Sunday, November 30, 2008

Unlocking iPhone 3Gs--the Vietnamese way

Interesting story (with pictures) from CNET on how iPhones are unlocked in a shop in Hanoi. 

Linux now on the iPhone

The Linux 2.6 kernel has been ported to the iPhone. Get details here. The page has links to video and instructions.

Rumor: 2.2.1 To Add Push Notifications, OTA Notes Syncing?

According to They also have screenshots. However, Apple has yet to seed 2.2.1 to developers so take this with a pinch of salt (via iPhone Alley).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

BuUuk's authors eyeing sequel

Useful information, not spam. That is the vision of buUuk, a new local iPhone development shop that has developed a restaurant guide (also known as buUuk) with a database of over 4,000 restaurants and bars in Singapore.

According to Jon Petersen, one of company’s founders, the aim is not to make a quick buck from selling banner ads, though they would undoubtedly be able to do so given how much Singaporeans love to eat.

Friday, November 28, 2008

PhoneBAK for iPhone officially rejected

Local developer BAK2u is now retooling its app, PhoneBAK for iPhone, after the app was rejected by Apple.

According to CEO Paddy Tan, the app got the thumbs down because PhoneBAK for iPhone sends out a hidden SMS alert when someone puts in an unauthorised SIM card in the iPhone.

BAK is now removing some features from the original app to conform to Apple's SDK restrictions. However, they are planning release this version as a  freeware app rather than charge for it. Says Paddy: "It is not easy being a little start-up company, but we are realistic people who strongly believe customers should only pay for a worthy product." 

It's a shame that Apple will not allow the secret SMS alert feature because that is precisely what makes this app useful.

iCodeRed now available

Local developer BAK2u has a new app available that will call a predetermined number and send the location of the iPhone to a previously configured email address. Sounds like it might be useful in an emergency. ICodeRed is available on the App Store for US$1.99.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Qik not at App Store yet

From Ars Technica
When Ars Technica asked Bhaskar Roy, Qik's co-founder, about the progress of its native iPhone client, he said that they're still waiting "to build a few things in our product prior to submitting it."
Looks like video on non-jailbroken iPhones will still have to wait.

Reports: 3G slowdowns, battery problems with iPhone 2.2

People are reporting problems on Apple's discussion boards with the 2.2 Firmware regarding 3G network speeds and battery life. iLounge has the story.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Street View hack for iPod touch

If you have an iPod touch, you would have found out by now that Street View for Google Maps has been disabled for the iPod touch in the 2.2 Firmware. If you desperately want this feature on your Touch, help is at hand. However, doing so requires that you to edit the N45AP.plist list on your iPod touch.

Full details are on the iPod Touch Fans website. Note that I am not recommending, endorsing or even suggesting that you do this. I can't even vouch that the method works very well. Read through the forum and decide for yourself. Good luck.

Shields Up! Twelve Security Holes Fixed by New iPhone/iPod touch Firmware

Excellent description of security holes patched by the 2.2 firmware update, from The Apple Blog.

Shake that buUuk

Each time you start up the restaurant guide buUuk, it will show you a recommended restaurant near-ish your current location. If you don't like the recommendation, shake your iPhone and buUuk will give you a new recommendation. Cool stuff. 

The app is free and currently comes with a coupon for a free beer or martini from BQ bar.

How To: Jailbreak iPhone 2.2 (Preserving Baseband) - Mac OS X Edition

Very clear, step-by-step instructions with screenshots to help you from The iPhone Blog. Note that is only relevant if you have a carrier locked iPhone and you want to be able to unlock sometime in the future. If you've bought your phone from SingTel, these steps are not necessary because your iPhone is already unlocked.

Putting emoticons on your iPhone

If you absolutely must have it, Gizmodo describes the process for enabling it on your iPhone if you are running the 2.2 firmware. Jailbreaking not necessary, but would make things easier.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

SwirlyMMS update needed for 2.2

If your life depends on SwirlyMMS, oops. As SwirlyMats, the site admin on Swirly Space notes: "SwirlyMMS 1.2.9 does NOT run out of the box on 2.2." However, they have already submitted version 1.2.10 to the Cydia repository, so it's just a matter of time. In the meantime, maybe try using email to send your pictures?

See the discussion on SwirlySpace.

Update: SwirlyMMS 1.2.10 now available on Cydia

Update available to jailbreak latest firmware

The ingenious people at iPhone DevTeam have released QuickPwn and Pwnage Tool to jailbreak the latest version of the firmware (2.2). How should you jailbreak your iPhone? It depends.

