Sunday, May 1, 2011

iPhone spelling "corrections" for "awwwww"

I find myself texting "awwwww" a lot. While I usually really like the iPhone's spelling correction, well, it just doesn't work for varying lengths of "aww" (because, you know, the more letters the more adorable/cute/sweet it is).

Some "corrections":
- sweaters
- sewers
- asses

So if you receive a message from me that says "sewers" out of context, just know I meant awww. Oh and btw misspelling "sewers" results in "swedes". I'll let you ponder that one a spell.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

ATT Kills Unlimited Data Plan, But Unveils Cheaper Data Plans

In an interesting move, ATT has killed their unlimited data plan for smartphones (which really means iPhones, as in general other devices except Android pale in comparison regarding data usage).  I suspect the reasoning is because their system has proven it can't handle the load of a lot of devices all consuming tons of data.  I'm hoping this move will improve ATT's service for all.  And let's face it, Verizon and Sprint can say they have better service, but they also don't have million+ iPhone users sucking down data left and right.  It's easy to be "better" when your system isn't being overloaded.

The New Plans
The plans at a glance (from TUAW and Engadget):
$15 - gets you 200MB a month of data, which is about 1000 emails with no attachments or 20 minutes of streaming video
$25 - gets you 2GB a month of data, which is 10 times as much as the cheaper plan

In each plan, if you get to 65%, 90% and 100% usage, you'll get a free txt message from ATT letting you know.  If you are on the cheaper plan, you have the option to upgrade, either for the whole month or  prorated for the month.  That's actually pretty amazing for a cell phone company, which typically gouges its customers with fees.  If you are on the bigger plan, the only option is to pay for overage, which will be $10 per gig.  Not terrible, considering that's cheaper than the original monthly fee cost for a gig ($12.50 v. $10).

So which plan?
I'm a big 3G data user.  I rarely use WiFi on my iPhone because I don't usually need it.  As a caveat, I don't stream audio for long periods of time and I don't stream video very often.  I do both, but not frequently. I do however view web sites, send and receive emails and view photos quite frequently.  Using ATT's nifty historical data usage chart, I discovered I use about 200-500MB of data a month.  More than the $15 plan, but significantly less than the 2GB cap.  So even if I tether a device, I would likely not go over the 2GB cap.  That saves me $5 from the $30 unlimited plan I have currently.  Although I'm so close to the 200MB cap with the cheaper plan, it's a little annoying.

iPhone users: to find out how much data you consume per month, log in to your ATT Wireless account and look for the past data usage link.

Further Thoughts
This is still an interesting move.  It will reduce the cost for a good number of iPhone users supposedly and may help sell more iPhones to those that feel they just don't use that much data (or who have trouble justifying or affording $30 a month just for data on their cell phone).  However, as pointed out by @ckoontz, the 2GB cap is significantly less than the cap Verizon and Sprint have.  Why the significantly different size? Obviously ATT has looked at the data usage on it's system.  What's curious is what would limiting the data plan to 3 or 4 or 5GB have meant?  Is it that those 2% of people that use over 2GB use still less than 5GB? Will be interesting to see how this plays out in marketing and in the industry.  Will Verizon and Sprint lower their caps as well?  Or will ATT be ridiculed? Does it matter?  As long as ATT has a lock on the iPhone, it may not matter.  And once Vz and Sprint get the iPhone, I suspect they'll experience similar issues and end up lowering their data caps as well.  And will this affect the Android v. iPhone decision that consumers face?  My suspicion is the 2% of huge data users may be prompted to move to Android and thus the larger data caps, or will just look for wifi hotspots.  However this makes the iPhone cheaper for the average user and thus more attractive than an Android device that's possibly on their current carrier.

I'm not thrilled with the killing of the unlimited data plan, but there could be benefits.  And if that benefit is improved service, then I may not mind at all.

Some interesting links regarding the news:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Moviefone for Android Launched

Moviefone for Android is available in the Android Marketplace! So far there have been some good reviews, including from Mashable, who lists it as one of "7 Mind-Blowing Free Android Apps".

