Editorial

iWatch and the difference between Apple businesses and hobbies

There's been a lot of media attention focused on the idea of an Apple iWatch lately. Given the nature of the stories, and the prominence of the new outlets fueling them, it feels like something is leaking, intentionally or otherwise. That said, unless and until Apple shows something new off on stage, it's impossible to predict exactly what they're going to do, and how they're going to position it. Before Steve Jobs held up the original iPhone, after all, many expected nothing more than an iPod classic with a click wheel. The same will likely prove true with an iWatch -- difficult to predict yet seemingly obvious in hindsight.

Yet for all their secrecy, Apple is a fairly consistent company. They don't make crap, and they don't release products that aren't carefully targeted. Everyone from irrational Wall Street analysts and investors to ennui-ed tech journos might already be playing out the holy grail, part 2, in their heads:

"A tiny-screen iPod with touch controls. A revolutionary smart watch. A breakthrough natural language communicator. An iPod, a watch, and a communicator. Are you getting it? This is one device...

"And we're calling it iWatch."

But what are the realities?

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Editor's desk: Happy year of the water snake!

Gong Xi Fa Cai, Gong Hey Faat Choi, 恭禧發財! Happy year of the water snake! I spent most of my early twenties surrounded by Chinese culture, and spent many a Chinese New Year in China Town (or China block as it's probably better referred to in Montreal), on stage, taking part in the festivities and demonstrations. I even got to spend one in Hong Kong and Guangzhou. The people, the food, the fireworks, and lion dancing, all if it holds a special place in my heart and my memories.

This year I'm going to get some Dim Sum, give out some red envelopes (hey, the new iPod nano fits perfectly in those!), and pay lots of respect to those who came before and have taught and given me so much. Then I'll probably watch a bunch of martial hero movies and blog the day away. Meanwhile...

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Stuck between the Dropbox that was and the iCloud that isn't yet

iCloud promised ubiquitous access -- all our stuff, every where and every when we wanted it. Not sync, Apple very carefully, almost awkwardly explained it, but an idea that was and is just as simple. You create something, it gets stored on the iCloud, and pushed down to all of your iOS and OS X devices. Not a server-side truth store, and critically, not a file system either. Unlike Google, it didn't live in the browser, and unlike iDisk, which came before it, there were and are no folders or hierarchies to get lost in, no Finder or Explorer to trudge through. iCloud, as Apple positioned it, was and is something new and something potentially much, much better.

The problem is, it doesn't work yet.

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Using the iPad mini as a phone

Last week I left home and headed to the airport, on my way to Macworld|iWorld 2013. My flight was delayed thanks to freezing rain, so I sat at the airport in Montreal for a couple hours, finally made it to Toronto, and then got smacked with another 8 hour delay. With my iPhone 5 at 20% and dropping, thanks to the poor quality Rogers reception at Pearson, I reached for one of the several Lightning cables I'd packed for my trip... only to find not a single one. I'd left them all at home.

Of course, neither the iStore (airport electronics shop) nor the Best Buy vending machines had Lightning cables. I was stuck. I needed my iPhone for when I landed in San Francisco, so I had to conserve as much power as I could. But I also needed a phone to use while I was at the airport all day.

So I reached for my iPad mini.

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Editor's desk: Goodbye Macworld|iWorld, hello fitness month!

I'm sitting at San Francisco airport, staring out over runways and mountains untouched by the cold or snow that await me at home, remembering with fondness the sights and sounds, products and people of Macworld|iWorld 2013, and already looking forward to next year. We shot a ton of video, and you'll be seeing it go up all this week. Enjoy it, because Paul Kent and crew once again proved it's the people that make all the difference.

But now it's February and that means it's fitness month, Mobile Nations post-CES, iMore's post-Macworld-iWorld tradition. And it's all shades of kick-in-your-ass awesome.

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More on a 5-inch iPhone and scaling the interface

Just over a week ago I ran the numbers on a bigger screen iPhone, and presented several ways Apple could go, including just taking the current screen and stretching it out to almost 5-inches, which would give it the same 264ppi pixel density as the Retina iPad 4 screen. Since Apple used the iPhone density to make the iPad mini, using the iPad density to make the iPhone maxi has a certain symmetry to it.

But would stretching out the icons, buttons, text and other interface elements just make them look bigger, or would it make them look silly? Let's find out...

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Imagining an all-aluminium themed iOS 7

Skeuomorphism -- the use of real world design in a digital context -- has been a target lately. It's also been lumped together with heavy design, elaborate themes, or highly textured skins, to the point of being completely misunderstood. At the extreme, this "skeuomorphic" melange has been held up as an example of iOS being boring, outdated, and bereft of innovation. In more reasonably terms, it's looked at as something that can be useful, but has perhaps been overused.

Personally I think there are far more important things Apple needs to do in iOS 7 than wiping the world clean of textures, gradients, and curves, both, but the argument persists so it's worthwhile giving it some form. but let's imagine for a moment it is on the agenda. That Apple's new head of all design, hardware and software, Jony Ive, was set to impose a new, unified, Aluminium theme. That, just like the Scarlet Witch in House of M, he whispered "No more themes."

Instead of arguing in the abstract about how much better or worse it would be, let's mock it up and see what could that look like...

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Apple, smart homes, and the connected future

Some of the more interesting things, at least conceptually, I saw at CES 2013 were the smart appliances shown off by the likes of Samsung and LG. They're not anywhere near the sci-fi of Tony Stark's house, never mind Star Trek or the Jetsons, but they're a beginning. As a geek and fan of futurism, that's exciting. And it's an area Apple isn't playing in publicly yet, at least beyond the living room.

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Never mind iPhone 6 and iPads next, in 2013 it's all about iOS 7 and iCloud

There'll be an iPhone 5s and iPhone 6. There'll be a Retina iPad mini. There'll be a thinner, lighter iPad 5. There'll be an Apple A7 system-on-a-chip. There'll be an LTE radio that can do simultaneous voice and data, and eventually voice over LTE. There may be curved displays, biometric sensors and security, 4K AirPlay, onboard voice parsing, in-air gesture and face recognition, and much, much more. Apple's hardware will continue to tick tock its way towards the future, but for mainstream users, most of the time, the devices we hold in our hands today are more than good enough. And it's the stuff inside and around them that's become far, far more important.

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Editor's desk: CES 2013 wrap-up

CES is a strange show. Apple's never been there. Google stopped going a couple of years ago. Microsoft stopped last year. BlackBerry didn't even have a booth this year. Sure, the mega corporations that also happen to make Android and Windows Phones, Samsung and LG and Sony have massive booths, but they're filled with televisions, home appliances, and technology prototypes than new, hero-class phones and tablets.

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