Posts tagged iphone

iOS vs. Android

10 Things I hate about you

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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.

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/

GTA: Chinatown Wars

GTA for the iPhone

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It was inevitable. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars was released earlier this week for the iPhone. The was ported from the Nintendo DS and PSP version by the Rockstar Games folk on Leeds. Although I haven’t played the other two versions, the game is apparently almost identical. It is available from the iTunes store for £5.99 and carries a mature/17 rating for the swearing, sex and violence that is necessary in any GTA game.

GTA: Chinatown Wars

My only notable experience with GTA in the past was with GTA IV on the Xbox 360, so I was sure I knew what I was in for. The story centers around a young Triad on his way to Liberty City to deliver a sword to his uncle Kenny after the death of his father. Of course things go horribly wrong from the minute that Huang sets foot on Liberty City soil.

Gameplay consists of missions and minigames that progress you through the story and build up stockpile of cash. For the most part you’ll be chasing after thugs and gang members that are invading your families turf and letting them have a one on one chat with the biggest gun you have in your arsenal. You’ll also be running from the fuzz and running over unsuspecting pedestrians. If you’re not fast enough you’ll end up in the slammer.

So far the game has been pretty engrossing and the story moves at a decent pace. My only complaint is around the control system, not so much when you’re on foot, but when you’re driving around. Maybe I’m trying a little to hard not run over the old ladies, or maybe my fingers are just to big but I not getting the hang of it.

The sound and graphics are also very impressive. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the graphics push the iPhone 3GS’ CPU to the max.

It’s one the first games available on the iPhone platform that has real substance as far as a story goes and is welcome addition to the App Store. Hopefully also a sign of things to come from Rockstar. The more mainstream developers that work on the platform the better for all of us.

It’s definitely worth the £5.99 and will provide you weeks of entertainment. My only warning is that it definitely chews your battery, so make sure that you some juice nearby.

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.)

Tweetie 2 for iPhone

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(8/10)

tweetie For some time now I’ve resisted the urge to try out any of the pay-for Twitter applications on the iPhon, mostly because I’ve found the free ones to be more than sufficient for my needs. Tweetdeck for the iPhone has delivered all the functionality that I’ve needed and it was responsive enough for me not to be on the lookout for anything better. I’ve also used Echofon before I tried Tweetdeck. Another great client, but I stopped using it when I started using Tweetdeck on my laptop.

Tweetie 2 was recently launched (well not that recently) and included some new features I wanted to try out. The old app had also received some rave reviews so I decided to spend the £1.79 (about R22, hardly a kings ransom) and buy it from the the app store [iTunes link].

One capacitive click after installing the app and I was on my way to Twitter bliss (Twiss ?). The interface is clean and well organised. Everything is where you expect to find it and the app is super responsive. At first I thought it was just gimicky, but there is an awesome function that allows you to refresh/reload the screen you’re on by pulling the screen down and then letting it bounce back – sounds complicated, but you’ll love it once you give it a try. Icons are cached so timelines load quickly and their layout also looks great.

There are some features that I’ve grown used to and couldn’t live without:

  • URL shortening with a bit.ly account
  • Read later with Instapaper
  • Image posting with Posterous
  • Nearby search
  • Saved searches

Other features that I don’t use, but that I know others find very useful:

  • Support for multiple accounts
  • Video upload using yFrog or TwitVid
  • Customisable quote/retweet syntax

Rumour has it that Tweetie 2.1 is imminent and will add support for lists. Awesome.

It just makes you a better Twit.

Commodore 64 emulator for the iPhone

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(7/10)

C64-icon.pngAfter some initial hiccups with getting (and keeping) the application in the iTunes App Store, Manomio are back with C64 (iTunes link) and 8 free games.

At first you may find yourself questioning your sanity, but after dropping £2.99 in the iTunes store and playing one of the old classics, you’ll be pulled right back to you gaming roots.

Now maybe it was just because I was stuck on a two hour flight and had nothing else to do after I had finished reading my Stuff Magazine, but after playing Dragons Den for 10 minutes, I just couldn’t stop. It was clear that my life depended on me getting to the next level. I had my headphones plugged in and turned up loud to allow the 8 bit beeps and boops to be enjoyed at their optimum monaural magnificence. The people on either side of me clearly thinking that there was a crazy man bashing some ancient technology with his thumbs about to go postal on the flight.

The control system allows for a joystick and a single button – that is all we needed back in the day. You can also orientate the the phone in portrait or landscape to either have a view of said button and joystick or not. Playing the game fullscreen in landscape was my choice as the additional screen real estate made everything that much bigger. The only problem is that with this orientation your thumbs can block out some of the graphics. Nothing serious though.

The emulator is responsive and tracks your finger movements for the joystick and copious amounts of button mashing pretty well. I’d give the app a higher rating, but at the moment the games library is a little limited. When they release more content and they say they will, there is a change that this little gem could deserve an 8 or maybe even a nine.

C64-screen.jpgIf you can still remember loading games on that beige C64 tape drive and waiting hours just to get to the good part, you’ll love how your old favourites now load instantly !

Check out the video below to see what you’re missing out on.

Protect your iPhone

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(9/10)

I’ve never really been a fan of cell phone covers or cases. Usually because you end up compromising on the functionality of your device or you end up doubling its size. My 2G iPhone ended up looking like a expensive German bathroom fitting that had been attacked by a child with an angle grinder. Not a pretty site, but I never saw a cover that appealed to me. Mind you, I wasn’t really trying very hard to find one.

I was determined not to let my shiny new iPhone 3GS suffer the same fate. I saw a few covers that didn’t look too bad and decided to head out on a Saturday morning to pick one up. I was quickly reminded why doing your own research online and then ordering from an e-tailer is always the best option. All the staff in all the stores I went to were completely useless. I was really impressed with how little they knew about the products they had for sale in their respective stores.

In the last store I visited (why is it always the last store you go to ???) I finally found something that I liked. A little surprising as the cover was completely different to what I originally had in mind for my 3GS. As soon as I saw it I got flashbacks of Portal. It was brilliant white with grey buttons and hugged my iPhone like they were made for each other – which they obviously were.

They iPhone Candyshell from Speck

They iPhone Candyshell from Speck

The Candyshell from Speck is a little pricey compared to some of the other covers that are available, coming in at around R350 depending on where you shop. It also comes with a screen protector (and a great little cloth to polish the screen before you apply it) which a lot of the other covers don’t have, not that they are expensive, but it’s great that I only had to buy a single product.

My 3GS now feels almost indestructible. The rubberised edges also give you that extra sense of security when you put it down on a hard surface or drop it. You can access all the buttons and the dock connector without any issues and the camera isn’t obstructed at all. I’ve also had zero issues with the phone overheating with the cover on.

If you love your iPhone and I know you do, buy it this cover and it will be with you till your next upgrade and beyond.

QOTD: Steve Ballmer (Microsoft) <- this ones a doozy

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Steve Ballmer: “Let’s face it, the Internet was designed for the PC. The Internet is not designed for the iPhone. That’s why they’ve got 75,000 applications – they’re all trying to make the Internet look decent on the iPhone.”

Wow ! Let’s not even begin to discuss IE6 and the fact that without ActiveX and Silverlight I doubt a single website would look half decent in any version of IE.

Any website that conforms to HTML and CSS standards looks just find uncle Ballmer. Idiot.

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