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Posts Tagged 'iOS'

WWDC Nerd Fest

Darth Trash CanWell Apple is in town this week for the World Wide Developer Conference and along with that comes the requisite keynote address. I’ve watched it a couple of times before writing this to let it sink in.

Not a single product was released. That means that there wasn’t a throng of Apple fans rushing to update their software right after the Apple love fest in an attempt to bring down the internet for the rest of the world. On the upside I think this keynote was Apple’s answer to everyone saying that Apple just isn’t as cool without Steve Jobs. Sure they had to pull out several people to cover for the missing omnipotent Steve, but I think they did a pretty good job. Here’s my breakdown of the speakers:

Tim Cook: He’s been seen as a bit milquetoast-like. He doesn’t offer the wow factor Jobs did, but he was always the voice of reason to come back to. I noticed a bit lispy precision in his voice making him sound a bit like a gay account as he was rattling off the numbers to us of how popular Apple has been in the past year.

Craig Federighi: This was the wow factor guy. He played the audience of balding 20 year old nerds quite well in such a way that he also made those who were watching that weren’t of the nerdish variety go weird. You know the type. Those people who think plugging in an appliance makes them technologically advanced. Craig played to the hecklers who tried to interrupt him without breaking a sweat and even through in a bit of self deprecation which always goes over well in my book.

Phil Schiller: He’s Phil. He’s always there and he’s got a sort of low brow, I’m not going to throw numbers at you, but big words that sound cool. Can’t innovate my ass was his best line of the show. Phil is the type of guy that you place a shot of 50 year old single malt scotch in front of and start to explain all the care and forethought that went into making it and when you turn your eyes back to him from the glass he’s downed it and ordered another couple of shots while pulling out his corporate card to pay for it. Phil to me represents the end user that just wants the box he sunk his money down on to do the job.

Eddy Cue: METALLICA! I was waiting for him to scream that out during his presentation of iRadio, but he went a little more subtle and chose Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin with a couple of required head bangs during the start of the song. Eddy Cue is like comedian Jim Breuer in that he took the stage looking like he had just finished off a few too many beers and can’t pronounce the big words Phil was throwing out. Oddly enough he did a pretty good job explaining iRadio. I’m going to use it when it’s available. Something tells me he has Nickelback on his playlist though.

All in all it was a pretty well thought out presentation. So much so that it wasn’t until afterwards that all the people who use Apple at home finally realized, They didn’t release a single product today!!!! The various people talking about how great Apple is was interspersed with shots of the audience to include Al Gore, Woz and Jony Ive just to add to the cool factor of the day.

From what they showed of  iOS7 looks like it was created by someone who watches far too much 80’s Japanese Anime, but after all the talk about flat, simple icons I could finally understand why when Craig started tilting an iPhone running iOS7 — the wallpaper looks like it sits about 6″ below the icons. I’m sure there’s someone at Apple who gets paid a lot of money who said the line during a meeting that 6” is enough for anyone. That was probably Jony Ive who used to be Jonathan Ive, but I guess that was a bit stuffy sounding for Apple. Then there was Darth Vader’s trash can™ or the new Mac Pro. It had a very slick look to it and it’s sleek black is something I welcome back. I’ve missed Apple’s black laptops because black will always be the new black. Black has always been cool and will always remain cool. Kind of like why we call the Yakuza the Japanese mafia and not the mafia the Italian Yakuza, because it was the first to come up with a cooler name for organized crime.

Looking cool seemed to be the focus of this keynote. Gone is the skeuomorphic design, replaced by flat icons that every designer has now redesigned in 15 minutes. Sure the new OSX Mavericks does some cool things, but it’s doing things it should have been doing a few years ago. Speed and functionality took a back seat in the presentation to showing off how tilting the screen lets you see more of the wallpaper or that animated thunderbolts accompany your weather prediction. It’s kind of like a new coat of paint on a old car with a few tricks thrown in. Yes Apple can still innovate, but at the same time they’re adding on features that other apps have been doing for awhile, so while they innovate they are also coming up to speed. San Francisco will be changed this week and hopefully the city can suck every last penny out of all the techies who’ve come to San Francisco and not live off the outside sponsored hipster buffets™ that no doubt will be going on all over the place.

iOS 6 and San Francisco

Well it’s here and I spent yesterday updating my iPhone and iPad. For the iPhone I can’t really say I see much difference. The iPad update on the other hand with the update to maps is freakishly stalkerish. You may not notice this if you don’t live near Cupertino or in San Francisco where Apple always gives their keynote speeches, but look at the picture I’ve taken of West Sunset Playground and that will give you a close idea of how freaky the maps app is here in San Francisco.

