Rumors of an iPad Maxi are a Bit Much

apple-logoAside from all of the jokes the rumored name will spawn, 12.9 inches is a bit large for a tablet.

Mac news and rumors site, Mac Rumors reported Tuesday 28-May-2013 that Apple was developing a 12.9 inch diagonal tablet expected to be dubbed the iPad Maxi. Aside from all of the jokes the name will undoubtedly generate, 12.9 inches is a bit large for a tablet. Unfortunately, I don’t think the idea, if accurate, has enough legs to be successful.

The rumored iPad Maxi is supposed to be targeted as a direct competitor to the ultrabook and text book markets. Thirteen inches diagonal is the ideal screen size for ultrabooks. However, as Amazon can tell you, having a large eBook reader did NOT go over well. They discontinued their larger KindleDX, citing poor sales. As the iPad does not come with any kind of native keyboard, producing a 13″ tablet without one doesn’t seem to be a good idea in my opinion.

ipad_1

I have to agree with Paul Thurrott of the Windows SuperSite – (and I’m paraphrasing…) despite where the industry wants PC sales to go, people still want a traditional computing experience right now, especially in the enterprise. Moving to an iOS or Android only computing experience isn’t likely to be a huge success right now. The software providing a similar experience isn’t there, and probably won’t be for a while. People also want a real keyboard; and because Apple hasn’t provided a native keyboard for the iPad and has instead left that to 3rd party providers, I don’t see this being a huge seller, despite what anyone else thinks.

The price point would also be much higher than the $499 entry point of the 10″ iPad. If this is going to be targeted at the academic market, cheaper is better. Students and educators don’t usually have a lot of money to spend on toys or tools of this caliber.

However, Apple has historically been unpredictable. Unless and until this hits the market, I’m going to remain in “wait and see” mode, but gonna say, “not likely to happen.”

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Ballmer – Office for iPad – Kinda, sorta, maybe, not really…

Office for iPadYour guess on whether MS will release Office for iPad is as good as anyone’s…

What follows is a brief rant on the Office for iPad rumors that have been circulating for a few years.

First there was a screen shot, then a denial, and then a confirmation. Then a retraction and then the rumors started up again with the release of Office 2013 and Office 365. The latest word on the street is that Office for iPad – thought to be called Office Mobile – is a definite maybe; and Ballmer may be the one to put the kibosh on the whole ordeal.

I’m sorry… at this point, Microsoft needs to come out and either say yes or no to the Office for iOS rumors and put the speculation to rest. They aren’t doing themselves any favors, and with the way some of the headlines and tag lines are reading, Steve Ballmer isn’t doing himself any favors either.

According to an article by ComputerWorld, Steve Ballmer is putting the kibosh on the whole project himself. Apparently, Microsoft has an issue with Apple taking 30% of the cut on the app. While I don’t blame them – who would want to give another company 30 cents on every dollar they make on the sale of any given product – all of the speculation around MS Office for iOS really needs to stop.

In my opinion, Microsoft needs to come out with a firm statement on the development of the app. Is it in the works or not? Then they need to figure out a way of delivering it. The problem is obviously Apple’s 30% cut on the sale of the app as well as 30% of all in-app purchases. There’s probably a way to crack that nut; but I’m not 100% familiar with Apple’s rules on paid vs. free apps, subscriptions in apps, etc. in their iOS Developer Agreement.

I think the easiest way around this is to make Office Mobile a free Office document reader. If you want to edit, documents, you’ll need to sign into your Office 365 account, which will, of course, require a subscription. If that’s not 100% compliant, then there may not be a way for Microsoft to deliver the solution without paying Apple 30%, or negotiating a new deal for the app, which I’m nearly certain Apple isn’t going to do.

Any way you slice it, Microsoft needs to make a decision – Office Mobile for iOS yes, or Office Mobile for iOS no. Either way, they need to make a decision, communicate it and then follow through. All of the rumor crap that’s going on and the “Office through a browser” crap that Ballmer is currently suggesting needs to get resolved.

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Explore your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch files with i-Funbox

Apple has always advocated letting the OS and the device (computer, smartphone, tablet, etc.) manage where it wants to put files. Many Apple advocates continually ask me why I care WHERE the computer puts data as long as its, 1. Backed up, 2. Available to my programs. The Windows Camp, coming from a DOS point of origin, is exactly the opposite. Serious Windows users want near total control over where and how their data is organized. This is one of the reasons why many Windows users will appreciate i-Funbox. Its an iDevice tool for Windows and Mac.

