Tumblr for iPad finally Released!

tumblr-for-ipad

After only having an iPhone version for so long Tumblr have finally released an iPad version of their App and it’s really nice. Kudos!

Tumblr for iPad on the iTunes App Store.

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Gizmodo’s Insane Defence of the lack of Android Tablet Apps

In a piece on the best small tablets of the year, Gizmodo unsurprisingly gives the number one spot to the Nexus 7. In trying to justify the laughable lack of tablet specific apps and justify his reasoning the writer  Brent Rose gives us this wonderful little ditty:

“iOS may have more tablet-optimized apps, but because Android devices come in so many different sizes, developers are used to scaling. Text and buttons are human-sized, and zooming in and out to view things is simple.”

Really? That’s the best you can do?

Look, I have both the Nexus 7 and the iPad mini. The nexus 7 is a good device, but the app situation is ridiculous. It’s not just a lack of tablet optimised apps that’s an issue, it’s that android versions of a lot of apps are abysmal. I mean, they’re really really bad. There’s no justification for it other than developers either have a low opinion of their Android customers or that developing for Android is so difficult that the lame excuse for apps is the best that they can do.

“Developer’s used to scaling” is not a reason to be excited about the app situation on the Nexus.

 

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Apple’s Manufacturing Problem

Apple has a big problem. It’s not the rise of Android, it’s not the recent management re-shuffle or that everything they do is deemed by pundits as something “Steve would never have done”. Apple’s problem is that its success has led, in my opinion, to a significant reduction in the quality control of its manufacturing.

I have been a huge Apple fan since I first started buying computers well over ten years ago. Every computer I’ve ever owned has been a Mac. I’ve owned every iPhone, every iPod and every iPad. So, while this post will get the inevitable barrage of “you’re being paid by Microsoft/Google/Samsung” to write this, believe me I don’t want to be writing this. It’s not easy for me to say what I have to say, but someone needs to. Ever since Apple started manufacturing in China their quality control has been steadily slipping. And as Apple products become more and more cutting edge, its designs are not being done justice by Apple’s manufacturing partners.

Over the last two years almost every Apple product I’ve owned has had some problem, either big or small. You could argue that I’ve been unlucky, and that may be true, but statistically speaking, the chances of continuing to get defective products time after time without there being some underlying issue is pretty unlikely. I’m not the only one either. The pinnacle of this trend for me has been the iPad 3. I’ve written previously about my issues with trying to get an iPad 3 with an acceptable screen. After three replacements I’ve given up. But there are dozens of threads across various forums with people having the same problems. Some have had their iPad replaced up to 8 and 9 times before either getting a good one or giving up. I can’t help but think that this widely reported issue was at least part of the reason for the rapid roll out of the iPad 4. So far there hasn’t been the same issues reported with the iPad 4, but it’s only been out for a short time so we’ll see.

The MacBook Pro with retina display has had image persistence issues with the screen widely reported by users on various forums. There was one thread on Apple’s own discussion site that ran for several hundred pages. I initially dismissed this as people not understanding LCD screen technology but then my Retina MacBook pro started developing its own problems.

I recently bought two iPad Mini’s. One for my wife and one for myself. Luckily for me, mine is fine but the backlight on my wife’s is badly mottled. It looks like a big hand print across the screen. It’s not bothering her, but I don’t think it is acceptable.

I know there are lots of people out there with no issues with their devices. I’m not trying to say that every Apple product is defective. I know some think that because they haven’t had an issue personally, I’m just making it up, or am just a troll, or just out to “get” Apple. Of course if you think that, nothing I can say will convince you otherwise. People who know me know that I have been one of apple’s biggest supporters. But it’s got to the stage now where I’m reluctant to buy a new Apple product because it feels like you’re rolling a dice and trying to score snake eyes just to get one that doesn’t have some sort of issue. I’m not the only one who thinks this either. There are lots of people out there in a similar situation who have made similar observations.

As I said earlier, not all of these are big problems. Many issues may appear minor to the average consumer. The typical teen or soccer mom might not care about an uneven backlight or ghosting on a display, but that doesn’t mean the problems don’t exist or should be allowed to continue. The variation in quality might be within some arbitrary tolerance set by Foxconn or one of the other partners, but the result is that beautifully designed Apple products are coming off the assembly line with a wide variation in quality that doesn’t belong in such a high-priced and high-end product.

