Archive for the ‘iPhone’ Tag

Instinctiv takes a shot at mood shuffle

Music and mood are very much related. Music can amplify what you’re feeling; it can bring you down; it can cheer you up. Often times I adjust what I’m listening to depending on my mood.

A year ago I posted about the idea for an iTunes “mood predictor” that watches your listening habits and adapts the playlist to your current mood. It seems there was certainly a market for it, as evidenced by the new iPhone application called Instinctiv Shuffle. Currently a Jailbreak-only app, Instinctiv wathces your listening habits and makes an educated guess about which similar songs in your library fit the way you’re feeling.

I don’t have an iPhone so unfortunately I can’t test it out, but the YouTube commerical for it seems fairly convincing. Also the fact that the Web start-up company has already raised three-quarters of a million dollars in funding should be a good indication (though, as we know, not necessarily indicative of its quality).

Instinctiv will be available on the iPhone App Store, whenever that comes out.

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Most Memorable Product Launches This Year

Launch PR has released an interesting case study into the most popular product launches this year. It’s fun to see what products won over the collective mind thanks to buzz via word of mouth and advertising. So props to the following marketing departments.

  1. Apple iPhone (37%)
  2. Microsoft Windows Vista (26%)
  3. Febreze Candles (14%)
  4. Domino Oreo Dessert Pizza (10%)
  5. alli Weight Loss Capsules (10%)
  6. Oreo Cakesters (10%)
  7. Diet Coke Plus (9%)
  8. Subway Fresh Fit Meals (8%)
  9. Motorola Razr2 (8%)
  10. Listerine Whitening Quick Dissolving Strips (7%)

Not much of a shock there, with the iPhone edging out the competition. I hadn’t heard of a couple of these, like Listerine Whitening Strips  or Orea Cakesters, but a lot of it goes to show that the most practical product is not necessarily the most recognizable — case in point: Motorola Razr2 and Windows Vista.

Apple to Open Multi-touch Platform

In a letter posted to the Hot News section on Apple.com, Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs finally put the concerns of techie iPhone owners and developers to rest with confirmation that a software development kit (SDK) for the iPhone and iPod touch will be available to devs in February, 2008.

I had recently managed to tone down the unending amount of Apple news on the blog (well, kind of), but this is simply too interesting not to post. After a rather baffling game of cat-and-mouse since the iPhone’s release and subsequent hacking and then subsequent firmware update from Apple locking out the modifications, Jobs lays his hand on the table–to an extent.

“It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once–provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc.,” Jobs writes.

Sounds well and good. Apple wants to get its new OS out the door and then focus its development resources on making the SDK as stable as possible. Then it will be all clear for JailBreak-like open app development, right? Well, maybe not.

“Nokia, for example, is not allowing any applications to be loaded onto some of their newest phones unless they have a digital signature that can be traced back to a known developer,” Jobs writes. “While this makes such a phone less than ‘totally open,’ we believe it is a step in the right direction.”

Could this mean developers may have to go through a lengthy authorization process whenever they want to offer an app up to consumers? Apple has been very lenient with Dashboard widget authorization, but will the trend continue? We won’t know for sure for another four months, but this news is enough for me to change my mind on the iPod touch as a platform. Me want.

iCal Dropbox in New Mac OS X Version

The 10.5 Leopard version of the Mac operating system has been confirmed for release next Friday, Oct. 26. Among its list of 300+ new features is a much improved version of iCal. Aside from the new interface, CalDAV sync support and the correctly predicted iPhone notes syncing is one feature I suggested last month in “A Better To-do List.”

Apple’s feature list details a new option called Event Dropbox. “Share the information you need for a successful meeting,” reads the iCal Leopard feature list. “Simply drag photos, video, or any kind of document into an event. Send email invitations to attendees and your attachments go along for the ride.”

My idea was for iCal to include “the ability to drag files and emails onto a to-do entry and have them linked. I could then easily access any related materials through the to-do entry.”

Apple’s description doesn’t specify whether this applies to to-do entries as well as events, but I think we have a good chance. Finally iCal is on its way to becoming a fully featured project center.

Facebook Friend Grouping on the Way

The success of Facebook may have been something of a surprise, but by now, it’s certainly no secret. I can barely go a single day without popping on the Book and seeing what my friends are up to. I’m just glad I don’t have an iPhone (see: the sleek Facebook for iPhone design).

So when the Facebook developers clued us in to what’s on the way in future versions of the site, it’s hard not to take notice. One new feature is a daily email digest with your social notifications. This is much improved over the nearly dozen emails per day I used to get before I turned off email notifications.

But the big feature is friend grouping. Friends are already grouped by network (schools, work, region), but soon you’ll be able to better manage your list of friends by creating groups like “english class,” “roommate,” “intramural football” and “random hookup.”

While I certainly welcome the new feature, I have to agree with Stowe Boyd, who suggests the technology should be based on the tagging philosophy, not folders. Like a message in Gmail, a friend should be able to hold multiple tags, like “drinker,” “math class” and “fraternity.” I’m a big proponent of tagging for organizational purposes, so I would definitely encourage Facebook to go that route.

