Post-WWDC Crow Eating

So hey, guess what didn’t happen today?

No upgrade to the Apple TV software (which is basically a special version of iOS). No Apple TV SDK for app developers. Zilch. An entire section of the 2 hour keynote presentation focused on iOS and products like the iPhone and iPad, but the Apple TV was shown just a brief moment of love — a few seconds where the new AirPlay mirroring feature in Mountain Lion was demoed.

Does this spell the end for Apple’s rumored push into television? I don’t think so. Apple likes to put a focus on media in the fall, and that might be a great time to blow the doors open on some Apple TV changes and help move some units going into the holiday season. Or Apple could just keep teasing everyone with it. Either or.

(Quick sidenote: Check out this article from AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka about how the Apple TV revolution might actually come in the form of AirPlay and app-mirroring — a damn good theory.)

I’m pretty impressed with the changes coming in iOS — specifically the way Siri’s knowledge is being beefed up. As a sports fan, I’ll definitely be making use of Siri’s new ability to fill you in on scores and stats. The ability to tweet using Siri also made it into iOS 6 — a welcome addition, and one that was inexplicably left out of iOS 5. Siri also makes the jump to the 3rd generation iPad (which is the one thing I predicted correctly out of 603 words).

On the notebook side of things, the spec bumps for the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines are pretty par for the course. They usually get an annual refresh, and this was it. The next-generation MacBook Pro, though — wow. Apple went all out, and it shows in the $2199 price tag. On one hand, I know people are going to pay that, and I know the margins on the new MBP are likely huge and Apple will be just fine. But it’s a bit baffling that Apple would stick hard to a $499 iPad price point, but let the MacBook Pro’s price get out of hand.

Mountain Lion got a significant amount of time in the spotlight, too. OS X and iOS continue to bleed together, as Messages, Notes, Reminders, Game Center, and Notification Center make their way into Apple’s desktop operating system. The ability to use AirPlay to mirror your computer’s screen to an Apple TV might be the most interesting addition, and one that Hulu might not be too pleased about.

Overall, WWDC’s 2012 keynote brought some cool new features to both OS X Mountain Lion and iOS 6, and provided some nice spec bumps to the notebook lines. I’m still not sold on the new MacBook Pro, but we’ll have to wait and see how it’s received and check back on it in a quarter or two.

Back to the drawing board

I launched Abuzz last Thursday and heard lots of nice things from those who downloaded it.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank each and every one of you. :)  The app was born out of my own need for it.  I actually went into the App Store one day looking for something like it and was astonished that it didn’t exist.  So I got to work – mapping out the app and its various features.  I brought someone in to put it together and, in three months, I had a finished product.

But I failed to get Abuzz significant coverage, and that is my fault and my fault alone.

Other than Louis Gray’s great write-up, I couldn’t get a single other blog to run with it.  That tells me more than anything that the app isn’t as polished as it should be.  I had considered pushing out incremental updates, adding features every few weeks, but it’s clear to me now that those would only be bandages on a much bigger wound.  So the next iteration of Abuzz to see the light of day will be 2.0 (it will, of course, be released as an update, not as a separate app – I’m not pulling any Tweetie stuff, here).

I’ve listened to feedback and had a lot of great ideas come my way.  The interface will get an enormous facelift.  The user experience will be vastly improved.  The app will stand on its own both as a social media search tool and as a Twitter client.  I don’t want to let too much slip, but I’ll say this – I’m going to make sure the app is everything it should be.

Be sure to follow @abuzzapp for updates.

Abuzz has arrived!

For the past three months, there has been one constant in my life: my Abuzz project.

I played with what I felt was the final version about two weeks ago and ultimately decided to hold off until a few more things were added.  The features in question were features I had planned to issue in a later update but instead found vital to what became Abuzz 1.0.  I’m thrilled to say that Abuzz is now in the App Store.

If you plan on downloading the app, I would love to get your thoughts on it.  Be sure to shoot me an email – shawnfarner [at] gmail [dot] com.  Also, check out the official Abuzz web site over at

Finally, I’d like to thank Louis Gray for this great writeup.

