Fun with Fluid – Bringing Web Applications to the OS X Desktop

Recently I discovered Fluid, and I fell in love immediately. Its simple interface belies the power this tool provides. Because I rely so heavily on web-based applications, particularly the services Google offers, Fluid provides convenient access to the sites I visit hundreds of times a day.

Fluid, a single site browser generator for Mac OS X, takes a specific website and turns it into a standalone desktop application. With support for, the applications generated by Fluid can be extensively customized and integrated with existing desktop applications. Particularly useful is Fluid’s support for Growl, which provides notification support for many OS X programs.

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Three Reasons Why I’ll Never Switch Back to Windows

I grew up using Windows (3.1 to be exact) and can still remember when shutting down the operating system returned the user to a DOS command prompt. Long-gone is the DOS prompt, and with it went my fondness for the much-maligned Microsoft product. Instead, I’ve converted to Apple’s Mac OS X and see no possibility of switching back for three reasons: security, stability, and ease of use.

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Can AT&T’s Network Handle the iPhone’s VoIP Traffic?

AT&T’s recent decision to allow iPhone-based internet voice applications (VoIP) on its network begs the question, can the network handle it? In September, the New York Times reported that the increase in data usage related to the iPhone 3GS release has severely impacted AT&T’s service. Customers complain of “dropped calls, spotty service, delayed text and voice messages and glacial download speeds as AT&T’s cellular network strains to meet the demand.” At the same time, AT&T has yet to support tethering on the iPhone as it performs “fine tuning to our systems and networks so that we do deliver a great experience” (Ironically, AT&T does support tethering, or using one’s phone to access the internet by computer, on other devices, for $60 per month). Considering that AT&T also recently began supporting picture messaging (MMS) on the iPhone, how will AT&T’s network respond to the added stress of voice applications?

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AT&T Takes Aim at Google Voice

It was only a matter of time until AT&T jumped into the fight over Google Voice. As The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, AT&T sent a letter to the FCC on Friday alleging that because Google Voice does not connect calls to certain numbers, Google’s service violates FCC regulations governing phone carriers. The AT&T letter also accuses Google of violating the FCC’s “net neutrality” rules by blocking certain calls. AT&T’s arguments, however, are flawed for multiple reasons.

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Apple Tablet Confirmed, Sort Of

Today’s Wall Street Journal features an article about Steve Jobs’ return to Apple following a leave of absence for a liver transplant. The article, “Jobs, Back at Apple, Focuses on New Tablet,” confirms the rumor that has been circulating on the internet for some time now: Apple is preparing a tablet computer. From all the mockups I’ve seen, it looks like an oversized iPhone running a full version of Mac OS X. Now that Apple has confirmed the tablet’s existence in a way, the rumors about its features and capabilities will really begin to fly. I, for one, am interested in an Apple tablet if for no other reason than Apple tends to take an already-existing idea and make it kick-ass. I’ve never before been interested in a tablet computer, but Apple is sure to give existing iterations of the concept a run for their money.

Netflix App for iPhone is Problematic for Apple

As Multichannel News reported last week, Netflix is moving to launch an app for the iPhone that will let users take advantage of the Netflix Watch Instantly service. Already available on a variety of other platforms (see the Multichannel News article for a rundown), its launch for the iPhone puts Apple in a dangerous position in light of the FCC’s recent inquiry into Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice application.

In rejecting the Google Voice application, Apple cited its duplication of functions already available on the iPhone. Considering that Apple’s iTunes store is the world’s most successful digital media store, and iTunes is an essential part of the iPhone experience, I doubt Apple can make a legitimate argument that the Netflix application does not duplicate an already-available feature. After all, the iPhone allows users to download music and video from the iTunes store. If the Netflix application is approved, Apple’s reasoning for denying Google’s Voice application seems inconsistent, to say the least.

As Apple (along with Google and AT&T) has until August 21 to reply to the FCC’s information request, the timing of the Netflix application release will be interesting. The Multichannel News article (published July 30) simply stated that the application would be released “soon.”

FCC to Probe Apple’s Rejection of Google Voice application for iPhone

Following Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice application for iPhone, the FCC has begun an inquiry into the matter.

In a letter sent Friday to Apple, the FCC requested information regarding why it rejected Google’s application for the telephony service Google Voice, along with why it then decided to remove applications with similar functionality from it’s App Store. As The Wall Street Journal reports, letters were also sent to Google and AT&T.

The FCC is interested in the approval process Google went through, along with whether any of its other applications have been approved by Apple (sounds like we’re wandering into Google Latitutde territory—why it is a web app on the iPhone again?). The FCC also requested a description of the Google Voice application’s functions.

AT&T, it appears, is involved only because the FCC is curious to know what role, if any, it played in Apple’s decision to reject the Google Voice application. Presumably, given the threat to its bottom line, AT&T had some involvement. After all, the Google Voice application allows users to send unlimited text messages using the wireless subscriber’s data plan, not text messaging allowance. Inexpensive international calls from one’s mobile phone also further cut into AT&T’s revenues.

On the whole, it looks like Apple’s decision to ban Google Voice may have unintended consequences for it and its application developers. But, to the benefit of Apple’s customers and those developers, some light may be shed on the approval process Apple uses, and some consistency could result. We’ll just have to wait and see.