Spring Cleaning, Tech Style

It’s that time of year where most people go through their homes and clean things up. For me, I’ve felt the need to clean up my tech, too. I don’t mean in a physical way, though that is also important. No, I’m talking about going through all of those extra files and apps that have accumulated over the past year. My goal is to simplify what I’ve got and leave myself with a more clutter-free tech experience that will improve my productivity and help me waste/spend less time on my devices.

Clean Up 

The first thing someone may notice when looking at my iPhone or Mac: I’ve got a few too many apps. I had a bad tendency of grabbing free apps and giving them a test run but not deleting them when I was through. Now, it’s time to clean those up and keep the ones that I still use.

On my Mac, I’ve been using CleanMyMac to help remove unused applications and old data. It’s been a great application that I occasionally run to keep my system clean. It not only removes the .app file but also any data that might be found in ~/Library, too. If I don’t need a certain app anymore, why would I want to keep all of the associated data?

Another big thing I did on my Mac is clean up my desktop. I don’t like a lot of icons cluttering my desktop, so it was about time for me to remove what was there. I’ve now brought it down to one folder that I’ve called “To Sort”. In there, I put the occasion download or screenshot that I don’t have a place for yet (or can’t delete yet). This folder I go through regularly to keep clean. I could probably put it somewhere other than the desktop, but I’ll figure that out later. One folder on the desktop is better than a couple dozen icons.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 5.12.09 PM
So what if I have a lot of apps? They’re organized!

For my iPhone, I’m trying to limit myself to productivity apps, utilities, and games that I will definitely be opening in the next month. While I do make a few exceptions, I’m trying to trim away the extras that I just don’t need. Anything that remains gets organized in my current system: 1 page of utilities and other non-game apps, sorted by category into folders; 1 or 2 pages of games, sorted by type in folders. If I’m still unsure where to put an app, it sits on my last page, a sort of miscellaneous page that I try to clear out regularly.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 5.13.40 PM
I’ve got a few games, too

My newest change, though, is using a mostly clean first page. My goal is to limit this page to apps that I use every day. If there are certain actions that I do repeatedly, I’m putting those into LaunchCenterPro, which has its home on my dock. I don’t want to waste time trying to find something that I need; I’d much rather save time and simplify my workflow.1

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 5.13.14 PM
My much simpler home page

More Cleaning to Come

As I work on my workflow and cleaning up my apps, I’ve got even more to clean up this year.2

First, I’ve got a handful of email accounts. Most are for sites that I used to manage but don’t anymore. I don’t know why I even have some of them still. But I need to take some time and reduce that number of active accounts to just the ones I need.

Second, I’ve got a few websites and services I still run, whether personal like this site or others related to my business, that I need to update and clean up. Those I’ll be systematically going through and updating.

Other things I need to clean up: iPhoto, my Documents and Downloads folders, and (low priority) my contact list.

Got any suggestions for cleaning up your computer or phone this summer? What will you be doing for your spring cleaning? Comment below or tweet me!

 


  1. This is still a work in progress, and my workflow is currently in flux while I create something that works better for me. 

  2. I’ll be talking more about my Mac and iOS workflows in a later post. 

If It Worked For the iPod…

I came across an old post regarding the iPhone that I thought was pretty interesting.

So here’s how I see Apple applying its iPod strategy to the iPhone. At some point the iPhone will expand to two form factors:

  1. A high-end iPhone with the same basic size and price as previous iPhones, but with significant new features. Obvious potential new features would be things like more storage space, more RAM, a faster CPU, an improved (and eventually video-capable) camera, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and superior battery technology.
  2. A new, lower-priced, smaller, and more adorable iPhone, with more or less the same technical specs as the original iPhone. Given that those specs include the 320 × 480 display, I wouldn’t expect something tiny, but remember that the original iPod Mini was “just” 35 percent smaller by volume than the then-current full-sized iPod. Shrink the iPhone’s forehead and chin and make it thinner — maybe a lot thinner — is what I’m thinking. Existing iPhone apps would run just fine on the new device, as it’d have similar, if not identical, CPU performance and RAM to previous full-sized iPhones. Such an iPhone sounds much like the “iPhone Lite” that BusinessWeek reported its source saw.