Check out this YouTube video created by the developer on the project:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Android Design - Part One

Android it appears is gaining market share. Or at least that's what the experts think will happen soon. So I've started taking a serious look at Android.

The first impressions...
Let's start with the purchase experience. Having been a part of the purchase of both the Droid from Verizon and the HTC Hero from Sprint, the process is the same for both. First thing, a store employee opens my phone and plays with it first, getting their fingerprints all over the screen. That bugs me. I want to play with my device first! But that aside, let's continue.

After some computer work, the carrier employee hands me the device and asks me to enter a Gmail account. Yes, I'm serious. I cannot complete the purchase and setup of an Android device without "branding" the phone with a Gmail account. This is strange, to say the least, so let me restate. I cannot purchase nor even use the device until I have branded the phone with a valid Gmail account. I may create one, on the device, if I do not have one already (or one that I care to use for the phone). And that process is fairly easy to complete. However, I MUST use Gmail. Period. If I don't use Gmail? Doesn't matter, one has to with Android devices. Unless you want to pay a lot of money to only be able to make an emergency call. Now interestingly, this weirdness and annoyance does have a benefit - my Mail is already setup for Gmail and all my Gmail contacts are downloaded and populated in the contacts app (called "People" on some Android devices).

After getting over the weird purchase process, I started playing (a new toy!) First, it's amazing how different it is from both the iPhone and the Palm PRE. It definitely looks like an OS created by engineers. On all but the HTC devices, it's clunky, at times unclear what is selectable, confusing to execute on input data, and just overall lacking the polish that both the iPhone and even the PRE have. There is no multi-touch. I expect it's coming, but iPhone users take note: even though it looks like you can pinch to zoom, you can't, it only makes the map do weird things as it tries to interpret what all the touching means. That said, they did have a great system font created for the device and it is an interesting mashup of both iPhone ideas and WinMo concepts (today screen meets iphone home screen).

Where things get more interesting is with the HTC devices, such as the Droid Eris at Verizon and the HTC Hero at Sprint. At first glance and touch, the HTC devices instantly stand out from the rest of the 'droid pack. They're PRETTY! They've chosen an aesthetically pleasing standard background, unlike Motorola with that brick of a device, the Droid. They've added additional home screens, upping the number from 3 standard on all other Android devices to a whopping 7. And to go with those additional home screens are "HTC Widgets" (yes, that's the label in the UI). These are well designed, pretty even, widgets for such things as Twitter and "Footprints". Add to that the other additions and changes that are part of HTC's Sense UI and I must say the HTC Android devices are a nice user experience. Not quite up to par with the iPhone, but enough that if you can't use ATT wireless, then the HTC Android devices are still better user experiences than other smartphones (ie Blackberry) available. The one possible exception being the PRE on Sprint.

The PRE versus HTC Hero...
This is a toughie. The PRE has a better user experience than Android. It's clear what apps are running in the background (not clear at all on Android). The integrated contacts are still better than Android's way of forcing me to use a gmail account. And the PRE is smaller with a keyboard (although I don't see the PRE's keyboard as much of an advantage.) The HTC Hero however has a much louder ringer. Yes, that's important. The interface is a little prettier thanks to the Sense UI additions. More importantly, the Android Market will have many more apps than the PRE will. Android appeals to the techy crowd that is much more likely to create apps and there will be many more Android devices than PRE soon if the experts are correct.

Android is going to make the smartphone scene very interesting. It has a number of UI flaws, some very serious such as the lack of a "Go" or "Done" button or similar. There's no multi-touch, yet. However browsing is quite nice. The ringer is nice and loud. There will be a good number of apps most likely. But it's no iPhone. It's not as easy to use and it's certainly not meant for first-time smartphone users unless they are smart and willing enough to figure it out. For those people, I still suggest the iPhone, with the PRE as a distant second.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Snow Leopard and App Compatability

[Update: TUAW, during a live blog session, stated that Photoshop Elements 6 will run under Snow Leopard, with reports of running twice as fast.]

