Apple Podcasts Update – Now Works!

Apple have finally updated their Podcasts App, and the good news is that it now works brilliantly. Before it used to crash, downloads would fail to start, and synchronisation between devices wouldn't always work. The animated cassette player has also been removed, while I quite liked the animating, the app is much more intuitive without it (more akin to the original iPod App in iOS) and that's got to be a good thing. The best feature of this app is by far the synchronisation of positions between devices. It mean you can listen to a show on your iPad at home in the kitchen, and when you go to the gym later on it has remembered where you got to.

The one thing the app is missing is the ability to download podcasts automatically without opening the app. iOS really could do with an API that allows apps to schedule in long, power-hungry tasks to be performed when the device is plugged in and idle.

 

Search 'Podcasts' in the store.

 

o2 Aims to Make Your SMS Allowance Relevant Again With New App

Tu Go is a a great idea. It can turn your iPod, iPad, laptop, or Android Tablet into a phone. Call people as if you’re calling from your mobile, and have up to 5 devices ring when you receive a call, send and receive SMS messages and see a list of voicemails. 

Unlike Skype, there’s no ‘free’ calls if you call someone else using the app, all calls are charged as if you made them on your phone, as are messages.

To me this is less of a challenge to Skype, but might have more of an impact on people using iMessage, BBM or Google Talk for messaging across their devices. Now instead of being locked into your device operating system vendor’s ecosystem (iOS, Android, Blackberry), you can be locked into your network operators (albeit far more interoperable) system instead. This is a nice idea, since SMS messages sent from this app can still be receive by someone with an old phone. I do like iMessage, the typing indicator is particularly useful for knowing whether to keep you phone out because you can see the other person is about to respond but I am seriously considering switching to this since my contract gives me unlimited SMS anyway.

It remains to be seen how this app will affect battery life. On iOS at least, VOIP apps get launched on system boot and can poll their sever a minimum of every10 minutes. On Android anything goes with regards to background activity. Of course users without a cellular network connection (most iPads sold) will only be able to receive calls when they’re in a WiFi area. If it had a big impact, I probably wouldn’t use it.

What this does blur the line between what a phone is, and what a tablet is. How long before we just buy a device with a 3G/4G connection, and download our favourite VOIP app for making calls with? With a Bluetooth headset, could the iPad mini be your next phone?

Peter V Brett Book Signing

 

I have never been to a book signing before, so I didn’t know what exactly to expect from last Tuesday’s event in London. It was so great to meet your favourite author (Peter V Brett is tied with Stephen King as far as my favourite authors go) – of course it was brief, there were many people with books waiting to be signed – but it was great to have even just a brief chat – kind of amazing to think to yourself – “You know that awesome fantasy world that you’ve spent who knows how many hours of your life reading about, pondering, imagining, and discussing – well this is the guy who penned it all, right here!” – part of me wanted to jump up and down with excitement like a lunatic, the other part of me (the part that thankfully, usually wins these internal mind-battles) thought I should just act polite and ask a few questions about the books.

So well worth it, if you ever get the chance to meet your favourite author (even just for a couple of minutes) DO IT!

 

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Queue, the Stephen King section (AKA horror section, where they put King’s non horror books too)

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More queuing, lots of people talking about the books

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The books

Google Glasses: Something Microsoft Would Have Done (Ten Years Ago)

Google co-founder Sergey Brin

Google Glasses reminds me of something Microsoft would have released in the early to mid 00’s. The idea has merit, but it strikes me as not being thought through properly. Think Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, or the Origami.

Yes it’s a cool idea to be able to see a computer screen on a pair of glasses, as well as take video from your personal perspective – but will people really want to a) wear glasses all the time (for this to make sense, you need to wear it every waking hour of the day) b) interact with other people who may or may not be busy using their glasses while you talk to them c) interact with people who may or may not be videoing you while you’re talking to them.

Just as people didn’t want to prod a Desktop PC interface with a stylus, I can’t see these glasses being accepted by the masses in their current form. I think the idea does have merit, and would love to see something less intrusive that somehow manages to overcome these social barriers.

Google adverts for the glasses are an example of your typical “geek trying to make themself look overly extroverted to make up for being a geek” syndrome. How many people go skydiving that often? How many people if they did would wear such an expensive pair of glasses? Most normal people (like me) whose daily routine doesn’t involve jumping out of a plane, walking down a catwalk or juggling with fire will struggle to find a use for such a device.

Still, kudos to Google for putting them out there, just as with the Tablet PC in 2002, someone else might just make it work by 2023. Also I admit I haven’t tried them, so I might yet be converted. Better start saving…