Tag: Tech

Post “Apple-Pocalypse”: Why You Should Upgrade to iOS 7 (after the servers cool down)

Yesterday we all survived the “Apple-Pocalypse”.  For anyone who owns a recent “i” product from the white fruit company, there was a sudden peer pressure to upgrade to the newest version of operating system.  Namely, “iOS 7”.  Not creative, but the name probably shouldn’t detract from the shiny-ness of the product itself.  

After having used the OS for about a week prior to launch thanks to a “Lifehacker” blog, I was able to test drive some things and see what I liked and potentially didn’t like before the servers exploded on launch day.  If you haven’t downloaded yet, now might be a good time and this is why I think you should:

(1) Everything looks and feels better.  Apple has spent a lot of time fine tuning the Keyboard, making the OS move faster (I’m running an iPhone 4S), and taking away all the fake Bevels and Gradients that clogged the visuals of previous operating systems.  The new look is solid and much more cheerful (bright and airy).  At the same time, the backgrounds are much more detailed and beautiful (honing in on the Desktop Background experiences as Handheld computing becomes more popular).  The fonts have been redone to embolden or recede as necessary in the Phone and Texting Apps, and the icons create a different ethos than was previously had.  Even the notes app is brighter and easier to use.  Going back to iOS 6 would be abrasive visually.

(2) There has been much more added functionality (and accessibility).  The number one improvement I like is that you can go into your “Cellular” settings and choose which apps are allowed to use Cellular data.  If you want to cut off a data hog thats not always necessary, you now have the precision tool to do it.  New Menus are also accessible by thumb swipes giving easy grap of the new built in Flashlight button, music controls, bluetooth, wifi, sleep, airplane mode, and especially at Brightness slider – all in one spot.  Some utilities like Camera, Calculator, and time are also there for quick picks.  Lastly, the Folders now can slide and have multiple pages – not sure if I need it, but its nice to know its there).

(3) The movement is more bouncy, and feels fun.  Texts bounce up and down when stopping (though only slightly), notes are similar when going up and down, the apps fly on and off screen when locking/unlocking the phone, and the folders grow and retract more smoothly than I remember.  The background creates depth by moving in the background, so my chosen image of stars and clouds tilt as I tilt the phone.  Its fun to show others and to do when I’m bored in meetings while checking the time.

Other things: The basic app selection on the phone doesn’t seem to have changed much.  Facetime seems to appear more prominently, with the same green icon as Phone and Messages, but apps like Passbook are growing in utility as apps come out that allow you to collect plane tickets, gift cards and movie stubs.  I hope this continues to develop.  The Maps app still isn’t as good at Google Maps, Gmail (for Gmail users) is still more precise search-wise with Google’s app than Apple’s.  The camera is more robust now with different modes and filters on live images which is fun (having instagram like abilities from the get go.  All the apps still work too – so its not like you’re going to miss much, and the new things will take some time to play with, but will soon become useful.

In conclusion, pick up the new iOS as soon as you can.  There really isn’t a downside and it seems like there is a lot of upside.  Its fun, pretty, and functional (and continuing to get better with each revision).  For Apple fans, just do it.

 

(Photo Credit: http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u154082/ios7_cover_photo_2.png)

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I downloaded iOS 6 – My Thoughts and First Impressions

Thanks to various tech sites, I was able to determine that Sept 19th would be the download date for iOS 6, the newest Apple iPhone operating system.  Each upgrade makes upgrades, and this one claimed to make 200 tweaks, so I was ready.

The first snag was that I needed 2.5 gb free to do the upgrade.  I had to delete some HD videos on my phone, but was able to make the space free.  As I waited for the download, I read at Gizmodo.com about what was supposed to be in the package.  I was excited about Passbook, interested in the Phone app upgrade, and was not excited to lost Google maps – I use that quite frequently.  Now, I’ve used it for two days now, so this is my first impressions.

I’ll start with the bad:

(1) Apple’s Maps, powered by TomTom and their own in house mappers, is not ready for solid use.  I will be using Google Maps mobile application until the Apple Maps app matures a bit.  I’ve read a lot about how it took Google Maps to get as good as it is now.  Well, I need it good now, so I’ll have a button added for G.Maps through html until that day.

