apple, boneheads, technology

iOS 5: Why I finally Jailbroke My iPod

First, I want to say that I love my iPod Touch. In Japan it was a constant companion. It was my map, my music, my entertainment during long commutes, my study aid, and a few other nice things along the way. Each very of iOS has brought with it a slew of enhancements that make it easier and more enjoyable to use. Unfortunately, each iteration of iOS brings something else as well, preloaded BS apps. While the available storage options have climbed, there is still just a scant 64gb peak. That means the iPod Touch and iPhone is more of a storage hill than a mountain.

This is a minor inconvenience. In the first version of iOS Apple decided users needed to have an app that let you watch YouTube (rarely use YouTube), write crappy Notes in sub-standard font, and told you about Stocks (I have better options) and the Weather (same as stocks). At first it didn’t seem so bad, but then came FaceTime and Game Center (neither have felt so much a single tap from my fingers).

Now comes NewsStand, yet another thing that I won’t use trapped on my iPod. This time Apple outdid itself, though. While none of their crappy and useless (to me) app are deletable, they at least allowed those apps to be put out of the way in a folder that I never had to worry about opening. NewsStand, on the other hand, spurns every effort to tuck it away.

Fast-forward to this very instant. As I type, my iPod is restoring from a backup. Once that finishes I’ll be the proud owner of a jailbroken iPod Touch. For the longest time I ignored jailbreaking, because it was just too much of a hassle for me. That changed with iOS 5. I want at least a third as much control over the device I own as Apple current holds over it. Hopefully, I’ll get that.

I really hope that Apple gets their act together. Until then I didn’t really see anything in iOS 5 that was worth the annoyance of the new crap they jammed it up with.

iPod Touch, I love you, but if you keep it up, it might be time we see other people.

Standard
random

My iPod Touch has a bad sense of direction

The iPod Touch has had some weird glitches and bugs, but this one pops up for me often. It seems that sometimes the iPod Touch get’s confused about whether it is horizontal or vertical. Instead of choosing one it tries to hedge the bet by taking a little from column A and a little from column B. If you shake it or just leave it alone for a while it’ll figure things out and get back to normal eventually.

Standard
apple, ipod touch, japanese

Japanese in Your iPhone (or iPod Touch)

The Japanese dictionary app called, simply enough, Japanese is being updated. Version 2.0 is coming out soon. The developer, CodeFromTokyo, has said the app will be submitted to Apple this week.

I’ve been studying Japanese seriously for about a year now, I’ve already spent about a week with a beta version of 2.0 and I feel like it is safe to say that this app is an amazingly useful study companion. Why?

Japanese is based on Jim Breen’s freely available EDict, like a pile of other apps. What makes Japanese different from those other apps is what it does with the dictionary and what it adds to it.

Lets take a look at just few of things that I like. Bear in mind these are screenshots of the beta version, so some things might change.

This is the beginning of the entry for for 素晴らしい. As you’d expect you get the furigana, any alternative pronunciations, and the translation. You’ll also get the new example sentences! Example sentences are really important because you can see if it’s the right word and how to use the word.

Tapping on the sentence sends you to a page showing the sentence complete with furigana.

Many, but not all, kanji also have a stroke view where you can see the animated stroke order of kanji. This is really helpful if you want get props for well written kanji. Sadly this seems to be my primary area of praise from Japanese folks…

One of the most useful features is the conjugations, which show not just the formal and informal conjugations, but also also things like the て, ない, and a handful of other forms.

Of course if you are looking at a kanji you can also see a list of popular compounds. You can also search by radical or even grapheme. But even more impressive is that you can search using conjugated words, a feature that I haven’t seen in any iPod/iPhone dictionary.

The dictionary also lets you write notes for a word or kanji and even create lists of words which can then be practiced in a flash card function.

The truth is that a lot of the features in this app, along with it’s speedy search, make it the dictionary in the iTunes store to beat. I don’t think there isn’t room for improvement, but I can wholeheartedly recommend it over any other dictionary. The features, along with a very responsive developer, make this my dictionary of choice, hands down. Down, I say! (….oh man, it’s a little late for me to be blogging)

If you like it you can buy Japanese
icon

Standard
random

Are iTunes App Store Prices Too Low?

I just read an article asking a question I’ve been wondering about myself. It asks if iTunes App store prices are too low. App Developer Craig Hockenberry is worried that customers are being trained to want it all for $0.99 or less. To a degree this is a legitimate problem, but only to a very small degree. People want things are cheap as they can get them, this is always true. If you sell something for $100 people will say it should be $90 you can sell the same thing for $90 and people will say it should be $70. That is life.

What I don’t like seeing is developers whining:

We have a lot of great ideas for iPhone applications. Unfortunately, we’re not working on the cooler (and more complex) ideas. Instead, we’re working on 99¢ titles that have a limited lifespan and broad appeal. Market conditions make ringtone apps most appealing.

