Posts Tagged ‘iPad’

A-Team Action Pack : FREE iPhone app

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Yes folks, it’s finally gone live! Those that know the in’s and out’s of this one will know what I mean.

If you’re a fan of the ’80s A-Team then this is for you. It was created to raise awareness of the A-team TV episodes that are available on iTunes.

So download it NOW, IT’S FREE!!! Then get to work creating your backing sound effects, shaking your iPhone to make machine gun sounds and ‘lobbing it’ to make a grenade. There are a bunch of voice samples and the original ’80s intro sequence from the TV show as a bonus.

I love it when a plan comes together!

20 reasons the iPad sucks

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Our fledgling LA office is paying dividends already. A few days after the US launch of the iPad, we had one brought back to the UK office to fiddle with. Clearly I wanted a go and managed to ‘borrow’ it, take it home, show it to my kids and generally pretend it was mine with the aim of answering the $1million question… is there room in my life for one?

First 10 minutes… meh! It’s just a big iPod.

Then I take it home. The vision I have is of a device that sits on the arm of my sofa, neither iPhone nor desktop computer, but somewhere nicely in-between.

First, the good points:

1) It has a big screen

2) The battery lasts longer than I expected. Maybe a day of moderate use when compared to the iPhone 4-6 hours.

3) The kids like it. But they like their DS’s and my iPhone too… and the Xbox 360 and the Wii. To them it’s a chance to play with a gadget when I’ve already told them to switch off the TV and do something more useful. None of them really grasped what the iPad was for though. My son had it about right with “that massive iPhone thing”.

And then the bad points:

1) It’s heavy. Heavier than I imagined. Especially for kids to hold, so games that need accelerometers to control lead to a fair bit of fatigue in small arms.

2) It’s sharp and hurts. The iPhone is rounded and smooth. The iPad has sharp beveled aluminium edges making it feel like a cheap aluminium foldout tray on an economy flight. It’s also partly dur to the small recessed groove around the screen catching your nails or finger joints. Really not much fun after 30 mins or so.

3) It’s hard to hold. Put points 1 and 2 together and pretty soon you figure out it’s hard to hold with one hand. Really not ideal if you have an app that requires typing or screen pressing (like most of them) and you don’t have a flat surface.

4) It spins. The back may be nicely curved but this has a really annoying side-effect. Assuming you have the iPad on a flat, smooth surface, swiping down one side of the screen caused the device to spin. This was really noticeable when my daughter and I played 2 player Air Hockey, one of us had to hold the iPad still. The same was true for drawing applications, requiring delicate strokes nearer the edgest to stop the momentum spinning the iPad around. Likewise, it rocks if you click the screen near the edges.

5) It’s symmetrical and confusing to know which way up it is. Ok, so the screen changes orientation to match but when you need to hit the main menu button, there aren’t enough visual cues to instantly show where the menu button is. You find yourself scrabbling for the volume controls only to find they are on the other corner as you have the iPad upside down. Not a biggie, bit it it annoying.

6) It’s not stereo. For a device with such a beautiful screen for watching movies, bit of a shame.

7) It takes AGES to recharge. Maybe I needed a special iPad charger. Maybe the iPhone charger isn’t beefy enough. But 6 hours? That’s mad. Even then it only got to 85% and I got fed up waiting.

8 ) It has flaky Wifi. Or at least the WiFi re-connection is flaky. My iPhone (and every other device from Nokia N95 to Blackberry) has no problem. So far I’ve had to manually re-connect the WiFi via the Settings menu 3-4 times a day. Curious and irritating in equal measures.

9) It looks obvious. You just can’t get the thing out on the Underground. You’d get mugged the minute you got off the train. Or worse, you’d look like a complete ponce. Either way, not worth the hassle. Obviously it will become less ‘look at me’ as people get used to it but after 7 years, I still have the same feeling with a Sony PSP.

10) It doesn’t play Flash, so ‘browsing the BBC website over breakfast’ (one of my visions of the future) is met by constant “You don’t have flash” warnings. Same with loads of sites. Apple is very vocal about flash. Nice for them, really bad for everyone else. It seems silly that such a capable machine is restricted to the internet we had in the late 1990′s. HTML with stuff in squares. Not ideal.

11) It crashes. It may just be the ‘first release’ HD apps or it may be the older iPhone apps dealing with the on-the-fly rescaling, but some of the apps (mainly games) crash more often than the iPhone. Maybe once every 20 launches. My kids know by habit to hit the round button on the iPad. That’s how often it happens. It hasn’t needed a restart though, which suggests the apps are doing it, but it also happens to the Apple-made apps so it can’t be dismissed as bad app development.

12) The menu is too airy. I want either more icons in the grid or bigger icons. If the iPhone if accurate enough to have them next to each other, why do I need 1inch gaps on the iPad? There’s nothing in the settings that I can find. Just seems pointless to be forced to go through 2 screens when you can fit all the icons on one.

14) The keyboard tries too hard. Now this one got my design / functionality heckles up. The keyboard. Two things. First, look at your keyboard. See those bumps on the F and J keys to help touch-typists and visually impaired people ‘locate’ the keys? Yep, the on-screen keyboard has those. Of course, they are just graphics so are completely useless. An example where attention to detail can be a bad thing. Secondly, you can’t ‘rest’ on the keyboard. On an iPhone, you tend to ‘peck’ at the keyboard. The iPad invites ‘proper typing’ but only as long as you hover above the keys when not typing. Quite a skill.

15) It has no Word Processor. Now you have the new keyboard at your disposal, it’s time to get writing those long Word docs right? Ok, Word = Microsoft so no. Ok, Apple Pages ten. Nope. You get the same basic boy-scout notepad you get with the iPhone. A little restricting.

