At Steve Jobs’ 2007 WWDC Keynote, the iPhone Barely Worked

Steve Jobs’ 2007 WWDC keynote is a must-watch for several reasons. First, it was when Jobs introduced the very first iPhone, changing the mobile devices and personal computing industries forever and setting Apple on path to becoming one of the most valuable and powerful companies in the world. Second, it’s Jobs at his absolute keynoting best: a fun, flawless product demo that ultimately delivered on nearly every promise. (Yep, the technology really was five years ahead of everyone else.) Even today, nearly seven years after the fact, it makes for compelling viewing.

It’s even more fun now that we know more about the story behind the demo. In Friday’s New York Times, Fred Vogelstein publishes an interview with Andy Grignon, a former Apple engineer in charge of iPhone connectivity (cellphone radios, Bluetooth, Wifi). And on the eve of Jobs’ now-famous iPhone demo, Grignon wasn’t feeling very good about the infant product:

It’s hard to overstate the gamble Jobs took when he decided to unveil the iPhone back in January 2007. Not only was he introducing a new kind of phone — something Apple had never made before — he was doing so with a prototype that barely worked. Even though the iPhone wouldn’t go on sale for another six months, he wanted the world to want one right then. In truth, the list of things that still needed to be done was enormous. A production line had yet to be set up. Only about a hundred iPhones even existed, all of them of varying quality. Some had noticeable gaps between the screen and the plastic edge; others had scuff marks on the screen. And the software that ran the phone was full of bugs.

The iPhone could play a section of a song or a video, but it couldn’t play an entire clip reliably without crashing. It worked fine if you sent an e-mail and then surfed the Web. If you did those things in reverse, however, it might not. Hours of trial and error had helped the iPhone team develop what engineers called “the golden path,” a specific set of tasks, performed in a specific way and order, that made the phone look as if it worked.

I’d be lying if I said my stomach wasn’t in knots reading this story. Awesome ending, though. Read the whole thing then watch the keynote again. Unbelievable.


iOS7 Panic


You’re blowin’ my mind, man.

From Joel Housman, a front-end web developer and iOS developer, on his personal blog, on the coming “freak out” about the radically new design of iOS7, which hits iPhones and iPads sometime this fall:

Now imagine what is going to happen when they see iOS 7 for the first time after having had iPhones for 2-4 years already. We all know that people hate change. But these people in particular, really hate change. They are not technically savvy and have a difficult time learning/getting used to the technology they do have. Remember the loud, public freakout every time Facebook does yet another massive UI overhaul. If like me, you rarely use Facebook and don’t really remember it – trust me, it happens.

Consumer Reports will probably write a mostly positive review, but wont miss the opportunity to concern trollsomewhere in the middle about Apple’s changes in iOS 7. CNN, MSNBC, Fox, NBC, ABC, and CBS’s token mainstream “tech” reporters will write articles pretending to care about the new phone and iOS 7, citing “concerns” about Apple’s new design.

This is entirely right and completely predictable. My first thought watching the WWDC keynote was my mom, innocently updating her 4S and getting … this. There’s going to be a learning curve for a lot of folks.

Also: If you’ve not been paying attention to what the kidz are wearing today, you can look no further than iOS7. Go to the Gap. Those colors are everywhere.

My Look at Google Glass with Brant Collins

Google Glass

Google Glass, perched atop its little gray case.

Is it the future, or a Segway for your face? That’s the central question regarding Google Glass, the Internet-connected glasses with heads-up display, Wifi, Bluetooth and the ability to shoot high-definition video and photos and share them instantly with the world. Thanks to Brant Collins of Stations X of Little Rock, I was able to see Glass up close in this video for Arkansas Business.

As you can see, the video and photo quality are surprising great, and device’s potential uses has early adopters like Collins thinking of myriad ways to use Glass in business, technology, health care and more. Click here for my up-close look at Google Glass, or hit “continue reading” below and watch the video here.

Continue reading

Enhance! Enhance! Zoom! Enhance!

This ain’t “CSI.” NPR this morning on how investigators use technology to sift through digital photos and video for evidence in cases like the Boston Marathon bombing:

In the nearly 17 years since Atlanta’s Olympic Park bombing, technology has transformed how large-scale investigations can work. Federal officials in Boston reportedly sifted through more than 10 terabytes of data — much of it images and video recorded at the marathon site.

Listen to the complete story here.

