iPhone

Issues with Push Notifications for iOS

iPhone Push Issues

With the news that the Gmail app for iOS was updated two days ago, I decided to give it a go as a replacement to the native iOS Mail app. And for the first time in three years, Google apps are dominating the lower app bar on my phone. (Pictured above!)

However, and this isn’t a knock against the app because it’s wonderful, I have a rather weird quirk about iOS Push Notifications: the notification badge remains despite being corrected elsewhere.

For example, with the Gmail app, if I see a notification for a new email pop up and I am at my desk, I will go ahead and look at it on my web browser, because why look at it on a smaller screen with a larger one available right? Unlike the native Mail app, however, if I clear a notification off of the device, the push notification (especially badges) still remain.

This isn’t just for Gmail, but it happens with Facebook Messenger, Fitocracy, Twitter, and every other app that uses push notifications to alert you of messages, interactions, and whatever else.

I’ll have to dig around a bit, but is this just an oversight by the app developers, or is this a technical limitation for push notifications?

Away for the Weekend

Tomorrow morning, my friends and I depart for a weekend getaway to a cottage for the weekend. I am excited and I cannot wait to eat, drink, and be merry with fantastic company.

I am trying to minimize the amount of electronics I bring along (since I always seem to bring the entire store) and I am only bringing the following:

  1. My iPhone: Not so much for making calls or tweets, but just to be able to stay in contact if necessary and to play all of the music that I have downloaded in preparation.
  2. My Kindle: I am going to spend a lot of time sitting around and relaxing with a cool drink during the day, and what better way to relax than to read my many books?
  3. My SLR: I’m going north to beautiful scenery over a lake with friends. Do I really need to say more?

So it’s still a lot more than most people ever bring along, but I’m a digital native, sue me.

Have a great weekend, folks!

Staying Fit – Best Apps for Biking / Exercise

As a self-employed individual, you often have to find ways to stay in shape without the luxury of a gym when you’re just starting out. I have managed to run into this problem myself, so I decided to stay proactive by getting on an exercise program that I can run out of my own house. Of course, I wanted to track my progress and ensure that I was actually making gains!

One of the first problems I ran into was having trouble tracking my running or cycling – at the gym, the machines that I use would clearly display your distance, your speed, calories burned, etc and I missed that when just cycling or running around my neighbourhood. Knowing that my iPhone has a huge arsenal of apps available to it that would probably do just that, I asked around and received three great answers: RunKeeper, iMapMyRide, and MotionX GPS.

Here is the quick and dirty run down of the pros and cons of using each:

RunKeeper

Pros
- Simple and easy to use interface
- Tracks everything beautifully
- Gives you all the details clearly and neatly
- Great integration with RunKeeper.com

Cons
- No music control (Not really an issue)
- No sharing in-app

iMapMyRide

Pros
- Works quite well
- Accurate
- Web integration

Cons
- Not very intuitive user interface
- Website is just cluttered and ugly
- Registered as metric, still measured as imperial (Didn’t auto update in settings)

MotionX GPS

Pros
- Works well and accurately
- Detailed information
- Email sharing works very well

Cons
- Ugly user interface, very cluttered and not intuitive
- Email sharing works but is riddled with advertising

Overall, all three of the apps were accurate and worked as desired, but iMapMyRide and MotionX GPS were both so clunky and did not have intuitive user interfaces that I decided that they just weren’t for me.

At the end of the day, I decided to go with RunKeeper for its well designed user interface and fantastic integration with runkeeper.com, a beautifully designed website that shows all of the information you could ever ask for and much more. I know this is a really quick and brief post without many details but it really comes down to preference – all three apps I have listed have Lite versions (They’re what I used!) and you should make the judgment call for yourself.

Happy exercising!

WorldCard Mobile (Review)

Welp, I was recently given the chance to try out a great little application called WorldCard Mobile for the iPhone that uses OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology to read pictures of business cards and export the information into an address book entry.

Now, I haven’t heard of many applications like this for the iPhone because I’m assuming the previous iterations of the iPhone (Pre-3GS) had such a terrible camera that it just wasn’t possible. Of course, with the 3GS, the camera received a much needed upgrade in both quality and clarity, so WorldCard Mobile was made possible. I know that while playing around with a Samsung Omnia, one of their heavily touted features was this very same concept: being able to take pictures of business cards and creating an address book entry. Of course, I personally hate the Omnia, so this feature alone wouldn’t have sold me on the phone.

So onto the actual application, how is it? Well, let’s just get technical details out of the way: it has seven (7) different languages that it can recognize, all of the information recognized is editable, and the full process can be as short as 20-30 seconds. But does it work well?

