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April 1, 2010 7:37 AM   Subscribe

"We were like children with toy train sets. And that was part of the problem. It was such fun. Computing was not supposed to be fun." Stephen Fry visits Apple headquarters to preview the iPad; the resulting article is a sprawl that touches on hero worship, product history, and Douglas Adams, "the first person in Britain to own a Macintosh computer."

Meanwhile, David Pogue reviews the iPad from two angles, Walt Mossberg calls the iPad "close to a laptop killer", and Andy Ihnatko says it's "one of best computers everywhere."
posted by Rory Marinich (480 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
You know, if Apple would just let me use it the way *I* want to use it, instead of the way *Apple* wants me to use it, I'd almost certainly buy one. Fry makes the ideas sound very appealing, but that fundamental lockdown is abhorrent to me. The idea of the App Store is a great one; the idea of being forced to use it isn't.
posted by Malor at 7:46 AM on April 1, 2010 [36 favorites]


There's a number of people who've decided instead to experiment with coding HTML5 applications that download and run locally. Shaun Inman's programs Mint and Fever both were designed entirely in HTML and the results are fantastic.

While I'm sure that one day, many years from now, Apple will feel the need to offer users the choice to open up and risk damage, at the moment it (and most of its users) feel like Apple's restrictive nature lets them worry less about what they're doing, which is worth the hurt that developers have felt. In the meantime, there is a more open path available, though HTML5 isn't the easiest language to work with.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:50 AM on April 1, 2010


(I know that as the threadstarter I can't necessarily dictate where the conversation goes, but I'd like to strongly request that this not turn into Apple As Gated Tyrant. We have a conversation going on about that that's only two days old, and while it's a worthwhile debate, I think there are better places to have it than here, and I dislike how that argument derails every Apple thread and certain threads that aren't about Apple at all. It's tiresome. Kthx.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:52 AM on April 1, 2010 [11 favorites]


You know what I hate? There's only one mouse button.
posted by fungible at 7:52 AM on April 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


if Apple would just let me use it the way *I* want to use it

What would you do with it?
posted by setanor at 7:52 AM on April 1, 2010


iPad includes hyberbole generator - Mac fans like Apple products shock
posted by mr.marx at 7:54 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


What would you do with it?

I would like to transfer pictures from my digital camera to the iPad without having to own another computer.
posted by Staggering Jack at 7:54 AM on April 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


Congratulations, there's an adapter for that!
posted by entropicamericana at 7:55 AM on April 1, 2010 [9 favorites]


An iPad version of Plants vs Zombies should have been a launch title. It will acclimate you to a touchscreen interface very quickly.
posted by SPrintF at 7:57 AM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


What would you do with it?

Figure out how to clean the Vaseline out of the insides, for one.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:59 AM on April 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I love Stephen Fry, but I wasn't going to be taken in. I was curious about what he had to say, open-minded even, but my skepticism was too great to accept a positive perspective on Apple's newest product. Then the last bit laid me low.
posted by doteatop at 7:59 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder: If you write bad reviews of Apple stuff, does that get you off the coveted early review unit list?
posted by smackfu at 8:00 AM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


The whole only running one app at time thing is annoying, but I suspect that'll be taken care of this summer with iPhone OS 4.0.

Lack of Flash support won't be a big deal, but it will be a constant complaint from the tech crowd. I'm guessing that the OS will eventually support Flash, but only if Flash gets its act to together in terms of sucking down power and adapting to an interface that doesn't have a mouse. If it doesn't, Apple won't lose much sleep over not supporting it.

I'm pleasantly surprised to hear that the battery life is as good as Apple has been saying. That was going to be critical.

Bottom line, I think this'll be a runaway success, though like the iPhone, there will be lag time until people and developers adjust to the possibilities of the device.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:01 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Congratulations, there's an adapter for that!

link
posted by DreamerFi at 8:02 AM on April 1, 2010


I too, love Stephen Fry, but would trust him reviewing an Apple product about as far as I can throw him. NY Times article is interesting though.
posted by Artw at 8:02 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


It must be noted that in his novel "Making History", published quite some time ago, Fry described how a computer would look like in an alternative history in which the Nazis had won.

It was a lot like the iPad...
posted by Skeptic at 8:03 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Congratulations, there's an adapter for that!

I didn't know that - thanks. I just looked on the apple site for the first time and I wish it included the adaptor and the wall charger as part of the package. It seems to me that without including those as part of the whole package, Apple is, in a way, marketing the iPad as an accessory and not a stand alone computer.
posted by Staggering Jack at 8:03 AM on April 1, 2010


I discovered that one doesn't relate to it as a "tool"; the experience is closer to one's relationship with a person or an animal.

Oh Christ.
posted by naju at 8:05 AM on April 1, 2010 [17 favorites]


Artw, that's why I submitted this—it wasn't about the iPad review as it was the fact that he spent almost no time actually talking about the iPad. The reviews don't interest me; the context that Fry built up around his experience I loved.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:06 AM on April 1, 2010


This article is worth it for the last line.
posted by jbickers at 8:06 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


You do get the wall charger, but you don't get headphones. It's also kind of silly that the camera kit includes both a USB connector and a SD connector, separately. I imagine there will be a decent market selling the one you don't need for $10-15.
posted by smackfu at 8:06 AM on April 1, 2010


What would you do with it?

Install a multitasking OS.
posted by DU at 8:06 AM on April 1, 2010 [10 favorites]


Early indications that battery time might match Apples claims make it a lot more interesting as a device - on the other hand it sounds like the keyboard is as bad as expected.

Anyhow, I'll probably get plenty of chances to try one while I wait trot the price to come down.
posted by Artw at 8:07 AM on April 1, 2010


To expand on entropocamericana's comment: here's the adaptor in question.

I'd be interested to know whether the dongles are tied to the Photos app.
posted by pharm at 8:07 AM on April 1, 2010


The last line made me iPuke.
posted by mr.marx at 8:08 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Rory Marinich --> (I know that as the threadstarter I can't necessarily dictate where the conversation goes, but I'd like to strongly request that this not turn into Apple As Gated Tyrant. We have a conversation going on about that that's only two days old, and while it's a worthwhile debate, I think there are better places to have it than here, and I dislike how that argument derails every Apple thread and certain threads that aren't about Apple at all. It's tiresome. Kthx.)

Indeed. Much more interesting to talk about Rory As Gated Tyrant.

Not tiresome at all!
posted by notyou at 8:09 AM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


Is multitasking really that necessary?

I own an iPod touch and I very rarely find myself wishing I could multitask. As long as music's playing in the background, I don't exactly find myself needing to look at two things at once.

Push notifications means that Facebook and Skype can let me know when there's a new message when I'm on Safari. Beyond that I don't know what multitasking would accomplish. With a fast enough processor I can jump between things and it'll seem like they're all running concurrently, right?

The only things I miss are Pandora and Last.fm, which is why I wouldn't be surprised if iPhone 4.0 this summer included multitasking. But if it doesn't, the value lost for me is minimal.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:09 AM on April 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


You do get the wall charger

I missed that as well - I obviously need to drink more coffee before I have a mac n fry breakfast.
posted by Staggering Jack at 8:09 AM on April 1, 2010


Bottom line, I think this'll be a runaway success, though like the iPhone, there will be lag time until people and developers adjust to the possibilities of the device.

I think exactly the opposite for one simple reason: It's too big.

Imagine being forced to carry a legal pad around all your waking hours. While you are trying to pay for your coffee. While you are trying to open the door. Walking down the street you have to hold it and use it in the air at the same time. You have to put it somewhere when you get in the car and the passenger seat is taken. You can't use a pocket, because it's too big.

Now imagine that legal pad is fragile and cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
posted by DU at 8:10 AM on April 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


Why did Stephen Fry do those promos for the GNU project? Or, rather, why did they ask him? He plainly doesn't give a shit about any of it.
posted by the dief at 8:11 AM on April 1, 2010


One of the coolest things about the PC revolution is that you may have bought a machine simply to consume media, but this machine also allowed you to create and distribute. It's almost as if you went to buy a DuMont TV in 1952, and they threw in a television studio and broadcast tower for free. And so a the brightest of a new generation of media consumers became media creators as well.

From my read of Pogue's 2-in-1 review in this morning's Times, it is apparent that the iPad is a machine for consuming media rather than consuming and creating. Folks who just want to read, watch, and make cursory comments on what they have read and watched welcome it, and those who seek to truly create and innovate are annoyed and distressed by it. I for one cannot imagine a suite of robust authoring applications deploying easily to the iPhone iPad user interface. Perhaps the iPad is the vanguard of a new type of hardware that will re-open the gulf between the consumers and creators of media once again.
posted by squalor at 8:11 AM on April 1, 2010 [27 favorites]


I'd like to strongly request that this not turn into Apple As Gated Tyrant

So you want to keep it as Apple as fanboy Viagra, then?
posted by rocket88 at 8:12 AM on April 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


Imagine being forced to carry a legal pad around all your waking hours

Yeah, that really killed notebook computers.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:15 AM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


Is multitasking really that necessary?

It's not necessary, but it would be nice to have the option available. Maybe eventually.
posted by blucevalo at 8:18 AM on April 1, 2010


From Pogue's piece: Read the first one if you’re a techie. (How do you know? Take this simple test. Do you use BitTorrent? Do you run Linux? Do you have more e-mail addresses than pants? You’re a techie.)

Well, I don't run Linux, and though I have a ton of email addresses (most of which I don't use for anything except sign-ups) I think I have more pants.

I've finally begun to grok the philosophical differences between those who want to "do stuff" to their computers and those who don't, or don't want to do much. I don't want to spend endless amounts of time endlessly tweaking settings for [foo] or looking for the latest drivers for [bar], but if other people want to be able to to things like that, more power to them. I know people who run all kinds of different operating systems on their various machines and in general, they're all nice people and all pretty smart and none of them seem bent on either destroying or taking over the world.

What I don't get, and probably never will, is the absolute rage that some of the people in the "let me do stuff to my machine!" express wrt to Apple's comparatively locked down environment (and often, those who use it). I use Macs and I use Windows machines and I don't think I'm unusual in that I rarely fiddle with OS of either of them. We're about to upgrade to Windows 7 here at work and I've poked around on the "practice" machine that IT's set up and it seems...just fine. Just like the Macbook Pro (the 13" unibody) I bought last year is...just fine. I admit to having what's perhaps an unreasonable love for the aesthetics of my laptop (I mean goddamn but it's pretty!), and I sometimes get impatient with my Windows box because I can't figure out how to do something as easily as I can on my Mac, but it's never been a dealbreaker.

I don't know if I'll get an iPad or not. I just bought the MBP last year, and between that and the Touch I have it's not like I need any more portable devices.

I'm not going to hold my breath on this front, but I'd love to see a thread like this trundle along without devolving into "Mac sux!" "No, YOU suck!" the way these things usually do. In the amount of time it's taken me to type this and preview and proof and preview again, it's probably already too late.
posted by rtha at 8:18 AM on April 1, 2010 [10 favorites]


The thing I don't get about the camera connector kit is... Are they really only allowing photos to be transferred?? I can't plug in a USB hard drive and copy over files and music and movies? It basically means the iPad has no real USB port. Only proprietary plugs that allow Apple and its partners to charge an arm and a leg for accessories.
posted by kmz at 8:20 AM on April 1, 2010


And, diehard multitasking antifanboyism MeFi critics: Why are you here?

I'm serious. You can live your life without touching an Apple product, you know? They don't own a monopoly. They even have competitors! The smart phone world has three new groundbreaking phones a month. Microsoft and Linux have the OS market all jumbled up. Three years from now we might even have an iPad competitor.

Apple does things a certain way. They don't insist their way is the best way. They don't seem to get particularly irritated when people buy products that aren't theirs. But they do have opinions about how computers should be made that you disagree with.

Can't we leave it at that? Some of us like their choices. It doesn't make you any better of a person to come in and shit on Apple every time they're mentioned. We Apple users know all the various things we'd like. When you mention them too does it feel good, like you're grinding Apple fans into a fine mesh? Do you enjoy knowing that you've made a few people who're interested in this company's products a little less happy?

I love Apple's industrial design. I love parts of their design philosophy. I love the weird angle from which they go about making tech products. I'd like to talk about that with similarly enthusiastic people. But it's really hard, because every single OMG APPLE CRITICS LIKE APPLE and FUCK YOU UNITASKERS comment turns these threads into really irritating arguments and not happy little conversationpits like the best parts of this site are.

We can argue "Apple fanboyism" til we're both diseased and dying, but it's such a fucking wreck. There is nothing wrong with liking things. Liking things rocks! And on this site we have plenty of conversations about liking things without really thinking about all the people who're telling us the bad things about those things. I didn't join the Alex Chilton thread to say his music doesn't do much for me, because it wouldn't have added anything to the conversation. Similarly, when every fucking Apple thread becomes the same pile of shit, I can't help but feel it's not terrible to ask that maybe the Apple haters voice their criticism politely and intelligently, then either attempt to make the conversation a good one or leave for better venues.

tl;dr don't be a shitcock
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:20 AM on April 1, 2010 [26 favorites]


You may be right about lugging the thing around, DU, but there's a market for a comfortable couch computer. Over the years I've pressed a variety of devices into that duty, and none have really done it well: a Nokia N800 (not powerful enough for video, heavy web surfing); a netbook (too heavy, keyboard and touchpad are clunky); a motorla droid (screen is too small). The iPad (and the copycats on the way), looks to be in the sweet spot on the couch where ease of use, portability, and power all align.

-------------------
*In other words, you take your Smart Phone with you and you leave your Tablet in the den.
posted by notyou at 8:20 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know this is a bit of a tired anecdote by now, but my parents, who are in their sixties and have have an arm's length relationship with technology, tried an iPod Touch at a Costco and, sweating bullets over the cost, bought one. They got it home and, within about five minutes, grabbed their coats and drove back to Costco to buy a second one, so they could each have one.

They've kept that close tie to what they call their "iTouch"es since then. My father is placing holds by the dozen from the library so he can listen to music, my mother is touring the Louvre through its iPhone app, and so on. This has been steady for them now for about eight months — they're still excited.

Now the tech crowd keeps score in odd and rigid ways. Total up the feature list, especially the canonical features, and you have your verdict. But let's face it: Would the people who want multitasking and Flash support and direct USB access say nice things about the iPad if it had them? Of course not. Do my parents give a rat's ass about those things? Of course not.

As many commenters have observed, you can get more features and functionality from a netbook for less money. But that doesn't matter. I'd take a nice, clean, livable home over an awkward one with more "features" any day. My hunch is that the iPad will feel friendly and direct and robust to non-techs in a way that Linux netbooks, or even the Hackintosh ones, never will.
posted by argybarg at 8:21 AM on April 1, 2010 [10 favorites]


Is multitasking really that necessary?

My first thought when I saw it was "If I were still a student and could have all of my textbooks and notes on this thing, I'd be scrambling for my wallet right now." Then I started thinking about what a pain it would be to refer to the text while taking notes. Close your notes, open your e-book reader, launch the right textbook, go to the page, check the text or diagram, close the reader, re-open your notes, rinse, repeat.

Jobs doesn't see this as just an iPhone with a bigger screen. He's betting on devices like this being the future of computing, the go-to devices for the vast majority of consumer computing needs. He's right, but he's going to have to address problems like multitasking and the limitations of obscuring the filesystem for it to happen.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:21 AM on April 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


Heh. This article "touches on hero worship" the way that Neil Diamond "touches on schlocky pop cheese."

I haven't finished it yet, but this bit is the interesting part so far:

“In 1984, Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, was the first person in Britain to own a Macintosh computer, and I was the second. Goodbye, glowing green command line; hello, mouse, icons and graphical desktop with white screen, closable windows and menus that dropped down like roller blinds. Throughout the next decade I would regularly go round to Douglas' London house, floppy discs under my arm, and ring the doorbell. ¶ "Is he in?" I would pant excitedly. Douglas' wife Jane would point with resigned amusement to the stairs, and I would hurl myself up them to swap files and play. We were like children with toy train sets. And that was part of the problem. It was such fun. Computing was not supposed to be fun... ¶ Nonetheless, back in those days the Mac was derided as a toy, a media poseur's plaything and a shallow triumph of style over substance by those with a belief that computers, as utilitarian tools performing serious functions for business, should be under the control not of the user but of IT technicians and systems engineers.”

Fair enough; and it is great that Apple was there to inject some smarts and some user-friendly style into the industry. But this telling of the story invariably leaves out a whole interesting and insightful group of people that were there influencing the development of computers the whole time. Computers have not always been in the hands of either (a) "fun-loving Apple fans" and (b) "business-oriented MS snobs." The whole industry was invented, after all, by those of us who loved the command line for what it was, and who enjoyed playing with computers not because we had something graphical and fun to play with but because we like making these machines do things, no matter what the context.

This is of course not to say that it's wrong to enjoy computers for the reasons Fry lists. But when he disparages those who thought computers "should be under the control... of IT technicians and systems engineers," Stephen leaves out those of us who took delight in figuring out how to do precisely what those technicians and systems engineers did, to take shit apart and put it back together again. This is a real and actual delight, and I think a significant chunk of the tension between us Linux geeks and the Apple crowd comes from the fact that we're pretty much ignored over there.

No tension from me, though. This is mostly an enjoyable account of falling in love with computers, and that's something I can appreciate. Computers are indeed a lot of fun, and it's awesome that Apple has made and continues to make that fun more accessible to more people.
posted by koeselitz at 8:21 AM on April 1, 2010 [10 favorites]


What's up with all the parenthetical hyperlinks to tenuously related articles interspersed throughout the article? Is that the best sort of ad integration Time can do? It's like admiring at a nice tree while out on a walk and suddenly finding a neon flyer stuck up in the leaves - annoying, distracting and disorientating. I can only hope this doesn't spread to other sites.
(see pictures of adorable koalas in trees)
posted by mikepop at 8:22 AM on April 1, 2010 [9 favorites]


Out of sheer boredom, I was looking at boingboing yesterday and came across Xeni Jardin's review. It's seriously like pronography.
It strikes you when you first touch an iPad. The form just feels good, not too lightweight or heavy, nor too thin or thick. It's sensual. It's tactile. And that moment is a good way to spot a first-timer, too, as I observed with a few test subjects. The dead giveaway for an iPad n00b is a pause, a few breaths before hitting the "on" switch, just letting it rest against the skin.

Flick the switch and the novelty hits. Just as the iPhone, Palm Pré and Android phones scratched an itch we didn't know we had—somewhere between cellphone and notebook—the iPad hits a completely new pleasure spot. The display is large enough to make the experience of apps and games on smaller screens stale. Typography is crisp, images gem-like, and the speed brisk thanks to Apple's A4 chip and solid state storage. As I browse early release iPad apps, web pages, and flip through the iBook store and books, the thought hits that this is a greater leap into a new user experience than the sum of its parts suggests.

Remember The Periodic Table of Elements series of books we featured here at Boing Boing? There's an iPad version ($13.99 in the app store, screenshots here), and it's dazzling — it makes science feel like magic in your hands. I called the guy behind The Elements, Theo Gray, and asked him to put into words the UI magic that iPad makes possible for creators of books, games, news, and productivity tools.
Etc. I suppose you better read the whole thing before Xenni gets her heart broken and unpublished it

Jesus these people lay it on think. The iPad isn't even that different from other products that came before it. I think there were 40 something touchscreen tablets available for sale before the iPad was even announced. Bu this one is from apple, so no one has ever heard of any of the other ones. Obviously.

But what's really weird about this is that it's not anything new. There's nothing even remotely novel about the iPad. Yet people are gushing over it. It's so bizarre.

The only thing that will be different about it compared to other tablets. Is the locked down nature and people lining up to create content for it. Which basically makes it like a really big game boy (Speaking of which, the DS already had a touch screen!)

I'm convinced a lot of this is gushing is just the placebo effect applied to product design.
posted by delmoi at 8:25 AM on April 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


I also want to second rtha's notion that tinkering with computers is not a form of moral greatness. Nor is disinterest in tinkering with computers a form of moral weakness.
posted by argybarg at 8:25 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


What would you do with it?

Well, if I had a model with cell hardware, I'd definitely get it tethering, and I'd like to do it via WiFi, not just Bluetooth. I don't use my cell data very much, but when I need it, I need it badly, and tethering makes it very convenient.

And I'd like to skin it; I loved my heavily customized, jailbroken iPhone. Jobs seems to hate desktop customization passionately. And I'd want an SSH client and server, and probably some roguelikes, if I could work out how to get them going with an onscreen keyboard. I'd definitely want a Windows RDP client, probably a VNC client, and probably something like Softsqueeze to talk to my music server. I'd want a non-Youtube video player, probably a VLC offshoot if possible.

I'd probably want a GPS app with turn-by-turn directions, but would expect to buy that one from the App Store. And I might buy a few games, although I don't find most pocket games that appealing, roguelikes excepted. Oh! I almost forgot, I'd definitely want Drug Wars, and I don't think you can get that through the official channels. It's far too tasteless to ever pass the censors.

Apple would save money by doing this, because they could stop fighting jailbreakers so passionately. They could default the device to locked, and then give a really buried system preference somewhere to unlock it. Voila, jailbreaking arms race is over, no more money invested. It doesn't have to be friendly. Give me a root terminal and I can take it from there. I don't need handholding. I'd have no objection to Apple refusing warranty service on a machine that wasn't running an un-jailbroken firmware, but I think wiping and completely restoring the computer to the original factory specs should also restore your warranty.

For what it's worth, I have zero interest in pirating anything. I'll pay for any commercial code I run. I just want to be able to really use that general-purpose hardware. The ease-of-use is wonderful, but Apple can totally keep that while leaving a small escape hatch for the clueful, and save money to boot.
posted by Malor at 8:27 AM on April 1, 2010 [8 favorites]


I love Apple's industrial design. I love parts of their design philosophy. I love the weird angle from which they go about making tech products. I'd like to talk about that with similarly enthusiastic people.

Then get your own blog. Seriously.
Aside from the fact that I truly believe your post is nothing more than corporate advertising, and I flagged it as such, you do know that MetaFilter is normally a place where different opinions are expressed, right? Check out the post on Circus Peanuts...some people love them and some people hate them, and neither side is trying to censor the other from voicing their opinion.
posted by rocket88 at 8:30 AM on April 1, 2010 [38 favorites]


Artw: “I too, love Stephen Fry, but would trust him reviewing an Apple product about as far as I can throw him. NY Times article is interesting though.”

As Rory points out, this isn't really a review of the iPad. And I can appreciate his concern for this thread. People love to come into a thread and give their opinion about the new product, whatever that new product may be; they love to say "I will do this with it" and "I don't want one, because I want to do that." Whatever. We've filled four or five threads with such stuff thus far. I'm interested in Apple's future a lot more, and that's really what the article's about. I may have a much more ominous view of it than Fry does, but it's interesting to hear his account of why he loves the company.
posted by koeselitz at 8:33 AM on April 1, 2010


And, diehard multitasking antifanboyism MeFi critics: Why are you here?

tl;dr don't be a shitcock

You need to rethink how you're engaging this community. Your "steer this conversation" privilege begins and ends with your post, and your shitcock comments and thread-sitting are most unwelcome.
posted by fake at 8:33 AM on April 1, 2010 [34 favorites]


As a content creator on both Windows and Mac OS, I'm extremely pleased that this device has the potentially to greatly open up my audience.

Who cares if I can't build or develop anything on it? What matters to my bottom line is that my elderly neighbor can use it to see, nay, BUY, what I've created.

All the other arguments against this machine are just silly.
posted by monospace at 8:34 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem is Apple as gate keeper is the horrible flaw in what is an otherwise seriously cool piece of hardware. The app store (and iTunes) have virtually no navigation beyond "what's new" and "what's popular". Even if I accept the idea that i want to buy all of my content through Apple (which I don't), the Apps store and iTunes are just about the worst store layout I can imagine. Essentially they have piled all of their content in 5 or 6 heaps and allow us the privilege of combing through it.
I have an iPhone, the limitations of the app store are acceptable because it's a phone. It plays music, has a few games and can keep me from getting lost. If it were my primary computer, I would find it horribly constrictive. The iPad really designed to be a computer extension, which is a fine idea but as a computer extension it has serious limitations. There are very few ways to move files on and off. ITunes will let you load iTunes content but nothing like a text file, those you can mail to yourself (how high tech is that?) or setup some kind of bluetooth file sharing.
If this were a conventional Mac in the same form factor, I'd be drooling over it but it's not and that's deal breaker.
posted by doctor_negative at 8:36 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Malor, perhaps the iPad is not aimed at folks like you. Perhaps one of the other tablets out there would suit your needs better.

This is one of the things that makes me sigh in threads like these. People complain that they're not allowed to drive their airplane on a freeway, and why isn't the freeway designed to accommodate their airplane? Why complain that salmon doesn't taste like a steak? Order the steak instead.

These analogies are probably far from perfect, but I'm still undercaffeinated.
posted by rtha at 8:36 AM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


As a content creator on both Windows and Mac OS, I'm extremely pleased that this device has the potentially to greatly open up my audience.

As long as Apple agrees to sell your product.
posted by doctor_negative at 8:37 AM on April 1, 2010 [9 favorites]


Aside from the fact that I truly believe your post is nothing more than corporate advertising, and I flagged it as such, you do know that MetaFilter is normally a place where different opinions are expressed, right? Check out the post on Circus Peanuts...some people love them and some people hate them, and neither side is trying to censor the other from voicing their opinion.

See, this is where maybe it helps to read what I say. I wrote, pretty specifically:

"I can't help but feel it's not terrible to ask that maybe the Apple haters voice their criticism politely and intelligently"

Like, I don't entirely agree with Malor's comments, but the dude is thoughtful and well-spoken and constructs an argument that leads to good discussion. The fact that he'd made a similar comment earlier this week made me wary when his was the first comment, but that's productive conversation. As opposed to saying, say,

"So you want to keep it as Apple as fanboy Viagra, then?" (HA! Fanboys need help keeping up their dicks! I am so clever and I am helping this thread go good places.)

Or:

"The last line made me iPuke." (HA! Because Apple prefaces their products with an "i". I am so clever etc etc.)

I hope this doesn't sound hypocritical. I'm trying to take my time to express my ideas soundly so that I don't come across as a valueless snarkpot. But when half of this thread is really interesting and the other half is the sort of shit you like to spit out, rocket88, you'll forgive me when I suggest that perhaps some people are being shitcocks and some people are voicing their criticisms in a way that cultivates interesting discussion.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:42 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the "want to DO stuff with it" is limiting their stuff-wanting-to-be-done, principally (but not exclusively) to stuff-that-requires-typing.

I can easily imagine doing lots and lots of stuff with this in a recording studio or live sound environment. I can imagine people with the visually artistic talent I sadly lack going to town on this; heck, look what they've done with a tiny iPhone. In a business context, I can totally see presenting much more interesting Keynote presentations, flipping back and forth between pages, recombining graphics with my finger...

There are probably more examples, but those are the first two that came to mind that could put the large screen and touch interface to "do stuff."

Then, of course, there's pr0n. Never underestimate the power of pr0n.
posted by digitalprimate at 8:44 AM on April 1, 2010


Imagine being forced to carry a legal pad around all your waking hours

Yeah, that really killed notebook computers.


You can close a laptop. Plus there's no expectation of being able to use it on the fly. When you use a laptop, you have a lap. When you use a really big iPod, you don't.
posted by DU at 8:47 AM on April 1, 2010


Is multitasking really that necessary?
If it's not nessisary, why is apple building it into the next version of the OS? Kind of hilarious how apple zealots have been going on and on about how unimportant it is, bla bla bla until it actually comes out. At which point they'll all immediately switch to saying how much more awesome multitasking on the iPad/iPhone then any other system.
I think exactly the opposite for one simple reason: It's too big.

Imagine being forced to carry a legal pad around all your waking hours. While you are trying to pay for your coffee.
I don't think it will replace the phone, but people might start carrying tablets instead of laptops. Basically, it's just a keyboardless netbook, except that it's locked down like a video game machine. But check out Netvertables. Netbooks with touch screens that have keyboards that fold under like a more expensive tablet PC. Basically cheap tablets. Those should be pretty awesome. All the functionality of an iPad, but cheaper and with a physical keyboard whenever you want it, real access to the machine to install whatever OSes you want, etc. Many of them will have multitouch screens.

Maybe there won't be as big a market for paid content, but who really cares?
I don't want to spend endless amounts of time endlessly tweaking settings for [foo] or looking for the latest drivers for [bar]
That's not what we want to do either. We want the ability to create. Not just consume. We want camera adapters so we can take pictures, tweak them, and publish them. Can you imagine editing a web page without multitasking? No way to quickly switch between an HTML editor, browser, and graphics program? For people who are actually doing things, multitasking is important because people doing things are going need more then one tool at a time.

And the other thing is that we want those things there even if we don't end up using. And it's frustrating that those features would be withheld despite the fact they wouldn't actually add any cost to the device.

So Apple lovers go on and on about aesthetics and how beautiful their crap is. But the fact is this this ethos is from our perspective has aesthetic problems. It's aesthetically ugly
And, diehard multitasking antifanboyism MeFi critics: Why are you here?
Why are you here? Don't post an Apple thread and then complain about how everyone else isn't agreeing with you. People on metafilter are always complaining about things. Your favorite consumer product maker sucks, etc.
posted by delmoi at 8:48 AM on April 1, 2010 [18 favorites]


"I'll let you know," I say, "when I've actually played with one."

I'm a fan of Fry's work, and I particularly liked how he peppered the article with statements like this, which are basically a thinly veiled way of saying "yeah, yeah... all very interesting, now Gimme!"
posted by quin at 8:48 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Malor: “Apple would save money by doing this, because they could stop fighting jailbreakers so passionately. They could default the device to locked, and then give a really buried system preference somewhere to unlock it. Voila, jailbreaking arms race is over, no more money invested. It doesn't have to be friendly. Give me a root terminal and I can take it from there. I don't need handholding. I'd have no objection to Apple refusing warranty service on a machine that wasn't running an un-jailbroken firmware, but I think wiping and completely restoring the computer to the original factory specs should also restore your warranty. ¶ For what it's worth, I have zero interest in pirating anything. I'll pay for any commercial code I run. I just want to be able to really use that general-purpose hardware. The ease-of-use is wonderful, but Apple can totally keep that while leaving a small escape hatch for the clueful, and save money to boot.”

But you're not taking the long view that Steve Jobs is taking. The point isn't just that jailbreaking phones is bad for Apple; it's that Apple's entire business model is based on tying software to hardware as closely as possible. This is a career-long insistence that Steve has made, sometimes even against the wishes of those on the board of directors. And it's the other side of his ideas about the future of computing, the ideas that don't get talked about nearly so much. Steve Jobs is betting that, in the future, most people won't want to know anything about what's "going on" on their computers - they'll just want a direct interface to their stuff - and that developers will happily pay for the privilege. A rosy picture for Apple and their coffers, and perhaps a sleeker, more refined world, but it's the furthest thing from ideal for those of us concerned with computer freedom and with educating people about computer internals.
posted by koeselitz at 8:48 AM on April 1, 2010 [14 favorites]


Why are you here? Don't post an Apple thread and then complain about how everyone else isn't agreeing with you.

It must be very disorienting for an Apply fanboy to encounter the non-homogeneous real world.
posted by DU at 8:50 AM on April 1, 2010 [9 favorites]


See, this is where maybe it helps to read what I say. I wrote, pretty specifically: "I can't help but feel it's not terrible to ask that maybe the Apple haters voice their criticism politely and intelligently"
You also said:
"tl;dr don't be a shitcock"
posted by delmoi at 8:50 AM on April 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


delmoi: Well, yeah! And I like it. And my thoughts that the conversation here could be a bit better get to be a part of that. Part of the discussion that's going on in this thread I like a lot.

(I'm thinking fondly back to the first iPad thread where you and I yelled at each other for probably way too long. That was a great discussion, is what I'm saying, and I don't think any of the snark here is doing anything that wasn't done better in that first aggravating thread. So instead maybe this one could have a bit of a different tone.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:50 AM on April 1, 2010


Steve Jobs is betting that, in the future, most people won't want to know anything about what's "going on" on their computers - they'll just want a direct interface to their stuff - and that developers will happily pay for the privilege.

What a Brave New World that will be.
posted by bonehead at 8:51 AM on April 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


So Apple lovers go on and on about aesthetics and how beautiful their crap is. But the fact is this this ethos is from our perspective has aesthetic problems. It's aesthetically ugly

Was there more to this or did you just trail off? Because you're arguing functionality, not aesthetic.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:52 AM on April 1, 2010


This is not a comment about the iPad, this is a comment about the photo leading Stephen Fry's article: It makes Steve Jobs look like he really really needs your blood.

I'll have a comment about the iPad when I receive my 3G model in a few weeks.
posted by ardgedee at 8:53 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you enjoy knowing that you've made a few people who're interested in this company's products a little less happy?

No, but I might want a few people who're interested in this company's products to think a bit more deeply about them.

As a content creator on both Windows and Mac OS, I'm extremely pleased that this device has the potentially to greatly open up my audience.

Who cares if I can't build or develop anything on it? What matters to my bottom line is that my elderly neighbor can use it to see, nay, BUY, what I've created.


I'm a bit split over this. I'll probably get one myself, as they're certainly nicely made and useful for consuming content. But as a content creator myself, I'd like to be able to use whatever tools I think are best to create content - including Flash, Silverlight, etc - without having to worry about wars between opposing vendors, which is all that the Adobe-Apple tiff really is.

And I'm concerned about the future content creators, who start out as content consumers. My nephew, for example, is about twelve, and is interested in computers. I just got him a Python tutorial book for kids. I could do that, and he could express his interest, because he's exposed to actual computers with all their functionality. What about the kids whose parents get them iPads? There's no functionality in there for them to explore.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:55 AM on April 1, 2010 [8 favorites]


Was there more to this or did you just trail off? Because you're arguing functionality, not aesthetic.

To a person who uses the device, functionality is aesthetic.
posted by DU at 8:56 AM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


Stephen Fry is the biggest prick in England. Steve Jobs is the biggest prick in USA. I can't therefore watch it. Sorry.

