Saturday, April 10, 2010

Apple vs CS5: Apple's move wasn't the stupid one

The moment I saw Adobe announce Flash CS5 would be able to export iPhone apps I immediately thought  "They aren't that stupid are they?" Then I started wondering if they worked some sort of deal out with Steve, thinking surely they weren't ignorant enough to waste that many resources on some shifty end run maneuver. Apparently I was wrong.

Before you jump on the "Apple hates developers" bandwagon like everyone else, you might want to look at the decision from Apple's point of view. This move is less about developers, and more about the end user experience. Developers (at least those with decent product ideas) will go where there's money, period. Apple's not worried about offending those too lazy to learn how to use their supplied developer tools.

Things Adobe should understand…
  • Apple is trying to supplant Flash with HTML5. Letting Flash author iPhone apps would be another reason for people to keep buying into that platform.
  • Apple doesn't want to rely on third party products for critical pieces of their ecosystem, and they sure as hell aren't going to risk letting one become a popular rival to their own SDK. The fact that Xcode is not available on Windows makes that scenario a real possibility.
  • Apple needs applications to be as lean as possible now that they are adding multitasking. Flash is notorious for excessive CPU and battery strain. (Here's an insightful blog post on the subject from a Flash developer. Needless to say, he is less than thrilled with the result of his ports.) Flash devs with little to no experience with a "real" programming language would likely exacerbate this problem. Resource management and optimization is critical when developing for mobile devices.
  • Apple also wants applications built with their specific devices in mind. Adobe's focus as of late has been "build once …deploy to multiple targets." If you've ever run an AIR app you've seen the outcome of such a process. The apps run, but they don't have a native look or feel and they often use much more memory than they should. Now, imagine Flash being able to output both an iPhone AND an Android app simultaneously—this would be great for Adobe (and Google), not so much for Apple.
  • How many more reasons does Apple need?
I've seen a lot of people saying Adobe should kill the Creative Suite on the Mac to get back at Apple. The popular rebuttal is that they can't do it because it's anti-competitive. Whether or not that claim holds water, it's irrelevant. Adobe has a legal obligation to act in their shareholders best interest. Dumping a large percentage of their income to "Stick it to Steve" is simply out of the question.

It was a dumb move by Adobe, and they better get their heads back in the game and start working HTML5 export tools for CS6. If they keep peddling Flash, that part of their revenue might go down with the ship.

Friday, April 9, 2010

iAds: Nothing To Complain About

There's a lot of complaining going on now that Apple has unveiled their new iAd feature. I understand where these complaints are coming from (I don't care for ads either), but people seem to be blowing things out of proportion.

Anyone who thinks this means Apple is going to make you look at ads in order to use your device needs to step back and take a breath of fresh air. This will not happen. iAds will not show up in any of the core applications. As a matter of fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and say I don't think we'll see ANY Apple applications with iAds in them. One of the main reasons you create an ad-supported app is so people can try it out to see if it fits your needs, and if it's reliable. Apple's applications are reputable, and widely reviewed; they don't need to prove themselves to their customers the way third parties do.

There is no doubt that we will be seeing a lot more ad-supported applications popping up. I don't see this as a problem as long as Apple and the developers give us a way to disable the ads via an in-app purchase. Being able to try out a lot more applications before buying cannot be seen as anything but positive. If the ads bother you, pay up …if they don't, enjoy the free app. If you want quality apps to be both free and ad-less …go pound sand. The market will shun any apps that abuse the feature or aren't compelling enough to justify ad support to start with.

Ads are already used in apps, so it's nothing new for us end users. The good thing about Apple providing the service is that end users should start seeing some consistency in ad usage, quality, and etiquette. Oh, and it's yet another source of revenue for Apple—shareholders rejoice.

One final thing to note is that Steve said (during the Q&A session after the iPhone 4.0 announcement) Apple has no plans to stop apps from using competing ad services. Sounds like a win-win situation for the developers, and whatever makes the developers happy makes me happy.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

iPad: Initial Impressions

I've had a couple hours to play around with my iPad, just wanted to point out a couple things while it's syncing the majority of my data.

First off, I want to comment on its size. When you hear "10-inch screen" it sounds fairly big (at least to me). In reality, the iPad is damn small. I don't think you could go much smaller and still run the kind of apps the iPad does. Products like the 5" Dell Streak (not yet shipping) are going to be very hard to sell—too big to fit in a lot of pockets, yet too small to use without a lot of zooming and panning.

The second thing worth mentioning is the weight. It's not too heavy, but it's noticeable. It feels like you are holding a slab of floor tile of similar size. Perhaps that is a good thing, as it's a reminder that you have something fragile in your hands. I'm sure they worked extremely hard to get it down to 1.5lbs, and I don't think we'll see these devices get much lighter any time soon. Need a comparison? The JooJoo weighs 2.4lbs, and is almost a quarter-inch thicker.

Lastly, I have to echo the comment that this device is very responsive. It's easily on par with my 24" iMac (2.16ghz C2D) on loading webpages, and compared to the iBook G4 I'm on right now …hot damn!

The only thing I am disliking at the moment is getting all the passwords into Safari and other apps. I don't have the iPad version of 1Password Pro yet, and it's a pain in the butt jumping in and out of the apps every five minutes. I'm sure once everything is set up it won't be that bad, but the desktop experience will be missed for sure.

More to come soon…