Regarding iPhone Support of the New Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic

Yesterday Apple began taking orders for the new iPod Earphones with remote and mic and a support document was posted on their website (HT3310) that talked about compatibility of the new earphones and all of the iPod/iPhone models. According to the support document the new earphones are fully supported only by currently generation iPods and are partially supported by all iPhone models (volume up/down is not supported).

I talked to an Apple representative regarding a software update to the iPhone that would add support for the volume buttons on the new headphones and unfortunately (and expectedly) they didn’t have any information on any future updates that could add that functionality.

It’s possible that the reason Apple is doing this is to add some differences between the iPod and iPhone line, they did add some differences to the iPod Touch and iPhone with the most recent firmware not adding walking or transit directions to the iPod Touch and then of course we have this.

It doesn’t seem that Apple is losing any sales with the iPod Touch on the market practically competing against the iPhone but maybe Apple sees it differently.

In terms of hardware the connection is there for the iPhone to sense that the volume buttons are being pressed and I would assume that with a simple software update that functionality could be added but I guess we’ll have to wait and see for right now.

This does change my opinion on these new headphones though, I am still going to purchase them just incase volume support is added to the iPhone in the future, and besides they are the same price as the standard iPhone headphones.

Order New Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic Now

Remember those new earphones that were announced back with the new iPod Nanos and new iPod Touch? Well you can finally order them online and the website says they ship in 3-4 weeks.

These new earphones feature the iPhone-like remote and mic but have an additional two commands, volume up and volume down.

I’ve been waiting for these with great anticipation since my current iPhone headphones are falling apart. I actually almost bought the current iPhone headphones a few weeks ago but decided against it expecting the new earphones to ship soon, and I was close. I knew they would be shipping soon but I wished that it would ship a little bit sooner.

It’s been almost 3 months since the announcement and I am going to order mine today so hopefully I’ll get mine early on in the shipment schedule.

It’s also interesting to note that the new in-ear headphones are going to be shipping in 7-10 business days. I think it’s a little odd that the higher end headphones are going to be shipping sooner than the mainstream ones but maybe Apple wants to have more of the low end ones manufactured before they start shipping them.

Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic
Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic

Update: I also want to note that these new headphones don’t claim to be supported by the iPhone, only by the new iPod Touch and iPod Nano but since the headphone jack only has 3 connections on it there doesn’t seem to be any reason why these new headphones won’t work with iPhones as well, but obviously Apple would have to support them in software and there is no word as to whether that will happen or not.

Review of Touchgrind for the iPhone

If you are at all interested in both the iPhone and skateboarding you know about Touchgrind
icon. You’ve probably seen the trailer for it at least a couple of times, just like I have. But, you may be skeptical as to how good the game is, I was too.

The game currently costs $4.99 and allows you to skate around a skate park doing tricks on rails, ramps, and boxes. The interface for the game feels surprisingly good, you place two fingers on the board and slide, flick, and remove your fingers from the screen to do various tricks.

For the first 10 minutes of playing this game I had no idea how to do any tricks. Being the occasional gamer that I am and former hardcore gamer I thought I would be able to figure it out pretty quick on my own, but I quickly realized that it was a little more difficult than the trailer made it seem.

The game does feature some really well done tutorials, you are basically just watching a video of how to do things while an explanation is written across the bottom of the screen but it gives you enough information to be able to do it yourself when you go into a Warm Up or Jam Session.

I’m not going to explain how to do all the tricks here but know that it was only a matter of about 20 minutes before I was doing tricks with ease.

The game features 3 play modes, Warm Up, Jam Session, and Competition. In Warm Up you are basically allowed to roam around the skate park doing tricks with no time limits or goals of any kind. Jam Session let’s you do the same but in this one you are challenged to beat your best trick (my current is 89,396). Competition gives you a time limit of 100 seconds to get the highest score you can, with those higher scores you unlock new boards you can skate with.

There is only one skate park, which is a little disappointing, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason they wouldn’t add new ones in later updates. But the park that is in the game does have all of the obstacles to make sure you have a good time skating in it.

Another problem I’ve had with the game is that there isn’t a large distance between the front of the board and the edge of the screen, so you end up having to judge when to ollie on to something based on the indicators on the screen, but it is very difficult to judge when or for how long to turn so you are positioned just right going towards the obstacle and it is hard to know how close you are to it. They have tried to help with some of those problems by letting you tap the magnifying glass button at the bottom right hand corner of the screen to give you a birds eye view of the park but you find yourself going between those two view modes and eventually getting frustrated. And, you can’t skate while in the birds eye view mode.

