To iPad or Not to iPad

Apple iPadTHE IPAD. Everyone’s talking about it, the preorders are already rolling in and as far as gadgets go, it’s one of the most anticipated releases of 2010. I feel I should be drawn to it straight away, but somehow that’s not the case.

I’m a gadget fan, no doubting that. From carrying multiple smartphones to iPods, iPhones, recording equipment, 3G this, WiFi that, GPS watches and more, I find myself yearning for the latest gadgets and toys. But for some reason, I can’t seem to find a want in me for the iPad.

As it stands, I carry an iPod touch with me on the road, a 3G iPhone in my pocket, a MacBook Pro in my bag and there’s a 24″ iMac sitting on my desk. All taken into consideration, I’ve a feeling that the iPad may well not be targeted at me and if I was pushing it in a shop, I’d be hitting the new home broadband users, the “silver surfers” or even the school kid generation.

It’s not going to do anything for me that I can’t already do. Sure enough, it will carry the apps I use daily, it will allow me to check mail and surf away to my hearts content, but that’s all achievable with the iPhone. I like the flexibility to use 3G access as opposed to WiFi when I’m out and about, something which I would have to fork out a lot more for on release of the European models of the iPad. It won’t make phone calls and won’t pack a video camera for the first generation, so video conferencing is out – though discoveries in the latest iPhone SDK may suggest different.

Yes, it bridges the gap size-wize. In the hands of an very young or elderly user, it’s not so small that you can’t read the names of apps on the screen or have difficulties in viewing the on-screen text when flicking through the New York Times or your latest eBook addition. The interface, as with that of the iPod / iPhone is quite simple to navigate and apps have made web access all the more easier for folk. Want weather? Tap here. Want news? Tap here. View photos? Tap here. Read email? Tap here.

With family connections coming and going from the US over the next few weeks, the question has come up again and again… “can I bring you anything home?”, quickly followed by “what about those ipad yokes?”.

While it would be very easy to say yes, it’s something I genuinely cannot (at least with what we know about the first generation model) justify in buying. It’s not so much the price (I was happy to go and shell out for a pre-paid iPhone 10 months ago rather than take one on contract), just the use, and potential lack of. I can’t carry it in my pocket and at the very most I reckon it could be used for some bedside browsing but then again, the iPhone and laptop take care of that.

I can’t even find a good reason to buy one for the office outside of demoing developments on-site but even that would be scraping the bottom of the reasoning barrel.

To iPad or not to iPad? I think not.

Live Streaming on iPhone 3G with Qik

THE N95 just “ain’t what it used to be” to me any more. When I picked up the handset close on two years ago it was a revolution for me. High quality digital camera (5MP), wifi, and easy use of Twitter and Qik through the S60 apps.

When I picked up the iPhone 3G last May, not long before the release of the 3GS in June, my N95 usage in departments camera, browser and video started to dip noticeably. This largely due to my O2 mobile broadband sim virtually living inside my iPhone instead of the USB modem for the past seven months or so.

And while I’m happy out twittering away from the iPhone or going about my daily online business, the one thing that I was hoping would come about was the facility to stream video, using Qik, without having to either a) jailbreak the iPhone or b) upgrade to the 3GS.

Qik on iPhone

A quick dip into the app store last night, spurred on by this blog post, which I had missed over the festive period, and we’re back in business.

There are two versions of the Qik app available – one for iPhone 3G and one for iPhone 3GS. I’m running the latest firmware available on the iPhone 3G and the video above went off this morning without a hitch.

I’ve also shied away from Qik after my O2 billing fiasco in the summer, a 3 minute Qik clip in Connolly Station at the start of the Kilkenny Arts Festival wound up costing me a few hundred euro – lesson well learned in bringing the wrong sim card with me that day. I’m hoping, given the success of the first video this morning that I might be a bit more fortunate on the live video front this year.

The app itself works a charm, the interface very straight forward, one-button record and you’re set. As per your profile on you can tie in your Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or other social accounts, broadcast live or record offline to store videos on the iPhone and distribute later, use the GPS to share your location with the video (by city, street or precisely), and like the S60 version you can make use of the chat.

I wouldn’t install it unless I knew I had the use of it and with Devious Theatre about to kick into action tomorrow for another two straight months, the return of the One Take Sessions (music series I run in Kilkenny), the multitude of festivals happening locally during the year, I’ll be looking forward to capturing – and making use of – video moments throughout 2010.

Try it for yourself, it’s available in the App store since December 24th and it’s going for the grand ole price of free.

All that remains for me to do is upgrade the N95… keeping the eyes peeled for a nice android handset.

