Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jobs issues open letter on Flash

Steve Jobs: "I wanted to jot down some of our thoughts on Adobe’s Flash products so that customers and critics may better understand why we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. Adobe has characterized our decision as being primarily business driven – they say we want to protect our App Store – but in reality it is based on technology issues. Adobe claims that we are a closed system, and that Flash is open, but in fact the opposite is true. Let me explain."

Jobs gives six reasons why Flash won't run on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch:
1) Flash is proprietary and Adobe controls it, unlike HTML5, CSS and JavaScript which is open;
2) Most video on the web is already in H.264, which runs fine on the iPhone platform;
3) Flash has security issues;
4) Flash impacts battery life;
5) Flash apps won't work for touch devices, especially for rollovers. Designers will have to rework Flash apps anyway; and
6) Allowing Flash as a development platform will slow adoption of Apple-specific technologies.

And a great suggestion from Jobs: "Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind."

Full letter here.
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

UOB customers getting antsy about lack of Internet banking

Customers of UOB are feeling left out now that the other two local banks, POSB/DBS and OCBC, both allow Internet banking on the iPhone.

One UOB customer is not taking it lying down. Photographer and blogger Junjie is hoping that if enough people write to UOB asking for Internet access via the iPhone, the bank will respond. He's written to UOB already and he is hoping others will join in. Find out more here.
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Police seize computers of Gizmodo editor

Last Friday, the police entered the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen and seized four computers, two servers and other assorted items. This was in relation to the prototype iPhone 4G that Gizmodo had purchased and whose details they had published.


TechCrunch subsequently spoke to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office and found that the investigation has paused while the DA's office considers whether journalist shield laws apply in this case. This refers to a law protecting journalists from being forced to disclose confidential information.
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Monday, April 26, 2010

Standard Chartered offers iPhone app

If you bank with Standard Chartered, you will be happy to learn that the bank now has an iPhone app. Called Standard Chartered Breeze (Singapore), it allows you to view account and credit card details, pay credit card bills, pay using e-Cheques, transfer funds and locate ATMs in Singapore.

You can download Standard Chartered Breeze here.
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Only 4 days left in free iPad giveaway contest!

Have you signed up to win a free iPad yet? If you haven't, you only have four more days to rack up your chances.

Remember, the more minutes you use up, the more chances you have of winning the iPad.

To maximise your chances:

1) Sign up for Hoiio
2) Use up all the free credit they give you on local calls (31 chances to win the iPad)
3) Send an email to ipadcontest@hoiio.com with the subject line "iMerlion 98888888" (replace with your own mobile phone number). Complete the sentence: "I want to use Hoiio because..." (another 10 chances)

Note: If you've already signed up for Hoiio before this contest started, you are still eligible to win the iPad. Just keep using Hoiio for local calls to maximise your chances and send off that email to take part in the Hoiio-iMerlion contest.

Good luck!

(For details about Hoiio and the contest, click here).
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Car parking app has LTA OK for parking lot availability data

Joseph Wee, the developer behind Carpark@SG has confirmed that he has the blessings of the LTA to publish data about parking lot availability in his app.

In response to an email from iMerlion, he said: "I actually got the "go ahead" a month or two ago, but I was too swamped to work on the update."

He said that he could not talk about his arrangements with the LTA now but added that he should be able to say more within a month.

This is good news for users of Carpark@SG as the app pulls together relevant information about car parks into one app.

Joseph also explained that his app currently polls the LTA's system once every five minutes, which explains why his data lags behind the LTA's mobile portal MyTransport.SG. However, by the end of today, this will shift to every two minutes, instead of every five minutes.

Carpark@SG was updated a few days ago to show users available parking lots in the Orchard, Marina and Harbourfront area. This raised eyebrows because a previous developer had been told to pull a similar feature from their app in early March. The LTA said that it was because of licensing issues.
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Saturday, April 24, 2010

New Singapore car parking app now has lot availability info, but for how long?

Developer Joseph Wee has updated his app Carpark@SG to feature lot availability. You can now see how many lots are available in the Orchard Road, Marina Square and Harbourfront area.

A comparison between Carpark@SG and the LTA's own website shows a minor discrepancy in the numbers, probably because the app does not rely on polling the LTA's website directly for the numbers. Carpark@SG also appears to have only a subset of the LTA's full list.


