All Posts Tagged ‘iOS


App Santa gives you iOS app discounts for Christmas

App Santa is back, and bigger than ever before! Enjoy savings of up to 80% on award-winning apps from independent developers through December 26th. Some pretty stellar iOS apps in the collection, App Santa is offering up to 80% off these amazing apps until Boxing Day. Get in now, you might even spot a few good app gift ideas (if you’re coming up short for that special someone). IMG_0266 As you can see: Scanner Pro & Day One are on my home screen[1. don’t even ask why Skype is kept in the Photography folder]. ScreensTweetbot & TextExpander Touch are on the second page. Don’t miss your chance to get some amazing software from independent developers for a steal.]]>


Call that a collage?

Um, what the hell happened to mixel? An original, fun and highly sticky app for iPad has become something very, very different. It has gone from this:


to this:


The original mixel was a joy to use, to play with, to remix. The new version, the ‘just add pictures’ version?

Khoiexplains that there were economic reasons for scuppering the development and maintenance of the iPad version, but it doesn’t sit well with me. He says that the app simply wasn’t social enough to be profitable. What were the hard costs of mixel that couldn’t be overcome? My suspicion is that it had something to do with the server/storage/web front end parts, that these costs weren’t offset by the (advertising?) revenue brought in by new users.

But I don’t buy it. The costs for the app were borne of the design of the app and the systems it required to function. If the design of the app requires an unsustainable mix of components, remix those components to make it work (see what I did there?). It completely fits with the ethos of the app, to feature an iterative, evolutionary development to make the thing work better, and not just simply for the users. I would have been happy for the social/web elements to disappear, or even get scaled back a bit, to even things up a bit. I’d love to see the figures for the app, to get a clearer picture of what went on behind the scenes, but unfortunately it’s well beyond too late, at this point.

As a formerly happy user, these two things are now apparent to me:

  1. I’m certainly not going to download and use the new Mixel (iPhone only, btw), and
  2. I’m not inclined to listen to the promises of the development/business team behind the venture, regarding the bright new future for this new mixel.

Now I know that I didn’t pour hours into the app in the first place, but some of that time now certainly feels wasted. It’s not possible to even continue using the app (by myself), since it depends on a combination of back-end servers to add the social bells and whistles. This kind of ‘pivot’ really gives me (no more than a mere user) a sincere distrust of the upbeat marketing spin from Lascaux.

As a first time effort from Khoi and co, I really enjoyed playing with Mixel.
The second version, though?

Not bloody likely.


★ Slow show

Recently I bought a mac mini, for reasons I’ve mentioned before, primarily to take care of a little bit of iOS app-making. I was tempted at one point to splash out and buy one of the nice and light macbook airs, but at the time I wanted the best bang for buck, so I went with a compromise machine, the low-end mac mini.

I decided to buy this machine whilst on the road, at this point somewhere in Mexico. I went with the lowest end machine possible, really, though I wasn’t expecting to be as wowed (in both the positive or negative) as has been my experience to date.

I noticed Ben Brooksposting his thoughts on a similar purchase, made recently to replace a broken mac laptop. Given how closely his experience has matched mine (and given how we’ve both been spoiltusing iPads and Macbook Airs), I thought I’d share some of that with you here;

On the mini every single thing I did felt like it was being bogged down by the hard drive. Want to search for a file, sure thing, just let me think about that for 15 seconds.

Boot up and shut down was slow.

Search was slow.

Opening apps was slow.

Scrolling large lists of files in a Finder was slow.

To which, I might add;

Emptying the trash is slow.

Writing text is slow.

Having two windows open at the same time is slow.

In short, the mac mini has not been the whiz kid I hoped for, nor even the mildly lazy teenager I’d anticipated. It’s been sloooow. Switching from the SSD iPad, or the lovely Air, it’s a clunky beast, unhappy and unwilling to help me out. It probably doesn’t help that I’m (as often as not) using the machine through a funky screen sharing app on the iPad, but still, even when I’m on a dedicated monitor/keyboard/mouse setup, it’s a pain. I expect I’ll do some upgrades when I get back (the RAM for one), though at this point it’s hard to justify the cost of a 500GB SSD – so it’s likely that I’ll be mentioning this issue again at some point in the future.

Overall, I’m not unhappy with this machine. It’s given me the tools I needed to pull off a spot of iOS development (I can’t wait until the day that it’s possible to write, review, compile and distribute all from the iPad), and it’s been reasonably reliable. Unlike Ben, I’m not going to send it back for the refund (it’s too bloody hard to do that in Mexico, anyway!).

I’m generally happy with the Mac Mini, once given a bit of a speed boost (via RAM), it will certainly make a welcome addition to the apple commercial our household is becoming.


★ Waving away the cloud

I really like iCloud. It syncs my contacts, my apps, my photos and more, all without really asking for much in return. But there’s one area where iCloud falls over repeatedly – and it’s an unacceptable failure for a service which (at face value) looks like yet another move by Apple to dislodge the MS Office behemoth from the default position in spreadsheets, presentations and documents. The failure I’m talking about, is Documents over iCloud.

At first, it seems like a dream come true. Syncing on an iOS device, just like dropbox for the mac. Sure it only works for 3 apps, but those apps are well designed, great to use and make for any must-have app list today. But the current implementation of this syncing is painful to say the least. I can’t count the number of times I’ve opened up (it seems to be worst in numbers, but I don’t use pages or keynote anywhere near as often), only to have the spreadsheet I want to work in ‘updating’ over the air. I can’t open, edit, delete the spreadsheet, and worse I can’t manually control the sync (there are no play/pause, or selective sync features to iCloud), so I’m stuck watching a file upload to the cloud with no recourse to prevent this. Up until now I’ve just given up and waited for it to sync, but it’s worsened to the point that I can’t even work on the single spreadsheet file I have on the iPad because it’s perpetually syncing to the cloud.

