Posts tagged iphone

Tale of the annoying Apple headset mic

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Does the placement of the microphone/volume control button on the Apple headset annoy anyone else ?

Maybe I just happen to have a very unfortunate set of bodily proportions, but the microphone/button placement on the headset cable always catches on the collar or my shirt when I am sitting down with the earbuds in my ears.

iphone-headset.png

It catches just enough that I have to make wild neck movements to “unhook” it while I’m driving.

I have exactly the same problem with the headset that came with my iPhone 2G. Does Apple have it in for me ?

If they moved the button a few centimeters higher or lower it would solve the problem immediately.

SIP clients for the iPhone

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For quite some time now I’ve been on the hunt for a decent SIP client for the iPhone. At one point I almost gave up completely as it seemed that the only people that were interested in releasing SIP clients for the iPhone were companies that provided a “pay for” SIP service. There was no generic SIP client that actually delivered acceptable voice quality.

I know there are some great applications if you have a jailbroken iPhone, but I was looking for something mainstream, especially if I was going to evangelise the solution to less technical colleagues and customers.

Having access to a corporate SIP service at the office I was keen to find something that worked really well, primarily because everyone that had a Nokia device running Symbian could make VoIP calls and I couldn’t.

There are now finally a handful of decent clients available in the App Store that do almost everything that I needed them to do:

– ability to use my own SIP server configuration.
– ability to use the built in address book.
– support for the G.729 codec.
– ability to make GSM calls from within the application.

Ideally, I’d also like the application to be free, but so far this hasn’t happened. All three of the applications that I feel are worth considering carry a £3.99 price tag from the UK iTunes store (click here for instructions on how to create a UK iTunes account without a UK credit card).

The only feature that all of the applications fall short on, is the G.729 codec support. With bandwidth constraints in South Africa G.729 compression for voice over IP has become commonplace.

After reading a few reviews and comparing feature lists I eventually settled for iSip, knowing that the lack of G.729 support would mean that I would be restricted in the destinations I would be able to call. After the initial configuration (which was incredibly simple) I was happily making calls to certain destinations. The call quality was excellent and connection time was extremely quick. The ability to have multiple profiles meant that depending on whether my iPhone was connected to the corporate VoIP network or a general Internet WiFi hotspot I was still able make calls without having to change settings.

I have put in a feature request in with the application developer, but as yet I have not received any feedback as to if or when this is a possibility. I know there are some licensing issues when making use of G.729, but I’m pretty sure they could just work that cost into the price of the application.

Below is a list of the applications that you should consider if you are looking for a Generic SIP client sans G.729 support:

isip.png WeePhone.png Acrobits.png
iSip
WeePhone SIP
Acrobits Softphone

I thought I would also make mention of Nimbuzz and Fring. These two applications are free in the App Store and they allow for custom SIP settings, but both require an active connection to their respective servers to “log in” and actually make calls. This results in a terrible speech delay and I’ve found them to be almost unusable. Others may have better luck. Also,most corporate VoIP networks probably won’t allow connections to the Internet, which renders the applications completely useless.

Nimbuzz.png Fring.jpg
Nimbuzz
Fring

The quest continues…

Update: I received a response from the developers saying that they are in negotiations with the G.729 license holder and that they aren’t able to include support for the codec until they have concluded the discussions.

WolframAlpha hits the App Store for a whopping $50

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Wow. This is special. An app that costs $50 that bascially does what the website does for free. Let’s see how quickly the price of this app drops. Alternatively, I’m willing to bet that a pissed off developer will release an app that does almost the same thing for free.

Idiots.

WolframAlpha hits the App Store for a whopping $50: “

WolframAlpha, the computational searchable database that went live as a website a few months ago is now an iPhone app.  ‘Fantastic!’ you might say.  Youll take it?  Just one thing though:  It is $50!  And it doesnt do much that the Web page doesnt.  Is there something we dont understand here?

WolframAlfa $50 App Store link – via TechCrunch.

In-house Radio.app in the works for iPhone and iPod touch

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Someone at Apple and myself are clearly on the same wavelength.

This afternoon while I was driving home and listening to a podcast on my iPhone 3GS, I mused about how awesome it would be if the 3GS had a built in FM radio, just like the new iPod Nano’s. I conceded that it wouldn’t be possibly as the required hardware doesn’t exist in the device.

Tonight, I see this article not only claiming that Apple are already developing the app, but the device has had the hardware in it for some time to enable the Nike+ functionality.

When this app is released it will truly make the iPhone the most versatile mobile device I’ve ever owned.

– Mobile phone
– Mobile computer
– iPod
– GPS
– Compass
– FM Radio
– Camera
– Video Camera
– Voice recorder

I know there are other devices out there that have all these functions, but not of them do it as well as the iPhone and none of them are nearly as sexy.

Awesome x Rad !

In-house Radio.app in the works for iPhone and iPod touch: “

Weve just received a tip that an iPhone radio.app is being developed in-house by Apple for use on the iPhone and iPod touch.  From what we know, the app will be allowed to operate in the background like iPod.app and will offer the same functionality as the FM radio in the new iPod Nanos.  The source mentioned that this application could also be incorporated into the iPod.app before release.