Carpark@SG's numbers (above) differ slightly from MyTransport.SG (below).


These bugs not withstanding, the availability of this feature is good news for car owners. However, we'll have to see how long this feature will last. The last time a developer offered this feature, the LTA asked the developer, NiiDees, to remove it from their app Park-a-Lot Lite { SG }.

An LTA spokesman explained that it was because of licensing issues. "Currently, LTA is not licensed to share the car park lot availability information on the ONE.MOTORING portal with any third parties, which are owned and supplied to LTA by the car park developers and management," said the spokesman. "The data will be provided to a third party on a licensing basis, details of which will hinge on the negotiation between LTA, and the various car park developers and management."

The removal of the feature caused a minor controversy because at the time, there was no other way for iPhone users to get information about lot availability as the information on the LTA's website was encoded in Flash. However, soon after the developer removed the feature, the LTA unveiled a mobile portal called MyTransport.SG which finally provided this information in a way that was accessible to the iPhone and other smartphones.

We have contacted the developer and we will let you know more when we do.

(Thanks to iMerlion reader Edar Idris for the tip-off about Carpark@SG's new feature!)

Friday, April 23, 2010

New Singapore apps: Music, models and much much more

My bad. I've been busy so I haven't been blogging very much lately. To make up for it, here's a bumper post covering notable local arrivals at the App Store.

Music lovers rejoice. Local online radio station 170 Radio now has a free iPhone app. Catch deejays ND, Vanessa, Kamal and Nikko as they bring "edgy, real and authentic" music. I can't say I'm familiar with 170 Radio so I don't know if they're any good. My only question is, do they play Journey regularly?

Still on music, if you're a fan of local rapper Phathell D-Fi, you'll be happy to know he has a free iPhone app too. While I have not had the pleasure of his acquaintance, I'm guessing he doesn't do Journey.

As a fashionista, I'm pleased to have found the Audi Fashion Festival Singapore 2010 app. This elegantly named app has the schedule for the festival as well as a gallery of models and designers. The Audi Fashion Festival will run for five days from April 28 at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza. I'll be there of course. You'll recognise me by my Blue Steel look.

If you heading down for the fashion festival, make sure you're dressed for the part because you just know that it's that kind of event where people make catty remarks about how other people are dressed. Fortunately, Charles & Keith is here to help. Their free iPhone app has their latest catalogue of shoes and accessories so you can at least make sure that you're well shod.

Unfortunately, sometimes being fashionable has a price. Four-inch stilettos may make you look fabulous but all too often, people end up inadvertently spearing their pets. If you've accidentally impaled your cat with your footwear, quickly download the free SG Vets. This app has addresses and phone numbers of all the vets in Singapore and will locate the vet nearest to you.

Finally, if you're rushing to the vet with your injured pet and you get a flat, be sure to have the Goodyear Highway Helper app on your iPhone. This free app will show you how to change a tyre and fix engines. It also has a list of emergency numbers to call too. An invaluable app for all pet lovers and car owners.

All in all, a nice selection of new apps for the Singapore iPhone owner.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

POSB ties up with Singtel to offer discounts on mobile broadband service

Here's an offer that might be of interest to iPhone users who aren't tied to a data plan.

If you sign up for POSB mobile banking by May 31, you qualify for a discount on SingTel's Broadband on Mobile Value Added Service. The maximum discount is 60 percent on the Premium service. This means you only pay $11.96 a month instead of the usual $29.90 a month for up to 10GB a month of bundled usage. It is not clear what the level of discount is for the other services.

To get the discount, send a message "mBanking" to 77672. You'll be sent an SMS coupon in response. Show the coupon and the DBS Internet banking token at any SingTel Hello shop to redeem the offer.

Click here to see the full details of the promotion.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Apple confirms 3G iPad shipping dates, international availability

Apple has announced that those who have ordered the 3G iPad will have their orders delivered on April 30. It will also be sold at retail stores from 5pm on the same day.

Apple has also announced that the iPad will be available at the end of May in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.

International pricing will be revealed on May 10, which is also when Apple will begin taking online pre-orders.

In the US, the Wi-Fi only iPad is being sold for US$499 for 16GB, US$599 for 32GB and US$699 for 64GB. The Wi-Fi + 3G models will be sold for US$629 for 16GB, US$729 for 32GB and US$829 for 64GB.

