Category Archives: iPhone

Messenger says your shit is not secure. Now what?

IMG_0663.JPG

Today the interwebs were all a twitter over the fact that Facebook was requiring users, who wanted to message each other via the Facebook app, to download Messenger.

The issue with Messenger, is the fact that by installing the app onto your mobile device, you’re giving Facebook the right to do things that many consider a violation of basic privacy rights.

By way of example, installing the Messenger app allows Facebook to collect data on who you call and the length of the call, the other apps you use and how frequently you use them, the content of text messages and various other on-device activities that have nothing to do with Facebook Messenger interactions.

Among the more draconian things that Messenger will purportedly be able to do, is access your camera and microphone, essentially turning your device into a surreptitious spying device. To spy on you!

I find it humorous that folks are all up in arms over Facebook’s attempts to track it’s users, as if it’s a case of first impression.

The truth of the matter is we’ve long since given up any reasonable expectation of privacy.

The day you visited your first website, you allowed cookies into your life.

Cookies promised faster load times, the instant recall of previously identified preferences, and a host of behind the scenes functions to take place, all to make your browsing experience better – and to know where you browsed (and what you did when you got there).

When you got your first cell phone, you agreed to be tracked.

All those cell towers helped to ensure call quality wherever you went – and kept track of wherever you went.

Today, when you install apps, you agree to let them access you contacts or calendar or Facebook profile, or whatever innocuous piece of information they request.

We think nothing of letting some application vendor post on our behalf, or access the data on our devices.

Instinctively, we click “Accept” and happily tap away on our devices like assimilated members of the Borg.

The outrage we feel about today’s Facebook Messenger revelation is feigned.

Can’t believe Facebook is mining your personal data?

So what do you do?

Update your Facebook status and let all your friends know.

You’re an ass.

If you’re really not trying to have Big Brother in your business, stay off of everything.

No internet.

No cell phone.

No wifi.

No Facebook.

Nothing digital at all.

If you’re not prepared to do that, then STFU about Facebook’s (or any other technology provider’s) invasion of your privacy.

Because privacy in the digital age is a fallacy.

You’re either on the grid, and none of your shit is private.

Or you’re off, and all the privacy in the world is yours.

And “off-the-grid” is relative.

Once you leave your house, you’re subject to the constant glare of the innumerable cameras dotting our city streets, stores, office buildings, gas stations, buses, trains and cabs.

As well as your YouTube crazed citizen i-reporters with camera phones on the ready looking for their 15 minutes of viral fame at the expense of some unsuspecting fool’s gaffe.

Unless you’re prepared to live like someone the run, with burners and throw-away phones, or a hacker, with fake online aliases, and constant IP-masking, accept that cats are collecting data on you constantly – and be good with it.

Today’s takeaway?

If you were among those alarmed by the recent Facebook Messenger revelation, the choice of what to do is really quite simple: red pill or blue?

Leave a comment

Filed under apps, iPhone, mobile, technology

Wanna be first at something cool? You better Brabble.


It’s not every day that you’re the first to do something.

That’s especially true in the tech space.

The minute you think you’ve got an original idea or stumbled onto the next big thing, someone drops it or says that they’ve already heard of it.

Got a great idea for a social media network?

Oops! Some kids at Harvard thought about that a minute ago.

And by the time you were up on it, you were far from a first mover.

You were on it – eventually.

And it probably took you a minute before you even were comfortable using it.

The same was probably true of Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and any of the myriad other social media trends that were once obscure platforms you never heard of, and are today the targets of billion dollar acquisitions – if not technology behemoths themselves.

And even though you may not have been there at the beginning, you probably fancy yourself “hip” when it comes to being able to spot and adopt social media trends.

Vine. WhatsApp. Snapchat.

You do that.

You may not have been first, but you were up on it by the time it became vogue.

And you were probably first among your friends or network for some things.

Shoot, I’d heard of Pinterest, but my wife actually put me on.

And now she can’t get off the damn thing.

But I digress.

Anywho, I’m about to put you up on the next ish.

What if you could have Facebook, Twitter, Instragram and Vine/Snapchat in one?

Where you could capture something in the moment.

Tag it up.

Decide who you wanted to share it with.

And post it in an instant.

See who’s posting.

Like.

Comment or respond to directly.

Share.

All from a mobile or web dash.

Well now you can.

It’s called Brabble.

And it’s barely a year old.

So you’re not exactly first first.

But you’re damn near close.

And it’s that next thing.

Trust me.

