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Apple iOS 8, what users want

iOS 8 What users want to seeThe latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 7, has been getting a lot of attention.  While many users are ecstatic over the new functionality offered by iOS 7, there could be a few more useful changes.  When iOS 8 comes out sometime in 2014, it would be nice to see some of the following changes implemented.

Hide Those Pesky Default Apps

Don’t get me wrong, I love most of the iOS default apps for email, browsing and other activities, but it would be nice to be able to pick non-Apple apps for these kinds of things.  It probably won’t happen, but would it really be so tough for Apple to let users hide those default apps?  This is something that Apple enthusiasts have been less than enthused about since the first iPhone came out.  Maybe iOS 8 will provide an option to hide the default apps, but don’t hold your breath.

Accounts for Guests or Kids

Yes, it would be nice if Apple’s dream of everyone owning their own device were somehow magically transformed into reality, but a lot of families just don’t have the financial wherewithal to get an iPhone for both parents and each of the kids.  It would be peachy if Apple would figure out how to provide a guest/child account that doesn’t affect the principle settings and data on the device.  Surely, it wouldn’t be that difficult to provide the structure for a single-tap account that does not save its own settings and data.

Managing Apps

With the advent of iOS 7, apps can now be automatically updated, but this should not be the end of it.  Developers have a tough time dealing with app data on iCloud when it should be fairly easy to save (or restore) the app’s associated data when an app is removed or reinstalled.  It wouldn’t be too terribly difficult to offer app trials along with paid versions so that developers don’t have to do the in-app-purchase or replacement app shuffle, either.

Inter-App Communication Improvement

We’ve all been in the middle of using an app, only to be transferred to another app.  When you get done with the secondary app, you don’t always get shunted back to the original app.  The workflow between apps when making changes to documents presents its own nightmare landscape because the document won’t always update in the other relevant apps, leaving you with various stages of the document in several different apps.  This shouldn’t be too difficult to correct; it just requires better inter-app communication.

Improved Management of Documents

All right, I’m just going to say it outright: Can we please get some type of centralized document access in iOS?  Sure, you can employ Dropbox as a surrogate for a real file system, but iCloud could provide the service, if Apple would just take the time to integrate all the discrete parts of the current iCloud configuration.  The lack of a serviceable workflow in iCloud is extremely disappointing.

FaceTime Conferencing

This one isn’t specifically tied to iOS, but FaceTime got its beginnings on Apple’s mobile operating system, so that’s probably the best place to start trying to implement FaceTime conference calling.  Wouldn’t it be great to make a FaceTime call that included several devices, rather than having a whole crowd of people trying to share a single device?  FaceTime is awesome, and this limitation just doesn’t make sense.

Do Not Disturb Upgrades

While iOS 7 does make some improvements to the Do Not Disturb function, it can still only handle a single schedule.  Introducing separate schedules for weekend and weekday use would be a huge improvement to the current Do Not Disturb option.

Apple, We’re Giving You a Year

The new iOS 7 provides some pretty neat new features and functions, but it’s still missing some of the basic improvements listed above.  Users are already talking about what they’d like to see in the next version, so Apple might do well to heed the rumblings coming from the masses that use their devices.  Most of these changes wouldn’t be terribly hard to make into reality.  Apple, we’re looking forward to iOS 8.  Can we have some of these options, pretty please?

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Google Glass or Apple iWatch

Published on February 20, 2013 by in Commentary

Which to choose Google Glass or iWatchThere seems to be a lot of talk about the Google Glass and Apple iWatch.  Many are wondering if they are going to be real products, but I think the real question is… Which would you rather have or would you want both?

I think the Google Glass is a great concept, having all the information at the tip of your eye and without any keyboards, just using your voice.    Imagine being at the store and trying to compare prices without having pull out your smart phone and taking a picture of the item and or bar code.  One of the wow factors is that you wont forget a name anymore… with the Glass all the info will be right there.  But what happens when its raining?  Will Google make it waterproof or at least water-resistant?   Wonder if there will be any studies done regarding viewing things at such close range at high-resolution and with that one eye… will it strain it?   Makes you wonder doesn’t it… what other things can you guys think of that can be pros and cons of the Google Glass.

Now the iWatch is something that is another great concept.  Although no word of Apple inc actually producing one but rumor has it that they are looking into it.  An iWatch can be great but what if I already have a nice time piece that I sent a ton of money on and like to wear?  I guess I could sell it to get the iWatch.    Joking aside, the iWatch sounds like it will be a great extension to your iPhone.   No more having to reach in your pocket to get quick information or see text or who is calling, etc.    One concern I had would be battery life.  Would this device need to be charged daily?

With so many unknowns about the 2 devices, I don’t know which I would  go with. Which one would you choose?

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Unlocking mobile phones is now illegal (sort of)

For the past week or so, the major buzz across the Internet has been about how it’s suddenly against the law to unlock your cell phone from whatever carrier it’s attached to before the contract runs out.  There’s been a good amount of fear-mongering and ranting about the amount of corporate influence on American law.  While I think much of the outcry has been justified, some of it hasn’t, and I’d like to take a careful look at what this announcement is and is not, and what it will mean for mobile phone users going forward.