SingTel's iPhones

If you bought your iPhone from SingTel, jailbreaking is straightforward. This is because your iPhone is already unlocked, ie, you can put any SIM card into the phone and it will work. To upgrade, they say, simply "upgrade to 2.2 using iTunes and then use QuickPwn to Pwn and Jailbreak. This will add Cydia and Installer too."

Grey market iPhone 2Gs

If you have a grey market iPhone 2G (the original ones), also no problem. According to the blog post, just "Update or Restore your iPhone 2G with iTunes then run QuickPwn to do the magic, ‘nuff said, you don’t need to worry about anything."

Locked iPhone 3G

Things get complicated if you have a locked iPhone 3G, meaning it can only be used on one carrier. This happens in markets where Apple has an exclusive deal with the carrier and the regulator allows locked sets. (In Singapore, SingTel has exclusive distribution but the regulator does not allow locked sets). 

If you don't care about using the iPhone on another carrier, then, it's pretty easy. "Just restore or upgrade to 2.2 using iTunes and use QuickPwn to Jailbreak and add Cydia and Installer."

If you do want to unlock your iPhone (i.e. use it on another carrier) at some point, they say:
 "you need to create a custom .ipsw with PwnageTool. This custom .ipsw will not contain the baseband update but of course will still allow all the cool new stuff from 2.2.

"There are plenty of tutorials about this process on the web, but PwnageTool contains intuitive graphics and easy to follow prompts that should have you up and running in no time at all. Please note: PwnageTool is only available for Mac OS X."
I have to confess I barely understand this and I'm certainly not recommending a jailbreak to anyone. This information is provided for people who might need it.

Please read the full post on the blog first. Links to the relevant bit-torrents are available at the end of the blog post.

Free beer with your app

Download an app, get a free beer. I can hear the stampede already. 

A new local restaurant guide, buUuk, comes with an e-coupon for free beer at BQ Bar. There are two catches. The first is that you can only use the coupon once. The second is that you have to use the coupon before it expires, and it is currently not clear when the offer expires.

The free iPhone app has over 4,000 restaurants and bars around Singapore in its massive database. You can look for restaurants by food type, you can look up top rated restaurants, or if you're not so fussy, you can look for restaurants near where you are. You can also use the search function to find restaurants in a particular area, say Holland Village, or if you like, restaurants that serve pizza in Holland Village. Impressive.

After you select a restaurant, you can read reviews and blog posts about the place. There's also a handy map to help you locate the restaurant. The map gives you both your current location (indicated by the letter 'U') and the restaurant's location. If you don't know how to get there, tap on Directions and you will be sent to Google Maps and you can get either walking or driving directions.

I've been playing around with the beta version for a while and it is pretty solid. In food-mad Singapore, I'm pretty sure this will take off. The free beer will certainly help.

Download this free app here.

New location-based search app available

A new free app called Locacity has been released on the App Store that helps you to locate four specific types of places around Singapore:

- 7-Eleven outlets
- Singapore Pools branches
- Petrol stations

Tapping on an address will bring you to a map. 

The app has rough edges but might still be useful to some people. 

Download it here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Don't upgrade your jailbroken iPhones yet

If you want to keep your non-App Store apps, don't upgrade to 2.2 yet, say the good people behind the iphone-dev team. As they warn: "If you apply this update and you have third-party (non AppStore) applications that you rely on they will stop working" (emphasis theirs).

If you want the new features of 2.2 AND you want to be able to soft-unlock in future, you will have to update to 2.2 using an updated Pwnage Tool which will be released "sometime soon".

The dev-team are "creating the modifications right now and we need to put the new software through the usual testing process."

Read the full post here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Early notes on 2.2

Safari seems snappier. Tapping on the address bar pulls it up almost instantly now. Streetview is fast and extremely cool (but I have to say that 1 Infinite Loop looks exceedingly dull. Note that there's no Streetview for Singapore yet). You can now turn off auto-correct and auto-capitalisation (can't remember if you could do the latter before). And hitting the home button if you are on one of your many other home pages takes you to the first page. Nice.

Remember not to update if you've got a jailbroken iPhone. Otherwise, have fun.

Update: Jon Petersen of iSinGeo points out that you can now search by postal code. Type in Singapore followed by the six-digit code and Maps will locate the place. Much faster than typing the full address. Thanks for that note Jon.

Maps related update: Jon's SinGeo website has a cool map of Singapore showing the ability of do reverse geocoding on Google Maps. Click anywhere on the map and it it will actually pull up the address of the spot. Quite uncanny.

