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  1. Face-to-face gaming. The iPad is big enough for a board game face-to-face.

  2. Books are a side issue. Jobs introduced them as such.

  3. Your view of iPhone development is weird.

Your technical conversation is also weird. Note that the iPhone multitasks perfectly well, for a start. It's just that normal apps aren't allowed to do so. Jailbroken phones can allow apps multitask. As it turns out I can't read a book and facebook at the same time, or read two books at once. Push notifications seem to deal with the issues you're talking about - I'm not sure, because the last thing I need is Twitter or Facebook bothering me when I'm trying to do something else. (Tests: yup, Facebook will bug the crap out of you with messages everytime something happens. Let's turn that off again right away.) A neater interface than the dialog box that pops up on an iPhone would be nice (something like Growl), but that's another issue.

I don't understand your conversation about "social computing": you know the iPad will have  a Facebook app and inummerable Twitter apps at launch, right? The question is how fast can you switch from one to the other. As it is most people seem to run their browsers full-screen: they don't use multi-tasking anyway. I have a hard time stopping some clients closing the browser completely to check something in their e-mail on a PC. Reports are that switching is fast enough. It's fast enough on an iPhone - on which I already do everything you've talked about.

The underlying OS on an iPhone isn't miles away from traditional Mac OS X - it's mostly the interface layer that is different. The point being that a traditional windows interface works with pointer and keyboard, not with a touchscreen.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 09:37:03 AM EST
Yes, I know the iPhone multitasks perfectly well. I also know that it's possible to make apps that multitask on the standard SDK, or at least run in the background, without jailbreaking.

Apple won't let you sell those apps through the store. It's a political issue. Currently if you have the App Store, which Apple seems to quite like, you can't have apps that multitask.

What's strange about this, exactly? It's one of the single most reliable criticisms of the iPad. It also happens to be true. I happen to want a Twitter client that can be set to foreground itself when a message comes in, or stays hidden when I don't. This is not an unreasonable requirement.

As for social computing - no, you're right, you don't understand the conversation.

A lot of other people do. I'd guess many of them are younger than either of us.

But since it's not clear, I'll spell it out - social computing means full-time contact with friends, family and co-workers. Full-time means that you can message casually, gossip, collaborate, and exchange text, video, photos, music, and other media near-instantly, from any location, without being tied to a desktop.

It also means that instead of being a slightly weird geeky adjunct to the real relationship, it becomes a seamless feature of the f2f relationship. It's not a substitute or a poor imitation, it is the relationship, or at least a significant part of it.

What's happened so far is that there platforms for all of these options, but they don't work together. You can share photos on Flickr, videos on YouTube, and text via SMS, Twitter, longer text via blogs, and so on.

People like all of these options. They'll like them more when they can do more of them at the same time in a single environment.

The iPad could be good for that, but currently it isn't.

It's about building networks of attention, not applications that do one social thing.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 10:00:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then why do you say multitasking is a technical problem due to the underlying programming model?

But since it's not clear, I'll spell it out - social computing means full-time contact with friends, family and co-workers. Full-time means that you can message casually, gossip, collaborate, and exchange text, video, photos, music, and other media near-instantly, from any location, without being tied to a desktop.

Really? Shit. I must get me some of this Internet stuff. What is this twitter you speak of? Facebook? I've never heard of it.

I said 'I don't understand your conversation about "social computing"' not that I don't understand about "social computing". I'm living that dream, baby.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 10:08:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
multitasking is a technical problem

I suspect, "multitasking" refers to parallel processing speed/capacity limitations in the hardware as well as SDK parameter limitations on processor calls.

The human factor on optimal device "multitasking" capabilities is another, entirely amusing subject.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 10:14:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The SDK constraints are justified in terms of hardware resource constraints. However, the main uses of multitasking TBG identifies are available, though I don't think the interface is up to much: intrusive dialog box.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 10:24:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The SDK constraints are justified in terms of hardware resource constraints. Well, yes.

the main uses of multitasking TBG identifies are available: Well, yes, where "main uses" means application functionality (e.g. platform-dependent but probably "limited edition" versions of PC software.) though not necessarily sufficient storage media (e.g. local hard drive or remote server rental, ergo calls to).

Abandoning keyboard input and restricting output facilities (datatypes, protocols) are profound (perhaps justified) differentiating feature of the i* product line (pad, phone,"stereo") among all electronic devices. I think iPad is headed straight for Palm Hell. Or...

the interface is up to much: intrusive dialog box: Well, yes, subsequently. Interface development I think points primarily to adaption to peripheral hardware devices, which is what TBG mentions. Cannibal territory within corporate divisions.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 10:53:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you used an iPhone much?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 10:58:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not at all. I use a garden variety cell phone. Worse, I don't exercise my speed dial rights.

