Showing posts with label iPhone apps. Show all posts
Showing posts with label iPhone apps. Show all posts

26 July 2010

Apple hobbled my iPhone 3G

On June 21st, Apple released its new iPhone operating system, the iOS 4. The new operating system coincided with the release of the iPhone 4. And an enthusiastic public enthused. Some of that public anyway.

I've been an iPhone fanatic since the first iPhone came out way back in 2007. From the start I couldn't believe that I'd finally found an electronic device that made good on every promise it made. In a very short time, that phone became much more than a phone, it was my connection to the world. So long as I had that phone with me, I could work from anywhere. I could manage everything in my life from a piece of electronic wizardry that lived up to the hype surrounding it.

When the 3G came out a year later, I upgraded to it immediately. 2008's 3G surpassed my first iPhone by every measure I could think of. If it were possible to love an electronic device, then that's what I would call what I felt for that phone.

In 2009, Apple released the iPhone 3GS. The 3GS had a video camera, an improved still camera, more memory and more storage. Since the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 3GS used the same operating system, it made more sense to hold onto the year-old phone. I continued to love my 3G, and the operating system Apple developed for the 3GS made my 3G work even better than it did before. I thought that Apple was being forward thinking. Both their new model and their current model reaped the benefits of an operating system upgrade. Who needed a new handset? Mobile phones could improve every year with software upgrades alone. Brilliant.

On 21 June, Apple released the iPhone 4 and the new operating system, the iOS 4 at the same time. All iPhone owners were going to reap the rewards of this new software. Everybody on the train was going to get an improved phone. I still loved my 3G and since the operating system was going to make it even better, why buy a new phone and sign up for another two-year stint with AT&T?

It took three days to get my hands on the iOS 4 upgrade and when I managed to get hold of it, it took three hours to download and install. That was unusual, but it seemed like a small price to pay for all of the improvements I was sure to get.

When I finished the download and restarted my phone, something seemed odd. Most of my apps were missing and all of my photos were nowhere to be found. At first I thought that I had made some kind of a mistake when I followed the steps to run the upgrade. In iPhone speak, it was a restore not an installation. So I restarted my phone. When it came back to life, half of my missing apps reappeared. I restarted it again. This time, another handful of apps reappeared. I repeated the restart routine three more times. After five restarts, I had all my apps back, but my photos seem to have been lost for good.

I still thought that there was something I'd done wrong. After all, Apple surely couldn't have screwed up a software upgrade.

Whatever happened, my beloved iPhone 3G no longer worked with anything approaching the speed and efficiency it once did. I noticed that my battery life had been cut in half. It crashed regularly. It was enragingly slow. After a week I started asking around to see if anybody else was having the trouble I was having.

I was far from alone and my experiences were shared by many iPhone 3G users.

The more I dug, the more I learned that the new iOS 4 was never intended to be run on the the 3G. There was no warning anywhere on Apple's website before I "upgraded" my phone. Apple being Apple, there's no way I can go back and install the old operating system that made my phone work so well. It's almost as if I'm being pressured into buying a new iPhone and along with it, one of AT&T's onerous, new, tiered data plans.

It gets increasingly hard to think of this as a coincidence. Every time that I turn on my GPS and my phone checks my mail instead I start to question the train of planned obsolescence I've been riding since 2007. I used to think that Apple was one of the good guys. They represented value, sharp design and exclusivity. Now I'm beginning to see that I've been duped.

Whether this software problem was planned or accidental, I'm not happy and I'm not alone.

Maybe it's time to look at a Droid.

My friend Eric sent me this over the weekend.

As amusing as that video is, what's not in the least bit amusing is that Apple hobbled my iPhone 3G.

13 January 2010

Check out what Delta's doing now

2009 was a year of new discoveries and altered ideas. Well it was for me at any rate. Until 2009, I always thought of Delta Faucet as a low-budget, workhorse brand. I don't think that any more. They are smart, they are innovative and I don't hesitate to specify their products. Since some time in 2007, Delta has turned itself into a leading force in the fixture industry. Between Diamond SealTM, MagnaTiteTM docking, H2Okinetic Technology®, and Touch2O®, these folks have been on a real roll. Bravo Delta.

