By Rachel Hoyer
Who can explain the popularity of goofy iPhone applications? Here’s some of my favorite iPhone applications not worth your US$0.99:
The Moron Test – This quiz features increasingly difficult puzzles which eventually become tricky for even Mensa members to solve. I’m guessing that the point is that it waits for you to get a wrong answer so it can tell you that you’re a moron. Why not save yourself a dollar and go talk to your boss? Furthermore, do you really need validation from your phone that you’re not a moron?
Larry the Scary Cockroach – Now you can make an animated cockroach run across a friend’s iPhone. How scary. Instead, you could get a free real cockroach off the sidewalk and place it on your friend’s phone, now that would be icky!
iHunt 3D – Target virtual deer and shoot them by clicking. You can hunt without actually being outdoors or actually killing animals. Anyone remember Duck Hunt? It’s like that, but less fun and without the cool plastic gun.
iBeer Special – An application that turns the screen of your iPhone into a glass of beer. You can select from a variety of types of beer and then “pour” them by rotating your phone. This is an a highly popular application. Kinda reminds me of those trick plastic mugs with attached plastic beer pouring out.
Zip Codes – Reference guide to U.S. zip codes. Type in the name of a city and find out its zip code and county name. The U.S. Post Office offers this service for free on their website, or you could just type the city name into any web browser. This application can not be used for its only logical purpose: Determining the zip code of a letter or parcel you’d like to mail. The application’s database doesn’t include street names, you can only search by city or county name. This application would be an ideal gift for people who enjoy memorizing phone books and train schedules.
Animalizer – You know those pieces of plywood with clowns or silly characters painted on them, but face holes cut out so you can place your own face in them and take a picture? Now you can take pictures of friends and then paste their face onto an image of an animal.
Smacktalk – If you like Animalizer, you’ll love Smacktalk. Speak a phrase into your iPhone microphone and the audio clip is modified to a squeaky voice and repeated back to you by a dog, cat, or other cute animal. The best part of this game is the glowing testimonials on its App Store page.
iFart – Ever wished you could embarass yourself in public more often? This is the application for you. Choose from a variety of fart noises to play on your phone, from wet ones to staccato ones to really, really loud ones. As a gag, it would make more sense for the application to send audio clips of farts to other people’s phones. Then your unsuspecting friend would receive an iPhone whoopie cushion. Oddly enough, it’s not only extremely popular, but has also received excellent reviews.
Name Analyzer – Type your name into your iPhone and it randomly assigns words to describe you based on the acronym. For example: If you type in “Jen” it could respond with “Joyous, Esoteric, Nerdy.” Its database includes both positive and negative words … I suppose if people want to fart in public more often, perhaps they also like to be insulted by their phone.
By Rachel Hoyer
So, you’ve just taken the world’s most adorable picture of your dog on your iPhone.
If you want to text it to your friends, you’re out of luck.
You’ll have to email it to them.
iPhone enthusiasts everywhere have bemoaned the lack of MMS support on the handset. MMS is the protocol which allows transmission of images in text messages. The current iPhone OS 2.2.1 software supports SMS, but not its MMS extension. SMS, or Short Messaging Service, is a communication protocol that enables text messaging between mobile devices. MMS, or Multimedia Messaging Service, is an extension of SMS that allows transmission of multimedia objects such as images, audio, video and rich text files within a text message. Both SMS and MMS are supported on a wide variety of mobile networks, including the 3G network used by iPhone. SMS and MMS technology are rapidly becoming obsolete due to widespread availability of the Internet on mobile devices via Wi-Fi, 3G and Apple Wireless technology. This may be the reason that Apple did not include MMS on previous iPhone software versions.
This begs the question: Why include SMS support, but not MMS support on iPhone OS 2.0? One possibility is that AT&T, the sole cell phone service provider for iPhone, pressured Apple into maintaining SMS text messaging support. Despite the advanced age of its technology, text messaging remains hugely popular among cell phone users. In addition, cell phone service providers such as AT&T rake in a ridiculously high profit margin on SMS text messaging services. But they make equal, if not more money, from selling ringtones and sending images delivered via MMS. Following the cell phone provider profits theory, it would be illogical to include SMS but not MMS. Another hypothesis: Apple did not want to deprive iPhone users of the highly convenient and popular SMS service, but assumed that MMS would not be missed given the ease of web access.
