iPhone Review – Urbanspoon

17 08 2008

My first crack at doing a video review.





appleopolis – Great iPhone Apps Launcher

23 09 2007

Sure there are plenty of iPhone web-apps you can visit through Safari, or even bookmark so you can visit them later, however navigating through bookmarks doesn’t really fit the UI flow of the iPhone.

Let me introduce you to appleopolis.

appleopolis is an iPhone launcher that lets you add “widgets” to your dashboard. It’s UI is similar to the Home screen and thus visually appealing. The real kicker is that it launches your favorite bookmarks while keeping it real with the iPhone’s user interface. I’ve got Digg and Meebo for sure on my dashboard – what do you have?





iPhone – Save Facebook Friends to Address Book

23 09 2007

I am a completionist – I feel as if all of my contacts need to have full information along with a photo. I found a cool little app called FacebookSync which fills in any blank information in your address book with the information that is provided on Facebook. It uses the Facebook API so don’t worry about getting TOS’ed by Mark Zuckerberg.

PS. This is a MAC only app. Hopefully there will be a Windows and Linux port soon.





HOWTO: Fix GMail On The iPhone

16 09 2007

I learned that GMail does not like to play friendly with the iPhone. Upon further investigation this is an issue with GMail’s POP3 settings affecting Blackberries, Thunderbird, Outlook, and other POP clients alike.

The Problem

GMail does not use folders to store its e-mails, therefore all e-mails are sitting in the inbox, but are tagged differently. Based on these tags you have your Sent mail, archived, trash etc. The annoying part about this occurs when you use a client whether it be a desktop e-mail application or your mobile device, to POP GMail you end up receiving all of your sent e-mails to your inbox. This is because the client can’t differentiate between GMail’s tags, therefore it thinks it is sitting in the Inbox, which it really is.

The Fix (for the iPhone but will work similarly on other devices/clients)

  1. Create an e-mail address with AOL
  2. Setup Mail Forwarding on your GMail account to the new AOL account
  3. Add an “Other” account on the iPhone
  4. Make sure the Incoming Server is imap.aol.com with your username and password
  5. Make sure the Outgoing Server is smtp.gmail.com with your username and password

Voila, you can now receive e-mails without having to worry about your sent messages showing up in your inbox. Since you are using the GMail SMTP your sent messages are archived in GMail and are fully searchable.

* Some side effects to note – GMail will forward all of your mail, so if you have read it in GMail it will not be marked as read when it goes to AOL, so you may have to read the same message twice if you read it on the GMail web client and on your iPhone.





Make Ringtones For Free on The iPhone

16 09 2007

I recently picked up an iPhone. It’s sexy. However, I’m definitely not going to pay money to create a ringtone out of a song that I already own – sorry Apple, RIAA, AT&T, your mom thats not going to cut it. Lucky for me I discovered a free solution to get ringtones straight to your iPhone, just follow these steps:

  1. Install MakeiPhoneRingtones2.app
  2. Change your iTunes Import Settings to encode AAC
  3. Import the MP3 you have already sliced up as a ringtone, into iTunes
  4. Right click that MP3 in iTunes and select Convert to AAC
  5. Rename the extension to m4r and add to your iTunes Library
  6. Drag the AAC file into MakeiPhoneRingtone2.app

DONE. Your ringtones will now appear under the iTunes Ringtones section which will automatically sync with your iPhone the next time you connect it. How’s that for stickin’ it to the man?

UPDATE: This works only with the 1.1.2 iPhone update





Get the iPhone’s Features Without an iPhone

1 07 2007

Apple made headlines this weekend with its launch of the iPhone. I applaud Apple for pioneering a new design and user-interface, however feature-wise the iPhone is similar to a Motorola RAZR that debuted two years ago. For those of you who want to get the software on an iPhone without purchasing an iPhone, check out this list:

1. Maps

You don’t need Apple’s Google Maps software to get driving directions to a nearby pizza parlor. If you have a Java enabled phone (almost all phone’s nowadays do) check out my review of Google Maps for Mobiles. It has the same features, minus the multi-touch. Point your web-browser to http://www.google.com/gmm for the goods.

2. YouTube

YouTube is exclusive to the Apple iPhone? I think not. Point your mobile web-browser to http://m.youtube.com and watch your favorite videos straight from your phone. YouTube dishes out the video content in a special format (3GP) that your phone will be able to stream over the net.

3. Calendar

The good guys at Google have done it again, point your mobile web-browser to http://mobile.google.com/calendar and organize your life. If you have a Windows Mobile device check out my article on GooSync to wirelessly synchronize GCal with the built in Outlook calendar app.

4. Photos

Most camera phones have some built-in software to let you view them, so I won’t go into any additional photo software. But if you want to upload and view photos online in an album point your mobile web-browser to http://picasaweb.google.com/m.

5. Safari

Apple claims that Safari is the best mobile web-browser because it displays the web the way it should be. Check out my review on Opera Mini 4 which has the exact same features. Opera Mini 4 runs on any Java enabled phone. Visit http://www.operamini.com/download/ and grab the goodness.

