Tag Archives: iPhone

No free iPhone tethering with Optus

So I have an iPhone.  And I have a laptop.  And the iPhone supports tethering – basically meaning that the iPhone OS allows me to configure my laptop to use the data connection on my iPhone.  Sounds useful right?   Don’t need to buy a separate 3G USB stick.

But when I try to enable tethering on the iPhone, I get this:

 iPhone Optus tethering

What?!?  It’s all data in the end isn’t it?  Why should internet data from my laptop be any different from internet data from my iPhone?   Can Optus even tell what comes from the phone and what comes from my laptop (if I were able to configure it?).

*sigh*

Advertisements

Stick Wars on the iPhone

Stick Wars

During the school holidays, I had a great time playing a game called “Stick Wars” on the iPhone with Miss 10.  

The beginning levels are kind of slow.  Miss 10 was able to do many of these starting levels herself, but when things started getting hectic, she handed it over to me.   I did find that there were too many easy levels at the beginning – it should have got harder quicker in my opinion.

I love the touch controls for this game.  It is something that just wouldn’t translate that well into a traditional game console interface.   Picking up the people and either slamming them into the ground or throwing them away with your finger is so wrong but fun 🙂   And pulling back and releasing the fireball like a bow and arrow seems very natural.   For a while, we were playing it 2 people at once – I’d fire the fireballs at the dragons and catapults whilst she threw the invaders away and the game handled the multi-touch with no problems.

The soundtrack is monotonous but appropriate.  One day, we even played it in the car hooked up to the stereo and we turned it up loud!  It was fun!

Overall, it looks like a simple looking game – the graphics aren’t that complicated or professional (come ‘on – they are stick men!).  But the game is so so addictive. 

The levels are short enough that you say to yourself, “just one more level”.  I think that’s what makes games like this so successful.  Definitely recommended!

Apple WWDC 2009 and new iPhone thoughts

Geeks around the world have been excited lately. 

First there was the annual computer games and electronic entertainment conference called E3 last weekend.  And then yesterday, Apple held its annual developer conference called WWDC.

At these conferences, there are stands with the latest gadgets and software on demo.  But they also host major keynotes – presentations – by major computer companies, where they unveil their latest products and offerings.

I haven’t been to one of these geek meccas before, but from the video footage and live blogs, geeks will excitedly applaud, cheer and even boo announcements as they are made.

Weird?  Not really.  I was thinking of waking up at 1AM Perth time to follow the announcements live, but…  I was too tired 🙂

So what’s new for iPhone users in the near future?

—–

A new iPhone 3G S

The new iPhone 3G S is an updated version of the current iPhone 3G.

Improved performance
The new iPhone 3GS is faster.  It’s interesting because the video demo on the Apple site seems to place quite a bit of importance on this.  I wonder if it’s their way of saying, “We don’t need multitasking because it’s so fast to start a new application anyway”.  I know this argument doesn’t really cover background processing, but maybe push technology is meant to cover that problem.

The “S” is for speed.  I wonder if the existing iPhone should be called iPhone 3G S too, where “S” means slow instead!

New 3 megapixel camera
The new camera has a few more pixels.  Doesn’t really make me that excited, plus I’m quite happy with the photos from the iPhone so far.  But the autofocus and tap to focus are much welcomed.  I couldn’t find much details, but it seems that the camera will focus and do some sort of spot metering for the spot that you touch on the screen.  I guess focus lock is not an issue if you can click anywhere to focus, but it would be nice to have independent exposure controls, an exposure lock or separate exposure tap.

Built in video camera with editing
The video preview of this looks great!  I love how easy Apple have made it to edit videos once you’ve taken it. As a parent, this is invaluable.  One less gadget to bring to the local park.

Voice Control
Be able to phone people, change songs, etc. just by speaking to your phone!  Sounds great doesn’t it?  But from the video preview, it appears that you need to press/hold the single menu button on the iPhone to “activate” or “start” listening for voice commands. 

This sucks!!  I just want to be able to talk to the phone without touching it at all!!  Maybe supply some sort of “activation” word that you can use so that everyday conversations won’t make your iPhone do things out of the blue.   For example, if I’m driving and want to phone someone or change music tracks, I don’t want to go reaching for that button. 

But not having to “train” the iPhone (as far as I can tell) is good.  I wonder how similar the voice recognition technology is to Sony’s voice control in the latest SingStar games.

Digital Compass
About time!  This will tell you which way you are pointing your phone. There’s been a few times when I’ve driven to somewhere new using Google Maps, stopped to check the map, but then realised I didn’t know which way I was facing.  I’d love to see this combined with streetview! I’d hope that you should be able to spin around physically and the images in streetview should line up with what you see live.

Maybe they should have added some reference tilt capability too.  Imagine the applications in astronomy!!  You would then be able to aim your camera at a part of the sky, and an application would be able to tell you what stars or constellation you’re looking at.  Or alternately, show you arrows to help you move your iPhone so that it’s pointing to a particular planet that you’re looking for.

Better battery life
Can only be a good thing.

