Archive for iPhone

Fun with Augmented Reality

Following up to yesterday’s post on Augmented Reality Apps for Android and iPhone users:
Moosejaw 2012 X-Ray Catalog

Moosejaw’s AR Campaign

The Moosejaw clothing company has created a “Moosejaw X-Ray” app to go with their latest catalog. Download the app to your Android or iOS device, and scan the models in the catalog. On certain pages the clothed models will have their underwear exposed by the app. I tried it out (how could I resist) and found the x-ray images went from serious to funny. The male models in particular were ridiculous. One was revealed to have squid or octopus taped to their side, while another had bullet holes in his undershirt. You can install the app and then scan the image at left. Or you can try it on Moosejaw’s online catalog. The model images are 2D so there will be no peering around the back or the edges for the inquisitive or the infatuated. The next augmented reality app is fully 3D. For better or worse it kept me far too entertained.
Chestburster

Chestburster

This app from Fingerfunk kept me busy. There is an image you have to download and print (shown left or download hi-res image). Print the picture and attached it to a t-shirt, then view it using the Chestburster app for Android or iOS (iPhone or iPad). You’ll hear some alarm bells, and then the famous baby alien chestburster appears to burst through the image with the appropriate R rated gore. The image is fully three dimensional, so depending on the angle of view you can view the top, bottom, or sides of the alien’s head. You can even see into the open cavity behind it. I’d print on a white t-shirt for the best effect. I had fun taking shots of the baby alien bursting out of my refrigerator. Oh, yes, there is a screenshot feature so you can save the image seen on your screen. Some samples to follow shortly.

Burster Samples

 

Augmented Reality (AR) Apps

QR Code
QR Code

This is one of those one-thing-leads-to-another stories.

Yesterday, I received an email newsletter with a headline “Are QR Codes an Outdated Technology?” Since I create and track QR (quick response) codes as one of my business services, I was interested and took a look. The story linked a YouTube video titled “Image recognition that triggers augmented reality” from the TEDTalks series. The video was demonstrating an app called “Aurasma” which can be installed on Android and iPhone smartphones.

Robert Burns

Scan me with Aurasma on your smartphone

In my opinion, the video and lecture boiled down to “Why use QR codes as tags when the object can be a tag?” That is: If the image or object has a unique appearance, then it could be used a link to more information when scanned or photographed with a smartphone. So if you’re an artist, you don’t need a QR (quick response)  code on your publicity materials; just use your photo or one of your works, and when people scan it, they will be given more information via the Internet or other medium. In the demo, they used a painting of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, which when viewed with the Aurasma app, a video would take its place with an actor reciting one of Burns’ poems.

I tried out Aurasma on my Samsung Galaxy S III Android phone, and — while it worked — I found that there was a very very small number of companies making use of it. Furthermore, the company behind Aurasma was really providing customized apps for the companies that wanted it so they could create their own social media campaigns and games. These companies included Marvel and DC Comics, Document magazine, and a clothing company called Moosejaw.

Marvel ARMarvel and DC Comics are using augmented reality apps in major cities around the world. Instead of scanning a QR Code with your phone, you could scan architectural landmarks and posters, and then be presented with a video of a superhero or villain in action superimposed over the landmark standing before you. In the example at right, an Avengers X-Men poster is scanned with an app that superimposes a 3D image of Iron Man when viewed through the phone.

This is a good time to answer the question: What is augmented reality? According to Wikipedia:

With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and digitally manipulable. Artificial information about the environment and its objects can be overlaid on the real world.

Think of it as similar to a HUD (heads up display) on a fighter jet or high-end automobile. You see the world in front of your, but computers project additional relevant information into your field of vision.

You can get the Marvel AR app for Android or iPhone from Marvel’s Mobile App page. Come back tomorrow when I show you what Moosejaw did with AR. I’ll also talk about a app that I got a lot of mileage out of yesterday. I’ll give you a clue, its called “Chestburster”. Think sci-fi.

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When is an iPhone 4 not a phone?

A: When you’re left handed.

Surprisingly there is one big complaint about the new iPhone 4. If you make a call with the phone in your left hand you might not receive a cellular signal.

The redesign of the iPhone 4 moved the antenna to an external stainless steel band that wraps around the phone. A significant portion of this antenna band is on the left hand side of the phone. So when you hold the phone in your left hand, the flashy part of your palm below the thumb can significantly reduce or block the cellular signal needed to make a call.