6. Mail

Apple says they offer free POP mail access for all iPhone users. This is nice, and the ability to check your e-mail is a must for many people, but you can do this with GMail on your mobile phone. Point your web-browser to http://gmail.com/app
and download the Java program that lets you check your e-mail. You don’t use Google but another type of POP e-mail account? Great – Google lets you POP other e-mail accounts as well so no sweat, you’re covered.

7. Weather

I guess this is a little bit of a stretch, but if you need your phone to tell you what the weather is outside you need to get out more. If you really want to get the weather, you can always text Google (466453) with the query “weather <insert zipcode or city here>” and Google will text you back with the forecast results for the day. Its not as intuitive as I would like it to be, but hey it gets the job done.

If you don’t want to take the SMS route, take a visit to http://m.yahoo.com, Yahoo’s mobile webpage, and configure your start page to include a weather forecast.

7. Voicemail

Visual Voicemail is a great feature to have, but again is not exclusive to an iPhone. The engineers are CallWave have a product that lets you visually choose your voicemails, but it doesn’t stop there, you can even receive voicemails as text messages. This may not be free in the future however, but in the words of Robert Heinlein, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

8. Stocks

Yahoo’s mobile start page is very informative. Visit http://m.yahoo.com and setup the quotes that you want to track. You can also take the SMS route that Google provides by texting 466453 and entering “stock <insert symbol here>.”

As a consumer I look past marketing hype, I hope these tips help you get the most out of today’s technology.





iPhone – Lacking as a Phone, Rising as a Platform

28 06 2007

Though the iPhone does not fare well feature-wise in comparison to existing Smartphones for its hefty price tag, there is one good outcome I see from the Apple Marketing Machine hype:

Web applications can piggyback off of the iPhone’s success.

Since Apple is limiting apps to run from Safari, this means developers must create web compliant applications. How does this benefit us who don’t have an iPhone? It means we can run the same applications from our internet enabled phones/devices too. What does this mean to the developer community? AJAX enabled development will be on the rise pushing the limits of Web 2.0 even further. We will see more tools, and new ways of manipulating the browser to deliver a rich user-centric experience.

Plain simple, the iPhone will help usher in the web application platform. More and more applications are going to the web, and with Apple’s marketing power, the Web 2.0 generation is inadvertently benefiting from the iPhone success.





iPhone Alternative: Safari-Like Web Browsing on Any Phone

20 06 2007

Apple has been generating a lot of buzz about Safari and how it is revolutionizing the way the internet is displayed on a mobile device. Opera Mini 4 beta is a free Java powered browser for any phone which allows you to view the web formatted for your screen. This feature has always been a part of Opera Mini, however you can now zoom into certain sections of a webpage and navigate across a site. The beauty of this, is that a web-page can be viewed in its full form. Try it out yourself by demoing it in the Opera Mini 4 Simulator.

Opera has made it easy to download the software. Choose which method you would like, and start browsing the web in style. Just remember, you don’t need $600 to view a website on your phone.





OpenMoko – The iPhone Alternative?

5 06 2007

Recently I have been following the development of OpenMoko – the world’s first open source communication mobile communications platform. OpenMoko runs the Linux kernel, and everything from the operating system to the firmware to the actual software is completely open-source.

The main reasons why I would support OpenMoko over the iPhone are:

1. $350 vs $600

Lets face it, the iPhone is $600+2yr contract with Cingular. OpenMoko is unlocked and will cost you only $350. This is even cheaper than most Windows Mobile smartphones.

2. Integrated GPS

From the iPhone commercials, the Google Maps application looks great. However, you need to get on EDGE or wi-fi to use it. OpenMoko comes with a built in GPS chipset which will pinpoint your exact location.

3. User Replaceable Battery

If you’ve ever used an iPod you will see that it becomes dead weight in about two years. Batteries have a specific life-cycle and deteriorate over time. The iPhone will not let you swap out your battery, so it will either die in two years, or with its estimated 5 hour battery life you won’t have the option of using a backup battery.

4. Open Platform

The iPhone currently has a list of 12 applications that will ship on the phone. Only Apple/Authorized developers can provide software for the phone, and has closed off the platform to 3rd party developers. Current rumors speculate an iChat application is not available yet for the iPhone so IM-generation kids will have to wait. With OpenMoko any piece of software written for it, can be installed without having big brother breathing down your neck.

5. No Carrier Lock-In

Though the iPhone is a GSM phone, Apple/Cingular will not give you access to the SIM. This means you can’t enjoy the benefits of switching phones, or switching providers for that matter. Plain simple, you are limiting your freedom. Say you wanted to travel overseas, your iPhone won’t work because your SIM will not work in another country. If it were unlocked like OpenMoko you could swap in another SIM that works in the country you are in and do business as usual.

6. Corporate E-Mail Support

Yahoo POP access doesn’t cut it when it comes to the business professional. The iPhone does not support synchronization with an Exchange server which almost EVERY business uses for their corporate mail system. OpenMoko will ship with Evolution which allows you to not only connect to an Exchange server – but is also FREE.

7. Availability

The iPhone is limiting its sales in certain volumes. Remember when you stood in line for your XBox360 when it launched only to find they ran out of shipment, and more will come in the next quarter? This is a mobile phone not a toy. OpenMoko will be available worldwide 9/11/2007.