“We've got a little more to show you” – Keynote Thoughts and Predictions

Hot on the heels of last month’s iPhone 5 Keynote, we are now faced with what one will assume is Apple’s last Keynote of the year. If the rumors are to be believed, the “little” thing that Apple have to show us is the iPad mini.

iPad mini

Display

The iPad mini will feature a 7.85 inch display at the exact same 1024 x 768 resolution as the iPad 1 and 2’s display. This means that the iPad mini’s display is only 163 ppi, compared to the iPad 3’s display which is 264 ppi and the iPad 2’s display which ppi 132. It is no coincidence that 163 ppi is the exact same screen density as non Retina iPhones/iPod Touches, meaning that touch areas in apps (assuming developers followed Apple guidlines) will be of a sufficent size without any modification, which in conjunction with the exact same resolution of the Non Retina iPads will mean that all exisiting apps will just work. This is obviously just Great News for users and developers alike.

I don’t think even Apple would try and claim that an extra 31 ppi over the iPad 2 will make the iPad mini’s display “Retina”, but why would they when it makes an obvious feature they can add to the iPad mini 2.

It is important to remember that a Retina Display requires a faster GPU and therefore a bigger battery to power it, which in conjunction with the higher price will make it unsuitable for the lighter, cheaper iPad mini.

Wireless

The iPad mini will certainly feature WiFi and Bluetooth but will it include an LTE/3G Antenna? I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t, but I expect it to be an optional extra like on the iPad. Like the iPad, the iPad mini won’t allow you to make calls or send sms messages, and the cellular connection will be used solely for data.

Ports

Like the iPhone 5 last month the iPad mini will use the new Lightning Cable to charge and sync the device (if you still sync with a cable), other than that I think the only other port on the device will be a headphone jack.

Storage

16 GB, 32 GB and 64GB seem like the obvious capacities but I also think we will see the baseline model feature a mere 8GB of storage. Personally I don’t think 8GB is enough, especially with a lot of applications weighing in at 50-150MB and a few games going well over 1GB (the current limit for app sizes is 2GB). This is in addition to the eBooks and iTunes course that you are expected to put on it (if you are in their student target market), so you will want at least the 16GB version.

One thing Apple could do is strip out all of the @2x images out of app bundles for non retina devices which would save approximately 4/5th of the total asset size … but as this has been a problem since the first retina device (the iPhone 4) was introduced I am not holding my breath.

Price

Unlike Google and Amazon, Apple are not going to start selling their devices at cost anytime soon, so I doubt the iPad mini will become the cheapest 7 inch tablet on the market (Google’s Nexus 7 is currently $199 for the 8GB Model). I think the iPad mini will start at $249 for the 8GB WiFi only model and go up from there for more capacity and LTE. At $249, the iPad mini will be cheaper than the base model 5th Generation iPod touch, albeit with less capacity (32 GB for $299). If Apple are pedantic about having clear product lines and pricing, they would have to start the iPad mini at $329, but a £129 premium when compared to existing 7" tablets is quite excessive.

Conclusion

I expect the iPad mini will be targeted at the eBook and Educational markets, but as it is so cheap it will inevitably increase Apple’s tablet market share, just as the iPod mini did for its MP3 market share 8 years ago. Will it cannibalise iPad sales? Definitely. Will it become the most popular form factor? We will have to wait and see.

iPad

The New iPad may be become The Old iPad at this event (what was the problem with numbers again?) as it is set to be updated with a lightning port and rest of the World LTE just before the holiday season. If Apple are going to refresh the iPad lineup in the spring, I personally don’t think this will happen, but maybe they want to mix up their product release cycles and not refresh the iPod lineup until later next year.

Macs

The Mac Lineup got no attention at the last keynote, but I think it is poised to get some on Tuesday (but maybe it won’t even make the Keynote).

13" MacBook Pro Retina

The 15" MacBook Pro Retina burst onto the seen at WWDC and it has had very favourable reviews especially in regards to its retina display. It is now time for the 13" MacBook Pro to get the Retina treatment in addition to shedding its disk drive. I expect the non-retina 13" and 15" MacBook Pros to still be available as the Retina Models come at a price, and the 13" model will probably start at the $1699 mark. Like many others, I think I will be holding out for the 13" MacBook Air Retina.

iMac and Mac

The iMac and Mac mini have not been updated since May and June last year respectively so they are long overdue an update. I think the update will only be an internal speed bump with the headline feature being the ability to have 32GB of RAM in the iMac and 16GB of RAM in the Mac mini.

