Feb 13 2012

iOS Missing Feature: Multiple Device App Management

I have over 100 iOS apps in three different devices, an iPod running running iOS 4.2, and an iPhone and iPad on iOS 5. As much as possible, I always sync all devices to my laptop so that they all have the latest updates. I know that since iOS 5, apps and songs purchased from iTunes on one device will automatically sync to other devices. That said I still find that I have sync for other reasons, to transfer photos to iPhoto and sync a large number of podcasts I listen to. And perhaps, most importantly, I’ve sync to charge my device. One issue, definitely first world problem, I have with having multiple iOS devices is managing all the apps in the different devices. If I delete on app from the iPad, it doesn’t delete it from the iPhone. If I delete it from the iTunes on my laptop and I sync with a device that contains that app, it will copy it back to iTunes.

Another big issue is that you have to configure your app pages and folders on each device. If you spend an hour organizing your apps into folders and pages in one device you have to re-do it all over again on the second device. What ends up happening is that you’ll have two devices with the same apps in different pages and folders.

What I am missing from my mobile experience is the ability to sync, not only the apps and content of apps, but the meta-data about how I organize apps between iOS devices. I want to have the choice to clone how one iOS device organizes and layouts the apps to other devices. I would also like the ability to have different app layout settings, such as have the iOS device automatically put applications into folders based on the app category or my usage of the app. And of course, I would like to have a way to delete an app from one device and have it disappear from all other devices.


Dec 19 2011

Reclaim Disk Space With Spacie

Recently I noticed that I had less than 3GB of free disk pace on my laptop. I have and take a lot of photos, in addition to that I download and install a lot of different development tools and IDEs. I also have a lot of music and listen to a lot of podcasts. In addition to all this, I am a digital hoarder and download and save any PDF or image that I find interesting.

When I discovered that I was running out of disk space I immediately started to look for “disk space” apps on the App Store. I found Spacie to be what the HD DR ordered. With Spacie I found that I had multiple version of NetBeans each taking close to 1GB. I had multiple versions of the Android SDK each taking close to 1GB. Spotify was caching over 2GB of data. I found that iPhoto and iTunes was taking the bulk of the space. I easily had 20GB in iPhoto and 40GB in iTunes. In iPhoto, I started to export and backup photo sets older than a year or two so that I could reclaim more space. In iTunes, I found that I had a hundreds of podcasts taking over 100MB each. I pushed these photo sets and podcasts to an external hard drive and reclaimed over 40GB of disk space. Spacie helped me to identify what files where taking the most space and I systematically addressed each folder as best I could.

Spacie

Spacie finds large files in your hard drive and helps reclaim disk space.

Spacie is available on the Apple App Store. It is currently priced at $1.99 and it’s well worth it since it saved me from having to upgrade to a new hard drive.


Nov 22 2010

The Ultimate Geek Gift Guide 2010

This geek gift guide is not so much for geeks and techies but for those that have geeks and techies in their life and need a little help in finding the right geek gift this holiday season. If you want to wow the geek in your life with the latest technology gadget you need to look no further.

The hottest piece of technology this year has been the Apple iPad. The iPad is great for geeks no matter their passion, music, photography, gaming, social media, etc. A geek that travels a lot would enjoy the 3G iPad so that they can always be connected no mater where they are. Whether you give the geek in your life an iPad or if they already have one, there are a ton of great accessories such as the iPad cases. I have been happy with the standard Apple iPad Case but for something more eye catching then consider the DODOcase. I also enjoy this leather portfolio iPad slipcase.

Targus Hughes Leather Portfolio Slipcase

Targus Hughes Leather Portfolio Slipcase

To get the most out of an iPad you need apps, for stocking stuffers you can consider getting a few iTunes gift cards which can be used to purchase apps, music, books, and movies from the iTunes store. I’ve already written regarding my favorite iPad apps.

Not every geek is into Apple products. Fortunately, there are other viable touch-based tablets such as the Google Android powered Archos 9 PC Tablet or the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

For the avid reader in your life, nothing beats the Amazon Kindle. There are other electronic book readers but the Kindle is the most wished-for and most gifted ebook reader. The latest generation of the Kindle is smaller than previous versions and Amazon provides just about every top book in the Kindle format. What I love best about the Amazon Kindle is that your digital library is available to you in just about every device, iPhone, iPad, desktop, Android mobile device, and more.

This holiday season the most sought after family oriented game will not be on the Wii, it will be on the XBox 360. The XBox 360 has a set of games that do no require a controller to play, instead you play them by controlling the game play with your body. The Kinect Sensor has a series of camera’s that capture your body movements and uses that information to control the character in the game. The best game on for the Kinect Sensor has to be Dance Central. Dance Central doesn’t require any controller or pad for you to get down with your dance moves, you just dance in front of you television set.. The other games to look forward to is DJ Hero 2 and Rock Band 3.

Xbox 360 250 GB Kinect Bundle

Xbox 360 250 GB Kinect Bundle

As everyone already knows, the standard geek uniform is jeans and a t-shirt. Any self respecting geek needs to have some ThinkGeek shirts in his wardrobe. ThinkGeek gear is like Armani Exchange for geeks, binary fashionable and geek chic.