(2) Facetime is touted as being able to used over 3G/4G cellular data rather than wifi only.  I went to add this feature, and the phone told me that I have to call AT&T to determine if I am eligible.  This was a minor inconvenience, so I thought, until I called and found out that I’d have to hang up, turn off my cell, a signal would be sent to my phone, and then I’d be called back.  The service in my area went out for a few minutes at premium hours, and I received a message after AT&T’s call center hours that they’d tried to reach me and would call back.  They didn’t, and I haven’t either.   I’m sure this will be great – once I figure out how to wrangle AT&T into getting this set up.  It really shouldn’t be this complicated.

That’s all I’ve really disliked, there is much more Good than bad:

(1) Siri is faster and more intelligent.  I noticed right away that the wait times have been cut drastically in waiting for a response, and there is so much more information at Siri’s fingertips.  I never liked Siri before, but I’m going to start using it more and more now – its definitely become more fun with movie info, sports stats and scores, and the ability to determine what I’m looking for and give me a range of info.  I like it much better.

(2) The phone app has been upgraded, and now there are more options when multiple people are calling.  The dialing screen is now more crisp and bright – which makes it easier to put in a number without having to think and stare too much.  I appreciate that.  It seems to manage texts and other simultaneous notifications a bit better now.  There were odd times prior to ios6 where lots of activity would confuse the phone.  The order of operations seems to be a bit more worked out – as far as I can tell.

(3) Facebook integration is wonderful.  I pulled off my contacts and Facebook Friend profile pics, so when someone calls, I see a picture now.  I know that there are privacy concerns since Facebook has access to your contacts, but that’s always been true anyway – most of my friends and contacts are on Facebook.  I also like how Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and ios 6 seem to be so seamless.  I can update one and the others immediately start talking to each other.  Part of this is due to the new timeline robustness, and the ability for other apps to plug in – but I’m completely for more integration, despite the differences of all the platforms – its all the same to me (its internet communication with different modes).

(4) Panoramic Photo – I know this is simple, and really doesn’t need explanation, but the ability to take an incredibly long shot of really beautiful scenes is something I’ve wanted for a long time, also, especially for group shots on big trips.  I’m thankful this new feature has been made standard.

Lastly, the “Meh” stuff that really don’t seem to make a difference but could be developed a bit:

(1) Passbook – This is a great idea, and I would love to have a place where all my gift cards, plane tickets, movie tickets, etc are all in one place – unfortunately, there are only a few apps that actually support this service right now.  The best likely being Fandango, and I plan on trying this out eventually, but the others failed to excite.  I also didn’t expect it to require the downloading of the other apps.  I definitely assumed that it would be a one stop shop.  At the moment you have to have Passport, download Fandango (for example), and then purchase in that app and then it should appear in passbook.  I haven’t tested this but I plan to.

(2) VIP folder in Inbox – Basically you can choose certain VIP contacts in your mail and this creates a super box for your urgent clients. This could be useful, but everyone I allow to have my main email is a VIP.  I don’t see myself using this too often.  If you’re the type with lots more spam – this could be a great thing, but I thought that’s what the Junk Folder was for.

All in All – I like the rebuild.  Biggest gripe is the Maps change, and if you really like that app, don’t upgrade yet.  If you have the iPhone 5, you have the new app anyways.  Its all still sleek and works better than any other phone I’ve played with – so be merry and enjoy your life with a little bit of tech.

Some Next Big Things in Tech and Lifestyle

There are a few things that I see on the horizon for tech and how we use it that will eventually effect most people online.  I thought I would share a few of my projections, since they are on my mind at the moment:

(1) Facebook and Twitter will become more and more important as communication tools. 

I believe that Twitter will be like social glue between your phone, your laptop, and your social networking platform.  Personally I use Twitter to update Facebook and I check my FB later to see what people think.  Twitter is like the free flow of ideas and resources, Facebook is the place people actually talk about it.  Those people who don’t like Timeline don’t realize how important the improvements (and interfunctionality between the two platforms) have been.  I became a developer just to get Timeline early – and the ability to share and get a pulse on what people are thinking or projecting is amazing.  We will see more and more growth here.  900 Million on FB, and 500 Million on Twitter.  And growing.

(2) Apple TV’s (and Roku’s) imminent growth, coupled with Digital over air television, will start to squeeze out cable and dish operators. My wife and I made the split from cable long ago as a cost cutting measure (though we have probably given starbucks our savings over time).  Most of our content is online through laptop or phone, and we get networks over the air on our television.  I can connect my iphone to the television so we can still watch seasons, and our PS3 plays our DVD’s and BluRays – so we can buy whole seasons of shows we like. With Apple TV about to boom – Seriously – and Hulu and Netflix back in the growth seat – as long as bandwidth continues to meet demand, standard cable and dish are going to be in trouble in the near future.  I’m already plotting to buy the $99 Apple TV unit that will run tons of online content through wifi.

