Archive for the ‘Apple’ category

iOS 7 Better Have…

December 13, 2012

There are some things iOS7 had better have before I consider shelling out the bucks for the next new iPhone. Here’s my iOS bucket list:

  • I need a way to import a high quality greeting to my voicemail. Hardline dialing and recording a new greeting is NOT Apple-worthy. I don’t mind recoding to the Voice Memo app or on my Mac. I just ought to be able to import a sound file as my greeting dangit!
  • I expect a way to SEND my voicemails to my iCloud account as email attachments. Or create a rule that does it automatically.
  • I expect a way to FORWARD voicemails to other iOS devices as messages. I can send a picture/video via MMS… Why not a voicemail attachment?
  • I expect a heckuva LOT more out of Siri. It’s more useless than the Maps app right now.
  • Maps is borked. Now that Google Maps app is on the App Store… I’m going back to what works. Still love you Apple. Just need excellent Maps when I need a map.
  • Something’s still not quite right about Contact sync between iPhone, Mac laptop and iCloud. I have duplicates of many contacts in the order of 19 to upwards of 30 of the same person. There needs to be a super easy way to purge duplicates. Contact management shouldn’t be this nasty a chore.
  • Speaking of chores… Apple got the Notes app sync PERFECTLY across devices. It’s not broke. Don’t fix it. 😉 Replicate it’s success for the other devices.
  • Facetime is such a great idea. I’ve tried and tried and tried to Facetime on our local wireless LAN. Each time it rings once (so I know the call is coming through) and then indicates I’m busy to the other devices. Needs to be easier.
  • The new messaging works pretty swank too. Not sure how they’d improve it just now.
  • Can we PLEASE just sync up our phones to Time Machine? Pretty please?
  • Passbook is freakin awesome! A killer, kick ass kind of awesome. The world is ready (it just doesn’t know it yet).
  • Airplay = way awesome.
  • Safari “Reader Mode” is slick. Wish there was a way to make Siri read the content while I’m driving or otherwise occupied. That’s one thing I love about Alex on my Mac.
  • Photo streams to my AppleTV is not quite as straight forward an intuitive as I would expect from Apple. Needs Improvement.
  • Newsstand is a useless icon on my phone deck. Please, let me delete it or file it in another folder.
  • Faxing from my phone should be a no brainer easier than anything to do.
  • Finally, PRINTING. Guys. C’mon. Really? Printing is right up there with copy and paste. We’ve been doing this a long time. Why can’t we seem to get this right?

iOS is a super platform. So good in fact that in our household we’re getting device confused. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve swiped our fingers across the screen of the laptop or the iMac. It’s silly really that we’ve become so accustomed to iOS that is’s bleeding over into how we interact with the other computers around us.

 

 

The New Apple TV Project

December 12, 2012

Apple’s always working to where “the puck is GOING to be” and so it should be no surprise they feel TV is next.

The iPhone wasn’t fully formed at birth. I don’t think we should expect the next-gen TV experience from Apple to be any different. So, when Engadget’s Lawler contemplates his navel over HDTV content deals… I can’t help but chuckle. We’ve been here before. He’ll, AC/DC is only just now joining iTunes. The Beatles didn’t come on until recently. Who the hell cares if Moonves is on board right this moment? Seriously!

We are very much headed toward a more tailored entertainment era. One where I can subscribe ala carte to whatever I want to consume. Radio. Books. Games. Video. I build what I see value in and then… Voila!

We’ve already chucked out Cox Cable. We are a purely AppleTV household. Apple, Netflix, Hulu and YouTube are our primary content portals now. We haven’t missed a beat. If anything we’re enjoying MORE of what we like in a time shifted kind of way. I don’t miss DVR. I don’t miss the cable bill and all the dumb ass fees that came along with.

My kids will never know a rotary phone or a tape based answering machine. They WILL think back on the day when we had that little box attached to the TV dad used to cuss at occasionally as a relic of days gone by. A simpler time. Funny to think in those terms.

They won’t give a rat’s behind if CBS was on board or not. There’s no shortage of content and its only going to get more crowded.

Where the problem is going to come is easily searching across all the available “streams”. It’s a serious pain in the ass to simultaneously search across Apple, Netflix, Hulu and YouTube on an Apple TV. I think it’s not possible today. So, to hear Jobs say, “We’ve nailed it.” Gives me hope their next big iteration of the interface addresses that sort of thing.

