The Right Idea, Ep. 42: Golf, Angry Voters, Brown and Apple

by Lisa Mathias

This week, Kristen chats with Alex Lundry from Target Point and Kevin Madden from Dyke & Associates about the “Golf or Gulf” website, constituents breaking away from Democrats, Scott Brown’s backing of the financial reform bill, the word “liberal,” and the Apple fans.

Tech: Five ways Keynote for the iPad badly misses the mark

by canderson

Because we at The Winston Group heavily use Apple’s presentation software called Keynote, we were very excited when a version was announced for Apple’s new tablet computer, the iPad. Sadly, our expectations haven’t been met.

I just wrote a long post on “The Unofficial Apple Weblog” detailing the five ways in which Keynote for the iPad misses the mark. Check it out!

One app that I (along with a growing contingent online) am incredibly disappointed with is produced by the one company who shouldn’t need more time to learn the device — Apple, Inc. I’m referring to Keynote, Apple’s presentation application. Keynote for the iPad was billed as a full-featured presentation package, offering the same features and full compatibility with the wonderful desktop version. As a Keynote addict, I was incredibly excited to see how this program would be redefined by a giant touch screen. 

After using the app since launch day, I’m sad to report that Apple has made some big mistakes with the iPad version of Keynote. I’ve noticed what many concerned and angry commenters on Apple’s support forums have also noticed: the iPad corrupts and changes many Keynote presentations imported from a Mac, lacks support for custom fonts, and overall is a stripped down version of its desktop relative. I was frustrated to experience these problems because I had been so excited for the iPad’s Keynote potential.

Ars Technica: iPhone and Snow Leopard Server’s failure to communicate

by canderson

Ars TechnicaCheck out Chris Anderson’s article in Ars Technica about iPhone and Snow Leopard Server’s compatibility problems. We’re excited for Chris, as it’s his first published tech article!

With Apple pushing the iPhone as a full-featured smartphone for the enterprise, you’d think it would work perfectly with its own enterprise-focused Snow Leopard Server. You’d be wrong. The iPhone even functions better in an Exchange environment.

Read at Ars Technica

WWDC Liveblog

by canderson

WWDC: Chris is in the building!

by David Winston

Hello everyone, this is Kristen here, Chris’ sidekick for his WWDC adventure.  We went to the Moscone Center this morning at 5:00 am local time and were #169 in line; by 7:20, the line had wrapped around the building, I’d estimate it at well over 800 people.  I took some video of the line and also interviewed Clay, the man who was first in line who arrive at 5:30 PM last night – yes, last night!  

Around 7:30 am PST, Chris decided he was cold and needed a new laptop battery so he handed me his badge and said he was going to run back to the hotel (The W, a block away).  He handed me his badge “just in case” the line started moving.  Surely, we thought, with two and a half hours until the keynote, there’s no way they’d bring us inside…right?

We made a few jokes about the badge being the Ring and that I was Frodo, I said I was going to call it “the precious”, we had a nerdy laugh or two and then Chris was off to make the battery switch.   Two minutes after Chris left the line began moving; bear in mind it had been moving about ten feet every 30 minutes all day so I thought nothing of it.  I picked up my purse and Chris’ big bag of gear and walked ten feet, dropped them off, and went back to pick up our coffee/muffins.  When I turned back to the purse, I noticed the guys I was standing around (and yes, 99% of the people in line are guys) were still moving.  And that people were going INTO the Moscone Center and up the escalators.

OH. NO.

Massive panic set in.  I abandoned the coffee (well, I tried carrying everything for a few feet but almost spilled coffee on the video camera) and began frantically calling Chris.  I got a hold of him as I was walking into the building, but it was too late – the line was going right up an escalator and I was going with it.  The guys around me were quite helpful, “no, stay here, wait until we get wherever we’re going, then go swap out for him”, “you’ll be fine”, “your laptop is about to fall out of that backpack, you should really zip it up.”  We finally made it all the way around the 2nd floor of Moscone West, the movement stopped.  I was right outside the doors where we’d be let in for the Keynote, surrounded by excited developers all going for the coffee and donuts Apple was providing inside.  I talked to a very nice Apple employee in a neon orange shirt (they were the crowd control/logistics people).  They sent me back around (which amounted to a long, long, long walk all the way back around the Moscone Center) where I finally found Chris.  He took the badge and apparently is back at his prime place at the front of the line.

