Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Using Your iPad at Uni

So a whole semester of uni is over! And I've had the chance to go through it all with my trusty iPad! When mates at uni walk by and see me with my iPad the first thing they usually ask is "Is it worth it?"

Simply put, yes it is! Having said that, the tablet experience is a whole different and new paradigm of computing compared to a netbook or a laptop which run full fledged operating systems (Windows, OS X) and it takes early adopters such as myself to really suss out what this device is capable of doing - it's what we live for! I'm happy to say that over the course of the semester my iPad has only been able to do more and more things with far more efficiency since day 1 of it's launch, and there are no signs of stopping!

So for those of you who are still on the fence or skeptical about what the iPad can do vs a laptop, here are some observations and answers which may help you out!

Let's begin with the basics. Here are 2 absolutely barebones essential apps for every uni student with an iPad:

Dropbox (free app, free service)


I cannot express how vital this service is, and the best thing is, it doesn't cost a cent! Simply put, Dropbox is a "virtual folder" which is shared amongst all your different devices - your home computer, laptop, smartphone, tablet, you name it! This means if you add a file into one computer's dropbox, it will appear in every other device's Dropbox!

Here's a typical scenario: I have lecture notes to bring to my lecture and I have Dropbox set up on my home computer and iPad. All I have to do is drop the lecture notes into my dropbox, and head off to uni. Once in class, I use the Dropbox app on my uniweb-connected iPad to open up the lecture notes which I dropped in earlier. Note the same can be done with a laptop, if you so desire. It effectively eliminates the need for a USB stick or the need for you to tediously download the same file onto both computers! It's simply amazing and without it, the iPad experience at uni simply would not be feasible.

Honestly though, I think every uni student should have this if they own more than 1 computer. It just makes life a lot easier. Dropbox actually has a referral program where you both get 250mb of extra dropbox space for free if you refer a friend! If you want to get it, use this link!! GET DROPBOX FROM ME! =D



GoodReader for iPad ($2.49)


This app truly gives you bang for your buck. for $2.49 you have everything you need to both organise your files AND annotate them! Annotations were actually a newly implemented feature and previously, only iAnnotate could do that, and that app was very costly in comparison ($12.99) so adding this feature without upping the cost makes this app a must-have!

The purpose of GoodReader for a uni student is to be a file management system. iPad apps run in their own little sandbox and so there is really no "file explorer". Luckily this app's sole purpose is to be a file manager and this it does well. It has Dropbox support integrated into it so you can download a hard copy of all your lecture notes whenever you get to class.

The killer feature of GoodReader is it's new ability to annotate all PDFs. You can highlight text, draw free-hand, or add in annotation bubbles. These are all viewable on any Windows or Mac computer and are of course, printable. Once you're done with annotating, it will prompt you whether to save to the original document or save an annotated copy. I suggest saving a copy, since you will want to re-upload it back to Dropbox and you will be able to tell which one is annotated and which one isn't. Uploading to Dropbox is also integrated into this app!


WARNING USYD STUDENTS : I had trouble accessing Dropbox via the usyd wireless VPN and I haven't really tried looking for a solution since I only go there occasionally. UNSW does not have this problem!


A MULTI-MODE CASE:

Any iPad used for typing MUST NEED A CASE, otherwise typing will just look plain awkward. The official Apple case is pretty decent, and an alternative I would recommend if you don't mind a bit of bulk is the Marware Ecovue or Ecoflip.





The Official Apple iPad Case in typing mode


The Marware Ecoflip / Ecovue cases in typing mode

Once your iPad is angled in such a fashion, typing is pretty similar to typing on a keyboard, except its more like tapping on a solid screen and there is no tactile feedback. There is definitely a learning curve but by mid-way through the semester I was already touch typing in lectures. Autocorrect really helps on the iPad where it fails on the iPhone, since you tend to type proper english words during a lecture rather than slang words like LOLLLL or AAHHH which never bode well with auto-correct.

Now that we've equipped our iPad with the necessary gear for university use, we can now look at some of the other neat features which the iPad excels at compared to netbooks and laptops.

Saving money and the trees!

e-books
You can use iBooks (a free app) to view your textbooks or you can just read it from GoodReader. Using your iPad to replace textbooks comes with many advantages, but isn't without its drawbacks.

Firstly, it will lighten up your bag if you bring textbooks with you a lot! One iPad is about 700g, which is lighter than most textbooks already! Imagine having 4 textbooks in your iPad, and already, you are saving a considerable amount of effort and uncomfort compared to lugging around 4 huge textbooks in your bag. If you tend to keep your textbooks at home, then this may not apply as much to you, but I can definitely say it's good to have the option of having access to your texts at anytime on the go.

Speaking of savings, if you know where to look for textbook e-books, then you won't have to spend a cent on them! This semester, I was able to find ebooks for 2 of my courses. 1 course didn't need any, and another course didn't have the e-book version, but luckily I was able to borrow it off my friend. The amount I saved this semester alone has already paid for half of the iPad. It will only take another semester for the iPad to pay for itself just in textbook money!

Here are some ebook websites which you can browse around for textbooks or even books in general:

I'm not a big reader myself, but for book enthusiasts out there, think about having your whole bookshelf of books ready to read at the touch of a finger, all in one handheld device!

The biggest drawback of e-books is the slightly difficult task of switching back and forth from 2 non-consecutive pages. I found that pages which referenced figures or tables which were on a different page made it a bit tedious to keep switching back and forth, especially if they were more than a few pages away. I can only hope that a developer will somehow tackle this problem in an app.

Printing
I'm also quite happy to say that I have not printed out a single page of uni material this semester. The amazing thing was that I wasn't even trying - this was simply a side effect of going digital with a tablet device! Imagine the amount of paper we could save if we all used tablets!

