Tag Archives: iPhone

General

Dear AT&T

Dear AT&T,

Instead of sending me spam email advertising your new GPS service, how about pulling your finger out and providing the MMS service that Apple have been dubiously promoting for around six months now? (“Late Summer” my arse).

The moment I can get an iPhone on Verizon, you guys are toast.

Bests,

Andrew

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General

Life update!

It’s been a wee while, but then I’ve been a wee bit busy lately!

Part of that is because I’ve left behind the sun-drenched beaches of Los Angeles for the slightly chillier climate of the Bay Area – San Francisco to be precise. Despite dropping about 10 degrees in temperature (5.5 degrees, Celsius readers) I’m very much enjoying the change. It’s nice being back in a city where walking and public transport are a part of everyday life, definitely an improvement over the car-centric nature of Los Angeles. Also I’m living in the North Beach district which means I have a huuge number of bars, restaurants and shops just a few blocks away, which is fantastic for those summer weekends and evenings :)

And with a change of city comes a change of job! About a month ago I started at LucasArts and so far it’s been brilliant. I’m part of a team working on something that’s fantastically exciting, but also highly highly confidential and several years away. I’ve always avoided talking about work here other than in the abstract and that’ll continue, but I do look forward to the day when I can say more :)

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General Programming

How much is being featured on the App Store worth?

Last week my latest iPhone App, Better Christmas List, was picked to be one of the featured staff favorites on the App Store. Huzzah!

The kudos of being selected gets your app a place in the “Staff Favorites” on iTunes, and the “What’s Hot” section of the iPhone App Store. This is prime billing, and almost as good as being in the top 10 list.

But what effect does this have on sales? Well so far it seems like a 2x effect :)

Pinch

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General

Oh, so close! (& a hidden 2.2 feature?)

The ability to download podcasts directly with the new iPhone firmware is very very cool. However there are a few problems that seem to have gone mostly unnoticed;

  1. Over the air downloads via 3G (and Edge) are limited to 10MB
  2. Not only does the mobile iTunes store lack the ability to filter larger podcasts, but nowhere is the size of a podcast shown!

I can kind-of-sort-of-perhaps see the rationale behind limiting download sizes, both to alleviate strain on the AT&T network and preserve battery life (more the former than the latter I suspect), but not being able to filter non-eligible podcasts (manually or visually) is a big usability issue if you’re on 3G.

But wait! In 2.2 there’s another podcast option that I don’t believe has had much press:

Tapping the name of a podcast will cause it to stream instead of download, with no 10MB limit involved (so much for the battery life theory).  At first I thought this was only a preview, but you can listen to entire shows and even watch video podcasts – which are full quality and not lower-resolution as Youtube videos on 3G are.

This would be super cool except for one thing – this mode almost seems a little unfinished for a couple of reasons.

  1. It’s practically hidden – no music-store-like play buttons. I only found it by looking to see if there was more info for shows (like size!)
  2. Playback doesn’t occur in the iPod App, and while you can return to the home screen without stopping playback headphone controls do not work (instead they start the iPod playing!).
  3. Only certain podcasts appear to work with others returning errors about invalid formats. (This could be a network issue though – my 3G fluctuates a lot at work).
  4. Unlike the iPod App, video is only supported in landscape mode. A minor niggle but there’s a podcasts with video or graphics that I like to play at work and glance at on my docked iPhone.
  5. Videos remain in high-quality on 3G, whereas Youtube intentionally delivers lower quality versions even on 3G.

Very interesting!

General

New iPhone App – Better Christmas List

Image1My second iPhone app went live on the App Store last night. Interestingly it was approved in under 48 hours, but took two days to appear in the store. I assume this is because Apple only add so many applications a day and there’s now a waiting list – Pinch Media have an RSS feed of new applications and the number each day is staggering.

I’m pretty pleased with this application. My first app (Photo Speed Dial) was really an exercise in learning Cocoa/Objective-C and the iPhone SDK and tools. Everything took time and there were several things that I basically did wrong, things that made certain aspects harder than they needed to be or fought against Cocoa’s MVC pattern.

Lessons learned. This time around I was able to focus entirely on the design of the application and it really showed both in development time and the end product. Inspired by the FriendFeed 24 hour app challenge my aim was to try and put together an attractive and useful app over the weekend. I didn’t quite manage that but came in at around 72 hours total.

