An Unexpected iPhone 5 Problem

First, let’s get it out of the way. Yes. I bought one. Of course I did.

That said… Whilst I’m almost entirely happy with the new iPhone there is one small problem I have encountered.  As most of the world is already aware the iPhone 5’s screen is taller than the old iPhone. This means that until apps are updated to support the new screen ratio they’re going to have to be stretched or appear with a black bar border. It turns out Apple went the black bar way and center old apps. In general, a fine idea, but then comes the keyboard…

As you can see, the keyboard is shifted vertically depending on what type of app you’re using, new form or old form. In fact the shift is almost exactly a row on the keyboard. What this means, in effect, is that if you’ve just adjusted to using a modern app adjusted for the new screen ratio and change to an old style app you’ll miss the space bar every time unless you’re trying to type a letter from the bottom row of the keyboard. You’ll hit return if you’re trying to type m. That comes as a surprise more than once.

Yes, this problem will be solved quickly as apps are updated but was this really the most elegant solution you could think of, Apple? Really?

What Defines a Flop?

A Year In Fail: The 6 biggest technology flops of 2011

Taylor Hatmaker skips stories like RIM’s outage or the Playstation Network’s hacking to describe the iPhone 4S as a ‘failure’ because it wasn’t the new hardware the tech press invented for itself in an echo chamber.

I hear Apple have sold one or two of them anyway.

Even Apple Oopsie

My colleague and I encountered an interesting little ‘oopsie’ in the iPad 2 today. To briefly introduce the idea for those unfamiliar, the iPad has a small switch next to the volume control which, when the device was first released, worked as a rotation lock. If enabled, the iPad would stay at the same orientation no matter how you held it. In a subsequent patch this was changed first to a mute switch, whose purpose was fairly self-explanatory and then to either a rotation lock or mute switch depending on user preference.

Which is why when we looked to one of our apps which was being peculiarly silent the first thing we did was try and unmute the device with the switch. It was set to rotation toggle, so we rejected that as an idea. It was a strange problem though, not even the volume control worked in-app.

We found that in some apps the volume control was available, in others it wasn’t. Oddly, the volume control was available only in apps that didn’t make any sound.

The result was unexpected. The device had been muted with the mute switch and then the switch’s function had been changed to rotation lock in settings and voila, we couldn’t unmute the device because we had no mute switch.

So if you’re having trouble even getting the volume controls to respond in an app or seeing a ‘No volume available’ message from an MPVolumeController then you might want to investigate the mute switch. It’s a gotcha.

Unpleasant Surprise

When I got the iPad 2 I have to admit I never thought of it as a camera. The camera in the iPhone makes sense, at least in the sense of the old saying “the best camera is the one you have with you”. It’s no match for an SLR with proper glass attached but it’s a crisp 5MP camera with one of the easiest interfaces I’ve seen on a phone camera. I’m expecting to see touch to focus and expose on dSlRs in future.

The iPad 2 camera, though, feels very like a phone camera from the late 90s. It’s a grainy sub-megapixel feeling camera with a huge digital noise problem. I know they put the camera in there for FaceTime and the front camera being bad at stills makes sense but with the luxury price tag on the hardware could they really not run to a better camera?

It’s a little bit of an unpleasant surprise to snap a photo on the iPad 2 and see the result. It does not mesh with the image Apple have tried so hard and succeeded so well in attaching to the device. It might not be a part of the device’s core functionality but it’s like an off-colour body part replacement on a super car. It’s like a cassette radio deck in the centre console of your BMW M3. It doesn’t fit the image, even if it isn’t what you bought the car for.

A Bit Of Pride Showing Through

Every now and then something comes along that is actually worth showing a bit of pride in. It’s just bragging, nothing but ego stroking, but I want this recorded for posterity. I want to share it. I’m, well, proud.

Tech it or Leave It is New and Noteworthy

If you look closely you might see a familiar podcast in the New & Noteworthy section right there on iTunes’ podcasting front page. That’s right, the tech show I do on a weekly basis with Richard, Andrew and guests made it to the front page. With some interesting results:

Tech It Or Leave It Reaches Number 4

Tech it or Leave It reached number 4 in the technology podcast charts!

Actually if I’m honest this is a bit chicken and the egg. Did we hit number 4 because we were new and noteworthy? Or did we become noteworthy because we reached number 4?

Wait a minute…

Who cares? The fact is both¬†accomplishments¬†are incredible for a podcast which launched with almost no marketing, no pre-launch press and was advertised no more or less than any Simply Syndicated show. Quite how we hit the zeitgeist I don’t know. I do know¬†subsequent¬†episodes haven’t quite managed the same trick. I don’t let that diminish what we accomplished, though. As I said to Andrew and Rich before and or during the show last night… “this is just us talking”. When having a chat once a week with your friends leads to results like this, well, I’m not going to complain.


Technically that is only true in that this is my first post from my shiny new iPad 2. It is not my first post and I am far from the first iPad 2 owner. It is rather neat though.

Hopefully more on that later, but I am due down the pub in a few minutes.

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