Proctele apps in the App Store

Proctele apps in the App Store
Click the picture to see Proctele apps in Apple's App Store

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Nokia's next smartphone

Nokia's next smartphone is the N9. Here's a quite attractive picture of N9:!/image/141942770.jpg
The timing of this phone is awkward, because it's born in difficult times for Nokia. Nokia is re-inventing itself. They have realized that

  • the importance of software in mobile phones has grown. 
  • each user must be encouraged to customize his own phone, because smart-phones are general purpose devices with endless possibilities.
  • independent software developers must be welcomed and treated with great respect.
  • operating systems must be stable, both technically and life-cycle wise.
  • user interfaces must be intuitive and visually attractive.
  • software must be developed with a sense of direction and not as an after-thought.
  • services must be for the user and not just a source of income for the provider.
  • phones and smart-phones are very different devices.
These insights took them several years to find out and act upon. Fortunately for them, they are a rich company, and that means they can afford to take loads of wrong decisions.

The N9 demos and tests I've seen, show that Nokia will eventually release an extremely nice phone with an innovative and attractive user interface. I assume the N9 is just for practice and for market research. I further assume the first Microsoft-Nokia smart-phone will not be on the market until 2012. And that will have Windows Mobile 7 or 8 and a user interface quite similar to what's in the N9. I think it looks great! The device itself seems very Nokianic, which to me means well built with cool Finnish design.

The app-shop for Windows Mobile phones, like Nokia phones will be, is only a starter now, at least if this is it:
Like the App Store, Rome wasn't built in a day. I think it will be a great success.

There's one last thing I'd like to say about the Microsoft and Nokia collaboration. To make it really successful, they should exclude others. By that I mean only Nokia should be allowed to make phones for Windows Mobile. That would make the partnership more Apple-like, and that would be a good thing.

Monday, June 27, 2011

New app development is going well

Work on the new app is going quite well. The app itself is ready. The help-files and other text in five languages are ready too. The icon is almost ready, although it took some time to crystallize. 
What remains is some testing and if that goes well, the app should be in the App Store in about two weeks. When it's there, I will let you know through an entry on this blog, on the Proctele homepage, on Twitter and on Facebook. I can hardly wait :-) 
You're welcome to Like the Proctele AB page. You can still be one of the first! Here's the address:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

iPad UI vs book UI

In the previous blog I compared borrowing a library e-book (for iPad) and a hardcopy book. This time I'd like to compare the User Interfaces (UI) of the two.
We all know how a book works. Behind the cover there's often a foreword and a table of contents and then comes the story or whatever content. 
What an e-book is depends on the reading device, in this case an iPad, and the reading App, in my case the Bluefire. 
I'll start with the iPad and assume the e-book is already in the iPad. To start reading you must start the Bluefire app. Next you select the book, which you'll recognize from its cover, by clicking on it. If you were reading the book, say the day before, you will come to the page where you left off, otherwise you'll see either the foreword or the table of contents. Reading is quite pleasant. Compared to some paperbacks, the iPad will feel somewhat heavy. That's the downside of iPad reading. There's a long list of advantages. The contrast is very good. You can read in darkness. You can use a larger or smaller font. You can search the whole text. You can bookmark as many pages as you like. You sweep over the screen to move to the next page. You can lie down on your back or your side or just sit down reading. 
How about the book's User Interface? With some books you have to press on it so it doesn't inadvertently change pages, or hold the page firmly. A book page is rarely flat; there's usually a bulge on one side of the page, due to the book's spine. The font of the book is decided by the printer and not by you, the reader. Once set, it can't be changed. The only help you can get is a magnifying glass. The contrast depends on the ambient light. Low light, low contrast. Search? Forget it. Bookmarking? Sure you can create pig's ears or use a fancy leather bookmark or whatever. Surely dropping a book isn't such a big deal whereas dropping the iPad will break it? No. You may have trouble finding the right page in your book, but dropping the iPad is very unlikely to hurt it. Just pick it up and start reading again; no browsing is necessary.
Aren't there any advantages to a book then? Yes there are. Losing it is probably less expensive than losing your iPad. iPads are attractive devices that you can use for lots of things, so they're theft prone. You're likelier to lose an iPad than a book. The iPad's book reading characteristics depend very much on the App used for reading. I expect to see innovations in the area once e-books become more popular. If you're not convinced already, I think you will be convinced in a few years that the book has been beaten by the iPad.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Who wins: iPad or a book?