Click here for the full press release.
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iPhone OS 4 beta 2 now available

Apple has released the latest beta version of iPhone OS 4 for iPhone developers. It looks like the problems with downloading using StarHub's MaxOnline and SingTel have disappeared, which is good news. The bad news seems to be that the latest beta is causing problems with the Camera app.

Oh the excitement of being on the cutting edge.
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Apple reports best non-holiday quarter

“We’re thrilled to report our best non-holiday quarter ever, with revenues up 49 percent and profits up 90 percent,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’ve launched our revolutionary new iPad and users are loving it, and we have several more extraordinary products in the pipeline for this year.”

Apple's Q2 results

Revenue - $13.50 billion
Net quarterly profit -  $3.07 billion, or $3.33 per diluted share
Gross margin - 41.7 percent

Year-ago quarter

Revenue - $9.08 billion
Net quarterly profit - $1.62 billion, or $1.79 per diluted share
Gross margin - 39.9 percent

Other info

- International sales accounted for 58 percent of the quarter’s revenue.
- 2.94 million Macs sold, a 33 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter.
- 8.75 million iPhones in the quarter, a 131 percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter.
- 10.89 million iPods during the quarter, representing a one percent unit decline from the year-ago quarter.

Full press release here.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gizmodo: How Apple Lost the Next iPhone

At least the guy in question is still alive. Click here to read about how Apple Software Engineer Gray Powell managed to misplace his iPhone, you know, the one with the front-facing camera and glass back.

If you missed the excitement, check out Gizmodo's exclusive photos of that misplaced iPhone here.

New features include:

• Front-facing video chat camera
• Improved regular back-camera (the lens is quite noticeably larger than the iPhone 3GS)
• Camera flash
• Micro-SIM
• Improved display

Note that this is not a guarantee that the new iPhone, slated for June, will have all these features or look like this device. This could be one of a number of working prototypes. Still, pretty interesting to note and a rare breach of Apple's wall of secrecy.

Check out the Gizmodo for full details and photos. Macworld has a nice roundup of the story as it unfolded over the weekend.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Win a free iPad!

Everybody wants an iPad...

Do you want a free iPad? Here's your chance. Hoiio is giving away a free iPad and iMerlion readers get a leg up!

To take part in the contest, all you have to do is to download the free Hoiio callback application and rack up calling minutes between now and April 30. Every calling minute you use up is a single chance to win. The more calling minutes you add up, the more chances you have of winning the iPad. (I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that to get an iPad in Singapore now, you’ll have to spend over S$1,000 because the iPad hasn’t been launched here yet.)

When you sign up for a Hoiio account, Hoiio will give you S$1.20 immediately, which is the equivalent of 31 local calling minutes. If you use up the balance, you will get 31 chances of winning. Without spending any money of your own, you can get 31 chances to win. Pretty sweet if you ask me.

All this is available to anyone who downloads and uses Hoiio. However, for being a loyal iMerlion reader, we are rewarding you with 10 additional chances to win.

To get those 10 additional chances, this is what you have to do:

1. Complete this sentence: “I want to use Hoiio because ....”
2. Send it to ipadcontest@hoiio.com
3. For your subject line, use “iMerlion” followed by your mobile number, for example “iMerlion 98888888

Anyone who sends this email with the subject line and a completed sentence will get 10 additional chances to win the iPad. Just like that.

In addition, the person who sends the most creative and relevant answer will win 1,000 local calling minutes from Hoiio.

All in all, a sweet deal for iMerlion readers. So don’t waste time. Download Hoiio now and start using it! ( Note: If you are new to Hoiio, after downloading the app, you will need to register your account. This page walks you through the registration process.)

Tip: To increase your chances of winning, use Hoiio to make local calls rather than overseas calls. This is because you get more chances to win based on the number of calling minutes you rack up. Since it’s cheaper to make local calls than overseas calls, you get more bang for your buck by making local calls. At least ensure that the free S$1.20 they give you is used up for local calls rather than overseas calls to get the full 31 chances of winning from it.)

