Apr 11

Mac OS X Lion: 8 More Reasons to Move off Windows

The next version, 10.7, of the Apple operating system for the Mac, called OS X Lion, is planned for release in July 2011. Mac OS X Lion now makes it more compelling than ever to migrate to the Mac platform, here are 8 reasons why:

1. Application Distribution and Management

The App store capability comes to the Mac in the form of the Mac App Store. This functionality has already been made available as an update and will be part of the Lion release.

The trend towards using specific Apps, be it on an iPhone, iPad or on a Mac will continue as users demand the same Apps on their different devices. One example is Evernote (evernote.com) which provides a note taking App for the iPhone, iPad and now the Mac.

2. Intuitive and Consistent User Experience

The Lion release also contains new functionality, that brings all the best features of the iPad to the Mac. The new capabilities are:

Launch Pad, which provides a single place from which to manage and find all your Applications, just like on the iPad.

Full Screen Apps, allows Apps to take over the entire screen, allowing a user to concentrate on a single application. Again, this feature is taken from the iPad.

Mission Control, replaces the previous Expose function and combines it with Spaces and the Dashboard to provide one place from where you can see everything that is running on your Mac.

3. Human Computer Interaction

The multi-touch gesture feature on the iPad has been a huge hit with users. The intuitive, touch based method of interacting with the iPad is now part of the Mac. By further enhancing the trackpad functionality, the touch interface with additional gestures provides a much more natural way of interacting with your computer. The mouse is now longer required!

4. File Management

Taking the cue again from the iPad experience, Lion includes an Auto Save and Resume capability. Applications that make use of this new feature will allow for documents to be saved automatically.

The above capability, together with a new feature called, Versions, will allow for the evolution of a document to be recorded as the user works on the content. A version is taken every hour and can be easily retrieved using the Time Machine like interface.

5. Profile Management

With the proliferation of iOS devices there is a clear need for a management capability. The new Profile Manager allows for easier configuration and management of Mac and iOS device users. The Profile Manager integrates with existing directory services such as Active Directory.

6. File Sharing and Security

Further evidence of improved integration with iOS devices is delivered via a new feature called AirDrop. This feature allows you to send files wirelessly to another Mac or iOS device.

Lion also provides a new level of security through XTS-AES 128 bit data encryption at the disk level. The added security is fast and unobtrusive and works in the background.

7. Windows Migration Assistant

Apple has always provided assistance to Mac users upgrading to a new computer. With Lion, there is a specific Migration Assistance that connects to a Windows PC over a network, allowing for easier migration from an existing Windows PC.

8. Built in Server

The inclusion of OS X Server as an integrated product with every copy of Lion, is a bold move from Apple. This addition alone, will save $499 for Mac users.

A full server capability can be easily setup using the new Server Setup feature in Lion. All the usual services such as user management, push notification, file and printer sharing, calendar, mail, contact management, VPN and Wiki servers are now available with very Mac.

One Last Thing

Apple is also providing enhanced support to small businesses through a new service called, Genius Joint Venture. Customers will receive priority support at the Apple store Genius Bar and also via a new support telephone number.

With Mac OS X Lion, Apple has made some bold and innovative changes. The tight integration with iOS devices and the move towards a unified, consistent user experience, will ensure that Mac OS X continues to win over Windows users.


Oct 10

The Apple iPad – Open for Business

iPad ready for business

The iPad was initially launched as a device targeting the consumer market. Many commentators and pundits refer to it as a media consumption device. Apple themselves call it a magical and revolutionary product, with typical Apple hyperbole. Although, after a few minutes of use, it certainly feels magical and the reaction it’s caused has been something of a revolution.

Exactly how much of a revolution? iPad sales are one important indicator. Apple releases sales figures during its quarterly financial reports. The list below shows the dates and totals of Apple’s announcements of iPad sales.

21 July  2010 – 3.27 million
31 May 2010 – 2 million
3 May 2010 – 1 million
8 April 2010 – 450,000
5 April 2010 – 300,000

Considering that the iPad was launched on April 3, the sales figures are record breaking. Updated sales figures will be released during the October 18, Apple fourth quarter results announcement.

The other indicator of a revolution is the rush of recent press releases from other vendors, describing their entry into the tablet device market. No one wants to get left behind in the race to dominate this newly created category.

While tablet computers have been around for many years, Apple, I feel, have redefined this category. The tablet computer category of old, as defined by Microsoft, tried to squeeze the Windows operating system into a tablet format. While the Windows tablet found modest success in niche markets, it was not a mass market success.

Apple has with the release of the iPad, shown that there is a market for a tablet like device, especially for web browsing, watching movies, listening to music and reading electronic books. In addition there is an ever increasing range of 3rd party applications, or Apps, as they are fondly called, being developed for the iPad.

While all the attention has been on the iPad as a consumer device, it’s the steady adoption by businesses that has been most surprising. Even Apple, who for many years, have all but ignored the business market, outside of specialist creative and media niches, has recently showcased the iPad for business use.

