Category Archives: iPhone

Says AndroidSPIN: “iPhone Users Getting Fed Up, Switching to Android”

I’ve come close to being one of them.  Very close.  In fact, if I had the funds, I’d have two phones right now.

However, when I decide which horse to back (or any time I’m making software), I have to constantly remind myself that I’m a geek, and not representative of the population at large (the ones for whom I am making said software).  Apple is still doing it best for 95% of the people who would want a smartphone

That article’s author is particularly bad about remembering that, and quite frankly, the whole article is full of half-truths bordering on wishful thinking (hey, the site is called AndroidSPIN)…

  • “Open Source is what customers want.” No, it is not.  It’s what we geeks want.  Customers couldn’t care less.  They want something that works—the way they would expect.  Apple delivers.
  • “A lot of the iPhone users I’ve talked to are either switching to or already have switched to Android.” Ah yes, anecdotal evidence: so damning.  I’m sure the people he’s talking to are the type who would be switcher types.

I’m seeing a fair bit of misdirection in there on other topics, too.  I’ll cover them as I come across them.

Constant updates: All iPhone users get all iPhone updates simultaneously.  This is far from true if you’re running Android.  Depending on the carrier/device you have, Android updates may be far less frequent, or may never come.  For this reason, I always tell people that if they want an Android phone, they should lean toward a stock Android device, like the N1 or the Droid.

Listening to its users: Last time I checked, Eric Schmidt hasn’t been replying to Google customers’ emails directly.  :D  But specifically, what are users and developers asking for?  Apple dropped DRM from iTunes entirely… other media types are, ostensibly, next in line.  iPhone OS 4.0 has multitasking and background services.  The next iPhone (currently) has a front-facing camera.  Here, again, our community of hardcore geeks may be completely justified in feeling that Apple is not meeting their needs, but would seem that nobody is listening to the masses better than Apple.

Developer freedom: Time for my own anecdotal evidence, I guess.  I’ve got a half-dozen ideas for iPhone applications, all of which I’m sure would make decent money.  None of them would have any problem clearing Apple’s approval process.  I just attended a local iPhone developer group meeting which filled an auditorium with people who are shipping iPhone apps with no issues.  I find it hard to believe that any talented developer with a decent amount of creativity and imagination would have trouble doing the exact same thing.  I also catch a lot of Android fanboys griping about Apple’s process when they never even tried to get an iPhone app on the App Store.  If you’re just assuming, then your problems are your own, and you’re doing nothing to help the situation.  But if you did try, and your app was rejected, then get it on the Android Market quick, because if it sells well, that is the only thing that will convince Apple to let you do your thing on their platform.  Significant sales.

The Numbers Game: First of all, Android should be growing a lot faster than iPhone… it’s a wonderful product, it’s marketed well, and it has a lot more room to grow than Apple’s offering.  Android-based devices have, indeed, flourished lately, but you have to remember that that’s been in a marketing environment nearly devoid of Apple’s presence… Apple has been damned near silent since the launch of the iPhone 3Gs and prior to iPad.  That’s nearly a year of down-time for Apple, and it concides perfectly with Android’s growth curve.  Realistically, one has to expect that Android’s growth will slow significantly with the advent of the next iPhone and the 4.0 OS.

Would I love to have an Android device for my own uses?  You bet.  If I had the resources, would I develop for both?  Absolutely.   But when it comes to which platform I’m gonna back, I’m not moved from Apple’s offering, which also happens to be more than good enough for my personal needs.

As a side note, I laughed my butt off at the image of the Green Robot relieving itself on the Apple logo.  Very cute; well done.

[AndroidSPIN]

Microsoft How-To: “Porting” From iPhone to WinMo.

Microsoft has released an article detailing how to port a particular Cocoa Touch to Windows mobile. The catch: the app in question relies particularly little on the Cocoa framework, it handles its own widgetry and visual display. This is rarely the case in an iPhone app… most of them make heavy usage of UIKit and Foundation objects to get the job done. The best advice for porting these apps? Don’t.

There is no analog to most of the Cocoa Touch frameworks on Windows Mobile, and most WinMo devices simply can’t DO at the hardware level what a lot of iPhone apps take for granted as basic device functionality. Porting an app of any complexity will usually be nigh impossible… it will require a complete rewrite. The rewrite process is basically what Microsoft’s article details. The same goes for Pre, Android, or Blackberry.