During the development process I kept a log and screenshots. When I get time I plan to write them up as a post, mostly for my own edification and a self-reminder how useful design and planning can be even for personal projects.

Until then… Buy my app!

Distractions General

The Best iPhone Programming Book

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Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X (3rd Edition)

Due to the stringent SDK NDA there are no "Programming for the iPhone" type books currently available. However that are still plenty of books that can teach you how to program the iPhone.

Because the iPhone SDK is built upon the Cocoa foundation framework, and the iPhone UIKit framework is heavily influenced by the regular OSX AppKit, many of the same principles apply. In addition the tools used to create regular Mac apps are the same as used for the iPhone.

If you want a book that offers a quick way to get up to speed on the iPhone, and that serves as a great reference to both Objective-C and Cocoa, then look no further. This book’s extremely readable and you can pickup a lot without writing every sample. Being new to XCode / Interface Builder I also found some of the workflow tips to be extremely helpful. Single-pane all the way!

This book definitely helped me get to grips with Objective-C / Cocoa (some areas of which I still find just odd, but more on those later). If/when the NDA restrictions are lifted I wouldn’t be surprised if this is still a better starting guide for iPhone programming than some of the dedicated books.

General

Testing…

Just a quick test post using the new iPhone wordpress client. It seems to be a little bare-bones at the moment.

The interface is a bit confusing, particularly the keyboard handling in the editor. (the location of done/save should really be switched).

Here’s a picture I took in palm springs on Saturday, though images don’t appear to be shown inlined.

photo

General

How to sync an iPhone with two (or more) Computers

(Or, How to sync an iPhone with one computer and manually manage music and videos on another).

Note: This tutorial allows you to add music/videos/podcasts from multiple machines. If you just want to sync PIM (Contacts/Calenders etc) on one machine and media on another there’s a simpler way.  On the computer you want to sync contacts/calendar with select only these items and perform a sync. Now, on the second machine enable Music/Photos/Etc and perform a second sync. You will be warned the media library will be deleted, but as there’s no media this is fine :)

Because I do most of my music listening at work and my Calendar/Address book are kept in Outlook I have my iPhone setup to sync with my office PC.  When I’m at home however I find I also want to put music/podcasts/videos on my iPhone for the weekend or trips.

Normally it’s only possible to sync media on an iPhone with one computer. If you try to use a second computer you get the warning below that "the iPhone XXX is synced with another iTunes library. Do you want to erase this iPhone and sync with this iTunes library"?

 sync_warning

However, I’ve found an easy fix for this. In the instructions below I’ll show how to modify any iTunes Library so it can also be synced with your iPhone. You can then either manually manage your iPhone on a second computer, or sync different data on different machines (E.g. Music at home, Contacts/Calendar at work).

The instructions below use the example of modifying the iTunes library on my home Mac to work with my existing iPhone/PC setup. If your existing library is on a Mac, or both machines are of the same type, then the steps are identical.

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General

Mobile Admin for WordPress

Quite by chance I came across Mobile Admin, a plugin for wordpress that implements a streamlined admin interface for mobile devices.

It’s very iPhone orientated but has been done incredibly well. The interface is very slick and offers easy access to the most important areas of the admin panel. My only niggle is that the writing section is a little plain. It’d be great if there was an easy way to use some simple markup or insert links (although without copy&paste I’m not sure how useful it’d be anyway!)

One thing that’s very neat is that auto-save still works, which is always welcome when typing large amounts of text into a browser :)

I also came across wPhone which is another iPhone management plugin. It’s also well done but overall I prefer the look and feel of Mobile Admin.

General

BBC iPhone podcasts

imageThis is very cool. Very cool indeed. Best of all they actually stream over Edge without any noticeable stuttering, so if you have an iPhone you can listen to them pretty much anywhere you have a phone signal.

It’s disappointing that the iPhone doesn’t have any support for saving these sort of media files to memory though. While playing a media file on a webpage you are unable to use Safari, although you can return to the home screen and do other things.

Of course, the best solution would be for the iPhone version of iTunes to support downloading of new podcasts to your phone, but I suspect that is some way off. Hopefully the new remote syncing capabilities of the Zune will kick Apple into gear though :)