Jul 21

A tale of two iPhone 3G buyers

Tech, iPhone 7 Comments »

Last night I was talking to a chap who had also gotten the new iPhone 3G. He was so excited. He loved it! He seemed surprised that I wasn’t as enthusiastic, but we quickly found out why. He had never owned an iPhone before, so he had gone from the dark world of Windows Mobile to iPhone. I can understand why he was so excited. He had the great iPhone UI, with all of the apps, and ActiveSync there to not make him sad.

For me though, the new phone has been a non-event.

Why did you buy the darn phone?

The main reason that I bought the new phone was not a shiny black back with a curve, it was actually for the hope of a better signal at home. I read reports of the 3G network being better in Palo Alto than EDGE. I get 1-2 bars way too often at home, so the very thought of a decent connection was enough to make me giddy.

VOIP on the iPhone via one of the applications is one option, but what about incoming? Also, subtle things bug me. When I use Skype to call people they see “0123456789″ or something like it in their caller ID. I wish I could map in my real number. UPDATE: It can! Praful Mathur in the comments gives the info:

  1. Goto skype.com
  2. Login to Account section
  3. Click on Call Identification
  4. Tell Skype your number
  5. It takes 24 – 48 hours to update your account

Back to the network, there was no 3G network at all at home. Nada. It made no difference. When my phone is at home all I get for it is a battery that goes down faster as it checks for a 3G connection :) In fact, it is even worse than this. I am often turning off 3G as an option, as I have found there are many places with 1 bar 3G, and full bars EDGE. It picks 3G and that 1 bar doesn’t give you any connectivity. It needs to be smarter and know that full EDGE > 1 3G.

GPS is nice. Seeing the blinking blue button the Maps application is very nice, but you can hardly use it as a car tool since it doesn’t do either voice directions, or move through the steps (you have to click on “next” to get it to go through). Overall not that useful unless you are walking, and then you could probably quite easily keep up with yourself.

What does this leave me with? The only cool part of the new phone is the push of iPhone 2.0 software, which I could get on my old phone. Even there, with some good new apps, I get constant crashes and a bunch of the apps that I enjoy don’t work well. NetNewsWire can’t seem to deal with my amount of feeds, and I can’t seem to be able to tell it “dood, just grab the priority 1 items.”


iPhone.Next will hopefully get me excited again, if it has a decent camera with zoom, video, full bluetooth support, the magic tactile feedback electric zapper, updated hardware, over the air syncing, and more.

Jun 16

Why we need Skype on the iPhone

Tech, iPhone 2 Comments »

iPhone Wifi and Cell Coverage

Above is a picture of my iPhone at my house right now. It is infuriating to have ridiculously poor coverage living in Palo Alto. I have had full bars at the top of mountains, but in the center of Silicon Valley I have one? Are you freaking kidding me?

This is why I can’t wait for VoIP on iPhone 2.0, so I can stick my nose at AT&T as I make decent quality calls from home.

Mar 11

Mono and Java on the iPhone

Comic, Java, Tech, iPhone with tags: 15 Comments »

Mono Java iPhone

Talking with code is powerful. Miguel posted screenshots of Mono running on the iPhone whereas Sun talked about Java running on it.

I always feel like I would like a reason to get into Mono, but never find one.

Mar 08


Comic, Java, Mobile, Tech, iPhone 6 Comments »


Paul Krill reported that Sun has looked at the iPhone SDK and thinks that it can port Java to the iPhone. It will be placed up on AppStore as an application, so I wonder what the user experience will be for apps that actually run Java, especially for the first time on a phone that doesn’t have it installed.

Don’t get me wrong, I want Java on the phone, just like I want full RubyCocoa, PyCocoa, CocoaJS, and any other language that you fancy.

Background Processes

So, the iPhone doesn’t allow background processes:

Only one iPhone application can run at a time, and third-party applications never run in the background. This means that when users switch to another application, answer the phone, or check their email, the application they were using quits.

