We've all got our thoughts on what the Jesus Tablet will be, so here are my guesses. I fully expect to be completely wrong on all of this, as many of these answers are completely blind shots and that Apple will blow my expectations out of the water.

Hardware

  • 8"-10" touch screen, running at 1280x720
  • Very thin; less than 1/2" thick (the iPhone 3GS is 0.48" thick)
  • About 1lb heavy, light enough to hold in one hand
  • 8 hours of battery life
  • 32 or 64 GB SSD
  • WiFi
  • 3G over GSM, and Apple's US 3G partner will continue to be AT&T
  • There will be some way to pair your Tablet cell connection with your iPhone's cell connection; either with an official announcement of AT&T tethering, or by adding your Tablet to the 3G account
  • Front-mounted camera
  • Some kind of collapsible stand in the frame, so the device can sit on a table

Input/Output

  • Multi-touch on the display, exactly like the iPhone
  • Multi-touch on the back of the device, similar to the surface of the Magic Mouse
  • Photos and video via front-mounted camera
  • Audio via front-mounted microphone and speakers, wired headphones, or Bluetooth
  • Dock connector
  • Expanded voice recognition
  • Software keyboard, no Bluetooth keyboards available

Software

  • It will run the iPhone OS 4.0; or rather, the iPhone OS will become a "Mobile OS X", consisting of the heavyweight Tablet and the smaller iPhone.
  • It will allow multiple apps to run at the same time, with some UI for viewing multiple apps alongside each other. This may not be possible on the iPhone.
  • It meant to replace a full PC for most common day-to-day needs
  • iPhone applications will not run "automatically", but will need to be resubmitted through the App Store approval process. Most applications will run without much modifications. Icons will need to be higher resolution.
  • A system-wide Dock for documents, applications, and small widgets will be onscreen at all times
  • The home screen will be significantly revamped, and renamed to the Dashboard. App icons, web clippings, and widgets will be freely arrangeable.
  • Handwriting recognition will be available for text input, with an optional stylus, or with a gesture such as two closed fingers drawing as if you had a pen.
  • Some gestures will be used on the back of the device, such as scrolling and zooming.

Apps

  • Standard kind of iPod and Internet communications apps the iPhone OS comes with. iTunes video, iTunes LP content, Maps, and Safari web content will look phenomenal.
  • Sketchbook, an unlimited workspace to sketch and write notes, with collaboration features.
  • iWork, a full port of the iWork application suite, tied to the Internet (and expansion of the iWork.com web application), with collaboration features.
  • iChat, a port of the Mac app, with a heavy emphasis on video conferencing

SDK

  • The SDK will be available immediately, with a simulator.
  • There will be an emphasis on application interoperability.
  • Applications will be able to register plugins with view controllers and UTIs. When an application wants to expose an object (say, an image) to other apps, it will look for app plugins which respond to the "public.image" UTI, load one which matches the UTI, and present the view without leaving the application.
  • Applications will be able to expose services, similar to how they work on Mac OS X. Services will be integrated into the voice control system.

Product

  • 32 GB model will be available for $899
  • 64 GB model will be available for $999
  • Available in US in March, major countries by summer
  • There will not be a WiFi-only model at launch.

Other Predictions

  • Updated MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs, with the mobile Core i5 "Arrandale" processors from Intel.
  • There will be no mention of Verizon
  • There will be no updates to the iPod or the Apple TV
  • There will be no announcements of the iPhone 4G
 

I finally got around to fixing my Chyrp installation, so I can resume my bloggingness. I still quite enjoy Chyrp, so I've upgraded it to 2.0 final and am back to using it again. I've made some changes that will hopefully improve the experience.

First, I've removed the ability for people to post comments. Very little good comes of enabling comments; rather, they attract spam and drive-by comments which are unproductive. Most people who do respond will do so via Twitter.

