Interview with Steve Wozniak

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The future of computing will be through voice recognition and location awareness but the first signs of artificial intelligence will probably appear on the internet, says Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Known universally by his nickname Woz, he was the engineering genius to Steve Jobs’ marketing nous and created the early computers on which Apple’s legacy was built. He is in South Africa for FNB’s staff leadership summit and spoke extensively about the future of technology and the where he thinks it is headed.

Known for his love of Apple products – he left the company in 1987 – he also uses a range of gadgets, including Android phones.

“I am a big fan of good products of any type. So, I’m a big fan of some Androids and I know they have good features. But I don’t go feature by feature. A lot of people say this has a feature that the iPhone doesn’t have it. Or this has a feature that doesn’t exist on Android. And they make it infinite in value. So that determines it’s [worth],” he says.

“I’m not that religious. I just like great products.”

But he adds: “I’m an Apple person. So, you know, my main emphasis is: I always want the iPhone to be the best in the world. When I see something good on an Android [phone], I am not going to call it lousy.”

Apple could learn a few things from Android, he suggests. “I wish the iPhone had a few of the features of Android including the larger screen. I think we would’ve held our market share better if we had.”

Wozniak believes Android’s head, Andy Rubin, is imbued with the same sense of innovation as Apple. “I know the fellow behind Android is a strong Macintosh-type interface-type thinking person. I know the way he thinks about everything. [He has] a hacker mind with a total Apple Macintosh mentality.

Android is only going in the direction Apple would’ve. Kind of like the Apple DNA that Palm had for a long time.”

Wozniak uses a range of devices, including a Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone. “Actually I’m very amazed at the visual presence on it. They did something every unusual in the Metro interface, which is very different from Apple’s. They have a lot of clues visually to things, so I actually like it very much.”

Although he acknowledged AntennaGate was a real problem, he says he hasn’t tried the new Apple maps app in iOS6 enough to comment.

“There was an outcry about Antennaegate. Yes, it was a was true thing that was there. Right now, I am trying Apple’s maps, they are so new. The only comparison I’ve done is to a free map that we have in the States called Waze. It’s very social, fun. But Waze had my street with the wrong name, had my house way up somewhere else. So despite the controversy, I’ve got to run into the problems first. I haven’t had enough practice to say if its good or bad.

He adds: “You put out a map to millions of people and instantly you’re going to get people who spot a problem near their home – the first place they look.”

He bought himself the new MacBook Pro Retina, having used a 17on MacBook Pro and was afraid of giving up “my love of all that screen real estate”.

“No problem, I loved the Retina from the moment I got it. The lighter, smaller one I considered was an Air. I looked at the MagSafe2 connector and wondered why it wasn’t the new connector on the iPhone. It’s such a good idea.”

He thinks the new iPhone Lightning plug is a brilliant new connector.

“I liked it. It cost me. I have about 20 cables for charging all my devices. I had to switch so many of them. To do a human thing, don’t have to worry with which way to plug in. I applaud it. I wish every other device could go to that connector, instead of MicroUSB which I have on every other device in my life.

Why didn’t they go with the standard, but I’m glad Apple is doing something better. [Likewise] the Nano SIM.”

Wozniak has famously queued in line with the Apple faithful to buy his kit like everyone else, but got his iPhone 5 first.

“I was in Brisbane Australia when it got released. So I got in line all night so I could be 17 hours ahead of my California instead of being the last one in the world watching everyone unbox their iPhones, I was in the first batch.”

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