Going digital is a big leap and saves me about half cardboard box of printed scrap paper which I will never see again and just take up space in my cupboard. Having a digitised version of all my annotated notes will also make it easier for me to find something down the track, since I can just do a search for all the files which I've created.

iPad Vs Laptop


Firstly, you wouldn't read e-books on a laptop. The form factor is just not right. It's too big and bulky and doesn't have the instant-on nature of the iPad. It's simply not intimate enough compared to a tablet device for e-book reading. It's a breeze to whip out an iPad on a train or bus and makes for an excellent commute buddy.

Interestingly, I found that when I used my iPad during a lecture, I was more attentive than on the days where I had a laptop with me. This effect is two-fold:

The touch interface makes for a more interesting and novel way of annotating and viewing notes, and engages you more than a keyboard.

Also, the fact that only one app at a time can be visible on the iPad makes it less likely for you to switch to a browser app to bludge on facebook, something which is is just too easy to do on a laptop! It tends to force you to just stay on GoodReader and just focus.

However, the iPad has it's own drawbacks!

Most importantly, the fact that it can only view one app at a time severely limits it's a ability to view several files at once. This is kind of relieved with iAnnotate's ability to view tabbed PDFs, but is still just not the same as having a few pdf docs open on a laptop, both visible at the same time. As a result, I found myself needing to use my iPad with either a laptop or a lab computer to study while at uni. Dropbox makes it possible to access your files from any computer with a web browser, so it's yet another reason it's so vital for the iPad experience.

Also, I've found the wifi radio to be slightly weaker on the iPad than a normal laptop, so in places of weak reception, the iPad will tend to drop out before it. Personally this issue doesn't happen in any of my classrooms, but when out and about at uni, it's sometimes difficult to get a lock on a signal.

The iPad is technically equipped for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations, such as assignments or reports, but in the end you'll find that it's much more productive to just use a laptop or computer for these tasks. The iPad is more geared towards viewing and annotations on would be it's limit in terms of editing and content creation. It by no means replaces exercise books either, as handwriting apps are still in their early days, although developers are making good strides in realising the potential to one day do so.

Conclusions
If you're wondering whether the iPad can hold it's own against a netbook or a laptop for uni, it definitely can. With apps like GoodReader and a dropbox account, you can't go wrong when it comes to annotating lecture notes. However, if your course doesn't usually need to use free hand drawing to annotate or if you prefer to summarise what the lecturer is saying by typing it into a doc, then the iPad is probably not for you. However, if you're comfortable with reading textbooks in e-book form, then an iPad could potentially be saving you hundreds of dollars. The scope of this blog post covers only one of the many facets of the iPads capabilities. It is certainly paving the way for the future of computing and there is still an amazing amount of potential which has yet to come.



Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sync your Facebook Events to your iPhone! [UPDATED!]

UPDATE!!
Prior to this, all of your facebook events would sync even no matter what you RSVP'd. This updated method will only sync according to what you RSVP! This method also makes it easier to setup.

It's the year everyone turns 21! I've been getting all these invites on Facebook for 21st parties and I was trying to find a nice way to get them to show up on my iPhone calendar without having to add them all manually, since I'm reaching the age where I just can't keep track of my weekly schedule in my head anymore!

That's when it hit me - was there a way to sync my Facebook Events with my iPhone? I actually managed to find a quick solution to this after googling around! Here is a complete 5 minute tutorial, assuming you have no calendar's synced to your iPhone (works on iPod Touch too!)

Warning: This method requires you to have a gmail account. It's free to sign up anyways...hotmail is so 2000.



Adding your Gmail Calendar

Step 1:

Go to Settings>Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add Account...> Other > Add CalDAV Account

This must be done in this very specific way, otherwise it will not work (believe me, I've tried)

Note! If you already have your gmail calendar synced as part of your Gmail account, or as an Exchange account, delete them after you add this one, or you'll end up with epic double entries!! (WOAHH...DOUBLE ENTRIES!)

Step 2:

Type in the following :


of course, substituting "gmail user" for your own gmail username. Description can be anything.

You should now see the following under Mail, Contacts, Calendars:




Note how your Gmail e-mail is just for mail and notes,while your newly created "Google Calendar" is for calendars (technically we shouldn't have to do this, but for some reason it doesn't work that way =/ )


iPhone prep is done! Now onto Facebook...

Exporting your Facebook Events to Gmail Calendar

Step 3:





Box 1: Choose which events you want to show up on your calendar
Box 2: Click on Google Calendar and you will be redirected to it (log in if needed!)

Step 4:
A link should pop up on your Google Calendar: click "Yes, add this calendar"

A calendar called "FdCal Events" should now be visible!


Step 5:

Now go to https://www.google.com/calendar/iphoneselect on any browser and check the "FdCal Events" Calendar which you just added, so that your iPhone is given the go-ahead to sync the Facebook Calendar to your iPhone (This method works for shared calendars too, if you have any)

MOMENT OF TRUTH!

Open your Calendar app, give it awhile to sync (you should see a spinning wheel next to your wifi or 3G bar) and hopefully everything syncs up!

Notice how the colours of the dots are the same as the ones on Gmail Calendar. If you're not happy with the colours, then change them on Gmail and it should update on your iPhone!

Let me know if you've had any success with this tutorial!

Hope you can all stay that little bit more organised now =]

Monday, October 11, 2010

Keynote is magical! [Updated Video]


I can't remember the last time I've ever had so much fun with any kind of software related to my education. Enter Keynote - Apple's take on the ever so infamous Microsoft PowerPoint. I had to make a presentation for a design project as part of my undergrad degree and being a Mac user right now kind of makes me feel like I'm cheating!

Using Keynote as my powerpoint presentation was such a breeze and pretty simple to use. I myself have not used MS PowerPoint many times before and yet I was still able to pick up very quickly how to play around with animations and slide transitions. In times when I wanted to find out how to do something, I would simply type it in the search box under help and my problems would be solved straight away through its helpful offline database.

Anyways, without going in-depth, here's what I managed to get going after less than a day of playing around!

[UPDATE] After actually checking the export settings, I realised there was a native option to export it as a video without the need for other screen capturing software! It's much clearer as a result: here it is again with slides advancing every 5 seconds.



As you can see, I was inspired by Apple's own keynotes and used the same theme that Steve Jobs himself uses!

