Tag Archives: iCloud

WWDC Keynote

I don’t think most people base their lunch hours around tech announcements, but I do. I have been eagerly awaiting this event––the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC)––for weeks now. The WWDC is where Apple usually introduces software updates and new products (the iPhone first appeared during the 2007 WWDC).

Monday Apple introduced iOS6 and some of its more than 200 new features. Here are some highlights:

-Siri, the Apple darling, has gotten smarter––she can speak many new languages, will be able to  launch apps, and can now tweet for you.

-A new Do Not Disturb feature allows you to silence alerts and incoming calls for meetings or sleep.

– Apple has cut its ties with Google as far as maps are concerned, but it now offers turn-by-turn directions, real-time traffic, and flyover views of the world as only Apple can. http://www.apple.com/ios/ios6/#maps

– FaceTime will now work over cellular networks and from any Apple device.

– Apple also introduced Mountain Lion, which will be available next month for $19.99. It will fully integrate the services of iCloud, allowing users to access files from everywhere (including Notes and Reminders from all Apple devices).

-Voice dictation will also be standard in Mountain Lion––it won’t be as helpful as Siri but is useful in its own way.

-Messages are not just for the phone anymore––they can be sent from a Mac.

-Power Nap is a powerful new feature that refreshes data and allows the computer to stay up to date and back up data while sleeping.

And as far as hardware is concerned:

-The Macbook Air has been improved––the lowest model has a 1366×768 display with 1.7GHz dual-core i5, 4GB RAM, and 64GB for flash storage ($100 more will double the storage).

-The MacBook Pro has the Retina display, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, and weighs only 5.6 lbs.

Author: Susan Hallinan

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Take It to the Cloud––No, Not That Cloud, Fuji’s Cloud! Where?

Since the “cloud” has quickly become an everyday topic at our office, we have tried out a plethora of cloud-based storage services. Sometimes we even have a hard time finding which cloud we have put our files on. The more clouds we get, the more inclement our moods are. The fix-all organizational tool that the cloud purports to be has discombobulated our lives and fragmented our minds and documents. It was easy when you knew, “Damn, that file is at home on the computer.” Now, the question is, is that document on Box.net, Dropbox, Amazon Cloud Drive, Evernote, iCloud, iWork––or maybe it’s on the Fuji copier? We don’t need a new cloud, we need an atmosphere to keep all of our clouds in one place. Our network administrators are turning into meteorologists, and we all know what their accuracy rates are…

Regardless, Fuji Xerox has launched a cloud-based document collaboration tool that interfaces directly with its copiers. While I think this is great selling tool, couldn’t Fuji Xerox just integrate this into one of the existing could storage solutions? The apparent answer is no, it needed its own cloud, and presumably that is what everyone else has concluded. Don’t get me wrong––I think the cloud is an amazing tool. It has made my life easier in so many ways. But it could still be simpler. The market is being diluted with too many free services that are trying to catch everything in one basket. I’d rather pay for something that handled all of my cloud-based needs.

Fuji Xerox could be onto something here. It is the first in the mainstream market to integrate cloud-based storage and collaboration with its production workflow in the copiers. The power that this will bestow onto users is great. Being able to modify documents seconds before they hit the press is a great selling point. But does this make sense in the real world? The implementation of computers, print-ready PDFs, and email has already made the standard RUSH job a nightmare to pull off. In the current workflow, the ease of submitting new files mid-production has led to jobs being “approved” 4–5 times. I can only assume that this will make that worse. However, with the correct procedures in place, there could be success with this product. We will have to wait until Fuji Xerox releases this into the US market to give it its fair trial. Sales started in Japan last Monday, so reviews of this are still very preliminary.

As Jay Alabaster in PCWorld points out, “A myriad of similar online storage services exist, and many such as Dropbox and Evernote can sync with faxes and scanners. But hardware makers are rushing to launch cloud offerings that work seamlessly with their products, as a way to lock in clients and a buffer against commoditization amid falling profit margins.” All I can say is that I couldn’t agree more! Fuji’s service will cost around $45 a month and allow 10 users access to 10 GB of shared storage. The company aims to sell 10,000 contracts for this service per year.

So what is your cloud-sharing service preference? I find myself using Dropbox the most.

Author: John Mehl

How Will iCloud Affect Product Lifecycles for iOS Devices?

Last week, Apple gave the world iCloud, the eagerly anticipated online backup system for music, documents, applications, books, calendars, contacts, etc. The product is a step forward in making cloud services more mainstream and provides a competitive product in a world already populated with the likes of Amazon, Google, Dropbox, and others. Apple‘s iCloud, however, is the first push by a big hardware manufacturer to date.

In 2007, Apple introduced the first iPhone. Before then, Treos and BlackBerrys were the kings of the smartphone realm, but they were heavily limited in their functionality. The pipes that provided the data to these devices were small and slow (not to mention pricey), and the form factor of the devices was nothing to write home about. In comes Apple and the iBrick iPhone with its touch screen goodness and wholesome Apple fanboy following. The new iOS, coupled with an innovative user interface, made developers flock to the product, and now, some 4 years later, Apple reports that there are 400,000 active, downloadable apps on the App store Store, which is the largest source of apps in the world.

That is all fine and dandy, but look at the facts: The iPhone was years in the making, and some sources claim that Apple started researching touch screen technology in 2005 just for the iPhone 1. Now we know from the past four updates to the iPhone that they tend to arrive annually, like the migration of the swallow. Once a year, the hype machine rolls into full gear, and out plops an invite to an Apple event that debuts a new iSomething––usually of the phone variety––to the anxious mobs around the world who line up in the wee hours of the morning to get their hands on the new device come launch day.

