Posts Tagged iphone

MobileDay is live in the App Store!

After a couple months of hard work I’m proud to see MobileDay in the App Store! If you join or create conference calls from your iPhone check it out and share it with others. It’s a great tool for easy one-touch calling to any conference service from any meeting in your calendar and we have much more to come! You can also read more about the company and app at mobileday.com.

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Android UX (still) fails

I don’t usually get deep into the fray on iOS vs. Android. Yes, I’m a completely devout Apple fan myself: I use a Mac at home and work, own pretty much every other Apple device on top of that, and have such a strong iPhone preference that I happily eBayed not one but both Androids I got for free at Google IO a few years back because, well, after a week of serious benefit-of-the-doubt were still worthless pieces of junk compared to my aging iPhone 3G that could actually join WiFi networks and check my corporate email. And then a month later I bought an iPhone 4.

But again, I usually don’t go out of my way to rant about this. Tonight is an exception. I’m working at a startup again that’s heavily focused on mobile applications and as such am getting quite a bit more plugged in to the Android experience, even though I’m still doing the most hands-on work with our iOS offerings. To that end it was high time I ditch the simulator and start running our Android app on a Real Device for some side-by-side comparison, and today picked up a brand new Droid Razr for the task. Even though I’m basically planning to use the device for nothing beyond Phone, Email, Calendar, and our in-development application, I thought I might indulge in one tiny personalization and set the wallpaper to a recent photo of my kid. I’m a proud dad after all, and spend a hell of a lot of time staring at these screens. That’s where the fun began.

As an Apple user I’m of course all synced up with Photo Stream and iCloud but that doesn’t help me much on my new Android. No worries though, I also use Flickr to share with family and have lots of great original-size photos in albums there. This will be a piece cake! Paging quickly through the installed apps and device setup wizard I find, of course, Picasa and Photobucket but no Flickr. Oh well, guess I lost to the OEM dice on this one, so over to the Market to grab the Flickr app. The app crashes on launch. Not Android’s fault I guess, the Flickr guys probably just have better things to do than make their Android app stable and obviously the Market will let you publish anything. On second launch I’m able to access the login screen, and being on an Android figure I’ll use the option for Google auth since that’ll probably be seamless.¬†Alas, it kicks me over to the same generic Google web SSO screen I’d see in a browser – even though I have entered my Google ID in at least five places on this phone – and it’s an Android FFS.

Just as I’m about to start typing my email address something else catches me eye. The keyboard has a little microphone key at the bottom! I know this key, it’s there on my brand new iPad and hails all manner of bleeding-edge voice recognition at my disposal. So I click it and humbly but articulately recite my beloved email address. The phone thinks briefly and seconds later comes back with a perfect match. That is, a perfect match that is completely useless in this field and would be so much work to edit that I end up just clearing the field and typing it anyway: it had entered, literally, “dustin dot mallory at gmail.com”. What could be a more glaring UX failure than engineers who have so perfected this fast, accurate recognition yet it has absolutely no clue I’m in an email field? Especially considering that the field asserts this specifically – which is why I’m seeing an emailish keyboard and not the generic text keyboard – is wiring up the same basic context to the dictation button too much to ask?

I suspected not, so of course I immediately jumped over the the Flickr login screen via Google auth on my iPad. And again, I used the dictation button and recited “dustin dot mallory at gmail dot com”. Guess what it entered? You’re damn right it did. That’s how a device is supposed to work!

But the fun doesn’t end there. This filled me with such glee I thought I’d take some screenshots so I could show my wife, rage-blog about it, and poke fun at everyone using an Android at the office tomorrow. So I quickly pressed home and sleep to grab an iPad screenshot knowing it would immediately be synced via Photo Stream to my Mac for easy access. I would probably have to email the Android version, but whatever, I can handle email. I wonder how I take an Android screenshot? Seems like there were issues with it when I tried it on those phones from Google a couple years back but I’m sure it’s better now after, what, three major versions of the OS. So for kicks I try a few combinations of the power button, the side button, and whatever the hell you call those four buttons along the bottom where my home button should be. Nothing. I poke through the apps and settings looking for something screen capturish. Still nothing.

I pull up the Market and search for “screenshot”. There are definitely a handful of apps that do it, but most have sketchy reviews and all-caps warnings that U MUST ROOT UR PHONE 4 THIS 2 WERK. Really? So I download one of the free ones just to try it for myself. I clearly picked a loser not only in its ability to take screenshots successfully but also at engaging in the English language. For the guy who wrote this thing’s sake, I really wish someone who cared was reviewing these apps and giving some pointers in the right direction.