Apple releases iPhone 2.2 update

See this story from Macworld for a quick roundup of what 2.2 has, mainly improvements to Maps, Mail, Safari, fewer calldrops, ability to turn off autocorrect and ability to download podcasts.

BlackBerry Still Dominating, But iPhone Catching On With Businesses

Small-to-medium-sized companies are increasingly interested in buying Apple's (AAPL) iPhone as a business tool, according to a new ChangeWave Research survey. But BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIMM) continues to dominate. Some 22% of future corporate smartphone buyers told ChangeWave they planned to buy iPhones, up from 17% in August and 14% a year ago. Meanwhile, 78% of would-be buyers said they planned to buy BlackBerry phones, down from 79% in August and 82% in May. ChangeWave notes that RIM's share is concentrated amoung bigger companies, while Apple's is among small-to-medium-sized companies. 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

No perfect Storm

The clickable screen on RIM's Storm is drawing negative comments.

From Engadget:
"Rather than the click making things easier, it actually makes them more difficult. As you press down to engage a "key," you're required to release before moving to another, which means that you can only type so quickly. In our tests, we were constantly frustrated by the staggering, laggy movement when trying to type with any speed. You have to let the click depress before you can strike another character, and that makes for a stuttery input process."
From Gizmodo:
"I hate to say this, but I kind of came to hate typing on it. Pushing the screen in over and over requires so much more effort than simply gliding my fingers around a good touch keyboard. It was tiring."

From PC World:
"Typing on the Storm isn't much fun, either. You have to click the screen keyboard for each keystroke (the keys flash blue under your fingertips as you click), which ends up feeling like a lot of work in a way that typing on a hardware keyboard (or on the iPhone's software keyboard, for that matter) never did."
Storm does, however, have copy and paste...

TeliaSonnera Working On MMS App For iPhone

Swedish carrier TeliaSonnera promises an MMS app for the iPhone in the next few months (See story on iPhone Alley). Do people really need MMS? Maybe it's because I have no friends, am an old fogey, but I don't recall receiving a single MMS message in the last 12 (non-iPhone) months. As a result, I don't feel the loss of not having MMS on the iPhone. I do take lots of pictures with the camera on my iPhone which I send via email though.

Storm getting good reviews

But is it the iPhone killer? Without WiFi or the App Store, probably not. See reviews by here and here.

Hoiio works nicely

I just spent 27 minutes on the phone with someone in Cambodia. Using Hoiio, I paid $7. If I had used the local telcos, it would have cost me about $27. The line was clear (maybe I got lucky). Thumbs up for this great service and the nicely implemented iPhone app. 

Find out more about Hoiio from its website or from an earlier piece I did on the Hoiio iPhone app. The enterprising Ong Jun Da of SG Pools, SG 4D and SG Toto fame is the lead mobile developer at Hoiio. Read about him here.

Update: I forgot to mention that even though callback service such as Hoiio can be cheaper than conventional calls, this is not always the case. Hoiio charges $0.82 a minute to call a New Zealand mobile number. If you use StarHub's 018 service, it will cost you $0.48 a minute (plus 16 cents a minute for the call). The lesson here is to do your research first before deciding which service provider to use. Not always easy because for some strange reason, the IDD operators don't make it easy to find the rates.  

iPhone Now the #1 Device Worldwide on AdMob network

According to the AdMob October 2008 Metrics Report (see press release here), the iPhone has overtaken the Motorola RAZR to be the number 1 device on the AdMob network. (AdMob delivers banner ads and text ads on mobile web pages. On the iPhone, they also do ads in apps.)

Given the superior Internet capabilities of the iPhone, that is not so surprising. What is more surprising to me is that tiny Singapore ranks ninth worldwide on AdMob's iPhone list with 3.1 million requests in the month of October. Germany at number seven had 4.6 million requests, while Italy at number eight had 4.3 million requests (download full PDF report here).

Griffin's Clarifi available in Singapore

Just bought mine from the EpiCentre store at Wheelock Place. There were only two left when I got there so I'm guessing it's very popular. I've tried it out and it works as advertised. 

Griffin's Clarifi is a polycarbonate case with a built-in macro lens that allows you to take shots of barcodes, business cards etc. The results are actually readable. Not cheap though. While it will cost you US$35 from the US Online Apple Store (it's not available on the Singapore Apple Store), epicentre is selling it for S$69. (I managed to get a 10 percent discount because like the sad person that I am, I spend more money than I should at EpiCentre, and as a result, I am a member of some club or other that gets me discounts there).