At present, when you try to send a picture on your iPhone, it is posted on a website. Then, a text message linking the page is sent to your selected recipients inviting them to visit the site to view the picture. While web browsing is a simple task on the iPhone, it is a problematic endeavor for many other types of cell phones. Although nearly all cell phones have MMS capability, typically their web browsers are both dodgy and expensive. Not to worry, iPhone users: Apple plans to release iPhone OS 3.0 in June which (along with a host of other improvements) will provide MMS support. The upgrade will be free for iPhone 3G owners and $9.99 for iPod Touch owners. Sadly, due to a hardware compatibility issue, older iPhone models are not upgradeable.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go email my friends pictures of my dog in a football jersey.
By Rachel Hoyer
Who hasn’t seen the ubiquitous Microsoft “laptop hunters” and Apple’s “get a Mac” commercials? Each ad campaign attempts to convince the audience that savvy consumers purchase their brand. Microsoft uses documentary-style commercials where they offer “real” consumers (who are actually actors) a certain amount of money to purchase a new computer. Not surprisingly, each time they select a PC.
According to the testimonials, sticker price is the deciding factor. Microsoft suggests that PCs are far cheaper than a comparable Mac. In other words, the smart shopper purchases a PC. “I guess I’m just not hip enough to buy a Mac,” quips a computer shopper in one ad. The inference is that those who buy Macs are more concerned with image than value or performance.
By comparison, Apple’s ads use actors to personify the two types of computers. New York actor John Hodgman plays the dorky and backwards PC guy (ironically, he reportedly owns a Mac in real life). Whereas, Justin Long, who plays the Mac guy, is hip, organized and forward-thinking. Dialogue between the actors reveals that Appl’s products are easy to use and offer more helpful features than PCs. The implied conclusion is that smart shoppers buy Macs because Macs easily perform tasks that are difficult or impossible to perform on PCs.
Both ad campaigns want the viewer to identify with the core values represented in their commercials. In the case of Microsoft, they’d like you to believe that you’d be a fool to spend more on a Mac when you they offer the same thing for a much better price. Apple insinuates that you’re uninformed if you think the two types of computers are comparable.
There’s some truth to both allegations. It’s accurate that the purchase price of Macs tend to be higher than PCs with similar specifications. Nearly all widely used applications are available on both platforms, including Microsoft Windows. So, why would a smart shopper choose an Apple product? In brief: The value of your time. Thus far, Apple has been far more successful at integrating interface, applications and data. Additionally, as stated in their commercials, Apple is ahead of the trend when it comes to anticipating how consumers actually use their products. They design features to accommodate those needs. Microsoft products require you to constantly tinker with your operating system, including changing settings, fixing compatibility issues, scanning the registry for malware and defragmenting your hard drive. And the list wouldn’t be complete without mention of the extensive troubleshooting required upon encountering the infamous blue screen of death, with which every Microsoft user is familiar.
There’s something to be said for a computer that doesn’t require frequent maintenance. Time is has a monetary value. After spending a certain amount of time fixing your PC, perhaps the Mac becomes a better value after all. In case you’re wondering which kind of computer I own, I’m the kind of consumer who buys a computer based on how I plan to use it rather than marketing, and I expect you are, too.
As you may have noticed, there was no news yesterday.
Not that there wasn’t news, per se. Things happened, software was updated and announcements were made and covered.
From my end, I spent a fair amount of the day at a local glass repair location since someone had decided to put a rock through my front passenger window, then bounce the same rock off my front windshield, starring about 40% of it.
I mean, how best to celebrate the six month anniversary of my car not being broken into than by breaking into my car?
The good news is this brought me over my $500 deductible, so you can’t argue with that. Plus, they left the rock…so I have a bonus rock if I need it.
