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Posts Tagged ‘iphone’

The Feed: Apple iPhone 6 Edtion

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Tech news and commentary for the week ending September 5, 2014. As an office full of Apple fans (mostly), here is the best and latest speculation about what’s coming out of Cupertino next week.

Apple is heading towards full-on entry into mobile payments. What this means is that you will be able to pay for things with your iPhone (or iWatch, as the speculation goes) and physical credit cards won’t be necessary. Earlier attempts to get this done (mostly on Android) were non-starters because the effort focused on implementation technology (NFC vs. Bluetooth), while ignoring the business and alliance side of things. It seems Apple is tackling that. Link.

If there is an iWatch, I have no doubt the functionality and style will be market-leading. The one thing I’ve always worried about is battery life, and if this report is true, there might be an issue. Then again, Android smartwatches that are in the market right now have to be charged twice a day, so the bar is already set pretty low. Link.

Apple is building a massive structure outside the Flint Center for the Performing Arts at De Anza College in Cupterino. I mean, huge. Symbolically, this is an interesting venue, because it’s the same place Steve Jobs introduced the Mac 30 years ago. Link.

If you can’t wait to see what Tim Cook unveils next Tuesday, the best sneak-peek of the iPhone 6 that seems legitimate is this video, which is in Russian. This of course hasn’t been validated, but the web seems to think this is real. Link.

The keynote event is this Tuesday, September 9. Apple even has a countdown timer on its site. Link.

A quick op-ed blurb here: since Steve Jobs passed away, all eyes have been on Tim Cook, usually in the wrong context. It’s been wrong because many analysts have expected Cook to be Jobs v2.0, instead of Tim Cook. There has been praise for Cooks methodical, calculated style, and many calls of frustration (bordering on damnation) that Cook is Sculley 2.0 and will return Apple do the early pre-2000 dark ages. My prediction is on the other end of the spectrum: this event will be Cook’s stepping out party, and he will make his mark as Apple’s chief in grand style here. All signs point to it: the lineup he’s expected to announce (two iPhones, the iWatch, a possible new iPad Air 2), the crazy structure that’s being built, the significance of the venue as it relates to Apple history.

This will be one to watch.

Pun intended.

Game Changers: What Apple Announced This Week at WWDC

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You can’t go anywhere on the web without reading one of a zillion articles about what Apple announced at Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), so instead of going long on this and reiterating what everyone is saying, I’m going to summarize the big things as succinctly as possible.

Why even bother? Because some of the things Apple announced are HUGE.

Open-API Touch ID Functionality

Touch ID – the software behind Apple’s fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5S – is excellent, and once you start using it, you get used to it – fast. Passwords feel archaic, and you get annoyed when you have to type one.

This week, Apple opened Touch ID up to third-party developers, which means anyone can create an app that foregoes passwords and instead uses a fingerprint biometric. Think about that: Apple is swinging an axe straight down on the neck of the confusing, easily-compromised password scheme we all love to hate.

This will change the way login security will be handled on a massive scale. Just wait and see how quickly developers snap this up.

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Your iPhone Is a Better Camera Than You Think

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The web has a famous cliché floating about in regards to photography. Hailing from photographer Chase Jarvis, the quote goes, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” It’s also the title of his book on iPhone photography.

There’s a good deal of truth to this. As I write this, I have a Canon 5D MkIII sitting next to me, with the venerable Canon 70–200L f/2.8 USM IS II mated to it. All in all, about a $5K piece of kit, more than capable of making professional-quality video production output.

Problem is, it weighs as much as a sniper rifle, and looks just as imposing.

I don’t carry it with me unless I know I’m going out shooting. That means for most of my life, especially when I want to capture impromptu moments, my big-rig Canon is at home in its bag.

What do I always have with me? My smartphone (an iPhone in my case), and it’s far more capable to shooting quality photos than your Facebook feed filled with blurred cat pictures would have you believe. In fact, on our mantle sits a canvas-printed photo I took in Italy, blown up to about 20“ x 20”. The camera responsible for that pic? My iPhone.

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Why Apple’s iOS 7 Is Its Most Important Product This Fall

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I’m writing the first draft of this post on Wednesday, September 18, a few hours before Apple releases its most important product this fall. The product will cost absolutely nothing, and some might not even know about it until they see a friend with it, but within months, every iPhone, iPad and iPod touch user will have their worlds rocked, for better or worse, by it.

That product is iOS 7, a complete overhaul of Apple’s mobile operating system.

