Tag Archives: IOS (Apple)

I’m making my own slate/tablet (I’m not joking)

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

I’m tired of people talking about tablet/slate is the future of personal computing. I mean I’ve built my own PCs all this time so why don’t I start making my own slate if that is really the future?

Many people think iPad is the best tablet so far. I beg to differ. It’s probably the worst since it has no USB port, it does not use desktop OS, and it has no memory card slot. So you’re asking why does using a full-fledged desktop OS matters to me? Read on.

Before I go further, I’d like to tell you how important to have at least one USB port on a slate. Imagine this; we should already know by now that iPad in 2 versions; the 3G and non-3G. People with money would normally go for the best their money could buy. For poorly paid public servant like me, it’s just normal to opt for the cheaper one, which is in this case the non-3G one. Practically it’s cheaper to buy the non-3G and then plug my existing USB 3G modem (or even 3G-enabled phone) and I’m good to go. Besides, even if the slate does not have a memory card reader, I can always plug a USB card reader too, should there’s a need to do so. Not to mention the freedom to directly connect my other devices such as phones, digicam, mp3 player, etc. without the need of a PC as a mediator. It would also allow me to expand the built-in memory by plugging in USB flash drives. See how cool it is to have a USB port? The presence of USB ports on some Windows slates makes them the winner over iPad.

Talking about connectivity, the non-3G iPad would only benefit home users, provided that the house is equipped with wi-fi. Travelers and road warriors would be happy with the 3G version, but that’s it, they’re restricted to 3G only. Since many new ISPs have started rolling out WiMax services, even the 3G version of iPad is out of luck, as there is no way to plug in USB WiMax modem to it. That’s why I’d like to stress out that having USB port is as important as having the core of the tablet itself. Not only it allows the slate to have extra features, it may also doubles the existing features.

Now, into the OS as I promised earlier. I don’t mind if people prefer to put/use a specially developed mobile OS for tablets. However I can’t accept it if people think tablets must use mobile OS instead of desktop OS, citing issues like battery life, “overkill”, etc. I’m not really sure about the “overkill” part as I never think desktop OS is too much for a tablet, because even netbooks can accept them. However when it comes to battery life, actually it’s the goal of all desktop OS to become most power efficient and it doesn’t have to be for mobile OS only. Besides the battery life is usually determined by the CPU. That means even if the OS is power efficient, if the CPU is power-hungry then even a tablet with power-optimized mobile OS would have it’s battery juice drained in no time. For an analogy, imagine comparing a 3GHz Intel Pentium-powered PC with a 3GHz Intel Core-powered PC. Install both PCs with Windows 7 Ultimate and I’m pretty sure the latter would be the winner for consuming much lower power despite using the same OS.

For me, no matter how people want to push the usage of a mobile OS in a tablet, a tablet must be powerful enough to support at least Windows 7 in it, should there are people who want to use it in a tablet. People should not think that “a slate is a smartphone+ and it should have similar battery life to a smartphone”. It is a ridiculous idea to believe that way. Sure it’s welcomed to see a tablet that can run as long a smartphone does but it’s still pretty much unrealistic and just a wishful thinking. A tablet is good enough if it could run continuously (with 3G/wi-fi on) for 6-8 hours with single full charge.

Actually what you do with a tablet is all that matters, not the OS inside it. If tablet is really the future of personal computing then doesn’t that means it would need the OS of personal computing know to everybody (Windows/Linux/BSD/OSX/etc.)? Really most people have fallen victim to the illusion made by Apple that now they believe the reason iPad is popular is because of its OS. They’re totally wrong. iPad was popular because it was from the “new” Apple (Apple under Steve Jobs management). Just a matter of fact, everything that comes from Apple since the return of Steve Jobs would sell, no matter how feature-poor they are.

I believe people would still buy the iPad even if it was loaded with OSX instead of iOS. Likewise, I don’t think Fujitsu’s tablets would become as popular as the iPad too, even if they had some mobile OS pre-installed. After all, reputation helps a lot here. Many people don’t know the truth behind the OS selection for iPad. The initial plan was to use OSX but they had a hard time to re-scale OSX’s kernel for lower-powered mobile use. Therefore they went to recreating/redesigning the OS again, and that explains why the earlier versions of iOS were all “unfinished products”, rolled out prematurely to meet its users with no copy-paste, no multitasking, etc.

Talking about reputation, since I’m anime fan too, I’d like to touch a bit about anime as well. It was reputation and hype that helped popularized Panty & Stocking anime a while back. People have known GAINAX for a long time, and people have known them for their good works. However I bet P&S would be as popular as we know it today if the exact thing was made by some American cartoon studio or even by some Asian animation studio outside Japan. Instead it might have ended up being known as yet another cartoon with Powerpuff Girls style animation, and wouldn’t make it to either Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon but would be aired in the midnight adult slot in some US TV channels due to its dirty jokes. In other words, people who have fallen for P&S is just like those people who have fallen victim of the illusion created by Apple as I explained in earlier paragraph.


