Tag Archives: iphone

My iPhone Home Screen

iphone 5 ios 7 home screen

Updated 1/11/13 for a few more iOS 7 app updates

It’s been a year since the last time I wrote one of these, so I figured it was about time I updated the previous post with everything that’s changed during that time.

IOS 7 brought a massive list of changes, first and foremost of which was a massive overhaul of how everything looks and feels. Some people absolutely hate it, but I like it, for the most part — it makes everything fun.

Anyway, let’s talk about some apps.

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Shots from the camera roll, 2012 edition

2012 was a pretty big year. Well, as big as any other year. Here’s what happened through the lens of my iPhone. I’ve linked most of the stuff I’m describing about below, but you can check out the archive for all posts from 2012. This’ll be pretty long, so instead of clogging up the front page, you’ll have to click through to see everything.

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My iPhone 5 Homescreen

It’s been a while since I last wrote one of these things, and after reading about how good the Windows Phone 8 home screen is (and the story of how it came to be), I realised even though this kinda thing only interests a handful of people, it’s still interesting to me.

So here goes.

My previous iPhone homescreens were organised according to what I’m calling a “loose Ben Brooks configuration”, that is, one based loosely upon the methodology upon which Ben Brooks organises his homescreen. The iPhone 5 introduces a new dilemma in this regard, which Ben has also covered, but I’ve come up with my own spin on things. Instead of not using the very top row (which Apple’s new human interface guides says not to bother about, UI wise), I’ve simply added an extra row somewhere in the middle. Why? Because it’s really not that much of an issue being able to reach the entirety of the iPhone 5 display — even when using it one handed — like Apple’s “Thumb” ad shows.

Anyway, to the apps:

First row: Mail, Tempus, Maps, Photos

Tempus now occupies the position previously occupied by Calvetica. It’s a calendar replacement by the same developers, but somewhere along the way, I fell out of love with Calvetica. While it was still a great calendar replacement, it wasn’t the same app it originally was, something even the developers themselves admitted. Tempus is the minimalist calendar replacement I’ve wanted — but it has to be noted this is the only app on my homescreen that doesn’t support the taller iPhone 5 display. The developers say it’s coming “in the future“.

Also  notable is the Apple Maps app, instead of the great Maps+ replacement. I want to like Apple’s maps in iOS 6 because they’re superior in a number of ways (vectorised maps, much lower data usage, heaps of caching), and this is my way of doing so. For the record, Maps+ is just a small swipe-towards-the-left away, if and when I run into any issues.

Second row: Camera, Clock, Passbook, Clear

Passbook is here because I’m a big fan of the concept — if only more retailers would jump on board, it would likely be on your own homescreen, too.

Clear is here because it’s my go-to for doing short lists, fast. The completely gestural interface is insanely brilliant, and I enjoy it a lot — it’s a great app for making short lists very quickly. I don’t use it for actual reminders (because I’ve got Reminders for that), but it is useful for short lists: to-dos, shopping lists, games I want to buy, and so on.

Third row: Facebook, Articles, Dropbox, Felix

Facebook was one of the apps “promoted” from the second homescreen to the first, thanks to the four extra apps I can have on the first homescreen. I don’t use it as much as, say, Tweetbot, but it’s still there when I need it to be.

Articles for reformatted Wikipedia articles, and Dropbox for accessing my Dropbox documents when I’m out and about.

Felix is one of the better App.net clients out there — you know, that semi-exclusive social network that popped up recently. By nerds, for nerds. Netbot could just as easily be occupying this position, but Felix has Helvetica Neue on its side.

Fourth row: Instapaper, Soulver, Notesy, Foursquare

Instapaper continues to be the best way to read later and Soulver remains the best calculator.

Notsey takes over from Elements as my Markdown-enabled, Dropbox-syncing plain text editor of choice — it doesn’t use Museo Sans like Elements does, but I was sick of the error messages Elements would frequently pop up. Notesy is perhaps a touch more customistable than Elements is, but otherwise, they’re pretty much the same app.

Foursquare was also one of the promoted apps from the second homescreen.

Fifth row: Phone, Pocket Weather Australia, App Store, Settings

Pocket Weather Australia (a.k.a. Weather Au) is the best weather app for Australians, period. After languishing in a folder in the second page for too long, it now gains a spot on the homescreen — with the “feels like” temperature for my current location as the icon badge constantly updated. It’s an insanely beautiful app that’s also available on Android, if you’re so inclined.

Dock: Tweetbot, Messages, Safari, Music

Tweetbot is among the few apps that mean I won’t be leaving the iOS platform any time soon. I’ve never seen an Android app that even comes close to the quality of Tweetbot, and it’s unique in that it’s perhaps one of the only apps that actually deserves a place on the dock. It’s amazingly good. Oh, and I occasionally use it for Twitter, too.

I still mourn the loss of the iPod app.

Miscellaneous

I’m actually using one of the default background wallpapers. Apple has done an amazing job picking out the default wallpapers that come with iOS 6 — a few are flashy, yes, but the rest are beautifully subtle, two-tone affairs suitable for use on both the lockscreen and the homescreen.