Rules and regulations 


“WIN AN IPAD” LUCKY DRAW


Only registered Hoiio Personal Users (hereinafter referred to as User) are entitled to participate in the Lucky Draw to stand a chance to win an Apple iPad (Wi-Fi, 16GB).
A User shall be eligible to participate in the lucky draw provided that the User has a valid Hoiio Personal Account with a Singapore registered mobile phone number.
The User maintains a valid account up till closing date of contest.
A User shall be entitled to a chance to win the iPad for every minute spent talking on Hoiio.
iMerlion Hoiio Users shall be entitled to additional 10 chances to win an iPad with an email submission by completing the sentence “I want to use Hoiio because…”
Qualifying minutes for iPad Lucky Draw are computed from 15th April, 2010 or time of registration, whichever is later, to 11.59pm on 30th April, 2010.
The winner of the lucky draw will be picked from among all eligible lucky draw participants.


“I WANT TO USE HOIIO BECAUSE…” CONTEST


Only iMerlion Hoiio Users are entitled to participate in the Contest to win 1,000 minutes worth of Hoiio local talk-time, or its equivalent.
An iMerlion Hoiio User shall be eligible to participate in the contest provided that the User meets the eligibility conditions set forth in the “Win an iPad” Lucky Draw.
To take part, the User completes the sentence, “I want to use Hoiio because…” and submits an email to ipadcontest@hoiio.com.
The User includes “iMerlion – [User’s Mobile Number]” in the email’s subject line.
Only one entry is allowed per User.
The closing date for the email contest is 30th April, 2010, at 11.59pm.
Entries will be judged on their creativity and relevance in completing the sentence “I want to use Hoiio because…”




GENERAL


The lucky draw will be held at 240 Macpherson Road, #07-05, Pine Industrial Building, Singapore 348574 on 4th May, 2010.
The results of the draw and contest will be published on at www.iMerlion.com and www.hoiio.com.
The winner will be notified by email and SMS. iMerlion and Hoiio shall have the right to publish the name and NRIC number of the winner in its online web properties and in its promotional materials.
The prize is not exchangeable for cash or other kind.
If the prize is not collected by 30th June 2010, it will be forfeited.
Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions, this lucky draw is not open to employees of iMerlion and Hoiio and anyone directly connected with the lucky draw and iMerlion and Hoiio reserves the sole and absolute discretion to exclude any User (who would otherwise be eligible) whose account(s) are deemed by Hoiio in its absolute discretion to be sub-standard, doubtful, bad or delinquent or not conducted in a proper and satisfactory manner from the lucky draw.
iMerlion and Hoiio reserves the right to amend these terms and conditions, from time to time without prior notice.
iMerlion’s and Hoiio's combined decision on all matters relating to the draws shall be final, binding and conclusive and no correspondence will be entertained

First local iPad game?


Lim Thye Chean might be the first Singapore developer to have an iPad game in the App Store. Called Doodle War HD, this arcade game uses graphics done by his daughter Xin Quan when she was 5 years old. The game was originally made for the iPhone but has been reworked for the larger screen size of the iPad.

The first version of Doodle War HD was rejected by Apple because it was only playable in one portrait orientation (i.e. with the home button at the bottom). After reworking the game to be playable in either portrait orientation, this game was approved. (The game was not reworked to be playable in landscape mode.)

Besides the higher resolution images, this game differs from the iPhone version in that the iPad version was written using the Quartz2D graphics engine while the iPhone version uses the Cocos2D game engine. According to Thye Chean, he had planned to use Cocos2D for the iPad version but the graphics stuttered when it ran on the iPad simulator. "My guess is the simulator might not work that well with OpenGL code and in real life it might just run as smooth as the iPhone version," said Thye Chean. "But I don't dare to try without first testing on the real thing."

Doodle War HD is free US$0.99 but you will need an iPad to play it. The iPhone version is here.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Want an iPad now? It will cost you





The iMerlion site looks pretty sweet on the iPad.

If you want an iPad now and you can't wait for Apple to launch the device in Singapore, you're in luck. As long as you're willing to fork out extra for the priviledge, you can walk into a store and walk out with your very own iPad.

The Straits Times reports that Mustafa's is stocking iPads, which are going at a somewhat pricey $1,249 for the 16GB version and $1,399 for the 32GB version.

That Mecca of electronics, Sim Lim Square, is another place to try. A number of shops on the ground floor appear to be selling the iPad. The going rate is around $1,380 for the 32GB version.

However, based on checks that iMerlion has made, the cheapest place to buy an iPad in Singapore seems to be Mobile Square in Far East Plaza (#02-98). The 16GB version is selling for $1,078 while the 32GB version can be yours for $1,278.

