Monthly Archives: April 2012
LinkedIn has just launched its first dedicated app for the Apple iPad. The rather popular business networking site had a functional app for both iPhones and Android smartphones, but the iPad version of the app has taken its functionality to a whole new level.
The most obvious inspiration for the LinkedIn iPad app's design ethos is the phenomenal Flipboard news aggregation app. It has been optimized for the new iPad's Retina display as well, making the design look even better. The app itself has been segregated into the following three sections:
- All Updates
A nifty new calendar feature is a nice touch in itself. It uses data about your appointments to display LinkedIn profile info about the people you'll be meeting.
"Imagine having one place where you can get all the info you need about who you're meeting with that day, trending and timely news that is impacting your industry, who's changed jobs and what your coworkers are sharing, liking and commenting on. We've pulled all this for you, all in one place."- Manish Sharma, LinkedIn's senior product manager for mobile and tablet.
The three sections have their own, distinct looks and abilities. "All Updates" shows you your entire newsfeed, and even Twitter feed (in case you've integrated it) in a Flipboard-esque magazine view. "You" is a minimalistic, professional view of your profile page and resume. It definitely looks great, but it only offers a read-only mode, meaning that you can't edit your profile on your iPad. "Inbox" is a two-pane inlet for all your messages and connection requests.
All in all, the LinkedIn iPad app is a well designed app that brings the best of features from both the iPhone app and famous apps like Flipboard. It does have some strange quirks though - the lack of ability to edit your LinkedIn profile is a strange feature to skip out, as is the need to enter your user ID and password every time you log in. Perhaps an update or two will sort out its issues at some point in the future, but the LinkedIn iPad app is excellent in general.
Since 2009, Chomp had been one of the best app search engines for the Apple App Store, and (a couple of years) later the Android Market. The San Francisco startup's iPhone app made it phenomenally popular, with an ever-expanding user base, and huge interest from venture capital firms followed. It probably reached the pinnacle of its achievements when Apple Inc. itself decided to acquire Chomp in February this year for a reported sum of $50 million!
Chomp on an iPhone
It isn't any secret that Apple and Android are fierce rivals in the mobile device market. The latter has an infamously poor content discovery system in its Android Market (now rechristened as Google Play), and Chomp went a long way in rectifying some of its ills. Apple, rather unsurprisingly, is choosing to take that crutch away from Android by completely killing the app for the Google platform.
There had been reports of Chomp's flaky performance on Android devices in the last few weeks, as it frequently refused to connect to Chomp's servers. As it turns out, today Chomp's website has no more mentions of its Android app, and the Google Play store has absolutely no mention of Chomp either.
Apple's decision to acquire Chomp stemmed out of devs often complaining about the poor visibility of their apps in the App Store. That's right, Apple's biggest advantage - its vast, vast ecosystem for apps had inadvertently drowned out many of the lesser known developers from joining into the party, and Apple definitely wanted to keep them on their side. Plugging off the same support for its biggest competitor, Android, seemed like a logical next step to deprive Google and Android devs from any similar advantage.
Apple has been breaking new ground in terms of the sheer magnitude of profitability that a company can attain. Plenty has been said about how Apple is the company with the highest market cap in the world, how it could be the first company to breach a market capitalization of $1 trillion, and a lot more. The incessant demand for iPads and iPhones has made the Apple juggernaut roll on and on, without any sign of abatement. In fact, high global demand cues for the 2 Apple bestsellers have said to helped the Cupertino giant to achieve profits of an incredible 94% in Q2.
For all the predictions of Apple consolidating its lead position among all companies globally, one prominent market research company has begged to differ about Apple's future prospects. Its CEO, George Colony, has equated Apple to Sony, the tech giant from yesteryears in his latest blog post.
Sony's downfall has been quite stark and unbelievable in itself. For a company valued at a massive $120 billion at the turn of the millennium, it has fallen into one crisis after another. In fact, a current valuation of $16-odd billion says it all about the company's situation.
Colony has asserted that Apple will continue to "coast, then decelerate", a la Sony. This was a popular school of thought among many industry watchers following Steve Jobs' demise in October, but immediate evidence points to something else entirely.
The Forrester CEO attributes Jobs' charisma and magnetic personality to much of Apple's appeal, and believes that Jobs successor should have been someone with a similar set of personality traits. The current incumbent of the CEO's chair at Cupertino, Tim Cook, is described as being "merely competent" by Colony. He goes on to add that Cook's “legal/bureaucratic approach will prove to be a mismatch for an organization that feeds off the gift of grace.”
If Apple's latest financial results are anything to go by, Apple has precious little to worry about. However, George Colony expects the Sony-esque decline to take three to four years before it actually starts to show, and one can only wait and watch in that regard.
Apple finally announced the official dates and venue for its annual Worldwide Developers Conference on Wednesday. The WWDC will commence on the 11th of June, and last till the 15th. The venue will be the Moscone West in San Francisco, California, and tickets for the WWDC had gone on sale shortly after the announcement, and were sold out in just 2 hours!
