iOS 5 is around the corner (updated)

iOS 5 image

update: this post was written thursday of last week. it is now semi confirmed the developer of mobileNotifier is hired by apple and that iCloud will be presented by jobs tomorrow.

one major revamp is the bare minimum as there are areas lacking where either android or cydia leaves the current OS lagging. and no doubt we will get what we are expecting.. just a gut feeling… here is my short list of enhancements that i’d like to see:

1. improved notification system: bar non that most important and required change to iOS. face it, the current notification system sucks big time. in the past, the real incentive to jailbreak your phone was mywi, my3g and going even further back, multitasking and naturally the most important feature – sim freeing your phone (Screw you apple and ATT for violating FCC regulations). now-a-days, mobileNotifier is THE reason why my phone is jailbroken. aggregate all notifications into a single window utilizing the empty space created when you double click the home page. apple – pls take note, this guy has done a great job.

2. dynamic home icons: ala windows8. yes you heard right. big chunky icons that actually display content and not just a static image. one good example is available on cydia and is called ‘weather icon’. it changes the degrees on the weather icon to display the current temperature. it also allows the temperature to be displayed on the status bar. really useful stuff. apple, please expose an API to do so.

3. OTA updates: not likely but definitely nice to have… over the air updates makes lots of sense. please – no more plugging in to itunes and backing it all up. this ties up to the next item that is most definitely making an appearance on monday:

4. iCloud content sync: this will probably make a big eco. iCloud can and will take cloud services to the next level. apple doing what they do tiered up, may see music sync and later down the road app sync.. so iCloud will probably allow you to purchase music from iTunes and stream it directly from your cloud storage. no need (or an option) to download and sync stuff. fantastic. one viable option is to open a US front against spotify, the EU-stream-the-song-you-want kind of service in the US. imagine a yearly/monthly plan ($20-$50/year) where you can listen to what you want… that’s a nice one.

WHAT’S MISSING? iphone5 with 4G, NFC and iWallet, A5, double down on RAM, larger display and IR.

useful xcode debugging methodologies

developing for the iponhe is not a simple thing. cocoa is designed with specific patterns in mind, a dominant model-view-controller, performance oriented with specific ways of going about things. xcode is your best friend, believe it or not. the apple documentation is there for you as well, and many hours were spent to create coherent manuals that will assist us in doing a great job. and doing a great job is a must, because mobile devices are not as browsers. memory foot print is really important. if you over due it, your app will be removed by the OS and UX breaks. bad karma indeed.

dealing with memory leaks and zombies is an important issue, and below i will provide a couple of useful tips to setting up xcode in such a way, and arranging your code, so you have more control and understanding of what’s going on under the hood.

first up, i assume you are familiar with:

– reading a call stack
– play around with the expression window
– use the memory browser when needed

if you are not, you probably should read up on those and play around with them. very useful tools to get the gist of what is going on with your app.

tip #1:
– always archive your dSYM (short for debug symbols) along with the app you send for your QA guys (the “testers”). this is really useful, as once they email you back crash logs (which they will), the data in the log will actually make sense, i.e. the symbols are mapped correctly and you will see actual method names rather than HEX addresses.

tip #2:
use the symbolicatecrash script and pass it the .crash file and .dSYM file. this will allow you to mesh the two together and review what had happened. from the command line, execute ‘find /Developer/ -iname symbolicatecrash’. grab the path and add it to your ~/.profile (if you are a bash kind of a guy). add this line: “PATH=/Developer/Platforms/iPhoneOS.platform/Developer/Library/PrivateFrameworks/DTDeviceKit.framework/ \
Versions/A/Resources/:$PATH” and don’t forget to “source ~/.profile” before you try and access the script.

tip #3:
enable malloc_error_break so xcode will halt when you double release an object or release a stomped memory. this directive for the debugger is actually a breakpoint. think about it, what we are asking xocde to do, is break on a memory allocation error as if it were a breakpoint (rather than crashing). this is very useful as the program will halt on the line of code that tried to perform the illegal action. add this to your project from the breakpoint view. easy as pie.

tip #4:
party with the zombies. edit your schema (xcode4 people can you hear me?) and add NSZombieEnabled = YES to the “environment variables” list. what happes here is fun. xcode will not release your objects when their reference count is zero, but will keep them for safekeep within the framework of the app. if any of the pseudo released objects is being sent a method, xcode will halt your application, load the debugger and point you to the line of code that tried to access what is suppose to be a zombie. how cool is that? caution! this method is a heavy memory foot print so take it under consideration when you enable them zombies to roam your lands.

on my next post i will show you a nifty header file that allows for fast turning on and off of debug calls from within your app.

good luck!

top picks for 2010 from the appStore

2010 has been an incredible year for the mobile space, and as crazy as things may appear, this is only the beginning. with the advent move of the smart TVs and slated devices, we are bound to see more innovation for both corporates and consumers alike.


here is my short list of top apps for the iphone first, at random order:

VOIP:
skype: veteran at it’s field. skype is affecting the bottom line by saving money. $3/month for unlimited calls in the US, the ability to work over 3g and soon facetime is where the industry will be, no matter how much carriers want to extort the end users. bar none, skype is keeping us all connected. with PBX integration and a future IPO this company will continue to dominate and lead the way in it’s field.

SOCIAL:
facebook: this facebook app is a fantastic example of how apps can pack zest with style. this is the top used app because it’s well done. nothing much to say, we are all on it and loving it.

foursquare: i am a big fan of the NY based company. real time, location based (and soon NFC), 4squre has started something great that is echoing throughout. mayorships, badges and a solid business plan. i hope for more goodness from these guys.

