Archive for May, 2010

Flash comes to the iPhone …sort of!

It had to happen: a developer has figured out a way to see Flash videos and games on the iPhone and iPad, well – sort of.
Boston developer Lida Tang, 32, has worked his way into the Apple App Store with Cloud Browse, a program that lets you go to websites that feature flash video and games, includinge CBS.com, comedycentral.com and Nickelodeon.com, despite Apple’s aversion to Flash. Tang came up with a workaround that obviously even Apple could approve of.
You can watch Flash, but it isn’t actually on your iPhone. It’s on another computer.
Here’s how it works: you download the free Cloud Browse App and install it. Then you direct the App to the website of your choice. Here’s where the interesting part comes in: the site is called up on another computer, which streams it back to your iPhone.
The App works for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, but is optimized for the small screen of the iPhone and iPod. In our tests, the quality was decent on the iPhone, but pretty grainy and hard to watch on the much larger iPad. (An iPad optimized App is in the works.)
The app is free, has been out for a few weeks, and so far has picked up 150,000 downloads, says Tang. He plans on bringing out a paid App at $9.99 monthly.  Download here
There’s a big difference between free and paid. Free users only get to stay connected for about 10-15 minutes, and the video frame rate is slow. Tang says paid users will get unlimited access, and faster video.
Tang says he began working on the App a year ago, motivated by “wanting to escape the confine of the mobile device. There’s a lot more power in the cloud.”
The app had already been approved by Apple by the time Apple CEO Steve Jobs penned his “Thoughts on Flash,” on the Apple website, which ended any realistic hope of seeing Flash on the iPhone or iPad. Jobs says Flash is a battery drainer and resource hog.
The Cloud Browse App works just about anywhere on the Web — except for video site Hulu, which is co-owned by Fox, NBC and ABC. “Hulu is very aggressive about blocking access,” says Tang.
Source: usatoday

New iPhone getting June 7th reveal?

Confirmation that Steve Jobs will host Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2010 keynote raises hopes.

Apple has confirmed that Steve Jobs himself will be hosting the keynote talk at this year’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2010 – raising chances that the gathering will be used to unveil the upcoming iPhone 4.

Though there’s no direct evidence to confirm this, if nothing else we know that a new iPhone is both in development and nearing release.

Early builds of the gadget have in recent weeks been spotted (or ‘acquired’)by both Gizmodo and Vietnamese site Taoviet.

Kicking off on June 7th, WWDC is designed to provide advanced advice for skilled developers across five key technology tracks.

The 5000 attendees will be able to attend sessions in the following tracks: Application Frameworks; Internet & Web; Graphics & Media; Developer Tools; and Core OS.

Source: MVCUK

iPad users are annoyed at lack of Flash support

Apple might come to regret its decision not to support Adobe’s Flash.

According to a recent survey, researchers at Changewave found that the most common dislike among Ipad owners was the device’s lack of Flash support. Apple’s dear leader Steve Jobs has made it clear that he will not allow devices running Iphone OS to use Adobe’s Flash.

Given that over 80 per cent of respondents in the report claim to use their Ipads for web browsing and almost 50 per cent for viewing video, areas in which Flash is particularly pervasive, it’s not surprising that users find lack of support for the format annoying.

Those who have shelled out big bucks to get their hands on an Ipad may complain about the situation, but given Jobs’ very public spat with Adobe it’s highly unlikely that Adobe will ever see Flash support in the Iphone OS. After Jobs made a number of accusations and false claims about the software, it was revealed why he is so fervently against Adobe’s product when plans for Apple’s own Cocoa fuelled web were outed.

Few would argue that Adobe and its products are open, but given that so many aspects of the web currently depend on it, simply blocking it will, as this report shows, only leave users aggrieved.

Adobe, realising that its relationship with Apple has hit the buffers, decided to cosy up to Google and its open source Android operating system, meaning those who want to enjoy all that the web has to offer can do so by purchasing a device running Android.

The report also dismisses Jobs’ ridiculous claim that the Ipad is a “revolutionary device” by asking users what they do with the shiny toy. Aside from web browsing and watching videos, checking email, playing games and listening to music were all popular Ipad activities, just as they are on netbooks and even the firm’s Iphones and Macbooks.

As Jobs’ Mob decides whether or not to deride this report, it cannot hide from the fact that the road its dear leader has decided to take it down might lead to alienating a significant percentage of its customers.

The fruit themed toymaker is launching the Ipad on May 28 or June 7 depending on which date you believe. That is also the same time that Google is set to release Android 2.2, which features multi-tasking and Adobe’s Flash 10.1, both of which are features absent from Apple’s oversized Iphone without a phone.

