January 3, 2002 5:45 AM   Subscribe

iWalk. (Nope, not the codename for Dean Kamen's followup to "Ginger"...) Could this the product that Apple is hyping for release at the upcoming MacWorld Expo? Pretty convincing video clips on this page... or is this simply the next generation of AppleFan fakery and fetishism?
posted by Fofer (32 comments total)
Oh no. I just spotted the earlier Apple thread. Ouch, I swear I looked first... There goes my New Year's resolution. Dang...
posted by Fofer at 5:55 AM on January 3, 2002

Fofer: the site seems to be down. If that's the case, could you perhaps post some of the pictures from your cache?
posted by Hjorth at 6:07 AM on January 3, 2002

may not be the site that is down. there seems to be a big disturbance in the internet force this morning.
posted by machaus at 6:08 AM on January 3, 2002

[there seems to be a big disturbance in the internet force this morning.]

Indeed - Something is amiss. Can't get WSJ, PoliticalWire, Townhall... Not sure to do with my downtime today.
posted by revbrian at 6:13 AM on January 3, 2002

I can't get to the site either, but the name iWalk appeared on rumor sites and this site a few months ago (when the iPod was released).
posted by ry at 6:16 AM on January 3, 2002

The consensus on MacSlash is that it's a fake. Just like the last time SpyMac posted pictures of the iWalk (just before the release of the iPod).

Why is this all over the net this morning? Once bitten, twice shy. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice . . . Insert your own sucker cliché here.
posted by mcwetboy at 6:19 AM on January 3, 2002

These pics looks pretty good, but as stills I would have though they could be a photoshoped iTunes module. However the video is very convincing. Real or fake, I want one..
posted by laukf at 6:26 AM on January 3, 2002

there seems to be a big disturbance in the internet force this morning.
I suspected the link was getting hammered on, and I was right. The link is the lead item on Slashdot right now, where this pseudo-mirror is mentioned.

Consensus is that it's completely fake, and personally I'm inclined to agree: the source is more or less the laughingstock of the already very silly rumor-sites, and the videos look badly faked, not to mention the device has absolutely atrocious I.D. -- not something Apple is likely to slip up.

What I want to know is, how does something get slashdotted at ridiculous o'clock in the morning?
posted by majick at 6:26 AM on January 3, 2002

Watch the Handwriting video on the mirror site... notice that towards the last third of the video the unit shakes slightly yet the "on-screen" text stays put.
posted by Fat Elvis at 6:35 AM on January 3, 2002

The sun has been shining on the east coast, USA, for a while already this morning, though I would not argue with calling 9:41 "ridiculous o'clock."
posted by sudama at 6:42 AM on January 3, 2002

Well, as premiumpolar said:

"The video was compressed using Sorenson compression, which only updates the screen with the portion of the movie that actually moves (hope that explanation made sense), so that could be the reason the text looks weird. I've also heard people say that they see the text stay still while the rest of the video is shaky, which I still think is attributed to it being compressed using Sorenson technologies."

I've watched the clips a few times now and I'm having a hard time discounting it. (But yeah, the jog-dial looks a little, um, large for Apple's tastes.) Still, I just realized we went down this road back in October. Then, the iPod came out, and we figured THAT'S what became of "iWalk." Perhaps iWalk has a life of it's own?

Either way... it never ceases to amaze me the level of enthusiasm this "doomed" company is able to incite with mere hints and one-liner teasers. How many other companies have that kind of cult popularity? Doomed... give me a break.
posted by Fofer at 6:50 AM on January 3, 2002

The iWalk looks like a regular PDA with a lucite cover strapped on the front with an apple logo engraved in the lucite(based on the pic I saw at Spymac, the video section has been slashdotted)

Although Apple has certainly done nothing to quell the hype, the way their web site today is proclaiming Macworld: "It's like a backstage pass to the future."
posted by insomnyuk at 6:57 AM on January 3, 2002

Okay, to make up for my first double-post, I've taken the cached images and clips and put them on my own iTools page. Enjoy and tear apart to your heart's content.
posted by Fofer at 7:11 AM on January 3, 2002

Thanks Fofer, those stills do look fairly convincing. But for all we know it could be a nice little homebrew job built on a color Sony (or similar) PDA.

Someone could have written a clever little PDA program to emulate a Mac-like environment, though I have a hard time wondering why they would go to so much trouble to perpetuate a fraud. Maybe it's true, but I still doubt it. People will be really pissed, I think, if Apple's "BIG" announcement is just a PDA with Firewire.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:28 AM on January 3, 2002

not to mention the device has absolutely atrocious I.D. -- not something Apple is likely to slip up

Er... remember the Quicktime interface?
posted by Tubes at 7:37 AM on January 3, 2002

Be sure to check the clips as well... those are what had me somewhat convinced. Photos aren't too difficult to doctor... but video?

People will be really pissed, I think, if Apple's "BIG" announcement is just a PDA with Firewire.

Actually I beg to differ. The Mac Faithful have been lusting after an new Apple-branded PDA for some time now. Ever since the Newton got "Steved." Even a new device with simply evolutionary features is what most of us are hoping for.
posted by Fofer at 7:38 AM on January 3, 2002

I can't tell if those bottom icons are part of the machine or part of the screen. If part of the machine, it makes it look too much like a low-cost poor man's PDA.
posted by benjh at 8:22 AM on January 3, 2002

This MacSlash post pretty thoroughly debunks the iWalk "thing."