"It's almost here" - Keynote Thoughts and Predictions

Following on from WWDC, we are now moving on to Apple’s pre-holiday season Keynote. This Keynote has predominately been used to refresh the iPod Line Up, but this year it looks like we will get a bit more to chew on.

iPhone 5

As the invitation suggests on the 12th of September the iPhone 5 will be unveiled, but what will be new?

Bigger Screen

The iPhone 5 is going to have a bigger (taller) screen compared to its predecessors (rumoured to be 1136 pixels up from 960 pixels), in real world terms this means that you can get one extra row of apps on your home screen (and hopefully and extra row of apps in app folders too!!!). These extra pixels will also mean that apps can display more content on the screen than before and I expect existing apps will be letter-boxed with black bars at the top and bottom until they have been updated to support the bigger screen (there is also Autoresizing Masks and a New set of APIs in iOS 6 that will make this easier). Thankfully as most apps’ UIs are based upon UITableViews, I expect users won’t have to wait long until apps take advantage of the larger screen. One thing that Apple could now do with the extra screen real estate, is to make notifications more interactive with buttons and simply shrink apps down to their “original size” to make room for them.

New Dock Connector

It has been nearly 10 years since Apple first released the current 30 Pin Dock Connector, and besides some minor changes (they have all been interoperable) it has remained pretty much the same ever since. Apple are set to release a new smaller symmetrical 9 Pin Dock Connector with the iPhone 5, which will be the standard for all Apple devices for the next few years. The hopeful among us are probably thinking that it will be Thunderbolt compatible, but due to the price of Thunderbolt components and Apple not really wanting you to sync with a cable since the introduction of WiFi syncing and iCloud in iOS 5, I think they are just doing it to save space. One thing that is for certain, the stocking filler this Christmas for the Geek in your life is going to be the Apple Dock Connector Adaptor.

LTE

The iPhone 5 will feature LTE, but the bigger question is will it be “World LTE” or just “American LTE” like the iPad 3. I think LTE support will go beyond the US, but it won’t be future proofed for countries such as the UK who have yet to roll out LTE.

Bigger Battery

The iPad 3 got a much bigger and higher capacity battery than the iPad 2 to cope with pushing all the extra pixels on the Retina Display and to power the LTE antennas. The iPhone 5 will also get a bigger battery to cope with pushing around those extra few pixels but mostly for the LTE antennas. I don’t imagine the higher capacity battery will result in much of a net gain in terms of battery life, but it should at least remain on par with the iPhones 4S.

NFC

NFC hasn’t really caught on, it’s the ugly sister of the QR Code and that didn’t get much attention either. For NFC to take off a major corporation needs to get behind it … like Apple … or maybe not. I think Apple only wants to support NFC, if it is NFC, so unless they start allowing you to pay for good using your Apple ID, I don’t think we will see NFC in an iOS device until/if it really takes off.

iOS 6

iOS 6 has been in beta since WWDC and compared to previous betas of iOS, it has actually been really stable. The only issues I have found are layout bugs, which have just been because Apple have changed the default look and feel of some controls. I don’t think we will see any additional features added to iOS 6, besides support for the iPhone 5’s new screen size and if there are any new hardware related features for developers to take advantage of. Naturally this will ship alongside the iPhone 5.

iPods

The iPod Lineup hasn’t received any significant updates for 2 years now, as last years pre-holiday keynote was all about the iPhone 4S. While I don’t expect any ground breaking changes I do expect the majority of the line up to get a refresh, but maybe they wont even make the keynote and just go straight to the press release.

iPod shuffle

The iPod Shuffle still makes a good present and it small size means that many people wear one at the gym. I expect the iPod Shuffle won’t be going anywhere, but I wouldn’t expect anything more than an update of colours.

iPod nano

In its heyday the iPod Nano was the “Jewel in the Crown” of the iPod line up, but now it is just an odd hybrid between iPod Shuffle and the iPod Touch. I expect it will get a minor update like the iPod Shuffle but there is not a lot they can do with it now it is just a small touch screen unless they redefine what the iPod nano is.

iPod classic

The iPod Classic at this point is only still available as some people have huge music collections (above the 64GB Maximum Capacity of the iPod Touch) or they still use a dedicated music device. The later use case has diminished over the last few years but people’s music collections are only getting bigger as they purchase more music at a higher capacity than bit rate than before. As the iPod Touch wont get a 160GB anytime soon I expect the classic to stick around.

iPod touch

The iPod touch hasn’t been updated for 2 years so it is due an update. Logically you would expect the iPod Touch to at least be brought up to par with the iPhone 4S in terms of CPU and GPU, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it doesn’t get the iPhone 5s larger screen for another year.