On the day of the presentation I'll also be able to just advance the slides from afar using the IR remote which came with my iMac (which works on any iMac or MacBook!) without needing to tell a friend at my computer to click the trackpad, which is something I see more times than I can bear at many 21st's speeches!

However, using this software was not without its cons...

Firstly, I can't share its goodness in PPT form to anyone on a PC, due to epic fail exporting. It would be analogous to squeezing a square peg through a smaller round hole. In fact, the main reason I made this video was so my partner, a Windows user, could see how the presentation looked!

Secondly, I had to buy a $45 Mini-DisplayPort to VGA adapter for my MacBook Pro to be able to hook up to a projector!

Another weird thing is that animated GIFs aren't supported. See that Knight Rider car there? That was originally a GIF, but I had to screen capture it as a video, and put that in instead. Apple fail!

And another strange thing I noticed is that keynotes with heavy formatting (which will be pretty much all of them) that are imported to an iPad will show up with lots of things missing, which is unfortunate, and has been an unnecessarily big compatibility problem for Apple thus far.

But in the end, I was still completely blown away at how easily I was able to make such a flashy keynote presentation. I daresay it will be very hard to make a keynote presentation of similar quality using Microsoft Powerpoint in a similar amount of time. If you can, then please show me!


The NEW Jailbreak 4.1 explained!

Ok so the new jailbreak for iOS 4.1 is out! This one is a doozy because unlike jailbreak.me for 4.0.1, it actually uses an exploit which makes it impossible to patch with a firmware update. This means ALL OF THESE DEVICES ARE JAILBREAKABLE FOR LIFE! The list is as follows:

>iPhone 3GS (any 3GS, old or new bootrom!)
>iPod Touch 3G
>iPad
>iPhone 4
>iPod Touch 4G

The only way Apple can fix this exploit is by making the devices with new chips inside! So...what does this mean?

If you plan to get an iPhone 4/iPod Touch 4G and want to jailbreak, NOW IS THE BEST TIME !!!

Soon Apple will release all new stock of iPhone 4 and iPod Touch 4G with new bootroms (like the 3GS) and jailbreaking will once again become a long and arduous wait after each update is released.

I'm not going to bother with a tutorial, as redmondpie has already done a bang up job of it, click here

Tested by a friend on the iPhone 4 and deemed successful!

As a reminder, once you successfully jailbreak and want to get apps for free, go to my tutorial posted here


Monday, October 4, 2010

[APP REVIEW] TripView - Getting home late at night made easy!


So you're out at a party in the city and you've caught public transport out and intend to take the same method to get back home. Most people probably wouldn't plan ahead this much so how do they know when is a good time to leave? If you leave at a bad time you may be waiting at a station for 20 minutes or you could have even missed the last train home and be stuck until the early morning!



tap on your saved trips to view a list of trains which take you from A to B

This is where the convenience of TripView Sydney comes in. It's like having a mini 131500.info in your pocket but all timetable data is stored in your iPhone so you don't need internet to access it. What about timetable changes you ask? There is an option for you to download the latest timetables straight onto your phone and you will be notified whenever the timetables are updated or even when there is trackwork!

The free version has full functionality but does not let you save your trips once you exit the app. It's definitely one of my most used apps and has saved me a great deal of worry and frustration of missing the last train home or knowing how much time I have until the next train arrives. For only $2.49, it's definitely worth every cent!

Using the app is extremely intuitive and very simple to use. For bus routes it even offers a map showing every single bus stop that the bus stops at! Just for kicks they've even thrown in the blue screens scrolling view of the train station stops for any particular train at a train station.



With the tap of the top right icon, the list view switches to a view we're all familiar with!

Unlike 131500 though, it cannot tell you how to get from A to B. You have to know this information to use TripView's simple interface to find out all the information you want. E.g. there is no way of typing "get from my house to this venue" In that sense, it is slightly limited, but I find that I have no need to do this for public transport (I use the "maps" app for driving if I want this functionality)

Also, a side effect of knowing all the public transport times is being disappointed by late buses. If only TripView could make Sydney buses come on time, then this app would be perfect!

(As far as I know, there is no android equivalent, and if there is, please correct me!)

In short, if you're an iPhone/iPod Touch user who uses public transport, then this is definitely a must have app!

Let me know in the comments section what you guys use TripView for =]

Thursday, September 30, 2010

NO POSTS?!?!

Sorry everyone...doing full time uni is tough so my blog has taken the backseat for awhile! However, I have been posting up a lot of iPhone news on my Facebook (for those of you who know me)! I should find someway to integrate a twitter feed for my blog and link it to my Facebook so you don't have to hunt around everywhere for your latest apple fix and my blog will at least have some activity! Stay tuned!

The latest jailbreak is coming out very very soon...I can taste it!! It's a special release which will jailbreak all existing iOS devices for life for all devices and Apple will need to make iOS devices with new hardware in it to patch it up! That is, they won't be able to patch it by updating! Rejoice!


Monday, August 2, 2010

Jailbreak Me Server Overload!!

When I tried to jailbreak my iPhone on 4.0.1 using http://jailbreakme.com, (See here for jailbreaking tutorial) it did not work at all and I ended up getting stuck on the blank purple galaxy after I swiped to unlock. After several fruitless retries, I resorted to Google to help me solve the problem!

The answer? A jailbreakme MIRROR!

If you can't get jailbreakme.com working, then try this mirror :

http://jailbreakme.modmyi.com

It worked for me!! I'm now enjoying iOS 4.0.1 jailbroken on my iPhone 3GS!

Let me know how it went for you all!!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Safari Extensions are awesome!

BLOG REVIVAL!!!

Today I'd like to share my experience using the newly released Safari Extensions. It's basically typical browser plug-ins and extensions that you may well have used in firefox or chrome, but Apple has just a small curated "Gallery" of extensions. However, what they lack in quantity, they make up for with quality! If you already have Safari 5.0.1, then simply click "Safari>Safari Extensions Gallery" to go to there:



This will open a new browser page of the Extensions Gallery( check it out >here<). All you have to do is Click "Install" to install it! No restarting of the browser is required at all, and you gain the functionality of the extension instantly. I must say after using extensions for Firefox and Chrome, Safari's implementation is by far the most elegant.

