17 Oct

My Dinner With Android – Four months with Android: reflections, grievances and some tenuous metaphors bundled up into a weighty tome

If I could simultaneously re-experience my first time using iOS and my first time using Android, I don’t know how the two instances could ever reconcile. iOS feels like technology that’s years ahead of Android just through polish and design. And while a lot of Android users have told me that stuff doesn’t bother them, I can’t get over it. Why choose the tool that feels worse?

via My Dinner With Android – Four months with Android: reflections, grievances and some tenuous metaphors bundled up into a weighty tome. That pretty much sums up every bit of experience of Android I’ve ever heard.

04 Oct

Ars Technica – iPhone 4s out October 14, beefier specs, same body

Apple announced the next iteration of its iPhone, the iPhone 4S, at an event today in Cupertino. The phone’s body and screen are virtually identical to the iPhone 4, though it receives some significant internal spec bumps and a virtual "intelligent assistant" named Siri.

Like the iPad 2, the new iPhone 4S has a dual-core A5 chip clocked at 1GHz that is meant to deliver graphics up to seven times faster than the iPhone 4. Infinity Blade 2 was demonstrated on the handset; it’s an iOS exclusive that will be available December 1. Another feature migrated from the iPad 2 is screen mirroring, which can be done with the iPhone 4S either via AirPlay on an Apple TV or through a wired connection. The new handset will carry the same retina display as its predecessor, and will no longer need separate GSM and CDMA models; instead, the handset will be a world phone, with both systems included.

The camera on the iPhone 4S has been bumped up to 8 megapixels and now has an additional backside illuminated sensor that lets the phone gather 73 percent more light per pixel than the iPhone 4’s version, which should help with low-light photos. Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior VP of worldwide product marketing, also noted that the camera will capture pictures 33 percent faster than before, with half a second between shots, and will be able to shoot 1080p video with image stabilization.

A new software feature that may be exclusive to the iPhone 4S is Siri, an "intelligent assistant" that answers questions and responds to commands by pulling up the appropriate app (it’s named for the similar app Apple bought in 2010). Scott Forstall, senior VP of iOS software, demonstrated the app by asking the phone "What is the weather like today?"—Siri pulled up the forecast. The command "wake me up tomorrow at 6AM" made the phone set an alarm for that time.

Siri can also send e-mails and text messages, make calendar entries, and take dictation in apps that normally require keyboard entry. Apple did not mention whether it will make APIs available for developers to integrate Siri into third-party applications.

via Ars Technica – iPhone 4s out October 14, beefier specs, same body. Nice bump to an awesome phone. Siri looks really interesting.

31 Aug

The Ad Contrarian – Advertising And The Future Of Apple

After Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO of Apple last week, speculation about the company’s future began immediately.

The consensus seemed to be that Jobs built a strong culture, hired smart people, and taught a way of thinking that will serve Apple well in the future. The story line went like this– while Jobs will be missed, he is no longer essential to the future of the company and it will go on brilliantly without him.

I don’t buy this for a second. Genius is non-transferable.

via The Ad Contrarian – Advertising And The Future Of Apple. Not a bad negative outlook of Apple post Steve Jobs, it starts with a pretty good premise but the conclusion doesn’t jibe. For instance I don’t think anyone argued Apple would stay the same or even that it should. Apple will change. The larger question and worry is, is Apple still the innovative company that it was under Steve Jobs? Would such innovations as the iPad (creating a whole new market) or the iPod (dominate per-exisiting market with superior technology and design).

The argument that genius doesn’t transfer is a smoke-screen, it’s a stupid question with a stupid answer, and doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. Is Apple able to remember the lessons of Steve Jobs and maintain it’s identity in the face of the man who created that identity no longer present? That’s the real question and the only one that matters.

If Apple is able to maintain it’s identity then it won’t ever hire people without vision and taste and turn into something other than maker of products at the intersection of Liberal Arts and Technology.

