The Apple Social Network

Originally posted on the forums over at theverge.com: http://www.theverge.com/2012/5/1/2992121/the-apple-social-network

Apple don’t really get the internet. It’s been shown by how terrible Ping was. The seemingly still going iTunes component that let you share what you were listening to with others. This didn’t really work out as people don’t really like sharing what they’ve just bought or listening to as it’s probably Abba or something else along those lines. No one needs to know.

But Apple still has a problem with many its services; No one knows if their friends are on it! The problem usually arises if you have an iPad and you want to iMessage someone. The problem is you must have the other person’s email address attached to their contact details. Even if you have their email you have no idea if they have iMessage enabled. The same problem also rears its head with FaceTime and Game Center.

So what can Apple do to solve this? In my opinion it needs to create some way of people having an iCloud profile that you can search for your friends. Now being Apple it would have to be highly controlled. I imagine that everything would be locked except for your name and maybe a profile picture. Maybe even knows if you have contacts in common to make sure you’re adding the right Jonny Appleseed.

You could then request to be iCloud buddies and the person receiving the request can decide what to share. Say your best friends, then mobile, home email address, permission for Find My Friends, Game Center, maybe even published iPhoto journals. Say it was a work colleague who you don’t want to have all that information, then you could just give access to your work email address. It would be very basic and just and online contact listing. It would not be mined by Google and you can only search if you’re signed up for iCloud.

It could even be an app included in iOS 6 with no real online presence. It would just sync contact details and allow you to find others. Sure it would have to be super secure to try to avoid hacking in some way but I could see it happening. Would you want to have some way to find your fellow iPhone and iPad friends?

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iPhone Got 99 Battery Problems

Apple have already tried to fix this problem with the iOS 5.0.1 release (how cool was over-the-air updating by the way) but it hasn’t fixed the problem for all.

Personally I never had a problem and my 4S still manages about a day, sometimes longer depending on what I’m doing.

I think the main problem here is with the new notifications. Before you’d get the big-blue box and you could just say not now and it would go away.

Now if you’re on the lock screen you can ignore it and go away. Then when you come back it’s still there but just tucked under the time. That’s got to be using some memory which uses battery power, right?

Yes I get emails from Tesco. No, I didn't read it.

Then even if you don’t open it, it’s also being stored in Notification Center along with any other notifications you’re ignoring. Now this might be another area where your battery is being drained quickly.

The Weather widget at the top is set by default to get weather for your current location. If you are constantly pulling open notification center down then it is looking for your location again. It may have some smarts to not do it for a certain length of time but it will do it throughout the day. You can turn this off from Settings, the Location Services.

Now the main reason for posting this is my idea for lock screen notifications. This mainly comes from suddenly being awoken by a bright light to realize it was just my iPhone lighting up with a notification. I therefore turned it over and went back to bed. This led me to the idea that Apple must be able to tell when your iPhone is lying flat, face down on a table.

They not only have the light sensor but also the accelerometer to help them out. Therefore if you lie it face down then your notifications should not light up the lock screen and only appear when you unlock the screen.

What do you think? Would it work to save battery or am I just clutching at straws?

A Few Apple Leaks

So recently it seems Apple have decided not to worry about leaks anymore. Before nothing would ever be leaked before time. First of course was the infamous iPhone 4 loss, then just this week, two iOS leaks.

Of course it’s hard to keep everything secret but it’s almost like they want them to be found so they can gauge public reaction.

So first off was a panorama option found in the Camera app that will help you take a wide-angled picture. Below you can see the rough trials on 9to5Mac.

It still seems to be quite rough so may be ages away from being included in an iOS 5 update.

Then just today is what looks like an auto-correct typing bar to help with your spelling. From the screenshots it looks like it appears as you start typing and you can tap the word you want to complete it. See the picture below from TUAW.

To me this doesn’t seem like it would help much, unless you are typing a word longer than 5 letters. I think it would depend on how quickly the corrections appear though and if it learns your favorite words quickly. The auto-correct of the iPhone is pretty good to begin with so this just seems like an unnecessary feature.

