Should Apple Add Device Tutorials to iTunes?

Apple’s devices are getting more and more complicated and as the user interfaces for those gadgets gets more and more simple there comes a time where Apple needs to really start letting their customers know how to use their devices.

The new iPod Shuffle doesn’t have any buttons on it and the buttons ont the headphones aren’t as intuative as many would like them to be. That means that anyone who uses the new Shuffle has to read the instruction manual, but a lot of people don’t like to read, it would be nice if I could just plug it into my computer and get a nice little tutorial showing me how to use the device. Apple is already making the guided tours it would be nice if they could make it a little bit easier for new owners to see these videos.

What I’m proposing is for Apple to include their guided tours in iTunes so that when you connect an iPod or iPhone to your computer for the first time iTunes asks if you want to watch the video for that device. Not only would this help new users learn how to use their device but it could also teach 3 or 4 time owners of iPods a coouple of tricks that they didn’t know about.

Apple is doing something very similar to this with the latest version of GarageBand, where users can purchase videos teaching them how to play instruments. This proposal isn’t a rumor or even speculation it is more of a suggestion to Apple. How does Apple expect iPhone owners to figure out how to copy and paste (if it is implimented the way Kevin Rose suggests it will be), let alone just trying to explain to them the difference between double tapping, tap and hold, or double tap and hold. The actually user interface is getting a little more complicated (because of its open endedness) and it would be nice if Apple would help out their customers by puting their guided tours where they need to be, in iTunes.

Categorized as Apple, Rants

The iPhone: It’s Not a Kindle

Kindle Not Equal to iPhoneEver since the Kindle was released I’ve heard several technology pundits talk about how the iPhone could kill the Kindle by just adding some ebook features. The problem of course is that the mosts critical feature of the Kindle isn’t the fact that it has ubiquitous wireless access, it isn’t the Kindle store, and it isn’t the fact that it has a web browser, the most critical feature of the Kindle is its display.

I’ve harped on this note before but the fact is reading for long periods of time on a display that has a backlight is incredibly hard on the eyes. The reason the Kindle works is because you can read for long periods of time without the level of eye strain as you would receive if you were reading on a display similar to… oh, let’s say… the iPhone.

The iPhone is a wonderful device but it clearly isn’t the be all end all, there are things that it can’t do, being the best ebook reader is one of them.

Why I Want a Kindle 2

Amazon Kindle 2 On Table

There aren’t very many reason that someone would want the Kindle 2, for most it would be one big reason, they like reading books. Although the ability to purchase books wherever you are and download them directly to your device sounds nice if I purchased the Kindle (which I will hopefully be doing this summer) I wouldn’t buy a single book.

I don’t read a lot of books, and by that I mean I don’t read books. But, I do read every single day of my life. I probably read more often than the average american but none of that content is contained in books, all of it is online. the one drawback to reading a lot of content online though is that you have to read it on a computer monitor. Reading for long periods of time on a computer monitor causes quite a bit of eye strain and for most people the solution would be to print out whatever they are reading and then read it off of paper. I would much rather read off of the Kindle, its display looks like paper but not having to buy ink or actual paper is well worth the $360 to me.

A decent printer usually costs at least $100 anyway, but you can’t carry your printer around with you everywhere you go and surf the internet for free on it, with the Kindle you can.

I see the Kindle more as a web tablet then anything else. all I really want is to be able to read long articles without my eyes feeling like they are going to fall out, and that is what the Kindle is good at.

Sure, I’ll probably pay a few bucks a week so I can get some good newspapers delivered to my Kindle every morning but that feature isn’t nearly as important to me as the ability to read long form blog posts from all of my favorite web sites without having to start at a light the whole time.

Amazon has really done something amazing with the Kindle, and who knows, once I get used to reading stuff on it I might end up buying a few books (and actually reading them).

Kindle 2.

Amazon Kindle 2 Gets Official

Amazon Kindle 2 In Hand

That’s right the Kindle 2, which I posted some pretty legitimate looking details about 3 days ago is now official. The Kindle sports a brand new design that not only makes it more appealing to the eye but also makes it a lot easier to hold when you’re reading.

