More App Shifts

The last time I posted about the various apps I have been using on my iPhone I was extolling the virtues of Mailbox. Well, a few weeks in and it has found its way off my home screen and into an “Alt Mail” folder on screen two. I have become almost obsessed with finding the perfect combination of apps to occupy the first screen real estate on my iPhone 4S. I am finding that to really make it happen, I have started using folders in the dock area. This is something I did specifically foe SXSW this year to keep the half dozen or so apps I was using while there completely accessible. Now I am trying the same idea, but with a folder dedicated to the things I use on the Internet regularly — these are not apps that I want to have clogging up my home screen, but do offer daily value. Another big change is that I have started using Path quite a bit again as it was sa staple through SXSW … amazing how much better an app is when there are actually people you like using it as well. Another little app that has found front page real estate is “Forecast” … it is a web app by the same crew that did “Dark Sky.” The thing I really like about it is that they are trying to build an open weather platform that others can use — not sure if it is time to ring the warning bell for accu-weather, but they should be paying attention.

It has me thinking a lot about an idea I have been toiling over since the Bloomsburg Flood in 2011 — a true platform to empower local news reporting. That is a post for another day, but the idea of an open, social, mobile, and simple to use platform for local news is quite appealing to me me. I continue to think that local newspapers are going to fade away and we will be left with a multi-year local news gap. I’d like to find a way to bridge that before too long. One thing that has been occupying some of my mental cycles is how powerful Instagram is for capturing and sharing digital stories. I posted to the The Bloomsburg Daily’s facebook page today that I am interesting in seeing if people would take instagrams locally in Bloomsburg and tag them with #bloomdaily so we can curate and expose them. I have no idea if a single person will do so, but I think it is part of a larger idea that needs to be tested. At any rate here’s my new home screen in all its boring glory.


Dragon’s Lair for the iPhone

The classic laserdisc video game Dragon’s Lair has made its way to the App Store this evening. Originally released to the arcade in 1983, this full motion animated game was a massive departure from the other games of the era.


This is a game I can get behind. I remember when this got installed in the arcade at Kerr Union at Bloomsburg University when I was about 9 or 10. That was during a time when half of the downstairs of the Union was a giant arcade with billiard tables and games everywhere. Not only is the game play ridiculous by today’s standards, but just the thought of a University investing money into a gaming center is surprising … oh wait, never mind.

Mobile WP Blogging

I just downloaded the WordPress 2.0 iPhone app and am writing this post on it while I sit and watch the Penn State game. A couple of quick thoughts:

  • The first thing I notice is that it seems like it is less about blogging and more about managing things. Comment modertion seems to be the big feature. They’ve added gravatar support to help identify people. They may have done this because blogging in long form on this might be tough.
  • The other thing I am noticing is that they don’t seem to want you to add pictures after you start writing. I can’t for the life of me find a button to add a photo once I start a new post. That is less than ideal. As a matter of fact, I can’t see where to do a photo post at all.

For quick posts it seems strong but the lack of photo integration seems odd. I must be missing something.

Mobile Video

Being an iPhone user puts you into a strange place — on one hand it is one of the more advanced devices available here in the States, but lacks some of the core features found on other devices that have been available here for quite some time. The feature I am referring to is the ability to record video. I just played with Brad Kozlek’s 3GS and was so impressed with the camera and the video options that is causing me to get really itchy for one. The video quality sort of blows my mind in general, but the ability to instantly post it to YouTube or email it is a real game changer. Posting of video to YouTube has been on a tear lately, but the 3GS adoption will just blow that up. Here’s a quote from a post at the YouTube Blog that lays it out …

In the last six months, we’ve seen uploads from mobile phones to YouTube jump 1700%; just since last Friday, when the iPhone 3GS came out, uploads increased by 400% a day.

I’ll add a little link to something else YouTube is going to kill at — citizen journalism. If you take a look at this post, Helping You Report the News, you’ll see they are clearly going after the “in the moment” style reporting that Twitter is dominating. The combination of mass adoption of devices, services, and the emergent ease of interoperability is a game changer. I find it really amazing to watch as hyper-connected social networks are fueling personalized text accounts of events and will now promote easy video as a basis for mass communication. To me it is stunning.

What I am struck by is how unprepared a site like Vimeo looks to me given all these recent moves … clearly video recording and editing was not much of a surprise to developers and while Apple chose to directly integrate posting to YouTube there doesn’t seem to be much of an excuse not to have a native video app ready to go. A quick search of the App Store reveals nothing. All I’m saying is that lots of people are buying these new devices and a properly designed application can provide huge opportunities to extend your brand and participation.