—–

A new iPhone OS 3.0 Software Update

This was announced a few months ago, but basically, Apple are about to release a new OS/firmware, that will be used on the new iPhone 3GS, but also existing iPhone’s can be updated too.

Cut, Copy and Paste
I know people on the web have been screaming for this, but to tell you the truth, I’ve never really needed it so far. 

MMS
Yay!  Send photos and videos using SMS.  About time!!!  Although, to tell you the truth, I’ve gotten away with emailing photos to my Wifey lately.

Spotlight Search
Adds the ability to search for anything on your phone.  Spotlight is the search technology/term on Apple Mac computers. 

I’m actually looking forward to this.  Just the other day, I was trying to remember where I’d seen something on my iPhone. 

Landscape keyboard
I’ve never really had the need for this.  But I know that others on the net have been craving this.

Voice Memos
There are third party applications that do this already, and I’ve never used them except for novelty purposes.

—–

If you already have an iPhone and don’t plan on upgrading soon, Gizmodo have made a clear chart that shows exactly what you can get with the new iPhone OS on your existing iPhone here – http://i.gizmodo.com/5283468/iphone-3gs-vs-iphone-3g-feature-chart-comparison

More info on the Apple WWDC 2009 at Wired’s live blog coverage – http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/06/liveblog-wwdc09/

Facebook Connect on the iPhone

Yesterday, I read about Facebook Connect being expanded to the iPhone.  Having not really played with Facebook Connect much, what does this all mean?

Facebook Connect

To the average user, Facebook Connect basically allows you to use your Facebook ID to login to non-Facebook sites that support Facebook Connect.  This saves a whole lot of trouble trying to create separate accounts on each website and memorising passwords all over the place.  

An added bonus is that these non-Facebook sites have the option of publishing your activity on those sites to your Facebook profile.  This just enhances the whole centralisation of “what you are up to” to Facebook, but of course you don’t have to publish it to your Facebook profile if you don’t want to.

Facebook Connect with the iPhone

So how does the iPhone story fit in?  The iPhone has a huge array of applications and games.  Some of these support network play, leaderboards, etc, but so far, you have to create yet another user account and keep track of that!  And then once you do, how do you find your friends on there?   Now you have to look up the user accounts of your friends on these other iPhone gaming systems.  

With Facebook Connect support on iPhone applications, you can now login using your Facebook ID to supported iPhone games and applications.  It’s sort of like playing those Facebook games like Poker, Scramble, etc, but on your mobile device. 

Sure there’s other systems like Microsoft Live, but Facebook have really taken it to the next step by pushing this into the mobile world.

Tap Tap Revenge 2 with Facebook Connect

Tap Tap Revenge is a music rhythm DDR/Guitar Hero type game on the iPhone.  Last night I updated Tap Tap Revenge 2 to the latest version, which now supports Facebook Connect.  I can play an Online Game, I can play against Facebook friends (who are online, have an iPhone and Tap Tap Revenge 2 – which is none at the moment 😦 😦 ), and Tap Tap Revenge 2 can publish my latest scores to my Facebook profile.

Here is what you get:


Summary

I like it.  I know there will be people who don’t like all this control by Facebook, and the centralisation of their user data, but it’s optional.  If you don’t like it, don’t use it. 

I’d like to see even more connectivity:

  • Connect my PlayStation Network identity to Facebook somehow.  That would be neat.  
  • Show a list of my Facebook friends that are online and what games they are currently playing so I can join in (like Xbox Live or Playstation Network)
  • Play games on my mobile with people playing on Facebook on a computer.  Imagine being able to play the next move on Scrabble or Chess or Scramble on either your mobile device natively (not through your mobile phone’s web browser) or on a PC.
  • Show me which of my friends are nearby. Maybe the iPhone 3.0 firmware will help go some of this way.  Hmm….
  • Develop GPS oriented team games that combine the iPhone’s GPS with your friends on Facebook

Oh, and continue porting Nintendo DS type platform and other games to the iPhone platform.  You wouldn’t need any other device!!

First 2009 cycle with Trailguru

The weather forecast looked not too hot yesterday so I decided to cycle to work. My first cycle in over a month and I felt it! Half way to work in the morning, my legs started feeling like concrete posts.

I thought to myself, “I’m going to phone wifey and ask her to pick me up.”

But then I thought, “Stuff it! I’m going to continue cycling, but at a leisurely pace and enjoy the view!”.

For my ride home, I decided to try out an iPhone application called Trailguru. Trail Guru is yet another reason why the iPhone is cool. It’s a GPS tracking application – you basically click “Start”, and then it will track where you are, how long you’ve been going, what your current speed and altitude is, and then let you review all this when you’re done.

Screenshot of trip on Trailguru website
Screenshot of trip on Trailguru website

It’s sort of like Sports Tracker on Nokia phones. There’s another application called “Track Thing” that I tried on the iPhone previously, and even though Track Thing has pretty graphs of speed over distance and time, it doesn’t save your route or statistics for future reference. Trailguru does – and it can upload it to the Trailguru website where you can accumulate your total distance covered, look at graphs of speed and altitude over distance and time, and review any trips you’ve uploaded previously. Cool!

