Saturday, April 30, 2011

The most conclusive evidence that MobileMe is set to evolve into iCloud

French technology site,, is the first to report findings in the latest developer build of Mac OS X Lion that show further evidence supporting claims of a revamped cloud service from Apple.

The curious hands at Consofmac found references in the system that suggest one can "upgrade from MobileMe to Castle." They go on to state that "Castle" is most likely the codename given to Apple's upcoming new cloud services thought to be announced sometime this year. Numerous reports suggest that Apple will name the service "iCloud," which may even allow users to store and stream their iTunes libraries from the cloud among different devices.

A company and online service recently announced that it has changed it's name from "iCloud" to "CloudMe." It doesn't take a forensics expert to realize that Apple has had their hands (and by "hands," I mean "lawyers") at trademarking the name for themselves. And interestingly enough, CloudMe took the liberty to flip-flop the name and take after its cloud-service cousin, MobileMe.

Apple is said to be putting the final touches on a huge data center in North Carolina, which represents an enormous and confident investment into cloud-based infrastructure. This step assumes Apple is gearing up for a future based on offering off-site services and storage solutions which may allow more mobility and flexibility in how people use data.

If you remember in December of 2009, Apple bought music streaming service Lala, which has fueled speculation on their plans to offer similar services for over a year. We may even see more direct competition to companies like Google and Amazon in terms of data services and online storage.

Add all these stories up, and you've got a clear picture of what to expect: iCloud, an iTunes-infused MobileMe.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Next-gen MacBooks to have new designs, will be released this summer with OS X Lion

I've been meaning to get to this story for a while now. MacBook Pros were refreshed just a couple of months ago, but already rumors have started about possible designs for the next generation.

Courtesy of
I was actually surprised that the last refresh didn't include any major redesigns. As much as I love and appreciate the awesome new horsepower Apple crammed into them, I really expected to see some kind of differentiation in physical design. When I look around my college campus, it seems that everybody has the exact same computer: sleek, silver clamshells with super-glossy screens. Consequently, laptop envy among classrooms and coffee shops has dwindled.

When I bought the first uni-body MacBook in late 2008, nearly everyday someone would comment on how awesome it looked. Though I've upgraded since then to a 15-inch and now to last gen's 17-inch, nobody cares. Not that I really need the attention (a single tear rolls down my cheek), but it does mean this: Apple, the novelty of your luscious laptop designs has worn off—time to come up with something else.

So, with the rumor mill already running, I thought I'd take this opportunity to speculate on what the next generation of MacBooks will offer (assuming they are redesigned, that is):
  • As far as a a case redesign goes, as always, you can expect thinner. Somehow, someway, I think the new MacBook Pros will approach 1st-gen MacBook Air thickness. Or at least, they will clock in somewhere in the middle between the thickness of the current 13-inch MacBook Air and the current 13-inch MacBook Pro.
  • They will retain the silver metal look and feel, but they may start using that super-duper alloy that was found in iPhone SIM card removal tools. Remember that?
  • Slightly bumped Sandy Bridge processor speeds and boosting graphics performance by opting for the AMD Radeon 6800 chips in the higher 15- and 17-inch models. Who knows what will happen with the Intel-only chipset in the 13-inch.
  • I'm probably going out on a limb here, but I think we'll soon see MacBook Pro models shipping with SSDs as a standard configuration. Or, even farther out on that limb is the possibility of MacBooks with no hard drive at all—that is, equipped with flash storage embedded on the logic board like the MacBook Air. Of course, that is nearly useless to working professionals that need large amounts of storage that only traditional hard drives can offer, but a boy can dream...
  • Now to go even farther out on a limb—so far that I endanger my own life—at least a few configurations of these MacBooks will not have CD drives. We all know it's going to happen; Steve Jobs and Apple hate CD drives. They are waning technologies. It'll be just like the floppy drive that didn't make it into the first iMacs. People will through rocks at Apple when they finally do this, but really... how often do you really use that stupid optical drive? It's slow and clunky and takes up an overwhelming amount of space in laptops, all while becoming increasingly more useless. I would much rather use that precious space for a second hard drive (which they make kits for), or just so Apple can make smaller, more portable laptop designs.
  • Sorry, went off on a tiny rant there, but my last prediction is that the white MacBook will be discontinued. I don't know the sales figures for the white model, but I'm willing to bet the MacBook is no longer the most popular Mac anymore. Most people are opting for the more capable 13-inch Pro. Either Apple will simply drop the price of the 13-inch Pro to $999, or an all new Pro-less design will fill its place. I'm just not seeing plastic in Apple's laptop future anymore.
  • The new models will be announced this summer at WWDC with the introduction and release of OS X Lion. How do I know this? I don't. Seems a little soon, but like I said before, a boy can dream...
Don't think this is what's going down this summer? I'd love to hear your opinions! Drop a comment or send me an email:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

White iPhone 4: it's finally here, brings with it the end of iPhone release predictability

Holding out for the white iPhone 4? Even though you had probably considered it vaporware by now, Apple says you can finally go out and get it tomorrow.

I'm not going to simply reiterate what you probably already know about the white iPhone 4 ordeal—that it was supposed to come out along with the black one last summer, that it kept getting delayed due to production issues, and that Apple made a few excuses here and there as to why it has taken so long to ship (well, I guess I just did). But I wanted to look at this release in terms of its sales forecast and what it means overall for iPhone release cycles.