It came as no real surprise when I found out that they have an iPhone app now too. A lot of times, when a company comes up with an iPhone app, it's a heavy-handed sales tool. Not so this one. Delta's app is all about finger painting and it's a riot. Check out Make a Mess by Delta Faucet.

Here's what it looks like as it loads.

Once it launches, you come to a blank screen.

Click on the settings tab, pick a color and adjust the brush size.

Go back to the paint screen and set yourself free.

It works just like real finger paint and you can change the brush sizes and colors at will.

You can build up layers and even import a photo to paint on top of. You can save it and even upload it to a gallery on Delta's website. I can see me killing an hour on an airplane with this thing. I can also see me getting hooked on it and actually painting something.

When you're tired of your painting, hit the wash button in the upper right of the screen.

A Delta Pilar faucet appears like magic and your painting slides underneath it. Touch the faucet anywhere, the same way you would a real Pilar and the water turns on.

Once your canvas is clear, touch the faucet anywhere and the water turns off. The screen reverts back to a blank canvas, ready for you next masterpiece.

Big fun. So being the good natured folk they are, Delta's Make a Mess is available for Blackberry as well as the iPhone and if you're smart phone-less, you can play around with it on Delta's website. So now everybody can go Make a Mess.

24 August 2009

Space planning comes to the iPhone

All Hail Laurie Burke from Kitchen Design Notes for tipping me off to this one. Mark on Call is a new application for the iPhone that does actual space planning and floor plan renderings. Watch:

Amazing! And it really works. I cannot get over how well thought out this piece of software is. All of that power for a mere $2.99. Wow.

Again, I ask you. What's a Blackberry?

10 June 2009

A friend like Ben

If Sherwin-Williams' entry into the color-specifier-for-iPhone market left me rather cold yesterday, I was warmed right back up by Benjamin Moore's more usable variation on that theme, ben. Ben's unveiling was delayed by a week or so, but it was worth the wait.

Clearly, Benjamin Moore spent a lot more money on the development and roll-out of ben and I think it was money well-spent. Ben is a very well thought out app and one I'm sure I will use in my day to day life.

Ben suffers from the same camera limitations that Sherwin-Williams' ColorSnap does and ben also failed my take-a-photo-of-a-color-chip test. If you missed my review of ColorSnap yesterday, I took a photo of a Sherwin-Williams color chip and tried to have ColorSnap identify the color correctly. ColorSnap couldn't do it. Well neither can ben, and I think that's a camera shortcoming more than an app shortcoming. I'll be interested to see how these apps fare in a similar test with the better camera coming in the new iPhones. We'll see.

Anyhow, ben takes a little longer to load than ColorSnap does, but it's still pretty fast.

Once it's loaded, it lands on a start screen that allows you to select between taking a photo or retrieving a photo from your phone's archives.

I selected a photo of a brightly-colored floor tile.

Once the photo's selected and imported (a process that takes a few seconds at most), you can zoom or crop the imported photo any way you'd like.

Here's the zoomed in image of the tile pattern.

So now that my photo's zoomed, cropped and active; all I need to do is touch anywhere on the photo and ben matches what ever color I'm touching to one of the 3,000 colors in Benjamin Moore's palette.

When I touch the blue in the lower left quadrant of this photo, ben matches it to Benjamin Moore's 2067-20, Starry Night Blue. Ben's also showing a virtual fan deck along the bottom of the page. If I click on any one of those color blocks, I get a full-screen view of the color with the virtual fan deck still below the main color..

When I tap Starry Night Blue for the second time, I get a true full-screen view with no visual distractions.

If I tap the screen twice, I go back to the photo where I started. Now, I can touch anywhere on my photo and get an instantaneous color match. Here's the blue-gray color below the black bar in the upper right quadrant.

Here's the purple in the lower right quadrant.

