Category Archives: iOS

Ubuntu for Phones Preview

phone-photo-heroThe developers of the popular Linux distribution Ubuntu have showed off an Android based phone OS with no JavaVM running on a Galaxy Nexus phone today. From first look it’s got some slick things that make the UI different from normal Android like swiping from edges to open menus and information, kind of stealing this from how Windows 8 works. From hands on videos it is very slow and things lag when opening. Of course this a early release but it’s nothing impressive.

On the website they show a block with app icons and just say “Go make us apps” using HTML5/Native, but lots of those like Gmail and YouTube would never make it to this OS natively just look at the large number of full on Android devices that don’t get support for Google Apps. So its very misleading to people thinking this would be cool to have because somehow it’s going to be more open then Android.

The one think I ask is what is the point, right now the big 3 are Android, iOS, and BlackBerry, with BlackBerry slowly dying away and Windows Phone not even something that anyone is looking at. This sounds like a lot of extra resources that could be put into making Android better, or making Ubuntu work better on the desktop. There is also Ubuntu TV but don’t expect much from that ether, their may be money in these markets but trying to do your own thing won’t work out or you will get people who get one of these devices and wonder why they can’t get the apps there friends on Android have.

Check out some photos to see what it looks like but don’t hold your breath for this becoming more than a waste of our time. If any new phone OS had any chance other than Android and iOS it would be Windows Phone just because they have the money to lose. And as we have seen from other Phone OS’s such as WebOS and even Windows Phone, just because you are different or have some special features it all comes down to getting things working together and getting lots of phones running it.

If this sounds harsh, it’s just true that you shouldn’t expect much to come from this.

Google Maps for iOS Available

Google Maps iOS ScreensFor all you iPhone users out there who got screwed over by Apple not getting along with Google and building a junkie maps app you can now be happy again Google has released Google Maps for iPhone today! This build includes the fast loading vector-based maps that are smooth and can be rotated just like on Android or the web. There is also turn-by-turn navigation, live traffic, public transit information, and Street View. They also added information about businesses including phone numbers, photos, and reviews.

If you are a developer you can use the Google Maps SDK for iOS and URL scheme so you can use the maps in your apps. It is available in the App Store for iPhone, iPod Touch 4th gen running iOS 5.1 or higher and in more than 40 countries and in 29 languages. Check out the video below for a promotion video that shows none of the maps 😀

iPad Mini – Mini Review

Yes the title is kind of strange. But I got to play with an iPad Mini on today’s Field Trip.

I have played with iPads before and didn’t see a reason to go away from the Android systems I like, but lots of people like iOS. As for the iPad Mini its operation seemed smooth and things loaded fast and the screen was nice and crisp. As for the size, I have bigger hands than most but the feel of it was too big to the point that my hand was stretched way out to hold on to the device, making it hard to hold and at that point you may as well get the extra 2 inches. But if you wanted the smaller form this would be good if you are already in the iOS world and have only an iPhone or an old iPad but you wouldn’t want to get this if you have a newer iPad.

One other thing is the flaw of only having that Home button, I opened up the iBooks app to see how a book looked, and while it was nice there is no obvious way to get to all of your books or the table of contents. I tried holding Home but Siri wanted to help me find something, swiped from the edges but only a small bit of something came from the top but wouldn’t pull down, double tapped and even did a long tap and only got page turns. While this is only one app it does point to the fact that if there is no menus on-screen and no buttons what are you supposed to do if you have no other instructions. At least on Android you know that the menu button will get you some kind of menu, but also on Windows 8 I see this as a problem until you know that if you slide from one side a menu opens.

My experience with this app should not say if you are going to get an iPad Mini for the smaller size it should be a good experience, but it isn’t something you would go buy the iPad 4th generation and then need one of these. You would kind of just pick one based on the size you want since all of the same apps work on both devices.