26 Jul

Read Write Web – You Can Read, But You Can’t Buy: iOS E-Reader Apps Remove Links to Bookstores

New rules governing how iOS apps handle in-app purchases went into effect on June 30, and the date passed without much fanfare and seemingly without much compliance from many apps that continued to offer content for sale. These apps included e-reader apps with links to their associated online bookstores, as well as a variety of others that offered users the ability to subscribe or make purchases.

But over the weekend, updates were issued for many e-reader apps, removing links to their bookstores in order to comply with Apple’s new rules. These stipulate that Apple receive a 30% cut from in-app purchases and subscriptions, something that many publishers balked at, contending that that cut was too high.

When the new policy was announced back in February, one of the first apps to run into trouble was Sony’s e-reader, which was rejected as it contained a link to the Sony Reader Store. But for apps already in the iTunes App Store – the Kindle app, the Nook app and so on – the links and the ability to buy books remained. Until this weekend.

One by one, it appears that most of the major e-reader apps have now complied: Kobo, Borders, Nook Kids, and finally this morning, the Kindle apps have all been updated with links to their respective stores removed.

via Read Write Web – You Can Read, But You Can’t Buy: iOS E-Reader Apps Remove Links to Bookstores. The end of this battle between Apple and publishers.

18 Jul

The Watchmaker Project – How to fix the broken iPad form label click issue

Mobile Safari, the browser found on iPhones, iPod Touches and the iPad, does not (currently) implement the same label behaviour as other browsers. Clicking on labels doesn’t do anything—possibly, as Ben Darlow suggests, it is because it would interfere with the tap-to-select-text functionality, although personally I think that usability trumps obscure text-selection use cases.

What’s even weirder is that, in over an hour of googling, I couldn’t find a single reference to this issue. Surely someone, somewhere must have noticed that clicking or tapping on labels in forms on iPad doesn’t select the input? I resolved that when I published a fix for the issue, it would include a couple of clunky sentences stuffed with as many keywords related to the tap click form label input select checkbox radio button problem as possible…

via The Watchmaker Project – How to fix the broken iPad form label click issue. Nice and simple fix, defiantly not quite as common a problem on the iPhone (rarely do I find myself wanting to hit the label vs. the input field).

13 May

The Official Google Code Blog – Making money with Google In-App Payments for the Web

Today at Google I/O, we launched the developer API of Google In-App Payments for the web. In-App Payments enables any web application to receive payments from users and keep them engaged in your application. It is available to all US developers in sandbox today and will be followed by a consumer launch and an international rollout over the summer.

via The Official Google Code Blog – Making money with Google In-App Payments for the Web. The most interesting part of this is the 5% fee, most payment services charge 2-3%, so double that for Google to cover their hosting costs and such and it seems pretty reasonable. Here is where it gets interesting this puts Apple at a distinct dis-advantage. Apple charges 30% on everything (purchase an app, music, in-app purchases, etc). For ebook readers this creates a non-existent business model due to the agency model that publishers now require all books sold to recieve 70% of the purchase price (ie not wholesale price but what the customer actually paid). So 30% to Apple and 70% to the publisher means nothing get’s left over for the middle-person. That 70% cut could be argued as a problem, but the publisher is one paying for the advertising, development and writing of the book itself, 70% seems like an acceptable cut.

Google is really demonstrating what seems like the fairer margin for the service that serves, stores, builds the store, etc. Apples cut feels too high. Apple does valuable work and important work and it’s a fair argument that without all of Apple’s work there wouldn’t even be this store or platform for developers and publishers to sell their content. But the margin that Apple takes doesn’t seem right, especially when looking at e-books. Etsy is a great example of where the fees seem much more realistic, 20 cents per item listed and 3.5% sales fee. There is a business model that is working and doing much the same as Apple currently is with their App Store. Apple’s cut is so out of portion to everything else comparable is the real problem.

