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Category: iOS

Shifty Jelly on building for Android first

Shifty Jelly on building for Android first

Russell Ivanovic of Australia’s Shifty Jelly (developer of my favourite weather app for iOS and OSX) talk about why they developed an Android version of their Pocket Casts 4 app before an iOS version.

There’s no reason not to launch on Android first or iOS first in 2013. Both are massively viable platforms full of users who want to pay for great apps.

This is a mature and reasonable decision for an app developer. Focusing limited resources is critical, and it makes a lot of sense.

I think it also makes sense based on competition. As Russell stated, the Android version has been a bigger seller and more profitable product for them, and there is no native app in the class. I also suspect that relatively few developers are developing "Android first" (for now), so there is an opportunity for them.

I am a committed iOS user, and will be for the foreseeable future. But I’ve made platform shifts in the past, and can say that what makes sense for everyone – developers and users – is to choose the platform that provides you with the most value.

From: Shifty Jelly’s blog of mystery

Enthusiastic review of the new iOS Mailbox app

Enthusiastic review of the new iOS Mailbox app

Mailbox AppA very enthusiastic review of the new Mailbox app by Orchestra.

But Mailbox is worth waiting for. It belongs to a selective category of iOS apps that boast such a high-standard of excellence that they redefine the core experience of the service they are dedicated to on the iOS platform. Think of what Tweetbot did for Twitter, or Clear did for to-do lists, or Fantastical did for Calendars, or what Sparrow did for email on iOS before Mailbox came along to make it look old and hopeless.

Read the review. It sounds like Mailbox has been designed from the ground up to take advantage of iOS gestures, and to help you get to Inbox Zero nirvana on a regular basis. It seems to have some aspects of Sanebox baked into the app and its backend.

Mailbox sounds like an app worth waiting for. Which is what you have to do considering that although the app can be downloaded from the App Store now, you have to wait in a queue to be able to use it. Seems reasonable to manage the roll-out, especially since there is some backend processing to scale up for.

I’m intrigued enough that I’ll happily wait for it. Once I’ve got it, I’ll probably be less patient waiting for an iPad versional, if the app is as good as the hype!

From: Cult of Mac | Mailbox By Orchestra: The Best Email App We’ve Ever Used

The best weather app for Australians: Pocket Weather AU

The best weather app for Australians: Pocket Weather AU

There is no shortage of Weather apps available on iPhone, but few do the job in elegant way, particularly for those of us who are outside the US.
Most of the international weather services do a reasonable job of Australian forecasts and data, but few seem to have the consistency and accuracy of the Australian government’s Bureau of Meteorology. Those few apps that use data from BOM too often have a cluttered format.

Apple’s own (pre-loaded) weather app pulls data from Yahoo! weather, and has the main advantage of Siri integration. But the big disadvantage is that the weather data it pulls is descriptive at best, and never detailed enough for me. It also differs from BOM. For example, the forecast for tomorrow in Sydney (6 Feb 2013) from BOM shows a temperature range of 19–26C, whilst Yahoo shows 19–25C.

As the old saying goes:

The man with one watch knows what time it is. The man with two is never sure

As a scuba instructor trainer, I rely on accurate weather forecasts, and the data from BOM has generally been the most reliable for me.

Enter Pocket Weather AU.

Pocket Weather AU
Pocket Weather AU

Pocket Weather AU from Shifty Jelly provides data from BOM in an elegant, intuitive format. With location services enabled, the app provides real time data for your current location, as well as for other locations that you save.

The first screen shows a list of locations (you can have it launch straight to a default location if you prefer). Tapping on a location brings up a summary view for today. Swiping to the left brings a forecast view, while swiping right (from the summary view) brings up the weather radar. Swiping up on each of these screens will bring up more detail.

Aside from the beautiful UI and accurate data, my favourite feature is the free inclusion of tide information. Previously I had to purchase a separate tides app, which I had to repurchase each year. Pocket Weather AU allows the user to download the tide data from within the app, and have direct access to that.

Pocket Weather AU has other important features like access to weather warnings, and push notifications. This last feature allows you to see the current temperature for your default location on the app icon.

Pocket Weather AU is a brilliant app for any Australian who needs accurate weather data in a classy, intuitive app.

The app is available for iOS and Android.

The universal iOS app is $1.99 in the App Store.

Week 2 of the Get Stuff Done Promo on the Mac App Store

Week 2 of the Get Stuff Done Promo on the Mac App Store

We have entered week 2 of the Mac App Store’s Get Stuff Done promotion.

