Posts tagged Apple

iOS vs. Android

10 Things I hate about you

2

Most people would argue that I’m probably not the best person to write this article as I’m simply not capable of being impartial or objective when it comes to all things Apple. I may have drunk the Kool-Aid, but I’d choose a non-Apple device if I was presented with an alternative that did the job better.
iOS vs. Android

It’s the little things those guys at No. 1 Infinite Loop do that make all the difference.

Some people are trying very hard to convince me to make the move from the iPhone to a device that runs Android. They have supplied me with a Google Nexus One running Android 2.2. Not the newest, shiniest Android phone, but it apparently still does a pretty decent job of showing off the operating system. Some of the criticism I list below is of the device itself and not of Android. I’m sure that later models of Android phones probably address some of these issues.

My top 10 things that will make me go back to my iPhone at the end of the month:

1 – The touch screen isn’t great. It’s not terrible either, but I’ve been using an iPhone since the original 2G came out and I’m used to Apple somehow figuring out exactly what I was trying to push on the screen. I found myself cursing out loud on a number of occasions after repeatedly not being able to tap the link or button I was aiming for.

2 – Global search, or rather lack there of. It’s something I use frequently on my iPhone. If someone sent me an email or text message or if I think I’ve saved something in a note, but I’m not sure, I can use the iPhone’s search function to search the contents of any and all applications on my phone for a keyword. On Android it is limited to looking things up in the contacts database and on the Interweb. I would have though that Android would excel at this, with Google knowing a thing or two about search.

3 – Sometimes there are just too many taps or options to do basic things. Like after installing Skype every time you want to dial a number another dialogue box pops up asking if you would like to use the phones dialer or Skype Out. I’m not debating that it is a cool feature, but it makes dialing painful. Even an option just to turn it on or off would be great.

4 – You can’t adjust the audio volume from the supplied earphones. Ridiculous I know, but super frustrating if you listen to a lot of music on your mobile phone.

5 – If you’re listening to a song and you like it, but you don’t know what it is, you have to go into the music application (you could also use the widget or notification bar I guess) to see what is playing. On the iPhone you just tap the sleep button and you are shown the current songs album art with song and album name. And no, “Car Home” is not a solution. I definitely don’t want to launch an application to change the way I interface with the phone every time I get into a car.

6 – Following on from this, there are no on screen music controls while the phone is locked. This is super annoying when you’re driving and you’re playing music from the device into the cars head unit. Again, you need to unlock the phone and go into the music application to change tracks.

7 – The battery life of the device is shorter than my iPhone. I can’t make it to the end of the day without charging it. I’m a pretty heavy data user so I generally have quite a few apps running in the background and I have most of the services set to synchronise automatically, but I’m not using any services that I don’t use on my iPhone. Push notifications and the limited ability of the iPhone to multi-task is what makes the difference.

8 – This one may be a little unfair as Apple don’t make it easy, but I feel there are enough people in the world that use iTunes to organise, buy and listen to music that there should be an out of the box mechanism to synchronise your music. I found DoubleTwist which does a decent job of getting your music onto the device, but it is cumbersome having to load an additional application to get your music onto it.

9 – Copy and paste. I didn’t know how much I needed it until I got it on the iPhone. Copy and paste on the device is functional, but it’s rather unpleasant to use. On the iPhone it’s almost as intuitive as using a mouse.

10 – Wifi configuration for enterprise and corporate networks is significantly more complex then on the iPhone. I’m not sure how Apple get it right on the iPhone (and in Mac OS X), but all I need to select is “WPA 2 Enterprise”, enter my credentials and it figures out the rest. On the Android device (and on a PC running windows) you need to know your “EAP method”, “Phase 2 authentication”, some other stuff and your credentials.

Now some of these may seem ridiculous, but when it comes to everyday use, the iPhone is a far superior experience when it comes to user friendliness of the user interface.

I do feel that I also need to mention a few things that I really like about Android and where I think Apple could take some direction:

1 – Social media integration on Android is fantastic. Having a view on all the services someone makes use of right in the contacts application is really useful. Media sharing also provides a host of options other than just the Google services.

2 – Dragging the unified notifications bar down from the top of the screen is a great way to get a quick view of all the activity on the phone, especially if you’ve been away from it for a while.

If anyone feels that I’m being unfair to Android because of the Nexus One, please feel free to supply me a device that performs better and I’ll gladly review it and post and update to this article.

Fine volume control on Mac OS X

0

I came by this on lifehacker.com.

I often felt that volume adjustment offered by the volume control keys on your Apple keyboard didn’t adjust the volume to exactly where I wanted it and often supplemented the adjustment with turning the volume slightly up or down on my external speakers or headphones.

Turns out Apple thought of a solution to this already.

Simply hold down the SHIFT and OPTION/ALT keys at the same time as you use the volume keys an you will get 1/4 increments instead of a full block.

Awesome.

Plants vs. Zombies

Plants vs. Zombies

0

(9/10)
Everyone knows that everything is better with zombies. Plants vs. Zombies is no exception.