If you're willing to wait for a few months, you can pick it up for cheaper when Apple launches the device here. Unfortunately, Apple has not said when the iPad will be officially available in Singapore.

Update 1: In the US, Apple is selling the 16GB version for US$499 (S$690) and the 32GB version for US$599 (S$830). You are paying much more because retailers are buying at retail prices in the US, they incur shipping charges sending the units to Singapore, and they need to make a profit.

Update 2: Apple has announced that it has delayed the international launch of the iPad by a month because the iPad was a "runaway success" in US. The international launch is now slated for the end of May and pricing will be released on May 10.

The iPad turns heads in Kandahar Street. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

DBS, POSB now have iPhone app

If you bank with DBS/POSB, you'll be happy to know that the bank finally has apps that allows you to bank online, and pretty nice apps at that. With DBS mBanking and POSB mBanking, you can now check your balance, pay bills and transfer money with ease.

I used the DBS mBanking app briefly and I walked away impressed. Your options are logically laid out, it is easy to access the different services and it flies. I transferred some money and the process was clear, straightforward and painless.

I've criticised DBS in the past for being slow to jump on the smartphone bandwagon. It was only a few weeks ago that the site itself finally became accessible to iPhone users when DBS removed the Java applet that was used to handle passwords. However, while it's possible to use the existing DBS Internet Banking website to do transactions on your iPhone, the site has not been optimised for the small screen. These iPhone apps take care of this problem nicely. Kudos to DBS for delivering a well thought-out app that is a joy to use (or rather, as much joy as any app can deliver when it helps you pay bills).

Tip of the hat to iMerlion readers Veron Ang and Varun for spotting these apps in the App Store!

(Note 1: If DBS would actually like people to use these apps, perhaps they should make them easier to locate in the App Store. These apps don't pop up when you search for Singapore-related apps.)

(Note 2: I was going to do screenshots showing how easy it is to use, but I realised that not only would I be revealing my numerous sensitive details, I would also be demonstrating quite how little money I have. You're going to have to take it from me that this app is really nicely put together).


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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Developers take: Multitasking, folders get thumbs-up, iAds get mixed reception

We asked five local developers for their take on iPhone OS 4.0 based on Apple's keynote on Thursday. Predictably, most are excited about multitasking with folders coming a close second. iAds, on the other hand, have received a mixed response. Some see it as an opportunity while others are worried about what its implications.

Joash Chee, Scoreless Music

Off the top of my head, I'm excited and saddened at the same time. Excited because the features announced completely appeal to me as an iPhone user and I would upgrade my units at the soonest possible opportunity. Saddened because upgrading my units which are used primarily for development will cause certain apps and features that I have grown to be dependent on to be unavailable (read: jailbroken apps. Specifically Screen Splitr which I use in tandem with DemoGod on the Mac laptop to do iPhone demonstrations).

Apart from causing me to agonize about upgrading, I believe the changes ushered in with iPhone OS 4.0 will cause me to rethink how to best exploit the multitasking ability. It may allow me to release apps in a modular fashion, where a user can 'stack' feature sets by mixing a combination of apps.

While it's not exactly a disappointment, I am constantly on the lookout for better ways to move files and data among apps as well as between devices. Apple did not announce all the functions of the many new APIs developers have access to now, but I doubt there has been much changed by way of how files moves (or more particularly, doesn't move) between apps and devices.

When I excitedly told my wife that we now have FOLDERS! she smiled and asked me if the situation with bluetooth file transfers and compatibility with third party devices have been improved, to which I have no answer.

As mentioned above, my future apps may move to a more modular existence where they have a semblance of working together without actually interacting with each other, the sense of cohesion an illusion that comes with the specific flavour of multitasking that Apple has decided to go with. And with folders, there is less worry of users complaining that there will be too many app icons to deal with when the approach shifts from one mega app bundle to many micro apps working together.


Muh Hon Cheng (buUuk, SG Buses) 

Favourite features 

background locations I've done a few LBS (location-based services) apps, and this is something I've been waiting for a long time.
wireless app distribution I'm not sure how this is implemented, but it's interesting
task completion Finally, when I post something online for example a tweet, I don't have to wait for the post to complete before exiting the application. It'll work as smooth as SMS.
game center I think this will be fun for app integration. Will look at this.
iAd I have a few free apps. I may try using this.
in-app SMS I wonder if that means we can send SMSes from applications.
access to calendar

Biggest disappointments
I was only waiting for background location, so I'm quite satisfied with 4.0. I think multitasking is fine the way it is. There's no need for background processes.