“What do you know Stephen? You couldn’t spot a trend if it walked up and bit you on the ass.”

Sure, my bum is a bit tough.

But I knows my nose knows.

What’s so great about Brabble?

It’s just another social media platform like Twitter.

Right?

Wrong!

It’s better, and I’ll tell you why.

For one, think of it as a dashboard.

Even though it IS a social media platform, what it DOES is give you the ability to manage multiple social media activities, within one place.

Sure, you can take a picture with your iPhone’s camera, and email, text or post it to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or Instagram.

Yes. You can shoot a video and upload it to Facebook or YouTube, and share it.

But once you’re done, your plopped back into your camera or photo album.

If you start from inside an app, say Instagram, and shoot a picture or video you’re stuck where you are.

And the user interface and experience for most social media platforms leaves much to be desired.

Especially on your mobile device.

Buttons are too small.

Items located too close to the edge of the screen are virtually inaccessible.

At the end of the day, you’re simply scrolling through an endlessly loading stream of posts, or pictures.

But not with Brabble.

For one, you start off with a Flipboard-like grid of images.

My Feed

You can elect to view content in either a grid or basic view.

Grid or standard view.

Clicking any image immediately pulls you into the thread of that Brabble (their version of “conversation”)

Second, the UI is basic.

Your primary navigation is found at the bottom of the screen, titled (quite simply) Menu, My Feed, Explore, Notifications and a big “+” sign to add a post (Brabble) of your own.

Like, love, Brabbleback.

Third, “liking” (one heart press/click) or “loving” (two heart presses/clicks), something, responding to or commenting on a Brabble (“Brabbleback”), is as simple as clicking on an icon and typing.

Finally, Brabbling (posting) is also super basic.

Brabbling. I think I just made up a term – must be sure to trademark that.

Hitting the big “+” sign opens up an overlay, with a large dialogue window to enter text, radio buttons you can select if you want to post to Facebook and Twitter, and icons above your dialogue box which lets you select which type of media you want to share with your post (or not).

A simple drop down next to the “Post to..” button lets you select whether to share your content with the World, your Followers, your Friends or Privately.

Brabble overlay

You can even save your posts to your Feed to send later.

This is not to say that there’s no room for improvement.

If I were going to make any changes to Brabble, they’d be few (and I could live without them).

But if I were, I’d make a persistent footer.

Generally, whenever you’re on the app, the footer is present.

Mine too deep into any individual piece of content, though, the footer goes away.

And you lose your bottom navigation.

If you go back, it returns, but there should be a persistent way to get back to “start” without having to repeatedly hit the “back” button.

It looks like the deeper you go into the app, there’s a transition from native to mobile web pages (which may account for the loss of your footer).

I could go deeper, but you get the picture.

Brabble is a cool app, which seamlessly aggregates all the things you like to do with your mobile device, into one app.

It’s not perfect, but it’s enough to make me take the leap.

And recommend it to all of you (my 42 readers).

I’ve been on the platform for three days now, and it’s pretty cool.

There isn’t a heck of a lot of traffic right now – and if you sign up, consider it part of an extended Beta.

Now go and Brabble, and be the first among your friends to be up on the latest and greatest tech trend.

And remember who told you about it when it tips….

 

Leave a comment

Filed under apps, iPhone, mobile, social media, technology

Lift. I wanted to be inspired, but now I hate you. An App review.

lift logo

Live long and prosper?

Last week, I was having one of those days that started off as a drag and I just need a boost.

Some inspiration to get me going.

I may have been raggin’ on Facebook or something, and someone (seeing my plight) recommended Lift to me.

If you’re not up on Lift, no worries. Neither was I.

Apparently, Lift is a platform that is supposed to “help you succeed at everything.”

According to their website, Lift “employs coaching, community and data, to help you be your best.”

Sort of like a cheerleader in your pocket, inspiring and motivating you.

Happy for the recommendation, I  Googled “Lift” on my iPhone.

Sure enough, it came up.

I followed the link the App Store and eagerly downloaded the app, confident that I had found the thing to put the (missing) pep back into my step.

And then…nothing.

The app was open on my phone but that was all.

No “Welcome to Lift.”

No “Let’s get started.”

No video or animation to guide me.

Nada.

Not one to be daunted by poor UX, I searched for clues for how the app was supposed to work.

There were three buttons in the footer: “Goals,” “Activity,” and “Me.”

Hit each one in succession.

Nada.

Nada.

Nada.

Hmmmm…

Maybe there’s a FAQs link around here somewhere?

Nope.

Perhaps there’s additional info in “Settings.”

