iOS Bluetooth Toggle Icon Needed

The iPhone needs an easier way to turn Bluetooth on and off. In my experience, Bluetooth puts a noticeable dent in my battery life. When it is enabled, I can barely eke out a full day of use on a charge. If I am not planning on getting involved in lengthy phone conversations in a given day, I have gotten in the habit of disabling Bluetooth.

The problem is that to do so, I have to tap Settings, tap General, drill into Bluetooth, then slide it on or off. This doesn’t sound like a lot of trouble, but it gets cumbersome if you do it every other day.

I propose creating a single icon that toggles Bluetooth on or off. I could add such an icon permanently to the dock and tap it once to enable it, then tap it again to disable it. The icon color will indicate the current state (as well as the usual Bluetooth indicator in the menu bar.) I think this is a brilliant proposal and will help everyone extend their battery life.

This is likely possible if you jailbreak your phone. I don’t wish to do that at this time. This is something that should naturally be included in the operating system. Last week, I actually wrote Steve Jobs an email demanding this very feature be added to the next version of iOS. I have serious doubts that my email will ever be read by anyone. I’m including that email, shown below.

Steve, I’d like an easier way to toggle bluetooth on/off in my iPhone. I hate digging through Settings/General/Bluetooth. I want an independent icon for bluetooth that I can tap like an on/off switch. How about adding this addition in the next iOS update? Later.

Macworld Feedback on iTunes Future

The September 2010 issue of Macworld magazine contains an article titled, “Where Should iTunes Go Next?” I wrote them a feedback letter, shown below.

I have a suggestion for Apple regarding the next version of iTunes. Instead of packing more features into iTunes 10, I think they should simply fine tune the application in much the same way they did with Snow Leopard. Personally, I don’t want any more features than iTunes currently offers. I would, however, like to be able to download tiny point-release updates to the software without being forced to download the entire 130 MB application every time they change one line of code. Why haven’t they made this happen already? I think this should be the focus of the next version. Bigger isn’t always better, and iTunes has grown big enough as it is.

iOS4 is Released

On Monday, Apple released the new iOS 4 operating system for the iPhone. I updated my phone and I love the new OS. I use a 3GS model, which is the best version to upgrade. Older 3G users don’t get all of the new features with the update. In addition, from what I’ve read, 3G users have reported very long installation times. My backup and installation only took about 15 minutes after the download finished.

There is an awesome YouTube video of a user demonstrating the new features of iOS4.

iOS4

Apple Releases A New Mac Mini

This week, Apple quietly refreshed the Mac Mini line. I use a Mac Mini that I bought in 2007. I absolutely love my computer! The new one released this week looks better than ever.

The new Mini is now encased in aluminum, matching the design of the iMac. It has access to the computer memory underneath the machine. The power supply is now inside the machine, unlike older models which carry a power brick. An HDMI port is now included! The new computer also sports a faster processor, graphics card, and more.

I like what I see. I’d love to have one!

Mac Mini 2010

iPhone 4 Unveiled Today

Today at the Apple 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference, Steve Jobs took the stage to unveil the new iPhone 4. I followed the announcement closely. I’m quite impressed with the new phone! Steve said that the new phone has 100 improvements over the current 3GS model.

Countless tech blogs are buzzing with this news today, so I have no need to go into detail about the new features. You can read those details elsewhere. I will say that the iPhone 4 OS (now called iOS) is going to be released for free to all users on June 21st. As a 3GS user, I’ll surely benefit from the new operating system upgrade. That said, I’m not sure if I’m all that crazy about the new name “iOS.”

iPhone4

I’ve provided a few links to a some tech blogs for news about the new iPhone 4. These links will age quickly, as more will be written in time.

Opera Mini For iPhone

To my shock and amazement, Apple actually approved the Opera Mini web browser for the iPhone. It was such an event, I had to download it and give it a try. Let me begin by saying that I have never been a fan of Opera on any operating system. I’ve practically never heard of anyone who actually uses it. Opera’s market share is near zero. How they manage to continue development is somewhat baffling.

Opera Mini is touting faster speeds and more features over the built-in Safari browser for the iPhone. That said, I don’t see any speed improvement in my experience. As for the extra features (such as tabbed browsing), they all serve to make the Opera interface look too cluttered. There are simply too many buttons, options, bells and whistles. It looks as if they tried to cram all of the features of a desktop application into an iPhone app. For me, that strategy just doesn’t work for a mobile device. The screen real estate for the actual web page is cut in half by all of Opera’s interface clutter.

I applaud Apple for relaxing their tight grip on third-party web browsers. If you’re interested in Opera Mini, then by all means, give it a try. As for me, I’m going to stick with the ease and simplicity of Safari. Any speed increase for Opera is negated by the fact that I hardly ever use a web browser on my iPhone to begin with. On the whole, I honestly don’t see use in Opera taking off for any platform. I doubt Apple does either, which is probably why they accepted the app in the first place.

iPhone OS 4.0 Revealed

Today, Apple announced the iPhone OS version 4.0. I mistakenly thought that the product was going to be released today, but that isn’t so. It will be made available to download sometime this summer.

The highlights of the new version are multitasking and folders. Yes, actual multitasking of up to seven apps at a time, from the reports I have read. Hooray! I cheer that on, but I can’t honestly say I need multitasking on my iPhone. For iPad users, this will be a must-have.

