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Apple's Track Shipment Hot-links.

When Apple released iOS4, I wrote that the most overlooked functionality was the automatic calendar / event creator. Despite some flaws, it is a feature I use daily and it's a natural tie between multiple applications: email, contacts and calendars. These functions have also existed for phone numbers, addresses, URLs, etc.

And, as I just found out, they also exist for UPS and FedEx tracking numbers. It's terrific because it is simple, efficient and coordinated. I'd love to see more in iOS5 - almost as if they are plugins that can be switched on/off. For key brands, applications, actions, etc - it makes sense. For instance, Facebook hot-links, photo sharing / previewing, contact creation / sharing, etc.

Can the Apple iTV Bridge Family Room & Web? I'll Bet So.

Fascinating chart on AlleyInsider this week noting that, for the first time ever, pay TV has lost subscribers. A little earlier in the week, the NYTimes argued that TV is changing (web, applications, on-demand) but paid television still rules the livingroom.

I shared the NYTimes article on Facebook with the following the note: "We will break our dependence. But - it will still likely include paywalls... but rather than for cable - it will be for content."

And that's why I believe the forthcoming Apple iTV is important to the TV / Web transition. First, it's at the right price: supposedly $99. And knowing Apple, it be designed simply enough that connecting the device to the TV and the web will be easy as 1. 2. 3. Until now, consumers had two options - both of which disqualified the above points (price and simplicity):

1. Buy a mini-computer (ie Mac Mini or Dell Zino) and connect it to the TV. Plus: full operating system and highly customizable. Con: very expensive (~$500-$1,000), complicated and techy.

2. Purchase a brand new, web-enabled TV OR a gaming device. Pro: out of the box usage. Con: expensive and limited / poor experience, content selection, etc.

If the rumors are right - Apple can change this with:

- a $99 price point (fraction of any other reasonable alternative)

- an iOS interface that tens of millions of users are familiar (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad)

- simple integration and web browsing (try using the web on XBox or PS3 - it's *very* limited)

- and an unmatched catalog of content and applications (not to mention developers - which is more important)

Suddenly web browsing, iTunes, Pandora, Netflix streaming, MLB At Bat, etc are all imaginable. And its a more natural solution - at least in the short term - than through the television manufacturer, the gaming devices, etc.

When Will iOS 4 Hit The iPad??!

... So when does iOS 4 arrive for the iPad?... And why is the gap between releases (iPhone vs iPad) so significant?

I ask because, even as an active iPad fanboy, it really bugs me. First and foremost, I generally do not like using two related devices (my iPhone and iPad) on more-distantly related operating systems. It is tough to explain why it is annoying - particularly when they shared the same OS up until just a few weeks ago.... But for a company so dedicated to user experience and fluidity, it is strange to ask users to navigate between different experiences. And that takes me to point two: iOS 4 is so markedly better than its predecessor that it really is difficult to return to the old form.... even on a device I passionately enjoy. I use the iPad almost entirely as a productivity device: email, web, documents, content, etc. And that really is where iOS4 shines: email is dramatically better and background applications make everything more efficient/productive.

Ultimately it is difficult to complain because both devices are great and I am spoiled by the new operating system... Which will make its way to the iPad eventually.

Apple iOS4's Auto Calendar Event Creator

The best feature of Apple's iOS4 update that is overshadowed by background applications, folders, etc? Apple now enables calendar event creation contextually and within email exchanges. When a date and time are written in an email - iOS4 will hyperlink the text (ie Tomorrow at 8:30am) and allow you to add it to your calendar. It's a huge time saver and something I have long wanted in Outlook (where calendaring is a *massive* pain) and in GMail (where there is similar, but flaky functionality).

Apple consistently pulls off these relatively small features and integrates them seamlessly. Why Microsoft hasn't figured out a similar feature within Outlook... over its many years... signals the shift in the two companies' success in consumer products / development.