Anyone who has stumbled onto this blog most certainly has already heard all about Apple’s latest creation, announced last Wednesday, January 27th. Let’s just get this out of the way now. Yes, they called it the iPad. No, I do not like that name. In fact, of all the rumored names, it was my least favorite. I would go so far as to say I hate the name. I had hoped Apple would drop the ‘i’ prefix. “Apple Canvas” was my hope. So much better, and not registered by Fujitsu.

So right off the bat we are off to a bad start, right? It’s just a bigger iPod touch with a bad name, isn’t it? At first glance, I wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking this, but after taking a deeper look, I think it is much more than that. Honestly I have yet to handle one, but I’ve read and heard a lot about it from people who have. Most anyone who has handled it swear that one cannot dismiss this device until it has been handled. I can see some of what they are saying in the videos, the devices looks very responsive. Snappy and quick, with slowdowns only happening when retrieving information over the wireless network (either Wi-Fi or 3G).

With everything we have seen about this device, I think there is a lot about it Apple didn’t mention. Stuff we’ll have to wait until release day to find out, or even June. This is because the device is running iPhone OS 3.2, and conventional wisdom says iPhone OS 4.0 will be released, or at least announced, at WWDC in June. Apple most certainly choose not to discuss some features as to not tip their hand too soon about what is coming in the next iPhone. This could also be a part of the reason the 3G version is delayed, perhaps it contains a webcam for video conferencing, a feature rumored to be in the next iPhone.

There’s been a lot of discussion about who this device is for. Over the years, user interfaces have actually become more and more complicated. Further, there are numerous options for one to customize the interface. Modern computers can do so much, the options are endless, but with all those options comes no end of complications. Those of us who have grown up working with computers, those of us who are considered (by ourselves or others) as “geeks” or “nerds,” do not really understand how difficult a modern computer an be to use, despite the best efforts of Apple, Microsoft, and others to make them “easier” to use.

In short, the fiddly bits are too fiddly. When someone just wants to check their email, fire off their responses, and get back to their life, they do not need multitasking. They don’t need to be distracted by fudging around with settings. They just want to get into their e-mail program, do their business, and get out. If my iPod touch is any indication, the iPad will do this remarkably well (the iPod touch is okay, but my first generation device is too slow to be “magic”). Same goes for browsing the web, or doing any one of the numerous things that apps already available for iPhone OS can do.

In summary, the iPad is for people who are not computer users, but want to do the things generally associated with the computer. Or for times when a “computer user” wants to take a break from being one. This category of people will not be happy with a netbook, as those are still fiddly, and are not really good at what the iPad does so well (again, if my iPod touch is any indication). I can think of many instances in my daily life where the iPad would be a much better device for me then my iPod touch and my laptop. In none of those cases would I be happy with a baby laptop (netbook).

As a developer, I’m excited about what I may be able to do with this device. In the market I’m targeting, table-top RPG players, I can think of programs like interactive character sheets, a GM tool that interfaces with players iPhones or iPads, mappers, and there are other ideas floating around in my head. I’m very interested in pursuing development of tools RPGers can use either individually or connected to others on the iPhone OS (and perhaps other) platforms.


There’s been a lot of hype, and a lot of talk (both positive and negative) about Apple’s newly announced iPad. I’m working on my a post outlining my own views of the new device, but I just wanted to through this thought out there and see what anyone else thinks.

The AppleTV, for those who do not know, is a kind of set-top media extender. One way to think of it is an iPod for your TV. For our family, it fills the role nicely, allowing us to view our own photos, movies, TV shows, and music on our living room TV with minimum hassle. It also lets us rent and buy stuff from the iTunes Music Store. There are many devices in this category, and I’m sure there are others which do more, and/or are cheaper. As usual, however, AppleTV provides the best end-to-end user experience.

However, of all of Apple’s products, I think the AppleTV is the most lacking in the special sauce Apple uses to create their products. Its hardware is not quite up to the task, and has not been updated since its introduction in spring 2007. The interface has been tweaked a few times, with the latest version finally putting my own content ahead of iTMS content (a long-time complaint I’ve had), but it is still based on an older version of OS X (Tiger), and often times lags far more then I’d like.