I’ll agree that this is defiantly a subjective claim as it’s hard to state what is and isn’t a viable or reasonable business model, and certainly Apple can charge a 30% or 5% or 90% fee and they are within their rights to do so. The argument can also be made, that a business shouldn’t bet their model on Apple treating them fairly cause that’s never a good idea, Apple defiantly does what is right for Apple. However if Apple doesn’t change their stance I can defiantly see Amazon just pulling out of the App Store and launching their service as a web app. It’s not the best solution for them, but it’s better than Apple taking every penny they make on e-books, especially when the competing smartphone platform takes only 5%.

01 May

carpeaqua – We’ll Fix Our Platform In Post

Apple has a year head start on their competition in tablets, and the slow rate of updates coming from their competition does not make me believe the lead shrink in the future. Releasing software is hard, but Apple seems to be the only one that can release half a dozen updates over the course of a year that both fix bugs and add functionality to users existing tablets and phones. Microsoft continues to release major updates as giant service packs that seemingly will come out twice a year. Google’s not saying much about their Honeycomb improvements and how or if they will even be distributed to existing tablet owners. If anything, RIM’s eighteen CEO’s keep it interesting by promising everything they can dream up.

To make a dent in Apple’s market lead, Google, Microsoft, Blackberry and HP (eventually) need to focus less on the hardware specs or openness of their platform, and more on getting software updates to their existing user base on a regular basis. Hardware specs are porn for the gadget blogs, but software and apps are what sell tablets and phones to regular users. iOS is not without flaws, but I can’t think of any gaping holes in the platform that make it hard to justify an iPad or iPhone to someone. I would run out of fingers if I had to list all the holes in the Xoom or Playbook.

via carpeaqua – We’ll Fix Our Platform In Post. It’s one thing to come out with a product half finished, it’s another to come out and say you’ll finish the product and never do. The biggest thing that Apple tends to get right is nothing comes out feeling unpolished, there may be things missing from the product that people desire (copy and paste and an SDK for iOS is a good example) but the product itself doesn’t feel incomplete without those pieces. This work by RIM and Microsoft in particular not only is the product itself lacking but the companies keep promising the sky and delivering very little.

05 Apr

ericbieller.com – What makes iOS user experience so much better than Android?

Since starting my position as UI/UX Designer at Tapjoy I have had the opportunity to become more familiar with some of the latest Android Devices. Though I have been an iPhone user since the first iteration of the device, I consider myself open to new devices and experiences. I had heard a lot of hype about the Android phones (mainly the HTC) being a comparable alternative to the iPhone so I was excited about the opportunity to check them out. However, the point of this article is to tell you that, despite 4g, kickstands, larger screens, higher-res cameras, Android phones still can’t compete with the iPhone.

For the sake of clarity, I want to disclose that I will be looking at the phone from a user experience perspective. Typical reviews are quick to compare specs and features but don’t usually focus on the overall experience and aesthetic of the device. This aesthetic appeal is what makes the iPhone the top consumer handheld, despite any lacking features. So if you care more about features and specs than user experience, you might completely disagree with what I have to say. That being said, here are my thoughts on the two different experiences:

via ericbieller.com – What makes iOS user experience so much better than Android?. In a nutshell these were more or less my main issues with the experience of using an Android phone.

05 Apr

NYTimes.com – Pandora Discloses a Privacy-Related U.S. Inquiry on Apps

The online radio service Pandora has received a subpoena from a federal grand jury investigating whether popular smartphone applications share information about their users with advertisers and other third parties.

The company said on Monday that it believed that it was one of many companies to receive subpoenas in an investigation into the information-sharing practices of publishers that make apps for the iPhone and other Apple devices, as well as smartphones that run on Google’s Android operating system.

Pandora said it shared information with third parties to help it track how users interact with the service and to deliver targeted advertising. But the company, based in Oakland, Calif., said it was “not a specific target” of the grand jury investigation.

via NYTimes.com – Pandora Discloses a Privacy-Related U.S. Inquiry on Apps. Wonder when we’ll start hearing something what this investigation into mobile advertising and I presume privacy is trying to discover.