Field Trip – iPad Mini, Mac Book Pro Retina, Kindle Fire HD, Nokia Lumia 822

Just took a Field Trip to the Verizon and Best Buy stores after lunch today, I’m going to call these posts Field Trips because I have to go out and play with new tech. Some of the main things I played with at the store were the iPad Mini, MacBook Pro with Retina display, Kindle Fire HD, and Nokia Lumia 822. I also played with some of the ASUS gaming laptops and a dead Samsung Chromebook.

While these aren’t the best settings for playing with them because I could not spend a lot of time playing and they were tethered to the display I did my best just playing with them. I also would like to get some of these in as review units or if some donations come in for a specific product I would review it also.

iPad Mini looks nice and would be a great smaller screen iPad if you don’t already have the newer full size iPad, I wouldn’t think you would need both. Check out the full mini review.

Mac Book Pro with Retina Display is a very powerful laptop computer, and with the higher resolution screen it looked nice but is it going to be worth the extra $500 or so for that nicer screen. I liked how it worked and had the older model side by side and couldn’t see much difference other than the Retina had more contrast, I’m sure more using it from the older model you may see a difference. Read the full mini review for more.

Kindle Fire HD is a good device for consuming Amazon content but it doesn’t seem as powerful as a Nexus 7 that I am use to. More in the mini review.

Nokia Lumia 822 is one of the flagship Windows Phone 8 devices while it has smooth operation and looked good, Windows Phone 8 seemed empty and just lacking in non-core apps even from a display model. See what I saw in the mini review.

Those are the big ones I played with but I did look over some other devices such as the ASUS gaming laptop that had good specs and all the keyboard was kind of clunky and seemed overpriced for what I could get a Mac Book for almost the same specs. I also don’t like Windows 8 all that much on a non-tablet or touch screen.

The Samsung Chromebook was set up kind of off to the side in an under equipped display that only had one left in a box that looked like it was taped closed after being opened at Best Buy I wanted to see it work but the system said click to start but I only got a spinning indicator and even after trying to power cycle it nothing came up so I left not knowing how things will work on that system. Too bad because I wanted to know how the system performed but bad displays will not sell these even with a low price tag.
New Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Apple iPad 4th Generation

Apple announced a quick update to the iPad at their “event” that also announced an iPad mini. This makes this the 4th generation iPad, there wasn’t much new the biggest update was a faster A6X processor and changing to the Lighting connector. With this update they also discontinued the 3rd generation iPad, this looks like they did this so they can get users off of the old connector and on to the new Lighting connecter. There was also an update for iBooks that includes iCloud sync, new reading mode and the ability to share a selection of text. The price of the iPad has not changed and ships along with the iPad mini November 2
2012.

Screen 9.9 inch Retina display
Processor Dual-core A6X with quad-core graphics
Wireless Dual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GSM or CDMA, LTE
Carriers in USA AT&T, Sprint, Verizon
Colors Black and White
Cameras 5MP back 1080p video, 1.2MP front 720p video
Connectors Lighting, 3.5mm headphone, nano-SIM
Battery 10 hours web, 9 hours web on cell data
Pre-Order / Ships October 26 2012 / November 2 2012 for Wi-Fi
Price Wi-Fi 16GB $499, 32GB $599, 64GB $699
Price Wi-Fi + Cell 16GB $629, 32GB $729, 64GB $829

Apple iPad mini

Apple had a big “Event” today they announced a updates to the MacBook Pro, iMac, iPad, and a new iPad mini that is smaller iPad with similar specs as the iPad. The new mini has a 7.9 inch diagonal screen with the same 1024 x 768 resolution as the iPad. It runs a slower A5 processor but has the same 10 hour expected battery life, along with a 5MP rear camera and 1.2MP front camera, and the new Lightning connector. It will come in a Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cell version that runs all the normal iPad apps with no special changes to the app. There is both a Black and White version, in 16/32/64GB and you can get a special smart cover that comes in multiple colors.

Check out the gallery and tech spec table below.

