keep costs really competitive – so there should not be any such problem for phones. FWIW, they will for the next 2 years at least, producing phones in two sizes and the phones cost the same as they always did. I guess if they really felt they needed to, they’d produce a 4.5 inch phone and keep its price very competitive – the only reason they don’t today is that they don’t see the need. Though I generally agree with Apple’s choices, I disagree here.

– HCE

21 curtis119 { 09.16.12 at 7:32 pm }

@studiodave you must have misread my comment. It isn’t MY world that is small. It’s the world of the straight dudes I worked with on a FOSS project. THEY are the ones who made the assumption about the iphones customer base. Every single one of them keeps on using the lame old excuse of “OPEN” to justify their android purchases and claim that I only own an iphone because I am gay. They assume that gay dudes only care about the fashion and not the usability. Which couldn’t be further from the truth.

22 enzos { 09.16.12 at 10:30 pm }

@HCE
“If a thing can be done adequately by means of one, it is superfluous to do it by means of several; for we observe that nature does not employ two instruments if one suffices.”
-Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274), Saint and Philosopher.
.. it’s the Law of Parsimony, which has its origins in Aesthetics. And, all evidence suggests, a central part of Apple’s philosophy of what not to do.

As with NFC chips etc. there needs to be a demonstrated or projected need.

23 The Mad Hatter { 09.17.12 at 7:46 am }

That’s why Apple actually highlighted that 90% of the App Store’s library saw downloads every month. If you actually look at Android’s Google Play market (which you can on the web), you’ll find the vast majority of apps are actually garbage like a MP3 or wallpaper or knockoffs posing as apps. -Dan ]

Just because something has been downloaded, and gets used sometimes doesn’t mean it is a quality app.

Take Safari for example. It’s a hunk of junk that crashes all the time. So is the Kobo EBook reader. The App Store also crashes, though thankfully not as often as Safari.

Then there’s the apps which work fine, but aren’t worth the trouble. There isn’t a compitor to PySol available. I like Solitaire, and not one of the free or paid Solitaire apps was worth the time to download it.

The vast majority of iPhone/iTouch/iPad apps are terribe shit. it is possible that Android apps are worse. I don’t know, but I suspect they are probably similar, because a lot of the same players are in both markets.

That said, there are some killer apps out there:

ExoPlanet
Pages
TSN
iBook
Scansion
Amplitube
Garage Band
VLC Media Player (sadly no longer available due to Apple’s idiocy)
TinkerBox
ISP Survivor
Sketchbook Pro
Art Rage

And if you own a guitar with a pickup, grab an iRig, install Amplitube, and get ready to blow your neighbors eardrums out!

Wayne

[So you're saying Safari and the App Store are not working out well for the iOS platform, and that perhaps there's going to be a mad exodus to alternatives? I hope I understood you wrong because that sounds absurd.

I'm certainly not saying most App Store apps (or even Apple's bundled apps) are flawless, only that they are far ahead of any other mobile platform. That's not really something that can be seriously debated.

Also, note that 3 of your dozen 'killer apps' are first party Apple titles. - Dan]

24 The Mad Hatter { 09.18.12 at 5:02 pm }

So you’re saying Safari and the App Store are not working out well for the iOS platform, and that perhaps there’s going to be a mad exodus to alternatives? I hope I understood you wrong because that sounds absurd.

I didn’t say that, and you know it. What I said is that there’s a lot of garbage in the App Store, including the App Store application, and that SOME of Apple’s own software is bloody terrible. Safari crashes 4-5 times per day, on a fully updated original iPad. Curiously Safari works perfectly on my iPhone 3GS.

If I’m having this problem, and I’m not doing anything unusual other than surfing the web to places like Roughly Drafted, I can guarantee others are as well, and that Apple screwed the pooch on Safari.

And it isn’t as if Apple went to the Microsoft school of programming. Most Apple applications work damned well. Third party applications are another issue. There are a ton of crappy applications in the App Store. Consider the “official” NHL app, it’s total crap. The Huffington Post application also crashes all the time. So do a lot of others.

And there are a lot of minimal applications, like the backgrounds and screensavers you complain about. I was looking for a cat game (my cats love the iPad) and one I downloaded was just a file full of pictures.

I know you like Apple products. I happen to like them as well, but I’m not blind to the problems that exist.