Some analysts predict that the new white iPhone will boost Apple's handset sales by 1M–1.5M. Although I do agree there is a market for it—lots of people went as far as buying pre-release white iPhone parts overseas (an operation that was shut down and deemed illegal, if I remember correctly)—I still don't think we'll see a dramatic, if noticeable, sales increase. Two reasons: the iPhone 4 has already lost its newness. And I don't think novelty overshadows aging technology.

Which leads to my next point: a lot of folks thinking about buying an iPhone are probably considering waiting for the iPhone 5. Consequently, sales will plateau just before the summer, even if we see a short white iPhone sales boost. Traditionally Apple announces a new handset every summer at WWDC, but multiple media outlets (with all those reliable sources) are saying not to expect much until this Fall—a time usually reserved for iPods and iTunes-related stuff. Either way, this is the waning period for iPhone sales.

Overall, Apple is playing the cards right this hand. One thing consumers have had on their side is the predictability of a new iPhone each summer. By staggering iPhone releases this year—the Verizon iPhone 4 in February, the white iPhone 4 tomorrow, and the possible later release of the iPhone 5 this fall—Apple has effectively turned the tables back in its favor.

If you must have it, go get it. If you have that amazing virtue they call patience, wait for the 5.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The best tech podcast: This is my next Podcast

If you like technology, industry news, and like to laugh, then let me recommend a podcast. It's called This is my next Podcast. The name is odd, I know; it actually refers to an inside joke. But this is the best podcast you can find for your money (it's free). Trust me, you want to give this one a listen.

It features the gang that formerly ran the Engadget Podcast: Joshua Topolsky (seen often on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon), Paul Miller, Nilay Patel, and friends. Informative (sometimes) and entertaining (all the time), I look forward to these guys' ramblings every week. Topolsky, the head geek, is like the that quirky, yet funny friend you like to keep around because there's always something witty on the tip of his tongue. Patel always has an interesting point of view, seemingly able to make really technical stuff easy to understand and digest. And Miller, a little outspoken, attempts to be the logic of the bunch, sometimes succeeding, sometimes not.

Regardless of some shortcomings, there isn't anything better. I've looked. That is until I start my own podcast...

Overall, listening to this podcast is kind of like being delivered a broken or neglected UPS package, but the delivery guy is super funny and cool. You'll look forward to each week just to see what that quirky delivery guy is going to say.

This is my next (website)
This is my next Podcast (iTunes link)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

AT&T squashes my tethering fun

I am a recent victim of AT&T's new campaign to squash unauthorized tethering. I say "victim" because I like to illogically whine and complain.

If you don't know, earlier iPhones came with an "unlimited" data plan, which could be grandfathered in even after device upgrades, like when coming from an iPhone 3G to an iPhone 4. Those people (including myself) tend to clutch onto that notion of "unlimited" with every ounce of his or her soul. Even more is that jailbroken iPhones in the US have been able to unofficially tether their Internet connection to other devices since the iPhone OS 3.0 software update in 2009. Well, that ride is over, as now AT&T has found me out and sent an ultimatum, like some others.

I'm not entirely sure how AT&T is choosing who to pick on, whether they are simply going down a list of unauthorized tether-ers, or if they are looking at power-users who use a large amount of data. I unfortunately fall in the latter category. As a broke college student living on my own, I have yet to buy at-home DSL or cable service. That's right; my main Internet connection is my phone.

Last month, I topped out at around 40 some-odd gigabytes of data consumption, and that's including only mild torrent downloading. Sure, I feel as though I have abused my power of the "unlimited" pass, possibly even slowing down another's mobile broadband in the process. But having the capabilities enabled with 3G tethering from AT&T has helped me out tremendously.

This month and 12 days into my billing cycle, I've used only 4GB so far, and it looks like it will decrease even more dramatically. A 4GB monthly tethering on AT&T right now costs $45.

I don't blame my network for their decision to cut me off. The unlimited plans are for phones only, because it's more difficult to rack up the sort of data that your laptop uses. Network problems or not, a customer has a plan of service agreed upon by both parties, and tethering is a luxury I've been getting for free behind Ma Bell's back. So I'm not mad for this termination. I look at it this way: when you were in school and you got caught eating candy, the teacher always said that if one person had candy, then the whole class should too. If I tether for free, the only way to fix it would be to let everyone tether for free... Oh wait, you know that's not a bad idea.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Another reason I love the Mac: scrolling non-active windows

Sometimes when I'm trying to be productive (it happens, I'm sure) I like to have two windows open, going back and forth between them. I often use one window as a reference for another window, say, like when I am writing a paper and need to read something in the browser as a reference.

There comes a time, however, when I need to scroll down in that non-active browser window. On Microsoft Windows (all versions I've tried, including Windows 7), this is not as simple as it should be and can be really irritating if working for an extended period. The user must click on windows to make it active, and then he or she can scroll down using the scrollbars or the mouse wheel.

On a Mac, windows are not required to be active in order to interact with them. If I'm writing that paper and reading a PDF in another window, I just hover the mouse pointer over that window and scroll—no clicking required.