This is something John Gruber posted in May of 2009 with regard to rumors of a Verizon iPhone. Why it caught my eye is because of the thinking that the iPhone would go the way of the iPod. Except, it wasn’t until 4 years after this post that we were introduced to two iPhone models in one year: the 5s and 5c.

Apple originally introduced just one iPod model. But after a couple of years, it started to get different companions. Now, we look back at the history of the iPod classic, iPod nano, iPod shuffle, iPod touch, and the iPod mini. As the device market matured, Apple was able to create a couple of different devices that, while still being ahead of the competition, offered a larger selection for users to choose from.

I think that’s the direction Apple might be going with the 2 lines. You have one line, the higher-spec, top-of-the-line model. The other, the new c-line, will be more colorful or, as John Gruber said, “more adorable”. Does that mean the c-line is not the best?

Would we say that the iPad mini is less of a device than its larger iPad cousin? Of course not. With the latest updates to the iPad mini and the new iPad Air, both devices are virtually identical except for the screen size. I think the iPhone is just about at a similar level, especially given that the power of the 5c is still mind-blowing compared to phones from just a year or two ago. But it’s still be a great phone, and for some, having a colorful, fun option is more important than having the latest and the greatest.

For years, the iPod was dominant as a music player. While still a popular (and in a way, still the dominant) MP3 player, smartphones have come up and taken a bit of steam out of the iPod’s sails. But when it comes to the iPhone, I think Apple will undoubtedly diversify it’s offerings. It will never be the same way Nokia or Samsung offer a plethora of devices. But Apple has never had to do that, either. And when it comes to the iPhone, like the iPad, having two or three offerings still gives people options when it comes to a new phone.

Apple

2014′s iOS Line-Up (My Predictions)

With 2013 behind us, I thought it was time to take a look at what Apple released (in terms of iOS) and what I think Apple will do in 2014.

The first half of 2013 was very quiet with regards to Apple events. Our first public event was WWDC in June, where we finally got a glimpse at what Apple was working on in the software category. After six years of the iPhone, iOS was getting a major facelift, giving a fresh look to one of the most popular mobile operating systems. While supporting older devices like the iPhone 4 would support iOS 7, it was definitely meant to bring in a new future for Apple’s iOS devices.

In the fall, we finally started seeing some hardware, with the announcement of two new iPhones: the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s. The 5c was essentially last year’s iPhone 5 but with new, colorful shells. For those upgrading from an iPhone 4 or earlier, they made an attractive alternative to the otherwise sleek but relatively-basic colors of the 5 and 5s. The 5s, meanwhile, brought a future-thinking iPhone to the market, introducing a 64-bit A7 processor to the iOS line up. Even now, I think people take 64-bit for granted on their computers. Having that power in a mobile device is incredible.

The iPad upgrades followed suit with the iPhone and received the new A7 chip, as well as other changes. The iPad was redesigned into the iPad Air, a lightweight tablet that, to me, seems like an ideal size and weight for a “full size” iPad (and is much improved over the first generation). The iPad Mini, meanwhile, was upgraded with a Retina display. I’d say the new iPad Mini is probably the best 7.9″ tablet out there. Honestly, every time I see an iPad mini, I feel like I’m living in a Star Trek world.

All of these updates seemed to make the iOS device line up even better than before. What changes could possibly come in 2014?

For one, I think we’re looking at the end of an old friend. The 30-pin connector has existed for over a decade and been a staple of iPods, iPhones, and iPads for years. Since the introduction of the iPhone 5 and the Lightning connector, however, it has become clear that a new era of connecting cables was at hand. The Lightning connector’s smaller size let Apple make the iPhone even thinner than previous generations. Given Apple’s typical quest to shrink things down, it makes sense that future devices stick to the Lightning cable.

What had not surprised me during the iPhone event was the presence of the iPhone 4S on the lineup. Typically, the phone from two years prior would be made free on contract, and this held true. But as we look ahead to 2014, if this pattern continues, we’ll see the iPhone 4S drop off of the lineup.  This doesn’t just affect the iPhone, however.

