iPhone LED Football - I'm Done For

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Growing up in the 70's, I was lucky to have one of the very first hand-held electronic games, Mattel Football. This was old school electronics. There was no pass key, no lifelike football players. No. All you had was a couple of flashing LED dots, your imagination, and a burning desire to "pound the rock." That being said, I wore those little plastic buttons into oblivion as I trounced imaginary foes.

This is probably lost on younger readers but my nostalgic middle age head still pines away for that football game. As one reader explained in an email to me, "Your prayers are answered." That is right. Mattel Football found its way to the iPhone. I've installed it and I love it. They nailed the layout. They even nailed the sounds. I do miss my well-worn analog buttons but it sure is a trip pulling Mattel Football out of my pocket ... again.

OmniOutliner on the iPhone


Unable to drop my infatuation with the Omni Group, I started a thread months ago in the Omni Forums pleading my case for OmniOutliner on my iPhone. While the Omni gang has been mum on this point, the thread has slowly grown with additional apostles. The most recent advocate, random1destiny, gave an excellent tip for viewing current OmniOutliner files on your iPhone.

For everyone else, until the OO iPhone app comes out, a good view-only solution I found is to buy the Files iphone app which lets you upload any type of file. Then export your OO file as HTML(Unordered List) and transfer and view it using Files. This results in a fairly readable copy that you can keep on your iPhone.

Why didn't I think of that?

SugarSync Hits the iPhone


My favorite syncing utility remains to be SugarSync. It certainly isn't perfect. Among its sins:

1. It still doesn't sync sparse images properly (DropBox handles this with no difficulty);

2. Customer service is spotty. I've heard from readers about this and experienced it myself. In my case I have a few machines on SugarSync that need to be removed. I know they are trying to help me with this and part of the hold up was my fault (I wrote them from the wrong email) However, it has been several weeks and it is still not resolved.

This all being said, Sugarsync still does a very reliable job of keeping my files in sync. I've never lost a file through SugarSync. With it I keep files on 2 Macs, 1 PC, and an iPhone and I've had no problems. The service is now expanding with versioning and they've recently released a free iPhone application. I've only been using the native iPhone application a few days, but so far it is working seamlessly.

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AppStore Picks: Note2Self


I'm going to start an irregular series of iPhone application recommendations. My first pick is a great little voice recorder called Note2Self. This application scratches a particular itch for me. You see, I have this problem. I'm a scatterbrain. I can be just about anywhere and think of something I need to do. The problem is, a few minutes later I may just completely forget that thought entirely. So there you have my problem. How do I capture those thoughts before I experience my own Ram flush? I've used a variety of tools for this problem including Moleskines, Jott, and the ever present Napkin.

Note2Self is my most recent tool in this arsenal. Once you activate the application it gives you a simple screen.

You can either press the "Start Recording" button or just hold the phone up to your ear and it starts recording automatically.

It is that easy. I hold it up to my ear and empty my passing thought.

"Make plan for world domination with geeky Mac website."

I then lower the phone and it stops recording automatically and emails the audio file to my chosen inbox. When the personal RAM flushes (it inevitably will), it doesn't matter because the next time I check email I'll have a little audio file that reminds me to do something or add a task to OmniFocus.

You can download Note2Self directly from the AppStore for $2.99. You can learn more about the application at the developer website. Check it out.

iPhone Apps - Appeal to Readers


Okay gang, I've been swamped the last few weeks between a very heavy load at the office and a little mini-vacation trip to Las Vegas. As a result, (Except for OmniFocus iPhone) I haven't had time to go very deep with the iPhone App Store. Thankfully, I'll be able to catch my breath this weekend but rather than wonder blindly through the AppStore, I'd like to hear from the readers (via comment or email) what your favorite applications are. Help me sort the wheat from the chaffe. Let me know and I'll put together a post on it in a few days.

1Password Coming to iPhone Soon


I met Dave Teare, one the the 1Password developers, at Macworld and immediately liked him. Dave is my kind of Mac Geek: passionate about his Mac and making the best possible software. So upon seeing Dave's write up and preview of 1Password for the iPhone and iPod Touch it comes as no surprise to me that it looks fantastic. Make sure to give this one a spin when it goes live in the AppStore. If you haven't already, also take a serious look at the 1Password application for Macintosh. I don't know how I could operate without it. You can read my (somewhat dated) review of 1Password here.