And as for the IPad? I recently asked my aging father if he fancied one (for a joke), and he replied "I've never been one for fashion accessories." heh
posted by Monkeymoo at 8:57 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I can't help but feel it's not terrible to ask that maybe the Apple haters voice their criticism politely and intelligently"

Dude, you say that, but some of the comments you've objected to, and the reasons stated for doing so don't back this up. You started the thread off asking people not to criticise the app store at all, and called the argument "Apple as Gated Tyrant."

Here's the deal: You made a post, and while you certainly have the option to police it as rabidly as you're currently doing, it's not a good idea. I can't think of a single time it has ever gone well. We, as a group of people, don't tend to respond well to restrictions on how we're allowed to talk about things. that's thing number 1. thing number 2 is that, for christ's sake, it's an apple thread. you know as well as anybody how these go. I admire your lack of cynicism for hoping it would go differently, but it's not going to. It was no different in my Windows Phone thread (note: a phone I will not purchase or use, so I have the advantage of not being emotionally invested in the product), and I largely stayed out of it. This is how it goes. You post about this sector of the product landscape, and you get this kind of thing. When you make your post, you just have to accept that and ask yourself if you still want to make the post knowing that. If you do, then you gotta let it go once you click post. Your blood pressure will thank you, and your thread will - believe it or not - go better without the policing.
posted by shmegegge at 8:57 AM on April 1, 2010 [19 favorites]


See, this is where maybe it helps to read what I say. I wrote, pretty specifically:

"I can't help but feel it's not terrible to ask that maybe the Apple haters voice their criticism politely and intelligently"


Is "don't be a shitchock" polite and intelligent?

I haven't criticized Apple or its products at all in this thread. I've only been critical of the Pepsi Blue tome of the post and of your threadsitting attempts.

For the record, I'm not a hater. I have an ipod touch. I like it but don't love it. As a product designer I dislike Apple's closed system approach and aversion to the concept of interoperability. I also hate their morality-based censorship of allowable applications.
posted by rocket88 at 8:59 AM on April 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm convinced a lot of this is gushing is just the placebo effect applied to product design.

I'm suspecting payola (e.g., free or heavily discounted iPad) as many of the articles out there are from big names and don't seem very unbiased.
posted by crapmatic at 9:01 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can easily imagine doing lots and lots of stuff with this in a recording studio or live sound environment.

Yeah, if I get one music creation would be one of its main uses. No doubt there will be some really incredible music apps. But it's frustrating in so many ways. Lack of a USB port is a real problem, and uncertainty about how to store, transfer, and manage your work makes me nervous. And who knows how audio inputs or MIDI will work, if at all. Will memory and latency be issues? This comes so close to being a serious music instrument, and yet it feels crippled. At the very least there are tons of questions that need answering before I even consider purchasing.
posted by naju at 9:02 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


You can close a laptop. Plus there's no expectation of being able to use it on the fly. When you use a laptop, you have a lap. When you use a really big iPod, you don't.

Interesting point. I remember the demo Jobs did at the introduction of it, him setting in a chair, holding it with one hand as he used it with the other. I wonder if new injuries will occur over using the iPad in these new ways.

Still, I'm confused by your complaints. It's not a legal pad, it's device that holds lots of music, photos and videos and has an internet connection. It's easy, IMO, to see people being willing to carry around major portions of their life on a device that gives them that warm, glowly feeling.


Why are you here?

delmoi, malor, it gets tiring hearing you guys pop into these threads repeating the exact same arguments. Seriously, demoi, you've been repeating the "there were 40 tablets before the iPad was introduced, why is Apple getting all the attention" for months now. It gets old in the sense that both of you seem to think that there are superior products out there and that people who use Apple products are somehow dumb for the choices they make. That's the really irritating part, it's as if ya'll only seeing things in a single way and refuse to see how other people use technology.

That's what interests me about Apple's recent successes, that despite Malor's good points about Apple limiting the device and delmoi's thoughts about how other similar products have existed, yet Apple's take on them tend to be game changers. Why is that, I wonder? What sweet spot have they discovered they has allow them to pull such success?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:03 AM on April 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


me & my monkey: “And I'm concerned about the future content creators, who start out as content consumers. My nephew, for example, is about twelve, and is interested in computers. I just got him a Python tutorial book for kids. I could do that, and he could express his interest, because he's exposed to actual computers with all their functionality. What about the kids whose parents get them iPads? There's no functionality in there for them to explore.”

You bring up a remarkably poignant point, and I think this runs to the very heart of how we live with machines now. I noticed some years ago how strikingly often we interact with machines, and how much our attitude toward them can influence our lives now. I know this isn't ideal for everyone, but I truly believe that it's very, very hard to live with machines if you haven't made at least a certain effort to understand how they work and thus gain power over them. Most people I know don't know very much at all about cars, for example; they are at the mercy of the machine, so that, when it stops working, they have no control or power to make it run. All physical things break down, sometimes beyond repair, so nobody can have absolute power over a machine; but I think it does us a world of good to maintain a level of power to manipulate and change the machines around us.

Kids meet with this possibility intuitively, because manipulating things is play for them. The iPad in the hands of a child is an unfortunate image, I think, because it's the image of a child who's locked away from all the internals and the guts and the stuff under the hood of the computer that makes it work. An iPad-using child will have a significantly difficult time getting into programming.

For what it's worth, there is a fantastic computer that is both a fun toy and a great way for a kid to learn to play with computers. It's the OLPC.
posted by koeselitz at 9:05 AM on April 1, 2010 [11 favorites]


Here's the deal: You made a post, and while you certainly have the option to police it as rabidly as you're currently doing, it's not a good idea.

Do my comments come across as policing? I'm sorry; I was trying to add my opinion where I thought I had something worth saying and wasn't just repeating myself.

The parts of this thread that I like don't have anything to do with the App Store. The argument over creator versus consumer culture, for instance: Partly because it's not out, we haven't seen any content creation tools, and so there's a question over whether any will be made. I suspect there will be, particularly if this sells as well as I think it will, but that's a legitimate question that I'll be interested to see develop.

The "Apple as Gated Tyrant" comment was my attempt to reference Malor's previous rant, which began:

"This is an important fight; it's the war of the guy who wants to put shackles on your wrists to 'make your life better' versus the guys who want to let you do what you want with the hardware you own."

Is "don't be a shitchock" polite and intelligent?

I was sort of hoping it would be a tongue-in-cheek tl;dr. I'm sorry. I guess I totally misjudged the tone of that comment.

I haven't criticized Apple or its products at all in this thread. I've only been critical of the Pepsi Blue tome of the post and of your threadsitting attempts.

I get that, and your accusation's legit, but at the same time I kind of resent the tone. It's possible to tell me I'm being an asshat without asshattery yourself.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:06 AM on April 1, 2010


No, but I might want a few people who're interested in this company's products to think a bit more deeply about them.

Why do you care? Why does is that important to you?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:06 AM on April 1, 2010


The problem is Apple as gate keeper is the horrible flaw in what is an otherwise seriously cool piece of hardware.

It's not a hardware flaw, it's a business model feature.
posted by donovan at 9:06 AM on April 1, 2010


From my read of Pogue's 2-in-1 review in this morning's Times, it is apparent that the iPad is a machine for consuming media rather than consuming and creating.

Perhaps consumption is foremost, but I think there's a lot of musicians and visual artists who can't wait to get their hands on the thing. It's potential as a controller and manipulator shouldn't be underestimated.

But what's really weird about this is that it's not anything new. There's nothing even remotely novel about the iPad. Yet people are gushing over it. It's so bizarre.

"Is multitasking really that necessary?" If it's not nessisary, why is apple building it into the next version of the OS? Kind of hilarious how apple zealots have been going on and on about how unimportant it is, bla bla bla until it actually comes out.


I think you're both kind of missing the point. Apple doesn't usually come out with the first of anything. It's not that they aren't interested in tablets or multitasking. What they're interested in is getting it right. That's why it takes so friggin long.
posted by fungible at 9:07 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's easy, IMO, to see people being willing to carry around major portions of their life on a device that gives them that warm, glowly feeling.

Willing, yes. I'm just trying to figure out how. I have a "palmtop" type computer and even it is a hassle. It fits in my pocket, but not if I sit. Where does it go when I'm not using it? I could put it on a shelf (the chair isn't safe), but then I don't have it with me. I've taken to wearing flannel shirts just so I'll have a pocket, but I don't know what to do in the summer.

Imagine that problem, only bigger.
posted by DU at 9:09 AM on April 1, 2010


I know I'm lame, but the last sentence of Fry's article - his melancholy thought - actually made me cry. If you feel you must dick-wave about 'horrible flaws,' blah blah blah, then go ahead - but Apple Inc. is catching up with Gene Rodenberry and Douglas Adams, and I'm glad of it.
posted by waxbanks at 9:09 AM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


Do my comments come across as policing?

Yes.
posted by shmegegge at 9:11 AM on April 1, 2010 [13 favorites]


No, but I might want a few people who're interested in this company's products to think a bit more deeply about them.

Why do you care? Why does is that important to you?


Because we are only now getting over the last Microsoft, we don't need another one. (And I'm looking at you too, Google.)
posted by DU at 9:11 AM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


"I discovered that one doesn't relate to it as a "tool"; the experience is closer to one's relationship with a person or an animal."

Oh Christ.


You really, really don't understand that this article and the ongoing iPad conversation have almost nothing to do with 'technology' as such - do you.
posted by waxbanks at 9:12 AM on April 1, 2010


Apple does things a certain way. They don't insist their way is the best way. They don't seem to get particularly irritated when people buy products that aren't theirs.

Rory, that's pretty disingenuous, especially the latter. Or do you just want to conveniently forget about the whole Apple HTC patent suit?
posted by 6550 at 9:13 AM on April 1, 2010


Two words, DU: manpurse.
posted by Wood at 9:13 AM on April 1, 2010


That's not what we want to do either. We want the ability to create. Not just consume.

Well, it's easy - don't buy one. This is the attitude that I really don't understand. I don't complain that my car isn't fit to compete at a NASCAR event or that my ordinary old cell phone can't program my DVR remotely. I could go out and get items that would let me do those things if I wanted to.

I don't complain that a book about London in the 14th century doesn't address 19th century dining habits in China.

There are a million devices - some of them Apple products - that allow you to edit photos and make movies and put together pieces of music. So go use one of them for those purposes.

I'm honestly, truly puzzled by this. "The iPad won't let me do [blah]!!!" Well, okay. There's no requirement that you buy one.

A portable DVR player won't let you do all kinds of things either. Does that mean it's a creativity-killer? It's a device designed to do a certain thing.
posted by rtha at 9:15 AM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


They don't seem to get particularly irritated when people buy products that aren't theirs.

You mean how when I try to buy products to put on my iPhone and then can't because I didn't buy them from Apple?
posted by DU at 9:16 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm just trying to figure out how.

I'm honestly confused here. Like a laptop, I'm guessing people with have bag/protector to put it in, along with a strap to carry it on their shoulder. Don't really see it as big deal. It's something you sit down with, not use in your hand like an iPhone.

The delicacy of it as a good question, it is $500 and nobody wants their precious snowflake device to be cracked and dented. Ive's, in the Time article, seems to indicate that it's build to be sturdy, and I have an iTouch that's been dropped and banged up a bit, but still works fine. But the iPad is bigger, so who knows? Sure, they've designed it not to be flimsy, but people are really going to be abusing this thing in ways they've never dreamed of. Should be interesting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:17 AM on April 1, 2010


There are more important things in the world than computer internals. If that's your approach, Jobs has won.
posted by Wood at 9:18 AM on April 1, 2010


Congratulations, there's an adapter for that!

There's also a shocking new "universal" port called USB that generally negates the need for $30 adapters on many, many products.

We can argue "Apple fanboyism" til we're both diseased and dying, but it's such a fucking wreck. There is nothing wrong with liking things. Liking things rocks!

Liking things you've never actually used makes you a douche. Gushing about things you've never actually used makes you a bigger douche. Getting all upset over people calling you a douche for gushing over things you've never actually used makes you an Apple fanboi -- time to get the tattoo.
posted by coolguymichael at 9:20 AM on April 1, 2010 [9 favorites]


After reading these reviews, I am eager to try an iPad for myself.
posted by grubi at 9:20 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


We want the ability to create. Not just consume.

This isn't the product for you, and it's not being presented as a product for you. It's the 80 side of 80/20, and you're on the 20 side.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:21 AM on April 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


It occurs to me that folks who complain about 'not being able to mod ("hack") my machine' probably aren't actually complaining about diminished capacity. What really bothers them, I think, is that they're not allowed to play destructively with beautiful things - i.e. they're not engaging with the object as-is, and perhaps feel alienated from others' experience, or resent it, or need to play nerd style games.

It's like bitching that no one will let you do graffiti art atop the Mona Lisa. You still get to do your art in plenty of other places, but it's the whole idea of a preserve that's not all about your personal aesthetic that's bothersome.

When Fry compares his relationship to his electronic device, e.g. the iPad, to a relationship with an animal, he's not saying the iPad is a goddamn puppy. He's saying the device motivates him to act not abstractly/analytically but affectively, aesthetically. And he implies (or maybe I wanna jump off claiming) that acts so motivated are healthy and good, even if they're not DIYpunk or what have you.
posted by waxbanks at 9:22 AM on April 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Liking things you've never actually used makes you a douche. Gushing about things you've never actually used makes you a bigger douche.

Or it makes you an enthusiastic person. Do you get similarly irritated at people who're excited about Toy Story 3, or about the next season of Mad Men, or about the upcoming [novel] by [author]? It's healthy to look forward to things, and it's douchey to want to shoot people down just because they're excited about them.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:23 AM on April 1, 2010 [7 favorites]


You know what the difference is between all of these reviewers (Pogue, Fry, Uncle Walt, Ihnakto, etc.) and everyone who's commented on this thread (as far as I can tell)?

They've actually used an iPad.

All these tech-pundit wannabes complaining about the iPad's lack of features and App-Store lock-in and predicting its failure are going to look pretty stupid after Apple's sold many many millions of iPads. The iPad is going to be wildly successful precisely because it's not an overly-complicated, multitasking, cheaply-made netbook. There will always be more non-tech-savvy people than tech-savvy people, and the iPad was created for them. These columnists reviewing the iPad understand this. The naysayers just haven't figured out yet how to look outside their own narrow-vision version of technology. The iPad doesn't fit into their status-quo mold and so it must be deficient, or strange, or useless, or underpowered or....
posted by mrbarrett.com at 9:25 AM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


We want the ability to create. Not just consume.

That is a a bummer about the iPad, the last of ports and ability to really use it as a creative device. Hopefully, they'll fix that in later versions, but as it stand now, it's a serious WTF?! Damn thing should be lined with 3 or 4 USB and Fireware ports each at least.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:27 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have no particular opinion on the iPad or Apple (Ok, that's a lie - I find Apple smug, but that's as deep as it goes, many of my family are Mac people) but it was interesting to note that the iPad had one of the most egregious pieces of product placement I've ever seen. In a recent episode of Modern Family, the A-plot related to the father wanting an iPad for his birthday and his wife failing to stand in line for one. The episode ended with a sketchily acquired iPad being delivered to the father while the family clustered round it like it was the Monolith in 2001. I wonder how much that cost them at 1 Infinite Loop?

Also, is anyone at all surprised that Stephen Fry loves a shiny new techy gadget with a good interface? You gotta love the man, but the article wasn't much more than a re-recollection of his old apple-related anecdotes, some marketing fluff, a buffer at the very end about forging a personal relationship (fair comment, but is that really such a game changer?) and a dubious grace note about Douglas Adams (the iPad is less like the original Guide than, say, Wikipedia is in terms of information about everything, and more like the Guide mark II in that it is trying to reforge the universe in its own image for cash).
posted by Sparx at 9:27 AM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


Spare a poor thought for the app developers who've been creating Apps for this thing without having access to the hardware or even having any idea if the App store will clear them in time for launch...

Here's a neat peice from Omni on designing OmniGraphSketcher for the iPad - a process that appears to be heavy on the graph-paper.
posted by Artw at 9:28 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


What really bothers them, I think, is that they're not allowed to play destructively with beautiful things - i.e. they're not engaging with the object as-is, and perhaps feel alienated from others' experience, or resent it, or need to play nerd style games.

I feel like I'm reading some kind of parody of Apple fanboyism.
posted by kmz at 9:29 AM on April 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


Apple is freakishly anti-port but I think people are underestimating the creative potential of 10 inches of multitouch glass and decent graphics performance. There is a "photoshop" for the iphone after all.
posted by Wood at 9:32 AM on April 1, 2010


waxbanks: “I know I'm lame, but the last sentence of Fry's article - his melancholy thought - actually made me cry. If you feel you must dick-wave about 'horrible flaws,' blah blah blah, then go ahead - but Apple Inc. is catching up with Gene Rodenberry and Douglas Adams, and I'm glad of it.”

Look, this isn't dick-waving, honestly - and please understand that it isn't a binary situation. There aren't just "haters" and "fanboys."

I love computers. I love doing stuff with computers. I spend far too much time computing than I should probably admit. And what's more, I despise the user interfaces that MS & co have always come up with: crufty, ugly, painful, sad. They slow people down, and they stop people from enjoying the experience of using a computer.

I don't worship at the altar of the future, but I do believe that people are starting to realize that computers can be fun and even exciting to use. And I think that's great. But I also worry about the way that's happening, because it's happening the Apple way - with closed systems and closed sources, with a requirement that you must have your programs approved by Big Brother before you distribute them at all, even for free, and with hardware that keeps anyone from questioning what's going on behind the curtain. With respect, I think Steve Jobs is dead wrong; it doesn't have to be this way. Apple can be enormously popular and successful without giving in to the temptation to close software and hardware and lock everything down, killing freedom and stifling progress. And while good style and an enjoyable interface are great, if they don't come with the true freedom that they imply, they're just window dressing.

I'm typing this from Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu Linux is as easy to use as Apple's OS X, and just as beautiful and functional. The difference is that it's free, and it stands for freedom in every sense: in the sense that it doesn't cost you anything, and in the sense that you can do whatever you want with it. It's beautiful and useful, and if I wanted to I could never look at the command line or a line of code ever again. But to me, the real beauty is in the fact that, if I wanted, I could dig my mitts into every single piece of the whole machine, and no one would ever try to stop me.
posted by koeselitz at 9:32 AM on April 1, 2010 [14 favorites]


What blows my mind is every single device Apple releases is "closed" in some sense, and yet, the old-school hardware nerds (and their spiritual successors) cry havoc about each of them.

Look, if it comes from Apple, you're not going to easily do all your hackity-hack with it, okay? This is no longer news and it's descending into crybabyism.
posted by grubi at 9:38 AM on April 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


mrbarrett: Apple's PR machine is legendary. You can be absolutely sure that they made iPads available for review only to reviewers who could be pretty much guaranteed to give it a gushing review. The people in question will have already made it quite clear that they love the iPad even before they get their hands on one.
posted by pharm at 9:38 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ubuntu Linux is as easy to use as Apple's OS X, and just as beautiful and functional.

what
posted by entropicamericana at 9:39 AM on April 1, 2010 [8 favorites]


Close your notes, open your e-book reader, launch the right textbook, go to the page, check the text or diagram, close the reader, re-open your notes, rinse, repeat.
So ... how would this work, then? Even with multi-tasking you need a way to switch between the reading and the notes, and if both apps are well written, that should be nearly as seamless as if you were switching between full-screen apps.

I don't think this is how you're meant to see this, though. Time to get beyond the "I have one computer" mentality; instead think of Picard and his table full of padds. So you have your textbook open on the iPad, and you're typing into your laptop. Or another pad (in the future, when they're even cheaper, I guess).
posted by bonaldi at 9:40 AM on April 1, 2010


I've always thought it was weird that if someone likes an Apple product and tells people they like it, they're instantly labeled as a "fanboy," "zealot," or "Apple-lover." I'm wearing Merrell boots right now, and when I tell someone they're quite comfortable no one jumps down my throat and accuses me of being a paid shill for the company or obviously just brainwashed by their marketing department. I've seen a few people who actually do come across as Mac zealots, but I see many more people who could be described as Mac haters, attacking iStrawmen.

I don't plan on getting an iPad, I don't have an iPhone, and I'm typing this on a computer running Windows XP, but I have a (~5 years old, second generation) iPod Nano, so I guess you can just dismiss this comment by an Apple fanboy.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 9:40 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


delmoi, malor, it gets tiring hearing you guys pop into these threads repeating the exact same arguments.
You know what else is tiring? Hearing people gush about this over hyped toy.
Was there more to this or did you just trail off? Because you're arguing functionality, not aesthetic.
Incorrect.
Aesthetics (also spelled æsthetics or esthetics) is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty.[1] It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste.[2] More broadly, scholars in the field define aesthetics as "critical reflection on art, culture and nature."[3][4] Aesthetics is a subdiscipline of axiology, a branch of philosophy, and is closely associated with the philosophy of art.[5] Aesthetics studies new ways of seeing and of perceiving the world.[6]

...
Aesthetic judgments can often be very fine-grained and internally contradictory. Likewise aesthetic judgments seem often to be at least partly intellectual and interpretative. It is what a thing means or symbolizes for us that is often what we are judging .... Thus aesthetic judgments might be seen to be based on the senses, emotions, intellectual opinions, will, desires, culture, preferences, values, subconscious behavior, conscious decision, training, instinct, sociological institutions, or some complex combination of these, depending on exactly which theory one employs.
posted by delmoi at 9:40 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


What really bothers them, I think, is that they're not allowed to play destructively with beautiful things - i.e. they're not engaging with the object as-is, and perhaps feel alienated from others' experience, or resent it, or need to play nerd style games.

That's a bit too much for me but I do question the obsession with the closed nature of the apple ecosystem. I mean there are people out there selling linux-based phones. With screws and removable batteries and big old connectors just dying for hacking. It must be kind of demoralizing to them to see the obsession with apple amongst erstwhile hackers. It kind of makes the rants against fashion (and build I suppose) ring hollow.

No one is going to build the open hacker device with the last millimeter shaved off or the clock-setting UI redesigned 15 times. But they will build something. What's the fight about?

When the computer becomes ubiquitous that doesn't mean everything becomes a computer. Who's to say how smart consumer electronics can be?
posted by Wood at 9:40 AM on April 1, 2010


What really bothers them, I think, is that they're not allowed to play destructively with beautiful things - i.e. they're not engaging with the object as-is, and perhaps feel alienated from others' experience, or resent it, or need to play nerd style games.

I feel like I'm reading some kind of parody of Apple fanboyism.
I know, I know. But I'm sure a second reading will help you get what you haven't gotten yet.

Lemme put it this way: it's possible to feel strongly that there should be 'open-source' or freely-modifiable tech tools, while still recognizing that conventionally-beautiful tech tools offer powerful experiences that no such open/DIY/hacked tools yet offer. I can recognize the quality of Nethack without stupidly insisting that it's aesthetically superior (or even directly comparable) to Diablo 2.

In other words: it's great to enjoy voiding warranties and remaking your world DIY style, etc., but it's childish to complain that someone else's creative work demands that you make (opt-in) behavioral/financial/stylistic concessions, and it's weird to think Apple and Instructables are in some zero-sum competition. Not to say you-in-particular feel that way, but plenty of people seem to, and that kind of nerdpocalyptic vision is no more or less self-gratifying than the Must!Buy!Now! bullshit that actual fanboys spout.

Does that make sense, at least?
posted by waxbanks at 9:40 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you get similarly irritated at people who're excited about Toy Story 3?

Not at all.

But if someone said, "I haven't seen Toy Story 3 yet, but I already like it so much that I'm going to spend $700 on it and buy lots of Toy Story 3 accessories, and it's going to change my life and the way movies are made forever, and don't rain on my parade by pointing out flaws in the trailer LALALALALALA" that person would be a douche.
posted by coolguymichael at 9:42 AM on April 1, 2010 [14 favorites]


I've taken to wearing flannel shirts just so I'll have a pocket, but I don't know what to do in the summer.

Four words (and accompanying image) for you: Larry The Cable Guy.
posted by hippybear at 9:42 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's what interests me about Apple's recent successes, that despite Malor's good points about Apple limiting the device and delmoi's thoughts about how other similar products have existed, yet Apple's take on them tend to be game changers. Why is that, I wonder? What sweet spot have they discovered they has allow them to pull such success?

Marketing?
posted by burnmp3s at 9:43 AM on April 1, 2010 [7 favorites]


Koeselitz—eloquently stated. I don't completely agree with you, but your point is stated beautifully.

The problem I think is that to some degree it's not possible to achieve the elegance Apple's created without restricting control to a certain degree. The funny thing is that I think the ways Apple does restrict control are all the things it doesn't need to. What Apple needs is creative control over their product design. They need to let themselves be moved along by a somewhat dictatorial view of their product.

I disagree with you entirely, for instance, on Ubuntu's beauty and functionality. I run Ubuntu and Windows 7, and I think currently Ubuntu's the least elegant of the three. It feels very messy. Approaching it from a graphic/interface design background, there're lots of elements it could simply do without, elements that feel tacky and not-well-thought-out. And I wish Ubuntu would get itself a real asshole of a designer to simplify it and consolidate everything under one beautiful, polished package.

But the things that make Ubuntu awesome are all things Apple could do. They could open up their computer and let people tinker. Or at the least they could give people the option to do so. To some degree it is allowed, and I've modified my version of OS X significantly with little tweaks and hacks, but it could be made more intuitive without sacrificing that dictatorial control.

The iPad reflects this dilemma. Because to some degree, Apple does need tight control. It needs to control the file directories so that every photo appears in the Photos app and nowhere else, and all the songs are in iTunes. It needs to sync with iTunes on computers rather than having a filedrag because that way it's allowed to be sleeker and smoother. I don't fault them for doing that.

What I do fault is that they don't give people a checkbox burrowed in System Preferences that says "Let me fuck shit up." They could let people open the iPad and tinker and ruin everything (with a reset option, of course) without making their product any less sleek. And I'm certain at some point they'll either let people do that or they'll come up with a better approach with the same effect.

I don't mind, because I'm not at all a computer tinkerer. So I'm fine with the closed system. But I don't think it's necessary, and I wonder if Apple's just being vain and trying to protect their pretty machines or if there's some other logic going on that we just can't see.

But if someone said, "I haven't seen Toy Story 3 yet, but I already like it so much that I'm going to spend $700 on it and buy lots of Toy Story 3 accessories, and it's going to change my life and the way movies are made forever, and don't rain on my parade by pointing out flaws in the trailer LALALALALALA" that person would be a douche.

So it's a good thing I'm not saying that, right? I'm not buying an iPad. I'll geek out over it the first chance I get, but I don't need one. It doesn't mean I don't recognize it's an awesome thing.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:44 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


bonaldi, see the courier demos for one idea on how this should work (basically two panels, side by side with an explict visual clippad for moving info about). Exposé on OS X is another.
posted by bonehead at 9:45 AM on April 1, 2010


You know what else is tiring? Hearing people gush about this over hyped toy.

THEN SKIP THE FUCKING THREAD.
posted by grubi at 9:46 AM on April 1, 2010 [10 favorites]


What blows my mind is every single device Apple releases is "closed" in some sense

This one is closed in the sense that you can only attach Apple approved peripherals to it, and can only run Apple approved software on it. That's pretty damn closed.
posted by smackfu at 9:48 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the point waxbanks is making is that we should recognize the value of a diversity of approaches to technological expression/experience, rather than privileging any one particular view of relationship to technology—i.e., DIY, or Apple—exclusively.
posted by chinston at 9:49 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love computers. I love doing stuff with computers. I spend far too much time computing than I should probably admit. And what's more, I despise the user interfaces that MS & co have always come up with: crufty, ugly, painful, sad. They slow people down, and they stop people from enjoying the experience of using a computer.

Step back a second and consider that your way of enjoying using a computer is not the way that everyone enjoys using a computer. The ways that some people enjoy using a computer are not necessarily your ways. Neither means that anyone "enjoys" the experience less than someone else.
posted by rtha at 9:50 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


This one is closed in the sense that you can only attach Apple approved peripherals to it, and can only run Apple approved software on it. That's pretty damn closed.

Just like the last 1,000 things Apple has released. Are you surprised or shocked? Seriously?
posted by grubi at 9:51 AM on April 1, 2010


I can run whatever I want on my Mac.
posted by smackfu at 9:52 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


it's a computer, obviously, but Calling it a computer is probably counterproductive. It's not a general multipurpose personal computer, it's a really nice media player with some heavily sandboxes apps. If you want that it looks like it's going to be pretty sweet, if you don't want that then you probably want to look elsewhere.
posted by Artw at 10:00 AM on April 1, 2010


grubi: “What blows my mind is every single device Apple releases is "closed" in some sense, and yet, the old-school hardware nerds (and their spiritual successors) cry havoc about each of them. ¶ Look, if it comes from Apple, you're not going to easily do all your hackity-hack with it, okay? This is no longer news and it's descending into crybabyism.”

I appreciate this, and I know all us Stallmanites can seem a bit shrill. But it's not just about our "hackity-hack." This is about freedom and the ability of people to use their machines the way they want. A few years ago, the ailing auto industry started making moves to try to take control of more of the maintenance of cars, forcing home mechanics to bring their vehicles to a certified dealership rather than work on it themselves. I remember there were a number of petitions that circulated, because while this might seem just fine to all the people who don't like working on their own cars, taking ownership of machines out of the hands of people and putting it in the hands of the manufacturer lessens freedom significantly.

This is the same issue, although Apple did this years ago and no petition could stop them now. I understand that choice is a significant part of freedom, and that some people are going to choose Apple. But as long as Apple continues to be restrictive, and to lock down their devices so that the people using them can't work on them themselves, I'm going to speak out against Apple the same way and for the same reasons that I speak against Microsoft: because computer freedom matters to everybody, not just those of us who like to hack stuff.
posted by koeselitz at 10:00 AM on April 1, 2010 [12 favorites]


Why do you care? Why does is that important to you?

I think I answered it sufficiently in my previous response, and koeselitz went into more detail as well, but I'm concerned about the future of computing. There's a world of difference between seeing the computer as a tool and seeing it as an appliance.

I'm a programmer now. When I was younger - but not that much younger - I bought a PC. Well, actually, my partner bought one. He was using a dedicated word processor - an appliance, basically, that let you type and print and that's it. He wanted to start using WordPerfect, as he was entering law school, so we got a PC. It was a 386/33MHz from CompuAdd, which we returned the same day because it didn't keep time properly. We had no idea how computers actually worked, so we thought this was a critical defect, and the salesman didn't know any better either. The same day, we ordered a Gateway 486/33 for almost the same price which was shipped through us. Honestly, I have no idea how we ordered it, as we didn't have internet access (and generally no one else did either). I guess it was through a paper mail-order catalog.

So, when this new top-of-the-line computer came, I started playing games on it. Back in those days, to play games in DOS, you'd often have to configure the computer to allocate memory one way or another, and different games had different requirements, so I learned how to write batch files. Not really because I had any great desire to be a programmer, but because I was lazy and wanted to be able to play one game, quickly reboot and play another without having to futz around every time.

Eventually though, I was more interested in making the computer do things than playing the games. I had no formal education in computer science or IS/IT, but I was able to get into the field by learning and doing.

Where's the learning and doing on an iPad? If this is the future of computing, as many people seem to think, it's a much less interesting future in some ways. Not in all ways, of course, as some people will become iPad users when they might never have approached a "regular" general-purpose computer. So again, my feelings are mixed.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:00 AM on April 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I can run whatever I want on my Mac.
No you can't. You can't run a themer for one thing; or an input manager, or a full-status non-Apple menu extra.

The Mac's more open than iPad, but it's still closed down in lots of ways -- and it's getting more so.

bonaldi, see the courier demos for one idea on how this should work (basically two panels, side by side with an explict visual clippad for moving info about). Exposé on OS X is another.
Well, yeah, but that's vapourware with a costly second panel. I'm not saying there aren't ways this should or could work (a dashboard-style drop-over is my hope), but ultimately you still need to task-switch in some fashion, and the iPhone's style of single-tasking isn't nearly as obtrusive as, say, that on pre-System 6 Macs was.

Still rubbish, tho. But am pretty sure it'll be here in 4.0
posted by bonaldi at 10:00 AM on April 1, 2010


You know what would be awesome and address some of the concerns about the continuation of computers you can actually build stuff on just a little? HyperCard for this thing.
posted by Artw at 10:01 AM on April 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


Steve Jobs is betting that, in the future, most people won't want to know anything about what's "going on" on their computers...
koeselitz, I think you're missing a key point here - this is already the case. Jobs isn't playing a long game, he's just unusually attentive to the needs of human beings who aren't just like him. Most people already don't know how to navigate their PCs' filesystems. Do mechanical pencils suck because you can't sharpen them with knives? No. (They suck, just not for that reason.) What people want from a pencil is to write. What people want from their PCs is to browse pictures, surf the web, read email, play games, write book reports, etc.

If you grew up with a vision of the personal computer as a revolutionary device - magic in a box - then the iPad and similar devices might be worrisome. The big deal here is that most people don't have that expectation. Alas for them, fine, but that means they can experience the next wave of (ubiquitous, non-PC form factor) computing in terms of the new actions it makes possible.

If Ive isn't bullshitting - and the iPad is really robust against being literally tossed onto the backseat of a car, which I doubt - then it's a big deal.

You prefer Han Solo's 'bucket of bolts' to a Star Destroyer. I get that; I feel the same way. But you have to understand, that doesn't make you Han fucking Solo. That's part of what's at stake for DIY obsessives (and more moderate programmers/hackers/etc.): the feeling of possibility. I know you like the feeling that you could stick your hands into your PC's guts whenever you want. Awesome. But if you don't ever do so, isn't it reasonable to accept - even demand - that computer designers direct their attention and effort elsewhere?

The iPad is on a different branch of the tech tree from the PC. Talking about Ubuntu in this context feels like misdirection.
posted by waxbanks at 10:03 AM on April 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Marketing?

But it's not marketing. I love marketing to death, I'd join TBWA\Chiat\Day in a flash if it meant a chance to work on Apple's products, but the marketing always comes after the product.

Apple doesn't play "me too", you know? Their products are always doing something new. They spend years and years making their shit, fine-tuning it, perfecting it, working out all the sorts of bugs people don't think about, so that when they release, everybody else spends half a decade just trying to catch up.