Wrong.

I started to have serious misgivings about my people’s recommendation.

I finally realized that I had to set up an account online, which would then ‘unlock’ all of the app’s magical features.

Duh. It would have been nice if they had said that somewhere.

But rather than go on an exhaustive profanity-laced rant about all the things I found wrong with Lift, I decided to give it a good old fashioned review.

So without further adieu…Lift.

Pros

Simple, easy to remember name. Lift. How can you go wrong with that?

Basic UI. Many apps go wrong by trying to cram too much content in a small space. Banners, buttons, drop downs, arrows and menus all vying for some attention from your fat fingers.  Lift doesn’t suffer from button overload. The three buttons in the footer (Goals, Activity and Me) are widely spaced and easy to access.

Singular objective. Lift isn’t trying to be all things to all people. It’s goal is to provide its users with a clear path to success, by helping them to establish habits that, if followed, will improve health, focus and productivity.

Reminder alerts. If you’ve got Lift set up on your iPhone’s notification center, you’ll get a daily reminder to perform your task or tasks for the day.

Cons

Indistinguishable logo. The first time I saw the Lift logo on my phone, I thought I was looking at the Telegram logo. But I could have been looking at Remote. More than once, I’ve opened Telegram, when I intended to open Lift. Lift you should fire your designer.

One of these things is just like the other.

One of these things is just like the other.

Too few options. One of the main criticisms I have of Lift is that you can’t set your own goals. I wanted to be able to establish unique goals and milestones instead of using Lift’s narrow predefined ones. But Lift doesn’t let you customize goals.

Fixed frequency. Lift lets you establish “streaks” – consecutive days of accomplishing your goals. But you can’t set the frequency of when you’ve accomplished goals. If your goal is to work out three times a week, and you work out every other day, Lift won’t acknowledge that you’ve achieved your goal since you didn’t work out on three consecutive days.

No privacy settings. Lift is community based, so everyone can see the goals you’ve set. But I don’t necessarily want to share all of my goals with everyone. I want the ability to create groups (like Google Plus) or define which people see which goals. Unfortunately, with Lift, it’s all or nothing. So if I want to stop flatulating as a goal, everyone will know that I have gastrointestinal issues. No bueno.

‘Discussions’ are flat. Too few of the discussions offer anything meaningful, aside from individual reflections or impressions of the particular goal or exercise.  I don’t know about you, but I can read this type of mindless drivel only so often. Perhaps I’m too jaded, but reading the discussions for “Setting Priorities for Your Day” or “Meditate” made me want to kill myself.

No “how to’s.” When you’re launching something new, it’s typically best practice to assume that your user knows nothing and provide them the tools with which to get started. Otherwise, you get this

Zoolander

All in all, Lift is just okay.

After almost two weeks of Lift, I’m not convinced that it the app for me.

And (unlike my friend) I couldn’t in good conscience, recommend this app (in it’s present state) to anyone.

I’m not gonna be able to do.

Lift, if you’re interested in my opinion, I’d suggest you take a look at the reviews in iTunes.

I’m not talking about the glowing ones that you had your friends write when you first released the app.

I’m referring to the ones where people are complaining that your app sucks, like this one:

App review

Sure, it’s blurry.

But you get the point.

Lift, you’ve got some work to do.

Leave a comment

Filed under apps, iPhone

Why the rumored iPhone 6 gives me wood.

Concept art courtesy of Minyanville.com

Concept art courtesy of Minyanville.com

I’m a sucker for anything Apple.

It’s true.

I readily admit I’m a fanboy.

Mind you, I’ll still hate on some crappy Apple shit (i.e. “flat design” of iOS 7).

But my first reaction upon hearing about some new Apple this-or-that is usually one of unbridled enthusiasm.

It should come as no surprise then, that my heart palpitations started when I heard the latest Apple rumors.

What Apple rumors?

The iPhone 6, of course.

That’s right.

Let it sink in.

iPhone. 6.

The Chinese are simply the worst at keeping secrets, and as a result, we’ve been privy to all Apple’s so-called secret developments for years.

Think about it, which iPhone release haven’t we known about well in advance?

9 times out of 10, when images of prototypes, spec sizes and talk of technology acquisition rumors start swirling about, and the source of these rumors is Chinese, you best believe it’s true.

Its no wonder, then, that folks are posting up their theories of what the latest iPhone will or will not be, with unmitigated zeal and images to back it up.

You’ve got pictures of the casing? Really? C’mon China!

Your’s truly is no different.

