Category Archives: iOS

ApplePay Progress In My Area

In Southern IL not so much. One of the first places in my area was Panera, but the system at that particular store works sometimes and not at other times. Interestingly, I spent a month working in London last year and was able to use Apple Pay almost everywhere, even in the outlying areas of the city. And, in that city, the best exchange rate I could get was to use my Simple Bank card, with or without my iPhone, at most any ATM – even when including the service fee it beat anything I could get walking into a bank or exchange shop. Where I live won’t be much empowered with AP until/unless Sams, Walmart and Target get on the ball, which I’m guessing won’t be anytime soon.

A searing commentary on iOS app development with a reference to what’s really possible.

This is pretty much a copy-and-paste of an app store product review for Word Press. As it was being composed I realized I was actually witnessing a lesson for app developers. I’m not a developer, but a user of apps, many of them, for both work and pleasure, and on occastion an app is conceptualized, created and engineered in such a way that it reminds me that much of the software we use is rushed, under-whelming and mostly a waste of our collective, valuable time. What started as a searing review of Word Press’s latest iOS app iteration unwittlingly became high praise for an app called, “Blogpad Pro”. Thanks for reading, and please feel free to become much more demanding about the quality of the applications you use, be they for work or pleasure, free or paid.

____________________

——————————

It’s so much less frustrating to open an app where you can tell that they have really tried to develop something that is aesthetically pleasing, and functional, even though initial releases may fall a bit short on aesthetics, while still delivering more than expected in terms of fundamental reliability and intuition for the end-user. On the other hand, apps like the one being reviewed [WP] just continue to frustrate as lots of thought is given to aesthetics but clearly functionality and intuitiveness get a lower priority. The principle being described might go something like this: The better an app looks, the better it better deliver.

I’ve had this app [WP] on my iPad mini for some time and look at it every so often to see if these fundamental principles have engaged with the developers yet … As of this morning, still no. I can’t even get to square one with this app as I open help windows, or plug-in information windows, and then can’t clearly see how to get back to the main app short of quitting it by swiping-up and relaunching. The built-in browser offers absolutely no visible button for getting back to the “My Sites” area … Oh it’s there, in the upper left hand corner, it’s just programmed in such a way that it can’t be seen, so hopefully the user is savvy enough to poke around a bit and figure it out. And WP wants me to actually use my valuable time posting with this? Nope, not happening.

The best Word Press app for iOS continues to be a relatively old app called, “Blogpad Pro”. I started using this app way back with iOS 8.x and it was so well engineered that it continues to trounce the likes of Word Press’s own, along with most anything else out there. The downside is that, there have been no updates to this app for years, (which is also very impressive when considering all things that have come along for Word Press in the interim), and repeated attempts to contact the developer are met with the proverbial sounds of crickets.

It’s really too bad they did not make enough to continue looking after one of the best engineered apps ever. It remains the perfect blend of a full set of useful and functional features, aesthetics and ongoing reliability, and incredibly, continues to work well with iOS11 (with NO updates)! Every app developer on the planet should find these dear people and pay them A LOT of money to really understand how to develop a good quality application – for any and all purposes.

I want to be able to use Word Press’s” own app because it also incorporates site management tools into its app – sort of, but, until WP stops trying to wow-me and starts developing a fundamentally solid, pleasing and reliable software application, I’m compelled to continue to turn my nose up at it. Best of luck.

Thanks For The Reviews iMore!

http://www.imore.com/iphone-6s-review

Got my 6S last week [upgrading from 5S] after doing a lot of reading, mostly from iMore. For me performance is everything with all computing devices, big or small, desktop or hand-held, and it became clear to me that the 6S(+) hardware was going to offer everything that is possible with the technology this year – and I am not dissapointed. This thing is fast and the 3D touch is absolutely a game changer for human interface with machines, and, almost all of the developers of the utility apps that I use and need are moving quickly to take advantage of the power and interface upgrades of the new hardware and iOS. This time I decided to get my phone from the Apple Store and I’m trying the new-every-two method. I’m a Verizon customer, (out of contract – yay!), and at the Apple sales person’s recommendation I called Verizon, and, long story short, they knocked $20/month off of my phone bill, per month – which offsets the $40/month iPhone payment by 50%. Wow! Who woulda thunk. Okay, enough fun, gotta get back to work. Thanks, iMore, for the 6S reviews!

How Deep Does Your Browser Go?

 
I have long been suspicious that web browsers go deep when installed on any OS, and I beleive that the article at the head of this post is only the tip of the iceberg. It makes me wonder how we can be so cavalier about installing web browsers. Many users have multiple installations of various web browsers installed and it’s not unusual for a single user to use different web browsers to get things done. I draw the analogy that, using web browsers to get everything done is a lot like using a public restroom, where, we also eat, wash our clothes, have afternoon tea with friends, scrawl bank account passwords on the walls and stalls, and etc. I know that web browsers are not the only illegitimate way into a pc, but I have to wonder, of all of the break-ins that happen, how many are accomplished and/or initiated through launching of a web browser. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t get a pop-up of somekind that is just downright creepy – and that’s with all blocking and saftey switches fully engaged.
 