Just in time for, er, still warm days, Snow Leopard is out! The latest update to the popular OS X operating system for Mac. It delivers mostly performance and "under the hood" type upgrades, the biggest of which is probably support for 64 bit. After work I definitely plan to go by the new Apple store that just opened down the street and pick up my family pack copy. (You can also get it at Amazon for $25.)

However, there have been reports on the web that some apps just won't work or won't work properly. Here are some:

Two biggies on the list for those of us photogs are Adobe CS2, CS3 and Adobe Photoshop Elements. Adobe has not said that CS3 is fully OK under Snow Leopard, but the above mentioned wikidot blog says it is fine with a few minor bugs. Interestingly, CS2 is not supported and given Adobe's track record, I doubt they'll support it, or if they do certainly not quickly. CS4 is fine. What is of interest is Photoshop Elements. Only wikidot has said it won't work with Snow Leopard, but there are no other reports, at least at this time. So... anybody know?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Photoshop Design Template for PRE

Teehan+Lax have put out another spiffy design template in Photoshop, this time for the Palm PRE. Their iPhone template is very nice for those final designs. Unlike other templates, they recreated the elements in Photoshop. Doing so makes it easy to resize, stretch, and change the text (button labels!).

Monday, July 6, 2009

Palm Pre - A First Look (or should that be play?)

In addition to watching fireworks and eating baked beans, I also got to play with a PRE this July 4th! A friend of mine, who has to stay on Sprint, wanted to fit in with the "iPhone kids" and so got a PRE. She kindly let me play with her 2-day-old toy for a little while, although with some obvious caveats (such as installing apps). This review is my opinion as a new user, not after using it as my sole devices for days or weeks.

The Positives:
  • I like background processing, and the way app switching is handled by swiping through "cards". Though I must admit my favorite part is swiping up to "close" an app. That is very cool and works really really well.
  • swiping up is also the gesture to unlock the phone. i think i like this better than the right to left swipe of the iPhone.
  • there is an app store, which includes a number of apps, including pandora radio, ap news, and more (note: did not see AIM there by default in the "top apps" but wasn't able to do an exhaustive search). it was a friend's phone, and since all the prices were "try it" I didn't know if it would charge her and so didn't try to download anything (see negatvies)
  • the apps that are available are a good selection of the "must haves"
  • the phone runs fast
  • hardware keyboard, though honestly it's only marginally better than a software one as the keys are really really small. remember the real chiclets candy you got as a kid? now shrink 'em about 30% and that's the size and feel of the keys. kudos to the feel as this does help the finger stay on a key long enough to press it. the sidekick still rules here.
  • flash for the camera, that works fairly well, given it's a cell phone
  • mirrored back so you can more easily take a self portrait (though still with the iphone's issue of having to hit a software button on the front to take the picture, which you can't see)
  • maps: can get a list of search results, which is nice. looks a LOT like the iPhone version
  • settings are in-app
  • more options available due to using the upper left corner as a single dropdown menu
  • nice size (shorter than iphone, but thicker)
  • touch screen, has gestures very similar to the iPhone for things like "zooming", swiping between photos, etc
  • browser is pretty nice, can't say that it's better or worse than the iPhone as far as pure browsing functionality (was not able to try filling out a form)
  • the phone keypad is very similar to the iPhone (which is good, because I love the iPhone keypad)