I have employed Apple products in a variety of professional venues since 1988.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 11:01:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Er - no. You can have remote notifications and badging, which is how some Twitter clients work. But that relies on an external server on Apple's own network. This is fine for messaging, with very strict limitations, but it's not in any way real multitasking, and it's extremely limited, and locked to Apple.

You can do URL launching, which is the closest the iPhone gets to task switching. There's no support for foreground/background, no manual or automatic task/app switching, and no way to - say - leave an app running in the background with a timer so that it reappears at a fixed time.

There's no internal inter-app communication or messaging of any kind. Your app can talk to and get data from the official installed apps, up to a point, but it can't send messages to an arbitrary non-Apple app.

There's also the file sandboxing system, which means sharing data between apps is somewhere between difficult and impossible. (Although that's been loosened in the latest SDK. Kind of.)

There's certainly no concept of decentralised data or processing, which could have been far more interesting to develop for than something that doesn't implement programming ideas from twenty years ago.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 10:56:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 10:58:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No there isn't - and the sandboxing is a pain in the ass. However, at least you don't have to worry about apps screwing up other apps, a trade-off I'm happy with on a Phone. As you point out this has changed a bit on the iPad.

What are your use-cases for background processing on an iPhone?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 11:07:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Off the top of my head:

Background polling of notifications - you can run your own mini-server running board games, location updates, news, simple RSS, etc, without having to use push notifications.

Reminder date/time timer applications.

Background download and polling of useful stuff (let's say over WiFi only, to keep carriers happy.) Bulkier information would appear instantly, and you wouldn't have to wait for it to be updated when the app runs. Good for packaged content.

It's not hard to think of more specific sub-uses.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 11:30:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
First one is covered by push, if clunkily.

I don't know why not hooks for time related stuff. I suspect it'll come.

How would owners respond to a background app eating their battery? Which is Apple's argument. Less applicable to the iPad though - again I suspect some iPad restrictions will be loosened as hardware moves forward.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 11:37:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Clunky is a problem because it changes cost of development from 'Interesting, maybe I'll do that' to 'Nah...'

I don't really get the battery argument. Apps don't have to be really, really busy unless they're doing useful stuff. You could set up a 'Give me a timeslice every five minutes' option and it would make no real difference to battery life.

This is how everyone else does it, so it's not as if it's not practical.

A lot of the time you have to do the processing and downloading anyway, sooner or later. All that happens now is it gets deferred until the app is run.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 11:46:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How would owners respond to a background app eating their battery? Which is Apple's argument.

I don't want Steve Jobs' marketig strategy to dictate how much power I can chug out of the battery. It should be my choice whether on a particular full battery load I want to get 9h of web browsing or 90 minutes of World of Warcraft (or, in the social networking vein, Second Life). If some owners cannot understand that certain users will eat the battery faster than other why should the rest of us suffer for it?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 04:19:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, the joy of Apple products....

And, anyway, you couldn't get 90 minutes of WoW if you somehow attached five batteries to the thing.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 05:35:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good luck getting WoW to even run on a device with no dedicated 3D rendering hardware.
by Zwackus on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 07:49:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, no Second Life either?

I think I'll stick to my MacBook until Steve Jobs gets the iPad right :P

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 07:52:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yeah, there's that.  Plus it'd be a royal pain in the ass to use any special moves from the button on the bottom.

I could see it being enjoyable on an iPad with sufficiently powerful hardware.  Maybe even more so than a regular computer, since you could bring all sorts of hand gestures into it and get a kind of Wii-on-steroids feel.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 08:25:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
iThings do have graphical acceleration - there's a version of Open GL ES in there, running on rendering hardware.

What they don't have is the vast memory and disk space needed for textures, or the bandwidth for refreshes. Or the processor speed.

Or the battery life. :)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 08:43:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 09:16:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. Indeed. :)
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 10:32:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll also point out that the kids - is "appeal to the young'uns" the logical fallacy of the Internet Revolution™? - are currently doing all that stuff through interfaces a lot more clunky than that of the iPad or iPhone.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 10:34:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy: You can share photos on Flickr, videos on YouTube, and text via SMS, Twitter, longer text via blogs, and so on.
People like all of these options. They'll like them more when they can do more of them at the same time in a single environment.
The iPad could be good for that, but currently it isn't.

Google Wave is.

La Chine dorme. Laisse la dormir. Quand la Chine s'éveillera, le monde tremblera.

by marco on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 06:18:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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