Screen 7.9 inch 1024 x 768 resolution
Processor Dual-core A5
Storage 16, 32, 64 GB
Wireless Dual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GSM or CDMA, LTE,
Carriers in USA AT&T, Sprint, Verizon
Colors Black and White,
Camera 5MP back 1080p video, 1.2MP front 720p video
Connectors Lighting, 3.5mm headphone, nano-SIM
Battery 10 hours web, 9 hours web on cell data
Pre-Order / Ships October 26 2012 / November 2 2012 for Wi-Fi
Price Wi-Fi 16GB $329, 32GB $429, 64GB $529
Price Wi-Fi + Cell 16GB $459, 32GB $559, 64GB $659

Hands on With Windows 8 Release Preview on a Tablet

With the Windows 8 release looming for October 26th 2012 and Microsoft Surface pre-orders started I wanted to take some time and play with Windows 8 again and see if it made any more since to run. I had installed an older version of Windows 8 on my tablet a ASUS EP 121 that is running an Intel Core i5 with 4GB RAM and has both Touch and a Wacom pin. So this should be a good system for testing Windows 8 on.

After downloading the disk image of the OS I used the Windows 7 DVD/USB backup tool to put the installer on a 4GB flash drive after to install the files on my Tablet. The installer booted and offered to install Windows 8 I changed some settings and pushed the OS to upgrade Windows 7 and all it did was move all of Windows 7 and the apps installed to Windows.old folder.

When the system rebooted it asked me to connect to my Wi-Fi and then login to a Windows account and set the colors of my Start Screen. At this point you are dumped to the Tile interface that is the only real thing Microsoft is showing in all of the advertising of what Windows 8 is. So now on the Start Screen I was showing it to my Wife who is not a techie person and my Son who is 3 and we started looking through the Photos app because it was smart enough to look for photos that are on my main desktop and somehow it had access to them even though the Tablet had not connected to the HomeGroup or logged into my desktop, this may have to do with me being logged into a Microsoft account on my Windows 7 desktop and by logging in with the same user on the tablet that it lets me not have to use my desktops username and password to access files.

With photos showing up my Wife and Son took over and we’re having fun flipping through photos, at some points the app would crash and leave us back loading the app and then thumbnail images of the folders only showed up a gray boxes and would change to a thumbnail if you went into the folder for enough time that it would load every image. This is the first of many times the Tile apps would crash that night, and yes this is a “Preview” but if you are releasing it things shouldn’t be crashing when loading photos over a home network.

I wanted to try out some of my Windows 7 applications that are installed still under that Windows.old folder, after finding my copy of ArtRage Studio and long tapping to pin the program to Start, it opened up just fine and ran in the Desktop mode. This is when I started finding myself using the good old desktop mode more and more. Now that I see it works I install Google Chrome because I like using Chrome and how it works, so Internet Explorer took me to the desktop even though I used the link on the Start screen but whatever and I went about downloading chrome.

For ArtRage to work right I needed to put in my registration key that I had a screen shot of save in Google Drive so I installed the desktop application and went about opening the file in an Explorer window but it wanted to no preview it but open it in the Photos app, only problem is that takes over my screen and doesn’t let me have more than one window open so I can get the code, another fail for pushing me back to the Start tile interface. After long pressing and going to preview it went back to the Start menu and said that another program can open that file and I told it to use the desktop image preview application and got things done.

Chrome was nice enough to install both a Desktop application version and a different version that worked in the Start menu but they are different apps/applications, this is a restriction Microsoft put in making software makers build two different programs, this is another fail because you may have something open a link on the Start tile interface but then you need it on the Desktop and this can’t be done.

I also at this point found out that the driver for my Wacom pin was not working right from what was pre-installed and I had to find the Windows 7 drivers and after a restart the pin worked great.

So it’s getting more frustrating to use but I went ahead and loaded the Music app, but for this app it didn’t know to look on my desktop for music and couldn’t find anything I had, but sure did want to sell me music thanks for that, not really the preview was ok but not what I wanted. So I went ahead and though good time to setup the tablet on my HomeGroup because mentioned something about joining to show my music, cool so after going through to another interface and back and forth with the onscreen keyboard that you have to change views to get a number I was connected to my HomeGroup and could see my desktops music in the Desktop mode and if I was to load a specific file in the Music app it would play one song not a folder full. So thinking as I do I added my music library from the desktop system to the local music library and then things started showing up in the Music app.