Source: the inquirer

iPhone makes it to world's best inventions list

The Apple iPhone has made it to the list of the ‘Most Important Inventions Of All Time’.

The cell phone, ranked eighth in the list, is ahead of both space travel and the combustion engine.

After its launch in 2007, more than 42 million of the gadgets have been sold.

The computer came fifth and Graham Bell’s telephone came sixth just ahead of Sir Alexander Flemming’s discovery of Penicillin.

A total of 4,000 consumers voted to rank some of the major inventions of the last 200 years, in the survey conducted by Tesco Mobile.

“All of the inventions included in this list have changed the world forever,” the Sun quoted Lance Batchelor, chief executive of Tesco Mobile, as saying.

He added: “Whether it be something as small as a paper clip, to something which changed the face of the universe like the combustion engine, these amazing feats have all been recognised as truly great.

“It’s amazing to see how much the iPhone is valued, sitting alongside inventions such as Penicillin in people’s perceptions and being declared a more important invention than miracle gadgets of their own time, such as the compass.”

Spell check made it to 86th, while power steering was placed at 50th and the TV remote control landed in 43rd.

Full article >>

Solid gold iPad, *only* £130,000!

The luxury iPad has sparkling gems set into its Apple logo, as well as a solid-gold rear and screen surround.

Fans of the blinged-up device should bring their money with them, however, as Mr Hughes’s 2.1kg unique iPad also weighs in with a hefty price tag of £130,000 – more than 180 times pricier than even the most expensive UK model.

Mr Hughes’s website describes the unique gadget as ‘outstanding even down to the precise polishing to reveal its most beautiful harmonious appearance’.

It continues: ‘A magnificent combination of top-of-the-industry technology and unrivalled craftsmanship was invloved in creating this masterpiece.’

Mr Hughes, 39, from Liverpool, started creating the super-plush gadgets with wife Katherine eight years ago.

He makes the stunning gizmos by casting moulds in the shapes of the gadgets, before pouring in gold to complete the process, which can sometimes take up to six weeks.

The couple offer luxury customised phones, like diamond-encrusted Blackberrys, as well as the ultimate games console – a gold-plated Nintendo Wii ‘Supreme’ costing £300,000.

For those who can’t quite stretch to £130,000, Mr Hughes also offers a budget gold-plated iPad for a mere £2,000.

He said: ‘The process works for objects and gadgets people can relate to, and when we’re finished with the products they can often look bizarre and outrageous.

‘We’ve gone for the higher end of the gadget market. When someone spends £80,000 on an expensive car, they don’t want to drive it home and find their nextdoor neighbour has got the same one.

Source: Daily Mail

3G tariffs announced for UK iPad Customers

Alongside the up-front cost of the device, consumers will have to pay for Wi-Fi access when they leave their home, or sign up for a 3G mobile broadband package.

O2 has announced that it will be offering three tariffs. For £2 a day, iPad owners can access up to 500MB, without having to sign any contract. It also has two monthly payment options: for £10 a month iPad users get 1GB of usage and for £15 they get 3GB. Customers can cancel their contracts – with 24 hours’ notice – at the end of the month.

Orange’s pay monthly option offers a better deal for heavy mobile broadband users with £25 buying 10GB. But all three of O2’s offers come with unlimited Wi-Fi access through hotspots operated by BT Openzone and The Cloud. Only Orange’s pay monthly deals come with Wi-Fi access and they only include a paltry 750MB of Wi-Fi browsing – again through BT Openzone’s network of hotspots.

Vodafonethe last of the three mobile phone networks that will be supporting the iPad when it goes on sale on 28 May, has yet to announce its prices. Figures being quoted on some websites are apparently incorrect, according to a Vodafone spokesman.

Source: Guardian

iPhone development vs iPad development – hints for developers

Since the announcement of the iPad there have been mixed views towards the iPhone development community, mainly to do with the fact that are potentially two different platforms to cater for. However, this can be an advantage to some developers, especially financially.

The iPad is backward compatible with iPhone application, since they will be scaled up by the iPad to make use of the larger screen (if required). That said, the iPad is a completely different device in it’s own right and is extremely different to the iPhone, mainly due to the larger screen surface.

However, when developing applications for the iPad, you must make sure you cover:

Orientation Support for rotation

The iPad does not have a ‘right’ way up, it can be used in the same direction as the iPhone (portrait) or in the landscape orientation (on its side). Therefore, it is crucial that your application is able to rotate in either direction.

