Anyone who’s read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs knows the late Apple founder wasn’t a fan of Google, specifically its derivative Android OS. In fact, toward the end, Jobs pledged to “spend [his] last dying breath” and “every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank” to “destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.”
In a recent interview, Google CEO Larry Page tried to downplay the feud, claiming Jobs’s apparent venom was designed to inspire Apple’s employees, not to signal any serious intent to wage war with Google. But Walter Isaacson begs to differ.
Isaacson says Jobs meant every word of his threat, and that the fury behind it was genuine. The biographer told an audience at the Royal Institution last night that Google’s unoriginality hit close to home for Jobs, who was devastated when Microsoft ripped off his company’s graphical interface in ’80s, then rose to the top by licensing it “promiscuously.”
[iOS] is almost copied verbatim by Android. And then they license it around promiscuously. And then Android starts surpassing Apple in market share, and this totally infuriated him. It wasn’t a matter of money. He said, ‘You can’t pay me off, I’m here to destroy you.’
The online-gaming community sets the bar pretty low for membership, and that’s a problem for New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who feels online gaming is all too often a haven for convicted sex offenders. To cut down on the amount of creeps paling around with kids in cyberspace, Schneiderman’s office is teaming up with gaming bigwigs Microsoft, Disney, Apple, Blizzard, EA, Warner Bros., and Sony to ban known predators from gaming networks.
The initiative, dubbed Operation: Game Over, checks New York’s database of convicted sex offenders’ online identities, which they’re required to provide, against the membership of participating companies’ online networks. Matches are banned, and some 4,000 have already been purged to date.
“We must ensure online video game systems do not become a digital playground for dangerous predators,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “That means doing everything possible to block sex offenders from using gaming networks as a vehicle to prey on underage victims. I applaud all the companies participating in this first-of-its-kind initiative for taking online safety seriously and purging their networks of sex offenders. Together we are making the online community safer for our children, not allowing it to become a 21st century crime scene.”
Microsoft said it was only too happy to work with New York in eliminating sex predators.
Our partnership with the Office of the New York Attorney General helps further this cause. By leveraging the online identity information all registered sex offenders are required to provide, we are able to help reduce potentially harmful situations, We’re supportive of Attorney General Schneiderman’s efforts to make the Internet, including online gaming environments like Xbox LIVE, safer for everyone.
Yet another reason I’m glad I don’t use Facebook: The social network’s native apps for Android and iOS have glaring security holes that make their users susceptible to identity theft, according to Garth Wright, who develops apps for both platforms. Wright explained in a blog post that Facebook’s apps don’t encrypt users’ login information, leaving users vulnerable to attacks from hackers who could mine their credentials over a USB connection or through malicious apps.
Wright says a hacker just needs a user’s Facebook plist file, where that user’s settings are stored. With that, the hacker can copy a user’s settings to his device and gain complete access to that user’s account. Yikes.
Facebook, which has long been preparing for its initial public offering (IPO), has decided to hawk its shares through the Nasdaq exchange. The social network will trade under the ticker symbol “FB”, according to sources familiar with the matter. Rumors suggest that the company will go public next month.
Instagram shed its iOS exclusivity today. The popular photography app popped up on Android’s Google Play Store Tuesday, and according to the team behind it, not a moment too soon. The developer said nearly 430,000 Android users sought updates about Instagram in the past week.
Instagram for Android is available for free. Users need only have Android 2.2 (Froyo) or better.
With features like LTE connectivity, ultra-high-resolution displays, and laptop-like processing power, tablets have made their way into tens of millions of homes, and they’ve done it seemingly overnight. But despite popularity that borders on ubiquity and specs that edge them ever closer to desktops, it’s a rare house where a tablet has replaced a full-fledged computer. Why is that? Why haven’t more people scrapped their PCs for the sleeker, cheaper tablets?
The simplest answer is that tablets aren’t yet designed to take on their bigger cousins. Others suggest the newness of slates is partially to blame, but considering how they’ve outsold PCs recently, frankly, that’s crap. If they had the chops, they’d rule the roost in many households. Their low cost and extreme convenience would see to that. So what’s missing? What would it take for tablets to graduate from their supporting roles and assume starring ones. To my mind, three things.
Touchscreens come in countless shapes and sizes, but at the end of the day, they fall into two basic camps: those with multi-touch, and those without. Those without, like ATMs or the display in my 5-year-old car, feel clunky and antiquated. They’re often a pain to deal with. The multi-touch variety, on the other hand, is a pleasure to interact with. The ability to swipe, pinch, zoom, and rotate content in an intuitive fashion has been nothing short of a game-changing, especially for tablets. Apple said it makes users feel as if they’re “touching the Internet”. That’s a bit hyperbolic, but it’s true that manipulating a well-sorted touchscreen is more intimate than any keyboard and mouse combination. But that’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement. Touchscreens lack two critical features.
