Thursday, April 29, 2010

Response to Apple on Flash

I have heard little snide comments from Steve Jobs about how he feels about Flash. But releasing an official statement online has led me to respond with my feelings about Apple on Flash.

As much as I do not like Flash, I have to disagree with Apple a couple points made.

If you don't think a product should be supported, stop supporting it, including on your desktop platform. Apple is not really expressing its feelings about Flash. Apple is simply saying what is currently good for Apple at the moment. Be prepared for Apple to change its views at any given time, depending on what product they are selling at the moment.

Apple wouldn't dare upset its customer base by removing Flash support from its desktop OS. They can somewhat get away with not adding to iPhones and iPads what it has never had (but apparently not so, as per the reason to make this public announcement).

Steve Jobs mentions the re-design of software for the iPad or iPhone. Web pages are not designed to take advantage of multi-touch. Therefore, HTML and the current set of web browsers are just as 'bad' for mobile devices as Flash. Perhaps HTML5 addresses multi-touch capabilities. I don't know.

However, last I checked, it is not only Flash that handles "roll-overs;" also Javascript and pretty much every GUI API I have ever used. I can think of adding pressure sensitivity to touch displays in addition to touch capacitance. Perhaps this would change the idea of touch roll overs. But, it would slightly alter how people use the current set of popular touch screen devices--that would be bad for Apple. I assume someone has already patented this idea and it's probably not Apple.

Third party development kits are good for developers. For one, it allows them to write their software on multiple platforms, providing more sales, software ubiquity, and less work to make that happen. Two, it should create a healthy competition between platforms--if one provides features that the other doesn't, that platform is pushed to either adapt or adopt the other feature.

But, clearly Apple does not like competition. Jobs says that the third party approach prevents developers from using the "innovative" features that are only on their platforms. Perhaps if Apple did not patent things, such as mobile devices with multi-touch screen capability, it would not be an issue.

No, Mr. Jobs, everyone does not benefit--how altruistically conceited you are. The only people who truly benefit from a closed approach, such as Apple, is the company itself--not the customers--certainly not 'everyone,' implying only if everyone used Apple products and nothing else. Wouldn't that be great? No?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Monodevicism Vs. Polydevicism

Long before the most recent smartphone craze, I was confident that, in the future, all our computing needs would be satisfied by a single tiny personal device. I certainly had no doubt that smaller devices' processing speeds would continue to increase, almost indefinitely. However, I overlooked or assumed that portable power supplies would either get better and hold up to the developing technologies or perhaps end up not even being necessary.

I or anyone else can observe or learn about the increase of processing power from one CPU to the next. However, I am not so sure of battery technology. Is it improving? Has it reached a plateau? If not, does it keep up with Moore's Law?

As many more peoples' lives become "wired," particularly with the inclusion of smartphones, we are starting to experience the ever present inconvenience of limited portable power. If a better energy source is not discovered, we will never experience the single device future I felt so certain we would happen.

I liked the way that Steve Wozniak described the iPod: as a satellite device. I assume he meant it would never replace your computer at home, but would remain as our constant link to that computer back home, syncing our portable activities when we get back home--to recharge.

However, smartphones provide almost unlimited connectedness. We are no longer required to dock our satellite devices to our computers at home. We are becoming a truly mobile information society. In fact, syncing data from our computer is not necessary, as even our home computer will sync all its data over the Internet. But the battery is our ball and chain. Just as one weighs us down, we make up for it by carrying yet another.

I recently have gotten a dedicated ebook reader. I had tried several times to use my smartphone for reading. But doing so would leave me in situations where I could no longer use the phone as a phone at all. At the end of the week, I now have to nurse another device, in addition to my laptop and smartphone.

My dream of a single do it all device is fading, as I begin to accept my computing energy enslavement. Now my question is how many personal mobile devices should I have or what is a reasonable number to use at one time.

None of these devices alone are allowed to be the perfect device, each one doing a single task better than the others.

Today I realized that if we do always have multiple personal computing devices, there is one that we will certainly not have: a smartphone. We may still use a phone, but it and all the devices will communicate to a central, Internet capable, device. If our most personal Internet ready satellite device is always on, there will be no reason to have any other devices at all--it will uniquely drive any public device you come in contact with, such as your car, television, movie theatre, or bathroom.