Category Archives: apple

Three Java releases in one day!

Oracle have just made three java releases (or maybe I’ve only just noticed them).

The 7u1 release fixes six bugs of which two appear to be loop related (1,2). The bug with loop predication was the one that originally tainted the release of Java 7 as you might remember. If I was working for a startup or running my own company I’d move to 7u1 straight away but in a bank that’ll never happen. Still, at least, I’ve managed to persuade them to move to 1.6.0_25 due to a critical CMS fragmentation bug afflicting 1.6.0_23. ūüôĀ

The 6u29 release appears to have skipped a build number which is justified in the release notes. This one has two bug fixes worthy of mention out of a total of five – one is where ‘java.net.InterfaceAddress’s equals method may throw NPE’ (odd) and the other is where there is a ‘Memory leak of java.lang.ref.WeakReference objects’ (how ironic!).

Regarding the mac release it is great to see the Mac get official recognition on the oracle java homepage and have the release packaged as a dmg rather than needing to be built from source. (It’s quite possible by the way that I’ve only just noticed this one and that it’s been there all along or maybe I’d seen this earlier and have forgotten!). Though I’m liking the steady progress Oracle. Keep up the good work. I hope you are working on Java 8 as planned for end of next year!

iPhone 4S

I took receipt of a new 64GB white iPhone4S this morning. It arrived yesterday but I wasn’t around to receive it so I had to go and pick it up from the depot this morning. Here are mandatory unboxing photos. First impressions – the white colour looks stunning and definitely outshines the black.

Siri is nice but definitely hit and miss. There is a learning curve for both the user and Siri. I would class Siri as alpha or beta right now due to bugs and a degree of misinterpretation but even then it is very useful. Imagine what it will be able to do with refinement. So far I’ve used it to compose some texts, book lunch and reschedule the lunch appointment and it mostly worked fine. Here’s an interesting article about how siri works and the quora equivalent.

The camera, which was the primary reason to get the phone along with the white colour, definitely seems like a radical improvement to the old one letting in more light resulting in better photos.

WWDC June 2011 expectations

Bloomberg has quite tastefully summarised our expectations of what Steve Jobs is likely to announce at this year’s WWDC conference on 6th June. We’ve all become so accustomed to hardware revolutions every 12 months that it comes as a massive heartfelt let down that no such hardware announcements are expected this time around. A new iPad was released earlier this year and a new iPhone is not expected to be announced until Winter this year.

So what can we expect this month? A new iCloud service is probably the most intriguing of rumors due to novelty factor whereby Apple will allow storage of music on the cloud as opposed to the local hard drive. It sounds interesting and certainly has the advantage of removing the need for the tedious backup process. However it also increases reliance on the internet which is generally very poorly featured in the UK in both mobile and terrestrial forms and non-existent on the London tubes. Though Apple pushing forward the performance boundaries of telecommunication networks has and can only continue to be a good thing.

However any investment in cloud technology must at this point be innovative and compelling in ways that currently are inconceivable simply due to the sheer abundance of cloud technology that has come to be over the years and the shameless exploitation of cloud terminology strewn across the internet. Microsoft’s blatant billboards and posters about cloud computing in London tube stations certainly didn’t help as it simply wasn’t clear what they were selling. Yes I know your stuff is on the cloud but so is mine. So is everyone and everything out there. It’s called the internet. At this point I’m so overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of cloud news in the last few years that I’m almost not receptive to anything further in this domain.

The next most exciting piece of news is expected to be about the next version of iOS and Mac OS X (codenamed Lion). Given how long we go between software updates from certain vendors examples being Microsoft and Sun – Apple customers are spoilt in this sense. iOS 5 is rumored to have a new widget mechanism and a new notifications feature and documentation on Lion has been available for quite some time now.

It’ll be interesting to see how Apple approaches the threat of increased competition from upcoming Mango and increasing market share acquisition by Android through both its cloud services and iOS upgrades. Regarding the new handset in September my wishlist would be to make the sim card even smaller, incorporate hardware NFC for mobile payments, increase battery life by making the battery even bigger in capacity and through support of 4G place even greater strain on the UK networks. That’s my rant over. Thank you for listening.

Apple adopts new Thunderbolt IO format

Apple released the new iMac recently with, ThunderBolt, a new IO format that’s considerably faster than Firewire 800 and USB2. It provides 10 Gbps bidirectionally and allows daisy chaining of up to six peripherals as well as offering backward compatibility with other formats through the use of simple adaptors. Interestingly Thunderbolt seems to be a co-invention between Intel and Apple merging Intel’s experience in developing USB and PCI-Express and Apple’s experience developing firewire. Oddly, though, in the benchmarks on the two Apple links above there’s no mention of USB3 at all. So once again the industry sees a divergence of IO formats with USB3 looking like it’s been forsaken for an even newer format though that may not necessarily be a bad thing.

