You probably did not hear it from us first, however, our Technical Director let us all know this morning that the infamous “yep” has been written.
According to one of the greatest sources for clarifying Apple rumours, Jim Darlymple, Apple will reveal the new iPad mini on October 23rd.
We can’t wait to see if this rumour will prove true, and what features this new iPhone 5 / iPad in-between will offer other than being, well, in between in size.
Are you excited for the reveal? Let us know @plasticmobile.
In case you’ve been living underground, in a bomb shelter, with no access to the outside world, the Apple / Samsung case was finally decided in a Californian court room. Apple was awarded more than $1Billion and their Korean rival was found to have infringed on six out of seven Apple patents. It was ruled that Samsung’s designs conflicted with interface specs such as the “bounce-back” feature, which occurs when one reaches the end of a page, zoom finger tapping, finger pinch zooming and scrolling patterns, as well as design features like the grid icon setup, edge to edge glass and rounded corners. All of the infringements were deemed willful with the exception of the rounded corners – so, just an honest mistake?
Finger scrolling? Grids? As a company that prides itself on making accessible and intuitive designs, it seems odd that Apple would be so adverse to other companies using the same or similar functions. Why not go after the engineering or mechanics? Because this fight is not about interior it is about exterior, and for Apple the biggest part of its brand identity is its appearance. While a lot of these patent infringement claims may seem a little farfetched and petty, they are key elements to the Apple brand.
Apple is now seeking to set immediate bans on eight of Samsung’s mobile designs that are in blatant use their patents. Popular models such as the Galaxy S2 and the Droid Charge are in the line of fire for shelf removal in the US, though Apple is sparing Samsung’s top seller, the Galaxy S III (for now).
Despite the fact that the company recently won a battle on its home turf in South Korea, the ruling for the American market is, of course, a serious setback for Samsung. The Korean company will now have to work with US carriers to modify existing designs, and will have to head back to the drawing board for redesigns, and postpone any upcoming releases.
While the short term for Samsung may look bleak, the new restrictions set by patent law may serve to open up new doors for the company. In an industry that seems to be moving by the guiding force that is Apple, there is definitely room for more innovation, more design and new ways to use technology in our lives. Now it is just up to Samsung to create something great.
Nowadays, with smartphone image quality nearing that of most point-and-shoot cameras, along with the inherent convenience of mobile, more and more people are using their devices as their go-to camera.
As a result of this trend, we are seeing a constantly increasing amount of photography apps popping up. These apps offer users a variety of innovative features not found in native apps. One such app is creating somewhat of a buzz latley, by offering its users an opportunity to make money doing something that they are already doing for free.
Much like Instagram, Foap allows users to create profiles, upload photos, rate photos and follow other users. AND, remarkably similar to a stock photography site, Foap has created a marketplace where photographs can be bought and sold.
That’s right! Users can actually make money selling the digital photos taken with their iPhones – capitalism wins again!
However, it should be noted that uploaded photos must first be reviewed by someone, we assume a photography expert, at Foap. So, only the approved photos are uploaded to the Foap market and put on sale for $10, with all transactions processed through PayPal.
When a user’s photo is sold, the generated revenue is split 50/50 between Foap and the user. I know $5 doesn’t sound like much, but just consider what Instagram users get for uploading their photos (hint; the answer is nothing).
It’s not very clear exactly what Foap looks for when reviewing photos, but from what I have read in the app’s FAQ section, photos must be clear and of good quality, and of course free of any sexual or violent content.
I have also read elsewhere, that editing photos decreases the chance that they will be published. I, myself was unable to upload some cropped images. I received an error message stating that either the width or length of an image must be at least 1000 pixels.
Once photos are successfully uploade, reviewed and published, they are showcased in the app’s market section. Users can access the market through a tab menu found on the home screen. The home screen is very easy to learn and navigate, making for speedy discovery and exploration of the app.
Once in the market, users are able browse through published photos, leave comments and rate them out of a possibe five stars. Top rated and recently sold photos have their own dedicatd sections in the market, while the entire selection can be found under the “Explore” tab.
Users are not actually able to purchase photos directly from the app, but I predict that will change eventually. Until that time, however, anyone wishing to purchase a photo must do so through the company’s website.
However, while viewing a particular photo, users can tap an arrow icon loacated at top right of their screens, which gives them a few options. Selecting “View on Market” will launch Safari and take users to that particular picture’s page on the website.
