Hi! My name is Cédric Bozzi, I make websites and iOS apps, and this is my blog about technology (mostly a Twitter archive, really).

10 June 2009

Unstevenote 2009.06

Well, that’s the second time Apple schedules a keynote just as I’m in Smallville celebrating a birthday in the family, and… once again, I wasn’t missing much.

 

MacBooks

Nothing much to say here, except that the laptop range finally makes sense again; also, I want one of each. Damn, the MacBook Air is available for 1,400 euros.

MacBidouille has an interesting theory that they’re adding the ‘Pro’ label to save face while putting Firewire back, and they’re keeping the plastic MacBook alive because of the economic crisis — but I think I have a simpler version of events: Apple engineered the aluminum 13-incher, and were very happy with it, but they never managed to lower the costs enough to reach the $999 price point, so they kept the white model alive and either didn’t think to name the aluminum one ‘Pro’ because that wasn’t the original plan, or didn’t want to because they thought it would be temporary; and either they still couldn’t get it down to $999 now, or they realized a bit late that there was nothing wrong and everything right with having both a MacBook and a MacBook Pro at this end of the line.

As for Firewire, I think it could just as well be completely unrelated. Apple has learned to fix mistakes these past two years; they’ve done that several times on the iPhone. (And they just did with Safari.) Besides, regardless of strategy or pettiness or whatever, it’s just great news that Apple has heard the complaints and will now leave Firewire alone for a little while. Let’s just celebrate.

 

Snow Leopard

We already knew almost all of it, and I’m not going to get very excited anyway because I’m not eligible (unless I gut both my iMac G5 and Intel mini and make a single FrankenIntel out of them).

I like that Exposé is finally more structured; funny that, for all of the (classless) digging at Windows in the keynote, the Exposé-from-the-Dock feature is just about lifted from Seven (or is it Vista).

The price is a tad lower than it could have been, which is nice, but I’m a little sad that Apple now starts selling OS X upgrades that check what system was previously installed. Welcome to Microsoft’s world, where you have to install the previous OS again if you’re going to reinstall from scratch on a new hard drive. Sure, it’s not as horrible when it’s OS X’s almost one-click install, but as a matter of principle it’s just the end of an era. And who’s going to buy the Tiger-to-Snow upgrade anyway?

 

Safari 4

Who woulda thunk that Apple was equipped to listen and react to the complaints of beta testers? Personally, I’d rather they hadn’t, because I didn’t mind the tabs at the top and, more importantly, the slightly redesigned tab bar is just fugly (the bottom of the active tab looks like it’s been chopped off), but the public had spoken loudly and clearly.

The new loading spinner is pretty — I’m choosing to assume that Apple had some kind of a reason for going from a progress bar to an undeterminate spinner, and couldn’t or wouldn’t undo that — but I’m not sure about the way it changes colors to become more subdued once most of the page is displayed; isn’t it just as important at this point to know that there’s still something loading? In fact, it mostly depends on what Safari means exactly when the Loading bar turns gray; page loading is too fast for me to investigate what the criteria are, and what might still be loading at that point, but, if the Loading goes from blue to gray as scripts are still loading — or if it does before the <body onload> is triggered, and that’s likely — then I’d consider it a mistake, because on some pages that’s when you’re most going to need to know that loading isn’t quite finished.

 

iPhone 3.0

Once again, we knew almost all about it; and the reason I’m most impatient to see it released is that I want to see if my gay chat app is finally approved once parental controls are live.

I find it hilarious that tethering and MMS will not be available right away on AT&T; I’m not sure whether it’s been rumored or announced, but everybody’s talking about a 30-euro “unlimited” data plan for France, and that doesn’t seem half-bad — another thing that makes me pine for an Air. I like that it can work either over Bluetooth or USB; I don’t like so much that it’s going through iTunes, but I’ve come to accept that the iTunes department of Apple is a metastized tumor eating all of the company from the inside and you’ll soon — oh, wait, I just realized that Snow Leopard lets you edit and upload video in QuickTime X rather than in iTunes. Amazing.

 

iPhone 3G S

I cannot imagine that Steve Jobs signed off on that name. Sure, they had painted themselves into a corner when they called the previous generation “3G” but… “3G S”? That’s the most cumbersome product denomination Apple has had since Jobs came back — and it just happens to be introduced while he’s away?

“Pro” could have been the opposite of “Home” or “Fun” or whatever; but would you mind telling me what “iPhone Speed” is the opposite of, and how on earth is Apple okay with calling last-year’s model utterly non-speedy while still selling it as an entry model? How was “iPhone Video” not a better choice?

On the flip side, that leaves “iPhone Pro” available for an upcoming device with a physical keyboard. It certainly doesn’t imply that they do intend to launch one, but I’d say it does mean they are working on prototypes, and haven’t yet decided to completely shut that option down.

Stupid name aside, I want this thing (obviously). I’m really curious to see how Apple is going to manage having one App Store serving too devices with vastly different performance (poorly, probably), and I like the implication that the existence of “oleophobic screens” has on the possibility of touch-screen Mac laptops and desktops.

I can’t wait to try the camera and see how well that autofocus works; from where I’m standing, it sounds absurd that, according to what I read, your selected focus point is also used to determine white balance and exposure. Unless Apple assumes that you’ll always focus on people’s faces, it seems much worse to me than just using the whole frame. I also want to see the video capture and editing app for myself; and I can’t really believe that they couldn’t have added voice command on OS 3.0 for all phones. With autofocus photo and video capture, it seems to me Apple didn’t need to pad out the 3G S’s appeal by restricting voice command to the new model, but I’m not the one paying their bills.

Speaking of, it’s funny how many people seemed to expect that Apple and carriers would forever offer unmissable bargains for iPhone users to upgrade their phone each year. Guess it didn’t stick in people’s minds that last year was an exception, and network providers had great incentive to subsidize the new devices, because it let them get out of the original contract that gave Apple a share of the subscription revenue; Orange hasn’t announced its plans yet, but I don’t expect to be able to afford a 3G S very soon, as much as I’d want to. (And kinda need to, actually, because I need to make sure my applications work with it. Ooh, that’s a nice excuse.)

The worst part is that France has broken the exclusivity deal with Orange, so that I can’t even sell my old 3G unlocked to someone who’s stuck with another carrier — or at least not at any price that would make it painless for me to upgrade.

I knew that would happen; many people chose to hope against reason. Welcome to the world of smartphones.

 

One More Thing

Well, now… how about that rumor that Apple was saving a major announcement for Steve Jobs to announce in a keynote when he returns? This week, Apple certainly did announce everything that was expected of them, and nothing more; they sure could have saved something big for the end of the month.

Or, you know, maybe we just had another one in a growing number of unventful Apple keynotes.

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