Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Woz Complains About the iPhone

Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, has been complaining about how closed the iPhone is. I just think about him and Steve Jobs starting the company together in a garage. That was then. Now, today, who's probably setting the tone, establishing the vision of the iPhone? Steve Jobs. Who gets up in front of crowds and demonstrates the latest features? Steve Jobs.

I'm guessing when they started out together they were probably pretty good friends. I wonder, do they talk to each other anymore? Do they go to the same parties?

I wonder if they've talked about the direction of the company mano-o-mano.

I know one thing: I'm too chicken to unlock my iPhone! And though the jail-break stuff is cool, I, again, am too chicken to mess with this stuff. My hope lies in announcements of a future SDK in '08.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Is the Honeymoon Over?

A few times lately I've forgotten to bring my iPhone with me (its in my pocket right now). My wife has been suprised by this. More than once she's said: "Have you forgotten your girlfriend?"

I must admit the intense infatuation is pretty much over for now. Now my phone and I have a more low-key relationship! It is definitely an awesome mobile phone. I still can't wait to see what Apple comes up with for developers at the beginning of '08. But I'm not draining down the battery like I used to.

I did watch "Meet The Robinsons" on my iPhone. It's a Disney movie I bought and downloaded off the iTunes store. It was fun. And the quality of the video output and sound is great. But watching video on it has already become sort of "been there... done that."

Well, it looks like the iPhone won't meet all my emotional needs! It's just a machine designed by some creative people after all. Well, now I can move on and have a more mature perspective on the iPhone. It's a tool not a Saviour. Should I change the name of this blog to reflect my new attitude?

Disabling or Changing the Color of Tab Highlight Color

You may have noticed that when you tap a link on a web page in Safari on your iPhone that it lightlights the area a light gray. For normal web pages this might be okay. I mean, it's nice to get a visual queue that the page is responding.

But let's suppose that you want to control the highlighting. And you don't like Apple's light gray color. Maybe you want to do some super-cool highlight routine controlled by a Javascript routine, or you want to do things the same way but you want the color to be blue or something. How do you:
  • Change the highlight color, or...
  • Get rid of Safari automatically highlighting your tab all-together?


I'm a control-freak when it comes to programming so when I saw this I was like really happy! If you use the rgb() function with the fourth parameter, you can set the opacity. Setting it to zero hides the highlighting.

To see Apple's documentation on this CSS tag with examples click here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dimensions of the iPhone Display

Here for a handy reference is the dimensions in pixels of the iPhone display.

If you use the following to scroll the URL Text field off the edge of the display:
setTimeout(window.scrollTo(0, 1),100);
This would give your web app an extra 60 pixels vertically to work with on the display.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Will Apple Make An iPhone with a 3G Chip?

Yesterday MacWorld's Dan Moren posted this entry: 3G iPhone Getting Closer to Reality. One of the big beefs with 3G is how much energy it consumes. It goes on to talk about how a new 3G chip from Broadcom uses less energy.

Now, we don't know for sure if this chip would "do the trick" for the iPhone. Or if it would fit in the case with all the other stuff, etc. We don't even know concretely if Apple will make a 3G phone. I would say it is highly probable that they will make a 3G iPhone eventually. It is likely that they will make a 3G iPhone. I guess I find it humorous that the title is 3G iPhone Getting Closer to Reality when really, most likely no one outside of Apple knows this as gospel truth. I think I would have called it something like: 3G iPhone Possibly Getting Closer to Reality.

One thing Dan mentions is "and the lack of widespread availability of 3G networks in the US" as a reason Apple didn't go with it here. This is something Apple really has no control over. The phone companies (in this case AT&T) have to provide the better coverage. I can tell you its not as simple as telling your engineers: "Ok have all the 3G networks up by the end of the week." All the equipment needed to setup the network costs money. And, allot of time and man-power is needed to install and test those new network nodes. This isn't setting up a small LAN in a local business. This is an ongoing task that has many people working on it. When will 3G networks be ubiquitous in the United States? I don't know. My point is though, even if Apple came out with a 3G iPhone tomorrow with good battery life doesn't mean things would be better (near term) they might actually get worse!

