Tag Archives: apple

Apple really needs two passwords, not one for everything

I think it’s quite insane that my  whole Apple account only has one password. I need the same password for a whole range of actions. I need to type it to ‘buy’ a free app, which has almost no consequences; I can always remove it. But with the same password I can also remotely erase my iPhone, iPad an Mac. So I have no choice but making it a long, complex, strong password. Which stops me from getting free apps, as it’s a hassle to type on my iPhone.

Apple should really have two passwords: A simple 4 digit PIN for free apps (or, up to a threshold: Let’s say I could enable my PIN for apps up to $5). And you could then use your “real” password for features that need more security, such as find/erase my device, buy a $999 app, and so on.

HTML5 webapps broken on the iPad

iPad?

Apple seems to be a big proponent of HTML5: They use it for their new iAds, as Steve proudly announced during his last Keynote. So when I wanted to maken an Ipad webapp, I didn’t expect any issues. For a client of mine, I planned to work on an iPad webapp this week. It’s even the reason I bought an iPad.

Let’s start with the only good news: Setting an homescreen image, with

<link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="/custom_icon.png"/>

does work, and if you make the image 72 pixels wide, it looks great on both iPhone and iPad (the previous advice was 57 pixels, but this looks blurry on the iPad as it’s scaled up).

On the iPhone, there are some other properties you can set on a webpage to make it work offline: Besides the homescreen icon, you can set the status bar color, startup image, and viewport size, and make files work when not online. The result looks and works like an app instead of a webpage: No URL field, navigation buttons, a startscreen, etc. Apple invented these, and has extended their support in their OS updates. See for a good description: How to Make an HTML5 iPhone App and a great HTML5 example app is the PieGuy game. They work great, and can make it easier to build and distribute an application, without sending it to Apple for approval (the current appstore mess is a whole different blogpost).

Since Apple supports this in their iPhone OS, and the iPad runs iPhone OS 3.2, I expected this all to work. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.
On the iPad, the startup image and viewport size are ignored when run in webapp-mode. The viewport size is only used when shown in a normal browser window, and the startup image is never shown :(.

On an iPhone with OS 3.1, both do work. This makes the result, on an iPad, work more like a (broken) webpage, than an application.

Why did apple take working stuff out, when upgrading the iPhone OS from 3.1 to 3.2 for the iPad? Is this a simple omission which will be fixed, or is apple actively moving away from HTML5 webapps for the iPad, further pushing their appstore? Only time will tell.

Update:

I looked into this some more, and have more results:

If  you use a image with the right size, (1024*768), it does (sometimes) work on my iPad as startup image. My previous tests used a iphone-sized image, which is totally ignored on the iPad. However, it often takes a few tries before it shows the loading image, and sometimes shows a screenshot of the page, before showing the default loading screen. (so the flow is then screenshot->default.png->webpage).

I still can’t get the viewport tag to work in webapp mode: If I set the viewport to a predefined with, like:
<meta name=”viewport” content=”user-scalable=no, width=1024″/>
this does work in Safari, but is ignored in Webapp mode. If I set a scale:
<meta name=”viewport” content=”initial-scale=1.0, user-scalable=no”/>
and test in Safari, this does work on first load. However, if I rotate my ipad, and rotate back, the scale is set differently.

One computer to rule them all?

one_ipad

One computer to rule them all: why the iPad will be big.

The iPad is seen by lots of computer-savy people as too slow, limited, etc. However, after spending a few hours getting the PC of my mom up to speed, a few things became clear to me. Especially that her needs from a computer are way different from mine. She doesn’t need a filesystem,right clicking, context menu’s, and doesn’t want virus scanners and backups (but then I guess nobody wants those).

This article rang quite true for me: Why are computers for power users the same boxes as computers for experts? When you think about it, it’s quite crazy my mom has a computer (actually: an OS, it’s not a hardware thing) that can run a compiler. She’ll never compile anything, and doesn’t want to. She probably doesn’t need tabs in her browser (I usually have 100+ open), or even run the browser and the email client at the same time.
Currently, the only difference between a computer for a power user, and a novice is specs and price. Both will (in most cases, linux excluded) run the same OS, with the same options. The software might be different, but even there I run the same mail client, browser, and picture management software as my mom (although on a different OS). That’s strange, as I spend about 20 times as much time behind the screen as her.