IFB01

i-Funbox allows users to take Total Control of you iDevice’s file system. With it, you can manage files on your iPhone or iPad just like you do in Windows File Explorer. You can easily transmit files and folders to your computer with the app’s optimized file transfer and browsing. I-Funbox now fully supports iOS 6.x as well as Asian/ Long filenames.

You can install and backup all of your applications, This is especially important if you’ve got a custom app that you want to install, like something for work, which may be unsigned. You can also access an app’s sandbox area, giving you access to application created documents as well as the ability to upload audio or video to 3rd party players. You can also export iTunes managed content. The nicest part of all of this is that using the app doesn’t require an installation of iTunes.

The secret sauce is that i-Funbox makes your iDevice function like a USB storage drive. You get access to the storage you need when you need it, as well as all the other benefits. This is a great app and its free price tag, no jailbreak or iTunes required status make this a must have for just about any iDevice owner. Novice users need to take caution, however, as the average user isn’t meant to access the file system directly and you might move or delete something that you shouldn’t.

Download i-Funbox for WindowsDownload i-Funbox for Mac

 

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Microsoft Mobility – I Don’t Think They Get It…STILL: Part 2

I’ve quipped on leadership before, but fer cryin’ out loud – I’m DYIN’ over here

There’s a lot happening over here at Soft32.  I’ve been doing deep dives on both Apple and Microsoft operating systems and you should be able to see them on Soft32 shortly.  2012 is definitely the year of the new OS; and Soft32 is committed to keeping you up to date on all of the developments.

Last time I was talking about how Microsoft needs to severely clarify the differences between Windows 8 and Windows RT.  Let’s get back into it and I’ll let you in on what I’m seeing out of Redmond with both Windows 8 and RT.

Microsoft is currently marketing Windows 8 and Windows RT as a tablet-based OS.  Windows 8 will run on Intel based machines and will include desktops, laptops (including TabletPC’s) and (slate based) tablets, similar to the iPad in form factor. Windows RT will run on ARM based tablets, and ARM based tablets ONLY.

Do you see the common element?  Tablets.  Both will run on slate based tablets.  An Intel based tablet will run the full blown version of Windows 8, which will include a desktop mode.  An ARM base tablet will run Windows RT and will NOT include a desktop mode.  ARM based tablets will support Microsoft’s new UI –  Metro – only.

The problem comes in from an end user perspective. Both Windows 8 tablets run, well…Windows 8; and I don’t think the average user is going to understand the difference between the two tablets.

What’s the difference?  Simple…Windows RT is a direct iOS, and therefore, iPad competitor. The two share the Windows 8 app store; and I don’t think users are going to be able to correctly distinguish between the two different tablets, OS’ and app versions.  It’s very likely that users will have a Windows RT tablet at, say, work…and a Windows 8 desktop/laptop at home.  The Windows 8  app store will sell both legacy desktop Windows software that will run on Windows 8 and Metro apps.

I’m certain that a Windows RT user is going to buy a Windows 8 app in the app store and then get frustrated when they can’t install it on a Windows RT tablet. The similarity between the two operating systems is going to create a huge amount of user confusion. Microsoft is pushing the perception that they are the same OS. Users will see this, and want to install apps from their Windows 8 machine to their Windows 8 tablet.

Windows RT is also not available for purchase or install, anywhere. The only way you get it is if you buy a device that has it on it. This will also confuse consumers, as some head to their local big-box retailer meaning to purchase it.

Windows 8 is great for mobile devices as touch is its focus, and that’s how users interact with those devices. The desktop experience hasn’t responded well to touch. If it did, PC’s like the HP TouchSmart, the Dell Studio One or Inspiron One or Lenovo Idea Center would be everywhere, and they clearly aren’t.

Microsoft needs leadership. It needs vision. It needs direction. It needs Windows 8 not to suck…and I am truly afraid that they are going to lose out on all counts…

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The Problem with Apple’s Secrecy

With WWDC just days away, there’s no shortage of Apple rumors…

I’ve been in the computing biz for a long time.  I began my freelance writing career back in 1996 CMPnet’s File Mine.  The site has long since disappeared, and CMPnet’s resources are now owned by UBM, which owns Information Week and BYTE (where I also appear regularly.)   Funny how some things go full circle.