The bad news is they snagged my Garmin Nuvi GPS unit and my Griffin FM radio transmitter for my iPod (which were actually stowed away in the middle console and out of sight).
The stuff’s mostly been replaced, no one was hurt and the police have yet to assign someone from Loose Cannon Division to the case. Still, there was zero coverage yesterday and I apologize. You guys come to the page every day and this is appreciated.
On that note, I’ve invested in a trustworthy new anti-theft device to follow my Honda Civic around town. There have been rumors that its performance and track record is a bit spotty, but it’s running Windows Vista and nothing could possibly go wrong…
Welcome to Labor Day, 2007, here on the PowerPage.
The puppy in the picture has nothing to do with the iPhone.
With the rest of the country going through a national holiday, we’ve decided to do the same and queue up stories for tomorrow. Or at least use the opportunity to form a crude shanty town around our local Apple Store locations in anticipation of whatever they release by way of the new iPods at the special event slated to occur this week.
My 30th birthday was four days ago and, looking back at things, this was definitely one of the best ones I’ve ever had. Granted, I think I fit somewhere in the genus “Geezer” at the moment, but I’m calling it awesome on the whole. Between friends, family, assorted geekery and a cake that can become breakfast for a week (when you’re over 18, this is allowed) and a Clocky robotic alarm clock that flees from you via its wheels when you go to hit the snooze bar a second time, I’m calling myself ahead for the moment.
Here’s what I’ve learned in 30 years (there’ll be news galore tomorrow):
-The PowerBook 5300 series was a cruel, cruel joke and any remaining units should be hurled into the sea or the molten core of Mount Doom at the first available opportunity.
-When smoke rises from a SyQuest EZ135 drive you’ve hooked into a laptop running Windows 95, you’ve done something wrong.
-The eMac is a boat anchor. Anyone who tries to convince you is lying or already has too many anchors for their boat.
-Friends with OCD make for a strange mix. For this, I’m citing a friend who, in the dead of night, decided to get up and spend two hours reorganizing my living room. Upon waking up and wandering into the room, I found he’d moved my furniture, hooked up an unused speaker system to my tv and sorted my DVDs by title, genre and quality. He’s a good friend, but will one day reorganize and glue my office’s rolling chair to the ceiling to improve the room’s feng shui.
-Richard Dreyfuss probably fulfilled his role in the universe when he volunteered to be shark bait in the first “Jaws” movie.
-If you date a girl who’s willing to spend part of a weekend you to solder points on a circuit board, you’ve earned geek points.
-Jonathan Ive remains the best thing to happen to Apple’s design division. And if Apple needs to give him his own island-nation to keep him on staff, they should do so.
-There’s a good reason to have kids: their toys are going to be even more awesome than anything you grew up with. Never forget this.
-Perhaps the best thing ever:
-The top five arcade games of the 80′s, in no meaningful order: 1.) Dragon’s Lair. 2.) Spy Hunter 3.) Paperboy. 4.) Robocop. 5.) Gauntlet.
-The Mighty Boosh and Elephant Larry remain some of the best comedy to come around in a long time.
-The iPhone seems to be running on the “Six Million Dollar Man” and “Bionic Woman” development cycle. Give it time, training and enough interest from the development community and they will make it the coolest thing ever. On the day the iPhone becomes truly mighty, it will get its own Steve Austin-esque track suit.
My MacTracker shows that I have owned 11 different models starting with the 128k original in 1984. Four are in the house with me right now (PB G3, PB G4, iMac G5 and MBP Core 2 Duo). I have dealt with the upgrades to System 7, 8, 9 and OS X as well as the jumps to PPC and Intel.
Through all of this I have been generally happy to be a Mac owner and user. For the past several years I have worked in IT Support in a Windows-only environment, which has given me a bit of healthy perspective about the pros and cons of each system, but my own investments have been in Mac hardware and software.