Foursquare and Three Hours Ago

winter luas
Creative Commons License photo credit: mac_filko

TAKING ADVANTAGE of being in Dublin for the day or two, I finally got around to trying out Foursquare, having signed off before boarding the train a half hour ago.

First thoughts? Not too bad at all, Bernie Goldbach having already paved a way for me (seemingly) around Grafton Street and Stephen’s Green – this coming from the tips that were pushed through to me depending on where I checked in e.g. “as you are close to Brown Thomas…” etc.

That type of user input could come in handy. A tip from Bernie had me check out the top floor of BT, one from Una M had me scouting the massive mirrors in The Morrison on Ormonde Quay, and other tips coming through suggested helpful staff or places to eat.

Given the type of shopping we were at for the day it was primarily clothes shops that were hit, the frequency at which I checked in (“nothing here, let’s try the next shop up” etc.) wasn’t appreciated by the application, twice being accused of cheating my way around Dublin.

Tips aside, I can see and appreciate where the fear or security element may creep in. (See Niall H’s post from earlier today on privacy concerns ovre geolocation servies). A recent Christmas dinner with Keith, John and Frank Bradley arose conversation of social media savvy criminals and having my own home broken into a few years back (possibly due to my well advertised-online gig schedule), I would certainly be more aware of broadcasting my every location and every move. But things have changed about the house, new alarms fitted (and annoyingly loud), some people now sharing so there’s usually someone there around he clock. For those not in that position, or given the ability to broadcast your location instantly via Twitter or Facebook, are we starting to give too much away and putting ourselves at risk to certain unsavoury elements as a result?

Also, from my travels around Dublin today I was able to piece together where certain offices were, who the bloggers were within them, and given the mayors of certain eateries, where their breakfast or lunch breaks might be taken, or where they might be found during the evening if they’ve checked in for a pint in X on more than one occasion. Does it give way to unwanted profiling, or again allowing too much information about ourselves out into the open?

I had opted not to integrate Twitter / facebook to Foursquare or Gowalla, which I had been trying at the same time, more so not to be bugging people who follow my online activity with my every move – the in-built social side of Foursquare (friends) should and does take care of that. But again, while I’m happy tweeting and blogging away about where I might be off to or where I’ve been of late, I’m still not 100% on the notion of pushing absolutely everything about my whereabouts online.

Privacy matters aside, the offers I was alerted to while walking around the likes of Grafton Street and Dawson Street, though none were availed of, also show me that Dublin businesses are starting to get on board with geolocation, offering rewards for the use of location-based services that bring you through their doors. Some offered free cocktails, one a free three course meal for your birthday if checking in, others offering combinations of offers for the mayor of a particluar establishment.

If the likes of Foursquare was opened up to cover Ireland on a whole, or add a few ports-of-call outside Dublin, I might be more tempted to engage it as a way to avail of updates and offers from businesses in the locality but I’ll assume all in good time. Time in itself that might get me more comfortable in sharing my exact whereabouts with the rest of the world.

By the way, if you’re heading to Dublin tomorrow or in the next few days, it’s colder than cold up there. While the streets had begin to thaw today and the council had been out to grit a few paths, it’s still messy underfoot and icey around the ears. Wrap up warm.

Post started on WP2.1 on the iPhone somewhere between Dublin and Athy and wrapped up back at the ranch where it’s an awful lot handier to get photos and links in on the laptop.

Am I Getting Closer To An iPhone?

iPhone 3.0 OS

I managed to remain reasonably disconnected over the weekend thanks to the multitude of other things happening in the real world but did get to catch up with the announcement of the 3.0 version of the iPhone OS. I can usually be found with three mobiles on my person at any one time, plus my iPod Touch, and an O2 broadband dongle not far behind either. My primary handset (N95) is due an upgrade in the next few weeks and I’m starting to wonder am I getting closer to picking up an iPhone.

The N95 is a workhorse of a phone, for me in particular. The 8 gig internal memory is chock full of photos and videos thanks to the 5MP camera within. Every few months I clear 2-3 thousand text messages. Every now and again I fire off a QIK video. But it’s the browsing that lets me down. I’m just not fond (outside of QIK) of using data applications on the N95 which, for the most part, surrounds the likes of Twibble (for twitter) and the mobile browser. Where possible (read: in a wifi area) I’ll switch to the iPod and pull my mail, tweets and everything else there.

The ideal situation is to pick up an iPhone and have it unlocked, jailbroken, call it what you like. It would need to juggle a few sim cards but out and about act as the holder for my O2 data sim, in the process saving me from hitting three different sims with three different data charges.