My suspicion is also why I am absolutlely not on-board with the notion of web apps. I know for a fact that web apps can save a company money, and can provide freedom from an OS App store distribution system, but I don’t think it’s worh it. I’ve been burned a few times on the web, most notably when I was more heavily into being an eBay reseller, and, before there weren’t many/any non-webb apps dedicated to buying and selling with a more closed front end. In the name of more discloser, let me say that, in retrospect, the hack [theft of login info] could have easily been avoided if had just kept mental track of how many times the convincing-looking eBay login page kept poping up. I was very busy preparing purchases and just figured that I had been logged off because of a prolonged period of inactivity, and was therefore being prompted to re-login. Thankfully the outcome of that, while bad enough, was not the end of my financial world, but it could’ve been. As it was, the hacker(s) got enough info from me that they used my account to spam thousands of other eBay users and for a few days I got many angry emails from fellow eBayers. EBay doesn’t get high marks from me for the help that they proferd after the fact, but they did help enough that I was able to make ammends to my brothers and sisters in eBay land in a fairly short time. All of that from having to use a web interface to get the job done. Yes, it could’ve happened using a non-web app, but it would have been much less likely.
 
My two personal favorite browsers are Firefox and Safar – in that order; but in the real world I will have nothing to do with Firefox, because, of all the browsers I’m convinced that it goes the very deepest into the OS. In years past, and in more recent years, major performance improvements have been yielded by completely removing Firefox from an OS – I have even won a couple of low yield bets, that, removing Firefox from a given desktop system would immedately improve performance to a greater or lesser degree, but to a measurable degree in any case – and I won both times.
 
I have finally come to the point where I only use a browser when there’s no other way, and furthermore, when a company or individual provides a product or service that forces me to use a web browser or a web app, I move on to other vendors and service providers. And, that includes the likes of mint.com and intuit.com, based on the way they used to provide their various online services only a few years ago. I think that they now provide mobile and/or dedicated desktop apps for their products and services, ultimately furthering my point. Comeing back to the realm of media production, there are a couple of companies offering some very promising video sharing and production collaboration services – guess what their interfaces are? But, if they do well, I beleive that, in the long run, they will end up developing dedicated, non-web, apps.

Ad Security In iOS9 – No Thanks To Google

 

I will always endeavor to refrain from foul language here, but I almost didn’t make it this time. Yeah, sure, it makes sense that Google recklessly advises app developers on how to disable ad security, and then, after a backlash that they labeled, “… important feedback …”, they proceed to backpedal and minimize their “advise”. What does Google care, as long as their apps are on everything so they can sell page/time/clicks, it’s no real concern of theirs. The far more appropriate thing to do was refer developers to Apple’s Ad Security documentation, where, they will/would’ve learned the same thing, but in a way that let’s the developer know that this should really not be worked around, and if worked around, it should only be done so as an absolute last resort.

Dumped Google, everything, two years ago and have not missed a thing, except the very freaky experience of having general web page browsing load up a page full of ads pointing me to web sites that sell the same product or service I just bought somewhere else. (By the way, what’s that good for again?) Sheeesh! (Sheeesh isn’t a bad word is it? Foul lingo comes as naturally to me as breathing.)

iPad Pro – Just Put A Keyboard On It …

 

I’m sorry but seriously – Just put a detachable keyboard on it and face the fact that you’ve got a laptop there – not an iOS device. I’ll even overlook the fact that Microsoft’s already done it – the detachable keyboard – and trust that Apple will get it right. What’s the point? With the work that’s undoubtely going to get done on such a device, a keyboard is only inevitable. Make a MBP and add touch screen, and you’ve got a complete – um, portable computer. The iPad Pro is going to be a laptop with touch screen + keyboard – simple as that.

@iMore – Faster, Harder and Stronger!

 

To quote one of my favorite Naturopaths – “Faster, Harder and Stronger!”

Plus, very water resistant, and, wireless charging – and not wireless dock charging – I mean wireless charging. (I don’t have to drop it on a proprietary, uh, dock, it just has to be x-number of inches/feet from the charger thingy.)

Oh! And, small please.

The Age of Small iPhones

 

With regard to phones I’m pretty sure, along with many others, that Apple’s not going to release a small phone this year, and that’s too damn bad. But, if correct, that means I have another year to save up for Fall of 2016’s new releases. Unfortunately, I think that any future “small” iPhone gear will feel a lot like getting an iPod Touch – the hardware specs will intentionally be a step behind whatever their current-year, new releases will be – that always drove me nuts using an iPod Touch – but, in the end it worked, Apple got me to buy an iPhone 5S with their antics … I mean, strategy.

All of that is to say, I fear the age of small phones is gone and I will be compelled to get a monster phone by this time next year if I want to upgrade. I’m a performance-driven user of all things Apple. When I upgrade I’ve got to have the latest CPU, maximum RAM, best video components, screen technology and etc. Besides needing the performance in my reality, it dramatically helps downplay hardware obsolescence over time.

