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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I want my AppleTV Apps...

The new iOS based AppleTV is awesome.  Streaming from iTunes and AirPlay is great and it is one of the best NetFlix clients out there.  But where are the Apps and the AppleTV App Store?  We have an App Store for iPhones, iPads and now even for the Mac.  So why not AppleTV?

Here is my theory... I think Apple is looking for the best way for the user to interact with the AppleTV before opening up app creation on it.  A remote control just isn't an Apple-like way to do user interaction, it is so 1970's.  I think maybe Apple is working on something like Microsoft's Kinect for XBox or some other futuristic way to interact with the big screen.  Maybe some form of voice and gesture combination based interaction.  Imagine a device that plugs into the AppleTV's USB port and sits above or below your TV that has a camera, microphone and other motion sensors like Kinect.  This device could respond to voice commands, as well as gestures, to control the user interface or to play games.  For example, you could just say "AppleTV open NetFlix" and the NetFlix app launches.  Then you could scroll through movie lists using swipe gestures. This device would also allow the AppleTV to be an excellent FaceTime client!  Just tell the AppleTV to "Call Grandma" and boom, you are video chatting with Grandma and she can watch her grandchild taking their first steps across the living room. 

Hopefully Apple has something like this up it's sleeve for the next version of the AppleTV, then I think it will go from being just a hobby to being the next big hit for Apple.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What's next for iOS? [updated]

Now that iOS 4.2 has finally been released, what is up for the next version of iOS? There have been rumors of an iOS 4.3 release to support in app subscriptions, but what can we expect from iOS 5?

Here are some of the features I would like to see:

1. Multiple user support.
There needs to be a way for users to log into an iOS deveice and see their particular settings.  This would be most useful for the iPad, which is more likely to be shared by multiple family members.  It would be really nice if this feature was activated by face recognition using the front facing camera or by fingerprint scanning.  Of course, for older hardware, the standard PIN entry could be used to determine the user.

2. Improved Notifications.
There needs to be a less intrusive notification than the pop-up box that interrupts whatever you are doing when you get a new notification.

3. Additional AirPrint printer support.
I am sure the originally promised printing to printers connected to a Mac or Windows PC will come in the next iOS version.

4. Wireless syncing.
Please, Apple, give us the ability to sync with iTunes over wi-fi instead of just a direct USB connection.

5. AirPlay support for streaming to iOS devices.
Being able to stream content from iTunes to an iOS device, like is done with the Apple TV, would be a nice addition.

6. Dashboard widgets.
This would be most useful on the iPad and would give it a home for the missing apps like calculator, stock ticker, weather etc...  These widgets could be located on the search page when swiping left from the first home page and could also link to full screen, more detailed apps.

7. Podcast subscriptions.
It would be nice if I could subscribe to podcasts on my iOS device through the iPod or iTunes app add have them automatically download just like in iTunes instead if having to either sync or use the Get More Episodes feature.

8. Non-programmer's development tool.
This would be like HyperCard for iOS.  A development tool for non-programmers that would allow users to create their own personal apps for use on their own personal iOS devices.  The apps would be created on your computer and then synced through iTunes to any of your iOS devices.

9. Support for more voice commands.
One of the few areas where Android has an advantage on iOS would be in voice based commands to perform various functions.  I believe this has something to do with Apple's acquisition of Siri and their Virtual Personal Assistant.  I would expect to see some of its features integrated into the next version of iOS.

These are just a few of the things on my wish list for the next release of iOS.