Get Stuff Done on the Mac App Store

Get Stuff Done on the Mac App Store

This week’s focus is on the Organise part of productivity, and features apps to reduce clutter in your mind, your house and on your Mac.

I am a big fan of the MindNode Pro app. I used to use MindManager, but I’ve found the OSX and iOS versions of the app to be lacking. Mindnode Pro works smoothly, and integrates iCloud to make the most of sycning between Macs, iPhone and iPad. It’s my current pick for mindmapping.

I also like the extremely useful Daisy Disk, which I use regularly to check out the data on my Mac drives.

I’ve taken advantage of this promotion to grab Gemini to see how it goes in cleaning up duplicate files.

Check out the Mac App Store’s Get Stuff Done promotion if you’re in the market for apps that will assist

The Launch of OmniFocus 2

The Launch of OmniFocus 2

CEO of Omni Group, Ken Case announced the Debut of OmniFocus 2 (at Macworld/iWorld):

…our goals for version 2 are to bring back to the Mac all of the design and innovation that went into our iPad edition of OmniFocus: dedicated Forecast and Review modes, clearer navigation, and a fresh look and feel.

As a long-time practitioner of what is a personal evolution of David Allen’s Getting Things Done approach, I’ve used a variety of organisational tools on a variety of platforms – OSX, iOS, Windows, PalmOS, etc. These have included native and third party apps. OmniFocus on OSX and iOS remains my pick due to its all around power. I love the fact that the Omni people have uncovered a very clever workaround to get OmniFocus to work with Siri.

A lot of people however find OmniFocus to be a complex app, particularly on the Mac (OSX). As Katie Floyd mentioned in her post about the announcement of OmniFocus 2, there is the perception amoung some users that you need a “degree in OmniFocus”!

OmniFocus for iPadBy contrast, OmniFocus for iPad sports a brilliant UI, and is actually where I do most of my process and review activities. I use the OSX and iPhone versions of the app to capture and also to check off next actions completed. The iPad version has a special “review mode” that takes you through a review of Projects that have had the appropriate attention recently. This powerful function will be a feature of OmniFocus 2.

The other factor that has made OmniFocus less approachable to the average user was its pricing. In his post he also outlines a new pricing approach, which will see a standard version available at US$39.99 – still a high end app, but half the price of the current version. There will be a Pro Version with support for custom workflows. There will also be special pricing for users of the current version of OmniFocus on OSX, available through the Omni Group’s website.

OmniFocus is a high end, quality app. With the new UI in OSX, and with its new pricing model, it will continue to be the first choice for productivity power users, and will be an excellent choice for less full-on productivity enthusiasts. Availability has yet to be announced, and it will go into private testing shortly.

500px Apps Back in the App Store

500px Apps Back in the App Store

After the 500px app was pulled from the App Store last week, I was glad to see it this morning in my updates list.

500px app updating in the iOS App Store
500px app updating in the iOS App Store

Given the few comments from 500px, clearly they have been heads down to get issues resolved to satisfaction. According to GigaOm’s Erica Ogg there were three things required by Apple for 500px to get their apps back in the App Store:

500px has been updated with three fixes requested by Apple’s app reviewers, including a tweak that will prevent queries for explicit image searches from producing results, adding a function for users to report inappropriate content, and the addition of a 17+ age rating on the app.

After my previous post, an Apple spokesperson made a statement which was reported in TechCrunch and others:

The app was removed from the App Store for featuring pornographic images and material, a clear violation of our guidelines.

I have used 500px for sometime, and although I have seen artistic nudity, I have never seen anything approaching pornography. I wouldn’t want my images associated with any service that knowingly hosted pornography, and would likely drop my membership.

I wonder how long Apple had been talking to 500px prior to pulling the app. On the surface, it appears that double standards may apply, as reported by the SMH:

Apple allows apps from such big-name social platforms as Twitter, Vine, Tumblr and Pinterest to remain in its App Store even though they contain adult content. Yet it has knocked off other lesser-known sites from its store because of “pornographic images and material”.