Hehe. Tomorrow I’m going to install Debian on my original iMac. Since Apple isn’t updating the OS for the PowerPC machines anymore, it’s time to experiment. There’s some damned good software in the Debian repositories – and yes, a lot of garbage.

You can’t beat Sturgeon’s Law.

Wayne

25 daryl4d { 09.20.12 at 8:41 pm }

Wayne

I agree with part of what you’re saying…. safari on my iPad2 will often crash when I have multiple tabs open and open another that has flash on it… of course the flash doesn’t work but safari will freeze, and will only work again when I minimize it, shut it down and then restart it after opening another app… what’s crasy is that this only happens when I visit Engadget.com … has not occured when I go to TheVerge …. weird

26 daryl4d { 09.20.12 at 8:45 pm }

when I first read the initial iPhone reports I was somewhat dismayed by the “boring” reviews so I decided to watch the keynote firsthand and I was impressed…. but I still have mixed feeling towards the iPhone 5… I think they could have had everyone yelling “revolutionary” with a few simple tweeks…
First the darkside…
I’ve never owned an iPhone, my experience with iOS is limited to my iPad 2 and 3rd gen iPod Touch. Five months ago I decided that rather than get the iPhone 4S, I would wait for the iPhone 5 (or Windows phone 8 if I didn’t like the new iPhone) so in the meantime I upgraded my old samsung feature phone to an unlocked C2000 Andriod 2.3 chinese KIRF for under $200. . :) Although it had nice specs (4″screen, 8MP camera, 500mb ram, dual sims) it ended up being a piece of garbage, which I only use to make phone calls and text (and it even does that poorly). Just to be fair though, it may not be the operating system, it may have more to do with shoddy hardware that Google has no control over….I mean my iPod3 blows it away with it’s buttery smoothness . As a sidenote, Google recently mentioned they activated 500 million android devices… I wonder how many of these are KIRFs like this one that will find their way to the bottom of people’s desk drawers. Anyways, I didn’t particularly like the form factor of this unit and was hoping the new iPhone would resemble my 3rd gen iPod touch at least in size and weight as it fits perfectly in my pocket and hand… all they would have to do is stretch the screen from 3.5″ to 4″ by reducing the bezel. As it stands, although the iPhone 5 is slighly thinner in depth/width (.9 mm/ 3.2mm less) and slightly lighter (3 grams less), it is quite a bit taller (13.8 mm more) than my Ipod3 so the tall/skinny description given in most reviews seem accurate. Although I’m trying to defer judgement until I try one in my hands, I do prefer the shorter/wider form factor for the same reason Apple didn’t put 16:9 ratio screen on the iPad… it looks and feels better in the hand aka my iPad Touch3. The missed opportunity here was stretchng the screen as much as possible and eliminating the bezel almost completely… for ex. with my iPod Touch3 form factor you could probably tweek a 4.3 screen out of it.
I feel another missed opportunity is the LTE chip… isn’t there a master chip from Qualcomm that provides all LTE frequencies/HSPA/etc on one chip and would eliminate the need for 3 different versions of iPhone 5? Someone commented that what would be the value of buying an unlocked iPhone 5 if you couldn’t move it around to another carrier? And what’s the deal with the Verizon version that won’t do simultaneous voice and data (no checking the net while talking)? I’m in Manitoba, Canada (that’s a central province in case you were wondering) Here we have Bell, Telus and Rogers doing the new iPhone so they will get the At&t version (GSM/HSPA/LTE) so if I buy it and go to the US I have to use At&t (at least I get simultaneous talk/surf)… but I still feel it’s about choice, so the master chip could have put Apple in the revolutionary status, making it a true world phone.
On a completely separate rant, the incumbant cellphone provider in my province, “MTS”, has the most customers and best coverage and best plans (unlimited data for around $50.)… they are upgrading from a CDMA /HSPA network to LTE, and they also have access to the iPhone 5, (as they did to iPhone 4 & 4S) but guess what.?.. visual voicemail does not work on their network!! That’s right, unbelievable. Come on, I love that feature, it is one of the reasons I want to upgrade to the iPhone, this feature is 5 years old… Apple if you’re reading this you have to go in and kick their butts. This is unacceptable. To me, iPhone stands for a uniform experience… how could they let that happen?
