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Filtering by Tag: ios

iPhone 5S

Chris Campbell

iPhone 5S

iPhone 5S

Sports drinks and iPads don't mix. This was made very clear to me when I was rushing around one morning and I noticed that the bottle of sports drink in my bag had opened. I took out my iPad and it was soaked. The liquid was in the screen. It didn't dry out, so I scheduled a Genius Bar appointment at the Apple store to get it replaced. This was on Monday, September 23, after the iPhone launch the Friday before.

Arriving early, I asked if they had any of the new iPhones in stock, specifically the 32 GB Space Grey one. They had just received two, so that's why I have one now. There has only been one other iPhone in my life and that was the 4. It was a similar purchase on launch day when I wandered in to an electronics store at lunchtime to see if they had any. The 4 was a great phone and still works quite well. The interface with iOS 7 made my older phone feel new even though I only used it for a few days. But the 5S is really fast. So fast in that it almost seems too fast. Pages load quickly and the screen updates smoothly. With my whole smartphone life based around the iPhone 4, so my actual, hands-on iPhone experience has been relatively recent. But it is firmly part of my workflow, so having one is important. There was no pressing need for a new phone, but the combination of being out of contract and having my previous phone for over 3 years made it seem a bit more logical to upgrade.

The experience of buying things at the Apple Store is great and with my iPad repair the sales person and I multitasked between setting up the iPad and the iPhone. It doesn't take long and since my backups are with iCloud it was scarily fast to restore both. My wallpaper was back and all of the apps were there too (but it takes a while to actually download the apps onto your phone if you have a lot). Contacts and calendar are all there. My music is all backed up with iTunes Match, so I'll get that when I need it.

The thing I keep coming back to is how light it is. It feels like something fell out of my 4 and it's barely there in my pocket. It's an evolutionary design that feels quite similar, while being noticeably faster. Most of the time you're looking at the screen, so the speed is the big difference. The faster processor combined with the LTE network means that things happen really quickly. Email and Twitter updates just appear. The screen is slightly taller, so I noticed a few times that I wouldn't hit the right target near the top, but the size feels quite right.

The fingerprint scanner is really simple and works very well. Right at the beginning of setting up the phone you can activate it and it's a great way to increase the security of your phone. I didn't have a passcode on my phone before since it's a pain to have to stop and type it in every time you unlock the phone. But now phone is always locked, which is a very good thing. It's very rarely away from me at any time, so it didn't seem like a huge issue before. If you turn the phone off you do need to enter the passcode to unlock the phone when it is turned on again. The accuracy is very good to the point of being almost invisible. You just press the menu button and leave your finger there for a second or less and the phone wakes up and unlocks.

One of the great and frustrating things about Apple is that when they decide on something they usually move in that direction fairly rapidly. That's one of the reasons we don't use floppies any more and have phones without physical keyboards. So many technologies over the years have changed after Apple implemented them and during the changeovers we're left with things that we can't use in the same way. With my new iPhone I ran into that with the Lightning connector. All of my other iOS devices have used the 30-pin dock connector and now I have one device with the newer connection. After 10 years it's not that radical a shift to change connections, and I really love that there is no up with the connector which makes it a lot faster to plug in. With the 30-pin to Lightning connector it lets me charge my iPhone in the iHome clock radio by my bed or use it to play audio through my car stereo.

A surprise for me is how much I use Siri. I didn't have it on my iPhone 4 and while Siri is on my iPad Retina it isn't something that I used a lot. But with it on my phone now I find that I do set reminders and timers with it. That is especially great when I am driving and use my Bluetooth headset. It makes it a lot easier to capture things. The dictation also works surprisingly well and that is a great way to send a text while you are driving too.