Launch Day Check In

I've had my head under water the last few days with some deadlines at the day job so I thought I'd check in with the MacSparky faithful with a couple of observations.

iPhone 2.0 - YES

I did the manual install that was widely publicized yesterday. The App Store is everything I though it would be and then some. I've downloaded a ton of free applications. My favorite two free ones so far are Urbanspoon (it is so satisfying shaking your phone and having it tell you where to eat) and Lightsaber (because .. well ... its a LIGHTSABER!).

I've also bought a few apps. I have OmniFocus running (review in the future) but am also loving the MLB application and Band. Now if we could just sort out the issue of that pesky bluetooth keyboard.

iPhone 3g Launch Woes

I, along with most of the interweb, predicted AT&T's painful signup procedures would be a problem and it looks like that is coming true. For those of you going through it, at least rest easy knowing at some point in the next few days, your phone will be faster than my phone.


My biggest disappointment is the problems getting MobileMe off the ground. It has been generally non-existent and, when briefly available, extremely slow. I think MobileMe holds great promise but Apple needs to give it sufficient server backbone to make it snappy AND reliable. I'm withholding judgment on this one a few more days to see if they get it sorted out.

To 3g or Not to 3g, That is the Question


I know that all of the readers have been waiting with baited breath for the MacSparky verdict on upgrading to the new iPhone 3g. [eyebrows roll] Well friends, the wait is over. I've finally decided to "go public".

I have to admit I've waited until the last week to post this because when the first iPhone came out I was vocal pretty early about the fact I would not immediately get one. You can imagine how surprised I was carrying that little bag on launch day. What did it for me the first time was that spiffy video Apple did on how to operate the phone. Well Apple just did another one of those videos (with the same Actor no less) and after watching it I'm even more convinced I won't be buying a 3g iPhone on launch day.

The original iPhone was so much more than my old smart phone that I couldn't resist upgrading immediately. The difference between the 3g and original iPhone however doesn't strike me as all that revolutionary.

It really comes down to this: Are you willing to pay $200 plus an additional approximately $30 on your monthly bill for 3g and GPS? I can see how this is a no brainer some folks who need those features. I'm just not blown away by it. I have wi-fi at home and at work. Most of the iPhone web apps I use are already very Edge optimized and acceptable. I own a $100 Nuvi that handles my navigation.

Also, I think a lot of people will be surprised on July 11 to find out that the 3g buying experience, for lack of a better term, will suck. The AT&T folks are going to make sure the phone is activated before it leaves the store. It probably takes 30 minutes to activate. So lets say you are at a really big Apple Store with 100 employees. That means they can sell 200 phones an hour. Ugg. I think people are also going to be surprised how often their 3g coverage isn't so 3g and more Edgey. This will, of course, depend on where you are located. I am very curious about the non-driving direction uses for GPS on a phone. Maybe not immediately, but very soon I suspect that will be a compelling feature.

Of course I'll upgrade eventually I'm not even ruling out within a few months but most likely for me it will be in November when maybe they have a 32gig model with (hopefully) a better camera. I can say that I am certain I will be nowhere near an Apple Store on July 11. Hopefully, I'll be home updating my existing iPhone software and going crazy in the App Store. How about you? Are you going to upgrade?

iPhone OmniFocus: It Lives!


I was very pleased to see the blogosphere light up with news of OmniFocus for the iPhone. This is the one iPhone application I've been lusting after since ... well ... since the first OmniFocus beta. I've reported on it before and begged for it at MacWorld. Now it appears the folks at Omni have come through with a great looking application. Merlin Mann covered it here.

One feature I never would have guessed is location awareness. I *think* this means that I can open my "Grocery List" context and it will tell me where the nearest grocery store is. There simply isn't enough information out yet to know more detail than that.

On the Omni blog, it is confirmed to run fine on 2g or 3g iPhones and the iPod touch. There is no official word yet on whether it will be a separate license (my guess is it will). Between push calendar and OmniFocus, my iPhone just became even more indispensable. If Omni now announces they also have OmniOutliner for the iPhone in the works, my head just might explode.

3G iPhone Thoughts

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This fancy new gadget has already been dissected in the blogosphere but being the narcissist that I am (along with the fact I am too tired to organize my thoughts on MobileMe), I thought I'd add my two cents on the 3G iPhone.