Intel Sandy Bridge announced

The eagerly awaited Intel Sandy Bridge processors have finally been announced (yesterday) and have received superb reviews. Read more at Macrumors, Engadget, TechReport, Intel, Intel Blogs (an older link). They feature, amongst overall improvements on all fronts, vastly improved graphics performance and battery life. These really can’t be found on the mac line soon enough. No doubt Apple will be touting 15 hours battery life with these if they’re touting 10 hours now. Mid year release, I reckon, along with Lion though I’d like to see those on the MacBook Air more than any other model as they are, without a doubt, best of breed now. To quote Intel on the most significant feature of this release in my opinion:

Improved Cores with Innovative Ring Interconnect: The 2nd generation Intel Core Processor family microarchitecture features vastly improved cores that are better connected with an innovative ring interconnect for improved data bandwidth, performance and power efficiency. The ring interconnect is a high bandwidth, low latency modular on-die system for connection between processor components for improved performance. The ring interconnect enables high speed and low latency communication between the upgraded processor cores, processor graphics, and other integrated components such as memory controller and display.

Augmented reality real time text translation

I normally don’t post about iphone applications but this turned out to be revolutionary – a symphony amidst the noise. Point your phone camera at a picture and it not only translates the text in the view of the camera but superimposes it onto the camera image itself transforming in real time what you see. And all without an internet connection or network costs. Simply phenomenal. Just when you think the community has done all it can with the iOS SDK once in a while something like this happens. Check it out. Quoted from MacRumors:

Word Lens Offers Real Time Language Translation. QuestVisual has released an eye-catching iOS app called Word Lens. Word Lens is an augmented reality app for the iPhone and iPod Touch (with video camera) which offers real time translation of text. You simply point your device’s video camera at a sign and the program translates and superimposes the translated text onto the video in real time. The demo video shows it in action.

Flash block for Safari 4

Previously Google Chrome used to be my favourite browser. ¬†It had instant startup and rapid rendering of web pages. ¬†That is until Safari 4 came along. ¬†Safari 4 had equally fast startup if not faster but had even faster rendering times. ¬†My only annoyance was not being able to block Flash – until now. ¬†It turns out that there exists a neat way to block flash – a user defined stylesheet. ¬†It’s called adsubtract. ¬†To use simply download the stylesheet and add it as a stylesheet in the advanced preferences of Safari. ¬†Given that it is CSS it works on any platform which is perfect. ¬†Thank God for open innovation and also the individual that came up with it.

Augmented Reality Apps with iPhone 3.1 Update

Augmented reality applications is one way in which the iPhone is currently behind Android since, as far as I could tell from the Android for Java Developers talk I went to, this functionality already exists in Android.  I wonder why this API is currently not public.

“The L.A. Times reports that Apple will begin allowing developers access to the tools they need to produce augmented reality applications starting with upcoming iPhone OS 3.1. While there have been many impressive demos floating around showing the possibilities, these applications have used unpublished APIs which prevent them from being allowed on the App Store. Apple, however, told one developer that the tools necessary would become available with iPhone 3.1.”

via Augmented Reality Apps to Arrive with iPhone 3.1 Update – Mac Rumors.

Update: Another interesting example of augmented reality.

HTC Hero & Android – What’s the value add?

I just watched the official video on HTC Hero and I can’t help wondering what is the value add? Let me say at the outset that I admire the Android platform and handsets adopting it and that what I’m about to say is in no way a criticism. However I would like to ask the question: how will Android and adopting handsets distinguish themselves in the shadow of the iPhone? The fundamental problem that Android and adopting handsets are facing is that it’s all been done before by Apple who have had the added advantage of refining and maturing their product over time. The typical characteristics of the OS and the handset marketed in that video, touchscreen, seamless integration with the internet and catering for all possible needs of the user, have all been done before and replicating that unfortunately gives the impression of lack of originality.

Android attempts to add more animation and eye candy but it’s all too easy to overdo it. The only real unique value add I can see is that they allow you to fully customise your desktop and that in my opinion is one of the annoyances of the iPhone and a real plus point of Android. Some might say that the Android platform being open and supporting multiple languages including Java is a major win. However this cannot be the defining value add as if you have no consumer who will you develop for? For the common consumer there has to be a very real tangible value over alternative platforms and sadly having come much later than the iPhone and being relatively new still Android is in my opinion at a serious disadvantage. It nevertheless shows more promise than Symbian and other non-Apple platforms and in due time I’m sure it will have overcome this difficulty to an extent and established its place on the market. I look forward to its progress in the future. If I can get my hands on an Android handset cheaply maybe I’ll even try my hands on some development.