Only geeks like myself have been following Apple’s development of its next-gen mobile OS. Most don’t know about it, and probably don’t care, until they update and realize that their iPhone has become an entirely new iPhone. Then they’ll feel as though they got a new phone for free.

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The Social Stress and Status of the iPhone

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Bianca Bosker, writing for HuffPo Tech, interviews 14-year-old Casey Schwartz about Schwartz’s iPhone. Specifically, what really happens on a teen girl’s iPhone, and how it becomes a source of stress and social status among Schwartz’s peers. Some excerpts are below, but you owe it to yourself to read the whole interview. Parents of teenage girls, doubly so.

Some highlights:

“I’ll wake up in the morning and go on Facebook just … because,” Casey says. “It’s not like I want to or I don’t. I just go on it. I’m, like, forced to. I don’t know why. I need to. Facebook takes up my whole life.”

“I bring it everywhere. I have to be holding it,” Casey says. “It’s like OCD — I have to have it with me. And I check it a lot.”

Not having an iPhone can be social suicide, notes Casey. One of her friends found herself effectively exiled from their circle for six months because her parents dawdled in upgrading her to an iPhone. Without it, she had no access to the iMessage group chat, where it seemed all their shared plans were being made.

“She wasn’t in the group chat, so we stopped being friends with her,” Casey says. “Not because we didn’t like her, but we just weren’t in contact with her.”

“We’ll be sitting on a couch next to each other, texting each other,” she notes. “We text in the same room. It’s weird, I don’t know why.”

The most important and stress-inducing statistic of all is the number of “likes” she gets when she posts a new Facebook profile picture — followed closely by how many “likes” her friends’ photos receive. Casey’s most recent profile photo received 117 “likes” and 56 comments from her friends, 19 of which they posted within a minute of Casey switching her photo, and all of which Casey “liked” personally.

“If you don’t get 100 ‘likes,’ you make other people share it so you get 100,” she explains. “Or else you just get upset. Everyone wants to get the most ‘likes.’ It’s like a popularity contest.”

“If I’m not watching TV, I’m on my phone. If I’m not on my phone, I’m on my computer. If I’m not doing any of those things, what am I supposed to do?” Casey says. “I think that in a few years, technology is going to go back and people won’t use it anymore because it’s getting to be a lot. I mean, I don’t put down my phone. And it makes me wish that I did. It’s addicting.”

Hundreds

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I’m going to send you into the weekend with my new iOS game obsession: Hundreds. It’s a wonderfully simple game in which you grow circles until their collective value reaches 100 — but you cannot let them touch anything else while they grow. Oh, and there are things (like razor circles) that will ‘pop’ your circles and reset their value to zero. Maddening, but the one of the most addictive games I’ve played. Worth three bucks, easy.

Here is a gameplay video, because looking back on my description the game sounds horrifically boring. It’s anything but.

Casual Friday: An App That Tracks and Quantifies Your Sleep. Yes, Really.

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I’ve talked about sleep before, and how it relates to health. I’m a nerd that way. I think sleep is important, and most of us don’t get enough of it and what we do get is often poor quality.

So, that said, can I tell you about something I like?

There’s an iPhone app called Sleep Cycle that purports to do what nigh borders on magic: track your sleep quality and report in the morning on how well you slept. How does it do it? The iPhone’s gyroscope, mostly, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it uses unicorn tears either, because what began as skepticism with me changed into full-on belief/amazement five days later. In a word, it works as promised, so much so that I have no choice but to echo the other reviews this app has received: it’s amazing.

The exact voodoo Sleep Cycle uses to determine sleep depth is a mystery, but again, at a basic level, it uses the iPhone’s gyroscope to detect movement. Increased movement = lesser sleep quality, but I’m sure there’s more math to it than that. In my experience, I found that the app perfectly tracks my cycles of being awake and deeply asleep.

Example: I get up at 3 AM to go to the bathroom. It knows and records it.

Another: I typically have my deepest sleep around 3:45 AM. I know this from 43 years of being alive. Sure enough, the app knew it in one day.

The concept is simple: you place your iPhone face down on the corner of the bed nearest you. The instructions say place it under the top sheet, but I don’t. You must leave your phone plugged in, because the iPhone is ‘conscious’ overnight as the gyroscope collects movement data.

That’s it. You go to sleep, and it goes to work.