For more Clarifi, check out Griffin's website. iLounge has an excellent review with lots of photos. See also the Flickr page for shots taken by the macro lens on the Clarifi case.

What I miss without Flash on the iPhone

The great Mac/PC ads that run on websites like the New York Times (the latest is the one on the customer satisfaction survey). On the other hand, as much as I enjoy the ad, I really hate the fact that running Flash on my MacBook invariably causes my fan to start up because the CPU starts to kick in. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Incase unveils the Power Slider battery pack/protective sleeve combo for the iPhone 3G

Another battery pack/case for the iPhone, this time by Incase (via iPhoneFreak). The battery is a rechargeable lithium-ion polymer (1330mAh 4.2V). 

From the website:
Additional battery life provided by Power Slider:

Standby time: up to 330 hours
Audio playback: up to 26 hours
Talk time: up to 5 hours on 3G network and 10 hours on 2G network
Video playback: up to 7 hours
Internet use: up to 5 hours on 3G network and 6 hours on Wi-Fi
Get full details of Power Slider from the Incase website. Available from November 28 for about US$99.

Competition for mophie's Juice Pack 3G. Stats on Juice Pack from mophie's website.
(additional hours):
Standby Time – Up to 350 hours
Talk Time – Up to 6 hours on 3G | Up to 12 hours on 2G
Internet Use – Up to 6 hours on 3G | Up to 7 hours on Wi-Fi
Audio Playback – Up to 28 hours
Video Playback – Up to 8 hours

Qik appears again

Tech journalist Leo Laporte was just given a copy of Qik to run on a non-jailbroken iPhone (check out the video here). Does this mean that Qik will soon make an appearance on the App Store or is the company hoping that publicity will help their case? (Erica Sadun of Ars Techica previously argued that Qik would violate Apple's human interface guidelines.) 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why Apple Won't Allow Adobe Flash on iPhone

Wired argues that Apple doesn't like to lose control. 

Jailbroken iPhone? Don't upgrade to 2.2 yet

If you have a jailbroken iPhone, don't install the 2.2 Firmware when Apple releases it, according to the hardworking iPhone Dev Team. From their blog
"Installing ‘2.2’ straight away on the iPhone 3G using the iTunes auto-updater could affect your chances of any software unlock in the near future (should one be found and released), so when you see an update in iTunes await our instructions first!"
Jailbreaking allows you to install a bunch of cool apps Apple won't allow (like MMS and video recording). 

Flash on iPhone? Still working on it

Adobe is working to develop Flash for ARM processors (which the iPhone uses). Good analysis on whether Apple will allow this on Ars Technica

Sunday, November 16, 2008

3G network in MRT tunnels

The Straits Times reports that M1, StarHub and SingTel are installing equipment to allow commuters to access the 3G network while travelling underground on the North-East Line. The network should be available by next month. Good news, but what about the North-South Line?

Update: The dead tree version of ST reports that that upgrading on the North-South Line will be completed sometime "next year".

Friday, November 14, 2008

Google to offer iPhone app that does voice recognition

The New York Times is reporting that Google is going to allow iPhone users to Google (i.e. search) by talking to an app on the iPhone, rather than by typing in a keyword into the Google page. Voice recognition software will convert the question "How tall is Mount Everest?" into a query that Google's servers will answer. Google has made it for the iPhone but will bring it to other platforms. Don't hold your breath waiting for this to appear in the Singapore app store, but I am happy to be proven wrong.

SG Toto now available

The Toto pot currently stands at $1.5 million, which must seem pretty attractive given the current economic situation. However, there is a reason that Singapore Pools is able to donate generously to charity every year. Still, no harm in an occasional flutter I suppose. SG Toto, by the very enterprising Ong Jun Da, is available for free on the App Store. Find out the latest winning numbers and look up results from 2005.

Read about Jun Da here.

Singapore Subway/MRT Map now a guide

Shen Weijia has updated his MRT app to include details about the different MRT and LRT stations, as well as a link to Google Maps so you can see where the stations are located. The renamed app, Singapore Subway/MRT Guide (previously Map), is available on the App Store for $0.99.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Storm on the horizon, at US$199

US carrier Verizon Wireless will be selling RIM's BlackBerry Storm for US$199 from November 21. Why does this matter to iPhone users in Singapore? Because competition from the likes of BlackBerry (and the G1) will push Apple to be nicer to its customers. When a company has a monopoly, there is little incentive to innovate or to improve *cough* Microsoft *cough*. (See story on Storm on Silicon Alley Insider.)