There was a conversation online yesterday about how Nokia's demo reels lie about their N97 phone. They show transitions that don't fucking exist, at speeds the phone can't reach, responsive in a way their phones aren't. And Apple doesn't do that. The cool sexy transitions, the way everything reacts instantly on your touch, they figured all that out. Then their marketing shows all these cool things that actually exist.

Look at Microsoft and the Zune. It took them a long time to enter the mp3 market. Then it took them a little while to polish their product. But by 2006/2007 they had a legitimate competitor to the iPod. It was sleek, it did things well, it did things the iPod didn't do. The problem is that it took them years and years to catch up, and by the time they did Apple had the iPhone out. Now it's been 4 years since the iPhone was released, and it's been only in the last 6 months that we've seen phones that might legitimately be seen as competitors, that do things as sleekly and as nicely as the iPhone did in 2006. By the end of the year we might see phones that are seriously as polished as the iPhone. But the iPhone was under construction for 6 years before it was released, and every other company has to catch up in real time.

Now it's going to be the same for the iPad. Microsoft crowed and crowed about their tablets—but their tablets are nothing like the iPad. Microsoft has nothing like this. And it'll take them a year to release anything that seems remotely like it, and it'll be terrible for years after that. By the time it's legitimately good, Apple will have cornered the market. They've spent literally ten years creating this thing. They have a depth of product that competitors won't have.

Marketing in this case is doing one thing and one thing only: It figured out what context to place the iPad in. It figured out that whereas the iPhone was all about technology, and so showed the phone against a black background, the iPad is about comfort, and shows people sitting down and using it in their living rooms. But all the whizzbang cool things it shows, that's not marketing. That's a decade of design by one of the best design firms on the planet.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:05 AM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


rtha: “Step back a second and consider that your way of enjoying using a computer is not the way that everyone enjoys using a computer. The ways that some people enjoy using a computer are not necessarily your ways. Neither means that anyone "enjoys" the experience less than someone else.”

Sorry if "despise" was too strong, but in the bit you quote, I was trying to say that I understand where Apple fans are coming from, and I really sympathize with their point of view. As I was typing that bit, I was remembering that old interview with Steve Jobs some time after he'd been fired from Apple back in the day; he was very, very passionate about good design, about making something that everyone can enjoy, and about the lack of passion from the MS camp. I'm not trying to disparage anybody here; I just wanted to say: I can understand a strong sense of allegiance to Apple.
posted by koeselitz at 10:06 AM on April 1, 2010


It strikes you when you first touch an iPad. The form just feels good, not too lightweight or heavy, nor too thin or thick. It's sensual.

Ewwww. Bleeeeh. She'd never write about a toaster that way. Her language gives me the heebie jeebies. I'll avert my eyes when I see someone with one now. Yicky.
posted by anniecat at 10:07 AM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


No you can't. You can't run a themer for one thing; or an input manager, or a full-status non-Apple menu extra.

You can install windows or Linux or whatever you want on a Mac, it's just a PC with a slightly different BIOS to boot OSX.
posted by delmoi at 10:08 AM on April 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


The word "gush" is also making me uncomfortable, coupled with that review.
posted by anniecat at 10:09 AM on April 1, 2010


The Mac's more open than iPad, but it's still closed down in lots of ways -- and it's getting more so.

True enough. I guess they've just crossed a threshold where it matters to me.
posted by smackfu at 10:09 AM on April 1, 2010


Is multitasking really that necessary?

Yes, it is. I have seven different programs open right now, and nearly always have at least four open. Maybe it doesn't make sense to compare the iPad to a laptop, but with people proclaiming the device as the future of computing, well, the limitations need to be discussed.
posted by JHarris at 10:10 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bonaldi, I can definitely run everything I want to run on my Mac. I may not want to run many of the things that you yourself would expect to be able to run (and the lack of which you seem to be saying is a defect) But for me, I can run literally everything I want to run.

That's a point that some people in this thread who are complaining that the iPad can't do this or that don't seem to get.
posted by emelenjr at 10:11 AM on April 1, 2010


Ubuntu to me is a low weight, quick loading robust operating system that does well for netbooks. Steve Jobs has quite adequately expressed that he doesn't give a shit about netbooks and is incapable of seeing the point of them. Whereas to me a decent Netbook is an absolute must-have. This thing is an entirely different category of thing, Ubuntu wouldn't fit for it in the slightest.
posted by Artw at 10:11 AM on April 1, 2010


You know what would be awesome and address some of the concerns about the continuation of computers you can actually build stuff on just a little? HyperCard for this thing.

Amen!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:12 AM on April 1, 2010


I think the point waxbanks is making is that we should recognize the value of a diversity of approaches to technological expression/experience, rather than privileging any one particular view of relationship to technology—i.e., DIY, or Apple—exclusively.

Let's also be careful of that last binary. I'm guessing - and would love to see some stats on this - that many, many children (ages 9-99) have gotten into amateur moviemaking, or even just home-movie tweaking, since the advent of (and specifically through use of) Apple's iMovie. More, I'm guessing, than were inspired by any other single tool. The availability of free, decent-quality nonlinear video editing software for the Mac - it comes with the machine for god's sake - is a big deal. If Apple makes devices that do 80% of what the best alternatives do, but expand the user base for such devices, don't all users (and makers) benefit from the rush of new blood?

Again, users' relationships to devices have nothing to do with feature lists or tech specs. Fry does get carried away at times but his article makes it clear that Apple's tools don't just let you work to do things, they make you want to try things. That distinction is pretty important - surely as important as the feeling of freedom koeselitz and others describe. The awesomeness of your tools is measured by the stuff you get around to doing with them. That's it. By that standard Apple's much-lamented 'closed systems' have much to recommend them.
posted by waxbanks at 10:13 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem I think is that to some degree it's not possible to achieve the elegance Apple's created without restricting control to a certain degree. The funny thing is that I think the ways Apple does restrict control are all the things it doesn't need to. What Apple needs is creative control over their product design. They need to let themselves be moved along by a somewhat dictatorial view of their product.

I think this statement entirely misses the point of Apple's approach to their business.

It's an ideology that optimizes for value extraction and they've determined, that for them , maintaining control is the key to success. And not just over the industrial design but also over the entire value-creation ecosystem; looking at their financial performance they are right.

They don't support Flash, for example, not because of technical reasons but because they don't want to empower Adobe and Adobe's ecosystem. And their not afraid to break consumers' Web experience because of this.

Take another example: Mobile advertising. When "free + ads" took off as a business model Apple saw this as a "revenue leakage" problem and started doing some things about it. They bought an ad network (a new business for them) and you can be sure Quatto will be baked into the iPhone/iPad SDK as the default for advertising for developers who build apps for their walled garden. And they also began placing restrictions on data that apps could collect--location, demographics--unless Apple deemed it "essential to the app experience." Well, it's certainly essential to the targeted advertising model, but in the name of consumer experience Apple's making it harder for 3rd parties to deliver that. Put another way, they are making it harder for others to extract value from their ecosystem.

You can contrast this to Google's "open approach" which certainly better aligns ideologically with tech enthusiasts/geeks but make no mistake, this is simply a business strategy that Google has determined positions them to better extract value for the market.

Yes, there are genius product designers/visionaries at Apple, but even more than that they are genius Capitalists.
posted by donovan at 10:13 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why are you here?

I normally hold my tongue on the subject, but, since you asked so nicely...

Because the success of devices like the iPhone and iPad are bad for us all.

For starters, devices like that are what Big Media needs to finally make their frustrated DRM dreams come true.

It's not a problem when it's an isolated platform in a heteregeneous, mostly open in the most important ways, technical ecosystem. But if we as consumers demonstrate our enthusiasm for paying for gated devices, we're going to get more of the behavior we reward.

If they reach a critical mass, things get bad. The things available only on locked down devices will expand beyond games and media. Financial and government services will shift to them -- in the interests of security, of course. Other platforms will have to agree to be as locked down to provide those services. Innovation will become impossible if you're not one of the few giant players that can swing through byzantine licensing agreements and corporate partnerships.

Those giant players' innovation will chiefly consist of coming up with new non-backwards-compatible proprietary standards every few years to make sure that if you want to replace your display you'll have to replace everything else, including the media, along with it.

The net as we know it will wither, being replaced by a new (secure, of course) net that requires you to be on a locked down device to participate. The government can finally resume talking about disallowing encryption they can't break (only with a warrant, of course!) And there'll be no anonymity, and no way of knowing how much logging of your transactions is going on and who has access to it.

Freedom of speech is important even if you, personally, don't feel like saying anything objectionable. And the freedom to tinker is important even if you, personally, don't feel like tinkering. It still has important implications for what world we live in.

Yes, this is a slippery slope argument. But I do see this as the future we're facing if we don't draw the line somewhere.

Today, I'm drawing the line right here: I won't pay for DRM or gated devices.
posted by Zed at 10:13 AM on April 1, 2010 [36 favorites]


This was an April Fool's joke, but I'm hoping it's the kind that ThinkGeek ends up actually doing.

Yes, it is. I have seven different programs open right now, and nearly always have at least four open. Maybe it doesn't make sense to compare the iPad to a laptop, but with people proclaiming the device as the future of computing, well, the limitations need to be discussed.

Certainly discussed; but we've already had debates where multitasking just kept getting brought up and hammered and it wasn't necessary. (As threadsitter I would like to say that I love the discussion going on right now, and how many interesting viewpoints are being brought up.)

As for multitasking: How many of those seven programs do you NEED open, versus need at-the-ready? I don't need Safari open when I'm looking at Mail, for instance, if Safari will launch in half a second and act as if it was never closed. The same goes in reverse. So I can use both Mail and Safari without it noticeably being not multitasking.

The ones I would need in the background: Anything that downloads something, anything that streams. The rest doesn't have to multitask to work well.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:15 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


me: “Steve Jobs is betting that, in the future, most people won't want to know anything about what's "going on" on their computers...”

waxbanks: “koeselitz, I think you're missing a key point here - this is already the case.”

I don't doubt it. And maybe I should have said this, but I'm certain the iPad will be enormously successful.

But don't miss the second part of my sentence, the part that you neglected to quote. It still costs money to develop for the iPhone and the iPad; and if you want to actually sell your applications, heaven help you. The process is far too grueling and painful. And this in turn slows down development and makes software less immediate and less powerful.

I'm sure Apple will see plenty of short-term success, but at this point everybody in the industry has woken up to the power of open-source development. It's not even really an ideological issue; it's just that closed development doesn't work as well. Google knows this well, and their prescience in this matter has caused an enormous rift between them and Jobs, who (I believe) is working on a model of software development from around 1982. I don't think that's a good thing for Apple, long-term.
posted by koeselitz at 10:15 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


That's a point that some people in this thread who are complaining that the iPad can't do this or that don't seem to get.
No, I don't think they're missing that point -- they're making a new point, which is that a computer that is severely constrained in the kinds of software it can run is a different sort of computer, and one that they wouldn't like to become predominant. Even if it ran all sorts of software that they liked and wanted. It's a philosophical thing.

You can install windows or Linux or whatever you want on a Mac, it's just a PC with a slightly different BIOS to boot OSX.
Semantic irrelevance: if it's not running OS X it's not really a Mac, and hence you can't run these apps on your "Mac", save without turning it into some wholly different beast.

Equally, the iPad could in principle eventually be able to run Linux, just as the iPod eventually did, sort-of. But that doesn't mean "the iPad" can multitask.
posted by bonaldi at 10:17 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


They don't support Flash, for example, not because of technical reasons

I don't buy this. Flash is a memory hog. You have that on an iPhone and people will complain about the even lousier battery life.
posted by grubi at 10:18 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Back in those days, to play games in DOS, you'd often have to configure the computer to allocate memory one way or another, and different games had different requirements, so I learned how to write batch files. Not really because I had any great desire to be a programmer, but because I was lazy and wanted to be able to play one game, quickly reboot and play another without having to futz around every time.

Eventually though, I was more interested in making the computer do things than playing the games. I had no formal education in computer science or IS/IT, but I was able to get into the field by learning and doing.

Where's the learning and doing on an iPad? If this is the future of computing, as many people seem to think, it's a much less interesting future in some ways.


Since someone else has brought up automobiles as a comparison already...

Back in the early days of autos, it was not uncommon to carry a full set of tools in your car and have to adjust things like timing or whatnot during your journey, especially if it was of any length at all. Those 1920s "automobiling gear" outfits of a heavy brown overcoat and leather helmet and goggles -- those weren't because people wanted to be fashionable. They were because it was common for the engines to throw oil while running and were to protect the driver and passengers from the droplets flying at them.

I used to say, back in the days of Win 98 and XP, that if people's cars ran like their computers, nobody would be using them.

We're moving out of the days when it is necessary to tinker endlessly with a computer to keep it running. Moving out of the days when being a mechanic is necessary to keep the machine running. And this has opened the door to a vast ubiquity of computers in nearly every aspect of life.

Yes, the early days of computers sparked a lot of teenagers and adults to learn how to make computers to backflips out of necessity. But back then, computers were hobby machines or business necessities which required installing a whole new division within a company or contracting an outside company to maintain the office. Those days are slowly waning. Just as did the certainty that your automobile would require mechanical work if you drove out on a vacation.

I'm sure that the App Store will yield some interesting possibilities for the iPad as developers get acquainted with the device. It will probably get jailbroken quite quickly, and then anyone who wants to go through the necessary steps will be able to access parts of the machine which are currently locked away. I'd love to see Obj-C programming tools made available directly on the device rather than having to deal with using the Apple Developers Kit tools on a separate machine and then paying the bucks to designate a device as a dev unit. But I haven't actually touched one of the devices yet, and really cannot make any quality assumptions about what it can or cannot do at this point.

Apple's tactics have saved them as a company. Actually made them successful rather than a background enthusiast footnote. I'm happy for that. I'm okay with having to use iTunes to load music and movies onto my satellite devices. (And contrary to popular belief, that doesn't mean I have to buy that content from the iTunes Store.) But at some point, the iPad will have to merge with full computer functionality if it's going to be more than a satellite device.

Still, for a lot of folks, a netbook is all they really need to get by with their computing needs. Granted, today's netbooks are more powerful than most computers sold 7 years ago. But if all you do is check email, surf the web, listen to music, and view other people's media offerings, then the iPad will probably suit your needs just as well.
posted by hippybear at 10:20 AM on April 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


This just came up on RSS: Apple's list of video sites that are iPad-ready.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:20 AM on April 1, 2010


Where's the learning and doing on an iPad?

Most people don't want to take the device apart, they just want use it to accomplish other things.

Is multitasking really that necessary?

No and yes.

In the short term, like copy and paste, it's possible for the general public to get along without it, but long term it becomes a glaring omission.

Marketing?

Can you expound on that, please? Do you think it's just marketing or marketing plus something else and if the latter, then what is that something else?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:22 AM on April 1, 2010


There's a heavy smell of bullcrap over the technical argument for not supporting flash, no matter how badly flash video performs on Macs.

And I do wonder about that - the holes in the browsing experience left by flash are annoying and inconvenient on the phone, but I can see them becoming infuriating on the pad.
posted by Artw at 10:22 AM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


waxbanks: “The awesomeness of your tools is measured by the stuff you get around to doing with them. That's it. By that standard Apple's much-lamented 'closed systems' have much to recommend them.”

I guess my only point in all this would be: the awesomeness of those tools has nothing to do with their closedness. In fact, I have a feeling that over the long-term Jobs will come to see that the closedness of Apple's devices actually works against them. I'm already amazed at the fact that they haven't driven off all of their developers, although they seem to have tried. However, even though developers stick with Apple, the development model Apple encourages is not really a very efficient one.

Apple may produce fantastic products, but the fact remains: an open-source Apple would be a better Apple.
posted by koeselitz at 10:23 AM on April 1, 2010


What were the arguments brought up when the original iPhone was released?
Lack of 3G, no copy-paste, shitty camera, no GPS, cost, horrible service, no way to develop for it. All of these things have been added to the phone, and the current generation of iPhones is infinitely better for it.

Why are Apple fans so against people pointing out where Apple needs to improve? Why are you so willing to parrot Apple's talking points about the affect native apps or flash support would have on the phone's stability and battery life or whatever else?

I did not expect Apple to release an oversized iPhone without at least doing some work on the keyboard. If they at least had Android's voice-to-text, I might be more willing to put up with the virtual keyboard for making simple corrections, and the hideous keyboard dock sort of proves that even Apple doesn't see the onscreen keyboard as a valid input method for anything longer than a URL. I predict that voice-to-text will be the feature people ask for most after launch. I just hope these same Apple defenders don't try to get them to leave the thread then.
posted by SAC at 10:26 AM on April 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm going to speak out against Apple the same way and for the same reasons that I speak against Microsoft: because computer freedom matters to everybody, not just those of us who like to hack stuff.

Can you talk about this a little bit more? I'm mostly in the "computer as appliance" camp, I think (I'm not entirely certain I understand or am using the analogy in the way that me & my monkey put it out there). I'm someone - surely not unusual - who generally uses a computer the way it came out of the box. I might add some apps or put up my own desktop theme or something, but I generally don't feel like I'm missing anything. On my work machine, for instance - Windows - I have the power to do really basic things like say "yes" when FF or Chrome asks if I want to download the new version, but that's about it, and I don't feel like I'm missing out on a the wide world of computer freedom. I mean, if one is missing something, one doesn't necessarily know what one is missing, right? But this is why I'm asking.


Thanks for this, too, btw. I understand your point better now, I think
posted by rtha at 10:26 AM on April 1, 2010


It still costs money to develop for the iPhone and the iPad; and if you want to actually sell your applications, heaven help you. The process is far too grueling and painful. And this in turn slows down development and makes software less immediate and less powerful.

The App Store is probably one of the most successful software development and distribution operations in history, one which everyone is currently trying to emulate. It has a kajillion apps on there and the software makers, while having to jump through hoops to get on the market, actually get to sell their wares for money rather than having to beg for donations. They seem quite happy to do so.

Discuss.
posted by fungible at 10:27 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


SAC, again: It's less the criticism than it's that sometimes that criticism overrides all other discussion, and that's no fun for anybody.

Netflix is apparently releasing an iPad app, which excites me.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:28 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a heavy smell of bullcrap over the technical argument for not supporting flash, no matter how badly flash video performs on Macs.

So they *should* support Flash, let it drain the battery, and THAT would be a better experience?

Um.
posted by grubi at 10:30 AM on April 1, 2010


Rory Marinich: “This just came up on RSS: Apple's list of video sites that are iPad-ready.”

I loved the idea of HTML5, and I am one to be blinded by hope, so I think I probably jumped to the conclusion that Flash was dying far too soon. Artw's right, I think; Flash is still sort of necessary.

But y'know what's interesting about that list? Look who's not on it: Youtube. Youtube has implemented HTML5... but only in beta. And, oh wait - they're owned by Google, aren't they? Hmm.

If anybody knows how to wield the weapon of 'beta' it's Google. I wonder if they'll keep Youtube/HTML5 development in lockdown until the iPad succeeds or fails, just to see if it'll stand on its own. Interesting power games being played here.
posted by koeselitz at 10:30 AM on April 1, 2010


Koeselitz, remember that Youtube is available as a native application on the iPad, so that whether it supports HTML5 or not is to some degree moot.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:31 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


an open-source Apple would be a better Apple.

I once heard it said that if Bill Gates would one day gift Windows to the world and make it open source, we would erect a larger-than-life golden statue of him in front the the US Department of Commerce and he would be remembered for generations as a hero.

Don't hold your breath.
posted by squalor at 10:33 AM on April 1, 2010


For starters, devices like that are what Big Media needs to finally make their frustrated DRM dreams come true.

Yeah, the ipod totally killed music piracy.
posted by nomisxid at 10:35 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


fungible: “It has a kajillion apps on there and the software makers, while having to jump through hoops to get on the market, actually get to sell their wares for money rather than having to beg for donations. They seem quite happy to do so.”

Er... have you actually talked to any of them?
posted by koeselitz at 10:35 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those of us who want the freedom to tinker react so badly to Apple is that they a) are generally opposed to that freedom and b) increasingly successful. Apple may be lagging behind in the desktop and laptop fields- in full-scale personal computing- but they utterly dominate the mp3 player and smartphone markets, and it's frightening to think of Apple's design philosophy dominating. With the iPad, Apple is bringing the "do what we allow you to and nothing more" philosophy to a device which is more like a computer than the iPhone, just like the iPhone is more like a computer than the iPod.

The idea of Apple bringing their wild success and design philosophy ever closer to personal computing scares the shit out of me, and makes me worry about a future in which computers that can execute whatever code the user wants are in the minority. It's a series of steps in the direction of a world in which inquisitive kids have to order special machinery to learn how computers work instead of being able to just do it on the family computer. It's a future where the gulf between the user and the expert has widened, contrary to the current trend where people are slowly becoming more and more proficient and skillful and knowledgeable.

We're not there yet. It's quite a ways off in a potential future. But seeing steps toward that scares the pants off of anybody who sees it as likely and undesirable, and it should be no surprise that people react strongly to it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:36 AM on April 1, 2010 [9 favorites]


Youtube is native? Didn't know that. Interesting.
posted by koeselitz at 10:36 AM on April 1, 2010


grubi, Android devices with very similar hardware specs to the iPhones seem to run Flash just fine. Go handle a Droid or a Millennium. The limitations do not appear to be technical. User experience being crappy at that size and without a keyboard, I'd give to you, but the argument that Flash can't be made run on iPhone-level hardware is disingenuous.
posted by bonehead at 10:37 AM on April 1, 2010


I can't live my life without touching an Apple product. Here's why:

A small but disproportionally vocal segment of users insist on bringing them in to work. Those users constantly lobby for applications that only Apples can run. So, when I have a set of nested volumes set together as a share to a very minimally sized volume as a top-level way of organizing volumes whose maximum size are just about as big as our SAN will allow, they work for 99% of our users. But not for the Mac. When I build a nework share for a clustered resource and it works for 99% of our users, they work on Windows. The Macs? Had to upgrade their OS, and it was not immediately apparent where the problem lived. Despite us saying, "Okay, our current CMS for our intranet is really focused around FireFox and Internet Explorer, and we issued you a Windows machine," they'll still try to use their Mac and Safari to use it. Some upgrade to Safari? Suddenly, an infinite loop appears and they can never log in. Everything has to work with their iPhone. And then they'll try to write sites that only work for the iPhone. No Palm, no Blackberry, nope, just iPhone. And I am stuck testing things on them. When the publicity folks use all Apples for development, I was stuck trying to make websites work on Internet Explorer 5.2 for the Mac, despite them being a mere sliver of our userbase. Yes, I love receiving fonts from you guys; and the resource fork issue is hassling me yet again. I enjoy hearing Apple engineers telling us to scrap all of our extant servers for OS X, despite the fact that none of our niche applications will run there.

This is not directly the fault of Apple. Rather, I lay the blame at the feet of the cult of Apple. They do not merely like Apple, they wish to spread Apple. I see the cultists, fingering their earbuds like they were pale rosary beads. I only have to hear "This would just be so much easier if we switched to Apple" about once a day. I endure the prosletyzing. I ignore the prideful displays of iPhones when I never see other users of handhelds do the same. Please, do not pretend as if those who might be critical seek out the Apple; Apple fanboys knock on my door, day in, day out, asking, "Have you heard the Word of Jobs?"
posted by adipocere at 10:37 AM on April 1, 2010 [9 favorites]


Those of us who want the freedom to tinker react so badly to Apple is that they a) are generally opposed to that freedom and b) increasingly successful.

Yeah, for all the Microsoft complaints, can you imagine the computing world with Apple in its place? Jesus.

Instead of a Dark Lord, you would have a QUEEN
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:39 AM on April 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also: this looks good (but isn't).
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:40 AM on April 1, 2010


Youtube is native? Didn't know that. Interesting.

Huttah!

The idea of Apple bringing their wild success and design philosophy ever closer to personal computing scares the shit out of me, and makes me worry about a future in which computers that can execute whatever code the user wants are in the minority.

Tell me how or why Apple would issue a ban on, say, Linux. Because unless they do that, you will always have the freedom to pick what product you want. Kind of like how people watching High School Musical didn't take away David Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE, which I think about ten people saw.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:40 AM on April 1, 2010


We're moving out of the days when it is necessary to tinker endlessly with a computer to keep it running.

Yes. We're really pretty much there now. I use a Windows 7 laptop and an Android phone, and they pretty much "just work".

However, Apple wants to take us to the days when it isn't possible to tinker endlessly with a computer, I think, and I'm not sure I want to go there. I can, for example, very easily root my Android phone, or manually install ROMs, etc, just for fun. I don't have to, but I can explore and do things if I want to. And Motorola and Google don't try to stop me, or punish me, for doing that. And functionally and aesthetically, my Droid is just as good as an iPhone. The only negative is the comparative paucity of apps in the Android Market, but that may well change. (And until then, I'll keep my iPod Touch around).

And, of course, I don't have to use the Android Market, I can just download and install apk files if I like.

I agree that most people don't care about this freedom, or want the ability to do this sort of stuff. But for those who do - whether or not they even know it yet - the Apple way points to a bleak future.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:42 AM on April 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


The idea of Apple bringing their wild success and design philosophy ever closer to personal computing scares the shit out of me,

Really? Come the fuck on.
posted by grubi at 10:43 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the ipod totally killed music piracy.

The careful reader may notice that I was talking about gated devices like the iPhone and iPad (he or she may have been tipped off by my use of phrases like "gated devices" and "devices like the iPhone and iPad.")

The iPod, it turns out, is an entirely different device, that isn't any more relevant to what I was saying than the Apple IIe.

But it does start with a little i and a big P, so I understand your confusion.
posted by Zed at 10:47 AM on April 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure we're going to bridge the gap between the hypothetical future where Apple's products have actually had some destructive affect on the availability of open computers. I mean, if that happens, then mea culpa, that would be horrible. I'm personally not too worried about it, since it seems like things are better than ever with lots of new netbooks out there happily running Linux and accessing government web sites and data.
posted by Wood at 10:48 AM on April 1, 2010


Tell me how or why Apple would issue a ban on, say, Linux.

The nature of market economies is that they wouldn't have to. Part of why PC hardware is so much cheaper than Apple hardware is that there's a vastly larger market than there is for Apple hardware. A world in which the Apple is dominant and the market for commodity hardware has shrunk is not a friendly one to open computing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:50 AM on April 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


koeselitz -

Thanks for your comments in this thread, they've been clarifying and generous. That said, I disagree with this:

I guess my only point in all this would be: the awesomeness of those tools has nothing to do with their closedness. In fact, I have a feeling that over the long-term Jobs will come to see that the closedness of Apple's devices actually works against them. I'm already amazed at the fact that they haven't driven off all of their developers, although they seem to have tried.

If your explanatory framework ('Apple has been lucky so far that no one has caught on to how bad their decisions are') is inadequate to the evidence (the tools work well, many people use and like them, Apple is sitting on a mountain of cash and can now force massive changes in how people all over the world use their computing equipment, etc.) then perhaps the problem is not that all the evidence is exceptional. Perhaps your framework just isn't working here. :)

iMovie works because it's dead simple - the latest version, in fact, would never in this world have been cooked up by hobbyists filmmakers. Who in their right mind would hide or eliminate most features? Not just a company trying to sell copies of Final Cut, but designers seeking to create a new user base. Hobbyists are usually gutless when it comes to radical, productive feature attenuation, partly because the appeal of the hobby is the feeling of possibility it grants. (See for instance: Linux in its every noncorporate incarnation.)

I can imagine an open-source app comparable to the early iMovie. But it's hard to imagine an open-source project jettisoning its interface and half its tool options after a couple of versions and presenting a dead simple new app. Dungeons & Dragons is a perfect analogue - the new version uses a genuinely revolutionary ruleset that gets criticized by the 'old school' DIY types for being 'too different' from its overwritten, baroque predecessors. Yet all the core books for the new edition have been NYTimes bestsellers, and the game is picking up new players by the look of things. You can insist that the game 'could have' maintained its old complication and still found a new audience, but what evidence is there?

Apple can point to its rapidly expanding user base and extremely high user satisfaction rates (or, say, the editing software used by this year's Oscar-nominated documentaries) as evidence that there's value in its hardware/software design and development.

Apple's been a major force in computer innovation for several decades, and Jobs is still doing exactly what he's been doing all along. How long a goddamn view do you think Jobs should be taking?
posted by waxbanks at 10:51 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why are Apple fans so against people pointing out where Apple needs to improve?

Speaking as an Apple fan, I don't think we are. Rather it's just a fundamental difference in how computers and their use are viewed. The general public wants to just use the Apple products and delight themselves in the interface while doing whatever it is they need to do. Others would like to have the ability to tinker with the system. Sounds cool, but lots of people don't see the need for that.

Why are you so willing to parrot Apple's talking points about the affect native apps or flash support would have on the phone's stability and battery life or whatever else?

Parrot? There ya'll go again with the "you are all mindless drones" talk.

but the argument that Flash can't be made run on iPhone-level hardware is disingenuous.

The argument isn't that it can't be made to run, just that it degrades performance significantly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:52 AM on April 1, 2010


Bullshit, Pope. The hardware doesn't matter. I can install Linux on my Macbook or my Dell or my iPhone, and Linux will be available for the iPad as well.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:52 AM on April 1, 2010


The App Store is probably one of the most successful software development and distribution operations in history, one which everyone is currently trying to emulate. It has a kajillion apps on there and the software makers, while having to jump through hoops to get on the market, actually get to sell their wares for money rather than having to beg for donations. They seem quite happy to do so.
Android has a store too and they don't block nearly as many apps. And you can develop apps for free and distribute them yourself if you want.
"Okay, our current CMS for our intranet is really focused around FireFox and Internet Explorer, and we issued you a Windows machine," they'll still try to use their Mac and Safari to use it. Some upgrade to Safari? Suddenly, an infinite loop appears and they can never log in.
Okay, that's just bad design. Do you have a lot of custom Javascript or something?
posted by delmoi at 10:58 AM on April 1, 2010


You're not paying attention to what I'm saying, Rory. Apple's fantasy is one in which the dominant computing device is similar to the Wii- you can purchase Apple-approved software for it, and do whatever is provided for it, and you have to do shady things- like jailbreaking or running the HackMii installer- to do anything else. I'm not talking about OSX. I'm talking about what comes after. Nothing about Apple's behavior over the last several years suggests that they see open, user-tinkerable computers as important to their business.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:59 AM on April 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Zed: Yeah, I know a bunch of people who are pissed they can't play their pirated MP3s on their iPhone.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:00 AM on April 1, 2010


The argument isn't that it can't be made to run, just that it degrades performance significantly.

Since you can't run Flash on the iPad directly, how can you prove or disprove this? Flash works fine on my 3-year-old Windows Mobile phone, and on my cheapo netbook, and now on my shiny new Android phone. The difference between all those and the iPad, of course, is that there's no closed market controlling what you can install on them.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:00 AM on April 1, 2010


Marketing?

Can you expound on that, please? Do you think it's just marketing or marketing plus something else and if the latter, then what is that something else?


Well your question was basically "If Apple products are similar to other tech devices and have legitimate flaws, why are they such huge successes?" I honestly don't know the whole answer, and I don't think anyone really does, but if I had to pick one thing that Apple does better than anyone else it would be convincing people to buy their products rather than any of the similar products out there.

For example, I bought one of the pre-iPod hard drive based mp3 players. It was very brick-like compared to the first gen iPods that came later, but other than that it had better sound quality, held more songs, used a removable laptop battery rather than a built-in one that died after a few years, worked with Windows, etc. No one ever heard of that mp3 player, because Compaq didn't market it at all (it didn't even have a Compaq logo on the box), and because you couldn't go to Best Buy and buy one. People I showed it to were amazed that a portable device that could hold so much music existed. Then Apple came out with a comparable product and started showing TV commercials for it and they sold like crazy.

Take a completely barebones flash drive mp3 player and give it the iPod treatment, and you have the hugely successful iPod Shuffle, take the exact same product and try selling it without Apple's marketing resources and you have every other generic flash based mp3 player out there. I think the difference between Apple and other companies is not that they can come up with game changing new tech products, it's that they are so good at selling those products to a large consumer base.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:02 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, that's just bad design. Do you have a lot of custom Javascript or something?

Most CMSs that let you edit content in-browser have hideously complex scripting to allow you to do this. But when that scripting works in IE and Firefox but not Safari, it's not an extreme approach to tell content authors to use IE or Firefox.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:02 AM on April 1, 2010


I'm paying attention, Pope. I noticed when Apple made their operating system thoroughly Unix, meaning that I was permitted to tinker on OS X exactly the way I would with any Linux machine. And I noticed how much effort they put into their development tools, which made it extremely easy to mess around with making my own programs.

I noticed AppleScript, which is a core part of the OS and lets me modify any program to my liking. Or Automator, which simplified AppleScript for when I wanted to tinker without delving into code. Or with WebKit's developer tools, which make for a marvelous way to break down and look at a web site while I'm developing.

Apple hasn't abandoned OS X, you know. They're allowed to have multiple products. Complaining because OS X is open but iPad isn't is like complaining because Android is open but Gmail isn't. A company can have multiple products without a single one being their "fantasy".
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:03 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think exactly the opposite for one simple reason: It's too big.

Imagine being forced to carry a legal pad around all your waking hours. While you are trying to pay for your coffee. While you are trying to open the door. Walking down the street you have to hold it and use it in the air at the same time. You have to put it somewhere when you get in the car and the passenger seat is taken. You can't use a pocket, because it's too big.

Now imagine that legal pad is fragile and cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
It's going to vary by person. I'm fairly used to carrying a purse around with me all my waking hours. While I do often pare down to a wallet on a string, I more often tuck it into a bigger purse that's large enough to carry my netbook. Anything that can hold my netbook could hold an iPad and some foam padding. That compound purse goes with me to coffee shops, out on the street, in the car, etc. I can't see myself using an iPad while walking down the street unless it was just playing music, in which case it would be put away with just the earbuds trailing out.

I don't expect to be getting one because, while it does seem rather nice, it's not $500 worth of nice on my budget. (I feel the same way about the Kindle DX. I'd love to own one, but I don't need it enough to put that kind of hole in my finances.)

