Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Sparrow for iOS

Saturday, March 17th, 2012
Sparrow for iOS

Sparrow – Gmail-friendly Email for iOS

I’ve been waiting for Sparrow for iOS ever since they teased it back in January. Sparrow for Mac OS has been a joy to use, from its beautiful and simple interface to its deeply integrated Gmail/Google Apps Mail feature set (we’ll just call it Gmail from here on out). The iOS version has honored its big brother in both of those areas. Both versions exemplify the quality experience one would expect within the Apple Universe.

This isn’t a full review; it’s more of a highlight reel of the features that are most important to me for mobile email from a Gmail poweruser’s perspective.

Sparrow is what mail should be like on the iPhone

  • Unique signatures for each account
  • True label support for Gmail
  • You don’t have to choose between “Delete” or “Archive”
  • “Unread” and “Starred” quick views
  • 1 single swipe allows access to single-click “Star,” “Label,” “Archive” and “Delete”
  • Very clean approach to email threads

Push Support: The Killer App?

Sparrow has explained why push isn’t available, for now, in the mobile version. This will understandably turn off a lot of people. My guess is that most of these people won’t be Gmail power users or have multiple accounts. For me, it’s a minor annoyance with an easy workaround.

I put Sparrow and Mail in a folder on my iOS dock. Apple Mail handles notifications, but I manage email in Sparrow (the Mail badge eventually catches up). I’m willing to deal with this more than deal with Mail’s greater shortcomings.

Apple Mail just doesn’t “Get” Gmail

For Gmail accounts, Apple Mail only allows a toggle switch between Archive or Delete. You can’t do both. In the past, I would only be able to partially manage my emails, opting for Delete on the iPhone, then Archiving on Sparrow for Mac or within Gmail itself. That means I would have to look at every email twice, unless it was deleted.

I chose the “Delete” function on the iPhone because using Apple Mail’s “Archive” feature would strip off labels applied by my carefully crafted filters within Gmail (77 of them for my personal account alone). Many of my incoming emails receive multiple labels for quick reference later. Sparrow allows quick access to those labels and allows you to add or remove multiple labels.

Multiple signatures: Apple… are you listening?

When iOS 5 added “Shortcuts,” I thought that they finally provided a workaround for their lack of multiple signature in Apple Mail. Nope. All you get is a string of characters, no paragraph returns. So, if it doesn’t look right to have all of your contact information on one line at the end of your email, you’re out of luck.

Sparrow, on the other hand, provides unique email signatures for each account. In my case, with personal, business and club staff email accounts, it’s nice to automatically include the appropriate contact information for each occasion.

A request for Sparrow

Please take advantage of the TextExpander API. Apple will never do this, which drives me nuts when I have to type on my iPhone. I have so many quick replies and shortcuts based on TextExpander. As fast as I am on my iPhone virtual keyboard, TextExpander can add a paragraph in a couple of keystrokes.

And finally…

Sparrow has asked its customers to rally behind them and ask Apple to permit push for Sparrow using the VoIP API (not likely) or by adding another, similar API. That’s a reasonable request, but I’d recommend providing some details to improve the turnout of support. In the past, sending an email to Steve could net a genuine response. Is Tim Cook going to be our next point of contact (tim@apple.com)? Would it make sense to submit a request using Apple’s iPhone Feedback form? My ears are open.

Add push and TextExpander support, then I can banish the Apple Mail icon to the same last page folder that hold Stocks, YouTube and Weather. (Don’t even get me started on Newsstand)

iPhone & iPad Apps – A Wish List

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

I have had an iPhone since the day it was released. I upgraded to the 2nd generation, and eventually the 3GS, the day they were released. Why? Because they have changed the way I interact with the data and technology I access regularly. Once the App Store opened, that interaction exploded. Research shows that iPhone users use 5X more monthly data than BlackBerry users. Yes, 5X! Users now have access to a large selection of handset operating systems, but not all with the wide selection of apps available for the iPhone. Android is coming on fast and strong, and Windows Phone 7 Series based handsets will be here before you know it, but the iPhone & App Store are here now. Add the soon to be released iPad to the mix and this will be an interesting year for the mobile user.

A few months ago I started thinking about apps I wished were available for the iPhone, and then it happened. Apple announced the iPad. I am not here to debate if the iPad will succeed, while I think that it will. I know that, for my needs, it could have a place in my workflow. If I do buy an iPad, it will be because of the apps.

Below is a list of some apps I would like to see on the iPhone, iPad, or both. Some of these already exist from third parties, but I would like to see what an Apple implementation would be like.