Macs

Personally I don’t feel like there will be any updates to the Mac line up at this Keynote. The iMac is due an update, but if it was to get an update around this event it would just be a speed bump, in other words no retina display.

iPad mini

The rumour of an iPad mini (7-8 inch screen) has been around for a while, but I think if it was to materialise it won’t be at this keynote as it would dilute the announcement of the iPhone 5 … maybe having this keynote in early September means they can squeeze another one in before the end of the year…

OS X Mountain Lion API Highlights

With Mountain Lion appearing in the AppStore just 1 year after its predecessor Lion (371 Days to be precise), it should come as no great surprise that there isn’t the large amount of new APIs that usually comes along with a major update to OS X. Nevertheless there are a few stand out APIs that are worth pointing out.

Notification Center

Notification Center was a major feature of iOS 5 and now it makes its way to the Mac in Mountain Lion. If your coming from iOS using UILocalNotification or if your coming from Growl! on OS X you should have no problems getting up to speed with notifications, which on the Mac are referred to as NSUserNotification.

To post a notification you will need to create a NSUserNotification object and set the title and optionally the subtitle and/or informative text.

NSUserNotification *userNotification = [[NSUserNotification alloc] init];

userNotification.title = notificationTitle;
userNotification.subtitle = notificationSubtitle;

If your notification is actionable you can set the text of 2 additional buttons using the actionButtonTitle and otherButtonTitle properties.

Like UILocalNotification you can set a notification to be shown at a given time (e.g. for an alarm) using the deliveryDate property.

When you have finished configuring your notification simply tell the NSUserNotificationCenter to deliver it:

[[NSUserNotificationCenter defaultUserNotificationCenter] deliverNotification:userNotification];
[userNotification release];

By default notifications are only shown if your application is not in the foreground, which may seem confusing at first as Xcode always show notifications regardless of wether it is in the foreground or not.

Thankfully all you have to do is become the delegate of the user notification centre:

[[NSUserNotificationCenter defaultUserNotificationCenter] setDelegate:(id)self];

Then respond to the should present notification delegate method:

- (BOOL)userNotificationCenter:(NSUserNotificationCenter *)center shouldPresentNotification:(NSUserNotification *)notification {
    return YES;
}

It is important to note that only signed Apps (Gatekeeper, MAS etc) can post notifications.

Sharing

iOS has always had the ability to share photos and videos by E-mail and SMS and more recently by Twitter, it is this system wide sharing that NSSharingService tries to solve.

You can present your own UI for sharing, but most of the time you will want to use NSSharingServicePicker which you can present from a button.

The first thing you will need to do is to configure the button to send its action on mouse down

[shareButton sendActionOn:NSLeftMouseDownMask];

To share files you need to know their file system URLs and simply pass these to NSSharingServicePicker. If you present this from the button the OS will take care of everything for you:

NSSharingServicePicker *sharingServicePicker = [[NSSharingServicePicker alloc] initWithItems:fileURLs];

[sharingServicePicker showRelativeToRect:[sender bounds]
                          ofView:sender
                   preferredEdge:NSMinYEdge];
[sharingServicePicker release];

You can add your own sharing services in your app to the sharing service picker, but it is impossible for you to add your service to the OS and therefore make available for other apps to use.

Game Center

If you are familiar with Game Center on iOS you will be familiar with Game Center on OS X. Matchmaking, Achievements and your Friends are all here for your multiple device gaming pleasure.

iCloud

In Mountain Lion Apple has introduced the iCloud Document Browser, which means that all apps have standard way of displaying their Documents in the Cloud.

EventKit

EventKit comes directly from iOS and replaces the Calendar Store for interacting with a user’s calendars, events and reminders. The major benefit of Event Kit is that you can use the exact same code to interact with calendars on both iOS and OS X.

WWDC 2012 Keynote Predictions

It is that time of the year again were the Apple rumour mill runs wild in anticipation of the WWDC Keynote and this year is no exception. Unlike years gone by there isn’t a lot of information to go on, so I decided to make a list of the things that I would like to see announced, and the likelihood for each of them.

