Greg's bite: iOS Apps and GPS on a Mac
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Greg's bite: iOS Apps and GPS on a Mac

By Greg Mills

The notion of running iOS (formerly known as the iPhone OS) Apps on a Mac is interesting. When I first read about that idea it struck me as a way to broaden app sales to include the additional platform of the Mac. That sounds like more money flowing into the App Store to me.

The only problem is that iOS apps are built upon the Cocoa Touch user interface which accesses the compass, GPS, motion and gravity sensors which are used to manipulate functions on iPhone and iPad. Current Macs don't have those sensors and do not have touch screens to work with iPhone apps either. This is not to say Apple or third party companies are not working on that exact problem. Something like a game controller with Bluetooth would do it.

Apps that are mostly display oriented may be ported to use mouse or touch pad input, but that may take a virtual rewrite of most apps. The Mac OS already supports Java applets which run well on Macs. Widgets also run on Macs and are somewhat similar to iPhone apps, but for the user interface, which is a major part of modern apps of all kinds.

It is possible that the upcoming Mac OS upgrade will have an OS level solution for this problem. Knowing Apples' tendency to pick all the "low hanging fruit," the notion of selling apps to Mac users certainly has not escaped their attention.

While waving a laptop around is not likely in the future to play a game using motion sensors, I expect GPS on computers any time now. With Mac laptops being prime theft bait, the iPhone lost phone recovery system would be a welcome feature for portable computers of all kinds. The location feature of many apps requires GPS. Powerful GPS chips have come down in price considerably and "lojacking" your computers along with Internet ordered hard drive wipes and recovery modes launched when the lost or stolen commuter goes on line, is logical.

We had a MacBook stolen in a home burglary a couple of years ago and that is not nice, back-ups or not. An hour ago I left my MacBook pro at TSA security, being distracted by putting my shoes back on, pulling my pants back up and getting my belt back on, collecting three bags, my wife and a 10-year-old, it slipped my mind. Losing your laptop is a common enough occurrence Apple could build a compelling feature into all mobile computers and add to the reasons we upgrade both the OS and the hardware.

When I gratefully recovered my MacBook Pro from the TSA supervisor, who grinned ear to ear as he handed it over, as I described all the loose ends of going through security that distracted me, he said it is sort of like herding a dozen cats in one direction. I agreed.

The crossover for us who own a Mac, an iPhone and an iPad is becoming apparent to me. I find myself touching the screen on my MacBook and wondering why it didn't respond. Then I LOL at myself and move to the touch pad. The convergence of mobile computing devices will happen and the notion that iPads are for consuming digital data and Macs are for creating digital data will tend to blur. The video editing feature of the new iPhone is certainly coming to iPad soon. I wish the iPad had come with a camera, USB port etc, but good things come to those who wait. This is just the first version of a new platform, Apple has done a killer job so far,and I figure the best is yet to come.

(Greg Mills is currently a Faux Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. He's working on a solar energy startup using a patent pending process of turning waste dual pane glass into thermal solar panels used to heat water. Married, with one daughter still at home, Greg writes for intellectual web sites and Mac related issues. See Greg's web sites at http://www.gregmills.info . He can be emailed at gregmills.mac.)

 
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