Justifying the iPhone

got the iPhone4 in my hand, finally (gonna put in on a stress... on Twitpic

Just a couple of days ago I was talking about my ‘genius’ friend who was about to get the iPhone 4. Well, it looks like I’m being the one to get it first before him though I never really planned for it before this. Yes, I’m now officially the owner of iPhone 4 (pictured above), but I have to say that ownership part is half-true, half-false.

It’s half-true (or half-false, depending on how you see it) because I paid half of the price while another half is paid by my girlfriend. In other words, I’m holding 1/2 share of the ownership, making me a co-owner of the iPhone 4. Actually it was my girlfriend who’s so passionate about getting it. She could have bought it herself but I somehow wanted to experience it myself when my girlfriend first mentioned about getting it thus I agreed to have a share on it. My first impression? Not that bad but not that great either.

Having the phone in my hand makes me wonder what if Apple didn’t make a smartphone but went for a ‘dumbphone’ instead? I bet nobody would buy it even if it is from Apple. Chances are the ‘dumbphone’ from Apple would be just another overpriced Nokia and won’t sell that way. So it’s quite makes sense for Apple to make it smartphone and on top of that to build the best smartphone possible to make it stand out from the rest of its rivals.

As usual Apple seems don’t mind selling their products with premium price but somehow with iPhone they used a modified formula. In order to make buyers feel like they are getting what they paid for Apple not only rely on the design but also adopting the latest and the best technology they could carry out on a phone. So what makes a cellphone a smartphone? Touchscreen alone is not enough. Many earlier smartphones already have it, except that most of them rely on stylus for the screen input and most of them are also geared for one-hand operation in order to compete with the traditional keypad operation. Apple thought giving a smartphone a multitouch capability for its screen would give it an edge over the rest of rivalling models but I personally think it’s a bad idea. Most people only use one hand for phone operation which is why it’s a phone, which also means most people wouldn’t bother to use the multitouch feature anyway. Therefore from Apple we get a phone with capacitive (multi-touch) screen and a few other whistles and bells.

Should a smartphone has capacitive display instead of resistive? Some might argue that a phone is bad if it requires more than a hand to operate it. Alright, iPhone is not a phone that needs both of your hand to work but because of it’s multitouch nature, it has extra functions and features that traditional touchscreen smartphones doesn’t have though I doubt not many people bother to use that feature anyway. Some other people might argue differently by saying there’s no point of getting a touchscreen smartphone if you’re only going to use one hand to operate it; better get a traditional keypad-type phones. For me I have to say the latter argument is weak because touchscreen offers an alternative to keypad input since writing is more natural, flexible and dynamic than typing. Speaking of writing, multitouch display isn’t as good as most people thought. For instance capacitive requires special kind of stylus if you want to write on the screen, unless you’re OK of doing so using only your finger gestures (which I prefer not to). Resistive allows virtually any tip of solid object to substitute the stylus if you lost it. I remember writing notes on iPaq PDA (anybody remember that?) using the tip of my necktie clip. Not to mention how I missed the Graffiti on the legacy Palm PDA series. It was fun and my only concern was the handwriting recognition algorithm although things keep improving each year which greatly reduced the error rate in the recognition. By the way I prefer the way Palm separated the Graffiti from the working display, because the stylus won’t get in our sight, although input on the screen works too. I also like the way Nintendo doing the similar thing on their mobile console, the N-DS where despite it adopted the dual-screen design, the user’s focus is emphasized on the upper screen while the lower, secondary display acts as a touchscreen interface for the stylus as part of the game controls. That’s why even if this iPhone 4 support some awesome 3D gaming, I won’t dedicate it for mobile gaming as how I did with my Nokia N-GAGE QD before, because I don’t like my gaming display disturbed or interfered by my fingers.

So does being the co-owner of iPhone 4 makes me more tolerant towards iProducts? Not a bit, in fact I still hate it. It took Apple three generations of iPhone before they could first came up with multitasking OS, despite the OS is a derivation of Apple’s desktop system counterpart. The only explanation I could think for this is the iPhone OS (predecessor of iOS 4), a mobile port of Mac OS X is not stable enough for multitasking (for your info, even the multitasking in Mac OS X itself took a very different approach than most other OS, which may be the culprit of why the OS initially is not suitable to be re-scaled for mobile device). I even heard there’s this issue about memory leakage or something like that, making multitasking in iPhone OS was not a good idea or almost impossible. I could say the previous iPhones are unfinished product because they’re preloaded with immature OS. Not to mention the arrogance of Apple of ignoring the current standards (eg. Flash). In my case I’m getting the iPhone 4 as a geek, not as a fanboy. This is just another hi-tech toy for me to play around, so I guess I’ll tinker around it a little more (and add some more troll in in the process).

And I don’t understand too why developers (both hardware and software) keep spoiling and favoring iProducts from time to time. It even irritates me more when they somehow has special unit or division to develop stuff specific for iProducts, as if iProducts are that important to the IT world. iProducts may be influential enough to control the tide and wind in the IT world but not jumping into the Apple bandwagon is not a bad thing either. I hope those developers didn’t doing so just because they think having Apple in their product support range is cool.