What’s Happening Tomorrow, and Why

It’s a given that Apple is going to announce a new iPhone tomorrow (October 4). Nobody doubts that. But for the last couple of months, I’ve been following this insane barrage of conflicting rumors that we’ll have an iPhone 5 with a four-inch screen, LTE, and even the kitchen sink; or that we’ll have an iPhone 4S with an A5 and a better camera. Or, we’ll have both. Or, we’ll have both, as well as a continuation of the iPhone 4. Or, as MacRumors has posted today, we’ll have all of this, in addition to the continuation of the iPhone 3GS. Most ridiculous of all, there are now rumors that the iPhone 5 will be exclusive to Sprint. It seems that these rumors have reached a fever pitch today, with all the sane rumors fading out in favor of the most absurd. So I thought I’d try to bring back the sanity by clarifying what will most likely happen tomorrow, going through some of the major rumors one by one, and providing my reasoning behind why a given outcome is to be expected.

Steve Jobs will not do tomorrow’s keynote.

We all want to see Steve Jobs perform tomorrow’s keynote. Let’s face it – he’s the best presenter in the world, and there will never be another like him. Furthermore, Steve Jobs was Apple. Without Steve, there will be no Apple. At least, that’s what most people, myself included, tend to believe. And that’s exactly why Steve will not do tomorrow’s keynote. Apple has to show us that we’re wrong on this, and that Apple can continue to exist without Steve. Tim Cook will be the major figure at tomorrow’s keynote, to better position him in the public view as a capable leader.

Sprint will not gain iPhone 5 exclusivity.

I shouldn’t even have to explain this one. One of today’s rumors says that the iPhone 5 will initially be exclusive to Sprint, and that AT&T and Verizon will meanwhile be stuck with the 4S. Sprint, as compared to the likes of AT&T and Verizon, is a relatively minor carrier. Why would Apple commit suicide by placing the fate of the iPhone in Sprint’s hands and turning their back on their already enormous consumer base? They won’t. This is just Sprint coming out in the open about their wet dream, and nothing more. Apple would never ditch the two largest carriers in the US in favor of a smaller one.

The iPhone 4S will be the only iPhone announced tomorrow.

Perhaps the most pesky next-gen iPhone rumor is that the redesigned iPhone 5 will have a bigger screen. Two things:

A. The iPhone always has had, and always will have, a 3.5-inch screen. While up until 2010, there was nothing to ensure this, there is now the iPad. The primary difference between the iPad and the iPhone is screen size. Apple wants owners of iPhones to also purchase iPads. How do you make sure this happens? Keep the devices radically different. And since screen size is the only real difference, it will remain so. If Apple gave the “iPhone 5” a 4 or 4.5-inch screen, it would then become satisfactory for many of the iPad’s purposes (books, full-time web browsing, productivity, HD video). The iPhone 5 would then begin to cannibalize iPad sales. While I would still purchase a hypothetical upcoming iPad 3 after owning this hypothetical big-screen iPhone 5, I am not the average consumer. I’m an Apple geek. I blog about Apple, and code for Apple’s platforms. I need a large range of Apple devices to do these things well. If Apple makes it, I have to have it. The average consumer… not so much. They buy a device that meets their needs, and most likely won’t buy an overlapping device.

B. Screen size aside, there will not be a redesigned iPhone 5. It will be the iPhone 4S. Notice that there have been no leaks of parts for a redesigned iPhone 5. All the parts indicate an iPhone 4S. Furthermore, the name has even appeared in recent iTunes betas. As much as I’d like an iPad 2-like design for an iPhone 5, what motivation would Apple have to do this? Once again, Apple still wants to sell iPads, and wants the iPhone and the iPad to remain differentiated.

The iPhone 4S will basically be as the more sane rumors have described it.