Anyway, I’ve grown from a freelance review writer into a technology journalist over the years and if there’s one thing that anyone in this capacity will tell you, it’s that trying to figure out what Apple is going to do is hard…if not nearly impossible.

However, it does seem to be the national Geekdom pastime.  Everyone and their brother seems to be trying to figure out exactly what Apple has cooking and when it’s going to be released to the general public. During my time as a freelancer and technology journalist, I’ve learned one very important thing when it comes to prognosticating the Cupertino-way – Don’t bother.

Apple’s culture of extreme secrecy has in the past led to nearly every major site on the internet, both friend and foe to Apple, either supporting or discounting the latest rumor about iPad. While this perpetual rumor mill certainly helps generate hype and excitement, it often results in nothing substantial, except perhaps, the level of hype and excitement around a particular Apple product release or update.

For Apple, this is great. They get gobs of free advertising and lines of people outside their stores waiting for their chance to buy the latest product to come out of Jony Ivy’s design studio. It’s also a big problem for them, because they have people camped out in bars waiting for employees to misplace iPhone prototypes and such.

For consumers, it doesn’t do much of anything other than drive the hype. It can also lead to some big let-downs when a highly desirable feature for iPad isn’t implemented or isn’t implemented the way it was rumored, or to a user’s liking.  However, there is one last issue with Apple rumors…

The people starting them or spreading them are more often than not, wrong.

For someone trying to get a handle on the next best thing coming from Apple whether its iPhone, iPad, Macs or any other bright, shiny new toy (like their rumored, HDTV, for example), the best thing to do is just wait it out.  Don’t count on the information you’re getting being at all accurate. It likely won’t be.

Sure..! It’s fun to speculate.  The articles are fun and interesting to read and can be quite thought provoking at times.  It may give you something to talk about at work during a break, or at your friend’s desk. But understand it for what it is…noise.

Even industry analysts…the guys who do all the research and provide investors with predictions on what’s going to be hot or not… haven’t been able to get it consistently right when it comes to Apple; and those guys are REALLY smart and have deep, inside contacts at this, that or the other “trusted partner’s” installation.

Cracking the Apple nut isn’t easy. Its hit or miss at best. Those that have any success, in my estimation, are lucky; or… weighing in on what currently out there and playing the odds on what seems most likely to happen.
So what’s the problem with Apple’s secrecy?  Nothing much… Despite all the rumor mills, there aren’t a lot of people out there that seem to be getting through their “cone of silence.”

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Is Convergence the Way to Go?

Both Apple and Microsoft are bringing their desktop and mobile computing experiences closer together. Is this a good idea, or a recipe for disaster?

Current rumor has Apple releasing Mountain Lion next month.  Windows is due to hit the streets outside of Redmond, likely in October 2012.  While considered polar opposites, these two new versions of OS X and Windows have one key ingredient in common – they are both trying to bring their desktop and mobile computing experiences closer together.

Microsoft Windows 8
You can see Soft32’s Windows 8 deep dive, here.  In Windows 8, Microsoft is designing an operating system that can be used on either a desktop or laptop as well as a tablet.  Windows 8’s new user interface, Metro, is heavily touch based. It has the user physically interacting with the hardware and the computing objects on it via touch.  If the hardware being used doesn’t have a touch layer, then the user can use both keyboard and mouse to simulate touch.

As I pointed out in my review (URL), this doesn’t always lend itself to the best computing experience. Using the mouse to simulate a touch and swipe to scroll through a screen isn’t as intuitive as it sounds, and is really rather clumsy. I think I’ve established, with Windows 8, that having one OS for either hardware types or categories doesn’t create a good user experience. However, in my opinion, this is clearly in response to only Google’s Android (to an extent), but to Apple’s Lion and Mountain Lion releases of OS X.  Microsoft sees the movement towards a unified computing experience and has taken a unified approach in developing a single operating system to cover all computing hardware types.

Last time, we looked at Microsoft and Windows 8. Let’s take a quick look at how Apple has decided to converge iOS and OS X.  Mountain Lion continues Apple’s desire to blur the lines between the two…

Apple OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
Apple’s approach is much different.  Instead of putting OS X on your iPhone or iPad or iOS on your Mac, Apple is bringing specific iOS features to the desktop.  These mobile device features are adapted to the desktop or laptop for, what Apple feels is a better experience on the non (or not as) mobile hardware.

