iOS

All posts tagged iOS

The Included watch band with special modifications

The Shine after 5 months. You can’t even see extra security I added from the front while wearing the Shine (scuff not included)

First off, full disclosure: Misfit gave me a Shine — not for review — but as thanks for spotting and letting them know about a minor error on one of their pages on the day they announced a related product. So, given that it was free, it was something I was grateful to receive, and established the goodwill of the people at Misfit. The thing is, I’m not exactly the type that monitors and logs everything I do. In fact, given my physical limitations (mentioned before), I can’t often follow a workout regimen to stay in shape anymore. However, I am naturally curious, and after almost 6 months using the Shine, I have been able to use it as a way to monitor my daily activity and adjust how much I eat. This review examines what is an almost perfect product at this price point from the PoV of someone that isn’t interested in (or can’t afford) the current smartwatch offerings. On this level, the Shine succeeds to offer a simple way to monitor daily sleep and wake activity. Read on to see how it accomplishes this.

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MFi-controllerOver a year ago when I found out about the MFi controller program that would allow manufacturers to create gaming controllers for iOS device, I was a bit excited. But after looking at the offerings, I decided to wait until the quality & price was in parity with other controllers on the market. Now, well over a year later, and I am still waiting.

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QualtyNerpFowndThis is actually the first time in a long time I am not taking an iTunes update, given that it doesn’t fix the graphic artifact during scrolling issue, and other users are reporting worse things happening. In retrospect, I should have stuck with 11.x . iTunes 12.x is looking more like Windows Millennium everyday.

Sad.

This was once SoundJam, an app so good that Apple bought it. But this is now another example of an app in the care of a company too big to care to give it the attention to detail, and true UI/UX modernizations and feature enhancements an indie would have. A third party company would have listened to their customers or face declining sales. Apple is too big to truly care about the declining quality of iTunes. Whomever is sitting in charge of shipping product quality control is obviously not paying attention, and this toxic style of management is what can and has brought once great companies down.

Since v4 the only “improvements” have been cosmetic and the addition of the various stores. Apple has never addressed iTunes key failings and has instead focused on bloating it u to the point where once loyal users are looking elsewhere for leading edge features.

But this isn’t really about Apple. Apple is really an example. This is about a mentality epidemic in proportion of people who think that marketing, money or someone else can make up (or take the blame) for subpar products. The logic is as follows:

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Most tech savvy people have a wish list floating around on NewEgg or Thinkgeek or some other site — I have 4 I can think of without effort. Some of us even keep a private list of gift ideas for others at various sites and occasionally make a note of something we see in a store only to forget about it or be unable to find it among the many notes me make — whether within an app or on paper — when it is around gift giving time. The problem is most people do not have 1 convenient place they can keep track of all the items from across the web that they find for themselves or others. I have various want lists I have forgotten about as well and from time to time I go back and remove things that would have been impulse purchases had I bought them instead of wish-listed them. So, the utility of a gift list minder app that is not tied to a single retailer is a necessity—especially at this time of year. However, after using his a few years, I realized that this app fills that void of when you see something perfect no where near their birthday or a gift giving occasion.

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Okay, since tech journalists far and wide love speculating, and taking the whiff of a rumor and exploding it into fact, that is picked up ad nauseam until when said fantasy feature is not announced people, including the same amplifying pundits, have a rage quote episode and decry how Apple’s ship is going down. How I truly hate that continual churn of stupidity. Let’s not include the fact that many of these predictions are not rooted in technical understanding nor have a solid idea of what a product really needs. And to be clear: any product needs to fill a gap, by making things either easier than before or make something that was impossible, possible (with minimal fuss in the case of consumer products). 

With that said, here are my completely baseless predictions on what Apple will reveal in about 9 hours presented to you in pseudocode-o-vision. Make no mistake: none of these have any basis in any current rumor or factoid about what parts assembly lines in Taiwan are missing this week, and all of the numbers (even the number of the new iPhone and OSes) are made up. 

1: Apple will slightly redesign the outside of the iPhone 5s, not that it matters because any tweak might look nice but be a literal pain to hold more than a few minutes at a time. (Chance of this actually happening? Meh; var Meh= ~10%; [note: all numbers are also completely made up.])

1.25: Apple will offer a 128GB iPhone 5S. if(anyoneAtAppleHasAppsGoneFree){Chance(Meh *5)};

1.5: Higher Res Camera (~10MP), a 720pixel display, a brighter LED flash, a bigger ~1.8Ah battery for a few more hours runtime (~10 hours on mobile data) . {Chance(Meh*7);}

1.75: The new iPhone will have a new improved accelerometer that registers fewer false tilts. Absolutely no dat that makes me think this can happen if(iPhone5s->DoesItNeedIt(Accelerometer++)){Chance( Meh% *√3.14159…);

 

/*By the way here’s a fun bet: 

Noivad:“I bet I know the last number of π!”

