Archive for the ‘iPhone’ Category

iPhone is no desktop, it’s a phone!

March 27, 2008

“iPhone is no desktop”, says John C. Dvorak. And I say that I don’t even see Apple trying make iPhone as a desktop replacement. If they were, I think Adobe would be pushed on hard to make a Flash available at launch, Mail application would have all sorts of filtering options, Photos application would allow to do some advanced picture editing and retouching and they would probably have Garage Band preinstalled :). What do we see instead? GUI and applications are made as simple as possible, but very accessible and fast. I don’t think that we are ever to create complicated CAD drawings or 32-tracks music compositions on the devices as compact as Smartphone unless the data input/output technology gets more advanced and we get bigger displays (mini-projectors) and a more convenient way of input. Let’s not forget that primary task of the Smartphone is to keep you connected with the world in more ways than just being able to talk to your buddies.

Windows Mobile was more the beginning of a desktop replacement than iPhone was. Microsoft implemented multitasking support, “Start” menu and the UI that more or less resembled the desktop environment. Why did PDAs get extinct? Because of the lack of connectivity with the world. People don’t bother about carrying a device that runs a scaled down version of Winamp or Doom, but rather a well-designed AIM client or Facebook, and an iPod that you can navigate through with a touch a finger :).

The question is whether iPhone is good at connecting people to the world. Half way it does good (UI of the SMS application resembles the conversation; a well-written browser that runs Facebook web app that allows to perform some basic tasks of the “real Facebook”, Digg web app that gives me a laugh or two during the day, Twitter web app that helps me twit for free without using the text messages from the package). But what about MMS (something, that even $50 phones can do)? Looks like it was easier for Apple to make YouTube convert their movie database into H.264 than writing a simple MMS application…

iPhone development – Where to start?

March 10, 2008

After struggling for quite a while to find a good documentation on iPhone SDK I decided to come up with a set of tutorials that I’m gonna do while learning the iPhone OS API myself. Official documentation found on Apple’s web site still suffers from being not clear enough and it’s not very obvious where the starting point is – whether it is the Objective-C 2.0 intro or the iPhone OS intro. Objective-C guide is hard to understand without real world example, and iPhone OS intro is too complicated to read without some basic knowledge of Objective-C. Just look at the ‘HelloWorldClassic’ example which is hundreds of lines long and makes your head go around when you look at it.

Luckily we have dozens of bloggers around and hundreds of non-official tutorials available everywhere online. As a newcomer to the Mac OS X and a person who has zero amount of experience in Cocoa programming I decided that programming for the desktop would be a better start than programming under the similar framework for the mobile device. Apple clearly states that iPhone Cocoa Touch development workflow is similar to development experience under desktop version of Cocoa, but due to the hardware specifics the Cocoa Touch has both limitations and advantages over the desktop platform. I think it is clear now that the good starting point would be the Cocoa ‘Hello World’ application, where you can get familiar with the IDE and the programming language itself. It turns out that most tutorials that are available online were created for the Xcode 2 and the older version of Objective-C, but still I was able to find some great resources that were a great push in development in Xcode IDE:

Particularly the YouTube videos by lammig were useful by showing the connection between the Interface Builder and actual coding in Xcode. Although Apple has demoed the Interface Builder for iPhone, in the original beta release of the SDK the Interface Builder for iPhone Cocoa Touch is unavailable, but Apple promised that it is not going to be a lot different from using the Interface Builder for original Cocoa for desktop platform.

This is it for today, but I’m currently building a small tutorial on how to build a lighter version of ‘Hello World’ application. By saying ‘lighter’ I mean something that is more compact and readable than the one Apple has on its iPhone Developer Center web site ;).

5 reasons why I prefer iPhone to Windows Mobile devices

November 5, 2007

In past I’ve been a user of both PalmOS and Windows Mobile based devices and so far came up with a few reasons why iPhone is a more suitable device for me.

  1. Faster response. iPhone tends to be a very fast and responsive device comparing to Windows Mobile smartphones and PDAs. Even with so much less attractive GUI, Windows Mobile devices are slower. And hardware does not seem to be the problem here.
  2. More stable. Generally iPhone does not crash that often as WM devices do. Trust me, I know how WM apps behave ;). Safari remains to be the only major problem in iPhone’s stability.
  3. Web browser. Many will agree with me that iPhone’s browser is actually a very revolutionary piece of software for portable devices. It is very intuitive to use, quite fast and standard compliant when it comes to rendering web pages.
  4. Music player. I tried different music players for WM, but none seemed to be user-friendly and convenient enough to use. Apple again did a good job developing an excellent music player for iPhone. It’s not perfect, but still remains one of the best players built into a cell phone.
  5. Great platform for future developers. It seems that iPhone is going to become one of the most rich, powerful and beautiful hardware and software play grounds for many developers and companies as Apple releases the official SDK in February. Because iPhone runs a version of Unix, which is known for its flexibility, extensibility and stability, it makes it a strong software platform ready for all sorts of third party applications with different levels of security already built-in. The OS GUI capabilities make iPhone not only an eye-candy, but introduces a new approach to navigating the device and a new way to use common applications like maps, web browser and pictures.
    Combine the strong sides of the hardware and the software of iPhone and we get a gadget that could replace Windows Mobile and PalmOS devices in future.

Thank you, Steve!