How not to hold an iPhone 4

How not to hold an iPhone 4 (Credit: Apple / Screenshot by Scott Ard/CNET)

Interestingly, at June’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Steve Jobs praised this antenna redesign as “brilliant engineering” and commented that it has never been done before. In a report on iPhone 4 signal issuesby cnet news’s Scott Ard mentions “some other companies may have considered a similar solution but backed off due to the attenuation caused when a person’s hand ‘covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band,’ as Apple put it”

He also points out that during Jobs’s demonstration he used WiFi instead of the AT&T cellular network. The Wifi signal portion of the antenna is higher up on the band, and less likely to be covered by your hand or fingers. Steve Jobs, himself, has a tendency to hold the iPhone in his left hand, so he may very well have been aware of the reception issue that would cause.

Now that word of the reception problem is spreading, word has it Apple suggests “not holding the phone in your left hand to make a call”. Or to use a case or bumpers that lift your hand off the edge of the phone. The bumpers from Apple cost $29. maybe Apple should send them out for free to iPhone 4 owners.

For more information on the signal reception problem with the iPhone 4see this report at AppleInsider.com.

What is Twitter all about?

tour_1

A few weeks ago, someone asked, “Twitter. I don’t get it. How does it work? And what’s the point?”

I’m not going to pretend to be any sort of expert here but here’s what I had to tell them at the time. Perhaps I’ll elaborate more later, but I’d be happy if those of you who use Twitter would post your thoughts and answers to this question in the comments area below.

Anyhow, on to my answer.

Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck

There are many ways to use Twitter. One great thing is it is free to use. You can use it to keep in touch with friends or you can use it as a simple business communication tool. You can SEND and RECEIVE short messages either with your cell phone (SMS Text), from the Twitter web site, or from stand alone tools such as TweetDeck.

Twidroid

Twidroid

The mobile phone option is great if you’re on the go and can’t get to a computer. Some people worry that they’ll get too many text messages, but Twitter allows you to control who can contact you, what sort of messages get through, what time of day they are sent, and what’s the most messages you want in a day. Personally, I find SMS aspect to be too slow, so I use the Twidroid app for Android on my T-Mobile G1 smartphone. On the iPhone, Twitterific is a popular choice.

Twitterrific

Twitterrific

Plus Twitter allows you to receive messages through an email account in addition to or as an alternative to your cell phone.

Another advantage is there’s no address book to manage with Twitter and no need to update addresses. Twitter coordinates the connections between you and your followers for you. And people can opt in or out whenever they like. And your contact info is private.

Services like TweetLater.com allow you to have a summary of your daily messages and replies emailed to you.

Using the friends and cell phone option, let’s imagines you’ve registered your cell phone with your Twitter account. Then your friends could choose to “follow” your Twitter account. So let’s say you’re meeting a group of friends one day, and you have a change of plans, you could send one text message to your Twitter account, and then Twitter would forward a copy of that message to all your friends.

Or let’s say you’re producing a play, and you want to create some “buzz” about your latest production. You could tell people to “follow” your Twitter account to receive updates about the show on their cell phone or by email. So let’s say 300 people are following your Twitter account, you send out one message to Twitter and it forwards it to all 300 people. And if all goes well some of them will forward or “Retweet” to their friends and followers.

There’s more to it. You can send messages to everyone or to specific people.

But you can only communicate with people who chose to follow you, and whom you permit to follow you.

So if you want to talk to strangers, you can, but all they know about you is your user name and what you say in your messages. Even if you are sending messages from your phone, no one sees your phone number.

Some celebrities use Twitter to let their fans hear what they are up to. Many of them setup their accounts so their fans can receive messages from them, but can’t send messages to them.

So readers and Tweeters, what have you to say on the subject?  Please comment below or send me Tweet. List your Twitter address, if you like.




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Pogo iPhone Stylus from Ten One Design

Pogo Stylus

Pogo Stylus

Some people are neat and tidy. Some people have large fingers. Some people have large tidy fingers.

The former don’t like to get fingerprints on their iPhone’s touch screens, and the latter hit too many keys on their screens.

Enter the Pogo Stylus from Ten One Design.

This light aluminum stylus has an anodized finish and laser-etched graphics.   It soft tip won’t mar the display surface of your iPhone or your iPod Touch; and it provides greater accuracy, preventing time-consuming typos common to those with large digits.

Stylus and iPhone

Stylus and iPhone

In Ten One’s own words:

“Eliminating fingers has the added benefit of keeping the screen free of smudges and grease. Designed to firmly hug the contours of the iPhone 3G, the Pogo Stylus travel clip will keep your stylus close at hand. A second clip is included for the original iPhone and iPod touch.

Why not use a pen or other stylus?

