Category Archives: iOS

Twitter versus Developers/Clients/Users

Thanks to Twitter most all of the fine third party twitter apps that are available to date, are losing many of the features they have been able to provide up to this point. In the end it seems evident that Twitter is preparing to implement a subscription paradigm – (Oh please no) – and they’re trying to chase developers away in such a way that no one is overly tempted to litigate.

Twitter has kind of developed a reputation for appealing to a more mature audience and I fit that model perfectly, but for those who really get some meaningful experience with Twitter, you soon discover that it can be a way to get customized “news” feeds that are beautifully blended with blogs, spontaneous comments and specific information about specific items, technology, support – and all of it as narrowly or broadly focused as a user chooses. And, it does it without being Facebook – praise be! It certainly can be more Instagram-like if a person wants to use it that way, and that’s cool too but, I’m just not an Instagram guy and Instagram really isn’t capable of meeting my professional and casual needs they way that Twitter can.

Thanks to Twitter getting more and more stingy with its tech, third-party developers of clients have their hands tied with no longer being able to provide the features that we’ve all become accustomed to. Personally I think Twitter is going to do less well with this strategy – as always time will tell. In the meantime I’m taking the opportunity to go through, and in some cases revisit, other clients just to make sure I’m not missing something. Here’s my take on a few of those apps – short and sweet:

Twitter’s own app, by itself or compared to the others I’ve tried – NO;

Echofon – Meh;

Twitterrific – Is elegant, but is also a nickel-and-dime trap;

Tweetbot by Tapbots @tweetbot – Has been my goto Twitter client for the better part of 10 years and inspite of Twitters BS I’m still going to stick with it after trying out some of the competition.

Some recent reviews on the App Store have complained that there hasn’t been much progress with Tweetbot, but consider this – It’s already very well developed and Twitter isn’t sharing their tech with developers in any meaningful way anymore. I’ve seen a few applications in my life that have actually been completely developed. Sure, you can always change things around, change colors, etc., but from a developmental standpoint there was no where else to go. Arguably, Tweetbot was arriving. My final and most starred praise for Tweetbot is for its virtue in remaining a non-subscription portal into the Twitter-verse. Thank you Tapbots and you never know, Twitter may come back to its senses before it’s too late.

Proper Handling of Trial App Versions In The App Store Is A Mutual Responsibility, Shared By The Store and The Developer

9to5Mac MarsEdit developer lists 8 problems with Apple’s approach to free trials of iOS apps

I certainly see some of the these points as valid – and apparantly licensing is always difficult – and I see this because I get to deal with really ridiculous licensing architectures like, iLOK. O M G! I’m compelled to use AVID’s ProTools, (as opposed to Apple’s Logic X), because Apple refuses to fix a fatal timecode flaw in that product, which would otherwise be a ProTools killer. But, I digress.

Digidesigns’ ProTools, even before they were scooped up by AVID, has always chosen the absolutely, most complicated licensing schemes they can get their hands on, and that alone kills what would otherwise be a perfectly adequate tool for audio professionals. (It’s like being kidnapped by outlaw bad guys and then being forced to dance around the campfire while they shoot at my feet.) I respect the right of all authors, whatever it is that’s being authored, to protect their work and to make sure there is proper compensation for all instances of it’s existence in the wild, but, what it all comes down to is, we, the end-users that actually shell out the $, are the ones that suffer. I think this article kind of gets to that point.

The word confusing pops up several times and that’s something that can turn users away. In the context of where the App Store is now, I see an interesting system where a developer will release a “lite” version and a “full”, or, “Pro” version. Sometimes the move from lite to Pro or Full can be made by an “In-App” purchase, or, the two installs are completely separate. For me this has generally worked very well, to the point that I really miss it when there’s a $10-$50 app that I think will be a useful tool, but, there’s no way to try it before I commit to it. Something else I miss on the App Store is the simple ability to download a trial version of an application that has a built-in time out feature. This allows me, the all important end-user, to try the app before I commit to it, and, gets me off of my butt to make a committment by the end of the trial period. All that being said, I’m glad there’s an attempt being made to provide trial versions.

To both the App Store and the Developers: Don’t make it confusing; don’t make it frustrating; don’t make it complicated; and, remember where the actual money comes from. We the end-users are watching. (This could be a good thing – make it so.)

ApplePay Progress In My Area – Updated

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.

Update

All three Aldis that are within driving distance now take Apple Pay, sort of. Before I get into what that looks like – Target and Sam’s Club also allow you to check out using your iOS device, but, not Apple Pay specifically. Target really doesn’t work out well since all you get to do is scan your discount barcode from your phone, but you still are compelled to use cash or plastic to complete your transaction. Sam’s Club takes this one step farther and actually does allow you to checkout using your phone, but they’ve circumvented Apple Pay by having customers scan their own shopping cart items so that when you get to the register you, again, scan a barcode, but, this time the app is directly connected to a qualified card so you can, in fact, complete your check out with nothing but your phone, assuming you’ve got the app set up correctly BEFORE going into the store. It takes a little practice, but it really speeds up getting through checkout.

Now back to Aldis. I live in southern IL, so if you’re familiar with the area you’ll know the cities I’m going to refer to. Harrisburg: This is my least favorite Aldis because they just don’t have the selection that the other two stores in my area have, and significantly fewer organic choices across the board, but, Apply Pay in that store is the most reliable of the three. Marion: The hands-down best of the three stores for overall selection and certified organic meats and fresh produce, (still needs more improvement along these lines, but the best of the three to date). Apple Pay is spotty and the cashiers are not very friendly to helping the process along if Apple doesn’t connect properly the first time. Carbondale: Has an overall decent selection of food products, but has some catching up to do to match what the Marion store offers in the way of organics. Apple Pay is very spotty and the cashiers very unfriendly to assisting customers if the Apple Pay connection doesn’t succeed the first time. Unfriendly to the point where, if they see me whip out my phone to pay they will literally star off into the distance behind me, and if I ask for assistance they will not move a muscle to tear their eyes away from the distant object while mumbling that they don’t know anything about that. I’ve had that experience just about every time I’ve walked into that store – the Apple Pay fail followed by the attitude.

An additional store that now takes Apple Pay without prejudice is, Staples, where about 80% of my Apple Pay transactions succeed and if they don’t the cashier are generally about as attentive to the customer’s situation as if you are using plastic. There may be other stores in my area that are now taking Apple Pay, but I’m unaware of them if they are. Whenever I go to a store for the first time, or that I have not visited in awhile, I will almost always ask they take Apple Pay and I do it as an awareness campaign for those that don’t. Oh yeah, and all of the Subways in the region are also taking Apple Pay and it seems pretty reliable at the two stores I frequent.

I really appreciate not having to shell out cash, which tends to get onlookers more interested in my wallet than I’m comfortable with, and I really don’t miss having to use plastic where I put myself at risk twice with every transaction in a checkout line – Once when I pull the card out and expose the card number and the second time is when I often have to enter a four-digit security code. (I’ve actually been scammed this way before and was aware that the person behind was paying too close attention to the card I was holding in my hand even as I was doing my level best to keep it tucked in my palm and held up agains my stomach while I waited for the cashier to complete the scanning process of my purchase. I almost have instant recall for long strings of numbers so I know this is easily possible. If it doesn’t come naturally a person can train themselves to remember long strings of numbers almost instantly.)

For me, Apple Pay is not only cool, but mostly, it’s just more secure for paying when shopping in the corporeal world.

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.

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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?!