Second, the auto-posting to Twitter is still going to happen. However, many people were understandably annoyed when I would post a link to the blog, and the auto-tweet would post a link to the blog, needing to click another link to get to the actual content. I toyed with the idea of framing the link content, but popular opinion says that it's a greedy and inappropriate thing to do. Instead, I made the following improvements to ensure that links cross-posted will be a little less awful:

  • text posts and project announcements will link to the blog,
  • link posts will have a direct link posted,
  • photo posts will be direct-linked where possible, but will link to the blog if there's no direct link
  • video posts will link to the blog, because YouTube is full of idiots

Third, I've created this site design after a couple months of working on it, named Cream. It's meant to be extremely minimalist and to emphasize the page content. It's nearly complete, and will be open-sourced when it's done.

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I could not be more pleased about this news. iTunes 8.1, which was released about an hour ago, renamed "Party Shuffle" to iTunes DJ. I've used Party Shuffle for a long time as a queue of music to play for day-to-day work, and have been frustrated with Apple's Remote iPhone app and its lack of support for Party Shuffle. But their 1.2 App Store update, also released earlier today, has full support for it.

iTunes DJ divides iPhone users into two groups - guests and, for lack of a better term, the admin. The admin's iPhone is paired to iTunes as before, and they get the iTunes DJ playlist added. You can skip through songs, cast a vote (addressed below), and request songs. While iTunes DJ is playing, selecting a song anywhere else throughout the app brings up a menu asking if you want to add to iTunes DJ or play on its own.

Guests don't have to pair their iPhones to iTunes. They get to see a modified Now Playing screen, devoid of playback control. They can, however, request songs for iTunes DJ, and cast votes for songs. When they request a song, it automatically casts a vote for it.

Votes are pretty simple on the facet, but appear quite useful. Songs in the queue can be voted on by anybody. As they get voted on, they are automatically resorted in the queue by number of votes. However, you might get some guy at the party vote-clogging all night; fortunately, votes can be shut off by the admin.

All in all, this is the Big Deal feature in iTunes 8.1, and seems very well thought out.

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I was really hoping this would happen. President Obama has, since the election, been working with Senator McCain on cabinet nominations. McCain has said that he would have made many of the same appointments.

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There's been quite a bit of misunderstanding about what Palm's new WebOS is, versus what it isn't. So I'd like to dispel some of the questions surrounding it from the information I've been able to find on it. There isn't much I was able to find (not surprising, as the thing was just announced today), but we can draw some conclusions from the information.

From Web Apps to Widgets

Many people will respond with derision at the fact that applications in WebOS are built with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript; given the state of most web applications today, this isn't hard to understand. However, the biggest reason web apps are crap compared to their desktop equivalent is that web apps have no integration with the host OS. Which means that web apps have a tough time dealing with multiple OS windows, the clipboard, and offline access.

When Apple released Tiger, they shipped with it the popular Dashboard interface. Inside were miniature applications which were also written with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. There was a slight difference, however; Apple included the means to integrate the Dashboard with JavaScript. One example is how a Dashboard widget will display its settings via a smooth, GPU-accelerated 3D animation where the 2D widget flips over. This is possible because Apple included JavaScript hooks to perform this animation. But the core tools were just the same - HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

The Mojo Framework

WebOS applications are much more sophisticated than Dashboard widgets, and certainly more so than regular web applications. This is because WebOS includes a set of tools for creating apps, called the Palm Mojo Application Framework. This, at its highest level, is conceptually similar to Cocoa Touch on the iPhone; it provides common functionality to all applications. It's what will provide all the common code on the device, from data manipulation of stuff like your calendars to the whizzy animation effects you'll see throughout the interface. It's the reason that, in most iPhone apps, the scrolling behavior feels exactly the same.

So, from what I can tell, the Mojo framework is an implementation of all of these ideas, using JavaScript as the programming language, and using HTML5 and CSS for drawing to the screen. Despite there being very little information, they do mention the following features on the developer website:

  • apps are installed and run on the device,
  • apps are designed to be multitasked and run in the background,
  • apps have full access to gestures and the touch screen,
  • apps can use a Growl-esque system to display user notifications,
  • apps will have access to sqlite databases for data storage (part of HTML5), and
  • apps can exchange data via a common messaging mechanism.