Like I said, I’m an Apple whore.

Anywho, with the iPhone 6, Apple will supposedly go where no iPhone has gone before: the land of the phablet.

If the rumors and prototype photographs are to be believed, Apple is working on the next generation of iPhone, that will be bigger, stronger (as in more durable) and faster than anything they’ve ever created.

When I say bigger, Apple wags speculate the screen will be somewhere between 4.7 (the current size of the 5s) and 7.9 inches (the size of the iPad Mini).

Size comparison chart courtesy of MacRumors.com

Size comparison chart courtesy of MacRumors.com

Whoa.

Screens that size will put Apple directly up against it’s Galaxy and HTC rivals, which have already dropped large screen phones on the market.

The claims that Apple will be introducing a more shatter-resistant screen lifts many a heart.

We’ve all witnessed (or experienced) the spiderweb cracks with Gorilla Glass.

Lord knows you’ve got to protect the screen like it’s an eggshell or risk slicing your fingers on an intricate lattice of cracks.

Apple’s acquisition of sapphire technology, points to a desire to make the next generation phones more durable.

As usual, there are claims that the next iPhone will last longer than it’s predecessors.

Even with the new lightning charger, the iPhone 5s’ battery dies notoriously quickly.

The next generation’s quad-core A8 or an evolved A7 should mean more power, better energy conservation and a longer battery life.

Other tantalizing rumors for the iPhone 6 include an improved camera (or at least enhanced capabilities), a thinner profile, wireless charging, and an updated OS (iOS 8).

I could go on ad nausaem, but I shan’t bore you.

MacRumors and TechRadar.com (among others) do a far better job detailing the minutiae, and I’m more of a broad strokes sort of fellow, ya know?

In any instance, I’ll be keeping an eye out for more information and sneak peeks of the device as the Fall (?) 2014 release date approaches.

And if you see me in the streets, and notice a slight bulge in my nether region, “no” I am not happy to see you.

I’m probably reading another article about the iPhone 6.

9 Comments

Filed under iPhone, technology

I hate (Facebook’s) Paper. Flipboard, you’re safe.

Disclaimer: I was in a pissy mood when I wrote this. I cuss a lot in this post.
Facebook-Paper-Icon

On Monday, Facebook dropped their latest app, the horribly named “Paper.”

What’s Paper?

Paper is Facebook’s new mobile app which allows users to see their friends’ posts and news stories in a new Flipboard-like style presentation.

Notice I said “Flipboard-like” (aka not original).

Of course, all kinds of folks jumped on Facebook’s dick, proclaiming how great it was and how it was going to revolutionize the way people got their news.

But not me.

I reiterate “Flipboard-like.

Frankly, I was put off by the whole thing.

I’m thinking:

1. Why would Facebook name their app “Paper” when there is already a “Paper” (by 51) a “Paper” (by miSoft) and countless other apps bearing the “Paper” moniker?

2. Do we need yet another Facebook app to get at our Facebook feeds? Isn’t that what the Facebook app is for?

3. Does Facebook think we have nothing better to do with our time than troll through our friends’ news feeds just because the UI looks like a Flipboard?

And “yes” I think in numbered thoughts.

But I can’t really hate in ignorance, so I downloaded their stupid app to allow my hate of all things Facebook to be informed.

Since I prefer to read shit on my beloved iPad, I went to the app store to cop the iPad version.

Typed “Paper” in the search bar and found everything BUT the fucking Facebook app.

There were literally hundreds of apps with the word “paper” in them, none of which were the one I wanted.

Imagine that.

So I went to Safari, found https://www.facebook.com/paper which took me to the iTunes page with the damn app and downloaded it.

The “Details” page indicates that Paper is compatible with the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, but is optimized for the iPhone 5.

Optimized for the iPhone 5?

What the fuck does that mean?

Shitty graphics on the iPad.

That’s what it means.

Who wants to look at that grainy shit?

Who wants to look at that grainy shit?

Review Stephen. Don’t hate (yet).

Open Paper up on your iPad and prepare to have your vision blur – or appear to blur due to the grainy, pixelated images you’re presented with.

But shitty graphics aside, what’s up with Paper anyway?

Well, the first thing Paper does is play a little promo – quick vignettes of…well…paper, which resolves to the title page of the app.

Then you’re presented with a three (3) slide tutorial, describing how to use paper: “Do this. Then do that. Then this..blah, blah, blah.”

In short, you create your personalized feed by selecting pre-set cards, which you swipe up to add.

To select a story in your feed, you simply swipe up.