It’s more or less a given now that the iPhone 4S will have a dual-core A5 processor, as seen in the iPad 2, and an eight-megapixel camera. It will keep the design of the iPhone 4. I’d also say that Assistant is more or less a sure thing. However, Assistant won’t be this huge revolution everyone’s making it out to be. Remember how much Apple hyped up FaceTime, saying it’s the future of calling? Now, how many people actually use FaceTime, apart from trying it out when they first get a device that supports it? Assistant will be the same thing. It’ll be cool. It might even work well. But nobody’s really going to use it much because the way we interact with our phones today works and works well, and speech recognition just really isn’t as great as people make it out to be.

Perhaps more debatable is network support for the iPhone 4S. I can see the world phone thing from two different sides. From one viewpoint, you have the fact that Apple would just have to manufacture one model. From the other, you have the fact that most iPhones sold are still carrier-locked (and the carriers will never have it any other way), so it still doesn’t carry any other real benefits. LTE’s not gonna happen though. I believe only five US cities have it on AT&T. The technology simply isn’t widespread enough to be of any real value. Furthermore, it’s still too much of a battery whore. Until new, more efficient, LTE chipsets are out (supposedly next year), Apple won’t put it in an iPhone. Plus, about that time, LTE may be widespread enough to be of some actual use.

Then we have HSPA+. I’m expecting it. Why? I guess it’s because why shouldn’t I? HSPA+ is far more widespread than LTE (in fact, the town I live in, which is by no means significant in any respect, has it). 3G is getting a bit slow to do a few things, and with iCloud about to be released, more speed certainly helps Apple provide a better experience with their devices and services. Plus, as far as I know, HSPA+ is far less of a battery whore than its LTE cousin.

The lineup will be as follows: 8GB iPhone 4, 16GB and 32GB iPhone 4S.

I’ve already explained why Apple will not be releasing an iPhone 5. The next thing to answer is why the 3GS will be no more. I myself am a 3GS owner, and trust me when I say it’s beginning to grow long in the tooth. It’s running iOS 4.3.3, and it’s starting to get pretty slow. No doubt iOS 5 will make this even worse. Not only will Apple not want to sell a device that feels slow (seriously, that’s Android’s thing), but it’s inevitable that the 3GS will not support iOS 6 next year. And Apple won’t want to be selling a device that won’t be able to run the OS announced the day after it’s finally discontinued for good. Anyone remember Windows XP, that really old OS that just won’t go away? If Apple kept the 3GS around any longer, it would be Apple’s XP. It would be something supported far past its useful life.

I hope this helps sort out the endless stream of iPhone rumors that have been going around. I know I didn’t touch on things like NFC (but really, read the bit on LTE and apply the same reasoning), and I know it’s possible that I could be wrong, but I’m reasonably sure of everything I’ve written here. Go ahead and bet on it. As for me, if Apple allows pre-orders tomorrow, I will be pre-ordering my iPhone 4S promptly. 

Why Mac OS X Will Never Become iOS

I apologize in advance for a post that may turn out significantly shorter than usual, but I haven’t posted anything here in awhile, and my thoughts on this topic are too long to express effectively on Twitter, so I guess that mandates a writeup here.

Edit: Apparently I had more to say on this topic than I thought I did.

A few minutes before I began writing this, a person I follow on Twitter (@arkon) suggested that OSX will soon become iOS. And this is by no means an original thought; it’s a fairly widespread rumor, which is why I now feel the need to debunk it.

I’m not saying these rumors have no basis; the incorporation of many iOS-like features into Lion would indeed seem to suggest such a merger of OSX and iOS. I’m simply going to provide the other side of the story, reasoning why such a thing won’t happen.

The conversation went something like this:

@justindaigle: Leopard -> Snow Leopard. Who wants to bet we’ll go from Lion to Mac OS X 10.8, Mountain Lion?

@arkon: @justindaigle More like Lion Cub.

@justindaigle: @arkon Your reasoning behind that is…?