What's still missing from 4.0
Home screen widgets, similar to widgets in Android
Ability to differentiate GPRS, Edge and 3G connections from the API

How 4.0 will change existing apps
buUuk will benefit from background locations, making the application more social. I'm wondering if I should do some kind of push notification for bus arrivals based on proximity to bookmarked bus stops.



Zhou Wenhan (2359 Media)

Favourite features
Multitasking! As a user, I use a lot of streaming music. Now I can FINALLY reply to my SMSes without closing my streaming app.

Developers can save some time by not having to develop functions to remember where users left the app because apps are stored in suspended state instead of terminating.

I think AdManager (iAd) is also interesting if Apple can get brand advertisers on board. Right now it is more applicable for US-based apps where Apple has the most connections with brands.

2359 Media is looking at how we can bring more widespread use of AdManager to digital marketing agencies in the APEC region.

Biggest disappointment
To be frank, I was hoping they announced that they were putting the iPad's A4 processor in the new iPhone. That will be fast!

Also Apple updated their developer agreement.  This is worrying if Apple kills off other frameworks. This is bad PR.

What's still missing from 4.0
I think in-app purchases could have been made easier. It is still quite difficult to make in-app purchases work.

I would want an integrated notification app too.

How 4.0 will change existing apps
Haven't though about it yet :)


Mugunth Kumar (iCash SG, StationAlarm SG)

Favourite features
Local notifications looks good for apps like StationAlarm. Had I known this before, I wouldn't have implemented push notification in StationAlarm which will be rolled out soon. MapKit additions like draggable annotations will find its way into iCash.

Biggest disappointments
iAds - will Apple start rejecting ads that are from admob or others? Already the money made through ads is pretty low. With iAds if there is a cut of 40 per cent, why should I use?

Second disappointment: No background apps for my 3G iPhone?

What's still missing
Widgetized homescreen that shows all relevant information at one glance. API support to add custom info to that home screen. With local and remote notifications, I believe we will be missing out some important notifications.

How 4.0 will change existing apps
StationAlarm will be updated with local notification. But that will happen only later this year as every device should be updated with 4.0 by then. I expect that to happen around the August time frame. I will probably submit an update with the latest Circle Line additions push notifications sooner.

Lim Thye Chean (Kids Paint, Space War)

Favourite feature
My favorite as a user is the folder feature. My favorite as a developer will be the multitasking feature, especially the "Fast App Switching" which allows us to "sleep" an application rather than quit. This will be make the application more seamless to the user and easier for us developers (so instead of writing out data and reading back, you just freeze it).

I also think iAd is a very important feature - way cooler and better than AdMob - for free app developers. I am tempted to do some of my apps as free apps now.

Biggest disappointment
I was looking forward to UI feature beyond "folders". I was looking forward for widgets (similar to how Android did it, not Dashboard which lives in another layer), and free arrangement of icons, not as a grid. The iPhone OS UI looks dated compared to the Android 2.1 UI which I like a lot.

I also think the "Home Button" is over used - double click it is now for app switching! What happened to voice control then? Can we only choose one function?

The notification system also needs a better update than popping up a dialog box every time. Imagine many apps trying to notify you something.

What's still missing
From developer's point of view, this is a very good update. There is no mention of any advancement on the web front end which is disappointing though. For example, audio tag support in iPhone OS 3.x is weak - it will play in full screen like video rather than in the background.

From user's point of view, the UI does not look advanced enough.

Honestly I think Safari should just implement a plugin system, and let others developed plugins for it. This will solve all those "no Flash no Java" questions. If they develop it, they have to follow a strict rules and make sure that whatever plugins submitted to Apple work, no memory leak, etc before they can be allowed on App Store (yes, plugins should be downloaded from the App Store, following the same rules except that they go into Safari).

I think the biggest feature missing is iPad support, which only comes in fall. This mean from now to fall, we have to support two OSes - 3.2 and 4.0, which will make our lives difficult as a developer.

Impact on existing apps
I think at this moment, we will have to choose between 4.0 and 3.2 (for iPad). Since I have chosen iPad development, we can't do 4.0 development for now until iPad support is added.