So these are obviously quite small features and maybe it just goes to show how confident Apple are that they can have things leaked and it doesn’t matter.

Siri Seems to be the Hardest Word

So I haven’t blogged in a while but recently I decided I should get back into it. This is mainly thanks to some wonderful podcasts I have started listening to by TWiT (standing for This Week in Tech). You can view all their podcasts on their website or through iTunes.

So without further ado with the iPhone 4S having come out I want to talk quickly about Siri, the main new feature. I’ve used it on a few occasions and it is great when you use it but I can’t help but think that it’s being limited by Apple right now but better to have something than nothing.

So my favorite use for Siri so far is for setting alarms and timers. The first day I had it, I just said “Wake me up in 8 hours” and it worked it out for me, then added the alarm. It didn’t even take much time to think about it.

Another use is just asking for a timer. Just saying “Set a timer for 10 minutes” creates a countdown for you. Perhaps this will become the cook’s best friend.

So far the most annoying part of Siri is that business listings aren’t currently supported outside the US. I imagine this is because Apple have not found a decent partner for this. In America it’s partnered with Yelp and as Siri is still in beta they are probably testing that their servers can cope with so many users requesting information all the time.

Which brings us to another problem with Siri; the need for a constant internet connection. If you have a bad connection or the server is busy then you get no reply.

It’s alright though, Siri is still in beta and you can see how it will eventually become integrated into everything Apple and every other company will be left trying to catch up.

Also make sure to check out S*** That Siri Says to keep you amused.

Kindle Online – Will it Work?

This is a follow up really to my other post about why I believe Apple are forcing apps out of the App Store.
A few days after that Amazon unveiled their online version of the Kindle reader, which will allow anyone who has Kindle content to read through any web browser.

This is obviously a smart move by Amazon as it still allows them to try and sell books to iPad customers but will the added hassle now put people off?

In my opinion it has never been about existing customers of Amazon Kindle and instead Apple are looking at the people who have never bought an eBook. Therefore they don’t care if there is or isn’t a Kindle store available as an app.

Now for Amazon to get new customers on the iPad or iPhone, the process is more difficult. They obviously have lots of publicity and are known as the eBook leader. Now though, there is no direct link without going through Safari and adding a bookmark to the Home Screen. This is not natural behaviour as the App Store has mind share.

And the first time a user opens the App Store on their iPad or iPhone and even on the newer iPod touch, they are asked if they want to download the iBooks app. How long then until iBooks is pre-installed and becomes iDevice users default eBook reader?

I don’t think this will kill Kindle and the rumoured Amazon tablet may be the iPads first big competition, especially with the HP TouchPad being canned. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Do you think you’re going to use the Kindle Online or will it soon be ignored?

The iPhone Thingy-Me-Bob

Right now there are lots of rumors flying around about the next iPhone and it seems people are unsure of what Apple are going to call it. It seems some people believe it called be called the 4S while others think it could be the 5. So here is why I think they will probably call it the 5 rather than the 4S.

1. It’s less confusing

Originally you had the iPhone which didn’t have a number, that was then followed by the 3G. That was then followed by the 3GS and then we have the 4. It seems Apple just want to keep it obvious which is the newest iPhone. Calling the next one 4S will create consumer confusion with them probably thinking that there’s no difference between the two models.

2. S is for Speed

This is the worst acronym I can think of to try and prove why your newer phone is better than your older. It is also very un-Apple as they now like to use words like ‘Magical’ and’Breathtaking’ etc. Speed doesn’t really mean anything and the visible difference between this current and next iPhone will probably be hard to distinguish anyway.

3. iOS 5

One thing that will definitely happen will be  that the next iPhone will run and come installed with iOS 5. Having a 4S run iOS 5 just sounds silly and by the time they would release an iPhone 5, Apple will have brought out iOS 6 to make it even more confusing.

So those are my reasons for why I think it will be the iPhone 5. In relation to the title of this post though, it won’t matter what it’s called as it will still sell in the millions. What do you think it will be called then?