The Look

I'm not particularly excited about them dropping the aluminum back. I suspect this has something to do the the 3g and GPS antennas but plastic is, in my mind, cheaper. I took a look at the plastic on the back of my iPhone and it actually has held up quite well (I don't use a case). Hopefully they use something of similar quality on the 3G phone. I'm glad they are making a black phone, ambivalent about the white and regret they aren't doing a few more colors. I'm sure that will happen eventually.

The Speed

What is not to like about faster? I still think John Gruber has it right and there will be a processor bottleneck at some point. I also am very curious to see the real world battery tests. It will be interesting to see how they compare to Apple's initial reports.


I still really like my Garmin NUVI. I am not that excited about GPS in my phone because I've never seen it work any good. This feature may be more important as developers incorporate it into new software. Perhaps then I'll feel a need for it but in terms of finding my way around, I am not getting rid of my Garmin anytime soon.

The Memory

I was really hoping for a 32 gig machine. With all this great new software coming out, storage will be more important than ever. That being said, using smart playlists I still have plenty of room on my 8 gig phone.

The Price

Apple is going to grab a ton of market share with that price point. Price is a large part of the focus in this upgrade. It was not about making the camera better or adding video. It is about getting 3G and lowering the price enough to grab market share. However, The lower price point may not be as rosy as it initially appears. AT&T is, according to some reports, subsidizing that price to get it so low. That means you will end up paying more on the back end for your contract. Reports are already surfacing confirming this.

So all of the above being considered, I am not certain that I will be upgrading immediately. I'm not going to say I won't because I get sucked into the Apple product launches like like the pre-Subway Jarod into an all-you-can eat buffet. That being said, it is not a "sure thing" for me. It may make sense to wait until they get a bit more memory. Oddly (or perhaps not so oddly) my daughter is pushing hard why I should get one and "deserve" a new phone. Think that has anything to do with her thoughts about getting the old one? Perhaps a little bit.

iPhone 2 Speculation


Things seem to be heating up concerning Apple's release of the iPhone hardware version 2. Many Mac websites are reporting shortages of the existing phones and, most recently, the Apple online store reports the current version of the iPhone as "unavailable".

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Now this could mean the iPhone 2.0 is imminent. It could also just mean they need to restock. Either way I don't think you can really call the existence of an iPhone 2.0 product a secret. Apple is always pushing forward on its product line and there should be no more doubt about a new generation iPhone than a new generation MacBook or iPod. The question (and secret) is, however, its features. I think 3G is a given. Well, actually, it appears to have been promised by AT&T as well as referenced in this last spurt of new carrier contracts all over the world. As to other features, your guess is as good as mine. I have no idea but I do have an opinion:

1. Better Camera, please.

I'd like to see some improvement on the camera. Maybe a better lens and software that allows me to control exposure. Currently I find it difficult to take good pictures with the phone.

2. GPS? ... Eh.

I have a Garmin NUVI in my car that gets me anywhere I need to go. I don't see the iPhone replacing it even with a GPS system. It would be nice to have GPS on board but certainly not critical. I'm also curious to see what effect that would have on the battery.

3. Faster Processor Speed

Even if we had 3G, the iPhone still can be slow loading web pages. John Gruber did a post on this and he is right. The iPhone takes about 15 seconds to load a page even on wifi. A faster processor would fix this.

4. More memory .. a given.

With the application store going live next month. Our 8 gig iPhones are going to start feeling very small. I expect a 32 gig model before long.

5. Bluetooth Keyboard Support

My own personal crusade. I had to say it.

I've only touched upon the obvious points. What may even be more interesting are the new features that are not on this list. Time will tell. So am I upgrading you ask? Eventually, but probably not* right away. My daughter's contract with Verizon ends next February so I'll most likely wait until then to make any moves.

* I've learned not to categorically state I will not be buying any Apple products. It just never seems to work out.

iPhone SDK Hopes and Dreams

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Just 12 hours until Apple lifts the curtain off the SDK for the iPhone. I'm never very good at predictions but I thought I'd go ahead and weigh in on my hopes for the iPhone in the coming year.

Task List Management

For the love of Pete, let me manage my tasks. I was very pleased to see Omni's #1 honcho, Ken Case post a comment this week on MacSparky about Omni's eagerness to get OmniFocus on the iPhone. I have complete faith that if it is at all possible, the Omni wizards will figure it out. This will be huge for me.

Break Me From the Web

There are several applications that have no business being web based. I decent business calculator, 1Password, a basic word processor, and an outliner (OmniOutliner please!) come to mind.