I don’t believe any other company should enforce censorship standards that are over and above those of the western world.

iOS 6.1 Update for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV

iOS 6.1 Update for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV

iOS 6.1 Update Screenshot from Apple.comNo doubt all serious iPad and iPhone users are busy downloading the iOS 6.1 Software Update, which has a couple of new features, though nothing outstanding unless you’re in the US, or one of the additional 23 markets covered by LTE:

  • LTE support for more carriers
  • Purchase movie tickets through Fandango with Siri (USA only)
  • iTunes Match subscribers can now download individual songs from iCloud
  • New button to reset the Advertising Identifier

I must admit that I am just as excited by the announcement that they have updated Apple TV with Up Next and Bluetooth Keyboard. Update features include:

  • iTunes in the Cloud
  • Bluetooth keyboard: Use your Apple Wireless Keyboard to control your Apple TV.
  • AirPlay audio for videos: Send stereo audio from movies, TV shows, and other videos on Apple TV to AirPlay-enabled speakers and devices
  • Stability and performance

All of these update items are terrific, but the addition of bluetooth has been a long time coming, and will be quite welcome when searching for particular items. I have also found the Apple TV to be a bit temperamental at times, so am looking forward to the stability and performance updates.

Hybrid PC-Tablets – Revival or Desperate Move

Hybrid PC-Tablets – Revival or Desperate Move

Seems that Microsoft and PC manufacturers are trying to drive focus on “hybrid” PC-tablet products to combat the iPad. This article in the SMH talks about this trend based on products introduced at the recent CES show

Call these machines “hybrids”, “convertibles”, or maybe just call them “very weird”.

IMHO, one of Microsoft’s long term mistakes is trying to force-fit a one-size-fits-all approach to OS and devices. They want Windows to run every computer from a smart phone to a high end server. They, along with some of the PC manufacturers who are dependent on the Windows ecosystem, continue to focus on the techology that drives their world, rather than focus on the needs and wants of users (aka “customers”).

This is probably why Acer and Asus are dropping the netbook, and why Samsung USA is not planning to bring Windows RT products to market. Yet each of these companies is pushing forward with Andriod based tablets, and why Acer and Asus are also continuing with Windows 8 based tablets. It will be interesting to see if Acer and Asus follow Samsung away from Windows RT.

Personally, my iPad is my main device away from the office. Only occasionally do I use my MacBook Air, and generally only when needed for specific needs – particularly Keynote presentations that have embedded multimedia (the iOS version of Keynote doesn’t yet support these requirements).

Back in the office, I use my “truck” (an iMac) to do most of my heavy processing, particularly images, videos, building presentations, accounts and heavy duty writing. But for a heck of a lot of people the iPad or other tablet will handle most, if not all, of their requirements.

In the words of Steve Jobs

After all, if you need a truck, you can always borrow one from a friend.

I wouldn’t consider a hybrid PC-tablet. It will likely be the “worst of both worlds” making compromises between power, portability and usability. I think the movements by Microsoft and PC manufacturers to push the hybrid PC-tablet is a sign of desperation to keep their existing view of the tech world, and not to consider the actual needs of users.

Send to Evernote as Print Option

Send to Evernote as Print Option

EvernoteI’m a big Evernote user, using it a repository for many personal records that I need to have access to, but don’t want the paper clutter in my life (or my house or office). I scan most documents directly to a ScanSnap S1500M in my office, although when on-the-go I use a NeatReceipts scanner.
The PDF’s generated are then moved on each computer (iMac in the office, Macbook Air on the go) using a series of Hazel automations to a Dropbox folder. From that folder, the files are then pulled into my Evernote Inbox notebook for processing. Sounds a little complex, but once setup it all happens seamlessly.

When I receive documents by email (including PDF attachments), I forward those documents directly to an Evernote email address that deposits the files directly to that same notebook. I also use Evernote’s Web Clipper to grab web pages I want to keep for archival records (not for later reading, which I simply use Instapaper for.

This gives me (almost) a single place to drop files for later filing. But I also get occasional other documents that I read on my Mac, but then I want to keep a PDF copy of in my records (regardless of the original format). In the non-App Store version (i.e. non-sandboxed) version of Evernote, I can simply use the Save PDF to Evernote option under the Print > PDF command. In the App Store (sanboxed) version of Evernote, you lose this option.

MacPowerUsers co-host Katie Floyd today made a post showing how to add a Send to PDF option when using the sandboxed version of Evernote:

The solution is simple, you need to create an alias to the Evernote application and drop it into ~/Library/PDF Services. (This is your users library folder for those of you unaware what the ~ means.) This can be a little tricky because is the ~/Library folder is hidden by default in OS X Lion and above. To see it you have to hold down the option key while selecting “Go” in the finder and the Library will become an option. If the PDF Services Folder doesn’t exist, just create it but make sure you title it exactly that.

Total Finder

Another way to see the hidden files is to use the excellent TotalFinder app (recommended by Katie and co-host David Sparks in episode 106 of MacPowerUsers. Once you’ve installed TotalFinder, open up Finder Preferences, and go to the new TotalFinder pane. Then select the Tweaks tab, and check the Show System Files option. Then you’ve got permanent access to hidden system files. (Of course, with great power comes great responsibility). Don’t play around with system files unless you know absolutely what they are, and what you’re doing!