Fund Watch on sale for US$1.99

Fund Watch, which helps you monitor your mutual fund, is now on sale for US$1.99 until November 14. Big discount off the usual price of US$7.99. 

Save money on overseas calls with Hoiio

Save money making overseas calls using Hoiio, a callback application by local company Teliwave. The app is free but the calls are not. How cheap is Hoiio? The full rates are here, but as an example, a call to a mobile number to Cambodia is 27.2 cents a minute. Using the cheap IDD services by M1 or StarHub, I normally pay about $1 a minute. Major savings. Have not tried it out yet so I can't vouch for voice quality though. Hoiio is only available in Singapore at the moment. 

Ong Jun Da of SG Pools and SG 4D fame is the lead mobile developer of Hoiio. Check out an interview with Jun Da here.

Apple's iPhone Faces Off With the Game Champs

The Wall Street Journal on the iPhone as a handheld gaming platform.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Singapore through the lens of the iPhone

Chia Aik Beng, talented artist, former Newton owner and old friend, has been taking pictures around Singapore with his first generation iPhone and applying effects to them using apps like Toy Camera and Camera Bag. He has a great eye, as the photos will attest.

He's also selling 4" by 6" prints of his work. Check it out at WORLD THROUGH MY I.

SG Trains now available

Cool new app by the prolific Muh Hon Cheng. Use SG Trains to find out:
  • How long it takes to get to your destination
  • Which route is fastest (if more than one route is available)
  • Get schedules so that you don't miss the last train

Changing at City Hall is obviously the smart option here.

You can set the app to use your current location as the starting point (it defaults to the closest MRT station to you) or manually set your own starting point. As you travel on the MRT, the app will update the time needed to get to the destination based on your location.

The only issue is that the iPhone can't always tell where you are. I was in the train in Changi Airport and SG Trains thought the closest station to me was Eunos. I checked Google Maps and indeed, Google Maps placed me in the Eunos vicinity too. This is a minor problem as I imagine you probably have a fairly good idea where you are most of the time. 

SG Trains is available on the App Store for US$1.99

Read an earlier interview with Hon Cheng here.

Hon Cheng's website is iridianSTUDIO.

Fake MacBook Nano

Hackintosh (OS X running on an MSI U100) with Apple branding. More details from Gizmodo.

Rumour: 2.2 Firmware on Nov 21

According to a rumour now sweeping the blogs and Mac sites like Note: This is only a rumour and it is not clear how reliable the rumour is.

Apple Store Malaysia opens

Online Apple store now open in Malaysia. Very convenient if you live in Malaysia but you're not near a physical store.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

BAK2u CEO on iPhone

Undaunted by the delay of PhoneBAK for iPhone, BAK2u CEO Paddy Tan talks about his company's plans for the iPhone and his take on the iPhone platform.

Bak2u possibly one of Singapore's best known mobile developers. What are your plans for the iPhone? 
We are looking into expanding our existing platforms of mobile security software into the iPhone in terms of anti-theft and at the same time to develop other security related applications too.

The Matrix, if it ran on Windows XP

Meet Clippy and the Blue Screen of Death in the Matrix. Not iPhone related but a very clever and funny video from CollegeHumor

Judge: Papermaster must stop work for Apple immediately

New iPhone and iPod head gets judicially ordered vacation (via iLounge).

Can Tim Cook replace Steve?

Fortune says maybe. From the profile:

Tim cook arrived at Apple in 1998 from Compaq Computer. He was a 16-year computer-industry veteran - he'd worked for IBM (IBM, Fortune 500) for 12 of those years - with a mandate to clean up the atrocious state of Apple's manufacturing, distribution, and supply apparatus. 

One day back then, he convened a meeting with his team, and the discussion turned to a particular problem in Asia."This is really bad," Cook told the group. "Someone should be in China driving this." Thirty minutes into that meeting Cook looked at Sabih Khan, a key operations executive, and abruptly asked, without a trace of emotion, "Why are you still here?"

Khan, who remains one of Cook's top lieutenants to this day, immediately stood up, drove to San Francisco International Airport, and, without a change of clothes, booked a flight to China with no return date, according to people familiar with the episode. The story is vintage Cook: demanding and unemotional.

More in full story here.

iPhone surpasses RAZR as top selling handset

Apple's iPhone is the top selling handset in the US in Q3, beating Motorola's RAZR. That's top selling handset. Not just top selling smartphone (via Macworld).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ocarina - Day 3

I am getting closer to my dream of performing in the underpass at Orchard MRT station. I am now able to butcher Amazing Grace, Kumbaya and Greensleeves on the iPhone with the Ocarina app (Final Countdown is still regrettably out of my reach). That little white dot in the graphic above must be me! (My wife has pointed out that using the iPhone this way will accumulate spit. However, I am not worried. I will simply buy a new iPhone from the tens of dollars I will earn each year from busking.)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

iPhone Phone Home? No can do

Paddy Tan wants to return your iPhone back to you.