Mountain Lion

Release Date

We will get a release date (even if it is to the nearest month) for the next version of OS X. Mountain Lion has been in beta for a few months now and although there are a few bugs remaining, it feels like it is well on the way to release.

Likelihood 8/10

Dictation

The iPhone 4S introduced the world to Siri and the iPad 3 featured a stripped down version that just handled dictation. I think Mountain Lion will include the dictation aspect of Siri.

Likelihood 6/10

iOS 6

Background Triggers

I think Apple’s decision to not support true multitasking was correct to preserve battery life and performance of the active app, but there are more and more apps that need to check for data in the background e.g. Email, RSS, Offline Reading Apps. I expect there to be an API to register your app to be awoken to do such a thing at a given time interval e.g. Every hour, Every Day.

Likelihood 7/10

Inter-App Communication

Currently apps have to communicate with each other using the rather clunky URL schemes or even the pasteboard. There are plenty of things Apple could do to improve this, such as mimicking the full blown services approach found on OS X, or simply a “Files” App so it is easy to work on a file using multiple apps.

Likelihood 4/10

Facebook Integration

iOS 5 included Twitter Integration so users could easily Tweet from apps without having to authenticate their account every time. iOS 5 also included Twitter Request APIs making it easy to send data to and from Twitter. I see a similar OS Level of integration for Facebook in iOS 6.

Likelihood 9/10

Flickr, Vimeo etc Integration

In addition to Facebook I also expect there to be support for popular Photo/Video sharing services such as Flickr and Vimeo. I wouldn’t expect a rich API for these, just a simple interface to upload and download media from the built in apps.

Likelihood 7/10

Home Screen Widgets

I just don’t think Apple like widgets, so I don’t expect there to be any support for them in iOS 6 on either Springboard or in the Notification Center.

Likelihood 1/10

Apple Maps

It is obvious that Apple and Google are not the best of friends at the moment, and it is also clear that Apple doesn’t like to be reliant on anybody, so moving to their own Maps platform is a case of when and not if.

Likelihood 6/10

Siri Update

I expect Siri to get a few more features (maybe it will find businesses in the UK!!!), but I don’t expect it to be opened up to developers just yet.

Likelihood 8/10

Live Icons

If the Calendar app can update its icon to reflect the date why can’t the weather app update its icon to display the weather?

Likelihood 4/10

Apple TV SDK

The last 2 versions of the Apple TV run a variation of iOS (previously it was running a version of Mac OS X forked from 10.4), so it makes sense to unify it with the version of iOS that is on the iPhone and iPad. This will mean an API to handle events from the Apple Remote in addition to some new content APIs. Technically I don’t expect it to be too much of a challenge for developers, and it is an obvious area for Apple to move into.

Likelihood 6/10

Game Center Controller

If you haven’t seen Joypad (http://getjoypad.com/) before, it is a very cool idea. It turns your iPhone into a controller for iPad Games, but as Game Center is also coming to the Mac in Mountain Lion, an Apple supplied Game Center Controller App and API make a lot of sense to me.

Likelihood 5/10

iCloud

Unified Notifications

A large number of apps make use of Push Notifications for a variety of things, but they are not without their problems (and irritations). One of the major issues with Push Notifications is that people often have more than one Apple device, meaning that you get a Push Notification for the same event on all of your devices (which is expected), but annoyingly you have to dismiss notifications on all of the devices. I expect Push Notifications to be unified and synced using iCloud.

Likelihood 7/10

Reminders and Notes

I think that Reminders and Notes will now sync to the web based version of iCloud.

Likelihood 8/10

Safari Autofill Names & Passwords Sync

The transition from MobileMe to iCloud meant we lost the ability to sync keychain items between our Macs. In Mac OS 10.8 I expect this feature to be reinstated at least for Safari Names and Passwords, logically support for this will also be present in iOS 6.

Likelihood 8/10

webOS Synergy like Contacts and Calendars

One of the best things about webOS was how it merged all of your contacts and calendars together from all of the different services you had signed into (e.g. a person’s email address from iCloud, profile picture from Facebook etc). Now that we have iCloud, Exchange, Facebook and Twitter integration why can’t Apple implement a similar solution?

Likelihood 5/10

Hardware

iPhone 5

I don’t think we will see “The New iPhone” released at WWDC, simply because if the rumours are true and the only physical change is a bigger screen I don’t think that developers will need too much time to update their apps. Moreover Apple will have to make existing apps backwards compatible anyway (maybe by placing black bars around the edges?), so this reduces the requirement for it to be unveiled at WWDC.

