Monthly Archives: February 2012

re: Speculation on the Microsoft Office for iPad Rumor

MG Siegler says:

But what if we all missed something obvious going on here? What if Microsoft was being so cagey — and maybe even disingenuous — for a very real reason? What if they don’t want to spoil a very big surprise set for a certain Apple event taking place in a couple weeks? […]

It’s very clear at this point that Apple and Microsoft both hate Google far more than they hate one another. And both sides seem willing to do whatever it takes to destroy Android. What if Microsoft is planning to do Office for tablets as an exclusive for the iPad (until the Windows 8 tablets come out, of course), while totally shafting Android?

And then Gruber says:

I agree that would be a pretty big deal. And I can see why Microsoft would agree to it. If they’re going to do Office for iPad, and they’re near completion, why not accept a spot in Apple’s iPad 3 announcement keynote to promote it?

But what would be in it for Apple to offer such a spot to Microsoft? You can argue that the iPad with Office available is an even more attractive platform/device than the iPad as it stands today, sans Office. But why share the spotlight with Microsoft? Apple doesn’t need to. The only other tablet computer with any traction in the market is the Kindle Fire — and the Fire is not competing at all in the business productivity market that Office for iPad would target. Android tablets don’t need to be shot down — they still haven’t gotten off the ground. Why give credence and attention to Microsoft in a market where so far Microsoft has had no success?

I’m not saying it’s impossible, but if Microsoft does get a demo slot on stage during the iPad 3 keynote, Microsoft would be getting much more out of it than Apple.

The benefit to Apple would not be to sell more iPads than Android tablets, but to sell more iPads. iPad sales are doing spectacularly, but how many businesses are going to buy a new fleet of iPad 3s or renew their commitment to the iPad as a business platform after seeing a demo of Office for iPad? Apple will continue to make iOS an enterprise-friendly platform and mobile device management tools like Lion Server and the Casper Suite by JAMF are making it easier and easier to centrally manage hundred or thousands of iOS devices and Macs.

MS Office on iOS would catapult Apple even further into the lead and allow iOS to become deeply embedded in the corporate world before Google can hope to catch up on features. Why share the spotlight with Microsoft? Because in an enterprise environment, the name Microsoft still carries a lot of weight. A partnership between Apple and Microsoft in this area will allow iOS (and hopefully OS X as a consequence) to succeed while holding a secure place for Microsoft’s flagship product.

BrightBus for Champaign Mass Transit updated to v2.0

When I was in undergrad at the University of Illinois, there really wasn’t a good way to check on bus schedules while away from your computer. You could text for updates if you knew the numeric code for the stop you wanted (assuming you know which stop you wanted in the first place) and the mobile site loaded incredibly slowly if at all. When BrightBus came out I was extremely excited and after a long wait, the folks at TwoCentStudios have released a major update for the app.

The major features seem to stem from CUMTD’s new STOPwatch API. STOPwatch is the excellent service that for the last several years has let you track you bus from the CUMTD website. In general, the app makes it incredibly simple to find a stop based on your current location or by searching for an intersection and to track the wait times for each bus.

If you had BrightBus 1 installed, the first thing you’ll need to do after launching your app is to transfer your favorite stops. You will be shown a list of your old favorites and asked to select, based on the save intersection, which exact stop you want to track (i.e. from which corner you’ll be boarding the bus). Once you’ve selected your stop, just tap the star to save it.

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Next you’ll come to the main page where you see a list of your favorite stops and the option to search for new ones. Tapping the saved stop will show you a list of the buses expected to arrive in the next hour and their wait times. Careful, the wait times don’t update live, so you’ll need to back out and tap the stop again to refresh the list.

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To search for a new stop, tap the Stop Search tab at the bottom of your screen and enter an intersection or a stop name (like Transit Plaza). Find your stop in the list or tap the map icon in the upper-right corner to select it from a map view. You’ll be shown a list of pickup locations for that stop and a map showing their relative location. Pick where you want to board and you’ll see the incoming bus list. If you want to save that stop for later, just tap the star.

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I think my favorite features of BrightBus 2 is the location-based search. While in the Stop Search tab, tap the location icon in the top left and you’ll be presented with a map that shows all the stops in your general area.

If you live in Urbana-Champaign and use the bus system, this app is definitely worth having as it will undoubtably save you some worry and hassle. There’s a special introductory price of $1.99 so I recommend picking it up now in case the developers raise the price later. The one major missing feature is the ability to enter a starting and stopping point and plot out a route. This may be a limitation of the STOPwatch API, but you’ll still need to use cumtd.com if you’re not sure which bus you’ll need to get your where you’re going.

::EDIT:: If you’re at Ohio State, there’s a BrightBus app for your school that is probably worth checking out also.

A humble suggestion for the sandboxing problem

If you follow Apple news, you are probably aware of the coming requirement for apps in the Mac App Store to implement sandboxing. The short version of the story is that Apple is going to require apps to operate in a sandbox (as they do on iOS) which keeps applications from messing with other parts of your system. This is a good security measure, but could potentially cripple certain apps which rely on the ability to (responsibly) mess with other parts of your system in order to do their job.

I’m not a programmer, but it seems like sandboxing is a good default for an application to start with unless there’s a legitimate reason for it not to be sandboxed. I wonder though, if there aren’t solutions for maintaining the functionality of an app despite it being sandboxed. Several apps pull tricks on iOS to get around the restrictions.

Take Pastebot for example, it uses the copy/paste function to capture everything that goes to your iOS clipboard for a certain amount of time after having the app open. It also has a companion app that runs in the background of your Mac which allows copy/paste functionality between the Mac and your phone.

I wonder if similar background apps could extend the functionally of a sandboxed app. So you could put your app in the App Store and have users install a little background app from your website that would talk to your app and restore the functionality you have to remove in order to meet Apple’s guidelines.

Again, I’m not a programmer and I don’t know how practical this would be.

Media distributers suck at distributing media

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re: “Give us convenient content at a reasonable price, and we’ll buy it.

I still think a large part of the perceived piracy problem would be solved if media distributers could, I don’t know, distribute media better than pirates.

Game of Thrones costs $39 for the season, but isn’t available yet. How many people do you think would have purchased it legally instead of resorting to piracy if it had been available as soon as the season ended?

Even better, what if each episode were available for download immediately after it aired for the first time? Worried about cutting into your subscription revenue? I can subscribe to HBO for $10/mo (and then $24 after the first year, but usually it’s not hard to get cable companies to give you a new “introductory deal” every year. So basically, you need three single-season purchases to make up for one person not subscribing to your entire network for a year. I don’t think that would be too hard to come by if purchasing a season were as easy as clicking a button in iTunes.

iCloud Storage in Mountain Lion

★ Mountain Lion:

iCloud document storage, and the biggest change to Open and Save dialog boxes in the 28-year history of the Mac. Mac App Store apps effectively have two modes for opening/saving documents: iCloud or the traditional local hierarchical file system. The traditional way is mostly unchanged from Lion (and, really, from all previous versions of Mac OS X). The iCloud way is visually distinctive: it looks like the iPad springboard — linen background, iOS-style one-level-only drag-one-on-top-of-another-to-create-one “folders”. It’s not a replacement of traditional Mac file management and organization. It’s a radically simplified alternative.

(Via Daring Fireball)