@arkon: @justindaigle I’m kidding, since it doesn’t seem like it’ll be very powerful, but instead move more towards the simple iOS-like stuff.

@justindaigle: @arkon OSX will never “become iOS.” My explanation’s too long for Twitter, but too short for a blog post, unfortunately.

Ultimately, I’m not satisfied with any solutions between a tweet and a blog post, so I’ll go ahead and explain it here.

Why will OSX never become iOS?

Simple. If OSX became iOS, we wouldn’t have a development environment for either.

Consider how iOS development is done. One obtains a developer subscription from Apple, then develops the application in Xcode on a Mac, then installs the application on his developer device(s).

But what if one doesn’t have a developer subscription, and wants to test the waters of iOS development (using an Apple-provided solution; obviously, the better solution is to bypass the need for a developer subscription by jailbreaking)?

The developer (assuming for the purposes of this post that the developer in question does not jailbreak) would then use the iOS Simulator.

Okay, so where are you going with this?

As it stands, the Apple-endorsed solution for testing iOS code without a developer subscription is the iOS Simulator. What would happen if OSX were indeed to merge with iOS, as the rumors in question suggest? There goes the ability to practice Mac development. If you had to purchase a developer subscription to develop Mac apps, how would you try out Mac development first? Using a Mac Simulator? But what would be the point of simulating a device on that very device? My point is that unless Apple radically changes their policies on iOS development (which they probably never will), it would be completely unreasonable to merge OSX and iOS. As long as the iOS development system remains as it is, iOS (along with its development processes) and OSX, while built on the same Darwin core, will remain radically different operating systems.

Developer tools are a requirement for any mainstream operating system. An operating system is only useful if it can run third-party software. If Apple did indeed plan for Macs to run iOS, this would mean that they would have to allow Xcode for iPad, along with the ability to build and run apps created with it on-device. As Macs would be “just another iOS device,” Apple would have no reason not to at that point. As much as I dream of Xcode for iPad (and Apple’s current “PC-free” ethos being promoted with iOS 5 would seem to support this, as they stated that many people are choosing to buy iOS devices without owning any other computer), I just can’t see Apple ever doing this. I don’t think Apple is going to give up the $99/year fee, or the App Store as the sole iOS application distribution platform. Ultimately, merging OSX and iOS would require Apple to allow the execution of unsigned code on both platforms. While this is the way it’s always been on the Mac side, doing so on the iOS side would require that Apple allow what happens on the Mac side (applications distributed by means other than the App Store) to happen on the iOS side. And believe me, if it were allowed to happen, it would happen. At first, I was somewhat perplexed at the lackluster adoption of the Mac App Store. But developers simply don’t want to fork over 30% of their profits to Apple, and if given another option, they generally will take it. I suppose Apple always has the option of requiring a developer subscription to develop and test Mac apps at all, but I highly doubt this will ever happen. First of all, the enterprise would be extremely unhappy. Many firms have thousands of computers, and if a larger one were suddenly required to have provisioning profiles for every Mac in their organization, just to run apps that for any reason must remain in-house (whether because they contain sensitive internal information; or because the application, while absolutely necessary to the organization, would not be approved for the App Store), an incredibly over-complex situation would result. Furthermore, some developers (like Adobe) will never hand over 30% of each sale to Apple, because it would simply be too much of a loss. And no Photoshop on OSX… err, Macs running iOS, would cause a lot of Mac users, myself included, to seek an alternative platform. So ultimately, if Apple would ever merge OSX and iOS, making Macs just another iOS device, they would be faced with two extremely undesirable options: making OSX more closed, or making iOS more open. And while it seems this is where things are headed, Apple has ultimately come as close to this goal as they possibly can without having to make this incredibly difficult choice.

In summary, Macs will always be Macs, and iDevices will always be iDevices. 

The Tortoise and the Hare

As many products as Apple seems to have gotten right (read: all but maybe a couple), there’s one that they just seem to refuse to get right.

