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The First 24 Hours With iOS 7

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As promised, I’m back with more on Apple’s latest iOS offering, a “little” update known as iOS 7. Things started off a bit rough yesterday as I tried to get iOS 7 to install and activate on my test iPhone 5 (CDMA) in order to get to know it better. I was able to install the beta but then could not activate the phone. The result was, effectively, a bricked device.

Fortunately, I was able to boot the iPhone into DFU mode and revert to iOS 6. I actually ended up doing this twice due to trying alternative install methods using iTunes. One, the usual wipe and restore and the other an upgrade to iOS 7 over an existing install of iOS 6. Neither of these resulted in the iPhone going all the way through the activation process.

What finally ended up working was a wipe and restore using Apple’s development tool for iOS (and OS X) called Xcode. Using Xcode I was able to wipe and restore iOS 7 to the device and then, this time, the activation completed and I had a working iPhone. This was after several hours and went on into the night.

Consequently, I haven’t had a lot of time to get into the intricacies of the new OS. However, I did have a chance to play with it a little bit and following are my thoughts so far.

First (and this is a big one), I’m not sure I like the new look. Sure, the skeuomorphic aspects of iOS 6 are pretty dated and probably needed to go. I won’t miss the leather-bound elegance of the Calendar app or the simulated wood grain of iBooks. I’m just not sure iOS 7 is going in the right direction either.

In its present form, I find the font and lines around elements too thin and the colors too similar to be very distinct. In my several hours of use I’ve found myself clicking on the wrong thing or trying to slide something to the left or right that can’t actually be slid. Plus, the contrast between UI elements seems much more muted as well. When everything is flat and looks similar with similar colors and little contrast, it’s difficult to tell which elements can be interacted with and which can’t.

I find this especially true when using the new keyboard. A key with a thin black line around it over a light grey background is harder to hit, at least for me, than a key with a heavier line against a darker background. Contrast is good and not something to be scared of. Of course, more contrast makes things look less flat. I get that.

I also get that I’m not a designer, but I have participated in the design of many projects and supervised designers of various kinds over the years. I also know what I like and what I think looks good. And I’m not sure this color scheme and lack of contrast is it. Although, maybe it’s because I’ve haven’t spent much time with the Yahoo Weather app.

Yes, I know, Jony Ive is a genius and I can clearly see what he was going for with iOS 7. You only need to look at the man himself and see what his wardrobe looks like to know he’s not a fan of contrast. He prefers uniformity and order. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But that doesn’t mean his taste is the right taste for everyone. Some people might prefer things to be different. I might be one of those people.

As this is a beta, and an early one, many things also don’t work as expected or seem unfinished. This is especially true with a few apps I use regularly, like Gmail, that haven’t gotten the memo about using the new keyboard. Consequently, when you need a keyboard in the Gmail app, the old one pops up.

This is actually one of the ways I know I don’t like the new keyboard very much. I still have occasion to use the old one and find it much easier to type on than the new one. I’m also not a fan of the seemingly arbitrary change from lines to dots to show cell network signal strength. I didn’t mind lines. What’s wrong with lines? They were used quite a few other places in the new UI, why not for signal strength?

I’m also not sure why I now can’t double click on the home button to get a list of running apps, press and hold on one of the icons to get it to vibrate and then press the “X” to quit it. I’ve had more than a few apps crash on me so far and the old way to get them to work again was to make them stop running and then launch them again. Now, it’s all different.

The way you do it now is to double click on the home button to get thumbnails of the running apps. Then, you swipe the thumbnail upwards to close an app you want to quit. I was able to do it but I also found myself bringing up the control center from the bottom of the screen several times too. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like a rather convoluted “new” way to accomplish a previously simple task.

On a positive note, I do like the new static wallpapers and that cool 3D-looking effect when you move the iPhone around. Plus, the motion wallpapers are kinda nice too. I’m using one right now, in fact. I don’t know what effect they will have on battery life but so far, somewhat surprisingly, I’m getting pretty much the same battery life as when the iPhone had iOS 6 installed on it. Let’s hope that continues.

With any massive change, there’s bound to be bumps and rough edges. None of my issues with iOS 7, at least so far, are hugely annoying, would prevent me from continuing to use it or make me switch to Android. Although, I’m entertaining that thought for other reasons. But that’s a subject for a future article (or two).

I’m sure as iOS 7 matures, many of the things that bother me about it will be addressed and corrected. At least I hope so.

Once I’ve had more time with iOS 7 I’ll bring you another exciting round of observations. I’m also going to be installing the new version of OS X, code named Mavericks. More on that later too.

A Few Interesting Things For a Friday

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It’s almost the weekend. Pat yourself on the back for making it this far. It’s been an interesting week for sure.

But let’s put all that aside for a minute and take a look at some fun things for a Friday. Next week we can all go back to the usual BS.

Don’t worry, it will still be there. Promise.

First up is the cool LEGO Star Wars Ewok Village Set (pictured above). Sure, I felt the same way about the Ewoks as you probably did, but this is still pretty cool.

In more LEGO news the company apparently doesn’t want to rest on its laurels by having the worlds biggest LEGO space ship. They also want to build the ultimate LEGO house. Sure, why not?

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If you like comics as I do, you may want to, occasionally, read them on your iPad. But what’s the best app to accomplish this? Well, the gang at Lifehacker recommends Comic Zeal. I like it, but as it’s only for non-DRM comics, I also use the Comics app from ComiXology to read my Marvel, DC and other publisher’s stuff.

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With Apple’s WWDC coming up next week, there’s lots of speculation as to what the company may announce. I think we’re going to see iOS 7, a new Pro desktop, maybe a new laptop and a new music streaming service, but what else? Wired has the full compliment of predictions. We’ll know if any of us are right next Monday.

