Quick post on iOS 6

…in which we make the obligatory iOS 6 initial thoughts post.

iOS 6 icon (credit: Apple)To nobody’s surprise, Apple (at its WWDC keynote address) formally announced the next major edition of their mobile operating system, iOS 6. The big features added to iOS 6 include Siri support on the new iPad, a new Apple maps app (iMaps?), OS-level Facebook sharing, an app called Passbook, and a few other things.

The news is generally welcome. The verdict is still out on whether the new Apple Maps app will have transit directions. As to be expected, very few sources are reporting on this. Some places say yes, many many places are silent. Of course, the fallback will be using Google Maps in the browser.

Another feature that is very welcome is the addition of per-account signatures for each of your email addresses. And, for educational use, I’m welcoming the new Guided Access feature, which will enable device administrators (e.g. parents or teachers) to lock down their device so only one app may run.

A theme that emerged at today’s WWDC keynote — and made very evident by the launch of the latest MacBook Pro (you know, the one with the Retina Display) — was that it’s time to look forward in technology and leave some technologies behind. If you have the first iPad, you won’t be able to upgrade to iOS 6. Likewise, only the fourth generation of iPod touch will be the only iPod touch that can get the iOS 6 upgrade. The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S are also upgradeable…and so is the iPhone 3GS, announced at WWDC three years ago.

iOS 6 upgradeable devices (credit: apple.com)

As I usually say: “Interesting, interesting…”

iOS 6 and transit maps?

…in which we wonder about Apple’s new mapping application.

On Monday, Apple is set to release the sixth major version of iOS, its mobile operating software. Normally, however, changes are a good thing and each new version of iOS has been better than the last.

One of the big stories that’s flying around in this weekend before iOS 6 is formally announced is that Apple is dropping from Google Maps in favor of using its own mapping solution. Apple and Google have been trading punches lately and Apple has purchased several mapping companies. Of course, these are all rumors and we won’t know for sure until Monday morning. But if the rumors are true, then I’m sure that Apple will call their new mapping application “amazing,” “revolutionary,” “magical,” and other synonyms.

But, will it really be that?

I’m sure that it will be aesthetically pleasing. And that the graphics will be great. But one of the best features of Google Maps — and the big reason why I use it — is that Google Maps offers transit directions. You see, I don’t have a car. The option for me to get reliable directions to get from Point A to Point B via transit, as in the screen capture on the right, is absolutely mission-critical.

The other problem, at least for Phoenix, is that Valley Metro is very protective of their transit schedules. It took several years after Google Transit’s launch before one could plan transit trips here in Phoenix. If there is a transit feature in Apple’s new maps, what data will be there? I highly doubt that Phoenix’s will be there at launch.

Thankfully, we can still access Google Maps via the browser. But a native app was so much better. Ah, there’s something to be said about restricting an ecosystem.

IPv6: The Future is Forever

…in which we celebrate the launch of IPv6. The future is here and the future is forever!

Tomorrow marks the official turning on of the next generation of the Internet, IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6). To many people, you shouldn’t notice anything. Nor should you really be concerned with anything. Being on IPv6 isn’t much of a bragging right (unless you’re a nerd/geek/computer scientist).

Why should you care about IPv6? In this video below, from Google, Vint Cerf (one of the co-creators of the Internet) explains it all. Under the current system, IPv4, there are just under 4.3 billion IP addresses available. (Think of an IP address as a telephone number or as a house address. When you go to a website, like edwardjensen.net, you’re going to a server that hosts edwardjensen.net. It’s reached by an IP address, which is 69.163.150.126.)

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Uwjt32NvVA

Happy IPv6 World Launch Day!

Google’s Project Glass

…in which we wonder if Google’s Project Glass might go anywhere.

I realize I haven’t posted on here for awhile — which is fine, I suppose. I’m working on a major think piece on downtown density and some distractions that have gotten in the way as of late. The piece will blend urban themes and deconstruct some of downtown Phoenix’s metanarratives and macrostructures. Intrigued? I can’t wait to finish it and share it with you.

But anyway, this came across my radar screen. My posting of this is a few months tardy but a friend shared this with me last night and I have to admit that I’m fairly intrigued. It’s Google’s Project Glass, which takes the mobile phone (which is practically attached to us anyway) and physically attaches it to us.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c6W4CCU9M4

The question is this: Would you wear this? I totally would. If this were integrated into some other services and had open APIs, my goodness: this thing would be useful. Take the scene at the Mud Truck food truck. Instead of just checking in there, what about doing some online payment (a la Square and Square Wallet)? Now that would be useful.

