iCloud looks like it will be an incredible technology for moving app data between devices. This is inherently a good thing, and it will open avenues for many new types of apps. But, there is a fundamental problem. Right now, the only way to access it is through Objective-C APIs embedded into iOS and Mac OS X. Under the hood, they are obviously talking to the network and doing the business of syncing data, but that networking layer is not exposed or documented, and would have to be reverse-engineered in order to understand and use. So the only way for developers to move their data through this system is through a pre-compiled bundle that gets referenced within an application.

This has a few interesting practical repercussions. If you build an application targeting iCloud, you can only ever put it on two platforms - Mac and iOS. You will never be able to port it to Android, WebOS, Windows Phone, or the web (mobile or desktop). If you sync data through iCloud, And, you will never be able to have a server component that can do things with your data all the time.

Here's some examples of what I'm talking about. In my To Do list app, Todolicious, one thing I would love to be able to do is to push badges to your iPhone and Mac showing the number of To Dos you have left. When you tap a To Do to mark it as done, suddenly all your devices would show the correct number on the icon. With the sync server I was building, this was fairly trivial; wait for the user's list to change, and send a signal to push the count everywhere. But if I back Todolicious with iCloud, I have no way of speaking between my server and iCloud (and I'd still need a server of some kind to send the notifications, after all).

Similarly, if I were to build a web app version of Todolicious (which I was planning on), I could not get access to that data within iCloud at all. I'd have to have either to sync to both iCloud and a custom solution (unwieldy, poor UX and network traffic, and otherwise gross), or not load existing data at all (completely negating the benefit of having such a web app).

So there is a serious ecosystem lock-in problem for apps that wish to target iCloud. All of these problems go away when iCloud is made available as a server-to-server API. A big benefit in the promise of cloud computing includes service interoperability, but right now iCloud is merely a data silo. I have filed this as a bug, rdar://9598555, for a server-to-server API (through which you could build code that speaks to iCloud on your server or on other platforms). I dearly hope Apple addresses it.

Such a server-to-server API would drastically decrease the friction of setting up cloud services to complement an iCloud-backed app, and would lead to better apps and more pleased users.

 

JailbreakMe.com is a website that offers visitors the ability to jailbreak their iPhone without a computer-based tether. It does this by exploiting the system-wide ability for applications to read PDF files, where an incorrectly-formatted PDF file can lead a hacker to do anything they want to your system. While this bug CAN be used maliciously to steal all the personal data from your phone, the developers in this instance used it to enable jailbreaking.

Others will tell you why you should or should not jailbreak your iPhone. Others will decry the developers for bringing to light a serious vulnerability in the iPhone OS. In this blog post, I won't do any of that, but will instead point out some things you should and shouldn't do if you decide to jailbreak.

Backup first, and backup the backup

It should go without saying that, before you start mucking around with the internals of the software on your phone, you should back everything up with iTunes. Sync down all the data into iTunes, and explicitly backup by right-clicking the iPhone in the sidebar and choosing "Back Up". Once that is done, you should backup the actual backup files to somewhere safe. This way, if you ever want to go back to a vanilla iPhone, it's fairly straightforward. The files are located in ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup.

Understand what you're doing

Jailbreaking lets you run apps on your iPhone that, for a variety of political and technical reasons, you could not run otherwise. Apple has gone to great lengths to prevent you from running unauthorized apps on your iPhone, and for several reasons; the most important is for security. Since jailbreaking is designed to let you run those apps, that means that in order for the jailbreak to work, several of those security measures are simply shut off and disabled. This does not mean that you'll automatically get viruses and have your data stolen, but it does open up more avenues for hackers to gain access to your data. You simply must be more vigilant and attentive about security when your phone is jailbroken.

Only add sources that you trust completely

When you jailbreak, you will notice a new app on your home screen, called "Cydia". You can think of this as the jailbroken App Store for your iPhone. You will be able to use this to install lots of apps; you can also install mods that change app icons and fonts, mods that change how apps behave, and mods that add new features system-wide. One way this differs from Apple's built-in App Store is that third parties can publish their own list of apps and mods at their own whim, and users can add those lists to Cydia. You can find lists of third-party sources available by doing some creative Googling.