I have been playing around with this app for a few days now, and I must admit that I have become a bit addicted. For the purpose of this review, I actually snapped this photo and uploaded it. Once it was approved and published, my picture quickly picked up a few five-star ratings and made its way onto the top-rated chart under the “Today” category. In fact, it made it all the way to #2!
Every since then, I have been snapping away, trying repeat my accomplishment. I have introduced a few friends to Foap who are now also hooked. We’ve even mafe a friendly bet between us as to who will be the first to actually sell a photo.
Even is you have little interest in selling your images, I would still recommend giving this app a try. Foap is well designed and easy to learn and use. It can also be alot of fun and can even possibly get you paid for your amateur photography! Yay!
Pending its release later this year, the new Apple OS has once again managed to incorporate features that we didn’t know we needed…until we saw them. Among many, iOS 6 features include new vector based maps, the highly anticipated PassBook app and a very convenient Do Not Disturb mode for your iPhone. Less publicized however, is Guided Access, a feature that will make it both easier with those with a vision, hearing, learning and mobility disability and educators to incorporate iOS devices in their daily routine.
VoiceOver, a screen reader first introduced in Mac OS X is now integrated with more features including maps and zoom. This will allow the visually impaired greater access to content and generally, offer more ease of use. The feature serves different functions as you change devices – for example, with every Mac computer, you can connect a braille display and VoiceOver will program the keys for you.
What’s completely new is how Guided Access plans to expand to assist parents, teachers and administrators use iOS devices in their working environments. Whether it be at home, in a classroom or on the go, Guided Access provides the functionality to better educate.
The highlighted features include:
· the ability to selectively disable portions of the device from use
· disable hardware buttons
· disable certain portions of certain apps
· transition into single app mode
These features are useful in a number of ways and for many people. For instance, in classrooms it is commonly understood that technology is more of a distraction than an asset. But with Guided Access, devices in the classroom serve as an educational tool, where teachers are provided with control as to what students can access and – more importantly – can’t access. It’s hard to cheat when you’re locked into a test!
Also, Guided Access provides an opportunity for enhanced learning experiences for those with a disability. Students can focus on the task at hand without worry of hitting mistakes.
Guided Access has has functionalities that are excellent for outside of the education space. Consider iPad kiosks, menus at restaurants and satisfaction surveys, which can all now be conducted while the user is on the go.
As our co-founder, Melody Adhami, often says, technology should help and not hinder. As Apple continues to provide us with devices that we can virtually do anything with, they continue to also increase the ease with which we do all this anything.
Everything taken into consideration, kudos to Apple once again for their efforts in equal accessibility and their efforts in revolutionizing the education system.
Love Apple’s latest efforts? Tweet us @plasticmobile and tell us your thoughts.
Last week at Google I/O 2012, it was announced that Chrome, the popular internet browser, was coming to iOS. Hours later, it was available in the App Store for all iOS devices.
I’ve been using it for the last few days and have found it to be a very easy transition from Safari on my iPhone – though, I should mention that I use Chrome daily as my go-to browser on my Mac. In fact, with the exception of a few minor differences, the iOS version doesn’t look or feel much different.
Google Chrome on the iPhone
Upon launching the app, I was first greeted with a screen displaying the Google Chrome Terms of Service that I had to agree to before I could continue any further.
Once the formalities were out of the way, I was given given the option of signing in using my email address and password or continue without doing so.
I chose to sign in, as doing so gave me access to my open tabs, and bookmarks from my laptop. I found this feature to be very useful, as it allows for users to grab their phones and pick up right where they left off on their computer. Meaning that, in a sense, the Chrome application for iOS bridges the gap between the desktop and our mobile devices. Finally!
To access bookmarks and open tabs that exist on other devices, users select the corresponding tab near the bottom of the screen while in a new tab. Alternatively, they can tap the menu icon to the right of the address field and select the “Other Devices” option.
Another thing I like about Chrome is something called “incognito mode,” which is basically the equivalent to Safari’s private browsing. The main difference between the two is that Chrome makes switching between regular and incognito browsing easy and quick, while Safari users are forced to navigate away from the browser and make the change in Settings.
To enter incognito mode, users tap on the menu icon next to the address bar and select “New Incognito Tab.” This opens a new tab where users can browse without having their browsing history, searches and cookies saved.