And to read that story, swipe up again.

To go back, simply swipe down and you’re back at the start.

Whoopdee.  

Fucking.  

Doo.

So what’s the big deal about Paper?

Well for one, instead of seeing your entire Facebook feed, you’re reading a curated feed.

Oooooooo!

Next, you’re no longer scrolling down an exhaustive page of updates. You’re scrolling – sideways.

Ahhhhhhhh!

And you can pan photos in Paper, giving a panoramic view of your pictures.

Gasp!

Most importantly, instead of opening a new page, when you select an item, your content fills (or recedes from) the page with a swipe.

Swoon!

As a fan of gesture based navigation, Paper is spot on.

Its very intuitive and even the most dense user could figure it out without Facebook’s loud and heavy handed tutorials.

But what makes Paper different from – oh I don’t know – say, Flipboard?

Aside from the Facebook-specific content?

Very fucking little.

And that’s not good for Facebook.

A quick side-by-side comparison will show you why.

Both Paper and Flipboard offer a tiled layout and swipe navigation.

And while they’re each great on design, Flipboard is far better in overall execution, to wit:

  • Where Flipboard provides unlimited topics for customizing your feed, Paper only provides a handful.
  • Where Flipboard allows you to share content widely with other social media platforms, Paper only lets you share within Facebook.
  • Where Flipboard has iPhone and iPad versions of their app, Paper only has an iPhone version.
  • Where Flipboard emphasizes discovery, Facebook focuses on curation (of their own content).

I could go on ad infinitum, but suffice it to say, Paper isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

And at the end of the day Paper is really just Facebook with makeup on (minus all the ads).

Do you cop it?

If you’ve got an extra 54 MB sitting around on your device – and you’re a chronic waster of time – sure!

Would I recommend it?

If you’ve got an extra 54 MB sitting around on your device – and you’re a chronic waster of time – sure!

Would I recommend it if I cared about you even one scintilla?

Abso-fucking-lutely NOT!

Take the red pill, wake the fuck up and leave Paper alone.

Leave a comment

Filed under apps, iPad, iPhone, mobile

Day 7: Beats Music earns a temporary reprieve. UPDATED

UPDATE: Since the writing of this post, Beats Music has intermittently stopped mid-stream on too many occasions to mention, on both the app and the web. While I had report (later in this article) that the fix that they applied worked, apparently, it has not. Verdict, Beats Music has a ways to go before I’d part with a red cent for it. Period.

A little over a week ago I downloaded the Beats Music app and was thoroughly unimpressed with the offering.

While it looked good and boasted a host of impressive features and capabilities, my first impression was that it was a buggy app, plagued with technical difficulties.

And due to apparently high demand created by the buzz of its launch, there was a serious backlog to get registered, which ran completely counter to the instant gratification culture of Beats Music’s target demographic.

Combined with a relatively short trial period, I projected that Beats was a cute idea, but outside of a few chumps who easily part with their dough just to be a billboard for some brand, real streaming music aficionados weren’t going to be swayed by Beats’ technically challenged offering.

A few days later, when my registration was approved and I was able to experience Beats Music, my stance softened.

The interface was fresh. Not as intuitive as I would have liked, but interesting and visually appealing.

Beats Music interface

IMG_5587

IMG_5588

With options aplenty, but not so many that you needed a user manual, I was able to dive right in and get my Beats on.

But then those technical glitches reared their ugly heads and ruined everything.

Streams would stop mid-play, buttons would suddenly become unresponsive and all navigation inoperable.

On more than one occasion, I found myself quitting the app and restarting.

By the fourth day of my seven day trial, the app had stopped working completely.

Quite the ignominious start.

But then Beats Music did something that completely erased the maddening frustration of their (what was now a) pretty crappy app, and restored my faith in them.

They sent an email acknowledging that their shit was broken.

The outlined what they were doing to fix it and extended the trial period for another week.

Yeah, our shit broke. We fixed it. Now what?

Yeah, our shit broke. We fixed it. Now what?

Clearly someone at Beats had some customer service home training.

True to their word, their technicians had done something to eliminate the bugginess of their app.

More bandwidth? Redundant server arrays? Better on-device caching? Something.

And as a result, I’ve been able to take Beats for a true test drive.

And do you know what? Beats Music is everything they said it would be.

They’ve got playlists for days , of all kinds, by genre, mood, curator, activity.

There’s a cool, “The Sentence” option that creates playlists from a sentence you configure.

Beats Music The Sentence

IMG_5671

You can mine down into individual artists within a playlist and create playlists of your own.