PHOTOGRAPHY:
fotomecha: probably my favorite camera app (for still photos) in the appStore, because it allows me to be creative and capture moments i.e. more than one moment, and create a flow in time.

itimelapse: for video capable iphones, this app allows timelaps video creation with some nifty features for creative control. you need to be patient and stable, or maybe you need the glif.

MUSIC:
FiRe: top recorder which integrates well with soundcloud. i use it often to record music,conversations etc. these guys are fantastic with performance and know the audio frameworks well. money well spent.

SPL meter: i use this app to know when the sound around me is affecting my hearing. hearing gone bad cannot be regained. those tiny hairs in the hearing tube will not grow back. sounds particular and you may call me old fashioned, but no concert/club in the world is worth loosing our hearing for.

READING:
goodreads: bar none, the top app to sync your pdf files for offline reading. i also sync movies to it and this is the reason i get more done. 30m on the subway is a great time to launch this app (both iphone and ipad). with the ability to sync documents from dropbox, google docs and others, this app packs a punch of useful features.

HOME:
airphones: great little app that turns the iphone into a wireless headset over wifi. you will need to install a server on your mac or windows machine.

mobile mouse: while you have airphones streaming audio from your mac mini, which is hooked up to a 50″ plasma, you will need to launch a browser and go on veetle.com. this app is the best i’ve seen and worth every penny. again, you will need a server running on your machine.

Calunga

the past couple of months have been as crazy as it gets. i have been diving deeper and deeper into iOS technologies and am coding for the iPad non stop. i must say that i really enjoy working with xcode and objective-c and the potential is endless. soon koi will lift off the ground and make this world a better place 🙂

calunga, a song i wrote while traveling brasil in 2009. calunga means “sea” in many native west african languages. calunga also means death, and by the teaching of yoga – we die in order to be reborn little by little, every day, while evolving to a higher state. it is our daily practice and commitment toward achieving our goals that compels us to overcome fear and grow stronger.

this is exactly what the people of west africa must have experienced when pulled out of their homes and brought to brasil – a rebirth that is so incredibly embraced there.

this song symbolises the peace i had found and the unity with the ocean, the atlantic forrest and the people. truly is an incredible place. i’ve added a gallery of some of the photos i’ve taken there to go with the music – play both at the same time to get the full experience of the music. be inspired!

the song was recorded at Mal Stein studios

Calunga by pengas

Why Apple TV and Ping will fail

Major snore from Apple in my opinion. I think that the event itself, and the fact it was streamed to Mac machines and Safari browsers only is THE reason why Apple had failed and will continue to fail (in my eyes) with the latest announcements. I am talking about a close eco system and spoon fed experience.

Apple failed with the TV expenditure. Steve did not show us numbers, but clearly it was a failure. The big changes were sizing, pricing of shows and streaming, as opposed to storing. Is that what the users really want? To a certain degree, yes. Users do not want to worry about storage, they want to pay less for a device and for content. Apple did deliver on this, but it will not be enough, I believe, to be a killer device like the iPhone, and take over the living room with a storm. WHY? Because of the closed eco system and spoon fed experience.

Apple did a great job in educating the users and providing a great user experience across the board. I argue that user experience is what Apple is really selling and why people are using it. Coupled with the motivation to challenge and innovate, and you have a winning strategy.

This does not and will not work for the TV because only Apple fanboys will forget everything they know, and start a fresh with Apple TV, and forget all they know and do with their many years of habit. The TV is one area where users do not want to get the Apple filter applied to. Users don’t mind it with their iPod shuffle. They don’t mind it with their Mac OSX based machines, and to a certain degree they agree to it with their iPhone (mainly because Android did not step up it’s UX game to be considered a worthy competitor. yet).

Apple will gain a small market share and will have to come up with something much better than that to capture the imagination of the bigger market. I believe that can be done by turning the Apple TV into a real entertainment center to compete head to head with the Sony PlayStation and the Nintendo Wii as a console, introducing the iOS appStore for the TV. That can be killer. But even that is not enough. An Apple TV can only be better than, let’s say, a Mac Mini hooked up to a TV, if it is open. By open I mean I can do whatever I want to do, as opposed to whatever Jobs wants me to do (buy his content that he chose for me).

Examples for this behavior are ample and sad. Apple removed Camera+ from the AppStore recently because TapX3 released a hack which allows you to fire up the camera from the volume button. Apple initially declined the feature, claiming it will confuse people. So Apple is stepping up to the plate as our parents (more like a big brother), deciding what is confusing for us. Clearly, releasing the shutter speed in an ergonomic way may confuse us. I feel over estimated, and I do not think it is for Apple to decide for me what’s confusing and what’s not.

Apple’s attempt at social media is probably the most interesting news to date from that event. A social network around music, which is mutually exclusive from Facebook. Did I snore yet again? While I do believe this is a GREAT idea and a fantastic opportunity for Apple to increase sales on iTunes – the segregation is peculiar. Even worse – who wants to live inside iTunes? Though revolutionary, iTunes is hate by many. Looks and feels old and clunky. Navigating through your music sucks and discovery with genius is, well, boring…

Apple’s notion that people will have iTunes open to see what their friends are listening to is optimistic at best. Not web based, not facebook integration. Only one hope – it integrates with iTunes on your mobile device. I cannot imagine myself opening up iTunes when I want to listen to some music, and getting up to speed with what’s going on with my music buddies.

Apple can definitely relax a little. Let go of the grip and think of a more open way to provide users what they do best. Or not. My personal opinion is that they will not do that, and continue to thrive with a small market share that pays hefty sums to be a part of the cult.