Incognito tabs have a dark grey menu bar at the top of the screen, while regular tabs are light grey. This colour coding helps users keep track of which tabs are incognito and which are not. I really appreciated this feature since you’re probably broswing a la incognito for a reason, so confusing the two could result in bad news.
For me, it’s the simplicity of Chrome that makes it a good browser. Unlike Safari, which has two separate fields for URLs and searches, Chrome has one universal text field for both. Because Chrome can detect what it is you are trying to do, with the Google guess, there is no need for two separate fields. Chrome will either navigate to your desired site or provide Google search results for your query.
Users can also speak to Chrome to tell it where to go or what to search. Just by tapping a small microphone icon in the far right of the URL/search field, then dictating either a URL or keywords, Chrome will produce your results just like that.
Make the switch?
Overall, I enjoyed Chrome and believe it to be a fairly good alternative to Safari. Particularly for users who are already using it on their desktops.
But in the end, it ultimately comes down to preference. Users know what they value and what they like. For example, it has been reported that Chrome is the slower of the two browsers, making Safari a better choice for those who value speed. However, I’m sure any difference in page loading times is minimal, as I did not even notice it.
The biggest problem with Chrome for iOS is that there is no way to set is as the default browser, which means that links from messages, emails and other apps will continue to be opened in Safari. Leaving Chrome secondary browser. Boo.
What do you think of the Chrome app? Love it? Hate it? Tweet us @plasticmobile and share your thoughts.
A few weeks back, Plastic’s CEO, Sep Seyedi, was attending WWDC 2012 and sent an email to us here at the office recommending we checkout a specific application. Right away, I knew it was going to be something great because Sep wouldn’t waste our time with anything less than fantastic.
National Geo’s Parks in an App
National Parks has all the elements of a great app. It is beautifully designed, easy to learn and use, and the attention to detail is impeccable. It also offers substantial amounts of functionality for those want it. However, what impressed me most about this app was its clean, intuitive and uncluttered UI, coupled with its cool transitions and animations. Not to mention the stunning photos that utilize the iPhone’s retina display.
This app is perfect for those who want to plan their next great camping trip. Users are given all the basic park info that is necessary to plan a getaway to any of the 20 most visited national parks in the United States.
This includes information on how to get there, when to go, entrance fees, special advisories and of course the parks contact info. Users are also given weather conditions (current and a five-day forecast), stats about the park (number of annual visitors and park size) and some amazing photos of the scenery.
Additional information is available in the form of park guides, which users can purchase in app. The first guide is free of charge and subsequent guides cost anywhere from $0.99 – $1.99. With the guides users get additional photos, park secrets, suggestions of what to see, what to do and photo tips.
Photo tips are a great feature of this app. The National Geographic Society is known for amazing photography and now, with this app, users get all the information they need to snap their own masterpieces.
With the photo tips, users get the location (GPS coordinates), time of day, camera details and difficulty levels for each individual photo. They also get an overview and some fairly detailed instructions from the actual photographer who took that particular photo.
All in all, National Parks delivers a great mobile app experience. It offers a bunch of features wrapped in a very pretty package and believe it has a little something for everyone.
Granted, not all people are into camping and the outdoors. However, most people do appreciate the beauty of nature, and some people, myself included, value the beauty of a great app.
I have discussed this app with some colleagues and, as people who truly appreciate great design, attention to detail and great usability, we know that those elements are extremely important to producing a great experience for the end user and we all agree that the Apple Design Award was well deserved
In light of Apple’s 23rd annual World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco this week, the talk today at our bagel Wednesday meeting, was all about the tech giant and what they did and did not unveil.
While we all know better than to speculate about what Apple will do next, there were two major expectations for this conference: a new phone and TV.
Per usual, Apple had another thought. Here’s list of the best to come and the expected items that were not actually on their list:
- A super-powered 15.4-inch MacBook Pro with a Retina display screen that offers an extraordinary 2880-pixel by 1800-pixel resolution, sharper than high-definition TV
- Software update, Mountain Lion is set to arrive next month
- iOS 6 was foreshadowed at the conference, but likely won’t arrive until at least September
- Maps app to replace Google maps
- A new iPhone 5
- An Apple TV update or new hardware
Surprisingly, Apple stock was reportedly down today – which one of our developers speculated might be because of the absence of the two big Apple products mentioned above. Tune in to our Tweets @plasticmobile to stay on top of what’s going down Southwest of us in San Fran.