So with a new spotlight, the ability to copy and paste without a third-party app, 3G tethering for using the iPhone as a modem, a landscape keyboard, added Bluetooth A2DP support, MMS (welcome to the party, Apple), push notification for IM apps and a whole lot more.

Of course, I’m not surprised to see Apple charging $9.95 for iPod Touch users to get the OS (hell, they charged us for the MacBook Pro firmware upgrade for wireless N) but when the OS lands, I’m guessing I’ll be another step closer to picking up an iPhone.

Check out details of the iPhone 3.0 SDK here. App For iPhone / iPod Out Now

Ever since I picked up the iPod Touch at Christmas I’ve been ducking in and out of the App Store to see what’s new, what’s popular, what applications are out there. One I was directed to this morning is the new app, now available for iPhone / iPod and can be downloaded (thankfully) for free using an Irish Apple Store ID.

Ustream isn’t strange territory for me. It was one of the first streaming video platforms to be used (and is still used in some cases) for Irish barcamp events. Conn is / was a regular streamer via Edgecast while Tom Raftery is also streaming for the GreenMonk Engery and Sustainability Show on Monday afternoons, the video of which I was able to pick up on through the app.

The download is quick and painless through the App Store and when logging in you’re given the option to watch live shows, check upcoming shows or view archived material (how I found Tom’s clip). Current top live channel is the Museum of the American Indian Inauguration Cam which is one of the sources that will be hit today (currently 1400+ viewers) to track the inauguration of Barack Obama later today. It’s also a great way to get some good quality streaming audio and video onto the iPod, a device which is rapidly taking over my tweeting, reading and everything else at home in the evening.

Download the app here (iTunes link) or use the App Store link on your iPod / iPhone and search for Ustream.

See also: Ustream viewer makes it to app store just in time

I Should Really Get Mobile Broadband

I’ve noticed a change in my blogging trends of late. The free time that I wish to dedicate to blog posts finds me in areas where my connectivity is completely restricted. My work within the theatre has increased dramatically (no pun intended) over the last few weeks (I spent the last two weeks of June in preparation for and producing a run of ‘Trainspotting’ only to take last week off before starting pre-production this week on a new show for August) and the gig count is going up.

I find myself with downtime in venues and restaurants where no laptops go, or where there’s no wifi signal to be found. That said, the Watergate Theatre were kind enough to allow me use of their connection to make the occasional tweet, check email etc.

During the Trainspotting run I pulled out a piece of paper and marked all the dates for July on it noticing more Xs (away) than spaces (home) between evenings and weekends. August, not so bad.

So now I look towards a mobile broadband solution. I’ve been tempted once again by O2 and their reduced offer for the summer months (€19.99p/m and a modem for €19.99). Having spoken with Bernie Goldbach and some O2 support people, the thoughts of running a 3G sim through an iPhone are quite tempting (my desire for an iPhone exists as a secondary phone to my N95 8GB though the 3G model has me very interested).

Pat wonders why there is no interest in the 3G iPhone though I’ll agree that the price and dataplans are a pain in the arse. Is it possible to pick up a 3G iPhone away from O2 (I’m happy on my current contract, thanks) but fire a 3G datasim in there from the broadband dongle? If so, sign me up.

When I find myself in Sligo (such as this weekend and at least 2 of the next 3 weekends), my options are limited around the lake but there are healthy signals 2-3 miles away which I don’t mind the short spin in the van for.

I’ve recently added another musical promotion string to my bow so it would certainly make work life that bit easier.

Perhaps I’m just trying to convince myself to go out and get it sorted. Lifehacker’s guide to sharing your internet connection from your iPhone to your MacBook Pro also has me wondering.

Tracking The Apple WWDC

A quick spy on TechCrunch this morning shows that Twitter have partnered with Summize to provide tracking of the Apple WWDC running in San Francisco until this Friday.

If you’re interested, you can follow the Summize output for ‘WWDC’ by clicking here or get the all encompassing feed of ‘WWDC, Apple, iPhone and Steve Jobs’ by clicking here.

The Australian Macintosh Community has live coverage available on MacTalk Australia while you can also track Macworld’s coverage here.

Though the event was sold out well in advance, Apple will be publishing sessions videos from across the week for purchase via iTunes. You can of course check the official Apple Developer Connection site for more on the WWDC.

Say Hello To 3G iPhone In Europe

If word is to be believed, we’re getting closer to the launch of the 3G iPhone in Europe, or at least the announcement of it. Of course, we’ve all known it’s been coming for months.