The Performance Argument

"But won't it come down to speed?" Yes, it will. However, WebOS is based on WebKit, and likely is using the latest enhancements from the SquirrelFish project. There is a battle royale going on right now between the developers of WebKit, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera for fastest JavaScript interpreter, which means that JavaScript is only going to get faster and faster.

Why go with JavaScript? It provides a low barrier to entry; nobody really needs an SDK to write apps. It makes it very easy to sandbox apps, as the underlying operating system is still invariably written in some form of C, and JavaScript provides no way to break that barrier. And many other reasons, which I talked about last year before the iPhone SDK came out.

tl;dr: JavaScript is just a language. Palm used that to build a system for making applications. They're nothing like web apps.

 

A lot of people have been asking for this on #iphonedev, so here's a snippet for making a thumbnail of a CGImage.

 

Boxee, a killer spinoff of XBMC, is now open to anyone who wants to try it.

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I don't know how true or untrue this rumor is; personally, I'm leaning against it. However, it's prudent to mention some recent events around SproutCore, the JavaScript framework Apple uses to write the MobileMe web apps and the MobileMe Web Gallery.

Apple has recently made a large commit to the SproutCore project on GitHub, which was stuck getting clearance from Apple's higher-ups for awhile. Here's a post from Charles Jolley briefly talking about their 1.0 march, dated 12/5/2008.

I haven't personally taken a look at what the changes in Bitburger (the name of Apple's branch) entail, so I'm not sure they're more geared towards developing an application like anything in iWork. Just food for thought.

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I've just finished moving from WordPress to Chyrp, which aims to be something like a self-hosted version of Tumblr, which should give me flexibility to extend the blog to do things like integrate web services. Since I don't write full-on blog posts as frequently, I'd like to get in the habit of writing smaller posts, as well as sharing links and videos.

There are different categories for different types of posts (links, videos, texts, etc.). Each has individualized RSS feeds; just add "/feed" at the end of the URL and magic should happen.

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About 2 weeks ago, I showed a teaser for my new iPhone app, Lockbox. I was deliberately ambiguous, as I wanted to surprise everyone at WWDC with it. After getting some much-needed feedback on the app, I'd like to talk about what Lockbox actually is.

Lockbox is an app that lets you store encrypted photos and notes on your iPhone. Encryption requires that users enter some sort of key into the system, as a means of proving that the person who stored the data encrypted is the person trying to decrypt it. This has historically been done with passwords, which are easy to turn into a key. However, the iPhone's screen doesn't really lend itself to entering a complex password. The alternative that Apple has put forward is a 4-digit PIN number. This is too insecure; it would take at most 10,000 iterations to brute force the password, which is child's play. Clearly, another system is needed.

Lockbox solves this problem with a very unique and innovative means of key entry. Rather than using a password or a PIN, Lockbox lets users draw a gesture with their finger on the screen. The gesture can be as long or as short as the user wants. In my tests, I've found the best gestures to be somewhere between 12 and 20 cells, which increases security over PIN numbers against brute forcing by 2 and 4 orders of magnitude respectively. And, as a bonus, gestures are much easier to remember and much faster to enter.

Lockbox will allow users to store encrypted versions of photos and notes. The raw key is never stored on disk, and is overwritten a few times when the application quits. Encryption and decryption is completely transparent and happens in the background. Furthermore, Lockbox is using industry-standard algorithms (specifically SHA-1 and AES). There are two advantages to this: first, the encryption algorithm currently has no known weaknesses; second, these algorithms are hardware-accelerated on the iPhone. Photos can be added from the photo library or the camera, and notes can be edited directly from within the app. Once you get past authentication, the user interface will be very familiar to users of the Photos and Notes apps already on the iPhone.

I'm currently working on getting the app finished, and will hopefully have it ready for the App Store on or near launch. Everyone who has seen it at WWDC has been completely blown away by how easy it is to enter these gestures. Furthermore, I'll be exploring other options for key-entry. I already have a handful of ideas on other implementations, including one which I'm calling antigestures. However, I'm keeping that a secret for now. 😀

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