There’s even a nifty mode that allows you to listen to a playlist offline, that’s created from the playlists and songs you listened to while you had cellular or wifi access.

Although some have complained that Beats Music’s classical selection leaves much to be desired, I’ve taken deep dives into their jazz, hip hop, reggae, world, 90s and rock collections, and have come away deeply satisfied.

My one criticism of the app is that navigating isn’t as intuitive as I’d like.

Once you select a playlist, genre or song, getting back to the home screen takes a bit of maneuvering.

And the playlists, while diverse, are woefully short.

Just when you start to get into the groove, it’s over.

I found myself wishing that each playlist was just a little longer.

But these criticisms pale in comparison to the chasm of woefully deficiency Beats  managed to fill with their mea culpa and update.

For those of your who swear by Spotify, Pandora or any other paid streaming service, I challenge you to give Beats a try.

Now that they’ve got their shit together, you just might be impressed enough to switch.

2 Comments

Filed under apps, iPhone, mobile, music

Will Beats Music ‘beat’ the streaming music competition? Not with their technology they won’t.

UPDATE: I’ve reviewed the Beats app and you can check it out here.

Beats Music iOS

There’s a new player in the streaming music game, Beats Music.

Yes, Beats as in “Beats By Dre.”

Now at this point, I’d be telling you all about the ‘test drive’ I took of the app, and my general impressions.

But noooo. Beats Music isn’t that simple.

You see, I downloaded the app today, but getting up and running was anything but straightforward.

At the signup page, there were two options: “Sign Up” and “Log In.”

Beats Music Sign Up

I hit “Sign Up” as the service is new and I didn’t think I could use my MOG account.

After completing a few fields, I got a “Registration is Processing” alert.

Beats Music Registration is Processing

Processing? Am I being vetted?

So I took the other route and hit “Log In”.

What’s the harm right?

There was an option to login using either Facebook or Twitter.

Beats Music Log In Facebook or Twitter

I selected Facebook and after a few more pre-populated data entry fields, I got to a “You’re Almost Ready” screen, which I took to mean that I was almost done.

But noooo. Beats Music isn’t that simple.

When I hit “Submit” the screen kinda acted like it wanted to go on to the next step, but stalled.

I tried to click submit several times and several times the app almost did something, and then gave up.

Eventually, I got a “We’re Having Connection Problems.” message and gave up.

Beats Music We're Having Connection Problems.

So I can’t tell you whether Beats Music is any good or not.

But if you look at their website, it’s awesome.

Beats Music Site

It’s only logical that Dr. Dre brings his storied music brand to the streaming music arena.

Who better to help you curate the music thats playing on your Beats By Dre headphones than Dre himself?

Now I have no idea if Dr. Dre actually has anything to do with the introduction of Beats Music, but who cares?

Beats Music is actually a collaboration by Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine and Trent Reznor.

The fact is that you now have (yet) another streaming service for your iOS or Android device.

If Pandora, Spotify, iTunes Radio, et als aren’t doing it for you, theres a new player ready to disappoint!

And I say disappoint because unlike the other players, who offer ad-free and ad-supported versions of their streaming services, Beats Music has only one speed: premium.

That’s right. Beats Music is a pay to play stream service.

After the seven day trial expires, you’re going to have to fork over $9.99 a month for the privilege of spotty streaming service.

I’m sure it will be great to listen to a stream without those damned commercial interruptions.

That’s because one of Beats Music’s selling points is it’s music curation.

Unlike radio, whose music is determined by some music programmer, or most other streaming services, whose playlists are determined by some algorithm, Beats Music’s titles are curated by real people.

Allegedly, Beats Music employs a bunch of so-called ‘music experts’ to curate it’s playlists, which should mean a better listening experience.

That should be a welcome change to folks who don’t want bots telling them what to listen to.

I’d much rather have my music choices picked by a music nerd than a bot any day!

More important than the human music selection of Beats Music, is the heavy brand recognition that they’ve already built up.

If I had to put up money on who was going to come out on top of the whole steaming music competition, I’d have to go with the guys who have already proven themselves at getting folks ot part with their cash for substandard shit.

If you’re going to part ways with several hundred dollars for a pair of booty ‘branded’ headphones, it’s not a stretch that you’ll part with a few buck a month to listen to a ‘branded’ stream.

Now, I’ve yet to check out whether Beats Music is materially different from other streaming services, in terms of content.

I can say that Beats Music SUCKS in terms of technology because the damn thing doesn’t even work.