It will be fun to see this all play out over the next couple years!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Apple Sanctioned API Coming in February

MacWorld had this post today. This really sounds good! I'm hoping there will be flexibility of say coding in C, and still being about to create web apps that can run off line a-la Google Gears type setup. Can you tell? I think I hear the sound of hundreds software developers drooling and panting. At least we have something to look forward to!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mobile Safari Changes for 1.1.1

Ok, I've been finding alot of useful stuff that Apple did for iPhone 1.1.1 that will help use developers alot! Instead of listing each change in a seperate post, I decided in this post to give you a bulleted run-down that I captured after going through the online documentation that Apple has. Let's look at the new features:
  • For the viewport meta tag there are two new constants available for you to use:
    for more info on using them go to this page here and this page here.
  • The next item doesn't explicitly say that its for 1.1.1, but I've never seen it before. Over on Google Groups, one question has come up on how to keep Safari from creating a phone hyperlink on a number that it thinks is a phone number but is not a phone numer! Introducing the meta tag:
    for information on how to use this meta tag, go to this page.
  • Here's another item not linked explicitly to 1.1.1, linking to a youTube video. Saw some questions in the Google Groups on this. Here is a page that gives you the syntax.
  • So you have an input form on your web page. And you don't like how mobile Safari either auto-corrects the user's spelling or auto-capitalizes. Or, maybe you want to make sure that one or both of these things happen during text input. iPhone 1.1.1 adds two new attributes you can use on an input tag to address this problem:
    How to use these attributes...
  • Read some interesting information on one-finger events. What interests me here is the mention of a working onscroll event.
  • Alright, we know that the onresize event doesn't work properly on the iPhone. Well iPhone 1.1.1 introduces the onorientationchange event to use in your body tag. Why they just didn't make onresize work is beyond me. But at least now we can check this without using setTimeout hacks! More information on this event. Oh yes, here you will find out that they added a new property to the window object: orientation. So, in your event handling routine you can check window.orientation for a value and decide what to do. Cool! Hey it returns the angle in degrees how the user re-oriented their iPhone! Doubly cool!
  • You might want to check out this list of Supported Events for the iPhone as of 1.1.1.
  • There is a new debugging console built into Safari for 1.1.1.

Well, that is about it. I know they made some CSS changes too but what precisely I do not know. But hey! All this stuff I've bulleted is very good stuff! All you web app developers for the iPhone / iTouch: enjoy!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Apple's Gonna Make a Bushel of Money

I am now realizing (via personal experience), that Apple's move to add the wireless iTunes store to the iPhone/iTouch is a very smart move. Although the selections available are limited compared to running iTunes on your PC, it's still a good selection.

I found myself looking for different songs and have purchased/downloaded several. There's a few things I'd like to note here:
  • I probably would not have purchased these songs if the wireless iTunes store on my iPhone did not exist.
  • When on a Wifi network, getting new tunes is so easy... increasing the likelihood of a person purchasing music.
  • Although I purchased several different songs and one album, I didn't break the bank. The prices were reasonable (especially compared to the price of an album at a record store).
  • Although the purchase I made add up to a small amount of money, multiply that amount times the thousands (or potentially millions) of iPhone owners who will do the same thing!

I'm still hoping that they add audio books to the Wifi iTunes store, we'll see.

Friday, October 12, 2007

My Web App List has been Updated

Although not as complete as I would like it to be, I have updated my web app list for the iPhone/iTouch.

Apple's New Web App Directory

Apple has provided a web app directory for the iPhone and iTouch. You can browse applications by Most Recent, Most Popular, Alphabetical, and Staff Picks. I'm adding a section on the left of this blog page to provide you with links there which you can use even when this post has rolled off the bottom.

I noticed that some apps that I've seen listed elsewhere are not included. This is probably due to the flakiness of those apps: i.e.: too buggy or too hard to use. Hopefully the app I'm working on will make it into Apple's web app directory! It should show up under "Most Popular" ... ahem... cough... :)

It's not ready yet! Hopefully it will be ready soon.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

CSS Styling Issues

I've been doing a little work on my "super-secret" iPhone project and I noticed that my page layout is more messed up than usual. Me-thinks it has something to do with the 1.1.1 update! Alot of the style sheet stuff I used is copied right out off Joe Hewitt's iUI css file. I guess that might mean that iUI got messed up too. I haven't had a chance to bring up the sample on his site on my iPhone.

Looks like I have some style fixin' to do! Fortunately, though it messes stuff up, it doesn't mess things up enough to make the application useless.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Cellular Coverage Issues

I went to the Wisconsin Dells for a long weekend with my wife and a couple we know. We had a good time. I brought my iPhone and showed it off (as best I could). The main problem is that the place we were staying had poor coverage. Barely one bar or the infamous "No Service" message would display in the upper left hand corner of the display.

