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iPhoney

iPhoney is an iPhone simulator for web designers and developers that runs on Mac OS X. You can grab a copy of it from Marketcircle’s iPhoney page. (iPhoney is open source, and you can also find it on Sourceforge, though as of this writing the version there is not the latest.)

iPhoney does an ok-but-not-great job of replicating the iPhone Mobile Safari browsing experience. There is an option for Zoom to Fit as well as Hide/Show Location Bar, and it does let you View Source. You can also rotate it. (You can’t pinch/zoom or change the magnification beyond the Zoom to Fit capabilities.)

Here are some screen shots comparing Mobile Safari running on an actual iPhone versus running in iPhoney. (This post was used for comparison.)

Fig. 1: Mobile Safari on iPhone (vertical)

Fig. 1: Mobile Safari on iPhone (vertical)

Fig. 2: Mobile Safari on iPhone (vertical)

Fig. 2: Mobile Safari on iPhone (horizontal)

Fig. 3: iPhoney (vertical)

Fig. 3: iPhoney (vertical)

Fig. 4: iPhoney (vertical)

Fig. 4: iPhoney (horizontal)

I’ve found iPhoney useful for basic testing. It obviously does not take the place of an actual iPhone for proper testing, but if you just want a quick overview of how a page might look, it’ll work just fine. Also, since it’s open source, you can feel free to use the code as you wish, and even improve it. (Under the terms of the GPL of course.)

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Twitter Apps Reviewed

There are a lot of choices in Twitter apps for the iPhone (and now the iPad) but how do you choose which one you should use?

Obviously there is one criteria that is most important when looking at Twitter clients… Which one has the cutest icon?

Twitterrific Twitteriffic: I’m not a fan of birds, but the name “Twitter” and “tweet” and what not, it’s part of the Twitter brand, so it makes sense. This icon is probably cute if you like birds, but as I said, I don’t like birds.


Twitter Twitter for iPhone: This is the “official” Twitter client, and it’s not very cute. Another stupid bird. I’m not a fan of birds. Couldn’t they make a cute bird instead of this goofy silhouette bird?


Twittelator Twittelator: OK, this isn’t even a bird, it’s an egg! How is an egg cute? I guess if you don’t like birds (like I don’t like birds) then maybe Twittelator would be cute. Well, cuter than a bird anyway. (Though it appears to be a bird egg, so maybe it will be a bird someday.)


TwitBird TwitBird: Another bird? And this is really the most uncute bird of them all. It’s worse that the “official” Twitter for iPhone bird. Who wants to look at this bird? Not me! (The bright orange sunburst is sort of nice though…)


EchoFon EchoFon: Finally, not a bird! It appears to be a word balloon type thing. I suppose that’s better than a bird, but as far as being cute, this is not cute. Unless you somehow think word balloons are cute. Plus, it’s just one word balloon, not two, so it’s not even a proper conversation, it’s just one person shouting.


Osfoora Osfoora: Like EchoFon, Osfoora has an uncute name, and an uncute icon. Not one, but two word balloons! If one isn’t cute, how are two going to be cute? At least it looks like a conversation, which is what Twitter can and should be, unlike the one EchoFon balloon that looks like just one person talking.


HootSuite HootSuite: Finally, a cute bird! It’s an owl, and I really like owls. I like when they turn their heads around and rip apart mice. Owls are cool. HootSuite has a cool looking owl. It’s a bird, but not a stupid bird like other apps have. Owls are the best birds.


Brizzly Brizzly: OMG! From what I can tell, this is a bear wearing a bird costume! How freakin’ cute is that!? I mean, bears are way cuter than birds, but this bear has stepped it up a notch by masquerading as a bird, but he’s not really a bird. The cute-o-meter is almost up to 11 on this one!


Seesmic Seesmic: Home Run! It’s a raccoon! I mean… Come on! How cute is that little raccoon!? He’s got big eyes, and he looks a little startled like maybe you scared him, and he’s wearing a mask, because he’s a raccoon!


Wow, things got exciting at the end, eh? I mean, a bear and a raccoon battling it out for the supreme titled of Best Twitter App (based on how cute the icon is.) It’s a tough decisions… Bear or raccoon? I really don’t think you can go wrong with either one.

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Mobile Phone Photography

With so many people carrying phones with them almost everywhere, and with these phones having better and better cameras, and with these phones having the ability to run applications that use these cameras, Mobile Phone Photography is a genre worth recognizing.

(I’m mainly going to touch on iPhone related stuff, but other platforms have their own apps and features.)

