Posts Tagged ‘apple’

iPad: Not Just Another Flash in the Pan

January 31st, 2010
 

The sheer amount of discussion about who the iPad is aimed at and what they’re meant to do with it should be ringing alarm bells. Have Apple dropped the ball this time? Then again, as some have pointed out, those people asking questions are probably not part of the target market. So while the iPad now seems to be off to a shaky start, in time it will probably turn into a success as more apps, uses and features are introduced.

This is the first thing people are missing; it’s the software, not the hardware, that will make the iPad a success.

So the target market is supposedly people who want a simplified way of surfing the web, sending email and generally consuming various media? Yes, most definitely. It’s for people who want an alternative to a laptop or desktop computer? No, most definitely not.

This is the second thing most people seem to be overlooking; the simple fact is that you need to already have a laptop or desktop computer to sync the iPad with. You need to be familiar with a Mac or PC in order to use an iPad. You also need to have the most up to date OS to sync with an iPad too. This will mean a lot of people lining up for iPads will also need to upgrade their OS or in some cases their hardware. Just as the iPod before it did, the iPad will have a halo effect on other Apple products.

That’s really the key here; Apple don’t want to have another product to compete with their existing products. They want you to buy an iPad in addition to their other products.

So if you’ve already got an up-to-date Mac or PC and probably an iPod or iPhone (as Apple claim “millions and millions of people are already familiar with it” ie the iPhone OS), why then would you want or need an iPad?

It’s simple really. The iPad is aimed at the living space; the places where people relax and entertain. The places where an iPhone is too small, the laptop is too tedious and the desktop is too far away. In terms of a device for multiple people to consume and share media in the living room or kitchen, it’s perfect.

Running the iPhone OS and syncing from another machine makes sense too. It’s best kept simple. Who could really be bothered maintaining a whole other device on top of  their desktop/laptop?

Not running Flash on the other hand does make sense in terms of Apple wanting to maintain a certain level of control over the performance and overall experience on the device. However how can you claim it’s the best way of viewing the web when a decent proportion of it is replaced by little blue blocks?

When the iPhone was first released I thought it was awesome but I couldn’t really justify my need for one. My Nokia and my iPod were just fine. Now that I have an iPhone I couldn’t imagine be getting by without one. Interestingly I have since started using my old iPod in the living room. That’s where it lives and it’s incredibly handy. If only it were just a little bigger…

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RunKeeper iPhone App Review

October 25th, 2009
 
RunKeeper iPhone App Review

Unfortunately exercise has become something of a seasonal activity for me. Try as I might, the running and riding inevitably taper off with the onslaught of Winter. So now as the Southern hemisphere limps back towards Summer the mind games have begun. I know it’s going to hurt using those muscles that have been inactive for so long. Gotta be committed though. Once I start I’ve gotta keep it going. There’s no turning back. Hmmm, but the weather’s still a bit dicey. Yeah, I’ll hold off a bit longer. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Exercise – there’s an app for that

So this weekend the stars were aligned – no work to do, the family were out for the day and the weather was perfect. No excuses. It also presented me with the perfect opportunity to road test some new toys. Months earlier the iPhone I had been holding out for had finally arrived – the 3GS. I was quickly sucked in by the lure of apps. Even though I wasn’t exercising I was keen to find one for keeping track of my progress (when and if I ever got back into exercising). I have a Shimano FlightDeck on my bike that tracks the basics (speed, distance, etc). But I was keen to take advantage of the GPS built into the iPhone.

About the same time I noticed a Twitter friend was posting summary updates of their morning run using RunKeeper. The summary linked back to their profile on the website where you could see a map of their exercise activity, a detailed graph of their speed and elevation over the course of their exercise as well as the calories burned. All of this data was of course captured using the RunKeeper iPhone app which is available in both free and pro versions.

Going Pro

At a cost of $12.99 AUD the Pro version has no advertisements, but it does have audio cues, training workouts delivered via your headphones, geo-tagged photos/status updates and iPod playlist integration. As someone who takes their exercise seriously (even though I wasn’t doing any) I thought it seemed like a reasonable price.

Obviously the name RunKeeper implies it’s specific to running, however the settings allow you to select from a number of activities including cycling, hiking, skiing and walking. You can also change the units. I’m being picky here, but I found it frustrating that while the iPhone seamlessly syncs a mammoth amount of data with the website, you need to set the units on both. Surely if I’ve selected kilometres on the iPhone it’s safe to assume I don’t want miles on the website.

