AMITIAE - Thursday 3 July 2014
Cassandra: A Look at the Potential Behind Recent Apple Developments and Changes
By Graham K. Rogers
The next set of quarterly figures are due to be announced 22 July 2014 and there is a live webcast starting at 14:00 Cupertino Time (after the Wall Street markets are closed). If my Widget clocks in Dashboard are right, that is 02:00 here, so I will read the reports in the morning.
Perhaps as a result of the excellent results last time out, which embarrassed many of the so-called Wall Street experts who had talked Apple down quarter after quarter, the comments so far have been quite mild. I can find nothing from Trip Chowdry ("If There's No iWatch in 60 Days, Apple Is Doomed", "Tim Cook Should Be Replaced by Jon Rubenstein") or Rob Enderle, both of whom are normally infuriatingly entertaining. There are predictions of around 38 million iPhones. As I write this, the Apple stock price is down slightly at $93.40 (and rising).
An announcement at last month's WWDC concerning healthcare apps for iOS devices, made a lot of people sit up, as this would (the theory goes) fit perfectly with a wearable device. Note the terminology: "iWatch" is no longer used. I can't help thinking everyone is looking in the wrong direction and of course Apple has said nothing to redirect them. Cupertino knows what a watch is.
They are aware that there are many others already in the market. Some companies have been making watches for hundreds of years, although recently the use of digital technology has given some more technically-slanted companies varying degrees of success, including Samsung; and what has been described as a lackluster effort from Google (Jay Yarow, BusinesssInsider). Apple must better these.
I almost choked when I found myself agreeing with Rocco Pendola about the potential sales of such a device, if it is a watch. I have not worn a wristwatch for years, although I do have pocket watch.
There are many like me who have no desire to wear a wrist-watch and such a market is closed to Apple: at least for the moment. What the wearable device is, or what it does, and how it does it, are mysteries for now - despite the many comments from those who would claim to be authoritative. I doubt that Apple is gambling with the family silver here.
Currently, like iOS devices, the Wi-Fi on the AppleTV is limited to the IEEE 802.11g standard, while Apple's Airport Extreme Router is 802.11n capable, as are the latest Macs (including the MacPro).
I commented last year when the router was first released that these faster in-house speeds were a signpost to the ways in which Apple would be able to increase connectivity, although at the time I was thinking in terms of iOS devices, AppleTV and Macs.
While there are already some home devices that can be put online and there are several projects in the pipeline to advance this "internet of things", HomeKit was an attempt to create a standard, in a similar way to the rules that control app developers. Likewise, the advances being made to connect devices using iBeacons, reflect the new ways in which users will connect with devices, systems and interact.
Coupled with this potential increase in the use of Wi-Fi in the home and office, Denis Sellers on Apple Daily Report theorises on what a new patent granted to Apple: "a system for presenting media content that includes a media server configured to provide media content and a media client configured to obtain the media content from the media server and to present the media content on a device." He wonders if this is the home iMedia server he has written about before. Perhaps SkyNet begins in the home.
That release was perfectly timed for the annual Back to School promotions in Europe and North America (ends 9 September), so we may not expect any more major hardware updates or releases until mid-September, which is when the major software releases are expected to be available.
With development for iOS 8 and OS X 10.10, Yosemite, well under way, some writers are beginning to offer descriptions of what the two new versions will provide users. One of these is the Handoff system: start work on a Mac and continue on an iOS device (and vice versa).
Bluetooth allows the device to be recognised as friendly, then data transfers and synchronisation occur over Wi-Fi. It is going to take a while for some other software companies to catch up, if they can.
For a long time, Apple has been able to provide an experience that integrates devices, whether it it Mac to Mac, Mac to iOS or iOS to iOS. The plus point is that this has been done with no sacrifices made to security: another reason to extoll and not criticise the walled garden.
Now, however, it appears that the basic technology used for the Handoff can be extended. Jack Purcher on Patently Apple reports on the granting to Apple of a patent that changes the levels of security and authentication, depending on the user's location. There are also comments on this from Mikey Campbell on AppleInsider.
The Mac already has a rudimentary setup with its Locations (set up in System Preferences > Networking) in which the user enters details of connections for specific locations. In my case, I have Home, Work and Out & About: the last being settings that I can play about with when travelling, that avoid the need to upset my more permanent links, with their passwords and proxy data.
This was also related to the iOS and OS X updates and in this house there is much disappointment over Aperture. When Craig Federighi demonstrated Photo on iOS and the Mac, my initial reaction was, "That's nice". This appeared to be a consolidated photo manipulation application that used iCloud to synchronise images as they were altered in realtime.
The reality on this side of the world may introduce a certain delay between action and update, but the idea itself is solid, building as it does on Apple's increasing use of cloud systems. We saw this, for example, with clunky iWork updates between devices, that have become far smoother with the arrival of iWork for iCloud
I was able to capitalise on this with occasional uploads from my DSLR camera to the iPad using the Apple Camera Kit. More recently, I improved on this with the use of an Eye-Fi SD card that transfers JPG images to the iPhone, so that higher quality shots were available for me to use on the street, and have these waiting for me in Aperture when I came home (at least once I turned on the Wi-Fi), via PhotoStream. Once home, I would also transfer the RAW images and dump the unused JPG files. This integration of technologies - Apple and Eye-Fi - allowed me a considerable amount of flexibility.
But that is what I expect from the Macs and the iOS devices I use.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.
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