Apple has promised a lot to its developers in the WWDC this year. It plans to throw some light on "the future of iOS and OS X", and give them the best opportunities possible "to build incredible new apps." Apple's engineers will also be displaying the best of their innovations in a plethora of technical events throughout the event.
"We have a great WWDC planned this year and can’t wait to share the latest news about iOS and OS X Mountain Lion with developers. The iOS platform has created an entirely new industry with fantastic opportunities for developers across the country and around the world."
- Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.
The Apple Design Awards will also be a part of the Worldwide Developers Conference this year as always. The awards are given to the most innovative and well made apps on Apple platforms every year.
WWDC 2012 will allow developers to experience the best that iOS and OSX have to offer in terms of being conducive platforms for making the very best and cutting edge apps time and time again. What's even more amazing is that devs can actually get their incomplete code along for Apple engineers to optimize and improve them in any way possible.
Apple has tried to experiment with merging features found in iOS and Mac OSX, more so recently. You can take the notification center and iMessages features from iOS for instance - they were directly grafted into the OSX user interface, and were considered by Apple to be the epitome of unifying user experiences across the board for all Apple devices.
Apple's CEO is far from enamored by the Windows 8 way
However, Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, believes that the approach that Microsoft is adopting for Windows 8 is a poor idea. MS has made it quite clear that Windows 8 will be an operating system designed to run as well on tablets as computers. In essence, they will be taking the Apple approach of integrating and mingling key OS features to a whole new level altogether.
In the words of Cook:
"anything can be forced to converge, but the problem is that products are about tradeoffs, and you begin to make tradeoffs to the point where what you have left doesn't please anyone. You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not gonna be pleasing to the user."
Quite obviously, he isn't sitting on the fence with his views about Windows 8. It certainly is curious given that recent versions of OSX do have a lot more in common with their iOS brethren, but Apple apparently believes that there have to be limits to it.
Given that it was an Apple Q2 2012 earnings call, Cook did move on to matters closer home than Windows 8. He asserted that iPad sales have no limit "in sight", while Apple continues to"double down on making great products.".
The Apple iPad has been the undisputed leader in the tablet market ever since it was launched by Apple in 2010. Plenty of challengers running Android and other miscellaneous operating systems have come and gone, but only the iPad and its two succeeding generations have managed to maintain the firmest of grips on the leading market share among tablets.
The tablet market has been burgeoning more than ever in recent months, as they have gradually gained acceptance in both domestic, individualistic environments as well as enterprise users. A report by Forrester Research has claimed that the Apple iPad's dominance will be maintained until at least 2016.
The 56 million devices sold in 2011 are expected to increase almost sevenfold by 2016 - to 375 million units. Moreover, 40% of all tablets sold are expected to be from emerging markets in 2016 according to the report.
The report identifies Amazon Inc.'s Kindle Fire as the only viable competitor to counter the iPad's dominance. Its own low price target segment is perhaps the only reasonable substitute for the developer support and abundance of content for the iPad.
What is more interesting is that the report acknowledges the possible threats posed by Windows 8 for tablets, as well as Android , but discounts their long term threat to the iPad.
The likes of Research in Motion Inc. (the Canadian maker most synonymous with Blackberry, and the associated called the Playbook) and Hewlett Packard (who had launched the TouchPad last year) have burnt their hands in the tablet market already as they ran proprietary operating systems that weren't well received by either users or developers. In general, the report makes it clear that the iPad faces no threatening competition that can affect it well into the foreseeable future.
Apple has been breaking every sales record that has ever existed with each new device that it launches. However, it hasn't fared quite as well in meeting the incredible demand that's synonymous with Apple products. Often enough, the gap between ordering an iDevice and actually having it shipped to you could extend to a few weeks. All in all, it made little sense for Apple to fall short of demand time and time again even after fixing its position at the top of the mobile device market for the foreseeable future.
The new iPad (via Apple.com)
All that may soon change for the better though with Apple's bestselling new iPad. It has been over a month since its launch, and Apple finally has made a definite sign that its shipping times are to improve drastically.
If you visit the official Apple site for ordering the new iPad, the shipping time displayed is just 5-7 days now. It's regardless of which model you buy, so you don't need to worry about the color, 4G LTE capabilities, and storage capacities, as Apple will ship absolutely any model of the new iPad to you in less than a week. This means that there's no more need for you to worry about iPad stock inventory for a particular model.
The official shipping times for the new iPad had reduced to between a week and a couple of weeks recently, and Apple has improved on that even further. Despite its struggles to cope up with overwhelming demand, Apple had managed to sell an incredible 3 million units in the launching weekend of the new iPad last month.
The irony here is that primary problem with the new iPad (in terms of shipping times, at least) has been what's been its biggest selling point - the gorgeous 9.7 inch Retina display. The screens were being manufactured by Samsung, LG and Sharp, but the latter two had been struggling to produce them till now.
Apple has had no dearth of legal wranglings over the last year or so. In most cases, it has been the aggressor, especially in patent lawsuit cases against the likes of Samsung, but the iPad trademark case was a wholly different challenge.