Getting Started

So once you’ve registered with the website and set up the app with the correct activity, units and music playlist (from iTunes) you’re ready to go. From there on all you need to do is hit the “Start” button to begin exercise. The screen gives you continual feedback on your distance, time and speed as you would expect from any exercise equipment with digital display. The beauty of the Pro version is the audio cues that give you this information via your headphones. This is ideal if you’ve got your iPhone tucked away in the back pocket of your jersey and you’re unable to see the screen. The downside is the music you’ve selected to play does not stop or dip in volume. So the audio cues are often muffled by the music. This is particularly annoying and hopefully future updates will address this. A great implementation of this is way the TomTom fades down the music to give you driving instructions before fading the music back up when it’s done.

Public service announcement: I should point out that while I do love to work out to music it’s also potentially quite dangerous if you’re cycling on public roads. As a result I only cycle with the curb-side earbud in place so I have an ear free.

Post Exercise

When you’ve completed your exercise simply hit the Stop button. The app will then ask you if you’d like to save the data. It then reads out a summary of the exercise and sends the data back to the website. There’s also a Pause button should you need to stop for natural breaks and the like while exercising.

Once my legs had recovered from the shock of exercising for the first time in months, I gingerly climbed the stairs and sat down at the computer. I logged into the RunKeeper website and was pleasantly surprised to find all of the data from my exercise already uploaded and waiting for me to examine. I was actually quite surprised by the accuracy of my route plotted against a Google map. Below the map is a graph showing my speed and elevation. Rolling over the graph identifies the corresponding location on the map so you can dissect your performance with incredible accuracy.

From there you can add notes (like weather or any other mitigating factors), export, compare to previous and share the activity on a number of social networks including Facebook and Twitter. I think I’ll hold off on this until I have some data I can be proud of.

Conclusion

Using this app is incredibly simple, just hit a button to start and another to stop. Yet the data it collects is incredibly detailed. The seamless integration from the iPhone to the website makes it a real no-brainer. Something I found really frustrating with my old FlightDeck was the need to manually collect the data from the device and then log it in some useful way. RunKeeper does everything for you and presents the data back to you in a meaningful way. The maps and graphs give it great visual impact. Which is handy if you want to show it off to your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Speaking of handy, the audio cues are great for providing feedback on you progress without needing to look at the screen, however the fact that the app doesn’t mute the music is really frustrating. That aside, this app should prove to be a great motivator this summer as I track and try to improve my fitness.

Transparent trickery

October 25th, 2009
 
Transparent trickery

By now you’ve probably seen the clever use of computer and iPhone wallpaper that replicates what’s behind, thus making the device appear to be transparent. Gizmodo have a new take on this that came about during a recent tear down of the new iMac. These high quality images effectively remove the screen to reveal the intricate guts of an iMac.

Apple changes the gamma with Snow Leopard

August 31st, 2009
 

Apple surprised us last week with an early release for the next major version of the Mac OS.

While this was generally a refinement of the previous operating system with few new features, there is one change that should make the production of digital content for multiple platforms a little easier. The default gamma has been changed from 1.8 to 2.2.

What does this mean?

Basically the Mac is now on a level playing field with the PC in terms of the way it handles colours.

This is actually pretty big news for Mac users who ever wondered why their Internet browser color looks light and washed out, or why their web photos look great in Photoshop and in Safari, but display bad color on the web and on Windows PC computers like XP and Vista. Likewise as digital content producers, colour shifting should become less of an issue as Mac users gradually upgrade.

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Apple past, present and future

August 15th, 2009
 
Apple past, present and future

The Apple rumour mill is cranking up again and this time it’s the tablet. Tablet rumours have been around as long as touch technology itself, but this time they seem to be gaining real momentum. Obviously the Apple fan boys will snap up anything marked with the ubiquitous logo, but to the rest of us just how useful is an Apple tablet?

1. APPLE TABLET: Ultimate Gallery of Concept Designs and Prototypes
2. That September Apple Tablet? More Like A 2010 Apple Tablet.
3. iTunes 9: A wish list
4. iTunes 9: Blu-ray And App Organization And Twitter, Oh My?
5. The Case Against Apple Is Just As Much A Case For Apple
6. Why Outlook For Mac Is Great For Apple
7. Aug. 6, 1997: Apple Rescued — by Microsoft – It’s amazing just how much things have changed in the last 12 years.
8. Interview with Rob Janoff, designer of the Apple logo

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