Native iPhone Apps with AppTapp

I’ve been playing with Nullriver’s AppTapp / for a few days now and I have to say it’s very cool. To get started you simply download the right version for your device, disable auto-sync (only temporarily) in iTunes and connect your iPhone. During the installation process, you choose which firmware your iPhone is running and things then install onto your device.

Once the installation process is complete, you’ll see a new icon on your iPhone’s screen which is the Installer application. This name is a tad misleading as it’s far more of an applications manager than simply an installer. Unlike my experience with the Nokia N800’s maemo linux, there are no repositories to learn about, everything just happens from within the program itself. By everything, I mean you can browse and install new applications, get notices on updates and remove things you no longer want. All of this is arranged in nice tabs at the top of your screen.

Keep in mind that installing applications and hacking around with the iPhone is something you do at your own risk. I had downloaded a version of the installer before the last iPhone firmware update (1.02) and ran into crashing issues as a result. I restored my iPhone via iTunes two times before realizing there was a later version available to try.

There’s still a shortage of really compelling applications, but there’s quite a bit to play with here for the adventurous iPhone user. The Mobile Twitterific application looks gorgeous and seems to work very well — though as best as I can tell does not continue to update in the background. There are some IM apps but they currently only support AIM/ iChat. I’m looking forward to seeing multiple service support with background notification which will really be a killer addition. Much of what I’ve done thus far has been tweaking the interface on my iPhone. I’ve updated my dock image background (DockSwap), adjusted the Main screen flow with SummerBoard and added some new WallPapers and Ringtones as well as used SendSong to make any track I’ve got ring. I’ve also dabbled with the just released Colloquy (IRC) and played a few games. While I’ve installed SSH, NES (Gameboy anyone!?), Books (ebooks reader) and MobileFinder I have not had a chance to try these too much yet.

There’s little to no documentation with most things listed in the Installer directory, so take it slow if you are not really sure or confident. Nullriver is planning to eventually release the system for installation as well as the package format into the OpenSource community which will be a great addition to how things work now. I’m not that familiar (as a non-dev) with what’s required to release apps, but I’m hoping people start picking up where some of the early releases are headed.

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iPhone IM – Just not practical yet

Lot of chatter today of the release of Meebo for iPhone. I checked it out and it’s nice, but think that Beejive’s Jivetalk which I’ve mentioned previously, is the superior client. They both get the job done in an elegant way, but Beejive has better contact management and enables a float on top of either your buddy list or current chat if something comes in from another buddy. Both let you log into multiple services simultaneously.

In both cases though, I find myself only using IM on the iPhone when I am checking in with something because without either sound or vibration notifications, IM on the iPhone remains a limited experience. I don’t want to leave my IM Safari window open as my primary activity unless I’m actively chatting and when you move on, IM might as well be off since you have no way of know whether something is happening.

Apparently Apple’s Web 2.0 Safari “SDK” did not include hooks into the system audio… Until someone figures this out or Apple let’s me run iChat or Adium directly, I’m leaving IM on the sidelines for regular use.

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Nokia N95 with US 3G Support – Coming Soon!!

Om Teases us today with a taste from a recent meeting with Blake Krikorian, CEO of Sling Media and his proto Nokia N95 with US 3G! I’ve heard this was coming and actually thought it might be here this month, but this is the first proof it’s out there and getting ready for this market. An 8GB US 3G N95 is a VERY compelling product and one that even with the more complex S60 UI can take it to the iPhone.

I would have a hard time wanting to use my iPhone over the N95 on 3G. Let’s hope it also comes with more RAM to push this into a no contest launch!

“The conversation was lively, but what was most interesting was that Blake walked in with a Nokia N95 and started showing off the streams off his cable box. I was surprised because my N95 can barely stream audio on the herky-jerky EDGE. And here I was watching smooth video with perfect audio.

It was an early trial unit with the ability to support the U.S. flavor of 3G (HSPDA-High-Speed Downlink Packet Access), according to Blake. A few calls to well-placed sources after the taping confirmed that Nokia (NOK) has plans to release the U.S.-optimized N95 this September. That would be a good catalyst for U.S. sales for N95, because this is a device that shines on 3G networks. I took it along on a trip recently and found it quite useful.” [GigaOM ]

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Better iPhone Gmail POP Mail

Just a quick update… not sure what was going on yesterday, but I am getting sent mail in my inbox. Damn you GMail!

I really don’t like POP email, but the last thing I want to do is create a new email account just to gain IMAP access to forwarded Gmail. I currently forward my ( mail into Gmail and have gotten very comfortable with the tags, search and ubiquitous access from my various devices. Until the iPhone I was using either webmail on the N800 or the J2ME mobile Gmail application on my various Nokia mobiles. Of course there are no applications or java on the iPhone and we already know Gmail does not offer IMAP access.

Because Gmail is unique in what it does, things don’t work as you expect or don’t work at all when you leave the Gmail world. Tags are not something understood by any other mail application and there did not seem to be any way to stop Gmail’s sent mail from showing up in my in-box until today. There is also no way to get Gmail Mobile / POP to respect my preference for identity ( vs since the settings are a bit rudimentary for each account with no advanced options available… As a result of this limitation, I’ve been keeping BOTH my Fastmail account and Gmail account on the iPhone to make sure I can send as when I want, not Gmail. As a result I get multiple notices for each mail since one forwards to the other… yes this makes me nutty!