HOW TO: Grabbing Mac App Icons

December 9, 2012

There are a number of reasons to want a Mac App icon. Maybe you want to create a how-to document for a class. Maybe you want to customize a folder icon on your desktop. Maybe you want to create a header for a blog (like the one above). Who knows why you’d want the icons. There are a couple ways to do what you’re wanting to do though. I’m assuming you have OSX 10.5 or better.

To change a Mac folder (or document icon)

1) In the Finder, click ONCE on the document or folder icon you want to copy.
2) Press cmd-i (for “get info”). An informational window should appear.
3) In this new informational window click ONCE on the icon you want to copy.
3) Press cmd-c (to “copy” the image to your clipboard).

Halfway there!

4) Close the informational window and click ONCE on the document or folder you want to change.
5) Press cmd-i. The familiar informational window should appear.
6) Click ONCE on the icon you want to change.
7) Press cmd-v (to “paste” the image from your clipboard).

The nice thing about this approach is if the SOURCE image has transparent spots (also known as an alpha channel) in it… it will carry through to the TARGET file/folder icon. If you already have an image on your clipboard you can simply follow the second half of the instructions above and voila!

Copying App Icons Into Photoshop Layers

There are times when you may want to create a picture with a clean icon in it. Copying and pasting the “get info” icon doesn’t quite cut it for Photoshop. Yes, the icon gets copied. Yes, you can paste it. But the alpha channel gets lost and your icon comes through with a white background on the same layer as the icon you wanted. That may not quite be what we intended. Not to worry though. There is a better way.

FYI: I’m using Photoshop CS5 and think this applies to older and newer versions but reserve the right to be wrong 🙂 This is a little more involved of a process. The steps below are pretty straight forward. But, the video may be easier to follow for some. [Video added after the original posting] This procedure is for copying an APPLICATION ICON for use in an image editing app.

1) In the FINDER ctrl-click on the icon you want to copy. A contextual menu will pop up. Select “Show Package Contents”
2) A new folder will open and depending on the app you’ll see a “Contents” folder and maybe some others.
3) Open the “Contents” folder.
4) Inside that you’ll see a few more files. One of them will be a .icns file. Usually the one you’ll want is your App name + the icns suffix. For example: iDVD.icns
5) Open the .icns file with something like Preview.
6) There may be multiple “pages” to the icns file. Select the first page’s thumbnail.
7) Select “Export” from the FILE menu.
8) The format you want to export as is PNG and you definitely want the Alpha channel checked. Save it where you want and named as you like.
9) Now, simply open that file in your image editor.

You now have a super high resolution app icon with exceptionally crisp edges. Yes, you could have achieved something acceptably close with some of the image editing tools. But, this way you have edges every bit as good as the app author is using for their own purposes.

iCloud VIP list broken?

December 9, 2012

iCloud’s VIP lists seems to be malfunctioning or at the very least working in some cases and not others.

Web-based iCloud mail isn’t showing the last month or so of a certain VIP. Though my iPhone (latest rev of iOS) displays my VIP lists her properly. For reference this seems to only display properly on web back to early November. Then nothing in VIP newer than that displays correctly.

I’ve turned off all my rules based settings at iCloud.com.

I’ve double checked my iCloud contacts are set properly on iPhone settings.

I’ve removed all my VIPs and added them back slowly.

Nothing seems to have improved the iCloud VIP situation on the web-view of my email.

Any thoughts out there?

My APPfliction

March 27, 2012

I evaluate apps like a teenage girl tries on clothes. I’m voracious about it. More importantly, I have terribly harsh standards and I have a problem committing to an app: They’re all too easy to discard and replace with the new shiny. It’s unfair, I know. But, I’m finding the most inconsequential features can sometimes (not always) compensate for otherwise nominal shortcomings. And I mean PETTY stuff like an amazing icon or splash screen. Typography. Colors. Speed! There are little tricks some developers utilize that I find myself envious of. It’s a healthy respect and nod to the person who toiled over the app. As a fellow developer I have an appreciation for the effort of conceiving, authoring and marketing one’s work.

Now, when I say “app” I’m not drawing a distinction between iPhone, Android or Mac. I’m certainly not elevating one type of app over another either. If a web app rocks where a native app just didn’t cut it… Well, let’s call it what it is. I do genuinely like the idea of an App Store. With a few important (to me) exceptions.