Pretty graphs of my trip on Trailguru
Pretty graphs of my trip on Trailguru

I love iPhone applications that combine 2 or more features of the iPhone together. Trailguru does this by:
* GPS + Camera – you can take photos during your trip and it will geotag them and associate them with your trip
* GPS + Google Maps + Data connection – it will track your position and trip and show this on Google Maps immediately by downloading the maps from Google Maps
* GPS + Sound – it can beep every kilometre when you’re on a trip
* GPS + Data Storage – it records an overall odometer so you can see how far you’ve travelled in total
* Data + Internet – you can upload your trip from the iPhone to a website to analyse later

Trailguru also bridges the gap from iPhone to internet by providing a website where you can view other people’s trips and shared routes, photos and it even plugs into Google Maps.

If you’re cycling, running or whatever, and you have an iPhone, you need to get this app!

As for my actual ride itself – hard work. I’m going to try to cycle more regularly this year. And note to self – need to have work pants at work to wear!

Hacking the iPhone

I knew it..  I didn’t know anything about this until last week, but I should have suspected it all along.  There are clever and crafty people in the world that will try and figure out how to hack into anything. 

And they have hacked the iPhone.  I heard a while ago about how people bought iPhones from the US and got it to work on non AT&T carriers, like Australian mobile networks.

However, I didn’t realise what else this meant.  It seems that the term jailbreaking refers to the act of “hacking” into the iPhone, which lets you do 2 main things:
1) Run it on mobile networks it was originally locked to
2) Access the “computer” within the iPhone to install and run software that Apple doesn’t provide normally through its iPhone App Store

Having bought an iPhone with a plan on Optus here in Australia, I’m not really interested in the first point above.  But the second one is interesting.  People have ported all sorts of things to the iPhone.  Things that get me excited:

* MAME (Multi Arcade Machine Emulator) is a program that emulates many arcade machine cabinet games.  You can now play these games on your iPhone!  More info here:  http://www.iphone-hacks.com/2008/09/29/iphone-arcade-emulator-mame4iphone-released/

* NES App is the Nintendo emulator which lets you play many old Nintendo games like Mario Brothers, Bomberman, etc.   More info here:  http://www.iphonehacks.com/2008/07/nes-app-update.html

* Even PSX, the Playstation 1 emulator, has been ported to the iPhone – http://www.appleiphoneschool.com/2007/12/28/psx4all-playstation-for-the-iphone/

* Quake.  Have you tried Cube from the iPhone App Store.  Well, someone has ported Quake to the iPhone – http://justanotheriphoneblog.com/wordpress/2008/07/27/quake-for-iphone-20-out-now/.  

One of my first thoughts was – how are you going to play these games without a directional pad and only touch?   It seems that many of these emulators display virtual controls on the screen.  In fact, some “official” games from the iPhone App Store do this too, but I find it sometimes hard to use as you can’t “feel” where your fingers are.   It seems that some people have created a shell that fits around the iPhone with gaming controls called the iControlPad!  See here for more details: http://www.icontrolpad.com/

So what are the disadvantages?  It does void your warranty (see discussion here: http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies-archive.cfm/1070240.html)

I’m just beginning to learn more about all of this,  but it seems that you can’t update to the latest Apple iPhone firmware and jailbreak your phone unless the people who write the jailbreakers have “hacked” the latest iPhone firmware too.   And once your phone is jailbroken, if you update your phone the official way (via iTunes), it will wipe out any custom applications you put on there.

In typical YouTube fashion – there are videos on there now that show you step by step how to do it. 

However, I’m still not totally convinced I should take the risk…

Investigating iPhone plans

iPhone Plan Investigation
iPhone Plan Investigation

So I ran into a friend on the weekend with an iPhone.  And it was so cool.  He gave us a quick tour of what it can do, how you can use it as an iTunes remote control, surf the web via your existing wifi connection, touch screen, etc.    Droooll…

I think my current mobile’s contract plan is nearly up, so I started investigating iPhone plans on Vodafone and Optus.   I started up Excel and entered in various usage rates, included caps, and made pretty graphs.   However, after all this geekness, I have come back to the fundamental conclusion – choosing the cheapest plan all depends on how much you use your phone.

I wish I had all my mobile phone call history in a database so that I can query against and estimate expected costs against various plans.  But I don’t.   So I have to scan recent bills and guesstimate how many calls I make.   I think I make at most 1 call a day, and usually short ones like “Where are you?”, or “I’m here now”.   No, not a heavy user.

Anyway, the Optus $49 cap plans look the cheapest and best for me given my mobile phone usage.  With 250MB included data and $300 included talk, it should cover me for an average of 1 call per day of up to 2 minutes and 1 SMS every 2 days with much more cap left over.   Of course, there’s always the other “deals” companies throw in, and also their support and network coverage, which makes it hard to make a decision based on typical monthly cost alone.

*Sigh*

I guess the cheapest plan is really to stick with my current phone!

More details here:

Vodafone iPhone 3G Offers:  http://store.vodafone.com.au/iphone/

Optus iPhone 3G Offers:  http://www.optus.com.au/iphone