Category Archives: iphone

iPhone 4S

I took receipt of a new 64GB white iPhone4S this morning. It arrived yesterday but I wasn’t around to receive it so I had to go and pick it up from the depot this morning. Here are mandatory unboxing photos. First impressions – the white colour looks stunning and definitely outshines the black.

Siri is nice but definitely hit and miss. There is a learning curve for both the user and Siri. I would class Siri as alpha or beta right now due to bugs and a degree of misinterpretation but even then it is very useful. Imagine what it will be able to do with refinement. So far I’ve used it to compose some texts, book lunch and reschedule the lunch appointment and it mostly worked fine. Here’s an interesting article about how siri works and the quora equivalent.

The camera, which was the primary reason to get the phone along with the white colour, definitely seems like a radical improvement to the old one letting in more light resulting in better photos.

Augmented reality real time text translation

I normally don’t post about iphone applications but this turned out to be revolutionary – a symphony amidst the noise. Point your phone camera at a picture and it not only translates the text in the view of the camera but superimposes it onto the camera image itself transforming in real time what you see. And all without an internet connection or network costs. Simply phenomenal. Just when you think the community has done all it can with the iOS SDK once in a while something like this happens. Check it out. Quoted from MacRumors:

Word Lens Offers Real Time Language Translation. QuestVisual has released an eye-catching iOS app called Word Lens. Word Lens is an augmented reality app for the iPhone and iPod Touch (with video camera) which offers real time translation of text. You simply point your device’s video camera at a sign and the program translates and superimposes the translated text onto the video in real time. The demo video shows it in action.

Augmented Reality Apps with iPhone 3.1 Update

Augmented reality applications is one way in which the iPhone is currently behind Android since, as far as I could tell from the Android for Java Developers talk I went to, this functionality already exists in Android.  I wonder why this API is currently not public.

“The L.A. Times reports that Apple will begin allowing developers access to the tools they need to produce augmented reality applications starting with upcoming iPhone OS 3.1. While there have been many impressive demos floating around showing the possibilities, these applications have used unpublished APIs which prevent them from being allowed on the App Store. Apple, however, told one developer that the tools necessary would become available with iPhone 3.1.”

via Augmented Reality Apps to Arrive with iPhone 3.1 Update – Mac Rumors.

Update: Another interesting example of augmented reality.

HTC Hero & Android – What’s the value add?

I just watched the official video on HTC Hero and I can’t help wondering what is the value add? Let me say at the outset that I admire the Android platform and handsets adopting it and that what I’m about to say is in no way a criticism. However I would like to ask the question: how will Android and adopting handsets distinguish themselves in the shadow of the iPhone? The fundamental problem that Android and adopting handsets are facing is that it’s all been done before by Apple who have had the added advantage of refining and maturing their product over time. The typical characteristics of the OS and the handset marketed in that video, touchscreen, seamless integration with the internet and catering for all possible needs of the user, have all been done before and replicating that unfortunately gives the impression of lack of originality.

Android attempts to add more animation and eye candy but it’s all too easy to overdo it. The only real unique value add I can see is that they allow you to fully customise your desktop and that in my opinion is one of the annoyances of the iPhone and a real plus point of Android. Some might say that the Android platform being open and supporting multiple languages including Java is a major win. However this cannot be the defining value add as if you have no consumer who will you develop for? For the common consumer there has to be a very real tangible value over alternative platforms and sadly having come much later than the iPhone and being relatively new still Android is in my opinion at a serious disadvantage. It nevertheless shows more promise than Symbian and other non-Apple platforms and in due time I’m sure it will have overcome this difficulty to an extent and established its place on the market. I look forward to its progress in the future. If I can get my hands on an Android handset cheaply maybe I’ll even try my hands on some development.

O2 forbids iPhone 3GS upgrade for existing customers

After the great elation of hearing about the release of the new iPhone 3GS by Apple at the WWDC 2009 now comes the heartbreaking and shocking news that UK residents simply cannot own one. In essence this means that if you were one of the keen purchasers (on a monthly contract) of the iPhone 3G early on when it was released then you must now pay the penalty of being ineligible for an upgrade. This has caused a public outroar on the web and enraged and frustrated many. Twitter is flooding almost in real time with messages of outrage and complaint, a twitter trend #o2fail has appeared and direct dialogue has been established with O2 through their very own twitter account. There is even an online petition (twitition) for the cause.  News websites (1,2) and blogs are also expressing their dismay and reporting on that of others. Despite this frenzy of activity O2’s policy remains and that feeling of lack of control and an inability to get around these restrictions can be difficult to channel and vent.