Perhaps the demand is so great that their servers are down – yeah that’s the ticket – and they’re overwhelmed with traffic.

Perhaps I will get an email and my registration will go through – one day.

Or perhaps not and I’ll be ignorant of Beats Music forever.

But if this snafu is illustrative of what the rest of the Beats Music experience is like – I’ll keep my $10, thank you very much.

Note to self: update this post if you do get an update from Beats Music.

 

9 Comments

Filed under apps, branding, iPhone, mobile

OmniFocus + Basecamp + Spootnik = Perfect Productivity

spootnik_logo_small

As a productivity whore I’ve extolled the virtues of OmniFocus and Basecamp in the past.

In my opinion, these two productivity products are tops in terms of project management, collaboration and milestone tracking.

For those of you unfamiliar with either of these applications, a brief introduction is in order.

OmniFocus (which I’ve written about before) is a personal task manager by The Omni Group built for the Mac OS and iOS devices.

The Omni Group’s website describes OmniFocus as an app “designed to quickly capture your thoughts and ideas to store, manage, and help you process them into actionable to-do items.”

I’ve been using OmniFocus for about three years and it really helps you to work smarter by giving you the tools you need to stay on top of all the things you need to do.

Basecamp (which I’ve also written about) is an online collaboration project management software.

Basecamp’s web-based platform offers to-do lists, wiki-style web-based text documents, calendars, milestone management, file sharing, time tracking, and a messaging system.

Combined, OmniFocus and Basecamp provide all the online tool you need to manage multiple projects.

OmniFocus offers a series of mobile applications, which extend the power and utility the software offers through its desktop application to mobile and tablet devices.

Through the Omnisync servers, activity conducted on one device syncs seamless with all of your connected devices.

Basecamp, which had traditionally focused solely on its web platform, has developed its own applications for mobile and tablet devices, also extending its project management and online collaboration tools to connected devices as well.

Having used the desktop, web and applications with great success, I swear by them.

Notwithstanding, its still challenging working with two platforms that possess independent calendar, time tracking and milestone components.

OmniFocus has a scheduling and forecast function, which lets you see past, present and future events, tasks and milestones.

It synchs with Calendar, and allows you to see your tasks alongside any event, task or to-do that you’ve got scheduled.

Basecamp also has a calendaring function, which lets you schedule events and milestones.

The subscribe feature gives you the ability to have your events show up in Calendar too.

It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it definitely involves a bit of juggling.

Enter Spootnik.

What’s Spootnik?

Spootnik is an application that connects OmniFocus and Basecamp, allowing you to keep them in sync.

It was developed by Lars Steiger, who wanted to bring both his worlds of productivity together.

Spootnik pulls all of your Basecamp milestones, calendar events, and to-dos into OmniFocus, allowing you to see everything in one place.

It also allows you to make changes and updates to Basecamp items within OmniFocus, and have those updates sync automatically in Basecamp.

Having used Spootnik for over two months now, I am grateful that Lars was so inspired.

It’s put my productivity on ten and there’s no looking back.

If you’re using Basecamp and OmniFocus, I’d definitely advise getting a Spootnik account.

There’s a free 30 day trial, so you can test it out commitment free.

And thank me later.

Leave a comment

Filed under apps, iPhone, technology

iOS 7 is the most unstable, unreliable OS ever. #iOS7sucksballs

The white screen of death.

The white screen of death.

Yeah, I said it.

iOS 7 is unquestionably the most unstable, unreliable, defect ridden OS (operating system) that Apple has ever released.

I wish I were simply going for dramatic effect, as I am prone to do.

But I’m not.

Unfortunately (for Apple and Apple users) I’m serious.

Since I’ve had the iPhone 5s, which came preloaded with this garbage, and since I stepped up to iOS 7 on my iPad 2, I’ve experience more crashes than I care to mention.

Even though I’ve meticulously kept up with all updates, my devices seem to crash frequently.

I’m rocking 7.0.4, but I might as well be on a Windows phone for the frequency with which I find myself staring at the white screen of death.

It got so bad that I started keeping a crash log detailing the dates, times and activities I was engaged in.

To date, I’ve recorded several (although I’ve experience many more), to wit:

  • 11/24 @ 7:03 pm Facebook app crashed on iPhone
  • 11/26 @ 11:37 am Chat crashed on iPad
  • 11/26 @ 7:59 am Kindle app crashed (switching between Kindle and Chat)
  • 12/13 @ 6:16 pm MyTix app crashed on iPhone
  • 1/2 @ 10:48 am iTunes crashed on iPhone

I was just going to record these crashes for internal use with my team, but as I was tapping out a post in WordPress on my iPad, it crashed.

