Is Apple readying iOS apps for Lion?
Thursday, Apr 14, 2011

Yesterday several Apple blogs noticed a temporary glitch in the iOS App Store listing some apps as available for 'ix.Mac.MarketingName' in addition to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. There's much speculation that this could refer to a new iOS device, and I think they're right, in a fashion.

Screenshot of Prompt in the iOS store

My bet is that Mac OS X Lion, currently in beta, will support an iOS runtime allowing apps written for iOS to run on the desktop, either as small windowed apps like the current Mac Twitter client, or as dashboard widgets.

The Mac runtime is already very robust, and Lion's increased emphasis on multitouch may pave the way for iOS-like gestures on the desktop. It's worth noting that not all apps are getting the 'ix' treatment, and it may be that only those whose interactions mesh well with mouse-and-keyboard interactions are opted in at the moment.

At any rate, it's certain that the bit-flip was not meant to have a public-facing effect and the bug has already been fixed. I expect we'll find out more about the interleaving of Mac OS and iOS this June at WWDC.

FAA suspends sleeping air traffic controller, misses the point.
Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011

FAA Administrator Randy Babbit, commenting on the suspension of a Boeing Field air traffic controller who fell asleep during the midnight shift:

"Air traffic controllers are responsible for making sure aircraft safely reach their destinations. We absolutely cannot and will not tolerate sleeping on the job. This type of unprofessional behavior does not meet our high safety standards."

Being drunk on the job is a choice. Skipping out on work early is a choice. But until someone shows me a photo of an air traffic controller curled up with a blanket or a pillow, attacking the ethics of your critical employees for falling asleep instead of re-enforcing safety protocols to increase alertness is like blaming Olympic figure skaters who fall for not loving their country enough.

Labels show true colors with uproar over Amazon Cloud Player
Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011

Amazon's new Cloud Player service allows users 5 gigs of cloud storage for their personal music files, so they can listen to them anywhere they have internet access. Apparently the music labels really don't like this. One example:

Sony Music, home to artists such as Shakira and Kings of Leon, was upset by Amazon's decision to launch the service without new licenses for music streaming, said spokeswoman Liz Young.

"We hope that they'll reach a new license deal," Young said, "but we're keeping all of our legal options open."

It's time to play "What crosses the line?" with an imaginary music label lawyer:

"If I buy an MP3, can I store it on my internal hard drive?"

Of course.

"If I buy an MP3, can I store it on an external hard drive?"


"Can I copy my purchased music on to my portable music player?"

Yes. Your license is not restricted to a single playback device.

"Can I store my purchased music on my home fileserver and play it on various devices I own?"


"Can I store my purchased music on a remote fileserver and play it on various devices I own?"

Woah! That sounds like streaming!

"But this is music I bought license to and own. I can already play them as much as I want. Why should it matter how long the cord is?"

Streaming is bad! Must pay license fees for streaming!

"Even if the service is provided by a company with a vested interest in combating piracy?"

ESPECIALLY if it's provided by a company with lots of money. That's what you asked, right?


When we buy music, what are we buying again? Either I keep forgetting or it keeps changing.

The iPhone 5 will/won't be a mobile payment platform
Thursday, Mar 17, 2011

A month ago, the Boy Genius Report reported:

In a note to investors on Thursday, Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White reiterated a rumor that Apple’s next-generation iPhone will include integrated NFC capabilities. The rumor was essentially confirmed by European carrier Deutsche Telekom at Mobile World Congress earlier this week when the company stated that it will offer an NFC-enabled iPhone in the first half of this year. Interestingly, however, White also noted that his sources indicate the iPhone 5′s NFC capabilities will feature a “twist” that will differentiate the device from its competition.

Last Monday, from The Independent (UK):

Apple will not include "wave and pay" chips in the new iPhone to be released later this year, dashing industry hopes that a universal standard for the technology would be adopted in 2011.

Sources at several of the largest mobile operators in the UK revealed Apple had disclosed in meetings that it would not be including Near Field Communication (NFC) technology – which enables payment for products with a wave of your phone on a reader – in the latest version of the iPhone, be it the iPhone 4GS or the iPhone 5.

Today, from Forbes:

From what I hear, it is possible the iPhone 5 will include NFC. An entrepreneur who is working on a top-secret NFC product told me today that he believes the iPhone 5 will have NFC and cited a friend who works at Apple as a reliable source for the information.

Forbes hardly offers an iron-clad NFC confirmation, but The Independent's denial story always seemed fishy to me. My guess is that the 'twist' BGR alludes to is that Apple may be readying the first native mobile payment platform to deny the carrier a juicy cut of the transaction. If that's the case, it's understandable why they wouldn't be eager to pre-brief most of their carriers.

PS: Did anyone wonder during the iPad 2 event about Steve's casual mention that Apple has the largest credit card database outside Amazon, with 200mm active users?

PPS: If the iPhone 5 gets an NFC chip in June, you can count on the iPod Touch getting one in September.

PPPS: June? Japan's troubles might push the iPhone release back a month or two. Analysts are already speculating that iPad production may be constrained by the availability of glass screens and custom battery components, both of which appear to be sourced for the iPad by Japanese suppliers.

Finding inspiration in strange places
Monday, Mar 14, 2011

Doing a little blue-sky brainstorming today I started off by googling [what I hate about firefox] to get outside the bubble and get some raw input on what problems people are having with browsers.

The first hit back was a blog post titled 'Dear Firefox Browser, I Hate You!' written in 2005 by Jim Kukral. It was written from a web developer's perspective and relayed the anguish of cross-browser testing and incompatibility. Reading it really took me back, and I felt his pain. The blog post closed:

I’m about done with my rant. I will leave you with my dream. I dream of a day when we see a complete standardized method of web browsing. Where everything appears exactly the same with the same coding techniques.