So what does the iPad have to do with this? Well, take the Wi-Fi iPad, remove the screen and the battery, add A/V ports and presto, you have then new AppleTV hardware. The A4 processor in the iPad is more then good enough for the task, and from what I can tell it can push 720p graphics (and possibly 1080p), which is all the system would really need. I’d even say stay with flash memory, and the price should still be below $200 (possibly go with a small hard drive and bring the price below $150). Next, take the newest version of OS X (iPhone OS 4, Mac OS X 10.6), optimize it for the devices, and put the newest user interface on it. Having BlueTooth in it would allow for more interesting controls then a simple IR remote. At this point, as it’d be running on the same hardware platform as the iPhone OS, Apple could open it up for app development as well (using the same tools we use to develop for all of Apple’s other products). It wouldn’t compete with the big, hard-core game consoles, but could fit in as a casual games console.

This, I think would make the AppleTV a much more compelling buy. Software-wise it would leave the old generation (including ours) behind, but I think at this point Apple can afford that. It’s a device I would certainly like to see in my living room, and I even have some ideas as to what I’d program for it.

Apple has been working on a tablet form-factored device for a very long time now (at least a decade). Every few years rumors start to boil up that the device will be released “real soon now.” Sometime last year, these rumors started to pop up again, but this time with a renewed vigor. Here we are now two days before yet another super-hyped Apple event, and it seems that this time it will happen, Apple will indeed release a tablet form-factored device.

Though I am certainly not an expert pundit, there’s one thing I’m fairly sure of: Apple will not take an existing interface and shoehorn it into the new device (which is why every single Windows based tablet has failed). I expect the operating system will be similar in many ways to iPhone OS, and under the covers it will most certainly be a variation of OS X as found on most of Apple’s devices & computers (older iPods, as well as Airport and TimeCapsule run different operating systems).

This will, of course, make the MacTabletNetbookThingy (so christened by Key Ray of the most excelent Mac OS Ken daily news podcast) relatively easy to program for to developers who are already familiar with Xcode, Cocoa, and Objective-C. The device will also most certainly have some form of Safari, so web developers versed in the latest iterations of HTML 5, CSS, and JavaScript will also be able to develop for it, albeit web-based content only (as a bonus, such sites will work in any modern browser).

Though I am not yet anywhere near the developer I’d like to be, I am excited by this. Many of the ideas I have for iPhone and Mac desktop programs would also work on such a device. I can think of many applications which would be useful to tabletop RPGers and miniature gamers (my initial target audiences). I am keeping track of these ideas (and am open to suggestions), and hope someday you will see them.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a professional programmer, yet somehow I’ve never been able to get past the intermediate stage. From my first TI-99/4a, to my Commodore 128, to my various Commodore Amiga’s, PC’s and now Mac’s, I’ve always tried to pick up programming ‘in my spare time,’ often without the realistic short-term goals which would keep me engaged.

For pretty much the same amount of time, I’ve been a fan of role-playing games. Not just Dungeons & Dragons, but Star Trek, Star Wars, Star Frontiers, Earthdawn, BattleTech, ShadowRun, and amongst others. RPG’s have been a strong interest of mine which kind of faded into the background once I got married until a couple years ago, when a new gaming group brought this interest back into focus. If you’re interested in reading more about this aspect of my life, please visit my other blog: The Dragon’s Musings.

Now that my school is winding down (I take full-time on-line courses, which will be done in August, 2010; this is in addition to full-time work and beinga full-time parent/spouse), I’m looking forward to once again having enough free time to pursue both these interests, and I’ve decided to combine them. I will start out focusing on tools and other programs for RPG players and game masters. I really like the Cocoa frameworks, thus I will start out developing for platforms based on those frameworks, namely the iPhone OS, Mac OS X, and possibly the mythical Apple Tablet.

This blog will serve as a developer’s blog as I start working on new projects in this area. Inspired by the plethora of other developer’s blogs I follow, I’ll try to provide advice, reviews, and other ramblings related. I will not at this time commit to any kind of a posting schedule, but I’ll try to post a couple times a month to start with, with the frequency increasing once school ends. Until next time… catchyalater!