The Music app does not do good with lots of files, I was able to crash it doing almost anything now, if I play all it will shuffle through my songs but crashes because the background to songs with no cover art is a bunch of other cover art so each time you skip songs it reloads this wall of images, and then crashes. Now if you want to look for an artist that will crash with my large collection of music it hangs on switching and doesn’t scroll and finally crash again.

With the Music app crashing when looking for an Artist I looked for them using the Desktop mode and had it play the folder of music I wanted to play and test out, fail again I had to go back to the old way of doing things to get things working fast and easy.

Now I was going to install some apps from the Store, after finding some they seemed to work out just fine SketchBook Express and Wikipedia loaded just fine and I was able to use them, Wikipedia needs some work to use up more white space and make it easier to read because when you are reading most people are used to scrolling down not to the side but it was still usable. The WordPress app had some problems with logging into my site, it kept asking for me to update the Jetpack plugin but there is no update that I can get.

Back to stock apps, I went and tried the Mail app this required me to login to my email account and it had Google as an option, the only problem was it would not connect. So thinking what about updates they may have fixed some problems, well there was 9 updates and I let it update and restarted the Tablet and I was able to login to my Google account and my mail did show up but the Mail app is a little hard to use, like when you switch messages you have to select the text not just the area that is around it making it hard to use with your finger. Also by logging into my Google account my calendar showed up but only the main calendar content not all of my sub-calendars or others I have joined from other people. I hope Google makes some apps for their products that work as if I was on Android or I would have to just use the websites.

New day new problems, so I could get screen shots of things I installed an application called Greenshot and found myself installing VLC Media Player but Windows 8 doesn’t know the publisher so it wanted me to be protected from installing the program. So I tried to do it again by running the installer as Administrator but got the same message, this time I thought well let’s see what the learn more link does, at that point it said nothing other than it was an Unknown Publisher and I could run it any way. Too bad that made no sense or wasn’t obvious to let me install it.

Another thing that seems to be a problem with the Music app, while writing this it is long and taking time, ok so my tablet screen goes blank, that’s ok because its saving power and not burning out my screen, but the Music app is now not signed in and can’t get my music from my local network even though I am still connected to the Wi-Fi. The only way to get my music back was to switch to another app, use the hard and unobvious way of closing a Start tile app by dragging the left edge of the screen and pulling down to the bottom to close it and have it reopen. Only then did it start to find my music again even though I did try the resign-in button on the app. I would have not known that it was even possible to close an app if I didn’t spend some time reading though a list of posts around the Internet of other people as confused on how to close an app.

To close this out, I am trying this new Windows 8 Start tile interface in its intended way on a touch screen tablet and not an a desktop because I already know that it was just a big fail, and found the operating system to be improved for touch but still lacking a full tablet experience and all in all not even close to being ready for a release. Microsoft should have just built a Tablet OS based on Windows Phone and not mess with the Windows Desktop OS but now they have screwed up both experiences once again. I wanted to see Windows 8 work out good on my tablet because Windows 7 is so hard to use on it, but there are so many shortcomings with the Apps and I just had to go back to the old Desktop interface to get things to work or make things easy. People are going to try things and just not upgrade ever to Windows 8, they will look at Android and iPad as the way to have a tablet that works all the time. This is going to be another situation like Windows XP and desktop users will not upgrade. Microsoft is betting big on this new interface, and they are getting pressure from PC makers and PC part makers such as Intel to help drive sales but this will not help, it will further stagnate the market.

All in all I would say Windows 8 is going to be a failure and it’s too late to change things. I will keep Windows 7 on my desktop for a long time, and I will just put this tablet away and not use it for much other than drawing once in a while, and just use my Nexus 7 for everything that I want.

Second-Generation Nest Thermostat

Nest announced today that they have an update to the Nest Thermostat that makes it compatible with 95% of low voltage heating and cooling systems, along with a slimmer unit, and updated software. The Nest is a “learning thermostat” that is connected to the internet, it tracks your settings such as when you come home and want your house warmer or when you are gone and don’t want the heat up. You can also control the thermostat from an iOS device or Android device, the App shows things like current temperature, set the system to heat or cool, setup schedules, or see statistics of your heating or cooling use.