Look, I get it, Apple is pushing the envelope, and I love the design of Apple’s products. I love that they’re cutting edge. I don’t think anyone can touch them for their innovation and continuing desire to push technology forward. But Apple’s designs are advanced technology with highly complicated engineering and this type of bleeding edge product is traditionally built with precision hand crafted engineering. But Apple through its partners are mass producing these designs by the cheapest available (and some would say questionable) labour. Something has to give somewhere. The more demand for Apple products the bigger this problem is going to get.

Some will argue that it’s a cost issue, that the only choice is to manufacture in China, but this isn’t the case either. Tim Cook even said himself that the issue wasn’t cost, but the lack of skilled labour. Either way if the trend continues, High end users will be put off buying Apple products.

Apple is in danger of making the same mistakes Sony made. Sony used to make superb, high-grade precisely engineered and manufactured products, and they too moved manufacturing (from Japan) to China, and now a large percentage of their products are not particularly well made. Of course Sony has had lots of other issues too, but I know many Sony fans who long for the days when Sony made high quality precision engineered products, and not the plastic crap they churn out now. So, it is with some sense of optimism that I read about Apple considering moving manufacturing back to the USA.

I’m sure the loyal fans will be lining up to trash this blog post, and claim that I’m just imagining things, that Apple is perfect in every way and that it’s just because they’re making so many products, and it’s just a vocal few that have had issues. There is a time I would have been one of them, but this is a real problem for those who’ve had to return multiple products multiple times. We’re not imagining it, we’re not being too picky or being paid off by a competitor. We’re not stupid either. If you have never had an issue, then consider yourself lucky, but don’t automatically assume that those of us who have are lying/imagining/making it up. Even if it is only a small percentage of users who get defective products, the sheer scale of Apple’s production runs means that even a small percentage is still a huge number

I just hope that someone somewhere inside of Apple is taking the manufacturing of their products seriously. Or at the least accepts that a problem exists. At the end of the day, for all of Apple’s genius and vision, its biggest issue has always been that the people who work there believe their own mantra a little too much. They firmly believe that they do make the best products possible, and that belief can some times blind them to reality. Just because Apple is making profits hand over fist don’t mean its infallible, or that it never makes mistakes.

Apple makes high-end premium products, and it needs to find manufacturing partners that can work on the same level. Churning out millions of devices a month may be a great achievement, but that achievement has come at a cost. it’s time for Apple to take a serious look at the weakest link in its chain.

[I've disabled comments. If you want to discuss this take part in the discussion over on twitter]

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The Failure of the Daily Was Not a Failure of the Format but of the Content

With the high-profile failure of Rupert Murdoch’s grand experiment in iPad publishing, “the Daily”, people have been quick to jump on the “why it failed” band wagon. Needless to say some are laying he blame for the newspaper’s failure at the feet of the format. The fact that it was a digital only iPad publication is what doomed it is a common refrain. I don’t think that’s the case though. It think it’s much simpler than that. It failed because it wasn’t very good.

I subscribed to it for a while and I really wanted to like it. I wanted it to succeed, but in the end I cancelled my subscription. It wasn’t the technical problems with the app that annoyed me it was the content. It was really bad. The newspaper, if you could call it that didn’t really know what it was. On the one hand it wanted to be a hard edge newspaper, but then it was filled with tabloid like gossip columns and other such nonsense that would be more at home in an issue of hello than anywhere. But even that wasn’t the problem. It was the underlying tone of right-wing propaganda that finished it for me.

Now, I’m not trying to make this about politics or partisanship but if you look at it objectively, trying to shoehorn a subtle fox news like overtone in a newspaper for the traditionally left leaning minds of the typical iPad owner was never going to work. It’s not about politics, it’s about demographics, and the Daily was simply preaching to the wrong choir. Sure, it wasn’t as in your face as Fox, but it was there, and it was at times obvious and obnoxious.

