Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Apple and the App Store Process - Thoughts

First take the time to read this post: Sentence First - verdict afterwards

Now I have defended the App store process many times, and I think that in many ways it is a good thing. It keeps some of the garbage out, and provides for a family friendly environment. However, Apple goes too far in some cases. I can't provide a better example than the one I linked to above. There is no good reason for them to act this way, and it is exactly this kind of behavior that makes developers avoid the platform.

Apple should follow a set of clear and documented policies when restricting apps from the app store. Anyone should be able to review these policies and check to make sure they are within the rules that Apple has described.

Most people would be fine if Apple kept pornographic apps out. I also think the restriction on apps with too little functionality would be fine as long as the factors used to test this are documented. Keeping apps out that do malicious or dangerous things with the users device or data should also be restricted. Apple also does a great job of keeping non-working apps from the app store. Simple "does it work" QA, is a great service being provided to the developer community.

Having said that I feel that it is in Apple's best interest to never do any of the following as long as the basic restrictions do not apply.

  • Apple should never restrict apps that duplicate or compete with their own apps.  Let the users decide whether these apps are better or not, that one small bit of extra functionality may be all the difference in the world.

  • Apple should never restrict an app based on some arbitrary hard to define concept like is described in the above link. What the hell is the clear and agreed upon definition of a Desktop or Widget app?  Thats just dumb.


Apple should know better.  If these apps are somehow bad for the users then let the market decide that, Apple restring this will only create bad juju for the Developer community.

Friday, May 7, 2010

IPad Review Update

It's been several weeks since my last post, and I thought I should update my feelings about the IPad.

My initial feelings toward the "Magic" device haven't changed much. I still use it everyday for casual internet based activities, drawing, games, etc...  I have stopped using my desktop machine everyday of the week.  I still use it to sync and update my iPad and my iPhone, and there are of course several things that I can only do on my desktop. However, all the basics are covered with the iPad.

The Case
I decided quickly that I wanted to get a folio style case. My first case was a cheap one I found on Ebay ($12). This case has a few problems, there is nothing holding the iPad into the sleeve, and one orientation leaves the opening pointing down. There are also no holes for accessing the headphone jack, volume controls, or orientation lock. I have now decided to get a flip case from Marware instead.


Art
I've been switching between Art Studio and the SketchBook Pro app for drawing. There are features I like in both of these apps. I haven't been using Brushes for the iPad much since I got these other apps, but things can change in the future.


Games
The Pinball HD game has three tables with great graphics, I love these type of quick fun games, and this form factor is perfect for Pinball.



RSS / News
The NetNewsWire app provides a great experience for reading my Google Reader feeds. When I'm at work I use the Google Reader website and send stories I want to read to Instapaper.  I can then use Instapaper on the iPad to read through these saved stories. I have not been using the other news specific apps at all.


The Browser's the thing
The Safari browser on the iPad handles everything I throw at it. My bookmarks are sync'd with my desktop and my iPhone via MobileMe. One of my biggest complaints is that there are many sites that use mouse hover, which doesn't work on the iPad.

There are sites that see the iPad UserAgent and try to present you with a mobile version of their site. Don't do it, update your sites to give the normal web to us, flash free of course. There are occasional Flash sites that cause problems, but hopefully that crap will die out soon, at least for web use. I still think Flash is great for alot of things, just not on the web.


Camera Connection Kit
I got the camera connection kit recently. It works great with both of our cameras, I can move videos and pictures from our digital cameras to the iPad. This will be great to make a backup and for showing pics to friends and family.

You can also apaprently use the USB connector to hook a wired keyboard to the iPad, but I don't have a low power USB keyboard to test this with. Maybe I'll get one of those neat roll up keyboards.


The Future
My initial WI-FI only iPad is getting a new owner today, My Wife :)  The 3G model I ordered will be ready to use tonight, and I'll get to test it out on the road in the near future.