A software development firm in Singapore has developed an app that will help you recover your lost or stolen iPhone, but it may never see the light of day.

BAK2u, a company that develops anti-theft software for mobile phones and laptops, has developed an app called PhoneBAK for iPhone. This app will send out an email if someone keys in the wrong password when using the iPhone. PhoneBAK will use the GPS functionality to extract the location of the iPhone and send the location via email to a preprogrammed address. When that email is received, the recipient can click on a link in the email, and it will call up Google Maps to show the person exactly where the phone is. 

Demo of PhoneBAK for iPhone

Unfortunately, PhoneBAK for iPhone may never find its way to the app store because Apple has been sitting on this app for about two months now. This is much longer than the five days or so it normally takes to approve an app. Paddy Tan, the founder and CEO of BAK2u, does not currently have high hopes of the app being approved. “The wait is a tad too long and from discussions with other developers, (we think) there may be a chance it won’t be approved,” he says.

It would be a shame if BAK2u is never released for the iPhone because versions of this app already exist for other mobile platforms like Windows Mobile and Blackberry. The company has also made versions for Vista and OS X for laptop users.

BAK2u does have other apps on the app store at the moment. iCabSG, a free app that helps you call a taxi, was on the top 10 list of free apps when it was first released. The company also has another free app called iMergency that allows you to store all the emergency numbers in one app. Security software, however, is what the company is best known for. (See this story from CNN about PhoneBAK.)

Apple now world’s #2 smartphone vendor

The iPhone is outselling all Windows Mobile devices combined. From MacDailyNews.

Ocarina - Day 1

Ocarina was finally released on the Singapore app store (US$0.99) yesterday and I snagged a copy immediately. After some practice, I managed to serenade my wife to sleep last night (she might describe it differently) with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Ocarina is fun and I'm not completely awful at it. It will be a while before you see me at the tunnel at Orchard MRT trying to make a living as a busker, but I can still dream. Amazingly, I am better on the ocarina that I ever was on the recorder.

Two things about the ocarina worth mentioning. One, you need to play in a relatively quiet place because the output is not very loud (possibly a good thing if I recall my days murdering music on the recorder).

The other is that with this app, you can listen to other people around the globe playing the ocarina too. The interface is great because it is a globe that you can spin. Each ocarina player is lit on the globe telling you where they are. The best thing about this? Learning I am not alone as the world's worst ocarina player. Around the world, there are other people that suck as badly as me. Not many to be sure, but there are.

Friday, November 7, 2008

No iPhone from M1 in 2008

First it was StarHub. Now, M1 says that it will not be able to bring in the iPhone this year because "there's been a change in the distribution schedule of the iPhone in Asia", according to this story by CNET Asia.

It's a shame because without competitive pressure, SingTel's rates are not going to go down.

Phone different

In case you hadn't heard, the iPhone is a phenomenon. This presentation provides some interesting statistics on iPhone usage versus other phones, as well as a summary of how quickly the platform has ballooned in the last few months.

Domoarigato Mr Roboto (Mr iPhono?)

Cool video of an iPhone rigged as a robot controlled over Wi-Fi by a Macbook Pro. By the same Japanese guy who gave us the physical keyboard. Check out his blog (in Japanese).

Apple Activates Podcast Downloads in 2.2 Firmware

from via a German blog. It was previously reported that Apple's latest version of the 2.2 beta 2 firmware has the ability to allow users to download podcasts directly. Apple has now activated this option apparently.

Turn Your iPhone into an Ocarina

This is why I love the iPhone. A Stanford professor has released an app that turns your iPhone into an ocarina, an ancient, flute-like instrument (check out the Wikipedia entry on the ocarina here). Watch the video of these guys doing the opening bars of Stairway to Heaven. Amazing. 

Learn more about Ocarina from Smule. (Sadly not currently available on the Singapore app store).

AT&T executive says iPhone 3G tethering coming 'soon'

via Macworld. When this is allowed, you will be able to connect your laptop to your iPhone so that you can use the iPhone as a modem. You then connect to the Internet using the 3G network.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Capturing slices of Singapore with your iPhone

Yes it's a 2 megapixel camera. But it's still cool. And making it cooler are apps like Toy Camera. These pictures are thanks to my old friend Aik Beng. We go back to when we were both members of the Singapore Newton User's Group. Yes, we're that old.

