iPhone 3GS

Hardware encryption, voice synthesis, macro (10cm) photography, extensive voice control — and all the stuff everyone predicted. The macro photography is actually a very nice feature, since it makes the iPhone a pretty dandy scanner in a pinch. Voice control for the iPod is, for me, a bigger win than voice dialing — but then I don’t talk on the phone much. Voice synthesis I like because of one of my pet back-burner projects.

As for the stuff everyone predicted. The old iPhone 3G is now $99. The new 3GS has a compass, 3MP camera, autofocus lens, tap-to-focus, supports video, in-iPod video trimming, supports turn-by-turn navigation, 2-3x speed improvement, push support, 16/32 GB for $199/299 (and of course you need to commit to AT&T for two years).

If you’ve got an iPhone 3G, the new model will cost you $400 more ($599/$699). Ouch.

Stuff that didn’t seem to be there: more actual RAM on the iPhone, (Edit: correction, a German website accidentally revealed that the new iPhone does indeed have 256MB of RAM) background apps (does anyone really care?), 802.11n.

Available June 19th.

Three New Things, And One More (Of Course)

Just some quick reactions to the Macworld Expo announcements.

iTunes. Well, Apple didn’t announce a new Mac Mini with a 9400M GPU, and it didn’t announce a new bigger or cheaper or somehow more compelling AppleTV. And it didn’t announce any new iPods or iPhones. But the iTunes announcement is probably going to turn out to be more significant than anything else — see the second item:

  • New pricing model. $0.69, $0.99, or $1.29 per song. This is not “pay more for 256 kbps”, but allowing Music labels to charge more for new shiny stuff and less for back catalogue.
  • Everything is going to be DRM free. (8M songs now; 10M soon.) In other words, the recording industry idiots have finally gotten a clue.
  • iPhone can now download music over cellular networks (not just Wi-Fi).

It doesn’t say whether our existing purchases will be stripped of their DRM though. I hope that devil is in the details.

The 17″ Macbook Pro looks great. I won’t buy one. When I get a notebook I’ve learned that its single most compelling feature is being small. (As small as possible without becoming dysfunctional.) There’s a perfect MacBook for me already, and it’s the new MacBook Air (which Apple quietly upgraded to the nVidia 9400M sometime in the last couple of months). Oh, and the new 17″ MacBook Pro has a non-removable battery which, apparently, gives you 8h (if you don’t use the faster GPU), and has a 5y lifespan — 1000 charge cycles — but, as already mentioned, isn’t removable.

iWork ’09 looks very compelling. The key missing features appear to have all been added (except for automatic indexing in Pages and perhaps pivot options in Numbers). It would be nice if Apple released a Tables database component but I guess that would make Filemaker’s Bento look silly. Wait, it already looks silly.

I wonder why Apple didn’t try to integrate Google documents into iWork rather than or instead of doing iWork.com. Do they really expect iWork.com to become a major profit center? If not, why not simply leverage something very good that does much the same thing that happens to be something Google is doing as a loss leader. iWork.com could be great, but how much better than Google docs will it have to be to make up for not being free?

iLife ’09 looks equally compelling. I’m one of the people who happens to like iMovie ’08 (I think we’re the silent majority). If you want to create an actual movie, iMovie ’08 is hopeless (mainly owing to poor audio functionality), but then so is iMovie ’06 (for much the same reasons). For cutting together a bunch of footage into something halfway decent in nothing flat, iMovie ’09 looks like it will let us have our cake and eat it. If the face recognition stuff in iPhoto ’09 is halfway decent it will be a huge, huge feature. Music lessons in GarageBand seem like a killer feature, but it really depends on how well it’s done.

New MacBooks, Old Prices

Apple’s “failure” to deliver the rumored $899 MacBook (turns out the new $899 part was a new 24″ display) is the latest meme. I guess roughlydrafted.com will soon (if it doesn’t already) have an enormously long-winded “explanation” of why this is genius. I don’t think it’s genius or stupidity. It’s Apple.

Chances are that supplies of the new MacBooks will be a little slow to ramp up, so why not make some money off early adopters while getting the kinks out of the supply chain (and probably out of the product itself). Once everything is good to go, Apple drops the plastic MacBook altogether, speed-bumps the line, drops prices by $100, and releases a new low-end MacBook for $899 with crappy onboard graphics, and a new high-end 17″ MacBook Pro with the new chassis.

I just hope that at some point soon we see Nvidia chipsets in the Mac Mini.

Lenovo: We Don’t Get It

So here’s an ad for the Lenovo X300. I’ll wait here patiently while you watch it.

“No compromises.” Except for industrial design, screen, keyboard, and operating system. It does have features you always need on an airplane — like multiple USB ports and an optical drive. Oh wait, I use at most one USB device on my laptop except for at home (where I run it lid down with a Mac keyboard, which works as a USB hub because Apple isn’t retarded). And I avoid even putting CDs or DVDs in a laptop in transit to save battery power.

I don’t own an Air, and probably never will, but I understand exactly why some people would want one, oh and yeah, it’s still the top selling piece of hardware at apple.com/store (ahead of entire categories of other Macs).

Apple’s Aluminum Keyboard

I got one of Apple’s new keyboards because (1) it looks really nice (and goes with my Mac Pro in a way that the transparent white one did not) and (2) I wanted to decide what I thought of Apple’s little micro-usability efforts (e.g. the fractional delay required to activate the capslock).

So I love the keyboard but for some reason the function key equivalents aren’t working for me. So I look at the manual (WTF?!) and discover there’s a driver download (WTF2). And then I saw this:

OK, I’ve seen software bloat, but this is frickin’ ridiculous. (How is it that Microsoft’s mice work flawlessly in a Mac with no drivers — although you can install drivers if you want to remap buttons or whatever — but Apple somehow requires a download to support its own keyboard? Well, maybe they didn’t want to just give everyone the drivers because, you know, they’re 30 frickin megabytes.)

End exasperated rant.