Patsy:“No way! π is infinite!”

Noi:“Yes but if it wasn’t what would the last digit be?”

PatsyCline:“No way you could know that!”

Noi:“Do too! wanna know why?” 

Patsayjack[SIC]:“Why?” 

Noi:“’Cause it’s Zero! XD” 

PatBucannan:“Grrrr!” 

Note: this joke requires a lot of suspension of disbelief, much like Green Lantern did… not because of the idea that an imagination ring that granted flight and super powers is really out there, but for the mere fact that Data for an Alien Autopsy was handing over on a 3.5″ HD in a lab that had the spare change to mount Neon Lights and unnecessary lifts everywhere & a super top secret drone fighter had a release party with press, cameras and a super top secret drone on display in the center of a fountain.*/

 

2: Apple will Retiring the MBP13″ in favor of New MacBook Airs (11 & 13) with better graphics and larger active and storage RAM, an updated iPad mini, and iPad Macro. Your truly will shed a single tear then buy 1 or 2, 2TB 2.5″ HDs for his MBP13, and some sort of bullet proof case, and clean its fans out more often. {Chance(Meh*2.5)};

 

3: iOS 7 & OS 10.9 will get a facelift. Why? cause that cute little WWDC poster with the translucent icon borders, and some mysterious new guy at iOS’s helm (whom I will refer to simple as JIve) who loves clean design. { Chance(Meh * 10);} //again completely made up.

 

4: Apple will open up iOS 7 to allow changing things such as the default browser, mail client, navigation client, contacts and calendar app to third parties and allow better interaction with Apple’s iCloud. Apps will simply have to be updated to register themselves as a calendar, a browser, a navigation app, etc. To show up in the list of other default clients. 

4.5: Siri will be able to pull up locations in Apple Maps or the third party registered nav apps. if(OS7->Siri > OS6->Siri) {Chance(Meh+75)}  //Yup, you guess it, another made up number. But it’s a feature I would love to see.

 

5: Siri will finally be let out of the box more. Siri will be able to set up appointments just by saying: “Meet with legal the week after WWDC to prepare my defense for this article,” and Siri will look up WWDC’s date, a legal contact (if you have it in your contact’s notes or any field with “legal” in it), and ask “will this be at legal’s offices?” I’ll whine, “yes,” and Siri will schedule the appointment. If I’m lucky, Siri will also set my alarm to tell me when to hit the road and send the location to my registered Navigation app, Waze. Siri will be in OS X 10.9 as well, and allow me to activate it with a control-space by default. I’ll tell it to “push this (by this I mean the document that has focus on my system) to my blog on Wednesday at 9AM,” and Siri will scan it and offer tags for the article, such as “Mea Culpa” and “Oops, I got sued again.” The reasoning is simple: since both OSes are under the control of JIve, teams will naturally start exchanging ideas and bring them closer to feature parity, and leverage the installed base of iOS devices to pick up Windows 8 defectors who decided to get an iPad instead of a SMurface Pro, after upgrading their desktop or laptop to Windows 8 and being horribly confused. if(OS7->Siri->GetsLove(AppleFocus)){Chance(Meh + 40%);} 

/*I would love it but the cool engineers at Apple (you guys know who you are) probably have their hands full actually making Siri distinguish between “Pick up my dry cleaning tomorrow at six,” and “Pick up my dyke leaning tomato axis.” Don’t ask me why Siri thinks I have anything to do with flood plane repairs near fruit gardens….*/

 

6: Better iOS <> OS X data exchange via iCloud. Set a reminder on my iPad or iPhone to pay my Netflix bill via paypal on the 10th with Siri, and my “maintenance” Reminders list on my OS X machine will open up my browser to hulu.com at 9AM on the 10th. It will also check my Queue and notice that A movie in my Queue will expire in 2 days and add that to my “downtime” reminders list. My “business” reminders will also remind me it is time to do a full backup with MySQL Workbench of my personal projects server and offer to trigger that script lying around ~/Documents/Dev/mySQL/Scripts that I never got to setting up a CRON/Launch agents action for. if(iOS7->dataPayload == iOS->dataPayload){Chance(Meh+65%)}; other fantasy automatic reminder features: if(iOSX->date->autoscan){Chance( Meh)};