So, I’m going to spend the next thirteen months getting use to the idea of carrying around a monster-sized iPhone. When I pickup the phone and look at the big, beautiful screen, and luxuriate in the responsivness of the UI, I will have absolutely no issue, but, when it’s time to put it away and hit the road, in the pocket it will not go. That means, back on the belt, (which I came to really loathe), and, I just don’t do the back pocket – just don’t.

 

Life is tough – isn’t it?!

Allowing Comments and Reviews While Beta Testing

As I get ready to start a new week there’s something I remain troubled by. Early last week I began to notice on certain support web sites, which will remain nameless, rather severe reactions from developers toward some of its users who are using beta versions of the upcoming iOS or Mac OS, who merely attempted to notify fellow users that the beta versions of these OSes render the developer’s application unuseable. In several of these cases I noted that the user attempting to post the notice made it perfectly clear that the notification was not a review or a criticism, only a notification to those who may be contemplating trying the beta versions of Apple’s OS(es). The barely polite chastisment by the development company’s moderator, of the enlightened user, was surprising to me and it has continued to trouble me off and on throughout the last week.

Apple itself has disabled their Review function on their app stores if the store senses you’re using a beta version of the OS. (I don’t remember if this was the case during the OS 8 beta.) In short, I get it. Prior to last week I found myself endlessly frustrated with individuals who were running beta versions of one or more of Apple’s OSes and proceeded to give soaring criticisms of how bad the OS was, or the app, or both. I’m reminded of the scene from the first Jurassic Park movie where the nefarious genetic engineer comes face to face with a smallish dinasour, and while holding a stick in his hand says something like, “… see the stick … it’s a stick, stupid.” Well, if my admittedly rough analogy holds any water at all, then I’ll leave you to make the final connection. If I were a software developer this kind of thing would be frustrating, at least.

So heres the “but”: I wanted to give the current public beta of iOS 9 a go, but, there are one or two iOS apps that are fairly important to my daily life and I didn’t feel I could afford to lose their functionality, so I went looking for information that might tell me if these apps were going to break if I installed the beta iOS. Ultimately, the virtual censorship that is going on by Apple and by app developers disallowed anyone from openly sharing that information. I find this disappointing, even irkesome. I totally get that no one in their right mind should judge an OS or an app in its beta phases – that’s easy, but I believe there needs to be some appropriate culpability by the developers toward users of their products. I’m not referring to a developer just sayng their product won’t work under the beta OS, whether or not they’ve actually tried it, just to cover their hides, I’m talking about developers at least opening their app with each beta iteration and posting the results for all to see, so that users can gauge for themselves how much of a risk they’re willing to take.

Personally, I like being able to take part in public betas, but, it has become hard to assess reasonable risk, because from where I sit, app developers are unwilling to cooperate with users who wish to do so. I don’t believe it would cost developers anything in time and effort to use their support pages to post a simple set of results along with the obligitory and inevitable reminder that, users always use their products at the user’s own risk, and all the more so if you’re using a public beta of the OS.

Rather than censorship maybe there needs to be some basic public education about what a beta version of any software really is, combined with examples of what reasonable expectiations might be. There also needs to be voluntary and full disclosure by developers as to whether or not their product is going to be unuseable with a public beta version of an OS. This whole concept can still be really good, but there’s clearly a communication gap between app developers, Apple and end users.

Laboratory Malware/Attacks/Viruses

I really have to wonder about the behind-the-scenes politics of people and organizations that create previously non-existent malware. On the surface I get it, but it seems dubious that a person or group that creates mechanisms that break the average desktop or handheld computer have only altruistic motivations. Here’s just a concern or three that I have:

  1. What happens when this person’s or group’s admiration for the computing system they portend to love wanes?
  2. How long does it take for that love to wane in light of the admitted lack of appreciation that comes from the manufacturer/developer.
  3. Whether or not there is/was any real admiration by the malware creator, what would it take to buy that particular creator’s particular creation?
  4. I see no regulation or oversight of any kind for this practice.

Certainly germ warfare development [bio-germs] takes place, but it is somewhat regulated by the realization of the people doing the hands-on development, of just how really dangerous what they’re working with is. I would also argue that, whatever of this kind of thing goes on in the USA is watched very closely, even if it is not strictly regulated, (and I’m not saying it’s not – I don’t know if it is or not). Why would it be closely watched? For two reasons: To keep it secret and because it’s just dangerous to all concerned, and no risks can afford to be taken.

Now back to the malware lab where it seems to me that this kind of thing is carried out with no oversight of any kind, and if this thing shows up in the wild 12-24 months from now this person will have no culpability except, “I told you so”.

Sorry, but I don’t believe this practice should be geek fodder, because there is a lot at stake – potentially, even human life – since computers are so indelible to our existence now. The more this is contemplated the more I think this practice needs to be reigned in – there needs to be official oversight. It’s really too bad that giant companies like Microsoft and Apple, and Google, and all the rest, don’t do this all in-house – with government oversight. Software development has too long enjoyed the luxury of getting us to completely depend on products that take absolutely no responsibility for outcomes or losses due to the product’s shortcomings.