Migrating from Gmail?

Migrating from Gmail? Finding another email service that matches Gmail’s workflow is difficult. Here are some considerations for discussion.

[Author’s note: This post is the first in the series of this blog’s feature on migrating away from Google in response to Google’s changes in privacy policy and terms of use. Read the introductory post here and follow along with the rest of the series here.]

One of the hardest things to do when you’re trying to migrate away from Google is find something that is comparable in workflow. That’s the case with Gmail, Google’s eight-year-old email service. When it was launched on April Fools’ Day 2004, many people thought it to be a joke because 1 GB of storage was unheard of at that time. But it wasn’t a joke, and Gmail’s led the way in the email storage department. Today, users get 10 GB of email storage space for free and paid users of Google Apps or Google Drive get 25 GB of storage space.

What makes Gmail unique from other email providers is the archive feature. My email workflow is this: emails requiring attention from me are in my inbox and everything else is archived. From time to time, I’ll delete emails that are from email lists or alerts from various social media outlets. Other than that, I save things.

While its original selling point was the storage space, today’s Gmail is more than that. Gmail users who have Android or iOS smartphones have native synchronization with their device’s mail, contacts, and calendar applications. On iOS, the operating system that powers Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, users get push updating of new email and changes to one’s calendar or address book.

And that’s the problem. For various reasons, I seem to be using Apple products at the moment, including my MacBook Pro, my iPad, and even my iPhone. That native integration between Google and my iDevices’ mail, calendar, and address book is what’s making this whole process so difficult.

To provide some sort of soundness of research to this project, I’ve developed a list of considerations that are important to me and I sense are important to you, the reader. Those considerations are, in no particular order:

  1. What is the workflow of the proposed replacement? For email, as an example, what parallels exist between Gmail’s archive feature and that of a replacement?
  2. What integration does it have with mobile devices? Does it integrate natively with the system apps for email, contacts, and calendars on my and many other mobile devices? If so, what protocols are called?
  3. Can the email service be hosted at a domain (e.g. @edwardjensen.net) or must it be used at the provider’s native domain for email (e.g. @gmail.com, @hotmail.com, etc.)?
  4. What support does the proposed replacement have for different email addresses? Can I use the webmail interface to send email from a different email address for my work, for instance? Or does all email have to be funneled through the primary email address?
  5. What costs are involved with the proposed replacement? Is it free or is there a minimal charge to use the service? If there is a charge, what additional services are provided for that charge?
  6. What sort of authentication mechanism exists for securely logging in to the service? Is there some sort of two-step authentication involved? Google introduced two-factor authentication, in which some services, like IMAP/ActiveSync authentication no longer take the account’s primary password but a sixteen-character password that only works for a specific service.

Those are the considerations I’ve developed thus far. What should be added? What considerations do you have when looking at hosted email? Please share in the comments!

Apple closing iWork.com public beta

Apple is ending the iWork.com public beta service and rolling that into iCloud. Here’s what Apple has to say about that.

We at Downtown Technology Company and edwardjensen.net have used the iWork.com public beta for sharing our documents with our clients, friends, family, and those with whom we want to share our work. This morning, we received this email from Apple that the iWork.com service will close at the end of July, being replaced with the iCloud documents sync.

Here’s the email from Apple:

Dear iWork.com user,

Thanks for participating in the iWork.com public beta.

Last year, we launched iCloud, a service that stores your music, photos, documents, and more and wirelessly pushes them to all your devices. Today, there are already over 40 million documents stored on iCloud by millions of iWork customers. Learn more about iCloud.

With a new way to share iWork documents between your devices using iCloud, the iWork.com public beta service will no longer be available. As of July 31, 2012, you will no longer be able to access your documents on the iWork.com site or view them on the web.

We recommend that you sign in to iWork.com before July 31, 2012, and download all your documents to your computer. For detailed instructions on how to save a copy of your documents on your computer, read this support article at Apple.com.

Sincerely,
The iWork team

Keep that in mind when creating and sharing content. We’ll report when we fully test the iCloud documents sync.

How to De-Google Your Life

Much has been made about Google’s new privacy policy and terms of use lately, including how they are overly broad.