The Apple iPad 2
In the case of the iPad trademark issue, the opposing party in question was Proview Electronics - an ailing Chinese company that's said to be on the verge of bankruptcy. They had apparently made an obscure computer of their own that they had called the IPAD. Little was heard from them when Apple started using the same name about 12 years later, with the launch of its bestselling tablet.
But then, Apple chose to expand in China. Their idea was to counter fakes, clones and illegal shipments of iPads in China, by launching an Apple Store in Shanghai and expanding their Chinese operations in general. That's exactly when Proview sprung into action, and threatened Apple with a global lawsuit. They seemed to be looking for a $2.6 billion payout as well, which was rumored to be guided more by the company wanting to write off its $1+ billion debts.
Now, as it turns out, Apple and Proview have reportedly started settlement talks to resolve this issue after all. Macworld reports:
Ma Dongxiao, a lawyer representing the Chinese company Proview, said on Friday the talks were happening, but declined to offer details.The legal dispute between Apple and Proview is still being deliberated by the Higher People’s Court of Guangdong Province. But earlier this week, the court recommended that both Apple and Proview find a way to mediate the dispute, according to a court spokesman.
Chinese law allows two warring parties to go through a mediation process before a ruling is made. The idea is that if a settlement can be reached without the interference of the court, there isn't any need for a ruling (that could be potentially damaging to either or both parties).
While the Cupertino giant and the Chinese company do seem to have stepped down their aggression a notch, there's certainly no guarantee for these mediation talks to succeed. If they finally don't, the Guangdong court will have to come up with a ruling soon after.
AirPlay is a great way to stream data from your iPad screen to an Apple TV with a larger screen. The primary reason why people use it is to stream media, that is, music and videos to a big screen, with a better sound system. However, not everybody knows that AirPlay works great with quite a few apps too! Here are three of the best ones suited to this purpose.According to us, Flipboard is simply the best news app you can get in the App Store. No other news app quite uses the entire screen space of the iPad as well as it, in all honesty. The seamless transitions, the magazine inspired design ethos, the sheer finger friendliness of it all - Flipboard takes the simple act of reading news a whole lot better. Being as well designed as it is, it doesn't look out of place on a huge screen either! If you can get beyond the initial barrier of awkwardness (purely reading news on a huge screen isn't something anyone's used to), Flipboard can be a cool way to check out what's going on in the world around you.RemoteRemote is designed by Apple itself, and, as the name suggests, it is an app meant to act like a remote control for your Apple TV. It makes text input a whole lot easier than it is in the actual Apple TV remote, as it lets you use the nifty little keyboard of the iPad. The Apple TV remote, on the other hand, requires you to enter text one letter at a time, and can be beyond enraging. Moreover, you get to handle multiple devices (the Remote App works when there's iTunes involved) from just your iPad!Real Racing 2 HDThis is an absolutely outstanding racing app by the devs from Firemint. It lets you have a whole lot of fun with a stunningly environment and immaculate attention to detail. You get to experience enthralling races in a 3D environment, and you'd never know that you're playing the game in a tablet and not a full fledged console! Real Racing 2 HD looks great on a big screen, and its Apple TV compatibility makes its exquisite design particularly suited as a faux-console game.
It's been a rather incredible few days for Instagram hasn't it? The app was created by a startup with ten employees, and launched as an iOS only app. With the ever improving cameras in iDevices and a closed group of exclusive users, people could share gorgeous looking photos and retouch it as they pleased with a tap or two.
Early this month though, Instagram finally came good with its promise of coming up with an Android version of its app as well. And then, things went a bit crazy, to say the least. Instagram managed to almost DOUBLE its user base within ten days of the launch of Instagram for Android. It was a massive success, but was met with almost unequivocal disdain from iOS users, all of whom had so far considered Instagram to be an Apple-only environment.
A few days after that, Facebook took over Instagram for what appears to $1.23 billion now. Considering that Instagram has no revenue sources and doesn't even display ads, the sheer importance of this tiny startup can't be stressed enough, looking at its valuation.
According to a 9to5Mac report, Apple Senior Vice President Paul Schiller deleted his @schiller Instagram account apparently out of the blue. A 9to5Mac reader contacted him via a Twitter direct message soon enough, asking him about his absence from Instagram. Rather surprisingly, Schiller responded, and he did so rather bluntly. In his words:
It "jumped the shark" when it went to Android.
9to5Mac went on to press him further about his comment, as his action of leaving Instagram altogether did seem to be a rather extreme step. He went on to say:
Instagram is a great app and community. That hasn’t changed.
But one of the things I really liked about Instagram was that it was a small community of early adopters sharing their photographs. Now that it has grow(n) much larger the signal to noise ratio is different. That isn’t necessarily good or bad, it’s just not what I originally had fun with.
Schiller is said to lead most of iOS-related marketing efforts, and Instagram was considered to be one of the premier iOS apps that drew people to the platform (a la Flipboard, for instance). Instagram had even won Apple's 'App of the Year" awards last year. With it seemingly defecting to Android in a certain sense, Schiller may have found leaving it a way to express his (and perhaps, Apple's) disappointment at these developments.