This tip is actually so obvious I can’t believe I did not think about it – though given the setup “wizard” in the iPhone’s Mail client it’s perhaps not so obvious to think out of the box a bit. To start just set up a new account – don’t pick a preset, instead choose Other. As you will see when you select POP (or IMAP or Exchange) you can set up your email address to be different from your login credentials on both incoming and outgoing servers. I used my email address as my address, and my gmail stuff on the server end. Incoming should be set to and outgoing to The iPhone will default to use SSL on both ends… slide down to advanced to confirm it’s set, but it should be by default. One final piece you might want is to force Gmail incoming mail to default to recent mode which will make sure you are always getting the latest stuff — even if you POP from another machine. To do this just set your username on the incoming server to be and that’s it.

This method works great! While I can’t fix the things that don’t work outside of Gmail (tags) or add true features (IMAP) I can at least make Gmail less silly by not including my sent mail in my inbox. I can also keep a single account on the iPhone instead of multiples to make sure I can send with the right identity. I hope Apple and Google make it easier for iPhone users to have more advanced access to Gmail with a pending update.

Hat Tip to my buddy Eddy who suggested this today on IM and has brought some sanity to the situation.

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iPhone vs…

Seems today’s meme is iPhone vs. Blackberry.

Dave Winer looks at ease of use for things we all consider on a daily basis – advantage BlackBerry.

For example, I brought only the iPhone with me to a meeting in Palo Alto last week. As I was driving to the meeting I could see that I would be a few minutes late, so I wanted to call the person I was meeting and alert them. With the Blackberry I would have been able to do this while stopped at a red light. Just search for the person’s name in my inbox, open the first message, highlight the phone number, click the scroll wheel twice (once to dial the number, the second time to confirm that I want to do it).

In comparison, the iPhone only keeps the most recent 25 messages in memory, and this person’s email was not in that group. No search command. And it doesn’t have a scroll wheel or a clipboard. The light turned green long before I found the email that contained the phone number. [Dave Winer]

Mark Hendrickson at Techcrunch compares mainly email – and it’s only due to Exchange sync that the Blackberry wins. With better email / PIM sync the iPhone would have come out on top.

Despite all of these criticisms of the iPhone, our venture capitalist admits that he would switch over to the iPhone if only it supported push email, calendar and contacts synchronization, and GPS. For him, the prospect of ridding his pockets of a separate device for music (an iPod nano), as well as enjoying all of the iPhone’s slick features (such as full-featured web browsing, stocks and weather apps, and its YouTube program), makes the iPhone very tempting. However, until Apple resolves these shortcomings (and perhaps Google makes its applications, especially Gmail, work as seamlessly with the iPhone as Microsoft makes Exchange work with the BlackBerry), others are going to have to pry his BlackBerry from his cold, dead hands (his words, mind you, not ours). [Techcrunch]

In my own usage, I am finding the email experience to be more than a bit anemic. The Gmail integration (or lack thereof) is horrendous. Gmail uses it’s own system which completely messes up the way you’d normally do POP mail – something I really don’t like to begin with… While the 15 min sync interval is fine for most people, in my experience it seems the iPhone is constantly in a state of connection – trying but not downloading messages. When viewing my FastMail IMAP account or Yahoo IMAP account things are more efficient and seem to connect properly and as expected.

I’ve been working with Gmail for quite a while now and while I was accustomed to some limitations on Nokia devices (not respecting my preferred email identity and no sending of attachments) things are amplified on the iPhone. As Dave mentioned, there’s no search, but there’s also no ability to view by tag / folder. Another critical ommision is there’s only one setting for checking mail on all accounts. I’ve been leaving three accounts active, but essentially live in Gmail. As a result I get multiple notifications for all my mail – first in FastMail which then forwards to Gmail. I need Fastmail on the iPhone for when I don’t want to send as Gmail, but Gmail is my main inbox where I want to get quite a bit of other stuff.

As much as I enjoy using the iPhone for all that it does – particularly the web and iPod functions, email is seriously annoying me. We need a dedicated app to manage Gmail – not POP and that will certainly require some changes (an actual application) on the iPhone. I don’t in anyway miss using a blackberry, but thinking about how nice the J2ME Gmail is on my Nokia N-Series devices does give me some pause over which device has my long term usage in its future. Why make compromises when there a choices of devices that can do it all?

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One thing the iPhone definitely needs… Profiles!

I use profiles frequently on my Nokia devices and really miss that option on the iPhone.

When I’m in the car using the iPod, I want to turn mail notifications off and while I can do it manually, I’d prefer to set the phone into car mode. Lying in bed, I’d like system sounds on, but don’t want to hear the ringer in the middle of the night or hear my email coming in…

There’s a hardware switch which you can use to change things to silent, but you have to also choose to turn vibration off manually in settings in order to make the phone actually quiet which is handy if you charge on your bedside table as I do.

There are currently no settings for what uses vibration or options (like silent) for sounds per app. Right now it’s as Apple decided. A simple profiles setting (like what’s in all my Nokia’s) or a 3rd party app when the day comes we can install something would be much appreciated.

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