October 17, 2007

Looks like Steve Jobs is actually reading blogs and comments on gadget news web sites. The hopes of many came true with the announcement of official iPhone SDK. Moreover the SDK is coming to iPod touch, so both camps will be glad with the ability to add new applications and features. It was pretty obvious to me from the very beginning that such a powerful hardware and software base as iPhone cannot be left out without the ability for third-party applications.

It is worth mentioning that Apple is taking security seriously with the plans of incorporating digital signatures for third-party software. This will dramatically decrease the chance of viruses and worms, because really nobody wants an infected phone or get your personal data stolen.

Apple, thanks to this announcement, you again raised in my eyes and in the eyes of the entire iPhone owners community! Thank you for such a wise step!

iPhone software update: is it worth?

September 27, 2007

It was pretty obvious that the new update from Apple would lock the iPhone back with AT&T. To some extent the days and nights hackers spent figuring out how to unlock the iPhone can now be considered totally wasted. I don’t want to make any predictions, but it seems that Apple had a plan B where they applied a totally different locking technique and now it is going take another 2 months to figure out how to unlock the iPhone.

But my concern is not about unlocking the iPhone. I’m paying Apple what it “deserves” and am staying with AT&T (everybody should already know that Apple is receiving a portion of the monthly payments from AT&T iPhone users). My concern is about third-party applications that I won’t be able to use when I install the 1.1.1 update. This is a big hit for iPhone developers (or hackers ;)), who have already came up with a good amount of useful iPhone apps, and is even a bigger hit to users who are now unable to use those nifty little tools. Well, update is absolutely voluntary and nobody including Apple will force you to update your phone. So for myself I decided to stay the old way and keep my apps instead of getting iTunes Wi-Fi store, louder speaker and TV out. Yeah, I would not mind those features for my iPhone, but still they don’t seem good enough comparing to what third-party applications can offer instead.

Do you follow me guys? Can you see a future of iPhone in the hands of hackers and not in the hands of Apple? Hackers who try to bring best stuff for us and not try to earn more money like Apple does. But Apple’s attitude to the consumer is a different story, which needs another post or two.

Update: Engadget has a nice article comparing what you’ll get with an update, and what you’ll lose. It sort of supports my opinion about the new update and third-party applications.

Third-party applications on iPhone

September 25, 2007

When the iPhone was announced probably the biggest question was “Will it run third-party applications”. Many, including me, got disappointed with the negative answer from Apple. Thanks to hackers it did not become a major issue and since day one of my purchase I believed that there are going to be dictionaries, games, themes and many more for iPhone without Apple’s interaction. Now I cannot imagine my iPhone at its factory state: I got a few games installed, custom ringtones, voice recorder, eBook reader and many other little utilities. Apple, where are you? The device is so much better with the ability to add new features. And by the way, Steve, as you see even the software developed by hackers did not crash the “west coast AT&T network” 😉 So, come on, give us an official SDK and make life easier for the new generation of iPhone programmers.

Almost a month with the iPhone

July 22, 2007

Yes, I got it the first day it was released. Got it almost without waiting in the line in Everett Mall in the AT&T store. As many others in Seattle, I was first forced to buy three accessories with it, but the next time I returned to the store 2 hours later they said it was not necessary anymore. Unlike many others, activation did not take long for me. It was not the promised 2-3 minutes, but 20. Well, it’s still better than waiting for two days to get your device activated.

The first surprise was that it did not work with the 64-bit version of Windows, which I am currently using. Good I had a laptop which was running Windows XP Media Center Edition. Laptop is where I still use my iPhone to upload movies, music and podcasts. I still have not used it to sync calendar and contacts.

Couple of things to say after using the iPhone for almost a month:

  • The device is more practical than I thought. Before purchasing the iPhone I was worried about the screen – it might break, get scratches… Well, no any scratches after a month. Obviously I’m carrying the device not in a pocket, as I used to before with my previous cell phone, but in a $30 case (that looks like this) and I find it to be rather convenient, even more convenient than carrying the device in a pocket. Though the iPhone does not have too many hardware buttons, it is quite practical to use it. Screen is very sensitive – almost as sensitive as your skin. It can recognize even the light touch with the tip of your finger. Obviously it is more sensitive than on any other PDA or smartphone that I ever had a chance to use.
  • Browser is amazing. It is much better than Pocket Internet Explorer on Windows Mobile or Blazer on PalmOS. While on EDGE pages open at an average or below average speed, but still the navigation is very convenient and user-friendly. Better surfing speeds can be achieved while using WiFi connection. The only problem with the Safari on the iPhone is the absence of Flash support, but many tend to think that it will be fixed when the official SDK is released.
  • Battery life is short. The longest the iPhone could live without charging was two days for me and that’s with less than 1 hour talk time. It seems that the most power is consumed when using the WiFi connection and browsing the Internet. It seems that turning off WiFi when not needed saves the battery life. A good thing is that watching movies does not consume too much power. Some tests have showed that after watching a 1:20 hour movie only about 1/4 of battery power was gone.
  • It is hard to control music when iPhone is in the case. iPod is definitely a better choice for those who listen much music. The remote button that is on the headset wire can only play/pause and skip the track. Taking an iPhone out from the case and switching an album is kind of painful.
  • Camera is nice. It’s not the quality of Nokia’s N95 5-megapixel camera, but still better than any 1-2 megapixel phone cameras that I have seen before.

As many others I’m waiting for the software update and for the official SDK to be released, so we can have some games and more applications on-board.