With that in mind I am truly amazed at how short-sighted it is of Apple to knowingly specify built-in DVD hardware that penalizes law-abiding citizens for the illegal activities of others. I’m referring to the built-in encrypted firmware that locks in the choice of DVD regions to a single region after a few switches. In my older machines I have circumvented this by using third-party software to reset the counter, but this option is not available on the latest hardware from Apple, and should not be necessary at all.
I am from the United States and return often for both business and pleasure, but I’ve lived in Europe for most of the past decade. My family and I have a variety of legally purchased commercial DVD’s from both sides of the Atlantic. I have yet to see any evidence that US or European law requires that DVD players be locked in to a certain region, and region-free players are legally available in all countries.
Steve Jobs has done more than any other single person to make legal, DRM-free music downloads available worldwide. If he is looking for yet another way to win friends, influence people and sell more hardware he can start by:
Read the rest by clicking on the headline…
Apple’s iPhone is scheduled for release only a handful of days from now, reader Kenn Marks voices his opinion on Apple, AT&T, unknown required contract details and the other mystery areas of iPhone ownership he’d like to see covered before he picks up Apple’s next generation cell phone:
Stick it to the Man or We Get No Respect
By Kenn Marks
With the iPhone just around the corner, as a loyal Mac enthusiast I’m beginning to feel like Rodney Dangerfield that “I get no respect” from the company I support, sometimes on the bleeding edge, like my desire to be one of the first iPhone owners. I’m also feeling some of my sixties roots in wanting to “stick it to the man” with Apple introducing the iPhone six months ago at Macworld SF and letting us know it’s going to cost us US$499 or US$599 plus the big AT&T unknown. Here we are, less than two weeks away from the big day and NO ONE can tell us what our monthly commitment to AT&T is going to be, or if there is a multi-year contract involved.
It’s like buying that new car with all the features we want at a great price then finding out once we drive it off the lot that it only gets ONE mile per gallon fuel economy (aka, consumption). I know I can trust Apple for product and service reliability, but what about the New AT&T, the old Cingular and the Old AT&T. What are they trying to hide with all the name shuffling?
I think it’s pretty arrogant of Apple and AT&T to introduce a new piece of hardware one day BEFORE the end of month and quarter and be betting the farm and their next bonuses on a great couple of sales days, while you and I might have to fork out US$74.99/month for an unlimited internet two-year contract (if a contract is required – “2 yr contract required” removed from advertising on June 7th). If that’s the price point, then it’s an additional US$1,800 commitment after purchasing the phone.
I feel that if we let Apple walk all over us this time when we have the opportunity to make our vote heard, we’ll all lose. We can take all the online polls we want and have no guarantee that Apple even looks at the results. In the construction industry, where there are such things as holdbacks to ensure that there are no problems down the road with your newly constructed project, we as potential customers, who hold the cash/credit card, can influence future company decisions on how they treat us.
Not buying gas on a certain day doesn’t even make a ripple for the oil company pond you are boycotting, but holding off your iPhone purchase until Monday July 2 could really make the bean counters scream. All that revenue they were planning for end of quarter just vaporized into Apple’s fourth quarter. Yes, it will affect the value of my Apple holdings, but I feel treating customers fairly outweighs making a bunch of shareholders rich. We can do nothing about what the CEO of our employer makes unless we work in a union shop. Our supervisor will call us a troublemaker and tell us to seek employment elsewhere and that we’ll be easy to replace. Unless Apple & AT&T publishes the rate plans necessary to purchase an iPhone by Monday June 25th I strongly suggest waiting two more days (you already waited six months) and buy the worlds greatest phone on Monday July 2nd.
An owner and loyal purchaser since my first IIe Plus.
Where to Get an iPhone at… a discount?!!
By Steve Abrahamson
This morning, in his blog Converging worlds of IP Telephony, VoIP, Broadband,
Russell Shaw quoted Simon Croom, Ph.D., executive director of the Supply Chain Management Institute
at the University of San Diego, as saying this about the iPhone launch:
“Depending on reliability of the product, there may also be a rapid ramp
up in returns and warranty claims.”