To make a bad situation worse, from time to time I’ll spot a mysterious ‘document deleted in other location’ message, with that one spreadsheet disappearing with no other explanation. Sometimes it comes back, other times I have to quit the, then reopen it for my document to reappear. The iCloud document sync behaves more like a beta level service, and it’s disappointing to see such an immature syncing service being touted as a big selling point for iOS 5. The sync service is just not good enough for me – I expect it will mature over time but right now it’s going to be turned off.

So today I made the call to cut off iCloud syncing for my documents. I’ve left on the sync for all other features, but documents are off the cards – at least for the meantime. You might think that the documents I synced via iCloud would be wiped from the machine, given their somewhat temporal status – but that the documents created on the iPad and then synced over iCloud would be kept on the device. Not so. This was the last slap in the face for my iCloud experience – after turning off iCloud sync, i opened to discover that all of my files had been erased, with a reassuring message that they were safely in the cloud. Not good enough.

I won’t be turning iCloud document storage back on anytime soon, once bitten, twice shy. I love dropbox, I love the rest of the iCloud features, just this one is so patchy and jarring it completely turned me off. I would love to hear if you’ve had the same experience, or if you’ve had a much better experience with the cloud.


★ losing market share to Android

According to new numbers from the NPD Group, the iPhone 4S launch delay didn’t hurt Apple from a sales perspective. Over a year past launch, the iPhone 4 was the top selling phone in all of Q3 2011, with the two-year-old iPhone 3GS coming in at number two. Interestingly, the HTC EVO 4G, Motorola Droid 3, and Samsung Intensity II, hardly the latest and greatest devices, rounded out the top five. While some consumers may have waited for the latest iPhone to finally be released in Q4, it seems most were happy to continue buying Apple’s older wares.

So, you’re saying that the iPhone is doing well – actually quite well. How does that relate to the linkbait title of your article (Apple has the top selling phones, but it’s still losing market share to Android)?

The iPhone’s 21 percent growth trailed the overall smartphone market growth and its share of the market dropped to 15 percent.

So comparing the iPhone 4S (one of 3 models Apple are selling) to the overall smartphone market is fair? Even if we accept that premise, how could you consider a growth rate of 21%, poor performance? Poor, compared to what? Oh, wait I remember now. Android market share.

Though Apple may have dominated on an individual device level, Gartner’s Q3 2011 sales data shows Android pulling away from iOS. Android sales grew 194 percent year-over-year and the platform now accounts for more than 50 percent of all smartphones sold.

The next decade will not be shaped by market share. The next decade will be shaped by dollars, just like the last decade and the decades before. Google’s business has never been to put phones in people’s hands, but that sure works a treat for putting advertising in front of eyeballs. Google’s business is advertising, so releasing an OS as open source seems like a worthwhile loss, if it generates business in other ways. This is pretty simple really, and a lesson HP is soon to learn, albeit the hard way. Bonus points: here’s one from the recent archives, this time from Marco

if anyone’s willing to throw massive piles of money at gaining marketshare that isn’t worth anywhere near what they spent to gain it, it’s Microsoft.

Let’s not welcome back the 90’s, shall we? On another note, this is a perfect example of the criticism levelled at the verge by others, that there’s generally far more interesting debate in the comments than there is in the article itself.



The 6 biggest technology flops of 2011”

While it’s no flop when it comes to sales figures, the iPhone 4S remains one of 2011’s biggest consumer letdowns…
After spending the better part of the year salivating over a reinvented iPhone with a larger screen, a thinner profile, and other untold Apple-flavored wonders, Apple aficionados were presented with the iPhone 4S — a nominal upgrade over the previous model that touted the now much-parodied Siri app as its main selling point.

Which apple aficionionados are yearning for bigger screens? Isn’t that the Android differentiator? And how does the iPhone 4S, the biggest selling iPhone yet, compare with the $100M loss (otherwise known as the HP touchpad)?
Great linkbait, but very little else.


★ Why torture yourself?

John Gruber doesn’t buy the argument that Android 4.0 will force developers to build software for it, “like it or not”:

“Whether you like Android or not, you will support that platform” sounds a little arrogant, but maybe that’s just me. But it got me thinking. Maybe “whether you like Android or not” is exactly wrong. I think maybe the biggest reason iOS has such strong developer support is that developers like iOS. They use and prefer iPhones and iPads personally, they like Cocoa, and they like the App Store.

I tend to agree. I love the iPad, I love using it, I love creating things using it. I’m not even a developer (per se) but this thing makes me want to whip out Xcode and get started. Isn’t that weird? Android on the other hand, well… do we need to remind ourselves about the landscape again?

Why would anyone choose to develop for this convoluted platform? I can think of three reasons why not to:

  1. It’s complex – lots of different versions, screen sizes, input modes and hardware configurations. How are you meant to design a quality experience and maintain that for a thousand variants on the android model? Matt recently set out some arguments for and against maintaining support for the just the latest version of iOS, which has a grand total of 2 dominant OS versions, 3 handset options and 2 screen resolutions. That’s it.
  2. Android users tend to be less inclined to pay for apps. Why go through all of this difficulty to create software for people who don’t fundamentally place any value on it?;
  3. It’s sluggish, laggy and generally slower than iOS or even Windows Mobile Deluxe Special Home ARM edition.

Why would you torture yourself over this large volume, low margin, difficult to plan for and convoluted suite of devices? I can’t think of too many reasons. And to put it so bluntly – like it or not – just doesn’t make sense.

On another note: does John Gruber ever sleep? I live in Sydney, which is hours behind/ahead of the US, and I often see updates from DF during the day. Has anyone else noticed this?