Early reports indicate that the unlimited plan is really the only way to go. The cheaper plan limits you to 250mb, which you can easily chew through in a few days.

Well hope this helps someone with deciding whether or not to buy, I would give it a big hairy thumbs up.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

More iPad Thoughts

Sitting on the couch watching Red Dwarf and surfing the web on my iPad. This is probably the most obvious use case for Apple's tablet and it's nearly perfect. I'm still trying to figure out the most comfortable way to hold the thing. I think a folio style case would actually make it more comfortable, but I'm not sure.

Apps:
Brushes for the iPad is great, all the great features of the iphone version. But larger, faster, and more resolution. Really looking forward to using this app more.

Netflix for the iPad is a killer application. It's a great way to manage your queue on the couch or to watch movies wherever you have a net connection. ABC has a similar app that lets you watch several of their top shows.  I can't wait to see what Hulu does.

Pages, Numbers, and Keynote look and feel amazing. Word is that these apps were created using the same apis that are available to iPhone/iPad developers.  Thats a very inspiring bit of information. I think there will soon be an incredible array of creative solutions to problems that we don't even know we have.

Writing this from my iPad

Writing this update from my new iPad. I wanted to see how fast and well I could type on this thing and see if I could use it in a more productive capacity. Its also a good chance to write a post on my initial impressions of it.

Typing: Not bad at all, just like the iphone you have to get used to letting it do auto-capitalization and auto-correcting minor misspellings. It does slow you down to type numbers and some special keys that are not shiftable like they would be on a standard keyboard. It is also going to take some time to get used to the lack of clicking and the travel of a normal keyboard. The slight thump you get as you type on the screen is a little strange, but I'm sure that I will get used to it very quickly.

The Screen: The iPad has an absolutely beautiful screen. It is like the 3gs and will require semi-frequent cleaning.

Speed: Damn fast, very freaking fast.

iPhone application support: Not bad, but I would always choose an iPad specific app over an iphone sized app. The text is just too big and the screen space is waisted. Iphone games scale up pretty well and seem very playable. There are several apps that I have removed from my iPad because the web experience is better than using a zoomed up iphone app.

IPad specific apps: Wow, there is a lot of opportunity to create some really great apps for this thing. The apps that I have been using so far are working very well and some of them really show how good this device can be. I can't wait to see some of my favorite apps updated for the iPad. Hello tweetie!

Negatives: All the standard complaints apply, no camera, limited multitasking, locked down environment. The biggest complaint I have so far is iTunes. The syncing process can be painful and slow. I have rearranged my applications twice so far, the first attempt was done on the iPad and was wiped out by a sync. The second attempt was done on the desktop and seems to be correct now. I have had this same problem on the iphone. I'm having another problem with. Google calendar syncing, but that seems to be a problem with google.

I'll post more information in the future. Bye for now.

Back to Ubuntu - Thoughts on an OS

For my new job I had the choice of using Windows XP or Ubuntu 9.10 for my primary development environment.  It seemed that the developers were roughly 50/50, but the developers I was going to be working with primarily were using Ubuntu.  There is also the added benefit of being disconnected from the IT group when using Ubuntu, you install your own Software. Ubuntu it is.

I've used Ubuntu in the past, and liked it. It wasn't mainstream at all, It was a tinkerers OS, not something a non techie would normally use. After a couple of weeks with this new version I have a few thoughts.

Ubuntu has come along way.  The Installation experience, the interface, everything has been greatly improved.

I was really impressed with getting everything installed and running.  I didn't have to worry about compiling any special drivers or choosing a special distribution for the computer I'm using. This was almost like installing Windows.

It's a great solution for Software development.

The added control you have over the system and how things work is great. Nothing new about this.  Its great to have the ability to script and use the powerful tools a Unix operation system provides.

