Tag Archives: iphone

Twitter Geolocation

Heard of geotagged tweets yet? Not surprised, a lot of my friends seem to have not caught on to it, so I’m writing this in a possibly futile attempt to get them to try it out.

How to add your location to your tweets

1. Turn on Geotagging. To do this, go to your Twitter settings page. Down under the “Location” section is an option to enable geotagging. Turn it on.

Twitter Settings

2. Get a Twitter client that supports Geotagging. These are generally mobile applications. Tweetie 2 for the iPhone added support for it in 2.1. Several other clients support it as well. Find one.

3. Turn it on in your client. How you do this depends on the client, but it can usually be enabled on a per-tweet basis.

Here’s an example of how it works and looks in Tweetie 2 for the iPhone.

First, you type in a new tweet, and pull open the drop down.

Next, you enable the geotag feature, and you'll see a little red pin appear.

You'll see little maps on tweets with locations attached to them.

Click on the map icon for greater detail.

You can do more with your Twitter location too. For example, this website will read your twitter feed and get your latest location, then send it over to Fire Eagle, which is Yahoo’s location service. Fire Eagle can do all sorts of things, but basically it’s just a service that stores your location for other programs to use. So if you want to display your location on your blog, or on Facebook for your friends to see, or anything else you can think of, you can do that, using nothing more than your already existing tweets.

Waze – Free iPhone Directions Application

Playing around this weekend, I discovered a neat and fun little app for the iPhone.

A lot of new apps have came out for the iPhone lately that are based around driving directions. TomTom came out with theirs for $100, and Navigon is another popular one that runs $90. But, if you want to try out something a little different, this one is free.

iPhone image

Waze is a free driving directions app, with a twist. Basically, the maps on it are “incomplete”. That is, they’ve got the map data, but like all maps, the data is inaccurate. So, to get the data to be better, they’re enlisting your help.

How do you help? Simple. You use the app in the car, then drive around. As you do so, the GPS will be reading your location and noting that there is indeed a street there. It makes it kinda fun to confirm streets in this way since a little Pac-Man like figure appears, eating dots on the map where you are driving, and giving you “points”. The points aren’t useful for much, except a ranking system with everybody else using the app, but it’s fun nevertheless.

So what else? Well, obviously it’ll do driving directions. However, when I tried it to get to my friend’s place at Cooper-Young fest this last weekend, it was laughably wrong. It suggested an 8 mile trek through ridiculous parts of town for no reason. I drove there the normal route instead, letting it complain that I was “off route” all the way and listening to the Waze-pacman gathering up the points as he munched his way down the road. However, something odd happened then. On the way back, when I turned it on, it knew that route. Investigating today, I’ve found that it really doesn’t like to route people on routes that haven’t been “confirmed” yet very much. So, since I’d confirmed that route already, it picked it for my way home.

But there’s a bonus to all that. By confirming the route, it’s getting more than street maps. It’s also getting average speeds. So it can use that information to give optimal routes, knowing how fast each street tends to be.

iPhone Event Reporting

You can even more than that though. Along the way, you can report events too.

An event is like an auto accident, or a speed trap. Whenever you see one of these, you can touch the report button and report one quickly. If you’re totally stopped in traffic, then you can also type in a short message (it won’t let you do that while moving), and the message will instantly be sent, where other drivers (and their iPhone’s) can see it. Those drivers will then get routed a different way, possibly saving them some time.

Or, even better, somebody else reports a problem, and you get to save some time.

Downsides to the app: Battery life. Like any other GPS app, it sucks the battery right down. You’ll need a car charger to run the thing. Probably a quality iPhone mount too. It does do landscape mode as well, and hidden down in the options is a “3D mode”, which makes the map lay back and look like the more expensive iPhone driving apps, if you prefer that sort of thing. The 2D map is easier to read, to me.

From what I’m reading, Waze has only been around a month or so, and not many people are using it. As far as I can tell, almost nobody in Memphis is using it, since almost all the roads are unconfirmed. But it would be pretty neat if everybody driving around was sharing data like this, what with Memphis traffic being what it is. I sure wouldn’t mind getting routed around half the crap I see on the streets around here.

If you’ve wanted to try out a driving directions app without spending $100 or so, then you cannot beat free. So I highly recommend it. I’m using it all the time now.