I was hoping to hear an announcement that Verizon will be getting the iPhone later this year, but there is still no word on that, despite years of endless speculation. Maybe someday!

Defending The Flash Player

I am an avid follower of tech news. It seems that as of late, the Adobe Flash Player has been taking a lot of hits in the tech press. I’m now writing to defend it.

Criticism of Flash reached a head last week when Apple announced their new iPad. As everyone knows, the iPhone OS does not support the Flash Player. Apple’s lack of support for Flash on their mobile devices is quite deliberate. The general consensus is that Apple hates Flash and wants to use the iPhone and iPad as weapons to try to kill it. This irks me.

The exclusion of Flash on the iPhone and iPod Touch is understandable, but I believe that the lack of Flash support on the iPad is a huge mistake. I don’t want to buy the iPad, but if I were interested, the lack of Flash would be a deal breaker for me. Far too many websites rely on the richness that Flash provides. Sure, YouTube videos play on the iPhone and iPad via H.264 video support in a dedicated app. However, web video isn’t the only area where Flash is popular.

Websites for musicians and restaurants are two areas where web designers lean heavily on Flash. One can complain about that fact all they want, but it is a reality. I personally have no problem with it whatsoever.

In addition, most all of the web-based games on the Internet are played within the Flash Player. Think of the gaming destinations Pogo, Kongregate, Farmville, etc. People enjoy playing these games. To simply not include them in a product that is designed to browse the web is totally unacceptable.

Flash has been a standard on the web for a very long time. More than a decade ago, it brought static web pages to life with animation, sound, and interactivity. I’m tired of hearing the growing calls for the format to be abandoned.

The anti-Flash camp contends that the Flash Player is a slow, buggy resource hog, often hitting 100% CPU usage and crashing web browsers. I have never noticed this on any of my computers. I can stream Flash video and multitask on my aging machine without issue. In fact, I have a decade old IBM Thinkpad that sports a Pentium-III processor with 512 MB of memory. That Thinkpad plays Flash perfectly fine, without struggle, overheating, or 100% CPU usage. When you consider that modern computers have dual and quad-core processors, what difference does it make if Flash is heavy on system resources?

To conclude, I have no problem with the Flash Player. I’ve never noticed it slowing down my computer or crashing my web browser, even once. In my opinion, Macromedia and Adobe have historically done a pretty good job at maintaining the Flash Player across all platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, and Solaris. It is ubiquitous, and it just plain works. So I say this to everyone who is bitching and moaning about the Flash Player: Get over it. If you donโ€™t like it, uninstall it. See how great your web experience is after you do that.

My Take On The Apple iPad

On January 27th, Apple announced the iPad. I watched in amusement the flood of hype and rumors that led up to this announcement. As a Mac user, I’m always interested when Apple announces a new product. I just have no interest in owning a tablet computer, or an e-book reader. I wasn’t going to buy one regardless of what Apple unveiled two days ago, but I enjoyed following the coverage.

The problem I have is that this isn’t a tablet computer. It is basically a giant iPod Touch. I already own an iPod Touch, and I don’t need a larger one. The iPad runs the iPhone OS. I want to see a tablet that runs full-blown Mac OS X and is a fully functional computer, complete with USB ports. I thought an Apple tablet would have Mac OS X at its core. After all, Apple invested a lot of time in writing Snow Leopard (10.6) to use less space and system resources. I figured all of that work would have coincided with developing a product like the iPad.

The iPhone OS, as it exists in version 3.x, does not allow multitasking (beyond the iPod feature and push notifications). That seems very limiting on such a large and capable device as the iPad. In addition, there is no Adobe Flash for the iPhone OS. Steve Jobs said that the iPad delivers the “best” web experience. How can that be true if it doesn’t have Flash? What about all of the Flash-heavy websites out there, not to mention all of the fun Flash games on the web? Also, the majority of online video streaming today requires the Flash Player. The only videos you’ll end up watching on the iPad are those you rip into iTunes yourself, YouTube videos, and those you rent or purchase from the iTunes Store. Of course, I am aware that the future HTML5 is going to eventually provide video streaming without Flash, but that isn’t quite reality as it exists today.

As for the rest, I can say that the iPad looks pretty. I do think there is too much bezel around the frame, however. I’d like to see the screen reach all the way to the edge. This device would be great for college textbooks. Little was said about that during the product announcement, however. The iPad should have a camera for video conferencing, and the lack of one is a little puzzling. I imagine that the next version of the device will add a camera. I’m also surprised that we didn’t see a 128 GB version of the iPad.

On another note, I was also disappointed that while doing their iPad product announcement, Apple did not announce the rumored multiple carrier support for the iPhone, or any mention iPhone OS 4.0.

It will be interesting to see all of the apps that will be developed for the iPad. I believe the product will be a success for Apple, but it falls short of a game-changing announcement, in my opinion.

Apple iPad

Snow Leopard Coming August 28

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is to be released this Friday Aug. 28! It’s confirmed on the Apple website. Grrr! I’m sure to find myself in line at the Apple store in Raleigh Friday night after work! The upgrade from 10.5 is only $30. Hell yeah. I can’t wait! But I do love my Mac so much already, how can it get any better?

I probably sound like a crazed Apple fanboy, but it matters to me, being the Mac, iTunes and iTouch user that I am. Apple is the center of my computing world today. Hooray for OS X. In my opinion, it’s the best operating system on the market.