Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Posts Tagged ‘mobile’

Services in iOS – wild speculation about how to evolve mobile OSes

Posted by shannonclark on October 29, 2012

photo of NeXT Cube by Joachim S. Müller used under a CC license

More than 20 years ago my primary computer was a NeXT cube – still among the best computers I have ever owned and many of the features of that computer are still revolutionary. Among those features is one that showed up in the Mac OS many versions ago but which has never been widely used – the concept of Services which are pieces of functionality that one application offers and makes available to all other applications on the computer.

Potentially incredibly powerful both for day to day use and for use inside of scripts to automate routine tasks these services have, however, never been widely used or understood.

So here is my crazy speculation – in response to this recent Google+ post on the future of Context and iOS by Robert Scoble – Apple should make it possible for every iOS application to expose services to other applications on the platform

This has lots of challenges – not least of which is data security and integrity – exposing services means passing data amongst applications on the platform and opens up the device to any number of privacy and security concerns – but the advantages that this could offer are also nearly endless.

Imagine an entire new class of applications – applications that aren’t designed to be run directly but instead which enhance every other application on the platform. A few immediate examples:

A public transit application that makes public transit directions available in EVERY application on the device that uses a map

A translation application that offers on the fly translation/language lookup of any bit of text inside any application on the device

A “share to …” service that adds a new service to the core sharing services baked into the OS (i.e. currently Twitter and Facebook but this would be a way to install one core element and get sharing features potentially everywhere on the platform

Today many applications actually bake into their codebases code for various third-party services – web analytics, social network login/sharing features. game score/matching features etc. It may be possible that in the future, should services be widely adopted, that many applications could have a smaller, more nimble codebase by leveraging a single, well updated and maintained codebase for common services (such as ad serving, analytics, etc) much as today they consume core iOS services such as Maps etc)

I should note that while I pay attention to mobile development and iOS development it has been sometime since I was actively and personally involved in the development of an iOS application so I may be misremembering certain details of how to build such applications under the current iOS. And yes there are always problems when 0ne application depends upon a 3rd party application for core services (i.e. an update to that 3rd party service may impact the performance of your application in potentially unforeseen ways)

But equally such a movement away from siloed applications to emphasizing services that one application can offer to other application could open up the iOS platform to countless new opportunities while also enabling smaller and faster applications.

These new Services applications could do all kinds of potentially crazy and innovative things – actions that would then be potentially available inside of every application on the device. From allowing for enhanced auto-completion (i.e. text snippets etc) to on-the-fly translation, to enhanced geographic contextual information to new forms of analytics the possibilities are nearly endless.

So that’s my “simple” suggestion – bring back Services in a big way.

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Blogging with a computer

Posted by shannonclark on July 14, 2010

I am in Las Vegas for the next couple of days, here to celebrate with my friend Tara Hunt her birthday. She has brought together a group of her friends from all over the world and together we are spending sometime in what is perhaps my least favorite city but much improved by the company of friends.

As I packed for my short trip I debated about whether or not to bring my new MacBook Pro with me. It is a fantastic new machine and working on it still feels more like play than work. But if I had brought it I would have to watch it, would have to secure it when I joined the group at a cabana by the pool or went to a show (Ka tomorrow evening).

So instead I decided to only bring my iPhone 4 (along with bumper case – I haven’t had any antenna problems other than AT&T’s usual horrible service and dropped calls). I didn’t even bring my trusty and fairly new Panasonic Lumix.

As you can see from the photo, taken of the Irish band that played while er had dinner this evening, the iPhone 4 does indeed shoot well in low light and with the right apps – such as the WordPress app I’m using now – is a very powerful tool for new media creation.

I don’t know how many more posts I’ll write this week – mostly this is a vacation and though every move is likely documented by cameras, tweets and foursquare checkins in this particular crowd my focus this week is on catching up with my friends and making new friends.

But as I work on a new venture around helping game companies (mostly online social game companies) make more money there are a lot of lessons big and small I am seeing in how casinos (ie “gaming”) work here in Las Vegas.

Where the gaming is a bit less social though the social aspects are important and where the rewards are mostly very simple – cold, hard cash.

But I can also see that with casinos such as the Mandalay Bay Resort gambling is no longer the only (and indeed perhaps not the major) source of revenues for these establishments. Clearly food, drinks and entertainment as well as the hotel rooms themselves are now also significant revenue streams and may actually often be more profitable than gaming.

I haven’t been back to Las Vegas in a few years I think it may have been nearly four years and even in that short of a time it is clear that a lot has changed. As I sit here writing this post I am seeing a lot more people dressed (well barely in the case of many of the women) for a nightclub.

At the same time the poker rooms I have passed have been very full (since the World Series of Poker ( is ongoing this doesn’t surprise me. But while much of Las Vegas depresses me at least with poker real actual skill is present.

I may try to catch some of the WSOP tomorrow after I tire of lounging poolside or swimming.

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