This makes me worry about Java too. Startup has never been a good point of the JVM. If I flip to a Java app am I going to have to wait for the bugger to startup? Is there going to be a way to load one VM and keep it loaded (doesn’t seem like it).

It seems like this is just a guideline and not a firm issue:

I’m a programmer and I just tried it [using the iPhone SDK] and you can keep your app running in the background in the normal way ApolloIM and iFob do it. I.e. overriding applicationSuspend.

Even more worrying though is this part of the developer agreement:

3.3.2 An Application may not itself install or launch other executable code by any means, including without limitation through the use of a plug-in architecture, calling other frameworks, other APIs or otherwise. No interpreted code may be downloaded and used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple’s Published APIs and built-in interpreter(s).

Although it has been suggested that this is to stop non AppStore code, it seems to go a lot further than that.

Open source and the iPhone

Also, Mark Pilgrim has written up thoughts on whether iPhone apps can be GPL:

Since all iPhone apps must be distributed through a third-party (Apple’s “App Store”), that would make Apple the “distributor.” Which would mean that Apple — acting as the distributor of GPL-licensed object code — must provide source code or a written offer to provide source code. It’s analogous to a Linux distribution — they distribute binaries of upstream GPL programs, so they need to host the source code as well.

Feb 29

BBC takes a look at Android

Android, Mobile, Tech, iPhone 8 Comments »

Darren Waters sat down with Andy Rubin to take a look at an early version of Android:

The software stack, I was told, was Alpha, so not even Beta; but what I was shown gave a good indication that Android should be taken seriously by competitors like Windows Mobile and Symbian.

Google says they are driving the Android initiative because they want to see internet-style development on mobile platforms in the way that the openness of the web has given rise to Facebook and the Web 2.0 movement which should be able to migrate to the mobile phone.

Of course, coming in at the ground level of Android will give Google plenty of opportunity to tailor its own applications.

I got to spend some time with a few Windows Mobile devices this week. I found them incredibly hard to use. I felt like an old person using a device. I think that we forget what the iPhone has done for the mobile industry. it is just so easy to use. Going back to all of these magical keys and no touch screen is soooo painful and backwards. I can’t wait for my touchscreen-screen.

Jan 06

Reading the news, and how the iPhone has changed things

Tech, iPhone with tags: , , , 2 Comments »

I was sitting at my parents over the winter break checking up on the news. You know, how Man U are doing, laughing at the Scoble issue, the caucus news, and of course all of the details of Britney and her sister and how they are great role models for parenting.

I suddenly realised that I was doing this all on a tiny phone, and it was working out pretty well. It is a touch small, and zooming aroung can be a pain depending on the layout. You find yourself flipping between landscape and portrait, but it pretty much does the job.

Look at the difference between how I read the news the last time I was at my parents house:

Reading News in 2000 and before

And now:

Reading News in 2008 and beyond

I am wondering if the Kimble fits in to this picture too. I am tempted to get one. I love the idea of the device always just being on and working, and not having a monthly bill for that privilege. My only concern is whether or not I need another device. Can I just use the phone? Or, my laptop?

Speaking of laptops, ever since I got Emily an iPhone, I have seen her computer use diminish. Sure, she still does her email / browsing on it sometimes, and of course she has to be on it for Scrabulous, but in general she does most of this on her iPhone too. I am starting to grok the asian way even more, and how, especially for Joe Schmo who mainly used the computer for email/browsing, the laptop may get less and less use over time.

CES is here, and I wonder what other convergence devices are on show.

Dec 15

My iPhone stopped working, and was fixed with a technical solution

Apple, iPhone with tags: 64 Comments »

I land in SFO after the fun flight from London which I luckily didn’t miss (Mark Reinhold, also). What do I do after I land? Why turn on my iPhone of course. There is an obvious desire to check email and voice mail as SOON as you land a plane. Just look around.

The problem was that I couldn’t hear any voice mail. Hmm. I try to call, and no cigar. When I got to the car I could use the bluetooth integration, and it worked fine.