Plants vs. Zombies

This 28MB download from Popcap games will ensure that from now on, you won’t have a minute of boredom while sitting in from of your computer.

Essentially, instead of shotguns and chainsaws repelling hordes of the brain eating undead, you make clever use of your green fingers and some rather obviously genetically mutated plants to build a line of defense between them and your back door (and sometimes your chimney).

As you progress you build up an arsenal of flora that each have their own special abilities. I’m particularly fond of the cherry bomb that leaves the undead charred and with a look of bewilderment on their faces. The levels also get progressively more challenging requiring you to choose your green army carefully. Once you’ve found your groove for a particular level you shouldn’t have too much difficulty keeping the zombies at bay.

Plants vs. Zombies comes with a number of additional game modes (like survival, puzzle, zen garden, etc) that provide many hours of additional play if you are still craving for more once you have completed the adventure mode.

My only comment to improve the game would be to make adventure mode longer, or to unlock some kind of uber adventure mode once you’ve completed it the first time. Well, maybe survival is kinda like that. Anyway, I digress.

@simondingle chose it as his pick of the week on last weeks zatechshow as well. Surely two people can’t be wrong…

Stop reading and just go and get it !

It’s available on Windows, Mac, iPhone and in your browser and will only cost you R185.

Download Plants vs Zombies here – or they will eat your brains !

Vodacom wants to rob you

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Whilst making coffee at the office this morning I was informed that Vodacom have finally enabled the Visual Voicemail feature for the iPhone on their network. This feature has been available on the handset since the launch of the original iPhone 2G some 3 years ago.

I always understood that the feature wouldn’t be available on the Vodacom network as they would have to build some kind of additional functionality into their existing voicemail platform. This didn’t really bother me and I made peace with it years ago.

After a little digging it appears that it is relatively simple to enable VVM.

To activate: SMS “VVM ON” to 123.
To deactivate: SMS “VVM OFF” to 123.

The only catch is that Vodacom will rob you of R10 every month to have this feature enabled.

It’s not like they had to build a whole new voicemail platform to enable this service and I’m pretty sure that part of monthly subscription covers the voicemail service I currently don’t enjoy.

I’ll keep an eye on things over the next few weeks, but I’d love to hear some comment from someone at Vodacom to justify how they can charge for a service that was free from day 1 on AT&T’s network.

Thanks to http://www.marcforrest.com/2010/02/17/vodacom-launches-visual-voicemail-for-iphone/

Quick App for Xbox 360 Owners: 360 Live

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Most of the apps I’ve installed that claim to deliver a great Xbox Live experience have fallen very short. This new app by Juan Xavier Larrea finally delivers the goods.

I guess you need to be a bit of an Xbox Live freak to see the value in an app like this, but I’ve found myself in a situation before where I wanted to check on either one of my own or a friends achievements, online status or some such.

xboxlive.png

If you are a big online gamer and own a Xbox, 360 Live [$1.99 – iTunes Link] is the app for you. There are many apps within the App Store that perform many of the same functions as 360 Live but none of them are this well integrated.

  • Sign in securely using your Xbox Live credentials. 360 Live automatically retrieves your friends.
  • Complete Gamertags management. Add, remove, accept or reject pending requests.
  • An organized Friends List. Grouped by status (Online, Offline, etc.)
  • Gamer Profile and details including gamerscore, bio, location, country, gamercard, avatar, etc.
  • Check your friends complete games history.
  • Compare locked and unlocked achievements per game and gamertag.
  • Send and receive messages. You can even send messages to multiple recipients!
  • Gamercard coverflow style carrousel on landscape mode!

The only negative that I’ve seen testing this app out is that at times, it can take some time to load. Hopefully that is cleared up with an update or two and if it is, this will be hands down the best Xbox Live companion piece.

(Via The iPhone Blog.)

Plex and the ultimate media center setup

1

(10/10)

I’ve been using XBMC on my old Xbox as a media center for a few years now and it has served me well. In fact, it is still serving me well, but it doesn’t have the horsepower to get HD content onto my TV. It also doesn’t have some of the features that I’m after in a media center.

Plex for Mac

Plex for Mac

Some time ago I started playing with the free app Plex (Plex was born out of XBMC) on my iMac at home and I was very impressed with what it could do. The only problem was that my iMac was nowhere near my TV and it is used for all sorts of things other than watching movies or listening to music.

I lost interest in the application as I didn’t see a way to integrate it with my existing media setup. I was sad to see it go as the interface was really slick, it worked with the Apple remote (it actually doesn’t work with the mouse at all 🙂 and it was exceptionally good at going to sites like imdb.com and tv.com to fetch movie posters, box art, plot outlines and theme music.


I’m now in the process of putting together a new setup which I think is the ultimate combination of features and cost.