 

7: iOS7 will offer an improved Bluetooth Manager that allow Airplay-like connect/disconnect options in any apps that support BT audio or connections because some bitchy customer (Me) told the AppleCare rep how stupid it was that you had to turn off BT to disconnect one device from an iPad, and then reconnect the other devices that you didn’t want to disconnect but has to, in order to release that one device for something else to hook up to it. if(AppleMonitorsSupportCalls){Chance(Meh*.2);}

 

8: iOS7 will offer multiple user Accounts, so each person that shares an iPad will be able to keep their Pandora account separate from their Kids and we have no more psychiatric admissions because Dad found out he was accidentally rocking out to One Dimension [SIC]!  Also, How many of use would rather keep our Browser free of links to <Insert This Quarter’s Teenie Bopper Idol Here> and home screen free of that clutter of time wasting games? Not to mention accidentally leaving your device with the store password entered right before the kids decide now is a great time to stock up on in App Purchases costing a few hundred dollars? if(AppleActuallyCaresToSeeHowTheirProductsAreUsedInWild){Chance(Meh *3 );}

 

9: OS X 10.9 will be more secure requiring people to mess with CLI defaults to install software that is not signed. Shortly thereafter 3 or 4 free and paid apps will be able to toggle this setting with one click.

 

10: iOS 7 will come with an upgraded Weather app, that allows you to control the temperature, cloud cover and humidity within one mile. Things will be great for about 5 minutes until people start overriding each other’s settings and cause tornados, flash floods and other events eventually leading to earthquakes and tsunamis before Apple engineers can turn off the iWeather server controlling it all.

 

While I am making predictions, I will take this opportunity to complain for a paragraph about the backslide companies such as Apple are making with their products: Hey how many people know that the Kensington Security slot is not present on the new Retina MBPs and the MBAs? And how many people even know what that is? Well, there goes physical security for those who care about it! As it is, Kensington is one of the few manufacturers who makes a case for the iPad with a lock for end users. Aside from them, I am not aware of any security cases for the iPad that are not meant for Kiosks and Register applications of the iPad… Apple’s design team apparently never takes any of their products out in public? Case Designer: “I got rid of that ugly slot on the side! It was really annoying, and no one knew what it was for!” Apple Exec that approved it: “Good job! That little slot was really annoying us with the extra 30 seconds it took the C&C machine to carve it out!” But whatever, a friend pointed out that Mac laptops are becoming disposable products with the tendency to use glue instead of screws in more products. 

Okay, well I thought I was going to write wild predictions about iOS7 offering to do your laundry at Lundry Locker or being able to point the camera at your eggs and it telling you the exact time to take them off the stove, but I guess I got too serious and just injected my wishes for Apple Products.

Part 1 of my 2 part article on TouchUI is now up on DiceNews. In it I talk about the current state of TouchUI in the setting of responding to Josh Clark’s views on it. I want to make it perfectly clear, I think he is on the right track. However, he seems to miss some of what we have learned about user interfaces the past 25+ years.

In order to fit in the format, I pulled a section of the article where I brainstormed about how I believe a TouchUI should work as a foundation for adding custom gestures and interfaces. There are probably problems with some of these ideas, but it is just a cursory glance at what a baseline UI should have. I am throwing it in here for your consideration. As always: intelligent feedback is welcome.

Some are obviously inspired (“ripped off”) from WebOS, and some are from Android and iOS. However, for the most part a cohesive convention of how things should be done that is translatable to all manner of touch screens has not emerged. This is my “first” public swing, but I think about this stuff all the time, especially whenever I am using a frustrating interface. Continue Reading

free space after cleaning today

As threatened, I wrote my picks for the most useful iOS apps. This time I focus on the two biggies: time and money.

Sadly, my It’s-It reference about saving enough gas money to buy a few of these chocolate coated goodness and my aside about trying to fool my nephew using my Jedi powers {or is it Sith powers?}  to enter text with a wave of my hand using PasteBot fell by the wayside. However, sneaking in links to my “he has no idea that he is my virtual”-pal Conan’s archaic word campaign succeeded! I feel like Zim!