Google Maps traffic… it needs work.

I always wondered how Google Maps knew traffic conditions. Today, there’s a blog post where they explain it a bit better.

That ain't on an iPhone...
That ain't on an iPhone...

Basically, they simply have all the phones running Google Maps with GPS send back data as to a) where they are and b) how fast they’re moving. Both of which GPS gives you more or less by default.

It’s a clever idea, and I like it, but it fails in a couple of major ways, IMO.

Firstly, when I use Google Maps on my phone, I tend to not leave it open. Google Maps is fine, but it’s not a very good navigation system. It’s just a map. A real navigation app is worlds better. I recently got Navigon Mobile Navigator on the new iPhone, and it’s pretty slick. Thinking about a dashboard mount for it now, actually.

Secondly, this system relies on a lot of people having Google Maps open and running and sending back data. If nobody with Google Maps running has been on your street recently, you get no information.

What Google really needs to do is to open it up as an API. Let other navigation system manufacturers both send and receive traffic data from the Google Maps system. It doesn’t have to be complex.

Any good navigation app knows your location and speed, so a simple way to send that info could be made easily enough. The problem, of course, is allowing third parties to use the data.

Google Maps works in layers of images, which is one of its major shortcomings, IMO. The street views are images. The terrain are images. Just big sets of tiles that get displayed next to each other. And I’m almost certain that this traffic thing is just another set of images they’re generating or updating. For navigation providers that use 3d views and such, they don’t need that stuff in the form of images, they need it in the form of data. What streets are busy? How can that information be used to improve the navigation? Etc.

Google is generally pretty good at opening up their APIs to third parties. However, they’re generally not good at providing data in different forms. Most of their APIs are “this is what we use, if you need something else we don’t have it” sort of thing. Hopefully, the Google Maps team will see the light here and realize that to get good data, you have to give good data, and start pushing in that direction. Because open traffic data would be pretty cool for everybody.

New iPods today

Gizmodo is running a live blog of the new Apple iPod announcements today. Interesting reading. Quick rundown:

  • New iPod Shuffle – price lowered to $79 for 1GB
  • New iPod Nano – thinner, slightly wider. $149 and $199 for 4GB and 8GB
  • New iPod Classic – basically the same as existing iPods, but thinner and cheaper. $299 and $349 for 80GB and 160GB!
  • New iPod Touch – essentially, its an iPhone without the phone part. It has Wi-fi web surfing and iPod capabilities and the same interface as the iPhone. Also can buy songs directly from the iTunes music store. Downside: 8GB and 16GB for $299 and $399. I can’t see paying that much more and giving up all that space just for that somewhat annoying interface.
  • iPhone gets ringtones – They’re adding the ability to turn your purchased songs into ringtones… for 99 cents per song. This really sucks, basically you buy the song for 99 cents and then pay an extra 99 cents to turn any 30 second section of it into a ringtone. And it only works with songs you buy from iTunes and even then only 500k of their catalog can do it, not just any song. Really lame and one more reason not to get an iPhone, IMO.
  • iPhone also gets ability to buy direct from iTunes music store.
  • Starbucks integration – When you get the new iPod Touch or iPhone near a Starbucks, it’ll have a special menu to let you see the last 10 songs played there, and allow you to purchase them from iTunes.
  • iPhone price drop – The 4GB version is now gone, the 8GB version drops 200 bucks to $399. The price drop was required, IMO, but anybody who bought early kinda got screwed. Especially if they got the 4GB model, not only are they out $100 extra, but also out 4GB. Bummer for you suckers!

Seems to me that the price drops across the board make sense. Most excellent news, IMO, is the reasonably priced 160GB iPod classic. I really want one of those. The iPhone price drop is likely to try to stave off competition from the upcoming Google Phone. The iPod touch just seems somewhat worthless to me, but then I dislike the iPhone interface concept to begin with. Touchscreens are not my favorite things.

Still, neat stuff. Take a look at the many pictures Gizmodo posted on the live blog, some of them are quite cool.

Edit: Apple now has info about the new iPod’s up on their site: http://www.apple.com/

More about the iPhone

I made an iPhone post earlier, and Paul pointed to it, which was cool of him and got me a lot more views than I’m used to. But I got some feedback on the topic as well, so I figured I’d go into it a little more.

