Gear Update

I picked up an iPhone 6 Plus. Yes, the sucker is big, but it does fit in my pockets. Both pants and shirt. The bigger screen is nice. More real estate, better for view high res pictures and videos. The real plus of the larger size is the vastly improved battery life. This is due the all the extra space behind the screen being packed with a bigger battery. I can use Waze on the way to work, use the phone to check email and take notes all day, and then Waze on the way home. After all that, I still have a decent charge when I get home. It really is a big improvement over my iPhone 5.

The camera is also a big improvement. I typically use the Camera+ app for stills. I have it set to save giant TIF files. Gives you more data to work with in Lightroom, Pixelmator, or Picasa. The editing functions in Camera+ are also richer than the iOS defaults.

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Hidden “feature” in Apple Lighting cable

One of the major changes in the new iPhone 5 is the new 8 pin “Lighting” cable instead of the 30 pin cable used in all iPhone and iPad devices previously.

Now the general purpose computer that you can make phone calls on (i.e. the iPhone 5) comes with a Lighting cable, but odds are you are going to need at least one spare.  No problem if you don’t mind paying Apple $19 for a spare cable.  If that is a bit pricy for you, you may have to wait.

According to one cable manufacture that has done a tear down of a Lighting cable, Apple has put an authentication chip in the cable (which is doing D2A conversion as well).  So beware of any third party “Lighting compatible” cables for a while.  I’m betting this can be cracked, but it may be a few months before its done and third party cables start hitting the market.

If you are laying out the cash for the Darth Vader phone, part with another $19 and get a spare cable.  You’ll need it.  I’ve been considering a dual 1.0/2.1 amp car charger anyway, so can I could charge both my Nexus 7 and an iPhone at the same time.  I could charge my iPhone straight from the car’s USB port, but the Sync system treats its as an MP3 player and tries to index it, which screws with the Bluetooth streaming (are you paying attention Ford?), so it’s easier to use a car charger  plugged into a power point (the former cigarette lighter socket).    The care would probably do the same thing to the Nexus 7, but I don’t keep much music on that (lots of music on the iPhone anyway).

Ok, back to the cable, you can get a 30 pin to Lighting adapter.  Apple sells one for $29.  Again, off the bat, I’m not sure I would trust any third party adapter for  a while.  Not until some early adopters spring for them and start sharing their success/failure rate.

Apple announces the iPad

Apple is hold a press announcement for it’s tablet device, called an iPad.

Streaming details at gdgt.

No price announced yet, but rumors say around a grand.

UpdateI posted more details over at the Urbin Report.

Apple really slammed the price down.  $499 for a 16 Gig WiFi model and $829 for 64 Gig with WiFi & 3G.

Downside: It’s a big iTouch.  No standard USB port, no SD slot and it’s locked to iTunes to load new content.

On the other hand, it’s a good Netbook replacement for around the house.  Surfing, basic email and a better screen to watch video on.  Apple finally came out with a keyboard, it’s not Bluetooth, but connects to a docking port.  A step in the right direction.

Since it’s a big iTouch, it runs all the iTouch/iPhone apps.  So you can ignore Apple’s iBooks store, load the Kindle app and buy books from Amazon.  Or you could load Stanza or Bookshelf and read your own DRM free e-books, like the ones you purchase from Baen Books.

Apple also announced a new SDK, so it will be interesting to see what new features the iPad has when people start digging into that.

Update: It appears that the iPad actually does have a webcam.

iTunes for the UI Fail!

Approaching the two hour mark for what should be a simple iPhone sync.

I flushed the primary drive of my desktop, loaded Windows 7 and and started reinstalling software. All my data is on another drive, so it should be a fairly straightforward process.   To Windows 7’s credit, it has been. Up until I hit iTunes, software from the UI Uber-geniuses at Apple.

I installed iTunes, it found my old information in the my documents folder tree (part of that keeping all the data on a separate drive things), but was treating this as a new instance of iTunes, instead of the continuation of the old one.