Much has been made about Google’s new privacy policy and terms of use lately, including how they are overly broad. Some people have contemplated jumping ship from Google but it’s difficult when so much of our information is entangled in Google’s services.

I’m a complete Google addict: I use Gmail both through Gmail and for Google Apps for Domains, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, Google Reader, Google Search, AdSense, Webmaster Tools, Google Chrome, App Engine, Google Docs, Google Drive, YouTube, and so on. (I think you get the picture. An intervention might be appreciated!)

In a series of posts to follow, I’ll try to find my way through alternate services that provide a decent feature set compared to Google’s. And it has to be free or very inexpensive. For email, it has to be domain friendly (meaning I can use that email at my domain, e.g. edwardjensen.net). And it all has to be mobile-friendly, meaning native or near-native integration with my mobile devices.

If you have any suggestions for service replacements, let me know in the comments beneath!

Facebook oversharing

Chalk this one up in the list of things that Facebook is encouraging: oversharing information for all to see.

Chalk this one up in the list of things that Facebook is encouraging: oversharing information for all to see.

Facebook’s revamped profiles to be timelines. The idea is that the Facebook timeline is an annotated biography of your life complete with links to people, pictures, and more information than should be shared.

There’s one big issue with Facebook’s new timeline feature that I see that I don’t think has been explored too much: no matter what your existing privacy settings are for other content, your privacy settings for adding in your life events (e.g. jobs, relationships, where you live, etc.) is set to “public.”

Here’s a screen capture of the prompt to add a life event:

If you can’t read the annotation on the screen capture, this is what I said: “Here’s where you change things. Bear in mind that there is no Facebook global setting to limit the privacy/visibility of your life events. If you want to restrict who can see what, you’ll have to change it ON EACH ITEM.”

This is my big beef with Facebook. The default privacy setting for new content, it seems, is “public.” People don’t necessarily check permissions settings (in a rush to share things) and so stuff that might be intended to be seen only by a handful of individuals ends up  being shared with the whole world. I don’t know if this is an oversight or something that Facebook’s doing by design. Whatever it is, it’s annoying.

That leads me to my First Axiom of The Internet: Anything you post online (be it on a social media site, a forum posting, or a site that requires a login) will end up being shared with more people than you originally intended.

Just keep that in mind the next time you’re going to post something.

My breakup with Google+

It’s not me, Google+, it’s you (or: in which I break up with Google+).

It's not me, Google+, it's you.

I had such high hopes for Google+ when it came out a couple of months ago and when I got my invite to the service. “Finally,” I thought, “a service that’s sort-of like Facebook but completely not evil.” As a technophile, I am completely fine with this. The idea of circles to share content with specific people is absolutely genius. Or hangouts, which are live in-the-browser video chats with our friends. Or editing posts after I’ve posted them (as I’ve done with this post…three times!). There is so much potential here.

But there are times when the point of social media is that social aspect; more specifically, I want to create a conversation and dialogue here. (Ideally, I’d like to take that conversation and move it offline into a face-to-face setting. But that’s just me.) Of those in my circles, the last person posted something here over 36 hours ago. The last person to comment on one of my posts was three days ago. And it’s not that I care or that I demand comments to what I post. But sometimes, it’s nice to know that people are reading, internalizing, reflecting, and acting on what they’ve read.

And it’s that lack of communication here that have caused me to break up with Google+ for the time being. It has such great potential to be something absolutely so amazing but it seems like Google is hampering its development. Where’s our API so we can update G+ or see others’ posts from other applications? Why are you still playing around with Buzz? Where is integration of the “+1” buttons that are starting to dot the Internet? What is your compelling reason to use G+? Are you seeing it as a profile page? Or as a new way in which people can share content with each other?

Anyway, I’m not going away. I’ve started a tumblr blog, “#dtphx musings,” in which I post photos and share content that my friends have posted to their own tumblr blogs. It’s at downtownmusings.com — and I still tweet with great regularity at @edwardjensen.

I am not a robot. I am a unicorn.

Well, I guess we have answered the question of what happens when two computers start talking to each other. They talk down to each other.

Well, I guess we have answered the question of what happens when two computers start talking to each other. They talk down to (and occasionally insult!) each other.

Thank goodness that IBM’s Watson, the Jeopardy!-playing computer, had a much nicer disposition. And credit to Crave, CNET’s gadgets blog, for first posting this video.