Monday: January 7, 2013
- Apple would like you to know that they've had over 40 billion downloads from their app store.
That's a lot of downloads. Apparently half of that number was just in 2012 alone.
Thursday: December 13, 2012
- Apple selects the Best of 2012 awards from notable iTunes Store apps and games.
For the first time in two years, no photography apps made it in to the top listings. 2012 also marks the first year that an Entertainment app was given an editor’s choice award. As always, during the end of the year wrap up Apple highlights games and apps from a wide variety of categories, so it’s well worth skimming the list for hidden gems.
Monday: July 25, 2011
- A good primer on web operations for my fellow web developers out there.
Every little piece of it can break at any time, can stall at any time. The more pieces you have in your application puzzle, the more breaking points you have. And everything that can break, will break. Usually not all at once, but most certainly when it's the least expected, or just when you really need your application to be available.
- Have a peek at some screenshots of the upcoming Facebook app for iPad.
TechCrunch, as well as many others, found out that Facebook was hiding a secret app (not really secret, universal apps contain both sets of code for iPhone and iPad bundled together - although jailbreaking is required to figure that one out) in their latest iPhone app update. That 'secret' turned out to be the official Facebook app for iPhone. TechCrunch has a whole slew of screenshots that you can take a look at as to properly get yourself prepared the social media onslaught.
Thursday: July 21, 2011
- Mac OS X Lion: First Impressions.
The latest version of Mac OS X is finally here. Being the diligent Mac fanboy that I am, I've have gone ahead and installed Mac OS X Lion twice now. Once on a brand new MacBook Air and once on my only slightly out of date MacBook Pro. The best part about this? I didn't have to drive out to the Apple Store or wait for a FedEx truck to show up. You buy Lion online from the Mac App store and that's the only way you can buy it. By far this has been the most gratifying delivery method of any OS X release I've seen so far. My download speeds were quick and in both installations I was able to get the install file from Apple's servers in under forty minutes. Another neat thing about Lion? The licensing. As you read before, I installed the new operating system on two machines already. If these were Windows machines, I would have had to fork over some dough to Microsoft to get two product keys. Apple takes a different approach. Buy it once, put it on whatever machine you like. I happen to love this approach.
Now that I've spent a good 24 hours with Lion I'd like to spout out some first impressions.
Installation: Total breeze on the MacBook Air. With only a few clicks and some setup time and I was up and running. Slightly different story on my MacBook Pro though, for some reason Lion rebooted the machine into the special setup options and required another reboot to truly kick off the installation process. Minor issue, really just kind of a strange thing since the Air installation was ridiculously fast and smooth.
Inverse scrolling: This was a maddening experience at first. Apple calls this new feature 'natural scrolling' but it feels anything but when you try it out. I understand that this is how we 'naturally' scroll when using iPads and iPhones, but on those devices you are actually interacting with the content you are touching directly. You can see how your touches affect what you see, it's a visual experience that your brain just gets when you do it. On a trackpad the same kind of interaction doesn't exist. You are looking at the screen while your fingers are off doing something else, there is no direct visual correlation. Long story short, it certainly doesn't feel natural - not at first anyway. I'm going to stick with this for a couple more days and see if I can get used to it. For those overly frustrated, you can relax - the option to turn off 'natural scrolling' is tucked away in System Preferences under the Trackpad pane.
Gestures: There are ton of them, some are intuitive and some are not. Apple has a rundown of the ones you should know about. For the most part though, love them.
Fullscreen Apps: Love, love, love.
Gestures + Fullscreen Apps: This is a joy to use. Swiping between apps feels good and let's each app shine in their own way when in fullscreen mode. It's a little disappointing to use third-party apps that aren't taking advantage of the fullscreen APIs yet. Granted of course that Lion hasn't even been out for a week yet so I'll give said developers a pass. But pretty please, update your apps soon and utilize this feature. I would love to see Evernote in fullscreen. Hint hint.
Launchpad: Not really digging Launchpad all that much as an application launcher, app folder replacement, iPad clone, etc. It just seems a little repetitive since there is already a dock, an apps folder, a spotlight search. The gesture to bring it up (three finger pinch) is quite useful and dare I say, fun to use. I've seen Launchpad exhibit some weird behavior in regards to moving and deleting apps. For example, drag an app from Launchpad into the trash. In my case, the app doesn't actually get deleted - I had to go into the Applications folder and drag it into the trash. Fire up Launchpad again, the app you just deleted may still be there. When you click it, you'll get a question mark as if the operating system just said 'WTF' out loud. After a reboot the deleted app was removed from Launchpad. Making folders is a little strange in this regards as well. Folders you create in Launchpad seem to only exist in Launchpad. Interesting, but a little confusing at the same time when used in conjunction with the Applications folder. The coolest part about Launchpad is it's integration with the Mac App store. Downloading an app will drop it into Launchpad and present itself in the same fashion as when you download an app on your iPhone or iPad.
Safari: There doesn't seem to be a gesture for switching between tabs. You can swipe left and right to shuffle around history of a given tab you're in, which is nice but my general workflow with Safari is each website gets its own tab. And maybe it's just me but I can't for the life of me figure out what purpose 'reading list' serves other than being an additional bookmarks folder. At first I thought Reading List would save an article offline for browsing later on but that is not the case. Turn off your Internet connection and you'll see that Reading List tried to grab the page you saved from the actual website. Perhaps I am not grasping what use this feature is in the scheme of things.
