iPhone Snapshot

Ok, there has been quite a bit of hype about the iPhone (that name will stick because Cisco actually lost the iPhone name last year it seems (ZD-blog)) and it seems that it might not be the same device we saw during the keynote once it’s out. This is my attempt to spin my own higher-ed centric version of Pouge’s FAQ (1,2)First the iPhone and LG’s KE850 are very similar (Engadget, TUAW) in terms of hardware, so the idea that Apple was first out of the gate with this idea may not be the case. Why is this important? Well this way if one allows users to do something or has a certain type of app the other should because in the eyes of the consumer, “if it looks the same it should works th same”. This means that if LG will allow external apps (assuming it’s a regular “smart phone”), so should Apple (which at the very least should allow the games that the wireless carriers offer). But other than all that, having both devices may make the iPhone (or the LG) an ideal UMPC for higher ed students – $500-$700 isn’t that much for a device that they can take everywhere and via wireless, fire off their notes to be edited on regular mobile or desktop systems.

But there is hope that Apple will be releasing more apps for the iPhone (and a cheaper version as well), but then in an awkward “Think Different, but like Steve Reality Distortion Field kind of way), Apple seems to be saying that this smart phone is not really a business class device, it’s more like an iLife vs Office thing… where it’s not meant to do the heavy lifting of the Office, but rather the everyday surf, turf and snap that people do outside the office (take a look at the “Doubt the hype” here).

So in the end, the iPhone may not be the latest panacea for higher ed, but what it may do is break through to the millions of people who only use their already powerful phones to call. It may finally break through the blinking 12:00 factor for phones for the masses and open them up to the idea of ultra mobility in a very easy, low learning curve manner (BW seems to agree). And if that is the case… it’s RDF and social engineering at it’s best. As Apple prepares for the post desktop world.

My predictions for 2007

Well I might as well throw some ideas out there, seeing as (depending on how you look at it) some of what I thought for 2006 did come true. Google did come out with a calendar and if you are in line with the spirit of what I was thinking, it seems that Time agrees with me that “You” are the most important person of the year. It also seems that the people at Read/Write Web are thinking along similar lines. I think that this coming year will be the year that the consoles become king (with Wii on top) as computing comes to the living room and used for media management and personal communication. Traditional computers will increasingly become a commodity, to the point that “big metal” like my shiny new MacBook and MacBook Pro will be almost reserved for specialized uses and ubiquitous computing comes in the form of hand held devices like the cell phone and very cheap computers. I also think that we’ll see a real boom in the number of online apps as well. With any luck we’ll also see wireless service plans get cheaper, maybe cheap enough that we can start using phones in the classroom (at least in Higher Ed) on a regular basis.

I think there may be some push back with regard to the spec race as people might regard the content as being more important than it’s specs. So plasma displays will stall a bit unless they get really cheap, cameras will not explode beyond 20MP (who needs that for shots of the dog?? what about the storage associated with that?) and the HD DVD thing will fizzle unless there is some middle ground (ala DVD -/+).

We might also start to see the start of Web3.0 – the semantic web.

Ok, so this list isn’t as long as my last one, but that’s ok because like my list, I think 2007 is going to be all about content and usability.

Apple’s Front Row

A few weeks ago, my wife and I started looking for a small TV and DVD player for the bedroom, and we found a few setups that were decent but that were severely compromised in terms of either space or price, so say nothing about quality. Then last week, when we got the MacBook, I suggested that we use that (with a little stand to make it easier to see when on the bed) to watch DVDs. I had shown Front Row off to my brother when he got his laptop a few months ago, and he was reasonably impressed, but now after having used it on my own, I’m just blown away by what a great thought Apple had when they came up with this application.

Media Center and it’s ilk are trying to do everything and be everything for the Windows world, but this does only four things and does them very well. Music, video, movies and photos are all handled through a very simple interface. And therein lies the beauty of the system. The core, non computing functions of this multimedia device are all accessed through six buttons, simple enough for anyone to use. I can certainly see how in short order, you’ll start seeing Macs as “all in ones” for an increasing number of space crunched people looking for a simple, elegant solution.

Flickr Tracking Cameras

If you go here, you can see which cameras are most popular with Flickr users. There are three categories – SLR (lead by the Rebel), P&S (dominated by Canon, but decreasing in overall percentage) and Camera phones (with the SE K800i as king, and overall percentage increasing).

At first I thought, this is cool, more people are going SLR (but then I noticed the other charts) and then it hit me, even though this is just showing a percentage of members using that class of device, it seems to me that the P&S market, like PDAs before them are likely to fall by the wayside to camera phones because of their ubiquity sooner rather than later. I’ve seen the prints from the SE K790 that a friend has and they are amazing (proving that it’s not always the hardware that is important). At my farewell, a friend was commenting that the best picture that was taken at a recent wedding he was at was one with a camera phone because it “was there” – following one of the two basic rules of photography – F8 and be there.

Ubergadget Improvements on the way

I’ve already mentioned the idea of a built in projector for cell phones, but TR this morning has another story about it and it seems that it’s going to be coming sooner than I thought. One of the limitations that they are facing right now is battery life as projecting will take about twice the power of talking – so that 3h talk time battery would only survive (maybe) 1.5h. Not too bad, but when you consider that cell batteries have been doing pretty good when it comes to improving their charge life, things are looking up for the idea of a built in projector.

Zune is certainly no boon

Well it seems that brown certainly isn’t the new white (How not to be an iPod) and that Apple’s got little more to worry about than losing time to giggling staffers and tech writers taking shots at MS’s re-enforced dorky image. Zune isn’t firing up the sales charts, it sits at Amazon’s 23rd position. For all it’s features, it’s just not user friendly and it’s absolutely limited by it’s DRM (Wired and again) that is even causing grief with Creative Commons songs. Though there are some that think that just because the Zune is being held against the iPod, that it is not looking so hot. Wired (again) quotes DVD Jon as saying that even though Zune’s got a few quirks, it’s not that bad.

With MS being the underdog again (first with the XBOX), there is likely going to be quite a bit of play for this story.

OK so I went a little link happy today.

Gmail Mobile app found!

Well I was finally able to download and install the GMail Mobile app for my phone (Nokia 6620) and after poking around a bit it seems like it’s a really slick solution. Almost enough for me to reconsider my thoughts on getting a Blackberry Pearl in the future.

The app is pretty quick to send and refresh message listings and though I haven’t tracked what the data rate is (to see if it’s faster/leaner than m.gmail.com). I’ll try to play with it some more over the weekend, but considering I only need/want to check my email on occasion while on the road, I think this is going to be the better solution for me.

One of the things that I would likely disable if I get a Blackberry is the continual email checking/push. In part because even though I am one of those connectivity junkies, I do make an effort to unplug now and again and I know that my family appreciates it when I do so as well. If I go Blackberry, I’ll probably disable at least the audible alert because I have a hunch that it will feed some manner of email addiction as I can see myself checking every few “whatevers” in addition to checking for txt messages.