Don't Reinvent the Wheel

I had third party applications on my iPhone for a short time but reset it months ago. That being said there are some really nice third party apps that I would love to see brought into the official fold. The screenshot app and Flickr uploader come to mind but there are more.

Shock and Amaze Me

The iPhone is an entirely new platform. I'm sure there are people that have ideas I've never considered. I look forward to discovering them.

Hardware Support

A bluetooth keyboard could be a game changer for a lot of us. The device has a bluetooth receiver. Please Apple, throw the bloody switch.

A Word About Distribution

The iPhone is such a huge target, I'm alright with Apple acting as a gate keeper to make sure everything is safe. That being said, I really hope Apple does not abuse such a position. If they do they may find the world passes the iPhone by. I remember a time when Windows was a sad little platform that nobody thought could compete with the Mac. Lets hope Apple doesn't blow another lead by being close minded.

So what are you predictions? Only 12 hours left.

The iPhone SDK Roadmap gets Unfolded on March 6


Ars Technica is reporting Apple has sent out invitations for a press event on March 6 where it is going to discuss the iPhone software development and Apple's "exciting new enterprise features." Hmmm. They missed the promised February date, but just barely. Furthermore, it is not even clear whether the SDK is done but at least we'll get some information and the tease about enterprise compatibility may be a game changer for a lot of folks. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

iPhones Everywhere


My wife was tied up with her business over the weekend and I spent Sunday chasing my daughter around Disneyland. When we weren't chasing Micky, my six year old budding Mac geek pointed out to me every iPhone she saw. Guess what? She saw a lot of iPhones! At one point we were sitting in a restaurant waiting for a seat and there were 8 people with their phones out. Five iPhones (not including mine which was in my pocket), two RIMs, and a Razr. Now I know this wasn't scientific by any stretch of the imagination but still it was telling that Apple got something right with the iPhone. Hopefully they'll continue to innovate with the platform and make it something worthy of such enthusiastic use. When is that SDK showing up again?

iPhone and iPod Touch get more Memory

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Today the Apple Store went down and came back up with an upgraded iPhone and iPod Touch doubling the memory for another $100.  So now for $499 you can either get a 32gb Touch or a 16 gb iPhone.  With the way flash memory prices have been dropping I was hoping that these upgrades would not have included a price hike.

Neither of these announcements have me too excited.  I keep my 8gb iPhone pretty full but I really don't need the extra memory so badly to upgrade.  Likewise, I bought my wife an iPod touch last week.  I will talk to her later to see if she wants to double the memory for another $100 but knowing her, she probably won't care so long as Ugly Betty and Michael Buble' fit on her 16 gb version.

Did the memory upgrade pull any readers off the fence and inspire them to go buy?  If so drop me a note or sound off in the comments.

OmniFocus iPhone Update

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With all the excitement at Macworld one of the tidbits I failed to report was a conversation I had with the Omni folks. They were very enthusiastic about getting their hands on the iPhone SDK next month. They told me they would be working hard to figure out an iPhone application for OmniFocus. I also dropped several not so subtle hints about my wish for OmniOutline on the phone as well. Those of you who had a Newton may remember the nice outline module it had.

If I could get my OmniFocus tasks and OmniOutlines in my pocket, many things would be much easier for me. After talking to the Omni people, I'm convinced that if it is possible, they will pull it off.

iPhone 1.1.3 "Unofficial" Update Video


Gearlive has been posting pictures of their purported 1.1.3 updated iPhone. So many people have been calling it fake that they posted a video yesterday that looks very impressive. If it is a fake, it is a very convincing one. Otherwise, I am looking forward to 1.1.3. The video demonstrates moveable icons, Safari bookmarks turned into icons (yay Google Reader button!) and a quasi-GPS system using cell tower triangulation. Check it out.

Apple Releases the Iron Grip on iPhone Ringtones


I am very happy to report Apple has made importing ringtones to iTunes a much simpler (and less restrictive) affair. You can now export song snippets from iTunes or custom build ringtones right in GarageBand. This is great news for me since I do a lot of my own music and can think of nothing more narcissistic then waking up to my own composition.

I'm also thinking it would be fun to use some of the sound effects to make ringtones. I can think of one particular person who is just begging for a screaming monkeys ringtone on my phone.

I was going to write up a detailed explanation about how to do it but discovered this morning that lifehacker beat me to it.

This new system doesn't seem to help our Windows brethren but I doubt it will be long before there is a similar feature on that "other" operating system.