When I opened OmniFocus on my iPhone to add it to my crash log, the iPhone crashed too.

Back to back crashes on two different devices within seconds of each other.

I can’t make this shit up.

I was hot.

I started to post a tirade, blasting Apple’s latest OS as a drug-induced, hippie-hued useless waste of time.

But cooler heads prevailed, and I paused.

What would that get me (aside from jeers, cheers and a round of applause from jaded Android uses)?

Instead, I’ve decided to do an informal survey, asking folks about their experiences with iOS 7 to see if my experience is anomalous or par for the course.

I’m posing the following questions to Apple users and will post the results of my survey in a subsequent post.





Remember to click “Vote” after each question to have your answer tallied.

Your opinion matters, so please take the time to complete the poll, comment here, on Facebook or wherever you encounter this post/poll.

If you don’t answer the poll here, you can tag your responses with the hashtag #ios7sucksballs to be included in the survey.

My blog is so popular that WordPress will likely crash from the overwhelming traffic, so if you re trying to leave a comment with your responses, but are unable to do so due to system constraints, please try again later.

Now I don’t want to be a complaining complainatron, so here’s a link to an article from Digital Trends, with solutions to some of the more common problems with iOS 7.

2 Comments

Filed under iPad, iPhone, opinion

iPhone 5s. The “s” stands for sucka.

iPhone 5 sucker

Apple is notorious for making us want things we don’t need.

Think about it.

A few weeks ago, they dropped the kaliedascope 5c and the FBI-inspired 5s with fingerprint recognition.

And who bought those phones?

Were they iPhone newbies eager to own their first iPhone?

No.

Invariably, they were iPhone veterans stepping up to the latest and greatest.

Although if you copped the 5c you were actually stepping down.

I digress.

Folks who stood in the long lines or pre-ordered a new iPhone probably had nothing wrong with their current devices.

The only thing wrong, was that a new iPhone had just dropped.

More likely than not, they were salivating over all the features the 5s had to offer, and looked upon their current phones with disgust.

Why can’t you be more like the 5s?

But if they were already on the 5, which countless millions were, the 5c and 5s were nothing more than Apple’s oft-rehearsed slight of hand.

A shell game as it were.

Seriously, how many times have they run this play?

Get us all hot and heavy for the latest iPhone.

Queue us up like lambs to the slaughter, waiting in long lines to pay a pound of flesh for our shiny new bauble.

Let us bask in its shiny newness for a hot minute.

Only to drop a better, shinier, more feature-filled device immediately thereafter.

And the cycle begins anew.

Why do we fall for it?

Are we stupid?

Is obsolescence that quick?

Do their upgraded devices simply work so well that we can’t live without them?

Or is Apple’s marketing that persuasive?

I’m going to go with “Apple knows a mark when they see one.”

That’s right.

We’re all a bunch of hopeless marks.

Seriously.

What is the 5s anyway?

A new OS?

No. They released iOS 7 and you didn’t need a new phone to get it.

A new shape?

Nope. It’s the same body shape as the current 5. Buttons, ports, everything’s in the same place.

Fingerprint recognition?

Not likely, since it’s universally acknowledged that its the most nonsecure method of protecting your device.

I can’t imagine that we’re falling over ourselves to cop a new phone for that useless feature.

The “gold” back plate and accents?

Nah. Sure that little gold “O” around the home button is kinda sexy, but not everyone likes gold or could get that limited edition.

And the vanity factor is quickly eliminated once you drop it in a protective sleeve (like I do).

So what Made Apple so sure of themselves?

One little letter: “s.”

Adding an “s” to any of their phones makes us crazy.

Think about it.

3gs. 4s. 5s.

Every time they released an “s” phone, cats queued up.

We didn’t know that that effin’ “s” meant, but we knew we had to have it.

It’s got an “s” in it’s name, damn it! Get out of my way!

While some surmise that the S stood for Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, that theory fails to pass muster when other iOS devices also have Siri – and no “s”.

Others suggest that the “s” could stand for “special” or “super” or even “speed.”

No. No. No.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

It took me months of clandestine research, bribes and subterfuge to uncover this information.

“S” is a highly classified designation at Apple.

It applies to a select subset of products.

Ready?

The “s” stands for “sucka.”

Which is what you are for falling for Apple’s little tricks time and time again.

Present company included.

Damn you Apple!

5 Comments

Filed under iPhone