When you wake up, you flip off the alarm (if you have it set; more on that later) and you get your sleep report card:

This is your sleep results dashboard: you can see your sleep quality hour by hour (ranging from awake to deep sleep), and after five days, the app will start giving you a percentage ‘sleep quality’ score based on what it knows about your sleeping (and movement) patterns. When you wake up, you can have the app ask you how you feel: good (happy face), average (normal face) or lousy (sad face). You an also set up sleep notes like ‘stressful day’ or ‘worked out’ or ‘had drinks’ and the app will start to correlate these notes with sleep quality scores.

Like most quantified-self apps, this gets better the more you use it. It’s database grows pretty robust, so your results get increasingly accurate over time. If you’re into poring over the raw data, the app even provides an option to show it to you in the Settings menu.

If you flip your iPhone to landscape orientation, you get a bevy of additional reports. Here are a few:

Sleep Cycle also has an innovative alarm function: it will wake you in a time range (say, 6:30 AM – 7:00 AM) when it detects you’re sleeping the lightest. That way, the logic goes, you’re not jarred out of a deep sleep, which tends to make humans wake up with bared fangs. It has a regular alarm too (which wakes you up at a static time), but from what I found, the smart alarm works as advertised.

What can I say? This app is modern-day magic, and you’re probably not getting enough sleep as it is. If you’re at all a performance nerd like me, you should stop reading and just go get it. You probably spent two grand on a fancy mattress, so spend a buck on this and see where it gets you. Available on the App Store.

(Full disclosure: I have zero financial interest or stake in Sleep Cycle. I just think it’s modern technology put to a good use, and a smartphone app innovation showcase. Plain and simple.)

Have a good weekend, everyone.

The Laggard Dilemma: Understanding Why Incremental Upgrades Are Less Painful

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Let me start this post with an adjunct: I am NOT an iPhone user – yet.  I’ve been hanging on to my Blackberry 8130 since, oh, I don’t know – all the way back to 2009?  It’s the phone that my customers and prospects reach me on every day.  Now, just to make you all comfortable, since I am in the technology space, I also have an HTC Droid for personal use which is only 18 months old and by tech standards is aging quickly. So don’t judge me on my ancient Blackberry is what I’m saying.

So.

Why do I bring this up?  I find I’m asking myself the same question most of my customers ask me when a new release of PeopleSoft comes: why should I upgrade to the latest release?  I’ve heard all sorts of business reasons why customers chose to stay on their current release – some are still going strong on 8.4 and 8.8 Financials, a few are still on 7.5!  Yet, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that many of my clients are in line to get the new iPhone or Droid when it is released. This creates a bit of cognitive dissonance with me.

I’ve heard – ‘if it isn’t broken, why fix it?’, ‘we don’t see any new functionality that we need’ (love that one!), ‘our environment is stable, an upgrade is very disrupting’.  I’ve also heard from clients who have upgraded from 7.5 or 8.3/8.4 to 9.0 or 9.1 and are concerned because the user adoption is low.

Don’t get me wrong, an ERP upgrade can be a challenge and it does take commitment from the executives to the end user, but I really think it is very similar to moving to new personal-type technology such as the iPhone.  My colleague, David Scott, blogged about his own personal experience of trying to get his new phone to act like his old phone.  (That post is here, in case you missed it.)

Here’s why upgrading is important:  the end user pain is less with incremental steps.  It really is THAT simple.  Is there a price or value you can put on that?  Probably not.  But PeopleSoft HCM 9.0 was GA in December 2006, 9.1 was GA in September 2009.  Sort of like my Blackberry.   The jump for me to either the new iPhone or Droid will be — ahem — interesting and my colleagues know to stay clear of me while I adjust because most days, it just ain’t pretty.  My life and frustration level would be lessened had I made the incremental moves in technology.

Regular upgrading is valuable because the incremental pain and end user resistance are far less than larger, wholesale changes. This is a huge part of the stigma of large ERP upgrades.

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Casual Friday: Google Nexus 7 Review

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Buckle up, you guys. This is a long one.

Right up front, let me be clear about bias, because that’s a word that can get tossed around after posts like this: I am an unabashed iOS/OSX user. My technology sprawl includes two 27 inch iMacs, a Thunderbolt Cinema Display, a MacBook Air, an iPad ‘3’ and my constantly-conjoined second brain, an iPhone 4S. My experience with Android before the Nexus 7 was precisely this: bad. As in: really bad. Android was clunky, ugly, lag-soaked and had such substandard third-party apps so as to make apps in general a complete afterthought outside of Google’s own. I tried to give Android a fair shake twice, only to run back to iOS’s polished embrace each time.

