Category Archives: Computers

Forget the Apple iTV – Could the next Apple product be the iGlass or the iCar?

My newly-installed iGlass super- sound system

A couple of weeks ago I went with Greenwich vintage clothing Emporium’s entrepreneurial owners Jacki Cook and Jon Hale to their second home in Whitstable. OK, it’s a beach hut; but it’s a very nice beach hut.

There, John Hale has created a new sound amplification system at a mere fraction of the cost of a top-of-the-range Bang & Olufsen or Sony sound system.

He puts Jacki’s iPhone into a glass. The sound is amplified by the shape of the glass and, depending on the shape, it delivers different sound qualities: bass, tinny, rich-and-golden, whatever.

It was such an impressive piece of lateral thinking that I went home and bought my own new sound system in a local charity shop. My product testing – putting my iPhone in the glass and playing music on it in the shop – did not go un-noticed but was not frowned-on, as the charity shop got £1.99p for the glass.

I laughed in Whitstable that the sound quality was so good and the lateral thinking by Jon & Jacki so impressive that it could almost be a new product from Apple… the iGlass.

This got me thinking about Apple’s rumoured new iTV (although, of course, they could never call it that in the UK because of the existing ITV television network).

At least twice, when they have been developing new products, Apple have created false rumours that they were working on a wind-up computer which would require no battery or, at least, mean you could re-charge the battery without plugging into an electricity socket.

I cannot see what the new Apple iTV would be… there is already an Apple TV box to screen computer output on a TV screen; other companies make devices which are voice-controlled or which react to hand movements. The thing about Apple is that they will suddenly release a new product which is utterly different.

I read last December that they were working on light hydrogen batteries which could last for weeks without re-charging.

This could be a smoke-and-mirrors re-hash of the wind-up computer stories. But creating a new, light, efficient, climate-friendly battery is a very Apple thing to do and it also made me think that large, inefficient batteries have always been one of the drawbacks with electric cars.

What if Apple were working on an electric iCar?

One suggested design for an Apple iCar: part car, part mouse

Powered by electricity not petrol, using a ‘green’ hydrogen battery, controlled by computers and with Siri voice-commanded hands-free links to every piece of information you could possibly want via the internet and iCloud, it would be just the sort of product Apple might suddenly release. No-one foresaw they would start making telephones or become a major music retailer.

Oh, I thought, there’s something I can blog about. If it ever happens, I’ll claim brilliant foresight. If it doesn’t, people will forget I ever mentioned it.

So yesterday, a slow day for anything I could blog about, I thought Oh, I’ll do the Apple blog tomorrow and so I Googled Apple iCar.

And, bugger me, articles have been appearing in the last couple of months guessing that Apple might or might not be working on a iCar. Only yesterday, an article was published on an Emirates website.

Way back in 2007, the late Steve Jobs had meetings with Volkswagen about an unknown project – rumoured only to be the integration of Apple computers into car dashboards. No more was ever heard of this.

But, in February this year, Apple (China) advertised in the LinkedIn automotive section for a “new Product Integration supervisor” with experience in CNC machines and die casting/stamping. Informed online opinion said: “if the job listing is legitimate, the company is once again working on deeper vehicle console/dashboard integration… We wouldn’t be surprised to see the company partner up with auto-makers in the near future to take in-car integration to new heights. Of course, with nearly $100 billion dollars in the bank, Apple could totally be building its own car.”

Apple are not a company known to co-design products. They did not integrate their technology into an existing telephone manufacturer’s telephone; they created their own, new type of telephone.

An iCar now or in the future would make philosophical and economic sense for Apple.

Remember – even if you did not – that you read it here first.

Or maybe the articles which have suddenly appeared about an Apple iCar are an updated equivalent of the Apple are working on a wind-up computer stories of old.

I hope not.

But, then, I always thought the wind-up computer was a good idea.

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Filed under Audio, Automobiles, Computers, Humor, Humour, Technology, Television

KIS KIC Apple computers can teach you how to be a good writer and comedian

Who says you cannot lick a new Apple product ???

I have never bothered with a smartphone before, but I got an Apple iPhone 4s yesterday because I think it might help me understand how to use Twitter (which I never have) and because it means I do not have to buy a new iPad to get 3G coverage – I can just tether my iPhone to my old non-3G, WiFi original Apple iPad.

You will gather I like Apple products. I also have an iMac and a MacBook Pro.

I first bought a computer in 1989. It was an Amstrad. I bought my first Apple Mac in 1993. I have never bought a Windows PC.

A prime example of why is what happened to me in Ireland.

It was my first day working on a contract at the late Tara TV in Dublin; they had PCs using the then-new Windows 98 operating system. I was the last and only person in the office in the evening. When I had finished, I tried to shut down my computer. I could not find any way to do it. There was no on-screen button anywhere. Eventually, I had to phone a friend in England and ask how to switch off the system.

“You click the Start button,” she told me.

This seemed to me to epitomise Microsoft products.

In order to shut down the computer, you had to click the Start button.

Why?

It was the only way to do it.

You had to know the rules and follow them.

I once heard a Microsoft executive proudly say they had done market research into what people wanted in their computers and found that most of what people wanted but said they did not have was already in the Windows operating system.

He took this as an example of how good the system was. I took it as an example of how Byzantine the system was. People had no idea how to find or do anything.

The difference between Apple and Microsoft Windows products has always seemed to be that Windows works in a certain way and you have to follow the rules to do anything. Apple  computers really are intuitive. If you want to do something, you think, “How would I do that?” and you can probably do it the way you think you can. But there may be five other ways to do the same thing, because different people think differently. Apple designs with the user in mind.

Setting up my new iPhone yesterday was simplicity itself, because everything appeared on screen logically, simply and in plain English, not in nerd-speak.

I think, when Apple design ‘ways to do things’, they do not think “We are creating a system here and then have to tell the user how to use it”… They seem to think, “If I were a user, what would I want to do to use the thing I am using?”

In that way, I think it is like writing.

People who sit down to write thinking “I want to say something. I have an empty page. What am I going to write on it?” may tend to write badly.

The trick is not to think “I am a writer writing this.” The trick is to think “I am a reader reading this as it appears word-by-word on the page.”

I think the best way to communicate (which is all writing is – or should be) is to think “If I read these words appearing on the page as I type, what are they telling me as the reader (not as the writer) and what will I need to know next?”

It is like writing an autobiography or a book on any subject. If you tell the reader absolutely everything you know in total detail you will clutter everything up with thoughts and facts, like Mr Casaubon in George Eliot’s brilliant Middlemarch. (Something I did not need to mention.)

KIS KIC

Keep it simple. Keep it clear.

There used to be a television ad for a tinned fish supplier which had the selling line: IT’S THE FISH JOHN WEST REJECT THAT MAKE JOHN WEST THE BEST.

It is keeping an eye on what you exclude – even more than what you include – that makes a difference to the end product.

Good writing is created by a writer who looks at it from the viewpoint of the reader not the viewpoint of the author.

Good comedy is created by a comedian who looks at it from the viewpoint of the audience not the viewpoint of the comic.

Good computer operating systems and programs are created by nerds who look at them from the viewpoint of the user not the viewpoint of the nerd.

That is why I buy Apple computers.

They KIS KIC.

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Filed under Comedy, Computers, Technology, Telecoms, Writing