I think the size will be oppressive for folks who are most comfortable being able to manage with keys, wallet, and phone in their pockets, yes. On the other hand, if you're already going to be carrying a bag (purse, briefcase, backpack) anyway, the inconvenience level shouldn't be that bad. They already make mini messenger bags for netbooks, and I'd be surprised if bags with iPad sized insets don't start turning up on the market soon.
posted by Karmakaze at 11:03 AM on April 1, 2010


The hardware doesn't matter. I can install Linux on my Macbook or my Dell or my iPhone, and Linux will be available for the iPad as well.

Again, though, as the barrier to being able to manipulate that hardware becomes higher and higher, the number of people who'll do so will be lower. Again, using my twelve-year-old nephew as an example, he's not going to install a new OS or jailbreak a device. He's going to do what the device lets him do, until he learns more.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:05 AM on April 1, 2010


It's not a problem when it's an isolated platform in a heteregeneous, mostly open in the most important ways, technical ecosystem. But if we as consumers demonstrate our enthusiasm for paying for gated devices, we're going to get more of the behavior we reward.

Yes, let's not start demonstrating our enthusiasm for proprietary technologies. Heavens no. Not now, in the 21st century, when we might otherwise have a shot at total freedom of expression.

Can I suggest that this is a very, very easy battle to pick, a fashionable one (obviously), and far from the most important in the terms you've laid out?
posted by waxbanks at 11:06 AM on April 1, 2010


I'm writing this on a Mac right now... I've only had Macs at home for a decade now.

But I'm still pretty neg. on this new device (and, am I not right, I am allowed here to express such opinions?)

The idea of a machine where a single vendor controls all the software is horrific - like an MP3 player that only plays a single company's music. If such a machine became standard, it would mean that you literally would be unable to compete against any Apple software products.

This machine is also missing many of the things one thinks of as essential to a computer - like the ability to plug in the same peripherals that you've been able to on every other consumer computer of that size or greater made in the last decade! I can't plug in my USB-anything, I can't drop a DVD in, I can't plug a keyboard in or mouse in.

Moreover, I can't play game on the internet without flash; I can't use it out of my house unless someone opens the wireless for me.

If I were blind, or had limited hand mobility, my helpful peripherals and open source programs would be worthless to me with an iPad. Open source and small software publishers in general provide a massive service to the world in providing people in niche markets with things they desperately need; if there's a single gatekeeper and they make distributing your software into a difficult and expensive process, how will open source survive?

So, yes, I'm actively hostile to this piece of hardware. I hope it fails, I hope very much that it isn't the future of computing, and as a software developer who writes crossplatform software, it will negatively impact me if it does succeed (because I'm sure as heck not going to go through all the huge hurdles to get things into the Apple store as an individual developer - all the developers I know who've done this, from Google on down, have had to deal with months of delays and endless hassles...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:08 AM on April 1, 2010 [12 favorites]


@lupus_yonderboy - Did I used to run into you way way back when on LambdaMOO?
posted by waxbanks at 11:10 AM on April 1, 2010


FWIW I find it rare that I'll develop something that works in Firefox that doesn't work the same in Safari. The tweaks I've had to do have all been pretty minor. jQuery probably helps a lot there though. And of course for internal corporate tools build in Ye Olde Days of Thee Web all bets are off.
posted by Artw at 11:11 AM on April 1, 2010


And I'm concerned about the future content creators, who start out as content consumers. My nephew, for example, is about twelve, and is interested in computers. I just got him a Python tutorial book for kids. I could do that, and he could express his interest, because he's exposed to actual computers with all their functionality. What about the kids whose parents get them iPads? There's no functionality in there for them to explore.

I've really been thinking about this, too. The iPad is in many ways an ideal computer for a child. But, what happens when they get interested in creating for it? "Oh--well, now you have to go over *here* to the *real* computer..."

I appreciate the design decisions that went in to the iPad and its siblings. I have every expectation that nothing was left to chance, and I appreciate the attention to detail. Unfortunately it means that they deliberately chose to not have the "expert mode" switch in there. They have good, reasoned arguments why they don't want to do that. I think they're right; having some sort of expert mode is not going to further their goals. It won't end up being the device they want to make.

But it's a lot easier to get interested in something when you get to peek behind the curtain. I bemoan it, but I can't really get behind any other path. I *want* our machines to be easier to use, and I firmly believe that things even as innocuous as expert mode switches are still blights on the user experience.

It's progress. To continue the automobile analogy, a Prius powerplant is way, way more complicated than an old small-block Chevy. It's way easier to get into tweaking with the latter than the former. But the Prius is just so much more advanced--not to try to stop people from working on it--but just to increase performance, decrease gas usage and emissions, etc. This progress means that the enthusiast is going to have a much harder time working on the newer vehicle, and perhaps less people will become enthusiasts of this sort. This is unfortunate, but inevitable.

In the case of Apple's products, though, we're not talking about tinkerers but people who actually want to *make stuff* (on the iPad, etc). And that's what we risk losing. But we gain all those people who want to *make stuff* and couldn't give a rat's hindquarters about the guts of their iPad and just want to get on with what they're making. We need to direct our gaze at where the finger is pointing, not at the hand.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:11 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


LambdaMOO. Jesus. That takes me back.
posted by Artw at 11:12 AM on April 1, 2010


nd I noticed how much effort they put into their development tools,

Hmph, as a developer who's recently been using XCode pretty heavily, I'd say the surprise for me is how badly their tools work. The fact that, for example, the default settings on XCode mean that your breakpoints probably don't fire, or that you frequently get into a state where you have to clean out everything and rebuild (for me, it's half a dozen times a day!), or you get into a state where you have to restart XCode before it functions correctly, and that these problems appear to be well-known and have been around for years, well...

Say what you like about Microsoft, and I have in the past, Visual Studio just works...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:13 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Parrot? There ya'll go again with the "you are all mindless drones" talk.
...
The argument isn't that it can't be made to run, just that it degrades performance
significantly.


Do you agree that many Apple fans defended Apple's argument that native apps would affect the iPhone's performance? I argued that that did not have to be the case, and even if it were, you would have the option of not installing native apps. Turns out that those of arguing for an SDK were right and that Apple was simply lying about the performance/security issues.

Once again, we're at a point where one group would like to have the option to run flash or to install apps without Apple's permission, and the argument from the other side is, again, trusting Apple's claim that these features would affect performance/security. So again, I am arguing that allowing me to run a Flash app does not have to affect you at all. You have every reason to believe Apple is once again lying about performance and battery life, but you keep making these arguments.

I apologize if "parrot" offended, but I still say your arugment doesn't hold water.
posted by SAC at 11:13 AM on April 1, 2010


I think the difference between Apple and other companies is not that they can come up with game changing new tech products, it's that they are so good at selling those products to a large consumer base.

If that's the case, then do you think other companies have successfully copied Apples formula of just making barebones products and marketing the hell out them? If so, which ones?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:13 AM on April 1, 2010


LambdaMOO!

Perhaps a bit (how did you know, I never used this name?) but I was best known as Dome on PMC and Id MOO... boy, does that bring back the old days!

I was vaguely trying to organize some sort of celebration for the 20th anniversary of MOO, which is this year, but I got basically zero response from anyone...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:14 AM on April 1, 2010


The argument isn't that it can't be made to run, just that it degrades performance significantly.

That's the same argument. There is little difference between can't run and runs so badly that it's unusable. Empirically, Flash can run on similar hardware with reasonable performance (no stuttering, etc...). Battery life does not appear to be dramatically affected either. But don't take my word for it, go down to Best Buy and see for yourself.
posted by bonehead at 11:15 AM on April 1, 2010


I can't use it out of my house unless someone opens the wireless for me.

Yes you can. You pay the extra $130 for the 3G connectivity, and then pay AT&T for the privilege of using their network, which doesn't involve contracts and is priced at a not-horrendous $30/month, or a pay-as-you-go scheme.
posted by hippybear at 11:19 AM on April 1, 2010


Say what you like about Microsoft, and I have in the past, Visual Studio just works...

Visual Studio is bloody great.

There's a bit in this years MIX keynote where they're showing how development for Windows Mobile 7. They open VS, plop in some very familiar looking code, and boom , there's an app. Now, previously I'd butted against X Code and the IB and all of that, and basically hated it all as an enviroment, so seeing this was awesome to me.

Of course, I can't ever see wanting to create apps for Windows mobile 7 versus the iPhone...
posted by Artw at 11:20 AM on April 1, 2010


But we gain all those people who want to *make stuff* and couldn't give a rat's hindquarters about the guts of their iPad and just want to get on with what they're making.

I don't see your reasoning here at all. If I just wanted to "make stuff", I could do it on a desktop where there are free tools to let me "just make stuff", or there are paid tools aimed at professionals. The iPad gives me neither - I'm going to have to pay money just to "make stuff", and it's not clear what sort of "stuff" I could really make aside from slideshows of other people's material since there's no way to get my content into the iPad.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:20 AM on April 1, 2010


So, yes, I'm actively hostile to this piece of hardware. I hope it fails, I hope very much that it isn't the future of computing, and as a software developer who writes crossplatform software, it will negatively impact me if it does succeed

Honestly that's pretty lame. There's always someone out there looking for your customer's business. Compete or quit, but "hostility"?

It's interesting to see the justaposition of Apple's success is dangerous to freedom and closed source doesn't work. They can't both be right can they?
posted by Wood at 11:20 AM on April 1, 2010


For that matter, what laptop or computer CAN you use outside your house unless someone opens the wireless for you, or paying extra for some kind of connectivity?
posted by hippybear at 11:21 AM on April 1, 2010


Nothing about Apple's behavior over the last several years suggests that they see open, user-tinkerable computers as important to their business.

Pope Guilty FTW.

This is not just about a tech gadget, it's about an envisioned shift in the dominant consumer computing paradigm that Apple is working to make happen.

Features included:
* Jaw-droppingly beautiful and easy to use devices that sell at a premium
* Rigorously controlled software and hardware specs that enable a consistency of user experience, limit platform fragmentation for developers, and create security from consumers to help prevent revenue leakage from piracy or 3rd party marketplaces
* A highly controlled ecosystem where Apple has their fingers in the two dominant content business models--paid and advertising (and also takes royalties for . . . hardware accessories. . . was taking rev share on iPhone data revenue, which they then exchanged for a device subsidy)
posted by donovan at 11:22 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Again, though, as the barrier to being able to manipulate that hardware becomes higher and higher, the number of people who'll do so will be lower.

Right after the iPhone dropped, many people immediately began creating code to jailbreak it, and creating apps that would only run on a jailbroken device.

lupus_yonderboy, you might not have seen some of what's been written about the iPad and accessibility.

This machine is also missing many of the things one thinks of as essential to a computer - like the ability to plug in the same peripherals that you've been able to on every other consumer computer of that size or greater made in the last decade! I can't plug in my USB-anything, I can't drop a DVD in, I can't plug a keyboard in or mouse in.

Because it's not a computer in the way that a netbook is a computer?
posted by rtha at 11:23 AM on April 1, 2010


You pay the extra $130 for the 3G connectivity

Does anyone know if this is available as an upgrade, or only at time of initial sale?
posted by bonehead at 11:24 AM on April 1, 2010


Do you agree that many Apple fans defended Apple's argument that native apps would affect the iPhone's performance?
When did Apple ever make this argument? They didn't even address native apps for the longest time -- they just said "shut it; make web apps" and stonewalled. They certainly didn't ever say they'd affect performance, because, er, the iPhone ships with native apps.

So again, I am arguing that allowing me to run a Flash app does not have to affect you at all.
Unfortunately, though, it does. Going Apple's way, any big business who wants their stuff on the iPhone has to go native, and that means a better experience for everyone using their stuff on the phone. If Flash was available, they could shovel out some godawful Flash hack and we would all suffer, even if you were content to put up with it.
posted by bonaldi at 11:24 AM on April 1, 2010


hippybear: thanks... reading... but wait, this $30 a month doesn't let me make phone calls, right? So that's above and beyond my cell phone service...?

I should point out that my dislike for Microsoft is so great that I'm still struggling on with XCode even though I have a virtual machine here that works perfectly well. It's personal, a company I once worked for got fleeced by them, which contributed to their demise (though I'm sure they'd have gone under anyway), and since then I just can't bring myself to give them dollar one...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:24 AM on April 1, 2010


See, what's really super frustrating about watching these pro-Apple arguments is that they're just so ignorant. You can have exactly what you're asking for, and I can have exactly what I'm asking for, at the exact same time, on the exact same hardware. There is no real dichotomy here.

I like the interface too! I like the way their machines work. I've owned four Macs and I use a Macbook Pro every damn day. I want to be able to use that exact same hardware, the exact same way that you do, and then in addition add some stuff to make it more useful to me.

My being able to do that will not otherwise change the device for you or anyone else. Just me. The walls around the garden don't protect YOU or the OPERATING SYSTEM, they protect APPLE'S POCKETBOOK. And I don't understand why you people just don't get this. It drives me nuts to watch people upthread talk about how we shouldn't be allowed to put grafitti on the Mona Lisa.

You know what? Screw you. I like the Mona Lisa too, but I'd also like to be able to appreciate some other paintings at the same time. There's plenty of room in the gallery. You guys want the Mona Lisa? Fine. Cool. No problem. I just happen to want the Mona Lisa plus Picasso. Maybe you don't like Picasso, but what I put in my gallery doesn't affect you. Forcing us to choose one or the other is of no benefit to anyone but the entity selling galleries.

And, you know, you might someday change your mind and decide you like Picasso. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to make your own decision?
posted by Malor at 11:27 AM on April 1, 2010 [20 favorites]


Because it's not a computer in the way that a netbook is a computer?

Sigh, yes, I understand the sales pitch.

I understand also that a Segway is not a bicycle and yet my argument that a bicycle does a lot more than a Segway for a lot less money seems to be one that a lot of people agree with, as shown by the less-than-stellar Segway sales...

I do understand that Apple does not want us to compare the iPad to other devices that a naive person such as myself might think are comparable, being in a similar price range, form factor, and doing much the same thing... but as should be clear, Apple's interests and mine are not necessarily harmonious, particularly when they are attempting to make me buy something.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:30 AM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


Does anyone know if this is available as an upgrade, or only at time of initial sale?

Initial sale only, I believe.

this $30 a month doesn't let me make phone calls, right? So that's above and beyond my cell phone service...?

Well.... your laptop doesn't let you make phone calls either, does it? I mean, Skype and similar services... But those are probably also going to be available on the iPad. Skype is already available for the iPhone/iPod Touch.

The failure here is to think of this device as a replacement for your phone. Because it isn't. If you're wedded to a cellphone now, you will continue to be wedded to it in the future.
posted by hippybear at 11:30 AM on April 1, 2010


In the case of Apple's products, though, we're not talking about tinkerers but people who actually want to *make stuff* (on the iPad, etc). And that's what we risk losing. But we gain all those people who want to *make stuff* and couldn't give a rat's hindquarters about the guts of their iPad and just want to get on with what they're making. We need to direct our gaze at where the finger is pointing, not at the hand.

I wanna favourite this comment five times.

A paintbrush does not also need to be a canvas. If you're empowered to create with the iPad (e.g. w/the inevitable batch of awesome visual art apps) but not for the iPad (i.e. because iPad development currently involves several barriers to entry), you're still empowered - and as long as the universe of available tools isn't crashing down because of one device's force of attraction, things are OK. Maybe not the same form of OK we recognize, but that's still OK! The mp3's threat to the music business hasn't hurt music itself, after all, and folks can still make hourlong albums even if the teenagers can't be bothered sitting still that long. Indeed, it's easier than it's ever been. (Ever try GarageBand?)

Maybe this conversation is secretly about people who live their lives almost entirely within computers - whose social lives are largely computer-mediated - and those who use computers to augment their actual lives. Or maybe it's about the decline of the sainted low-level programmer, pawing through assembly language code or stacks of punch cards. I don't think it actually has much to do with Apple as such. In which case I sympathize with the 'all systems open!' folks, really, but also wonder whether any of them are living in a world that even remotely resembles their dream world for even a tiny fraction of any given day, and whether there's a less self-destructively anxious way to go about advocating for user empowerment.

Huh.
posted by waxbanks at 11:31 AM on April 1, 2010


Artw: You know what would be awesome and address some of the concerns about the continuation of computers you can actually build stuff on just a little? HyperCard for this thing.

The developer license agreement complicates this (at least on the iPhone):
3.3.2 An Application may not itself install or launch other executable code by any means, including without limitation through the use of a plug-in architecture, calling other frameworks, other APIs or otherwise. No interpreted code may be downloaded or used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple's Documented APIs and built-in interpreter(s).
This makes it fairly clear that only Apple could provide Hypercard (or a language like it) for the iPhone. Apple seems to adopt a hostile posture with regard to scripting languages on its phone---you can't run Python without jailbreaking, for example. I suppose the risk is that you might develop a cool application that you could distribute or sell outside of the App Store. I wouldn't expect to see Hypercard anytime soon, then.

This is too bad for me. The iPhone and iPad are things I could conceivably carry around everywhere I go. The world is full of interesting data, and I'd be keen to be able to process it with a nifty portable data processor. I'd love to be able to record sounds, take pictures, take the accelerometer data, etc. and mess with that stuff in something like MATLAB---right on the device. I don't really care about making polished apps for distribution and profit. I just want to use a computer to, you know, compute things.
posted by tss at 11:31 AM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


digitalprimate: I can imagine people with the visually artistic talent I sadly lack going to town on this.

Wood: ...I think people are underestimating the creative potential of 10 inches of multitouch glass and decent graphics performance. There is a "photoshop" for the iphone after all.

fungible: Perhaps consumption is foremost, but I think there's a lot of musicians and visual artists who can't wait to get their hands on the thing.

As someone who spends a lot of time making digital art (both interactive and image-based), I don't understand or share your enthusiasm for the iPad. I can't use any of the software I am used to, I can't write my own software, I can't even get digital photos or other files onto the device very easily. It could be interesting to use the touchscreen as an interactive interface, but you can't connect it to other physical devices. What is the potential of the iPad as a device for creating visual art, besides rudimentary digital fingerpainting?
posted by oulipian at 11:31 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey, you know what this argument needs?

A car analogy.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:32 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


They have good, reasoned arguments why they don't want to do that. I think they're right; having some sort of expert mode is not going to further their goals. It won't end up being the device they want to make.

They do have good, reasoned arguments; it's against their best interest and will negatively affect their bottom line. But don't think it's anything more than that.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:33 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


gated devices like the iPhone and iPad

From the supposed perspective of evil strawman Steve Jobs, the ipod was supposed to lock us into the itunes music store, just like the ipad is supposed to lock us into the itunes app store.

The reality is that neither one is as locked down as the more hysterical claims that have been made. I can read pirated comics, watch pirated movies, and listen to pirated music on the ipad just as easily as on any general purpose computer. Just like the ipod lets me use content outside the gated community. No jailbreaking required.

I'm not a fan of having to pay to take my self-written ipad app from the emulator that comes with xcode (free to download and use) to the actual ipad, but the rest of the anti-hype seems just as hysterical as the fanboyism.

And more importantly, I doubt I'll run very much locally on the ipad. The whole point of having an unlimited 3G connection is that I can put all the heavy lifting tasks on the shoulders of a big box that sits at home. A big linux box, probably. =p

With web support, there's little need to write anything native, so the walled app garden seems like more and more of a myth.
posted by nomisxid at 11:33 AM on April 1, 2010


I don't post very often, and I'm an Apple hater from way back, but I loved this article and felt compelled to thank the poster for it, despite of all the vitriol it unleashed from both sides.

Simple reason. To me it read as a postcard from Stephen Fry to the late and dearly missed Douglas Adams, sent from a place they both clearly loved: "Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here."
posted by zueod at 11:34 AM on April 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


Do you agree that many Apple fans defended Apple's argument that native apps would affect the iPhone's performance?

I agree that's a pretty vague statement, yes. Many? Apple fans? Native apps? Whaa?

You have every reason to believe Apple is once again lying about performance and battery life, but you keep making these arguments.

Not really. Flash performance on my macs does suck. From what I've seen, Flash 10.1 is supposed to address a lot of that, which is cool. Otherwise, I'm not really crying about a lack of Flash.

And I don't understand why you people just don't get this.

We either do and don't consider it that big of a deal or just don't care as long as we can do the things we want to do, not the things you want to do.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:34 AM on April 1, 2010


And I frankly feel that you'd have a lot of trouble really justifying the statement that an iPad is not a computer in the same way that a netbook is a computer: "an electronic machine that can store and deal with large amounts of information."; "a machine for performing calculations automatically", etc.

The Wikipedia article on tablet computers has over a page, just listing brands; to claim that the iPad is simply a different breed of cat to all of these seems hard to defend.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:34 AM on April 1, 2010


My being able to do that will not otherwise change the device for you or anyone else. Just me. The walls around the garden don't protect YOU or the OPERATING SYSTEM, they protect APPLE'S POCKETBOOK.

When the Mac first shipped it didn't even have arrow keys on the keyboard. How would having them have affected users who would "choose" not to use them? Why couldn't they have been there for the Malors of 1984 who wanted that little bit of extra functionality, at no expense to the other Mac users?

Because if they had been there people would just have directly ported their shitty DOS apps into single windows that ran inside the Mac, and the whole point of the GUI would have been missed entirely. Taking the keys out of the keyboard forced companies to do the seriously heavy lifting of making proper Mac apps. Which they did, and did so well that pretty soon the keys could be added back in once the forcing device had done its magic.

Just like your ex only coming back to you once you're over her, expect Flash and interpreted code on the iPhone only when nobody cares about it any longer. Because until then, putting it on the phone puts the native experience at threat, and no way are Apple doing that.
posted by bonaldi at 11:36 AM on April 1, 2010


Malor—

Mona Lisa and Picasso are works 400 years apart, and in the same gallery would be garish and tasteless. Since Apple is the curator of artistry, taste, and refinement, they would never allow this to happen.

From a lifestyle/complexity standpoint, the combination of two great things does not yield another, greater thing.
posted by polymodus at 11:37 AM on April 1, 2010


That section of the developers' licence pretty much kills it as a portable slate for technical and scientific use too. Taken literally, that means no macro engines allowed. No R, very limited stats tools, no spreadsheets. It's difficult to see how something like MS OneNote would be allowed either, though maybe in a lobotomized form.

Wow. This really is a TV screen and not much more. I didn't realize that apps were that limited.
posted by bonehead at 11:38 AM on April 1, 2010


If that's the case, then do you think other companies have successfully copied Apples formula of just making barebones products and marketing the hell out them? If so, which ones?

Barebones products with tons of marketing? There are a lot of those. In the tech industry there are manufacturers like Dell and Nokia. In other industries there are companies like Budweiser or Taco Bell.

But most of the time Apple doesn't make barebones products, they make high end cutting-edge products, my bringing up the Shuffle was to try to illustrate that the marketing is the key regardless of whether they are going for the high end or the low end of the market. I think the reason why there aren't more companies like Apple is that when you go for untested markets it's easy to completely fail, even if you make a high quality product. For example, Apple's first venture into the tablet world wasn't exactly a huge success.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:39 AM on April 1, 2010


@lupus -
Because it's not a computer in the way that a netbook is a computer?

Sigh, yes, I understand the sales pitch.
But do you understand that the people making this claim are not all trying to sell you iPads, Stephen Fry among them? And that this is not a sales pitch but a description of a tool that isn't your PC or laptop or netbook, and so need not duplicate their features or modes of operation? The iPhone isn't a laptop, nor is a Blackberry a netbook. It's possible that the iPad really is a new kind of device. The only question is: can will people do interesting new things with it? Will those new activities benefit from Apple's design approach? Bet how you like.
posted by waxbanks at 11:39 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do understand that Apple does not want us to compare the iPad to other devices that a naive person such as myself might think are comparable, being in a similar price range, form factor, and doing much the same thing... but as should be clear, Apple's interests and mine are not necessarily harmonious, particularly when they are attempting to make me buy something.

Yeah, but they're not forcing you to buy it. And in my brief google-skim of non-Apple tablet devices, I didn't see any that would run DVDs or CDs either, so I guess that's not a new thing. I mean, I like Apple products and have owned several over the years, and I don't feel forced to go buy an iPad. The main thing I find attractive about it, actually, is the pay-as-you-go $30/month unlimited data plan. I'm hoping that AT&T offering this will encourage other cell phone operators to do the same.
posted by rtha at 11:40 AM on April 1, 2010


When did Apple ever make this argument?

Third-party applications created using Web 2.0 standards can extend iPhone’s capabilities without compromising its reliability or security.
from Apple.

Unfortunately, though, it does. Going Apple's way, any big business who wants their stuff on the iPhone has to go native, and that means a better experience for everyone using their stuff on the phone.

I'm sure you know I was talking about performance. The statement was in response to the argument that enabling Flash would affect the phone's battery life and stability. Do you think enabling Flash has to affect your iPhone's battery life and stability.
posted by SAC at 11:41 AM on April 1, 2010


The failure here is to think of this device as a replacement for your phone.

OK, I'm a failure, but then what does it replace?

I have a cell phone, and it does the internet. I have a laptop; I have a desktop; are you saying I now need yet another type of computer for which I can only get special, proprietary software?

Apple's saying I need to spend $500 now and $400 a year forever to get a slightly different flavour of things I already have that do the same thing, better and more cheaply.

Put it another way - would you recommend this as a starter computer for someone? Would you recommend this as someone's only computer? Would you recommend this to replace someone's laptop? Their desktop? Their cell phone?

So it's a new niche. I don't need that! I have only finite amounts of money...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:41 AM on April 1, 2010


Rory Marinich: "Tell me how or why Apple would issue a ban on, say, Linux. "

Sony did it on the PS3 just this week.
posted by graventy at 11:44 AM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


Web 2.0 standards

Heh. HTML 5 really is the new Web 2.0.
posted by Artw at 11:46 AM on April 1, 2010


Yeah, but they're not forcing you to buy it.

What sort of an argument is that? You could apply that to any comment about any consumer item ever made!

And in my brief google-skim of non-Apple tablet devices, I didn't see any that would run DVDs or CDs either, so I guess that's not a new thing.

Well, searching for "tablet computer dvd" found a bunch right off - but the fact is that ANY of these machines will run DVDs or CDs if you spend $30 and get an external drive.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:47 AM on April 1, 2010


It really is breathtaking how much ignorance and misinformation is flying in this thread from the anti-Apple peeps.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:48 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you think enabling Flash has to affect your iPhone's battery life and stability.

Dunno about battery life, but certainly Flash on the Mac is deeply unstable, it crashes for me quite a bit. When Jobs says that more than half the crashes on the Mac are from Flash, I'd certainly agree from my own experience...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:49 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most all computer makers have failed to live up to the promises made over 30 years ago to education. Bulky os's, expensive apps, confounding error messages....add any other frustrations you've experienced. When I first saw and used an Apple iPod touch I was starting to get a glimmer of what was possible to do with a very simple interface. I'd noticed that the primary use of lab computers by students was internet research and word processing. Some, in specialized graphics and cad classes were using more of the computer but still were basically confining themselves to 2 or 3 apps. Then I saw the iPad announcement and it all fit together.

At the HS I work at we are starting a small pilot classroom using 20 iPads to explore the potential of a 21st century classroom. This will be a teacher led project to accurately test the educational value of of the iPad, SAS and cloud storage of classwork. Our tech team will provide any support advice requested but the idea is that this classroom should require very little hands on tech support to be labeled successful. Maybe, finally a promise kept.
posted by xjudson at 11:49 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


are you saying I now need yet another type of computer for which I can only get special, proprietary software?

would you recommend this as a starter computer for someone? Would you recommend this as someone's only computer? Would you recommend this to replace someone's laptop? Their desktop? Their cell phone?


Um.... No, I'm not saying that you have to purchase anything.

I would recommend this as a computer for my parents, perhaps, because they might enjoy having a device to do basic internet connectivity with while sitting on their couch, and could also appreciate having magazine subscriptions delivered without the endless mountains of paper piling up in their garage awaiting recycling.

I don't recommend it to replace anything. I don't carry a cell phone, don't own a laptop, and am very happy with my desktop computer.

For myself, I don't even know that I would buy one, other than I could get my New Yorker subscription delivered to it and lose some of my ego-guilt connected to the (aforementioned) piles of periodicals we have around the place. The couch internet surfing would be nice, as the iPod Touch we have is just a TAD too tiny for comfortable use as a satellite device, and that's what we mostly use that for. I just don't know if it would be $500 worth of guilt-assuaging and eye-strain relief. Anyway, I learned a long time ago -- never buy the first generation of ANY Apple device.

You seem to feel very strongly about this device which you don't want to own. What other devices that you don't own make you feel that way, and where is that coming from? Certainly not from me. You were making assertions about the device and its capabilities which I answered. In no sense did I try to pry your credit card from your wallet and make the purchase for you.

If you don't need it, then you don't need it. But don't disparage others who may want it.
posted by hippybear at 11:50 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Put it another way - would you recommend this as a starter computer for someone? Would you recommend this as someone's only computer? Would you recommend this to replace someone's laptop? Their desktop? Their cell phone?

If the iPad can do all that the early reviewers and hands-on testers say, it'd be maybe the first computer I'd ever recommend to my 75-year-old dad. It's much closer to his natural user-interface inclinations than a PC, particularly because it offers a much less intimidating set of options on startup. (Begin with the keyboard: a large set of symbols, literally half of which are nonsensical if you're not already accustomed to PC use.)
posted by waxbanks at 11:51 AM on April 1, 2010


It really is breathtaking how much ignorance and misinformation is flying in this thread

flagged! "Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site."

from the anti-Apple peeps.

Looking at the comments to date, I don't see one "anti-Apple peep" here, but a lot of people like myself who own many Apple products but don't see what's compelling about this one.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:52 AM on April 1, 2010


waxbanks: “I can imagine an open-source app comparable to the early iMovie. But it's hard to imagine an open-source project jettisoning its interface and half its tool options after a couple of versions and presenting a dead simple new app.”

I can list a whole bunch right off. The most immediate that springs to mind is Vuze (formerly Azureus), which even six months ago was virtually unusable (in my mind) because of all the cruft and weirdness. Now, it's dead simple, and the features it does have are convenient and user-friendly.

The open-source model has an overwhelming amount of power behind it, and it's getting hard and harder not to come in contact with open-source software every single day. Just about every time you log on to the internet, you're using open-source software, even if you're not using Firefox; the number of Apache servers in the world, for example, is vast compared to the number of, say, Windows servers. And with Firefox a growing number of people are coming face-to-face with a good, simple, usable piece of open-source software.

I'm not saying that Steve Jobs must open all of his source today. But I think Apple could benefit from less of a closed model. I can tell that Steve is concerned that, unless he maintains tight control over the product, quality will flag. I don't think that's true.
posted by koeselitz at 11:52 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


So it's a new niche. I don't need that! I have only finite amounts of money...

See, I'm in this same boat! I have a cell phone. I have a laptop. I have an iPod. So why exactly, I ask myself, do I need an iPad?

My answer is: I don't. Maybe you don't either. The fact that you seem to resent that a lot of people are responding to the Siren-call of new! shiny! is weird to me.

Apple isn't demanding anything of you. They're really not.
posted by rtha at 11:54 AM on April 1, 2010


What people want from their PCs is to browse pictures, surf the web, read email, play games, write book reports, etc.

It's that etc. part that riles me. You couldn't do any of the stuff you just listed until someone came along and built it. No web. No email. No games. Book reports? Pen, meet paper.

What people want from their PCs is nothing until someone comes along to show them what's possible. Except, with Apple, that possible comes with a laundry list of restrictions. "Well, I don't care!" you say. But the people who wrote the stuff you want and presumably do care about? They care about this shit.

So, if you like your little toy with its lights and sounds, you should care, too.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:54 AM on April 1, 2010 [7 favorites]


lupus_yonderboy: My comment was directed towards the content of other comments, not the people spewing them. I'm sure the mods appreciate the pointless flag, though.

Off the top of my head, some ignorance/misinformation in this thread:

  • No power supply included.

  • No way to get photos from camera to iPad

  • Apple could somehow retroactively lock down Macs to prevent them from running Linux

  • posted by entropicamericana at 11:58 AM on April 1, 2010


    I would extend the creatives/hackers argument just a little further.

    Some context: I grew up with a Commodore 64. 16 colors, 64K of RAM. I programmed it using directly by PEEKing and POKEing into different registers. I created 3D graphics on the thing. Fractals. Tape drive for storage. I nurtured and cared for every byte of memory like a gardener.

    Now I have students who have never used a computer with less than a gigabyte of anything: memory, hard-drive space, gigabit ethernet. They use high-level tools like PhotoShop to get results, and consider attempts to make a web page fit in under 60K a near-impossible quest.

    They're creatives, but by and large they are interfacing with the machine through a series of tools. If the tool doesn't allow them to do something, they'll assume it can't be done. They're spendthrft in terms of resources, and become puzzled and annoyed that the computer slows down when editing a 6′ × 3′ banner @ 300DPI and full color, while they have a video being processed in Final Cut.

    At the same time, they are far more productive than I ever was, hunched over a keyboard typing in machine code. And I know that the old hands, the guys who were, seven years earlier, wiring together their Apple I's, would look upon my early efforts as a kind of cheat.

    I'll always want to be able to get in under the hood of hardware... and I will always feel that the greatest leverage can be found there. And doing so will always be achievable - the iPad will be jailbroken within days, if it is not already. But I also recognise that not everyone has the need, patience, or time to so that, and they are not less for doing so. The tools today are wonderful, and allow people to contribute and create in their own ways. I don't believe that most of that contribution is terribly good, but I know that those same people would not to any better with direct and full control of their machine.
    posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 11:58 AM on April 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


    entropicamericana: “It really is breathtaking how much ignorance and misinformation is flying in this thread from the anti-Apple peeps.”

    Well, you've certainly contributed a whole hell of a lot, Mr "what".
    posted by koeselitz at 11:58 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Okay, so people seem to keep misunderstanding me. Probably my fault.

    Someone upthread argued that Flash would negatively affect the iPhone's performance and stability. I said that the same argument had been made when Apple initially said they wouldn't put out an SDK. That argument turned out to be false. Apple was lying to their customers.