I consider shelling out 4.99 for the super pro version that will work, guaranteed, even if I don’t want to root my phone or speak English. But then I remember that I have an iPad that actually works sitting next to me, so I just take a couple physical physical pictures of it the old-fashioned way and they’re ready to go. Not just captured, but happily synced over iCloud, already over on my Mac, so I can finally rage-blog to my heart’s content.

Don’t worry Apple. If there was any remote chance I might stray from my aging iPhone 4 to this shiny new imposter it was obliteated not just by the epic failure I ran into doing something so basic, but the somber realization that this is no longer a bleeding-edge technology being adopted only by uber geeks like myself as it was a few years ago, it’s mainstream with years of experience, vendors, and community behind it. A whole pile of things contributed to the failure you’re seeing here, but the platform surely enabled most of them. Then again that never stopped something from gaining cheap, grudging acceptance by the masses even though it sucks, and making both the peddler and their OEM cronies a pile of money in the process. Just ask Microsoft. But I’m glad Apple is (finally) making more because it’s well deserved.

Now back to doing something fun on my iPad.

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Great iPhone vs Evo spoof

I have watched these iPhone vs Evo spoofs about 10 times now and they still have me laughing. So true!

For the record I had a free HTC Evo 4G from Google IO and sold it on eBay because the battery was crap, it can’t connect to my work’s wifi, email was clunky, the mainstream apps just weren’t as advanced as their App Store counterparts (news readers, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), and more importantly it was just too friggin’ big to carry around in my pocket. For any mobile device high resolution, battery life, and a seamless simple UI trump a big screen and power any day. I own a 13″ MacBook Pro instead of some ginormous Dell laptop for the same reason. Not to mention that I absolutely hate the dual and triple branding that makes it onto all the Androids: my Evo regularly assaulted me with Sprint, Nascar, HTC, and Google. How many annoying pop-ups do I need when I already bought the phone? You don’t notice this stuff until you’ve used Apple devices for several years and then it’s like wow, WTF.

As a consumer the iPhone wins me over hands-down for the reasons above, but it’s actually grown on me as a developer as well. I’ve written a lot of Java and not been a huge fan of Objective C, but the more I think about it HTML5 – not Flash or Java – really is the right open standard to back for great user interfaces across tons of platforms (mobile and desktop alike), and I’m really glad someone with Apple’s clout is making a statement there. I wish it was a little easier to make HTML5 apps feel as seamless as their native cousins on the iPhone, but it will get there.

I bought an iPhone 4 on launch day and it’s an amazing device that hasn’t had me miss the Evo one bit.

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iPhone 4 pre-order is almost as fun as waiting in line

Yes I know I should expect a rush, but one of these days will Apple and AT&T get their shit together? I say AT&T because the main storefront is super fast, but as soon as it’s time to enter my phone number and have my account verified with AT&T the process grinds to a halt. You’d think it’s sending my account info through their 3G network. After a little over an hour of the five screens below I managed to get my first order through, and almost another hour later the second. Then the store went down again just after I got both confirmation emails. Guess I got lucky on this one.





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Pandora gets even better

I’m a huge Pandora fan (thanks to my wife who discovered it for me!), and just noticed that they’ve revamped the premium side of the service to be even better. In case you haven’t used it, Pandora is an incredibly cool “custom radio” service that lets you seed it with a song, artiest, or other criteria, and then it spings off songs to your liking for hours on end. The only catch is that you can’t request a specific song to be played, and there are a limited number of “skips” per hour to conform to licensing agreements. It’s kind of like the iTunes Genius except that you obviously don’t have to own the music, and in my experience the “matching” logic in Pandora is by far the best out there. It literally plays all the music I love and finds new stuff for me, rarely coming up with anything annoying (which, when it does, is easy to correct via simple “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” controls).

As for the new changes, they’ve just unveiled Pandora One which for the same $36/year premium price, boasts even further relaxed restrictions and a handy desktop player (which incidentally, also appeals to my geek side because it uses Adobe AIR). Now I don’t have to worry about killing Pandora during my multitude of browser restarts during the day!

If you haven’t tried Pandora you should really check it out. Even the free version is phenemenal, and once you’re hooked you’ll see that $36/year for the extra bells and whistles is a steal. They also have a great iPhone app for music on the go and are starting to support some more conventional home audio systems as well.

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