The first is haptic feedback, and it’s not a new concept. We’ve seen crude versions in the past, mostly in the form of phones that respond to user inputs with slight vibrations. But that only scratches the surface of what could and should be done with technology that’s been largely brushed aside as a parlor trick. Imagine, for instance, playing Angry Birds and actually feeling the tension in the slingshot, or drawing with a stylus in Paper and forgetting that you’re not handling a real pen or marking up real paper. Haptic feedback could even recreate the sensation of typing on a physical keyboard, and as any writer will tell you, that’s critical to a decent word-processing experience. In short, it could add another dimension to tablets, one that’s necessary to suspend users’ disbelief and convince them that their synthetic experiences are as real and rewarding as their real-life counterparts.
Apple seems to grasp how valuable that is. Ahead of the new iPad’s launch, rumors swirled that the company had paired up with Senseg, one of the foremost experts on haptic feedback. The rumor was fueled by Apple’s cryptic (it turned out to be literal) hint that it had something that needed to be seen and touched, and while haptic feedback wasn’t what it had in mind, patents have since emerged that reveal the company’s interest in rolling out feedback technology on its iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches.
But I told you touchscreens are in need of two innovations, and that’s just one. The other applies to something that doesn’t occur to most consumers, probably because it’s not something many manufacturers tout, but whether or not they realize it, it affects the immersiveness of their experience just the same. I’m talking about response time. As is, the average touchscreen’s response time, or the time it takes the screen to register a user’s inputs, is 100 milliseconds. That might not seem like a long time, and outside of computers, it isn’t. But when you’re tracing your finger over a touchscreen as you would in, say, Draw Something, that fraction of a second can feel positively glacial, and it’s enough to remind users that although their tablets mimic many real-life activities, like putting pen to paper, they’re a far, electronic cry from the real thing. Not only that, they literally lag behind keyboards, which have an average response time of just 8 to 10 milliseconds.
If touchscreens were to equal or better that mark, and let’s face it, they have to if tablets are to have any hope of replacing their big brothers, users could more easily forget all the processes standing between their inputs and their devices’ reactions, and tablets would be more attractive for it. And such an innovation isn’t far off. Microsoft’s Applied Sciences Group, for instance, recently showed off a touchscreen with a lightning-fast response time of 1 millisecond — 100 times faster than your run-of-the-mill slate’s screen.
A split personality
The third hurdle tablets have to clear on their way to credibility is arguably the biggest: the watered-down experience. As far as tablets have come, and as many apps as developers have added to their growing arsenals, they still pale in comparison to the versatility of the average Mac or PC, mostly because they were conceived with the casualest of intentions. Now, I’m not suggesting they turn their backs on those roots and adopt cumbersome desktop operating systems. That would be about as effective as a shot in the foot for devices that pride themselves on user friendliness. And besides, it’s been done, on the first tablets, and those weren’t exactly success stories.
Rather, any tablet with a prayer of replacing a computer that’s not covered in cobwebs needs to pull double duty; it needs to offer users the option of a bells-and-whistles operating system while preserving the simplicity that made it attractive in the first place. OnLive Desktop, an app that streams Windows 7 programs to Android and iOS slates, nearly delivers the missing half of that equation, but it’s dependent on an Internet connection, and those aren’t always available. Microsoft’s answer, on the other hand, won’t come and go with tablets’ connectivity. The company’s upcoming Windows 8 tablets will greet users with a beautiful, mobile-friendly Metro UI, but when those users demand a more complete experience — when productivity’s on the agenda, for example — the tablets will happily serve up Windows 7, too. And here’s the takeaway: When Windows 8 tablets are docked, they’ll function as full-featured laptops. I’d expound on the implications of that, but I think they’re obvious.
The beauty of this wish list is it isn’t far-fetched. Each of these innovations is in the pipeline at some stage or another, and I’d wager they’ll come together on a tablet in the not-too-distant future. But as capable as that device will be, with specs that are sure to satisfy all but the most demanding users, its inroads into PCs won’t be automatic. Like laptops before it, it’ll be up against two things: PCs, and the idea that it’s nothing more than a luxury device.
ChangeWay Research posted the results of a survey today that polled iPad 3 owners on their satisfaction. According to the results of that survey, 98 percent of the 200 respondents are satisfied with their new tablets. Specifically, 82 percent are very satisfied, 16 percent are somewhat satisfied, and 2 percent are “somewhat satisfied.”
Interestingly, 89 percent of those polled said the new iPad’s tendency to run hotter than its predecessors isn’t an issue. In respondents’ eyes, the biggest plus of the new iPad is its Retina display, followed by longer battery life, and 4G LTE connectivity. The biggest complaints included the cost of the iPad itself as well as the cost of the data plans.