The thing is super thin and the display has a much quicker refresh rate then the previous Kindle. The display doesn’t just have a quicker refresh rate, it also can display 16 shades of gray instead of the 4 on the previous model. Amazon is also claiming a 25% longer battery life. All for the reasonable price of $359.

What I’m wondering now though is whether or not I really need a laptop at all. Between my iPhone and the Kindle 2 (which I haven’t ordered but hope to get one this summer) I don’t really know what else I need. I can do most of my work on the iPhone with all of the great 3rd party apps and all of the longer articles that I like to read can be read on the Kindle, which has a display that is significantly easier on the eyes than the iPhone’s.

The one aspect of my daily computing activities that I don’t see fitting into this scenario however is blogging. Luckily I have an iPhone and the WordPress app is pretty good, but posting media such as images or videos is nearly impossible on the iPhone. I could probably use the Press This bookmarklet for WordPress to post with new images but that isn’t ideal.

What it really comes down to is the fact that I could live for weeks with just a Kindle and my iPhone and be just fine, that is if WordPress would improve their iPhone app.

Kindle 2: Amazon’s New Wireless Reading Device (Latest Generation).

The need for iPhone app folders and search is quickly approaching. No Thank You.

Dear MG Siegler,

Why the heck do you have 9 pages worth of applications? I understand that it is nice to have all of your applications with you at all times but I guarantee that you don’t use any more than 3 pages worth of them on a regular basis. I personally only have 2 pages worth of applications and that consists of only 9 3rd party applications.

The beauty of the iPhone and its ease of use is based on its simplicity, I know that you don’t want to have to make a decision on what applications you need on your phone but you may have to. The iPhone doesn’t need folders and search it needs you to make a decision on what of those 25 different games you actually play, because I’m sure you don’t play all of them.

I understand that you claim to have been managing applications in iTunes by unchecking unused apps but you need to pay attention to ones you actually open because I’m sure you don’t actually open all 129 of those applications that you have installed on a daily basis.

You also talk about how everyone who owns an iPhone or iPod Touch are going to download tons of applications in 2009 and you are right but you don’t use all of them and should not install the ones you don’t use. I don’t want there to be application search OR folders on the iPhone because the fact that it doesn’t have them is why the iPhone is so great. Mucking up the interface with more tedius features or buttons to click is what will hurt the iPhone experience overall. So you have a choice to make, either uninstall some apps or deal with having a slightly difficult time finding apps (or you could always organize them on pages based on app categories).

I know I may sound like an Apple apologetic at this point but I’m really not, in fact when Apple does something I don’t like, I’m one of the first to speak up about it, fortunately Apple doesn’t seem to make very many mistakes. I don’t think that is just my Apple loving eyes that can’t see those mistakes but instead the fact that Apple has commited to making simple and easy to use devices. If Apple started making crap, or doing things with UI I didn’t like I would complain, but until that happens I think I’m going to stick with enjoying my Apple gadgets without complaining about problems I caused.


The need for iPhone app folders and search is quickly approaching » VentureBeat.

Sony Rumored to Debut 3.3″ Touchscreen Walkman at CES

Sony 3.3" OLED Walkman with Wifi

Sony is rumored to be debuting a brand new 3.3″ touchscreen Walkman at CES that will come in 16GB and 32GB models. The yet to be named device will feature an OLED display which should help save that oh so important battery life from draining too quickly while also giving the device some incredibly gorgeous color detail.

The device should also come with Wifi, Youtube support, podcast subscriptions, and support for MP3, AAC, PCM, WMA, AVC (h.264), MP4, and WMV. The rumor also states that Sony would be partnering with Amazon to support over the air downloads of Amazon MP3s.

Alongside Wifi Sony has (intelligently) decided to (unlike the Zune) have a built in web browser, but it is still unknown whether or not the browser will be based on WebKit (as so many mobile browser are these days) or if Sony has decided to partner with Opera for this device.

