Tag Archives: iPhone Apps

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Apple kills the iPad 2, carries iPad 4 back from the deceased

After an amazing three-year run, Apple announced that it’s finally discontinuing the iPad 2. In its place, 2012′s fourth-generation iPad has returned to Apple’s line-up. With immensely superior internals, a retina display, and a lightning connector, the “iPad 4″ is a much improved device than the iPad 2. Even better, it’s being sold at the exact same $399 price point.

In a PR statement released earlier today, Apple unceremoniously announced the death of the long-lived iPad 2. Apple’s second tablet was released back in March of 2011, and remained a core part of Apple’s line-up until today. With its A5 SoC, 1024×768 resolution, and 30-pin dock connector, the iPad 2 really was a relic from another time. Even after the introduction of the cheaper iPad Mini, Apple couldn’t bring itself to discontinue the iPad 2 for the longest time.

While it is slightly saddening to see the iPad 2 go, the fourth-generation iPad is a much better device. It sports Apple’s A6X SoC, twice the RAM of the iPad 2, and a lightning connector. Those are all nice improvements for the $399 asking price, but the addition of the Retina display is by far the biggest jump forward. Four times the number of pixels are being shoved into the same area, and that makes a huge difference for the end user. When it comes to reading text and watching movies, budget-minded consumers will now finally get the benefit of a full Retina display.

Vimeg Square | Mob Apps Development

Unfortunately, this shake-up doesn’t rid Apple of its legacy technology completely. The original iPad Mini is still being manufactured, and it’s stuck with an ugly non-Retina display. Even worse, the iPhone 4S is still being sold with an old-fashioned dock connector and a 3.5-inch screen. Hopefully, this year’s tablet and smartphone refreshes will put the legacy connectors and screen resolutions behind us. Keeping multiple cables around is a huge hassle for consumers and retailers, and many developers are eagerly awaiting the day that non-Retina resolutions are no longer supported. The sooner Apple drops its legacy baggage, the better.

The fourth-generation iPad isn’t as powerful or as flashy as the $499 iPad Air, but this puts Apple in a better place to compete with the $379 8.9-inch Kindle Fire and the $399 10-inch Nexus 10. Consumers in the market for a big-screen tablet now have a bevy of high-quality options in the $400 price range. More than anything, this is evidence that Apple is completely willing to wage war with Amazon and Google for ultimate tablet dominance.

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Asking for automotive Smartphone incorporation as a possible extra

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If you are awaiting at the prospect of one day buying a car that has a dashboard running an embedded version of iOS, then you’ll be waiting for an awful long time for that prospect to appear.

The explanation for this is straightforward: Focus.

Why would, or should, Apple look towards developing another version of its iOS operating system stack when there already exists a way to get iOS apps onto a dashboard using another powerful, proper, real-time operating system?

This arrangement actually makes a lot of sense. It keeps Apple out of the automotive software development game, an area that would take the company some development to pursue properly, and keep focus on producing the iOS software and hardware products that it sells in the order of hundreds of millions each year.

By comparison, within the United States last year, only 15.6 million cars were sold and a fraction of them would likely have arrived bearing high-end dashboard software.

Add into this equation the long shelf life of automotive software, and the extended lead-in times for the design of a vehicle, and it makes a lot of sense to have additional functionality arrive via another device, and a device that is going to be a number of iterations more powerful than the silicon found within the car itself.

Folks wanting to be able to start their car each morning and have a smartphone operating system should ponder the idea of a vehicle running on a platform graced by the user interface, reliability, and stylings of Samsung.

The software running inside cars needs to be incredibly resilient to any potentially out-of-bounds or insecure action performed in userspace — as a real-time microkernel implementation done well, QNX fits this bill.

While Apple’s CarPlay has yet to arrive for purchase, there are two other methods for smartphone usage in cars that are available today.

The first is Mirrorlink, a consortium that includes many mobile phone makers and automotive manufacturers, which provides the same functionality that CarPlay is offering for particular Symbian and Android handsets.

The second is Ford’s Sync and MyFord Touch platforms developed in partnership with Microsoft.

For developers expecting a new gold rush in car-focused apps, that scenario is unlikely to happen without a great deal of luck.

What all three of these platforms have in common is the use of approved apps: Apple appears to have a enclosed CarPlay in a walled garden, and has yet to open up its ecosystem to developers; while both Mirrorlink and Sync offer third-party developers the ability to develop apps, any existing app will likely need modification to pass driver distraction testing, and all apps must be approved for use within vehicles before either platform will host them in its app store.

While it was easy for app developers to add Sync functionality into apps, the user interface on the Sync unit, and the fact that the display was a couple of mere lines of text and not a touchscreen, detracted from its usage. Although big changes were promised, the next iteration of Sync has issues.

While its time may be up, one thing that Sync got right was the usage of wireless connectivity. CarPlay is arriving with a lightning dock for iPhones, and MirrorLink requires a micro-USB cable. Neither of these approaches are optimal, since they lock out the other major mobile ecosystem; to my mind, it would be much more preferable to have a wireless connection that supported all devices.

As mentioned earlier, the useful life of a car is far longer than that for mobile devices. The prospect in the near future that car buyers may need to make purchasing decisions based on what phone ecosystem they have bought into is not one that should fill anyone with joy.

By attempting to lock in phone and car ecosystems, mobile phone vendors are looking to nail down consumers for a number of mobile phone iterations, and ask them to predict that they will be happy enough to stay there.

But who can say what will happen in the mobile space in the near future? The next generation of iPhones, Google Nexus, Nokia, or even Tizen or Firefox devices may have functionality that sees it swallow market share in the same fashion that the first couple of iPhones did.

With the fast-paced mobile ecosystem being the driver of the push into automotive apps, and the state of the mobile ecosystem likely to change again with the next Apple or Google developer conference, it is in the best interests of everyone if the mobile phone and automotive app mind melding remains an optional extra that runs on top of whatever system that a vehicle already has.

In a perfect world, it would be helpful to have a common platform and standard connection to interact with the new smarter dashboards that are coming.

But that place does not exist, and instead, we have to sit and hope that we are able replace one system for another when we so choose. I wouldn’t want to be locked into a BMW-iPhone partnership anymore than a Mercedes-Android duo looks attractive.