For further reading on this see Boy Genius Report.

iCloud and You – A Match Made in Heaven?

As well as iOS5, Apple announced iCloud at WWDC on Monday. While it wasn’t quite what people imagined, it shows the future of Apple and computing in general. So what does it mean for you?

Firstly the iCloud means you will be able to sync your songs, apps, and even iBooks between all your devices. So if you have an iDevice and Mac it means you can keep everything synced automatically. As soon as you buy something on one device it will appear on your other devices. Obviously this relies on you having more than one Apple device, but you do have more than one right?!

The second part of iCloud is iTunes Match. This service means you can take any songs you have ripped from CDs (or any other way of getting music) and iTunes will match it for you from their 18 million strong catalog. You will then be able to download it to all your devices and use it just like you downloaded it from the iTunes Store in the first place. The only catch is that it will cost you $24.99 a year to use this service.

The most useful feature of iCloud though will be the automatic backup of your iDevice. This means if your device goes wrong then all your data will be available to download anywhere you have an internet connection and get it working again.

What most people thought iCloud would bring was a streaming service similar to Spotify and allow you to play a certain amount of music for a monthly fee. While it didn’t appear at this WWDC perhaps the music labels are scared of giving too much away to Apple again and want to see how many paying customers they can get for iTunes Match before allowing open access to all their music.

So what do you think of iCloud? Were you hoping for more?

What Apple Didn’t Show You

Yesterday, June 6th, Apple showed off iOS5 and the improvements it will bring. Sure everyone is excited about Notification Center and Safari Reader but there’s one slide that interested me and it shows up right near the end of Scott Forstall’s talk. If you haven’t watched it yet you can do so for free on Apple.

This slide came up as the 200 other features that will be coming in iOS5 and I just want to highlight a few of them for you.

  • Personal Dictionary
Now the dictionary with the iPhone is pretty good but once it adds a word it’s impossible to get rid of it. This was a feature that appeared in early iOS4 demos last year but never made the final cut. I’m guessing it’s the same and will allow you to edit the dictionary to your liking.
  • Emoji Emoticons
You know those little smiley faces? Well they are Emoji and are extremely popular in Japan and China but people in other countries seem to like them too judging by the amount of Emoji apps in the App Store. It seems Apple are finally going to open it up to all users with iOS5 though.
  • Swipe to Delete Songs
A song somehow got synced over that you hate but it’ll be OK as it looks like you’ll be able to delete straight from your device.
  • Custom Vibration Patterns and LED Flash
While custom vibration patterns seems like a great way to tell what are important phone calls apart from not-so-important you’ll also now be able to turn the LED on the iPhone4 into a beacon. This seems to be an idea pilfered straight from Blackberry, along with iMessages of course. Could this also hint at an LED flash being included on the front for the next iPhone?
It definitely seems like Apple has a lot planned for this update and it seems like a long wait until Fall. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s released just a few days before the traditional September Apple event so you’ll likely have to wait until then. Also expect the next iPhone to be announced then.

The App Rush

Firstly welcome to my blog, this will be my first post.

So as not to bore you, down to business. I currently work for a company who makes apps and let me tell you now that it is extremely hard to get your app noticed and to have that app do consistently well.

If you look at most apps they will go in somewhat of a Bell Curve (Image). This means that sales will start slowly, suddenly pick up and enjoy a few good days or weeks of sales before plummeting slowly backwards towards little to no sales.

Apps like Angry Birds (iTunes) are the exception because of its prominence as being the first “BIG” game in the iOS sphere. It’s the app that has propelled the App Store and the ideas of apps into the mainstream. As always this is the exception that proves the rule.

The most recent app that has shown signs of any continuing success is Tiny Wings (iTunes), another game featuring birds, so maybe that is the place to start when looking to create a hit game at least.

Now with reports that there are at least 400,000 apps (AppAdvice) in the App Store it seems the rush to create an app is not going to stop. The only advice I can give to you if you’re going to create an app is to work hard and get lucky.