Five iPhone / iPod touch applications I want

appstoreI finally got my iPod touch updated to the new 2.0 software today. I had tried repeatedly yesterday, but eventually gave up due to all the errors. The download was about 230 MB, and it took about an hour to get installed with all my data restored. The update costs $9.95 for iPod touch owners and is free for iPhone owners.

The first thing I did was poke around the App Store in iTunes. Pretty quickly though I realized that the best way to browse it is actually on the device itself. So far I’ve installed Twitterific, Evernote, the New York Times app, and the Facebook app. The second thing I did was get Exchange working. The applications are cool, but right now the Exchange support is what makes the update worth it for me.

I know that more applications will appear over time, but right now it seems like there aren’t very many useful ones. Here are five applications I’d love to see:

  1. Remember the Milk – They’ve already got a web app for the iPhone, but I’d love to see a full app complete with offline access to my task list. I’d be surprised if they didn’t create one, actually. This is the app I want most.
  2. Buxfer – I use this app all the time to manage my personal finances, and I’d love to have on-the-go, offline access.
  3. Brightkite – Apparently they have one in the works, and it should be ready by the end of the month. I hope it has some sort of auto-check-in feature (based on the network I’m connected to or something).
  4. – The current web app works great, but it would be better to not have to open up the web page and possibly log in.
  5. WordPress or Windows Live Writer – I’m not sure how often I’d post to my blog from my iPod touch, but it would be cool just to know that I can.

A couple of honorable mentions: a better weather app than WeatherBug (from Environment Canada would be wicked) and some sort of FriendFeed app.

What applications do you want?

The Apple Store opens in West Edmonton Mall

This morning the brand new Apple Store in West Edmonton Mall finally opened. Sharon and I arrived at 9:15am, and found ourselves at the back of a line roughly 200 people long. A few of the people I talked to near the front of the line had been waiting since 6am, and apparently one guy camped out overnight. That’s the kind of dedication one would expect for the launch of an Apple Store.

Almost there!

As the grand opening time of 10am neared, the sales associates exited the store cheering and proceeded to run the length of the line, high-fiving everyone as they went. It was a nice way to say “thanks for waiting!” Eventually they opened the doors and started letting people in. Before we knew it we were entering the store, shaking hands with the greeters who continued to cheer. Each person received a little white box which contained a black T-shirt that reads “West Edmonton” with an Apple logo beside it. I was amazed that they just continued to let people in…there were probably fifty employees to begin with, so the place was just packed!

My first experience with an Apple Store was at the flagship outlet on Fifth Avenue in New York back in December. The WEM store is quite a bit smaller (and doesn’t have the wicked glass cube overtop) but it still contains all of the elements that I love about Apple Stores: free Wi-Fi, the Genius Bar, roaming sales clerks with wireless payment devices, and of course, lots of excellent Apple gadgets.

Grand OpeningLined up outside the Apple StoreInside the Apple StorePicture in PictureGenius BarT-Shirt Boxes

We hung around for a bit, used the free Wi-Fi, chatted with people we ran into, and eventually I bought a Universal iPod Dock (had to buy something!). They were still giving out free T-shirts when we left just after 11am. We’ll have to wait and see what effect, if any, the Apple Store has on Westworld Computers but either way I’m glad that Edmonton is now a “have” city.

There were lots of people with digital still and video cameras (lots of Flips actually) so it’s safe to say that the grand opening was well-documented. You can see all of my photos and videos of the grand opening here.

Happy Canada Day!

It’s almost tradition for me to wish readers Happy Canada Day now (2005, 2006, 2007). I’ve had a pretty relaxing day so far, even though I did do a little bit of work earlier. Sharon and I are going to head down toward the Legislature grounds pretty soon to see the waterfall, and of course, the fireworks.

I had been looking forward to visiting the brand new Apple Store at West Edmonton Mall today, but found out yesterday that the launch has been delayed until Saturday. I’m not sure where he read this, but Bruce Clarke says the first 1000 people through the door will receive a free Apple t-shirt.

Happy Canada Day!

Why July 2008 will be the greatest month ever

Is there any doubt that July is going to be the greatest month ever?

July 2008 will be the greatest month ever!

July 1: A brand new, 6000-square-foot Apple Store opens in West Edmonton Mall.
July 11: The iPhone 3G goes on sale in 22 countries, including Canada.
July 18: The movie I am most looking forward to this year is released: The Dark Knight

Oh yeah. July FTW!

Apple Service Experience was AWESOME

apple logo As you may know, my beloved iPod touch died recently. On Sunday, April 6th, I went to plug it in to charge it, and it fried. Wouldn’t turn on or reset or anything. I poked around the support website for a bit, but I was fairly certainly I’d have to get it serviced.

I found myself wishing this had happened after Canada Day – a new Apple Store is opening up in West Edmonton Mall on July 1st, 2008. I had no choice but to fill out the service request online. It told me to expect a package with instructions in two business days, but I wasn’t going to hold my breath.

Then, on Tuesday the 8th, I received the package. Count me as surprised! The instructions were really easy to follow, so I packaged up my iPod and dropped it off at UPS later that day. I figured waiting for the replacement would take a while, so I sort of forgot about it. And of course, I traveled to San Antonio this weekend.

Less than a week later, on the afternoon of Monday the 14th, my replacement iPod touch was delivered! How’s that for turnaround time?! Of course, I didn’t get back to town until last night, so I didn’t get to restore my iPod until today.