Had Murdoch hired a staff of writers and editors who understood who they were writing for rather than try to shove its views down the throats of people who are particularly allergic to being told what to think, it might have had a chance. Selling thinly veiled disdain for the iPad generation to the iPad generation was never going to work.

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Looking for disruption? It’s staring you in the face

Over the last year, some Apple enthusiasts have been vocal in their demands for the next big disruption from Apple. In the same way that Apple completely changed the way music is distributed and purchased, turned the mobile phone industry on its head, and created a tablet that people will actually use, these folks want The Next Big Thing—something about TV, or mapping, or toasters, or … something.

The fact that no such earthshaking development has emerged from Cupertino to assuage those demands has prompted some to say that maybe Apple’s lost its edge, and that the company can’t create disruptive technology as it once did.

But I’d like to suggest that The Next Big Thing is already happening, right before our eyes. You can see it in OS X, iOS, and the devices that Apple is creating

A great piece from from Chris Breen over at Macworld

Looking for disruption? It’s staring you in the face, bub. | Macworld.

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If you want to compete with Apple, making your products available is a good start

So here’s the thing that bugs me about Android. Well, it’s one of the things. I am a pretty die hard apple user, but I’m not opposed to trying the competition and I’ve a pretty open mind when it comes to technology.

With that in mind I’ve been trying to get hold of a nexus 7. Except it turns out they’re not available here. Well, not officially any way. They have been turning up on the grey market though, but availability is limited. It strikes me as odd that google should make such a big stink about android being a better choice and then limit one of its core products availability. And I know someone will make the inevitable point that Ireland is just a tiny little country but google has a huge headquarters and presence here.

So here’s the thing google. If you want Android to succeed in the tablet space, you can start by actually selling your own products

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Please Stop with the “Steve would never have done that” Nonsense

I’m getting really sick of pundits using the “Steve would never…” excuse to reinforce their arguments as to why their views on Apple were right all along. First of all, judging by many of the points being put forward, most of these people had no idea what Steve was actually like or what he did and didn’t approve of. But it’s becoming so ridiculous now that pundits are just tacking the phrase onto any anti-apple piece they want to write as a way to justify it no matter what merit the argument actually has.

But the really disingenuous thing about this little trick is that many of the pundits who’ve used the “Steve would never….” meme weren’t exactly fans of Steve in the first place, and now suddenly they’re holding his views as sacrosanct and putting him up as some kind of idol to them when they despised the man when he was alive. So here’s the thing pundits, if you’re argument can’t stand on its own, don’t write it. Stop invoking the ideology of a man you never liked who can no longer refute your bullshit.

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Resolution isn’t everything

One of the main complaints people have about the iPad mini is that the resolution is too low and that Apple should have used a retina display. This is a particularly popular refrain from people who are fans of competing products. Ironically, the same people accept that there is probably no feasible way to currently shoehorn a retina display into the iPad minis form factor as the resolution would be ridiculous, but that hasn’t stopped the complaints.

But here’s the thing. There is more to a display than resolution, and to be honest, the retina displays in Apple’s iPad is not perfect. While it is sharp and crisp, in my experience it suffers from uneven colour and an uneven backlight. I know this is a controversial opinion to take, but I’ve looked at dozens of iPads after the problems I’ve had with a half pink display on my own, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a wide degree of variation in retina displays.

I’m not complaining or saying the retina display is shit. It’s cutting edge technology, so like most new technologies the first few implementations are bound to have issues. But the thing is, the iPad mini’s display may have a lower resolution but it seems to have a much more even backlight and even colours which you would expect from a smaller display.

If you are lucky enough to have a perfect retina display then you probably won’t know what I’m talking about, but if you have one with the problems with the whites like I have on mine (and the many others who have the same problem) then personally I’d prefer to have a drop in resolution and an even backlight.

Again, I know this seems like I’m complaining, but thats not the intent. The point is that three is more to a display than resolution and there are trade offs to cramming so many pixels into a small display, so trying to say the iPad mini is a failure based solely on the resolution of the screen is a very shortsighted argument.