That product is the Apple TV.

I’ve already criticized this product almost a year ago, however as the time for a refresh, or as I’ve read on MacRumors this morning, no refresh, comes nearer, I’ve decided it’s probably time to discuss it again, and to discuss why it isn’t living up to its full potential.

The most prominent rumor that currently exists is that the Apple TV won’t get a hardware refresh this year. This goes against previous rumors that it would be getting an A5.

Why does it matter that the Apple TV won’t be getting an A5?

Big-screen gaming takes a lot of horsepower. This more or less confirms that the Apple TV won’t be getting an App Store any time soon.

This is an example of the classic fable of the tortoise and the hare. You know, the one where the tortoise challenges the hare to a race, the hare quickly advances past the tortoise in the race, then grows over-confident and proceeds to take a nap, only to wake up and find that the tortoise has won.

While it may not seem like much, this children’s story paints a perfect picture of the TV set-top box market.

Apple is accepting the fact that it’s “winning” the set-top box market, so they’ve simply decided that they’re not even going to try to accomplish anything further. They’re doing better than everyone else, for now, so they’re happy that their product is the best, even though it isn’t really even good.

As an example of by how much Apple is currently ahead in this market, returns of one of its competitors, the Logitech Revue, have actually exceeded its sales this quarter.

However, while the hare sleeps, I expect the tortoise to make its comeback.

Here’s why.

The Logitech Revue is a flop for two reasons:

A. Its exorbitant price tag ($249).

B. It does the exact same stuff the Apple TV does. Just like everyone else in this situation, when two products do the exact same thing, I’ll go with the Apple option, especially when it’s quite a bit less than half the price of the alternative.

However, Google TV/the Revue is stepping up its game. They’re slashing the price of the device to $99 (the same as that of the Apple TV), and bringing an app platform to it. And an app platform (primarily for gaming) is exactly what people want. The current consoles suck (see my last post), and the market’s ripe for the picking, by a new kind of “console,” one that isn’t designed explicitly for gaming, but does it as an auxiliary function. The era of FPS after FPS after FPS is over. People are ready for the rise of casual gaming on the TV, as has already been seen on the smartphone and tablet platforms. Ultimately, this is the finish line in the metaphorical race of the tortoise and the hare.

So hasn’t the Roku won the race? It brings Angry Birds to the big screen.

Don’t kid yourself. Yes, the Roku brings Angry Birds to the big screen, and as much as I’ve used that as the example of what people (myself included) want to do, that really made me rethink what I want. Yes, I want Angry Birds on the big screen, but if that’s the only thing I can do, I’ll finish it pretty quickly, and then have nothing to do with the device for the two months until the next update. What we really need is a proven application platform (therefore the only real potential competitors are Apple and Google) on the big screen (hopefully including Angry Birds). Unfortunately, Apple seems to be resting on their laurels here and not acknowledging what they could unleash on the Apple TV platform. Then again, Steve Jobs did call it a “hobby,” and maybe he doesn’t want it to become anything more than that.

What of AirPlay mirroring?

It’s a glorified VNC client. No really, it is. Okay, so it’s not technically using the VNC platform, but why wait for iOS 5? Just install Veency on your iPad and port a VNC viewer to the Apple TV, and you have AirPlay mirroring. It’s not the same thing, but it does the same thing. Yet AirPlay does sound kinda stupid when its significance is compared to such a simple hacked-together solution, doesn’t it? Plus, this raises the price of the Apple TV from $100 to $600, considering you need an iPad 2 to use it. Yes, I have an iPad 2, but I want to run its apps on the device they were designed for, not on my TV. The only solution here is native apps.

So who wins the race?

The tortoise, of course. The Apple TV might be a vast expanse of space ahead of Google TV products such as the Revue now, but with the Revue’s new-found lower price tag, along with the promise of the Android Market within a couple of months, all while Apple puts no real effort into improving the Apple TV, the status quo isn’t going to last.