I manage my music and movies manually, and sync podcasts and apps.  If I tried to change the default setting to that configuration, I got dire warnings from iTunes that it would erase my phone data and replace it. After a bit of digging, I did the non-intuitive action of transferring my ‘purchases’ from the iPhone to this instance of iTunes.  They I made the selection to sync the podcasts I wanted synced and got the dire warnings again.  I bit the bullet, hit sync, and here I am two hours later, still waiting for iTunes to figure this out.

I’ve made the selection not to send usage data to Apple at least three times, each time, careful to hit the “don’t ask this questions again” button.

I’m still no closer to having Dr. Tiki and the gang loaded on my iPhone. So much for Apple’s ease of use and well known attention to detail in order to improve the user experience.

In this case they have screwed that pouch so hard that poor mutt can’t walk.

Epic Fail for the vaunted Apple UI here.

The Droid

Verizon has finally gotten what could a be a viable iPhone replacement.  A phone running the latest version of Google’s Andorid OS and a growing supply of applitions.

I haven’t got my hands on one yet, but I’ve read a few reviews that state it stands up quite well in head to head comparisons with the iPhone.  The biggest complaint I’ve heard is that the iPhone has a much deeper pool of applications available.  Not suprising, but I expect the number of Android apps to grow quickly.

Verizon is also pushing its much wider 3G coverage heavily, but it’s still not a GSM network.  That topic has been discussed here, and I’m sure it will again, but I’m still a fan of GSM networks.  It is my opinion that Verizon is going to have to bite that bullet sooner or later.

The Droid phone and its OS have another advantage, open source.  The iPhone is locked down tight by Apple.  It controls your apps, what they can do, and how much data you can transfer over the cell phone network.  An Android based phone, with a SIM slot, is much more flexible.

Apple’s Announcement

Apple made a long anticipated product launch on 9/9/09. What was missing was more interesting than what was announced.

What was announced was interesting. An iPod touch with 64 Gig of memory, but no camera, and a Nano iPod with not just a camera, but a video camera and a FM radio. The Nano’s camera is VGA quality, not HD. The FM radio is a nice touch, but Microsoft is releasing a Zune with a HD FM radio soon.

The 64 Gig iPod touch is interesting, it takes a lot of video to fill up that much RAM. The strictly internal memory in the Apple devices is a solid money maker for Apple. What they charging for additional RAM is no where near what a SD card of the same size would cost. It would also provide a conduit for data in and out of their devices, which isn’t going to happen as long as Steve Jobs has anything to say about it.

What was missing was the Beatles catalog on iTunes and a tablet sized iTouch. The ‘iTablet’ would have made a big splash, and killed the Kindle. The resolution wouldn’t have matched the E-Ink display that the Kindle uses, but the increased functionality would have been the deciding factor. Apps would have to be rewritten to take advantage of the larger screen size, but I think the development community would step up to the challenge. I’m sure that Amazon would update their e-reader app for that platform, even if they understood that it would result in much reduced Kindle sales. Amazon would do so they wouldn’t lose a big chunk of the e-book market that they currently dominate.

Bringing another over to the Dark Side

My brother just bought a shiny new iPhone 3GS.  He had a smart phone, but didn’t like it. The User Experience on that phone just plain sucked.  It wasn’t  just that the phone used the Microsoft WINCE OS, although that is a damn good start for a poor user experience, the had the nasty habit of randomly dialing from his pocket, and loading apps or ending his call while using it as a phone because it thought his ear was the phone’s stylus.

Now, as Leo Leoporte said a few weeks ago, using Apple products is like living in Mussolini’s Italy.   Ya, the trains run on time, but there is some nasty stuff going on to make that happen.  The iPhone UI is second to none for a smart phone, but crap like blocking the Google Voice app and limiting desktop access to iTunes ensures that a good chunk of their user base will switch as soon as a more open alternative has 60% or more of their functionality and a slick user interface (can you say Android kiddies?).

Well, Android isn’t there yet, so I’m still sticking with my iPhone, especially since the camera on it is greatly improved.  I’ve seen posts by multiple professional photographers who have stopped carrying a “pocket camera” all the time, because they think their iPhone is “good enough.”

Here is my entry for a damn good iPhone photograph.