So. That said, what compelled me to even think about a Nexus 7? In a word, the buzz. A ton of Android tablets have been released, and none so much as stirred the slightest wave of interest outside of hardcore Android devotees. The Nexus 7, however, was immediately different. As evidenced by stellar sales and strong reviews, its shine is unmistakeable, even for diehard iOS fans like me. It became clear to me that it was time to take the plunge – again – this time without committing my phone to the platform. And for $199, you’re on the cusp of technology impulse purchase territory – especially seeing how you could turn around and sell it in a red second if you didn’t like it. And something must be clicking, somewhere: as I write this, the 16GB Nexus 7 is sold out on the Google Play store. Even Google wasn’t expecting this much fanfare surrounding its new tablet.

I’m not going to go all The Verge on you and give you the uber-detailed breakdown. If you want that, it’s out there. What I am going to give you is my impression of the Nexus 7 from the standpoint of an entrenched Apple user. Off we go.

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Casual Friday: iPhone Apps I Probably Couldn’t Live Without, Vol. 2

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Last week, I listed my favorite must-have, daily-use iOS (iPhone/iPad) apps. Because I might be the biggest Apple slappy you semi-sorta know on the web due to a blog you read, I have more to share. Way more. But I’ll spare you the way and just give you more, because these might be useful to you. If not, that’s fine, because writing about them is fun to me. Fun?, you ask. Yes, fun. I’m already at 85 words, for crying out loud.

Are you still here? Amazing.

So here we go. These aren’t going to be in any particular order, because they’re stragglers from last week. Nicely-dressed, very polite stragglers, but stragglers nonetheless. Treat them well. They won’t steal anything.

  • Captio. I mentioned this last week, but I want to expound on it. Captio defines a basic app: it simply gives you a blank screen on which you compose a note, reminder, whatever. When done, you hit send and your note is emailed to yourself, because when you set up Captio you link it to an email account of your choosing. Sound stupid? Yeah, that’s what I thought too. Now I use it every day, because it’s so quick and allows you to organize your emails to yourself later in whatever system/app you choose. Its genius is its simplicity.
  • OpenTable. For an annoying foodie like me, this app is everything. I can’t tell you when I last called a restaurant to make reservations. OpenTable’s iOS app is just like the web app: restaurant searches are quick and easy (the iOS app uses geolocation to save a step), open timeslots are quickly displayed, and reviews are embedded along with reservation slots and contact information. It’s brilliant, and I’ve never had a glitch using this. If you use OpenTable and use iOS, get this app.
  • Nike Golf 360. Golf nerd? This app is for you. It has scorecards for just about every course I’ve tried, and it knows what course you’re on via geolocation. The best part is that over time, it analyzes your game based on the information you provide. It tells me my driving accuracy is 60%, GIR 40%, and that I putt like a blind dog. You can upload and share your scores if you’re so inclined, and it has videos of the pros’ swings to study. It even lets someone take a video of your sorry swing and superimpose it on top of a pro’s to really make you feel like you have no gross motor skills. An incredibly polished app, and right now, it’s free.
  • DailyBurn Tracker. I could go on for 200,000 words about why the calorie in/calorie out model is massively incomplete for weight loss, but if you’re trying to get healthy or even a full-on health nut, tracking something is better than nothing. If you want to truly understand how many calories you’re eating, this is the app for you. A huge database, intuitive data entry, workout and weight tracking, and progress analytics put this in my must-have folder for anyone who wants to get a baseline of how much they’re eating. It’s also updated regularly, and I’ve never had a single technical issue with it. Good stuff.
  • Instapaper. This should have been in my post last week, because I use it constantly. If you’re not familiar, Instapaper (with an accompanying iOS app) is a service that lets you save any web page for later reading. This is great for longform articles, or even shorter posts you don’t have time to get to when you stumble across them. Absolutely invaluable, and Marco Arment, the developer of Instapaper, puts massive time and attention into his app. It’s pixel-perfect, and worth every penny.
  • Paper (iPad only). There have been several apps that purport to be able to replace a notebook with some pens and brushes, but none really can. Except Paper. It’s the app I doodle in the most when I’m bored or on vacation, and I find myself jotting things down and being creative in ways I never would with a real notebook. Get yourself a stylus (I use the Wacom Bamboo), and you can get lost in this for hours. If I can, you can, because I have the artistic ability of a badger (evidence here).

That’s it. Wrapping up at 730 words. You’re welcome.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

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