Also: The Verge looks at the online witch hunt for the bombing suspects and that awful, ill-advised New York Post cover photo.

Brightcove’s Jeremy Allaire on His Apple TV Predictions

Brightcove chairman and CEO, writing again for AllThingsD on what he expects out of the mythical Apple TV. No. 1?

The best way to consume broadcast TV and any online video. A seamless touch- and TV-based interface makes it simple to consume your existing cable and broadcast content, including video-on-demand (VOD) libraries and DVR features. Via iTunes, you also get instant access to mega-libraries and subscriptions from iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, not to mention YouTube. Naturally, you can also access any AirPlay-enabled videos on the Web, as well as TV apps updated with the new iOS 7 SDK.

TV channels as apps seem inevitable. But all this is a tall order, given the myriad restrictions and hurdles regarding traditional television licenses and rights issues.

The iPad and Productivity

This, by Coding Horror programmer Jeff Atwood:

After using the retina iPad for a while, I was shocked just how much of my everyday computing I can pull off on a tablet. Once you strip away all the needless complexities, isn’t a tablet the simplest form of a computer there can be? How could it get any simpler than a tablet? Is this the ultimate and final form of computing? I wonder. It’s a display in your hands, with easy full-screen applications that have simple oversize click targets to poke your finger at, and no confusing file systems to puzzle over or power-draining x86 backwards compatibility to worry about. Heck, maybe a tablet is better than traditional PCs, because it sidesteps all the accumulated cruft and hacks the PC ecosystem has accreted over the last 30 years.

Apparently, there’s still this debate about whether the iPad is for consuming media or creating it. Of course the answer is both, but to get down to it, the debate is really about whether you can be truly productive on iPad as opposed to a laptop.

I have to say that in my experience, an iPad is a wonderful productivity device. At a recent conference in Milwaukee, I took pages of notes on my iPad’s Pages app (which were delightfully, automatically synced everywhere via iCloud) without missing a beat. And over the past few months, I’ve even taken to keeping my handwritten meeting notes in it, using a stylus and the Penultimate app (although I think I prefer using the onscreen keyboard to a stylus).

Web publishing remains a little suspect, but that’s mostly due to‘s older backend (which we’re replacing very soon). And if you’re a WordPress blogger, the WordPress app will probably do most of the time.

Of course, I’m a writer. I don’t do a lot of spreadsheets and programming (although there’s apps for all that, I’ve read). So there’s that. But for me, there’s no question that the iPad is a solid productivity device.

Steve Ballmer’s ‘War on Apple’

Via Mashable today:

“We are trying to make absolutely clear we are not going to leave any space uncovered to Apple,” Ballmer told CRN following the Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto on Monday. “We are not. No space uncovered that is Apple’s.”

Ballmer stressed that Microsoft had advantages in productivity, enterprise management and manageability compared to Apple.

“But we are not going to let any piece of this [go uncontested to Apple],” Ballmer shouted. “Not the consumer cloud. Not hardware software innovation. We are not leaving any of that to Apple by itself. Not going to happen. Not on our watch.”

Um, but haven’t you already?

He’s right about one thing: with Surface and Windows 8, this is very much Microsoft’s “most important year.”

Video: The New iPad on Today’s THV

Above, my live hit this morning on “Today’s THV This Morning” ahead of today’s third-generation iPad launch. Drinking game: Every time someone says “device,” take a shot! And that white earbud in my ear? That was my audio link to the studio today, connected to an iPhone in my back pocket.

Today was obviously my first look at the new iPad, and the display really is all it’s cracked up to be: super high-res, vibrant colors, near-imperceptible pixels. It’s also seems every bit as speedy as you’ve heard, and definitely leaps and bounds over my first-generation iPad. And in terms of network speed, Verizon’s 4G LTE connection should really shine on the iPad. Web pages rendered quickly, and video loaded almost instantly. Oh, and video and picture quality? Off the charts, owing, again, to that gorgeous display.

There were no lines at the Midtown Little Rock Verizon store we were at, at least when I was there from roughly 6-7 this morning. But it looks as if demand will be strong (pre-orders from Apple are already sold-out).

Will I upgrade? It depends. On paper, I probably should. I use my first-generation device heavily every day. But I’m also still really happy with it and its performance (while it had gotten a bit crashy lately, stability seems to have improved after the OS 5.1 refresh), and it’s hard for me to give up on something before it’s outlived its usefulness.

