cyberspacial musings
bits about the real and virtual worlds

07 May

Apple’s Latest Moves

The Washington Post published an article on Apple yesterday discussing two new capabilities they are adding into their systems.

The first is iChat, an AOL Instant Messenger compatible client. This is reportedly the first time that AOL has allowed an external party to create a compatible IM client. Perhaps this will bode well for Jabber and others that have continually been reverse-engineering AIM because the folks at AOL haven’t been interested in other clients. No specifics on the quid pro quo, though — one has to wonder what AOL gets out of the deal. Perhaps they get bundled onto every shipped system for free.

The other capability is called Rendezvous. Rendezvous is a means of automatically connecting computers in a local area together for the purposes of sharing assets. For example two wireless-enabled computers in a room could easily discover each other and share music files without requiring a server to be present. A company called Calligo also does some of this. Rendezvous is based on the ZeroConf.

Apple has generally been more aggressive about technologies like these. They focus much effort on the user experience and try to provide simple, meaningful solutions. As a wireless user, for example, I find it sad that an arbitrary collection of Wi-Fi enabled computers can’t self-network — with DHCP servers or fixed IP addresses, connectivity isn’t possible. As someone who travels with Wi-Fi cards for my laptop and iPaq, I have never understood why those two devices can’t just figure out how to connect with each other when no access point is present and without requiring special configuration. Maybe Apple’s on to something …

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