iPhone apps: my most used list

I’ve been downloading quite a few iPhone applications since the launch of the app store… but I really don’t use most of them. Here is a short list of those I use on a regular basis and that I would highly recommend purchasing (if not available for free), in addition to the following built-in apps: SMS, Calendar, Photos, Camera, Maps, Clock, Stock, Weather, Calculator, Phone, Mail, Safari and iPod.

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MobileMe: Not as bad as people say…

Since its launch on July 11, 2008, the “new” online service from Apple had a bumpy start and reviews have been negative overall… even Walt Mossberg says that “Apple’s MobileMe Is Far Too Flawed To Be Reliable”. The problems that have plagued the service have not helped… and Apple also changed the tone of their messaging from “Exchange for the rest of us” to “The simple way to keep everything in sync”. But overall, the re-branding of .Mac and new web interface to the online service that Apple Inc charges $99 per year in the US (pricing does vary around the world, and I don’t think it will be lower) has all the base components that make it already worth for me, and that could become great with a few little “tweaks”.

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A great Blog post editor: Windows Live Writer

When working on my Mac, I’ve been using Ecto as my blog editor of choice. It gives me a lot of flexibility, enables me to write the drafts of my blog posts while off-line (I find airplanes a great place to write entries) and integrates nicely with Apple iPhoto. You can also customize it greatly and automated many tasks and repetitive HTML snippets quickly.

On the Windows front, I have also used Ecto for a while. While it works almost as well on Windows than on MacOS, except for the iPhoto integration obviously, you can feel that this is not a native application. Listening to episode 42 of Windows Weekly, I wanted to know more about the Windows Live applications from Microsoft, and especially the one to write blog posts: Windows Live Writer. And I have to say: Microsoft, great job!

live_writer

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Even more unfounded rumors about the iPhone software SDK

Yes, I know, I should get another area of interest… but the topic of the month for me seems to be related to Apple’s first generation of cellular phone. Last week, I shared my completely unfounded thought about the business model behind the third-party applications for the iPhone. Well, having a quick look at the iPhone Human Interface Guidelines available from the Apple Developer site, I noticed something that seems to have been missed by all the tech blogs out there: Native third-party applications ARE coming.

Well, it’s not stated in such an obvious way, but I thought it would be fun to apply the same type of translation as between the Apple PR and the geeks community. So what is actually included in this document. Well, there is a simple sentence that states:

Currently, developers create web applications for iPhone, not native applications (page 7 of the PDF published on Sept 27, 2007)

I highlighted the word “Currently”, but if that’s not the best source for the rumors to explode, I really don’t know what could make it happen :-)

And if you wonder what for a crazy idea I have to read these times of documents, I always found the Apple UI guideline documents very interesting to read, especially when working in Product Management for a software company.

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Apple to announce iPhone apps SDK at WWDC

Time to get a new completely unfounded rumor out of thin air: Apple is expected to announce the first four third-party applications as well as the SDK for the iPhone at the upcoming World Wide Developer Conference in San Fransisco, California. All these applications will not only be available for iPhone users, but will also be compatible with the iPod touch. And to make it the best user experience, all these applications will be available directly from the iTunes store for as little as $9.99. For the third-party developers: think about the game consoles model.
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Windows is the new “Classic” after all.

In a previous blog entry written just after the introduction of the first version of Boot Camp by Apple and of Parallels Desktop, I was wondering if Windows could actually, looking at a potential future roadmap of Mac OS, become the new Classic for Intel based Macs, just like MacOS 9 was for PowerPC based machines. Since then, Apple continued to release updates to the Beta of Boot Camp and Parallels continued improvements to its virtual machine software.

Yesterday, version 3.0 of Parallels Desktop got released, introducing many new improvements such as 3D support (for the gamers out there) as well as even closer integration with the Mac through a method called “Coherence”. This enables users to hide the Windows desktop and have applications made for Microsoft’s operating system run side by side with those for MacOS X. From a user experience, it’s really very similar to the Classic mode on PowerPC based computers from Apple. So yes, in my mind, Windows is the new Classic after all.

In an even more interesting move, Apple chose to release the new beta version of Boot Camp yesterday. The latest version has improved drivers for Windows XP and Windows Vista. But what surprised me is the fact that both Parallels 3.0 and Boot Camp 1.3 Beta got out the same day, just a few days before WWDC. Now, how likely is it that two companies release updates to products that work together (you can use a Boot Camp partition in Parallels) on the same day? I haven’t seen any mention that Parallels requires the latest version of Boot Camp, but part from that, for those who believe in conspiracy theory and love rumors that are made out of nowhere, what if Apple and Parallels where working together for one of the top secret features of Leopard that will potentially get announced next week… :-)

Update: There might actually be nothing between Parallels and Apple, except a big coincidence… If you have Boot Camp 1.3 Beta drivers installed on Vista, you won’t be able to use that partition in Parallels as it freezes your machine.

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A software vendor perspective to changes to OSs…

Every once and a while, a new operating system comes out. Apple seems to be on an 18 to 24 month life-cycle for MacOS X, Microsoft seems to be more at the 24-36+ months (if you also consider the major service packs), and some Linux distributions come out every 6 months. The hot topic is currently “to upgrade or not to upgrade” to Windows Visa, Microsoft’s latest and greatest operating systems. Shortly, the followers of the Apple cult will have the opportunity to get their favorite computers running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. In this blog posting, I look at the flip-side of the software world when it comes to an Operating System upgrade, e.g. the perspective of the company / people who create the applications (often qualified as ISV or Independent Software Vendor). And I’ll stay as far away as possible from the Web 2.0 discussion in this entry.

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“The inmates are running the asylum” by Alan Cooper

A review of Alan Cooper’s book with the subtitle: “Why high-tech products drive us crazy and how to restore the sanity”. Looking at why technological devices (and more specifically the software related to them) drives end-users nuts, makes them feel like idiots and do not consider interaction design or a clear representation of the target user during their development.

The inmates are running the asylum

During a discussion with a friend, I recommend he reads The Invisible Computer (perhaps the subject of another blog entry)… in exchange, he told me that I should read “The inmates are running the asylum” without providing me any form of additional information. The title sounded very intriguing and the content was worth reading through.
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