But if you’re a first-time buyer, or if you’re a heavy ebook reader who wants improved resolution, it’s a no-brainer. This “device” will serve you well., on iPad, on iPad

Meanwhile, looking at on the new iPad, I get what folks like Josh Topolsky are saying about how unforgiving the display can be to websites that aren’t optimized for such a high resolution.

The headers for our main menu, in fact, seem blurry, and look even worse if you zoom in, something we’ll definitely keep in mind as we redesign our site this year.

I think we’ll see a lot of web designers — and obviously app designers — rethinking their designs in light of a such a high-res display.

Stephen Hackett, who writes 512 Pixels up the road in Memphis, viewed the new iPad at a new Verizon store. You can get his thoughts on Verizon 4G LTE, the iPad’s hotspot capability on Verizon and competing Android devices right here.

The ‘New iPad’ Review Round-up

The New iPad

The New iPad

The embargo fell last night. With the new iPad (iPad 3) devices on their way to stores — and the hands of those who pre-ordered — it’s time to take a look at the reviews:

Walt Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal/AllThingsD:

I’ve been testing the new iPad, and despite these trade-offs, its key improvements strengthen its position as the best tablet on the market. Apple hasn’t totally revamped the iPad or added loads of new features. But it has improved it significantly, at the same price.

It has the most spectacular display I have ever seen in a mobile device.

John Gruber, Daring Fireball:

Reading on the big retina display is pure joy. Going back to the iPad 2 after reading for a few hours on the iPad 3 is jarring. With bigger pixels, anti-aliased text looks blurry; with smaller pixels, anti-aliased text looks good; but with really small pixels like these, anti-aliased text looks impossibly good — and what you thought looked pretty good before (like text rendered on older iPads) now looks blurry.

Josh Topolsky, The Verge:

Yes, this display is outrageous. It’s stunning. It’s incredible. I’m not being hyperbolic or exaggerative when I say it is easily the most beautiful computer display I have ever looked at. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that you hold this in your hands, or maybe it’s the technology that Apple is utilizing, or maybe it’s the responsiveness of iOS — but there’s something almost bizarre about how good this screen is. After the launch event, I described the screen as “surreal,” and I still think that’s a pretty good fit.

(Bonus: His Apple TV review.)

David Pogue, The New York Times:

My Verizon test unit got download speeds ranging from 6 to 29 megabits a second in San Francisco, Boston and New York — in many cases, faster than home cable-modem service. According to tests by PC Magazine and others, AT&T’s 4G network is smaller, but often faster. No doubt about it: life begins at 4G.

Now, 4G is a notorious battery hog. It scarfs down electricity like a football team at a hot dog eating contest.

Apple, however, was determined to keep the iPad’s battery life unchanged from the last model: nine to 10 hours on a charge. In my all-day nonstop-usage test, it did manage nine hours.

MG Siegler, TechCrunch:

The most notable of these is the LTE functionality. Put simply: it’s fast. Really fast. Faster-than-my-WiFi fast.

Yesterday, I clocked the new iPad using LTE at over 40 mbps down and 20 up on Verizon’s network. That’s about twice as fast as my current home cable broadband. For good measure, I tethered the new iPad to my iPhone 4S to compare it to Verizon’s 3G speeds. It’s about 40x faster for downloading.

Jason Snell, MacWorld:

The new iPad is also heavier than the iPad 2. The new model weighs either 652 grams (1.44 pounds) for the Wi-Fi-only model or 662 grams (1.46 pounds) for the 4G model. In contrast, the Wi-Fi iPad 2 weighed 601 grams (1.33 pounds) while the AT&T model of the 3G-equipped iPad 2 was 613 grams (1.35 pounds). So your standard Wi-Fi iPad has put on about 50 grams or a tenth of a pound. It’s a small weight gain, but I can’t call it imperceptible. The first time I picked up the third-generation iPad, I could tell that it was heavier.

What does this increased weight mean in practice? Probably not very much.

Apple OS X Mountain Lion Coming This Summer

OS X Mountain Lion

"Inspired by iPad."

A new update for OS X, now in developer hands, is set to launch this summer. “Inspired by iPad” indeed. Things are getting more iOSy in the Mac desktop.

Among the new, but familiar, features:

  • Messages, which you can download in beta today
  • Notifications
  • AirPlay mirroring
  • Game Center
  • Reminders
  • Deeper iCloud integration, with the full iWork suite now available to sync via the cloud
  • Baked-in Twitter

Looks sharp so far.