The yellow from the upper left quadrant.

And here's the black from the lower right quadrant.

What's most amazing to me is the speed with which this app does this color matching. It's pretty cool and it's pretty spot on when it's looking at an archived photo.

Ben also has an interactive color wheel as a completely separate function as well a store locator that uses the iPhone's onboard GPS. The whole package is pretty slick and packs a real technological punch into a free app. I'm very fond of Sherwin-Williams and I specify colors from their palette more than any other. With that said though, I declare Benjamin Moore's ben the winner of the iPhone app paint specifier battle.

Hats off to both companies for their embrace of new technology and I can't wait to see what's next. Finally, I'll pose the question again: what's a Blackberry?

09 June 2009

Interior design tools for the iPhone, first up Sherwin-Williams

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a piece about an up-and-coming iPhone application called Ben from Benjamin Moore. Well, Ben is here and I've been using it since yesterday. Prior to Ben's arrival, Sherwin-Williams came up with a color-selecting app of their own called ColorSnap.

I've been playing with ColorSnap for about a week and here's my two cents about Sherwin-Williams' first dive into the iPhone pool. I'll review Ben tomorrow.

When you launch ColorSnap, it loads pretty quickly and flashes through a short series of photographs matched with a Sherwin-Williams color. The home screen arrives shortly thereafter and it's ready for action.

There are two buttons on the home page, Camera and Library. Library will take you to the photos you've already loaded onto your phone and Camera launches the iPhone's camera. I can't imagine how that could be made any simpler.

So say you have an aerial view of a Bahamian beach loaded onto your phone and you want to come up with a color scheme based on the photo. ColorSnap opens a copy of your archived photo. Once it's been imported, you can zoom and crop the image how you'd like. The you point to (literally) whatever color you'd like to have matched. It takes a second or two, but ColorSnap will pull the closest Sherwin-Williams color it can find and match it to your photo. In the photo above, the cursor was placed somewhere over the water and ColorSnap matched it with SW6516, Down Pour. If you agree with the match, then ColorSnap will assemble a three-color palette based on the first color it matched. The three-color palette is automatic and you can't control the secondary or tertiary colors in the palette. Hmmm.

If you click on any of the colors in the sample palette, ColorSnap jumps to a screen with the RGB formulas for the three colors in the palette. Considering RGB is the color system used for video and web color, I don't understand why RGB since we're talking about paint. I don't care about Red, Green and Blue light when I'm thinking about paint. When it comes to paint I want to see a pigment formula. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

With all of that said, once you get to a three-color palette you like, you can save it to a collection.

Once saved, you can come back to your collection whenever you'd like.

The final function ColorSnap is Find Store. Find Store uses the iPhone's GPS to locate the closest Sherwin-Williams location to wherever you are. This function works perfectly and that's more than I can say for the rest of the app unfortunately.

In ColorSnap's defense, the Capture function is limited by the fact that it's relying on a camera in a phone. The app does a better job with the Library function. As a test, I took a photo of an actual Sherwin-Williams color swatch and tried to get ColorSnap to identify it. The app failed miserably. Again, that is as much the fault of the camera as it is the app. However, if it can't recognize one of its own colors, how would it do if I were trying to coordinate a room color with a carpet or a tile? This is an app that doesn't exactly fill me with confidence.

I get the feeling from using ColorSnap that design professionals are not the target audience for this app. I mean, I don't need a color specifying tool that automatically assigns three-color palettes. I doubt I'll be whipping this app out when I'm in a quandary about how to paint a room. Although it will make my nieces and nephews ooh and ahh.

Even so, it's a pretty interesting first attempt. Sherwin-Williams was the first paint company to get a specifying tool into the app store. This application is the first step down a long road that's going to change everything we know about everything. But that's just the early adopter in me speaking. If they decide to develop it into something meaningful, this is a good first step. For now though, ColorSnap is interesting for what it represents more than for what it can do. You can download ColorSnap on Sherwin-Williams' website or you can find it in the App Store on iTunes.