This week, I want to discuss yet another Clear-like task management app. This one is different from the rest and I definitely recommend checking it out (especially if you are a fan of Clear and, well just apps in general).
If you remember, a few weeks ago I wrote about an app called Well Done, which in my opinion was a cheap knockoff of one of my all-time favourite apps (Clear). Overall, I thought Well Done showed some potential in the added functionality it offered, but failed overall because of a lack of refinement and fine-tuning.
This brings me to Task, which is another task management app that has recently come out of the woodwork following the success of Clear. Task, however, is the only app that I think can stand in the same shoes as Clear.
Task offers a simple and intuitive interface, fun gesture-based interactions and allows users to add to do items quickly and with ease.
Same Same, but Different
Yes, Task has obviously been heavily inspired by the Clear app – the similar interface and the use of some of the same gesture-based interactions are very evident. However, I believe enough significant changes were made to give the app its own unique look and feel.
For example, the colour coding in Clear, which signifies the importance of each task, has been removed and replaced with a small yellow badge that appears on a task when it is marked important, taking away the range of importance levels and leaving the user with just the options of important or not important.
The benefit of removing the colour coding is that, in some cases, it may simplify things a tad. For example, when all tasks on a list share the same level of urgency, Clear’s rainbow colour-coding loses its value and may even become somewhat of a distraction to users.
Another difference between Task and Clear lies in the manner in which users add new tasks to their lists. In Clear, users perform a downward swipe, which would pull down on the list exposing a blank task at the top. However, Task users swipe upward to expose a blank task at the bottom of the list.
While the gestures for creating new tasks are different within either app, the gestures for marking tasks as completed and for deleting tasks remain the same. However, the transitions and visual feedback cues are slightly different. The transitions in Task are reminiscent of the fold-to-unlock jailbreak.
Task users have the added ability to mark tasks with dates and set up a notification for a certain time on that day. Using this feature is very intuitive and easy. The combination of gesture-based interactions, coupled with the fold-to-unlock transition, makes this feature also very enjoyable to use.
Another little feature: Task has a nifty gesture-based interaction for checking the time and date. Users pull down on the list to see the current time and date and simply let go when they’re done.
One thing I really missed in Task was the ability to create multiple lists to better manage and organize my many tasks. Clear allows users to do just that, and also made navigating between lists easy and fun with its use of the pinch gesture.
Overall, I like Task, but not because I think it’s anything new or particularly innovative. Rather, I like Task because it’s a further refined take on something that was both new and innovative.
I think Task succeeds where others, like Well Done, have failed. Meaning, it has succeeding in re-creating Clear in a way that captures its essence (minimalist, simple and fun), offers a comparable level of UX and can still be differentiated as something relatively new.
Do you have the Task app? Tweet us @plasticmobile and let us know what you think!
There has been a lot of conversation about mobile payments lately, but I feel much of it is simply future predictions and speculations. While I understand why – widespread adoption on the retailer’s side, although growing, is still lacking – it’s time for some action. So when, “Pitch the Plastic: The Mobile Payment Era Has Begun,” showed up on my radar, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only does the title carry our company name (Plastic Mobile, woo!), but also a few examples of some great startups pushing the movement forward with innovative new mobile solutions.
The first of the two, iCache Geode, launched just a couple days ago and hopes to thin out your wallet (while bulking up your iPhone) significantly. iCache Geode is an iPhone case that carries a detachable card with a rewritable magnetic stripe within it, which performs as any of your credit cards. Also, it offers an e-ink display on it’s exterior which displays barcodes in substitution of loyalty and membership cards.
How secure is it? Each time you open the app, you must first pass a fingerprint test to enter. To use either feature, download the app and input your credit card numbers and take pictures of barcodes on existing cards. With just a few clicks, the card within the case becomes whichever card of your choosing and the barcode whatever you’d like to display. Take the card out and swipe/scan at any existing POS system. Pretty neat.
While I obviously 100% support mobile innovation, I can already see a few things potential going awry. For instance, if I purchase iCache Geode (at $199 I might add), I would absolutely have to justify the buy by not carrying my credit cards, loyalty and membership cards with me. But what if my phone dies? What if I drop my phone and break the case? Just like that, there goes my investment.
