MacWorld 2008: Speculation and a Wish List

By Graham K. Rogers

If you are reading this on Wednesday morning (16 January) a few hours ago at the MacWorld Conference at the Moscone Center, San Francisco, Steve Jobs announced Apple's latest. Full information is online and available from several sources.

Last year, of course, he announced the much anticipated iPhone. The lead-up and the hype that followed are unlikely to be repeated, but (as ever) there have been rumours about what might be coming.

Heading the speculation list is a new, thin portable computer which some say is a small-screen notebook computer. Others insist that a tablet computer is in the pipeline. Or both. Coupled with these is the suggestion that the device will have a touch screen -- the iPhone and the iPod touch have demonstrated the viability of the technology in consumer devices, while the iPod touch and iPhone add new dimensions to PDA convergence. I have even heard the Newton name, in reference to the original PDA with the stylus that was killed some years ago. Most of the rumours tend to suggest that there will be no hard drive (or optical drive) and that storage will use flash memory of either 32 or 64G.

Due an update is the Cinema Display range; and here rumour goes a little wild, with the idea that a new large monitor might have a slot for a thin portable computer. We should remember Apple has been here before with portables devices and docking stations.

I recently re-ran the video of last year's Keynote presentation. In that video, Steve Jobs did mention that there were plans for a 3G phone, although you might have missed this with the noise from columnists round the world who were not paying attention. 3G would be especially attractive for Asia. Remember though the Mahboonkrong iPhones are based on devices for the US market.

We also hear rumours of an iPhone update that will allow more features and there is likely to be more information concerning the release of the software development kit (SDK) for the iPhone that is also due in February.

There is also expected to be a hefty update to Leopard bringing it to 10.5.2. As well as this being needed for those running the current version of OS X, it may also match with a hardware update or release, like those thin laptops or even a new multi-processor MacPro that some say will run Intel's Penryn (at 3.2GHz). As a note, I was right about that one -- but that was easy.

As well as the speculation (always dangerous when we are looking at Apple), I have my own wish list for users in Thailand. And for me of course.

Top of my list is an iPhone. As soon as I got my hands on one at a meeting last year in San Francisco, I had to have this. I know I could have bought one in Bangkok already, but I have said I will wait until the official rollout in Thailand, whenever that may be. Apart from the screen of my Ericsson phone which is ruining my eyes, I am tired of taking pictures of the inside of my pockets.

One of the priorities for current and potential owners of Macs is Thai support for Leopard and for the iPods. With OS X, Russian localisation has been added (now included in Leopard) in the last year or so. Also in the Leopard release was localistion for Czech. A few days after that release, an Arabic localisation was made available too.

While it is perfectly possible to read and write Thai characters in OS X applications (for that who can, that is), the lack of a full Thai menu system, as there is in Windows and there was in System 9 (and before), is a drawback I feel.

The same applies, perhaps moreseo, for the more accessible iPods: Windows users are more likely to pick up an iPod than buy a Mac. One of my former students bought an MP3 player from A. N. Other manufacturer precisely on this point.

Some third party software has been created although this is not supported by Apple; and several letters have been written to the company by interested (nay desperate) local users, who also put a petition online.

This capability is overdue.

I would also like to see in iTunes a return to the facility that allowed all podcasts to be played in series. Right now, once a single podcast is finished, the iPod returns to the Music menu: before, I could sit on the bus and play the whole downloaded collection from beginning to end while the traffic here sorted itself out.

Finally, although there are many things I would like Apple to introduce, would we ever dare to hope for the iTunes music store to be made available here now that individual members of the RIAA (which prevents Apple from making worldwide sales), Sony, Universal and Warner, have agreed to sell DRM-free music, backtracking on all they insisted on before?

Made on Mac

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