Some extensions add more icons into Safari's toolbar. Mine currently looks like this:

The way you install the apps and the way extensions appear in your toolbar are surprisingly reminiscent of installing an app on an iPhone.

In order from left to right after the open new tab icon are:

eBay Spy - apparently meant to compare items on your web page to ebay item listings

Translator - uses Google translate to translate your page in a new tab (Chrome already does this but now Safari can too!)

Web Snapshot - captures a screenshot of your webpage which you can crop and edit with annotations and boxes

ADBLOCK!!! - Possibly the most popular extension on any browser, which gets rid of the annoying Google Adsense ads that appear almost everywhere (it is always on, clicking on this button just takes you to the options page)

Expose your tabs! - Not as good as OS X expose, but it's still something

ScribeFire - clicking this opens a web-app which lets you write blog posts! ( I used it to save a draft of this post to my blogger, which is what started my blog revival)

But there are also some very nice passive extensions, including 3 extensions just for making facebook easier to navigate!






Photo zoom is particularly nice, as when you hover your mouse over any picture (including profile pics in your news feeds!), they blow up to the original size! you can see an example below:




The final extension I'd like to show you is called "A Cleaner Youtube" and pretty much turns youtube.com into old school google.com like so:


I actually scared myself for a second as I thought I'd been phished or something but I remembered I had installed the extension - I just didn't think they'd take "cleaner" to mean "wipe out everything else except the search bar!"

The preference pane in Safari actually has a new addition for Extensions and you can turn features on and off, again without restarting anything (in case a blank youtube scares you too much) :



Apple always seems to be late to implement some features that other platforms or companies have done, but man do they do a good job of it!

Monday, June 14, 2010

From TV and Newspapers to RSS feeds on my iPad

About 15 years ago (give or take a few years), if you wanted to catch up with the latest headlines, you had to tune into one of the free-to-air TV news programs at a specified time in the morning, afternoon and night. Or you could buy a newspaper on your way to work or delivered to your doorstep to peruse while you sip your morning coffee. You didn't have much choice in what news you would be exposed to since the media controlled all of that. If you wanted to read articles you would buy or subscribe to magazines to catch up on the latest fashion trends or the latest and greatest gaming rig around.

It seemed that if you weren't content with what the media showed you on TV, you had to go out of your way (and pay money as well), to get the news or information that you were interested in.

15 years ago, you had to find the news. In 2010, the news finds you.


This paradigm shift of information delivery has slowly but surely changed the way that we read about news in the 21st Century, in many different ways. Here is one such way:


RSS Feeds


An RSS feed is a standardised way for a website to show updated posts whenever they are made. It is the 21st Century "subscription." Many websites these days have an RSS feed associated with them and when you subscribe, you will be notified whenever that website posts up something new. It almost makes you feel silly for constantly checking the sites you visit frequently for new posts when all this time, RSS could do it for you.

The beauty of RSS (apart from being totally free) is that it's standardisation can be abstracted and presented to you in your own personal "reader" (magazine, newspaper) where you have not only one source, but many sources of information from all over the internet. Google reader is one such web app.


Great web app for searching up new RSS feeds with content that you like, but what if you wanted to take it mobile?

But how can I make this information mobile and available at my fingertips in a nice and easy form factor, like a traditional newspaper or magazine? (laptops don't count!)

Enter, the iPad.

The iPad has recently gained a plethora of RSS feed apps which have amazed me and inspired me to write up this huge blog post as it really made me think about how the Internet has personally changed my news-seeking habits. "The Early Edition" was an interesting take in which RSS feeds of your choice were arranged into a newspaper-like format. While you're at home you can load up the latest feeds and read it later offline on the go. It was more of a novel way of reading the news, if anything.


Organising RSS Feeds into a digital newspaper was fun for awhile, but didn't truly show off the elegance and ease of use of what an iPad app could be.

Then a few days ago, "Reeder for iPad" came out. This app is by far the most elegant implementation of RSS Feeds on any device, be it a full fledged PC or mobile.

This app turns your iPad into a news portal, but it is filled with information that you WANT to read!

The screenshot here does the app no justice. It's one of those things you just have to interact with!

It's not a newspaper or a TV program of which a majority of it is content you aren't interested in. It's articles that you want to read, with pictures that you want to see, and videos that you want to watch, because YOU picked it!

In one fell swoop, the iPad is now my newspaper; is my magazine; is my TV. All in one app.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

myPhoneDesktop - Send links to your iPhone or iPad!

myPhoneDesktop App Review

Ever wanted to get a URL or funny picture straight from your computer onto your iPhone or iPad? Ever wanted to type a huge SMS or long string of text on your desktop keyboard with an easy way of sending it to your iOS device? Well you can now, with this crazy little app called myPhoneDesktop.

It eliminates a few steps from the traditional method of perhaps sending an email to yourself and opening it up on your iOS device.

Now, once you've gone through the simple set up of registering an account on the iPhone app and the signing in on the desktop client, (free on OS X, Windows and Linux), then all you have to do is copy a URL or picture or even type up some text, and paste it into the myPhoneDesktop program and it will pop up as a notification on your iOS device!

Upon viewing the notification, you will be taken either to:


>Safari if it was a URL,




>Messages if you composed an SMS with the desktop client




>Phone if you typed in a number and wanted to call some one



>the MyPhoneDesktop app for pictures and text for copying to the clipboard or saving into
photos.





I think I find this app exciting because it's making it way easier to communicate and send files between your desktop computer and your mobile device without having to plug anything in. It's one of the problems Apple needs to address natively without the need for such apps, but for now, this app does a great job!

This is a really nifty little app which is a universal binary app for both iPhone and iPad. I advise using different accounts for iPhone and iPad because it seems to not send out broadcasts to all devices logged into the same account, but rather only to the first device which logged into that account.