The iPad 2 has somehow held on to life, despite the fact that it is three generations older than the newest iPad model available. If the iPhone 4S does indeed get retired, then the iPad 2 would be the only device still using the 30-pin connector. But, that’s not all; The iPad 2 is one of only two iOS devices sold without a Retina display. The other? The original iPad Mini, which shared many specs of the iPad 2. When new iPads are announced, I don’t think Apple wants to present a non-Retina screen as an option anymore. It’s time to look to the future and keep all devices top of the line.

So, that being said, what will we see?

iPhone: Since the original iPhone in 2007, there has always been at least one new phone released each year. There’s no reason for Apple not to continue. Given their introduction of two new handsets in 2013, it’s possible we’ll see two more in 2014: one a high-end upgrade of the iPhone 5s with a brand new design, a new A8 processor, and other improved specs; the other could be an upgrade to the iPhone 5c, bringing the power of the 5s into a design and feel that could appeal to the more colorful (or those that miss the feel of the iPhone 3G/S). Even if the 5c isn’t updated, I foresee it remaining on the lineup.

Lineup Prediction: A new iPhone (6?), reduced price iPhone 5s, and a colorful iPhone 5c (or update to it).

iPad: The iPad Air and the iPad Mini with Retina will see some minor changes. Both would likely see a new generation with an A8 processor and the inclusion of Touch ID, something that they didn’t receive with the previous updates. With 2 generations of iPad Mini with Retina, it could be possible for Apple to phase out non-Retina screens in their entirety. At last, we would see an end to the iPad 2.

Lineup Prediction: iPad Air (2nd Gen), iPad Mini with Retina (2nd Gen), and reduced price iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina (both 1st Gen).

What about the iPod Touch? It was last updated along with the iPhone 5. Has Apple left it out to dry? We’ll have to wait and see. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a new iPod Touch modeled alongside a new iPhone design. But the iPod line is no longer Apple’s main money-maker, so who knows what they’ll do?

Rumors continue to circulate about Apple entering the wearable category or taking on the TV market further. Apple TV runs a modified form of iOS, but I won’t talk about it in this post. And with no official word about any iWatch, we don’t know what software it will run. Do I think we’ll see at least one of these in 2014? Definitely.

In short, these updates may not seem too revolutionary. In a way, they’re aren’t. But they also are leading the way towards a new age of iOS devices, moving away from legacy solutions and early-tech. Having every iOS device for sale containing the new Lightning connector and a Retina display will put Apple in a strong position with premium devices. They only sell their best, and in 2014, they’ll show it.

Apple

What Will Apple’s iWatch Be?

Rumors of Apple’s foray into new product categories don’t seem to stop. For a couple of years, the gossip was surrounding Apple developing some kind of smart television. While we haven’t seen any iTV yet, there’s still a good chance they are working in that area of interest.

Something more recent but no less talked about is Apple’s interest in wearables. The so-called iWatch has become another hot topic, one that possibly could have lead to Samsung running out of the gate with their ‘smart watch’. While Samsung may be first to releasing a watch with a mobile OS crammed inside, I don’t think Apple’s efforts will resemble their competitors’.

Apple doesn’t go into a product category without much thought and planning. Anything they release is held up to high standards. In terms of a wearable, it would need to provide a useful function in a well designed body while providing a battery life that makes it as useful (relatively) as a normal watch. It won’t just be a smaller touch screen running iOS and trimmed apps. They will want a product that touches people’s lives.

For years, Apple has offered support for the Nike+ line of products. With just your iPod or iPhone, you can read data from a Nike device and log a workout or physical activity. It’s not something that is often talked about at Apple keynotes, but it’s still shows an interest in health and fitness. Oh, and did I mention that Apple CEO Tim Cook is on Nike’s Board of Directors?

Tim Cook himself also has an interest in fitness. One CNN article even described him as “a fitness nut”. What might a fitness nut in charge of one of most well known technology companies want to create?

Apple M7
Apple’s M7 Coprocessor

I think there’s an important key also to be found in the latest technology found in the iPhone 5s: the M7 motion coprocessor. The M7 allows the iPhone 5s (and undoubtedly future mobile devices) to continuously measure and process motion data from the compass, accelerometer, and gyroscope. Even during in the iPhone keynote and the unveiling of the M7 coprocessor, it was described as being able to enable “a new generation of health and fitness apps”.