If you want to enable the numeric signal strength without jailbreaking, follow these instructions.

Apple: iPhone, iPad, Mac are better products for most users

The reason I love my iPhone isn’t because it’s made by Apple, it’s simply because I think it’s the best mobile device ever made. And that’s where I’m going with all this — just hang in there, I know there’s probably some cute kitten with overlaid capitalized text on Facebook you’re thinking about checking out. The reason I compare every device to an iPhone is not because it’s an Apple product, it’s because Apple has done something that no other manufacturer in the world has done. Apple has created a product that isn’t a product. It’s a seamless, effortless, enjoyable extension of your computer and your life. In fact, you could now argue that a computer is just an extension of your phone, and you’d be right.

via Apple: iPhone, iPad, Mac are better products for most users.

The iPhone 5

A few weeks before the iPhone 5 was even announced, before all the rumours, part leaks, before all of that, I wondered what I was going to do with my old iPhone 4.

See, I’m on the “good” iPhone cycle: my first iPhone was the 3G, then the 4, and now, the 5. I skipped the first iPhone due to it not being available in Australia, skipped the 3GS due to still being on a contract, and skipped the 4S for the same reason.

For many, this two-year contract cycle is nothing new, the natural progression of things if you’re not a compulsive upgrader, and/or don’t have the funds to buy a new iPhone every year.

In any case, as I pondered what I was going to do with my old iPhone, it dawned on me: why not sell it off and use another phone I had lying around? As I dwelled on this, it began to make more and more sense; by selling the two-year-old iPhone 4 off, I’d get a few dollars more than I would have if I sold it off after the release of the iPhone 5.

Question my committal if you want, but as a test, I pulled out my trusty old Nexus S to see how I’d fare using Android for a few weeks. Jelly Bean had just just been released, you see, and now was as good a time as any to test the latest and greatest Android release, on hardware around the same age as my iPhone 4.

This was my first mistake.

It’s not that I hate Android. Really, it’s not. It’s just that, for me personally, Android doesn’t quite gel as much as iOS does. Things are less fluid. Third party app quality just isn’t there.

But like any curious and “bored with iOS” technology enthusiast, I forged on.

This was my second mistake. For two weeks, it was nothing but constant grating. Me constantly fighting the OS on what I wanted to do versus what it allowed me to do. I’d imagine my experiences with Android during the few weeks of pain would have been an approximation of an abusive relationship of some kind.

Sure, it was stable enough. I only saw a few crashes here and there, mostly from apps labelled as beta in the Play Store. Sure, there were apps available for all the popular things I used on iOS: Twitter, Instagram, Instapaper, and even a Dropbox-syncing, Markdown-supporting, plain text editor.

But the thing is, it’s been a year since I last looked at Android, and I found myself going back to the same apps I used last time around, simply because no better alternatives exist. Actually, that’s not entirely true: there’s now and official Instapaper client for Android. Other than that, the Android app landscape is blacker than black. Where are all the good quality apps?

Suffice to say, my Android experience, Jelly Bean and all, was pretty bad. Two weeks later (I had originally planned to stick it out for at least a couple of months, until the iPhone 5 was out), I was crawling back to my iPhone 4 and begging it to take me back.

In some ways, Android reminds me of the desktop Linux experience. It has its advantages, but probably won’t ever reach mass popularity with non-technology-minded people due to inherent issues with the ecosystem and how things work. Unless its locked down and given a stern talking-to, developers won’t be attracted to it anytime soon. And that means it will stagnate.

But enough about Android and mediocre software experiences combined with stellar hardware specs packaged in the cheapest plastic you’ve ever felt. I’ve since sold off my Nexus S and have acquired the iPhone 5.

It’s amazing.

Thinner. Lighter. Faster. All these verbs are true of the iPhone 5, but I still want to talk about three main aspects which make it all worth it.

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There are no questions any more, only answers and Google.

A wise man said something along the same lines not too long ago, and I realised the other day how true his words actually were.

Scenario: you’re at a party or some other social gathering. Maybe out in town with a few mates or whatever, and you find yourself in an argument over, say, the Nexus 7 is the only tablet to be released thus far with Android 4.1, Jelly Bean. Your back and forth about how you know for sure that the Galaxy Nexus is the only phone that currently has Jelly Bean is for all intents and purposes, irrelevant, because you want to find out what current Android tablets can run Jelly Bean.

None of you know the answer for sure, so you pull our whatever smartphone you have, look it up on the internets, and find out that yes, indeed, the Nexus 7 is currently the only shipping tablet that runs Google’s latest OS.

There are no questions anymore, only answers and Google.

Scenario two: you’re at a gathering with a few more mates, this time around an open fire somewhere in the wilds of Tasmania. Somehow, the conversation turns to how many Pokémon are in the Generation IV remakes of the Generation II games. You can never remember how many Pokémon are available in HeartGold or SoulSilver — one of you is adamant that it’s only the original 251 (that appeared in the original Gold and Silver games for GameBoy Color), and the other one of you is sure you can catch many, many more Pokémon than just the original 251. Consequently, you get into some heated argument about how many Pokémon are actually available.