I have a library card. With that card I can borrow books in the library that issued it. I show the card and get my books. After 4 weeks I have to bring it back to the library. If it's not back in time I must pay a small fine. If I damage it or lose it, I pay about $50.
I can also do the following: With my iPad I visit the library's web-site for e-books. I search for a book or select one from the top-50. I then enter the number of my library-card and press a download link and finish off by selecting to open the book in my iPad app called Bluefire. After 4 weeks I'm no longer able to read the book, but I can revisit the library site and re-borrow it. I don't have to worry about fines, because there's no requirement to return the e-book. I can't cause any damage to the book that will hurt the library and I won't lose their property. Isn't that fantastic? I think so. However there's more. Suppose a friend calls to tell me about a new book he's reading. While he's telling me about the book I can visit the library's e-book site and borrow it!
The downside is that the choice of e-books is much smaller than hardcopies, but most of the new best-selling books are available. For most people that's probably enough. 

For me, the iPad wins!

What about buying books then? What about the reading UI? I'll treat that in another blog entry.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Good pastime: camping on the lawn

Last night I camped on my own lawn in a small tent. It was great and the rain was pouring down most of the night I think. I knew it was going to be wet, so I told my son it's now or we may have to wait for a few days. 
What's so great about the lawn then? Well, my OWN house within easy reach, which includes kitchen, bathroom, Wi-Fi access and all those things you need. If you forget something it's a matter of standing up and getting it. 
I discovered the little village isn't as quiet as it sounds from inside the house. Sounds of traffic were clearly detectable although not disturbing, but the pounding rain both kept me awake and woke me up several times.
The reason we chose a rainy night may not be obvious. The reason is that being woken up by the very early morning sun is far too sweaty.
I fell asleep by one of my favorite Internet Radio stations on my iPod touch. 
Life really is Great!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Local Apps and Web Apps

Hello Dear Readers!
I read recently a quote by a publisher saying local apps may be a temporary phenomenon and that web apps would be the future. Before I comment on that, here are my definitions of the two:
A Local App is a program that is installed locally on a device. iPhone apps are Local Apps and they run right on top of the iPhone's iOS operating system.
A Web App is a program that runs locally on a device, but inside a web browser. The browser in turn runs right on top of the device's operating system.

What are the pro's and con's?
Local Apps are made specifically for the device they run on. Nothing unexpected should happen. E.g. menus and buttons will look the same on all iPhones. The Local App may be faster than a Web App on the same device. The Local App should start faster than a Web App, because it is loaded from local memory instead of being downloaded. The Local App may have more screen space, because there's no browser window to fill up space. The device's producer has more power over the user interface of Local Apps. A disadvantage about Local Apps is that each app-update needs to be pushed onto each device. A Local App must be developed for each type of device that it's supposed to run on.
Web Apps aren't made specifically for any device, because they're made to run in a browser. That means they will automatically run on every device with a browser. They may run differently in different browsers though, due to differences in the browsers. A further advantage is that there's only one version of the Web App and that's the latest version. This version is downloaded when the app is started. A Web App depends on Internet access to be loaded. No Internet access means no app, but this problem can be partly overcome by storing the app in the browser's cache.
Now back to the statement about Local Apps possibly being a temporary phenomenon and that web apps would be the future. I've seen apps move from servers to devices and back to servers again. Where the apps were kept has depended on where they were best kept. Storing an app is no big deal with such low prices of storage as we now have. Downloading apps is no big deal either, because downloading speeds are so high. Both storage and connection speeds are improving in price and performance. That's why the local versus web may come to depend on something else in the future. I think that something could be TRUST. It could also just depend on the type of app. One type might better be a Web App, while another type might better be a Local App. Time will tell.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Answering machine on the mobile phone? What for?

Hi dear Readers!
There's more than one definition of voice-mail. The one I'm referring to in this blog is the answering-machine on mobile phones or fixed-line phones. 
The answering-machine often says something like: 

  1. You've reached the voice-mail of NN.
  2. Unfortunately I can't take your call at the moment,
  3. but please leave a message after the beep.
  4. Beeeeeeep.
It is now up to the caller to say who he is and something about why he called and whether or not he wants to be called back and the number he wants to be called on.