I’m hoping to develop Abuzz past what everyone has seen so far – I won’t be satisfied until it’s a must-have for iPhone owners.  I encourage you to ping me with ideas for features you’d like to see in updates.  Email, call, text (717-884-9763) – it’s all good. :)

Thank you all so much,


Making tough decisions

I thought I had a finished version of Abuzz, the iPhone app I’ve been diligently working on since the beginning of October.  However, I suddenly realized that I’d be putting something out that I wasn’t totally satisfied with.  There were a few features I was going to have pushed out in an update later, but why go that route?  Why not wait a bit longer and include it all?

So I pushed it back.  I’d rather have the app include all the functions I want on day one.  It really kills me to do it – I’d love to get Abuzz out there – but I know it’s the right thing to do.

First tough decision of the year.  What else will 2010 bring?

If only Google Voice had MMS…

There is one thing and one thing only that is keeping me from totally moving over to Google Voice.

The lack of MMS support.

I have this fancy iPhone thingamabob and I had to wait a long time to send and receive multimedia messages on it.  Do you really think I’m going to give that up now?

I’d be okay with giving everyone a new phone number.  I’d even be okay with having to use GV Mobile to place all my calls.  But I *will not* let picture and video messages intended for me be sent off into some black hole in space (seriously, what does Google do with those?).  The fact that it doesn’t even send you a warning is unforgivable.  I mean, even AT&T did that.  If you’re doing something worse than AT&T, you’re in a bad place.

Anyone agree?

What’s Abuzz?

Well, it’s an iPhone app. :)

Abuzz lets you search Twitter, the blogosphere, the forumsphere (or whatever it’s called) and Digg.  It lets you organize your keyword searches into campaigns so that you can keep your related searches together.  You can search all the supported services at once or customize your search to include results from just one or two.Abuzz

What’s really cool about Abuzz is the built-in Twitter client.  It’s lightweight (just like the rest of the app) but gives you everything you need – you can tweet out, send replies, send direct messages, view profiles, follow/unfollow and so on.  You can interact with the tweets in your own timeline and your searches, which frees you from having to open another app if you want to take action on a tweet you’ve found in a search.

Let’s say you work for Apple and want to set up searches for the iPhone and Macbook.  You could open the Abuzz app, create a new campaign called “Apple” and add keyword searches for “iPhone” and “Macbook”.  It’s that easy.  You won’t waste a lot of time navigating through a dedicated Twitter app to set up searches or browsing through Safari trying to search blogs, forums and Digg.  Abuzz is social media search, plain and simple.

So where’s Abuzz?  We’re squashing our last round of bugs at the moment and we’ll probably have an App Store-ready app in three or four days. Keep your eyes peeled two or three weeks into January!  And if you have some search services you’d like to see available inside Abuzz, let me know!  Shoot an email to

Why I’ll skip the iPhone and keep my BlackBerry

There’s a lot of hoopla around the web now that Apple’s iPhone firmware 2.0 is out.  The 3G iPhone also drops tomorrow, which ensures the madness will go on for at least another day or two.  Despite all the hype, though, I find that I’m not feeling tempted to jump to AT&T for the iPhone.  Why?


I recently became the owner of a BlackBerry Pearl.  In just a short period of time, the way I stay connected has changed dramatically.  No longer am I tethered to a laptop or desktop computer.  I can talk on AIM, Yahoo or MSN.  I can receive email.  I can be notified of new wall posts or messages on Facebook.  And the most beautiful thing is that all of these apps can run in the background and will push notifications to me.  Only being able to run one application at a time is a real detriment to the iPhone.

To me, true connectivity shouldn’t mean constantly checking all your lines of communication manually.  It shouldn’t mean having to ask every five minutes, “Do I have new email?”  It should be the equivalent of having a personal assistant tap you on the shoulder and say, “Your email is here.”

Why else will I stick with the BlackBerry?  Verizon Wireless.  In my opinion, they are the carrier to beat as far as coverage goes.  I can’t recall a time when I did not have coverage on the Verizon network.  I can recall plenty of times when friends on AT&T Wireless had to borrow my phone.

I’ll probably be alone on this one, but I’m also not a fan of device convergence, at least not between phones and media players.  I don’t really use the media player on the BlackBerry at all.  I would rather carry two devices than kill my phone battery listening to music.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fanboy by any stretch.  The iPhone’s operating system is way more user friendly and is much more polished.  The iPhone web browser is also worlds above the BlackBerry browser.  As far as connectivity goes, though, the BlackBerry is more of a web-friendly device.  Since I’m a web-friendly guy, why should I get an iPhone?