Lastly, (3) Faith will begin to find more expression online.  In the past, the internet sphere has been the domain of trolls and those who like to tear things down.  I even recently read a blog about the internet being the church of Atheists, who without churches or community centers, find fellowship and debate online.  With the suburbanization efforts of Twitter and Facebook, the wild west that used be the domain of search engines, is understandable to the ordinary person.  In the last year, I’ve noticed more and more people of different creeds and religions join me in the spheres of talk and influence.  More and more bloggers are showing up and with The Huffington Post and Patheos – there are more people talking and debating than ever.  That means that the easy “Straw Man” of faith is no more.  It is easy to tear people down if they are not in the room.  People of faith are entering the online sphere.  They are trading information, praying for each other, creating content and writing – a lot.  The room is filling up and we’re seeing the awkward transition in culture.  I don’t think News Media outlets in the traditional sense really know how big this is.

So there are three things I see right now.  What do you see happening?

Pick Your Phone By Your Personality (Windows, Blackberry, Iphone, Android) – Response

I just read this blog on Choosing Your Phone by Personality Type.  The writer makes a statement that he likes the Window’s phone best and then tries to characterize the personalities of those who prefer the different phones.  I felt that his take on the Iphone, however, was pretty shallow and I wasn’t sure what he was basing it off of.  So as a person who prefers the Iphone I will respond and characterize all four operating system users from an Iphone User’s perspective.

Android

Before Verizon had the Iphone, the Android became the status equivalent of the Iphone.  The news follows it rigorously so fanatics can obsess and fanboy over it like iOS.  Many who use Android are the tinkerers who don’t like Apple’s closed code policies so some rebels are among this group.  Since Google developed it, it has instant credibility and name recognition and has become the mass market smartphone.  People can trust it because Google is backing it and has perceptibly near infinite resources to back the project.  These users are not homogenous because there are a variety of devices at different price points.  It is a cheaper mass market option in line with Google’s strategy to dominate everything in every way in every sphere.  Lastly – the little Android guy is cute and may get some business from that angle.  Just saying.

Windows Phone

This phone is for the gamers, especially Xbox fans, and those who are generally fans of Microsoft products.  The design is sleek and there are those people who want Windows flow with an easy to use interface.  Who better to make a phone for pc lovers than MS and the simplicity in this os is surprising considering their past with convoluted menu systems and folders.  I think a lot of people will stumble into the Windows phone and the marketing seems quaint.  It is a phone that is supposed to save us from our phones.  Those who don’t like the direction complicated direction phones are taking may check this one out.

Blackberry (RIM)

Recent dedications to video and beautiful screens cover up the fact that BB’s are really the first smartphone to really take hold.  They are negatively known as “Crackberries” due to the nature of business people always connected, neglecting other responsibilities or relationships without really intending to drop the ball.  When texting, email and phone are always active, who could blame early adopters.  The roller ball and keyboard were well done for the time (though severely out dated since touch technology has become widely adopted).  Those who use Blackberry are now the traditionalist business people who don’t like change.  They got used to this thing so they’ll use it as long as they can.  Some businesses are making the move to Iphone, but I bet that many won’t take this without a fight.  Their market share may be shrinking, but that’s probably due to the market expanding around them.

Iphone

Ok – I’m a little biased.  I’m writing this on a Macbook Pro, I have two Imacs and I have an Iphone 3g (older, I know, but its still nice).  Iphone users tend to be obsessive about their tech (to the point of religious devotion – google it – there was a study on the brain).  The design factor and delight in merely holding such a beautiful device is enough for some, for others it is the integration of all things Apple.  These folks probably don’t mind the loss of a little control for the simplicity of a product that works and has amazing customer service.  They will pay more but get more out of the experience, and their word travels so that Apple really doesn’t have to market as much as it does these days.  Unfortunately, Apple changes things as it innovates and so the Iphone user is almost forced to upgrade every year and half, and compulsive buyers line up for the latest must have handheld.  A last word for apple – they know how to string people along.

Conclusion:

Hopefully this added a different perspective to the above blog (linked).  All the phones are good for someone, but they won’t fit everyone.  As phones become works of art and fashion they become more subjective.  Buyers should first start with the question of functionality and look at reviews of the device to determine the best phone, then look at the form factor.  Hardware and OS are key.  Find the right fit and you’re golden.  Good luck!

