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Archive for the ‘iPhone’ Category

What Does The iPhone 2.0 Upgrade Mean For 95% Of iPhone 1 Users?

In iPhone on July 13, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Not. A. Lot.

Unless you’re:

  1. An enterprise
  2. Really keen that the annoying bugs are fixed
  3. Want to download the third party applications that are now possible, but heavily controlled by Apple

Ultimately, the iPhone is now more or less where it should be.  I’m still annoyed that not just anyone can develop for it and release applications in the manner they see fit – you have to release through the iTunes download service.  It’s still got an appliance mindset about it that I think holds it back.

Of course, Apple’s approach is all about an easy user experience at the cost of reduced flexibility.  It’s neither bad nor good – I have a now unused WM5 device and it got some elements of its UI and features management terribly wrong.  Once set up it was really handy, but it was best suited to enterprise and expert configuration, not to consumers.

10 Reasons I Want To Sleep With My iPhone

In iPhone on March 12, 2008 at 1:03 pm

I’ve realised that I’ve stirred up something of an angst in slating the iPhone. I mean, I’m lucky enough to own one – I should be happy. The contract terms were clear enough if I’d read it properly, and maybe, according to some, I shouldn’t be making calls whilst driving – even if that is with a hands free kit.

But it’s still a great phone, and it and I are practically inseparable. So much so that it’s tempting to sleep with it under my pillow (what, you thought I meant sleeping with it that way?! Eugh, you disgust me!) so that mid-dream I can double check a fact on Wikipedia.

So here goes. I may run out before 10….

  1. I adore the UI. Apple are the first to bring true multi-touch to the mass market. MS are lagging here with their Surface coffee table – which you can’t carry anyway. It really is an intuitive interface.
  2. It just works. Well, for most things it does. I fired up the Windows Mobile machine for the first time in a while. Since then I’d reconfigured the Wi-Fi in the household. Could I get the damn thing to connect? Come on MS – these things should be simple!
  3. It’s gorgeous to look at. So gorgeous in fact that several people* have offered to sleep with me in order to look at it. This morning in fact. Either that or the cheap pig pheromone spray I bought is doing the trick.
  4. The screen is just right. Contrasty, sharp… it’s everything a screen should be.
  5. Browsing the Internets is wonderful. The best internet browser you’ve ever used on a portable device to date. I repeat… The Best. Forget Opera Mobile. Forget Minimo. Forget whatever heap of junk they wedged into your mobile phone… Safari on the iPhone rocks.
  6. It doesn’t play Flash. You may question my sanity, but for me it’s great – I can go to a potential client who may well be insisting on a Flash only website. The iPhone lets me demonstrate, with wonderfully simple clarity, why that would be A Bad Idea.
  7. It annoys Apple haters. Personally I’m pretty ambivalent about Apple. They do some cool stuff (iPhone, OSX) and some not so cool stuff (iPod Touch, Apple TV) and that’s just like a lot of companies. But I love anything that irritates fanboyz on either side of the fence. Get real guys – these are just big corporates fighting for your cash – don’t make it so easy by getting all fervently religious about it.
  8. I now carry a decent camera about. OK, I’m scraping the barrel a bit now, but because I won’t carry two phones, when I moved from the N95 to the iPhone I lost a 5MP camera and rather wonderful video facility. However, the N95 still can’t hold a candle to a cheap Canon compact. Ultimately, good compact cameras rock far more than any mobile phone. Mobile phones have led to a deterioration in good photography. Let’s fight back for decent cameras!
  9. iTunes isn’t actually that bad. I’d avoided it for years, but now got forced into it. However, I’ll accept that life’s like that sometimes. And in the end, iTunes isn’t that bad. It’s especially good with podcasts and I’m now enjoying radio programmes I kept missing, as well as the musings of the likes of Gareth Jones On Speed and Stephen Fry’s Podgrams. I’m happy.
  10. I love touching it. Seriously. Just try it. Hold it in your hand. Rub it against your body. Bring it to your lips. You will, I assure you, have to have the thing prised from your clenched…. fingers. Be careful touching other people’s iPhones, however, because you really don’t know where it’s been.

