الجمعة، 30 نوفمبر 2012
I have a love/hate relationship with Flexibits' Fantastical. There is absolutely no faster, easier, more human way to enter appointments into your calendar. And because of that, my calendar -- previously a wasteland -- is now bristling with appointments. My only saving grace was that Fantastical was bound to my Mac, and I couldn't use it when I was out and about, with only an iPhone in my pocket. But with Fantastical's terrible awesomeness coming to the iPhone, I can now fill up my calendar faster, easier, and more humanly than ever before on the go, and no matter where I am. I'm organized now. I have no excuse left not to be. Dagnabit.
If you haven't used Fantastical before, it fixes almost everything that's wrong with Apple's built-in, kludgy Calendar app. Instead of tapping and filling in appointment or event details, you just type in natural language phrases and Fantastical parses it and creates the entry. "Lunch with Leanna at 8", "movie on Saturday with Georgia", "call on the 28th with Phil and Kevin", Fantastical takes it all in and makes it just work. Like Siri, but with a type-driven, instead of voice-driven, interface. If you want to edit all the fine details you can do that as well, of course. But the point is you don't have to until you want to.
The iPhone version makes great use of the smaller (than Mac) display, presenting 2 perpendicular scroll views. On the top is a horizontally scrolling date list. Tap a date, go to that date. Tap the top bar, go to today's date. On the bottom is a list view of all your events. Tap an event, get the details to that event.
And Flexibits absolutely, positively, gloriously nailed the bi-directional scrolling in a way that just feels perfect. Scroll the dates and the events change, scroll the events and the dates change. Flick and they both whizz by in perfect synchronicity, always slowing and stopping on a full event break.
If you want to see a month view, just pull down on the dates and either peak at it, or keep pulling to switch completely. If you want to peak or go back, just pull down again. (It's a state-toggle gesture, not a window shade analog.)
To add an appointment, tap the + button and, as described above, simply write what you want to add. Appointments get added to your default calendar, but you can also tap Show Details and edit everything in a more traditional manner, including changing the calendar, adding repetitions, making events all-day, and more. If you're using the iCloud calendar or a Google calendar, or any calendar with sync, the event will propagate across your devices just as you'd expect.
There are a lot of other great little touches in Fantastical for iPhone as well, like how words animate and playfully saunter down from the entry field to the calendar. , and how, as you type times and dates, the calendar flips, also playfully, to the right page. No part of the user experience has been left unpolished or anything less than delightful.
With the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, and iPod touch 5, you can also use the built in iOS voice dictation to get a Siri-like effect by simply saying your natural-language event phrase. That means Fantastical can actually handle natural language through speech or type, which is a huge advantage. (I've wanted Siri to handle text queries via Spotlight for a while now for just that reason -- sometimes it's easier to talk, sometimes quite inopportune.)
I've been using Fantastical for iPhone for a while now, and I haven't touched Apple's Calendar app since. It's been reverse Sherlocked -- Flexibits saw an opportunity where the built-in app wasn't meeting a need, and provided a compelling alternative.
That doesn't mean it's for everybody, however. To be as focused as it is, Fantastical leaves out some things as well. There's no landscape mode, no week view, and no a lot of other features that other calendar apps absolutely nail. For me, speed of entry and speed of lookup are the most essential element of an iPhone calendar app, and that's Fantastical's forte. For other users and use cases, different priorities will apply.
Like I said at the start, if you want the absolute fastest, easiest, most human way to get appointments into your calendar, you'll want Fantastical for iPhone.
App Cubby, the company behind Timer 2.0, will be removing the in-app ad -- an icon advertising another app -- and has issued an apology to their users for inserting it in the first place. It's a classy and extremely customer-centric move. App Cubby's David Barnard said:
Given all the mistakes and bad assumptions, it?s clear that the best choice here is to immediately change course. For now I?m going to replace the ads with an apology, and later today I?ll be submitting an update to Timer that removes the ad completely.
Please accept my sincere apologies for making a mess of a great app.
Barnard considers the mistakes to be a) underestimating how many Timer users had bought the app in the couple of months before it went free, b) forcing the update on those past users, c) making the ad too clever (so much so that users don't realize it's an ad).
I understand the ambiguity argument when it comes to the ad. An app icon on a grid amid many other icons could easily be mistaken for an action item instead. Personally, however, I have no problem with the core idea of ads being added to apps. I'd much prefer that than the app being discontinued because the developer can no longer afford to keep it going. Business realities change. The App Store economy changes. Developers have to respond to those changes or go out of business.
Some people think users don't care about developers having sustainable businesses, but if users start not getting the apps they want, they'll start to care. Developers, just like all of us, are trying to figure out how to make enough money to feed their families. They'll try things, they'll stumble, they'll get up, they'll adjust, and hopefully they'll hit it big.
Kudos to David for recognizing a faulty tactic in what looks to still be a sound strategy, and hopefully he hits it big with the next revision, or the next app. In the meantime, go download Timer 2.0, still for free, on the App Store. Ad or no add, it's a terrific app.
- Free - Download now
Source: App Cubby
Thanks to Rafael Rivera and Paul Thurrott, we've now had a glimpse at what the Windows 8 welcome screen will look like. As you can see, the typography is very Metro indeed. Within Windows also mentions that the background image is customizable, and we're wondering if it might not pull from your current Windows 8 theme. This particular shot shows the CTRL + ALT + DELETE login option, but we imagine you'll still be able to log in by clicking your account picture tile as well.