Likelihood 2/10

MacBook Air/Pro

Even though both the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro received an update in the latter half of last year, I do expect a refresh and possibly a combining of the 2 lines leaving us with a 11", 13" and 15" MacBook Air. The rumor of a retina display would make this a very appealing update.

Likelihood 9/10

iMac

The iMac is also due an update, but due to the size of the screen I think the inclusion of a Retina display as standard is extremely unlikely.

Likelihood 7/10

Mac Pro

The Mac Pro hasn’t been updated for nearly 2 years, so many people think that it is dead. In my opinion it has become like the iPod Classic, whereby it is available to purchase if you need it (some people do), but it simply won’t ever receive a major update again. Saying this I would expect there to be one more minor update of the Mac Pro, but it will be an internals refresh rather than a complete overhaul.

Likelihood 8/10

Security Scoped File URL Bookmarks

Sandboxed applications (without any additional entitlements) live within their container (~/Library/Containers/apps.bundleidentifier_) and have no access to the rest of the File System, no access to the Internet, no access to Hardware such as the Camera, Microphone, USB Devices and Printing and has no access to User’s Data such as the Address Book, Location or Calendar.

Now this may seem a little extreme, but besides file system access all of these features can be enabled by requesting the relevant entitlement. For these features everything “just works”, but be warned you may be quizzed by the Apps Review Team why you require a given entitlement, so don’t just include them for the sake of it … or for analytics.

So now on to files…

When you sandbox your application you will have the following entitlements file (typically called appname.entitlements_):

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
    <key>com.apple.security.app-sandbox</key>
    <true/>
</dict>
</plist>

com.apple.security.app-sandbox simply enables app sandboxing for the given target:

com.apple.security.app-sandbox
Enables App Sandbox for a target in an Xcode project

As you can’t just access any file on the file system, the user has to select them (which means the powerbox will give you temporary access to the URL of the file). To do this the user can use drag and drop, or use NSOpenPanel/NSSavePanel. For this example we will use NSOpenPanel for clarity. To use NSOpenPanel/NSSavePanel you need to include the following entitlement:

com.apple.security.files.user-selected.read-write
Read/write access to files the user has selected using an Open or Save dialog

NSOpenPanel is trivial to implement and you get access to a file URL in the completion handler:

NSOpenPanel *openPanel = [NSOpenPanel openPanel];

[openPanel beginSheetModalForWindow:[self window] 
completionHandler:^(NSInteger result){

if (result == NSOKButton) 
{
    NSURL *openPanelFileURL = [openPanel URL];
}

}];

By using NSOpenPanel you now have access to the given file URL (and therefore file) until your application quits. Under certain circumstances you also get access to the file URL when you application launches if the application supports resume.

So what if you need to access files across launches?

You need another entitlement of course, in this case you have 2 choices depending on if your Application is a Document Based Application:

com.apple.security.files.bookmarks.collection-scope
Ability to use document-scoped bookmarks and URLs

or a Non-Document Based Application:

com.apple.security.files.bookmarks.app-scope
Ability to use app-scoped bookmarks and URLs

Assuming your application is a Non-Document Based Application your entitlements file will now look like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
    <key>com.apple.security.app-sandbox</key>
    <true/>
    <key>com.apple.security.files.user-selected.read-write</key>
    <true/>
    <key>com.apple.security.files.bookmarks.app-scope</key>
    <true/>
</dict>
</plist>

First of all you need to get access to the file URL in the same way as you did before, but this time you are going to create a bookmark out of it using NSURLBookmarkCreationWithSecurityScope:

NSURLBookmarkResolutionWithSecurityScope
Specifies that the security scope, applied to the bookmark when it was created, should be used during resolution of the bookmark data.
NSError *error = nil;
NSData *bookmarkData = nil;

bookmarkData = [openPanelFileURL 
bookmarkDataWithOptions:NSURLBookmarkCreationWithSecurityScope
includingResourceValuesForKeys:nil
relativeToURL:nil
error:&error];

You can now store this bookmark (which is just a NSData object) in any way you choose, as long as you can retrieve it later.