(more…)

Apple and “Adult” Apps

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Well, there appears to be a another shift in Apple’s App Store policy. First, they wouldn’t let anything in the store that was provocative. Then they opened the floodgates and thousands of explicit apps started showing up. Then, just a couple of days ago, they banned explicit apps. Today, we hear from CultOfMac.com that there is a new “explicit” category for App Developers when submitting their apps. Does that mean that adult apps are on their way back again?

In a previous rant, I lamented the poorly implemented Parental Controls and App Rating system on the iPhone. To recap, setting Parental Controls Age Restrictions on the iPhone would hide screenshots of apps that have a more “mature” rating, but continued to show the apps with their provocative names and icons (NOT kid-friendly). It also removed unrated apps from the iPhone, including some very kid friendly apps (such as Horse Lover).

My goal was to have Apple completely hide apps with an age rating higher than the setting in Parental Controls. Hopefully, the events of the last couple of days are an attempt by Apple to do just that.

Read more about this ongoing story:

MacRumors.com: Apple Adds ‘Explicit’ Category for New App Store Submissions

CultOfMac.com: Is Apple Preparing To Add An ‘Explicit’ Section To The App Store?

Did The McGraw-Hill CEO Steal The Apple Tablet Thunder? – Updated

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Listen to this CNBC interview with the McGraw-Hill CEO. At around 2:50 in he confirms the Apple Table, along with the fact that it will be based on the iPhone OS. My guess? He might be on Steve Job’s Sh-t list. (Via MacRumors and CNBC)

Update

It get so fun to watch this stuff unfold. Could McGraw-Hill have been pulled from the Apple iPad event because of his comments on CNBC? While I think Apple is more than willing, as it seems they have done in the past to punish someone, McGraw-Hill claims they were not tossed.

iPhone age restrictions do not hide 17+ apps, just their screenshots

Monday, January 18th, 2010

“Tasty Pasties 18+ Amateurs” and “Boob Party” are currently on the Top 25 Free Apps in the Apple App Store. I know this because my 8 year old showed me. But let me back up a little.

I have purchased each generation of iPhone as they came out. When I bought my 3GS, I had two leftover iPhones and two clever young ladies who are equally enamored with technology. I set each of my daughters up with the deactivated iPhones working essentially as big iPod Touches. And they were happy. Ecstatic. I am the coolest Dad ever.

I took the expected precautionary approaches. In Settings: General: Restrictions: I turned off the following:

  • Safari
  • Mail
  • YouTube
  • Location
  • In-App Purchases
  • and at first, Installing Apps (App Store)

Since I would be the one managing any media on the device, I didn’t set any age restrictions on music, movies or apps. Eventually, I turned on the App Store so they could browse and choose an app as a reward for a good grade, helping around the house, etc. Standard parental incentive program.

This wasn’t really a risk at the time, Apple was not allowing apps that weren’t family appropriate. Since then, Apple has opened the flood gates of soft porn (but not Google Voice). Again, I know this because my 8 year old showed me. The app screenshots were the iPhone equivalent of a “Girls Gone Wild” TV commercial. All the naughty bits were covered with black dots, very small black dots. This set me into panic mode. I quickly exited the App Store and began trying to keep this kind of material out of reach.

I’m not a Puritan. I understand the market for these products. I also understand that I am responsible for what my girls have access to. As a responsible parent, I went back into Restrictions and limited apps to 12+. Sweet! That was easy. Thanks Apple!

Relieved at such a simple fix, I went back into the App Store and guiltily typed in “boobs” to see if I had successfully addressed the issue. Nope. There were plenty of apps willing to fill my request. A little disappointed, and still feeling uncomfortable about doing this on my daughter’s iPhone, I went searching for the screenshots. They were gone. I can find the apps, see their icons and read their full description, but the tiny black dots and the ladies underneath were gone. Not what I wanted or expected. I wanted the apps to be completely invisible. No app, no name, no busty icons.

This restriction also caused two more problems. First, it turns out that enabling Restrictions will include the catchall “Unrated”.  Any app that is unrated gets the same treatment as a 17+ app. Second, some apps are given 17+ ratings, not because of age-inappropriate material, but because of the ability of the app developer to push unfiltered content to the app (see example below).

An example: Horse Lover. A natural for my girls. They love horses. Eat, breath, play horses. This app is currently “Unrated”, probably because it fetches a daily photo from somewhere “out there”. That means that you can’t use it if you have ANY age restrictions on the iPhone.

My girls came to me immediately after enabling Restrictions for apps asking why I deleted some of their programs. They wanted all of their apps back. If I turned off restrictions, they would be exposed to the new wave of grownup apps in the store. So, there was only one choice left… the App Store is now turned off. I am no longer the coolest Dad ever. I guess the title wasn’t going to last forever, but it was fun while it lasted.