Sunday, June 17, 2007

No iPhone for the UK?

So with the release of Apple's long awaited iPhone in the US scheduled for the 29th of June, people are starting to wonder about the European launch, which as far as we know is still supposed to be October this year. Just anecdotally I can tell you that there is a lot of demand over here for the handset. Although with the smart phone market much more mature in the UK than the States the low resolution (for Europe) camera, and the lack of 3G support are causing comment in the UK. As is the matter of which operator they're going to go with?

If Apple are really going to ship the iPhone as an EDGE handset, then their only choice is Orange who have the only remaining functioning EDGE network in Europe, everyone else having moved to 3G. As a long term Orange user this would make me very happy, because I'd probably be able to pick up the phone for free as part of my contract renewal which co-incidentally happens around October. The down side is that Orange are notorious for taking handsets, and loading them down with lots of operator specific junk. I'm unhappy enough when this happens to a perfectly good Nokia, I'd be outraged if they did it to the iPhone. As, I'm sure, would Apple...

All of which means that the old rumours of an Apple MVNO have to be dusted off and carefully considered, and you know what? In the UK, unlike the US, it makes a lot of sense. The MVNO is an established concept over here, with several very successful ones including Tesco of all people, and it would give Apple the end-to-end control they always wants with their products.

With the established operators against them, it might also be the only way they can release the phone here in the UK. Unless they want to sell a full-price, unsubsidised, unlocked version through their own stores. But if they do that, it will lack crucial features like visual voice mail, and I'm not convinced that the mature market in the Uk will tolerate a crippled version of the iPhone. Do you?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I've seen this movie...

You have to hand it to Tim Bray, I think I've seen this movie as well...
...where an interesting new protocol or interface or API comes along, is starting to get adoption, and big incumbent vendors say “That’s too simple for our needs”. Examples of such technologies include Unix, C, SQL, Java, and RSS: the kinds of technologies that end up winning. There are places... where cluelessness regularly triumphs. Internet protocols aren’t one of them. - Tim Bray
Well apart from Java which as I'm sure you know I think is far too complicated, give me a good weakly typed language any day, his point is well made. People like simple. Complicated architectures and APIs are okay in their place, but you have to make sure that this place is here...

Monday, June 11, 2007

The WWDC'07 keynote

Well I'm typing this using the new Safari 3 Public Beta on my ageing 12-inch Powerbook, and I must admit to being moderately unimpressed. It looks like they've finally caught up with Firefox. Okay, so everybody and their dog have been able to rearrange their browser tabs, but being able to drag one out of the browser and make a new window is kind of cool, although not being able to drag another window into your browser to make it a tab definitely isn't.

Inline search in the Safari 3 Public Beta

The new inline search feature is definitely cool, and along with the new snapback feature for returning to my search results after I've navigated navigated away from the original page, look like a good solid user interfaces. It also look like they've been talking to Google as a good deal of the new Blogger interface has suddenly gone "live" with the new browser. I wonder how many more Google applications that were previously just non-functional with Safari (or had limited functionality) just also started working?

For a public beta, the new browser also seems reasonably stable, so I can't complain too much, but what's really new? It's a web browser, I'm no longer impressed by a web browser. Why doesn't do exposé for tabs in the same way as Shiira does? Why doesn't it apply some sort of default style sheet for HTML and XML source code, why do I have to hit View Source? For that matter why does View Source not do syntactic highlighting when it shows you the page source? Every other browser does...

That said the new beta looks good, but I'm still probably going to stick with Safari for the same reason I always have, that it integrates into the system spell checker when entering text.

Apart from the new Safari, Steve talked a lot about the new features upcoming in Leopard. We've seen some of this stuff last year at WWDC'06, but there was some new stuff...

Although I guess someone has been looking at the BumTop interface, because you know what, Stacks look a bit familiar and to be honest, I've never really liked the iTunes interface. I don't have enough screen real estate for it on my 12-inch Powerbook, so the new Finder doesn't really impress me that much. Quick Look is okay, but not an amazing step forward.

I think it's quite telling that Apple stock fell 3% following the keynote. None of the announcements here are particilarly amazing, and when it comes down to it where were all the cool hardware the rumour sites were promising. Where are the new ultra-portables to replace my 12-inch Powerbook ?

I'm not even going to mention the weak excuse for developer support for the iPhone. If it doesn't appear as an icon on the main phone interface, it's a web application, not an phone application. No matter what the integration with the local hardware turns out to be...

Update: Apple has just posted the keynote address on to their website.

Update: I'm not alone thinking that the third party developer option we're being offered isn't exactly great, although I agree that Steve didn't really do a good job of selling what they are offering to the assembled developers.

Update: I should have thought of this (via iPhone Matters). Because it all makes sense, the reason why Apple has ported Safari to Windows is fairly obvious, order for developers to write and test “applications” for the iPhone, they must have access Safari. As of yesterday, that would limit iPhone developers to Mac developers only, since Safari did not exist on Windows. - The Apple Press
Update: For those of you who missed it, "Hello I'm Steve Jobs"...

Update: David Cann has created an iPhone interface mock-up (via TUAW) to try and get a feel for how these web applications will look on the iPhone. I'm still not convinced, if it doesn't show up as an icon on the main interface, will users really think of it as an application, or just another web site?