The iPhone camera is simple as heck, you launch it, you frame your shot on the screen, and you push a button. It’s probably the simplest camera you’ve ever used, and with good reason. There are numerous iPhone apps that allow you to use the camera to take a photo and immediately upload it to some online service such as Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I’m not going to cover every iPhone photo app out there, but I’m just going to outline a few of the apps I’ve used on the iPhone.

bestcamera

Best Camera from well-known photographer Chase Jarvis is a step-up from the basic camera app with a set of effects you can apply to your photos. You can shoot the photo directly in Best Camera (or open a photo from the library on your phone) and apply a number of effects and then choose to just save it or email it, or upload it to Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, or thebestcamera,com.The upload feature is simple to use, and I like it so much I often use it even when I’ve take a photo and modified it with other applications. Best Camera also lets you view images other have uploaded to the site. (Best Camera is $2.99 at the App Store.)

hipstamatic

Hipstamatic is, well, how do I describe it… it’s like an old-timey 1970’s cheap plastic camera that turns your iPhone into a toy. Sort of. I first heard about this app when a co-worker mentioned she knew the guys behind it. If you’re a design-nerd, there’s a lot to love about this one… and if you’re just interested in an interesting camera experience, you’ll find that too. Hipstamatic is this “virtual camera” which hints at a future where more and more of the camera will be customized using software. I’ve heard the guys on TWIP talk about this idea of “a camera with a sensor and a lens mount, where everything interesting happens in software, possibly from 3rd parties” and this is like an early view of that. Hipstamatic also features the ability to swap (virtual) lenses, film, and flashes, which, when combined, create unique images. (Hipstamatic also features the ability to buy more lenses and accessories directly in the application, which is brilliant from a software developers point-of-view.) One annoyance about Hipstamatic is that you can’t open an existing image taken with other camera apps and apply effects to them, it’s sort of an all-inclusive affair where you take the photo in Hipstamatic and you process it there. (To the developer’s credit, I think this is intentional, but it annoys me.) Also, like many of these apps on the iPhone, it can’t easily work with the full resolution image, but often uses a scaled-down version, due to memory constraints and what not. (These are things that should go away in the future, as hardware/software advances.) Hipstamatic also has a community, and contests, and if you really want to get into, well, you can really get into it. See? Here’s a cat photo I took. (Hipstamatic is $1.99 at the App Store. Base-price, without additional accessories.)

photoshop

Photoshop.com Mobile is a great little free app that lets you do minor edits (contrast, saturation, crop, straighten, etc.) and apply effects to your images, and save them to Adobe’s Photoshop.com web site. Personally I really don’t care about the Photoshop.com web site, but Photoshop.com Mobile is a free app with a few nice features, so if you want to install it and try it out, it’s pretty painless. (Photoshop.com Mobile is FREE at the App Store.)

plasticbullet

Plastic Bullet is a great new app from Red Giant Software that lets you take a photo, or select one from your library, and apply effects. Again, we’re going after that “plastic toy camera” idea that is all the rage (See Hipstamatic above.) Plastic Bullet is simple, simple, simple. It shows you 4 completely random variations of your original image, and then you can either choose one, or generate 4 new ones. It’s never the same twice, so if you see one you like, save it! Stu Maschwitz is the main guy behind Plastic Bullet, and while it doesn’t do all the fancy uploading and sharing stuff, there’s a Flickr Group, and maybe keeping it simple like that is good enough. (Plastic Bullet is $1.99 at the App Store.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick look at Mobile Phone Photography on the iPhone. It’s an interesting future, and I’ve got a few follow-up posts planned, so stay tuned!

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Steve Jobs Hates Freedom

Look, I know that Steve Jobs wants nothing but the very best for his customers, and he thinks the only way to provide the “very best” is to create unnecessary restrictions on what’s allowed to run on his platform (the iPhone and iPad.) Steve wants you to have a great user experience… but to me, the removal of freedom is a bug, not a feature, and less choices negatively affect my user experience.

Maybe Steve underestimates his customers… See, I’m fine with cross-platform development. Really, I don’t mind it. In fact, I think it’s a good idea and I’m very much in favor of it. Let the best application win… Not by being the only application, but by being the best among many.

I’m happy to hear that there will not be an app store for the Mac OS X platform, but really, I think the reason for that is that the genie has been out of the bottle for so long (30 years?) that it would be impossible to put back in.

And as for the iPad, I have this to say about that… if it helps bring the death of Flash, and the rise of HTML5, bring it on! Apple has been responsible for the death of technologies in the past that were meant to die, and this is one more. I mean, you all miss that built-in floppy drive on your MacBook, right?

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iPhone

I took a look at the iPhone when I stopped by the new Apple Store at Bayshore. It’s a nice device. I’m not about to replace my Nokia 7610 and 5th Gen iPod with it, but I can see the appeal of this device.

iPhone

Sadly, as with many location-based services, we in the Midwest have some, uh, issues. The iPhone was easily able to locate San Francisco, but couldn’t find Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. I know we’re not in Silicon Valley, but we still exist out here. I know at least one person in Milwaukee with an iPhone. I should ask him how the location stuff works here. He’s already mentioned that he’s aware that it’s a 1.0 device, but it’s still freakin’ amazing.