Programming and Technology Related Stuff

A Whole Lot of iPhones

It’s that time again! The rumours about the next iPhone have been really heating up.

Interesting though, that amongst the usual debates on when it will be released, what features it will have, and exactly what it will look like (and be called), this time there are rumours for three completely different iPhones.

  • The iPhone 5S: The “usual” Apple iterative approach in that it looks just like the iPhone 5, but will have better specs inside and likely some new feature. Alleged pictures of these are starting to appear.

    I say “usual” because Apple has done this twice (with the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4S), but really the only thing consistent (so far) with Apple is that they always keep you guessing.

  • The “Cheaper” iPhone: The idea that Apple needs something to compete with the lower end of the market other than their discounted previous year models. In this way they can have new hardware, but in other ways skimp to make it cheaper. The rumours will perhaps slow as Tim Cook just denied the idea, but will likely not stop.

  • The iPhone Plus: The idea that Apple needs something to compete with the recent slew of huge screen Android phones has led to a lot of speculation about whether Apple will try something beyond just stretching the length of their screen. Marco Arment made a crazy prediction which has gotten a lot of traction in the rumour world as it’s technically feasable and simple. A very elegant solution (if you can call a 5 inch screen elegant).

My opinion was that of course Apple will not scale up from a single “current” model to three in one shot, so I’ve been pretty dubious about these the whole time. This seems confirmed with Tim Cook’s latest speech. This just reminds me of the rumours of a cheap, cheap price for iPad mini prior to its launch. Apple just doesn’t compete in the low end.

Of course, they do currently support two sizes of iPads, and two versions of one of them (the iPad 2 and the 4), so I don’t think it outside the realm of possibility for them to have the iPhone 5S (or whatever the call it), the iPhone 5 (discounted), and the iPhone Plus (again, name). I don’t think they will though. I just don’t think that the 5 inch phone screen is an area they’re going to try for right yet. Of course as I said, the only thing consistent with Apple is that they always keep you guessing.

My Cluttered, Organized Desktop

Today I read James Hague’s post, An Irrational Fear of File on the Desktop and I completely agree.

I am a big user of the desktop for my work processes. I make use of “My Documents”, but mostly for archival use. I also have a “work” folder where my checked out and version project reside.

But, stuff I have on the go, or that I need to access constantly, often reside on my desktop. I set browsers to download files there rather than some “Downloads” folder tucked away somewhere. If I have some text file of notes or some SQL query, or maybe excel document of scratch work, it sits on the desktop until I’m done with it, at which point I archive it or delete it. I do this because seeing it right there in front of me makes me deal with things often, rather than have to remember to periodically clean out my “Downloads” folder filled with downloads no longer needed (installers of installed things, archives of libraries now included in projects) or my “My Documents” folder filled with stuff that was only needed temporarily.

With it right there, it can annoy me and make me clean it up properly.

I also agree that it is often looked at as unorganized and a sign that I am not an adept computer user. This is particularly true from a few of my friends and colleagues using window managers that don’t even let you have files on your desktop. I appreciate the arguments for cleanliness and keeping things in their proper place, but for me the desktop is a nice staging area before I put things in their proper place. I could do this with any random folder, but the nice part of the desktop is that it’s right there whenever I close or minimize my windows.

Though, all of this being said, I find the new(ish) re-acceptance of the desktop as a application launcher rather than a workspace to be interesting. From Windows 95 onward Microsoft tried more and more to push your documents and then you shortcuts off of the desktop: the windows start menu (with a recent documents folder), libraries and the improved start menu search in Windows 7, etc.. All of these things were to help users organize and get their stuff off of the desktop. And as I mentioned, there are many other desktop environments that have had the same “clean desktop” philosophy. But the current trend, brought back to us by touch screens, is to move the applications back there. SpringBoard in iOS is essentially a desktop filled with launchers and in fact the folders used to group and organize them came as a new feature several version in. Android is the same. Then Launchpad in OS X Lion shows up and brings the iOS-style desktop of launchers to Macs, despite the presence of the Dock and Finder and Spotlight. Even more recently we have Windows 8, with it’s new launcher interface. Maybe documents are still “supposed” to be filed away somewhere, but applications are becoming more and more front and centre.