When you want to access this file you need to convert the bookmarkData into a file URL:

NSError *error = nil;
BOOL bookmarkDataIsStale;
NSURL *bookmarkFileURL = nil;

bookmarkFileURL = [NSURL 
URLByResolvingBookmarkData:bookmarkData
options:NSURLBookmarkResolutionWithSecurityScope
relativeToURL:nil
bookmarkDataIsStale:&bookmarkDataIsStale
error:&error];

The URL returned includes a “security scope” appended to it (although this cannot be assumed):

file://localhost/Users/ObjColumnist/Desktop/File?applesecurityscope=373861333331353430643963323736623939346438646161643134663339363061396361306534303b30303030303030303b303030303030303030303030303032303b636f6d2e6170706c652e6170702d73616e64626f782e726561642d77726974653b30303030303030313b30653030303030323b303030303030303030306535363566373b2f75736572732f7370656e6365722f6465736b746f702f77617463686564

You then need to tell the OS that you are going access this file URL:

[bookmarkFileURL startAccessingSecurityScopedResource];

This allows you to do anything you want with that file URL, typically you will use NSFileManager to do this.

Once you are done accessing this file URL you MUST tell the OS, failing to do so will leak kernel resources and prevent you from accessing secured files until you quit your application.

[bookmarkFileURL stopAccessingSecurityScopedResource];

This wraps up Security Scoped File URL Bookmarks on OS X and how you can access files outside of you application’s sandbox container. It is important to note that you don’t have to do this for files that reside in your application’s container, and this article doesn’t do any error handling when converting URLs to Bookmarks and Vice Versa.

Is the Latest Always the Greatest?

After watching the various feeds regarding Apple’s media event this Wednesday, I picked up my iPad (1st generation) and went to download the new iPhoto app. Unfortunatley I was out of luck, as it said I needed a camera (why? If I had a Mac without a iSight Camera would Apple prevent me from using iPhoto on my Mac?). Thankfully I have an iPhone 4S, so I went to the App Store and was presented with the following Updates screen:

App Store

Now at first glance you may just think Apple have been busy, but if you look closely they updated some of their existing applications to requires iOS 5.1, a version of the OS which had only been available for a few minutes (and a version of the OS that refused to download due to server load!!!).

This made me think, If Apple requires users to update their devices to latest version of the OS to use their Apps, why don’t all developers?

The common approach of developers is to change the minimum specification of their applications only when they release a major version, but why does it have to be this way?

If we only supported the latest version of OS (and I mean even a point release) we would have the benefits of:

Now using the latest APIs actually has a number of benefits: So whats the downside? The only downside is quite a big one and that is:

But who are these users that don’t run the latest version of an OS? All iOS devices that have been avaliable for purchase in the last 2 years (not many people keep their phones beyond this) can upgrade to the latest OS for free. Since Over the Air Updates where introduced in iOS 5, the process of upgrading the OS on your device has become quick and painless. So my argument is, if all applications required the latest OS version to work, then maybe users would be more eager to upgrade their OS anyway…

We have something you really have to see. And touch - Media Event Predictions

So it is time for Apple’s first Keynote of the year (or do we count the educational event in January? … it did show up in the Keynote Podcast Feed after all), and the one prediction that everyone seems to be agreeing upon is that we will see the unveiling of the iPad 3, but what will be new…

iPad 3

Retina Display

The iPad 3 will have a 2048x1536 Retina Display (4 times as many pixels as the iPad 2’s display), meaning that text will be sharp and crisp and your be able to watch 1080p videos with (quite a lot of) pixels to spare. To put this into perspective, the 27" iMac has a resolution of 2560x1440, which means the iPad will actually have more lines on the screen than the 27" iMac. There is an unfortunate side effect of the iPad getting a Retina Display, and that is applications will probably increase in size with all of the iPad @2x images.

A6 Quad Core Processor

One thing that we know for sure is that the iPad 3 will need quite a bit of a speed bump to push all those pixels around the screen, but will it be a newer Dual Core A5 or a Quad Core A6 Processor? One of the rumors is that the iPad 3 will be slightly thicker than its predecessor, and I think this is to accommodate a bigger battery for a Quad Core Processor.

Improved Camera

The iPhone 4S’s camera is the one of best cameras that you will find on a smartphone, the iPad 2’s camera on the other hand is probably not as good as the original iPhone’s. The Retina Display would emphasise how bad the cameras are on the iPad, so I expect Apple to bump the spec of both of the cameras so that they can at least both record video at 1080p.