Will it also be able to usher in a new generation of health and fitness devices, too? I for one think that this is the direction Apple is going with the wearables category. And the rumors regarding who might be working on such a device lend some credence to that.

Of course, nothing is certain until Apple announces it. But I am definitely thinking that, whatever Apple’s iWatch becomes, it will not just be a watch with an OS. It will track your health, your motion, and be a new fitness companion that will compliment, rather than compete, with your iPhone.

Apple

Why You Shouldn’t Buy the iPad 2 (and Why You Should Be Glad Apple Still Sells It)

On October 22nd, Apple announced updates to some of their products. Along with the release of OS X Mavericks, their latest version of their desktop operating system, they also announced new versions of iLife and iWork applications for iOS, OS X, and iCloud. New MacBook Pros were also announced.

The expected items, though, were a pair of new iPads. The iPad mini was given a much needed Retina display, while the full size iPad was upgraded and became the new iPad Air, a thinner and lighter 9.7″ iPad. Both of these updates were expected due to news leaks over the past few weeks and were welcomed with open arms.

The Shocker

However, there was a bit of a surprise when it came to what the new iPad line-up now consisted of. Both of those new iPads would be the premium product, while older versions remained on sale. That has been Apple’s MO with iPhones and iPads for years. Yet, while last year’s breakthrough iPad mini made sense to keep in the line-up, the iPad 2 seemed out of place. Why would Apple keep selling this 2.5 year old iPad, one that doesn’t even use the latest Lightning connector?

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 2.08.39 PM
Apple’s current iPad line-up

For one, it apparently still sells very well. For many people, the iPad 2 provides everything that a person might need or even want from a tablet. Technophiles may not show any interest in it, but anyone that isn’t tech-savvy who is looking for their first tablet would be more than happy with a new iPad 2.1

Second, by leaving the iPad 2 in the line-up, it gives consumers an option for an iPad that still supports the 30-pin connector and the massive amount of accessories that were created for that connector. But is this a big enough reason for people to buy an iPad 2 when, for $100 more, they can get the new iPad Air?

The iPad 2 was great when it was released. But lacking a Retina display and still using the old 30-pin connector (plus the A5 chip that doesn’t keep quite up to speed with its modern breathren) makes it a poor choice from the current iPad line-up. For identical specs, you can pay $100 less and get the iPad mini. The screen may be smaller, but you’re getting a thinner form factor AND a device with more functionality2 than the older iPad 2.

Add to this the fact that, on Apple’s own website, you can find refurbished 4th generation iPads available for $379. Yes, you can get a newer iPad from Apple’s own website for less than the iPad 2. But if newer models can be purchased for less than $400, why would you want to buy an iPad 2?

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 2.22.40 PM
You can get a newer iPad straight from Apple for less than a new iPad 2!

This is why I say you shouldn’t buy an iPad 2. If you have the $399 to spend on it, why not get a newer model? Even the next newest model, the 3rd generation iPad, had a Retina display. While you would still be sporting the larger connector and an older body style compared to the iPad Air, you’d also have a capable tablet with a higher resolution screen.

Even if you don’t buy an iPad 2, however, there’s reason to be happy Apple still sells it. Why is that?

Product Longevity

Don’t you hate buying a product when, months later, it seems like your relatively new purchase is obsolete? Thankfully, while Apple continues to iterate and innovate with hardware, much of the capabilities of their devices come from within the silicon.

iPhone 3G customers may recall a time when their iPhones could not do the now common task of copy-and-paste. Yet, a software update (iOS 3) brought that feature, and others, to their iPhones. They may not have had the latest processor or camera specs, but those iPhone owners were able to get improved use from their devices.

Similarly, Apple has a fairly good track record of supporting older iOS devices. And each time Apple continues to sell an older generation model,3 they also permit the latest iOS software to run on it, albeit with some features likely not supported.4 When the iPhone 4S launched, iOS 5 was also released. The iPhone 3GS, still being sold at the time, was able to get that software update. Neither it nor the iPhone 4 had the ability to use Siri. Yet, each phone still found extended use by its owners.5 Likewise, when iOS 7 was announced this past June, Apple was still selling the iPhone 4. iOS 7 was installable on those older devices, even though Apple removed them from their line up at their iPhone event in September.

