Tag Archives: iPhone

Watch out for Apple Watch

Almost exactly eight years ago the late Steve Jobs presented the iPhone at MacWorld 2007. “It’s a widescreen iPod with touch control, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough Internet communications device”. The audience was enthusiastic, yet very few fully realised the impact this would have on an entire industry. As a phone and compared with what we have today it was lacklustre. There was no app store, that was to come much later. And as far as connectivity goes it was inferior to other phones, having only 2G connectivity. You could not copy and paste text when texting or writing email, nor attach photos. Which was probably just as well, since the camera was only 2MP and produced rather ordinary photos and no video. And, like the T-Ford, you could have any display background you wanted as long as you wanted black.

We all know what happened. The iPhone improved by leaps and bounds. An app ecosystem virtually exploded around it. The connectivity has since vastly improved and the performance is now hugely better thanks to Moore’s law. In the process it completely obliterated a number of industries and companies. Nokia, the biggest phone manufacturer at the time the iPhone was introduced has since succumbed due to their inability to see and act on the shift in their industry. But the impact of the iPhone was not limited to the mobile phone industry. The iPhone is today the go-to-camera for most people and there is now very little need for a standalone GPS to find your way.

Apple Watch

This spring Apple will release the Apple Watch to the world. And even though it mostly likely is a magical device that will find its place on the arms of many people (mine included) it is probably wise to see the future evolution of Apple Watch in the light of the history of the iPhone. It may not take eight years for the Apple Watch to find its true form but we will no doubt look back on 2015 a few years from now and realise the shortcomings of this, the first generation of the Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch of 2020 will no doubt be very much thinner than the first generation, charge seamlessly and run for weeks on a charge, be connected with everything around you and have a colour display that is always on. The first generation will require a phone to run apps but it is not hard to imagine that this requirement will be dropped in later revisions. When this happens it will be the beginning of the end for other watch-like offerings for runners, golfers etc.

Make no mistake. The release of the Apple Watch this year is not just for a watch but of a new product segment that will profoundly change several industries just like the iPhone has done before it. Many companies that fail to transform their business will go under but many other companies will flourish based on applications that we have yet to imagine.

Now, I just hope that spring comes early this year.

Android and iOS version distributions

When writing apps for Android and iOS it is important to keep in mind the different versions of each system. You want to use new cool features that are available in later versions but you do not want to alienate too many users by using features that are not compatible with their phones.

The Android documentation recommends developers to ensure that the app is compatible with at least 90% of active devices. For Android this currently means that the app must support all versions going back to Ice Cream Sandwich (version 4.0.x). This is the fifth latest release including Kitkat (version 4.4)

Android version distribution

Version Codename API Distribution
2.2 Froyo 8 0.5%
2.3.3 -2.3.7 Gingerbread 10 9.1%
4.0.3 -4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich 15 7.8%
4.1.x Jelly Bean 16 21.3%
4.2.x 17 20.4%
4.3 18 7.0%
4.4 KitKat 19 33.9%

Meanwhile, when developing for iOS targeting iOS 7 means that 96% of users can run your app as of today. This also means that iOS developers can focus on a more modern UI and not having to create separate look-and-feel to cater for very different operating systems. Android 4.0.3 was released in October 2011 while iOS 7 was released almost two years later in September 2013.

iOS version distribution

Data is current as of January 4th 2015. For more information and up-to-date statistics, check the developer pages for Android and iOS.

iPhone viewport size

This information is from 2007 but every time I make a web page for the iPhone I have to go and search for it.

The iPhone Safari browser does a good job of presenting just about any web page on its relatively small display. In so doing, it assumes that whatever web page it is displaying was designed for a much bigger display. To design a web page targeted for the iPhone and not have the phone shrink the web page to oblivion one must therefore add a meta tag to the head section of the HTML file:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=320, user-scalable=yes">

Thought about writing iPhone apps – now less sure

I have been thinking about doing some development for iPhone and have come up with some really cool application ideas that I would like to turn into real applications. However, after reading on various blogs I have realised that the limitations in the development environment on the iPhone mean that those applications are not possible; at least not in a way that would allow me to distribute them through AppStore. That, of course, means that they are dead in the water since the vast majority of iPhone users will only use the AppStore.

What is holding me back? Two words – background processes.

The sad story is that third-party applications can not be made to stay running in the background when the user switches task, takes a call or when the phone goes into sleep mode. Of course, this limitation does not apply to Apple’s own applications. The argument that Apple is pushing is that they need to ensure that background processes don’t slow down the phone or drain the battery. This may seem valid but personally I think it should be left for the end user to decide. It could even be done so that the AppStore clearly states how long the application may be running in the background before it is installed – after which time the OS shuts it down.

I hope this is fully addressed by Apple soon – and no, the promised notification service is nowhere near solving my problem. Otherwise I may go back to developing my applications for Symbian or Windows Mobile – both of which I have written applications for in the past.