|MacWorld Expo 2011 Show Coverage|
|News - Featured Website News|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Monday, 31 January 2011|
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It Should Probably Be Called "iOS World"
The big Apple event of the year used to be Steve Jobs' MacWorld Keynote address. There is no keynote any longer, although there were sessions you could attend, such as "Learning from Science Fiction Interfaces" and "TechGirlz: Women in Technology". I didn't attend any of the conferences, but stepping inside, I was briefly transported back to those heady days of yore: lots of exhibits! Crowds to push through!
But the nostalgia faded quickly. To be blunt, there's not a lot of Macintosh stuff at MacWorld Expo. Although I didn't count, I'd guess that about 2/3 of the exhibits were for iPhone/iPad/iPod-related items. As I feared, there were endless displays of iPhone and iPad cases, stands, and screen protectors...
There were some Mac items, which I'll get to, but the real development work these days is in iOS devices. Here are some of the more interesting...and silly...things I saw.
Hanging from the inside front of the bill of this extended baseball cap is a clear plastic sleeve into which you slip your iPhone or iPod Touch. A magnifying lens adjusts back and forth on a ratcheted track to enlarge the image, while flaps on the side of the bill block annoying outside light from interfering with your viewing experience. I tried one out:
I am forced to admit that it does in fact work, although I cannot imagine wearing one in public "at the airport or beach". Normally $29.95 (plus $7.95 shipping and handling), they were selling briskly at the show price of $20.00.
Rokform's CNC-machined, solid aerospace aluminum ratchet-adjustable "RockStand" iPhone stand looks great just sitting on your desk, empty:
It looks great with your iPhone or iPod in it, too, and is available in a variety of anodized colors. When handling the stand, you get the impression of a high-quality solid chunk of metal: nothing's loose or flimsy, and the action of the ratcheting adjustment lever is sublime. Which it should be for the retail price of $170. However, show special: free shipping!
I am puzzled as to how Western civilization has survived until now without a Bluetooth-enabled meat thermometer.
This $100 device detects temperatures from 32 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and supports two probes for tracking multiple items. Android support coming soon!
If you'd ever wished that your iPhone was a desk phone, iFusion has you covered.
Basically a Bluetooth cradle for your iPhone, the iFusion provides both a desktop handset and amplified speaker phone. A USB pass-through cable means that your iPhone can sync and charge while in the iFusion, and you can even plug in external speakers. For only $149, your iPhone can replace a corded desktop phone you could probably get from a friend's closet for free.
I'm not actually sure what I'd use a hard drive for on my iPad; it would have to be something pretty cool to compensate for the hassle of carrying around a somewhat chunky battery-powered external hard drive.
Apparently I lack imagination, because this was one of the larger booths at the show and it was quite crowded. Judging from the product sheet I picked up, the Hyperdrive's main use is to enable you to view photos and media on the Hyperdrive on the iPad (note that the image shows memory cards inserted into the Hyperdrive). However, you can't actually transfer media files from the drive to the iPad, so its allure escapes me. Real old-timers might remember the original General Computer Corp. Hyperdrive for the 512K Mac, which was a 10 megabyte (i.e. one hundredth of a gigabyte) internal hard drive that had to be spliced directly into the Mac's electronics, since this pre-data SATA and even IDE.
FrogPad Half Keyboard
OK, I can actually see some (admittedly limited) use for this Bluetooth-enabled one-handed keyboard:
The keyboard uses "chorded" keystrokes: in other words, you hold down the green or orange keys while pressing another key to get the green or orange symbol...analogous to using the Shift key on a standard keyboard to get upper-case letters. The demonstrator used it to enter text on an iPad and was impressively fast. Apparently some of their customers are graphics artists who don't like to move their hands from their mouse or tablet and keep one hand on this and the other on the input device. Both right- and left-handed versions are available in either white or black, but at $140, it's not for the casual user.
Motion Portraits Horror Apps
Many of the "booths" at MacWorld were tiny, circular stands with about 3 square feet of display space and a circular sign above. Without any chairs, staffers must stand all day to answer questions about their products. The folks at Motion Portraits were happy to demonstrate their "Horror Apps" available in the App Store.
You take a picture with your iPhone camera, then the app analyzes it and can turn you into a ghoul, zombie, or other horrible creature. Other apps can artifically age you, vary your weight, or turn you into an alien. This is precisely the kind of small operation that iOS development makes possible. We'd never see this kind of innovation on a desktop platform!