This ain't no OS X

Unix still get's in the way.  In OS X ( a unix based OS) you don't have to open the terminal or understand what a kernal is.  There are still complications when you want to install something non-standard. Download this script and this tar file. Modify this file in etc. Change the permissions on this file.  These are things that most people won't be able to figure out, or that they will mess up.

Don't et me wrong I think a locked down customized install of Ubuntu that can only browse the web and check email might be good for some average people, but I don't think I would suggest that anyone in my family should use this yet.  If your a tech savvy developer tho, go for it!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Back to full time

Sitting in the Toyota dealership waiting area this morning, thinking about the last two years and my upcoming return to full time employeement.

I still don't regret the attempt at running a personal buisness. I think I could have done better. I think I could have worked harder at it. Most importantly I plan on continuing to work on developing it.

I do think that not returning to my old position after "my year off" was a mistake. However, I'm not sure I would have learned as much if I had not totally comited to it. Our savings has suffered for that lesson, and I have been worried about money more than I usualy do. As a result of this I spent less on gadgets, music, and movies these last two years and I haven't really missed any of it. I do have a long list of items I plan on buying, but I'll space them out over the next year.

I think the hardest part of all this is returning to a normal work schedule and working for someone other than myself. I'm going to have to figure out how to balance the dat job with my side buisness. The next few weeks will be interesting.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

iPad Thoughts

I decided to wait a week before writing more about the iPad. I have had some time to read other opinions and think more about how such a device might fit in my life. Lets start with the things I didn't like about it.

Cons:

  • Camera - This is the biggest problem for me. This device should have a camera, a front facing camera 3 mega-pixel or so. It needs it for taking self pics, and for skype. I fully suspect we will see a camera on the next version of the iPad. To be honest I half expect it will be the surprise addition that happens before they are available in a few months.

  • Background apps - I'm guessing that iPhone OS 4.0 will have some form of Background app support. My guess is that there will be a limit of 1-3 apps that can have a background presence. Something light-weight like a partial app that listens for events.  This would be ideal on the iPad as well, but I do not expect this to happen before launch.

  • 16x9 screen resolution - To be honest this doesn't bother me at all.  I may watch things on the iPad, but its not a TV, I'm not gonna be watching many movies on the thing.


Pros:

  • It's just a Big iPod Touch - Yes and thats cool as hell.  If it was just Email and Web access in this form factor it would be really good.  But with all the apps, and a bigger easier to use on screen keyboard.  Man I can't wait to use this.  This device will almost complete replace my Laptop.   I will still need it to do remote work, programming and such, but thats it.  I have a desktop for all the heavy lifting.  I don't need a full-Os in a portable form.   The iPhone / iPod Touch has proven this already.


Iphone OS 3.2 - The iPad currently runs a new version of the IPhone / iPod Touch OS  There are a few new features in this version of the OS that will make the Pad  / Touch / and IPhone better than ever.

  1. Shared File Storage - All apps will now be able to share files with the host OS easily with no special applications required on the Desktop.

  2. File Based Events - All apps will now be able to be launched with a file if they no how to handle it.  So you can click on an attachment in an email and a special app that knows how to handle that file type can be launched.  This allows apps to send files to each other.

  3. Custom keyboards / input - All apps can now create custom keyboards / input fields. This means you can have hand writing recognition in your app.  Or custom numeric input like they showed in the Numbers app.


All of this together will create a great mobile experience.  I can't wait to be sitting on the couch browsing the web on this thing, or sitting at the computer using the Brushes app to draw, or sitting at the computer using a new app that turns the iPad into a input device for my desktop computer.

My only problem now is buying one when it comes out.

The Job Search

Well I decided it was time to get back to a regular Full Time Job again. Wish I could keep doing iPhone / and soon iPad development, but that will have to take the role of hobby again. No money in it unless your a big company or you get very lucky.

On the positive side I have already gotten several phone calls about possible jobs.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Various Clay Items

I've been working on a several items lately for our Etsy Store. Here are a few of them.

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