Preview Day for this year's San Francisco Macworld tradeshow -- they've added "iWorld" to be sure to include all the Apple "i" product (iPod, iPad, iPhone, i-etc.) -- was disappointingly light in products. And most of them, indeed, target the iPhone and iPad rather than the Macintosh systems. Even as laptop companies flood the market with Windows-based "ultrabooks" modeled after the Apple MacBook Air, there has been little to no mention of the popular MacBook Air or MacBook Pro during the first day of the show.
The pre-show "Innovation Showcase," for example, was advertised as showing media attendees "more than 30 of the coolest and newest consumer technologies and gadgets for the Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad that will be on display at Macworld | iWorld this year. Hand-selected from First Looks, a program that puts the spotlight on the newest and coolest solutions..." and so on. In actual fact, only seven vendors showed up. They were able to demo crowded together along a ten-foot folding table in the Moscone Center West lobby.
Let's take a quick look to see what they had to offer.
Splashtop, http://www.splashtop.com makers of a line of remote desktop programs, announced Splashtop Pro, a version aimed at businesses, with centralized, Web-based management and upgraded security. The Splashtop Remote Desktop product, customized to specific graphics cards, can offload video compression tasks to the GPU to improve performance enough to let it run video remotely with very low latency and synchronized audio. The product line can connect Macintosh, Windows, iPhone, and iPad systems. The server software is free; the client software costs vary from $1.99 to $19.99 per client depending on platform and volume discounts.
On a less serious note, a company and app called Game Your Video http://gameyourvideo.com lets you add amusing effects to videos you shoot with your iPhone -- effects such as slow motion or fast, adding jitter or "echo," sounds of applause, or converting someone's speech to chipmunk voice. You can add these and more effects at various places after shooting, or live while shooting, just by tapping icons as you shoot or view. Then save and post. The demo made it look fast and easy, and, especially, easy to play with the different effects. It's kind of an Instagram for videos. The app costs $1.99.
Taking a different angle on shooting video, a guy demoed iSupport [isupport.tv], a frame for holding your iPhone securely while you shoot videos (or stills). It lets you hold the device more securely, or mount it on a tripod. While this seemed at first like a bit of overkill, the representative pointed out that the latest iPhone shoots 1080 HD video. Macworld, in fact, is holding an iPhone Film Festival Friday night, including "Olive," a full-length feature film shot entirely using mobile phones. iSupport is priced at $49, and the upscale aluminum-frame version called iSupport Pro, with its rubber lense hood and standard 37mm inner thread for adding lenses and filters, costs $79.
Spicebox, an Italian firm, showed the Intoxicase [http://intoxicase.com/], an iPhone case with a bottle opener on the back -- the Pet Rock of Macworld 2012. Adding an extra dimension of amusing gimmickry, the package -- $25 for the basic model, $35 for the Plus model whose church key folds neatly down -- includes an app that does things like count the number of times you've opened a bottle, helps you remember where you left your car, and will even call a cab for you should you overuse the device. And, of course, shares your bottlecap-popping adventures on your favorite social media.
Lark [www.lark.com] sells a "sleep coach" product consisting of a stand to hold your iPhone, a cloth wristband that both senses your sleep patterns, and vibrates quietly to wake you, and software to train you to sleep better (!). In any event, the alarm portion of the product offers the benefit of being able to wake you wthout waking your sleeping mate. $99.
Appmosphere (get it?) has an app to help you train your teen to be a better driver. Available at http://www.teenagree.com, the app includes one of those "agreements" you work out with your teen, setting limits such as how far and when they are allowed to drive, and the app (there are versions for iOS and for Android phones) alerts the parents if the kid exceeds the agreed speed limit, leaves the area agreed upon, or (for the Android app) texts while driving.
LiquidSpace offers a free app (available through the iPhone App Store) you can use to find temporary work space in various cities across the United States. It displays workspaces near you on a map and shows photos of the space, and prices that range from $20 a day to $20 an hour, depending on the space, amenities, and location. It shows you available days and times, and lets you book through the app. It's also free for workspace landlords to post their details; LiquidSpace gets a cut when space is actuallly rented using the app.
The Media Preview Reception
That evening a dozen more products were displayed to the press ... this time, more vendors showed up. The ones we got a chance to look at included:
VIPorbit, a sophisticated (and free in its basic model) mobile contact manager app that uses the idea of "social circles" popularized by Google+ but which VIPorbit calls "orbits;
Parallels, the well-known virtualization product that lets you run Windows on your Macintosh, among other things;
Gavio, maker of fashion-forward earphones, earbuds, and speakers;
iGrip, a kind of universal mounting system for iPhones and iPads -- you can even mount your iPhone on the handlebars of your bike, or on your car windshield;
MokaFive, with Mac in Minutes, a system that purports to let IT deploy its corporate Windows desktop to all its Macintoshes users in, well, minutes;
Crestron Electronics, maker of home automation and control systems using iPhones and iPads as controllers;
Fujitsu, with its ScanSnap series of document scanners, including its portable ScanSnap S1100 that will dump scanned documents directly into the popular Evernote, or into Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files, as well as PDFs;
Phatware handwriting recognition systems for the iPad called PhatPad and WritePad);
and FlyGrip, a little gadget that glues to the back of your iPhone or iPad so you can get a better grip on it.
As you can see by the list here, there are some interesting apps and accessories at the latest Macworld ... just little in the way of announcements that will get Apple fanboys and fangirls really excited.
Now that it's been three years since Apple was involved with Macworld, do Apple users genuinely care about this show? Let us know what you think by responding to this article in our discussion forums.
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