Posts Tagged ‘iphone’

The iPhone with the untraceable manufacturer

January 20th, 2013

“The tech inside is military grade, I can’t even trace the manufacturer.”
– Arrow season 1 episode 10

Come on, your average Best Buy employee could “trace the manufacturer” of an iPhone 4. I’m starting to think this town only needs Archer McRockabs because of their incompetent police force.

Arrow hooks you with action and drama, but you’ll stay for the facepalm-worthy moments.

White iPhone spotted in 1987 film RoboCop

September 22nd, 2012

In a previous post, I pointed out what appears to be a white iPhone 4 or 4S model in a 1993 Star Trek episode.

Turns out the white iPhone design dates back even earlier.

Here’s a frame of the 1987 film RoboCop, approximately 30 minutes in to the film.

It’s described as a handheld mapping device. While it may not look much like an iPhone at first glance, notice the dimensions and how it’s held with a portrait orientation.

But there’s more to it than that. Much more:

In the above frame, approximately 1:08 into the film, we see Dick Jones (played by Ronny Cox) holding a different version of the RoboCop tracking device.

Immediately after, we see a POV shot of this second model:

Notice anything iPhone-like about this?

No, not the crappy iOS 6 maps. I meant the rectangular portrait shape and rounded corners.

Thankfully, Apple’s patent on physical shapes was invalidated, ensuring the future of Omni Consumer Product’s line of cyborg police officers won’t involve patent infringement.

White iPhone spotted in 1993

September 5th, 2012

Oh and speaking of Star Trek: TNG, here’s something you might not have noticed from Season 6 episode “The Chase” when it first aired in 1993. I want to stress that the following image is not photoshopped or altered in any way:

Through a modern lens it’s hard not to look back and see anything but a white iPhone 4/4S model in Data’s hand. The rounded corners, the size, the color, the metal edges, and the way he’s using the device all seem indicative of an iPhone.

I hope he has a good Data plan!

…sorry, couldn’t help myself.

Of course it wasn’t really an iPhone, and we only see a few shots of the device, always partially obscured by the hands of actor Brent Spiner. But if we’re willing to look at the episode with the benefit of hindsight it leads to some intriguing questions:

  • Could this count as “prior art” in the Apple vs. Samsung case?
  • Did Apple’s designers get inspiration from this episode, consciously or subconsciously?
  • Is cell phone service better in the mid 2300′s?

We could also ponder which alien races use which mobile operating systems (the Vulcans clearly run Android and the Klingons must run some frustrating shit like Symbian) but let’s not go there. I don’t want to start an intergalactic flame war.

UPDATE: It also appears they have iPads. Here’s Picard with one, with a speech bubble for illustrative purposes.

UPDATE 2: Looks like RoboCop had iPhones before Star Trek.

Why does the SF.gov iPhone app suck?

November 11th, 2011

SF.gov iOS app

UPDATE: As @hryx pointed out on Twitter, the app is called SF.gov but the website is actually sfgov.org. SF.gov isn’t a website. Even the name of the app is an exercise in failure!
 
 

Why does the SF.gov iPhone app suck? We live in a city filled with iOS software developers. Any of them could do a better job than this.

Look, I’m not that picky when it comes to software. But I’m not going to put up with your app if it’s slower than anything I’ve ever seen, buggy as hell, and haphazardly organized.

Let me explain.

Let’s start with those tab buttons at the bottom of the screen. Check the screenshot above.

When you press one of those, you probably think it will switch to the corresponding screen. That’s because you’re not the alcoholic middle school drop out who wrote this app.

No, instead one of the following happens when you press a tab button:

  • It will switch to the screen you pressed.
  • It will switch to the screen you pressed, but there will be a “loading” screen that has a few extra buttons at the top of the screen for a fraction of a second (I couldn’t read fast enough to see what they said.)
  • It won’t switch and will stay at the same screen.
  • Several screens will flash by rapidly, and eventually the screen will turn white and lock up. You’ll have to force quit the app.

You have to hand it to this application, it’s original — no other app has those bugs.

SF.gov iOS app: Services

The most useless tab is “services.” There’s only two options: calling 311, or a search box. The first option is self-explanatory. Strangely they don’t let you fill out a 311 report in the app; that requires a separate app that has completely different bugs.

The little search box gives no indication as to what it does. As you start typing into the box, titles appear below in a list. But you can only see two of them when the keyboard is open. You have to click the Done button to make the keyboard go away. If you skip that step and try to scroll the page, it will take you to the first page in the list. It’s not like you’re kind of busy when you’re using your phone to look up information. No, you have all the time in the world to tinker with UI glitches.

Whatever you click, it takes you to a mobile version of the SF.gov website. The browser is Safari, but for some reason it’s agonizingly slow. Fortunately there’s an unlabelled button which — as I discovered through trial and error — sends the page to Safari.

SF.gov iOS app: Connect

On the connect tab you can find Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links for SF.gov and other city services. Each of these opens in the agonizingly slow version of Safari included in this app. None of this will help you get your car back after it got towed for too many street sweeping tickets, so don’t bother with this section. It’s largely links to irrelevant city press releases.

What’s more interesting is the photo at the top of this section. It seems to depict the last thing someone saw as their eyes closed and they died while waiting in line at City Hall. (Click the image above to see for yourself.)

In case you were wondering, the Updates, Media, and More sections are also just lists of links to websites. Why most/all of these links didn’t belong in “Services” or “Connect” is anyone’s guess. Like all the lists of things in this app, they don’t scroll smoothly but instead jerk around slowly.