Then, as now, Aik Beng was always the most creative guy in the bunch.

Crashing the iPhone

I can get Safari to quit on my anytime but this sounds like it's something much bigger. The Italian engineer behind the popular jailbreak Ziphone has found a way to badly crash the iPhone. Full story in Forbes.

For people who really, really want a physical keyboard

Personally, I've gotten used to typing on glass. But for all those who hate it, here's a reason to jailbreak your iPhone.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

No iPhone from StarHub in 2008

Says StarHub CEO Terry Clontz. The telco is still continuing "dialogue with Apple". via The Straits Times.

President Obama

In case you didn't know. Read stories by CNN and New York Times.

Apple Hires I.B.M. Veteran as Device Engineer

via the New York Times. Apple is hiring IBM's Mark Papermaster to run the iPod and iPhone hardware engineering groups. IBM is filing suit to prevent Papermaster from joining Apple. Papermaster is replacing Tony Fadell, the senior vice president for the iPod division who is leaving but will serve Apple in an advisory capacity.

Why You Will Not See Opera on Your iPhone

Clarification by the New York Times. According to Opera's CEO, Opera Mini was an internal project that employees had started. It was killed after they looked at the license agreement in Apple's SDK.

Upcoming Events gets feature boost with version 2

Version 2 of Michael Tan's Upcoming Events has been dramatically improved.
  • It now has its own contact database as well, so you can have a list of names separate from the Contacts application (good for birthdays of children etc that you don't want cluttering up your Contacts)
  • Supports partial dates. You no longer need to know the year. Just the date and month will do.
  • Links to email, SMS or phone so you can email, SMS or call the person immediately from Upcoming Events.
Available on the App Store for (US$1.99). This update is free for people who own the older version. 

Read an interview with Michael here.

Get ERP charges on your iPhone

Here's a way to persuade you to take the bus. Find out in advance how much your ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) charges will be before you step into your car. SG ERP (US$1.99), by the prolific Muh Hon Cheng, will tell you what the charges are at each gantry. Sort gantries alphabetically, or by distance (from your current location). Find out more from IridianSTUDIO's website.

Fastmac's beefy iPhone battery extender makes its debut

Fastmac's iV battery for the iPhone 3G

via Ars Technica, a report of a new external battery for the iPhone. Highlights of Fastmac's 3100mAh battery (called the iV):
  • 24 hours of talk time
  • 72 hours of audio playback, and 
  • 20 hours of video playback
  • a flash for your iPhone camera.
Say cheese in the dark.

Cost: US$79.95. Click here for Fastmac's iV page.

Given how I run down my batteries, I'm now a believer in carrying an external battery. Ars has a list of external batteries for the iPhone.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

iPhones as gaming machines

Coincidentally, a bunch of stories today about the iPhone as a gaming platform, this time in the mainstream media. The Los Angeles Times has two stories about the iPhone (IPhone users love their video games, and IPhone users are getting their game on) while Businessweek has a story called Apple: Soon to Be a Mobile Gaming Force.

I must confess I'm pretty lame at gaming. My sons wipe the floor with me on any racing game on the Wii, so I don't even try on the iPhone. However, my iPhone does have Crash Kart and MotoChaser because it keeps them quiet on long taxi rides (that and YouTube). 

Here are some interesting game-related facts regarding the iPhone, culled from the stories:
  • 1 in 4 iPhone owners have downloaded games, compared to 6 percent of all cellphone users
  • There are nearly 1,700 games on the App Store
  • Sony's PSP has 300 games
  • Nintendo DS has 600 games
  • US cellphone users spent less than 3 percent of their time on games
  • Original iPhone users spent 9 percent of their time on games
  • iPhone 3G users spent 6 percent of their time on games
Great quote in the Businessweek story: "I found that my iPhone was never very far away from me. I was constantly checking e-mail, downloading apps, playing games, browsing the Internet. My personal usage was measurably different from any phone or game machine I've ever had before. It led me to think that there was a dramatically new market opportunity for gaming on a unique mobile device." -- Neil Young of Ngmoco:)

And soon perhaps, we will also get Quake.

If the iPhone takes off as a gaming platform, perhaps Marware's Game Grip will take off.
Will Marware's Game Grip catch on?

SingTel sells 170,000 iPhones

In a statement to the stock exchange today, SingTel announced that it has managed to sell 170,000 iPhones in Singapore, Australia, the Philippines and India. In Australia, about 55 percent of activations were new users to Optus. In Singapore, about 30 percent of iPhone activations between 22 Aug and 30 Sep were new to SingTel. (SingTel has exclusive rights to activate the iPhone in Singapore and the Philippines.)

