Showing all posts tagged iphone:

It's the little things

One of the things that make it most frustrating to use the web from an iPhone is form inputs. Reading the content is generally doable - and if not, there's always Instapaper. But form inputs are always a pain. Partly this is because they're over-styled, so you get stuck with fields that are either tiny or huge. Sure, testing that sort of stuff gets annoying fast. What about the stuff that is easy to do right, though?

One of the things the iPhone does is to show the user a different keyboard depending on the context. If the entry point is in an email address, the keyboard shows characters that are used in email addresses - the @ mark, dashes and underscores, and so on - instead of the space. If it's a phone number, you get a numeric keypad. This makes life much easier.

All of this is driven by the type of the HTML input element. Set it to email, tel or whatever, and let iOS do its thing. But no, nobody bothers to set their input element type, so iPhone users are switching back and forth, hunting and pecking, and all the time hating web developers so very, very much.

And that's just one tip for this useful list of
8 HTML Elements You’re Not Using (and Should Be)
. Go, and do ye likewise.

Jumping the fence

Facebook just released their new iPhone client, an app called Paper. It’s quite nice, and gets good reviews.

Bit of a jerk move on the name, mind.

If you are in the US, you can just download Facebook Paper, but if you’re in the rest of the world, you’re out of luck.

Or are you?

There are a few different unofficial ways to get apps onto an iPhone, bypassing these sorts of geographical restrictions: sideloading, changing the country on your existing iTunes account, or creating a whole new Apple ID from scratch.1


Sideloading2 means that you install the app from your computer, but without going through iTunes. You will need to have access to the actual app file, so you will need a co-conspirator in the US to get you the app. Your confederate can find these as .ipa files in the iTunes Media/Mobile Applications subdirectory of their main iTunes directory.

Once you have the relevant .ipa file, you can use the iPhone Configuration Utility3 to load the app onto your phone. Once you’ve done this, the app should behave normally, including for updates.

Changing the country

You can change the country of an existing iTunes account quite easily: open the App Store app, scroll all the way to the bottom of the “Featured" tab, tap on your Apple ID, choose “View Apple ID" in the popup, and tap on “Country/Region" to change to the US store.


There is a pretty big downside to this method: your payment details will be reset, which would not be too bad, except that it also loses any recurring subscriptions you have set up. I have a few that I didn’t want to mess this, so I didn’t follow through, and can’t vouch that this method works.

Creating a new Apple ID

I didn’t want to do this because it seemed like it would be a huge hassle, but it’s actually fairly painless. There is only one wrinkle to be aware of. Apple in their wisdom will not let you create an Apple ID from scratch without setting a means of payment. However, if you sign out from your existing Apple ID, then go to install a free app (such as, oh for instance Facebook Paper), you are prompted to log in with an existing Apple ID or create a new one. If you start the process this way, you will then be able to select “None" for your method of payment.


You’ll need an e-mail address that you have not previously used with Apple to complete the registration. Once you have done this, finish downloading Facebook Paper, then log out of your US account and log back in as yourself.

Facebook Paper should pick up your existing FB credentials saved in iOS and work normally from this point on.

  1. Well, or move physically to another country, but that’s a bit beyond the scope of this post.  

  2. This is the method I used to load Google+ onto my iPad back when it was iPhone only. Remember when we were all excited about G+? 

  3. This page is not really up to Apple’s usual standards: all-lower-case title for a start, and a confusing mix of version numbers and platforms all jumbled together with no explanation. 

iPhone vs BlackBerry

I finally ditched my BlackBerry in December, so this is the one-month-in review.


Since it's only a month in, it may well be the case that I've missed something. I just read an article about 40 iPhone features, and I found several I did not know, despite having owned both an iPod Touch and an iPad since before they came out in Europe.

Things I miss from the BlackBerry

  • E-mail tagging. iOS has a flag which you can set, but that's not really granular enough. I end up just using "mark as unread" and then tagging things with Outlook.

  • Reply to calendar events. If some dolt has left off the non-US access number for his conference call, e-mailing him to ask is made that much more frustrating.

  • That red LED. Well, if I'm honest I only miss it some of the time, but I do wish the lock screen had a count of unread e-mails.

Things I don’t miss from the BlackBerry

  • The memory leaks. I had to do a full reboot about once a week as the whole thing would just grind to a halt. This was with careful management of running applications, too.

  • The random freezes and reboots. I thought I just had a lemon, but no - almost all my colleagues with recent BlackBerries have similar stories. It wasn't a problem with several previous models of BlackBerry handsets, but now it's anecdotally widespread.

  • The battery life, or lack thereof. Ok, this was due to age, but that's definitely one of the good things about getting a new device.

  • The physical keyboard. iOS predictive text is uncanny, although it does occasionally get distracted. Putting the iPhone in landscape mode makes the keys plenty big enough for short messages, which is all I ever wrote with the BlackBerry as well if I could possibly arrange it. If it's anything long, I get out the iPad or the MacBook. Most of the use cases that people come up with for the physical keyboard are idiotic, like writing e-mails one-handed while driving. That last is obsolete anyway: iOS dictation is amazing, even without considering Siri. It even works in other languages; I tried French, and it worked perfectly first time. For some reason it doesn't support Italian, but this may be pending release of a gesture API for iOS. The only time I curse the soft keyboard is when I'm unlocking the phone. Corporate IT mandates a secure password, which means 8+chars with a mix of case and alphanumerics. This is annoying to type in a hurry, and I wish there were a fingerprint, iris, voiceprint, or anything recognition option instead.

So that's it. I love my iPhone to bits, while I hated the BlackBerry by the end of our time together. It's also perfectly acceptable as a work device, with filtering and folders just like the BB has. All my complaints are minor, and the one supposedly killer feature the BlackBerry had left - the physical keyboard - turns out to be a non-issue.