Everything in this app suffers from the same basic problem: you shouldn’t get pregnant with your pet ape, give birth to the ape-man-baby out of your ass, buy it a Mac and then teach it programming so it can make an SF.gov app. That’s just not humane.

Best free Wikipedia app for iPhone

March 24th, 2010

Chances are, if you don’t have an iPhone, you live in cabin in the middle of the woods — in the year 1812. The iPhone is everywhere these days. You’re probably reading this on one right now.

Icons

And since the almighty JesusPhone has internet access, it should be a great way to browse Wikipedia. But it’s not. Why? Well for starters, the iPhone’s built-in web browser is painfully slow, like a child pedaling their tricycle down the freeway. And to add insult to injury, the Wikipedia mobile site is completely awful, with unnecessary page reloads and a funky layout that makes it hard to use.

But here’s the thing: there’s a zillion apps out there for reading Wikipedia on the iPhone. I decided to download all the free ones I could stand and give them a test. Why only the free ones? Well there’s the fact that I’m a cheapass, but also Wikipedia itself is free and it just seems wrong to me to buy something to read free content. It’s like one of those scams where you get a “free gift” but then you have to pay for shipping and handling.

I’m testing NINE different free apps. And I’m not just going to load it up and say “Oooh, shiny! 10 stars OMG yay!!!!11″ like those other reviewers do. No, I’m going to be a hypercritical hard ass. Let’s get started by looking at the official Wikipedia iPhone app.

Wikipedia (official app)

Wikipedia officlal app
This app is slow and strangely designed. It’s almost like using the Wikipedia mobile website — no wait, it’s EXACTLY like that, except Safari has a different color scheme and more features.
Features: none really
Rating: EPIC FAIL

Wikipanion

photo.jpg
Yet another app that’s just a small skin over Safari. It’s like someone took your web browser and rearranged the buttons, and made it so it could only access one site. There’s some minor additions, such as quick search, but nothing notable.
Features: Wiktionary integration, search in page, quick search
Rating: *yawn*

Wapedia

Wapedia
This one is an improvement over the default app, but only slightly. They added some bullshit with social networking that nobody will ever use, and added a sort of nifty full screen mode that works just like the NY Times app. But sadly there’s distracting ads at the bottom of the screen.
The quick search in this one is one of the most obnoxious, it’s too responsive. You type in one letter and it starts searching instantly. Very off-putting.
Features: Quick search, page cache, image toggle, full screen mode, some social networking crap
Rating: Meh…

Quickpedia

Quickipedia
This one is about as confusing as they come. It’s like the developer didn’t care at all where the buttons went. On any given page if you scroll to the top, there’s an “Options” tab, which lets you change the font size as well as go to another screen called “Settings.” Yes, they seriously made a distinction between “Options” and “Settings.” WTF?
Even worse, between “Options” and the article there’s giant button that takes you to a random article, as if that were somehow the most important feature. I’m bored enough to review Wikipedia apps, and yet I would never be bored enough to use this button.
The “Nearby” feature was kind of nifty, but not enough to make up for the terrible interface.
Features: Quick search, nearby articles, Wiki News integration, WTF interface
Rating: NO!

Wikihood

Wikihood
This application only shows you articles about nearby places. Or it crashes. But when it does work, it just shows the page in a skinned version of Safari with no bells and whistles.
Features: Nearby articles, frequent crashes
Rating: Could be worse. But then again, even Hitler could have been worse.

Handy Wiki

Handy Wiki
All this app really adds is a quicker search to Wikipedia. It looks sort of like a mutant version of the address book on the phone when you search. And it’s actually quite fast. But it’s all moot because the article view is obstructed by a big add at the top which is superimposed over the article. Also, the images can make the screen too wide to hold the column, and you end up scrolling left and right just to read the goddamn thing.
It’s not at all well thought out. Maybe there’s no thought put into this app at all, I can’t really tell.
Features: Quick search feature, obnoxious advertising
Rating: You fail at failing (and that’s not an oxymoron)

WikiWiki

Wiki Wiki
Much like Handy Wiki, this one has a quick search feature. But the difference is that the results are presented in an utterly confounding fashion. First it shows the “full text” search, which tends to be garbage that has nothing to do with what you’re looking for. You have to scroll down to find the “title results” which is probably what you wanted.
The article view is okay, I’d give WikiWiki a slight mark above above Handy Wiki because the ad placement is more reasonable and the width works correctly.
Features: Dumb name, quirky quick search feature
Rating: Maybe…

Wiki Tap

Wiki Tap
You definitely get what you pay for, this app is totally barebones. There’s not much of anything here that you won’t find on Safari, with the exception of the Nearby feature, the quick search, and a few quick links at the top of the screen.
But on the plus side, the few features this app has actually do work. So it provides a small step above just looking at Wikipedia in Safari.
Features: Nearby articles, quick search, links to videos
Rating: Eh, I’d use it

Wikiamo
Wikiamo
Much like Wiki Tap, but even more barebones. There’s no Nearby feature, for example.
But in spite of the few features, nothing really works right. The quick search worked fine for me the first time, but the second time I used it it changed my language to French. Qu’est-ce qu’un tas de merde! Then there’s the rotation. Prepare to wait 30 seconds if you tilt your phone slightly, because that’s about how long this application takes to flip the orientation. Lame.
Features: Quick search
Rating: Merde.

Conclusion
There’s some terrible apps out there, but the good news is they’re free. Then again, time is money so why bother with the bad apps? I already tried them out, therefore you owe me money. Think about it.

Anyway, Wiki Tap has my vote. It has quite a few features for a freebie app, the most useful of which is the quick search. If you’re going to use an app, use that one. But remember: with great power comes great responsibility. So no cheating on trivia night, folks.