The difference here is approach and design.  Apple is taking specific features from iOS – Messages, Notifications, Reminders, iCloud Integration, etc., those that make sense to have on the desktop and are finding a way to implement those. The features are similar, but not identical, given the differences in the hardware.  Their addition is subtle, even elegant in some cases, as in the implementation of Notifications.  The point is though, that while both platforms have similar features, while they may share a similar look and/or feel, they are implemented and presented differently, taking advantage of the benefits of each platform.

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Lightroomapps brings big improvements to their GoDocs for Google Docs

Lightroomapps released the third version of GoDocs for iPhone and iPad. This latest version brings major changes to the application including an improved interface and no synchronizing limitation. The reading part was brought to the next level by improving the loading speed of large files you are now able to open pdf links, go to specific page and even read pdf files in two dimensions.

With GoDocs you are able to search for text in documents. Therefore, finding specific paragraph or line is easier than ever before. Now, you have the opportunity to switch between the mobile and desktop editors. More than that, we optimized the editor so the entire process is streamlined and easy.

With Push Notifications service you will receive push notification when a new document has been shared with you or when a shared document has been changed by someone else. There are a lot of innovations in the revisions. While preserving viewing of specific revisions, now you have the ability to open them in other applications, send revisions by email or print specific revision.

GoDocs 3.0 has a refreshed and even more user-friendly interface. The app looks amazing on the iPhone and now supports iPad Retina Display.

Pay attention that you have to re-add the account after updating. This is required for Push Notifications to be set up properly. Also it will prevent any problems with synchronization.




buy GoDocs

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Apple iPad & Samsung Galaxy Note – The Great Stylus Debate

I have seen both sides now, and still somehow, I have stylus illusions, after all.

Steve Jobs was adamant – “This,” he would say holding up his index finger, “is my stylus.”

Steve had seen Microsoft’s TabletPC’s as well as Pocket PC’s, Palm Pilots, etc., and he wasn’t impressed with the styli that he had seen tethered to them. In fact, he hated the dependency that those designs had on such an easily misplacable accessory. Steve vowed that the iPad would never need one.

However, the finger as a writing instrument leaves a bit to be desired. It works…but it isn’t optimal, and people don’t write their best or most legibly with just their index finger. It doesn’t offer the fine point or accuracy that some writing or notations really require.

Microsoft’s TabletPC’s have a truly wonderful pen experience. With the right handwriting recognition software, their Pocket PC’s and later Windows Mobile devices (prior to Windows Phone) also had a truly awesome handwriting experience. I really miss this at times…even today.

I have both an Apple iPad and a Windows 8 TabletPC (netbook). I’ve owned many a PocketPC and have used Phatware’s Calligrapher on nearly all of them. The experience was really very satisfying.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note is a tablet/handheld hybrid that attempts to bridge the gap between the two device types; and while the writing experience may be just as satisfying as my Windows 8 TabletPC or the PocketPC’s of old, it does bring up a huge question:

How do you satisfy end user needs to use their tablet or handheld as a digital notepad?

Further, how do you REALLY give them the ability to take handwritten notes in meetings without having to awkwardly hover your hand over the screen so nothing but a compassative stylus touches the screen?

From Apple’s perspective, the design question remains. How do you do all that without killing the current user experience; and requiring the use of a passive stylus to do all screen touch and navigation?

The answer is in there…somewhere, but the issue has yet to be resolved. I want to take handwritten notes. I want to use digital ink, so I can save a tree, and use my tablet as the digital notepad it was intended to be. However, I want to be able to swap between passive and compassative modes on the fly. There are times when I’d rather touch with my finger than with a stylus. The technology doesn’t exist yet where the iPad oror even the Samsung Galaxy Note, can distinguish between the two. The Galaxy Note comes close, but the stylus free experience isn’t as fluid as the stylus-based experience…and then (Steve’s standard complaint) what happens when you lose the stylus (and at some point, you likely will)?

This is the great debate. This is the enterprise issue that has yet to be resolved. There are many executives who would drop their PC’s in a heartbeat for a tablet if they could do this with their iPad or an Android tablet. I would, at the office at least.

Apple doesn’t want to kill the user experience. The right technology doesn’t currently exist to allow for a combined experience. The right solution has yet to be identified, but its sure to be interesting no matter what it is.

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