Retina Display

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Image borrowed from http://www.unicorncentre.co.uk/

I didn’t think it would be such a big deal, but it is. Two things:

1. The contrast is amazing. Not really noticeable until you try out a 3GS or previous model, but the difference is that the blacks appear to be on the same plane as the black face of the phone itself, which may be a part of the second point:

2. The user experience is improved somehow: the screen seems somehow closer to your finger. Maybe Apple used thinner glass, but whatever it is they did, in a lot of light situations the screen image appears to almost sit on the glass as opposed to under it. Sometimes when I’m using it, I notice this optical illusion and I feel a little bit like I’m in the future, minus the robotic unicorns.

Me and my Mac today

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I used a javascript thing I found via Google reader that tracks the movement of your mouse on the screen. I’m not sure what the dots mean. It might be where I have left the cursor.. or maybe it’s clicks? I think it’s a bit of both.

This is a typical (very) lazy day at home on the couch in front of the tv, browsing the internet from time to time. I might leave it running tomorrow to see how it turns out after a day of illustration using my wacom and illustrator. Could be quite different?

My favorite part is the bottom-right, where I have exposé set for ‘all windows’.

*the application that generated this from my mouse movements is called MousePath

My iPad

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Recently finding out about Google Reader’s recommended items feed has left me bombarded with mostly negative and disappointed reviews on the Apple iPad that was unveiled a week or two ago.

I can agree with many of the other bloggers out there that the announcement was ‘whelming’ (as in, neither over or under whelming). This is partly down to the leaks and guesswork over the weeks before the unveiling that painted a much more ‘hi-tech, multitasking, do-everything device’ picture of what the iPad would be. Personally, I feel these predictions were fair, given previously credible leak sources had incorrectly put the price of the iPad at approximately $999, as opposed to the $499 price Apple surprised pretty much everyone with. For $999, I’d expect it to run more than the iPhone OS, and let me run full-on OS X software.

Right from the start, however, Steve Jobs pointed out that the iPad isn’t there to replace your mac, and it isn’t there to replace your iPhone. It fits somewhere in the middle, and in my opinion, that’s exactly what it does.

To be clear, before I get into the list I originally sat down to write, I would like an iPad. I like sitting on the couch and browsing, and I’d prefer to do that on an iPad than my MacBook or iPhone. It’s a good size, it’s quick, and it doesn’t multitask (I don’t multitask on my Mac when I’m on the sofa, I use Chrome and that’s about it. During the day I’ll use the Adobe Suite, but show me a brand new computer that can do that for $499). So, I’d like to use it at home, and probably leave it on my coffee table. I’m not a big reader but I could see myself using an iPad along with a yet-to-be-released newspaper app that is optimized for the device. I’d probably take it on flights to watch movies and play games (it has 10 hours of battery life) and use it as a diary when at home, instead of my MacBook and iPhone (Mac=office, iPhone=out, iPad=home). For me, it would be a great coffee table book. A colleague last week also mentioned it would be fantastic for designers’ portfolios, particularly with the new version of Keynote that will be available, built especially for iPad.

Anyway, here’s the afore-mentioned list I was going to write. It’s quite simply:

A list of partly misinformed and sweeping statements* I’ve seen on Google reader in regards to the Apple iPad