It’s obvious that Sony is trying to compete with the iPod Touch with this device but the problem is that it (supposedly) does not have an App Store, which (in my opinion) is the reason the iPod Touch is so successful right now. But this is just another reason why Sony needs to rethink its strategy, if they were to release this device with an App Store it would ultimately compete with the PSP and Sony doesn’t want to do that. If they were smart they would be releaseing a device like this with similar features but also include a fast enough processor to let it become the PSP2, but I’m not sure if the guys at Sony have enough guts to do something like that.

The problem is that Sony is to sectionalized as a company, I’m not sure if the folks who work in their gaming department (PS3 and PSP) have any idea what the guys working on the next Walkman are doing, and that is why ultimately this device will fail, integration with your other devices is the key to success in the world of iPods and unless you can bring that same experience or better to the table, don’t expect to do very well.

Sony To Debut 32GB 3.3-inch Wi-Fi Touchscreen Walkman –

Why Can’t My iPhone Check My Email Less Often?

One of the problems I have with the iPhone (and there aren’t that many) is that there is no way of having the iPhone check email less often than once an hour, you can set it to check every 15 minutes, every 30 minutes, every hour, or manually. But, what if I want it to check once a day at a specific time or once every 2 or 3 hours.

I get a lot of email every day, but not enough to justify my iPhone checking with mail servers once an hour. If I had my way I would have the iPhone check every day at 7am, this way when I wake up in the morning I would have all my email on my phone and ready to be read.

The biggest problem with having the iPhone automatically check for email is battery life. I don’t have any battery life issues with the iPhone but then again I don’t have my iPhone automatically check for email, I have it set to manual.

So, Apple, why do I have to choose from these 4 options, when none of them are optimal for the majority of users (who most likely get as much or less email then I do).

Tech I’m Thankful For

These past few years have been great in the world of technology and since today is Thanksgiving I thought I would share with all of you what I’m thankful for in this tech world.

The iPhone, I still have the original iPhone but since I live in an area without 3G coverage it wasn’t worth it for me to purchase the new iPhone 3G. I love my iPhone and it was made infinately better this year when the App Store was released to the public.

The iMac, I posted about my iMac in August and it has been a joy ever since. The hardware is gorgeous and it is the fastest computer I’ve ever owned. The speed shows every time I encode video for my iPhone

The Apple TV, since I don’t have cable almost all of my media comes through the internet, podcasts and iTunes downloads mostly, the Apple TV let’s me watch all that content on my 42″ tv in the living room.

Twitter, I love twitter and use it to communicate with friends and family every day. It is an amazing service and I’m sure that it will eventually kill off most if not all of peoples IM usage (IM is so 90s).

Google Reader, I use Google Reader more often then I probably should and it is the place where 90% of my news comes from. I used to use NetNewsWire but the first time I used Google Reader I realized what I had been missing.

And with that I also want to thank everyone who has been reading this blog for the past year and some odd months that I’ve been writing it. Thank you, and happy Thanksgiving.

Categorized as Rants

“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

What Notebook Should I Purchase?

Next June I’m planning on buying a new notebook and since I know this is going to happen I of course have been thinking about what notebook I’d like to buy. There isn’t much of a decision to make here since I already know of 4 contenders, the decision comes in when I try to decide whether I want a netbook or a full notebook.

The first (and obvious) choice for me is the MacBook Air, since I bought the iMac I haven’t really needed a lot of power in my notebook and have mostly been using it to write blog posts or casually surf the web while sitting on my couch so the MacBook Air would be great, I would get a reasonably powered notebook that is super thin, super light, and have a nice keyboard (which would be a great feature considering the typing that I do while writing blog posts). The next option would be the MacBook, which really won’t even be in the running unless Apple decides to change the material they use the make the case for the MacBook. But, with all the rumors pointing towards an aluminum MacBook it is worth the mention. Not quite as light as the MacBook Air, but slightly more powerful, just as good at battery life, display size, and keyboard usability. But, the MacBook isn’t as light and honestly, just isn’t as stylish as the MacBook Air (which could be worth it since I would be spending about $700 less on it).