See the little "iPad" in the top right corner in the screenshots above? The desktop client lets you switch between accounts instantly so you can choose to send to your iPhone or iPad or any other iOS device!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Why Apple calls everything "Revolutionary"

When the original iPhone came out, it "changed everything" about what people thought a phone could be. No one wanted a smart phone, there was no such thing as an "app" and input was for the most part, analog (with physical keys). But feature-wise, it was a a little bit more than lacking compared to the average ubiquitous phone in the pre-iPhone days.

How then, did the iPhone become such a successful phenomenon? It's because of the few things that it chose to do, and those things it did well...And then it kept improving on it and improving some more.


Let's start with a brief history of the iPhone. The original iPhone had revolutionised the mobile industry and was a kick in the face to other very well established mobile phone vendors as it rose up the ranks in market share.

And yet, each iteration of the iPhone always had very basic features which were lacking! How is it that a phone can be so revolutionary and yet lack features which other phone vendors have been putting in their phones for so many years now? This is what I dub the "iPhone Time Paradox". It has surely crossed the minds of people when Apple announces a new feature of the iPhone which as been around for ages, but Apple calls it "new and revolutionary!"

Let's see what some of the basic features that were missing in each generation of iPhone which were added in later iterations (off the top of my head)

iPhone 2G (2007)-

Pros:
Wonderful and revolutionary new iPhone OS with multi-touch input!

Basic Missing features:
>No 3G speeds
>No MMS
>No camera
>No bluetooth

If you looked at the spec sheet of the iPhone 2G without ever having used one, you would have been scratching your head wondering why so many people wanted one! The original allure of the iPhone was the beauty of the iPhone OS, and how the functionality and "revolutionary" multi-touch interface of the phone (however limited it was) was so amazing to use. Keep in mind there was no app store yet, but the app store idea was pioneered later.

iPhone 3G (2008) -

Improvements:
>3G speeds
>MMS
>Photo camera
>Bluetooth
>Introduction of App Store

Basic Missing Features:
>No video recording
>No cut and paste

This new model was a vast improvement to the original, and competitors were still playing catch up. The introduction of the app store is what really gave the iPhone and later the iPod Touch, the juice it had to soar to the great market share that it has today. At the time, the iPhone 3G hardware was not up to scratch to perform video recording at a level of quality that Apple was happy with, so they left it out.

iPhone 3GS

Improvements:
>Speed!
>Video recording
>compass
>voice control
>improved headset remote
>cut and paste implemented in iPhone OS 3

Cons:
>No multitasking
>No camera flash
>3 MP camera (considered average)
>No front facing camera
>No video calling
>Standard resolution screen
>Bad battery life
>Call drop out complaints

By the third iteration, Apple had produced a very polished and solid phone which was by far the most popular iPhone of all time. However, at the same time, competing smart phone platforms such as Android, have started to catch up and nowadays people have started to draw more comparisons between the platforms.

As a result, there is a more extensive list of features considered 'missing' compared to the typical features of modern smart phones that the iPhone itself revolutonised 3 years ago. In 2010, there are a handful of phones with much beefier raw specs than the iPhone 3GS such as the Google Nexus One and the HTC Evo 4G, but that was until the iPhone 4 was announced on June 7th at the WWDC 2010...

iPhone 4

Improvements:
>Slim new design (0.93mm thick!)
>4x denser pixels per inch IPS display
>Improved camera to 5 MP without sacrificing pixel size
>New front facing camera
>LED Camera Flash
>Smart Multi-tasking with iOS 4
>Improved battery life
>Improved antenna design (for hopefully better reception)
>HD Video recording
>Face Time Video Calling
>Improved overall interface due to iOS 4

Cons:
Yet to be discovered...

What a list! It seems everything that a previous iPhone gets criticised for missing out in a previous generation, Apple steps up to the plate and fills that feature right in! The iPhone 4, it seems, is really set to tip the playing field back into Apple's favour when it comes out this July.

Back to the topic at hand: the reason Apple was able to succeed despite a lack of certain feature-sets.

The funny thing in my head when Steve Jobs proclaimed to Jonathan Ives in a Face time demo was "Wow, we can finally have a mobile video chat! It's finally here! It's a revolution!"

Video calling has been around for years...surely Apple knows about that. How can they call that a revolution?

It all comes down to how they implement these features. Apple would rather hold off on implementing a feature until they figure out how to get it right with ease of use and maximum effectiveness. This applies for:

>The camera and it's eventual extensive features
>Cut and paste
>Multitasking
>Video Calling

These features all arrived late to the party, but I'm sure you'll agree that Apple have implemented these features in arguably the most elegant way compared to any other mobile vendor.

Does your phone take pictures or record videos as nicely as on the iPhone ?
Have you ever been excited about video calling or multi tasking before you saw Face Time and iOS 4?

In this sense, the iPhone is re-inventing the simplicity and elegance of using a mobile device, which is why we see them always calling this old feature that has been around for years, "revolutionary" or "absolutely amazing". In reality, they're just doing it - the Apple way.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Some Cool Audio Recognition Apps

Now we've all heard of Shazam and tried out Apple's Voice Control feature, but these 2 nifty apps take voice recognition to the next level!

SoundHound



This is Shazam on steroids! Now I replaced Shazam long ago with MusicID since it also gave me lyrics, and videos and whatnot, but SoundHound still has all of those features, as well as the killer feature of being able to recognise humming and singing!

It's great fun to try and I'm imagining many kinds of games you could play with friends to see who can make SoundHound identify the song they're singing! Or if you just have the tune stuck in your head and you want to find out what it is without actually having the song playing, you could just hum it out and SoundHound will hopefully tell you what the name of the song is!

I've tried singing, humming new and old songs alike, and I was amazed everytime with the accurate results! This is one exciting app to have!