A man can dream, can’t he?

The web may not be perfect, but I'm really quite proud of everyone who has worked on the last few generations of web browsers. We still have a long way to go, but I like to think that Jim's dream is well on its way.

Oh, and if you haven't, go and check out Firefox 4RC. It's really quite good.

70% of iPad 2 buyers either are or are not replacing their original iPads, depending where you ask
Monday, Mar 14, 2011
According to a Mobclix poll of 50 customers waiting in line at Apple's Palo Alto store, 70% were buying an iPad 2 to replace their original iPad. According to analysts at Piper Jaffray conducting a poll of 236 linewaiters in New York City and Minneapolis, 70% were first-time iPad buyers. I'd be interested in seeing charts that graph the distributions across both the geographic location and the respondent's place in line.
Quick! Recall all the smartphones (and cameras, photocopiers and post-it notes)!
Wednesday, Mar 09, 2011

This week, leading mobile payment provider VeriFone launched a blistering attack on upstart competitor Square, saying that Square's free magnetic stripe reader represents a serious security risk because anyone could use it to steal a person's credit card number.

This video attempts to demonstrate why this argument is stupid:

The only smart thing VeriFone did was to host their attack on a single-use domain, '', to help prevent people from googlebombing the bastards.

iPad 2 introduces new headphone jack
Wednesday, Mar 09, 2011

Update: Just to clarify, this post is speculation, not fact. Based on the excellent iFixit teardowns it looks like the iPad 2 headphone jack has pins on both sides, which is more in line with Apple's typical cantilever design (roughly similar to the jack in the Macbook Air). Interestingly, it looks like the single-side pogo pin design may have made its way into the 4th generation iPod Shuffle. My iPad 2 is on order, and I have the appropriate amount of envy for those of you who have one right now.

Last September a few of the more ardent Apple blogs reported that Apple has applied for a patent for a smaller audio jack design using pogo pins instead of the more traditional switch contacts. The patent sketch looks like this:

Sketch from Apple patent application

It looks like the iPad 2 may be the first device to use the new pogo pin design. Interestingly, challenged to not only make the jack as thin as possible to fit in the iPad 2's form factor, it's also set in to a steep curve:

Photo courtesy of Engadget

Screen grab from Apple promotional video

The original iPhone also placed the headphone jack on a curved exterior surface, but did so by insetting it, with the disastrous side-effect that only headphone plugs that strictly adhered to the spec would fit deep enough into the recessed space to complete the connection.

This time however it looks like there's no recession at all. In fact, the opposite seems to be true: A plug fully inserted into the jack will have a surprisingly large portion of its ground ring (the outermost metal band) exposed to the elements.

This probably won't be a problem, since the ground ring is, well, grounded, so touching it with something shouldn't produce much if any static, but it's an interesting design decision nonetheless. It's interesting to go to the iPad site and note how carefully Apple avoids showing the headphone jack in most of its video and photography, while highlighting every other design element of the device. You also never see any photos with anything plugged in to the jack.

One final thought on the new plug design is that it seems that these plugs could be waterproof. Unlike the common cantilever or switch contact designs, the pogo plug enables the jack to be completely sealed against the elements, limiting any fluid damage to the function of the pogo plugs themselves.

Google Authenticator would make a fantastic third-party authentication tool
Tuesday, Feb 22, 2011
Google's implementation of 2-factor authentication would be a fantastic platform for third parties needing the same functionality. Imagine that you run a website that could benefit from 2-factor authentication. If Google chose to support it, a Google Authenticator API would be dead simple. Say you run Reddit and want to support 2-factor auth. You could send a request to the GAuth API with the name of your service/account (in this example, "Reddit: kfury") and Google would pass back a secret token and a url to a QR code image. You (Reddit) store the secret token in your user database and associate it with your user. You give the QR code to the user so they can suck it in to their phone with their Google Authenticator app.
Example screenshot of Google Authenticator with Reddit
Now when the user wants to sign in you ask them for a current code from Google Authenticator and, having received it, you pass it and the user's secret token to the GAuth API, which returns a simple 'pass' or 'fail'. Reddit would log me in or tell me the code was bad, accordingly. Rate-limiting and other protections could be built in to the API so the individual sites wouldn't have to worry about that either. Judging by the generic nature of the Google Authenticator app this is probably part of the plan, and if so I can't wait. Update: Thanks to @elstudio and Nelson Minar for pointing me to the google-authenticator project which allows site admins to use Google Authenticator with PAM to auth on their sites. It could still be made easier for the casual developer if they could stay away from the auth side altogether, but with this code anyone could implement the kind of GAuth API I described. Exciting!
MotoMo CEO accidentally confirms forthcoming Google music service
Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011

The Guardian reporting on Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha talking about the Xoom tablet at the Barcelona Mobile World Congress:

"If you look at Google Mobile services [via Android] today, there's a video service, there's a music service – that is, there will be a music service."



Hi, I'm Kevin Fox.
I've been blogging at since 1998.
I can be reached at .

I also have a resume.


I'm co-founder in
a fantastic startup fulfilling the promise of the Internet of Things.

The Imp is a computer and wi-fi connection smaller and cheaper than a memory card.

Find out more.

We're also hiring.


I post most frequently on Twitter as @kfury and on Google Plus.


I've led design at Mozilla Labs, designed Gmail 1.0, Google Reader 2.0, FriendFeed, and a few special projects at Facebook.

©2012 Kevin Fox