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Finally, are you a science geek? Or perhaps you have a child (or two) that needs to learn the periodic table of the elements? Well, what better way than with a music video. Watch and enjoy. You just might lean something. I did.

Happy weekend.

Google Glass Meets Beer Glass

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In honor of St. Patrick’s day (on Sunday, you drunks), some enterprising folks thought about what it would be like to use Google’s Glasses during the holiday. Naturally, they made a video. You can see that below.

In other news, I made another step towards responsible adulthood today. There was a lot of paperwork, phone calls and, unfortunately, some harsh language. But in the end, it all worked out and basically boiled down to writing a big check.

To be honest, it was the biggest one I’ve ever written. And yes, it hurt. . . But only a little.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to one and all. Yes, I think I’ll have a beer. I know I’ve earned it today.

More Useful and Interesting Things

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It’s the weekend so many of you are probably out doing weekend-type things. Good for you. Enjoy yourselves.

In the interest of enjoyment, or in some cases entertainment or information to enhance your lives, here’s another list of useful and/or interesting things I’ve found this week.

• I don’t know about you, but I loved arcades as a kid. In fact, I worked in one for almost a year while I was in High School. Games like Asteroids, Missile Command, Galaga and Pac-Man helped shape my childhood. It also cost me a hell of a lot of quarters.

But that’s okay, it was great fun and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Sadly, it seems future generations may not have the same opportunity for fun as I did. The Verge spells out the situation in a must-read article for anyone who loved these places as a kid.

• Once again the folks at Lifehacker come through with some good info. This time it’s what to do before and after a disaster.

• Do you blog? Do you have an iPhone or other iOS device? If so, you may want to check out this great piece of software called Poster. I’m trying it out now and so far, I like it. You might like it too.

• Tired of paying through the nose (or other orifice) for a wireless plan and smartphone? If so, you might want to check out Republic Wireless. It’s a very interesting approach and something I’m going to be looking into in more detail soon.

That’s it for now. Once again, enjoy your weekend. I know I will.

More On the iPad as a Writing Tool

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It seems I can’t stop using the iPad now that I’ve realized its true potential as a writing tool. I’m using it for all sorts of writing now, but still primarily for scripts using the Final Draft Writer app.

However, it is also great for other types of writing. In fact, I’m using the WordPress app on the iPad to do this post right now. Fancy that.

After several days I’m pretty convinced the iPad could become my primary writing tool perminantly. Using it really feels good and allows for a more tactile approach to writing that I don’t experience as much when using a laptop or desktop with a traditional keyboard. Other people (with far more readership and insight) seem to feel the same way I do.

One thing, though, I do feel a little bad for my MacBook Air. It looks sorta lonely sitting there unused.

I’m sure it won’t sit idle forever. I’m sure I’ll get back to using it for something soon enough. Until then, it’s the iPad for me all the way.

Verizon Sells Your Browsing Data, Demographic Info and More

I posted about this on Twitter, but think it’s important enough to put it here too. If you use an iPhone on Verizon (and probably other phones too) the company will collect and sell your browsing data, and more, unless you opt out.

I don’t think that’s cool.

If you don’t either, here’s how to make sure they don’t do it. It’s actually pretty simple, really. You navigate to this url: www.vzw.com/myprivacy

Once there, you pretty much want to select everything that says “Don’t share” in the three categories of information. Once done, you should be good . . . at least for now. Who knows what other schemes are out there.

Blogging from the iPad (Again)

This post will test my ability to post something from the iPad using Google Chrome. So far, so good. I can open a draft in Chrome and the UI looks pretty much as it does on my Mac. Let’s see if I can include a picture. (Sound of gears grinding).

Well, posting from within Chrome, and including a picture, is a bit of a pain. Would it be so hard to have a way to insert pictures from the photo library on the iPad? And no, there’s no way to cut and paste, at least not that I’ve found. Not into a Chrome window at least.

I guess Apple doesn’t like that idea. They probably don’t want a “full” file system in iOS. That’s what Mac OS X and Macs are for.

Anyway, on to other methods like Blogsy. I’ve tried this tool before with some success. I haven’t tried the latest version yet, so here goes.

After getting all my info set up in Blogsy I was able to get a picture from the photo library on the iPad uploaded to this site and inserted into this post. It’s the dragon pic above. Scary, right?

So far, it looks like Blogsy is the winner. The UI is a bit confusing and has a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy to use. Not as easy as using Chrome on Mac OS X, but it may just be good enough for my purposes.

That is, unless I’m in a hurry to post something. Then, we may have a problem as thre steps are a bit time consuming. This is especially so if you’re looking for an image online to use in a post. You need to find it, save it to the photo library and if editing or resizing is necessary, use yet another iOS app to do the resize and crop, then bring it back into Blogsy to upload to your site for the post.

The resize/crop app I’m using at the moment is iResize, which seems to do the job pretty well. I guess you could always resize an image once you get it uploaded to your site but that’s not really the best way to go about it. Plus, cropping is out of the question if you do that. So, an additional resize/crop app seems like a must.

So, for the moment, it looks like Blogsy is the winner. I’m going to look into some other apps and workflows to see if I can improve my time to post and ease of use. Still, for normal blogging this setup works pretty well.

 

Stuff I Find

I have not been as good about putting things up at this blog as I intended to be. I know, enough with the excuses. It’s just, well, you know. . .  a pain in the ass to find things I deem worthwhile to post here.

I tend to over analyze what I’m going to say here or post here, which is sorta dumb considering its my blog and I do what I want. It should just be enough that I manage to put up something.

I suppose I could just put up any old thing I find lying around the Internets. That might work. Let’s give it a shot, shall we?

To start us off, here’s a video of Aziz Ansari saying funny things.

As always, no need to thank me.