Engadget Mobile reports via Reuters that this Monday or Tuesday will see Italian mobile carrier TIM announce the availability of a 3G model of the iPhone, certainly something more suitable at present for potential Irish users.

Though I would be quite happy to bag an iPhone without 3G capability, the addition of the 3G service would certainly push me closer to picking one up as a second phone (yes, a *second* phone as I love my N95 a bit too much), with the option of running the iPhone as a strict data phone only. (translated from Italian) are reporting the launch date to be June 9/10, following an announcement from the US, presumably at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference being held in San Francisco next week.

Quadband GSM, triband HSDPA and GPS are all said to be a runner (see here) on the new model of the phone, along with a stylish new black design (black is the new black don’t you know) and a fwe aesthetic modifications.

Let’s wait and see what happens on Monday, shall we?

iPhone Ships March 14th Wearing A 1GB Cap

iPhone Available On O2

As mentioned earlier, the Apple iPhone has been announced by O2 and will be available to the public from March 14th 2008. The rumoured prices of €399 (8gb model) and €499 (16gb model) are also true.

Three tariffs have also been announced by O2

  • €45 p/m inc 175 anytime minutes, 100 texts, 1gb data
  • €65 p/m inc 350 anytime minutes, 150 texts, 1gb data
  • €100 p/m inc 700 anytime minutes, 250 texts, 1gb data

Notice a trend here? The tariffs seem reasonable if you’re a heavy voice user but I know for a fact I wouldn’t be using the iPhone to make 350 minutes of calls, never mind 700 minutes. As it stands, I pay O2 €35 bucks a month for my 150 anytime minutes and 100 texts. That would make the 1gb data an extra tenner on my contract – of which I would have to sign a new, minimum 18-month term contract on an iPhone only tariff (non-transferable).

So, for €65, should I not be entitled to 3gb of data, presuming the extra 1gb costs ten euro extra a month? And what about a €100 option? Still capped out at 1gb?

Considering that O2 offer mobile broadband at €30 a month for a 10gb cap, could this not be factored into the iPhone price plan? That way at €65 I’d get 10gb worth of data, plus my 150 anytime minutes and 100 free texts. I’m not a heavy voice-user, I could live with that.

Considering the number of podcasts, photos, videos etc. I consume in any given month I’d find the 1gb cap rather restrictive – each extra megabyte costing you 2c. Small change, but it would mean I could pay anywhere up to a euro per podcast when out and about, more for videos, maps etc. General surfing, not so much a problem, but I’m a multimedia head by nature…

Apart from the 1gb cap, it is nice to see the phone finally hit the Irish market. The O2 site comes decorated with the usual Apple warnings against modifying your new iPhone or attempting to unlock it to any network.

If you do want to secure an iPhone for the 14th of March you’re going to need to visit your nearest O2 retail storing, bringing proof of ID and two crisp 50 euro notes as a deposit. If you’ve already upgraded your phone, or recently upgraded your phone, you won’t be charged an upgrade penalty to buy the iPhone (which also means that there are no discounts available to long-term contract users on the O2 network). Plus, if you’re a new customer you can start out on the iPhone or upgrade again at no penalty, once you commit to the 18 month contract.

The 18 month contract would put the cost of the phone at €810 (contract) plus the minimum €399 spend meaning you’ll have splashed out over €1200 come Autumn 2010, before you count any additional voice, SMS, voicemail, roaming or data charges.

It’d be a hell of a lot cheaper to pick up an iPhone elsewhere and jailbreak that sucker.

I’ll be the one in the corner waiting by the N95 8GB bus stop.

iPhone Announced For O2 Ireland Later This Morning

Apple iPhoneSo O2 have confirmed that they are the exclusive Irish carriers of the Apple iPhone. This was pretty much a given considering O2 are the exclusive carriers in the UK.

Scouting around the blogosphere this morning, Engadget are reporting that the iPhone will

  • retail at €399 inc. VAT for the 8gb model
  • retail at €499 inc. VAT for the 16gb model
  • will go public on Patrick’s weekend (launching March 14th)

The suggested price range is quite reasonable, all things considered. It also places the phone in the immediate price bracket of the Nokia N95, the first gen of which O2 are still shipping – though recent conversations I’ve had with O2 reps and other Irish bloggers suggest the N95 8GB model’s arrival is imminent.

I’m still set on swinging for the N95 8GB model but we’ll see what comes out of this morning’s announcements.

Update 1: Announcement to be made at 11:15am in O2’s Dublin HQ (via Damien Mulley)

Update 2: Pocket Lint are reporting that “Three new iPhone tariffs will be available from O2, starting at €45, all of which will include anytime minutes, texts and a 1GB data bundle.”