Category Archives: iOS

Thoughts on the WWDC 2011 Keynote

There was a ton of information presented at the WWDC keynote this year. Here is my take at a very high level.


The replacement for MobileMe can’t come too quickly for our family. The goal of iCloud is to replace your computer as your digital hub.  Your computer is demoted to become just one of the devices that has access to your data. They are making it very appealing at the outrageous cost of free.

Having access to your documents from anywhere and on all of your devices will be a welcome change. I use Dropbox currently but, unfortunately, do not have access to this from my work network.

Will iCloud kill Windows? I doubt it but it will certainly become decreasingly important in our personal lives over time.


The Back to the Mac theme continues with Lion as more iOS-like features like additional multi-touch gestures and full-screen apps make their way to the desktop. And using apps instead of applications. Launchpad brings the iOS home screen to your computer.

Applications open exactly as you closed them. Same documents open. Same cursor position. Everything.  Just like iOS.

Documents are automatically saved so you don’t have to perform that task.  And each time it saves, it remembers how the document changed from the last save.  You can go back in time and review all of those versions.

You are giving a presentation and want to give someone the slide deck. How do you copy the file? AirDrop allows you to send it wirelessly.

Mail in Lion looks just like Mail on the iPad.

Mission Control gives you an overview of everything open on your computer.  I currently use Spaces and it works OKAY but Mission Control will show me EVERYTHING.

Normally Apple charges $129 for OS upgrades. Lion will be $29 on the Mac App Store.  I’ll be there.

iOS 5

Here are the features I currently care about:

  • WiFi Sync will allow my kids to sync their devices without requiring the octopus of sync cables coming out of my computer.
  • How many times have I missed a notification by unlocking the phone? Notification Center will let you see all of your notifications.
  • The camera can be used without unlocking the device and contains more robust photo editing.  Hopefully this means fewer missed shots when the kids do something crazy. Because it is the KIDS who do crazy things.
  • iMessage will allow me to communicate with my family from one central location.
  • Formatted text in Mail means that ability to emphasize.
  • AirPlay mirroring for iPad 2 is going to be an unsung hero in my opinion.

In the words of Shawn Blanc, “It’s as if iOS 5 was built with 4 years of listening behind it.”  As an iOS developer, I look forward to playing around with many of these features.

It is a great time to own Apple devices.

Fraser Speirs is Just Getting Started

Fraser Speirs, the guy who started the world’s first 1:1 iPad to student program, is launching a site for his consulting work:

When I started this, I had no idea that this was all going to happen. I thought we would buy some iPads then go back to being an unknown teacher in an unknown school in educational circles. The reality turned out to be a little different. I looked back in my calendar to see when I started getting calls about the project. The local newspaper visited us the second day we opened, then the first “consulting” call was on day five of the term.

via Fraser Speirs – Blog – It’s just getting started.

Why MobileMe Issues are Great News

Pro tip: If you have children with iPods, you are probably familiar with the look that says “I CAN’T FIND IT!!!” Mitigate that problem by creating yourself a free MobileMe account and registering each mobile device to it. When your child comes to you with those alligator tears, head over to Find My iPhone and log in. Once it locates the device, tell the iPod to display a message and to be noisy for two minutes.  It will work as long as it has power and can connect to a WiFi network (even in a friends’ home or a public space). I can’t count the number of times this has happened to my son.

Michael Grothaus:

I’ve been having problems getting MobileMe email all day today. So have lots of other people. The problems seem to be with both IMAP servers and on accessing email on the MobileMe member page. To be fair, some of us at TUAW haven’t had any problems with MobileMe today and Apple’s MobileMe status page also mentions that only some MobileMe subscribers are experiencing problems.

The paid version of the MobileMe service has been a mixed blessing for our family over the five years we have subscribed.  Having the same calendars and contacts on both our phones and on both our computers has been invaluable. However, a month ago, when our subscription expired, I chose to not renew. Apple will currently accept renewals but not new subscriptions and instead suggests that you sign up for the trial subscription.

Speculation says that Apple is creating a service to replace MobileMe called iCloud. My speculation is that all of these MobileMe issues are Apple preparing for a (dare we hope?) much more reliable and robust service that offers more features and a better value. I can hardly wait to see how Apple chooses to use their new data center in North Carolina.


How I Cover My iPad 2

A quick update for those wondering which cover I settled on for the iPad 2.

I am combining the Enki Genius Case for iPad 2 in smoke with the Apple Smart Cover in gray polyurethane after coming close to pulling the trigger on the Speck PixelSkin HD Wrap Case for iPad 2. It came down to the Speck not having magnets and my having a gift card to the Apple Store. Speck customer service did an exceptional job of fielding my questions.