16) It has no cover. You have to carry a padded envelope with you everywhere to stop it getting scratched (more then the swirly ones on the back from point 4). I can see why Steve Jobs was testing out that prototype envelope at the launch of the MacBook Air.

17) It’s not so portable. You stick an iPhone in your pocket. A laptop goes in its bag with its lid down to protect it. The iPad is in limbo. Too big to go into a pocket (and too heavy) and too exposed to put in something else like a bag with cables and pens. Even carrying it upstairs to put it on charge, you hold the iPad and one other thing, maybe a cup of coffee. It’s a little selfish in that respect.

18) It doesn’t have a stand. So reading the New York Times app (for instance) at the breakfast table requires either an orange placed behind the iPad or the iPad to be laid flat. All content therefore has to be consumed at 45 degrees to your eyes… or you have to lean over the iPad… you have to hold it in one hand (see point 2). Even charging it takes a lot of space as it has to lay on a surface. My bedside cabinet ‘charge station’ looks a bit cramped now.

19) It has no camera. And therefore not even a forward facing webcam. It would be great to sit on the sofa and chill out on a video call with your relatives in Australia or take snaps to put into the Photo app. Currently you have to sync your photos to see them… it’s like having an iPod Photo all over again. Missing a big trick there.

20) It’s not so new. And finally, after following Apple’s recent hard-line strategies on everything from mobile chipset takeovers, lawsuits, patent challenges, forcing developers to use their APIs, changing Terms at the last minute to undermine the Adobe CS5 launch, refusing to allow plugins on their iPhone-based products… I can’t help wanting to take a step back and reassess the Apple bandwagon. I get an uneasy feeling it’s a case of the Emperors New Clothes.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the iPad. It’s sort of nice. But my iPhone made an instant impact. It was a game changer. The iPad seems simply to be a bigger iPod marketed as something truly miraculous. I can’t see past the thought that it’s just an iPod HD upgrade. Like the Nintendo DSi XL is to the DSi.  Not sure a larger screen qualifies it as a revolution just yet. I’ll wait for iPad 2 maybe. The one with the rubber back, a stand, a camera, soft sides and hinge in the middle so I can carry it.

The real reason your iPhone will NEVER get Flash

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Oh, for crying out loud. If I read one more blog post about why Flash doesn’t work on an iPod / iPad / iPhone I’m going to scream. I bit my lip when the “because the swf format is not open source” comments started. I rolled my eyes when the “it’s because they hate each other” nonsense took hold. Same with the processor hogging / battery life debate. And now I’ve just read a post that argues the fact that roll-over states can’t be implemented on a touch screen as the main reason. The fact that every App on the App store seems to get on fine without a roll-over state and a simple change in approach to flash design would solve it, seems to be too much of a mountain to climb. [Update] Seems Mike Chambers is with me too. Flash designers (myself included at times) have the same attitude to Accessibility, I.e. I would have to change, so it’s not worth it. Each arguement has a valid point some extent but all in all, they are (in my opinion) just pointless finger waving compared to the main issue.

As is customary at this point, on this subject, I seem to have to declare my allegiances. Yes I develop Flash and have for years. But I also have experience publishing iPhone apps and the inner workings of the iPhone development (and deployment) world. I’ve also been coding since 1982. I was there before flash and the iPhone and I’ll be there after no doubt. I’ve seen many things come and go and have a job in a digital agency where I get involved in the inner workings of the business models of certain platforms and content strategies. I like my iPhone, I like Flash, I like Adobe, I like Apple.

Right, that’s that out of the way. What’s my point? The App store model is the ONLY point. So 3 billion Apps have been download, of which an estimated $75million goes to Apple EACH MONTH. That’s profit btw. They didn’t develop the Apps, they don’t have to support the Apps, Apple simply take their 30% of the App revenue to cover ‘making it happen’.

If you want to play a game on the iPhone, you download the App.

If you want to play a game on a PC / Mac, you go to Miniclip or similar and play a Flash game. The ad-funded or Advergame model may not be perfect but it does seem to, just about, keep the internet free.

In fact, if you want to do many things on your PC / Mac, you will probably find a Flash or Java ‘something’ for it. Quite literally… “there’s a free App for that”.

Now imagine what would happen to that juicy $75million a month if you just went to a full screen Flash App on a website using Safari. Yep, you wouldn’t pay a thing for a game again.

Apple innovated with music downloads when others were struggling to come up with a model. With the App Store, Apple have also managed to get people to pay for low-level content too. Something not achieved before. Of course they wouldn’t want to allow Flash to punch big, leaky holes in their ever-so-tight monopoly for extending the iPhone’s functionality. I can’t EVER see a point where Apple will let this change unless all Flash content is preceded with an ‘pay now’ popup or micro-payment system or, heaven forbid, Adobe pays a hefty fee each month ($75million?) to offset Apple’s loss in profit.

So it’s not about handbags at dawn, it’s not about something as trivial as a rollover state, it’s (unsurprisingly) about guarding a business model that makes more in a month than most companies make in their lifetime.

I do love the blurring of the edges however. Those ‘screw you’ moments like Gordon, completely written in iPhone-browser-friendly javascript that allows simple Flash to be played in the Safari browser. I also like Adobe’s own (rather cobbled together) functionality in the upcoming Adobe Creative Suite 5 to allow Flash to be compiled directly as an iPhone App. For Flash developers, Apple has turned itself into the cliché vision of King Kong, swatting off the annoying advances of desperate attackers determined to find a weakness, and exploit it. Will they succeed? I hope so. Will Apple’s clean, tidy walled-garden get scruffy and diluted? Probably. Will Flash content be on your iPhone any time soon? No.