So there you go. A bit of balance. Perhaps.

10 Reasons I Hate My iPhone

In iPhone on March 10, 2008 at 6:04 pm

Now, before the hate starts, let me say that the iPhone is beautiful. It’s UI is terrific, and it is by far the very best handheld web browsing device I’ve ever come across. It’s also the first phone I’ve had which has started conversations, and everyone who sees me using it wants to touch it. If I was so minded I’m pretty certain it could get me laid.

But there are many times I hate it. In no particular order, here’s why:

  1. It’s trying to kill me. The Bluetooth is flakier than a chocolate named 99*. I mean really. Sometimes it’ll talk to my car kit, sometimes it won’t. I wouldn’t mind if it was otherwise highly specced, but no A2DP means it won’t stream music to my car or a headset, so I’m forever fighting wires, getting tangled up, and generally shouting at the iPhone when I’m driving. And that’s why it’s trying to kill me – using it in the car, while driving, is a death sentence.
  2. It doesn’t want me to have memories. That excuse for a camera… coming to the iPhone after an N95 you suddenly find yourself transported back to 2003, when phone cameras were still new, still fuzzy, still didn’t work in low light and still didn’t do video. The upside is that it’s encouraged me to carry around a proper compact digital camera – something which does a far better job of images than any phone camera I’ve used.
  3. It wants me to lose friends. After all, why bother letting me know they’re calling when you could just amusingly redirect all calls to voicemail until the next reboot?
  4. It wants me to lose business. See points 1 and 3. I can’t answer the phone when driving any more, nor can I make calls by simply prodding the bluetooth button on my dashboard and calling out the name of whoever I’d like to talk to. Similarly, that call avoidance strategy may be great for battery life, but it’s rubbish for making money.
  5. It’s pretty, until you start to use it. Especially if you’ve just been eating donuts. Try it, you’ll understand.
  6. It’s trying to lose me. Many high-end phones come with GPS software. That stands for Global Positioning Satellite. The iPhone has something which you could also call GPS – Guesswork Positioning System. That’s right – you can go to Google Maps and ask it where you are. It’ll then tell you to an accuracy of… oooh, well in my house it says I could be anywhere in an area covering about 25 square miles. The worst thing is… my house isn’t in any of those square miles – it’s about two miles outside. This is not a phone that’s going to save you when you’re lost in the Atacama dessert. It’s probably simply a part of the functionality designed for reason 1.
  7. It doesn’t like being charged up. Most of the things that should charge it up, won’t. I suppose that’s my fault for equating “charges iPods” with “charges iPhones.” How silly of me.
  8. It’s noisy as hell. I don’t mean that when it rings it causes complaints from neighbours. Don’t be ridiculous – ringing is something to be done quietly – see point 9. It’s worse than that. What it does is to use hi-fis, car stereos, computer speakers… anything really, as a sort of noise proxy. Whenever it’s receiving a call, making one, thinking about it, checking your e-mail… off it goes. BIDDY-BIDDY-BIDDY-BIDDY! It’s like I’ve got Twiki hiding under my desk.
  9. It doesn’t want to disturb me. I buy phones to receive phone calls. It would be nice if, when someone calls, that phone could muster up enough noise so that you could hear it ringing. The iPhone’s ringer is easily drowned out in noisy places. For example, places such as museums, convents and libraries.
  10. It’s jealous. You get it on a contract from O2 and you mustn’t ever leave. Oh no. Put that SIM into another telephone and that’s it – breach of contract time! You’ll be cut off pretty soon after which you’ll have to go grovelling back to O2 with a sincere apology and a promise not to be naughty again. And you can’t transfer the contract to another phone, even if you pay the same amount. No, you’re trapped. Trapped like you might feel when you’re with a beautiful but violently jealous girlfriend who, it turns out, you just got pregnant. Think Betty Blue. That’s how you’ll feel from about month 3 to month 18. The freedom when that contract ends… oh you know – it’s going to be like ending a relationship with a beautiful nutter. You’ll feel free as a bird, yet somehow… empty. Sad. Forlorn.