Now, since you can add any third-party list you want, and those lists can contain mods which can access all of the data on your iPhone, you need to be extremely mindful of which sources you add. Seemingly innocuous apps, such as simple wallpaper lists, can contain code which subtly and sneakily siphons away your contacts, or worse. Since you don't have Apple vetting apps before they hit your phone, you won't be able to trust that an app isn't malicious if it's from an unknown source.

Only install what you need

Many of the apps and mods you can download through Cydia will not be things that you can technically do on the iPhone using Apple's published APIs. An example of this is the project which allows you to install a Growl-like UI for push notifications; it simply is not possible to do through the App Store. This means that you will have mods injecting code into the memory of other apps (sometimes into EVERY app). The more mods like this you have, the more they will start to clash with each other. This can lead to crashes, drained batteries, hangs, and system slowdown. You should consciously try to minimize the number of mods that you install, to preserve the experience of your iPhone.

Be mindful of OpenSSH

Packages in Cydia often times will require use of other libraries to achieve their goals. These needs are called dependencies in Cydia, and they will be listed when you try and install packages. There are packages which will blindly install a package called OpenSSH, which installs a server on your iPhone that allows you to log in via a Terminal. Now, this package uses a file on the iPhone to determine what the default password is, which happens to be 'alpine'. As you can imagine, many people don't change that password by default, and instead just let the default stick and never change it; this led to disaster last year when someone used the default password to extort lazy iPhone jailbreakers.

If you install this package, the absolute first thing you should do is change the root password.

Be wary of iOS software updates

In all likelihood, your iOS software updates will be far more involved than non-jailbreaking. The hacks used to enable jailbreaking are usually patched in the next update of the OS. This means that, if you want to keep your jailbreak mods, you will need to wait for the iPhone dev community to release an updated jailbreak procedure. Sometimes this takes hours, sometimes this takes weeks. Once the jailbreak is released, updating generally consists of backing up everything, restoring your iPhone to the new OS, re-jailbreaking, and reinstalling all of your jailbreak software. It is a far more involved process, on top of the already involved update process of the iOS. You will likely update the OS far less than you would if you were non-jailbroken.

 

iPhone had the first two store UIs; the iTunes Store for content like music and movies, and the App Store for software. The iPad will add a third, the iBookstore, for buying eBooks. These stores all provide content for users to extend the utility of their device. But each has a pretty different user interaction model for accessing, purchasing, and consuming that content.

  • The iTunes Store is a separate app that is completely distinct from the iPod app. When you find something to buy, prompting you for your iTunes account password. It then adds the purchase to the app's Downloads tab. Once you have purchased the content, you must then switch back to the iPod app to listen to or watch it.
  • The App Store is a separate app. When you purchase something, it prompts you for your iTunes password, and then exits to the home screen, switching to the screen where the app will live. The state of the download is reflected in the app icon. When the download is complete, you tap the icon on the home screen to use it.
  • The iBookstore (the one word is the official name as used by Apple) is not a separate app, but lives within the iBooks app on the iPad. Purchasing content prompts for the iTunes password and downloads in-app, which can be directly accessed after it has finished downloading.

Each type of content follows a different workflow when going from access to purchase to use. If a goal of the iPad's low price is to drive content sales through the three stores, as some speculate is the case, then the purchase model should be as streamlined for the different types of content. Forcing different workflows will only confuse users who can't remember which type of content comes from where.

 

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
 

Just a few years ago, Greenpeace would regularly call out Apple for their environmental impact. In that time, they've managed to climb a few ranks, mostly on the back of their efforts eliminating toxic chemicals like PVC. Kudos to them.

Not to minimize the efforts of other companies high on that list. Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, Phillips, LG, Sony, Motorola, and Samsung, you guys rock for not polluting all over the place.

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OpenEmu is a Cocoa framework and application for running multiple emulators as plugins. Many popular open source emulators; such as SNES9x, Nestopia, and VisualBoyAdvance; are fully compatible with this system. As all the emulators are going through the same architecture, it can be tuned to use the latest Quartz and Core Graphics technologies to deliver screaming performance.

Most of my participation has been in fixing bugs and doing some application-side coding. My big task so far is an in-development ROM organizer powered by Core Data, with smart playlists, Quick Look for save states, and ratings.