Anyhow, while this isn’t any interesting tech news, I figured I’d give you that little tale of almost-disaster to tide you over until the Keynote at 1 pm!  If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be here at the event or have ever thought about coming, now you know – get there early, and then NEVER assume the line isn’t moving!  Oh, and bring along a buddy to get you coffee and hold your place in line.  The line for coffee at the Starbucks across from the center is longer than the line to get into the Keynote, and it’s cold outside, so trust me, you’d want something to warm you up.

Stay tuned for the Keynote at 1 pm EST!

WWDC Predictions

by canderson

wwdc-top-secret

The tech punditry is buzzing, the spy photos are proliferating, and software engineers, the gadget media, and techies of all stripes are traveling to San Francisco in droves. Apple’s WWDC conference is almost here! Quick recap for those catching up – WWDC is Apple’s annual conference for Mac and iPhone developers to show off and teach Apple’s newest announcements and innovations. Kristen and I are on our way (I’m currently enjoying Virgin America’s onboard wi-fi) and are pumped to get the week started!

So – before the conference, what do we expect Apple to announce? New iPhone? New software? Regardless of how numerous certain rumors are, it’s really anyone’s guess at this point. The biggest question is not hardware or software related but squarely centers on Steve Jobs. Scheduled to return to work from his six month absence at the end of June, his possible reemergence on the WWDC stage would reassure Apple investors of his health and possibly send the stock skyward. Here are my predictions for WWDC, ranked out likelihood of release.

New iPhone hardware – likely. A new iPhone release is almost a given at this point. What is up for debate is what features it will have. I assume that Apple will not release a drastically different model as it would make it hard to integrate the new model into the existing App Store. I’m expecting the new model to have 16gb to 32gb of storage, faster processor, video capabilities, a new camera, magnetometer (i.e. compass), and faster 3G speeds.

I’d really like to see a front-facing video camera (for video chatting) – would be a big first for U.S. cell phones, but I’m not sure if at&t’s network could support it.

Snow Leopard – very likely. We will 100% see an updated look at Snow Leopard, Apple’s newest operating system. So far the beta builds have focused only on stability and behind the scenes features. Grand Central, which promises to make all those unused cores in people’s computers finally work in harmony, is very appealing and could give all Apple computers a big speed boost when it’s released. I’m hoping when Apple reveals the full OS that there will be some new features they’ve been waiting to unveil until Windows 7 was finalized. Sadly, while I really hope Apple completely revamps the user interface (UI), I doubt they will. Design and function are so intertwined at Apple I cannot see them releasing betas for months without a redesigned UI and then suddenly shift gears and completely change everything. I also don’t think there will be a cheaper iPhone models yet – maybe in a year or so, but the iPhone itself is still too new to dilute it already.

iPhone 3.0 software – very likely. Apple will announce the release date for the finalized 3.0 software updating, bringing push notifications, search functions, a new voice recorder app, and 1,000 new APIs for developers to implement into their software. As the beta has been circulating for months, I doubt we will see any changes from that. However, I hope Apple has some way of responding to the massive advances the Palm Pre has shown in some way – the iPhone will start to look  bit outdated if they do not bring background applications and faster load times at some point.

Tablet – doubtful. While I really hope Apple will finally a tablet, I do not see this WWDC as the venue to do it. Right now, they are focused on selling iPhones, and a new tablet could muddy that.

Updated computer models – likely. While I do not expect any massive changes in Apple’s computing lineup, I do expect moderate speed bumps in the Macbook Pros and iMacs.