Android Market? Yuck.

Yes, I know. But Java apps are better than no apps, and Angry Birds is Angry Birds, regardless of the language it’s been ported to.

Still, it’s quite unlike you to be critical of Apple. Why the change of heart?

It isn’t a change, it’s a one-off thing. I still have a general dislike of Android, but I still have to respect its occasional merits.

You should really be asking, “It’s quite unlike Apple to rest on their laurels. Why the one-off change of principles?”

Look at the iPad. It dominated, and still dominates, the tablet market. Yet Apple didn’t stop with the original. They brought out the iPad 2, with a dual-core A5 processor, significantly thinner and lighter form, and dual cameras, while still managing to deliver the same excellent battery life. I bought both the original iPad and the iPad 2, yet I’m still not sold on the Apple TV, and at this rate, never will be.

I guess the difference is that not only was the iPad the best product in its class, relatively speaking, it was also an awesome product, absolutely speaking (as is the iPad 2). The Apple TV, on the other hand, while currently the best in its class, relatively speaking, is a lackluster product, absolutely speaking. Apple said it’s only a “hobby,” and they’ve made that not only their goal, but their limit, for the product.

How Not To Do Support (Or Products)

Today I’ve made an important decision. That decision is to never buy a Microsoft product again.

So a few weeks back, my Xbox 360 failed with the Red Ring of Death – strike one, your product sucks.

The Xbox 360 has a hardware failure rate of slightly over fifty percent. I dunno how anyone finds this sort of thing acceptable, but it’s easily the highest failure rate ever of any gaming console.

I called my friend up and had him try to fix it. However, he couldn’t get it to work again. He later told me I can get MS to fix it for free. So I ship off my Xbox (using packing materials that cost me nearly $20), expecting to have it repaired. I thought it was admirable of MS to offer a three-year extended warranty on the consoles, until I realized they’ll try to get out of it by any means necessary. I proceed to get an e-mail (well actually two e-mails for some reason) informing me that they’ve detected tampering with the console and won’t repair it.

So I call up their tech support to try to get them back in line. I tell them that I know someone who had also attempted to have my friend repair his 360, and MS serviced it anyway. They called BS on this, even though I’m completely sure my friend was telling the truth. They then proceed to pitch me on some $120 out-of-warranty repair service. They seriously think I’m dumb enough to be paying $120 for something I’m supposed to be getting for free. As if this wasn’t outrageous enough, I only paid $80 for the console. Yeah, people complain about Apple being pricey, but Microsoft are a bunch of outright scam artists. Okay, I give up on getting my console serviced. If you want to be a bunch of thinkheaded douchebags, so be it. Strike two, your service sucks.

Remember that I paid almost $20 for the materials I had to ship the thing off in. I thought it was a worthy investment, because I expected MS to actually service my Xbox. I proceed to demand that they refund me this money, as it was obviously a complete and total bust. I spent $20 for nothing. Once again, they refuse. Strike three. You can’t even make basic amends to your customers.

Anyway, MS sent me a survey a few days back, and I’m quite glad I waited until today to answer it. I forgot to mention in it, that this was by far the worst tech support experience of my life. Wait times of an hour or more? I can deal with it. Foreign accent I can’t understand without hearing the statement repeated a million times? I can deal with it. Treat your customer like crap and tell him “Screw you and your investment in a console, its accessories, and the many games you have for it”? I can’t deal with it.

As far as I know, the jobs of these people depend on answers to surveys like those. I put in highly negative answers fully well knowing that the customer support representative will probably lose his job, and I feel absolutely no remorse about this. If he chances to read this, I offer him this advice. Tech support (or any job where you deal with customers) isn’t the job for you. Until you learn that age-old motto, “The customer is always right,” you won’t last five minutes in such a setting. Harsh, yes. True, also yes.