The holdup on this app is that Apple is trying to integrate the Mobile iTunes Store purchases into the functionality of the program.  For instance, if you like a song you are listening to on the radio (and that station supports tagging and you are in the US), you will be able to push a button and see the song (and all of the information around it) in the iTunes Mobile store.  With another click, youll be able to make a purchase.  This is an extension of the Song Tagging feature used in the iPod Nanos.  Perhaps they could even add some Shazam technology to help with those stations that don’t support tagging.

Though it wasn’t specified, the app will likely have the same Live Pause functionality that the Nanos currently enjoy.

Apple’s iPods and iPhones have been able to receive FM radio signals for some time now.  The latest generation of iPhone and iPod touch can even broadcast FM signal, for instance to a car stereo.  The ability of the iPhone and iPod touch to receive FM signals has been used solely in the implementation of the Nike+ ecosystem to this point.

This wouldnt be the first time Apple awoke sleeping hardware functionality from its mobile products.  Apple sometimes chooses to leave hardware features dormant in their products until they feel the time is right.  For instance, Apple didnt enable Bluetooth in its 2nd generation iPod touch until 9 months after it was released.  Apple also hasnt enabled the 802.11N +5GHZ wireless networking (which we also hope to see updated shortly) in its latest iPhone and iPods.

The addition of an FM radio would eliminate that advantage from the ZuneHD over Apple’s line of Touch OSX products.

(Via 9 to 5 Mac – Apple Intelligence.)

iWarrior: an African iPhone Game

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I love seeing stuff like this !

East and West Africa collaborating on game and then distributing it via the App Store. More of the same guys. Keep it up.

Maybe for their next project we can temporarily relocate them to the Silicon Cape ?

iWarrior: an African iPhone Game: “

There aren’t a lot of African gamers, as would be expected due to the general lack of access to gaming technology and platforms in Africa, relative to other parts of the world. There are even fewer game developers on the continent. Due to being a gamer myself, I like to keep track of this as much as possible, and it’s always fun to announce a new one.

iWarrior - an African iPhone gameiWarrior is an iPhone game (iTunes link), created by the cross-Afrian team of Kenyan Wesley Kirinya and Ghanaian Eyram Tawia of Leti Games. It’s a unique top-down shooter game that utilizes the iPhone’s inbuilt accelerometer to both move and shoot. Your goal: protect your village, livestock and garden from the incoming marauding animals.

It’s a great first-effort from the team, and I believe it’s the first game created by a team in Africa. This itself is a much more difficult task than what many might expect. Just to get an iTunes account and a way to be be paid for your application is a challenge due to Apple’s inbuilt prejudice against Africa (they’re not alone in this, as many other platforms, like PayPal’s or Google Checkout’s are the same). That seems like a dramatic statement to make, but I ask you to stay your judgment until you’ve walked in the shoes of an African programmer.

Gameplay
I’m not an exceptionally talented twitch gamer, so I found the unique movement plus shooting actions hard to come to terms with. However, as I played it longer, I found myself slowly figuring it out and getting better at it. Thankfully, the team has built in a completely different way to play using your finger to slide and tap, you can move and shoot. So, for the accelerometer-challenged (like me) there’s another option. :)

iWarrior also allows you to play your own music while playing the game. This might seem small, but it’s something a lot of game maker’s overlook, and it’s a lot more fun than listening to the same repetitious in-game music.

The game costs $2.99, which is a little steep for new games on the iPhone. For many reasons the costs of most applications (games or otherwise) on the App Store have been driven to about 99cents. So, it takes either a really big name or an app that has hard to replicate features in order to break past $1.99 and sell a lot. In the team’s defense, it’s difficult for them to download paid games to test and see if they compare to their own prior to putting it on the market (again, due to them being in Africa).

Graphics
The graphics are okay. I’m a stickler on this type of thing though, and I go for either over-the-top quality or simplicity. Examples of this is comparing Fieldrunners to Doodle Jump, both excellent graphically, yet with completely different aesthetics.

iPhone game design - fieldrunners vs doodle jump

So, I’m going to ding the team on this part of the game. This, after a lengthy discussion in Ghana with Eyram over the difficulties of finding quality digital artists. It’s not an easy thing to do, the best designers aren’t digitally literate, with a few exceptions. So, you get great sketching and painting, but few can put that into vector graphics, 3d or even Photoshop.

Though the challenge is high, we live in a digitally connected world where top quality digital artists from Asia and Eastern Europe can be found to do the work at acceptable rates. There are other options, and a game can be made or broken on looks alone.

Summary

iWarrior is an excellent first game on the iPhone platform from two highly talented and creative African game developers. I expect that there will be a lot of good games, and other applications, coming from this team over time – both on the iPhone and other platforms. It’s a game to be proud of and one that I hope a lot of others will buy.

(Via White African.)

Finally. My 3GS arrives.

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I thought I post a follow up on my article about the delay in getting my hands on the new iPhone 3GS.

After the most bizarre chain of events yesterday morning, the phone suddenly arrived on my desk.