For any given app, when you’re beginning development, Microsoft would probably advise that you not use any of the frameworks Apple has provided, outside of basic executable functionality, opting instead for custom drawing routines handwritten by the developer, or using only the most basic shared libraries. This would definitely benefit their platform, as your app would be easier to port, but it would entirely negate the rapid app development advantage offered by the iPhone (and Mac OS X, for that matter) frameworks over every other API out there. And to top it off, you’d be going through all this extra effort for what is becoming an ever smaller marginal increase in revenue.

While I do recommend creating code with an eye toward portability (especially stuff like custom drawing or OpenGL code), my advice to developers seeking to do a multiple-platform release is the same advice I’d give to a desktop developer: create a common C library for handling proprietary data formats, specialized encryption, custom communication protocols, etc. Then, build your UI using the native frameworks available on each device, taking advantage of each platform’s special functionality, and maximizing the fit and finish for each.

Jailbroken iPhone? Change that root password safely!

When you jailbreak your iPhone these days, SSH (secure shell) for remote connections is automatically installed.  It’s really handy to be able to connect, but there’s one issue:

The root password for every single iPhone (1.1.4, anyway) is “alpine”.

This means that by default, when SSH is enabled, anyone can connect to your device and wreak havoc.  It’s wise to do something about this, so one of the first commands savvy users will type in after connecting is…

# passwd root

…to set their own password.  This is actually a bad idea, because the passwd tool doesn’t work correctly on the iPhone (it’s not a normal function of the device) and you’ll wind up stuck in an endless crash loop.

But fear not!  There is a way to change your password (and, if you happen to have gotten stuck in that loop, fix the issue).  It’s all detailed on this page at matsimitsu.nl, for which I was immensely grateful.

If your 1.1.3 or 1.1.4 iPhone is jailbroken, go do it, and be successful with it.

Open Is Good, Usable Is Better…

… even in the Mobile space.

Unless you’re living in a Faraday cage, you’ve seen the Internet hype around Android, Google’s mobile platform. The iPhone-alternative seekers and FOSS evangelists are engaging in a collective circle-jerk around it, because it has the potential to “beat the iPhone” and bring open-source to mobile. I think it will definitely have a profound impact on mobile devices, and there’s no disputing that an open mobile platform is exciting, especially one backed by Google. But guys, I’m not ready to circle up just yet. My apologies.

Yes, Open Source is definitely awesome, but its potential for “beating the iPhone” is limited. If there’s one way that Apple humiliates everyone else, it’s with their ability to make something universally usable. Personally, I love all that Android’s open nature has to offer the hardcore power users and developers. Open-source is great, offering infinite freedom for niche geeks like you and I, but that doesn’t translate to something that’s going to make it in the mainstream market.

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She’s Out of Your League, Helio.

Wow, I can’t believe I still hear people referring to the Helio Ocean as a serious iPhone competitor. These people clearly have yet to experience the iPhone. I, too, mourn the lack of 3G and GPS functionality on the iPhone, but I don’t miss having a hardware keyboard. The iPhone keyboard works amazingly well after a little practice, and this is coming from a former SideKick 3 owner. That device had the best hardware keyboard, for its size, I’ve ever used.

As a former T-Mo customer, I was hesitant to move away from the simple, straightforward plans offered by the company. Turns out I was really worrying about nothing… AT&T’s plans for new subscribers are perfectly clear. I do miss having an AIM client on my phone every day, but I’ll have one soon… that’s only a matter of time now, whether Apple likes it or not.

What I’ve gained by switching, on the other hand, I can barely begin to discuss here… Continue reading

iPhone Missing Needed Applications

iphonehockey.png
No, iHockey is not one of them. Cool, though, huh?

When the iPhone was unveiled, I had never wanted to own a new gadget as badly. For ten years, all I’ve ever wanted was a Newton with a phone. Suddenly, here was the Apple device to meet that specification. I was overjoyed.

Now, some time has passed, and I’m able to look at things through a more analytical lens. Bathed in the light of reality, it is clearly apparent that, despite everyone’s expectation otherwise, the iPhone is not for me… not yet, anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the device, and I think Apple’s hit a home run here… we’re just waiting to see how far the wind actually carries it. I think it has the potential to change a lot of thinking where smartphone design is concerned, and it makes Windows Mobile look like a joke. The overall concept, design, implementation of the device: I am in love with it. My reticence stems from very specific needs, which are twofold: Continue reading