Not like it matters, since I don’t have the money for a game console anyway, but all the current consoles suck and I give up on the concept for now. I’ll wait for a new player (cough cough Apple… please?) to enter the game console market. The Xbox 360 is a poorly made POS, and the PS3 steals people’s credit cards. I think there’s some third console on the market, but its general unimpressiveness causes me to always forget about it.

The moral of this story is that you shouldn’t buy a Microsoft product. They don’t care about the customer. At all.

Tutorial: How to Jailbreak the iPad 2 Using the Leaked JailbreakMe 3.0

Okay, for starters, if rumors hold any truth, this leaked version only works on the iPad 2 Wi-fi running iOS 4.3.

Also, thanks to comex for creating the jailbreak, and thanks to the leakers for putting it in our hands.

Followed by a “screw you” to comex for disabling the jailbreak, forcing me to spend hours coming up with these hacks.

A quick edit, so the comments don’t get flooded with the crap I’ve seen on other sites that discuss the leaks: No, I’m not removing the links. Hate on me all you want, the links aren’t going anywhere. If you proceed to ask, I will ridicule your inability to read, and troll you incessantly.

Edit, again: I actually removed the links. Why? The official JailbreakMe 3.0 is out now, and there’s no reason to use these beta files anymore.

Okay, now for a few assumptions. First, I assume you have access to an Ubuntu install (or any other Linux you can stick Apache on). Second, I assume you can obtain (by any means) Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 (or know how to set up a DNS server on Linux; I don’t). However, these directions will assume you’re using Ubuntu for the web server portion, and Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 for the DNS portion.

1. Go into Synaptic Package Manager in Ubuntu and install the apache2 package.

2. Assign a static IP to your Ubuntu box.

You can do this by clicking the network management icon at the top of the screen, selecting Edit Connections, and double-clicking the interface you want to configure.

If you’re like me and don’t have an Ubuntu box lying around, you can also do all of this in VMWare. Just make sure the VM has access to a bridged network connection, so that it has direct access to the network along with its own IP.

3. Download these files: [files removed, see above]

Assuming you’re on Ubuntu, with Apache 2’s default documents path at /var/www, do the following after extracting the files, since you have to be root to deal with that folder. This assumes you extracted the archive to the default folder of /[pathtoarchive]/www.

sudo su

Enter password when prompted.

cd /[pathtoarchive]

Where [pathtoarchive] is the path where the folder you just extracted (probably named “www”) is located.

cd www

It is very important that only the contents of this folder are moved to the document root (/var/www), NOT the folder itself. At the end of this section of the tutorial, /var/www should contain two folders, along with PDF’s and other files.

cp -r * /var/www

4. Test your setup. In a web browser, go to http://localhost and make sure you see the files, and two folders, “d” and “saffron,” in the file listing for the site (Actually, I think the “d” directory is completely unnecessary, as are a lot of the duplicate files. But if you want to be absolutely sure it’ll work, leave them.) If you don’t see the contents I described, ask somebody competent to help you.

What you should be seeing

5. On a Windows server (or Linux if you know what you’re doing; not covered here), install the DNS Server role. If the Windows server install is running in a VM, make sure it’s on a bridged connection as well. Regardless of whether it’s in a VM, make sure it has a static IP.

6. On the DNS server, create a new zone called qoid.us

7. In this zone, create an A record pointing to the IP of the Linux server hosting the files. Then create CNAME records for the www.qoid.us and a.qoid.us subdomains, pointing them to the A record for qoid.us.

Please note that the IP for your A record probably won’t be 192.168.2.162. That’s only an example.

8. Go into the Wi-fi settings for your iPad 2. Access the settings for your network, and set the DNS server to the IP address of the DNS server you just set up.

9. Browse to qoid.us. You should now see the folder listing you saw earlier when testing your web server setup.

10. Open the PDF for your device and firmware combination. Safari will close, and Cydia will begin to install.

Enjoy!