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Local app update: iCash SG and Findit-Singapore

Mugunth Kumar's excellent ATM finder, iCash SG has been updated. In the latest version, user-contributed ATMs appear instantly in the app, and are tagged as such. This is useful because it leverages on crowdsourcing to make this database more complete. Since it was launched, a remarkable 800 ATM locations have been suggested by users. iCash SG is free. Download it here.

Another local app that has been updated is Findit-Singapore by Equantech. The most important new feature is the ability to send an SMS to book a Comfort taxi from a taxi stand. The app will automatically  format a request that is ready to be pasted into the SMS app on your iPhone. All you have to do is to paste the data into the SMS app and hit send.

The new version of Findit-Singapore has updated its taxi stands database to include those near MRT stations. It also has a new Heritage Trees database.

Findit-Singapore is free. You can download it here. (Coincidentally, Mugunth Kumar is also the guy behind the code of Findit-Singapore.)

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NETS launches iNETS Mobile app

If you've always longed to pay your bills using your iPhone, you can now do so using the iNETS Mobile app from NETS. That is, as long as your bills are from the following 14 organisations:

1. FairPrice Plus
2. OCBC Credit Cards
3. UOB Credit Cards
4. UOB Travel Planners
5. Khoo Teck Puat Hospital
6. OCBC EasiCredit
7. Metro Parking
8. Phoenix Comms
9. SP Services
10. SingTel
11. StarHub Cable Vision
12. StarHub
13. Zone Telecom and
14. Potong Pasir Town Council

You pay these bills using something called a NETS cheque that requires you to download an application form from the NETS website first. (POSB/DBS ATM card holders can apply for the NETS cheque using Internet Banking or at an iNETS kiosk). Somehow, I don't think PayPal is losing any sleep over this.

Download this free app here.

(Thanks to iMerlion reader Nooroullail Mohamed for alerting me to this!)
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Friday, April 9, 2010

iPhone 4.0 highlights

The main highlights from today's announcement: Multitasking, folders for organising apps, enhanced mail, iBooks for iPhone, increased enterprise friendliness, Game Kit, and iAd.

See Engadget's excellent live blog or watch the whole thing yourself. (Tip of the hat to Augustus Chang for the recommendation.)

Macworld has an excellent look at how Apple is doing multitasking without killing the battery.

The 4.0 SDK is now available. Click here to get workarounds if you have problems downloading it.






Thursday, April 8, 2010

Local developer Joash Chee has iPad-only app in the App Store already

You can't accuse Scoreless Music's Joash Chee of sleeping on the job. Joash, of CHORDiCA fame, is probably the first local developer to have an iPad-only app in the App Store. A songbook called Free ABC Songs, it features five traditional songs for children recorded by Matt R of Freeabcsongs.com. Joash and his wife are expecting twins so it's no surprise that he is on this particular development track.

"Hopefully this first collaboration proves to be fruitful and allow for more interesting products in the future from both Scoreless Music and Matt," says Joash.

While Joash may be first local developer to jump on the bandwagon, he is unlikely to be the last. Interest in the iPad has been intense and local developers are not immune to its siren call. However, as the device isn't available in Singapore yet, there is some breathing space. At least one local developer, Mugunth Kumar, is holding back until he gets his own unit to play with.

In a related note, Singapore Street Map (US$2.99) appears to be the first iPad app that might be of interest to Singapore residents (though it would probably be of greater interest to visitors to Singapore, rather than Singapore residents per se).

The app, as its name suggests, is a street map of Singapore. Not having an iPad, I can’t really say how well this app works, but in principle, maps on the iPad should work better than on the iPhone because of the bigger screen.
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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Buying a new car? SGCarCalc can help

Here's more evidence that Singapore's economy is picking up. There's now a second app in the App Store aimed at car buyers. SGCarCalc (US$0.99) is a neat calculator that helps you calculate the margin the dealer makes on the car, the interest you pay on a car loan and how much you would have to pay if you repay your outstanding car loan early.