MobileMe updates – 50/50. Rumors have been building lately that Apple will roll out updates to its MobileMe online service. Released one year ago to a shaky start, Apple’s MobileMe (offering email/online storage/photo galleries) has steadily improved but is still lagging a bit behind comparable (and free!) online services.

New LCD displays – 50/50. Apple has been transitioning its desktop and laptop screens to LED technology (offering better display quality while using less energy), and it’s likely they will finish the transition for the large 30″ display.

Steve Jobs returns to the stage – ?? The big question mark over the conference right now is whether or not Steve Jobs himself will make an appearance. Rumors are swirling that he’s ready to return to work, and what better way to return to the company but in front of 5,000 of its biggest fans. The crowd (myself included) will go nuts if the Phil Schiller announces he has “one more thing” to announce, and Jobs himself walks out. (Or he could partake in a video chat on a new iPhone – also a cool notion!)

So! Check out the live blog tomorrow (keynote beings at 1 PM eastern, our coverage will begin way before), our twitter feed (@TheWinstonGroup and @Chris_Anderson) and let us know how you like our coverage!

UPDATE: Twitter reminded me that I forgot one prediction – a MacBook Air with a $999 price point. The MacBook Air has been the overpriced yet incredibly sleek and portable model in Apple’s lineup. It’s been suggested that Apple will lower the price to $999 to compete with lower priced-netbooks. I’d like to see this happen, as a cheap MacBook Air would be a computer I’d buy, but I don’t think it will. Apple’s always been very good about keeping segmentation between its models consistent, and moving the MacBook Air around would muddy things.

Virgin America

by canderson


DSC_0003, originally uploaded by candersondc.

Flying Virgin America to WWDC – looking forward to the on-board wi-fi!

WWDC Packing List

by canderson


IMG_0808.JPG, originally uploaded by candersondc.

Getting ready for WWDC and complied a list of the gadgets that will bring you coverage. DSLR, two iPhones, two iPods, microphones, a Canon HD camera, lights, flashes, lenses, and cords galore. So exciting!

WWDC Liveblog Reminder

by canderson

Remember to tune in for our WWDC Keynote liveblog Monday morning! New iPhones? A tablet? Return of Steve Jobs? We hope you’re excited about this announcements and what they could mean for communications as we are. While the keynote does not begin until 1 PM EST, we’ll have coverage from the wee hours of the morning from outside the Moscone center amidst the long lines. The live blog will be here, enjoy!

New for the iPhone – push notifications

by canderson

sdk_apns_iphoneiPhone users have longed for what computer users have enjoyed for years – using multiple applications concurrently. At present, the iPhone only allows Apple applications to run in the background. That means that all third-party apps cannot run in the background and only run when you are using them. Great for memory management (i.e.) your phone does not slow down, bad for users who want to listen to Pandora while they are reading an email.

Apple’s solution will be a new feature called push notifications, packaged in the iPhone 3.0 software update. Instead of having the application run in the background and occupy memory, a server will instead “push” notifications to the iPhone without any user intervention, similar to how emails get pushed to the device. For example, an instant messaging application can push new instant messages, a Twitter app could push new @replies, or a news application could push breaking stories.

What’s interesting about this from a communications perspective is completely unrelated to the dilemma of having multiple apps open simultaneously. What push notifications allows for is a direct connection from organization to user (if the user so chooses). A grassroots organization could send out notifications to their users of potential rallies. A campaign can notify volunteers of a corner to canvas. Updates of fundraising totals, or new phone numbers to call. All through direct, unobtrusive messages that arrive without the user having to hit refresh or load.

And what’s REALLY neat about the whole thing is what happens after the notification comes. Those examples I mentioned above? That can pretty much happen now with a text message. But unlike a text message, a push notification can directly link into an iPhone application, creating a seamless transition that can make it easier for users to actually do what the notification suggests. It removes a barrier than can exist from a SMS or email – instead, sending the user DIRECTLY into the application where that valuable piece of instructions or messages are waiting. It opens up worlds of possibilities of organizations who are always searching for the fastest and easiest ways to get information out there.