Dragon Dictation



This app basically translates speech to text, like the google app, except it gives you the option of texting, emailing or copying to the clipboard. You'd think a speech-to-text app would never work and would just be a gimmick, but it actually works really well! I was equally amazed by this app as I was by SoundHound! My jaw dropped as every word I dictated appeared before my eyes on my iPhone's screen. I'm really impressed by the advancements developers have made in audio recognition!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

First impressions of the iPad

When I first laid eyes on the iPad when I opened it's box, i thought - wow...it's so gorgeous! Typical of any Apple product unboxing. The first thing I did on it was post a status update on Facebook as my friend and I were on a race to see who could get their iPad's up and running first!

While I was doing this, I was completely blown away by the beautiful screen. The IPS screen that they put into this thing is crystal clear. It makes doing anything on the iPad such a pleasure. Coupled with a quantum leap in speed from the iPhone 3GS with it's new Apple A4 system on a chip, the hardware of the iPad is already enough to make it a winner from the first generation.

Typing on the iPad
Admittedly, I was scared of what typing would be like on the iPad. In portrait mode, you're usually typing with your thumbs while holding it with your hands much like an iPhone. If you're in landscape mode, then you definitely need a case to elevate it slightly to get the right ergonomic angle to type on it like a normal keyboard, otherwise you'll be doing a lot of one handed typing. There's a slight learning curve no doubt, but like on the iPhone, it is responsive and once you get used to it, it's great! in fact, I'm typing this whole post with my iPad. Below is a comparison of the iphone keyboard and ipad keyboards in portrait and landscape modes.



Everything is bigger and better!

Web browsing
Like i said before, web browsing is simply amazing with fully rendered web pages that look fantastic on the IPS screen. The smoothness and fluidity when scrolling and zooming with your fingers is an absolute delight. I've yet to experience any problems with the lack of flash.

Photos
Photos also look wonderful and the iPad makes for the perfect digital photo frame to show off your photos. With a Mac it syncs with iPhotos so you'll need to sort out everything (my iPhotos gallery is still a bit of a mess!)

Video
The mobile video experience is also enhanced as I can stream videos from my iMac to my iPad and watch it (using AirVideo) you could do this with an iphone but the screen is simply too small. The iPad's screen is large enough to enjoy watching any kind of movie on, and the speakers are pretty loud as well.

There's a native iPad app just for videos called "Videos" and it is no longer combined in the iPod app like on an iPhone. So far i've only transcoded some Tutorial videos but as always they still look great! Even videos that have been transcoded for the iPhone resolution look good.

Apps
I must say, all the HD iPad apps look amazing. Granted, I'm a bit disappointed that developers have just done straight out ports and have not revamped much else apart from the graphics, but I'm positive we'll see some really great iPad only games coming out soon.

Firemint has done a wonderful job with Flight Control HD as it let's more than 1 person redirect the planes. This adds a whole new dimension to the game as you have to work with a buddy to land the planes. Thats a great example of iPad gameplay that I would like to see other developers doing.

iPhone apps also render pretty nicely on the iPad although some apps still look a bit pixellated when you blow it up to the 2x screen resolution. Just knowing that it is backwards compatible is nice, unlike other recent mobile gaming devices (PSP Go and DSi)

Productivity
I've already filled up my iPad with a bunch of note taking apps but I have yet to try them out at uni for real until next semester. I've been playing around with a bunch of them and some of them look very very promising.

Reading
iBooks is definitely the best app for reading ebooks. You can convert any pdf to a .epub using free software for both Mac and PC to put onto iBooks, but any document which is graphics heavy (pictures, tables, etc)like a textbook will not convert very well.

To solve this, I use GoodReader, which is one of the best PDF readers out there. I used to actually put a textbook pdf on my iPhone and read it on that but it soon became unbearable to read. Now with 10 inches of screen size, I can now read that textbook with ease.

This has been more of a fly-by review and I hope you've gained more of an insight to what an iPad can do. It's definitely more than just a giant iPod touch and once you play around with it for awhile and go back to using your iPhone, you feel like its a totally different beast. The iPad is here, and it is great!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Magic Mouse is back in the house!

Awhile ago, I ditched my Magic Mouse for my old wireless mouse, and for several reasons:

1) I kept running out of batteries (It does not last for 4 months...)
2) I was starting to develop RSI from the ridiculously bad tracking of my huge 24 inch screen (even at maximum track sensitivity it
would take my whole mouse pad to track to the edges of my screen)
3) I was bored with the swipe gestures that Apple had given to the Magic Mouse by default.

Enter: MagicPrefs

This nifty little add-on is what I was waiting for Apple to eventually with new gestures for the Magic Mouse, but instead has been done for free by a third party. It addressed issues 2 and 3 with even higher tracking speeds (bye bye RSI) and a whole truck-load of new swipe features!

I've been playing around with it all night, and to summarise, it basically makes your Magic Mouse almost on par with the Macbook Trackpads. This is saying a lot because in addition to scrolling and going back and forth (boring) I can now:

>Middle click (to open new tabs!)
>Expose with 2 finger swipe down
>Show desktop with 2 finger swipe up
>Switch spaces with 3 finger swipe up
>Bring up the dashboard with 3 finger swipe down
>Bring up a nifty little magicmenu when triple clicking (easy access to copy/paste without touching the keyboard)

That's not even half of the things you can add, although half of the gestures there are probably not ergonomical or convenient to do unless you have epic spider hands.

At any rate, if you have a Magic Mouse (or is considering getting one) then MagicPrefs is a must have!

Check it out here

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Using an iPad at uni?

I've been thinking about how I would use my iPad once I got it so I started hunting around for some note-taking apps which I could play around with while I was in a lecture. After a quick search I found a demo for an app which brought to life my exact idea of how I would use the iPad to take notes. The demo video below absolutely blew me away and I cannot wait a second longer to get my hands on one!

This app is called PadNotes, and the video explains itself:




Now people say that the iPad is somewhere between a phone and a laptop....but can your laptop really do all of this in a uni lecture theatre?

I think not!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

QuickReply! The missing "Reply" button for SMS's!

This little Cydia app is an amazing little extension to the in-built Messages app which lets you reply to an SMS without leaving your current app!!

Here's how it works...