    My argument, now, is that there's no reason they couldn't enable Flash for people that want it while also leaving Flash out for those that do not. There's no reason I shouldn't be able to opt-in to running Flash. In a situation like that, there would be no affect on performance for those that did not opt-in to running Flash.

    The same can be said for allowing me to install apps from sources other than Apple. This would only affect Apple, but for some reason, Apple fans argue against it as well.
    posted by SAC at 12:01 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    If the iPad can do all that the early reviewers and hands-on testers say, it'd be maybe the first computer I'd ever recommend to my 75-year-old dad.

    People vary of course but if it's his first, you may be surprised. My 78-year-old father is frustrated by the lack of customizability in Windows, nevermind an ipad. I can just imagine him asking, incredulously, why he can't plug in generic peripherals, why he has to buy music from an online store, and on and on. He's old, not stupid. He knows a cash grab when he sees one. A $30 adaptor for what?? This thing would give him a heart attack.
    posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:04 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    No, I'm not saying that you have to purchase anything.

    Right, we already established this multiple times in this thread.

    You seem to feel very strongly about this device which you don't want to own. What other devices that you don't own make you feel that way, and where is that coming from?

    I explained this very clearly above - that this not only somewhat bothers me on a philosophical level but has the potential to directly affect my way of making a living.

    And, frankly I don't care that strongly at all - I think it's sort of stupid but then I think that about a lot of things, many of which I actually care about, like the US's obsession with warfare.

    However, I'm kind of appalled at seeing this "bug off if you aren't going to buy" argument presented here multiple times. Isn't the whole point of Metafilter to allow us to discuss our opinions in a polite and rational way - even if they are negative opinions about a product we do not wish to own?

    The reason I am saying that the iPad needs to replace something is that we already have tons of consumer gadgets that do basically the same thing. I think that's a perfectly reasonable argument to make; I think I get to make such arguments, because that's what Metafilter is about; I don't really have to care that much to make such negative arguments, because this is a discussion site, even if I'm not intending to be a customer of Apple's for this product.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:05 PM on April 1, 2010


    I'm not saying that Steve Jobs must open all of his source today. But I think Apple could benefit from less of a closed model. I can tell that Steve is concerned that, unless he maintains tight control over the product, quality will flag. I don't think that's true.

    Fair enough, but your Azureus and Apache examples are telling here. Part of the appeal of Apple products is that they don't go through a period of unusable shittiness like Azureus (which I tried for one day before switching to Tomato Torrent and then Transmission (which has a clean interface, consistent functionality, and a reasonably quick upgrade cycle). Apple's shit just keeps getting better, cleaner, more (yeah) aesthetically pleasing. They improve their stuff dramatically over time (consider the OS 10.0-10.2 process) under commercial pressure. In some situations, a monotonic improvement is the most important thing. That might not be the healthiest set of pressures but I didn't make this stupid shitty world.

    Apache, meanwhile, is widely used, but by an incredibly narrow tech-savvy demographic; to my eyes, nontrivial use requires delving into material far too arcane and fiddly for even the second most competent decile of computer users. You can't just blackbox the entire process of 'Teach yourself the UNIX filesystem and system-maintenance.'

    (Should we mention that there's a one-click Apache install built into OSX?)

    In any case, the question isn't whether open source software can be good. We know that it can. The question is whether there are aspects of computer use that are better (best!) precisely because they're not subject to the normalizing/comprehensiveness pressures of open-source projects. iMovie is an example. The iPod is probably another: try to imagine design-by-committee producing a device as intoxicatingly simple as that. Either tens (hundreds?) of millions are wrong about the preferability of the iPod or Apple's weird iPod-related design choices were the right ones, right?

    Shit, I'm out of energy for the iPad today. Thanks again, koeselitz et al., for the conversation. MeFi's rubbish but I love it.
    posted by waxbanks at 12:14 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    No power supply included.

    Who said that?! I don't see it in the thread, and I searched for "power", "plug" and "supply".

    No way to get photos from camera to iPad

    Someone politely claimed that once, and then someone, wait, YOU!, set them straight in the very next comment!

    Apple could somehow retroactively lock down Macs to prevent them from running Linux

    I searched the thread for Linux - again, I found no one claiming that.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:15 PM on April 1, 2010


    So, if you like your little toy with its lights and sounds, you should care, too.

    The little toy seems to have a thriving App market, so people are good.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:16 PM on April 1, 2010


    Dunno about battery life, but certainly Flash on the Mac is deeply unstable, it crashes for me quite a bit. When Jobs says that more than half the crashes on the Mac are from Flash, I'd certainly agree from my own experience...

    Flash for Mac sucks. Should Apple block it from running?
    posted by smackfu at 12:16 PM on April 1, 2010


    The reason I am saying that the iPad needs to replace something is that we already have tons of consumer gadgets that do basically the same thing.

    Quick last comment:

    'What the iPad does' is not 'what a PC does, minus the keyboard.' What it does is what you do/feel/think/want/make when you hold it.

    I think that that, that nebulous thing, is what had Stephen Fry rolling on the floor making animal noises. When every single reviewer says 'withhold judgment until you actually use one,' maybe they're worth listening to.

    Out.
    posted by waxbanks at 12:17 PM on April 1, 2010


    Just have faith and BELIEVE!
    posted by smackfu at 12:17 PM on April 1, 2010


    why he has to buy music from an online store

    iTunes on a computer + other sources of music which aren't part of the iTunes Music Store = loading music onto any iPod or iPad or iPhone which were not purchased via the IMS.

    Why do people insist on perpetuating this old falsehood?
    posted by hippybear at 12:18 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I like the interface too! I like the way their machines work. I've owned four Macs and I use a Macbook Pro every damn day. I want to be able to use that exact same hardware, the exact same way that you do, and then in addition add some stuff to make it more useful to me.

    So, jailbreak. Problem solved.

    I'm interested in how this plays out in comparison to the 80s. Again, Apple is taking certain technologies that are already out there, packaging them into a new slick interface, and selling it to the public while insisting on having control of the ecosystem. And then Google, this century's Microsoft (so far), is copying a lot of that interface quickly, making it more open and dirt cheap, selling the software but not the hardware. The only differences being, Google doesn't seem as tone-deaf in the marketing department, and Apple seems to have wised up about the patent game. Let's see who wins.
    posted by fungible at 12:20 PM on April 1, 2010


    The question is whether there are aspects of computer use that are better (best!) precisely because they're not subject to the normalizing/comprehensiveness pressures of open-source projects.

    Why is this in question?! Not one person here has claimed this wasn't true!

    People have basically said, "The world is a better place because both open source and commercial software co-exist," and then gone on to point out that the barriers to getting open source software onto the iPad platform are very high, and apparently deliberately so.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:20 PM on April 1, 2010


    It's difficult to see how something like MS OneNote would be allowed either, though maybe in a lobotomized form.

    Wow. This really is a TV screen and not much more. I didn't realize that apps were that limited.


    Seriously, what's with the misinformation? Evernote is comparable to OneNote and exists on the iphone. You didn't realize because it's simply not true.
    posted by Wood at 12:21 PM on April 1, 2010


    If that's the case, then do you think other companies have successfully copied Apples formula of just making barebones products and marketing the hell out them? If so, which ones?

    Sony.

    And actually, Apple is really copying Sony's model. Remember Minidiscs, Betamax, Memory Sticks, ATRAC audio, etc? The only problem is that Sony has really started to suck at it lately.

    Oh, and of course any high-fashion brand. Louis Vuitton. Ralph Lauren.
    posted by delmoi at 12:21 PM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


    The reason I am saying that the iPad needs to replace something is that we already have tons of consumer gadgets that do basically the same thing. I think that's a perfectly reasonable argument to make; I think I get to make such arguments, because that's what Metafilter is about; I don't really have to care that much to make such negative arguments, because this is a discussion site, even if I'm not intending to be a customer of Apple's for this product.

    I guess we're coming at this from really different perspectives, because what you seem to be objecting to - the iPad needs to replace something is that we already have tons of consumer gadgets that do basically the same thing - is not the way our consumer culture works, or has ever worked. There are, for example, a gazillion different kinds of digital cameras out there, and based on the number of "What kind of camera should I get?" askmes, people who have very specific needs in a camera need certain kinds of niche devices, and people who don't have specific needs can kind of just "pick any one of X devices in your price range."

    There are hundreds of different kinds of coffeemakers and printers and whathaveyou, and very few of them are really really different from any other kind of coffeemaker or printer, you know?
    posted by rtha at 12:24 PM on April 1, 2010


    jailbreak. Problem solved.

    You can't be serious...! You're talking about doing various obscure things that void your warrantee, and that Apple is doing everything to be able to prevent your machine from even working if you have it on.

    'What the iPad does' is not 'what a PC does, minus the keyboard.' What it does is what you do/feel/think/want/make when you hold it.

    OK, this seems like advertising hype to me, but I'll bite. What are those things it makes you do/feel/etc that are not, "what a PC does, minus the keyboard"?
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:27 PM on April 1, 2010


    Sorry if this has been mentioned before in this thread, but I just read this from (a pro-iPad!) article in Slate:

    In particular, the iPad offers no conventional system of files and folders for storing work. On the whole, this works fine. Word processing, spreadsheet and presentation documents can be easily imported to and exported from the iPad's iWork productivity apps (each of the iWork apps is $10). Other types of documents can be viewed, edited, exported, and emailed if the appropriate application in installed.

    Some PDFs that I'd emailed myself, however, were never stored on the iPad beyond the moments in which I was reviewing them. The iPad was able to quickly and gracefully open my emailed PDFs but offered no way to save the files to the iPad for future access. Consequently, to read one PDF over several days, I had to repeatedly search for an archived email, re-download the PDF and then open it as if for the first time.


    Seriously?! My God. I was excited about this product, but that's such a ridiculous and glaring flaw. Why isn't this being talked about and mocked all over the internet?
    posted by naju at 12:30 PM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


    @oulipian I presume you're thinking of the iPad's limited connectivity as a barrier in making music (as opposed to its interface).

    Do you think the wireless connectivity might eventually do the trick? It's been five years since I was seriously into ProTools, so I have no idea about networking issues or latency issues. Ideas?
    posted by digitalprimate at 12:30 PM on April 1, 2010


    There are hundreds of different kinds of coffeemakers and printers and whathaveyou, and very few of them are really really different from any other kind of coffeemaker or printer, you know?

    I agree 100%! Yes, the iPad is a computer and not really really different from any other kind of computer. It's perfectly reasonable to compare it with another computer in exactly the same way that it's reasonable to compare two coffeemakers.

    If this were a coffeemaker I'd be saying, "Well, it's very expensive, and it only lets you buy Apple-branded coffee and filters".
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:32 PM on April 1, 2010


    WE GET IT, DELMOI. YOU HATE APPLE.

    jesus FUCKING christ
    posted by grubi at 12:34 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Who said that?! I don't see it in the thread, and I searched for "power", "plug" and "supply".

    Try

    I searched the thread for Linux - again, I found no one claiming that.

    harder.
    posted by entropicamericana at 12:37 PM on April 1, 2010


    The iPad is not a computer, unless it lets me run World of Warcraft at 60 frames per second on moderate-high graphics settings. Sorry.
    posted by polymodus at 12:39 PM on April 1, 2010


    Flash for Mac sucks. Should Apple block it from running?

    Ouch!
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:41 PM on April 1, 2010


    the iPad offers no conventional system of files and folders for storing work

    That's because it's not a Personal Computer. If you want to do serious work, use a proper computer—one with multiple windows open and a filesystem that's more than indexed search.
    posted by polymodus at 12:41 PM on April 1, 2010


    Remember Minidiscs, Betamax, Memory Sticks, ATRAC audio, etc?

    I'm not getting your point, those technologies never took off, while the iPod and iPhone/iTouch did.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:43 PM on April 1, 2010



    That's because it's not a Personal Computer. If you want to do serious work, use a proper computer—one with multiple windows open and a filesystem that's more than indexed search

    Heh. Indeed. The confusing and contradictory arguments made by many iPad critics are "It's just a big iPod touch!" and "It's a real computer that's locked me out!" Um.. if it's just a big iPod Touch, it's not a real computer.

    Reminds me of the ancient duo of contrariness: "The Mac is a toy!" and "It sucks because it doesn't play games!"

    Um.
    posted by grubi at 12:44 PM on April 1, 2010


    If you want to do serious work, use a proper computer

    Did you read the rest of that pullquote? Because "reading a document more than once" doesn't really equate to "serious work".

    But frankly, I'm sure that little issues like that will be worked out quickly by Apple - that's largely an interface issue, and Apple is good at that kind of problem.
    posted by me & my monkey at 12:44 PM on April 1, 2010


    I agree 100%! Yes, the iPad is a computer and not really really different from any other kind of computer. It's perfectly reasonable to compare it with another computer in exactly the same way that it's reasonable to compare two coffeemakers.

    Sure, yeah. I guess what was confusing me is that you use phrases like Apple's saying I need to spend and particularly when they are attempting to make me buy something as if this tactic is somehow unique to Apple, or carries more weight than when some other company (Krups, Ferrari, Nikon) does it.
    posted by rtha at 12:46 PM on April 1, 2010


    Hey, entropicamericana.

    I'm sorry, I'm absolutely not going to count someone's apparently completely accurate comment about how Sony prevented people using from Linux on their box as some sort of "ignorance/misinformation" about Macs.

    You managed to find two errors, both of which were almost immediately and politely corrected and have not been brought up since.

    Personally, I think this is a stellar record for any conversation about technology. If you find errors, why not politely correct them (as you in fact did earlier) instead of just telling us how ignorant and misinformed we are?
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:46 PM on April 1, 2010


    if it's just a big iPod Touch, it's not a real computer.

    That's because Apple doesn't let you use it as a "real computer". There's no reason, other than Apple's own market preservation, for that. My Android phone is a "real computer". It's small and comparatively ineffectual, but if you really see those as "confusing and contradictory" arguments, you're not paying close enough attention.
    posted by me & my monkey at 12:47 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I had to repeatedly search for an archived email, re-download the PDF and then open it as if for the first time. … that's such a ridiculous and glaring flaw.

    The cynical will say it's an intentional omission to keep Adobe out.
    posted by polymodus at 12:48 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    My Android phone is a "real computer".

    Not in any productive sense, and you damn well know it.
    posted by grubi at 12:50 PM on April 1, 2010


    Because they're flying too fast and thick, mainly. And others are being pretty good about correcting them as come along.

    As for Sony's action, it was implied that it was not outside the realm of possibility that Apple could do the same with Macs. Which is, of course, false.
    posted by entropicamericana at 12:50 PM on April 1, 2010


    rtha: um, I don't get your argument at all...? In some hypothetical world where we were discussing some other product, I might have said different things?

    Trust me, when Sony released cameras with their own proprietary format I said things like, "Sony's trying to get me to buy their stupid memory stick".

    I think it's perfectly reasonable to say, "Apple's trying to get me to buy X or Y" in a conversation about Apple's products. What am I supposed to say?!
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:53 PM on April 1, 2010


    iTunes on a computer + other sources of music which aren't part of the iTunes Music Store = loading music onto any iPod or iPad or iPhone which were not purchased via the IMS.

    Why do people insist on perpetuating this old falsehood?


    Hey if that's so, that's cool. Are there limits to this? I mean, fine if he can listen to/rip his CDs (mostly I do this when I visit), but could I continue to send him mp3s?

    That's really academic, though, because the peripheral thing alone would cause him to blow a gasket. Nevermind that little detail naju just dug up. So you can't multitask, and you can't store files? How's that supposed to work?

    Seriously, the situation naju described would reduce my dad to tears of frustration. No thanks. I would at least know enough to get angry at Apple instead of getting angry at myself.
    posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:54 PM on April 1, 2010


    Oh, are we talking about Sony now?

    Good. Fuck Sony.
    posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:55 PM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


    I would be shocked beyond reason if multitasking were not included with the free 4.0 update this summer.
    posted by entropicamericana at 12:56 PM on April 1, 2010


    Apple is clearly trying to find a model for file information storage that's different from the directory/file structure that computers have used since the sixties. That's fine. Actually, I think that's a great idea. We can surely have a better, less confusing interface than a branched tree and only a branched tree for storing things.

    It appears to me, admittedly not having had a lot of experince with iP[oa]d devices, that they've chosen to associate data tightly with apps. iPods don't seem to have data outside of an app context. If you have music or other media, iTunes manages that. Likewise e-books get managed by the booshelf marketplace app, and so on. It's a convenient choice for Apple; each app manages its data files and thus has control over the DRM that each needs. One app can manage storage of all of the files it can see directly, without haveing to worry much about how other apps do things.

    It's confusing for users though. I think there's going to be issues with multiple kinds of thing that should be one kind of thing. How do I move an e-book from the Amazon store Kindle app to the Apple bookshelf app? Can I? Do I need to have separate apps for diffferent books? What about Barnes and Noble or Google Books? Two more apps?

    This isn't really an iP[ao]d problem, it's a data model problem, it's a DRM lock-in problem. Still, this is the model being pushed by Apple right now, with this device. And you can bet that if Apple succeeds, we'll see copycat behaviour from other manufacturers, like Amazon with the Kindle. What do you bet that Windows Mobile 7 works pretty much the same way?

    I'm afraid that we're about to discover that we don't have e-books, we have five or more different, incompatible kinds of e-books, some of which can be read with some apps some of which will mean having different apps. That's really not very elegant or reader-friendly.

    Are we going to have to go through years of clunkyness, lawsuitery and rebuying media like we had to with music (RealMedia, PlaysForSure)? Movies, magazines and TV are just coming too, are we going to have five or more kinds of them too? I must say, I'm not crazy about this data model.
    posted by bonehead at 12:58 PM on April 1, 2010


    But why would you want to multitask? The tablet is a terrible form factor for any serious multitasking.
    posted by polymodus at 12:59 PM on April 1, 2010


    Ten-to-one multitasking would use an Exposé-like interface.
    posted by grubi at 1:00 PM on April 1, 2010


    Not in any productive sense, and you damn well know it.

    Really? Why not, because it's too small? Because, you know, the iPad is bigger. But other than that, what makes it not a real computer? My Android phone has more resources available to it than my first PC, and I was able to use that productively for many years.
    posted by me & my monkey at 1:01 PM on April 1, 2010


    I got my mum and iMac and the biggest stumbling block for her was worrying about "breaking it" by pushing a wrong key or moving a file to the wrong place. The iPad will be great for people like her, who mostly need to browse the internet or view their photos. She finds it much easier to understand programs do basically one specific task.

    At $500, I predict it will be THE must get Christmas gift this year.
    posted by bonobothegreat at 1:02 PM on April 1, 2010


    I dunno, lupus. Tone is a wicked hard thing to convey and read (correctly) in a written medium, but you seem to be taking this so personally, and your comments about Apple trying to "make" you buy their stuff "sounded" (for lack of a better term) to me like you were calling Apple out for doing this special thing that no one else does. It just seemed weird to me. If I've misread you, I apologize. I don't usually spend much (or any) time in threads like these because they tend to get so hoppitamoppita so quickly, but I'm really just trying to get a grip on the philosophical end of the "closed environment is bad because..." argument.
    posted by rtha at 1:02 PM on April 1, 2010


    Agreed. iPad's way of organizing user data consists of indexed search and "popovers". A directory structure would needlessly cramp the user experience.
    posted by polymodus at 1:03 PM on April 1, 2010


    As for Sony's action, it was implied that it was not outside the realm of possibility that Apple could do the same with Macs. Which is, of course, false.

    This is what "ignorance and misinformation" is to you??

    The fact is that I'd say Sony's action at least shows that this might be technically possible to do on a Mac, too.

    Why do you believe that it's "out of the realm of possibility" that Apple could do the same with Macs? I'd doubt they'd bother, but it wouldn't be rocket science - tweak the firmware to only allow certain known operating systems to boot. Sure there would be ways around it, but there will be ways around this Sony hack.

    Now, you might know something I don't, and I'd love to know what that is! I'm not saying this is the gospel truth. Corrections are always welcome! But calling us ignorant and misinformed doesn't help educate us - it just makes us want to ignore everything you say. To tell us that something is "of course, false" but not giving us any idea why is simply talking down to us.

    "Play hard, but play fair."
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:05 PM on April 1, 2010


    iPad + Google account/apps = classroom.

    No local storage necessary. Access everywhere. Screw printing.
    posted by xjudson at 1:08 PM on April 1, 2010


    what makes it not a real computer?

    iPad is not good for: heavy-duty writing/wordprocessing, programming, running mathematical simulations, and playing MMPORGS like WoW or EVE-Online. A conventional computer can do all of these.
    posted by polymodus at 1:08 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Third-party applications created using Web 2.0 standards can extend iPhone’s capabilities without compromising its reliability or security.
    from Apple.


    I said that the same argument had been made when Apple initially said they wouldn't put out an SDK. That argument turned out to be false. Apple was lying to their customers.

    Not to get all Rory here, but that quote isn't actually them arguing that "native apps would compromise its reliability or security". It could easily be a dig at Flash, for one thing. And if you find more than a scattered amount of people arguing for Apple on this one, I'll be amazed -- I remember the fan army going apeshit nuts about the lack of native apps.

    My argument, now, is that there's no reason they couldn't enable Flash for people that want it while also leaving Flash out for those that do not.

    Yeah, addressed that already. Brightcove, for instance, just announced their HTML5 player. Would they -- who are hugely invested and experienced in Flash -- have done that if they could have got a Flash player on the phone? No chance. But now phones (and the rest of us) will be playing native h.264 video with hardware acceleration and zero Flash overhead.

    The same can be said for allowing me to install apps from sources other than Apple. This would only affect Apple, but for some reason, Apple fans argue against it as well.

    It's not "some reason" -- it's the same reason as with all the other arguments you've advanced. If apps could be installed from anywhere, then you'd have apps breaking all of Apple's rules for the phone (and if you've ever read the developer forums, you'll know just how shit some of these apps would be without review, deeply flawed though it is).

    Apple is creating a gated community here, with themselves as the stewards. Lots of people don't like the restrictions of gated communities, and I understand that. But some people just want to live in peace and don't mind if this means they can't paint their house neon pink.

    Do you think enabling Flash has to affect your iPhone's battery life and stability[?]

    Yes. Especially in 2007, when this whole jamboree began. Flash 10.1 is rumoured to be much more acceptable, but I've yet to seen a good mobile Flash in the flesh. But to argue that because a yet-to-ship version of Flash isn't totally awful the iPhone should have allowed it on years ago is ludicrous.

    Flash for Mac sucks. Should Apple block it from running?

    Thank god they blocked it on the phone, though, as it seems to have been the only thing to wake Adobe up and make them realise that perhaps they really should hire a programmer to work on it. Another reason why letting Flash on the phone would have hurt everybody else.

    koeselitz: I'm not saying that Steve Jobs must open all of his source today. But I think Apple could benefit from less of a closed model. I can tell that Steve is concerned that, unless he maintains tight control over the product, quality will flag. I don't think that's true.

    But would it improve? The quality of other apps would get better, sure, but where's the benefit to Apple? It can already afford to hire seriously good developers.

    Not to say that it's anti-open source. Webkit's open source, and is owning the mobile space and making heavy inroads on Firefox, which definitely benefits Apple. But opening something like iPhoto? iMovie? The benefits are very difficult to see, there.
    posted by bonaldi at 1:08 PM on April 1, 2010


    I guess the conclusion we should agree on is that computing can take on different forms depending on both the task and the setting at hand.
    posted by polymodus at 1:10 PM on April 1, 2010


    But why would you want to multitask? The tablet is a terrible form factor for any serious multitasking.

    Multitasking is dumb and pointless and unnecessary right up until Apple introduces it in iPhone OS 4.0. Just like every other feature Apple has added over the years.
    posted by smackfu at 1:11 PM on April 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


    Webkit's open source, and is owning the mobile space and making heavy inroads on Firefox, which definitely benefits Apple.

    Although the real benefit to Apple from Webkit was that they could start from an established open source project (KHTML) rather than starting from scratch.
    posted by smackfu at 1:14 PM on April 1, 2010


    waxbanks: “Fair enough, but your Azureus and Apache examples are telling here.”

    Yes, but what about the biggest example of all, Firefox?
    posted by koeselitz at 1:15 PM on April 1, 2010


    But as any Slashdot.com reader can tell you ...

    Heh, it's Slashdot.org, n00b. And you call your self a techie. Otherwise, kudos for the two-sided review.
    posted by filthy light thief at 1:16 PM on April 1, 2010


    Yes, but what about the biggest example of all, Firefox?
    What, the slowest browser available on the Mac? The one that's badly integrated with the OS and where Mac bugs lie open for years? The one that emerged from a failed closed-source company and survives on a sinecure from Google? Not really the greatest example of anything, that.
    posted by bonaldi at 1:19 PM on April 1, 2010


    Are there limits to this? I mean, fine if he can listen to/rip his CDs (mostly I do this when I visit), but could I continue to send him mp3s?

    Yes. The only limit I know of is a file format issue with Apple using Windows Media Audio and Video formats. Otherwise, mp3s, AIFF/WAV files, and aac formats (as well as the Apple proprietary Apple Lossless Format) all will be utterly useable regardless of the source. This includes torrents, music blogs, Amazon MP3 purchases, etc, as well, as using user-content-creation programs which will export to any of the above-mentioned formats. It's as simple as drag-n-drop into iTunes, sync with the device.

    you can't store files?

    As I stated upthread, I have not used an iPad, but I'm certainly you're conflating two things here -- 1) the ability to store files, and 2) having a directory tree file structure. The iPod/iPhone/iPad file structure is such that files are not stored in directories / folders. They are assigned a random name and stuffed into a folder and then indexed. (I think on the iPod, it's 99 folders.) There is some arcane thing about doing this which I have heard allows for more efficient use of drive space, although I'm not enough of an OS geek to really understand it.

    Of course you'll be able to save files. How could they be selling the iWork programs for use on the device without that ability? Writing a document or working on a spreadsheet where you can't save is a ludicrous enough idea that anyone thinking about it for a minute will dismiss the charge as unfounded.

    What people HAVE said is that you won't be able to access the file directory directly. You will have to go through an interface, probably the program you used to generate the file, or maybe they will have a directory access program, or something. You will locate what you want via the index, and then it will be served to you, or spawned as an email attachment, or whatever. But I'm 99.999% certain that the iPad WILL have file-saving capabilities. The promised functionality (not to mention basic things like playing locally stored music) will be impossible without it.
    posted by hippybear at 1:20 PM on April 1, 2010


    I'm really just trying to get a grip on the philosophical end of the "closed environment is bad because..." argument.

    I'm baffled. What possible argument would you have against an open environment?

    You have two choices as to environments - open and closed.

    If you are a consumer, in a closed environment you can only buy a small number of products at a price fixed by a central authority.

    In an open market, you are free to buy exactly those same products if you wish, but you can also buy other products not approved by the central authority, or even get free products that people simply give away.

    Or suppose you're a producer. In a closed environment, you can only sell your software through the single, central authority, and you can't sell it at all if you compete with the single, central authority's own product. In an open environment, I can sell whatever I like - or just make it for fun and give it away.

    What would you possibly gain moving from an open to a closed system? You can still always buy the central authority's product, and you'd think that the need to be more competitive with their software would force them to spend more of their money on developing features and fixing bugs, and less on profits, generally giving you a better deal.

    Unless you're an Apple stockholder, there's literally no reason that I can see to prefer the closed system in this case.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:20 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    bonaldi: “Not to say that it's anti-open source. Webkit's open source, and is owning the mobile space and making heavy inroads on Firefox, which definitely benefits Apple. But opening something like iPhoto? iMovie? The benefits are very difficult to see, there.”

    Like I said, I'm not even saying that particular, individual sources need to be opened. It's just clear to me that Apple has been fighting a war for decades that seems almost pointless in the end: the war against non-proprietary manipulation. They've sued people who've made Apple-compatible computers; they've called people who jailbreak phones "terrorists;" they've fought with every firmware release to exclude any kind of manipulation of the machine. And I think they could save money if they dropped that attitude.
    posted by koeselitz at 1:21 PM on April 1, 2010


    Grrr. *I'm certain ly
    posted by hippybear at 1:22 PM on April 1, 2010


    But why would you want to multitask? The tablet is a terrible form factor for any serious multitasking.

    I don't know about that. Even in a smartphone, it turns out to be a pretty useful feature to have; I have a Pre that handles each instance of each application as a card, and it's extremely useful even for casual use--flicking back and forth between two web pages, a couple of PDFs, and an email/IM chat thread in support of an email I'm writing isn't an unusual occurrence, and I get the impression that it would be nigh-impossible to do on a iPhone. Once you move the OS to a tablet form factor, you're ostensibly hoping to capture people who are using the device for serious input, because it's priced as though it's going to be purchased in lieu of a laptop.

    I guess what I'm saying is, even if Apple weren't so deeply entrenched in their "walled garden" mentality, I'd have a hard time justifying a $500 laptop that won't let me handle my day-to-day work without jumping through hoops.
    posted by Mayor West at 1:22 PM on April 1, 2010


    Multitasking is dumb and pointless

    The screen is too small to display an eBook reader and a note-taking app together. What is the form of multitasking that people would find useful on an iPad?

    The iPad as it is already supports simple kinds of multitasking such as notifications and background audio.
    posted by polymodus at 1:25 PM on April 1, 2010


    I'd have a hard time justifying a $500 laptop that won't let me handle my day-to-day work without jumping through hoops.

    So, you're not going to buy one?

    How informative.
    posted by grubi at 1:27 PM on April 1, 2010


    What is the form of multitasking that people would find useful on an iPad?
    Spotify (or any non-Apple music player) running in the background while I browse is the primo example, but hell, any sort of desk accessory. I can't even open a calculator as an overlay without quitting an app? That's not good design.

    It's liveable with until 4.0 and understandable on the iPhone 2G, but it's indefensible long-term.
    posted by bonaldi at 1:27 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    bonehead: “Apple is clearly trying to find a model for file information storage that's different from the directory/file structure that computers have used since the sixties. That's fine. Actually, I think that's a great idea. We can surely have a better, less confusing interface than a branched tree and only a branched tree for storing things.”

    This is said often, but there are big problems with it, I think:

    First, Apple isn't trying to find a different information-storage model. They're trying to take away the model completely. As Ive says in that article, they want a direct interface between the user and the user's 'stuff.' The iPhone and iPad don't hope to create a new metaphor for interacting with the information on a computer; they want to create computers that don't need metaphors.

    The trouble with that is that, contrary to what you say, I really don't believe there are "better, less confusing interface[s] than a branched tree and only a branched tree for storing things." Seriously. I've sat and tried to think of one - it does not exist. And it seems to me that the iPhone and iPad probably have just as much branching going on inside them as any other computer - they just hide it from the user.

    There must be a relationship drawn between files. A hierarchical relationship is the only one that is really useful for computing. Either we give users access to that hierarchical relationship, with all its pitfalls, or we hide it from them and try to make their experience more "immediate." I don't doubt that people will prefer the more immediate experience, and in fact the majority of people will probably love doing whatever computery stuff it is they do on the iPad. Steve Jobs is right that making the experience more direct can help them. But it comes at the expense of power - power to manipulate files, power to do more than one thing at a time, power to change the machine.

    But, of course, most people don't want to do that. So I have a feeling the iPad will be extremely popular.
    posted by koeselitz at 1:29 PM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


    iPad + Google account/apps = classroom.

    Netbook + Google account/apps = classroom - except it's half the price of the iPad, has a keyboard, and actually teaches them about computers (as in, you might actually use that operating system in a job someday).

    I might also add that once you've purchased the Netbook for your student at $250, you can literally get every piece of software you need for free - drawing software, layout, text editing, programming, whatever you like. If you got your students the iPad you'd have to pay Apple something for each student using each application - and you simply couldn't use the machine to teach them programming at all!
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:29 PM on April 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


    What is the form of multitasking that people would find useful on an iPad?

    Mostly, IM + anything else. I got an IM alert the other day while in a Skype call, and couldn't respond because to do so would mean quitting Skype entirely.

    Give me that, which I'm well aware that 4.0 will (if the rumors are true), and I'm a happy camper.
    posted by Tomorrowful at 1:30 PM on April 1, 2010


    Woohoo, I am so happy to see all these negative comments about the iPad! That's that many more people who won't be in line in front of me when I'm buying mine. (Actually, I want the 3G model so I'll be pre-ordering. But if it was on sale Saturday I'd be in the line at 7 am.)

    I have been using Macs since the SE's 9-inch black and white screen (and have used plenty of Windows machines too). I have over 20k MP3s (about four of which I purchased - no, you don't have to buy your music through the iTunes store). The iPad is exactly what I want right now: something to sit comfortably at home with and read books (yay Kindle app! Yay ebooks!), browse the web (I already use Flashblocker so Flash can bite me), maybe play a game or two (yay Plants vs. Zombies!). When I travel I can take it along to watch movies. I already use my phone to look at recipes when I'm cooking; the iPad will be nicer because it'll be easier to read.

    I have a desktop Mac on which I can and do create and edit, and do freelance graphic design, and I use one at work. I have a laptop (which I may well sell this year). I have an iPhone because I love love love having portable internet. And I will probably get a new purse with an iPad-shaped pocket. I am so very excited about this thing. You can call me a fangirl but I don't care; I feel like it was designed exactly for my needs and wants. I am a happy, happy panda.
    posted by TochterAusElysium at 1:31 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I have an iPhone because I love love love having portable internet.

    Me, too.

    (Great Ode to Joy username, btw)
    posted by grubi at 1:32 PM on April 1, 2010


    A hierarchical relationship is the only one that is really useful for computing.

    Google search does not organization hierarchically; neither does Gmail. The number of times I drill down to something through a tree, whether it be a fact, a file or a piece of music, is pretty small, just because I have too many files.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:33 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    What is the form of multitasking that people would find useful on an iPad?

    Popups, overlays, helper apps---something like, say a system wide-spell cheker or text macro system. It's the stuff we can't imagine now that will endup being the most essential.
    posted by bonehead at 1:33 PM on April 1, 2010


    Mayor West: “I guess what I'm saying is, even if Apple weren't so deeply entrenched in their "walled garden" mentality, I'd have a hard time justifying a $500 laptop that won't let me handle my day-to-day work without jumping through hoops.”