The game is great and it does have enough depth to justify its $4.99 price tag, but hopefully with later updates they will fix the couple of problems I did have with it. If you are at all interested in skateboarding or skate games I think this would be a great buy.

Touchgrind – $4.99

Update All Option Returns in iPhone Firmware 2.2

If you remember back when iPhone firmware 2.0.2 came out an option was removed from the App Store, you could no longer “Update All” from the iPhone. This feature seemed to be disabled because it was causing some of the problems with buggy apps and nearly constant crashing (I didn’t have those problems of course).

But, with iPhone firmware 2.2 the option has returned (unless I missed its return in another firmware version). This doesn’t tell me a whole lot but Apple seems to be quite a bit more confident in the iPhones ability to install software cleanly.

Back when it was first removed I was certain that this was one of the major troublemakers for all of those crashes but I haven’t heard nearly the complaints that I used to about crashing apps and I think Apple is maturing the platform very nicely.

iPhone 2.2 Software Update Now Available

Just connect your iPhone to your computer and click “Check for updates” in iTunes.

Here’s what Apple has to say about the update:

This update contains many bug fixes and improvements, including the following:

  • Enhancements to Maps
    -Google Street View
    -public transit and walking directions
    -display address of dropped pins
    -share location via email
  • Enhancements to Mail
    -resolved isolated issues with scheduled fetching of email
    -improved formatting of wide HTML email
  • Improved Stability and performance of Safari
  • Podcasts are now available for download in iTunes application (over Wi-Fi and cellular network)
  • Decrease in call set-up failures and call drops
  • Improved sound quality of visual voicemail messages
  • Pressing the Home button from any Home screen takes you to the first Home screen
  • Preference to turn on/off auto-correction in keyboard settings

I’m downloading and installing the firmware right now. It’s a 246MB download and who knows how long it will take to install but I’ll update here with my first impressions after I spend some time with it.

Update: Google Street View blows my mind, but since I currently have what we in the business like to call “the old iPhone” EDGE isn’t fast enough to really make Street View worth it for me in real world situations. Walking directions and public transit directions are great if that’s what you need. The visual changes to Safari look odd at first glance but make a lot of sense when used for a few minutes. Podcast downloading works very well, searching and browsing podcasts is really easy and this may actually give me an excuse to open the iTunes app from time to time. One feature not talked about by anyone is that now you have the ability to delete podcasts, which is useful to me.

I don’t see the current implimentation of podcast downloads changing the way I personally deal with podcasts but it may let me make it a couple more days without my computer and still be able to get my podcast fix.

Screenshots after the jump.

I Hate Coverflow

Recently Apple released an update to the new 4th generation iPod Nanos. Included in this update is the ability to turn coverflow off, so if you turn your Nano on its side it won’t go into coverflow mode.

I’ve been wondering why Apple hasn’t released this feature for the iPhone. I absolutely hate coverflow mode and there is nothing worse then when you’re laying in bed or on the couch, you grab your iPhone to find a different song and you have to deal with this horrible user interface.

Coverflow is useless, I don’t find it to be a good way of navigating through my music in the least and the fact that you can’t turn it off is even more frustrating.

Similarly Mobile Safari has the same problem, I often listen to podcasts when falling asleep and if there is a particularly interesting one that mentions something I want to know more about I will try and look it up in Safari, but inevitably the darn app switches between landscape and portrait mode 4-5 times, I just want to read a web page and I don’t need it to ever go into landscape mode. Why hasn’t Apple released an update that allows you to turn these accelerometer features off for specific apps?

One of my favorite apps, Byline has the ability to turn off landscape mode, so why doesn’t Apple’s apps?

The only theory I can come up with is that they just haven’t had a chance to do it yet. But, like many other computer users I would rather have bug fixes and inconsistencies fixed before I see new features, fix what we already have before you add something that could possibly bring on more problems.

(The other app that has this same problem is Calculator).

Guitar Rock Tour Hits the App Store

Guitar Rock Tour was recently released on the App Store and it is one heck of a game. The game is developed by Gameloft and is essentially a Guitar Hero World Tour clone, for the iPhone.

The game has two instruments to play, Guitar and Drums, 17 licensed tracks including Beat it, In the Shadow, Girlfriend, Message in a Bottle, etc. and a Rock Star career mode that takes you from playing in your garage to stadiums.