My clumsiness aside, I’m afraid that retailers’s adoption rate will be very slow. Most retailers have been trained to be careful when accepting credit cards as it is, checking the card, name and signature. Will there be hesitation on their part when seeing the unfamiliar? Do they need a dotcom giant, Like a Google or PayPal, behind them to give them the necessary cred?
Last, many of us are anxiously waiting for the next generation iPhone later this year. If there is a hardware redesign, this case won’t do. It’s been designed solely for the iPhone 4 and 4s and that may pose an issue in the future. In addition, with rumors of Apple bringing NFC to the iPhone, this product might become all together obsolete.
All in all, it’s great to see some headway with mobile payments and I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to see how the iCache Geode delivers and hopefully helps to move this space forward. What have you heard about the iCache Geode? Tweet us your thoughts @plasticmobile.
I recently experienced one of the worst cases of smartphone withdrawal after losing my iPhone while fishing on Balsam Lake in Ontario. I’m not sure exactly when and where it happened, but I’m fairly confident that my phone is currently baffling a school of minnows.
The following two days without a phone proved difficult, to say the least. I found myself reaching for my nonexistent phone every time someone else’s started ringing. Finally, on day three, I was able to find a replacement. Much relieved, I then proceeded to devote more than four hours playing around with my new device as though trying to make up for lost time.
I first recovered all my data from a backup, then reacquainted myself with all my go-to apps, setting them up just as they were prior to losing my phone. Once I had finally got that out of my system, I moved on to installing and trying out a collection of new apps. Frankly, it had been a while since my last visit to the App Store, so I needed my fix.
During this App Store binge I cam across some pretty cool apps – two in particular. The first app, Timegg, is a fresh alternative that is perfect for those who have grown a little tired of iOS’s native clock app and are craving some change. The second is a great photo-editing app that uses gesture controls to deliver a great experience.
Timegg is a sexy and well-designed app that can be a fresh alternative to the native iOS clock app. The interface and the navigation are extremely simple and intuitive. Especially, when you consider all the functionality that is essentially displayed and accessible from a single screen.
Users can easily navigate between the colour-coded Alarms, Reminders, Timers and D-day sections by either swiping horizontally near the header section at the top of the screen, or by tapping the corresponding corner in the bottom portion of the screen.
I especially liked this because it works great as an alternative to the conventional iOS style tab navigation that you usually see at the bottom of the screen. Moreover, it allows for better consistency among all four sections. This consistency makes learning to use and navigate the app extremely easy (once you learn to use one, you have essentially learned them all).
I’ve been using Timegg mostly as an alarm for the past few days and am very pleased with it. You are able to set up to 8 alarms and doing so is very fast and easy.
You are able choose from one of 16 pre-loaded wake-up tones, or set a song from your music library, as I like to do.
I really enjoyed how easy it was to set up repeating alarms. It was much quicker than the native clock app and delivered a superior experience. Instead of being taken to another screen to individually tap each day that I want my alarm to go off, I could quickly select multiple days without multiple taps. More importantly, I could do it without having to be taken to another screen, only to be returned to that initial screen.
Overall, Timegg is fun and a little refreshing. It may not offer some of the functions that the native Clock app does (World Clock & Stopwatch), but it offers its own unique set of functions and does so in a user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing way.
I have read one review complaining of unreliability. Citing that the app sometimes fails to deliver notifications if left running in the background for long periods of time, and only delivers those notifications once the app is re-opened.
I haven’t experienced any such problems myself, but I also haven’t been using the app for that long. I’ll keep you posted as I continue to use it, and will let you know if I come across any reliability issues in the future.
Snapseed is one of many photo-editing apps that can be found in the App Store. In Canada, this app is currently sitting in the #5 spot on the Top Free chart, and I can see it climbing even greater heights.
Even though I found the overall app great, the selection of tools and filters to be extensive and the sharing capabilities to be on par with other similar apps, the thing that impressed me most and made Snapseed stand out, was the use of gesture controls.
These gestures are intuitive and don’t take much time master. They make switching between adjustment options within each tool or filter very simple and fast. Users can swipe up or down to switch between the various adjustment options and swipe left or right to adjust how heavily that option is applied.
I found that the use of gesture controls in the app worked great to increase efficiency and enjoyment. I almost always enjoy using apps that employ gesture controls, because I find that tapping has become slightly repetitive and mundane.