mac

Leopard delayed till October

I guess I spoke too soon. Apple shocked everyone today by announcing that Leopard is being pushed back from June to October.

Well, maybe "shocked" is too strong a word... I don't think any developers are too surprised, but some developers are more concerned than others... particularly ones with apps requiring Leopard waiting for release.

Personally, I'm not concerned. I applaud Apple for taking the extra time to get it right. And although I have plans for Leopard updates of Dejal apps, the next versions will still be Tiger-compatible. Time Out 2, which I'm working on now, will require Tiger, and Simon 2.3 will remain for Panther (10.3.9) and later, as will the other apps for now.

A great multi-touch video

As I've previously discussed, I really believe that multi-touch is the way of the future. Here's another great video like Jeff Han's previous one, but on a bigger scale:

(Via MacRumors.)

iPhone: a hint of Macs of the future

Last night I was imagining what the Mac of the future might be like... and I think the iPhone gives us some idea... and perhaps more so Jeff Han's multi-touch demo at TED.

I've always thought that a tablet Mac would only have limited appeal - great for real estate agents, medical professionals, and some others, but impractical for everyday use by most people. But Jeff Han's demo and the iPhone have me rethinking that.

The main issue, of course, is input: a finger or stylus is fine as a pointing device, much like a trackpad or mouse... but text input isn't as practical. Sure, Apple has Inkwell, which supports handwriting recognition, but typing on a keyboard will probably always be faster for most people.

But while there is definitely some advantage to the tactility of a hardware keyboard, that may be mitigated by the versatility of a software keyboard - displayed on-screen.

I think that this may well be the direction Apple will head.

I imagine a future iMac as a 30" panel angled at about 45° from horizontal (adjustable), with the computer guts hidden underneath. There is no keyboard, no mouse - just a large screen right in front of you, like an architects drafting table. You interact with it with just your hands - no stylus or other hardware.

Like in the iPhone, you can scroll with the flick of a finger, "click" or double-click just by touching, and use multi-touch gestures to zoom, move, resize, and even rotate the screen content.

As in the picture manipulation in Han's multi-touch demo, windows in the Mac OS X of the future would float in three dimensions. You can zoom windows forward or back, drag them around (perhaps via touches of their titlebar or empty space, like modern textured windows), etc. The windows scale smoothly via resolution independence. There could be a button somewhere on the screen (or a hardware "home" button like on the iPhone) to show all of the windows, like exposé, allowing quickly finding a specific one.

Controls within windows would work the same way: flick scrolling, pinch zooming, finger dragging, and more.

As I mentioned, the biggest issue for me has always been the keyboard... but I'm coming around to the view that a software keyboard could be an entirely feasible replacement. The keyboard could zoom into view when you need it, vanish when you don't, and be reconfigured to suit the application. A numeric keypad with special function keys in calculator and spreadsheet apps, a full qwerty keyboard in a word processor, and other variations. They keyboard could even be scaled and moved around as needed. To compensate for the lack of tactile feedback, it could play tapping sounds when keys are pressed, or even speak the keys or words typed.

It'd probably still need to have menus at the top of the screen, but maybe some sort of contextual replacement could be devised. Similarly, it might still have the Dock, but it'd be zoomable and much more flexible.

Reminds me of Apple's Knowledge Navigator concept video... from 20 years ago.

We could even carry it further, perhaps for more portable Macs: perhaps something like a small unit that projects the keyboard and the user interface, using spacial sensing to detect your fingers. This would allow a pocket-sized device to have not only a virtual keyboard, but a virtual screen as well, perhaps several times larger than the device itself.

Of course, none of this is new... and the technology all exists today. If anyone can put it all together in a way that works, Apple can.

I can't wait.

Macworld recap

I'm back from Macworld... and that was quite the experience!

Great to talk with lots of people, including luminaries such as Adam Engst. There were several more that I didn't get to speak with, though... maybe next time.

iPhone

So, I'm sure everyone knows all about the big announcements in the Stevenote, in particular the iPhone, so I won't reiterate. My impressions... it's a very sleek device, with a lot going for it, though not without flaws. I'm concerned about the usability of the touchscreen keyboard, though as someone who finds regular cellphone keyboard entry frustrating (including via T9), I think it'd be an improvement.

As a developer, it's somewhat frustrating that Apple doesn't seem to want to open up development of iPhone widgets, though there are hints that they might have some authentication program for it. I suspect that that would only be available to the big players, though, limiting the potential of useful widgets.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere (though maybe I missed it), is a justification for that policy. The obvious is quality control of the iPhone image, but I think it's more technical than that. Based on the UI I've seen, it appears that the widget icons have dynamic content (e.g. the calendar widget shows the current date; the clock widget appears to show the current time, etc). If true, that would imply that all of the widgets are running all the time, at least with a simple timer to update the icon. That would also ensure faster launch time... though they didn't look all that speedy in the demos, so maybe not. If they are all running, that would certainly make it more important that none of them were using too many system resources. It's a theory, anyway.

Will I buy an iPhone? Based on the current information, almost certainly: it will replace my iPod, cellphone, and maybe Palm (depending on how the software situation plays out), in a sleek and very usable package. I may wait for the second generation, though, to avoid any 1.0 issues, and simply because I have a contract with Verizon now.

 change the way you look at TV

The TV was of course the other major new product announcement from Apple. It seems to me like a nice device, though I personally probably won't buy one, as I already have a Mac mini hooked up to my TV, which does pretty much everything that the TV offers.

Somewhat lost amongst the other news was Apple's name, from "Apple Computer, Inc." to just "Apple Inc." (no "Computer" or comma). It really isn't a big deal, though. As John Gruber mentioned on Daring Fireball, Apple have called themselves just "Apple" almost everywhere for a quite a while now. Heck, I call my company just "Dejal", though the full name is "Dejal Systems, LLC". But I agree with his theory that some deal with Apple Corps. may be involved, too - I wasn't the only person to notice several Beatles references in the Stevenote.

Anyway, an enjoyable few days, and you can be sure I'll be back to Macworld again next year!

Check out my photo gallery for more Macworld photos.

MacSanta says Happy Holidays

There have been a lot of promotions involving Mac software recently - MacZOT, MyDreamApp, MacHeist, MacAppADay, etc. Each with different approaches, of creating new apps, selling discounted apps, or giving them away. But the latest is MacSanta, celebrating the festive season with 20% discounts on participating Mac software. A great thing about this promotion is that it is open to everyone - all developers and all users.

Dejal is participating in MacSanta, offering discounts of 20% or more on all products. What's more, I'm offering these discounts through the end of the year!

Just visit the Dejal Store before the end of the year to take advantage of these great prices!

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