The next couple of options are both netbooks and the reason I chose these two specifically is because of their features, their size, and the company building them. The first netbook option is the Dell Inspiron Mini 9, a good looking netbook at a great price ($350 and up), currently it has a 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU, 512MB of memory, 4GB (and up) solid state drive, and a 9″ screen (most of this will change by the time I purchase it). If I was to buy the Mini 9 I would most likely get the lower $350 version and install Windows XP on it myself (I have a few licenses that aren’t being used right now). The low price and the size are the main reasons I would pick this one but that lack of OS X is what’s making me a little weary of going down that path.

The last option is the Acer Aspire One, The reason I would pick this one is it’s 9″ display, stylish design (I’d get blue), and it’s nicely priced ($399). The problems I have with this one are the same as with the Mini 9 though, it doesn’t run OS X and not having a mac as my main laptop would be a little frustrating.

So, this is obviously a very early look at what I would actually be buying, by then I’m sure I will have many more options. Currently I’m leaning towards the MacBook Air because of its weight, its comfortable keyboard, and the fact that it will run OS X. I’m not anti-Windows at all but my blog workflow works best on OS X, the software that I use, and like to use, is only available for OS X. If your curious it is Transmit mostly, I haven’t found a single FTP application for Windows that I like. And since I use the FTP client daily it needs to be the best app possible.

Hopefully I’ll make the right decision and will be happy with the decision. I’m hoping that Apple will make my decision a lot easier and they have plenty of opportunities to do so, October 14th, MacWorld, and WWDC between now and the time I will be making my purchase.

Do We Really Need Cut And Paste?

I”ve spent the past year trying to figure out why everyone really NEEDS cut and paste in the iPhone. Since the day I purchased the iPhone (June 29, 2007) I’ve probably only been in 3 situations where I wished I had cut and paste available to me.

I can’t name a single one of those instances however because they aren’t memorable enough to remember them. But, I’m going to guess that at least 2 of those 3 times were putting in a password for a WAP protected Wifi network, but, since I don’t seem to have the world of troubles with the iPhone keyboard like everyone else does I was able to input the password without having to retry it at all.

You see, the iPhone is a computer, I can’t argue with that but because of it’s ability to manipulate data in outside-of-the-box ways traditional cut and paste doesn’t really apply. For instance, if I wanted to post on Flickr a photo that I found on a web page while browsing Safari I could just tap and hold on the image and save it to my camera roll, open up Mobile Fotos, and upload it to Flickr. That takes care of most of the image cutting and pasteing, now how about text. Well, text is a little bit more tricky but I just don’t understand why it is necessary at all, if you want to quote text for an email, forget about it and just send an email with a link to the web page (which you can do on the iPhone).

Now let’s forget about the arguement that you don’t need cut and paste because I’ve had many conversations with people trying to explain to them why cut and paste isn’t that important (in my opinion they didn’t have very good arguements but for some reason the debate just kept going around in circles), so let’s just try and figure out if there is even an elegant solution to the problem.

In many applications it could (I guess) be elegantly designed so that the application would guess what piece of text you want to be copied, like a tweet from an app like Twitterrific, but the question is then how would you paste it, I guess they could put a button near the keyboard or near the text box within another application but that of course would clutter the screen. Many people however would like to copy text from Safari and I just don’t think that will ever happen, I know that MagicPad thinks that there text selection method is nice and easy but for the average user it isn’t. Trying to explain the distinction between double tapping and single tapping then holding would just be too complicated, not to mention how confusing it would be to someone who accidentally called the text selection tool when they didn’t want it.

The fact is that with a touchscreen interface, doing copy and paste isn’t hard, but doing it in a way that would be easy for users to understand and wouldn’t clutter the screen with buttons is incredibly hard. I’m not holding my breath for copy and paste on the iPhone and I don’t think others should as well (unless you think has a future, which it might).