So, I did what I normally do, and I setup an appointment at the Stanford shopping mall store. I just got here, and after a lot of testing they realised that some lint fell into the mic line, and the sensor there told the phone “oh, the headset is on, so pump all AV out through that”.

So, if you don’t hear anything out of your phone, and it wasn’t the speaker setting, or audio sources, give this a try: blow into your mic input.

Nov 12

Happy Birthday to Android and devphone.com

Android, Google, Java, Mobile, Open Source, Tech, iPhone 3 Comments »

devphone launch

Congratulations to Bob, Cedric, Romain, and the many many engineers that worked on Android.

Today the Android SDK was released, and along with it a raft of video content and documentation.

For all intents and purposes for developers Android == the SDK right now (until killer phones ship in short order). The development experience for Java programmers will be a dream, and I really like the architecture. They have really learned that declarative markup for UI is a Good Thing &tm;.

If you want to get a high level look at what this is about, I would start off by seeing what the phone can do:

Then, if you want to write some code, start by watching Dan build a simple application on Android and then delve deep into the Androidology that shows you the full architecture. Learn what .dex files are. See how cool Intents are. Check out the markup.

devphone.com: phones are decent now

I am really excited to see the bar being pushed by Apple, Google, and other players out there. You know that when the iPhone came out, Nokia had a lot of meetings and engineers got a better budget for doing innovative processes on their phones. With Android pushing the bar too, in a different way, I think that we can safely say that the phone that we hold in a year or two is going to be amazing.

I am quite astounded at how little Emily uses her laptop since she got an iPhone (apart from Scrabulous. She uses her laptop for her scrabble addiction.). You can see the future today by visiting Europe and Asia. Ben and I were so excited about this, that we went looking for a community to rally this excitement, kinda like Ajaxian for mobile. We were surprised that we couldn’t find it. It seems like most developers hang out in the forums and such of the various platforms. Since we are interested in development that transcends one implementation, we decided to start devphone as a place to throw all of the ideas into. It just launched and is very raw, so who knows what will come of it. Check out our welcome, an interview with Joe Hewitt, and subscribe to the feed

Oct 24

Gmail now supports IMAP

Google, Tech, iPhone with tags: , , , 4 Comments »

I was really excited when I logged in to Gmail and saw the new settings:

Gmail Imap

I think this is my number one feature request for Gmail, so it is great to see it role out. Since Gmail is tag/label based, it isn’t as easy to implement IMAP as it may seem, so good job dev team!

The reason that I personally care is that I have been able to do this for my corporate account:

And now, I can finally do the same for my personal email account. Check out the automatic labels that you get.

Oct 17

Apple announces the native iPhone SDK is coming

Apple, iPhone No Comments »

Finally we can stop talking about if it is coming or not… and second guessing Apple.

It’s coming. Things just take time. I can’t wait to see the applications that people come up with for the phone now. I have been amazed at what creative hackers have been able to do without an SDK…. so WITH it….

Third Party Applications on the iPhone

Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February. We are excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users. With our revolutionary multi-touch interface, powerful hardware and advanced software architecture, we believe we have created the best mobile platform ever for developers.

It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc. This is no easy task. Some claim that viruses and malware are not a problem on mobile phones—this is simply not true. There have been serious viruses on other mobile phones already, including some that silently spread from phone to phone over the cell network. As our phones become more powerful, these malicious programs will become more dangerous. And since the iPhone is the most advanced phone ever, it will be a highly visible target.

Some companies are already taking action. Nokia, for example, is not allowing any applications to be loaded onto some of their newest phones unless they have a digital signature that can be traced back to a known developer. While this makes such a phone less than “totally open,” we believe it is a step in the right direction. We are working on an advanced system which will offer developers broad access to natively program the iPhone’s amazing software platform while at the same time protecting users from malicious programs.

We think a few months of patience now will be rewarded by many years of great third party applications running on safe and reliable iPhones.