Mercedes Benz, Hyatt Hotels, Wells Fargo and SAP are some of the larger organisations that are testing out the iPad enterprise wide.

In the UK, Lloyds of London, the insurance brokers are conducting a pilot program, where the iPad will replace the mainly paper based workflow that the insurance broker currently uses. I was at a meeting recently at a UK Building Society, who are investigating using the iPad for board meetings.

I have started noticing an increasing number of people starting to use the iPad during meetings or at conferences. While there are some limitations, the iPad certainly works well as a replacement for using a notebook in a meeting.

The commonly held view that the iPad is only for consumer use and mainly a niche entertainment device is incorrect, in my opinion. I believe that the iPad is poised to take the business world by storm.

Building on the solid foundations established for the iPhone, the iPad is really the first mobile computer designed from the ground up to be operated by touch. For anyone that requires Netbook like computing capability with a higher degree of mobility, then the iPad is ideally suited to that. Apple will no doubt make the iPad lighter, faster and more capable with future versions.

Businesses are always looking for ways to improve efficiency. Any area of a business that has a manager walking about, a sales person showing customers the latest car, an estate agent required to provide quick details to a client will see the value of using an iPad.

Then there is the untapped potential. The many new use cases for a device like the iPad, yet to be fully realised, will further increase it’s adoption by business users.

Sep 10

Apple TV 2010 – An Accessory for your HDTV

The new Apple TV

After months of speculation, Steve Jobs, in his legendary  ‘One last thing’ section of the 1 September keynote, unveiled the new Apple TV, or Apple TV 2010 as I like to call it.

My prediction in the last blog post was wrong. Apple did reveal a new Apple TV device and it’s a big change from the previous version. The major change is the move away from the Apple TV being viewed as a media centre. In all fairness, Apple never positioned the older Apple TV as such, always regarding it as an experiment, a hobby as Steve Jobs always says.

The new version is priced at £99, certainly falling into the high-end accessory category. Without a hard disk, the new device takes a radical departure from the old version.

The new Apple TV is best thought of as an accessory  for your HDTV. What the 2010 Apple TV does is provide a device that in effect converts your HDTV into an Apple TV i.e an iOS device. With the HDTV always being the centre of attention in any living room, board room or meeting room, Apple TV allows that high definition wide screen to smoothly join the Apple eco system.

This ecosystem is the Mac, iPhone and iPad. With the addition of a new capability called AirPlay, Apple allows for media stored on any of the Apple products to be streamed to your HDTV. Apple, is taking one step closer to the vision of having all media stored in a Cloud and then accessible on any device. No need for a dedicated set-top box.

There is still however a need for a media centre capability, a place to store and manage your content, while the big Cloud vision is being implemented. I’ve been looking into the new Mac Mini, together with a product called Plex, which provides some compelling functionality for a media centre.

The possibilities for using the Apple TV together with the iPad and either a Mac Pro or Xserve to deliver media content are certainly worth exploring. Imagine having all company podcasts, internal training, videos and similar content delivered seamlessly on the iPad or HDTV.

Aug 10

Will the iTV be announced on 1 September?

iTV? If you’re in the UK, you’re probably already thinking about iTV, the domestic broadcaster. Fear not, Apple is not taking over iTV!

Apple 1 September 2010 Event

Apple announces 1 September Music Event

The now annual Apple music event, which usually focused on the iPod, is taking place on the 1 September 2010. The various Apple related blogs have been predicting that Steve Jobs  will announce a long overdue update of the Apple TV at the event. Many blogs also reported that Apple plan to rename the device previously know as Apple TV to iTV. This will bring the device in line with the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad naming convention that Apple uses.

The Apple TV, which was officially announced in early 2007, has sold over a million units since it launched. Despite the initial success, Apple does not actively market the device and continues to refer to the Apple TV as a hobby. Since it first launched, the Apple TV, which strangely enough was originally going to be called iTV, has only received minimal attention from Apple. There have been minor updates to the FrontRow software since first launched. FrontRow is an Apple application that allows media to be accessed on a TV using the Apple remote.

In it’s current form, the Apple TV, runs a stripped down version of Mac OS X 10.4.7, which together with a specific implementation of the Apple FrontRow application provides the core software that drives the Apple TV. This means that Apple currently maintains 4  Mac OS X based operating system flavours, the other 3 are  Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server and the recently named iOS (used to be called iPhone OS).

It’s not difficult to conclude that having Apple TV run iOS makes alot of sense. This change will bring the Apple TV in line with the other Apple devices. It also opens up the Apple TV to the whole Apps universe. Currently the Apple TV cannot be modified to run other applications besides FrontRow.

There does exist a niche group of dedicated Apple TV fans, that have released software to workaround the Apple TV limitations. These workarounds or “Hacks” as they are referred to, allow Apple TV owners to use the device as a more fully functional media centre. These diehard fans have proven that a market does exist for an enhanced Apple TV device.

My prediction is that Apple is not quite ready yet to announce a new Apple TV.