Playapod is a new cross-platform mobile app that improves the experience of consuming podcasts on your mobile device. As an avid consumer of podcasts, I was unhappy with the other apps on the market. One of the biggest features of Playapod is syncing to the cloud so all your podcasts are available on all your devices. You can pick up any device and start playback exactly where you left off. It’s a great feature but it’s not my favorite of all–That would be the Playapod Progress Bar.
Playapod’s Precision Progress Bar displays where you have listened (blue), skipped (black), and favorited (red) in addition to your current audio position (turquoise). It also displays what you have listened to since pressing play (bright blue). All of this information is synced across all your devices.
I’ve always wanted a progress bar that displays exactly what you have listened to and skipped over. Have you ever accidentally jumped to the end of your podcast or fumbled with your device and lost your place? It’s happened to me so many times. I never understood why audio book and podcast apps wouldn’t display in a different color the parts I have actually listened so it wouldn’t matter if I lost my playback position. Also, there are many times when I want to replay something later–maybe a good laugh or an interesting piece of news. I added time-coded bookmarks to the progress bar which makes it very easy to go back and share the best moments of a podcast with friends.
There are many more great features in the Playapod app and you can read more about them in the Playapod press release. You can download Playapod for free and try the cloud syncing and progress bar improvements yourself. I think you’ll really enjoy it!
Do you want to get a million downloads? I discussed how to do just that at a MoDev event a few years back. In just 6 easy steps, you’ll be able to boost those app downloads. Now don’t worry because this isn’t an infomercial and I’m not selling anything. It’s just totally free advice with no strings attached.
There was a small group of people at this event (maybe 40), but the video has had over 15,000 views. I just watched it today (3 years later) and found that the concepts and methods still hold up. If you didn’t get discouraged from my last post, Ideas are Worth Nothing, then you have to watch my presentation when you are about to launch your new app.
I’m writing a couple tutorials on how to build your first app, starting with the typical Hello World example. I’ll then show how to take that code and build something a little more useful including a system clock and a stopwatch timer. It will be a total of three articles.
Patent trolls have been all over the press lately with companies like Lodsys suing Rovio Mobile, the maker of Angry Birds. They also have been going after small iOS and Android developers too. They are claiming they own the rights to in-app-purchase, upgrade buttons, and even links to the App Store. It kind of feels like a new form of the Mafia.
There has been a lot of advice floating around out on the Internet. Patrick Igoe, who is a patent attorney, says settling with the trolls is a bad idea. He has provided a lot of technical analysis on the patent claim charts and is having a hard time understanding how developers could be in violation. On the other side of the spectrum is Florian Mueller who is telling developers that they should just settle because of the costs involved. I contacted Apple Legal to see what they thought and received a one-liner saying “You may wish to consult the advice of an attorney as we cannot provide you with any legal advice on Lodsys’ patent infringement claim.”
It’s sad that the App industry that I truly have enjoyed being a part of for the last 3 years might actually be coming to an end. Independent developers won’t be able to afford legal representation, especially for a patent litigation case. I recently learned at the MoDevDC meetup group that an average patent litigation defense costs around 2.5 million dollars. It’s just not possible to fight a troll that has deep pockets. If we just roll over and pay the troll to go away, there is no guarantee that others won’t come knocking. There doesn’t seem to be an easy answer.
I was once proud to have my name listed as the inventor on a series of software inventions. I no longer feel this way after seeing how vague patents are awarded and then misused. Patents are supposed to be non-obvious, but all of the software patents I have read, including my own, seem pretty obvious to me. I would be the first person to sign up to have all software patents invalidated. My blood boiled when I recently listened to When Patents Attack! by This American Life. I suggest you give it a listen. I can only hope that one day patent reform can fix our patent system and help bring back innovation.
Just returned from a trip to Dallas, TX where I filmed a four day series on creating iPhone Games. It will be published by O’Reilly Media and hopefully available within a couple months. It will cover creating games using the iPhone foundation classes and also includes a day on the popular 2D gaming library cocos2d.
On the set of the O'Reilly Breakdown Series
The videos cover a wide range of topics including animation, collision detection, physics, multi-touch, graphics, sounds, and even computer AI.
My favorite part of the entire series was a discussion on how to record and edit realistic sounds into your game. We built an air hockey game and used real paddles and a puck to simulate and record sounds that you would typically hear while playing. My co-host said it reminded her of this video on the art of Foley which I have watched at least 20 times now:
I just bought my new Verizon iPhone4 today and decided to run a speed test to compare AT&T with Verizon. Here are the results:
My location was inside the iPhone Apple store in Reston, VA. I disabled all WiFi connections during the test. The business manager of the store watched me perform the test and couldn’t believe the results. Let’s go over the numbers.