When I show my wife the pic of our house with the tilt and shift and zoom we could easily make out the  table and chairs in our backyard along with the kiddie slide on our deck. I didn’t include it because my wife just felt like we were spying on ourselves. So you get a pic of a playground instead. This pictures doesn’t do it justice because when you spin it around and do all the tilt and shift stuff you get a feeling like you’re really there.

There have been lots of complaints about the new maps app for iOS 6, but most of the complaints are coming from people far away from San Francisco. So if they want to enjoy the app they need to start stalking us in 3D mode on their iPads. Unfortunately, there is no 3D on the iPhone version of maps, but I suppose it’s a processor thing. I only have an iPhone 4 not a 4S or 5 so I could be wrong. I have noticed that in 3D mode that the it is very slow to load the maps, but if you’ve got time to kill it’s a kind of cool experience. I still feel that the accuracy and detail make it seem like you’ve got an app to spy on people, but at least there aren’t real time updates. I guess living in San Francisco we get the most detail first at the expense of our privacy. At least I don’t nude sun bathe in my backyard.

Facial Recognition For A Facebook Stalker

I ran across a program the other day called FaceLook that after thinking about it is really kind of creepy. It let’s you take a picture of someone’s face and then the program goes on to mine all the pictures of Facebook with tags to identify the person.

Think about that for a second. There are currently over 800 million users of Facebook and they’re predicted to hit one billion by August 2012. That’s an awful lot of people out there that a $1.99 app can look through. If you haven’t done so you might want to think about changing your privacy settings of your photos so that only friends can see them unless you want people to find out who you are and possibly start stalking you.

If you own a Mac and have iPhoto installed that has facial recognition built in that gets better the more you use it, but that’s different because you keep those photos to yourself [until the entrance of iCloud]. Now I don’t know this for sure, but [time for the tin foil hat] what if someone hacked into Apple’s iCloud or the government is allowed access to it?

iOS and Android devices just keep getting better and better as time goes on and the software people are writing for them is as well. We’ve got 8 megapixel cameras going into these little phones now and they shoot 720p video as well. I’ve been amazed at the quality of the video I’ve shot with my iPhone. Especially when I’m in a good position to hold it still enough.

They’ve already got an app called Action Movie that adds wickedly cool effects into movies shot on the iPhone or iPad that look very realistic [Car Smash and Missle Attack are my favorites]. So you never know what’s possible. Man was sent to the moon using a room full of computers that were slower and dumber than a smartphone. Now we throw birds at pigs. What will be possible in the future my scare you more than what’s out there to scare you today.

Forgive Me Apple, For I Have Sinned

I try to talk about San Francisco things during the week, but with the release of Apple’s iOS 5 yesterday I learned a few things that Apple doesn’t tell you so I have to give them a smack today.

My wife is not an early adopter. She is still using Tiger just as my workplace is using. I knew iOS 5 was to be released yesterday and was notified yesterday morning that there was an update to iTunes. I figured this was a tie in with iOS 5 since you went through iTunes to update your iOS devices previously. At work, we have a strict IT department so that wasn’t possible, but when I heard the announcement that iOS 5 was finally released I tried to update, but had to wait until I got home.

I get home and plug in the iPhone and try to update and was informed that it was having trouble contacting the update server. So I tried again, and again, and again with no luck. I figured everyone was doing it so that was the problem. I did check the suggestions to get around this and finally checked for new software updates and low and behold there was an update to OSX 10.7.2. After installing that I found out that I could update my iPhone to iOS 5. The only problem is that my wife’s iPad is hooked up with her computer and she is wary of updating because for some reason she always finds something that goes wrong. Well, it turns out that she can’t update to iOS 5 until she upgrades to Lion. Now I also have friends with mac’s that can’t upgrade to Lion because they’re computers don’t meet the specs who also have an iPhone or iPad. They’re out of luck completely.