After yet another call to my service provider to get an update on when the handset might become available I was again informed that there was still no stock and that Vodacom and The Core Group would not commit to any dates as to when they may become available. Luckily though, I was on the list of 78 people waiting for stock. Lucky lucky me.

About an hour later I was confronted by a delivery guy with a parcel addressed to me. A few squiggles on the delivery form, a few tears here and there and I found myself staring at white iPhone 3GS box.

The phone that isn't in stock. Apparently.

The phone that isn't in stock. Apparently.

I thought maybe it was a joke. I bet the box is empty.

Well blow me down. I opened the box to find a shiny new iPhone 3GS. Joy.

I haven’t let my service provider know that it has arrived yet. Let’s see how long it takes them to get back to me about it. Who knows, maybe a second one will arrive when they finally get stock…

Eish.

EA launches EA Comics, plans comic books for iTunes…

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When it was released a few weeks ago I bought and downloaded the Mayhem (iTunes link) comic and I really enjoyed the way in which the content was delivered. The images are really high quality and you can choose to have it read to you or to read it yourself. The Mayhem comic came with an exclusive Tyrese track as well which was specifically written for the launch of the comic.

EA don’t really have a large library of comics that I am interested in, but I’m sure that if they make a success of it, or maybe even they don’t, that DC and Marvel will jump on the bandwagon as well.

I stopped reading comics when CNA started charging R50 for a new release and stopped have the bargain bins where you could pick up an older edition for under a Rand.

If I could start getting my content online at a decent price and possibly even have the option to take it with me on my iPhone or on my Apple netbook/tablet, I’ll definitely get back into it.

EA launches EA Comics, plans comic books for iTunes…: “

We know Apple enjoys a better relationship with games industry chiefs than it ever has before, on strength of its iPhone and iPod touch. Now it looks like a key gaming partner is laying the ground to make a little comic book push when Apple launches its first tablet device early next year.

Electronic Arts has announced a new brand, EA Comics. This company will license comic book brands and franchises for publication both in print and through iTunes.

EA, in collaboration with iDW Publishing, will pick and choose titles from among big names which include Transformers, Star Trek, Doctor Who and more.

The first two EA Comics comics will be Army Of Two and Dragon Age, and will be penned by established writers Peter Milligan and Orson Scott Card.

We’re pushing the boat out on speculation here, but somehow expect these releases will be similar to that of the Mayhem comic most recently released in the iTunes Extras format, aiming to produce deeper multimedia experiences than you presently find inside print titles, and using EA’s games and graphics development expertise. But that’s just a notion at the moment.

(Via 9 to 5 Mac – Apple Intelligence.)

Apple, AT&T, the FCC, Google and Skype remark on AT&T opening VoIP over 3G

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I wonder if this will spill over to our local networks.

Well done AT&T. Along with MMS and tethering, we can finally welcome you into the 21st century !

Apple, AT&T, the FCC, Google and Skype remark on AT&T opening VoIP over 3G: “

AT&T said late Tuesday that it has informed Apple and the FCC that ‘it has taken the steps necessary’ to enable Voice over Internet Protocol — or VOIP — services on the iPhone over its 3G wireless network. AT&T said it made the decision ‘after evaluating our customers expectations and use of the device compared to dozens of others we offer.’   The company already allows subscribers to make Internet calls using its 3G network over other wireless devices.

Apple: Spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said Apple welcomed the the announcement. ‘We are very happy that AT&T is now supporting VOIP applications.  We will be amending our developer agreements to get VOIP apps on the App Store and in customers hands as soon as possible.’

Skype President Josh Silverman said: ‘Since launching our iPhone application six months ago, people have downloaded and installed Skype on 10% of all iPhone and iPod touch devices sold – making it clear that people are extremely interested in taking Skype conversations with them on the go. All of us at Skype applaud todays announcement by AT&T (in an FCC filing here in PDF format) that itll open up its 3G network to Internet calling applications such as Skype. Its the right step for AT&T, Apple, millions of mobile Skype users and the Internet itself. Nonetheless, the positive actions of one company are no substitute for a government policy that protects openness and benefits consumers. Were all looking forward to further developments that will let people use Skype on any device, on any network.’

Update:

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said: ‘When AT&T indicated, in response to the FCC’s inquiry, that it would take another look at permitting VoIP on its 3G network I was encouraged,’ Genachowski said in a statement. ‘I commend AT&T’s decision to open its network to VoIP. Opening wireless services to greater consumer choice will drive investment and innovation in the mobile marketplace.’

A Google representative said Apple hadn’t informed it of any change in the status of its application.

There was no word yet from Vonage who just got their application into the App Store yesterday.

The FCC was also silent this evening, but they probably played the biggest role in getting AT&T to allow VoIP traffic.  Theyve been pushing their Net Neutrality stance on the wireless carriers since this administration took over a year ago.  While it was a long time coming, the move was inevitable as both 4G standards, WiMAX and LTE both only support only VoIP, and not the traditional wireless voice product, for telephone calls.

(Via 9 to 5 Mac – Apple Intelligence.)

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