I’ve played most of career mode with the Guitar on medium and it is a really fun game. The graphics look great, the notes aren’t too difficult to time and the songs are good.

I do wish there were more songs in the game but you’ll most likely have to wait for Guitar Rock Tour 2 for the iPhone before we get any more songs. Playing the Guitar feels great but the Drums are terrible. there are only two notes that come from the top of the screen but you have 4 different buttons to press for them, from the tutorial it seems as though you are supposed to hit the cymbals when two yellow notes come down but having to reach up that far and then reach down again for an upcoming note is very awkward. I’ve experimented a little bit and it seems that hitting both of the bottom drum pieces at the same time will also be recognized as a successful note but it isn’t very clear.

The game costs $9.99 and I think it is worth every penny. In the past I’ve complained about the prices of apps in the App Store but this is one of the few that actually seems worth the price.

So, how does it compare to Tap Tap Revenge? It wins hands down, not only can you play multiple instruments on songs that you may actually hear on the radio the graphics and the fact that you can clearly tell whether you hit the note at the right time or not makes Guitar Rock Tour blow Tap Tap Revenge away. The only thing that Tap Tap Revenge has over Guitar Rock Tour is a two player mode.

Two player mode would work really well with this, especially since you can play with two different instruments. You could play guitar while a friend takes the drums, but I guess the developers didn’t want to go in that direction or just thought that implementing it would be too much work for what they would get out of it.

At the time of writing this the app was a little crashy, but not to the point where it was unplayable, if I had my iPhone on for a long period of time it would seem to crash shortly after launching but after a quick reboot of the phone it would work fine, so I won’t hold it against the game. I’m sure Gameloft is already working on fixing these bugs and will be releasing an update soon.

Guitar Rock Tour – $9.99

More Confirmation of Podcast Downloads in iPhone Firmware 2.2

Some more screenshots have hit the web that seem to confirm that iPhone firmware 2.2 will in fact enable downloading of podcasts directly to the device.

These new screenshots, published on “Flo’s Weblog,” show the ability to download these pocasts even over the 3G network.

The new functionality will let users browse podcasts from within the iTunes application and download them to the device but I don’t see any signs of being able to actually subscribe to those podcasts, which means it might be very similar to the way the Apple TV deals with podcasts. On the Apple TV you can save a podcast as a favorite but those podcasts don’t have new files automatically download (which would be ideal).

So, I don’t know how much I’m actually going to enjoy this feature, when it was added to the Apple TV it didn’t change any of my previous habits of downloading to my computer and syncing to the Apple TV so I would guess that this being in the iPhone won’t change my habits either.

According to the rumors though Apple will be limiting podcast file downloads to 10MB or less if downloaded over 3G but it is unclear as to whether or not these downloads can be performed over the EDGE network.

Quake Could Be Coming to the App Store

The developers at ZodTTD have submitted a version of Quake to the App Store. In a few days we will find out if the incredibly popular Jailbreak app will be available in the official App Store.

If the app does get approved it will have network play options, downloadable content and more.

I wouldn’t suggest anyone get their hopes up though because I don’t know how likely it is that the game will actually make it to the store. One can still hope, and since the game looks super fun and would be free it would be a big win for both Apple and iPhone users alike.


New Features in iPhone Firmware 2.2 Beta 2

Apple will be continuing to improve the iPhone experience thanks to their subscription based accounting and some of those lucky enough to have iPhone firmware 2.2 beta 2 have been able to bring us some insight into what we will be seeing in the upcoming firmware release.

One of the most interesting features (and possibly the reasoning behind the denial of Podcaster to the app store) is the ability to download podcasts directly to the device. The feature will be a huge improvement in my mind (since I live off of podcasts) but unfortunately the feature doesn’t seem to be working properly in the most recent build.

Apple is also going to try and get more people to rate applications by popping up a window asking you to rate the app during the uninstall process.

While browsing the App Store on the phone you will be able to view more than one screenshot of the application.

The last of the features that have been outed is the ability to view Google Maps in Street View mode by tilting the iPhone into landscape mode. Along with this feature Google Maps will also be able to support public transportation data and walking directions.

I’ll be honest with all of you, I really loved the iPhone when I first purchased it (June 29, 2007) and I knew that Apple would be eventually adding new features through software updates but I never thought that I would be seriously considering the possibility of not bringing my laptop with me when I go on trips. The iPhone does almost everything I need it to and because of that I might be able to go without the laptop on trips. Apple really has made a great product and shows no sign of slowing down with its improvements.