Ok, so the other missed feature that is not neccesarily a dealbreaker on the iPhone5 that would be nice to have is the wireless charging. Sure when it came out with the PalmPre it made it abit thicker, but we are now in the 2-3rd generation with this stuff so I don’t believe it would make the phone that much thicker or heavier. And of course the Palm had cool features with this, such as automatically putting the phone into speaker mode when placed on the charging pad, syncing your data, etc. I have an Xlink… I have it linked to my landline and my cellphone thru bluetooth, so when I enter my home my cellphone automatically links to it and all my calls are routed to my landline (including call display)… it’s great because my cell stays in one place and I have 5 cordless extentions around my home so I never have to search for my cell and one of the cordless phones are always nearby. Now you could argue a million reasons why I don’t need such a convenience but I love it. And by extention, I envisioned the new iPhone having wireless charging so that I could just drop it on a “pad” and never have to fiddle with a cord or dock. Eveything wireless and smooth. Again, maybe it’s just me but I like convenience.
Also, I don’t understand why iOS6 doesn’t support wi-fi direct or bluetooth printing. That’s right, I’m the guy who wrote several posts awhile back trying to get my iPad to work with a bluetooth PocketJet Printer… (a 1 lb printer we want to deploy with our sales staff, paired with a tablet) The verdict on this is that it was impossible to get it to work in any configuration on apple devices so we have to go the Windows8 tablet route. And although I need this to work primarily on a tablet, it would be nice to have this function on the iPhone 5 as well to integrate it into our business and allow a uniform experience… I mean it would probably be just adding a few lines of code to make this work. I also was unable to get my iPad to work with 4 other printers that are part of our network even when using apps like PrintCentral (2 of the printers are new) …so I am assuming that it won’t work with the iPhone 5 either….. this is one reason that might sway me to the Windows8 phone camp cause their phones do support printing on most printers (including bluetooth and wi-fi direct).
My final concern with apple is somewhat off topic but I was abit miffed that they didn’t expand the memory in the new iPod Touch to at least 128 GB which I would gladly be willing to pay more for. I do love the features of the new iPod but seriously, my 3rd gen has 64GB and it’s almost full…you can get an iPod classic with 160GB (I’ve seen them up to 240GB)… I need more memory….
OK, so now on the lighter side…
although I would like all the above features to work on the iPhone, none of them are complete dealbreakers. The direction I’m going is to have my cellphone more or less disappear into the background. In a funny way both Google and Microsoft are both headed in this direction… Google with their project glass and windows 8 phones with their live tiles and glance-able information. The way I want to make it happen now is by using the Jabra Stone2 bluetooth headset (the only headset on the market that doesn’t make you look like a dweeb AND it announces calls and allows you to answer with voice control) and the Pebble E-Paper Watch (the kickstarter watch that uses bluetooth 4 to display glanceable info from my cell and to control certain apps). So what I really need is a light phone that will support these technologies and dissappear in my pocket…. I know that iPhone supports both these devices and apparently it’s one of the lightest LTE phones on the market so all is not lost. My other choice, Nokia’s Lumia 920 is quite heavy (73 grams more) taller (6.5mm more), wider (12.2 mm more), and thicker (3.1 mm more) so I’m not sure how nice it will feel in the pocket. … and, oh yeah, it is not presently supported by the Pebble Watch people….

