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iPad Enthusiasm

Yes, I’m looking forward to the iPad release. I set my alarm early on Pre-Order day and raced through the process, just in case.

I’ve been tagged as an Apple fanboy, but I’m not sure that’s the case. I’m a mobile technology fanboy. I’ve tried the gamut of mobile device models and brands, yet I come back to the Apple product lines time and again. I spent months with the Palm Pre (great SDK!) and weeks with Android (the Droid) and Windows Mobile devices, but the iPhone (despite its limitations) is #1 for me. Similarly, I’ve spent a lot of time with the Archos 5 Android, UMPCs, Nokia Internet Tablets and the Kindle. Knowing what I know about the software and hardware that makes up the iPad, it’s clear that Apple has another winner.

I spend a lot of time on the computer. I read and write email, read and write documents, read news (twitter, articles), listen to audiobooks and podcasts, write code, watch video. At home and at work, I’ve been spending less time at my desk – so, for many of these tasks, I rely on my iPhone (especially reading email, listening to audiobooks/podcasts and watching video). Going forward, at home I expect that the iPad will be my go-to device for reading and viewing email, news, and video.

Meanwhile, there are a ton of new experiences that the iPad will enable. It’s not clear which of these will ‘catch on’ with me or with you, but quite a few new possibilities will be opened up on April 3rd at the intersection of the iPad and the terrifically innovative development community that has sprung up around the iPhone OS.

Beyond the obvious use cases mentioned above, I’m looking forward to:

  • The competition for the best iPad Twitter app – who can use the large, multitouch screen the best? I expect that it will be a more compelling experience than desktop/notebook alternatives.
  • Similarly, but probably with a longer horizon, the competition for the best RSS newsreader on the platform will be intense. I version of Reeder 2 or MobileRSS reorganized for the iPad form factor will be a lot of fun to use.
  • I’m still hoping that Netflix and Hulu will work something out with Apple to get their streaming solutions available on the iPad. Apple has an obvious financial incentive to block these apps, but subscription or ad based video streaming is going to win over $2.00 TV episodes some day. I’m surprised ANYONE is paying for TV that way on a regular basis.
  • An iPad optimized Flickr browsing app would be interesting.
  • Remote Desktop. It’s usable on an iPhone, but would be more so on the iPad.
  • Games. Just as we saw completely new kinds of games with the iPhone (and the Wii and the DS), we’ll see some new things on the iPad.
  • Comic books and graphic novels continue to be an exciting narrative model. It will be interesting to see the mix of mainstream and independent content that ends up on the iPad. Lots of people are excited about how magazines will make the leap to this device, but I think the leap that comics make will be just as interesting.
  • Interactive charts and data visualizations via touch. This technique could bring new life to informative textbook and magazine content.

iPhone Won

Though it was difficult, I chose the iPhone over the Droid. The apps I use most are currently implemented best on the iPhone (corp exchange email, twitter, music, video, audiobooks/podcasts, browser).

Of course, if I’d known that AT&T wireless service would be down for a week where I live, I might have chosen differently.

Droid vs iPhone 3GS

I picked up a Droid on Friday. Here is how it compares to the iPhone 3GS (in my opinion).

Droid Wins: Network
The iPhone is on AT&T. In my experience, AT&T drops calls at 2 places in my commute to work. Verizon has those locations covered. [Note: AT&T wins on one count, here. AT&T allows simultaneous data usage and phone calling when in 3G. Verizon halts data usage when you are on the phone.]

Droid Wins: Podcasts
The iPhone’s built-in podcast functionality is painful (many clicks) for downloading new episodes. And if you DON’T use the built-in tools, you can’t listen to those podcasts when you are doing something else. On the Droid, you can use DoggCatcher to download several new podcast episodes at once and listen to them while using other apps on the device.

Droid Wins: Navigation
Though the iPhone has several very nice options for voice navigation, the Android 2.0 solution available on the Droid is very, very good and it is free.