You Version Bible App Opened My Eyes to Lent’s True Meaning On My Iphone

Lent helps us celebrate Easter with fresh eyes, clear hearts

Published Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I’m going to warn everyone, the beginning of today’s column might be a little dry and geeky, but it gets juicier, so stick with it, and you will be rewarded with some actual insight into Lent.

There is a new app for the iPhone called You Version. It is an online Bible with many contemporary and traditional versions. It offers an interesting option of using a reading plan. I recommend it to everyone who has a smartphone, simply for its ease of use.

The front page of my smartphone, which holds all my most-used applications, has become a representation of who I am and what I use in my digital life. The first button is for my email, the next for Twitter, then Facebook and then a Web browser. Other apps on the front page include games, a calendar, contacts and Dropbox, a storage app that has made flash drives unnecessary.

I felt strongly that I should also make a Bible app prominent, if only to remind me to do my devotions.

At first, I used Paul Avery’s Bible, which was a straight app completely loaded on the phone, but I found that I often didn’t open it. Like that huge Family Bible on the coffee table, it gathered dust. Then I started seeing tweets about You Version, so I decided to try it out.

I opened the app and saw the reading plans. I decided in this season of Lent — and it is the first time I have ever been at a church that truly celebrated the season of Lent, I would dive in.

The app has changed my perspective.

My wife and I went into Lent knowing we would deny ourselves something, or fast, in order to be closer to Christ this season. I thought it was meant just for us to relate to Christ’s sufferings. So I chose TV shows (a difficult decision) and, harder still, my wife chose cheese, not realizing that almost all the food worth eating is smothered in wonderful cheese.

We denied ourselves and tried hard to be perfect like Christ was perfect.

But we found ourselves stumbling all the time, though not purposefully. We would have breakfast sandwiches and halfway through my wife would lament, “No! I’ve eaten cheese!” Or I would find that on Thursdays, when my favorite comedies came on, my eyes would wander from the book I was reading to the TV screen. My wife would just shake her head.

It wasn’t until I delved into You Version’s Lent devotional plan that I started to understand the fullness of what was happening.

In a short paragraph, it was pointed out that in Lent we try and often fail to be like Christ. In its fullness, Lent is about relying on and remembering the grace we have all received because of what Christ did on the cross.

So as we were messing up and crying out in our mistakes — much like stubbing your toe and being quite upset — we began to see us for what we are: imperfect people who are trying to become more perfect but are still dependant on Christ’s sacrifice.

It is all about Jesus! Not our own ability to be stoicists.

As Easter approaches, it has become quite clear to us, thanks to the words sent across the electronic highway of the Internet, that we are still in need of a savior and that we can celebrate Christ’s resurrection with fresh eyes and hearts cleared of self-pride.

Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him on Twitter @dannonhill.

Figuring Out Google Wave

https://i2.wp.com/techplore.com/technology/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/google_wave_01.jpg

Google Wave

Thanks to my friend Mandy, I received my invite to Google Wave last week.  Here are my first impressions:

(1) It looks good.  Google has a good vision, and I think that they should keep going with it.  I love the idea that all my communications online could be put into one big Smoosh.  That’s my new word for a ball of lots of talking and getting things done.  One implication of this Smoosh, is that like Facebook, it makes time more relative, in that it allows people to be less centralized and they are able to respond as they are able.  I wonder how deadlines and project goals will change as they are imported into this coagulation.

(2) It doesn’t work very well yet.  To be honest, the instructions didn’t come into my inbox immediately, so I spent the first 20 minutes with the program just clicking things and being completely frustrated.  It wasn’t until I googled “How do I use Twitter on Google Wave?” that I was able to get Twitter on there (and it doesn’t update automatically or anything yet).  It also didn’t and still hasn’t imported my Gmail contacts so either no one I know has Wave except Mandy (rendering it useless to me, or frustrating as I uber communicate to Mandy).  I found a how to get on the Public Wave, but the instructions didn’t work and I’m not sure if it is because I’m  incompetent, or whether its just a Beta glitch.

Regardless, it is pretty.  It is a good vision. It seems like it should move forward.  I haven’t been allotted any invites yet, but when I do, I’m going to invite a few of my friends to join me and try it out, because it seems like a worthy endeavor.  I think it will be less frustrating when I have a few friends from my contacts frustrated with me, communicating it through the very same platform that is frustrating us.  Can’t wait.

Image Url: http://techplore.com/technology/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/google_wave_01.jpg