Mac|Life’s concept iDesk seems plausible and very expensive. In their concept, Mac|Life images a desk with a multitouch display and bluetooth connectivity. Phones, laptops, and other devices when placed on the desk can have their data accessed and transferred though on desk icons.
It’s a striking design, having your desk be one giant interactive flat panel display. The technology to do this certainly seems ready. Giant retina displays, and multitouch controls exist. (Well retina displays exist, scaling them up to 6 feet by 4 feet, maybe not.) The real problem seems to be more of software rather than hardware. You don’t even really need one display like that. Simply more intuitive graphical and tactile syncing with current separate displays would be nice. I imagine transferring documents from desktop or laptop computer to a tablet by touching the screen displaying the document with spread open fingertips, making a fist (think grabbing) and then touching the screen of the destination device. Of course thinking of local device storage is so 20th century. Everything is going cloud with continuous syncing.
I took my laptop to the Apple Store to get it repaired. (The keyboard doesn’t work.) After explaining to the guy at the store, he starts taking down my contact info. When he’s done, he says. “And what’s your username and password? Don’t worry. Your data is safe.”
Aghast, I say “But my data is NOT safe if I give you my password!*”
“Can’t you just boot off an external drive or something?”
“Well, umm… yeah, but this is how that prefer we do it.”
Sure enough, the Apple form has blanks for username and password.
In the end, I gave them Ming’s password, because really it didn’t matter. I was giving a perfect stranger an unencrypted drive. It does make me think though. After decades of telling users not to share they’re passwords. Not to give them to people saying they’re from IT. Not to trust anyone with your password, Apple is undoing this as part of standard operating procedure. Or maybe I’m just old, and I’m supposed to think of Apple as a parent.†
* Yes, I recognized the naivete of believing a simple password provided adequate security in this situation.
†My parents never read my stuff. I see no reason to read my child’s.
iTunes 10 sucks. There. I said it. I find it infuriatingly difficult to use compared to iTunes 9, for two very simple reasons. First, Apple has once again decided to take a page out of the Linux book, and no longer have all the applications look the same. When MacOSX came out, there were two themes: aqua and metal. This sucked, because quite often if you had two different applications open simultaneously, the user would see two windows that looked very different. It was depressing, and made your desktop look like amateur hour at a Linux User Group meeting. After eight years, and the release of Leopard (MacOSX 10.5), windows finally looked uniform. Well, until “Pro” or whatever Apple is calling the Aperture toolkit theme, came out.
With iTunes 10, Apple has embraced the notion, that for some reason, media players don’t have to look like other applications. (Personally, I blame WinAmp for starting this.) Apple moved the max-min-close buttons for reason. I have no idea why they would do this. It kills all muscle memory on how to use the window manager.
The second thing that makes iTunes 10 needlessly difficult to use, is the purging of all color from the interface. Why? I’m not color blind, why should I be forced to act like I am? The use of color for the sidebar icons made distinguishing among playlist types, libraries, and the like easy, since each icon had one predominant color. Now I have to stare at identically colored, and similarly shaped icons, to find what I want. Again, I have no idea why would do this. This is clearly a step backwards in usability. Seriously, check out this screenshot of iTunes 9, and try to tell me this is worse than iTunes 10.
Don’t even get me started on using the music player to purchase a book and sync it to my tablet.
(Can we just kill “iTunes” and replace it with a new “iMedia”, Steve-O?)
Vinyl stickers for MacBooks isn’t new. Etsy lists 1075 results. Of course many of them aren’t that good, but I do like the ones that integrate the laser cut apple in a clever way, like Moses on the Mount from above.
A while back, I thought about laser etching my laptop. I thought about placing the apple in the center of the Aztec calendar. Ultimately, I decided against it because there just isn’t enough room to really show what the motif is.
I played with an iPad for a few minutes at Red Rock in Mountain View, and since everyone else to talking about it, I might as well too.
It’s a big wireless touch screen display. That’s how you have to think of it. It’s not a “big iPod Touch,” anymore than an SUV is just a big Chevette. Big isn’t just better, it’s different.
It’s not a replacement for the laptop or the desktop, since you can’t type long on it. It’s an addition. It’s for when you want to browse the Internet, and a laptop is too much. It’s for when you want to lookup something on IMDB while watching television. It’s for reading PDFs or finishing tweaking a presentation on a plane. It’s a device a for consumption, not creation. As commenter BadUncle put it on the Awl, “Steve Jobs has reinvented the clipboard.” (An iPad would have been perfect for all the years I helped my dad do end of year paint inventory.)
Do I want one? I’m kind of ambivalent about it. I’d use one if I was given one, but I can’t imagine using it enough to be worth $500. It’s a toy. It’s a better looking Chumby.
Does it foretell a dystopian future of locked down computers? Maybe. I can see the AppStore model being expanded into the traditional software market, and I really really do not like the AppStore. I don’t have a problem with the existence of the store. It provides a list of apps to download. I even don’t have a problem with Apple vetting the apps in the store. That’s useful for users. These apps are safe. Fine. What I don’t like is that there’s no other way to distribute applications for the iPhone and iPad except through the AppStore. That’s what really bugs me. That and the hypocritical and schizophrenic application of Apple’s rules, and that if AT&T or some other “strategic partner” doesn’t like your app, you’re shutdown. That’s telling me and my users how to use our machines. No one has that right.
So in conclusion, I give it a warm maybe.