Tag Archives: iPhone

Just because it’s lost doesn’t mean it can’t be stolen

When normal people find something left behind, in a place of business (like a bar), that someone will likely want to have back (like an iPhone), they leave it with someone who works there (like the bartender). Then, the person who left it behind has a way to check if anyone has returned it. Taking it is stealing.

Gizmodo probably suspected that the prototype iPhone they bought was stolen. By now, they’ve made back the purchase price in page views, with a healthy return on top to help cover legal fees.

And if you think any of this will hurt the new iPhone’s sales, I have a bridg^H^H^H^H^Hphone to sell you.

A surprising interface

This quote from an ex-Apple employee about the rumored Apple tablet has got me thinking:

You will be very surprised how you interact with the new tablet.

What could this mean? There are not many interfaces that would be “very surprising.”

A virtual laser keyboard would be surprising. But like a real keyboard, those keyboards aren’t very mobile; they require a flat surface, which you normally don’t have on the move. And a virtual keyboard doesn’t really seem like Apple’s style.

Voice control, or at least good speech recognition to complement keyboard input, is also a serious possibility. It’s something Apple has been interested in for a long time (via DF). A world where airports, subways and coffee shops are filled with people dictating emails and blog posts to their mobile devices is a little terrifying, but then again we already live in a world where people are have intimate personal conversations on their mobile phones in public.

A significantly expanded set of multi-touch gestures is the most likely. Taking advantage of the larger surface of a tablet screen to allow two-handed gestures seems like a natural choice. And handwriting detection would actually not be that much of a surprise from the company that brought us the Newton. Both of these are hinted at in recent patent filings.

While the article I link to in the previous paragraph compares Apple’s patent to the interface in Minority Report, the interface that article talks about requires the user’s fingers to be touching a surface, not in the air. A true Minority Report-style interface, where you gesture in the air to control the device, would be quite surprising. Being able to control a device without actually touching the screen (and getting finger marks on it) would make the tablet more attractive for full-screen uses like watching movies and playing games. This interface is a ways off still, though.

I’m not going to say I told you so

The whole flap about Apple “bricking” unlocked and hacked iPhones with the latest software update reminds me of this article I wrote about Kaleidoscope in 2003.

I won’t say I told you so because I didn’t, exactly. (In fact, re-reading my article on Freshmeat makes me cringe; it’s a half-thought-out piece of naiive open-source evangelism.) But looking back, this is a story that gets repeated over and over again. It goes like this:

  1. A company releases a popular, closed product.
  2. A third party “hacks” the product and adds killer functionality via an undocumented, reverse-engineered API or infrastructure.
  3. A future update to the software eliminates the hack or alters the reverse-engineered API enough to eliminate the killer functionality.
  4. Go back to step 2.

I’m not suprised that this story is being repeated with the iPhone, because if there’s any company that’s extremely likely to take step 3, it’s Apple. Their entire business is based on total control of the whole widget, and they are doing a killer job. It wouldn’t be fair to expect them to even care about whether a new OS will break unofficial uses of hardware interfaces in the iPhone that weren’t documented or intended for third-party use.

It’s an old story, and I’m sure we’ll hear it again someday.