Zen and the Art of iOS

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iPad Apps NightmareToday I want to reflect on Zen of iOS and overall Apple philosophy. But first, there’s a disturbance in the force that I must deal with. My overall tranquility has been compromised, and by Apple Genius Bar employees, no less.

Here’s the issue at hand – the list of icons displayed at the bottom of iOS device when you double-click The Button. The “Geniuses” at the Bar insisted that All These Apps were Running, even though I just fully rebooted the device! Furthermore I watched them toil for a long time to Delete My Icons, from a VERY long list which came together as I tried most of my 400 apps, and apparently were the cause of my broken iPad microphone.

Although I am yet to reference Apple SDK on this, I feel that my own understanding here is correct. I believe that iOS shows icons of apps that are Running together with recently used apps. If I open too many apps and device starts running low on memory, it will silently shut down Apps in the background, but leave the icon on the list for re-launch as expected. When I tried to contradict Apple employees on this, I was asked whether “I work for Apple”, which furthered my disturbed serenity.

On the way back as I was enjoying excellent Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance audio-book, I think I developed deeper understanding of what “Intersection of Technology and Liberal Arts” really means at Apple. It is all about device keeping us “at piece” with how we expect it and the World to behave – Serenity is the secret sauce!

Still, back to the disturbance – I have noticed that this specific “running apps” issue is a source of frustration for many people, even some who don’t know true source, but are still frustrated. This is especially felt with iPhones, as they can’t understand why their device lasts all day on one occasion, but dies prematurely the next day, seemingly with exactly same amount of usage! I believe that a person who was deciding to show Running iOS apps list was approaching it from Simplicity and Practicality perspective, not from the Zen  and Tranquility Angle! Otherwise, something as simple as Glow or Highlight on an App that is actually running and consuming battery/resources, however little, would make All the difference people need to eliminate this frustration!!!

That brings me to yet another disturbance that Apple is suffering from, in my book. In the Real-World, the number of mediocre to purely useless Apps is continuously growing! Sometimes, what was state-of-the-art on iOS 2 is almost offensive on iOS 5. Yet, nothing is there designed to help us depreciate our unused Apps, and suggest newer alternatives. Normally I would jump on this as “Startup Opportunity”, but Apple locked up this opportunity for allowing us to Innovate management of Ocean of Apps. Even as brave Appsfire still managed to sneak in there, the efforts are painful and can’t fully develop,

In short – the Magic we’ve come to expect from Apple devices is being compromised! These little things band together into a growing disdain, something Steve would never accept! Seriously, putting “Talking Tom the Cat” (or Ben the Dog) right up at the top, next to ABC, Wall Street Journal and Netflix apps – makes sense to you?!? Clearly these appeal to VERY different audience, and although App Genius tries to resolve some of that, not being able to remove old apps or categorize Kids versus Adults, is a Big issue.

For me, the mere act of putting these thoughts out there and reading your comments is sure to restore the Tranquility – that and the next iOS upgrade!

PS: Thanks to my old friend Eran Zadok for recommending this wonderful book to me about 15 years ago – yes, I am a bit behind on my reading list Smile

Free Latest eBooks and Audiobooks on your Mobile device – Legal Too

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Fullscreen capture 3122011 111352 PMForgive the loud title of this post, but I promise that it is totally relevant! For the past few weeks I have tremendously enjoyed several audio-books from my local library. Our local Gwinnett county library had Digital Downloads for a long time via OverDrive Media Console. However, the big breakthrough is my discovering that they are offering iPhone App!

Actually, the Media Console client software is also for Android, Blackberry and it even works on iPad 2 ! This is most likely US only (sorry International friends), and probably not all local libraries offer it, though I hear very high percentage do.

Pretty simple to use – just look up your county’s library and login via your mobile device’s browser, using your library card. Then select latest blockbuster eBook or Audio Book in your favorite category, and click Download! Voila, it should download and be available for you to enjoy in seconds! Although, having selected long Audio Book myself, I had to wait until I was in Wi-Fi zone to be able to download it. It works just like any other Library material, in that it will expire within 14 days (or whatever your library designated). No need to “return” anything to the library, it will just disappear off your device.

I started off with absolute classic 1984 by George Orwell, which I enjoyed even more than expected. Then, I continued onto modern fiasco tale in All The Devils Are Here – The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis.  Ironically this “other side of the coin” book seems most appropriate to me, and will undoubtedly stimulate my further exploration into alternative structures for society next.

Did I mention that OverDrive Media Console is Absolutely Free? I haven’t checked on all platforms, but I can confirm that it is free on iPhone, Android and Windows. Enjoy!

PS: I read that some libraries offer Audio Books in WMA format – these won’t play on iPhone (not sure about Android), but can be enjoyed on your Windows PC. Just glance at Audio Book format which should be listed on your library’s Audio Book page, before the download.

iPhone 4 – First Impressions + Secret Feature

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Ok, here’s the summary: Wow!!