I’ve just realised, I have another ten reasons…. I’ll post them next time I have an energy spurt.

Until then, if you’re thinking about an iPhone… well, it really is the dog’s wotsits when it comes to surfing and playing music. Nothing comes close. As a phone… well… you know how I feel.

* In Britain, if you say to an ice cream man “make mine a 99” he’ll give you a normal ice cream with a Flake chocolate sticking out of it.

Addendum. I wrote about the charging problem because, at the time of writing, my iPhone wouldn’t charge from any of my portable chargers. Turns out it was just it hadn’t noticed – rebooted, I went from 10% charge to full. Damn phone’s a liar too!

For a little balance, or for those who love their Apple gadgets, I’ve written an alternative…

Mobile (and iPhone) WordPress Solution

In iPhone, Wordpress on February 8, 2008 at 5:56 pm

Well I never… tucked away, quietly ticking over, is http://m.wordpress.com

It’s a simple interface to your WordPress.com admin, designed to be fast on simple machines, mobile phones and limited bandwidth connections.

I’m ashamed to say I only just noticed, but by golly it’s handy.  It gives you basic stats, and basic posting.  Very basic posting.  But it’s there as an option and has its uses as the cleverer tricks for mobile posting to self-hosted WordPress installations aren’t possible on WordPress.com

Go from three inches to, erm, 40 inches!

In Design, iPhone, Web Design on January 17, 2008 at 10:52 am

No, not spam, for a change, but the problem of designing for a world where your website could be viewed on anything from an iPhone or Nokia N95 (tiny screens, no Flash) through to a Playstation 3 or Wii connected to 40″ or larger TV screens.

They all have different resolutions, colour rendering (view the pictures below), interfaces, and so on.

Let’s take a look at this picture:

Three Browsers, at vastly different sizes

In the picture, you have three things connected to the internet, all wirelessly, running three different browsers and on different resolutions.

I’m now going to be quite geeky and go through the different displays and browsers involved…

LG 26″ LCD TV, Opera Browser on a Nintendo Wii

Now, sadly the Wii isn’t known for its high res capabilities. It runs at This means that the best it can do with most websites can be described as ‘passable’. The browsing experience isn’t actually too bad once you’ve got your favourites in. Funnily enough, the requirements for good design on this setup are remarkably similar to the little iPhone hiding beneath it – because of both the low resolution (a Wii, I believe, outputs at 854×480) and the clumsy control systems on both. You need big, easy to click links, clear design, and no Flash.

The screen is 56.5cm by 34cm giving an area of 1921 cm2 and 409920 viewable pixels.

Laptop 14″ Widescreen, Running XP and Firefox

Now this is a more conventional screen resolution. 1280×768. The dpi is conventional (I’m guessing about 96dpi off the top of my head) and the OS, browser and CPU all are up to the job. Most people should get it right for this sort of system, but it’s worth bearing in mind a few things… you can see that it’s nothing like as bright or white as the other two displays in the image. Yep, you got it – all screens render colours differently. That means you have to pick your colours carefully. We had a burnt orange on a website that a client insisted on once. It looked like an insipid green/orange on a cheap old Dell screen.

So not only do we have to think about all the different sizes, we have colours to worry about too! For our own designs we check on a number of screens to make sure colours don’t go weird. Some will, some won’t, and it’s hard to predict.

The screen is 30.5cm by 18.5cm giving an area of 564 cm2 and 983040 viewable pixels.

iPhone, Running Safari

The iPhone is the current geek status symbol mobile phone. I got mine as a Xmas present and in terms of web browsing it’s really moved the game forward. As a phone it’s a bit sucky compared to more phone like mobiles (if you see what I mean) – no voice dialing and ropey bluetooth support means that making phone calls as I drive is no longer a safe game – I can’t simply prod the bluetooth button on the dashboard, say the name of the person I wish to speak to, and continue. But I’m going off on a tangent.

