Thursday, May 24, 2012

WWDC 2012 predictions (early)

So I'm not going to pay attention to the last-minute rumors this year because of my vacation plans (do I really want to do Apple tea-leaf reading while I'm on vacation? I don't think so...). And next week is a holiday week. So here, about two weeks early, is my series of predictions for WWDC 2012, with percentages and explanations:

iOS 6: 100%. Apple now unveils developer editions of the newest iThing OS at WWDC. Period (with rare exceptions if needed for a new category of device). iOS 6 is due in the annual upgrades, and will be released to developers that week, with shipping due in September-October mainly dependent on any new device announcements. If there is no fall iPhone, they'll just release it when it's ready.

Mountain Lion (Mac OS 10.8) release plans: 95%. I'm pretty sure that Mountain Lion will be released in late July, and they'll announce it that day. Also dropping will be a few new "one more thing" features, most likely dictation support.

Newer Macs: 75%. Apple is due to release newer iMacs and laptops any day now. Also likely to introduce at least one more "Mac Pro"-series machine. The timing would be right, but Apple's mainly stayed away from WWDC hardware announcements in recent years. My only hope is that they don't wait for Mountain Lion to release first - most users want new computers with the tried-and-tested version of the OS, and we already got screwed last year when Thunderbolt-based minis were released with Lion Server instead of good old Snow Leopard.

Features of iOS 6:

More resolution independence: 95%. I think Apple will put the tools in place with iOS 6 so that they won't have developers too off guard if they go with the taller form factor iPhone that is rumored. Will they make a big deal of it? Nope. They'll be cryptic.

Google Maps replaced as default mapping engine: 100%. Adios, Google. It was nice having you so integrated into iOS, but Apple doesn't like you anymore. Heck, I use Bing as my default engine now (yes, I know Google owns Blogspot).

Partial opening of Siri APIs: 75%. I think they will create a mechanism to integrate with Siri, but approve connections. It won't open up entirely.

Multiple signature support in Mail: 90%. One of the few gaps in iOS Mail today.

Support for different default system apps (like Mail, Calendar, Contacts): 10% (at best). Apple may allow you to use your own product, but you aren't getting the keys to the kingdom.

I may tweak this post a little in the next couple of days, but basically that's it: WWDC is for developers - it's not a product expo. This is inside baseball-type stuff.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Greenpeace - looks like stupid works?

First of all, I'm not writing this because I make much of my living from supporting Apple products. Let that be clear!

Now, on to the main event... Greenpeace is staging protests in North Carolina targeted at Duke Energy - and using Apple as the focal point of their protests. Their theme is "Apple, clean the cloud". This refers to the fact that Apple's main iCloud data center is located in Maiden, NC (they've started building a second one in Prineville, OR, right next to Facebook's data center there). They've even succeeded in muddying the waters a little, based on the coverage of their latest protest when they blocked a coal train and had several people arrested.

But it's basically BS. Apple doesn't take deliveries of coal (unlike what the story said). Apple (and for that matter, anyone who operates a large data center) builds their data centers based on a few easy criteria. Available cheap land, local governments that will let you build, proximity to carrier fiber backbones (usually run down rail lines and interstate highways), and availability of labor. They don't build power plants, and they don't have any say in who does.

Not to mention in the case of Apple, they've been investing in solar arrays and Bloom Box fuel cells to provide much of their power. Is it Apple's fault that Duke Energy operates a lot of coal plants? Hell no! Would Apple be happy if Duke used some wind turbines? Hell yeah!

But to muddy the waters by using the customer who has no choice in the matter as to where to buy their power and equating them with the power company? I support the efforts of environmental groups to help us fix what we've done to our climate. I want to see emissions reduced. I'm even OK with a wind turbine here in Salem (as I said when I was running for office). But Greenpeace likes to use strategies and stunts that detract from the good work they do perform - and that kind of grandstanding I can't support. Apple's not the first company they've targeted this way, and it annoys me when they do. Greenpeace, sorry - but you're off our donations list for the foreseeable future. Get real, and you'l get us back.