Let’s start with the Ping stat which measures network latency–This is amount of time when a request is sent from the device to when the first response arrives. You want the lowest number possible. It’s like if you typed in a URL in your browser and measured the time it took when you first hit enter, to when you first saw content displaying on the page. It took AT&T almost a half second while Verizon was a fraction of that time.
Let’s look at download speed where we want the highest number possible. Verizon killed it with 1.34 Mbps while AT&T struggled at 0.35 Mbps. That’s almost 4 times faster. Upload speeds for Verizon were even better.
Does this test really mean anything? Probably not for most people unless they only use their phone in that single spot I tested from. It does mean something to me–The latency, download, and upload speeds for Verizon was a pleasant surprise. The numbers were pretty good. It really comes down to this–Do you have good coverage and signal quality in your area? I along with millions of other customers did not have good AT&T coverage in the areas I spent the most time. Like my house, for example, which was always searching for an AT&T signal. I was able to talk on my Verizon iPhone for hours today without a single dropped call, both while driving and in my house.
I’ve been waiting a long time to use my phone to actually make phone calls. Thanks Verizon.
Should you switch to the Verizon iPhone4? I answer this question the same way a nurse asks you about an injury–On a scale between 1 and 10, what level of pain are you in? If you give the nurse a high number, she will give you a shot of morphine, and the pain will go away. In the same manner, if your AT&T pain level is high enough, maybe a shot of Verizon is exactly what you need.
My AT&T pain level is about a 9 right now. I reserve 10 for women in labor trying to get directions to the hospital and their call drops. That would be a solid 10. I put myself at a 9 because I’ve gotten to the point that I scream and yell at my phone when it drops or fails to send a text. The other day I was on an important call when it dropped and I started beating up my car’s steering wheel and screaming irrationally. I should be throwing the iPhone out the window instead of beating up my car. I’m just so tired of dropped calls and the red icon on my text messages prompting me to try again. I’m tired of beginning every call with, “I’m on an AT&T iPhone so if this call drops I will call you back from a land line.”
Should you make the switch? The first factor you need to consider is how much will it cost above the initial $199 for the phone? In my case, I bought the iPhone 3GS on the day it came out so I have about 6 months left in my contract. It will cost me around $75 in early termination fees. If you already bought the iPhone4 then you should know that AT&T changed it’s terms and conditions and placed a much higher penalty on early termination. Pull up your terms on AT&T’s website and calculate what it will cost to get out of your contract.
If you are okay with the early termination fees, we then need to ask the question, how upset will you be if they introduce an iPhone5 in June? History does show that every year a new iPhone gets introduced. My best guess is there won’t be a major new version of the iPhone. Maybe they will introduce the iPhone4S and make the current model faster while fixing the AT&T antenna issue. I don’t think they will support 4G LTE this year. Verizon is just rolling out their LTE network and AT&T hasn’t even announced their 4G strategy other than saying it’s coming. It’s just too early for Apple to jump in.
I think this is going to be the year of iPad and Mac. All the rumors are currently pointing to a new iPad2. The iPad needs a ton of features to bring it up to the feature list of the iPhone4. It can’t take pictures. It can’t FaceTime. It doesn’t have an insane amount of pixels per inch found in the retina display. Compared to the iPhone4, the iPad is outdated technology. That’s why I think the big announcement this year at WWDC will be about the iPad. Steve Jobs has even said it’s time for the rest of the products to catch up.
Some of you may want to hold out until June to see what happens. Or maybe you think AT&T’s network will become better with the mass exodus of people switching to Verizon. All I know is my car will thank me for making the switch. On February 10th, you should ask what level of pain are you in?
Verizon has never given a keynote speech at CES but will be doing so in a couple days. What’s the big news? Last year, they announced their LTE network for faster speeds and this year it is expected they will unveil new 4G phones that will use it. The rumor mill has been running at full force over what operating system the new phones will use–Android or iOS?
I will add to all the rumors and say one of my friends, who works for CES, has been telling me for months it will be the iPhone. But reports came out early this week that it will be a series of 4G Android phones.
All I know for sure is that I have not upgraded my 3GS iPhone because I want an iPhone4 on Verizon’s network. I think many people are in the same boat. January 6th will be an interesting day with the Mac App Store being released and the Verizon keynote. Buckle up.