By bringing us a very neat and portable web solution, the iPhone and iPod Touch have made surfing the net while waiting at a train station, or sitting in the garden a far easier proposition. And they’ve sold millions of them so far. And you can be anything that people owning them are visiting your website. And if your site is hard for them to use, they’ll get their kicks elsewhere and maybe, just maybe, be drawn to a rival’s website. You wouldn’t want that would you?

The screen is 7.5cm by 5cm giving an area of 37.5 cm2 and 153600 viewable pixels.

Right, So They’re Different…Tell Me Something New!

Now ok, that’s shown they’re different – quite markedly so. And what does that mean? Well it means that if you want your website to work with all browsers, you’re going to have to take a good, long hard look at what you’re offering to those different users.

An iPhone user is possibly on the move, trying to poke links on a moving bus. A Wii user is shakily pointing their remote at a screen that may well be larger than the owner. A laptop owner has a nice, precise mouse. A desktop PC of course could be a different proposition. A friend of mine uses a simply vast 30″ monitor for doing artwork – his browsing experience is vastly different.

And consider this: the screen area of a 26″ TV is 51 times larger than an iPhone, and the resolution of a laptop screen is way higher than most other things. I saw one laptop with a 1920×1200 screen recently and the dpi was ridiculously dense (if slightly gorgeous for picture viewing!) – that means they may have larger fonts. What’s your design going to do with that?

Ten years ago screens ranged, mostly, from around 640×480 to 1280×1024. Anything outside of that scope was rare or had a very limited browser.

My point then is that if we’re going to service the needs of the now widely varied viewers, we have to make some hard decisions. Fluid design isn’t the answer – reading a 20″ long line of text on a big monitor is horrible. Perhaps larger sites, with more money, could serve up different versions of their content, designed for different screens. BBC does that, with designs for tiny WAP mobile phones, PDAs and full browsers. Our sites have a mobile css for small screen mobile phones, though it doesn’t detect all of them. It just serves a cut down text only version of the site.

The web industry is starting to get hard, both businesses and designers need to know this. I believe that their current practices could leave them only servicing 40% of potential visitors in the near future. And that simply won’t do.

Selling Sex?

In iPhone, Web Design on January 7, 2008 at 3:15 pm

We’re in discussions with a client who wants a website for an escort agency. Immediately this brings up a lot of questions – we’re not dealing here with an engineering firm or accountancy with straightforward requirements.

Selling Sex

Thing is, in every case, where we design a website we have to delve into the minds of the likely visitors, what will be attractive to them, and how we can make sure the website performs. Often it’s straightforward – the client sells something we use in our day to day lives. If it’s an accountancy firm… well, we use accountants, we know what does and does not wind us up about them. We’re also doing sites for denture specialists and although we don’t need them, we can find people who do and ask them what they like.

But this is the sex industry and you can’t just go up to people in the street with a questionnaire and ask them lots of prying questions. You’re likely to offend, or even be on the end of aggressive behaviour. And none of us in the office have ever bought sex services – we’re pretty much the kind of people who only pay for things we can’t get for free…

And that’s just one problem. The next is to ask ourselves how closely we want to be involved in this industry. In effect, we’re selling sex. Ok, technically in the escort business you’re just selling ‘company’ but it doesn’t take long to realise that this isn’t really how it works. The girls exercise some choice, it seems, and if the guy sucks, she doesn’t, basically.

How Would People Access This Site?

Other factors include access to the site – we can assume that access from home pcs may not be popular – instead, should the site provide good support for mobile phones so that potential clients can find the site a little more, erm, discreetly? With the iPhone perhaps? If that’s the case then that means no Flash (regardless of the client’s taste for shiny doodahs), tight bandwidth control, easy touch navigation (fnar!) and so on.

If we get the dots dotted and the tees crossed on the contract, we’ll let you know how it went.