Apple iPhone Apps
the Apple Blog

“Please Fix The iPhone,” Nah, I Think It’s Fine

I’ve been pretty vocal about the fact that the iPhone is practically as good as it can get but I constantly hear people complaining about the iPhone and its very few downsides. What’s most frustrating about this is that most of these complaints, in my opinion at least may make the iPhone worse, not better.

There is a website called “Please Fix the iPhone” where iPhone users can create new wishes for the iPhone and vote on what they would like to have on the iPhone most.

Right now the top 5 requests are:

  1. Copy and paste
  2. Landscape Email View
  3. Flash Support
  4. iChat
  5. MMS

I’m not going to rant too much about this since I’ve talked about them in the past but I thought I would revisit them since they keep coming up.

Copy and Paste: I don’t want copy and paste. I don’t have any reason for it and other than the few times when I’ve had to put in a password for Wifi I’ve never had a reason to need copy and paste. Not to mention the user interface issues with copy and paste. I’ve heard many explanations about how “simple” it would be to implement but I just haven’t heard a single solution that would be easily explainable to the average person.

Landscape Email View: I can understand why you would want landscape view while reading email because then you won’t have to zoom in so much and use your finger to scroll left and right going across each line of text but I don’t understand why anyone would want this while typing. Maybe I’ve just trained myself to prefer the portrait mode keyboard but I actually HATE the landscape keyboard. The problem is that you have to stretch your thumbs so far to reach the center of the keyboard so inevitably you end up typing much slower.

Flash Support: Not going to happen. And honestly I don’t want it to. If having flash support means that I’d lose 0.5-1 hour of battery life while browsing I just don’t want it. I don’t have many problems with the iPhone’s battery life but adding flash support would kill the battery life of a device like this.

iChat: iChat would be nice, especially if it could run in the background but, do you really need it? I don’t I pay for unlimited text messaging on my phone and I use that so much more than IM (I probably haven’t opened an IM client in about 6 months, and even then it was for track on Twitter, not for chatting). IM is a thing of the past and text messaging has taken over.

MMS: I don’t want it. If you want me to see the dumb picture of you and your buddy drinking at a bar you can upload it to Flickr and send me a link in an email, there is never a reason that MMS can’t wait, it doesn’t need to be instant and that is exactly why the iPhone doesn’t need MMS. Thanks to the App Store though you can easily upload your photos to various different hosts and then send me a link to them via email by visiting them using Safari.

I’m sure many of you will think I’m an Apple fanboy because of this post but do remember how upset I was when Apple dropped the price of the iPhone just a few months after it was initially released. If Apple does something wrong I’ll call them on it but so far there have been very few missteps and the cases where they have messed up have either been very minor or fixed immediately.


Comment on Some apps & games stay on my iPhone out of guilt

I commented on a 5ThirtyOne post talking about some flaws in the App Store. Since I haven’t talked much about the flaws of the App Store I thought I would also post the comment that I left on their blog here. My opinion of the App Store is pretty firm, it seems like it is a great job for a first time, there could be some things fixed but I really think that the majority of people who are complaining need to just calm down and rethink their arguement.

Here’s the comment:

I do understand why a 24 hour return policy for apps would be a good idea but quite frankly I don’t understand why more developers don’t release free “lite” versions of their applications and release paid for versions with much more functionality, it just seems logical to me. I have spent my fair share on applications too (probably around $120) but I quickly realized that I need to be a little bit more careful when deciding whether or not to buy an application. I read a lot of reviews on sites like TouchArcade before I make my decision but lately I haven’t been buying a whole lot of apps.

I currently have 6 applications on my iPhone and I use all of them daily (except for a couple of games that I only open once or twice a week when I’m stuck in a situation where I have nothing else to do). All of those applications are for pay (with Twitterrific as an exception). Many of the other applications that I’ve purchased or downloaded I just don’t need and/or wouldn’t use even if they were on my phone. Most of those applications were purchased early on in the App Store when I was just anxious to play around with them but a lot of them were just purchased/downloaded when the app was on sale or temporarily free and I thought there was a possibility of some useful functionality there down the road.

But I truly think that people should stop complaining about the App Store. There might be some things that Apple could do to make it a little more user friendly but I think that most of the fuss over the App Store is from a whole bunch of people who should just start taking responsibility for clicking that “Buy” button. Maybe the app is useless but at the same time, maybe you should have read some more reviews before purchasing the app.

Some apps & games stay on my iPhone out of guilt – 5ThirtyOne