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MacStories Interviews: MG Siegler

[MacStories Interviews is a new series of email interviews and conversations with with well-known developers, bloggers, journalists, geeks. You can check out more MacStories interviews here.]

Please welcome MG Siegler, writer at TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter as @parislemon.

- Tell me a little about yourself: who are you, what do you do, etc…?

I’m MG Siegler, a technology writer for TechCrunch. Before that, I was at VentureBeat. Before that, I worked in web development. And before that, believe it or not, I worked in Hollywood.

I love my job as it allows me to merge the two things I’m most passionate about: technology and writing.

- What’s your current setup?

I currently have 6 Macs — a little extreme, I know. But my urge to have the latest and greatest forces me to upgrade when something new comes along, and other machines become backups or media centers. Currently, I mainly use my i7 iMac (late 2009) and a new 13-inch MacBook Air. I absolutely love the latter. I’m even thinking about getting an 11-inch as well. It has replaced my (early 2010) i7 MacBook Pro,

When I’m on the go, I always have the iPhone 4 with me. And I often bring the iPad as well. I also have a ridiculous number of iPods, which mainly don’t get used anymore, as the iPhone is my source of all music.

- If you had to pick 5 iPhone apps from the App Store, what would your favorite ones be? And why?

Twitter – I’ve loved the app since it was still known as Tweetie. It’s probably my most-used app, I always have it open.

Instagram – This is a more recent favorite, but basically all my photos run through this app.

Foursquare – I’ve been on the location wagon for a long, long time. I was using Dodgeball back in the day, so it only made sense that I use Foursquare as well. But I used other location apps too, like Gowalla, Loopt, etc.

Reeder – My go-to app for keeping up with news while on the go. I thought all RSS readers for the iPhone sucked until version 2 of Reeder came along.

Instapaper – The other app I’m constantly in. I probably read more on the go then I do while sitting at a computer thanks to Instapaper.

- iOS 4 brought multitasking, folders and lots of new little features to the iPhone. iOS 4.2 will bring multitasking and folders to the iPad. What are you expecting from iOS 5? Frankly, a new notification system is at the top my list.

Yeah, my biggest complaint about iOS is definitely the way Push Notifications are handled/managed. It’s a nightmare – there basically is no management. The third-party app Boxcar helps a lot, but Apple really needs to totally revamp the system. And with Rich Dellinger (from Palm’s webOS team) on board, hopefully they have the guy to do it.

I would also love to see app icons that updated with realtime information, similar to what Windows Phone does with their tiles. I wouldn’t expect anything too crazy here, but if the weather app could show the current weather, that’d be great. I know it’s tricky since app icons are small, but just little things here and there would be nice.

Another huge thing would be wireless syncing. I know it’s much faster to do it via USB, but Apple really should have the option to sync stuff with your computer over WiFi.

- How has the iPad become a part of your workflow? As a blogger, have you found yourself using it on a regular basis to create content? There’s quite a debate going on about this.

For me, the iPad is basically used for reading/browsing. I love walking around my apartment and surfing the web at the same time. I’ve long wanted the ability to do that, and the iPad gives me that. I’m not a huge gamer, but I do also love some of the iPad games.

I definitely don’t use the iPad to create too much content. I write some emails from it, and tweet, but that’s about it. I definitely don’t blog with it. But I haven’t tried to use an external keyboard with it yet, so I suppose I could if I had to. But the new Air makes it a little pointless now.

- The new Apple TV: what’s your take on it? Do you think Apple’s solution of putting the focus on streaming is the way to go for the next years? Also, apps: I can’t wait for Apple to open the platform, but I really don’t know what kind of apps we would want to run on our TVs.

The new Apple TV is great overall. It was good before, but overpriced. It’s hard to argue with $99 though.

The lack of much good rental television programming hurts it, but the addition of Netflix offsets that. It also offsets the fact that you can only rent and not buy content now, in my opinion. This is the future. Everything will be streamed.

As for apps, that will absolutely take the device to the next level. Google TV has already shown us that some apps simply aren’t great on the TV. Likewise, the last thing I want is a keyboard in my living room. But games are going to be a massive success if and when they come to Apple TV. The ones hacked a bit to work now via the iPad, like The Incident, show how awesome this will be.

I bet by the end of next year we see Apple TV apps.

- Mac OS X: many say Apple needs to implement revolutionary features such as 3D interfaces and multitouch technology on “desktop surface devices”, I think OS X is just fine as it is. Do you think a complete revamp is really needed in 10.7?

Probably not, but Apple’s recent history has been about pushing the envelope and moving things forward with regard to computing. OS X remains great, but it has essentially been the same for a decade now. Mobile is starting to take over the computing world, and so it might make sense to start embracing the trends coming along with it in the next OS X. It sounds like this is going to happen a bit, which is good, I think.

If nothing else, I would love to see a slightly changed UI. These aqua scroll bars are starting to look a little silly when compared to updated apps (like iPhoto, iTunes, etc).

- In the era of real-time Internet, staying up to date with the information stream on all our devices has turned into a difficult task. Sync services like MobileMe and Google Sync come to rescue us, but do you think have we really explored all the possibilities of constant, persistent sync? iTunes in the cloud comes to mind.

Definitely not. iTunes in the cloud is going to fundamentally change computing again because it will mean that you don’t need a huge amount of storage on your machine at any time. All hard drives will be the solid state variety found in the new MacBook Airs. You’ll just pull down what you need and stream the rest.

I still think Apple could do a lot more with MobileMe than they’re already doing. It works well, but I’m just not sure it’s worth $100 a year when Google and others offer many of the same things for free.

The storage limit should be much higher at that price. And when combined with iTunes in the cloud, you should be able to sync just about all of your computing with the cloud.

- I’d like to end this interview with this question: what’s the app you need no one ever developed?

A really killer to-do list app. I know there are a number of them out there, but no one has nailed this yet, IMO. It needs to be super simple, fast, and sync across all your devices. I’m still using the built-in Notes for it. Ugh.

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