The N's - Neutrals and Negatives:
  • although i loved swiping through the open apps (the "cards"), I found it a little difficult or unclear as to what apps I had running. I think this could be fixed by having each card labeled with the app's name. this is probably an oversight, and I hope they fix it. if it's a setting, it should be default. (my friend has only had it a few days so most of the settings are still the default ones.)
  • the whole "cards" metaphor. it makes sense for architecture purposes, but that's where it ends. stop its invasion into actual UI, like labels. it's confusing. this metaphor continues to the menus and the menu options. for example, to get a new browser "tab" (using a desktop term that we all know for clarity here), the menu option is "New Card". As a user, i already have to know "window", "browser", "page", "web", "site", "tab".... do I really need to learn "card" too? It really is unnecessary. Even after finding the menu, I didn't know how to get another browser window until I asked my friend. I saw something about a new card, but I didn't want a card, I wanted a browser window. Once explained it made sense, but really? I would argue that a good number of users don't even understand a browser tab...
  • this falls in the "hmmmm" category: multiple browser cards are viewed at the OS level, not the app level. If I have two browser cards open, then to switch between the two, I go to the OS and switch between them as I would switch between applications. There may be a way to switch inside the browser app, but I didn't see it.
  • the menu. i missed it until I knew there had to be some options somewhere and looked around until i found it. I understand it should not take up a lot of real estate, but it's smaller than it should be for something as important as all my settings, options and controls. It was easy enough to tap, but that could also be because the apps I used had plenty of space between the menu button and any other actionable content.
  • the menu, again. i found tapping menu options to be a little tricky. Having used an iPhone for a while now, I understand how to tap on objects on a mobile device. But I had trouble with tapping the menu options. I found I had to be very deliberate with my tapping. Not sure why, the whole screen is available. And there appeared to be flyout submenus, so space for many options wouldn't be too much of an issue.
  • app store: what does "try it" mean? will it charge me? is this just a demo? is it free? I have no idea and no way to find out without possibly incurring a charge. How about putting a price on it, Palm?! It's obvious. I couldn't try out downloading apps because neither myself, my friend nor my friend's husband knew what clicking the "try it" button really meant nor if the apps cost money.
  • the design of the app store is not as nice as Apple's. it's functional, certainly, but not as pretty, easy to read, etc.
  • "back". I know I have an iPhone bias, but I was cognizant of it and tried to not let it get in the way of understanding how a non-iPhone user would like and potentially love (or hate) this device. But I have to say, I found the "back" functionality buried and stupidly difficult to find. Let me explain. If one navigates down into a hierarchy, first, there is no label or visual affordance that one has done so. You just gotta know you have. Problem. To go back, one must know that you have to swipe right to left BELOW the screen, on what appears to be part of the plastic housing for the screen, in between the screen and the little pearl button. Now, it was in darkened conditions both times when I played with the PRE, but I never would have figured that out. Ever. Again, thankful I had someone to explain it to me. This could have been cool, had there been some sort of affordance to tell me that this was an option. I may "love" my iPhone, but stroking the plastic, non screen area lovingly just doesn't come to mind. ;-)
  • font size. needs to be bigger. see iPhone. see a significant (if small) number of older folks getting iPhones because they can actually read the text on it. the menus are good enough, but I was surprised the font size wasn't larger throughout.
  • navigating to apps. I found the weird little button to see what apps I have installed a little confusing. I shouldn't have, I loved my Palm Treo, my Palm Pilot, and my other Palm device. Really, I did. But we've moved forward and having the apps hidden behind a little button didn't seem very intuitive.
  • screen size seemed smaller than the iPhone's. Strange. The resolution is the same, but the physical size is smaller.
  • keyboard isn't really large enough to be "better" than the iPhone's software keyboard. It may be nice for some people, but I don't think it's "better".
  • Overall, I found the controls to be a little confusing. They were not as clear and visible as they are on an iPhone. As another example, if I didn't know that in mobile Safari, I need to scroll to the top to get the browser controls, I most certainly would not have figured that out on the PRE. I think it's more discoverable on the iPhone than it is on the PRE, by a significant margin.

If I didn't have an iPhone and I couldn't get an iPhone, I would get a PRE and I'd be a happy mobile user. I would not probably not move from an iPhone to a PRE just based on the device. I don't think I would choose a carrier based on the PRE. If I did choose a carrier based on available devices, I'd likely still choose the iPhone.

There are a number of similarities between the iPhone and the PRE. The gestures, for one. As an iPhone user, this makes the PRE much easier to use. I think a non-iPhone user will have some difficulties understanding what they can do and how to do it. That said, once it's figured out, it's easy to remember. It's clear from using the PRE that the almost-missed details in the iPhone OS really do add a lot of clarity, discoverability, and usability to the iPhone.

The PRE is a really nice device and is definitely better than the blackberry and WinMo devices I've used. Browsing, at a first, cursory glance, is as easy as on an iPhone with good rendering of pages. The only caveat is when wanting multiple web pages.