  • It doesn’t do 16:9, so it’s crap for watching movies because, of course, it was built to watch movies, and that’s it
  • It’s just a big iPhone. Granted, it runs the same OS and has a bigger screen but don’t forget about iWork, the faster processor, iBooks and soon-to-come iPad-specific apps. It might be a big iPhone now, but in 6 months it’ll be something entirely different.
  • NO MULTITASKING! Many people are assuming you won’t be able to listen to music and work on Keynote at the same time. It runs iPhone OS, so it’s pretty obvious it will. Other than that, I can’t personally find a reason I’d like multitasking on iPad.
  • NO FLASH! I’ll admit it, when I saw the blue lego brick I was pretty shocked, but later ‘tech disses’ from Jobs about flash crashing Macs, I can agree with. I’ve seen flash put my MacBook to a standstill (hard reset levels of fail) when running just Chrome. Yes, “I’ve” crashed Chrome and my whole computer, with the help of flash.
  • “iPad vs. a rock” checklists… Funny once, just about.
  • No HDMI out! As I mentioned before – I’m looking forward to having one of these on my lap while I watch TV, so no real need to plug it into a TV. Why buy a device with a ‘gorgeous’ and ‘magical’ IPS touchscreen only to stick it next to your TV to watch movies? Apple TV anyone?
  • I’ll buy one for my Mom. Yes! Exactly! Apple couldn’t have said it better if they had tried! E-mail, photos, browsing, contacts, calendar, iWork. That’ll do nicely.
  • The bezel is huge. Please, please wait until you use one before throwing that one out there. I’m waiting, too.
  • No camera(s). I totally agree that it would be great if the iPad had a user-facing camera for video conferencing. My family is pretty spread out across Europe and the USA so it would be great if we could all have these things on our coffee tables so we could just pick up and chat with each other. People who were expecting a forward-facing 5mp camera, on the other hand, are mental. Seriously?
  • No USB or built-in memory card reader. I’m not sure why you’d want USB on the iPad given it runs iPhone OS and is a largely *wireless* device. Wire-less. A memory card slot would be pretty handy for transferring photos straight into the Photos app while on holiday, though. Luckily, there’s an adapter for that, which will conveniently and easily fit into my camera case and cause me no hassle whatsoever. I’d also like to see an adapter that will allow me to charge my iPhone from my iPad .. oh wait, damn, no USB!

I think that about covers it all for now.

*I’ll caveat that I’ve written this with the view of being a ‘normal person’ as opposed to a ‘tech person’. I’m a bit of both, so hopefully that explains my view for you.

Geocaching

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Geocaching is something I found out about back in July or August 2009, but didn’t have a GPS receiver of any sort, so it might have been tricky to take up the hobby. In hindsight, you could probably get away with using a 2G iPhone if you’re in a built-up area and able to read a map on your own!

The idea of it is that people leave caches all over the world. There are apparently 977,256 in place, worldwide, today. They can take the form of a tupperware box discretely hidden in a park or, much to my surprise, 35mm film canisters with magnets attached in seemingly noticeable places in the centre of a city. In short, geocaching is a little like a massive, unspoken treasure hunt that is running at all times.

Larger caches may contain trinkets that you take and place in another cache later on. These are ‘traveling objects’ that are also marked with their own codes to the original owners can see how far they travel on the geocaching website. I’m quite tempted to take one of these to another country in future, but haven’t yet found a cache big enough to hold more than a rolled up logbook (pictured above – my first find, near the Golden Hinde, SE1, London).

In a way, it seems like a pointless hobby – many of the hints and descriptions for the locations of the caches make them almost too easy to find. The two I found today on my first outing were easily visible, if you knew where to look. But that said, I visited seven sites and couldn’t find five of them. I’m sure I could have if I spent more time, but with the heightened security in central London, let alone all the tourists, it’s really easy to get paranoid for acting ‘suspicious’! As a side note, the one thing that I’m not too happy about is that geocachers refer to non-geocachers are ‘muggles’…

The positive side of it, though, is a reason to go for a walk around areas you may already know, and you might (like I did) find alleyways and shortcuts you didn’t know about before. I could also see geocaching being more fun with friends, and it would take the edge off the paranoia of being moved along by police or security! On the two logs I found, there were a few group entries, so it seems people like to do it in teams.

If you want to try it out, the best place to start is the home of geocaching, http://www.geocaching.com/ . Thanks to many mobile phones now having GPS receivers in them, the hobby is a lot more accessibly than it was previously, and GroundSpeak, the people who started the geocaching.com website, also offer an iPhone application (£5.99 but worth it, even for just one day of searching) for finding nearby caches and navigating to them on-the-go. You can also access the hints and logs for each cache within the application, which saves you taking notes before leaving, and also allows you to find further caches while you’re out, if you want to keep going.

Google Mail icon for FluidApp

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GMail_by_Google

If you’re a Mac user and haven’t tried FluidApp, I would highly recommend you do. In short, it creates applications out of websites using webkit (I think) and it works great for Google Wave and Google Mail – even with a ‘new!’ badge that shows up on the dock icon showing how many new messages you have.