If you need more suggestions, take a look at previous years geek gift guides: The Ultimate Geek Gift Guide 2009, 2008


Nov 7 2010

iPhone App Ransom Font

The Apple App Store has been proven successful in just about every metric, in the number of available apps, the number of apps downloaded, and the large number of developers flocking to the platform. One iPhone feature that does not get a lot of attention is the how apps are laid out in a series of pages. To visually distinguish apps, each app can use a custom 32×32 pixel image as an icon. The application’s icon image is used in the Apple App Store as a visual shortcut or descriptor for the application. The icon is an integral part of the application’s branding. A visually stunning icon will lead to more downloads and more sales. I feel that the iPhone apps’ logos have developed a new app iconography, a new language based on icons much like the how symbols are used in freeway signs to denote roadside services.

App Ransom Font

App Ransom Font

A large number of iPhone apps use the first letter of the name of their product or service in the app icon, for example Facebook uses a stylized lowercase F and WordPress uses a W in a circle. Some brands have done a great job integrating their brand into their mobile app’s logo, for example my favorites include American Airlines, Dictionary.com, Hulu, Kayak, Skype, etc. There are so many brands that follow this pattern of using the first letter of their product or service’s name that I noticed I could develop a logo-based App Ransom Font.

I didn’t actually create a iPhone inspired ransom font but I’m sure you can use iPhone app icons if you ever need to create a web 2.0 inspired ransom note.

Please note that I am missing an app whose icon has the following letters: L, X


Oct 22 2010

Favorite iPad Apps

It’s really hard to find really great iPad apps from the hundreds of thousands of apps available from the Apple iTunes appstore. I’ve bought a few apps that I’ve later regretted. In this post I’ll list the top five iPad apps, other than Twitter apps, that I love using on the iPad. I’m always looking for new apps to try out, if you have any suggestions, please feel free to list them in the comments sections.

Autodesk SketchBook Pro – My go to app for drawing a quick sketch for an idea, logo, or design is the Autodesk SketchBook Pro. It’s easy to use, has a nice selection of different brushes and patterns. One of my favorite features is the mirror, drawing one a line will produce a mirrored image of that line. I also like that the produced images can easily be exported at a high resolution. SketchBook Pro also supports multiple layers. There are few features I would like to add to this app. I’ve used images generated from this app in my Tumblr on many occasions.

Penultimate – Another favorite sketch app is Penultimate. This sketch app is a lot simpler and easier to use. Penultimate only has three pen widths and six colors to choose so I used this for rough sketches for ideas. The look of Penultimate feels like a Molskine notepad. Penultimate allows you to have multiple notebooks, each for a different project. You can export a page as an image or a notebook as a PDF document.

Amazon Kindle – I’ve had a Kindle since it was originally released and I have a lot of notes, highlights, and bookmarks for the Kindle ebooks that I’ve read. Even though I have a Kindle, the most common way I read Kindle books is through my iPad via the Kindle for iPad application.

Adobe PS Express – The Adobe PS Express is my favorite app when it comes to cropping pictures on the iPad. PS Express comes with a few commonly used photo manipulations such as cropping, straightening, rotating, and flipping images. It also has a predefined set of borders and filters to apply on your photos or image files.

Strip Design – Strip Design is a very simple iPhone and iPad app that allows you to create comic strip like panels. You can create a strip of one, two, three, or four panels. In each panel you can drop a different image. You can also add thought balloons and different stickers such as crazy looking mustaches or action effects.

Dragon Dictation – Dragon Dictation helps to transcribe to text what you say. This is really useful to record a thought and have it transcribed to text quickly. Dragon has good recognition, at least it has worked for me. I used Dragon Dictation when I want to jot down a idea quickly, then I emailed me the dictated text for final editing.


Oct 11 2010

Foursquare Missing Features

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Foursquare style check-ins is a feature not a product. Facebook Places has proven that location base check-ins are a feature easily implemented. That said, Foursquare and other location based services have tried to wrap social games and compulsion loops into their products in the form of mayorships and badges to make the check-in process more meaningful. But as a feature, as opposed to a product, checking into a place, restaurant, or business does not scratch any real business itch. I understand that to a brick and mortar business, having an idea of how often your customers are near your business and marketing to them when they are can be beneficial, but if all Foursquare is doing is checking in then users will eventually experience check-in burnout.

Location based check-ins is a feature and to one degree or another you can lock in your location on Facebook Places, Yelp, Google Buzz, Twitter, Gowalla, etc. But aside from running for mayor of my local dollar store and racking up some virtual badges there is little benefit or purpose for the end user. The missing piece of location base services is commerce, making users into customers.

Like most folks, I hate waiting in line at a restaurant. Too often when you are stuck in line you have someone crowding into your personal space, you feel like you are just wasting time standing there waiting to order some food, and worst is when people call in and their order is taken before yours. Wouldn’t it be great if you can use a location base service to indicate that you are near your favorite taqueria and have the ability to order right there using a mobile app? If Foursquare could do this, I wouldn’t mind given them my credit card number, turning me from a free loading user to paying customer.

There a ton of apps on the iTunes app store that use users’ location to find a store or deal nearby. The Groupon app can locate deals nearby. The Macy’s iShop app has a store locator that uses your phone’s location. If McDonald’s or Starbucks had a location base mobile app that allowed me to order from half a block down by charging my card and had my items ready as I walked in, that would add so much more value to the mobile app user, establishment, and location based service.