The iPad 2 may not be the wisest choice for buying a new iPad. Yet, the fact that Apple is still selling it means that, quite likely, unless new iPads are announced in the spring, the iPad 2 could possibly support iOS 8. Even if it doesn’t, there’s a good chance the third generation iPads and newer will support it. And as iPad and iPhone hardware matures, it’s likely we’ll see more and more generations of iOS devices supporting newer versions of IOS. They may not have the hardware to support all of the latest features6, but they’ll remain up to date nonetheless.

But for any iOS device owners who have purchased an iPhone or iPad in the past 2 years, you’ll be okay using your device for at least another year with updates galore. If Apple will support a device from March 2011, yours should be supported, too.


  1. iPad 2 owners may feel differently when comparing their tablet performance on iOS 7 versus what they used to have on iOS 6, but new customers undoubtedly wouldn’t notice.  

  2. iOS 7 on the iPad mini supports Airdrop, for example, though on the iPad 2 it does not. 

  3. For example, Apple continued to sell the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 when the iPhone 4S was launched. 

  4. This isn’t just a matter of Apple wanting people to upgrade. Sometimes, the features introduced simply can’t be supported on older hardware without degraded performance. Apple’s goal is not to just pack in features but to give a great user experience. At times, this means some devices can’t get every new feature. 

  5. The iPhone 3GS went on to support even the latest version of iOS 6. Thus far, iOS 7 is supported on devices as far back as the iPad 2 and iPhone 4 

  6. Touch ID, 120 fps HD video recording, etc 

Apple

What I Expect From Apple’s Presentation Tomorrow

This year has been pretty light in terms of Apple presentations. Thus far, we’ve had the Worldwide Developers Conference which took place in June. As expected, it was mainly a software oriented day. There, we got a preview of OS X Mavericks, the Mac Pro, and got to see an unveiling of iOS 7. We also learned about iWork for iCloud, a great way to use iWork in the browser on all major platforms.

Then, on September 10th, Apple unveiled two new iPhones: the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s. While they played center stage to the event, we also were treated to the release of iWork and (most of) iLife apps1 for free on the App Store (for newly activated iOS devices).

On October 22nd, Apple is holding another event. Rumors about what we’ll see have been rampant on the web. I thought I’d share what topics I personally expect to see touched on from the event and how likely I think we’ll see it.

iPads (Definitely)

It has been a year since Apple released the iPad (4th Generation) and the iPad mini. The iPad update came just six months after the release of the third generation model and, honestly, caught quite a few people off guard. It did, however, bring the relatively new Lightning connector to the iPad line, thus given the latest iPad models the smaller connectors.

Both the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini showed a new design, with an aluminum body with chamfered edges. This year, the full size iPad is supposed to be given that same design. If the leaks are to be believed, this will also make the iPad thinner and lighter. If so, I definitely am excited for this. While the 9.7″ iPad is my personal preference (great for both content creation and consumption), a lighter model would increase the usability of the device. It would make it easier to hold in many positions, especially when laying in bed.

The iPad mini, meanwhile, is to keep the same design as last year but possibly may include a Retina display. I think the Retina display is the only way the iPad mini can really be advanced this year, and I am expecting to see that tomorrow. Supposedly, including such a display would add a bit of thickness to the iPad mini, but such a change would likely not be a big deal.

Internally, the iPad has typically had the latest processor found in the new iPhone model for that year. Thus, I would not be surprised to see an A7X chip in the fifth generation iPad. This would be the same 64-bit A7 chip found in the iPhone 5s but with extra graphics power. Such a chip would bring 64-bit capabilities to the iPad (a great future-proofing move on Apple’s part) and likely the capability for Touch ID, letting us secure our iPads with our fingerprints.

To keep the battery life on the iPad mini, however, I’m not expecting it to receive the A7X. Instead, I’m leaning more towards an A6X. It currently powers the fourth generation iPad and does a fantastic job. It would definitely be capable of running a Retina display, and presumably the power usage would allow the iPad mini to stay mini while providing the power needed to up the display.