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A Time Machine Backup is indispensable

Everyone should have a backup. You’ve probably heard that dozens of times, and yet a remarkable amount of people still don’t have one. And it’s true, it can be something that you keep putting off, right up until it bites you in the ass. But Apple’s time machine really did make backups easy so there’s no reason not to have one. It can save you in ways you wouldn’t think of too. It’s not just good for recovering lost documents or pictures, it can get you out of some real problems. Here’s an example…

Today for some reason Mail crashed on me. Then, every time I went to try and re-launch it, nothing I tried worked. I repaired permissions, I deleted preferences, you name it I tried it. In the end I suspected it was something to do with a corrupt mailbox, but I have a few so I had no way of knowing which was the culprit. Luckily, time machine came to my rescue. I simply deleted the while mail folder then restored it from time machine from this morning, before the crash. Anything in my mailboxes since then would still be on the server anyway as I use iMAP, but anyway, my little trick work and now mail is back behaving itself again as if nothing happened. 

Moral of the story, make sure you have a backup, and not just of important documents, but of everything.

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A Perfect Example of how Schizophrenic the Media is About Apple

So if you want to see a perfect example of just how hypocritical certain people in the media are about Apple and how they’ll say anything just to complain, we now have a situation where we have loads of pundits complaining that the pace of innovation has slowed or stopped at Apple, while simultaneously complaining that their iPad 3 was replaced with the iPad 4 in 6 months.

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The Funniest Thing I’ve Read All Day

I just saw a comment from someone on Gizmodo complaining that Gizmodo had an Apple bias.

Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

That’s like accusing Fox news of pandering to liberals.

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iPad Mini Ad

One of the best commercials Apple has ever created. The simplicity of the message is perfect, and if you’ll pardon the pun, it hits all the right notes perfectly.

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Beautiful Tribute To Steve Jobs on Apple.com

Apple has posted a beautiful and emotional tribute to Steve Jobs on the anniversary of his passing. Going to Apple.com reveals a slide show of pictures of steve with a soundtrack of various soundbites of Jobs from various keynotes, speeches and interviews. It’s very touching and it finishes with a letter from Tim Cook.

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iPad 3rd Generation Pink Screen Problem

I’ve been having a devilish time trying to get a flaw free iPad 3rd generation. I have been going back and forward on whether or not to share this story, because of the inevitable avalanche of trolls it will probably subject me too, but people should know what’s going on. Basically, I’m now on my 3rd iPad 3 and it still isn’t right. This isn’t me being picky or exaggerating. This is a real issue, confirmed by service engineers and it amazingly seems to be relatively widespread, yet it’s gone practically unreported. So what is this problem? Let me start at the start…

Way back in May I had a project that required me to test out a design on a retina equipped iPad. I was pretty happy with my iPad 2 and didn’t really want to upgrade, but in order to complete this particular project I needed to get one. The trouble is there were very few available in Ireland. Finally I managed to get one in a local Catalogue retailer. That was my first mistake. In the fine print they mentioned that the iPad was excluded from their normal money back guarantee. However, when I asked the sales clerk he assured me that if there was a problem I could just bring it back.

When I got the iPad home (A White 3rd Generation iPad) I immediately noticed something wasn’t quite right. The bottom half of the screen was tinted distinctly pink while the top half was more a yellow colour. A friend had bought one at the same time as me, so I compared it to his and it was definitely wrong. So I went back to where I’d bought it for an exchange but they refused. They told me that the best they could do was to send it off for analysis, and that I would possibly have a replacement in 4 – 6 Weeks. Which is bullshit, and I’m pretty sure is against our consumer protection laws. When I insisted that I was told by the sales clerk that I would have no problem replacing it they told me that I was a liar and that he would have never said such a thing. Anyway, the manager was a complete jerk so I took the iPad back and headed home to regroup.

I called Applecare who were very supportive of the issue but said that I should really bring it back to where I bought it. I consulted some people with legal knowledge and they all said it was a grey area. The retailer should replace it or give me my money back as it was clearly defective, but in order to pursue it I would have to take them to court, which they know, and know it’s more trouble for me than for them. Anyway, in the end Apple replaced it.

My original iPad 3

Because I hadn’t bought it from them I had to send the unit back to Apple for them to assess. They took care of the whole process, and I have to say, Apple’s customer support really is second to none. The problem though was that the replacement iPad wasn’t quite right either. While the first unit had a two toned screen the second one was all the one colour. Unfortunately it was the wrong colour. Whites were a strong purple / pink and the colours were way off. Still, it was a consistent colour, so I figured I could live with it for a while, as I needed it for work and didn’t want to be without it again. I also figured if I waited for a while early production issues might be ironed out.