Quite often I fail to include all of the above. If I remember to tell who I am, I will usually forget to tell the number I can be reached on, or something else. Why is it difficult to record a proper message? The reason is that the answering machine catches me off-guard. I'm surprised, perplexed. I noticed the call was answered and I may even have started talking. Instead I hear the person talking to me in a sterile manner and I understand what's happened. I try to gather my thoughts and prepare myself for making a proper statement about who I am and something about why I'm calling and whether or not I want to be called back and the number I want to be called on. I end up saying something rather useless. Also the wind may be blowing into the microphone, someone might be asking me "what's he saying", and so on. The message is unintelligible or incomplete.
After the call I send an SMS.
And now comes my point. Answering machines are still useful for fixed-line phones that can neither receive nor send SMS nor show a missed call. For mobile phones I'd say this service is no longer needed. It feels out-dated. It's time to consider if it still belongs on the menu.
There's another form of voice message, which is better. It works like this: I prepare a message, then I record it, then it is sent as an MMS. It's likely to contain what I planned (if I'm not sure I can listen to it before I send it and re-record); the quality is likely to be Ok, because I found a peaceful place where I can record. Not all phones have it unfortunately.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Lion and the iPad

Hi iPad lovers!
As I already wrote, iPad's new freedom from its enslavement to the PC was the top news from WWDC in SF this week. However there was one other thing I found quite exciting, and that was gesture navigation and Launchpad in Lion, the new Mac OS. Very attractive features. But they're not just good, it's the fact that they first appeared on the iPhone/iPad/iPod touch. These devices are the future, meaning that's where Apple's growth will occur. It's only natural that the laptop user interface is enhanced through cross-breeding with those great devices. Beautiful, and it's Apple yet again in the lead. They are the only company that can do this, because they make both the software and the hardware. It takes both and we see it clearer and clearer.
Now's just hoping that Apple can keep it up and not get lost in itself. Great success can be hard to handle.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

NumberWiz sum 313

Dear NumberWizards, here's the proposed solution for yesterday's problem, which was:
How do you add, subtract, multiply and divide 1 2 3 25 75 100 to get 313 ?
One thing stands out about 313: it's 626 divided by 2, and 2 is one of our numbers. 
Further we have that 626 is (25 * 25) + 1.
Hence the solution is:
313 = (25 x (75 / 3) + 1) / 2

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

NumberWiz sum

Here's to you dear NumberWizards.
How do you add, subtract, multiply and divide 1 2 3 25 75 100 to get 313 ?

(313, isn't that the number on Donald Duck's number plate?)

This is a nice choice of numbers that the spirit of the NumberWiz app has made for us.
Solutions are welcome in the comments.

The iPad has been freed

Hi Apple friends!
The best news from Apple's developer conference, which is taking place in San Francisco, is the iCloud. The demos at the opening of the conference have shown some important aspects of iCloud. You take a picture on one of your devices, which sends it to Apple's server, which pushes it onto your other devices. That's great. Another important advantage of the iCloud is that you have storage you can trust, which of course is well backed up.
However the greatest advantage is that the iCloud sets the iPad free! You will no longer need to have a Mac or PC in order to own an iPad. The USB-cord that held the iPad will be irrelevant starting with iOS 5. 
Now iPad is for everyone!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Not Within Reach in Richmond??? Come on!

Hi reader friends!
Yesterday evening I watched the movie "He's Just Not That Into You" from 2009. I liked the dialog. There were several about contacting people. One line was something like: "I wouldn't know if the guy had removed his larynx, because he never speaks; he just SMSes." 
Another brilliant line went something like: "There are so many communication channels these days to monitor; I mean will he make contact on Facebook or SMS or email, or Twitter, or whatever?"
Probably my favorite was this one, with a woman talking on the phone: "He says he's going somewhere and may be difficult to reach. Reply: Where's he going? I'll ask. ... He's going to Richmond."
Communications have always been difficult and maybe they'll always be. The technical part of the problem has been solved. The rest of it is within us.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

An App a day keeps the boredom away

Hi all you app downloaders! 
An app a day keeps the boredom away, so keep downloading.
The next app from Proctele will be about numbers. (Shocked you there, sorry.) Yes, it's numbers again. We just love them!
Release date is definitely uncertain, early July seems to be within reach.
We intend this game to have a lot of "moving parts". This is not in the mechanical sense, but rather in a virtual mechanical sense. 
"Oh dare, 
I'd better stop writing 
before I lay it all bare."
(Unknown author of the above three lines)
Summer is here with temps above 20 degrees C (=(9 * 20)/5 + 32 = 68 degrees Fahrenheit). Yes, it's called summer. And today I'm off for some summer activities.
I'll be back blogging soon.