However, the acquisition of new customers will hit SingTel's bottomline because of the higher subsidy costs. In Q2, iPhone activations reduced EBITDA by about S$27 million in Singapore and A$44 million in Australia.

SingTel also said iPhone subscribers delivered 1.5 times higher ARPU (average revenue per user) than the average post-paid user.

Apple slashing iPhone production?

Analyst Craig Berger says Apple's iPhone production has been cut by 40 percent in Q4 compared to Q3 (see story by Silicon Alley Insider). Fortune however points out the erratic record of Berger as an analyst in a piece entitled: The Apple analyst who couldn't shoot straight. Ouch.

Why Opera didn’t make it on the iPhone

It would help if they actually tried submitting it to the App Store. Thanks to Macworld for some basic journalism.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Welcome to the Singapore Hotel Finder

If you're on a dark desert highway, you might find this app mildly useful.

Singapore Hotel Finder (US$0.99) helps you find a hotel in Singapore by rate or proximity to an MRT station. Currently, it has 133 hotels in its database.

You won't find mirrors on the ceiling, or pink champagne on ice in this very basic app. When you click on a hotel to get details, you get contact information, the hotel's address and the URL. Unfortunately, the URLs or the phone numbers are not clickable. Nor is there a link to a map to help you locate the hotel in question.

There are a number of interface quirks in this app. When you search for a hotel, you have to hunt for the button to send the data. There is no button labelled 'search' or 'go'. There are three bright blue buttons at the bottom of the screen but of the three, one button is a reset button, while the other two are search criteria ('by Rates' and 'by MRT Station'). The actual button you need to push is the grey button at the top left of the screen. The button says 'Singapore Hotels' and at first or even second glance, it looks like a title bar rather than a button.

Searching by rate allows you to search for a hotel within a S$30 band. You can pick a hotel between S$30 to S$60, S$60 to S$90, S$90 to S$120 etc. Seems somewhat narrow to me. Also, the app manages to put the Ritz Carlton Millenia in the same band as the YMCA Fort Canning Lodge. A quick check on the Internet reveals that it is actually the YWCA (not YMCA) and while it appears to be a nice hotel, I'm not sure it's in the same class as the Ritz Carlton).

And while 133 hotels sounds like a lot, there are notable omissions. It only lists two hotels near City Hall MRT station. Missing are the two hotels attached to Raffles City, the Fairmont Hotel and Swissotel the Stamford, as well as the nearby Raffles Hotel. Well known hotels missing from the list include the Raffles Hotel, the Goodwood Park Hotel, the Intercontinental, the Shangri-la, the Hilton and the Hyatt. Hotel 81, on the other hand, is well represented.

This is an app that shows promise but still needs work. With more hotels in the database, links to maps and a better interface, this can be a very useful app for tourists or couples looking to get away.

Beep, beep: A speedy review of RoadRunner

The good: RoadRunner warns you when you are approaching a speed camera. If you are in the vicinity of a speed camera, the app will go 'beep, beep' the way RoadRunner does as he passes Wile E. Coyote. 

The bad: I'm guessing that for Singapore, the app relies on information from the Traffic Police. Unfortunately, our boys in blue (or in the case of the Traffic Police, our boys in white) have not actually revealed the exact location of these cameras (strange that). They only have a list of roads along which the cameras "may be deployed". These roads include long stretches such as Adam Road, the AYE, the BKE, the CTE and the ECP.

The ugly: This means that if you try to use this app as you drive down any of the 39 roads on the list, your iPhone will be going 'beep, beep' at you every few seconds. I tried this app out in a taxi and it beeped constantly as we drove down the PIE and then Adam Road. The beeping gets old very quickly. 

In the features list, the developers also claim that you can set the proximity for the camera warning. A whole minute of fruitless jabbing all over my iPhone screen did not reveal a settings option. (However, according to the laws of the universe, I will discover the settings option in a very obvious place after I post this).

DVD bonus extras: It calculates your speed very quickly and also has a little compass that tells you what direction you're travelling in. (The compass seems generally accurate but I didn't put it beside a real compass to test.)

Rating: Save your US$0.99. This app is not very useful for roads in Singapore. It might be more useful in other territories (RoadRunner covers 33 countries) though. 

New iPhone update: What’s still missing

A good piece from Fortune comparing features that people want from the the iPhone update vs features that have been leaked in 2.2 beta 2.