Podcast #15: More iPhone 4S, Growl, Remembering Steve

2011-10-10 by . 0 comments

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This is the fifteenth episode of the Ask Different Podcast. Your hosts this week are Kyle Cronin, Jason Salaz, Nathan Greenstein.

Now that we’ve had time to digest Apple’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” event, we share our thoughts about the announcements and how they fit into the bigger Apple picture.

  • We begin this show with some site news. Ask Different is now a member of Blog Overflow. You can visit our blog at apple.blogoverflow.com. We have some posts up already, but we’re searching for more contributors! If you’re interested in contributing, either regularly or on occasion, please leave an answer to this meta post or send us an email at podcast@askdifferent.net. We’re looking forward to seeing what members of our community can come up with!
  • Additionally, Ask Different was given a refreshed navigation bar in honor of Steve Job’s death.
  • There is disagreement among pundits about the significance of Apple’s iPhone 4S announcement. We agree that the keynote felt disappointing, but we acknowledge that there have been some hardware improvements. Jason’s guess is that, since most of the software improvements (iOS 5) have already been announced, the focus on hardware made the announcements feel underwhelming. Nathan’s guess is that people are mainly disappointed because they waited a long time for such a seemingly small change.
  • We debate why the iPhone 3GS is still available. Kyle thinks that this is a Tim Cook move, and worries that Apple will start keeping around their older hardware for a long time. Does this degrade the brand so much that it isn’t worth having a low-cost offering? We discuss whether keeping old models around is a good idea for iPhones, as well as for desktops.
  • We discuss the changing release cycle for iPhones. With more time between releases, it seems like development has been gradually losing speed. We predict when the next iPhone will be released, and what we expect Apple to do in the future.
  • From release cycles, the discussion turns to the holidays. Is the holiday season a big selling time for iPhones? We wonder about how one goes about giving someone an iPhone without making them pay for a pricey monthly contract.
  • It seems to us that the iPhone 4S was released later than Apple had hoped. We discuss potential reasons for this, and agree that it was probably software-related. Our guess is that Apple was busy fine-tuning Siri to get it ready for general use. This leads us to wonder again about how cloud-based Siri is. Are local commands that interact with first-party apps and media playback sent to Apple’s servers? Dictation only? Or are there commands whose processing in only done locally?
  • We talk about voice control options on other platforms. Nathan’s old flip phone has a voice control function, but it doesn’t exactly… work. Kyle wishes that there was something like Siri for Mac, and Jason and Nathan tell him about the little-known voice functions of OS X. The built in software is lacking, but we mention some third-party alternatives, like Nuance’s Dragon Dictate. We agree that, if it existed on OS X, Siri would be much less useful than it is on a mobile device.
  • Thinking more about Siri, we reiterate a point from the last episode: Siri will be much more powerful if Apple opens it to third-party developers. We discuss the technical difficulties involved in doing this, but hope that Apple gives motivated developers the opportunity to do the work and integrate their apps with Siri.
  • We further compare the speech recognition software we’ve used. Our experience is varied with Google’s speech-to-text, despite their giant amount of data to analyze. We hope that Apple (and Nuance, who they’ve partnered with for Siri) can do a better job. Jason is hopeful because of his good experiences with the voice controls available on his iPhone 4. He especially likes its ability to recognize artist and album names spoken in Japanese, even if the English voice cannot speak them back.
  • Our App of the Week is Growl. Growl is a Mac app that provides a framework for system-wide notifications. Lots of popular apps (like Sparrow, Spotify, and Firefox) have Growl support built in. Growl is available for $1.99 on the Mac App Store.
  • Our Question of the Week is, “Is there an app that creates a system-wide audio equalizer?“, asked by Nathan. Nathan’s been using Spotify, which doesn’t have a built-in equalizer unlike iTunes, and wants to know how to create one that applies to the whole system. ioi recommends a nice app called Boom. Boom lets you boost system volume, as well as apply an equalizer to all audio output. Boom is available for $8.99 on the Mac App Store.
  • We finish with the big news of the week, Steve Jobs’ death. We share our impressions of Steve and his work at Apple, and wonder a little about the future. We end the show with a moment of silence.

This episode was recorded on October 9th, 2011. You can subscribe to this podcast via RSS or iTunes. We’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a comment on this post or e-mail us at podcast@askdifferent.net.


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