I reccomend reading the article, some of the comments are good too, but if you are too lazy, a quote:

Why make a hoax? Like I said, this feeds egos. Look, we're all idiots, talking about their fake Apple product. Maybe they'll make Slashdot again. In addition, they want ads. Visitors attract advertisers.
posted by insomnyuk at 8:39 AM on January 3, 2002

Kevin Fox has the definitive iPad/iWalk/Apple tablet page on the electronet. He's been following it for months, he knows his stuff, and he's got a lot of well thought out material on his site.

Or, as he points out, you can just wait until Monday
posted by emptyage at 8:57 AM on January 3, 2002

The video speaks volumes - I hope I don't end up with egg on my face come Monday, but I'm sold.

And Apple can already count on selling at least one iWalk.
posted by aladfar at 9:12 AM on January 3, 2002

If the iwalk spy pics are infact real, it is hardly "a backstage pass to the future".

I don't think its real. ...but I can hardly think that apple will release something so revolutionary that it'll show us the future, unless its the i-segway.
posted by tomplus2 at 9:13 AM on January 3, 2002

Er... remember the Quicktime interface?
Sure. And it's great ID. Absolutely and irrefutably horrible and inexcusable UI, which is quite arguably distinct from ID, but consistent with Apple's generally good ID work.

At this point, great ID is just about all Apple has to sell: the software is no great shakes, the hardware is slow and expensive, and one of the best selling points for the Mac platform -- the venerable HIG -- is out the window.

But they've got good industrial design; it's downright fantastic compared to any hypothetical competition in the vanity computing hardware space (despite my inclination to think of the flavored iBooks as being very Sanrio Toilet Seat looking). And it's so obviously moving units and making money that they are going to go out of their way not to take too many missteps on ID.
posted by majick at 10:38 AM on January 3, 2002

Err, am I the only one who's noticed that the power button looks like it requires WAY too little force to actually turn the unit on? They user barely touches the button and it powers on, which would seem to indicate that it'd be way too easy to turn on and off by accident during us.

Also, it's turned on while it's resting, unheld, on a flat desk surface, and it clearly has nothing but a brushed aluminum back (no rubber pads to stop it from sliding on smooth surfaces.) If any amount of force were exerted on it, it *should* move, but it doesn't budge. Hence my skepticism.
posted by Danelope at 11:52 AM on January 3, 2002

Ugh. I should stop posting to MeFi during work. It's difficult to complete thoughts (and, apparently, words) when you're interrupted every 30 seconds.
posted by Danelope at 11:58 AM on January 3, 2002

Ahah. This slashdot post exposes Spymac's intentions: money. Not really a surprise though.

If any amount of force were exerted on it, it *should* move, but it doesn't budge. Hence my skepticism.

Yep, the devil's in the details. Notice how the "screen" in this photo is suspiciously tilted(look at the top of the PDA), the top left corner is practically truncated.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:02 PM on January 3, 2002

Majick, would you c.a.r.e to TELL me what A.L.L those acronyms M.E.A.N? UI - I'm guessing user interface, ID - I'm guessing interface design? But HIG?

And since when was Apple's hardware slow? The Titanium G4 is plenty fast.
posted by skylar at 12:05 PM on January 3, 2002

UI is indeed user interface. majick is using ID to stand for industrial design, meaning the physical design of the product -- shape, color, texture, etc. HIG refers to the Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines, the 'bible' that set the standard for effective GUI design. Almost every interface convention we now take for granted, regardless of platform, originated with the HIG.
posted by jjg at 12:32 PM on January 3, 2002

If any amount of force were exerted on it, it *should* move, but it doesn't budge.

Nah. You'd think the iPod would slide around on its stainless steel back, but the Apple logo is positioned just so and is actually brushed or blasted or otherwise textured so that it provides some friction against a smooth surface. (Attention to detail way beyond expectations.) Besides, have you ever turned on a Palm? If you're worried about buttons being pressed, you add a hold switch or a cover. No amount of resistance is going to be a guarantee against accidental pressure.

Anyway, it's clearly a fake, so...
posted by sudama at 12:39 PM on January 3, 2002

Attention to detail is when you notice that your iPod was *individually* blasted. If you look carefully the unique serial number of your iPod is blasted at the bottom, along with all the certification logos.

Thanks Matt for the iPad plug. It's nice to see people are still reading that post after 8 months! Of course some things are different now, like nix USB and put in Firewire instead.
posted by kfury at 4:14 PM on January 3, 2002

Jeez..Apple was an innovative company but this cultish devotion of Mac huggers is based more on marketing than on reality...Dosent anyone remember the old joke:

How many Apple employees does it take to screw in a light bulb?

50. 1 to screw in the bulb, 49 to design the t-shirts.
posted by jonmc at 4:46 PM on January 3, 2002

Now Apple's home page says: "To Go Where No PC Has Gone Before." People will disagree, but I don't recall Apple ever pre-hyping a MacWorld Expo quite like this before. (They usually just let the media pundits, Apple loyalists, and rumor sites do the work for them.) This better be big or I'll be sour on Monday.
posted by Fofer at 8:17 AM on January 4, 2002

No one will disagree -- this is absolutely unprecedented.
posted by sudama at 9:38 AM on January 4, 2002

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