My situation is dire. In order to upgrade to the new iphone I must pay £555 in total: £280 for the remaining term of my existing contract (8×25) plus £275 to get the 32gb version of the new iphone on a £35/month tariff. This is equivalent to buying the iphone 3gs outright on pay as you go for £540. Either is a serious amount of money. Many factors have given rise to this incredibly difficult situation. Apple has released a new phone within a year of their previous release and that too with a brand new operating system and new hardware specifications. Secondly O2 has for some time had exclusive rights to sell the iphone in the UK which means that they have now acquired a captive audience that must continue their subscriptions simply because there are no alternative provider opportunities. Lastly, whether you wish to believe this or not, the truth is that the iphone is unlike any other and is therefore evoking a reaction unlike any other.

I understand where O2 are coming from – when people bought the iphone 3g last year, like myself, they agreed to heed the terms of their 18 month contract. At the time we were happy to have the new iPhone that utilised the fastest available data network in the UK and also it certainly didn’t seem likely that Apple would re-release as soon as they have done especially given that data networks were not expected to leap in speed anytime soon. O2 also set their own trend by allowing upgrades from iPhone Edge to iPhone 3G. However things change and when Apple is involved you have to expect the unexpected.

Regardless of what the contracts say there is one simple yet crucial fact that O2 have failed to realise – for innumerable reasons the iPhone has become an exception to all rules and for that reason must be treated as one. The iPhone is unlike any other phone and has an appeal unlike that of any other phone. At this point it is no longer a phone – it is whatever you want it to be at all times. It has become an ingrained part of peoples’ lifestyles and the two are virtually inseparable and indistinguishable. It would be redundant to go through why it has become such an exclusive item and an object or desire as that should be more than obvious by now but simply to say that it has and it will only become more so. Given that – anyone who stops to consider the dynamics of the iphone’s appeal to the mass public whether a lay person or a business entity should realise that you simply cannot deprive the public of a new iPhone release and get away with it unscarred. O2 is facing the rebellion assault and will have made many enemies over time – even more so than previously.

The lack of competition i.e .a monopoly for such reasons is a very bad thing. There are rumors that the exclusivity contract between O2 and Apple is coming to an end in the last quarter of this year. Let’s hope that’s the case. The shifts in mobile phone contracts is worrying to say the least – initially we moved from 12 month to 18 month and now O2 is beginning to offer 24 month contracts. Expecting consumers to keep the same phone for that amount of time is hardly realistic. There will be new releases and consumers will want a change after some time. The feeling of lock in is not a pleasant one – it can be incredibly frustrating. On top of that O2 is beginning to charge around £15/month for iphone network tethering despite the fact that the phone has unlimited data. The average consumer needs the internet but is the average consumer able to afford such exorbitant monthly fees?

So now what? O2 customers will either fork out £500-£600 to upgrade from their existing contracts and grow bitter over time in the company of their new iPhone about the amount of money they’ve spent or they’ll forego the purchase and grow bitter over time about having been made to watch the iphone 3gs revolution from the sidelines. Either way the outcome for O2 is not good in terms of public opinion and loyalty.

Apple WWDC 2009 tomorrow

The most eagerly awaited and hyped annual Apple event – the WWDC – starts tomorrow and, in a similar fashion to every year, they are expected to make ground breaking announcements about their products. Rumours (macrumors, engadget, gizmodo) are that they will announce Snow Leopard, the new iPhone OS v3 and a range of new iPhones with different technical hardware and software specifications. Steve Jobs is also rumored to make a come back from extended sick leave to announce the new iPhones. Let’s admit it – neither Apple nor the WWDC would be the same without Steve. I wouldn’t like to speculate on what iPhone OS v3 will support or what tech specs the new iPhones will feature. However it goes without saying that I can’t wait to hear what they have in store. No doubt that wwdc news will be streamed in real time over twitter (macrumors live twitter), rss and web (macrumors live).

If Apple allow premature upgrades for existing iPhone users then I’m definitely taking the leap and getting the new one – although be aware that any new OS release can be unstable to the point of being unusable as I’m sure most iPhone 3G owners will remember. Having used the iPhone 3G for about a year now I’m beyond any doubt that it is light years ahead of the competition and that RIM or Windows Media have become almost primitive and out of touch with the modern day consumer. If Apple were to incorporate video calling and editing as well as push notifications and a magnetometer, all of which have been rumoured to be in the new iPhone, then that will widen the gap even further. The exclusivity contract with O2 in the UK is also rumoured to be coming to an end in the last quarter of this year and if true then it is great news. I’ll also be purchasing Snow Leopard to satisfy my curiosity but also for the massive performance and weight improvements that it has made since the original Leopard.