In the mean time I decided to do some research into the issue. After some googling it seems that this is not uncommon. In fact there are several threads of people returning their iPad multiple times before finally getting a flawless one. Of course, in typical fashion lots of people attacked these users because, in the eyes of some hardcore fans, if you have a problem with an Apple product it’s your fault for being too “demanding”. Which is bull of course, but anyway. I’m sure this post will generate the same kind of comments.

So fast forward to two weeks ago. With iOS6 coming out and a lull in my workload I figured I’d try and get something done again. I had found a local official service centre I could send it to, so again I sent it off for assessment, and again they agreed that the screen was defective. After a week sans iPad they sent me out a replacement. And, once again, the replacement was also defective. This, my third iPad, like my original, had a two toned half pink screen. The bottom half and right side was a pinkish hue and the rest was a yellow. I was kind of miffed because I had hoped by going to a service centre they would at least check it, but it turns out they just send you the replacement direct from Apple. It also seems that Apple is replacing warrantee repairs with refurbished iPads.

So, once again my iPad is off back to the service centre. I really want to make a point here. This is not me being picky. At each occasion the iPad was assessed by a service engineer and found to be faulty. So, before the trolls line up to accuse me of Apple heresy, don’t bother. I also continued to do research on the issue. There are plenty of threads on Apple and various third-party forums about this problem. I also checked some of the iPads at my local Apple reseller (there are no Apple Stores here in Ireland) and I noticed a few of the display units were showing the same inconsistent colour, while others were perfect. I did notice a pattern though. The ones with the problems seemed to primarily be white iPads. However there are some reports of people with black units having the issue as well.

How widespread is it? I don’t know, but from a statistical point of view, for me to get four iPads all with the same or similar problem would be statistically unlikely if it was a small and contained issue. Also, the number of reports from people having to replace their iPads multiple times is also worrying. The other issue is that the average consumer who isn’t familiar with technology might not notice the problem or think it’s just the way it is. Then there’s the rumour of Apple planning to change the iPad 3 some time soon to replace the current two backlight solution with a single backlight. Two inconsistent backlights could certainly cause this problem, and I wonder if this is a wider design issue that Apple is well aware of. I’m not trying to claim it’s a design flaw, but there could be an issue manufacturing a large number of backlights with the same exact colour temperature.

My 3rd iPad 3

As I said at the start, writing this is probably an exercise in futility because there is a certain contingent out there who will believe that because they don’t have a problem then no one has a problem, and anyone who writes about having one is just a lying complainer. Believe what you want to believe. I don’t hold a grudge against apple. The situation is frustrating but all my dealings with Apple customer support have mostly been above reproach. But at the end of the day, I’m still without a properly working iPad after several months, and for an expensive device it’s not really acceptable.

Now the service engineers are telling me that Apple is now saying that the device is “within expectations” which is bullshit as they previously admitted that this was a problem. Comparing it to several ones without the pink screen problem and you can clearly see the difference. (Incidentally all were black models). Not only that but I’m left with a unit that is worse than the one I sent in. So it seems obvious to me that there is an issue with the design of the iPad 3 but what I’m curious to know is if it’s limited to the white one or if it’s across the board.

Id really like to know if there is anyone out there with a perfect white iPad 3? I would like to hear from anyone else who has had this iPad pink screen issue. I’m happy to hear a balanced discussion as to whether this is a widespread issue or if I have been incredibly unlucky but keep it civil.

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Free WiFi at Dublin Airport

From Silicon Republic…

Eircom and Dublin Airport Authority are to begin offering free unlimited Wi-Fi at Dublin Airport for all users without registration.

More than 1m passengers passing through the airport have made use of the Eircom WiFiHub service which was launched in December last year.

To access the free service, passengers just need to log onto the Dublin Airport Free WiFi network or the Eircom WiFiHub and click the ‘Continue to Surf’ button on the homepage.

It had previously only been free for 10 minutes. 

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