Rivera and Thurrott also mention that the tablet version of the welcome screen will allow you to log in by swiping a pattern on the screen -- as you can on current Android devices.
You get to play with a bunch of random strangers in real-time, and make up sentences out of a pre-set collection of words, including some fairly naughty ones, and all players' nicknames. As you can imagine, some of the results are not child-friendly.
There are ten rounds to a game. Once a round is done, players get to vote for their favorite sentence from that round. You can't vote for your own creation, of course. There's in-game chat, too.
I think the vocabulary could be made a bit more eclectic, but even as it is, it's a nice way to spend a few minutes and meet random strangers on the Internet (always a thrilling experience).
الخميس، 29 نوفمبر 2012
Linux wizard Michael Larabel has been marking his benches over at Phoronix and in the process he's proved that the Samsung Exynos 5 Dual processor -- currently found in some of our favorite tablets and budget notebooks -- is remarkably nifty with Ubuntu. The chip, which contains two Cortex-A15 cores clocked at 1.7GHz and a Mali-T604 GPU, was stacked up against the A9-based Tegra 3 from NVIDIA plus a few Intel Atoms to represent the x86 side of things. Although the various test rigs couldn't be totally spec-matched in terms of RAM and storage, the scores were focused on pure computational grunt and they gave Samsung's SoC a "surprising" lead. Check out the source link below and you'll see that the majority of the graphs look similar to the one above, with the two weaker Atoms and the aging Tegra 3 being left for dust and only the Core i3, with its much higher wattage, being able to keep that Exynos ego in check -- at least until the eight-core version gets here.
Interestingly, we can see IE9 dipping between March 20 and 21, just before the 'Important' Windows Update rolled out. It's hard to say whether IE9 is only growing because of the installed-by-default Windows Update, but that small dip definitely sticks out -- did excitement peter out? Did people download IE9, try it out, and summarily uninstall it? Perhaps, given their close proximity, the stats show an attention shift from Microsoft to Mozilla?
Numbers-wise, if the bottom left corner of the graph shows 2.3 million downloads for IE9, we can guesstimate that that it has now been downloaded 5 million times. Firefox is clocking in at 37 million downloads after five days of public availability.
We wonder whether Microsoft knew its release schedule would coincide so closely with Firefox 4. Internet Explorer 9 -- a great browser by almost every metric -- was never going to do well against anything emanating from the maws of Mozilla. The main thing, though, is that Microsoft has now shown that it's serious when it comes to the Open Web. If Internet Explorer 10 is good, and 11 and 12, then we might finally see it compete with the zealous Mozillan horde.
It's also interesting to note that there are now more than 1,000 sites utilizing Internet Explorer 9's Windows 7 integration features -- like the new desktop notification support we showed you in Hotmail.
But perhaps the best news of all is that Microsoft's IE6countdown.com now has more than 400 partners and is generating nearly two million pageviews per month, helping to lure users away from the woefully out-of-date browser. Can the end come soon enough, DS readers?
Consumer Reports has published its annual customer satisfaction rankings for U.S. mobile networks. The rankings reveal that Verizon customers are happiest, while once again AT&T scored lowest out of the four major carriers.
The rankings are based upon consumer surveys, based upon categories including data network, call quality and customer service. Of course, your mileage will likely vary depending on the networks available where you live, so don't let today's stats dissuade you if you're a happy AT&T customer or a miserable Verizon subscriber.
Are you happy with your mobile carrier? Let us know down in the comments.
Source: Consumer Reports
If you've ever watched the Transformers and wished you had one -- not a manual toy but an actual transforming model -- then stop reading and watch the video above. Done freaking out over the rolling out? Good. Here are the details, courtesy of Christina Bonnington at Wired:
Brave Robotics developed a 1/12 scale Autobot transformer using a custom 3D printer, and it will be on display at Maker Faire Tokyo next week. Once fully morphed out of its initial automobile form, it takes the shape of a bipedal robot that moves about much like two-legged soccer-playing robots we?ve seen at Robocup and Robogames. This robot also has the ability to shoot some sort of dart from each of its arms.
Having an Autobot mini prowling iMore HQ, reporting suspicious activity back to my iPad mini, would pretty much be a geek dream come true. So, I guess it's time to learn autocad, robotic and automotive engineering, 3D printing, and alien AI programming. Back in a bit...
Huawei upped its ante in the smartphone games with the Honor 2 just weeks ago, but with few mentions of where the phone maker might place its bets outside of its native China. An FCC filing has at least raised the slim chance that Huawei might look to North America. The newly-tested device doles out HSPA+ support on the 850MHz, 1,700MHz and 1,900MHz bands, letting it work with the 3G of just about any American or Canadian GSM carrier. Without any LTE to speak of, though, the Honor 2 variant is more likely to appear on a smaller network that doesn't yet have access to the faster data, such as T-Mobile or Wind -- if it shows up at all, that is. As FCC approvals only occasionally spoil a launch, we'll mostly be waiting to see if Huawei or carriers step forward before anticipating the mid-tier phone on this side of the Pacific.