LTE

It is early days for LTE, but I don’t think that there is any doubt that it will be the standard for the next few years, and unlike CDMA this will include outside of the US too. Maybe LTE is why the iPad 3 will put on a few pounds?

What else?

AppleTV 3

Continuing on the theme of 1080p, I think that we will finally get an AppleTV that is able to play 1080p videos which will also mean…

1080p iTunes Videos

I think Apple will start selling 1080p videos, which means that they are (theoretically) the same quality as Bluray. This means that videophiles will have nothing left to complain about… unless they still have a dial up internet connection as those video files will be huge.

What we won’t see

Thunderbolt Syncing

Am I the only person who still syncs their iPad using a USB cable? Hopefully I am not, but it would be good if you could sync your iPad in seconds over Thunderbolt. Unfortunately I don’t even think Apple will be adding to the tiny (mini? … nano?) list of device that currently uses Thunderbolt.

128 GB of Storage

With 1080p Videos and Retina apps everyone would like a bit more storage wouldn’t they?

iOS 6

I don’t think we are too far away from the developer preview of iOS 6, but I think that Apple will have an event just for iOS 6 (especially if it is a major release).

Shipping a 1.0 is Hard

The first version of an application is different to any other, and it is the hardest one to actually ship. This is especially true if you are an indie developer.

When you start a new application you probably have a list of features and a sketch of what you think/hope/wish the 1.0 version of your application will look like. As an indie developer you are the only one that knows exactly what is on this list, but you often feel like you can’t release an application until the whole list is completed, even though nobody else would be any the wiser.

The other major difference about a 1.0 version of an application is the lack of immediate pressure to release it. When you have released an application you are often pressured into releasing an update for a new feature or simply to fix some bugs. As an indie developer the only pressure you get is from yourself (and I try not to moan at me too often).

So over a week ago I finally decided my baby was ready to see the world, so I sent off the 1.0 version of my application Actionify to Apple and waited for it to go through the review process. To my pleasant surprise there was no problems first time round (Apple usually find something) and Actionify was released on Friday. Actionify is a GTD inspired Task Manager, that also offers a cloud sync subscription that allows users to collaborate on Projects. If you want to know more about it, you can click on the link here, but I won’t overload this post info. I am very pleased with how Actionify has turned out, the 1.0 misses a few features from my original list but also some additions that I added due to the feedback I received during the beta testing (thank you testers!!!). Inevitable it took longer than I had originally hoped, but this was mainly down to me underestimating the amount of effort and paperwork it took to set up a limited company (in the UK) and everything that goes with that (e.g. Banking, Transferring my iTunes Connect Account etc etc). In terms of development time the project probably only over run by 1 or 2 months, while this is not ideal, it isn’t to bad either.

In terms of technology, Actionify requires Mac OS 10.7 as the UI is mainly built with view based table views and the new Core Data APIs. I think view based table views shaved about 2 months off of my development time, so support for 10.6 wasn’t really an option for me. 10.7 also has a JSON Parser (NSJSONSerialization) and Popovers (NSPopover) built in, and although there are open source projects that offer similar functionally, I prefer to only depend on code by Apple and myself (rightly or wrongly) wherever possible.

The application syncs with a Rails application that I host on Heroku, and I couldn’t recommend Rails and Heroku enough. Rails is a great framework and Ruby is a great programming language, the best thing about Rails (for a non web developer) is everything has its place. Rails forces you to have a certain folder structure and I found this extremely beneficial … you can also add features with only a few lines of code which can only be a good thing. Heroku’s main benefit is you don’t have to think about servers and you just have to worry about your app. You simply deploy your code using a git push and you’re done. Moreover the majority of basic Heroku Add Ons are free, so you can start using Heroku without any risk (I am honestly not on commission, I just like it :) ).

I want to end this post by saying no matter how many times you release an application, seeing other people downloading it and using it is always the best feeling a developer can get, so if you can … SHIP IT!!!

Keeping the Static Analyzer Happy: Prefixed Initializers

The latest version of Xcode ships with LLVM 3.0 as it’s default compiler, and one of the first things that you will notice is that is a lot more thorough when it analyses your code compared to previous versions (which can only be a good thing). One thing that the static analyser now warns you about, is that you are over releasing objects that are returned from prefixed intalizer methods (init), such as in a category (for my previous posts on categories see here and here).