Before commencing any new iPhone development, we look at the numbers and evaluate the risk of recouping our investment on a new project. Both developers and designers cost somewhere between $150-200 per hour. For a three man month project, let’s say that’s about $80K in development costs. To break even, we have to sell over 115K units. Not impossible with a good concept and few of weeks of prominent placement in iTunes.

But what happens when we start talking about bigger projects: something that takes 6 or even 9 man months? That’s either $150K or $225K in development costs with a break even at 215K or 322K units. Unless you have a white hot title, selling 10-15K units a day for a few weeks isn’t going to happen. There’s too much risk.

Don’t make excuses. Produce apps that are worth more than $0.99 and people will buy them. Not as many people, of course, but that is just simple supply and demand. At $1 people who may not have any need for an application will buy it anyway, just to check it out or “just in case I need it one day.” But at $4 dollars you’ll lose nearly all of those folks.

I would hope that a developer would understand that they can’t sell the same quantity at higher prices. How many people own the free application Firefox? Everyone needs a browser and it is free. It gets downloaded like like it is porn, as of July 2nd Firefox 3 was downloaded 28,340,281 times. How many units of Adobe’s $1,800 Design Premium do you think have sold? Is ten percent of Firefox’s downloads (2,234,028) too optimistic? I think so. How many people need a full design suite? How many need it badly enough that paying almost $2000 is necessary? If the price was $20 I bet you a Zune that Design Premium would be sitting (unused) on way more computers.

But this is old news. What’s the real problem? The answer is simple. Most of the apps in the iTunes store are crap. People are hesitant to pay $10 or more for an application that has only screen shots and a few shoddy reviews after seeing so much garbage. Applications are not mature on the iPhone / iPod Touch yet. Worse is that developers don’t seem to have many worries about releasing (and often charging for) applications that are still in beta stages. Worse still is that many of these stay in beta stage.

I finally purchased my first game for my iPod Touch. At $8 I Love Katamari seemed like a steal. However after downloading it I discovered the game has bugs that make it unplayable and now I see that it is the developers who were stealing, not me. On the other hand, even though it has its flaws I feel that the $20 I spent on the Japanese dictionary called (you guessed it) Japanese was worth it. Though even that application is not to the standard that I would ask of a desktop app. I bought it because it was the best option and has the potential to be worth the price I paid.

My challenge to developers like Craig Hockenberry, put up or shut up. Don’t give us excuses why you are putting out crap. Don’t blame users and talk about us like we are pets that need to be trained. Put out something that is compelling enough to buy.

Standard
random

Japanese Dictionary for iPhone and iPod Touch

Well I finally took the plunge and bought an iPod Touch. Why? Because I needed a Japanese dictionary and the iPod Touch seemed to me to have the best array of options. Not only do I get an iPod with all it’s potential, but I also get a 電子辞書 (electronic dictionary). A much better deal than those dictionaries designed with native Japanese speakers in mind.

I bought Japanese by codefromtokyo and so far I am very pleased. It uses the same free dictionaries that many Japanese English dictionaries use, so that isn’t its selling point. The selling point is the implementation. First of all it has several handy lists. These lists range from proverbs, to expressions, to counters, to JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) vocabulary. Those are nice. But the really nice part is when you get into the dictionary itself. Neatly displayed are the On and Kun readings, the radical, a stroke animation (though not for every Kanji), a translation and compounds using the Kanji (where applicable). You can add any word to your vocab list.

I have only two criticisms. The first one is more a small annoyance. If you leave Japanese it won’t remember where you were when you come back. Not ideal, but not terrible. The second is that you can’t really do anything with the vocabulary lists. However, on the developer’s there is a email address and a note asking for suggestions. I sent one saying that flash cards make from the vocabulary list would be useful and within 24 hours (much less actually) I got a response that it was already in the works.

Japanese is worth buying. The developer is active and responsive and the application is well done. Go buy it.

crappy photo/screenshots:

Standard
mac, music, technology

iPod Touch, Ten Million Apple Geeks Collectively Groan

After years of a rumored touchscreen iPod Apple finally unveiled the iPod Touch. Trouble is $400 dollars only gets you a tiny 16gb hard drive. Pay $300 and you’ll get a microscopic 8gb hard drive. The nerds are not happy.

The macrumors forums say it all

only 8gb and 16gb??? come on. I need more than that!!!

16gb?? Not big enough for me….I’ll be going with the 160gb ipod classic

For the first time in my Apple life I am actually angry with an announcement….

Not even going to consider this one until it gets at least 60GB of storage.

You have to wonder what Apple was thinking. Surely there must have been some sort of focus group that would’ve told them people didn’t want something that small. If the technology isn’t there or is the hardware cost is prohibitive a person could understand the rationale, however the thing isn’t going to sell very well considering it’s not any better than an iPhone and comes without cellular service. And some silly wifi music store isn’t gonna be pushing sales, so stop beating that drum Steve.

Standard