Here I was browsing Safari when I got an SMS...



Notice how there is now a "Reply" button in addition to "View" and "Close"? This is the core functionality of QuickReply. Notice how the person's photo even pops up if you have one for them!

Next, I want to reply to confirm that it works, so I go ahead and tap "Reply". I am then taken to an overlay screen.



I type in my enthusiastic reply, and as soon as I click send, the overlay disappears and I'm right back where I left off!


You will then hear the SMS sent sound after a short wait!

This is messaging multi-tasking at it's best! Let's see this in iPhone OS 4.0 Apple!!

COOL!! NOW WHERE DO I GET IT???

First, your iPhone has to be jailbroken. See my easy tutorial on how to do so here.

Oh, by the way, if you want this for yourself, normally you have to pay US $2.99 but since I always find a pirated way (arrr!), here are the instructions to get the cracked version of QuickReply:

Step 1: Add "http://www.sinfuliphonerepo.com" as a source in Cydia. (If you don't know how to do this, then check this tutorial)

Step 2: Search up QuickReply. Install it.

That's it! You're done!

It's an invisible app so nothing will change on your iPhone apart from the aforementioned added functionality.

Enjoy!

Let me know if you like this app!



What is an iPad?

Every started talking to someone about iPad's with their eventual ignorant reply of "its's just a giant iPod Touch!"

Well, this video will help you prove them wrong.






BTW - the Australian pre-ordered iPads are all sold out so they've pushed the Australian release date AGAIN to 7th June! These things sell like hot cakes!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Official Australian iPad Release Dates and Pricing!

It's about time!! Damn Americans buying so many iPads that they deplete the supply for the rest of the world, hence pushing back the original international release date of the iPad way back in April.

The new international release date is May 28th. Mark it in your calendars, people!

I may well be one of the hundreds (thousands?) of fanboys/fangirls lining up in the morning to nab me one of these!

That is, until you see the $AU pricing, which is a bit too much if you ask me considering the 16GB base model in the US is US$499 and here in Australia it is AU$629 and the exchange rate is around 90c for the dollar!

Here's a price comparison so you can see for yourself.

Wi-Fi models:

16GB: $629 (US price $499)

32GB: $759 (US price $599)

64GB: $879 (Us price $699)

Wi-Fi + 3G models:

16GB: $799 (US price $629)

32GB: $928 (US price $729)

64GB: $1049 (US price $829)


That's quite a premium that they tack on! So what does eBay have to say about this?As of this time in writing, the cheapest Buy It Now iPad for the 16GB wifi version comes to AU$765 with shipping.

I guess waiting it out will be the cheapest option for now!

Monday, May 3, 2010

SPIRIT JAILBREAK 3.1.3!

####WARNING! ####

This is purely a jailbreak...there are no unlocks yet. So if your iPhone is using a foreign SIM card...then DO NOT DO THIS!

####WARNING!#####

This is a super easy jailbreak...easier than Blackra1n in the sense that your iPhone 3GS is NO LONGER TETHERED!!! Hurray!!!

Step 1: go to Spirit and download the jailbreak program (Works on Win and Mac!)

Step 2: Plug in your iDevice

Step 3: Go to iTunes (latest version is fine) and update your iDevice to 3.1.3

Step 4: Back up your iPhone by syncing it once the update is finished (just in case)

Step 4: Run the Spirit program you downloaded...

THAT'S IT!


Troubleshooting:
Note for windows users...apparently running the app in windows 5/98 may fix some error messages you may encounter

UPDATED
Here's a video to fix the Windows error


Friday, April 30, 2010

iPad and iPhone Interaction

I'm sure everyone has seen how iPad scrabble works, but check out this video of a racing app which uses your iPad as the race track and your iPhone as a steering wheel! Awesome!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

An Interesting View of the iPad

I read a surprisingly fresh article about the iPad and why this author thinks it will be so successful, and it even includes a little bit of Apple history. After reading it, I just had to share it with all of you.

Check it out here!

Friday, April 16, 2010

My hilarious mum plays an iPhone game.




Oh my mum is hilarious...I just couldn't resist filming her while she was playing Labyrinth 2 on my iPhone! Does anyone else have a mum who screams and shouts while playing games?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A fun Thing to do on the train

I've noticed on my daily commute to work that the iPhone and iPod
touch have become among the most popular train buddies anyone could
have. Something fun my girlfriend and I started doing was trying to
count how many iPhones or iPod touches we could see on our train, or
if we were waiting near the entrance of a train station, the number of
people who walk past with such a device. It's the 21st century zinch
dog!

I can only see 6 others this morning but I've only scanned the door
area and the visible part of the upstairs compartment.

Sent from the gPhone!

Monday, April 5, 2010

iPad launches in America!! + The Apple Experience


After watching, it just makes me want the iPad that much more...=[



Wow...and I thought I was excited about Apple products. This girl is can't control her excitement and anticipation as she waits in line for her iPad on launch day. It's amazing also how enthusiastic all the Apple Store workers are about product launches and I guess that makes for one happy customer! Little things like this just keep re-affirming the fact that Apple looks after it's customers. I myself have had and heard a few stories.

Story #1:
I myself had a very substantial experience with Apple's over the phone customer support when I bought my original iMac 20 inch late 2008 refurbished model. It had some RAM problems and kept constantly restarting. I called up 2 days later and informed them of the problem and they said they'd pick it up the next day and give me a full refund.

Happy with my service and level of care, I decided to get the 24 inch model instead. Apple always does free shipping and uses TNT couriers so it usually arrives the next day, quick and painless. It could have easily ended up in tears for me and one unhappy customer for Apple, but the way they treat their customers is hard to find in any other computer company.

Everything was resolved very very quickly and I was extremely impressed. Shopping with Apple is as simple and convenient as their products.

Story #2
My girlfriend's iPod headsets died and she wanted to replace them so she went to the Apple Store...she walked out 2 minutes later with new earphones in hand, not needing to show any evidence of purchase. Lovely.