Status:

Active

 

VillainousStyle is a drawing library for defining a visual style from a chain of individual drawing instructions. Each instruction modifies the drawing context to perform common operations; such operations include shadows, fills, borders, and shapes. It allows for multiple style sheets which can be used to theme an application in multiple visual contexts. VillainousStyle sits on top of CoreGraphics, and does not use WebKit for rendering at all. It is a fork of the VSStyle and VSShape classes, originally from the Three20 project.

Stylesheets

VSStyleSheet is an abstract superclass for a set of styles. Subclass it and add methods for each style you wish to add. You will likely want to create a protocol for your styles to implement, to ensure that your stylesheet implements all the necessary styles.

There is a global stylesheet, which can be thought of as the "active" stylesheet. Call +[VSStyleSheet setGlobalStyleSheet:] to change the active theme, which will fire a VSStyleSheetChangedNotification. When that gets fired, you'll want to tell your views to update their styles and redraw.

Styles

Styles affect drawing and positioning. Most will affect the next VSStyle objects in the chain.

  • Fills
    • VSSolidFillStyle - Fills the current shape with a solid color
    • VSLinearGradientFillStyle - Fills the current shape with a gradient between two colors
    • VSReflectiveFillStyle - Fills the current shape with a glossy-style gradient between two colors
  • Borders
    • VSSolidBorderStyle - Draws a border around the current shape with a solid color
    • VSBevelBorderStyle - Draws a beveled edge border for a 3D effect around the current shape
    • VSFourBorderStyle - Draws a border around the current shape with four colors, one for each edge
  • Shadows
    • VSShadowStyle - Draws a shadow behind content with a given color, blur, and offset
    • VSInnerShadowStyle - Draws a shadow inside the content with a given color, blur, and offset
  • Positioning
    • VSBoxStyle - Adds a margin or padding to the content area
    • VSInsetStyle - Adds edge insets to the content area
  • Content
    • VSTextStyle - Draws text inside the current shape
    • VSImageStyle - Draws an image inside the current shape
    • VSMaskStyle - Clips the drawing area to an image mask
    • VSShapeStyle - Clips the drawing area with a VSShape object

Shapes

Shapes affect the fills and borders, but do not clip the content styles.

  • VSRectangleShape
  • VSRoundedRectangleShape
  • VSRoundedLeftArrowShape - a rounded rectangle with a left-facing arrow
  • VSRoundedRightArrowShape - a rounded rectangle with a right-facing arrow

Future Ideas

  • iPhone static library
  • Cappuccino library
  • File-based stylesheets that can be read/written from VSStyleSheet objects
  • GUI builder for styles
  • More styles!

Status:

Active

 

The templates that ship with Xcode are not the greatest. Some of them are inconsistent and don't enforce good coding standards (e.g. missing a dealloc method). Other templates which would be useful just flat out don't exist (e.g. an NSOperation subclass, or a protocol header file). This project aims to supplement or replace the built-in templates for Xcode to speed up coding and improve the quality of code.

Coding Standard

All files will be processed by Xcode. The generated source files must produce consistent, readable, commented code. The code must have these characteristics:

  • Each file must have a comment block at the top describing the file.
  • Each class must implement its superclass' designated initializer and dealloc.
  • Stub methods must be organized by their purpose, class or protocol. -- Each group must be organized by their class hierarchy, with protocol stubs following. -- Each group must be prefaced by a pragma mark naming the class or protocol the methods were implementing. -- Clusters of methods (such as relating to KVO) should be organized along the lines above, with a pragma mark.
  • All method implementations should contain a method call to their super implementation if needed.
  • All method implementations should contain a commented out stub line that will signify where to insert their code.
  • All comments must be in the form of two slashes //, and none using the /* */ form. This will allow developers to comment out large blocks of code as needed.

Wish List

  • Different people want different things in their template. For instance, someone may want to include an implementation of observeValue:... for every class. Would be nice to have a template generator application (yeah yeah, very meta) which would make templates customized to the developer.

Status:

Inactive

 

Tim Cook, acting CEO of Apple:

We're not going to play in the low-end voice phone business. That's not who we are, that's not why we're here. Goal is not to lead unit sales, but to build the world's best phone.

Hopefully this kills the stupid iPhone nano rumors. Kills 'em dead. It's not coming, people.

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Amit Singh, creator of MacFUSE, has just released an experimental version of XBinary, which allows the Mac OS X kernel to execute binary types other than Mach-O. Examples of using this include executing ELF binaries, PDP-11, Java jar files, and Windows executables.

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