An older Mac mini

An older Mac mini

You can pick up an older Mac mini with the appropriate video adapter for a pretty decent price and it will easily deliver the goodness I’m after (just make sure that it has at least a 1.8Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo if you want HD). It will run Mac OS X and will boot straight into Plex. I’ll use an Apple remote (with a view to upgrade to a Logitech Harmony at some point) to control the whole setup, with the option to use a wireless keyboard and mouse if I need to hop onto the Internet or use iTunes. I use my iMac as a NAS (it has Terabytes of external firewire storage courtesy of Lacie) so all I’ll have to do is point the Plex at my “Movies”, “TV Series” and “Music” shares and it will do the rest. Depending on the size of your media library it will take some time for Plex to go and fetch all the stuff it needs from the Internet to populate its database with the relevant text, images and sound and then you’re set. Sit back on the couch and enjoy.

Logitech Harmony

Logitech Harmony


Whenever you add something to your media library, Plex automatically detects it and goes and fetches everything it needs. For TV shows it automatically sorts everything into seasons, it keeps track of what you’ve already watched and plays the theme music in the background while you’re choosing and episode.

Plex also has plug-ins for just about every decent media service on the Internet: Hulu, TED, BBC iPlayer, Youtube, Flickr and iPhoto, just to name few. So even if you don’t have your own media on a local server, you have access to hours of entertainment at your fingertips.

 

It almost seems to easy, but with the initial testing I’ve done and reports from other people on the Internet, I’m confident that it will be money well spent and will see me well into the future.

 

Plex showing you everything you need to know about BSG

Plex showing you everything you need to know about BSG

Macheist warming up

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Macheist sounded their early warning system a few days ago. Claiming to have detected abnormal cosmic radiation levels. It seems that the countdown has begun. Navigating to correct galactic co-ordinates and sending out a solar tweet results in you getting a license for the disk visualisation application Daisy Disk worth $20.

Go to co-ordinates 151.7,174.4

Go to co-ordinates 151.7,174.4

I participated in the previous Macheist and scored a boot load of applications for $39 (retail value of apps was around $558). The concept gains momentum every year and I’m confident that this year the applications on offer will be better than ever.

Daisy Disk

Daisy Disk

The idea is simple, the guys over at Macheist set up a series of challenges that require you to do some serious detective work. They set up dummy web sites, embed stuff into images and generally make things super challenging. Never fear, you aren’t on your own and everyone participating in the event shares their successes. The bulk of the money raised goes to charity, some of it goes to the app developers and some obviously goes to Macheist – so this is all for a good cause.

It’s a heap of fun if you participate and even if you don’t, you still get all the listed apps. If you do decide to get a little more involved in the puzzle solving you unlock bonus apps that further increase the value of your loot.

There are usually a few bonus applications for first 25,000 people that sign up for the heist. The more people that join the cause the more apps are unlocked. From what I understand, the target had been reached every year for the past 3 years, so don’t worry about some of the apps not being unlocked.

Keep and eye on their website for further updates or follow them (@macheist) or me (@gordongreeff) on Twitter for more updates.

Kindle vs Nook (vs iSlate)

3

A few lucky early adopters have already received the Kindles down here in deepest darkest Africa, but as much as I want to get my hands on an ebook reader immediately, I’m going to try to fight the urge until there a few more killer devices available locally. The Barnes & Noble Nook was recently announced and will be available soon in the USA, but no word yet on availability internationally. I’m pretty sure that they will want to distribute the device as far and wide as possible, especially if they want to compete with Amazon.

If a had to choose a device today, I’d snap up a Nook in a second. It has features that the Kindle doesn’t have and just looks like a much better device. I haven’t used either device yet, but when it comes to the actual reading of books, I suspect they will be pretty much on par as they share the same size screen powered by the same E Ink technology.

One thing I don’t really like about either device is that the content you purchase from the respective online stores isn’t portable. It’s the whole DRM saga all over again. We’ve been through this with the purchasing of online music already. It doesn’t work. That’s why you can now buy your music DRM free from iTunes. I know it just comes down the publishers being a little nervous having their content out there in the wild west, but in the end I want to be able to take my ebook content from device to device without being locked into a specific technology platform.

So there is a lot of buzz about the Apple iSlate/iTablet at the moment as well. A few media slips over the last few days seem to confirm that we should see something early next year and that there will definitely be some reader functionality built into the device. If Apple continue the trend of providing DRM free content from the iTunes store maybe this will be the first platform where I will be able to purchase an ebook and transfer the content from my iSlate to whatever my new ebook reader of the future will be.

I’m gonna hang on a bit longer before I make the leap.

kindle2_02.jpg

nook.jpg

Device

Kindle

Nook

Screen Size

6 inch E Ink

6 inch E Ink / 3.5 colour TFT

Touch Screen

No

Yes (Colour)

Storage

2GB

not expandable

2GB

Expandable up to
16GB

Wireless

AT&T

AT&T 3G and
Wi-Fi

Bookstore

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Natively
Supported Formats

Kindle (AZW), TXT,
Audible, MP3,
MOBI, PRC

ePub, “multiple DRM
solutions,” PDF

Formats
Supported via
Conversion

PDF, HTML, DOC,JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP

Word, more to come

Web Browser

Yes

No

Sync with


iPhone, iPod Touch

iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry, PC, Mac OS

Sync
Last page read
Last page read, notes, annotations
Lend ebooks
No
Yes

Available

Now

Nov 30 ‘09

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