Posts tagged with "iPhone"

Essential

The iPhone is good at many trivial tasks such as playing games and watching videos, but this week I experienced firsthand how much its portability and apps matter when dealing with an emergency situation.

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iOS 7′s Activation Lock Helps Reduce iPhone Thefts

Brian X. Chen, writing for The New York Times about the effect of iOS 7's Activation Lock on iPhone thefts:

For several years, cellphone theft has been a growing epidemic worldwide. But the police in New York, San Francisco and London say they are finally starting to see a dip in thefts of one of the most popular smartphones.

The reason? The attorney general of New York, Eric T. Schneiderman, and the district attorney of San Francisco, George Gascón, share the theory that phone thefts are dropping because of Apple’s addition of a so-called kill switch, a type of antitheft technology, in its iPhone in September.

This is great news, and I would like to see Apple push Find My iPhone even more in the future. I'm surprised every time someone tells me they don't know what iCloud or Find My iPhone can do, or that a stolen iPhone can be visualized through the Find My iPhone web interface. It's good to know that Apple's tech is working and that more companies are adopting kill switches for mobile devices.

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Kickstarter: Lunecase – A Unique iPhone Case with a Wireless Notification System

Here's a unique product looking for funding on Kickstarter, the Lunecase by Concepter. It's "an intelligent case that receives notifications from the iPhone. Powered by electromagnetic energy. Wireless, smart, elegant."

So what's so unique about another iPhone case? For starters, the back has a built-in notification system that displays an icon for both incoming phone calls and SMS messages -- all without using a drop of the device's battery. Lunecase does this with the help of LEDs, as it uses free energy that is emitted by the device, converting it from the iPhone's electromagnetic energy into a usable energy to power the notification system embedded in the case. Read more


The WSJ Interviews Original iPhone Engineer

The WSJ's Daisuke Wakabayashi interviewed Greg Christie, one of the original iPhone engineers, about the creation of the device that launched seven years ago.

In late 2004, Mr. Christie was working on software for Apple's Macintosh computers when Scott Forstall, a senior member of the company's software team, walked into his office, closed the door and asked if he wanted to work on a secret project, codenamed “purple.” The team would develop a phone with an integrated music player, operated by a touch screen.

There are some new anecdotes to me in the interview, as well as a photo of a system Apple created to test the iPhone software in 2006 (it's big and clunky as you imagine). You can read the interview here.

See also: Andy Grignon's story.

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iOS 7.1 On The iPhone 4

I was surprised when Apple announced that iOS 7 would run on 2010's iPhone 4, mostly because the OS seemed to make use of graphical effects, transitions, and animations that looked like great candidates for poor performance and hiccups. Indeed, iOS 7 on the iPhone 4 (and to an extend, the iPad 3) was, in my experience, insufferable: animations were slow, scrolling would often drop frames and stutter, and everything felt generally sluggish.

Ars Technica's Andew Cunningham has run tests to measure the speed improvements of iOS 7.1 on the iPhone 4. The changes are noticeable, but, more importantly, the update makes the OS fluid and snappy – usable, at least. iOS 7.1 cuts the execution time of animations on all iOS devices, but the difference for the iPhone 4 is even more apparent.

It is a good thing that Apple is still supporting a four year-old device with the latest version of iOS (albeit with missing features), and I'm glad that iOS 7's possibly one and only major update focused on making performance acceptable on older devices for the future.

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The New Hotel Key: Your Smartphone

Craig Karmin, reporting for the WSJ:

Guests arriving at the Aloft Hotel in Manhattan or one in Silicon Valley will soon be able to do something hotels have dreamed about offering for years: walk past the check-in desk and enter their rooms by using a smartphone as a room key.
[…]
Guests at these properties will receive a message on a Starwood app containing a virtual key, which will unlock the door with a tap or twist of their phone through the use of Bluetooth technology. The company says the iPhone 4s or newer models and the Android phones running 4.3 or newer will be compatible.

Personally, I still enjoy the interaction with staff members when I check in, which is also the reason why I always go talk to an employee when I need to buy something at my local Apple store (I tried Apple's EasyPay feature, and it felt odd).

This is where the future is going, though, and there are several elements worth considering. Bluetooth LE has stolen the spotlight from NFC for low-power, peer-to-peer wireless transfers, and there are obvious security concerns over solutions like this, as well as home products like the Lockitron. It's an exciting time to watch pocket computers reshape our world.

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You Don’t Need Buttons to Game on an iPhone

Ben Kuchera of Polygon puts into words what I've been trying to say all along.

From Draw Something to Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja to Cut the Rope, the biggest names in mobile gaming got that way because they used the touchscreen in novel ways. The lack of physical buttons isn't a hindrance to game design, it's a feature that smart developers have been using to their benefit for years. The developer of Ridiculous Fishing, a game which won an Apple Design award for 2013, didn't worry about not being able to use buttons; they created a game that used the hardware in fun ways.

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My Must-Have iPhone Apps, 2013 Edition

Must-Have iPhone Apps 2013

Must-Have iPhone Apps 2013

For the past three years, I’ve been running a series called “My Must-Have Mac Apps” that, once a year, would list the apps that I found indispensable on my Mac. This year, considering the changes that I went through from a workflow perspective, I thought it would be appropriate to start focusing on iOS as well. The first installment was about the iPad; then, I covered the Mac; today, I’m going to conclude this year's series with the iPhone.

Like many others, I don’t use the “phone” part of the iPhone much. The iPhone is my portable computer. And I have lots of apps on it.

My workflow has changed a lot over the years. I used to have a MacBook Pro and I later got an iMac and replaced the MacBook Pro with a MacBook Air. I thought that I’d always need the Air but then I was forced to work from an iPad and I didn’t like it. As I kept trying, I ended up liking my iPad setup so much that I turned it into a tool more versatile than my Mac and wrote a book on it. But the way I use my iPhone has never changed: the iPhone is the computer that’s always with me. If anything, the software that runs on it has evolved through the years, with apps getting more powerful, inter-connected, and, in some cases, “desktop class”. And then, earlier this year, iOS 7 happened.

As expected, iOS 7 provided a fantastic opportunity for developers to reimagine and redesign their apps to take advantage of Apple’s new OS features and design language. Three months into iOS 7, I think that the developer response has been remarkable, but the results are very much still in flux. For the apps that I use on a daily basis, I’ve seen a few major relaunches of apps rebuilt from the ground-up for iOS 7, apps that still have to be optimized for it, and a lot of “compatibility redesigns” that brought lighter color schemes and translucencies without substantially altering the way an app works or is structured for iOS 7. As Apple itself is still trying to fully understand their own new design language, I think it’s fair to assume that third-party developers will need more time to really “get” iOS 7.

As I thought about the apps I wanted to include in this year’s last installment of the Must-Have Apps series, I realized that there was a good mixture of software that was built before and after iOS 7. As usual, my goal was to mention apps that I consider must-haves for my daily workflow, and for this reason you’ll find a mix of brand new iOS 7 apps, minor iOS 7 design updates, and a few pre-iOS 7 apps too. When it comes to having the best tool for the job, I value utility over fashion, and I cherish an old app if it still is the best for me.

The list below includes my 50 top picks and is organized in four sections: Main, for apps that I use several times every day; News, for discovering links and staying on top of RSS; Entertainment, for media consumption; and Utilities, for single-purpose apps that I use often but not heavily every day. Each app is listed with its App Store link and, at the end of the article, you’ll find my iPhone app of the year.

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