The new camera along with the camera app is a fantastic improvement. The pictures are gorgeous and the new flash seems to work well. The video is amazing and with the slow motion mode shooting video at 120 frames per second it means that you can easily create some nifty slow motion videos of anything. It exemplifies a lot of what is interesting about this upgrade to the phone and the OS in that most of what is going on is hidden and you only start to notice things as you use it more. It's not as flashy or completely different as I thought it would be, but it works a lot better and the device really starts to disappear as I do things with it. It's just part of what I do.

iOS 7 is a huge change and the speed that it has been adopted is amazing. It's gorgeous and has very quickly become comfortable to me. It's amazing how quickly apps have updated and how some older apps feel dated now. The built-in Mail app is a lot better with some features from Mailbox working into it. The Notification Centre is similarly improved with a great view of today with a nice overview of what is coming up on your calendar for today and tomorrow. I like that. While visually the elements are flatter, there is a layered approach to the interface that provides a spacial orientation that lets you know where you are in moving into apps and back out into the Springboard. The combination of the new OS and the faster hardware really changes the way that it looks and feels with a smoothness that seems unreal. I love it and it feel like I'm in a sci-fi film with the tiny computer that I hold in my hand that lets me connect with the world.

Twitterrific 5

Chris Campbell

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My iPhone is a slab of glass and metal that can be a bit magical. A new app can change your perception of the whole device. The same thing can happen with services and websites too. It's a challenge for me to separate Twitter from Iconfactory's Twitterrific app. I started using Twitter early (back in 2006) and initially I used it with my pre-iPhone and on the web. But it was in January of 2007 that Iconfactory launched Twitterrific and that changed the way that I used and saw Twitter. The colour scheme and look are burned into my brain, so that's how I think about the different types of tweets. My tweets are green, replies are brown and direct messages are blue. I got into the iPhone game late (the iPhone 4 is my first iPhone), so I was able to dive right in with Twitterrific there and I loved it too.

With the right app it changes the whole experience. Above having a smoothly-functioning app, the Iconfactory create things that look great. With Twitter the actual content is relatively simple as it is text, so if you can display the text well, it's good. Combine that with additional functionality in terms of posting and viewing other content and it makes it all quite seamless and wonderful. Within Twitterrific they’ve innovated with features that have become standard and many associate Ollie, the icon for Twitterrific, with Twitter itself.

While others moved to more complex apps with multiple columns and accounts and looks, I stuck with Twitterrific on the desktop and my phone. This is software with an opinion about how it should look and work. I agreed with that opinion and I'm so glad that I've stayed with them. They have a point of view, but they listen and evolve and it's fascinating to see how it has changed over the years. Every major update had a few changes. It was all recognizable, but there was a bit of an adjustment period in getting used to some of the refinements.

The app keeps up-to-date with innovations in the operating systems without being too bleeding edge. The vast majority of my tweets have been created through it and I expect that it will continue. The sad spectre lurking over app developers for Twitter is that there is a finite limit to the number of people who can use their apps. It's complicated and most people who use Twitter won't know or really care about it. But it's sad for me as it means that things are moving towards a single web-based interface. I'm hoping that the space and tools enjoyed by more advanced users will remain for a long time.

My other fear was that with the changes that there wouldn't be another update to Twitterrific, but today there is a quite wonderful update for the iPhone and iPad. With version 5 there are no longer two separate versions, but just one. The interface is cleaner with new gestures. Swipe right to reply to a tweet, swipe left to see the conversation. That's nice and fast. It fills the screen more and overall is easier to use. I'm still trying to figure out the best combination of theme and font size, but right out of the box (app store?) it's solid and easy to use. There are three buttons at the top of the screen for the unified timeline, replies and direct messages. This makes it clearer what is going on and there are subtle and beautiful light indicators at the bottom of the buttons to let you know when there are new replies or DMs. You can pull to refresh and there is a delightful animation where you have to pull down and break an egg so a bird emerges and starts to fly.

One neat addition is adding locations to tweets (which had come and gone in various iterations) and continued easy ways to add photos to tweets. I haven't really used location that much with Twitter, but I think I will now. It's funny how having things added in a certain way can change your perception of them. I'm sure that there are other features that I haven't seen or explored yet that will be useful. Search has been improved which will make it easier to add other people and the usual solid sharing functionality is still there. It's a neat improvement to an old friend. Ollie, the Twitterrific mascot also looks a bit different too. He keeps getting bigger in the icon. He's the thing I associate most with Twitter and I'm so glad that he's still around and helping me connect with the world in short bursts.