Summary: New iPad 5 with slimmer design and A7X chip; iPad mini (2nd generation) with Retina display and A6X chip

OS X Mavericks (Definitely)

In June, Apple gave us a preview of the next release of OS X, Mavericks. Since then, developers have had beta access to the first non-cat OS X release. The last beta release, on October 3rd, was a Golden Master release, meaning that the public release is soon to follow.2

Tomorrow, Apple should be announcing when Mavericks will be publicly available. It could be as early as tomorrow, though part of me thinks later in the week might be a better guess.

I personally am looking forward to Mavericks, as it will bring us some nice new enhancements to OS X. Timer coalescing and App Nap should help reduce CPU and power usage. As someone that likes to study ePub documents on the go, I am glad that iBooks is coming to the Mac. Finally, I’ll be able to study magazines and books and then sync those notes and highlights to my iPad. A new built in Maps app will let users bookmark locations and routes and then send these to their iPhone when they’re ready to go. Nifty!

Summary: OS X Mavericks release date, likely this week.

MacBook Pros (Likely)

It’s been over a year since the MacBook Pro (non-Retina, that is) was updated. Given the upgrade the MacBook Air received this year, it’s likely we’ll see the MacBook Pros also brought up to speed. If so, they likely will get Intel’s Haswell chip and, like the Air, improved battery life as a result. The MacBook Pro with Retina may also get this update. (I’m more interested in the former, as I’m not ready to shell out for a ‘next generation MacBook Pro’ yet).

Summary: MacBook Pros with Haswell chip, improved battery life

iPods (Not Likely)

The iPod, formerly Apple’s top product, has typically seen updates in the fall. However, given how the iPhone and iPad have both eclipsed the music players, I don’t necessarily expect to see any new iPods. I wouldn’t be shocked, but I think it is more likely that we’ll see iPod updates next year.

Apple TV (Likely, But…)

Word has gone around that there is an Apple TV update coming. I think the safest bet is that it’s just a small spec update for the TV box. The current Apple TV runs an A5 processor internally. While Apple still is selling devices running the A5, I think they may want to put either an A6 or, maybe, even an A7 in the Apple TV.

I don’t think we’ll hear about any other big change for Apple TV, but I also think Apple’s plan isn’t to create a full TV but, rather, to change the way we experience television and use our TVs by means of the Apple TV box. If so, I wouldn’t be surprised with them putting in an A7 chip. Why? Because I see Apple opening up Apple TV for app developers. iOS 7 includes game controller support and has added APIs for game development such as SpriteKit. Could Apple be a major player in the console wars with Apple TV? I think it’s a likely scenario.

Summary: Apple TV update with either A6 or A7 processor

iWatch (Doubt It)

I doubt Apple’s mythical high-tech wearable will make a debut tomorrow. Samsung may have struck first with their launch of Galaxy Gear, but Apple doesn’t need to quickly fire back to make a difference. Apple will reveal products when they’re ready to, and I think there is more to be gained for them by perfecting any such product that quickly reacting to Samsung’s unveiling.

So, with this list put together, now we wait until tomorrow to see how close I was. What about you? What do you think we’ll see tomorrow?


  1. iPhoto and iMovie; Garageband is still $5… for now. 

  2. Apple released another build on October 20th, which also is a Golden Master release. 

iPhone

My Adventures In App Development (Part 1: The Beginning)

I hate saying that I’m relatively new to app development, but I am. I had originally moved into the Apple ecosystem in 2009 with somewhat of a desire to develop applications. At the time, however, I was spending most of my development time on websites. App development seemed like a much more daunting task.

Over the years, I would occasionally open up Xcode with the intent of creating some kind of basic iPhone app. Each time, though, it seemed like such a different beast than what I was used to. (The MVC model wasn’t a stranger to me, but I didn’t have a lot of experience with it at the time.) I’d add in a few buttons and views, type up some code, but I couldn’t get myself to really dive into it.

One thing I’ve come to really love using since I first got my first iPhone in 2009 is Evernote. I use it to store notes about almost anything, from guitar tab to food recipes. For a while now, I’ve also stored different ideas that come into my head. As I put more and more ideas down in writing, I was able to get a better idea of what I wanted to do.