Surprisingly, yes, with a but. It works extremely well on traditional business cards with all of the information presented nicely on one side. I tested it out on both of my business cards – one for Up+Atom and one for LIVE Conference 2009. Here are pictures from both:

Up+Atom

LIVE Conference 2009

You can see, because my business card from Up+Atom is so unconventional, it has a bit of trouble recognizing most of the information, but you can hardly blame it on the application. With the LIVE Conference 2009 business card, it does a pretty fine job of recognizing everything, with a few minor glitches.

So, should you get it? Well, for a decent price of $9.99, you get a mobile app that utilizes great OCR technology and will probably save you quite a bit of time when you are out and about networking and you bring home a stack of new business cards to enter into your address book. There are definitely some issues that need to be addressed, like better recognition and/or maybe adding the ability to set certain regions in a picture for other address fields, but overall it is a solid app. Of course, all of these glitches and issues will slowly disappear as the proprietary OCR technology in the app continually improves, so definitely pick it up if this is something that can benefit you.

App: WorldCard Mobile
Author: Penpower Inc.
Price: $5.99

Mobile Data – An Arm and a Leg?

I’m a customer of Rogers Wireless and I have always been deprived of a mobile data plan, and there’s a good reason for it! I found this article while Googling for data plans in Canada. Sure, it was written in April 9th, 2007, so things have had to change since then right?

Well, here’s what Rogers is currently offering in terms of data plans, with a breakdown of cost per megabyte:

$15     2MB        $7.50/MB
$25     500MB    $0.05/MB
$30     1GB        $0.03/MB
$60     3GB        $0.02/MB

Seems pretty reasonable right? Well, 6.9 million iPhones were sold in Q42008 globally, and the iPhone is a rather data-intensive device. It’s advertised to play streaming videos with ease, play games, and keep you connected.

But streaming videos can be one of the greatest consumers of bandwidth – just ask YouTube. So I decided to test it out – just how much data would YouTube consume? To do this test, I measured the amount of data used in one minute (1:00) of a YouTube video. Here are the raw results:

Start       End        Difference
418.40    424.00    5.60
428.00    433.80    5.80
440.20    446.20    6.00
447.10    453.20    6.10
454.20    460.20    6.00
461.40    469.60    8.20
469.60    479.10    9.50
480.70    484.50    3.80
485.50    491.50    6.00
493.30    499.30    6.00

The most left hand column represents the total amount of bandwidth transferred to my computer (Apple Macbook), which started at 418.40, so I merely recorded the difference. The middle column represents the total amount of bandwidth transferred to my computer after a minute of a YouTube video playing. The last column is the difference of the first two columns, giving you the amount of data used up within one minute.

I eliminated the two outliers and came up with an average of 6.21MB/min. Sounds like a big number, eh? Well, here’s what that means for you:

  • On a 500MB/month data plan ($25) – you will run out of bandwidth after approximately 80 minutes of just watching YouTube videos. Even sooner if you use your data elsewhere. ($0.31/min)
  • On a 1GB/month data plan ($30) – you will run out of bandwidth after approximately 160 minutes of just watching YouTube videos. ($0.19/min)
  • On a 3GB/month data plan ($60) – you will run out of bandwidth after approximately 483 minutes of just watching YouTube videos. ($0.12/min)

Doesn’t this seem expensive for you? We’re in an age where data should be at our fingertips, without restrictions, 24 hours a day, 7 days aweek. Yet here in Canada, Rogers has the ability to place bandwidth caps on the Internet, remove features that compete with their services from mobile phones, and create very expensive data plans.

Are we going to continue paying an arm and a leg in order to receive a mediocre service? Digg this.

Mobile Devices – Smaller is better?

Introducing the iKIT – a new product by IMOVIO that is being called a ‘sub-subnotebook’ which makes subnotebooks look enormous in comparison. This little device is 95mm x 65mm x 15.5mm, which is tiny even compared to my Samsung Jack’s 110m x 57mm x 15mm frame, especially considering it has a clamshell design.

Which brings me to the main point: is smaller really better? I’ve never been one to claim that size does matter, but as devices and electronics shrink, are you – the user – in for a better experience?

Take for example, my Samsung Jack. It’s a rather small device that is very thin and has a full QWERTY keyboard which is fantastic for sending SMS messages. Unfortunately, my thumbs are rather stubby, which results in sending more typos than I care to admit.

Another example is the iPhone, which did away with the tactile keyboard entirely and utilizes an on-screen keyboard input which I have not had the best of experiences with. I have to use my pinky – the thinnest finger I have – to enter any sort of word properly.

And now we have the iKIT, which appears to have much bigger keys than my Samsung Jack, and a tactile keyboard which won’t give me the same problems as the iPhone, seemingly solving my problems with such devices.

But you have to wonder – is this the direction the mobile device market is headed? Does the consumer experience increase as the size of the device decreases? Are those of us with stubby fingers forever cursed to send typos?

Let me know, I’d love to know.