MaCinJay’s Musings

another case of inverse vandalism

Posts Tagged ‘firmware update

Firmware updates

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Apple has released firmware update 1.1.2 for the iPhone and iPod touch. This has inter alia added support for international keyboard layouts and – in the case of the touch – the ability to add and update events in the calendar. The latter feature addresses the touch’s most glaring weakness from a software point of view.

I’ve had a chance to use the touch for a week now and have been really impressed. For my money the best feature isn’t the music player, it’s the Safari Internet browser. I’ve always been lukewarm about the desktop version of Safari, preferring Firefox’s greater flexibility, but it works great on the touch. A nice feature is that when using your finger to scroll up or down in a web page there is a “bouncing” effect when you reach the limit of the page. It’s an effective way of showing that you can’t go any further – like hitting a wall in real life, only without the pain. A small touch but one that nicely showcases Apple’s legendary attention to detail.

My only real complaint is that it is too easy to accidentally activate links, which I mentioned in my last post. (That and the fact that it would be nice to have a larger viewing area – is there an Tablet Mac in the works?) It makes me wish that it the touch was not reliant on Wi-Fi so that I could use it all the time. When oh when will Apple release the iPhone in South Africa?

Written by macinjay

November 13, 2007 at 10:20 pm

SDK for iPhone

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steve-jobs-and-the-iphone.jpgIn September I wrote that Apple would need to consider officially endorsing the development of native third-party applications on the iPhone as the lack of these was regarded as a handicap in some quarters. Apple also received a lot of bad press following the iPhone’s recent firmware update, which disabled third-party applications that certain users had installed on their handsets by hacking the iPhone’s software.

Now I see that CEO Steve Jobs has written an open letter on Apple’s website promising an SDK by February next year that will give developers the tools to produce applications for the iPhone. He writes: It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc. He goes on to say that the threat of cell phone viruses has been understated and that companies like Nokia have already taken steps to combat the problem. According to him Apple are working on an advanced system which will offer developers broad access to natively program the iPhone’s amazing software platform while at the same time protecting users from malicious programs.

I think that the phrase “broad access” is a telling one. It will be interesting to see what sort of restrictions Apple will impose on development and whether it will bar certain applications that may negatively affect their revenue, such as VoIP and instant messaging. But at least now there is an SDK in the works.

Written by macinjay

October 18, 2007 at 6:38 am

iPhone update raises hackles

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Last week I touched on the controversy caused by the iPhone’s recent firmware update. Now Macworld journalist Chris Breen has construed this as evidence that Apple has somehow lost its way, or as he puts it “is on the wrong path”. He cites a whole range of issues to support his theory, from the iPhone’s recessed headphone to dull-coloured folders in Apple’s upcoming 10.5 Mac Operating System, codenamed Leopard.

He makes some valid points. Charging their clients twice for the privilege of putting ringtones based on songs that they have already bought is daylight robbery. (Though to be fair other service providers charge even more.) It is also a little rich of Apple to expect clients to replace their iPod accessories when upgrading to the new models.

However his argument falls down on several fronts.

First of all his contention that Apple were either negligent in releasing the firmware update or, worse, maliciously “bricked” iPhones hacked to operate on non-AT&T networks is flawed. The fact of the matter is that Apple had no obligation to protect the hacker’s interests as the latter were in contravention of the EULA (end-user license agreement) that they entered into when buying the phone. Despite this Apple did provide a warning that hacked phones could be disabled by the update. Surely then if the owner of a hacked iPhone goes and runs the update he or she has no right to complain about the consequences? Ultimately Apple is responsible for protecting the interests of itself and its business partner AT&T against the small minority of customers who have put their own necks on the block by hacking their phones.

As I pointed out in my earlier post though, disabling third-party applications is more contentious. There is no clear threat to Apple’s or AT&T’s interests here (unless you count instant messaging applications, which may reduce text messaging revenues). Still, I don’t believe that Chris fully appreciates Apple’s dilemma here. If it altered the update (assuming that this was possible given the usual resource and time constraints) to somehow accommodate the applications, Apple would thereby be tacitly endorsing them. This would fly in the face of its decision not to allow third-party development of native applications, at least for now.

Secondly, Apple has been criticised about its hardware designs many times in the past. Two examples that spring to mind are the decisions to discontinue floppy disk drives and later built-in dial-up modems in the Mac. Compared to this the iPhone’s recessed jack is small beer (although audiophiles may disagree); in any event it hardly represents a new departure for Apple.

Chris’s other complaints hinge largely on his own personal tastes. For instance he dislikes the new Apple keyboard but his opinion is by no means universal as the keyboard has received a lot of praise from other quarters.

It is a given that no company is going to please all its customers all of the time. While not all of Apple’s decisions will necessarily sit well with every one of its customers, I believe that it gets it right at least most of the time and I certainly don’t agree that it is on the wrong path.