iPhone

First look: WordPress for iPhone

Posted on Jul 22, 2008 in iPhone

This is my first post using the new WordPress application for iPhone.

Overall I must admit I’m quite impressed! The app downloaded all of my existing posts easily and whilst there aren’t any comment, design or page management features, it’s ideal for posting a quick update whilst on the go.

You can easily add images from your photo roll or new pics taken with the
iPhone’s camera to new or existing posts – something which I imagine will appeal to a lot of bloggers. Minor gripe: there doesn’t seem to be a way to specify where the images should appear in the text.

There are also no formatting controls, something obviously made difficult by the lack of drag selection on the iPhone. I could imagine that could overcome by support for markdown-style formatting.

But for a 1.0 product I think WordPress have done a stellar job.

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Three secret iPhone 2.0 tips

Posted on Jul 21, 2008 in Hints, iPhone, Opinions

So besides the more obvious new features, Apple has also added a fair bit of spit & polish in nooks and crannies you might not notice them. Here’s two changes and one “hack” I’ve found so far:

1. Banish Marker Felt from Notes with Chinese

Take care of Marker Felt Olympic style! It seems as though the iPhone automatically substitutes unsupported fonts when typing languages with glyphs. Simply add Chinese as an additional keyboard layout and type a single character to switch the current note’s font to Helvetica (at least I think it’s Helvetica!).

The downside? This trick needs to be done for every new note you create.

2. Improved auto-correction

The auto-correction feature now seems to work a bit better and first letter substitutions in particular seem a lot smoother: When only a single letter of a word is corrected, that change is made seamlessly, without the “drop-in” animation you get with more extensive corrections. It’s a minor detail, but it does make typing feel a lot easier.

3. Add / Edit contacts whilst on a call

You may be wondering why Apple has added a “dedicated” Contacts app, especially it offers the exact same functionality as the contacts list within the phone application. Well now you can easily lookup, add or edit contact information whilst on a call!

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First iPhone Cisco VPN client impressions

Posted on Jul 8, 2008 in iPhone, Reviews

I recently had the chance to play with an iPhone running the developer preview version of the iPhone 2.0 firmware. Aside from the AppStore, the feature I was most excited to try out was the built-in Cisco VPN client (my university’s Wifi access is restricted to clients connected to a Cisco VPN network).

Impressions and Issues

The first issue that caught my attention was the difficulty of entering your connection details manually: Don’t get me wrong: I have very few issues with the iPhone’s keyboard when entering normal words. But entering the 30 digit pre-shared key took me the best part of 10 minutes.

Luckily, according to this deployment scenario document (warning PDF link) the final release will be able to import a pre-defined, password protected connection file – just like VPN connection files can be deployed en-masse to Cisco desktop clients, so most users will probably never have to manually edit their connection details.

Once I had everything set up and running, the connection seemed to work just fine and browsing speeds seemed to be just as fast over VPN as they were on a regular Wifi connection.

Summary

Everything basically worked as advertised and I look forward to finally being able to really put my iPhone to use at University without having to rely on a slow GPRS/EDGE connection.

P.S. Conspiracy alert! Does anyone else remember that “iPhone” trademark spiff Apple and Cisco had last year? I wonder if that’s why Cisco is the only IPSec VPN gateway manufacturer to be supported on the device. At least the last sentence of the press release seems to imply some sort of closed-door deal:

In addition, Cisco and Apple will explore opportunities for interoperability in the areas of security, and consumer and enterprise communications. Other terms of the agreement are confidential.

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iPhone idea: “nike+” app without the nike bit…

Posted on Jun 23, 2008 in iPhone

So whilst out jogging today (I’ve just started trying to get back in shape), I was thinking about the lack of a nike+ adapter that’s compatible with the iPhone. That got me thinking how great it would be if they made a bluetooth version, so you didn’t need the adapter for your iPhone, just the sensor for your shoe.

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iPhone 3G: Mission Lockdown

Posted on Jun 12, 2008 in iPhone, Opinions

So the iPhone is now only $199 – huzzah!

But wait – the phone is cheaper, but the data plan is more expensive… and there’s no convenient home activation “buy and sim unlock” option either.

“Would Sir like technical or legal shackles”?

Getting the 1st Gen. iPhone to work with a cheaper carrier (or just with a less comprehensive service plan) was primarily a technical challenge. This time around Apple is using a different tactic: Since locking down the phone’s software has proven to be nearly impossible, they’ll now require you to sign a contract before you can buy the phone instead.

That makes the carriers who have paid to be able to offer the iPhone happy and Apple can also claim to have reduced the price of the iPhone. But the cheapest AT&T voice & data plans combined now amount to $70 a month – a $10 hike over the plans for the previous generation.

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Apple Push Notification Service: Bad news for indie devs?

Posted on Jun 10, 2008 in iPhone, Opinions

So Apple took the wraps off of the iPhone 3G and the latest 2.0 firmware yesterday. But what I  found particularly interesting was Scott Forstall’s brief explanation of how Apple is going to tackle the issue of background applications.

Basically Apple will rely on a data connection to their “Push Notification” servers to send messages to 3rd party applications with information that would normally be displayed by an app running in the background. For example: If you were to receive a new chat message whilst your IM client isn’t running, the IM service servers would notify Apple’s Push Notification servers, which would in turn send a message to the iPhone to add a “1” icon to your IM apps home screen icon.

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