The iPhone screen isn’t a standard pressure sensitive screen, but was designed with finger use in mind. A standard stylus’s point is too small to make an impact or to be sensed accurately by the iPhone or the iPod Touch. A tool with a larger surface area is needed.

Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with my email form. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Click < or > to rotate images. Point and click for more info.

You can also find the Pogo iPhone Stylus at ThinkGeek.com.

Another iPhone Upgrade. Privacy at Risk

Courtesy of Apple

Courtesy of Apple

Gizmodo released a video today illustrating a security flaw in the iPhone 2.0.2 upgrade which was released on August 15. The video demonstrates how to bypass the passcode needed to unlock a locked iPhone.

To bypass the code anyone can move the locking slider, and when asked for the passcode they need only tap the “Emergency Call” button once, and then double tap “Home”. The video below demonstrates the technique.

Once unlocked they have full access to the phone and can make calls, send and read emails, make online purchases and more.

Apple had addressed the issue in an email released today, but no date for a patch to this security risk has been mentioned. Instead Apple suggests users modify their settings so that the Home button goes to their music collection instead of their Favorites.

Back on August 5, I reported on Apple’s release of a firmware upgrade (v2.0.1) which was designed to remedy widespread problems experienced by iPhone users who upgraded to the iPhone 2.0 operating system after July 11. Problems addressed were instability issues, application crashes, responsiveness, and speed.

13 days later, August 15, v2.0.2 was released to address connectivity issues with the faster 3G wireless networks and a few other minor problems with the App Store and the Safari Internet browser.

It’s been yet another 13 days and now Apple has yet another hole to fill in their popular devices operating system. A date for release is pending.

Apple projects sales of the iPhone are to reach 10 million by year’s end.

Update Aug. 29: Still no exact date for the update, but word from Apple has it that it will be some time in September.  My guess is they’re all off for Labor Day weekend, so they’ll tackle late next week.

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Apple’s MobileMe: A New Spammer Resource

Users of, that is, subscribers to, Apple’s MobileMe service have found themselves getting more spam than usual, as well as some “phishing” scams aimed directly at them.  And spammers are getting fewer bouncebacks.

The problem lies in the iDisk online file storage service every subscriber is provided with. The service comes with a “public” folder which cannot be hidden or deleted. Every public folder starts with the address http://idisk.mac.com/ and then it’s followed by their username and “-Public”. A programmer can write code to automatically generate random user names using words and names straight out of a digital dictionary.

“Why do this with iDisk’s public folder space?”, you ask.

iDisk: A Sample Public Folder

iDisk: A Sample Public Folder

The username associated with a public iDisk folder is also the first half of their email address assigned to them with the MobileMe service.  The second half of their address is either @me.com or @mac.com.  This hack allows a spammer to determine the validity of email address. Any http://idisk.mac.com/username-Public address that doesn’t result in a “Account Error: Inactive” message — as the link above probably will — means that they’ve found a legitimate account. A legitimate account would come up with a page as shown in the picture at right.

Furthermore, if the public folder shows that there are files stored in that location, as the sample picture shows, a spammer could tailor a message referring to that file in an effort to get the user to reply and reveal personal information.

Imagine if you used this service: You upload some of your files or photos to it, and then, a few days or weeks later you get an email mentioning one or more of your files by name. If you hadn’t thought about your “public folder” being “public”, you might take the message very seriously. Even more so if the sender claimed to represent Apple. (Of course that spammer would be breaking the law by falsely identifying themselves. See my article “Spammers Get CANned”.)

Anyone Can See The Files?

Anyone can see or read the names of your public files, assuming they find your public folder, but they won’t be able to access, open, or download them unless they take a guess at your login information, too; so make sure you use a good password and not your birthday or pet’s name.  They can’t upload anything to your folder either, unless they figure out your login info.

Simply said, Apple’s MobileMe iDisk service gives spammers a handy way to determine valid email addresses, so they get fewer, if any, bouncebacks and undeliverable messages. The names of files stored on iDisk could be used to make the spammer or phishers message appear legitimate.

Phishing. For those unfamiliar with this term, simply stated, it is an email message designed to get the recipient to reveal personal information such as account numbers or login information. The sender poses as well-known service or someone offering an enticement to respond. Popular targets have been eBay, PayPal, and online banking users.

In the iDisk problem discussed here, the phisher can determine if a username and email address exists. Furthermore, If the account owner stores files publicly on the service, the names of files can be referred to in a phishers email message to shore up their credibility.

Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with my email form. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.


Steve Jobs on the MobileMe mess

MobileMe logo

MobileMe logo

An apologetic email attributed to Steve Jobs regarding Apple’s troubled MobileMe service was leaked today.