Droid Wins: Customizability
I won’t get into this. The iPhone allows for no customizability where the Droid is awash in this kind of stuff.

Droid Wins: App Switching
Even if you disregard the multitasking advantage of Android, you’ve got to love the shortcut of holding down the home button to see the 6 most recent apps used. (Thanks Josh and Dave!!)

Droid (probably) Wins: Flash
Until all video sharing sites have non-Flash versions, Flash will be important to me. It seems clear that the iPhone will not have it any time soon, but it looks like Android will have it in the next several months.

iPhone Wins: Games
I don’t do a ton of gaming anymore, but I love Dark Harvest and Flight Control on the iPhone. The Droid is WAY behind on selection and quality of games.

iPhone Wins: Twitter
I can name half a dozen iPhone Twitter apps that destroy all of the Android Twitter apps. I do think, though, that this is one area where Android will catch up rapidly.

iPhone Wins: Video
Buying video, downloading video, playing video. The Droid didn’t even try to touch the iPhone on these counts.

iPhone Wins: Photo Library Browsing
The Droid needs a solution here. Maybe some Picasa integration?

iPhone Wins: Interface
Multitouch in the built in apps, particularly the browser and maps, is missing in the Droid. Also, apps are generally cleaner and easier to use on the iPhone.

Tied: Music,Battery,Email,Browser,Keyboard,Camera,Customer Service,Screen
As far as I’m concerned, the iPhone and Droid are tied on music playback, battery life, calendar, email, and browser. I’ll call the camera a tie, too, since they both have drawbacks (Droid has lower color-quality images; iPhone has no flash). I’ll call keyboard a tie since the iPhone’s software keyboard is better, but the Droid has an OK physical keyboard when you’d rather not give up the screen real estate. Customer service is another tie. I’ve had great experiences with Verizon employees and Apple employees alike. Screen: The Droid has a better screen, but the iPhone uses its better.

Not Counted: App Store Freedom, Expandable Storage, Dev Experience
I’m not counting app store freedom. I think Google’s approach is the right one, but Apple’s policies haven’t stopped tons of gems coming through. On storage: though the Droid has expandable storage, apps often use it by default to store data, blocking its usefulness. As for the Developer Experience – Android is easier to get started with and you can do more with the device, but the iPhone provides more UI glitz and its libraries are great for graphics and media.

Conclusion
I’ll keep both a few days longer, but I do have to cancel one before this time next week.

Other opinions:
My favorite: Ihnatko’s
Open Platform Perspective: Winer
Overall: Gartenberg

Found

Some interesting reading this morning.

Shirt Pocket software is working on fixes for SuperDuper!, the state-of-the-art backup software for OS X. The biggest issue right now seems to be the unconventional system that Apple is using for hiding file compression from applications (which seems to be necessary for backwards compatibility). The great news is that even without these fixes, SuperDuper! is not experiencing any data loss. Dave Nanian’s article is here.

If you want to learn more about Snow Leopard’s file compression or ANYTHING ELSE, check out John Siracusa’s massive 23 page review at Ars Technica. While I understand that some users are finding Snow Leopard more of a Service Pack than a new OS, I have to say that I’m loving some of the features. The new changes to Expose alone are worth the $30 bucks to me. You can read up on the Expose features and other cool bits over on the TidBits blog. Try hitting the Expose key and then tabbing through your applications. FUN!

It sounds like the new hero Massively Multiplayer game, Champions Online is off to a rough start. They ratcheted down the effectiveness of players who participated in the beta. This is called a ‘nerf’ in the MMO world. Matt Franklin contrasts this with the rate at which the lead MMO (World of Warcraft) is making game play (especially beginner game play) easier and easier.

This Commodore 64 Visual Debugger is incredible. You start out with a window that shows EVERY address in memory and then zoom in to look at specific locations. The waves of memory changes during file loading are neat! I can’t wait to run this thing while playing Paradroid!