Okay, enough teasing, on with the DiceNews Article: The Best iOS Apps for Deals, Integration, Security, Productivity

Apple has really turned the corner in the last 6 months. They finally settled a court case to replace the defective design of the first generation mag-safe adapters.
When one I had was intermittently failing, I took it in (after being forced to make an appointment and wait a week) and was told that because it was currently working, I could not get it replaced, despite the fact that the court case settlement was to do just that.
Next, I tried to find information in their online pages, including their knowledge base and about a particular issue. When all documents lead to a less than helpful landing page, I was seriously discouraged.
Then, my 2 year old MacBook Pro lost a little plastic foot, and I can see the hard drive beneath it. I called Apple requesting a replacement be sent. Even though I have AppleCare the help desk person on the other side didn’t care about the problem and refused to send me a foot. I told him I could install it myself, and it was a 50 cent part at most and to send the laptop in for service was a huge waste of time and money. When I asked to speak to a supervisor, he refused to patch me through. The call ended with him hanging up on me. I haven’t called back, and oddly the usual email that Apple sends out asking how my support experience was, never came.
Now, I found a glitch in iOS that caches passwords even after a person logs out of the iTMS apps section on an iOS device. I tried to report it, and I didn’t hear back for a few days. My only recourse was to pull all my account info. I do not think I will be reentering it. When support finally did get back to me I took the time to explain what happened. The response I got was something other computer companies are infamous for doing: it was a cut and paste set of links to very basic knowledge base articles that did not address my problem. I wrote back and the support rep then copy and pasted the exact same basic “newbie” article into the email. When I wrote back and told “Trina” (no last name to protect horrid service) that none of this addressed the problem, I got another canned response. I didn’t realize Apple was hiring illiterate email support people. Either that or Siri is now handling email parsing: this would explain the lack of human responses and concern.
I have been an Apple Customer for about 25 years, and this is worse than when I had to strong-arm Apple into replacing my friend’s faulty 7200 logic board, that was among a series of defective boards.
Sadly their software is probably the most efficient for getting things done in a GUI environment, and the integration of things like Tapbot’s Pastebot, their own Airplay, and tons of donation-ware—including set and forget backup apps that are better than commercial Windows small network backup apps. Let’s not even mention the apps in my recommended list. I depend on these apps many times a day.
I am not tied into he ecosystem because I ripped virtually all my own media from hard copies. Also, after working with Windows, Linux and Macs for years at various companies, I have no doubt I could fix any problems. But the thing is, I know the added hassle that come with the other 2 platforms. So, I could leave, but where would I go?
If HP hadn’t completely bungled WebOS it might be a potential replacement. Linux is too much of a patchwork OS as is its mobile equivalent: Android. Every year the companies that make Android phones promise to update current models to the new OS when they are released, and many times the companies retract that after the models are discontinued. So, that is out as well, considering timely updates are a crapshoot. I feel I would have better odds breaking even in Vegas.
Windows 8? Not a chance. I know how horrid the underpinnings of the OS are. The second to have to do anything a tech would do the settings to do it are still buried, and some only easily accessible via a command prompt. Also, despite what novices and the unexperienced think, without purchasing subscription software to manage and protect he machine, it would be only a matter of time before I either lost or had data stolen.
Also, the interface to Windows 8 is a joke. Really? Tiles with seemingly arbitrary colors with small thin text in them that updates. I can do the same thing by tiling 8 console windows, changing the background color and tailing the logs of 8 programs. But to make is as unreadable as Windows 8’s tiles, I would have to chose the lightest version of a font with an awkward x-height.
I would probably also have to do what my old roommate did: wipe the HD every 6 months to keep the Windows stable and speedy with the number of programs that I have to test. Unless I missed the memo, Microsoft still relies on a monolithic single point of failure file that is written to all the time and is in control of the entire system.
About testing: I can test Mac, Linux and Windows apps on one machine. This is not the case for either Linux nor Windows boxes (which are identical).
So, I’ll have to wait until a better OS comes out (doubtful, considering all the OSes are getting facelifts to look thrice as stupid as their predecessors, and 9 times less efficient.) It is no wonder browser based OSes are gaining mindshare: all the big OS’s UIs are being driven by Toonces and browsers are great for inefficient local computing paradigms.

UPDATE: Looks like others are cluing in on this as well: Bad Apple
Also, on the 19th, I spoke to a DSL field technician that makes anywhere from 5-10 house calls a day and he commented that people are starting to notice Apple is turning into Microsoft. Sad.

The third generation iPad was unveiled today, and being the semi-anonymous person I am, I did not get an invite. So I did the next best thing: I followed the event on Ars Technica. I was going to follow on other outlets as well but their coverage was spotty.