Ultimately, the goal is to capture your documents into an Evernote notebook. Once there, you can use your GTD processing step to move the documents into your reference folders, or of course, action them if there is an outstanding next action!

Samsung US Not Going to Market With Windows RT Tablets ⟶

Samsung US Not Going to Market With Windows RT Tablets ⟶

According to CNET, the US head of Samsung’s PC & tablet business has indicated that Samsung has dropped plans to bring to market (at least in the US) a Windows RT based tablet.

Abary noted Samsung reached its decision about he device, dubbed the Ativ Tab, for two main reasons. First, feedback from its retail partners indicated demand for such products is only modest. Second, Samsung determined it would take a lot of investment to inform consumers about the benefits of Windows RT

Jim Dalrymple put it best:


AFR: Tweets, Facebook posts track fire hotspots

AFR: Tweets, Facebook posts track fire hotspots

IMG_1135The Australian Financial Review has a good article describing the role played by social media in getting the word out about fire warnings during the potentially catastrophic confluence of weather we had on Tuesday.
As discussed in my post on the the NSW Bushfires and the Fires Near Me app, agencies like the NSW Rural Fire Service and the NSW Police, backed up by media like the ABC have used Twitter very effectively to get the word out. The RFS’ Fires Near Me NSW app served this purpose well, as did their website and the bulk SMS sent out to people in the areas declared to have a catastrophic fire risk.

So far, this situation has been dealt with very effectively by the agencies concerned, and I hope people will continue to use the tools and heed the warnings passed on.

Considering the Rumoured Low Cost iPhone

Considering the Rumoured Low Cost iPhone

Current iPhone SelectionRumours are once again circulating that Apple will launch a cheaper version of iPhone during 2013. Originating from Digitimes, these rumours have been picked up and expanded upon by a wide variety of sources. This is in fact not the first time that these rumours have gotten about – very similar rumours of a cheaper iPhone circulated in 2011 and 2012.

Apple in fact does have a cheaper iPhone. Each year Apple introduces a new model, and then moves the current model, in a single option, “down” to be a cheaper version. Typically the previous model to that goes to the very bottom of the current list. A review of the the Apple website shows that there are, as at this writing, 3 iPhone models at 3 price points – the flagship iPhone 5, the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4.

In the past I would’ve been skeptical of these rumours, as I was regarding the rumours of a new iPad in March. Apple’s behaviour regarding refreshes of products is fairly predictable – they tend to do one refresh a year on consumer type products (iPad, iPhone, iPod), and every 12-18 months for their computers. They tend to maintain the price-point for the new models, and bring down the price of the old models that are being used as low end units.

Although they are somewhat predictable, the wild card is they are not afraid to change something when it make sense – for technology, market, supply chain or business reasons. The removal of floppy disks and more recently optical drives from notebook and desktops are oft cited examples. Dropping Fireware for Thunderbolt, and recently the 30-pin iDevice connector for Lightning are also characteristic.

This time around, I think that it is likely that Apple will introduce a cheaper iPhone model (or models). I’ll give it a 75% probability.

There are two reasons – one major and one less so – driving my opinion.

  1. The afore-cited switch to Lightning as the connector means that Apple is supporting two standards – the 30 pin connector for the older iPhone 4 and 4S models, and Lightning for the iPhone 5. This means more parts in spare parts, on retail shelves and of course in the production supply chain. It also splits the customer base, meaning interoperability between individuals and devices, including cars is impacted. In year one, this split is natural, and okay. But in year 2 and beyond, the gap will need to be closed.
  2. The different screen size means Apple and developers need to build allowances for both. I’m less sure about the validity of this reason, as its possible one of the hallmarks of differentitation will be the larger screen size for the premium model, and the smaller size for the budget model. However, my hunch is that the size will be consolidated.

Now its not just a matter of swapping the connector on say the iPhone 4S, as the 30-pin connector takes up a lot of room, comparatively. Changing the connector is likely to involve a fundamental design change.

So my prediction is that we will see the continuation of three models when the iPhone 5S (assuming the naming convention continues) later this year:

  • The iPhone 5S (in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB models)
  • The iPhone 5 (in 16GB) as a mid-range model
  • The low-cost iPhone (probably in 16GB)

Note that I am predicting a bump in the memory configurations. This is probably wishful thinking, but its about time.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this all pans out.