That’s an excellent point. We all know that the v1 of any product is
likely to be just a little buggier than those that follow, so his
assertion is not really shocking. But wait a moment… what does Apple
do with those products it takes back on warranty replacement? Why, they
wind up on the Apple Outlet in the online Apple store, don’t they? For a
discount, no less.
Of course, this situation is a little stickier due to the AT&T interplay
and contract requirements and such, but it will be interesting to see if
ever-so-slightly discounted refurbished iPhones start to show up in the
Apple store. I’ve personally purchased refurbished merchandise from
there before, and it’s all perfectly good – maybe even better, being as
they are, as Garp so aptly put it, disaster-proofed.
Yet another interesting speculation surrounding the iPhone to sit and
idly watch play out.
Reader Tristan Louis has submitted a link to a thoughtful blog post regarding Apple, Safari, development for the iPhone, iTunes, Software Update and infiltration into the Windows platform via its new services and devices. He raises some good points and the entry is worth the read:
Yesterday’s announcement of Apple launching its Safari web browser for the Windows platform was a bit puzzling and I wasn’t sure of what to make of it at first. So I decided to read more about it and then install it.
Of course, day one is always amusing. First, it’s clear that the security claims are not fully justified. And moving from the confines of the OS X world, which is generally like a meticulously cleaned up suburban neighborhood into the wilds known as the world of Windows was bound to test some of Apple’s mettle when it comes to security. But that’s really besides the point: the software is not a full released
version and one can hope that it will be improved upon further down the line (then again, hope springs eternal.)
But all this is really besides the point. In order to see what is happening, one must start thinking about why would Apple think about a new browser today.
For the full blog entry, click here.
If you have an opinion on this, let us know.
At the WWDC keynote today, Steve showed off the new look of the Finder. I have seen the future, and that future is… iTunes.
That’s right: the Finder is becoming iTunes. Well, no, not literally the app, but it’s going to look and work just like it. The side bar is now a blue field just like on the left of iTunes, and in it, instead of big icons, is text and small icons just like, well, iTunes uses. The top is a Unified header with icon/list/column/coverflow buttons and a search bar; there’s a big content area in the center with 6″ icons on a black field with partial reflections below them. It’s iTunes for the Finder.
Seems to me like the tail wagging the dog. The OS is inheriting a look and feel from an app; isn’t that supposed to go the other way around? I’m not entirely convinced this is a bad design choice, but I’m far from convinced that it’s a good one. Personally, I still hide the frames on Finder windows to get rid of the clutter, and so long as I can do that and have windows without the left bar and with a title bar (but no header), I’ll be happy. But still, I’m left with an uneasy feeling as a designer that this isn’t the way you go about design progressions. I mean, I like iTunes as much as the next guy, but it’s not that good. It doesn’t feel good enough to me to extend over an entire OS. But it looks like it will.
Now, later in the keynote, Steve also announced Safari for Windows, leveraging the 500 million copies of iTunes for Windows that there are out there, and several things hit me. First, Safari 3 is not redesigned like iTunes, and if they’re doing this, Safari should look as much like iTunes as it can, but it still looks a little more like Safari 2.0 than iTunes. It does have a Unified header and the side frames are gone (both welcome changes), but I think they can go a little further.
But the second thing that hit me was this: if there are 500 million copies of iTunes for Windows out there (and if you’ve not seen it running on a Windows box, it’s totally Aqua), that means there are at least 500 million Windows users at least somewhat familiar with the iTunes UI… maybe substantially more, if people share a computer at home, say. And now Steve wants to go further and release Safari – also free – for Windows. Pretty soon those Windows users will be pretty accustomed to the iTunes UI, and Safari… and then, they’ll encounter a
Mac, which looks and works just like iTunes, and, as Steve is so fond of saying, boom.
So it’s not just the iTunes UI tail wagging the OS X UI dog, it’s the iPod division wagging the entire Macintosh division. They’re leveraging the wild popularity of the iPod to get iTunes in front of people to get them used to a good user experience and the iTunes UI, and then somehow get them in front of a Mac running Leopard, and the barrier to switch will be almost invisible. It’s brilliant.
Well, just so long as I can still hide it on mine.