IMG_0026 Overall I really love it so far, and although I experienced the famous disappearing bars issue first hand, I am really not concerned. One negative so far I noticed is the camera. There are comparisons to other smartphone cameras that say iPhone 4 is better, so maybe I just expected too much… Here’s best shot I managed today, judge for yourself (click for original). This one was outside, but inside photos not as nice, even with flash…

I listed below main positives that I did Not see in mainstream media. I feel that these are really Biggest innovations and they don’t get nearly enough coverage:

  • Long Battery Life – Yes, it easily lasted 3 days with pretty heavy usage, including WiFi on all the time, steaming video over 3G and over WiFi, games, surfing, etc. This is amazing technological achievement and was main selling point in my considerations versus Evo and other competitors.
  • Fast Internet – I felt that surfing is way faster, but couldn’t explain it. Today I found technical details, and I immediately ran my own SpeedTest to confirm: 4 Mbps down and 800kbps up!! Just in a random mall location! Interestingly enough, there was HTC Evo on Sprint 4G network on display at the mall today, and Internet on it didn’t feel any faster; in fact whole phone didn’t impress much…
  • Reader Friendly Display – This is the Secret Feature; Sure everyone is talking about Retina display, but the truth is the screen is not only very sharp, it also feels softer, lending itself to effortless reading! The fonts are paper quality, think laser printer, and the backlight can be adjusted to soft luminance, making reading a joy! This definitely makes iPhone an ePaper competitive reading device – think 10 hours battery life, beautiful soft display AND colors! And of course interactions and video, what more do you need?

Overall – Amazing device and so far I am really satisfied with my purchase. Organizing icons into folders is fun and allows for quick access as well as ability to see what Apps I have in each category, to help me cleanup things I may not be using. I didn’t try the voice recognition features yet, but certainly planning to. I also noticed that typing is easier for some reason. Somehow it is even better at recognizing buttons I want to click, and I find myself able to type faster. Another win for Apple and shows us that closed hardware/software combination can achieve some amazing heights.

My iPhone 4 is here – One Day Earlier!

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IMG_3754 Yep, my iPhone 4 arrived via FedEx today and so far all I did was Shamelessly Fondle It all over. It is in the long process of synching with iTunes, and filling it up with Apps and Stuff.

So, Not much to report yet, but you know now that I decided to lock myself in with Apple and AT&T again, for perhaps as much as two years. Yes, Android EVO 4G from Sprint was really tempting option and I even tried to have educated discussion about it on Twitter. But my big concern was battery life and with my heavy usage it most likely wouldn’t last a full day even…

Versus advertised 10 hours video and Wi-Fi surfing on iPhone 4 with their custom CPU! And yea, there’s an App for almost anything, hard to resist that aspect also. And Gazillion games, many of which I paid for and now get to enjoy on two devices.

The new packaging is small yet still impressive – see picture with Sprite for perspective.

Stay tuned for actual usage reports!

Microsoft With No Money, iPhone 3 and More

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I’m back, and just posting quick update on little “big” things that are going on with me. Filing this one under “Random Thoughts”, FYI.

MSN Money Logo Microsoft announced officially last week that they are discontinuing Microsoft Money product. This Really saddened me, frankly. Something in the way they presented it made me especially sad. I was always expecting MS-Money desktop software to die, and to be replaced by cloud based solution (like Quicken.com and MSN Money). But instead of telling us to use Web solution, they just told us to “Go Away”…

Worse yet, I have been buying Home & Business edition for many years, to manage our small business, using their wonderful inventory management tools and invoices, etc. What replaces this? Nothing, really… Only super expensive and complex accounting packages, which I really hate (and don’t need for our tiny business)!!!

iPhone 3G S video editing Ok, onto next rant… iPhone 3.0 came out, just installed it today. Where is my Video!? I really expected them to provide some video capture support for older handsets. Seriously, I don’t need fancy video editing in-phone, but I should be able to capture low-resolution clips!!! Phones with far lesser CPU were able to do this easily for years – Apple, I didn’t expect this level of incompetence, seriously! I am looking forward to finally be alerted if someone is trying to IM me on Yahoo Messenger or ICQ, etc. I hope it works, as finally latest OS should allow it, but don’t know which Apps implemented this yet… I’ll report on this later.

Final rant of the evening is about email and Twitter. I had a case in the office recently, someone replying to an email with “screenshot” of the issue. All he wrote was “I will check into it”. This resulted in 500KB+ email being blasted to hundreds of people by poor Microsoft Exchange server (and poor people who have to keep cleaning their mailboxes). Ridiculous! We need a better email system, and at least publically Twitter does some of that. Needs more evolution, but exchange Must Die and quick. We must figure out a better way to communicate, both inside the Enterprise and over public Internet. Well, I can blog my ideas on this in the future, if there is interest (hint, post comments!)

There, Rant Done! I’ll try to come back to regular insightful blogging in the near future 🙂

Meanwhile, I leave you with MORE RANT! Windows 7 64 Bit Release Candidate STILL doesn’t install on my main PC. No love for me, very sad… Thinking of replacing my Motherboard or something, but it’s annoying to go through all that trouble and expense…

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