    Is "day-to-day work" really how you think about computers? How much money will you spend on a TV? On a good stereo? Do you worry that you won't be able to do "day-to-day work" on those?

    Most people do not think of their computers in terms of "day-to-day work." And they don't think about "justifying" the expense for one. Most people see this device for what it is: an interface to the web, an entertainment center, an ebook reader, and a gaming platform. Most people will enjoy having these things around, and will happily pay $500 for the privilege. That may seem crazy, but it seemed just as crazy a few years ago that people would plop down $300 for a phone that's basically the same thing without the nice, big screen a bit more capability.
    posted by koeselitz at 1:34 PM on April 1, 2010


    I'm glad for your Freude, TochterAusElysium!
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:35 PM on April 1, 2010


    There must be a relationship drawn between files. A hierarchical relationship is the only one that is really useful for computing.

    The first is very true, the second I'm not so certain about. Non-exclusive tagging and temporal orderings make a lot of sense to a lot of people. Look at the way sets work on Flickr, for example. Something like that would work really well on an iPod device.
    posted by bonehead at 1:37 PM on April 1, 2010


    flicking back and forth between two web pages, a couple of PDFs, and an email/IM chat thread in support of an email I'm writing isn't an unusual occurrence, and I get the impression that it would be nigh-impossible to do on a iPhone

    On the iTouch, Safari and Mail already keep what you have opened if you return to the home screen.

    Referring to a threaded conversation while composing a new message is interesting. Gmail lets you do this through a scrolling/collapsing mechanism. From a cognitive standpoint, I would not want users to flip back and forth between data sources and sinks; both should be visually available.

    Still, I point out that screen real-estate is what constrains any meaningful multitasking that a user could do on an iPad.
    posted by polymodus at 1:37 PM on April 1, 2010


    Mona Lisa and Picasso are works 400 years apart, and in the same gallery would be garish and tasteless. Since Apple is the curator of artistry, taste, and refinement, they would never allow this to happen.

    From a lifestyle/complexity standpoint, the combination of two great things does not yield another, greater thing.


    Yeah, well, I won't buy a gallery that doesn't let me hang the pictures I want, even though I like the picture it comes with a whole bunch. And it just continues to astonish me, especially after we just had that PS3 thread, that you think it's okay for any builder to tell you what art you're allowed to have in your gallery, or even force you to take down art that you've already hung, because it violates new rules that didn't exist when you bought yours.

    Right here, right now, you can see the power of marketing. Otherwise perfectly intelligent people actually think that THEIR iPad experience would somehow be sullied by giving ME an escape hatch.... and are literally arguing that I should not be allowed to use a device I've bought in the way I want, because it's "garish and tasteless".

    The sheer level of snobbery in that argument boggles my mind. And the ability of marketing to short-circuit reason continues to astonish me -- lately, almost on a daily basis.
    posted by Malor at 1:41 PM on April 1, 2010 [11 favorites]


    Just look at the iPhone to see Apple acknowledge that multi-tasking is useful: their apps are allowed to do it.
    posted by smackfu at 1:41 PM on April 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


    me: “A hierarchical relationship is the only one that is really useful for computing.”

    lupus_yonderboy: “Google search does not organization hierarchically; neither does Gmail. The number of times I drill down to something through a tree, whether it be a fact, a file or a piece of music, is pretty small, just because I have too many files.”

    I know, but it gets tougher when you think about a lot of the demands placed on an OS, primarily security. I really like gmail's intuitive and frankly brilliant use of a non-hierarchical organizational model, but when you're talking about a filesystem that has to offer protection to various parts of its structure in greater and lesser degrees - a filesystem that needs to distinguish between programs, and between users, and between more and less important and necessary instances of each - hierarchical design is the only design that really works.

    Moreover, it's worth pointing out something that KirkJobSluder pointed out to me in a previous thread: in fact, the hierarchical model is really just a veneer on the system rather than a reflection of the system itself. Modern filesystems are capable of being just as flexible in their organizational structure as gmail; they can create dynamic links and tag files and remember which programs require which libraries. We only think of them as hierarchical because that's what we're used to, and because that metaphor is the most complex one available, and therefore it serves us best. If we wanted to, we could think about it all in an entirely different way; it's only that the hierarchical model provides a sufficiently complex metaphor where the other metaphors I know of don't.
    posted by koeselitz at 1:41 PM on April 1, 2010


    Just look at the iPhone to see Apple acknowledge that multi-tasking is useful: their apps are allowed to do it.

    Lies.
    posted by entropicamericana at 1:44 PM on April 1, 2010


    bonehead: “The first is very true, the second I'm not so certain about. Non-exclusive tagging and temporal orderings make a lot of sense to a lot of people. Look at the way sets work on Flickr, for example. Something like that would work really well on an iPod device.”

    You're right (although, as I say above, I think there are benefits to hierarchy that these things lack). But note that every modern OS offers organization by tagging and by temporal ordering. Maybe Steve would say that there's way too much cruft there to use those things functionally, or that the experience needs to be immediate; I can see that point of view. There's really no way for me to look at all the files on my computer temporally or by tag.
    posted by koeselitz at 1:45 PM on April 1, 2010


    What is the form of multitasking that people would find useful on an iPad?

    The ability to run Photoshop, Indesign, a web brower and IM client.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:46 PM on April 1, 2010


    The ability to run Photoshop, Indesign, a web brower and IM client.

    You want to run Photoshop and Indesign at the same time on a tablet?

    You're goofy in the head.
    posted by grubi at 1:47 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    smackfu: “Just look at the iPhone to see Apple acknowledge that multi-tasking is useful: their apps are allowed to do it.”

    entropicamericana: “Lies.”

    Christ, you're shrill.

    Last I checked, iPhone apps were indeed allowed to use more than one library at a time, and to do things like connect to the internet whilst running a process. That's functionally multi-tasking. It is no different from running more than one application at a time, except that it's not the user that's doing it.
    posted by koeselitz at 1:47 PM on April 1, 2010


    But feel free to educate us all on the iPhone SDK while you're banging on.
    posted by koeselitz at 1:48 PM on April 1, 2010


    Christ, you're shrill.

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

    Last I checked, iPhone apps were indeed allowed to use more than one library at a time, and to do things like connect to the internet whilst running a process. That's functionally multi-tasking. It is no different from running more than one application at a time, except that it's not the user that's doing it.

    "It's no different from running more than application at a time, except it's not at all what 99% of the people in this conversation mean when they are referring to multitasking."

    Can I start calling you Elmer FUD?
    posted by entropicamericana at 1:50 PM on April 1, 2010


    You want to run Photoshop and Indesign at the same time on a tablet?

    And music program in the background too.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:52 PM on April 1, 2010


    Otherwise perfectly intelligent people actually think that THEIR iPad experience would somehow be sullied by giving ME an escape hatch.

    What? It would, for the reasons I gave. It might be snobbery not to want your broke-down ol jalopy parked in the gated community, but it's definitely not true that your freedom has no impact on me.

    (And the rest of your post wasn't actually an argument; just histrionics. It's basically "marketing" of your own.)
    posted by bonaldi at 1:53 PM on April 1, 2010


    There's really no way for me to look at all the files on my computer temporally or by tag.

    That's just an artifact of your current fiel system. There are several real work systems that have some version of this. OS X has Spotlight which can do almost exactly this. MS's Outlook now has dynamic folders for mail too, sortable by time or "conversation" (tag group essentially), and what is mail if not a file system? Gmail, as mentioned above. Flickr and Delicious organize information this way too. There's no reason that user interface, not a file system but an interface, would have to be organized only as a single root tree.

    Also, security, ACLs? Doesn't Windows do things this way now or am I mistaken?
    posted by bonehead at 1:53 PM on April 1, 2010


    I forget: whose side am I on?
    posted by grubi at 1:53 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    You want to run Photoshop and Indesign at the same time on a tablet?

    And music program in the background too.


    You can do that on other tablets?
    posted by grubi at 1:54 PM on April 1, 2010


    koeselitz: I don't see it the inherent connection between hierarchical structure of files and protection at all...?

    You need some form of inheritance, absolutely! But why the inheritance structure of protection necessarily has anything to do with the file structure is very unclear to me. In Unix, for example, a great deal of your protection is done at the group level or at the individual file level.

    Why could protection not be done with a set of tags or labels, with inheritance? (i.e. Top Secret clearance includes all of Secret clearance....) All the old things you do, like "write protecting a directory", can be done just as easily with inheritance.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:54 PM on April 1, 2010


    And music program in the background too.

    Yeah, that's what I was referring to. The iPod app is allowed to run in the background, but other non-Apple music programs cannot. Unless I'm mistaken about that?

    You can do that on other tablets?

    The ones running Windows?
    posted by smackfu at 1:56 PM on April 1, 2010


    You want to run Photoshop and Indesign at the same time on a tablet?

    Sure, why not? why wouldn't he? You have to admit that it would be pretty cool.

    It would be sub-optimal right now, but how about 12 months from now, or 18? These things are going to get a lot faster much quicker than you might expect.
    posted by bonehead at 1:56 PM on April 1, 2010


    I'm baffled. What possible argument would you have against an open environment?

    You misread me. I am not arguing that an open environment is bad. I am trying to understand the point of view of people who say they don't like Apple because they can't fiddle in the same way that you can in, say, Linux, and how this applies to a) people like me, who can do a little fiddling here and there, but mostly don't like to or need to and b) how it matters in a larger, more philosophical sense. I'm geekier than a lot of people I know, but way way less geeky than many other people. I don't write code. I don't design programs. So people who do have a different perspective on these things than I do, and I'm trying to understand that perspective.

    The attempt to understand is frequently undermined (in threads like this, at least) by the FANBOI/LOVE IT/IT SUCKS that happens, so I'm really just trying to weed through things to try to sort signal from noise.
    posted by rtha at 1:56 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    It might be snobbery not to want your broke-down ol jalopy parked in the gated community,

    Say, what? How does running whatever I like on my computer affect you in the slightest? Apple is completely free to run any sort of gated community it likes, and you are free never to leave it.

    What you are saying is that we must all live in your gated community and follow your rules about what sort of car we have and where we can park it.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:59 PM on April 1, 2010


    lupus_yonderboy: “You need some form of inheritance, absolutely! But why the inheritance structure of protection necessarily has anything to do with the file structure is very unclear to me. In Unix, for example, a great deal of your protection is done at the group level or at the individual file level. ¶ Why could protection not be done with a set of tags or labels, with inheritance? (i.e. Top Secret clearance includes all of Secret clearance....) All the old things you do, like "write protecting a directory", can be done just as easily with inheritance.”

    And it is - effectively. Computers aren't built with hierarchy in mind, they're just chunks of memory. And every modern OS has to have some relational stuff like that, some infra-hierarchical inheritance and tagging and such. They just hide that from the user when they present the filesystem to her or him.

    Actually, the biggest obstacle I see to other metaphors is that presentation - although maybe I'm unlike most people. I find that, in order to keep track of hundreds and even thousands of files, I have to think about things in terms of hierarchies. A flat set of tagged or labeled files might work in some ways, but it makes picturing the system difficult, and that hinders a lot.

    But maybe I'm wrong - how else could the filesystem be intuitively understood?
    posted by koeselitz at 2:02 PM on April 1, 2010


    Yeah, that's what I was referring to. The iPod app is allowed to run in the background, but other non-Apple music programs cannot. Unless I'm mistaken about that?

    No, you're correct
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:03 PM on April 1, 2010


    how else could the filesystem be intuitively understood?

    As a Venn diagram, collections of sets, some of which overlap, some of which are seperate from all the others. Security can be done by set membership. That's one way.

    As a timeline, like a Gantt chart, with branches and re-crossings. Security has to be something else. That's another.
    posted by bonehead at 2:06 PM on April 1, 2010


    What you are saying is that we must all live in your gated community and follow your rules about what sort of car we have and where we can park it.

    I don't think *anyone* is saying that. If you don't want to live in the community, fine. If you're worried that the community will buy up all the good land and leave you with the polluted swamp, fine.

    But don't say "I want all the benefits of living there but don't want to abide by the rules and if I break them it won't affect you one bit anyway", because that's not so.
    posted by bonaldi at 2:08 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Yeah, well, I won't buy a gallery that doesn't let me hang the pictures I want

    The builder here has exactly 2 rules for hangable art:
    1. No Porn or anything unsavory
    2. No paintings that his competitors (Google, Adobe) made in-house.

    For most people, these rules are reasonable. You've made it clear they're not reasonable rules for yourself.

    The flaw in your argument is that it's a corner case that doesn't in practice hold for a large part of Apple's clientele. They understand the people they are selling to.

    If you want to make an activist argument, that consumer decisions influence the development of IT, that we should avoid the iPad because it would result in long-term infringements on computing freedom: I would say your approach is wrong. Consumers need more education; they aren't wired the way your mind is; your argument won't really steer them from the overwhelming short-term benefits of using an iPad.

    As for me, I'm not personally compelled by the iPad because I wouldn't know what to do with it. It won't particularly enhance my life in any way, since I'm not really in the—quoting Dear Leader Steve Jobs, "intersection of liberal arts and technology"—target audience. However, the iPad would make a great Christmas gift for my mom, etc, especially along with the iWork Apps.
    posted by polymodus at 2:10 PM on April 1, 2010


    rtha: If you had read one line down from that line you quoted from me:

    "If you are a consumer, in a closed environment you can only buy a small number of products at a price fixed by a central authority.

    In an open market, you are free to buy exactly those same products if you wish, but you can also buy other products not approved by the central authority, or even get free products that people simply give away."

    Let's make a specific example. You raise fleas for a living and this requires some sort of flea management program. Now, there are only about a dozen people who do this, and I'm another. I write some flea management program, perhaps I give it away open source, perhaps I sell it for some money, but I wrote this for myself and I'm ahead of the game if I get $50 from a few people.

    Now, in a closed environment like today's iPhone system, I simply can't do this. If I'm a hobbyist, I can't just pick up my iPad and start typing without spending any money, I have to get a development system and write a full-fledged application, I have to spend a lot of time making it pretty because the store won't accept it - then I need to submit it, go through a lot of hoops and have a reasonably big chance of having it bounced at each stage.

    And if I discover a bug, cough, in the program, I can't just send you an update. I have to release a new version, go through the whole approval process again - and it isn't just a rubber stamp because Apple has definitely been known to decide that just tiny bugfixes make the program unacceptable (can't find the link on the article by a well-known developer apologizing because the version of his program that was out there had a serious bug and Apple wouldn't let him release a fix with just that bugfix and nothing else...)

    And if Apple gets into the flea circus, well, my little application can't even be distributed any more!

    We're at a stage where the average guy has better access to creation and technology than any human through history - and people are casually willing to put themselves into a position where someone like Apple can insert themselves into every intellectual property transaction between a pair of individuals. It's a great deal for Apple, and a terrible deal for us.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:13 PM on April 1, 2010


    The builder here has exactly 2 rules for hangable art:

    To be fair, it's annoying and time consuming for a developer to have to submit an App and then have to wait while Apple reviews it. Long term, I don't think it's sustainable.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:14 PM on April 1, 2010


    The builder here has exactly 2 rules for hangable art:
    ...2. No paintings that his competitors (Google, Adobe) made in-house.


    Remeber, that's the one that got MicroSoft in trouble in the early ninties. Apple is being upfront about it, rather than sneaky, but it's the same problem. If the iPad/Applestore/iTunes does become dominant, it's antitrust, just the same.

    Many of us remember the bad old MicroSoft. We're not evil because we don't want a new boss, just like the old.
    posted by bonehead at 2:19 PM on April 1, 2010


    I don't think *anyone* is saying that. If you don't want to live in the community, fine. If you're worried that the community will buy up all the good land and leave you with the polluted swamp, fine.

    But don't say "I want all the benefits of living there but don't want to abide by the rules and if I break them it won't affect you one bit anyway", because that's not so.


    I didn't join your gated community - I purchased a computer. Why do you get the right to tell me what to run on my computer? I don't know you! Why are you interested in what goes on on my machine? How does what I do on my computer possibly affect you?
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:22 PM on April 1, 2010


    What possible argument would you have against an open environment?
    Thanks to the "closed" App Store, the iPhone enjoys the largest and most compelling third-party software library of any mobile device. Developers clamour to get into it, and RIM, Microsoft, Palm, and Google rush to duplicate it.

    Most importantly, it has allowed thousands of *independent* developers to get their software into the hands of more users than they ever could have before.

    Good software and compelling products require thoughtful design, something that most open (and free) systems lack.
    posted by i_have_a_computer at 2:22 PM on April 1, 2010


    Remeber, that's the one that got MicroSoft in trouble in the early ninties. Apple is being upfront about it

    Thanks for pointing that out.
    posted by polymodus at 2:24 PM on April 1, 2010


    I purchased a computer.

    Actually, I thought you'd stated earlier that you don't intend to purchase an iPad. Why buy something that you feel doesn't meet your standards about what you can do with it? Surely there are alternates on the market for a reason...
    posted by hippybear at 2:25 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    " An iPad-using child will have a significantly difficult time getting into programming."

    " As a content creator on both Windows and Mac OS, I'm extremely pleased that this device has the potentially to greatly open up my audience.

    - As long as Apple agrees to sell your product."


    Always so many angles to consider in an Apple iPad thread, but there is one angle that is interesting to me and that's the fact that many critics are using the App store as their sole model of how people can get content on an iPad. The quotes above seem to imply that the closed system somehow prevents people (including curious kids) from experimenting with the iPad and learning programming.

    The way I look at there is PROGRAMMING and then there is programming.

    The iPad will do nothing to hamper the small "programming" if you define this as concepts such as learning Html 5, CSS and Javascript: all of which can run whatever the hell you want in Webkit a.k.a. Safari. Same with video content.

    The web is your open platform and if kids are interested in learning how to code they can do so and incorporate techniques we haven't thought of for sites and web apps that run in the browser.

    Look at the Harmony drawing app that has been getting some buzz as an HTML 5 based webapp. There's some pretty sweet programming (again small 'p') going on there. (Yes, I understand we are still far away from the reality of HTML 5, I'm a realist. I'm also teaching my curious 8 year old to make his web pages in the HTML 5 spec.)

    I'm going to stay out of the whole PROGRAMMING closed system, gated tyrant debate. The only thing I'll say is that it sounds like some folks are using models from the 20th century for their arguments.
    posted by jeremias at 2:25 PM on April 1, 2010


    How does what I do on my computer possibly affect you?

    for the reasons I gave upthread. Businesses take the path of least resistance. Apple's path means high quality software for all, but is also very high resistance.

    If they open the machine so that you can do what you want, businesses will leap at the loophole and the quality of software they make for *me* will go down.

    It's exactly the same argument for why you don't get to do what you want with *your* house that *you* bought if you bought it in a gated community.
    posted by bonaldi at 2:28 PM on April 1, 2010


    i_have_a_computer: as I've pointed out more than twice in this thread no one is preventing you from having your Apple store if you want it.

    By saying I want to be able to run any software I like on a computer that I do actually own, how am I preventing you from shopping at the Apple store?

    Why is this so hard to understand?? Go ahead, shop at Apple if you like - just let me run what I like on my own machine. I'm not saying Apple has to sell anyone's software, or even let you know it exists - simply not to prevent me from running my own software on my own machine.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:29 PM on April 1, 2010


    Just a note on uni-tasking, because it seems a lot of people misunderstand the potential.

    With uni-tasking you can still run multiple programs (stay with me...), you can take notes, jump over to your photo-editing package, back to the notes, then to X, Z, X and Z, each time you flip, the program is in the state you left it. Feels like multi-tasking, right? But it's not.

    The difference is that those programs have to hibernate/sleep while you're flipping away from them. Your photo-program doesn't need to be thinking and doing things while you're taking notes, it can go to sleep and store it's state. As long as it's programmed correctly, it can 'wake up' and be useful in the time it takes you to swipe your finger and 'revive' it.

    Uni-tasking can, for full-screen applications, achieve a multitasking effect for the majority of users.

    Real multitasking would be fantastic for those who would benefit from it (duh..)-- you don't have to be a techie. I'd personally run a IRC client in the background, or have a application to real-time monitor my work systems, or tie in with the security cameras. Those applications are the things that are prevented by uni-tasking. I understand they would steal battery-life and performance from the active application, but that would, for me, be a worthwhile tradeoff.
    posted by Static Vagabond at 2:30 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Why is this so hard to understand?? Go ahead, shop at Apple if you like - just let me run what I like on my own machine.

    I don't think anyone is stopping you from running anything on your machine.

    It's increasingly sounding like you covet the hardware and feel slighted because you resent the restrictions placed on that hardware.

    If you don't want to deal with Apple, don't buy an iPad. Simple. Done. Nobody is stopping you from running anything on the hardware you already own. Want to buy an iPad? Then accept the shackles that come with it.

    There is no forced iPad purchase happening here. There is nobody coming into your house and placing strictures on the equipment you already have. Either you covet Apple's lovely lovely hardware and can't deal with the devil's details associated with the device, or you're starting to argue cross purposes in this thread.
    posted by hippybear at 2:37 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    and are literally arguing that I should not be allowed to use a device I've bought in the way I want, because it's "garish and tasteless".

    You're confusing the metaphor for the argument. "garish and tasteless" is part of the art gallery metaphor; you would have to interpret it as "is buggy/performs poorly".
    posted by polymodus at 2:40 PM on April 1, 2010


    bonaldi... well, I'm flabbergasted. :-o

    First, I am NOT buying any house in a gated community and there is no comparison. I can guy a iPad and destroy it, paint it blue or shove it up my ass and there is nothing you can say about it. I own this gadget in an absolute fashion that you could never say about a home. Please stop using this ridiculous comparison - the laws and customs for $x00 gadgets and for $x00,000 homes are completely different for obvious reasons.

    I signed nothing. I'm not responsible to you or Apple or anyone if I choose to use my computer in any way I wish (that doesn't break some other law).

    And second, your claim that competition is bad for technological markets is so over the top that I'm baffled. Surely it's a truism that technology is driven by competition?

    Finally, your theory that you have some legal power over me because I might make shopping decisions that you think are suboptimal is, well...
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:42 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    lupus_yonderboy: have you heard of this thing called a EULA?
    posted by entropicamericana at 2:50 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    It's increasingly sounding like you covet the hardware and feel slighted because you resent the restrictions placed on that hardware.

    Gah. Not in the slightest. No, I think it's a dumb piece of consumer shit that you'd have to be an idiot to buy! :-D No insult intended.

    It should be obvious to even the most casual observer of this thread that without a keyboard I am nothing... and I have a lovely Mac laptop.

    No, the point is that Apple makes it impossible for me to write software for you on an iPad without paying them (and jumping through a huge number of hoops which I actually resent even more).

    So I can't write free iPad software just for fun, and I can't write a little application for you for $200 that you desperately need and I could write in a day or two (or might just give you for free if it were fun).

    Now, great that Apple has a store! And if they don't want to put my work in it, fine. It's fine even to say, "We test our software, it's good, that other software isn't."

    I mean, look at how many mp3s are sold through iTunes! It's not as if the vast majority of the sales wouldn't still go through the Apple iPhone store!

    But the point is that they don't want to have any competition and they're basically willing to go to any lengths to maintain complete control over the entire market - and I don't like that and I don't think anyone should.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:51 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Haven't the courts found that EULAs are unenforceable on the grounds that there's no reasonable expectation that anybody actually reads them?
    posted by Pope Guilty at 3:01 PM on April 1, 2010


    Couple of things.

    First, despite owning a mac and an iphone, I'm not sure that I will purchase an ipad -- it seems like a luxury convenience (touch screen web-surfing over using my laptop) that for me is not worth it right now. However, I can totally see how it would be ideal for someone with a little extra cash who though that luxury/convenience was worth it -- I wouldn't be surprised to see my parents get one, or even myself in a year or so.

    Second, I understand the criticisms of it "not doing as much as a netbook", but I think they miss the point -- it's not supposed to be a netbook or a replacement for a computer. It's a convenience item, a secondary or even tertiary device. So the argument that it isn't as capable doesn't do much for me.

    Third, I think there is a legitimate complaint that Apple is limiting access through the App Store -- I agree with lupus_yonderboy when they say that being able to get apps from a different source would not detract from the quality of those on offer, and I fundamentally disagree with how Apple is running their business in this manner.

    Fourth, the response that "it's Apple's device, no-one's making you buy it" is essentially petty and childish -- the fact that we don't have to buy it shouldn't stop people from making criticisms about it, or from praising it. It's not that different than saying "You don't like (some current political argument) of (insert your country here)? Leave!"

    Ultimately, it's a relatively cheap piece of consumer electronics which will not change the world in a meaningful way. People on both sides need to calm the fuck down and not take this stuff so personally.
    posted by modernnomad at 3:03 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Where's the learning and doing on an iPad? If this is the future of computing, as many people seem to think, it's a much less interesting future in some ways.

    Why The iPad Is Crap Futurism
    posted by homunculus at 3:04 PM on April 1, 2010


    rtha: If you had read one line down from that line you quoted from me:

    No, I saw that.

    I'm trying to understand your perspective - truly. I'd like you to try to understand mine, which is this: In this particular case, regarding this particular device, I buy it (I'm not, but I'm speaking hypothetically here) with the full understanding that it has limitations. It's not going to be The One Sole Computer-Type Device that I'll have.

    I didn't join your gated community - I purchased a computer. Why do you get the right to tell me what to run on my computer?


    You bought a computer that came with restrictions. Other machines have different restrictions (very few - none? - have no restrictions or limitations).

    Some restrictions are dictated by the form factor - if I had an Android or Windows Mobile phone, I *could* edit photos on them (I could on my ipod touch, too), but lord, why would I want to do something like that on such a teeny screen? I do a lot of stuff on my ipod - write stuff, read stuff, watch stuff, listen to stuff - but I don't do All Stuff on it, and I don't expect to do All Stuff on it. I don't expect people who make software to write everything so it can be run on the ipod.

    There are a some number of very specialized flea-management programs out there that require the programmers to adhere to some pretty specific rules (needs a particular OS version to run on, needs X amount of RAM, requires Y video card, etc.) and generally the flea-management programmers will write the program in such a way that it will run on the systems that most people use, because that's just easier for everyone. But there are still hoops to jump through. (Regarding the rejected-for-bugfix, I know exactly what you're talking about - I think I saw it on daringfireball? - and oy, yeah, stupid.)

    And if Apple gets into the flea circus, well, my little application can't even be distributed any more!

    This assumes that everyone running a flea circus will switch to something like an iPad. I haven't seen this happen. I don't see how it follows that Apple entering the flea circus means you can't distribute your program anymore.

    As I said earlier, I'm not a programmer or software designer. I certainly enjoy the fruits of the labors of those who do that. But our needs are very different. I feel like some folks in this thread think that people like me (the end users of software) are Bad People because we don't use computers the way programming people do, and that we are somehow morally lacking if we say "Well, you say it's bad that the device won't allow me to do X, Y, or Z....but I don't want to do X, Y, or Z. I'm good with being able to do A, B, and C, and that's really all I need to do on this thing."

    On preview:

    No, the point is that Apple makes it impossible for me to write software for you on an iPad without paying them (and jumping through a huge number of hoops which I actually resent even more).

    So I can't write free iPad software just for fun, and I can't write a little application for you for $200 that you desperately need and I could write in a day or two (or might just give you for free if it were fun).


    Ah, now I think I understand better.
    posted by rtha at 3:05 PM on April 1, 2010


    lupus_yonderboy wrote:
    i_have_a_computer: as I've pointed out more than twice in this thread no one is preventing you from having your Apple store if you want it.

    By saying I want to be able to run any software I like on a computer that I do actually own, how am I preventing you from shopping at the Apple store?

    Why is this so hard to understand?? Go ahead, shop at Apple if you like - just let me run what I like on my own machine. I'm not saying Apple has to sell anyone's software, or even let you know it exists - simply not to prevent me from running my own software on my own machine.
    Why is it so hard to understand? Are you serious?

    If you understand why the App Store has been such an unexpected and overwhelming success then I'm sure Google and Microsoft are standing by to pay you lots of money for that understanding.

    I'm not going to waste my time speculating on why the App Store model works, I'm only pointing out that is does work, astonishingly well. Despite that it's so contrary to what we would except, and despite the fact that it's not perfect, the model is overwhelmingly popular with developers, who are able to reach more users that ever before, and users, who are downloading and buying more software that ever before.

    If you want a toy to hack on then there are lots of choices available to you, but you have to realize that you're a tiny market and you are in no position to criticize those who are trying to create well designed computing appliances that just fucking work. The rest of us actually appreciate well designed software.
    posted by i_have_a_computer at 3:08 PM on April 1, 2010


    Please stop using this ridiculous comparison - the laws and customs for $x00 gadgets and for $x00,000 homes are completely different for obvious reasons.

    I'm sorry the comparison is hard to argue against, but that doesn't make it ridiculous or a bad comparison. The ecosystem is very similar in a whole host of ways (both bad and good), and trying a "but an iPad is nothing like a house" dodge doesn't change that.

    And second, your claim that competition is bad for technological markets is so over the top that I'm baffled. Surely it's a truism that technology is driven by competition?

    I didn't claim that. But markets don't optimise for quality; they usually optimise for price. Which is how the situation arose in the first place. Apple wants a quality-optimised experience, and the market, as it has shown again and again in software, can't be trusted to deliver that, so it has to force companies to play ball.

    The competition isn't within the iPhone ecosystem, it's with devices like Android. Where, by the way, the results are really speaking for themselves, going by the quality of apps on Android.

    But the point is that they don't want to have any competition and they're basically willing to go to any lengths to maintain complete control over the entire market - and I don't like that and I don't think anyone should.

    This is a much bullshit as it was when people said the iPod was a monopoly on music, as if other MP3 players weren't available. This is no different from Nintendo forcing you to have the Nintendo Seal of Approval to ship games on their consoles. The competition came from Sega then, and here it comes from Android. The market is "smartphones", not "iPhone software".

    Finally, your theory that you have some legal power over me because I might make shopping decisions that you think are suboptimal is, well...

    I'm not surprised that you're flabbergasted, you seem to be having an argument with someone else, mostly in your head. That's the first mention of legal power in this thread. I don't think I have any legal power over you. Apple might do, depending on the cuckoo-bananas US legal system, but that's irrelevant to the point.

    It's the opposite idea that is "well..." here. This idea of yours that Apple could change how the entire App system market operates (so that you could install your software on his iPad) and somehow have it not affect those of us who are benefitting from their quality controls on the market is, well...
    posted by bonaldi at 3:09 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    the response that "it's Apple's device, no-one's making you buy it" is essentially petty and childish -- the fact that we don't have to buy it shouldn't stop people from making criticisms about it, or from praising it.

    When the repeated arguments are "I should be able to do with I want with my equipment", and yet that person is already on record saying that they don't intend to make this a part of that equipment base, then stating that the person is not being forced to make a purchase is completely valid.

    Argue things from a perspective of reality, not already-contradicted supposition. Complain about things which actually are affecting you, and eschew complaining about non-existent purchases. It's not childish to point out that someone is making an argument which, to that person, is completely moot.
    posted by hippybear at 3:18 PM on April 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


    In particular, the iPad offers no conventional system of files and folders for storing work. On the whole, this works fine. Word processing, spreadsheet and presentation documents can be easily imported to and exported from the iPad's iWork productivity apps (each of the iWork apps is $10). Other types of documents can be viewed, edited, exported, and emailed if the appropriate application in installed.
    I said this other thread, but I'll say it again: Hierarchical filesystems are a total kludge. Files should be stored in a database and queried out using tags, attributes and other features. (In other words, rather then a tree, you would have a bipartite graph with queryable attributes on one side and files on the other -- You could make it more complicated by adding relationships between files, namespaces for attributes, etc but that would probably be way to complicated for the user). As other people mentioned, Gmail works like this, and it's great. Sooo much better then storing email in a ton of folders.

    But that's not what the iPad is giving people, apparently. Instead it's storing everything in app specific silos, which makes working on a file in more then one program a challenge.
    WE GET IT, DELMOI. YOU HATE APPLE.

    jesus FUCKING christ
    Maybe you should work on understanding why that bothers you.
    I'm not getting your point, those technologies never took off, while the iPod and iPhone/iTouch did.
    What? Sony sold tons of that crap. They did sell a lot of betamax players before VHS won. Minidisc was huge for professional audio recording for years and years, and all their hardware still uses memory sticks instead of SD cards.
    I know, but it gets tougher when you think about a lot of the demands placed on an OS, primarily security. I really like gmail's intuitive and frankly brilliant use of a non-hierarchical organizational model, but when you're talking about a filesystem that has to offer protection to various parts of its structure in greater and lesser degrees
    The file/folder security model is already broken, because really you don't necessarily want any app to be able to read/delete all of your files. Anyway, you should just be able to apply an ACL to a tag the way you do a folder today. (In case of conflicts, just go with the tighter restrictions).

    The big thing I use multitasking for on android is IM. IM stays open in the background, no matter what's running. And I've also used a little GPS tracking app to record my path while still using the rest of the phone. And of course I can browse the web while talking on the phone, regular calls or skype (if I used it), whatever.
    posted by delmoi at 3:22 PM on April 1, 2010


    I'm not going to waste my time speculating on why the App Store model works

    Then perhaps you should refrain from attempting to speculate on how modifying the model would impact the software ecosystem.
    posted by Pope Guilty at 3:52 PM on April 1, 2010


    When the repeated arguments are "I should be able to do with I want with my equipment", and yet that person is already on record saying that they don't intend to make this a part of that equipment base, then stating that the person is not being forced to make a purchase is completely valid.

    As I mentioned, multiple times, I am an independent software developer. Decisions like this that create a new, gated market that is difficult for an individual software developer to break into (and in my case, perhaps impossible as I write in a market where Apple also has a presence) directly affect my bread and butter.

    So, yes, I am directly affected. I am not buying one, because I cannot develop for it. I lose.

    What Apple is saying is that they wish to take a percentage of every sale I make to you - or they wish to charge me for the privilege of giving my software away (because don't tell me that the software application process at the Apple store isn't a charge on my time, more precious than any money).