View Controller

All iPhone apps which use the UINavigation controller (for drilling down information, such as the settings app) can now take advantage of the new view controller. This allows simulataneous viewing of the list (in landscape orientation) and the detailed view (as a two panel selector UI pattern). The regular orientation is still available in portrait orientation. The new and improved UIKit in iPhone 4.0 will allow these functions to be controlled for your iPad application.

Popover Views

Due to the size of the screen on the iPhone it is not common practice to have modal dialogues (except for third party ones like Facebook connect auth). The iPad SDK allows modal dialogues, modeless dialogues and attactive menus.

All applications which use the master/detail view will automatically convert the master list into a popover menu which the iPad is placed in the landscape orientation. The same technique can be used to create menus to show pages or dialogues.

Tabs

Traditional tabs normally appear at the top of an application (except on the iPhone). iPad applications now have the option to place tabs at the top or at the bottom of the application, allowing tabs to be put inside popover views.

Table Views

Again, due to the increased screen size of the iPad, UITableViews may now have multiple columns.

Gestures

Although technically speaking you can have as many finger gestures as you like (as long as you it’s under 10 fingers of course!), but the iPhone’s limited screen size sort of made anything more than two fingers a pain to use.

The deliciously large screen size of the iPad now allows us to use a bunch of new gestures as seen on the MacBook trackpad.

Multimedia

Videos need consume the entire screen for the iPad. Video can now be restricted to a small portion or area of the screen.

The iPad also supports wireless headsets and microphones, allowing hands-free voice-driven control of the apps.

Improved CoreGraphics technology allows apps to generate PDF content, allow reports to be generated on the fly by using the SDK.

Compass and Location

GPS location and compass technology is only available on 3G models of the iPad.

Text input and keyboards

Each text field input will support spell checking and auto-completion (much like iPhone 4.0). Developers can toggle this behaviour to suit the needs of the application.

Virtual keyboards can also be customised withina single app, allowing scientific input, IP address keys, etc.

Screen differences

The screen sizes for the iPhone and iPad are not proportional. The iPad tall side is 2.13x side of the iPhone and the short side is 2.4 the size of an iPhone or iPod touch.

Getting sizes of the current view via the SDK, rather than introducing magic numbers should use dimensions for games.

Apple Announces UK iPad Prices

Have you been waiting eagerly for the iPad to be available outside the U.S.? If so, then today is your day: Apple announced on Friday that it will make the iPad available in nine more countries this summer, as well as dishing on the prices for pre-ordering in the U.K.

Despite the delay in international shipments, on May 28, the iPad will wing its way to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, and the U.K. Customers in those countries will be able to pre-order all six iPad models from Apple beginning this coming Monday, May 10. In addition, in July, the iPad will come to Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, and Singapore. Prices and pre-ordering details will be available for those countries closer to their availability.
In the U.K., the Wi-Fi-only iPads will sell for £429, £499, and £599 for 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB respectively. The 3G models will go for  £529, £599, and £699 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. All prices include the U.K.’s Value Added Tax (VAT); the iPads will be available through brick-and-mortar and online Apple Stores, as well as select Apple resellers. There’s no news yet on what the prices of 3G plans in the U.K. will be, though British providers such as Orange, O2, and Vodafone all said last month that they will offer dedicated iPad data plans.
Source: PCWorld

UK parties iPhone apps

All the major parties have talked the talk about learning from Obama’s celebrated success at using technology to build a grassroots campaign which engaged voters and all the major parties have released iPhone apps. I got to wondering – have they blended what they’ve learnt from Obama with the power of the iPhone to engage its users?

In this post, I’ll look at each of the party’s election apps considering where they’ve done well and where they’ve got it all wrong. As a reasonable baseline, I’ll suggest that an app should at least have party news, party relevant tweets and policy information. The thing I’m most interested in is whether the apps provide a platform for interested people to get engaged in party activities. Do the apps allow Joe Public to get involved at a grassroots level?

The Labour Party – iCampaign

The Labour party’s app is very comprehensive. Over and above the campaign news section, there is an Inside the Campaign section which reads a bit like a campaign blog. Good reading for both the party faithful and just the politically interested.

The app also features local election events and info on Labour representatives relevant to your location. This is brilliant use of the iPhone’s geo-location features and offers an immediate route into Labour party activities for potential volunteers, including a form to sign up as a volunteer.

Localisation and the use of the app to engage would-be-volunteers in local events mean this one’s a winner. One thing I wonder about – why does the word “Labour” not appear in the app’s title?

The Tories – Conservative

At the risk of sounding like a real newspaper rather than a tech blog, the Tories’ app is all gloss and no substance. Having to endure the naff title sequence every time I run the app put me off before I even got started. Policies are accessible through a clunky interface. News is presented in a reasonably straightforward fashion.