App Stores as we understand them today are walled gardens for software that will only run on it’s particular flavor of device. That’s maybe not entirely necessary. It’s just the way it is. There are apps for other platforms I wish I had the ability to try out on my phone, tablet, tv. But the walled garden is impenetrable. I can’t get there from here. Meh. OK. Small gripe.

Discovery is a MUCH bigger problem though. If you’ve used iTunes much you’re probably familiar with it’s Ping function. It’s Apple’s recommendation engine. I don’t pretend to understand the logic or algorithms it uses to arrive at suggestions. Some are spot on. Others seem to come from left field. [I’m not that varied in my musical tastes Apple!] The genius behind Ping is it’s ability to summize my interests in content and hazard an intelligent guess at what else I might want to try out.

App Stores should do this. Now! I jettison more apps than I keep. Many of them are paid. But, they’re of no use to me and are easily discarded. I can’t thing of one I’ve plucked back from the grave. I would suggest to Apple… please, please, please… factor this into your next iteration of whatever Ping’ness you bring to the App Store. It should factor… they did NOT like THAT, but DID like THIS. Or more importantly did NOT keep THAT… Now, what apps have others installed (and kept) that are good candidates?

In this way your ratio of HITS v. misses is more appropriate.

Might I also suggest a better way of discovering WEB APPS! (Yes, Apple, I know there’s no 30% take for you in web apps…) But, helping to make my APPfliction complete I would hope you’d not turn a blind eye to the many non-native apps out there. Some are spectacularly good and rival the finer native apps on my devices. For whatever reason your staff stopped “picking” web apps in late 2010. Please, pick that ball back up and run with it!

Smart. Phone. Distracted. Driving.

March 27, 2012

We want it all too quickly don’t we?

A nifty device lands in our life in the form of a smartphone. One iteration after another it’s improved upon until we reach the intersections of dependence, need and technical capability. I’m of course talking about my iPhone and it’s current OS (version 5.1).

Siri intrigued me as a potential virtual private assistant. The concept is sound and the execution is promising. But, it’s also clear why Apple would label it “beta” at this point in time. It’s tantalizing to the point of leaving me wanting it to do more than it does (or perhaps is capable of at this time).

Point in case, Siri can handily manage my text messages plus respond to simply queries. Which is really quite nice. But, not particularly habit forming as texting just isn’t my cuppa. But, email IS my domain. There are so many things I’d have Siri do for me in the email department such as finding, reading, writing, responding, filing certain emails for me. Some would be routine such as notify me ONLY when an email from Alexander or Tania arrives and file it in the Important folder.

I know we’ll get there. But, as fast as technology is moving wouldn’t it be great to have Version 21.0 right out of the gate?

Sorry, Windows 8 Only Ushers OUT Windows 7

September 14, 2011

For all the good Zach Epstein tries to accomplish with his claim that Windows 8 is the one to usher in the Post PC era… all he does is underscore Apple ushered in the Post PC era and that Windows 8 is (in true Microsoft fashion) a close follower. Think Zune. Think Windows Mobile. Hell, think Windows!

No Zach, the convergence of devices and platforms has been under way for a LONG time. Everyone WANTS a spot at the table. But, friend… Apple was the one to finally say “Here’s how it’s done. The table is now set.” Microsoft may come in and gorge themselves at the table. But, as you so eloquently CORRECT yourself throughout your screed… Apple brought us to the Post PC era. It’s up to Window (8 or 9 or 10…) or some other platform to beat the champ.

Point to something other than the Office platform (PC or Mac) that is pulling it’s weight at Microsoft. XBox? Bing? BingHoo? Can Microsoft even execute anymore? I wonder… I think Microsoft is precipitously close to ushering ITSELF out of the PC era and closely following Apple into newer, more fertile field. IMHO

Who is AAPL’s next COO

August 26, 2011

Everyone’s all rev’d up about Job’s resignation as CEO, Tim Cook’s ascencion to CEO.

No one is yet talking about who replaces COOK! Tim is a brilliant ops guy. Sure, he gets strategy. He’s helped drive it at Apple now for nearly a decade for crying out loud. The guy “gets it”. No question.

But, who becomes Apple’s next COO is really pretty important.

In fact, AAPL has several key executive jobs to fill. Serlet – Developer Relations. Johnson – Retail. Very quickly Tim Cook will have the opportunity – né the responsibility of hiring in his “Cabinet” to carry the ball for the next [several] years. So, are these internal young stars we’ve not seen much of yet? Are these people we’ll say… oh, yeah, that makes total sense? I’m betting we already know these people.