Backblaze has a how-to article up about the homebrew storage solution they’ve created. 7 terabyte 4U servers for $7,867.

JKK checked out the Nokia N900. It merges the best work they’ve done on phones and the work they’ve done on Internet Tablets (Nokia 770, N800, N810). It looks great and has a lot of power in the OS (Linux/Maemo) and the hardware. The Internet Tablet community must be really excited!

PAX, Penny-Arcade’s SOLD-OUT Video Game and Geekery convention (which started yesterday) just added 1,000 tickets.

Alex King spent some time these past few weeks trying to figure out which Network and BlackBerry Phone to use. He wanted to use a BlackBerry Bold, but ended up with a Tour on Verizon. His story is full of the idiosyncrasies of various carriers and devices. Part one. Part two.

Jack Shedd has some things to say about HTML 5. If you are watching the HTML 5 changes closely, Jack’s sentiments will likely resonate with you, including the frustration AND the respect for the team.

Lifehacker has an article on creating a Snow Leopard Hackintosh for $900 (plus the price of Snow Leopard standalone which is $169). I’d be interested in seeing a $500 model.

Touch Book Impressions

The Touch Book looks very cool. I’ve been waiting for a netbook with a detachable keyboard and here it is! It even has 2 internal usb ports! Still: I’m not sure if it’s right for me. I would prefer a faster CPU, even if it meant lower battery life.

If that magnet mount is strong enough for mounting to a metal plate on my dashboard, though…

Palm Pre FAQ

Gizmodo has an up-to-date Palm Pre FAQ.

Meanwhile:
PreCentral.net has rapid fire coverage specific to the device.
PrePoint is adding historical context, comparing the new OS to ACCESS and pointing to some of the things we DON’T know about the Pre.
Pre Community is discussing both the business and technical aspects of the Pre.
PalmPreView dug up more hints from the past about the Pre.
I expect that the official Palm Developer Blog will ramp up coverage quickly, too.

palmpre

Palm Pre

I watched the Palm Pre CES announcement. WOW.

http://www.palm.com/us/products/phones/pre/palm-pre-ces.html

I’m blown away. I read the blog posts, but even they did not prepare me for the complete package. Watch that video ASAP.

I still think Apple could win this war, but Palm is definitely showing up for the fight. Before the Palm Pre announcement I would have ranked the smartphone operating systems as Apple, RIM, Nokia, Microsoft. Now I think it’s Apple, Palm (Web OS), RIM, Nokia, Microsoft. And if everything shown in that video pans out and Apple doesn’t repsond in a major way, the ranking will move to Palm (Web OS), Apple, RIM, Nokia, Microsoft.

It makes you think. Are the other players sitting on some next gen tech, too? Will we see something earth shattering from Microsoft soon? One thing is for sure. This year, last and next are going to be historic for the phone industry.

Here are some of my observations (crossposted on Twitter) while watching the Palm Pre announcement:

  • The Palm Pre would not have happened if the iPhone hadn’t happened first. But, Apple needs to respond ASAP.
  • Developers Developers Developers Developers. Developers Developers Developers Developers. CSS, JS, Ajax, HTML.
  • If you browse to one of your Outlook contacts, their Facebook contact info will appear, too, if you are connected there.
  • If you are on a call and you place the phone on the inductive charger, the call moves to speakerphone.
  • Typing while no app is in the foreground starts a device-wide search for content or apps that match your text entry.
  • Conversations are in one pane even if they move from IM to SMS to IM.
  • PalmPilot: Centralize todo, calendar, documents, etc. Treo: Combine MP3 player, camera, PDA, Phone. Pre: Unify your online personas.
  • Web Browser Instances are treated, each, as currently running apps. They are each in the carousel with email, etc.
  • Task switching is baked in. Currently running apps appear in a carousel and can be discarded by swiping them up.
  • The application launcher appears, translucently, over the current foreground app. Like glass.
  • The CPU (TI OMAP 3430) has horsepower and Palm is the first to use it in a phone.