The grouping feature brings Facebook one step closer to its ultimate goal: taking over the world. Come on! It’s already begun its war to replace email.

Maps Made for iPod touch

I did a post last month on Web-based substitutes for iPhone applications missing from the iPod touch. There wasn’t really a suitable alternative to the iPhone’s nifty, Google-developed maps app, so I simply suggested the Google Maps web site. It’s not custom-tailored to the i-products, but it does the job.

Thanks to a tip from web developer Al, he pointed me toward his new baby, iTouchMap.com. Complete with an Apple-like interface, iTouchMap offers many of the great features of the maps application setup in a compact interface suitable for the iPod touch.

While the site’s driving directions feature doesn’t operate exactly like the iPhone’s handy turn-by-turn directions, you can load up separate Safari tabs on your WiFi connection before you head on the road, so you have all of them with you without killing a bunch of trees.

Organize Your Thoughts: iPhone

I posted some tips a couple weeks ago on why you should write down your thoughts in a notebook and on how to keep it all organized. So for everyone who bought a notebook and started writing, keep at it! If you’d prefer a more high-tech alternative, this one’s for you.

While a PC is fine for jotting down some streams of consciousness, it’s not all that portable because it can’t be kept in your pocket. However, an iPhone can.

(Yes, I realize I’ve been talking a lot about the iPhone the past couple months — and I don’t even own one — but this is related to any PDA, smart phone or even most cell phones — although it really sucks typing on the latter.)

Create separate notes on the device for categories like “ideas” and “thoughts.” Then whenever something comes to mind, no matter where you are, just pull out your cell phone and jot it down. I’ll often type in my cell phone if I think of something I want to remember when I’m out. It’s a lot less geeky than pulling a loose-leaf notebook and pen out of my pocket.

For iPod touch owners, you can keep your notes as separate contacts. Just create separate contacts for the categories we talked about earlier, and then in the notes field you can enter whatever is on your mind. It’s a decent substitute for Apple Inc.’s annoying choice not to include the iPhone’s notes application. The beauty of using the contacts area is that, unlike the iPhone’s notes app, the contacts will sync to your Mac Address Book.

Todoist: Handy Web-based To-do List

I’ve mentioned before how much I use the to-do function in iCal. It’s a great way to keep your daily tasks organized. Mac users have a pretty good option for keeping tasks and appointments in one application — and it’s only going to get better with iCal-Mail integration in the new version of the OS, coming next month.

Unfortunately there hasn’t been a great all-in-one on the Web. Google Calendar is a pretty good web app for logging events, and Google has recently dropped an iPhone version that’s pretty nice. Gmail users will also appreciate the mail-calendar integration (if someone mentions a date in an email, it’ll suggest you create an appoint out of it).

But Google Calendar doesn’t provide a to-do list, instead encouraging its calendar users to use the ToDo gadget on its iGoogle home page.

There’s a better option. This tip comes from Stowe Boyd’s /Message blog, which has been featured on Bigthawt before.

Todoist is a great web-based to-do list. You can keep a simple to-do list, and check items off as you complete them. Boyd provides a tip to tie your list in to Firefox’s sidebar. Another great tool is the bookmarklet that plays well with Gmail — or any page on the net — that lets you connect multiple links or mail messages to a to-do task. It’s an awesome feature that I would love to see in iCal.

Sync iPhone with Mac Keychain

I have a ton of passwords. It seems like every web site now requires a username and password to do anything. Facebook, Digg, the New York Times: it never ends! Fortunately I have all these logins saved in Keychain Access, a universal application where Macs save all your passwords for access from Safari, Camino or any app that needs them.

It came as a bit of surprise when I learned the iPhone and iPod touch don’t sync with Keychain. Not only does it not sync, but you can’t even save passwords onto the devices. Every time you want to access the many users-only sites on the web, you need to manually enter your login information.

It’s a minor annoyance, but it is one that could be fixed with a simple addition of Keychain syncing. iTunes already syncs your media, address book, calendar, mail and bookmarks. Why not your passwords?

Apple Cripples iPod touch Calendar

Look, I was trying to be optimistic when I wrote “No Maps? No Problem,” listing a bunch of online tools that could fill the gap left by Apple Inc.’s removal from the iPod touch of many great iPhone applications, like Mail and Google Maps.

But now we find out that Apple has purposely crippled the calendar on the iPod touch to only display events, removing the ability to create new ones on the device. And I’m really fuming.

All this means is that I would have to use Google Calendar instead of iCal from now on, but is this Apple’s goal? To drive everyone away from using its applications to web-based alternatives.

Going back to my predictions, it seems we only got two-thirds of the equation. We got the widescreen iPod; we got the internet communications device; but Apple isn’t giving us the PDA.

And this is a deal breaker for me. So until the hackers find a way to get the iPhone apps onto the iPod touch (and how hard could it be? It’s the same freakin’ software and mostly the same hardware), count me out.