Looks like a great tool for people interested in buying cars. SGCarCalc is selling for US$0.99 (and you can't tell me this is too expensive if you can afford to buy a car). Download it here.
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Kopi demystifies the coffee ordering process

If you've always wanted to explore different types of coffee from your neighbourhood coffeeshop, free app Kopi is what you need. Input the kind of coffee you want and the app will translate it into the vernacular name for it so you can order without making a fool of yourself. Want a strong black coffee without sugar? It's called kopi o gao kosong. Want sweet weak iced coffee with condensed milk? Order a kopi p'oh ga dai. The only thing missing is the ability to see what you've ordered. If you've been pushing buttons and you've managed to get kopi see gao siew dai peng, but you don't know what that is, you're out of luck. (For the curious, this is strong iced coffee with evaporated milk, less sugar.)

This invaluable guide to ordering coffee should be on the iPhone of every coffee drinker in Singapore. Kopi is free. Download it here.
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iPhone OS 4 details coming soon

The relentless Apple publicity machine has started cranking up again. Engadget reports that Apple will be holding an event on April 8 to announce the details of iPhone OS 4. Will there be multi-tasking? Will it be called the iPhone HD? Will it use the A4 processor? We'll find out in just a few days.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"The techies were wrong. Steve Jobs was right." Omar Wasow, The Root

"I bet that anyone who thinks that the iPad lacks a "wow factor," will change his or her tune after playing with dazzling apps like "The Elements," a new kind-of interactive book that presents the periodic table with eye-popping photography and video. The iPad's comfortable size, exceedingly sharp display and fast processor will be a powerful platform for reinventing traditional media like the book and interactive media like the Web in numerous and unimaginable ways. And the "wow factor" will only increase as innovators develop new apps to take full advantage of the iPad's unique strengths." Full review here.
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Starhub releases app for "live" TV

Watch free live TV using the StarHub TV app. Channels include BBC World News, CNBC Asia, Bloomberg, Fashion TV, National Geographic and ChannelNews Asia. You have to be on Starhub's 3G network to watch, but there is no charge for the data connection.

StarHub TV is free. Download it here.

(Tip of the hat to iMerlion reader Steven Gan.)

"A touch of genius", Xeni Jardin, Boing Boing

"Just as the iPhone, Palm Pré and Android phones scratched an itch we didn't know we had, somewhere between cellphone and notebook, the iPad hits a completely new pleasure spot. The display is large enough to make the experience of apps and games on smaller screens stale. Typography is crisp, images gem-like, and the speed brisk thanks to Apple's A4 chip and solid state storage. As I browse early release iPad apps, web pages, and flip through the iBook store and books, the thought hits that this is a greater leap into a new user experience than the sum of its parts suggests." Xeni's review focuses on the book reading experience on the iPad. Full review here.
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iPad review: "A winner", Tim Gideon, PC Magazine

"But having used the iPad for some time, I can tell you that the device just makes sense. When you combine basic-but-essential work tools with iWork, an improved browser, e-mail, iPod, and photo applications, a well-executed e-Book platform with iBooks, and throw in thousands of downloadable apps and games, and package it all in a gorgeous, slim slate with a beautiful 9.7-inch touch screen, you have yourself a winner." Full review here.
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"It's a winner," Ed Baig. USA Today

"The first iPad is a winner. It stacks up as a formidable electronic-reader rival for Amazon's Kindle. It gives portable game machines from Nintendo and Sony a run for their money. At the very least, the iPad will likely drum up mass-market interest in tablet computing in ways that longtime tablet visionary and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates could only dream of." Full review here.

"One of the best computers ever", Andy Ihnatko, Chicago Sun-Times

"The most compelling sign that Apple got this right is the fact that despite the novelty of the iPad, the excitement slips away after about ten seconds and you’re completely focused on the task at hand ... whether it’s reading a book, writing a report, or working on clearing your Inbox. Second most compelling: in situation after situation, I find that the iPad is the best computer in my household and office menagerie. It’s not a replacement for my notebook, mind you. It feels more as if the iPad is filling a gap that’s existed for quite some time." Click here for the full review.
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Laptop killer? Pretty close, says Walt Mossberg, WSJ

Key takeaway: "My verdict is that, while it has compromises and drawbacks, the iPad can indeed replace a laptop for most data communication, content consumption and even limited content creation, a lot of the time." Read the review here.
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iPad review: David Pogue, NYT

The reviews are coming in. This is David Pogue's review for the New York Times. Summary? It's a gigantic iPod touch. Meh for techies. Great for everyone else. And it has a 12, not 10, hour battery life when playing video. Read it all here.
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