I did notice someone else chatting away on their cell phone in the cabin across from us with no problems. My best guess: they have a different cellular provider. My wife's plain-jane cell phone had trouble too (but she uses AT&T too).

This is where things get a little strange: We went into town and I expected my coverage to return. It did not. Though my wife's did! That set my mind in motion. What if I cold-booted my iPhone? Turn it completely off, wait abit, and then turn it back on. That did the trick. I now had good signal strength. When I went back to the cabin area out of town though the signal strength went away again.

My conclusion: When using an iPhone in a low or no coverage area, the phone can get confused when entering a good coverage area and behave as if it's still in a low coverage area. This could be a hardware or software issue. I hope it is a software issue because then it can be corrected on our existing phones. At least I can get things jiggered back so they will work by turning the phone completely off and then restarting it! Have you run into anything like this?

My iPhone Memory Usage at this Point

Songs: 175 (not many I know)
Videos: 1
Photos: 57
Capacity: 7.3 Gb
Available: 6.0 Gb

Watching Modern Marvels episode on my iPhone

I bought an episode of Modern Marvels on iTunes for a couple of bucks. It took nearly 2 hours to download to my laptop over a DSL connection. What surprised me (pleasantly) is that it took only about a minute to transfer to my iPhone when I went to sync it up! I guess since the iPhone screen is smaller than the computer screen less data needs to be in the iPhone version.

This bears out since the download to iTunes was about a half a gig but the amount of space taken on the iPhone for the video was much less.

Video Quality
I picked an episode on the Golden Gate Bridge since my dad was born the day it opened (I joke that they opened it in honor of his birthday). I watched it while on the train to work listening to the audio through the ear buds. It definitely helped the time pass quickly. The quality was great. I like how you can tap the screen to show/hide the video controls. I like too how you can move to any point in the video by dragging this slider they have for that purpose. The color and resolution for a screen this size is great. Since you have the whole video downloaded and saved locally, the quality is obviously allot better than a youTube video you might watch on your iPhone.

If your thinking about buying/downloading TV shows or movies for your iPhone consider the following:
  • Prices are pretty reasonable.
  • Allow for plenty of time to download the item from the iTunes Store to your local PC.
  • If you pause a download, and start it later, it will pick up from where it left off.
  • Not every episode of a TV show is available to purchase.
  • Again, selection of movies is great but not exhaustive.
  • Moving TV shows or movies from your iTunes library on your PC to your iPhone doesn't take too much time. My estimate is about 1 hour of showtime equals 1 minute of sync time.
  • The quality of the show is excellent.
  • Moving to other applications on your iPhone pauses the playing of the video. When you move back to the video you can pick up where you left off.
  • Video does take up much more room than mere audio. So be discerning about what you decide to place on your iPhone.
  • Don't fill up your iPhone's memory too much or you might experience a performance hit.

Have you purchased video from the iTunes Store and downloaded it to your iPhone? How did you like it?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

iPhone Development Speculations on arstechnica.com

This article definitely has got my developer mouth watering. I hope that what it's saying is all true. This will rock!

Apple is working on solutions that will help developers get more face time on the iPhone, but there are currently no plans to offer a "true" iPhone SDK that would allow developers to create native apps, a source at Apple has told Ars.

The company is currently planning a handful of updates to Safari and the iPhone that may appease some of the common complaints about developing for the device. For example, Apple is currently jamming on adding offline storage capabilities... to read more click here to read the actual article.

I Finally Installed Release 1.1.1

Yes I have been a little slow in getting around to installing the upgrade to my iPhone. But, last night, I finally got to it. I had to wait awhile while the local iTunes software pulled the patch down to my MacBook. Then I installed it.

Fortunately for me, I didn't run into any problems. My iPhone is working just fine thank you! The little wireless iTunes button now appears on the main page.

Wireless iTunes
I can see how this little feature could make Apple a boat-load of money. It's just so convenient! I wish there were more selections though. I notice that there were now Audio Books, Movies, or TV Shows. Movies and TV Shows make sense due to more bandwidth needs... but Audio Books?

Perhaps we'll see them add this later. I also noticed that navigation around in the wireless iTunes is a little cluncky. Again, I'm sure they will improve this as time goes on.