First off, If you’re getting the thing for free (like through work or something), then go for it. It’s cool looking, the interface is neat, and it’s very blingy. My issue with the thing is that it’s $600 and somewhat “low-tech”. Here’s what it breaks down to: Stuff they can fix, and stuff they can’t.

Stuff they can fix via a future software update:

  • No custom ringtones. Period. It doesn’t allow for MP3’s, music tracks, or anything else. What’s in the phone is all you get. Although iTunes 7.3 appears to support selling ringtones. Look forward to rebuying your songs as ringtones.
  • The camera is 2 megapixels, but can’t record video.
  • The phone cannot send “MMS” messages. These are like text messages with pictures or video or what have you. For some people, this is no big deal. And it can still send email, so that’s something to consider as well.
  • There’s no instant messaging in the thing. It can do “iChat”, but it can’t do AIM, MSN, GoogleTalk, any of that.
  • The only “push” email it supports is Yahoo Mail. Don’t use Yahoo Mail? Tough luck. It can do IMAP based email, which excludes most email systems and isn’t “push”. Blackberries can do better than this.
  • No games. None. Zero. Zilch. Which is annoying, since they sell iPod games on iTunes that, in theory, could work on the thing.
  • It’s not user expandable. You can’t put your own apps on it, yet. Even if they fix this, it’ll probably be a purchase mechanism thing.
  • The Bluetooth only works with phone calls. So you can’t use your neato Bluetooth stereo headset and have a wireless iPod functionality.

Stuff they *can’t* fix:

  • The massive SLOW of the thing. Unless you’re able to find a WiFi access point, you’ll be using AT&T’s “EDGE” network. Which, as you’ll notice very rapidly, is extremely slow. What really irks about this is that HSDPA is available in cheaper phones and is much faster and extremely reliable (albeit only found in big cities). This can NOT be fixed with a future software update, it’s a hardware problem. Who wants to bet that the “iPhone 2″ comes out just as the iPhone price drops down to “free” in a year or so? Who wants to bet that the iPhone 2 will have HSDPA?
  • No GPS. If you’ve seen the commercial with the big screen Google Maps giving turn by turn directions, then you’ll be disappointed to discover that a) the iPhone does not have GPS and so it has no idea where you are (you have to tell it) and b) it can’t actually give turn by turn based directions. You have to tell the iPhone when you make each turn. Which makes it pretty useless for this unless you have a buddy using the phone as you go. No software fix for this, the GPS hardware ain’t in the phone.
  • The thing works as an iPod Nano, basically. It has 4 or 8 GB of storage. But not all the iPod capable things will work with it. Also, because of the jack plug size, you’ll need to buy a special adapter to make some of your normal headphones work with it.

The software problems are enough to keep me from buying one until they fix them. But these last few hardware issues are enough to make me wait until new iPhone hardware appears in a year or two. Why pay extra for something worse than what I already have?

Gizmodo published a list of things you should know before getting one, so don’t take my word for any of the above.

Why I won't be getting an iPhone

Kat wrote about wanting an iPhone yesterday, but I’ve known for a long time that I’m really just not interested in the thing. Today I found this story on Gizmodo that really lays out why:

Finally Confirmed: What the iPhone Doesn’t Have

  • Songs as Ringtones
  • Games
  • Any flash support
  • Instant Messaging
  • Picture messages (MMS)
  • Video recording
  • Voice recognition or voice dialing
  • Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Streaming (A2DP)
  • One-size-fits-all headset jack (May have to buy an adapter for certain headphones)

Stuff we already knew it didn’t have

  • 3G (EV-DO/HSDPA)
  • GPS
  • A real keyboard
  • Removable battery
  • Expandable Storage
  • Direct iTunes Music Store Access (Over Wi-Fi or EDGE)

For reference, my existing cheap-as-in-free LG CU-500 phone has all but 3 of the the things above. The iPhone looks to be like it’s a major downgrade. I kinda wonder if it’s even capable of making phone calls.

On the plus side, you’ll soon be able to find out which of your friends has more money than brains, because they’ll be sporting their shiny new useless blingy phone! And that is going to be the most useful feature ever.

Edit: I just noticed that Amazon has several books available for a phone that actually hasn’t even been released yet! Including “iPhone for Dummies“. Amazing.