Restoring, by the way, was dead simple. I plugged it in, registered it with my Apple account, and then chose the option to restore my previous iPod. After a few minutes I found myself with everything exactly the way it was before. And I do mean everything (well except the passcode lock, which makes sense). Even the last page I had opened in Safari reloaded!

I’ve heard some good things and some bad things about Apple’s service, but I had never needed to use it until this happened. I’m so happy to report that it was a superb experience.

Thanks Apple!

Apple Software Update delivers Safari by default

apple safari For years, software manufacturers have been bundling applications together. Chances are if you download an instant messaging client from Google, Microsoft, or Yahoo, you’ll also be asked to install their toolbar and search engine. I would say that such behavior has come to be expected when you download something new. Including optional packages in updates however, is not something that is done regularly. Microsoft doesn’t include new applications in automatic updates, for instance. You can imagine the uproar there would be if they did – it was bad enough when they included IE7 (an update to existing software).

Apple recently started doing this with its Software Update service. Instead of including just updates for iTunes, the service now includes Safari by default. Mozilla CEO John Lilly explains:

Anyone who uses iTunes on Windows has Apple Software Update installed on their machines, which does just what I’ve described above: it checks for new patches available for Apple-produced software on your Windows machine, alerts the user to the availability, and allows updates to be installed. That’s great — wonderful, in fact. Makes everyone more likely to have current, patched versions of Apple’s software, and makes everyone safer.

The problem here is that it lists Safari for getting an update — and has the “Install” box checked by default — even if you haven’t ever installed Safari on your PC.

Lilly points out that this is wrong, because it “means that an update isn’t just an update” and that it “undermines the safety of users on the web”. I have to agree with him.

Tom Krazit at CNET says this isn’t a big issue:

If you don’t want Safari, don’t click “install.”

Normally I’d say he makes a good point, but this is different. Apple hasn’t made Safari an opt-in choice for users, they’ve checked it by default. Most users will just click install, meaning they’ll get Safari too.

Not cool, Apple.

Read: CNET, John Lilly

I wish they all could be Apple Stores

Inside the Apple StoreOne of the first places I went in New York after checking into the hotel was the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. I had been looking forward to it for a very long time, and as I wrote that night, I was not disappointed. Sharon and I spent some time wandering around before I bought my iPod touch. The whole experience was really good, save for the cashier not knowing what to do with my Canadian debit card.

I’m not the only one who has been impressed with Apple’s retail experience this year.

Apple now derives 20 percent of its revenue from its physical stores. And the number is growing. In the fourth quarter in 2007, which ended Sept. 30, Apple reported that the retail stores accounted for $1.25 billion of Apple’s $6.2 billion in revenues, a 42 percent increase over the fourth quarter in 2006.

Not only has the company made many of its stores feel like gathering places, but the bright lights and equally bright acoustics create a buzz that makes customers feel more like they are at an event than a retail store.

In a way, I think Apple is "Starbucking" the technology retail experience. More than coffee, Starbucks offers a place to be. By allowing customers to sit and play with iPods and MacBooks, Apple is doing the same thing – selling community. The key phrase from above is "feel like gathering places".

Trust me, once you’ve been to an Apple store you’ll start wishing every retail experience could be so good.

It’s just too bad there aren’t more of them.


I'm not usually an Apple fanboy but…

Yes, today Apple launched the iPod Touch. They also dropped the price of the iPhone by $200, which is certainly one way to thank early adopters. The official iPod Touch site is here, Engadget’s coverage is here, and there’s plenty more discussion here.

Multi-touch interface, 3.5-inch widescreen display, Wi-Fi web browsing with Safari, and more. Drool…

In January I said that “the launch of the iPhone bodes well for podcasting.” Today I was proven correct. Without the iPhone, there would be no touch iPod with Wi-Fi, and make no mistake about it, the new iPod Touch is pretty much the ultimate podcasting device.

Read: Engadget

Some Thoughts on the Association for Downloadable Media

Post ImageLast week a new organization calling itself the Association for Downloadable Media launched. The ADM aims to provide standards for advertising and audience measurement for episodic and downloadable media. From their press release:

The ADM will focus primarily on the world of podcasting, downloadable media and portable content monetized by advertising and sponsorship. The ADM will create a landscape that facilitates the commercialization of this growing audience.

Monetization of podcasts is a growing opportunity for these parties, and the ADM supports the momentum of this channel through the collective mindshare of its members.

They have sixteen organizations already on board, including Apple and NPR. Individuals can join for $150/year, for corporations the price is $1000/year.

First of all, I’m not sure the organization is needed. Where are all the content creators and advertisers complaining about the lack of standards? Furthermore, none of the member companies are bound to do anything anyway. They can, however, point to the ADM as an example of how they are “participating in and improving” the industry. Take the five “initial” committees they have already created – isn’t it kind of early to have such committees? Probably, but it makes them look more legitimate.

More importantly, will the ADM really be able to accomplish anything? Aside from Apple and the NPR, the organizations currently on board are small fish in the grand scheme of things. Yes even venture-backed companies like Podshow, PodTech, and Revision3. What happens when NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox jump into the downloadable media market? Or perhaps even other media outlets like the New York Times? The ADM will drown in the ensuing splash, that’s what. The big fish will be able to do whatever they like, regardless of what the ADM has already “standardized.”

One other thing – downloadable media is a fairly broad term, don’t you think? Fairly ambitious of the group to proclaim themselves the association for such a thing.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope the ADM will accomplish great things. I don’t think it’s going to happen though. I suspect the ADM will be nothing more than a distant memory come this time next year. Time will tell!

Read: ADM