The only feature which encourages any sort of engagement with the party is “Call a friend” where the app encourages you to call friends in your addressbook and, in doing so, provide their details to the Tories for local campaigning.

A dynamic infographic, the Swingometer, allows the user to tilt the device to demonstrate how percentage swing translates into Conservative seats gained nationally. As someone who does not have a mental picture of the constituency map its not clear how tilting the phone numerically affects which specific constituencies so it came across as someone’s funky visual idea with very little meaning.

The app provides web links to the Tories’ Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages which, annoyingly, take you out of the app and into the browser.

A few flashy graphics neither entices nor facilitates users easily engaging with the party.

The Liberal Democrats – Lib Dems

The Lib Dems app puts Nick Clegg into your pocket, quite literally. By selecting three topics from six available,the app strings together a series of videos which are narrated by Nick Clegg. A few links allow you to join the mailing list, share the app with a friend and make donations. And that’s about it really.

The Lib Dems fail on my baseline of presenting, at a minimum, news, policy and twitter. There’s also no way to meaningfully engage as a potential volunteer.

UK Independence Party – UKIP
Promisingly, the UKIP app is powered by Purple Forge, the team behind My Politics. Although it doesn’t look flashy, it doesn’t disappoint. In terms of the baseline, the app provides access to UKIP news, the UKIP manifesto and, amazingly, tweets sourced from a series of UKIP relevant Twitter accounts as well as on the search terms #UKIP, #ukelection, #uk, #election2010, #notaxes and #jobs. That’s pretty brave because it seems to show both positive and negative sentiment. It’s also inspired, it shows UKIP being open to hearing from all commentators and seemingly really engaged with social media.

The main app screen provides links to UKIP’s YouTube and flickr pages as well as a short shpiel on the party’s history and a place to donate. There’s an events section which apparently allows you to export events into your calendar but on the evening I looked there were no events showing on the schedule.

The app allows you to share news, events, tweets, pics and videos to your own Facebook and/or Twitter accounts. The Engage area of the app polls users on political issues and provides results of the polls to users in real time.

A real immersive app which allows you engage with party policy, party events and share party information with your own social networks. All functionality is embedded within the app. Functionally it’s a winner although it’s a pity the UI is a bit unpolished.

The Greens – Green Party Policy Matchmaker

The Greens have taken a totally different path with their Policy Matchmaker app. The app takes the user through a series of 10 questions designed to assess how the user’s views match Green Party policies, particularly those which are not driven by their environmental principles. After answering all questions, the user is given a score and some explanatory notes on the relevant policy points. If you close the app and want to read the policies again, you have to answer all the questions again – a bit of a usability disaster.

The only other feature allows you to share the app with friends via Facebook, text message or email.

The policy matchmaker is a great idea which is let down by it being the only idea expressed in the app. The baseline (news, policy and Twitter) is not achieved.

Final Words
In summary, only Labour and UKIP have delivered apps which encourage and facilitate real engagement with the party. Astonishingly, UKIP’s app stands alone as the only app which encourages sharing on social networks. The Tories ply an unsual middle ground with a few basic features and an attempt at some innovation which is poorly executed. The Lib Dems seem to have built an unusual front-end to some You Tube content and little more. The Green Party app is built on an interesting idea but requires some basic features as well.

The exam question was “Have the parties blended what they’ve learnt from Obama with the power of the iPhone to engage its users?” and it seems that, in most cases, the parties came up woefully short.

Source: thenextweb

Will the iPhone 4G ship with OS 3.x?

So far all we have heard regarding the iPhone 4G has been rumors, however we must admit once of the most likely-sounding rumors we have heard suggests that the handset will come with iPhone OS 4.0 as standard, however a article on OzcarGuide suggests that this may not be the case.
According to their article the iPhone 4G may infact come with iPhone OS 3.1.2 as standard, this is because Apple may face an anti-trust inquiry surrounding changes to Apple’s terms of service which are being seen by many as anti-competitive, this could perhaps land Apple in trouble with the U.S. fair trade commission.
Obviously the easiest way for Apple to rectify this would be to modify iPhone OS 4.0 so that it doesn’t bring-on an anti-trust inquiry, however with just a month or so until the expected iPhone 4G launch experts doubt that Apple could make all the necessary changes in time.
If all this turns out to be true we could perhaps see OS 4.0 arrive later than planned, no-doubt if this is the case it will arrive via an over-the-air update, which could perhaps kill the initial buzz surrounding an iPhone 4G launch.
Would you prefer to wait for an iPhone 4G running OS 4.0? Or would you be happy with an iPhone 4G running OS 3.1.2?