27 gus2000 { 09.20.12 at 11:44 pm }

HCE and other with aging eyes like mine:

Settings –> General –> Accessibility –> Zoom = ON
Settings –> General –> Accessibility –> Large Text –> Choose size

To zoom, double-tap any screen with 3 fingers. Slide 3 fingers up/down to zoom in/out.

You’re welcome.

28 The Mad Hatter { 09.21.12 at 2:56 pm }

I agree with part of what you’re saying…. safari on my iPad2 will often crash when I have multiple tabs open and open another that has flash on it… of course the flash doesn’t work but safari will freeze, and will only work again when I minimize it, shut it down and then restart it after opening another app… what’s crasy is that this only happens when I visit Engadget.com … has not occured when I go to TheVerge …. weird

That’s different than mine. It doesn’t freeze, it closes.

When I restart it, all of the tabs open, though sometimes a tab I had closed will open too. Flash could be the problem, I’ve never noticed if any of the sites are using it.

Wayne

29 addicted44 { 09.21.12 at 10:00 pm }

“My bank issued me a debit card with an NFC chip. I tried to use it but it very rarely ever worked. I’m not sure it ever worked right. Whenever I tried to tap to purchase, the vendor would just take the card and swipe it”

Hah. This is hilarious. The exact same thing happened to me today. Went to a Duane Reade in downtown NYC and tried to pay for my purchase with tapping and the cashier said it didn’t go through. Tried again and it failed. Finally she asked me to swipe. But even if it did go through I failed to see what benefit it served over just swiping my card.

Oh, also, she said that was the first time anyone had ever tried tapping their card. I remember how a couple of years ago Visa was going crazy advertising their NFC cards (EasyPay?). Haven’t seen another ad about that in at least the last 8 months. NFC is largely dead. Any NFC type uses are much more likely to be accomplished via bluetooth 4.0 ‘s low power profiles. And Bluetooth, unlike NFC, is useful even if you don’t use any of the near field features. So you don’t have to waste space and raise costs to simply add NFC. Additionalky, unlike NFC, Bluetooth also allows far higher level data transfers so it isn’t a limited trick pony like NFC.

30 gslusher { 09.22.12 at 10:49 am }

@gus2000

Thanks! I didn’t know about those settings and really appreciate your telling us. Apple has generally been pretty good about accessibility.

31 enzos { 09.24.12 at 6:29 am }

@Addicted.. NFC is available in credit and eftpos cards in Oz. I don’t use it because it doesn’t seem to work as well as swiping.

However, I’ve a NFC “go card” for travelling in Brisbane: “touch on” before starting a journey, “touch off” at the end, the cost of buses, trains and ferries being deducted from the go card balance. Much better than swiping for this purpose (the kids attach them to their satchels). And you can now use it to hire Rail-link bicycles at stations for the last leg to places like colleges and unis.

I think Apple is just waiting on this one… for the tech to mature before jumping in with a compelling implementation..

32 shl93 { 09.25.12 at 6:07 am }

One thing I disagree with the article is NFC. I live in Australia and unlike what everyone else says, I use NFC to pay with my credit card all the time. It takes only 2 seconds to process (should be quicker) and works flawlessly.In fact I had much more problems with swiping or inserting my card. Its such a shame hat apple didn’t include NFC in the iPhone. Maybe NFC doesn’t work properly in American stores, but that in places like Australia, it works fine. To call NFC immature or a gimmick would be ridiculous as like enzos has shown, NFC opens up a range of new possibilties, like for payment of public transport. To hold out on NFC when it is so widely adopted would be doing Apple’s customers a gross disservice by betraying their trust in Apple.

On a side note, I’m sort of wondering if the lack of NFC may have something to do with the aluminium body that Apple has decided to use for the iPhone. If you look at most NFC equipped phones, they contain NFC in their back cover or in the back of the phone battery. The more likely reason that Apple didnt include NFC in this iteration of the iPhone is because the metal body wasn’t conducive to a large NFC antenna(considering the effective range of NFC is 1mm, 10mm max) and so NFC will probably have to wait till the next iteration of he iPhone when Apple finds a solution to this problem.

Maybe your experience with NFC was bad, but that is more to do with shifty American retailers. To me, it seems like you are trying to justify Apple’s omission of NFC, when you could have looked at it from a technical perspective to understand Apple’s omission of NFC.

[What problem does NFC solve? It replaces swipe cards. It's like taking every door on earth off its hinges and replacing them all with doors that have a hinge on the opposite side. Still a door, might solve some few problems where a door was installed on the wrong side to begin with, but would also mess up a lot of doors that are installed the way they should be.

Also, you seem to disregard the fact that Apple has ~250M iOS users. Why put a payment feature on just new models? Works for Android because it gives a checkbox feature, but Android has no sense of platform, nor any backwards support. But that isn't what has built Apple's App Store/iTunes success. - Dan]

33 The Mad Hatter { 10.22.12 at 4:42 pm }

Talk about Safari crashing, I’ve found a wonderful article that causes Safari to blow up, every time. In fact to finish reading it I had to use Opera Mini.

This is the page

Believe it or not, it’s on BoingBoing.

Here’s the link as straight text:

http://boingboing.net/2012/10/22/kindle-user-claims-amazon-dele.html

I’m hoping that everyone else will try this page, and let me know what happens. I’d like to be able to forward Apple a report so they can fix the problem.

Wayne

You must log in to post a comment.