Insert Bad ‘.Crap’ Joke Here
Fire up the rumor mill. Apple’s .Mac service, which allows subscribers access to email, data storage and Web publishing tools for $99 a year, will go offline for maintenance tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. PDT–hours that coincide quite nicely with those of the press event at which Apple is rumored to be launching its radically redesigned iMacs. Could it be that the archaic online services suite will see a major upgrade as well? Perhaps even the one based on Google’s Web apps that Apple CEO Steve Jobs seemed to hint at during this year’s D conference?
I’ll give you a concrete example. I love Google Maps, use it on my computer, you know, in a browser. But when we were doing the iPhone, we thought, wouldn’t it be great to have maps on the iPhone? And so we called up Google and they’d done a few client apps in Java on some phones and they had an API that we worked with them a little on. And we ended up writing a client app for those APIs. They would provide the back-end service. And the app we were able to write, since we’re pretty reasonable at writing apps, blows away any Google Maps client. Just blows it away. Same set of data coming off the server, but the experience you have using it is unbelievable. It’s way better than the computer. And just in a completely different league than what they’d put on phones before.
“And, you know, that client is the result of a lot of technology on the client, that client application. So when we show it to them, they’re just blown away by how good it is. And you can’t do that stuff in a browser.
“So people are figuring out how to do more in a browser, how to get a persistent state of things when you’re disconnected from a browser, how do you actually run apps locally using, you know, apps written in those technologies so they can be pretty transparent, whether you’re connected or not.
“But it’s happening fairly slowly and there’s still a lot you can do with a rich client environment. At the same time, the hardware is progressing to where you can run a rich client environment on lower and lower-cost devices, on lower and lower-power devices. And so there’s some pretty cool things you can do with clients.”