More and more this is what I am seeing with the whole iPhone ecosystem — apps drive traffic and can really make or break an existing service. There are a dozen or so Twitter clients all vying for our love, Apple has helped YouTube extend its reach, WordPress is making it happen with a native app, as are so many others. Being prepared to pounce in the mobile space seems more and more critical even if it is to drive traffic to existing services. Now, can I wait until October when AT&T will let me update for a reduced price? Perhaps.


I’ll be on the road, so who knows what the one post a day for this month will look like during the next week … I’ll try to post something interesting as we travel to Orlando, FL for the week. I know, I know … why the hell am I going to Orlando at the start of Summer? I’m asking myself that question as well. In all seriousness it should be fun, hot, and hopefully relaxing.

autoWhile I am not ponying up for a new iPhone 3Gs, I have upgraded to 3.0 and plan to take advantage of the newly announced free AT&T hotspots. I love the idea of easy login on my phone for wifi access along to way and while traveling. Even at home, where PSU has recently partnered with AT&T to provide customers access while on campus — that’ll mean I can use wifi in certain places without dealing with the iPhone VPN. BTW, does anyone know if it is possible to store a VPN password? I am so tired of checking something online while on campus and having it just spin … if the VPN would auto engage and connect that wouldn’t be an issue, but I can’t for the life of me figure that out.

Either way I’ll be connected as much as possible while traveling. I’ll be doing my best to stay away from email, but I do plan to use some of the time away to take some pictures and continue playing with iPhoto and Photoshop. I’ll be posting stuff here and over at my Flickr space.

Mobile Podcast Access

ITS Podcasts

ITS Podcasts

The news that people can access iTunes U content on their iPhone and iPod Touches with the 3.0 software is such a great thing! I’ve wanted mobile access since the beginning of iTunes U, so seeing this work on my own iPhone was really very cool. The scenario of students having real mobile access to protected course content while they walk across campus is now a reality. We still don’t have the full suite — mobile recording, posting, and acquisition but we are getting really close.

Now that I think about it, with the new voice recorder one may be able to rig up an easy to use mobile solution that would allow one to record in the Recorder application, email it to a blog to create a new entry, feed the RSS into an iTunes U section, and make it instantly available for download. Not sure that would work, but I’ll give it a try.

To get back on topic, I wonder how many students will really take advantage of this? I’m constantly trying to project my own scenarios onto the way student should use the tools we give them … that is something I should stop. I doubt using the iTunes app on the iPhone for accessing PSU iTunes U course content is really part of their dream scenarios. I could be wrong and I am anxious to understand this a bit better. Over the next several days we’ll be making it very easy for people to authenticate and get into their private courses … and once that happens we may see some new mobile access start to happen in the fall. I am hoping that with this new capability that Apple also gives me a way to track its use through the weekly statistics we get. Only time will tell, but this is a very cool move in the right direction!

Blogging from my iPhone

photoWhen the iPhone 2 software was revealed during one of Steve’s keynote addresses the thing I wanted the most was SixApart’s mobile blogging tool, but for WordPress. Well today I got it! The iPhone WordPress app is now available … this post is being banged out on my iphone and I have to say it works very well. Lots of potential here. I was able to easily set up the connection to my personal blog, create a new post with the picture to the left, and then edit that (or any other) post. Very cool.

Perhaps next up is a client to publish to the blogs at Penn State environment?

My Simple iPhone App Wish

I’ve been very happy with my iPhone since I got it last year … I like it so much I haven’t yet felt compelled to pony up for the new one. With the 2.0 software update I am thrilled with how easily I can extend the functionality of the device — and the “fake” GPS works fine for me at the moment. I am betting there will be a killer app for the real GPS integration that will get me thinking, but for now the location based hooks in software are good enough for me.

Why can\'t I have at least a podcast option?

There is one thing I want though … I would really like an app that made it easy to acquire content from the iTunes Store that is in the iTunes U area. I know how it all works behind the scenes (for the most part) so I know it isn’t a simple task, but having the ability to integrate SMS notifications to students that new content is available in their iTunes U course spaces would really kick ass. I fully get the challenges with authentication, storing credentials, and the like but having an app that would at least let me point students directly to (even a public) course in iTunes U would be outstanding. I could easily write a half dozen case studies where this could be put to amazing use — and I am betting it would drive adoption of both the new 3G powered network device and the wifi enabled iPod Touch on campuses.

Real content on the go would be great. Total integration across the iTunes/iPod/iPhone eco-system would be an ideal situation for us all. Thoughts?