Story #3
My boss's iMac started blowing smoke one day and so he called up Apple support. His area is a bit prone to electrical surges as there has been a history of appliances dying (and even an electrical outlet blowing up). At the time, his iMac wasn't plugged into his electrical surge-proof power board, but he switched it around, because when the Apple technician came to inspect it, he frowned in puzzlement, and approved a replacement. Wonderful!


I wonder...

Has anyone had a bad or pleasant experience with Apple?

Is anyone eager for the iPad launch here in Australia?

UPDATE:

Here's another video from the same Apple Store's iPad launch covered by CNET's "The Apple Byte" featuring the hilarious host Brian Tong. Why oh why is Australia so slow!!!




[App Review] - Depict



Hi there! Today's review is based on a FREE app called depict! This is a neat little online enabled app which lets you hop right into a room full of random people from all over the world to play multiple choice pictionary.

What's fun is that you don't need to worry about typing in the exact word, but rather, guess the right one from out of 6 possible choices, like so:


Want to play with friends? That get's a bit more tricky.

Firstly, you can't play with a bunch of people on one single device.

The maximum supported amount of players is 5. To host a local game, every player must have access to wifi and an OpenFeint account with the host player as a friend (this took some time to figure out for me just to play with my bro)

However, once everything is set up, you'll be sure to have lots of fun with this nifty little free app! Get everyone you know to download it and have some fun!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The future of magazines on iPad

Wow...check out this video of some developers of ViV magazine doing an iPad rendition of an upcoming magazine. This is the future!!

VIV Mag Featurette: A Digital Magazine Motion Cover and Feature for the iPad from Alexx Henry on Vimeo.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I wish I could say that this was me...

Damn this guy types fast!! Just proof of how accurate the iPhone touch screen is! Who needs a physical keyboard anyway? =]



Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fring on iPhone!


This is an amazing FREE app that's been around for awhile but has flown under my radar until today.

It's basically an instant messaging client which incorporates pretty much any kind of instant messaging type out there - MSN, Google Talk and Skype being the main and important ones to me. What it does is gather all your contacts from these services (your own phone contacts included) and puts them into one fat (but centralised) list.

The killer feature : voice calls over 3G!!! I was playing around with it this afternoon with my uncle, and grandpa, and it works really well!

For skype contacts, you can call to any iPhone or computer running skype.

For MSN contacts however, I noticed unless the other person is using Fring, you can't call them.

Another cool thing is that if you are on Skype on a computer with a webcam, then the person on the other side using Fring can see that webcam feed! The actual Skype app doesn't even support this!

Also when you close the app you will still be signed in so you will get notifications when people send you messages or try calling you.

The best thing about it: ITS FREE!!! So get it right now!

The worst thing: the annoying tone it makes whenever you get a message....but easily overlooked for its amazing features.



Thursday, March 11, 2010

Street Fighter IV Released!!!!

Click here for a zippy download link! (while it lasts!) See the side-bar to get your iPhone up and running for jailbroken apps. For those of you who are on 3.1.3....tough nuts!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mac Vs PC

So i was busy the other day moving me and my brother's desks downstairs. I had a Mac. He had a PC. Here's are 2 contrasting photos to what each desk looked like before I plugged everything in (just moved all the basic gear down)




Here is my bro's PC



As you can see, there are a bunch of cables everywhere, and a super fat (and pimped up) rig to go with it.

and here is my iMac:



Very elegant and tidy, no? =]

Everyone keeps telling me how the screen is so big! It's the first thing you see when you walk into the room...a beautiful 24 inch monitor. And that is the beauty of Apple! Simplicity and beauty.

Wonderful example of iPhone customization

People say everyone's got an iPhone. Well some iPhone owners like stepping up to the challenge to make their iPhone stand out!

Here are some pics of my girlfriends pimped up iPhone!



Here is the home screen with a pink chanel Winterboard Lock screen theme!
It matches her Silicone Devil case which I bought off ebay for about $3 AU. Cheap and cute!


Here is the springboard...again with a pinky Chanel theme to match the pink case.

This is just one of many of her iPhone looks....she actually has like 5 or 6 different iPhone cases so she can accessorise them as she pleases.

I'd like to see if anyone else has a nice iPhone theme/iPhone case customisation match up going around. Post a link in the comments!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The power of EveryDay Looper...

What do you get when you cross a French musician with the latest American iPhone recording technology?

The answer is too awesome for words...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Predicting the trends of Apple's innovations...

My friend showed this to me and it amused me so much that I decided to share it here on my blog!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

[UPDATED] Bad news for downgrading 3.1.3 to 3.1.2....

Ahh....as David has pointed out, Apple is now verifying all firmware files before it performs a software restore. The only way to bypass this is to have done some pre-hacking on Cydia when your device was still jailbroken. I've looked around the net, and even after you have done this, it is still a pretty tedious process, so the bad news I bring is that....you will just have to wait for a 3.1.3 jailbreak!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Get your fulls with your iPhone!

Well the iPhone can't really do the test for you, but t can at least
help you study!

To be honest, I don't know how I would have been able to read the
Driver's Qualification Manual if I didn't have an iPhone because I
simply wouldn't have enough time at home to read it from due to work
committments.

Instead, every morning in my 40 minute commute, I whip out the
GoodReader app on my iPhone and pull up the PDF version of the manual
and give it a good read. I just finished and now I'm blogging about it
on the train.

How do you put PDF files onto your iPhone you ask? Well GR gives you
may many options. You can use their in built web browser to surf for
pdf's and download them. You can transfer them from your computer to
your iPhone via wifi, among a few other methods.

You don't really need an app to read PDFs since the iPhone has native
support for PDFs (not only PDFs! Also doc, xls, ppt and ther mac
counterparts). However normally you can only view them as email
attachments, and that's where apps come in. They put all your
documents in a nice central location for your convnience.

However, although the experience was smooth and enjoyable; I could
zoom in and out and move around without any lag, I did wish I could
have read it on a bigger screen.... And I realise that the ipad does
have some value in having a big screen!

Now back to watching tutorial videos about networking!


Sent from the gPhone!