The updated software on the new Nest adds better controls for forced air systems that start in the morning, better energy savings on radiant heat systems, and support for heat pump systems and other extra add-ons to different systems. They also updated the mobile apps for the new features and support for Android tablets.

The new Nest can be pre-ordered for $249 and ship later in October, and will be available on Amazon.com, Apple online store, and in Lowe’s stores. The updated Nest Software 3.0 will be updating existing Nest thermostats tonight.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook Sorry About Maps

Today Apple‘s CEO Tim Cook put out a letter talking about maps. Apple removed the older app they had in iOS from the core operating system that used mapping data from Google Maps when they put out iOS6 for their iPhones and iPads. A large number of users have reported a bad experience with the new maps Apple has been building, having problems like incomplete mapping data, wrong or misleading directions, and just a bad experience using the maps application.

In the letter Cook says sorry about the maps app in the first paragraph.

We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.

He also talks later about how you can also use other applications from the App Store to get maps or to use Google or Nokia web apps to get maps. He also talks about how 100 million iOS devices use the new maps and have been used to search half a billion locations. To finish, he talks about how they are working to improve the app and get it up to their high standard.

While this doesn’t fix the app or bring Google Maps to iOS in a meaningful way, it does show they how even Apple makes mistakes and like all companies has to fix them, so expect an update coming at some point to make them better. This would be a good time for Google to drop in with an iOS Google Maps app and get a lot of people to use the trusted maps they are use too.

Full text of the letter below…

To our customers,

At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.

We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.

There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.

While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.

Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.

Tim Cook
Apple’s CEO

iPod Nano 7G, Touch 5G, EarPods

Apple updated there iPod line of devices this morning with a new iPod Touch 5th generation, iPod Nano 7th generation, and introduced a new headphone design that is supposed to be better for listing and fitting into your ears. They also put out some numbers like they normally do with these announcements. They have sold over 350 million iPods, 600 million earbuds shipped, and have 150 million players on their Game Center platform. There will also be an update to iTunes in October on both iOS and Desktops.

The 7th generation iPod Nano will have a larger 2.5 inch display that supports multi touch, and is 38% thinner than the Nano 6th generation. The front only has a single home button that is common on most iOS devices. There is also a built in FM tuner that supports a “DVR” functionality. This Nano also has Bluetooth built in for wireless headphones and devise. They claim 30 hours of audio playback on a charge and will come in 7 colors including aluminum, black, purple, green, blue, yellow, and red. It only comes in one size of 16GB, and has the new Lightning connector and EarPods for earphones.

Also the 5th generation iPod Touch was announced with the same 4 inch screen that the iPhone 5 will come out with and weights 88 grams. The A5 dual-core processer is powering the devices with a clammed 7x improvement in graphics performance from the 4th generation iPod Touch. There is a 5 MP 1080p rear camera that supports the new panoramic mode and has an LED Flash, and the front camera is 720p HD and can be used for video chat. One of the other big things they seemed excited about was a wrist strap that they call the iPod Touch Loop, that could be good for if you have a kid or clumsy person using this. For WIFI it has the same WIFI as the iPhone 5 with A/B/G/N on 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz with speeds up to 150 Mbps along with Bluetooth 4.0 with LE. It will ship with iOS 6 in a 16 and 32 GB model in 5 colors, aluminum, black, blue, yellow, and red.

Finally they made a big deal that they have updated there old crummy earbuds with new ones called EarPods. These were developed to fit in your ear better and not be uncomfortable even with lots of different shapes of ears. They also made it so the speaker inside points into your ear better too give a better sound. This was the only product that was announced today and is shipping today.

Now for prices and availability of the new products announced.

iPod Nano 7G iPod Touch 5G EarPods
16GB for $149 16GB $199, 32GB $299 For $29
Pre-Order September 14

Available in October

Available in October Available Now
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