With 100,000 iPhone SDK downloads, the relative simplicity of the platform and the popularity of the iPhone, there's no doubt we'll be seeing tons of iPhone applications being released as soon as the App Store goes live. But will those apps be any good?
Brent Simmons, author of NetNewsWire, thinks we'll see a ton of to-do lists and Twitter clients. He's right: Apple has failed to provide a to-do list app for iPhone OS (or Mac OS X, for that matter) and people have complained about it since June 29, 2007. Twitter is also the love du jour of techies everywhere and an iPhone app would be much better than the web interface (look no further than Iconfactory's Twitterrific on the desktop for proof). I am personally working on an app that combines the two ;-)
Brent also thinks that the money is in the Cloud. He states that standalone iPhone apps are easy and cheap enough to write and too boring to use. The most interesting apps will be those that sync to the cloud. It's the development, maintenance and scaling of the server apps that will be expensive, and that's where he sees much of the iFund money going. Time to become an expert on NSURLConnection!
I can't help but agree. One app I'm working for will tie into a web app we've written internally - the API isn't currently there, but it will be. Blossom (as we call it) won't be the most revolutionary iPhone app out there, but it is a good testing ground for client-server iPhone apps. I've got ideas for other apps too, and the thing they have in common is that they all tie back into the Cloud. The 1st iPhone "SDK" (web apps) was far from perfect, but if it did anything, it helped developers focus their attention on where it should be - the Cloud.
The MacBook Air is selling well, Ars Technica reports, with many stores reporting stock shortages and long lead times.
As Railsdaddy David Heinemeier Hansson mentions, this probably comes as a surprise to geeks all over the blogosphere, who were largely focused on the shortcomings of the tech specs - the relatively slow processor, shortage of ports, etc, and not focusing enough on the design and feel of it. Whether it takes 20 minutes or 30 minutes to convert a movie to iPod format is largely irrelevant, what is more noticeable (and therefore more important) is the general feeling of delight (or despair) one feels when using any device. Remember the awe people experienced when flicking images back and forth on the iPhone? Similar experiences abound on the MacBook Air - the feeling of not feeling like you're carrying a laptop, the feeling of not feeling like there's a computer under your keyboard - these are the specs, emotional specs, if you will, that are causing people to buy MacBooks Air. Indeed, the MacBook Air is just another in the long list of examples that prove that Apple is destroying the competition when it comes to emotional specs.
Xobni is an Outlook add-in that basically adds search, conversations and profiles to Outlook. When I first heard about Xobni, I was really excited to try it and was ecstatic when I got an invite a few months ago (I still have a few invites left, if anyone wants one).
That said, I'm about ready to give it up. The search, while better than Outlook's default search, is still no match for anything Google or Apple offer, and almost painful to use since while in "search mode" almost a quarter of the sidebar is covered in a completely out-of-place Yahoo web search. Conversations are also nice, but limited in usefulness due to their being restricted to the sidebar. Further, since I deal with only a limited amount of people via email, the profiles lack utility (though the auto-discovery of phone numbers is nice). To top it all off, Xobni often makes Outlook unresponsive (though responsive enough to tell me that it's not responding).
I still like the product, and despite it's flaws, I'm still using it since it's features (ever so slightly) outweigh its drawbacks, and was glad to hear that Microsoft may buy Xobni. This can only be good since proper integration into Outlook would likely fix any performance issues and enhance Xobni's feature set. As a lukeworm fan, I can only hope that Xobni continues to see improvements and a Microsoft acquisition looks to be one pretty sure way of making that happen.