First we need to define our terms.  Just what is “unlocking” and how is it related to “jailbreaking” or “rooting”?  “Unlocking” refers to using a code to remove a software or firmware lock in a mobile phone, allowing it to be used on more than one provider’s network. It has little to do with how the user interacts with the phone’s OS.  “Jailbreaking” refers to using software or hardware exploits to gain root access to the operating system on iOS devices.  “Rooting” is essentially the same process, except as practiced on Android devices.  They’re only related insofar as the sorts of folks who are interested in jailbreaking or rooting devices are also often the same folks who want to unlock them from specific carriers.

So now that we know what we’re talking about, let’s specify what this law doesn’t do: it does not make jailbreaking or rooting illegal.  Those processes are still exempted from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), as they have been since the Electronic Freedom Foundation won said exemptions in July 2010. However, the US Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress began reviewing those exemptions (and others) last October, and decided that the original exemption for unlocking phones was no longer necessary, given how much easier it is for consumers to either purchase unlocked devices in the first place, or  just have their carriers unlock their phones for them. (Having worked for several mobile phone carriers, I can tell you that one of the first things they teach you is how to tell customers that “we’re sorry, we won’t unlock your phone; so sorry for the inconvenience…thanks and have a nice day!”)

Once the Copyright Office and Librarian of Congress arrived at this decision, they granted a 90-day grace period for users to get their phones unlocked.  That time ran out on Saturday.  So, what this means as of now is that only “legacy” phones are still eligible to be unlocked with no penalty.  Newly-minted phones, not so much.  After all, mobile providers are selling these phones (that are really miniature computers) for a ridiculously subsidized fee, knowing that they’ll recoup their money over the life of a 2-year contract.  If consumers were able to unlock their phones, why would they be motivated to stay with a carrier if they didn’t want to?

You’re probably not going to have Johnny Law knocking on your door if you do decide to unlock your phone before your contract runs out with your carrier.  However, you may have a little harder time finding a third-party business to help you with that unlock.  Those third-party businesses could also face civil and criminal penalties of anywhere from $200 to $500,000 for unlocking phones.  It all comes down to whether carriers intend to try to root out phones with unsanctioned unlocks – and if they do so, how aggressively.  We’ll be watching, because it’s our money too.

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You Just Got an iPhone; Merry Christmas! (Sort of…)

One of the final viral stories of 2012 was about a middle schooler from Massachusetts whose mom gave him an iPhone for Christmas.  She also gave him an 18-point contract to go with it, and made it clear that if the young man didn’t sign, no iPhone for him!  Although I don’t know this family (and indeed live on the opposite side of the country from them), I have an interest in their story as the mother of a high schooler.

I’ve had wireless phone service with T-Mobile since 2006, and I started out with a family plan for my kiddo and me that continues (mostly unchanged) to this day.  We both began with “dumb” slider phones since it’s what we were able to afford.  In fact, we actually used more minutes than data back then, and I developed my habit of texting in full sentences as a way of setting an example for my then-preteen.  Honestly, I was more concerned about his spelling and grammar than the amount and type of messages he might have been sharing with his friends! How quaint such concerns seem now, in a time of sexting and cyber-bullying and stuff on the Internet that never goes away *ever*…

I never sat down to have the kind of talk with my kiddo that this mom had, and since I’e read her list I’m somewhat conflicted.  I agree with the vast majority of the rules she lays out, especially the ones about not being ruled by technology or missing out on human interaction, and especially about not using it to be mean or hurtful to others.  Honestly, it’s the first and the fourth rules that leave a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.  She starts the contract by saying “It is my phone.  I bought it.  I pay for it.  I am loaning it to you.  Aren’t I the greatest?”  While this is absolutely true (and I reminded my own kiddo of this a few times since he’s had a phone), the tone she takes here seems a little smug for my personal taste.  I’m not wild about her requirement that a 13-year-old has to hand in his phone to a parent every night at 7:30 pm either. (Full disclosure – this mostly rankles my inner teenager, who’s a little closer to the surface more often than I like to admit.)

Still, as the mom of a teenager, I’m glad to see another mom working to make sure that her kid isn’t going to be one of those insufferable little twerps I so often fantasize about kicking when I see them in public.  My own observation has been that far too many parents are far too unwilling to say the word “NO” to their children.  So on the whole, this contract is a good thing and far less extreme than many of the headlines about it would make it seem.  It may not be best way for every parent to go with every kid, but it’s certainly a great place to start a conversation. (By the way, NPR had a lovely interview with Janell Burley Hofmann about the contract on Tuesday’s Talk of the Nation.  It’s really worth a listen.)



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Best IPhone Rumor Article of the Day

Actually, yesterday, The Register posted an article reporting on iPhone rumors which was titled, “What’s THAT, you say? Apple MIGHT be making a NEW iPHONE, iOS?


What I love about this article is the “No shit, Sherlock” attitude they take as they report that

Third-party programmers have claimed a gadget identifying itself as an “iPhone 6.1” running “iOS 7” has turned up in usage log files, which record information about the devices used to run their apps.

I’m always amazed when people act surprised that Apple is working on their next generation iPhone, if not two or three gens down the line. But these are usually the same people who then turn around and complain that the iPhone is updated too often, which is equally baffling.

The Register, on the other hand, totally gets it. Click HERE to read the rest of their report.

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