Apple needs to release a Mind-Body-Soul LifeKit

How many miles did you walk today?
How long did you sleep?
What was your calorie intake and expenditure over the weekend?

These are questions that your iPhone can answer right now.

How many pages of a book have you read in the last week?
How much time have you spent meditating using one of the meditation apps on your iPad?
How much time have you spent on twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Reddit today?
Are your iMessages mostly positive or negative?

These are some of the questions that Apple’s iOS cannot answer right now. Continue reading

Well, what about the jailbreak?

iOS8 is here today and as I always do before an iOS update, it’s time to audit my jailbreak. Of late, I’ve grown distant from the jailbreak idea as such. I still have a jailbroken iPhone 4S and iPad Mini 1, but there’s barely much happening there.

RAM? What’s that?

The first problem with my jailbreak is that it’s on a device that’s now, well, old. The iPhone 4S has 512 MB of RAM and as much as Apple fanboys will tell you that you don’t need RAM because Apple has a) tight integration with their hardware or b) amazing tricks up their sleeves that put apps to ‘sleep’ as soon as you minimize them, the truth is that if you jailbreak, you need RAM. Continue reading

Facebook Messenger’s Genius Inputs

Ah, Facebook! You’ve been at the center of so much controversy about privacy, callousness towards users and crappy advertising strategies. But if there’s one thing you do well, it’s the ability to slip in some gems of code into your apps and platforms. The latest one, I discovered recently, is the variety and innovation of inputs in your iOS Messenger app. Chatting is something that comes naturally to people. The quick and painless flow of information (hey, gossip is information) is vital to relationships and of late, we’ve been doing a lot of that on mobile phones. iOS, in it’s standardizing tone, has set up the following method of sending information to others – fire up an app, type something you want to send and hit Enter. If you want to send a photo, press a dedicated button to select a few images or take one and send it. If you want to send emoji, press a dedicated button, select the emoji and it’ll be added to your text input. All of this is fine, except the photo sharing part. Recently, I was looking at how redundant that is. The entire process of selecting photos to send (and many apps only allow one photo at a time) and the process of using a single Camera UI to decide if you want to upload old pics or take a new one, is restrictive and kludgy. In comes Facebook Messenger, with the following UI – Continue reading

To the Team behind Threes

Today, I read one of the most awesome blog posts I’ve ever read about the creation of something. The post was by the team behind the popular mobile game Threes (yes, the one that spawned the even more popular 2048 series of games) detailing the 570 emails and 45,000+ words exchanged between them over a period of one and a half years to make a game that has broken away from the entire mobile gaming market and shown us what wonders can be done on a four by four game board.

I must confess, I did not read the whole thing. I read about a quarter into the page before skipping down to look at the artwork and reading the conclusion. I found the developers talking about how Threes has turned out to be a lot more famous than they had imagined and how amazed they are at the growing community around it. They are also highly critical of the fakes, the ‘inspired’ games and the outright rip-offs that are flooding the markets.

But here’s the thing – 2048 became famous because it’s gimmicky. The clones are famous because of the original, not on their own merit. But Threes? Threes is unique. There’s no match for the excellent game, the wonderful team behind it and the level of innovation that’s gone into the making of the game.

Along the way, in the article, you can download early prototypes that can be played on both Mac and Windows and are excellent games in themselves. They are different from the gameplay of the final game, yet are impressive in their own right. Here’s one such game that I downloaded and played and was instantly addicted. It’s a brilliant take on Threes, twisting the game with a new angle of gameplay.

So this is what I have to say to the team behind Threes –

Do not lose heart. Scammers will come and go, but your hard work is what stands before the public today. They will approve.

But do not stand on your laurels either. I believe it was the CEO of Rovio (behind Angry Birds) who said, “Piracy may not be a bad thing: it can get us more business at the end of the day.” He’s not wrong. You called out 2048 as a game that’s inherently flawed as it can be finished too easily. That’s true. But it’s popular and it’s a derivative of your work. So go ahead, steal what is already yours and add it as a fun mode to your game.

Do not hide your excellence. You are a runaway success. You may need more money, but get more people, finish those games you have showcased in the blog post and show them to the world. The one I played is nothing short of amazing. It made me fall in love with Threes all over again. It’ll bring people back to you. You are at a similar stage which Angry Birds was at with their games. They innovated only a bit every time but every game they released was an instant hit. Your ideas are already a hit. Bring them forth.

Finally, yes, pursue the Mobile App Stores. Tell them to remove the fakes and the rip-offs. But don’t wait for them to do anything. The thieves don’t have the one thing you do – an original idea. They’ll disappear into ignominy soon, but Threes will live on.

 

For all Threes lovers, I leave you with this artwork that I hope will inspire you to keep playing Threes and keep aiming for the Lion. Cheers!

The Threes Monsters.

The Threes Monsters. Source – http://asherv.com/threes/threemails/

And some other Threes Artwork –

Stacking the Cards

The Pirate

Threes is infinite. No, really.

Copy-Paste: The saga of the inferior clone

I love reading two blogs – EggFreckles and Marco.org. Both these blogs talk about technology but are highly personal, reflecting the blogger’s perspective on topics.