For example my NSString category has the following method:

- (id)MCSM_initWithComponents:(NSArray *)components 
seperatedByString:(NSString *)seperator;

And it’s implementation looks like this:


- (id)MCSM_initWithComponents:(NSArray *)components seperatedByString:(NSString *)seperator {

    NSMutableString *componentizedString = [NSMutableString string];

    NSUInteger i = 0;
    for(NSString *component in components) {

            if (i == 0) {
                    [componentizedString appendString:component];
            } else {
                    [componentizedString appendFormat:@"%@%@",seperator,component];
            }

            i++;
    }
    return [self initWithString:componentizedString];
}

This method takes an array of strings, and joins together using the separator parameter and can be used in the following way:

NSArray *components = [NSArray arrayWithObjects:@"one", @"two", nil]; 
NSString *string = [[NSString alloc] MCSM_initWithComponents:components seperatedByString:@","];
NSLog(@"%@",string);
[string release];

This would output:

one,two

As this method is in a category of NSString I don’t want it to clash with any other implementations. The common practise in Objective-C is to prefix categories methods (due to the lack of namespaces), so I have with MCSM_. The issue is that the static analyser will now think that this method returns an autoreleased object, as the method does not begin with init, new, copy or alloc. This means when you release the object the static analyser will complain about you over releasing an object.

So how do you fix this?

To fix this you can tell the compiler that the method returns a retained object by using the source annotation NSRETURNSRETAINED, which means your interface would look like the following:

- (id)MCSM_initWithComponents:(NSArray *)components 
seperatedByString:(NSString *)seperator NS_RETURNS_RETAINED;

Instead of NSRETURNSRETAINED you can also use __attribute((nsreturnsretained)), which is a longer way of writing the same thing:

- (id)MCSM_initWithComponents:(NSArray *)components 
seperatedByString:(NSString *)seperator __attribute__((ns_returns_retained));

So thats all fixed? Unfortunately not quite yet. The static analyser will now complain about a memory leak, as we have allocated a NSString by doing [NSString alloc], but then it isn’t referenced again in our code. For a method that begins with init, the static analyser knows that the method consumes the variable (which means it releases the parameter upon completion), and that is the behaviour we need.

To do this we have to use the source annotation __attribute((nsconsumesself)) in conjunction __attribute((nsreturnsretained)), which means your interface will look like:

- (id)MCSM_initWithComponents:(NSArray *)components 
seperatedByString:(NSString *)seperator __attribute__((ns_consumes_self))__attribute__((ns_returns_retained));

And that will fix it.

Summary

You don’t need to use the source annotations if your code obeys the Objective-C naming conventions, but in certain circumstances like the one above you need to help the Static Analyser do its job. As LLVM forms the the backbone of Automatic Reference Counting (ARC), you still need to do this even if your not retaining and releasing memory yourself.

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

Having never met the man, it does feel strange that I am so deeply sadden by Steve Jobs passing, and I suppose that is because what I do today is really down to him. Not only did Steve Jobs have the vision to create the Mac, iPhone and iPad that are in front of me on my desk, he also had the passion to make me want them too.

Looked up to by millions, Steve Jobs was a charismatic visionary, who will go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest CEO of all time. Not only did he start the computing revolution when he founded Apple in 70s, in his second stint as Apple CEO he brought a company on the brink of bankruptcy to be the most valuable company in the world in just under 15 years. Time and time again he ripped up the rule book and released product after product that change the world for good.

I could go on about how he changed the world but you already know that, and there are plenty of other articles that put it better than me. What I would like to say is that Steve Jobs’ passing has reiterated 3 things to me:

Find what you love

You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers.
Steve Jobs, Standford Speech (2005)

Don’t settle for second best, this is as true as it is for work as it is for love. You need to find what you love doing, and do that. If it makes you millions then thats great, but if it makes you happy then thats what counts.

Work hard to make it simple

That’s been one of my mantras - focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.
Steve Jobs, Interview with Business Week, 1998

If you design an make stuff like me, your appreciate that one of the things that Steve Jobs has proven, is that users are willing to pay more for simplicity.

My favourite Steve Jobs Quote is:

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

This goes hand in hand with simplify, it has to appear simple to use and be simple to use. Attention to detail in every aspect of design is key to a successful product. Make this your Mantra.

All good thing must come to an end

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.
Steve Jobs, Standford Speech (2005)

No matter how visionary you are, no matter how much money you have in the bank, one day you will be gone. Not everyone like Steve Jobs has the chance to become a legend, but you do have the chance to leave a legacy.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

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