Abstractions like directories are quite a hard system to understand, and I’m more and more convinced that the iPhone OS list of pictures (and, a similar list of docs) would be a way easier mechanism. Maybe less powerful, and not workable for the code of a website, but good enough for my mom.

Current computers are incarnation of the old typewriter: Even the form factor has only changed slightly (A box on a desk, with a keyboard). But the way we use computers has changed a lot: The first users were mostly producing content (letters, spreadsheets, etc). Today a lot of computing is the consumption of content (Youtube videos, browsing social networks, etc). Still we use a device with the same form-factor. Maybe we need a different device to consume media, which will suffice for 90% of the population?

I’m starting to feel the iPad is just that computer. Sure, it’s limited, but the things it does it probably does well. And it won’t have viruses, different browsers, or even right clicks. I have the idea that’s the right model(and it will make my life better as well!). I don’t know if the current version or form-factor will be perfect, but I can definately see computing as a whole split: An iPhone like OS for simple tasks, and a powerfull OS for the geeks, who need to run compilers, photoshop, etc. And maybe I like to use such a simplified system as well…

(Actually, the above is the same gripes I have with my MCE PVR: I hate to reinstall my VCR every few months, but I guess that’s a similar but different blogpost).

New old project: DWDD iPhone app

DWDD

I have been so busy working on new projects, that there is a bit of a backlog of things I worked on, and that are live now. One of them is the DWDD iPhone app I built for the Vara. DWDD is a popular daily dutch TV show. The iPhone app shows the short (5 minutes) version of the last 10 shows, as well as the full version of the latest broadcast.

You can get the app for free in the Itunes Appstore.

iPhone 3.0

apple-2009-iphone-3-1236-rm

Today, I watched the liveblogs coverage of the Apple iPhone OS 3 update. And I wasn’t the only one:picture-6
As I do a lot of iPhone stuff these days (more on that later, everything is still confidential..), I do have an opinion on todays release.

Things that I’m most exited about in the new iPhone OS (in no particular order ):

Streaming Video.

This is great. Previously streaming video was only possible by using quite complex hacks, on both ends of the stream (encoding the video into a special format, download that, unpack it on the phone). There were some parties that made it work, but it was really complex. Now it will work “out of the box”

Obviously this is useful for live events, as you can now watch them as they happen. They can now be streamed to an iPhone near you. But it’s also great for non-live events. I have talked to quite a few media moguls these days, and most made clear that there is quite a rights issue between downloading content, and streaming it. These parties don’t have the rights to offer their content for download, but they are allowed to stream it over the interwebs. With this announcement, they now can, to your iPhone.

Native Maps component

A lot of mobile software does something with maps: Mobile devices are portable by definition, so they make a lot of sense to show maps of the environment. And while the iPhone had a pretty good mapping application, until now you couldn’t use it in an application. You could link to it, but that would kick the user out of your application, into maps, without a simple way back . The other option was to show a webbased map in your app. But those are slower than the native maps, and have less interface options. For example: While google maps now does support pitching int their webbased apps, it doesn’t do the smooth resizing the native maps does, and which look nice. The addition of native maps is something I expected, but which will be quite usefull.

By the way, that other new mobile platform has had a native mapping component from the start.

Push Notifications.

While it’s great to have a good application platform, sometimes you want to be able to alert the user when he is not running your application. Especially when he can only run one application at the same time.For example, if you have a social application, you might want your phone to beep when your close to other users. Or when other things happen in the world.

To solve this, Apple already announced Push notifications a long time ago, but never got around to actually launching them.  Today they announced they finally will. This enables developers to alert users of (hopefully) relevant updates.

And the rest

Other things are also nice: The subscription model makes a lot of sense for applications that provide an ongoing service (social networks, for example). Music access has been wished by many, copy/paste and MMS are finally here (what took you so long!).

I can’t wait to get to play with the new API’s. Now the only drawback of a new OS is that a big part of the audience will run the old OS for way too long..

More on the new SDK can be found at Apple

(The top picture is taken by Engadget )