Two breakthroughs helped me to really push forward in app development, however. The first was making use of video tutorials online, especially on iTunes U, that helped me to really learn and understand Objective-C and iOS app development. Finding an iOS development course is a big plus, as it is just like being in a class where you are taught how to develop for the iPhone and iPad. It definitely beats just reading documentation and following along in a book.

Second was the latest iOS release, iOS 7. As soon as I saw the new look and feel of iOS unveiled at WWDC, as well as reading about the new APIs built into the release, I became excited for development again. In fact, I hadn’t felt this excited about it before.

It was with iOS 7 that my interest was aflame again. Since June, I’ve been pushing forward and working on several ideas. I’ve not been so excited about iPhone app development as I am now. I have a few projects on the burners and, as they get closer to release, I’ll start sharing some information about them, either here or via my business site (which will be updated soon). I’ll also document my travels as I learn more about Objective-C, Xcode, and developing for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

iPhone

My Thoughts on NFC

For some time, there has been some talk about where near-field communication (NFC) might be going. If it is to take off, many people see it as something that people will use to pay on the go. Want to buy that cup of coffee? Purchase office supplies? Pay for your gas? Just swipe your phone.

While several companies are working on ways to do NFC payments, I don’t know if that is where NFC might take off initially. As noted in two articles I read [here and here], the option for NFC payments as a replacement for other payment forms isn’t the key. Rather, it is the features on top of that which will convince consumers and merchants to participate.

Where I think this could see some use is in marketing. More and more companies are putting themselves on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Foursquare, among other servers. Some businesses even have stickers and banners telling their customers that they are on these networks and services, too.

So why not link up NFC technology with these services?

Let’s say I want to check in to a store I enter. All I would have to do is swipe my phone near their (let’s say) Foursquare banner. My phone would bring up a dialogue asking if I want to check in or not. With one tap on the screen, I’ve checked in.

The same could be done for any number of things. Do I want to like their Facebook page? Do I want to connect via LinkedIn? Do I want to follow their Twitter account? If those options could be given to me with the swipe of my phone, I would be able to easily keep up with that business online.

If this business is using social media or location based services to offer promotions and deals or to stay in touch with their customer-base, this would be an easy way for their customers to take part and stay in touch.

Or let’s say I go into a deli but have no idea what I want. Why not let me swipe my phone and link me to a menu that I can read for myself? I wouldn’t have to bring up any QRCode app to scan/photograph a code.

In short, there are many options that can be explored with this technology. Will it see wide acceptance? Probably not for a while. Will mobile NFC payments take off? No way to know. But payments aren’t the only option for this technology, and there are many avenues that can be taken with it.

Personally, I would rather use NFC for this type of ability than payments. If someone were to steal my phone, I wouldn’t want them to be able to pay for things with it. But I would be perfectly okay with them checking me into Foursquare.

C#

[C#] Using Nini .NET Configuration Library

When developing a desktop application, there will be times when you want to store settings for your program. A database is one option, but on Windows, you might just wish to have your settings stored in an INI file. One way to work with an INI file in C# is with the Nini Library. This makes it quite easy to read from and write to an INI file.

Let’s get started.

After installing the library, we’ll need to set our namespace.

What will our INI file look like? Something like this:

For my application, I decided to make a class devoted to the configuration file. So, let’s define that and a few other variables.

Now that we have our variables declared, let’s create a couple of useful methods.

These two methods will update the INI file with new settings, should we change them in our program. Of course, if we make these changes, they need to be saved. Thankfully, we can declare something in our constructor (which we will write a little later) that will auto-save our changes as we make them.

Now, let’s create a pair of methods to return the data. This will be useful in our program when we need to use these settings.

With these methods, we now have a basic class for handling a configuration file. All that is left is our constructor.

But before we get to the constructor, there is something else I created. What if our INI file doesn’t exist? I decided that I would make a function to create a default INI file, should the old one not exist anymore. This is also useful if we want to distribute our program without an INI file.

We can do a check when we initialize our class that will check to see whether or not this file exists. If not, we’ll create it so we can work with it.

That makes this our constructor:

Our whole class thus looks like this:

That’s how simple it can be to work with your own INI files in C#.

Did you find this useful? Let me know in the comments!

Into the mind of a geek