See, Apple has a University internally for continuity. They want everyone to know… Apple isn’t going to change too very much. We like them the way they are. They like them the way they are. So, sure, people come and go… even higher ups. Continuity and panic control were expected and factored for.

So, here’s the 64-bit question… Who is the Apple management dream team?

IS Steve Jobs Coming Back? Ever?

March 21, 2011

Some time back I predicted Steve Jobs would “retire” across the board (Apple, Disney, etc). Kinda happy to have gotten that one a wee wrong.

Something’s really niggling me about his return though… I just don’t see it happening. It’s time to wonder now… will Steve Jobs return to the office off this most recent medical leave? I love to think he’s coming back. If for no other reason than to tell us all he’s licked the sicknesses plaguing him. To see his home built. To see old and new friends enjoying their lives. To build his “one more thing” that we fall in love with all over again.

Tim Cook has done a MARVELOUS job of showing Wall Street he’s not only capable of running the business. But that he’s capable of LEADING the business too! Which, let’s admit it… we fan boys love Steve for his charisma and chutzpah as much as anything he’s done on the business savvy side of things. In Tim we have another LEADER. Someone who gets the gestalt of design, business, supply-side. Someone who’s had his fill of the kool-aid alongside us. He’s as much a fanboy as the rest of us. He’s one amazingly driven gentleman.

Will the existing leadership take hills for him should his day come? Hell yes. Will the legion fanboy hang on his every word? You know?… I believe we will. It may take some getting used to him. Getting to know him. What makes him tick. But, I think all our love for Steve will be transferrable to Apple’s next full-time CEO. And I honestly think that’s Tim Cook. Retention of the existing talent set will be crucial. Forstall, Cue, Schiller, Ive, ALL the hardware and retail leadership, Serlet… Man, what a phenomenal bench! and that’s just the top of mind crowd. The veeps and directors and engineers and evangelists that bust their humps to get all this magical stuff done. Again, if anyone has the leadership chops to keep the house that Steve built together… It’s Tim.

An Apple, Inc. without Steve is a lesser place. To be sure. But, the Apple we all know and love is chock full of Steve-inspired, Steve-vetted goodness for many years to come. And, there’s no one better than Tim Cook to see that legacy executed and ultimately built upon and surpassed. I can think of no more appropriate homage to Steve Jobs than to take Apple Inc to the next level under able adult supervision WHILE he’s still kicking.

My hope is the AAPL board will name a successor while Jobs has the steam to bless the new Don.

The Quandry: Web App or Native App?

February 19, 2011

I’ve been wrestling a lot lately trying to pick a path forward for my next big iterations of our mobile app strategy at Grocio.

The dilemma for us is a little unique. Most of what we produce (locally aggregated store circulars) are fed today to the iPad only through the NATIVE client over http. So, we can afford to be agnostic in our approach forward at this point. We’re actually in a great position to deliver a web app experience that for the most part is consistent across all devices. And, I’m excited about that truth be told. The nice thing about the web apps route… EVERYONE has the same point version release. No lengthy delays for approvals. As it turns out these are compelling cases for choosing the web app route. The dilemma comes down to one of monetization.

Shoppers are paying for the “Store Circulars” app today via the iTunes App Store. It’s important to continue making revenue from the app. So, do we hook a web app into this new Google subscription doohicky and charge that way? I’m adamant that we’re NOT going to rely solely on advertising/sponsorship. CPM and CPX is all fine and good. But, having made my living by the fickle ups and downs that way a few times before. It’s not something I’m excited about doing again.

Conversely… do we remain on the native path? Supporting multiple platforms (even within the same OS). The emerging App Stores give us some super distribution and reach. But, with it comes the expense of some % of revenues that are split with the hosting App Store. Not to mention the ugly need to actually develop distinctly different apps for each of those platforms. I don’t dispute the value of what the App Stores provide or the % of revenues for each sold app they take. They earn it. No argument there.

The problems are compounding for app developers though… More platforms means we face more choices which ones to develop for and which ones we’ll forego.

It’s the reason I like the idea of wrapper software frameworks like PhoneGap. I’m not savvy enough yet to build a universal app from the ground up. I still hire out some parts of the app that are beyond me. Anything that gives me a leg up on building once and deploying across multiple platforms AND app stores… I’m going to like a lot. Even to the point that’s a pure web app.

Are you other mobile developers facing similar issues? How did you solve for your situation? And, of particular interest, how did you manage to monetize your apps?