The Enki case is currently on sale for $29.99 if you order by May 16. That is only four more days, people. Pinch those pennies. Mine should be shipping this week or next.


Replacing the iPhone 3G

I married well.  Really well. One of the life lessons that I continue to learn from my beautiful bride is how to stretch a dollar. (Jensen Life Lesson: “Every PENNY counts!”) We buy low. We sell high. We keep our gadgets until they’ve done more than earn their keep.

The month that the iPhone 3G came out, we were months past the point of needing new phones and bought two. (Jensen Life Lesson: Never purchase a first generation device.) The phones have been good devices and have transformed how we keep in touch and manage the family but after three years they are showing their age. Like not allowing us to answer an incoming call. Or not ringing the phone at all and sending the caller directly to voice mail. Due to some health issues in the family, my wife must be accessible at all times so she needed a new phone.

So what do we purchase for her? We were toying with the idea of an iPhone 3GS for $49 instead of going to the iPhone 4 at $199. CHEAP, I tell you! After doing the math on how long they’d last, though, the iPhone 4 was the obvious choice. I called the local AT&T store to see what they had in stock and found out that they carry the HTC Incredible which is a BETTER phone than the iPhone. It must be because that is what the sales dude said. Not “we have options for you” but “this is a better phone”! Yes, he really said those words. And I hung up laughing with my brain quoting the line: “I would not SAY such things if I were you!” (Jensen Life Lesson: Watch The Princess Bride until you can quote every line. It WILL come in handy.)

My wife planned a trip to that same AT&T store the next day. I told her to feel free to call the sales person an idiot if he said such things again. She asked asked to be upgraded to the iPhone 4. As the dude was going into his sales pitch for non-Apple devices, she told him that her husband is an Apple guy and that she didn’t have a choice.  Which has me on the floor howling in laughter and wiping tears from my eyes. For those not aware, I married a strong and confident woman who inquires and listens but then makes up her own mind. She left with an iPhone 4.

What to do with the old phone?

This is the easy part. We have four kids in grade school and the two oldest each purchased the newest iPod touch. The younger two are saving. So #3 is going to purchase this iPhone turned iPod and is so excited you can feel it from the next room. He gets to own one now instead of a year from now! He asked me to install zombies, car racing, and Beluga (our family communications platform). No Angry Birds? Interesting.

What Do You Do?

When someone asks what you do, what is your answer?

When asked about my profession, I often tell people that I am a software architect and that I use the LANSA tool set. Then I point them to my LinkedIn profile. The problem is that I’ve told them my professional title and the tools I use but I did not answer their question. I didn’t tell them what I DO.

Chew on this for a few minutes. When you are at your best and after blinking back into reality after hours of being in the zone, what did you accomplish?

Here are a few examples from my career.

A client wants to use the new LANSA tools and language but it is impossible using their old architecture. They asked me to replace the tracks while the train is in motion. Updating architecture is one area of passion for me! I succeed at high-profile, risky projects that update the development architecture. This gives my clients options they didn’t have before.

There is a code search utility over the proprietary LANSA data store that has produced complete and thorough results for more than ten years.  It is solid and, most importantly, it is trusted. I created that. Building utilities that remove frustration from the lives of other developers makes me happy.

Most developers have learned nuggets of wisdom over the years and as a seasoned LANSA developer, I have my share. I enjoy sitting with developers and passing those nuggets around. It is like playing professional Mancala. I mentor.

What do YOU do?

When exceptional growth is not an exception | asymco

Quote of the day from Horace Dediu:

What if blockbusters are really something that can be built with repeatable consistency. What would that be worth?

via When exceptional growth is not an exception | asymco.

App Development – The Wireframes

Christopher Waite of Bytesize Adventures (via the mostly-signal iDevBlogADay):

Wireframes provide you with the opportunity to plan functionality and layout without worrying about how the end product will look. They’re particularly useful because they force you to think about function over form.

A great post on wireframing including plenty of screen shots.


Pointing Fingers at Subscriptions

Right now in the Apple developer community, there is significant angst regarding Apple’s mandatory 30% In-App Purchase fee for subscriptions. On one side is “Apple can do whatever they want because it is their store” and on the other is “I don’t want to lose access to apps I have already purchased and use”.

I believe that Apple will dance on the line by finding a significant new source of revenue through content publishers while still allowing Software as a Service (SaaS) apps to live. Paying a toll to Apple to use Dropbox would stink.

Ben Brooks makes a good point in this response:

Again, we all need to take two steps back, a deep breath, and wait to see how this plays out in June — when supposedly it is do or die time for current apps violating these rules.