    I fail to see why they should be involved. I signed nothing; you signed nothing; we purchased expensive computers at a serious markup. More power to Apple for getting that markup; that's fine; when they then do nefarious things to try to prevent you and me from doing business directly, it's unpleasant. They have the leverage to do it - it doesn't mean it's ethical, or advantageous to the consumer.


    The "less competition is better for the consumer" argument still seems bogus to me, at odds with the history of technology.


    As for comparing houses to a consumer gadget...

    I again point out that these are considered completely and utterly different as a matter of law and of custom - it's not even just that a rational person would notice the factor of thousand or so price difference and realize that these are qualitatively different things, but that there are myriad of specific laws that deal with housing and dwelling places.

    Both as a matter of custom, and of law, I am able to reverse engineer and alter devices I have purchased; both as a matter of custom and of law, I am NOT permitted to make structural alterations in a house.

    I can decorate and change the outside of computer devices in any way I see fit (subject to such other laws as obscenity); I cannot decorate the outside of my house any way I see fit because I may conflict with community standards.

    etc. etc. voting taxes liability - it's hard to think of one real world aspect where these two are at all similar.


    Generally, I'm disappointed in the quality of the dialog in this topic. I don't appreciate being repeatedly told, in essence, that I have no standing here because I'm not going to buy one of these devices we're discussing. Being told "I am having a conversation in my head" is insulting and unnecessary.

    So I'm out of this thread. A shame, someone might have learned something. Bye!
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:03 PM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


    My thanks to hippybear and Static Vagabond (among others) for providing some useful insight into what this thing does and doesn't do. I'm certainly not in the market for an upsized ipod touch (I would say and may never be, but never is a long time). I still can't fathom how the USB decision isn't a big f-u to the userbase, but in any case, as this doesn't meet my needs, that, too is academic.
    posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:03 PM on April 1, 2010


    If you understand why the App Store has been such an unexpected and overwhelming success then I'm sure Google and Microsoft are standing by to pay you lots of money for that understanding.

    The Android Market is basically the same thing - I use both, and there's not any substantial difference. But the Android Market doesn't have the same onerous limitations, and you're not limited to just using the Android Market. The convenience is there for those who want to use it, and the ability is there for those who don't.

    The big difference is the number of apps in total. The App Store has a lot more right now. I would expect that to change a bit over time. There's plenty of crap in the Android Market, but there's still quite a bit of crap in the App Store too.
    posted by me & my monkey at 4:06 PM on April 1, 2010


    Geez, I went to look at the flood and I came back and there were analogies!
    posted by smackfu at 4:10 PM on April 1, 2010


    The "less competition is better for the consumer" argument still seems bogus to me, at odds with the history of technology.

    It is bogus, which is probably why nobody is making it. Unless you're trying to argue that the App Store -- one of the most nakedly competitive software markets I've seen in my life; one so competitive it has driven prices down to the floor so that even Final Fantasy doesn't break £5 -- is "less competition".

    Yes, it means there are fewer entries from people who can't afford $100 for a developer certificate. Those poor consumers, eh?

    As for comparing houses to a consumer gadget...
    Again, this isn't what's being compared. The comparison is between the App Store ecosystem and gated communities. Sure, houses are different to phones. But the setup where an over-ruling authority says what you can and can't do with a purchase that normally you'd expect to have very free reign over (within the law) is exactly the same.

    Being told "I am having a conversation in my head" is insulting and unnecessary.
    It's not as insulting as the way you're having of not actually bothering to read or consider what people are saying to you. It's not even straw-manning, it's more obtuse than that.

    And you're disappointed? Please. The latter half of this thread has been people trying to keep up as you steam around on tangents of your own devising, challenging points that nobody has made and insisting nobody can stop you using a machine you'll never buy.

    I still can't fathom how the USB decision isn't a big f-u to the userbase

    Consider what it would take to allow you to plug any old doohickey into the USB port and interact with it, and it's easier to fathom. You'd need to expose the filesystem, you'd need to have drivers, you'd need to manage all that. It entails the exact opposite of the things that have made the iPhone OS easy and popular.
    posted by bonaldi at 4:15 PM on April 1, 2010


    Or they could just make only a few USB things work, which is more the Apple way. Like the iPad does Bluetooth keyboards, but not Bluetooth mouses, and I think people can handle that.
    posted by smackfu at 4:18 PM on April 1, 2010


    As I mentioned, multiple times, I am an independent software developer.

    Actually, you mentioned that you were a developer exactly once in this thread. All your other arguments seemed to be coming from the standpoint of a user.

    Generally, I'm disappointed in the quality of the dialog in this topic....So I'm out of this thread. A shame, someone might have learned something. Bye!

    Here's a takeaway lesson -- if you think your valuable point isn't getting across, it isn't the audience at fault. It's you, because you weren't communicating properly.
    posted by hippybear at 4:25 PM on April 1, 2010


    Third-party applications created using Web 2.0 standards can extend iPhone’s capabilities without compromising its reliability or security.

    bonaldi: Not to get all Rory here, but that quote isn't actually them arguing that "native apps would compromise its reliability or security". It could easily be a dig at Flash, for one thing.

    That's exactly what they were talking about. That's how Will Shipley, Gruber, and anyone else paying attention at the time, read it.

    And while you're right that there were more cries denouncing this statement than there were supporting it, doesn't really change the fact that Apple lied.
    posted by SAC at 4:35 PM on April 1, 2010


    That's exactly what they were talking about. That's how Will Shipley, Gruber, and anyone else paying attention at the time, read it.

    Probably going to want to read your links; they don't support your argument. What's more, I was paying attention at the time and can't remember anybody reading it that way. (They did mention security as a concern when they announced the App Store; could that be what you're thinking of?)

    At the time everyone saw it as probably Apple being secretive -- assuming they had an SDK but being douchey and refusing to say so until it was ready. (Both your links support that.) The anger was at the idea that they might not just be being secretive but might really have nothing at all.

    Nobody read Apple as saying "you can't create native apps because of security concerns" because Apple didn't say that (and hence didn't lie). They said "you can't create native apps but you can do this, which is great!". And, to the dismay of the Malors who insist that Apple could market a shit sandwich, everyone replied "no, that's not great, it's rubbish. Give us an SDK."
    posted by bonaldi at 4:48 PM on April 1, 2010


    I wonder if this thread can keep going through Saturday when the damn thing actually comes out.
    posted by smackfu at 5:05 PM on April 1, 2010


    So there was some stuff earlier about Youtube still being flash-based, and how that totally doesn't matter because the iPad has a native standalone Youtube app. Which, fine. Okay. Great. I almost never see Youtube by going to youtube.com. It's always embedded in a blog or a site or a forum or whatever, and that's still done in flash. Does the iPad standalone Youtube thing just leave these as gaping holes in the page, or does it at least turn them into links to open the Youtube app if it can't actually play them in the browser?
    posted by kafziel at 5:15 PM on April 1, 2010


    We're moving out of the days when it is necessary to tinker endlessly with a computer to keep it running.
    .
    That was about 10 years ago, if not 20.

    I couldn't personally use a Mac or Windows 3.1 back when they couldn't multitask. I had an Amiga, which had true multitasking but the short sightedness of Commodore buried that platform quickly. If you don't care for multitasking having it as a feature doesn't force you to use it. Go ahead, close down your IM client and go to another application rather than leaving it running in the background while you use Skype but let those of us who can speak on Skype and type in and read a message or two in another IM client do so. It's simply a preference and those who find it useful find it, well, useful. Arguments that it isn't useful overall rather than to yourself are baffling. I well remember the cooperative multitasking on the MAC is way better than preemptive multitasking on Windows until OS X had and continues to have preemptive multitasking. It wasn't a good idea until Apple had it for some reason.

    Same thing for getting applications from another source other than the App store and through the Apple filter that denies those who would like to have certain applications, like Google Voice the option to have it. Hence, it's a point down in their books. For those who don't want Google Voice, they don't have to buy it. So if the system continues to operate like this, people will rightfully express their dislike of it and hope like hell it doesn't spread from mobile devices to traditional computers.

    Flash, same thing. My sisters' Macs have no problems with Flash. They play Flash games on the Mac and watch streaming Flash video for soccer games on their Macs. This of course doesn't mean it is not problematic for others. Personal experience with computers differs. I go out of my way in web development not to use Flash for reason of SEO, accessibility, and of course, difficultly in updating content for people who aren't Flash developers, much less HTML developers and yet just saying this hilariously gets you called a Flash fucking apologist. You just have to laugh.

    The iPad doesn't interest me at all in terms of personal ownership. As long as it runs Safari (I'm not counting it running Chrome now that Chrome will embed Flash in Chrome rather than using a plugin), nor do I expect Firefox to get approval, if they even bother, but a modern web browser will ensure that we do not have to develop different versions of sites (and iPad users can go without any sort of technical animations, educational animations, etc that are in Flash). That's all that counts to me personally. Google largely popularized developing browser based applications with the popularity of Google Maps (and yes I know they were not the first, last, or only) and devices like the iPad only reinforce the model that Google and many others have embraced.

    I will lament the passing of an easy net video solution with Flash, now that we may have to support HTML 5 and Flash (I'd love it to be HTML 5 but Firefox is fucked due to h.264, hopefully Google opens up codecs to combat that). With the exception of fashion and art gallery sites, I've seen Flash used wisely, less for entire sites, but more for animations and examples (and usually with alternate content for those without Flash). I rarely come across a Flash only site these days whereas 10 years ago they were everywhere.

    Asus is releasing and Eee Tablet which will almost certainly be quite open. Windows 7, Chrome OS, Ubuntu, etc. If I wasn't so happy with my Netbook running Linux (and yes, it runs Flash too) I might take a look.

    As for Steven Fry. He loves technology and he loves America (he seems to be thinking of becoming a citizen, but hey, that's personal too, personally it would horrify me to become a U.S. citizen, but that doesn't mean I'm anti-Fry or anti-American). I've been reading Douglas Adam's old Mac articles. He was pretty critical of them at the same time as loving them, something that seems lost on some. He pretty much forecasts devices like the iPad as well, but then Star Trek and other science fiction has forecast these things for decades.
    posted by juiceCake at 5:44 PM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


    those of us who can speak on Skype and type in and read a message or two in another IM client do so

    Don't do that. That's bad for your brain, weren't you aware?
    posted by polymodus at 6:27 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Does the iPad standalone Youtube thing just leave these as gaping holes in the page, or does it at least turn them into links to open the Youtube app if it can't actually play them in the browser?
    Yes, of course you can watch embedded YouTube videos on the iPhone and iPad; it's been that way since 2007. Do you really think they'd go to the trouble of developing a separate YouTube application and *not* cover the embedded video use case?

    I think you need to expand your horizons a little bit. I don't know what kind of software you're used to using, but it can't be very good if you've got such low expectations.
    posted by i_have_a_computer at 8:15 PM on April 1, 2010


    So I can't write free iPad software just for fun, and I can't write a little application for you for $200 that you desperately need and I could write in a day or two (or might just give you for free if it were fun).

    For $100 you can get a dev certificate (SDK/tools are a free download) and distribute your app to up to 100 devices, completely bypassing the App Store.
    posted by BaxterG4 at 8:56 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    So I can't write free iPad software just for fun, and I can't write a little application for you for $200 that you desperately need and I could write in a day or two (or might just give you for free if it were fun).

    For $100 you can get a dev certificate (SDK/tools are a free download) and distribute your app to up to 100 devices, completely bypassing the App Store.


    That's actually $100 per year.
    posted by JDHarper at 9:01 PM on April 1, 2010


    Isn't part of the point of HTML5 that you can develop (relatively) robust web apps? Web apps that will run well on the iPad? What are the limitations of that approach v. native apps?
    posted by wemayfreeze at 9:07 PM on April 1, 2010


    HTML 5 is not magic... or to be honest all that different form the HTML you are used to right now.
    posted by Artw at 9:36 PM on April 1, 2010


    What are the limitations of that approach v. native apps?

    Users need a network connection at all times.
    Dev need to maintain a web server.
    Dev can't easily charge.
    App won't feel like a "real" application.
    App doesn't have any access to the hardware, like multi-touch or tilt sensor, etc.

    Basically all the same problems that there were when the iPhone first came out and only had web apps and people thought it sucked.
    posted by smackfu at 9:41 PM on April 1, 2010


    i thought html 5 apps worked offline?
    posted by maledictory at 10:50 PM on April 1, 2010


    Yah, it looks like offline is part of the spec. I don't know what the limitations are, though.

    Offline Web Applicaitons

    Also looks like multi-touch is possible on the web w/ JavaScript.

    Multitouch JavaScript “Virtual Light Table” on iPhone v2.0

    Anyway, I see that there are definite limitations. I'm curious to see how that landscape shifts over the next years as HTML5 becomes much more developed in use.


    I don't agree that kids need direct access to the nuts and bolts to get the same kind of "wow I can make stuff happen!" experience that many of us had growing up with solder or the command line. I think some kind of hackable dev environment specifically aimed at kids—or just quick and easy app building—can achieve the same experience and ultimately is crucial for the iPad to deliver on its full promise. I think a web app situation could get a lot of the way there, and I hope someone jumps on that.
    posted by wemayfreeze at 2:09 AM on April 2, 2010


    I couldn't personally use a Mac or Windows 3.1 back when they couldn't multitask. I had an Amiga, which had true multitasking but the short sightedness of Commodore buried that platform quickly. If you don't care for multitasking having it as a feature doesn't force you to use it.

    Windows 3.1, and old-school MacOS could both multitask. They did cooperative Multitasking, which means one app could lock up the machine, but as long as the apps were working properly, you could do multiple things.
    posted by delmoi at 4:24 AM on April 2, 2010


    delmoi, that was pretty terrible, as multitasking goes. Cooperative multitasking, in a word, isn't. A single locked app takes down the machine. Windows did preemptive multitasking for the first time in Win95, and added memory protection and a higher quality scheduler in NT 3.5. Macs didn't do it for real until OS X.

    That's actually $100 per year.

    AND you have to register each and every device as a dev unit with Apple, asserting that you own it. I haven't scoured the EULA, but I think legally, every individual user would have to pay $100 per year or lose access to any apps you'd written. Even if they'd already paid you and had it running on their "dev" phone, the apps would stop working as soon as the certificate expired. Plus, I think they'd have to compile and sign your app themselves, I don't think you can give them just a binary.

    What are the limitations of that approach v. native apps?

    Pretty similar to WebOS on the Palm... ie, terrible. You need local apps for access to the hardware resources, and for best performance, you need to be running native code, not in the sandboxed bytecode runtimes that are common on phones. The overhead isn't as high as the old interpreted applications, but it's still higher than native, and most phones are sharply CPU-limited to begin with.
    posted by Malor at 5:05 AM on April 2, 2010


    delmoi, that was pretty terrible, as multitasking goes. Cooperative multitasking, in a word, isn't.

    'Bout a year ago, I was curious to see what it would be like to boot into the Classic Mac OS and tried it on an old G4. Booting up seemed to take longer than OS X, but hey, at least there were colorful icons (Brief horror flashbacks when Chooser appeared). Once the Finder appeared, the interface seemed bland and quaint but not necessarily in a bad way. I started clicking around, drilling into folders and then the machine locked up.

    So much for nostalgia.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:12 AM on April 2, 2010


    to the dismay of the Malors who insist that Apple could market a shit sandwich, everyone replied "no, that's not great, it's rubbish. Give us an SDK."

    Right, which is why no one bought iPhones until the SDK was released. Oh wait, it looks like Apple COULD market a shit sandwich, because people stood in line to get a phone that didn't have any apps - or lots of other features - just because it was the "Jesus phone" from Apple. Mmm, delicious shit!
    posted by me & my monkey at 7:01 AM on April 2, 2010


    Malor: Windows 3.1 in "386" mode actually did have protected memory, so while a single app could eat the whole CPU, it couldn't actually crash the system directly. Of course, windows did crash all the time, because it was buggy (and because of poor drivers, which also caused problems with Win95). But remember "General Protection Faults"?

    On a mac, those would mean an entire system shut down due to corrupted memory or whatever. On a windows machine, you'd just have to press OK and restart the program.

    As far as cooperative multitasking on Windows 3.1, it wasn't that bad because of the way the API was written, Basically whenever you wanted your program to actually interact with windows, you would need to call out to the central event queue, which would give the OS a chance to switch control over to other programs. The only time you would have an app actually go into an infinite loop was in non-interactive code, and only if the programmer forgot to add a DoEvents type call to the program.

    So in other words, even though the OS lacked preemption, the API was designed to put it back in, and it worked well (I assume macs were similar). But the lack of memory protection is what really made OS9 and lower suck so hard.
    posted by delmoi at 7:06 AM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Oh wait, it looks like Apple COULD market a shit sandwich, because people stood in line to get a phone that didn't have any apps - or lots of other features - just because it was the "Jesus phone" from Apple.

    Maybe, just maybe, it had enough features that people wanted?
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:27 AM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Windows 3.1, and old-school MacOS could both multitask. They did cooperative Multitasking, which means one app could lock up the machine, but as long as the apps were working properly, you could do multiple things.

    I know that. Thanks anyway. My mention of cooperative multitasking as opposed to preemptive multitasking later in the post I thought was a clear indication of this. I didn't and don't care of cooperative multitasking in Win 3.1 and the old Mac OS. I much preferred preemptive multitasking, which I had on the Amiga (and it had it's memory protection issues as well), which I did not see on Windows until Windows 95 (and NT4) and on the Mac, on OS X. There's a reason why those OS's didn't continue with the cooperative model.

    And the NeXT was too expensive and lacking software at the time.
    posted by juiceCake at 7:46 AM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


    To be fair it was a really shiny shit sandwich.
    posted by Big_B at 7:55 AM on April 2, 2010


    From Gruber:
    The iPad and iPhone are closed compared to personal computers, yes. But they are remarkably open compared to so many kinds of computing devices. Here’s an email I received today from Sam Kaplan:

    I am 13 years old and a big fan of your site. I just made an app called iChalkboard. This is my second app, but my first iPad app. It allows you to simply sketch things out. Check it out: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ichalkboard/id322491414?mt=8. If you need any more info or a promo code, feel free to ask.

    I hope you like it as much as I do.

    He’s 13 years old and he has created and is selling an iPad app in the same store where companies like EA, Google, and even Apple itself distribute iPad apps. His app is ready to go on the first day the product is available. Not a fake app. Not a junior app. A real honest-to-god iPad app. Imagine a 13-year-old in 1978 who could produce and sell his own Atari 2600 cartridges.

    Somehow I don’t think young Mr. Kaplan sees the iPad as hurting his sense of wonder or entrepreneurism.
    posted by rtha at 11:03 AM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


    He’s 13 years old and he has created and is selling an iPad app in the same store where companies like EA, Google, and even Apple itself distribute iPad apps.

    But, but, it's $100 bucks a year, that's too restrictive!!!


    This is one of the most interesting aspects of the App store, IMO. It's an entirely new market which could allow the next Photoshop or Word to completely bypass those current 800lb gorillas.

    And yes, I'm busying the kid's App. What the hell, it's only $1.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:39 AM on April 2, 2010


    Duh. The link is supposed to go here. Though most of y'all already know who I mean. And where.
    posted by rtha at 11:49 AM on April 2, 2010


    He’s 13 years old and he has created and is selling an iPad app in the same store where companies like EA, Google, and even Apple itself distribute iPad apps. His app is ready to go on the first day the product is available. Not a fake app. Not a junior app. A real honest-to-god iPad app. Imagine a 13-year-old in 1978 who could produce and sell his own Atari 2600 cartridges.

    But 13 year-olds could write their own programs on an Apple II in 1978. The Apps Store publishing model for self-publishing software developers is indeed a logical next step in the evolution from boxed software, to mail order shareware, to Internet traded shareware, to Download.com and similar sites, but like all of the previous steps it does not require a closed system. The average 13-year-old kid can only write software at all these days because the average 13-year-old has access to a computer that freely allows them to write code.
    posted by burnmp3s at 11:50 AM on April 2, 2010


    The average 13-year-old kid can only write software at all these days because the average 13-year-old has access to a computer that freely allows them to write code.

    Are you imagining Apple getting out of the personal computer market entirely and only selling $10k dev units to would-be iPad developers? Somehow I'm not picturing this since Macs are a profit centre for them now and dev kits aren't a profit centre for game console makers. And the low barrier to entry for new iPhone developers is the main reason for the runaway success of the app store.
    posted by Space Coyote at 12:12 PM on April 2, 2010


    Are you imagining Apple getting out of the personal computer market entirely and only selling $10k dev units to would-be iPad developers?

    Not necessarily, but I could easily see closed devices like the iPad taking a large amount of the market share that traditional computing devices have today if they become popular. Most people only buy a computer to do a few things that they could easily be provided with by an app store, so the fact that they can run arbitrary native code is not a big selling point for them.

    Somehow I'm not picturing this since Macs are a profit centre for them now and dev kits aren't a profit centre for game console makers.

    Back when video game systems first came out, anybody could write games for them. It was just a matter of physically producing the cartridges. Then after the video game crash (that was mainly caused by a bubble that had formed of too many companies getting into the business) Nintendo had the bright idea to close down their NES so that only officially licensed software would run on it. It was a big hit, and there hasn't been a successful open console since. Most people who play video games don't seem to care that they can't write their own games for their consoles.

    And the low barrier to entry for new iPhone developers is the main reason for the runaway success of the app store.

    I don't know for sure, but I doubt that the low barrier to entry is really the main reason. The iTunes store was also a runaway success, and the vast majority of music sold there is from major labels that spend massive amounts of money producing and selling their music. It's not easy for normal people to write games to sell on XBox Live or other online console game marketplaces, and those services are still very popular. Having a very popular device with a built-in method of easily buying content is going to be successful whether or not the barrier to entry is low.
    posted by burnmp3s at 12:53 PM on April 2, 2010


    Ugh, gruber.
    posted by smackfu at 1:26 PM on April 2, 2010


    Brandon Blatcher: “But, but, it's $100 bucks a year, that's too restrictive!!!”

    To you, that's a joke. To me, it's reality. Seriously, I've been unemployed for the last seven months.

    And it's not about the amount. It's about the shitty, smarmy "we-own-you" mentality Apple seems to have toward their developers. Steve Jobs would happily toss any of them under the bus at any time if it suited his fancy or his bottom line.

    Developing for almost any other platform, you as the developer have the freedom to do what you want with your product. But with Apple? You're locked down. Four of the five people I know who write Mac code have dropped the whole iPhone/iPad development thing in the last few months because they're fed up. I wouldn't be surprised if that number keeps growing.
    posted by koeselitz at 1:40 PM on April 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


    But 13 year-olds could write their own programs on an Apple II in 1978.

    An Apple II cost $4,600 adjusted for inflation. The iPad is $500.
    posted by kirkaracha at 2:06 PM on April 2, 2010


    Developing for almost any other platform, you as the developer have the freedom to do what you want with your product.

    Apple is different and as you noted, developers are free to go elsewhere.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:15 PM on April 2, 2010


    Back when video game systems first came out, anybody could write games for them. It was just a matter of physically producing the cartridges.

    That's a pretty big requirement to stuff into a little world like "just".
    posted by Space Coyote at 3:29 PM on April 2, 2010


    An Apple II cost $4,600 adjusted for inflation. The iPad is $500.

    True, that's why we were using the Commodore 64.
    posted by smackfu at 3:48 PM on April 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Brandon Blatcher: “Apple is different and as you noted, developers are free to go elsewhere.”

    Well, maybe it makes me a radical loon, but it seems to me that there ought to be a law against this kind of thing. If I write an algorithm that represents an iPhone app, how the hell is it that I'm not allowed to sell that program unless I'm approved by some company? Apple is as bad a patent abuser as Microsoft, and this is one example of that. No company should ever get to control the programs that people in general choose to write.
    posted by koeselitz at 5:33 PM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


    There ought to be a law that ... what? Compels computer manufacturers to make their devices compatible with programs for sale anywhere?

    This is not just impossible, it is also not what the law is for. Settle it in the free market.
    posted by argybarg at 6:20 PM on April 2, 2010


    argybarg: “There ought to be a law that ... what? Compels computer manufacturers to make their devices compatible with programs for sale anywhere? ¶ This is not just impossible, it is also not what the law is for. Settle it in the free market.”

    Not that I believe in free markets, but the app store is the furthest from one. Apple flatly bans anyone from buying or selling an app that hasn't been approved for the app store or for an "individual license," and states that they may revoke the distribution license of any app at any time.

    And, yes, there ought to be a law; if not against such weirdly stringent licensing, then for human beings in general, allowing them to write whatever programs they want for whatever platform they want to sell them at any price they want.

    Isn't that what the "free market" is supposed to be like?

    And in case you're thinking I'm just a nut, note that the FCC is investigating Apple for its removal of the Google Voice app from their store as an example of "anticompetitive behavior." That's all well and good for Google, who can afford it; but what about every other person on the planet who could and would write and distribute software for the iPhone but is barred from doing so for ridiculous reasons by a company that should have no power to prevent them?
    posted by koeselitz at 6:31 PM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


    This may be an ignorant question, but someone mentioned games earlier, so that made me wonder: can just any old (skilled) person make games for things like the Wii or Xbox and play them on their Wii or Xbox systems? (That is, for a proprietary console system, not PC.)
    posted by rtha at 6:39 PM on April 2, 2010


    rtha: “This may be an ignorant question, but someone mentioned games earlier, so that made me wonder: can just any old (skilled) person make games for things like the Wii or Xbox and play them on their Wii or Xbox systems? (That is, for a proprietary console system, not PC.)”

    I am no expert by any stretch, but Wikipedia has some info; apparently this happens quite a bit. They're called homebrew games: Wii / Xbox.
    posted by koeselitz at 6:44 PM on April 2, 2010


    can just any old (skilled) person make games for things like the Wii or Xbox and play them on their Wii or Xbox systems?

    Fairly easily for XBox. They have something quite similar to the iTunes store (XBox Live Marketplace). Reviewing of apps is done by peers rather than Microsoft. More info.

    Wii has Wii Ware but it's aimed at small game development companies rather than individuals. For instance, you have to apply to Nintendo and be approved for meeting fairly strict requirements, and the development kit is $2000.
    posted by smackfu at 6:55 PM on April 2, 2010


    I never said the Apple Store is a free market; it isn't. (Although it could be quite a bit worse than it is.) But the store itself and the devices that draw from comprise a small ecosystem in the much larger free market. If you don't like the distribution model, you're still quite free to buy CDs or download from emusic, or buy Android or Palm apps, or buy DVDs or stream to your Xbox from Netflix and so on.

    If Apple gets to the point that it's controlling a major chunk of the media then I'll agree it needs breaking up. But the fact that you can't buy iPhone (or iPad) software without going through the app store is not something that can, or should be settled legally. No more than the fact that Comcast decides what cable channels to include or that Nintendo guards the gates to the Wii.
    posted by argybarg at 7:18 PM on April 2, 2010


    What I mean when I say this should be legal is: it should be legal for me to write an algorithm, a set of functions, a stream of code, and put it out into the world, no matter what that stream of code contains. It's an issue of freedom of speech, frankly. I should be able to publish my own creations, no matter what they contain, so long as what they contain is not directly destructive to anyone.

    But Apple is attempting to say: "no. You write that stream of code, you put together those algorithms, and you can't distribute it - even if you want to give it away for free." That's right, even if I want to publish a small iPhone app that I've written myself for free, completely gratis, I supposedly fall under Apple's patent and am subject to their whims.

    That seems inane to me. And not only does this kind of monopolization stifle development of the market and of coding; I don't think it's very sustainable. There will come a time, if Apple continues on this path, when they won't have any developers left.
    posted by koeselitz at 8:01 PM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Thanks, that's very interesting.
    posted by rtha at 8:14 PM on April 2, 2010


    What I mean when I say this should be legal is: it should be legal for me to write an algorithm, a set of functions, a stream of code, and put it out into the world, no matter what that stream of code contains.

    But should you be able to force Apple to put it in its store? Much like a writer, you can write anything you want, but there's no way to force a newspaper/magazine/website/whatever to publish it.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:47 PM on April 2, 2010


    Brandon Blatcher: “But should you be able to force Apple to put it in its store? Much like a writer, you can write anything you want, but there's no way to force a newspaper/magazine/website/whatever to publish it.”

    No, you don't understand.

    I don't care about putting apps in Apple's store. Whatever. They can do whatever they like - it's their store.

    They claim, however, that legally they will prevent anyone from distributing apps anywhere that work on an iPhone if they haven't properly vetted them first. They claim, in short, that you are not allowed to publish code in any form for the iPhone unless you've (a) paid them a fee up-front right at the outset and (b) showed all that code to them and made sure they like it.

    Even if I paid the developer's fee, I wouldn't be allowed to write an iPhone app and simply post it on my web site for free unless I ran it by Apple first. They would sue me. And they would probably win.

    That's an insane amount of patent control, friends. On your metaphor, it's like saying, "fine, you can write a book, but you can't publish it in our store - or any other store - without our approval."
    posted by koeselitz at 10:17 PM on April 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


    No, it's really not.
    posted by entropicamericana at 10:35 PM on April 2, 2010


    Wow. You've stunned me with your intelligence and insight, entropicamericana. As soon as I determine to what exactly your pronoun refers, I shall surely retire from the discussion in ignominious defeat, utterly vanquished and saddened at my own intellectual deficiency in the face of such discursive prowess.
    posted by koeselitz at 10:53 PM on April 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


    They claim, however, that legally they will prevent anyone from distributing apps anywhere that work on an iPhone if they haven't properly vetted them first.

    In practice, though, that's not true, right? Folks distribute apps for jailbroken iPhones. I don't think Apple going after those people, but I could be wrong.

    That is to say, the hackability of Apple devices is still there, even if their walled garden is the only official distribution channel.
    posted by wemayfreeze at 11:00 PM on April 2, 2010


    Yeah, and Steve Jobs has come out and said that people who jailbreak phones are "terrorists," and has also remarked that if he could go after all of them, he would.

    I'm not a criminal. I'd rather not be labeled one simply because I might want to write code without Apple's imprimature. And honestly, while I'm all for the open-source development model, and while I've seen it work in an 'underground' capacity before, I don't think it's likely to last long if you have to hide your identity carefully, cover all your tracks, and stay on the run while you're coding. The response that "well, it can be hacked" is common enough to be a bit disturbing. Doing things illegally and illicitly is not what coding is about.

    And over it all hangs Steve Jobs' threat. That's what pisses me off most: the threat.
    posted by koeselitz at 11:12 PM on April 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


    He’s 13 years old and he has created and is selling an iPad app in the same store where companies like EA, Google, and even Apple itself distribute iPad apps. His app is ready to go on the first day the product is available. Not a fake app. Not a junior app. A real honest-to-god iPad app. Imagine a 13-year-old in 1978 who could produce and sell his own Atari 2600 cartridges.

    Somehow I don’t think young Mr. Kaplan sees the iPad as hurting his sense of wonder or entrepreneurism.
    As other people pointed out, that wouldn't have happened if he'd ONLY had an iPad.
    Are you imagining Apple getting out of the personal computer market entirely and only selling $10k dev units to would-be iPad developers? Somehow I'm not picturing this since Macs are a profit center
    Sure, but for most 13 year olds, there's no much difference between $10k and $1k.
    There ought to be a law that ... what? Compels computer manufacturers to make their devices compatible with programs for sale anywhere?
    I don't think this is a crisis that needs legal intervention. It's just annoying. But I'd be fine with a law that says that. Why not? No different then the law that says car manufacturers have to make their engine computers readable using a standard connector, or the law that says all cell phones in China and the EU need to be chargeable with USB. Laws coming down the pipeline to mandate all medical records use a standard format, etc. Laws that mandate openness are entirely practical and happen all the time.

    It would break a few business models, but who cares? Another option would be to lift the laws that make DRM bypass illegal. Before 1998, anyone could hack a machine and release the code publicly (or sell game copiers). But now the hack to run your own software is the same as the hack to run pirated content. So actually these business models are only possible because of the way the law is written now.
    posted by delmoi at 1:11 AM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Yeah, and Steve Jobs has come out and said that people who jailbreak phones are "terrorists," and has also remarked that if he could go after all of them, he would.

    Do you have a cite for this?

    I did a search for "steve jobs jailbreak terrorist" and all I got was developers claiming Jobs himself was saying that, when it really an interpretation of Apple's legal department responding to the EFF's request to the Copyright Office to legalize jailbreaking. I'm not saying you're wrong, but if Jobs really did say that shit, I would like to see the full quote.

    Even if I paid the developer's fee, I wouldn't be allowed to write an iPhone app and simply post it on my web site for free unless I ran it by Apple first. They would sue me. And they would probably win.

    To be clear, I'm not totally comfortable with Apple's actions and practices in regards to controlling everything with the iPhone OS and your description above does suck, though admittedly my mind is wondering whether it really is as harsh as you describe.

    On the other hand, to me it's clear that Apple doesn't want just anyone writing apps for the iPhone OS, much like Matt doesn't want just anyone posting to Metafilter, so he put in the $5 fee. If Apple's $100 development is following the same principle, that's cool with me, as the desire to want to vet Apps.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:20 AM on April 3, 2010


    koeselitz:

    I'm about halfway with you. Part of the problem of just bringing a big righteous fist down on one territory or another is that this is an ambiguous device. It's in its own category looming over others. Same for the iPhone.

    To me, if you want to put out a product and say "only we, and the people we approve, get to make the goods for this," then it's generally, but not always, going to be your right. Nintendo does it with the Wii, for instance. It's the public's right to prefer something more open and hackable and freeform, as well. I suspect that anyone who takes a deep breath and thinks it through will see the good things and the tradeoffs from both sides.

    The ugly part is that at some point people will make choices that strike you as terrible. Personally, I would never live in a neighborhood with a homeowner's association, especially one that told me what color I could paint my house, whether I could keep a garden, etc. The whole idea repels me. But here's the rub: Do people have the right to live within restricted choices? Should homeowner's associations be illegal? And could they ever be? Could you legally restrict people from signing agreements about lawn maintenance and so on?