On the plus side I have to say that both Lion and iOS 5 are nice, but there isn’t much shockingly different at first look. I say this to people who aren’t early adopters that feel like they’re missing out, you’re not really. There are a few new cool things, but nothing majorly WOW. I have noticed a few problems also, well one problem and that’s with the move from MobileMe to iCloud. First when you try to transition to iCloud you’re told to log into me.com to start the transition. This is wrong. You go to iCloud.com and enter your MobileMe user name and password and that is what starts the transition. After I transitioned I’ve found that while iCloud gets the mail it keeps telling me that my password is wrong and I need to re-enter it. This could be from the fact that many people are changing over to iOS 5 that it’s putting a strain on their new server farm. Also as I am typing this for some reason Safari has started to automatically hide itself under 10.7.2.

While I don’t totally understand the #OccupyWallStreet phenomena that’s going on, if you’re not an early adopter of Lion I suggest it’s time to go down to your Apple store and #OccupyApple and make them fix the problem. Yes, I know you need to have Lion installed in order to use iCloud, but if you have a mac that doesn’t meet the specs for Lion and you’ve been using MobileMe as of June next year it will all disappear on you. Which means that in moving forward you’ll have to get a new mac and switch to iCloud to continue to use your mac.com or me.com email address and all the other new features. You will be as useless as a Newton in a short time.

Apps I’ve come to appreciate

Seeing it’s a wild weekend I’ll go off base again. I’ve come across a couple of iOS apps that I’ve found to be very useful to me and a bit of a game changer in many ways. These are two apps one for commerce and one for pleasure that have changed the way I think in many ways.

The first is Square. It is a free app which is always a bonus. When you download the app it pushes you to register to receive a card reader, also for free. The card reader plugs into the headphone jack of your iPhone or iPad and then lets you scan a credit card for payment that is directly deposited to your bank.

Now I remember back to the days when I had a credit card account for a business I was running. I had to pay $35/month plus 35¢ per transaction plus 3.25% for every charge plus there was the charge for the software which was somewhere in the $500 range. This was rather expensive and I didn’t like it. It made me understand why some places were cash only. If you’re a small business or a seasonal business you’re kind of screwed having to shell out money each month for a service you aren’t using that much. Square is different. They don’t charge you anything up front, they give it to you for free. They don’t charge you a monthly fee. They only charge you 2.75% per charge. This comes in handy to me. It’s less of a charge than PayPal which you already know I don’t like. It is a spontaneous way to obtain money. I frequently tutor people and I was at a computer lab one day and when I was finished with the person I was working with I was approached by another person who asked me about my services. When I was finished I pulled out my phone and swiped their credit card to bill them and they were sent an email with my contact info for future business.

Sure, it costs you a little bit, but to me it’s worth it. Overall it costs you less than regular credit card services and that was the point when Square started up. They wanted to reach out to small businesses and entrepreneurs who wanted the ability to charge credit cards on a mobile basis or at the very least wirelessly at a low cost. Now they have taken it a step further. Now small businesses when they charge your card if you have a smartphone it will send you a message asking you to download the app. Once you do it will let you open a tab with the business you’ve visited so that the next time you visit the business you can tap on the tab and it will connect with their device in an encrypted format so that you don’t even need to pull out your credit card. This is the type of NFD [Near Field Device] technology that people are trying to work into the hardware of their phones that now can be worked in with the software.  The iPad version is a bit richer in that you can program in a list of services or offerings so that it acts more like a cash register itemizing a persons order and emailing them the details. I really think that Square will be a game changer in the near future. You’ll see it popping up in numerous places in San Francisco now along with other major metropolitan cities.

The second app is called Flipboard. This is an app aimed at the iPad and it is a really nice app for repurposing content from social networks and news sites into a consistently similar format. You can browse through your facebook, twitter and news sites of your choice in a format that looks like a condensed magazine format. The nice part for twitter and facebook accounts is that if you post links it follows the links and brings in a synopsis of the article and adds it to the link. Tapping on the link takes you to the full article formatted for the app so it always gives you the same familiar look and feel.

I find the biggest thing I like about Flipboard is the facebook and twitter integration. It makes it much easier to follow what people are talking about instead of seeing just text and links. Now you get to see the pictures and videos people post instead of just seeing the text. It is a more visual form of social networking than textual version. Yes, it’s a bit of a pretty toy, but it works. I can fully understand why Apple has it listed as an essential iPad starter app. It also is free.