Yesterday, I read a recent Marco Arment post talking about his latest offering – The Magazine. The Magazine is a high quality biweekly that has the unique distinction of being an iOS only app. Notice how I’ve used the words magazine, app and biweekly in the same sentence. That’s because this new service, like everything Marco touches, has created a new space for itself. It’s not just a print magazine being published on the web/mobiles *also*. It’s not just an app that has articles, that’s a job for the Kindle or the Instapaper apps. It’s not just a news stream or a ragtag collection of articles from all over the web. Continue reading

Experimenting with a new way of microblogging

Today, someone pointed out to me that my live blog – live.nitinkhanna.com wasn’t truly a micro blog because there was no way for people to reply to me. This got me thinking. Following the tenets of what a micro blog is from my recent post, I believe that a post, reply model, with no character limit on the post other than the author’s discretion with the ability to include multimedia in the post and the ability to host it on their own server really defines a micro blog.

Towards that, here’s an experiment – Disqus, the famous commenting system, has all of the above features. Though I do not, in the end, control the database of the posts, I can host a disqus plugin just about anywhere. This is where I choose to do it. This is now, a micro blog. Anyone can come and comment here. This allows  for Guest replies, mentions, multimedia attachments, moderation and links in the comments. There is even a mobile theme which will work if you visit this page from your smart phones.

This is just an experiment. I will post here only if people start posting here. My primary personal micro blog will still be on live.nitinkhanna.com and if anyone wants to reply there, you can do so on the Disqus comments at the bottom of that page.

iOS 6? Not yet.

As I was returning from lunch today, sitting in the car, I saw Burlington Coat Factory. In fact, it was a very specific Burlington Coat Factory. It triggered a memory. Two years ago, When I was fresh in the US and our sweaters were proving to be no match for the Colorado Winter, I and a bunch of friends had come to this particular outlet to buy winter wear because it was supposed to be pretty cheap. We got great deals, of course, but the journey, both to and fro was arduous. We were required to change many buses and coordinate the timings of all of them to ensure that we had minimum exposure to the cold. Back then, I was totting an iPhone 4 with a 200 MB data plan. Needless to say, my WiFi toggle was always on and looking and my battery was the fastest to dry out. Some others in my group also had smart phones, but I was either the most careful one not to waste my 3G or the more adept one at finding routes and bus time tables, so the task of ensuring everyone walked fast enough and didn’t waste too much time shopping was entrusted to me. I cannot, of course, claim that I was much better than any other one of them. It was the magic of Google Maps that ensured that we knew exact what bus to take and when.

More recently, about five months ago, I was roaming the crazy, confusing streets of San Francisco and was having trouble understanding what bus to take or rather, if it was supposed to be a bus I had to take at all (electric-powered buses? Who would have thought?!). My friends were looking at the real world and trying to understand where to stand while I was zoomed deep into Google Maps, finding the virtual corollary. Unable to find a satisfactory answer, I asked a passerby. He whipped out his iPhone and started zooming in. I felt somewhat surprised. He looked at my face and immediately offered, “I have the beta of iOS6, so my Maps are very different from yours.” I understood and for a second, shared a glance at the latest and greatest piece of tech from Apple. He showed me where to go and what to look for (a yellow patch on one side of an electric pole will tell you, unsuspecting traveler, that this is the bus stop you are looking for) and went his way. My friends teased me about not having the coolest OS but I shrugged it off.

Actually, I am awfully fond of my jailbreak and the convenience that comes with it. I wait for months at a time even after the release to update, because I wanted to keep my jailbreak. I’ve even gone through the tethered jailbreak phase. All because I love the tweaks that Cydia offers. When I heard about iOS 6 and the features it offers, I was very happy and hoped to upgrade pretty soon. But then two things happened –

1. iOS 6 Maps is the worst software ever written. Yep, someone told me that. I take that on face value. In fact, I was told that the Maps don’t have proper public transit information. I rely heavily on public transport, despite Boulder being a small city. So for me, a world where I can’t get the bus timings at the click a button would be a nightmare.

2. The jailbreak Dream Team broke up. I don’t know exactly what’s happening in the jailbreak scene right now. I haven’t followed it in the past few months. But I know that not much is happening, except for an iconic tweet by @chpwn showing Cydia on an iPhone 5 and then confirming to @i0n1c that it’s a jailbreak. Apart from that, the community has gone silent on A5 and A6 devices, with a tethered jailbreak available on A4 devices. Either they’re working hard on something or they’ve departed an increasingly ugly scene where common users had no respect for these devs who put their time and money into the project.

Either ways, I’m on iOS 5 on my iPhone 4S right now. I’m jailbroken and happy about it (and it’s legal too! :P). I’m not going to upgrade until at least one of the above conditions are met. Till then, I’ll gladly wait.

Feedafever for ~Free

I’ve been reading Chris Anderson’s “Free” and while I pay for the occasional service or app, my endeavor is to get as much as I can, for free.

Fever, an RSS reader that’s clever, quick and time-saving, is a recent purchase that I’m finding to be just amazing. What’s more amazing is that the product is worth $30 but I found someone who didn’t need it any more so he sold me his activation key for much lower… Continue reading