Team,

The launch of MobileMe was not our finest hour. There are several things we could have done better:

  • MobileMe was simply not up to Apple’s standards &#8211; it clearly needed more time and testing.
  • Rather than launch MobileMe as a monolithic service, we could have launched over-the-air syncing with iPhone to begin with, followed by the web applications one by one: Mail first, followed 30 days later (if things went well with Mail) by Calendar, then 30 days later by Contacts.
  • It was a mistake to launch MobileMe at the same time as iPhone 3G, iPhone 2.0 software and the App Store. We all had more than enough to do, and MobileMe could have been delayed without consequence.

We are taking many steps to learn from this experience so that we can grow MobileMe into a service that our customers will love. One step that I can share with you today is that the MobileMe team will now report to Eddy Cue, who will lead all of our internet services: iTunes, the App Store and, starting today, MobileMe. Eddy’s new title will be Vice President, Internet Services and he will now report directly to me.

The MobileMe launch clearly demonstrates that we have more to learn about Internet services. And learn we will. The vision of MobileMe is both exciting and ambitious, and we will press on to make it a service we are all proud of by the end of this year.

Steve

MobileMe, released on July 9, 2008, was Apple’s replacement for their .Mac service (released Jan. 5, 2000). MobileMe, like .Mac before it, was a package or suite of services.  All .Mac subscribers were upgraded to MobileMe.

For $119 per year MobileMe users have access to services such as:

  • 20 GB of online storage
  • Mail: MobileMe includes an @me.com email address (previous .Mac users also keep their @mac.com address and can use either as both addresses are linked). When a message is received it is sent directly to all the user’s devices using Push Mail. Supported devices include the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, Apple Mail on Mac OS X, and Microsoft Outlook on Microsoft Windows.
  • Address Book and Calendar: If a user makes a change to a contact or event on one device it will automatically synced to the MobileMe servers and, by extension, all the user’s other devices. Supported devices include the Apple iPhone, Address Book and iCal on Mac OS X, or Microsoft Outlook on Microsoft Windows.
  • Photo Gallery: Photos can be uploaded in the web browser at me.com, synced by iPhoto or Aperture on Mac OS X or by sending it from the iPhone and iPod Touch.
  • iDisk: An online storage repository accessible via a web browser at me.com, Finder on Mac OS X, or as a remote disk in Microsoft Windows. It also allows sharing of files by placing them in the iDisk Public Folder.
  • iWeb Publish: Users of Mac OS X 10.5 or later can use the iLife 08 application iWeb to publish websites hosted on their MobileMe account, either to a domain name that the user controls or a page on the me.com website.

What Problems Were/Are There

One of the most vexing problems suffered by users of MobileMe was the poor functioning of the synchronization service for the address book which often resulted in duplicate entries or lost entries, an email service outage that lasted four days, and generally choppy service access.


Apple Releases iPhone Updates

Courtesy of Apple

Courtesy of Apple

Due to widespread instability issues with the 3 week old iPhone 2.0 operating system, Apple has released an updated version of the famed phone’s firmware.  The updated operating system is for use on the iPhone, the new iPhone 3G, and the iPod Touch (an iPhone without the phone feature).


Apple Online Store

The 250 MB update, v2.0.1, “increases backup times, improves keyboard responsiveness, and reduces lag in some applications” (InformationWeek). There were also problems reported with applications for the iPhone freezing and necessitating a reboot of the phone. MacWorld has posted an article for dealing with problematic apps for the iPhone.

How To Get The Update

The easiest way to get the update is to connect your iPhone to a computer and start iTunes.  Once started you can easily click your iPhone entry in the sidebar, and then click the “Update” button that appears.


What’s in an iPhone 3G … literally

Bill Detwiler, Head Technology Editor for TechRepublic, has a pictorial demonstration of him disassembling his brand new iPhone 3G. In Bill’s own words:

Apple’s iPhone 3G arrived on Friday with a bevy of new enterprise-ready features, including Exchange support, business-grade security, and third-party applications powered by an SDK. As with the first iPhone, we waited in line, bought our phone, signed an AT&T contract, and promptly began to crack open the case. Come along as we disassemble the Apple iPhone 3G.

Also, we always disassembled our gadgets with the intent to reassemble them. The iPhone 3G was no exception. It worked when we put it back together.

So Bill took his iPhone …


Apple iPhone 3G (pair). Courtesy of Apple

Inside the iPhone 3G

Apple iPhone 3G (pair). Courtesy of Apple
from this to this and back again

Take a look at Bill’s picture series as he opens the iPhone.