As I always say – innovation at the rate of Apple is simply astounding. Rather than recreating what we already have time and time again like everyone else they are one of the few companies that are creating new things and that is the fundamental difference. Anyway, let’s see what happens tomorrow.

Spring Integration Series – Getting started

In the past few months I’ve had the good fortune of getting familiar in depth with Spring Integration and being responsible for adopting it for use within a major investment bank. I’ve learnt a lot through many different channels, met in person with people from SpringSource and those directly contributing to Spring Integration and provided my own feedback through all these channels derived from my experiences in using it to fulfil my commercial use-cases.

During all this time I’ve been dying to blog about Spring Integration and particularly my use of it but haven’t been able to due to lack of time and energy outside of work. Going forward, however, my hope is that I’ll write a series of articles, one at a time, each exploring a different perspective on Spring Integration.

Here we begin by looking at how to get started with Spring Integration and how to get close to the source of the project using Eclipse IDE. The value of this will be felt most when browsing the org.springframework.integration.samples project which contains numerous fully working examples of how to use Spring Integration in different ways.

Getting started

My approach to learning any new subject is to put theory first. Here’s what I did to get started.

  1. Read the manual (yes the entire ~100 pages).
  2. Set up the source (as in the next section of this article).
  3. Review the sample applications (once you’ve set up the source).

If you prefer a more pragmatic approach from the start you can dive straight into the sample applications and start to write your own by referring to the manual as and when needed but this approach has the danger of leaving gaps in your knowledge as you start to write code.

Getting close to the source

The tools that you’ll need to work with the source are as follows.

Here’s how to set up the Spring Integration source in Eclipse.

  1. Check out the source.
    svn co https://src.springframework.org/svn/spring-integration/trunk/ si
  2. Increase max perm size available to Ant.
    export ANT_OPTS="-XX:MaxPermSize=512m"
  3. Build the project. This will take approximately ten minutes while it downloads all dependencies using Ivy.

    cd si/build-spring-integration/

    ant

    If you are running on Ubuntu and at this point you get UnknownHostException error messages then see recommended fix.

  4. Import the project into eclipse.

    • File > Import > Existing projects into workspace
    • Select root directory > Browse > Select the si/ folder
    • Deselect the project with no name and click Finish
  5. Create an ivy cache variable as follows.

    • Right click on any of the projects you imported above.
    • Properties > Java Build Path > Libraries
    • Add Variable > Configure Variables > New
    • Enter variable name as ‘IVY_CACHE’ and value as something similar to /home/dhruba/sources/si/ivy-cache/repository
    • Confirm all the dialogue boxes. The projects should automatically rebuild.

At this point you should have all the Spring Integration projects imported into Eclipse with no fatal errors and at the time of writing 94 warnings. Common guys we can reduce that to zero 😉 Now you should be able to open up the org.springframework.integration.samples project and browse through and run the sample applications provided for you.

With any luck a number of further articles on Spring Integration should follow. I have a lot that I want to convey but it is, as always, finding the time and the energy to write not only the articles but fully working illustrative showcase applications.

Thanks to Jonas Partner, Spring Integration committer, for providing the instructions.

iPhone 2.2 firmware out

Once again, a long awaited update to the iphone firmware, version 2.2, is out with the following new features.

  • Enhancements to Maps
    • Google Street View*
    • Public transit and walking directions
    • Display address of dropped pins
    • Share location via email
  • Decrease in call setup failures and dropped calls
  • Enhancements to Mail
    • Resolved isolated issues with scheduled fetching of email
    • Improved formatting of wide HTML email
  • Podcasts are now available for download in iTunes application
    (over Wi-Fi and cellular network)
  • Improved stability and performance of Safari
  • Improved sound quality of Visual Voicemail messages
  • Pressing Home button from any Home screen displays the first
    Home screen
  • Preference to turn on/off auto-correction in Keyboard Settings

Going to install it now and see what it’s like – particularly is street view effective in London, call reliability, stability improvements, improved scheduled email fetch and improved html email display as many of these relate to problems that I’ve been having. Still no sign of push notifications or turn by turn gps however.

Sources: Apple and MacRumors.