Amidst all the talk of the Microsoft Office apps coming to the iPad, there hasn’t been much thought about what bringing the apps to the iPad means to Microsoft’s long-term future. Peter Bright of Ars Technica thinks that Microsoft is playing a dangerous game:
“Should this come to pass, Microsoft will not just be banging a nail into the coffin of Windows RT and, by extension, its Surface tablet. It’ll be digging the grave, tossing in the body, and then unloading a few tons of concrete into the hole to ensure that there’s no risk of reanimation.”
Peter does have a point. The unique selling point of Windows RT is that it comes with “real” Office apps, and in handing the iPad the keys to the Office kingdom Microsoft runs the risk of undermining its own competing product.
But there’s a few counterpoints. First of all, it’s unlikely that the versions of Office for iOS will include many of the features that Windows RT Office has. On Microsoft’s platform, Office has feature parity with the full Windows 8 version. On iPad, it’s much more likely to be closer to the web Office apps in features. You’ll be able to do basic edits, but that’s probably about it.
Second, and more important in the long term, if Microsoft doesn’t produce apps for the iPad it runs the risk of becoming irrelevant on a platform that’s being widely adopted by business. If it wants to keep the rest of the “Windows/Office/Exchange” software stack intact, it has to be on iPad. Google, probably it’s biggest competitor at the moment in enterprise office apps, it already there and keeps adding new features to its iOS programmes.
If Microsoft doesn’t eat it’s own young, then someone else will. Better to preserve two elements of Windows/Office/Exchange than lose them.
Apple and Microsoft are going head to head over the future of Microsoft Skydrive, according to AllThingsD:
“Sources familiar with ongoing negotiations between Apple and Microsoft tell AllThingsD that the companies are at loggerheads not over the 30 percent commission Apple asks of storage upgrade sales made through SkyDrive, but over applying that same commission to Office 365 subscriptions sold through Microsoft Office for iOS, which is expected to launch sometime next year.”
This makes much more sense than the two companies arguing over the relatively-small Microsoft Skydrive. But what I don’t understand is what Microsoft thinks it’s playing at: there’s simply no way that Apple is going to bend over this.
Zite 2.0: A smarter, snappier personalized magazine for iOS | Internet & Media – CNET News:
“Zite has always been about giving users plenty of topics of news, and in the previous version, it had grown to 2,500 categories. In the new version, that number has exploded, to 40,000 topics, meaning that it can provide news to match almost anyone’s taste. But Zite is really all about discovery. And one of the best new features of Zite 2.0 is one that can take users on a journey of exploration through a topic, either by reading more on an individual subject, or branching off to other categories on a whim.”
Zite is an under sung star of the news aggregators. It’s simple, elegant, and puts the onus of discovery rather than simply displaying news in a more pretty way. If you’re not using it, take a look.
If you think that it’s in Google’s interests to create better apps on Android than iOS, two recent releases should absolve you of that notion.
First, there’s the latest release of Gmail, an app that’s so good even Android sites are wishing it was available on their platform.
Then there is YouTube, which improves so much over the previous (Apple-created) app that I wish Apple had dropped its own version sooner.
So what’s going on? Why would Android’s creator make better apps for the platform it competes with than for its own?
There’s two reasons. First, as I wrote in my most recent posting on Macgasm, the role of Android isn’t to defeat iOS, but to ensure that Apple does not dominate mobile in a way which meant it could lock Google search out. Second, there’s the issue of revenue. Although Google doesn’t break out how much it makes from ads served to iOS devices, given that iOS drives far more web traffic than Android it’s safe to assume Google serves more web ads to it. And that makes iOS a more profitable platform for Google than Android is.
Given this, why would Google want to damage a platform it makes more money per user from, in favour of a platform it makes less money per user from? Google is driven by data, and the data says that providing services to iOS users makes it money.
One of the ways you can tell that a piece of UI design really works is when you start trying to use it in other apps. A great example of this: Mr. Reader’s navigation buttons:
Those up, down and close buttons at the side aren’t there all the time. In fact, you have to slide your finger in from the edge of the screen to show it, and it’s your finger is positioned automatically over the “down” button. You have to hold and slide up or down to use one of the other buttons: if you lift your finger, the buttons disappear.
The nice thing is that you can do this from any part of the screen edge, so it doesn’t matter where your finger starts. I usually use my thumb, as I’m holding the iPad in portrait orientation.
It’s a lovely user interface device: hidden, yet easy to find and simple to understand. And it’s one of the things that makes Mr. Reader my favourite news reader on the iPad.
One on One: Jim Wicks, Design Chief at Motorola Mobility – bits.blogs.nytimes.com:
If another company is only making two products and four products, and they’re putting all their resources into that, and you’re making 50, you can imagine the challenges you have. Do you feel like you have the best talent, the best testing, when you’re doing 50 products that cover smartphones, tablets and accessories, which are all in their own right highly complex products
I wonder which “other company” he could be referring to?
Dick Pountain for PC Pro:
Apple is currently having a rather good war, having ruthlessly preserved a proprietary grip on its own hardware ecosystem, and exploited this to make users pay for apps and content through online stores. Its carpet bombing of Adobe Flash – by excluding it from the iPad – is a tactical victory, damming off one whole stream of free content from the internet.
Because there are no free apps on the App Store, and no way to get content on to the iPad other than to buy it from Apple’s stores. These CDs I’ve bought? No way can I rip them and put them on an iPad. That DVD? No chance of ever getting a digital copy from it on to the iPad.
9to5Mac: Smaller iPad to Start at $329:
Apple’s entry price for its upcoming smaller iPad is between the base model of the new, fifth-generation iPod touch ($299) and the currently shipping WiFi-only 16GB iPad 2 ($399). According to our sources, the base model of the smaller iPad will likely be priced at a minimum of $329 in the United States.
(Via Daring Fireball)
If that’s correct (and Gurman has good sources), it’s high. That’s not to say they won’t sell by the barrow-load, but not getting under $300 is painful.
Also worth noting: that price would translate in the UK to between £249-£279, making it quite a bit more expensive than the competing Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire.
Developers: We warned Apple about iOS maps quality | Apple – CNET News:
“‘I posted at least one doomsayer rant after each (developer) beta, and I wasn’t alone,’ a developer with three iOS apps in the App Store told CNET. ‘The mood amongst the developers seemed to be that the maps were so shockingly bad that reporting individual problems was futile. What was needed wasn’t so much an interface for reporting a single point as incorrect, but for selecting an entire region and saying ‘all of this — it’s wrong.””
Maybe Apple thought they were just kidding?
Techpinions – It’s Good to be Back on the iPhone:
Often I heard the battle cry from the Android community complaining that the iPhone 5 was just not innovative enough and lacked many of the cutting edge features common on Android smartphones. Many with that sentiment miss an important perspective, one that I truly didn’t fully grasp before using Android for a length of time. This perspective is that comfort and familiarity are actually features. And I would argue that for many consumers comfort and familiarity are just as valuable as a cutting edge spec is to others.
Newness for newness’ sake isn’t innovative – it’s destructive to value, because it places the user in unfamiliar territory. And when you force users to make a big leap by learning large changes to the user interface in one go, inevitably some of them will look at the new interface you’re trying to adopt and wonder why, if they’re going to have to relearn a load of stuff anyway, they shouldn’t just jump to another platform.
What I find interesting, too, is that its the same people who are currently slamming Microsoft for abandoning (effectively) the Windows 7 interface with Metro who are also slamming Apple for not abandoning the familiar, well-worn app launcher interface on iOS.