    I think I understand very well the repulsion people feel at Apple's attempt to make a closed system. You probably feel the way I would feel if someone tried to tell me I can't grow vegetables in my back yard; I'd want to hit someone with a shovel. But I suppose I understand why people like their neighborhood covenants as well, because I like Apple's capacity to narrow its field of outcomes — up to a point. Given the editor's pen, Apple does some terrific and occasionally ruthless editing. But when, and how, and why, does the law take away that editor's pen? I don't have a simple answer to slam you with.

    posted by argybarg at 7:34 AM on April 3, 2010


    Oh crap, endless bold. Sorry.
    posted by argybarg at 7:35 AM on April 3, 2010


    Woz Entertains iPad Line Sitters With Magic Trick
    posted by homunculus at 8:30 AM on April 3, 2010


    When I retire early, that's what I'm going to do too.
    posted by smackfu at 9:59 AM on April 3, 2010


    I think, to some extent, part of the lockdown on iPhone apps and Apple requiring that all the code be approved and such is an attempt to cut down on malware. I'm not saying that it's a perfect solution, as having such a strict gatekeeper certainly does imply an authoritarian mindset which does work against philosophies such as open software development, etc. But I look at the PC market and the proliferation of things such as Fancy Sparkly Mouse Add-ons which turn out to be keystroke loggers and such, and think about the office staff that I used to work with who would just download any old thing to make their computers more zazzy, and then the trouble we got in as a company with our ISP for being known as a source of virus spreading and stuff... It was all traced back to those little sparkly add-ons.

    Imagine if similar things started happening with the iPhone apps. I don't fully know the details of how things might or could spread throughout the network, but I could foresee it being horrid for all concerned.

    I can't find a citation, but I think I read some years ago that AT&T was partially responsible for insisting that all available software be secure from trojan and virus activity, trying to protect their network from overload. That would be an easy problem if they started being used as an ad-hoc botnet or something.
    posted by hippybear at 10:17 AM on April 3, 2010


    Eh , the keyboard on the iPad isn't the bad at all. The unit is amazing litef and small. Feels different to interact with. Still want Photoshop on it though.

    yay for Best Buy!
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:51 AM on April 3, 2010


    I'm interested in trying out the iPad. I own a Dell netbook that came with Ubuntu pre-installed. When I bought it, I checked the price of an equivalent version that shipped with Windows, and the Windows version was a satisfying $30 more. However, I'm not really happy with mine. The keyboard is too small for my average-sized fingers. I can't have more than a few tabs open in Firefox before it starts to slow down. I have to reboot it every couple of weeks. After I open it up in the morning, it takes 20-30 seconds to connect to wifi. My issue is mostly with the hardware, not Ubuntu, which I think is lovely and which I like better than OS X (which I also like a lot).

    Anyway, I find myself using the netbook mostly for web surfing. The iPad might be a good replacement. Fortunately, I work on an iPhone app that we recently ported to the iPad. I'm looking forward to trying out our app on the iPad that we'll be getting for work, and also to trying Safari and other apps. Right now I have the netbook for home use and the laptop for hacking, etc. If I change at all, it will be to replace the netbook with an iPad.

    It was interesting to compare the tone of this thread to the original iPhone thread. I think the iPhone thread was notable for lots of people saying "wow, I want one", but there was still a fair amount of hating and nitpicking on details that ended up not mattering. But I don't see as many people saying "wow, I want one" in this thread.

    According to AdMob's metrics report from February (PDF), 24% of their "smartphone" ads went to Android devices. For the people who want a hackable iPad, I'm sure Google will supply something like it if the iPad takes off, and it will get a fair number of users. Of course, then you have to choose between a company that provides a somewhat-locked device (you can code apps for it if you pay $100) and one whose customers are its advertisers. My prediction is that some people, maybe even some who have commented in this thread, will gnash their teeth at this imperfect choice, and that life will go on.
    posted by A dead Quaker at 12:23 PM on April 3, 2010


    On the other hand, to me it's clear that Apple doesn't want just anyone writing apps for the iPhone OS, much like Matt doesn't want just anyone posting to Metafilter, so he put in the $5 fee. If Apple's $100 development is following the same principle, that's cool with me, as the desire to want to vet Apps.

    If you can't tell why this isn't a valid analogy, you might want to stop discussing computers.
    posted by Pope Guilty at 3:05 PM on April 3, 2010


    It was interesting playing with the iPad and watching/listening to others do so. There were about 4 unites and small line to play with, usually no more 3 or 4 people playing with them.

    What stands out most to me is how incredibly fast it felt to use it, everything seemed instant. The ability to only have one App open at a time didn't seem like a big deal, everything was just so fast.

    It's true that you really have to use it to fully appreciate the possibilities of it. It was blast to layout a text and graphics in Pages, using only my fingers and since I'm used to the iPhone Is anyway, it was easy to figure out how work. It felt very much like moving things around on paper, as opposed to working with the more abstract mouse while looking elsewhere. This commanded all of your attention and seemed to "reward" by seemingly giving a more direct and tactile way of working with files.

    Weirdest moment was realizing that I and the guy next to me had each figured out on our own how to use the keyboard in an odd way. By holding the iPad just with your fingers in the vertical position, that left our thumbs free to type, which made things go faster. Not sure if one of us picked up on that from the other.

    That said, it my forarms were a bit tired after holding it for 15 minutes and I was really disappointed I couldn't immediately plug a microphone or video camera into, record something and immediately start editing it. As a creative tool, the iPad has tons of potential, too bad Apple doesn't seem interested in that.

    Ed, the Apple says dude said the response has been very positive all day, noting that people seemed to understand it immediately and wonder if and how it could replace their laptop.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:45 PM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Giant sized thumb typing? Sounds potentially quite painful.
    posted by Artw at 5:03 PM on April 3, 2010


    Brandon Blatcher: "my forarms were a bit tired after holding it for 15 minutes"

    cf Gorilla arm. Prolly slightly different in that you were holding the input unit instead of manipulating a vertical surface.
    posted by mwhybark at 5:09 PM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I went over to the Apple Store earlier today and played with an iPad. It mostly left me convinced that what I want is the next-gen iPhone and the new iPhone OS, and I can't get my hands on that setup until July anyhow.

    The iPad just didn't offer anything particularly compelling for my particular use case (which is usually handled with an iPhone 3G, an Ubuntu netbook, and a MacBook Pro)-- there was nothing it had that I needed badly enough to drop the six hundred or so I'd end up spending on it, where getting a faster, nicer iPhone in a few months is something I'm interested in.
    posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:47 PM on April 3, 2010


    The only really annoying point about the iPad is that it makes my iTouch seem really small now.

    The iPad just didn't offer anything particularly compelling for my particular use case

    It wasn't until the 3Gs came out that I really, really wanted an iPhone and by then 32gigs was just too small (had only 14mb left on the 32gig Touch until I took a movie off), so hopefully larger sizes this summer.

    I suspect the iPad will be the same, in two or three years I'll really think about buying one, until then it just looks cool for someone else to buy me.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:19 PM on April 3, 2010


    By holding the iPad just with your fingers in the vertical position, that left our thumbs free to type, which made things go faster.

    I think that's really the only way to type in vertical mode. The keyboard is just too small to properly touch type. (Not that I can really touch type in horizontal mode either. Apparently I rest my fingers on the keys.)
    posted by smackfu at 6:35 PM on April 3, 2010


    Not that I can really touch type in horizontal mode either. Apparently I rest my fingers on the keys.

    Yes. Three semesters of touch typing in junior high mean that I've been trained for, what? nearly 30 years? to rest my fingers on the home row keys while typing. I can see that it would take a reprogramming of that in order to be able to use the iPad keyboard effectively.
    posted by hippybear at 10:46 PM on April 3, 2010


    my forarms were a bit tired after holding it for 15 minutes

    OMG - - have we already arrived at the dystopian future predicted by Pixar's WALL•E?!?
    posted by fairmettle at 5:48 AM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


    iPad jailbroken in a single day
    posted by homunculus at 2:00 PM on April 4, 2010


    Apple to talk about next iPhone OS release this Thursday (the 8th), 10am PST.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:43 PM on April 5, 2010


    The iPad: Amazon's Secret Weapon
    posted by homunculus at 11:52 AM on April 6, 2010


    Toddler with an iPad
    posted by Artw at 12:10 PM on April 6, 2010


    Played with it some more last night. What I noticed most was that there were no other tablet computers for sale in Best Buy.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:19 AM on April 7, 2010


    Re: closedness, what people don't seem to get is that the iPad can't be thought of as a computer. It's a game console (where "game" = games and other media).

    Nobody bitches about Microsoft not letting them run any software they want on an XBox 360.
    posted by rifflesby at 7:34 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Steve Jobs has come out and said that people who jailbreak phones are "terrorists," and has also remarked that if he could go after all of them, he would.

    Citation or you're completely full of shit.
    posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:35 AM on April 7, 2010


    Re: closedness, what people don't seem to get is that the iPad can't be thought of as a computer. It's a game console (where "game" = games and other media).

    Nobody bitches about Microsoft not letting them run any software they want on an XBox 360.


    Microsoft isn't billing the 360 as a general-purpose computer. Apple and their fanboys are billing the iPad as a replacement for a netbook, which it emphatically is not.
    posted by kafziel at 8:16 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


    The pro-jailbreaking crowd latched onto this terrorist & drug dealer thing when Apple responded to the copyright office and said that allowing jailbreaking would enable all kinds of malicious activity.

    from the PDF

    "For example, each iPhone contains a unique Exclusive Chip Identification (ECID) number that identifies the phone to the cell tower. With access to the BBP via jailbreaking, hackers may be able to change the ECID, which in turn can enable phone calls to be made anonymously (this would be desirable to drug dealers, for example) or charges for the calls to be avoided."


    "More pernicious forms of activity may also be enabled. For example, a local or international hacker could potentially initiate commands (such as a denial of service attack) that could crash the tower software, rendering the tower entirely inoperable to process calls or transmit data. In short, taking control of the BBP software would be much the equivalent of getting inside the firewall of a corporate computer – to potentially catastrophic result. The technological protection measures were designed into the iPhone precisely to prevent these kinds of pernicious activities, and if granted, the jailbreaking exemption would open the door to them."
    posted by phearlez at 8:17 AM on April 7, 2010


    Microsoft isn't billing the 360 as a general-purpose computer. Apple and their fanboys are billing the iPad as a replacement for a netbook, which it emphatically is not.

    Nah, more like a replacement for what things a netbook does that interest the general populace (not techies), rather than the actual device itself.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:37 AM on April 7, 2010


    This migration of language is kind of interesting.

    The "terrorist" label seems to come from this engadget posting; that's the earliest timestamp I can find for this. The Engadget piece is a rewrite of this posting in the Wired Threat Level blog (which is often a decent read) concerning the PDF document phearlez links to above. The Threat Level piece doesn't use the word "terrorism", but, read for your self:
    Threat Level had no idea the iPhone was so dangerous. We’re gratified that Apple locked down this potential weapon of mass disruption before hackers could unleash cybarmageddon. This also explains why Apple rejected the official Google Voice App for the iPhone this week. We thought it was because Google Voice posed a threat to AT&T’s exclusivity deal with Apple. Now we know it threatened national security.
    So the inference is there. Note that "terrorism/ist" is used in the blog comments. Lots of people were inferring that from the language used in Apple's submission.

    Jobs appears never to have said "Jailbreakers are terrorists" directly, but the inference is there in Apple's own documents. It's more than half a fair cop, I'd say. The least one could say is that their claims are pretty hyperbolic. The iPhone is hardly the only unlocked device out there; the same claim could be made for any smartphone: blackberry, android, symbian or palm. It's not a problem unique to Apple.
    posted by bonehead at 8:38 AM on April 7, 2010


    Jobs appears never to have said "Jailbreakers are terrorists"

    So, in other words, the claim is a steaming load of bullshit.

    but the inference is there in Apple's own documents

    The inference exists only in the damaged minds of bloggers, haters and attention-seekers who want to reach that conclusion.
    posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:47 AM on April 7, 2010


    So, in other words, the claim is a steaming load of bullshit.

    But it's a wonderful call to action and lends such credibility to the open source movement!
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:48 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


    the claim is a steaming load of bullshit.

    That's a very Humpty-dumpty, legalistic way to view it, but sure, it's literally true that the quotation is a false one. It's quite a fine distinction, and not a very important one, in my view though. If you are trying to say that Apple's claims about jailbreaking are not hyperbolic and extremely poorly chosen, however, I don't grant that.
    posted by bonehead at 9:16 AM on April 7, 2010


    Nobody bitches about Microsoft not letting them run any software they want on an XBox 360.

    Actually a lot of people who write software and games would like game consoles to be open, and Microsoft giving out the XNA devkit for XBox 360 and Sony allowing other operating systems on the PS3 (until now) were steps in the right direction. The average gamer does not care that their consoles are not open, just like the average user of a device like the iPad does not care that it is a closed device, or like the average Internet user doesn't care about net neutrality. These are important issues though, whether or not the average Best Buy shopper or Comcast subscriber cares about them.
    posted by burnmp3s at 9:24 AM on April 7, 2010


    That's a very Humpty-dumpty, legalistic way to view it, but sure, it's literally true that the quotation is a false one.

    Arguments over semantics are boring. Did he say he would go after "jailbreaking terrorists" or not, yes or no? If not, then it's bullshit, and I'd suspect any "inference" is also likely to be bullshit if the people involved can't even bother to keep the facts straight when peddling their agenda.
    posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:42 AM on April 7, 2010


    Go Blazecock, go! Double click him while he's down, with your beautifully designed mouse!
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:43 AM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


    If you see this as just point-scoring then sure, I'll grant your point. What matters to me though is that these submissions is used as leverage by the US government to justify things like the DMCA and their very corporation-friendly approach the new Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), currently being drafted under great secrecy. Apple wants jail-breaking to be illegal, no mistake (they say so in their comment) and isn't shy about using exaggeration and hyperbole to get to their happy ending. The imposition of such laws world-wide, not an impossibility at all if ACTA comes to pass, is what worries me.
    posted by bonehead at 10:01 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Hee, from the iPhone 4 press demo:

    (re multitasking) 10:14AM: DanF: We weren't the first to this party, but we're going to be the best, just like copy-and-paste.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:29 AM on April 8, 2010


    Wow. Popup ads built right into the OS. That's the worst idea I've ever heard.
    posted by kafziel at 11:07 AM on April 8, 2010


    Worse than Clippy?
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:24 AM on April 8, 2010


    11:22AM: DanF: [can't hear questions] Jobs: No plans to become a worldwide ad agency. We don't know much about ad stuff; we're learning. We tried to buy AdMob, but Google snatched them because they didn't want us to have them.

    Don't pout Steve, it's not pretty.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:26 AM on April 8, 2010


    11:28AM: DanF: GDGT: On other platforms, you can run unsigned apps; it's not simply, but you can do it. Why haven't you done it? Jobs: There's a porn app for Android -- your kids could download them. We don't want to go there.

    Doesn't ratings for Apps deal with this?!
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:33 AM on April 8, 2010


    Worse than Clippy?

    Yes. Clippy didn't commoditize the user, could be disabled, and was a failure in implementation rather than concept. Or are you saying that a guide to familiarize new users with a complicated feature set is in and of itself a bad idea?

    Apple has branded their own advertising spam widget and built it right into the OS. This is actively, indefensibly evil, and we've known it was coming for a while.
    posted by kafziel at 1:08 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Well to be more accurate they have built support for it into the OS. There's as yet no indication that it'll be used in any of the phone's included apps, meaning that if you find it unpleasant you can opt not to buy apps with ads.

    Now, perhaps it won't be immediately obvious which apps HAVE ads, and that could be a problem. I'd be seriously bent out of shape to buy a $20 app and find it haranguing me with crap. However there's already ad-supported free or cheap apps in the store and the world hasn't come to an end yet.
    posted by phearlez at 1:17 PM on April 8, 2010


    No multitasking on 3G.
    posted by Artw at 2:17 PM on April 8, 2010


    No multitasking on 3G.

    Or first gen iPhone or iTouch. Time to upgrade, woo hoo!

    Apple has branded their own advertising spam widget and built it right into the OS.

    Eh, seems like a revenue stream for developers and Apple. Could be shitty, could work, I'd prefer to wait and see how it's done before declaring the complany completely evil.

    Banning the the Use of Adobe’s Flash-to-iPhone Compiler might be qualify though, depending on the details.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:48 PM on April 8, 2010


    Wow. That's pretty nasty.
    posted by Artw at 2:52 PM on April 8, 2010


    If, as it seems, it fucks over MonoTouch as well as flash, then it's basically a big fuck you to anyone trying to develop across platforms. Very, very nasty.
    posted by Artw at 3:05 PM on April 8, 2010


    No multitasking on 3G.

    Oh, and it should noted that it's not true multitasking, but that probably won't matter for most users.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:51 PM on April 8, 2010


    Thread on the license thing here.
    posted by Artw at 3:56 PM on April 8, 2010


    I know I'm late to the party here, but I am always so blown away by the clash between different types of creative folks surrounding Mac products. The way I see it, some folks like to use computers as a tool to create something else entirely. For these people, it's just the medium. I know a lot of musicians and graphic designers who love the shit out of Macs, because they are the best and easiest way for them to make stuff. On the other hand, there are also folks who like to create stuff with computers that is recursive and necessarily involves the computer itself. In this case, it's more like the medium is the message.

    I think of myself as someone who likes to use computers to do other stuff, although all to often I get sucked in to screwing around with them so that I can do something super efficiently until I look up five hours later and realize that if I'd been willing to put up with 15 minutes worth of drudgery and then do 15 minutes of creative work, I'd have been done four and half hours ago, with something to show for my efforts.

    Now I don't aim to suggest for a second that folks who love computers are wasting their time. I love computers. I like tinkering with them. However, that's not my primary goal for computing. I don't get why folks who really want to play with computers get upset when everyone doesn't want to do that though. It makes no sense. I don't know any graphic designers who begrudge hardcore hackers, but I know of at least three people on this very hallway who harbor some sort of serious resentment for people who spend a lot of money on a machine and then don't tear it apart.

    Keep on hackin' on. The world isn't going to change so fast that you wake up tomorrow and all of a sudden every device you've ever loved is locked down like D-Block. Yeah, it's good to be vigilant against the proliferation of another Microsoft, but the way to do that is just by going out and hacking up Mac products anyway, not by getting angry at Macs and people who like them.

    Most of the folks who like Apple products just like those products, and that's fine. They might be creative geniuses or maybe just status hungry d-bags, but either way, their love of Macs isn't going to prevent anyone else from building any kind of machine they want to. Folks who don't care if their machines are locked down aren't going to benefit at all from them being open to manipulation, and that might actually be a hassle.

    However, if you're so damn angry about what Apple does to restrict manipulation of their products, either use your skills to hack around the prohibitions or just ignore Mac altogether, but don't get all worked up because my grandma can check her damn email in a convenient way or because someone makes sick art on a 30" cinema display but has no damn clue what a kext is and quite frankly doesn't want to.

    If you're angry because Macs have the potential to do something that would be really neat if only they'd let you, that's understandable in some ways, but ask yourself, why is it you wanna create whatever it is you're gonna make on some utopian hackable Mac in the first place?

    There have always been tinkers, and there always will be. Making computers easier for people with no interest in that isn't gonna horn in on anybody's love for taking shit apart.
    posted by solipsophistocracy at 5:34 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


    solipsophistocracy: “However, if you're so damn angry about what Apple does to restrict manipulation of their products, either use your skills to hack around the prohibitions or just ignore Mac altogether, but don't get all worked up because my grandma can check her damn email in a convenient way or because someone makes sick art on a 30" cinema display but has no damn clue what a kext is and quite frankly doesn't want to... Making computers easier for people with no interest in that isn't gonna horn in on anybody's love for taking shit apart.”

    The point, in case you missed it, was that Apple's practices ultimately make it harder for people in general to use computers, that Apple's practices serve to hamstring and destroy the software that people use every day and make it less accessible and less usable. And, for what it's worth, I've personally tried to get graphic designers and musicians into using Macs before, and they've invariably found the interface strange, clunky, and confusing - so I think the whole "Macs are the best for creatives!" think is just a personal affinity for the machines, not a statement of industry-accepted fact.
    posted by koeselitz at 7:26 PM on April 8, 2010


    I only know two people who do graphic design professionally, and they both use Mac Pros. As far as musicians are concerned, I don't know a single one who uses a PC. I'm sure they're out there, but anyone I know who does music as a job either doesn't have a computer or has a Mac. Granted, my n is small, but it's not an opinion derived from some secret hope that the stamp on my blinky light display is gonna make me blossom into an artist of some sort.

    Apple's practices make it harder to fuck with computers. I understand that it's a mega pain if you know a quick solution to a problem that is forbidden, or have a set of tools that you like to use that are prohibited. I have no sympathy, however, for people who want the tight lines and pleasing design of Apple products coupled with their massive advantage in stability but don't understand that such aesthetics ain't cheap and that sort of stability only comes from keeping your product on a short leash.

    The whole industry was invented, after all, by those of us who loved the command line for what it was, and who enjoyed playing with computers not because we had something graphical and fun to play with but because we like making these machines do things, no matter what the context.

    I think we're on the same page here. There's something to be said for the sheer joy of really putting your mind into a system, creating a set of rules, and watching a process follow them to do something (maybe even something that serves a purpose, but if not, that's cool too).

    The thing is, the joy of bashing a terminal has fuck all to do with what +90% of people use computers for. It's not even a curiosity issue or an incompetence issue for a lot of people. It's more about time and delegation. It's a hell of a lot easier for me to train someone in the lab how to use a pretty iMac to run a program that has a GUI than it is for me to train someone how to use the exact same program on a Linux box in the terminal. At the end of the day, there's just as good a chance that the person who learned on the Mac will want to dig deeper as the person trained on the Linux box, but there's no sense in wasting all the time until you can tell if someone's serious.

    Kids who grow up with contemporary Macs and really love computers will figure out how to manipulate them. The challenge is good for em'. Kids who grow up with contemporary Macs and love Facebook and Twitter but don't give a crap how to make a machine do a thing will at least be familiar enough with a computer that it's not daunting. The kids in the first group haven't been hamstrung, but rather they've had some weights on their ankles. If they figure out how to take em' off, they'll be able to fuckin' fly.

    If Apple restricts the freedom of a small group of people (people who are extremely vocal and clearly aren't going to give up their freedom to manipulate machines without a serious fight) on their own product so that they can create a shitload more quasi-literate consumers, I say go for it. The geeks ain't goin' anywhere. They're smart. They'll figure out a workaround for whatever corporate roadblock gets dumped in their way.

    It's the folks who fancy themselves hardcore what cause the problems. Dudes who know just enough to really fuck up a box. Apple makes it harder for folks like that to break their machines, or their friends' machines. Does this come with some unnecessary difficulties for the elite crew of people who could probably actually fix your box when it's broken? Sure does. Does that suck balls for them? Sure does. Is making shiny things that aren't ultimately customizable the bane of technological progress? Nope.
    posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:00 PM on April 8, 2010


    I only know two people who do graphic design professionally, and they both use Mac Pros.

    You know that developer licence thingy change that Apple announced today? That pretty much guaranteed that something as useful as Photoshop, let alone Photoshop itself will never come to the iPhone/iPad platform. Photoshop is, essentially, framework for writing macros, little programs. All of those little programs, the plugins aren't allowed under this licence.

    Have you ever played a game with significantly modable content, like Quake, Half-life, Civilization, or Fallout 3? Most of these are done in scripting languages like lisp or Lua or Python---not allowed under this licence. I don't think it would have been possible to develop any of those games in a reasonable amount of time in Objective-C alone.

    Have you ever written a spreadsheet macro or custom formula? Ever made a custom template for Word? That's pretty darn close to being not allowed either.

    There are lots of reasons to want a "little language" in a program, and the most useful apps, particularly those which have aged well, have one built-in. A scripting language is a very useful tool that allows for rapid experimentation and extension of an existing framework. It gives an app flexibility and adaptability.

    Xeni Jardin had a great line in her review: it's not the apps that are available now, it's the ones we don't even know we can have that will make this format cool. Taking away scripting languages will force developers to climb that mountain with both hands amputated.
    posted by bonehead at 9:23 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


    solipsophistocracy: “The thing is, the joy of bashing a terminal has fuck all to do with what +90% of people use computers for.”

    Yep. And that joy has fuck all to do with my point. My point was that Apple's outlook makes it harder for ordinary people to use computers. Period. You don't seem to get it, but I'm not talking about geeks or 'hardcore' people or whatever. I'm talking about normal people here - Apple's philosophy toward software makes it harder for normal, ordinary people to use computers.

    For a good example, see the whole debacle over Flash and Adobe-developed apps above. All this bickering that Apple and Adobe do is wasting time and slowing the progress of computing down. Normal, ordinary people - non-geek people, non-tinkerer people - won't be able to do the things they want to because of Apple's commercial strife with Adobe. It's not a good thing. Apple could avoid this through a broader and more open philosophy of software, but they're convinced that that's some sort of financial suicide.
    posted by koeselitz at 9:43 PM on April 8, 2010


    And what's funny to me is how many people who've come in here and said "who cares if Apple makes it hard for developers to work on their platforms? I'm more concerned with real people using computers." It's interesting that so many people seem to be convinced that computers form themselves out of pure aether, without anyone working to build the programs they use. I'm far from a developer, but it's fair to say that some of the most creative minds in the industry have been driven directly away from the iPhone and iPad because of Apple's odd stance toward the very people that make that platform worth using. I know you might not notice this at this moment - this pilgrimage has happened over the past year or so - but you'll notice as the quality of apps continues to go down over the next few years. And if that isn't something that impacts every user of the platform, I don't know what does.
    posted by koeselitz at 9:47 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


    They might be creative geniuses or maybe just status hungry d-bags, but either way, their love of Macs isn't going to prevent anyone else from building any kind of machine they want to. Folks who don't care if their machines are locked down aren't going to benefit at all from them being open to manipulation, and that might actually be a hassle.

    One analogy would be to people who like working on cars. In the early days, you pretty much had to build your own car, then some smart people found a way to mass produce them, and over the years they got more and more advanced that these days most people don't even change their own oil. Yes, you can still work on your car yourself or build your own car if you want to, but it's pretty obvious that there will never be another generation of people who spend as much time working on cars as previous generations did. But that's not a very good analogy, because working on a car is just a chore or hobby that doesn't contribute much to the world, whereas hacking and software development are responsible for many of the most important technological advancements of the last 40 years or so.

    Hacking has always been mostly about making computers do cool things. It doesn't really matter if those things are practical, or legal, or profitable, or whatever. That kind of logic has always been the dominant way of thinking in the home computer world, from building the first PCs, to setting up to first BBSes, to connecting everyone to the Internet, to building the web as we know it today. Nobody thought to patent the code for the first BBS, or regulate the public Internet, or lock down the first PCs. Everything was open because the whole point was just to build something cool, and anything else was an afterthought. You didn't have to go to school or have a lot of money to make something new, you just taught yourself BASIC and wrote some programs or you taught yourself HTML and put up a web page. To people like me, computers have always been a unique kind of machine because of their limitless potential, and giving a machine with that kind of potential to millions of people has resulted in great things. I think Apple moving towards locked down devices is a significant step in limiting that potential, for all of the types of reasons that were ignored by the hackers who built most of what we enjoy today.

    To switch to another analogy, the world of computers that I've lived in for my whole life is a lot like the Wild West. Technology opened up a whole new world to us, and when we got there we had to build everything ourselves and make our own rules. Everyone came to this new place for their own reasons, but they all shared a kind of enthusiasm about it and about making something new. Progress moved faster than laws or established businesses, and everything seemed new and exciting. There were gold rushes, booms, and busts, where some people became millionaires and some people lost everything. But after a while there were big businesses in the West, and railroads started to be built, and the people in charge started laying down the law. When you looked around there wasn't much land that hadn't already been developed, and the folks that lived there weren't just bright-eyed dreamers but normal people who didn't really see the West as being that much different from things back East.

    To me, this is Apple rolling out their shiny new untinkerable car or paving over their section of the Wild West. If that's the way computers go in general, I don't think the people who grow up using them will miss the old open ones any more than I miss taking apart a carburetor or being a cowboy. But after living through it and being a part of it, it's sad to see an era slowly approaching its end.
    posted by burnmp3s at 9:51 PM on April 8, 2010


    I'm talking about normal people here - Apple's philosophy toward software makes it harder for normal, ordinary people to use computers.

    I was a normal, ordinary person when I got to college in the fall of 1984. I had seen computers, in high school, but hadn't used one. My college said, hey, freshmen, buy a Macintosh. I got financial aid for it so okay, I got one.

    The computer center on campus, where you could go to write and print papers if you didn't have your own computer, was staffed by helpful people. The computers there ran DOS of some sort, though I don't remember what anymore.

    I took to the Mac like a duck to water. So I guess I don't understand how it was harder for me to use. DOS was harder.

    (And more anecdata: every designer I've known and/or worked with uses Macs; I've worked in publishing/print production for fifteenish years.)
    posted by rtha at 10:07 PM on April 8, 2010


    Normal, ordinary people - non-geek people, non-tinkerer people - won't be able to do the things they want to because of Apple's commercial strife with Adobe.

    No, there's an App for online Scrabble.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:06 AM on April 9, 2010


    I only know two people who do graphic design professionally, and they both use Mac Pros. As far as musicians are concerned, I don't know a single one who uses a PC. I'm sure they're out there, but anyone I know who does music as a job either doesn't have a computer or has a Mac. Granted, my n is small, but it's not an opinion derived from some secret hope that the stamp on my blinky light display is gonna make me blossom into an artist of some sort.

    I know a lot more and they use a variety of platforms, from Macs, Windows, Linux, as well as pencils, brushes, and charcoal. The computer they use says nothing about them, nor the programs, other than what they prefer. We couldn't care less what our coworkers use on any of our web, print, audio, or video projects so long as the data can be exchanged. If we did we'd be putting up absurd barriers to production. We care about data interchange and ability of the people to produce what's needed. The printer we use is a total mix of Windows, Mac, and Linux for the same reasons. Video editors we use use Premier Pro on Windows or Mac, Final Cut (Mac only), or Vegas Video (Windows only) but again, who cares? What is the relevance outside of production interchange?
    posted by juiceCake at 11:02 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


    You don't seem to get it, but I'm not talking about geeks or 'hardcore' people or whatever. I'm talking about normal people here - Apple's philosophy toward software makes it harder for normal, ordinary people to use computers.

    Sorry, I totally don't get it. How does Apple's philosophy make it harder for most people to use computers? Is it because driving developers away will just eventually drive the quality of software down? I'm not trying to be obtuse here, I just don't understand, but I would like to.
    posted by solipsophistocracy at 12:34 PM on April 9, 2010


    solipsophistocracy: “Sorry, I totally don't get it. How does Apple's philosophy make it harder for most people to use computers? Is it because driving developers away will just eventually drive the quality of software down? I'm not trying to be obtuse here, I just don't understand, but I would like to.”

    The thing about developers being driven away is a big part of it, yes - and my perception (although obviously it's tough to find hard data on this) is that this is really happening, and lots of developers are souring on the model. And even beyond that, I think the DRM wars taught us one thing: people find DRM'ed software environments to be clunky and annoying. Apple largely won the first round because they managed to fake it through, steadily increasing their DRM and legal controls whilst generally keeping their software usable and while keeping the public imagination by releasing interesting new devices often. But the wall that Microsoft hit a few years ago is looming, I think. Steve Jobs is very, very headstrong about patent and ownership, and his squabbles with Adobe and with Google will almost certainly cost him functionality as he hits back against them.

    The thing is: developers are only one part of the open-source model, and in some ways they're the smallest part. The curious and interesting discovery of the 90s, I think, is the basic fact that the way to develop rich, useful programs that everybody likes is the open source way; it's faster, it's more effective, and it's more productive. And in turn open-source requires a good pool of people using software, trying it out, playing with it - people who can try out that software for free, and who are free to play with it at their leisure. Google was the first company to take advantage of this boldly and directly, and the vast success they've had in developing, say, Gmail is a direct result of having a product that's in 'beta' all the time, and that is constantly developed along the desires and responses of the many people using it.

    I don't think Apple gets this at all. I hate to say it, but their strict closed-door idea, the locked-down atmosphere at Cupertino, is bad for the software, I think. Steve Jobs has created all sorts of ingenious things to distract from this fact, and he should get credit for that, but sometimes I wonder if it's wearing a little thin. There are moments when I can see the cracks appearing. Even if they aren't there now, I'm confident that the model Apple insists on pursuing is ultimately going to be bad for everybody who uses one of their computers.
    posted by koeselitz at 9:42 PM on April 9, 2010


    Koeselitz, your comment seems to boil down to this: The way Apple is doing things sucks and is wrong and there's clear evidence (ala open source and Google) that it's wrong, so whatever success they've had selling millions of devices and consistently growing their company year over year will eventually to fail.

    Lots of people have looked at a certain model, applied it to Apple and then predicted the company's eventual demise because it doesn't follow particular model. I think Apple is stubbornly doing its own thing and it is working out very successfully for them.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:47 AM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Even if they aren't there now, I'm confident that the model Apple insists on pursuing is ultimately going to be bad for everybody who uses one of their computers.

    If your argument is that Apple is making it harder to use Apple products, I'd have to vehemently disagree there.

    What's more, I sincerely doubt that Apple's gonna quash the open source movement.

    I'd agree that ole Jeezy is makin' it tougher to simultaneously use Apple products and still endorse the open source movement, which is a real bitch.

    However, Macs still work too well for me to hop ship. Maybe in your eyes I'm just part of the precipitate on this front, but everybody's gotta know where to draw the line I guess, and I don't really think any mega-corporation is likely to be a shining example of morality.
    posted by solipsophistocracy at 2:11 PM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


    the basic fact that the way to develop rich, useful programs that everybody likes is the open source way; it's faster, it's more effective, and it's more productive.

    *The* way? Hardly. Open source has barely been shown as *the* way to produce derivative also-rans, although that's definitely where most of the effort is directed.

    I'm confused though, because then you mention the very closed-source GMail, so are you talking about release-early-release-often? That's a different matter, and it's one that the App Store does mitigate against.
    posted by bonaldi at 5:42 AM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


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