None of you know the answer for sure, so one of you decides to settle it by looking up the answer on the internet. Mobile data coverage is spotty where you are, but you managed to jump onto Bulbapedia and find that yes, “Pokémon native to Sinnoh and Hoenn can be found in various methods.”

Thanks to our constant connectivity, the proliferation of smartphones, and the basic need for burning questions to be answered in a timely manner, there are no questions anymore, only answers, and Google. In the old days, you might have had to wait until you were at home and at a computer before you could settle an argument — but by then, the moment would have passed, and no-one would likely care.

It’s a double-edged sword. Settling arguments is one thing, but such definitiveness (yes, that’s a word now) means that there’s no mystery. Of course, you could always not Google things right there and then, but where’s the fun in that?

This shorter post, apropos of nothing, proudly brought to you by random thoughts in Benny Ling’s brain.

A Long-Time Apple Nerd’s Review of the Galaxy Nexus and First Experience With Android

To those who want to use Android, I say go for it. I don’t think that choice is wrong — there are many fine things about the Android OS and many things it does differently and better than iOS. I can understand how tech-savvy power-users who know what they are getting into would like Android. For them, the trade-offs in certain areas are a welcome sacrifice in exchange for the customizability, the different look, and the plethora of hardware devices to choose from.

via A Long-Time Apple Nerd’s Review of the Galaxy Nexus and First Experience With Android — Shawn Blanc.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Android summed up. It’s not that I wouldn’t recommend an Android phone to your mum or dad, it’s just that I wouldn’t recommend an Android phone to your mum or dad.

For those that actually like the appeal of Android, by all means, you’re more than welcome to. Hell, even I like certain aspects about Android, but that doesn’t make it the comparative “best”.

Qualifiers such as “are they buying based solely on price?” aren’t even all that relevant to buying an Android phone, as a second-hand 3GS or similar might be more suitable instead. I’d think long and hard before recommending an Android phone to anyone.

One other thing: I’m super glad I don’t work in a telco store that sells Android alongside the iPhone, because I doubt I’d be able to “sell” Android phones based on one feature alone. I mean, Google integration, absolutely. But iOS has that in iCloud. IOS is comparatively easier to sell; do your friends have iPhones? Boom, free messages between you and them. That feature alone could sell a customer, never mind an app for anything you could poke a stick at.

A month with some Windows Phone 7, er… phones

I’m in the privileged position where I can buy whatever the fuck I like. No kids […] and no debt – just disposable income and a bloodlust for gadgets. Some people smoke, do drugs, drink booze, gamble, go out, whatever. I like buying electronics I have no use for, other than to say “I’ve used that”, and to be able to throw my opinion into nerdly discussions with some sort of authority. The pinnacle of this is my T-Hub – currently acting as a glorified clock in the living room.

via Anthony – An Apple loving nerd from Melbourne.

* give or take a few days

Pretty much this. It’s not that don’t like having money, but what use is money if I can’t do anything with it? This way, my “bloodlust for gadgets” — as Anthony so eloquently puts is — is satisfied and no one gets hurt in the process. Win-win, really.

I don’t know quite how it happened, but at some point during the last month I managed to acquire not one, but two Windows Phone 7 Phones; a HTC 7 Mozart and a Dell Venue Pro. I’ve already written about the hardware of those a little, so this will mostly be about Windows Phone 7 as a platform and how it compares to, say, the iPhone.

Small note before we get into things proper: in the above review of the hardware and intro to Windows Phone 7, I (incorrectly) say that even though the HTC 7 Mozart includes a notification LED, WP7 doesn’t seem to use it. That is just plain untrue — it just doesn’t flash for things like unread emails or messages. It’ll definitely flash for missed calls though, but whether the notification LED is a standard thing or something HTC has tacked on still remains to be seen.

The next small note before I start giving you opinions on stuff: I used the release of Windows Phone 7 called NoDo (7390), as well as the as-yet-unreleased (to the public, anyway) Mango (7712) for my evauluations. Besides Twitter integration, groups, and threaded messages across communication platforms, there is little else that I discovered in terms of differences between the two. There may be a few little changes between the developer beta 2 refresh of Mango and the final, carrier-released version, but your mileage may vary.

Final small note: if you haven’t read Lukas Mathis’ excellent Windows Phone 7 write-up, you should go read that. I echo a few of his points here, but he also looks at WP7 from a usability perspective (something I don’t do much of here).

Windows Phone 7 Phones

If you’re ready to get this show on the road, take a deep breath, and read on.

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Well, obviously.

Yet another nice photo by iPhone. You’re so convenient!

I kinda like that look, actually.

In all seriousness that pane of glass isn’t supposed to be smashed into a squillion little pieces, but it kinda gives it that frosted-glass look (without spoiling the overall UTas logo) which I kinda like.