Aside from the conspicuous absence of a number, most of the specs of the new mobile computer have been tweeted and blogged like crazy. So by now, you know the third iPad’s specs, 9–10 hour battery life, a Retina display, A5X dual-core CPU and quad-core graphics, 5MP camera with 1080HD video, AirPlay video streaming to Apple TV (3rd generation) at up to 1080p, and—most important to investors and pundits—4G LTE. Oh, and what no one mentioned: BlueTooth 4.0 whose inclusion is probably more important than faster internet over the communications carriers networks. But let’s look at what it doesn’t have? Thunderbolt, any new interfaces such as an SDXC slot, and a lack any new accessibility features for my friends that do not have full mobility. As some of you know, I have been trying for months to find supported devices for non-physical for Siri activation.

But does the lack of any of these things matter? Not to most people, and certainly not to investors. Immediately after the event, the Apple Store was mostly unreachable for at least an hour unless you got lucky. Most people I talked to that pre-ordered one after the event had to try at least 4 times before being able to place their order. I have a few people asking me about it as well. The question is not “Should I get one?” but “which model should I get?” Before diving into that, let’s look at what was said try to use that to forecast Apple’s future a bit.

Apple will probably continue the trend of taking last year’s iOS models and discounting the price on the base model and offering that for budget customers from now on as with the 3GS and iPhone 4. That will address their lack of product offerings and price complaints that many pundits use to ding Apple. Apple still thinks 16GB is a good entry point, unfortunately. Interconnectivity is now embedded in their DNA: all the new features emphasize wireless sharing between your other iOS devices, Macs or PCs. Apple realizes that they have to synchronize their iOS and OS X offerings by migrating applications and features between the two, but still change the UI to match the use context paradigm. Finally, Apple is not about to rest on its laurels. Android is racing to catch up, and Windows 8 is just around the corner. It will use the same strategy that revived the Mac business: build on standards, continue to vertically integrate an expanded their lineup of interconnected devices, innovate and not compromise quality for the sake of market share. Also, most importantly, not be afraid to cannibalize their own market share. So, that should put to rest the constant low-price Mac or iPhone rumors. Next year’s low cost iOS device is last year’s ground breaking device. Remember that if you can’t afford this year’s hot iOS offering and can wait a year.

If you cannot wait, read on. To decide what model to get, you can do what I do: take your current needs, add 20%-30% head room for 3+ years growth and go from there. To assess your current needs, take your most demanding use of your computers: audio/video creation, large movie or audio libraries, etc. and figure out how much storage you use and how fast it is growing. Unfortunately, my laptop drive is packed with full bit-rate audio ripped from my CD collection, so it made more sense to join iTunes Match than to buy a 64GB model. (For the $100 difference* I can pay for 4 years of iTunes match and have all my ~140GB of music in reach.) However, since I discovered AppAdvice.coms AppsGoneFree, my application footprint on my iPhone has gone from 2–3GBs to just over 10GB in about 6 months. So, it looks like the 32GB model will be my buy-in point. However if it wasn’t for the apps,  there are now WiFi friendly portable Hard drives that can add additional video or audio storage as long as you have a WiFi connection. (Coincidentally, the WiFi Drive nullifies the need for any storage expansion slots.)

Speaking of networking, let’s look at 4G LTE and AT&T vs. Verizon. I am not a cheapskate (or else I would probably only be using the triple-boot PC I built myself 5 years ago), but I am frugal. I realize that if I buy into a carrier by chosing either the Verizon or the AT&T model, they have the leverage and can hike prices leaving me with no recourse. So I will forego the 4G LTE models entirely, get the WiFi only model and then purchase a hotspot so I can use all my iDevices and my laptop anywhere there is coverage. T-Mobile offers a no contract month-to-month 5GB/$50 hotspot plan, but I have not checked how their coverage is in my region nor their data rate and latency. But that’s what suits me.

If you want simplicity, have a small media collection and will probably not download a ton of apps—even if they are free—then you might be better served with a less expensive model. If you are just using your computer for email, web browsing, music and video streaming at home and have no interest in content creation, faster 3D games, full 1080p streaming to your TV via a third generation AppleTV, or a higher resolution display, then an iPad2 might suit you until you discover other uses. $400 for an entry-level—yet still snappy—iPad2 is fine. It’s still a good machine.

Also, I realize I am biased when it comes to iOS/OS X. I have been using Macs since the 128K Macintosh. My loyalty is not to Apple, but the most reliable and time-efficient platform. In every company I have worked for I noticed the Windows machines required around thrice the support resources, no matter how responsive and proactive the IT department. If you are a true gearhead like some of my friends, want to be able to hack freely and can solve technical glitches yourself, then stick with Android and Linux. I hear that the new Android 4.0 ICS is pretty good. But if you want to save money in the long run, the upfront costs are the least of your considerations. That’s why I recommend iPads to first time tablet buyers.