Mail: The new Mail app is a welcome change. It seems that it has some smarts built in when you setup accounts from other platforms. For example, try setting up a GMail account and you'll prompted by Lion to import your calendar info as well as your chat friends (Jabber). That was a neat little feature that I wasn't expecting. There seems to be an issue with the new 'conversations' feature, it seems to work a little bit too well for my taste. Here is an example, I sent myself a test message from GMail to verify that my Mail.app was setup correctly. The message was simple, subject line 'test', message body 'test'. Evidently, I've done this many times over the years. Mail decided to group my most recent test message along with any and all test messages I've sent to myself since the oh, the year 2007. That doesn't feel like a 'conversation' but rather more like an archive. Just thought it was interesting behavior, I don't think the GMail client functions this way in terms of grouping emails.
Conclusion: I am digging Lion so far. I think more gestures could have been worked in to make certain workflows easier. In iPhoto, I'd expect to be able to swipe left and right when in fullscreen mode to browse my pictures. At present time, you can't do it. That's not to say a software update couldn't add that feature later on.
Tuesday: July 12, 2011
- Next version of iOS to bring bluetooth keyboard support to the Apple TV.
Navigating around on Apple TV isn't exactly all that fun of an experience. Adding the ability for a keyboard (or some other form of navigation device) would definetly be helpful. Interesting to note that 9to5mac also points to rumors of an updated Apple TV coming out sometime this fall.
Thursday: July 7, 2011
- App of the Week: Instantbird
Lately I've noticed that I've somehow found myself on a great deal of sites that have their own form of instant messaging clients. Facebook has one, Google has one, and then there's that ancient AIM account that I can never seem to let go of. The problem is that it can be more than a little annoying having to be logged into each respective utility to do something as simple as instant messaging. Enter Instantbird. I gave this a whirl last week and I've liked it thus far. Instantbird takes all of these IM clients and puts them into one easy to use app. You can finally see a list of your Facebook friends along with your AIM friends, it works almost a little too well. After adding my Facebook list I was overwhelmed by the number of items on my typically small AIM list.
According to the Instantbird website they currently support the following clients by default: AIM, Facebook Chat, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, Groupwise, ICQ, IRC, MSN, MySpaceIM, Netsoul, QQ, Simple, Twitter, XMPP, Yahoo and Yahoo JAPAN. That's a pretty big list of clients.
Under the hood is a lot of code from the Mozilla project. As such there are add-ons and familiar settings panes for those who are well-versed in the art of Firefox (you'll notice some similarities mainly in the control panel section). So far I've only tried the app on Windows but there is a Mac version as well. I like that the software is minimal and for the most part stays out of your way. For those of you can't live without tabs you can have tabbed chats. For those who are maniacal single window fans (for purposes of IM, I fall into this category) you can turn it off. Lastly, you can also theme your IM conversations with a couple different variations. Overall I reccomend giving this app a try if you like me, you grew tired of having to log in here and log into that. Consolidation of your instant messaging is a good thing.
You can download Instantbird from their website: http://instantbird.com/.
Tuesday: May 11, 2010
- Rumors swirling that Apple might make their MobileMe service free for all.
This is an interesting rumor and would certainly make a lot of sense given that most, if not all, of the current functionality of MobileMe can be done elsewhere - for free. If this happened, I'd drop some of current Google services I currently use in less than a minute.
Monday: May 10, 2010
- An interesting writeup on iPad usability from Jakob Nielsen.
This post contains most of my reasoning as to why I haven't purchased an iPad just yet. I can't seem to rationalize how the device fits into my overall usage scheme. The iPhone seems to do everything I would use an iPad for - and it does a heck of a good job at everything it already does.
- Ten free iPhone apps to learn a new skill in ten minutes or less.
Yes folks, if you have a desire to learn a brand new skill chances are there truly is an app for that somewhere on the app store. Enjoy these quick gems and be sure to use your newfound skills wisely and for the greater good (looking at you, origami app).
Thursday: April 15, 2010
- Opera Mini for iPhone shoots past one million downloads in the App Store.
Turns out that people really do like an alternative to mobile Safari on their beloved iPhones. The application is also currently in the number one position in all twenty-two flavors of the app store.
Tuesday: April 13, 2010
- Opera Mini browser app now available for your beloved iPhone.
Users of the iPhone now have an alternative to Safari when browsing the web thanks to Opera's latest and recently approved app offering. The Register has a thorough review of the app on the other side of the click. I'll admit it feels pretty snappy on my 3GS although sometimes page rendering is a bit wonky.
Wednesday: March 10, 2010
- Google pulls the curtain back on brand new app marketplace for business.
Yes folks, the Google App Store is officially open for business - specifically your business. And by business I really mean your enterprise business. There are apps of all shapes and colors ranging from customer management all the way over to workflow management.
Tuesday: February 16, 2010
- Mobile firms get together create viable competitor to Apple's app store.
Not one, not two, not three, but twenty-four mobile providers will take part in this effort to kill off Apple's dominance in this arena. It kind of reminds of when the Destructicons would band together to form Devastator. The problem here is that the Autobots usually had Omega Supreme waiting in the wings.
Tuesday: January 5, 2010
- Apple's app store crashes through the three billion download mark.
What, no contest for the three billionth download in the app store? What gives? It's not like they've slated out other things to do over there in Cupertino besides contests and giveaways. Wakka wakka wakka.