The iCloud release last week signifies a new sequence of product releases and maybe a change in the roadmap for Apple products, a change that all users and marketers need to pay attention to. From iPhone 1 to iPhone 4, the new features and their slow and iterative releases were strategic. Each iPhone with new features was marketed as an upgrade from the previous device, but other manufacturers and many of the iPhone’s biggest advocates felt that the phones were incomplete without specific hardware and software functions (a better camera and multitasking and notification capabilities, for example). So if cloud storage––and the sharing of all content over multiple devices––becomes the norm, where does that leave the innovation that the world has come to expect from Apple? Two guesses: unfathomable awesomeness, to the tune of coolness the world has never seen, OR stale, service-based, nickel-and-dime monetization methods. Apple, how are you going to continue to make me buy new iPhones or new devices? OK, OK––we are still in the early stages of the current iPad and iPhone lifecycles since we are only at versions 2 and 4, respectively. We know NFC (near field communication) has to come soon to each, but technology-wise, what is going to come next that will make the masses want to buy a new device? Apple provides services that allow you to store your content in multiple places (selling the product as a service), and that may make users more likely to buy another Apple product to take advantage of this content-sharing goodness.

It has to be acknowledged that we are moving closer, step by step, to a world with one “dumb” handheld device that accesses all of our content from the cloud, over the air. The addition of the word “smart” to our mobile phones reflects only the ability of our phones to do more than call and text. First came the Internet, then faster data speeds opened the floodgates, and then came a deluge of apps all pulling, pushing, and “curating” content directly from the cloud to our devices. Smartphones, tablets, and netbooks have proven that the model works and that the public is comfortable to an extent with placing its content in the hands of a mega-company.

Mobile phones began the path to the cloud world, a bigger pipe (bandwidth) for data gave it momentum, and now widespread adoption of mobile devices–– tablets and smartphones––seems logical. But what is the next step? How will iCloud change the product landscape in the future?

Author: John Carew

Apple WWDC Recap

On Monday, June 6, Apple opened its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California. The rumor mill has been running full tilt over the last few weeks with speculation about iCloud, the confirmation of the Mac operating system new release––Lion––and the iPhone/iPad release of iOS 5. While there were no huge “wow” moments, there were certainly a few utterances from the crowd of developers on hand. Steve Jobs was in attendance for the keynote even though he is currently away from his post at Apple on medical leave. Jobs and his gaggle of presenters wowed the audience for 2 hours. Here are some of the highlights:

Mac OS X Big 10 Features

1.     Multi-Touch – In what is clearly the future of the Mac platform user experience, Apple has extended scrolling, tap to zoom, pinching, and swiping as basic user gestures across the OS.

2.     Full-Screen Apps – In this era of small screens, developers have struggled to use the full-screen real estate to its fullest potential, and now full-screen apps come baked into Lion.

3.     Mission Control – This new feature––a combination of Exposé and Spaces––lets you see everything occurring on your Mac.

4.     Mac App Store – Apple claims that its Mac-oriented App Store has become the #1 PC software channel for buying software. Lofty claims, but regardless, it makes downloading content easy. Apple will, however, take a cut of every transaction, similar to the 30% from the iOS App Store.

5.     Launchpad – This iPhone/iPad home screen meets Mac offers instant access to all applications, with the ability to group them into folders like the iPhone.

6.     Resume – This brings you back to where you left off system-wide.

7.     Auto Save – This automatic saving and versioning feature is presented with a Time Machine–like interface.

8.     Versions – This gives the everyday person the ability to roll back to any version easily.

9.     AirDrop – This peer-to-peer, Wi-Fi–based network for file sharing is built in, with no setup required beyond both the sender and receiver accepting a request to share files.

10.  Mail – This brand-new email interface has intuitive search, conversation view, and tagging features.

Lion will be available only in the Mac App Store––no more optical media––and will work with all authorized Macs for a mere $30.

iOS Big 10 Features

1.     Notifications – All notifications are combined into one unobtrusive interface, very similar to how Android handles notifications including info on the lock screen.

2.     Newsstand – This “news rack” for all media is able to download new content as a background task.

3.     Twitter – Since it is now integrated directly into the OS, sharing anything via Twitter will be very simple using a single sign-on.

4.     Safari – Features have been added to enable easy, uncluttered viewing of websites, with Reading List built in and shared with all iOS devices via iCloud.

5.     Reminders – This task list is complete with location alerts and iCal and Outlook integration and can be shared with multiple devices via iCloud.

6.     Camera – The iPhone’s camera now offers grid lines, auto focus, exposure lock, pinch zoom, and the ability to use the volume button as a shutter button as well as the ability to access the camera from the lock screen.

7.     Mail – You can now send email with rich formatting (bold, italic, underline) and indents. Flag support and the ability to do a full-text search also top the list of new features.

8.     PC Free – There’s no need to own a PC to have an iOS device––wireless updates come to the OS with software updates over the air (OTA).

9.     Game Center – Extensions of current Game Center features allow comparison with other users, including support for turn-based games, directly from the OS [?].

10.  iMessage – You can send unlimited text messages to other iOS 5 users via Wi-Fi or 3G––it’s BlackBerry Messenger meets iOS.

iOS 5 is slated for release later this year.

Finally, the long-awaited and much-rumored iCloud: Apple states, “iCloud stores your content and wirelessly pushes it all to your devices.” MobileMe was the basis for the development of iCloud and was written from the ground up, sharing contacts, calendar events, documents, and mail-syncing with folders and inboxes synced on all devices via an @me.com account. iCloud offers once-a-day backup of all content via Wi-Fi, including purchased music, movies, apps, photos, and books. 5GB of storage comes free, but if you want to sync your music library with iTunes Match, it will cost you $25 per year.

Author: John Carew