I made a Google Mail icon for it (above), in case you’re having trouble finding one. Feel free to use it, copy it, change it, share it, etc… and say thanks in the comments so I know you’re enjoying it!
Picture 1

INQ1: Tricky switch

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I’ve had the INQ1 for about 24 hours now. The handset is quite nice. I never had a slider before and it’s ok, I guess.

It feels solid-ish, but not like an iPhone or my previous K800i, but that’s probably because of the slider mechanism. The brushed aluminium-effect finish is quite nice, and the numeric keypad is quite responsive.

3G is fast, but I work in a basement and get no 3 network reception at all during the day. Product tester FAIL.

I’m really impressed that it can run skype and msn messenger in the background at all times. That’s cool- receiving skype calls and msn IMs is just like receiving calls and texts. Actual seamless integration. Makes me look forward to the rumoured background processing update on iPhone.

The widgets are pretty sweet, too (widgets? where’d they get that name from?). They sit on the ‘home screen’ and you can press the up button to get to them and click on them for online info. I’m using the weather and BBC News RSS widget. Apparently Britain needs more nannys. I wouldn’t mind seeing this kind of thing on the iPhone, over your wallpaper before you unlock it or something.

What’s not cool is trying to chat on a numeric keypad. This thing should slide the other way and have a qwerty pad underneath, like one of those Sidekick things all the kids on the OC/Laguna Beach, The Real OC/The Hills had before Apple got involved. Yes, at this size the keys would be tiny, but T9 predictive text drives me fucking mental, even though I’m still quite good at it, even after a year on the iPhone. Like riding a slightly dodgy bike you bought from Brick Lane market, or something. On another T9 note, I noticed they changed the default of “2-6-6-5” from ‘book’ to ‘cool’ since I last had a numeric keypad phone. That’s quite funny.

Facebook is a little pointless on this phone unless you’re an addict, as you’d have to be willing to use the crappy interface. It gets you the information you’re after, but it looks awful and is ‘just a bit shit’.

*UPDATE*: Trevor Bennett blogged about how you can use the facebook app in areas with no reception (like the tube), and all is synced up when you return to reception. You can see status, write messages, post pictures, all of it. That’s bloody clever, that is. The interface is still monsieur uglyfaçade.

Oh, and I still can’t figure out if I can listen to last.fm on it. I tried, but kept going in circles and not seeing a play button anywhere. It should be seamless like the other social networking things if they’re using the logo all over the marketing materials. Anyway, the supplied headphones are SHIT, and you HAVE to use them as there’s no 3.5mm jack, just some bloody USB thing. I put them back in the box.

I think I’ll try using the phone as a 3G wireless modem with my MacBook at some point soon. That should be fun.

INQ1 Test. Here we go

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So, I was recently asked to do a trial of the INQ1 phone on the 3 network. I should be receiving the phone tomorrow and will probably have to do that thing when you charge it for 16 hours while trying not to play with it.

www.3mobilebuzz.com asked to do the trial as I’m a “social media savvy blogger” which means, I assume, I’m supposed to write about it on here. And that’s what I’ll do. I’ll probably take some pictures of it and put them on flickr, too, where I’ll be taking bids for usage rights if they’re any good.

As an iPhone user, I’m GUESSING the first week of trying out the phone will be the most frustrating experience of my life since I first tried to send a text with a numeric keypad. I’ll probably keep trying to touch the screen and crying. Also, I don’t really use last.fm and I’m a mac user so iChat and Skype are the only ‘IM’ services I’m signed up for. That said, before iPhone firmware 2.0 was released I didn’t use twitter and now it’s an every day thing.

BUT, I have high hopes for this thing – for the price, it sounds like a great deal for a social media savvy blogger like myself, that is, if I didn’t want an iPhone or couldn’t afford one…

Come on, it’s a free 3G handset with skype and facebook for £20 per month (or £15 if you only communicate by numeric keypad and don’t need more than 75 minutes per month).

So, we’ll see what happens in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

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