Game Center for the iPhone is all very nice

and looks lovely and everything, but what would be really good would be if they had launched with at least one game ready for people to play. Maybe that’s just me though.

EDIT: Tell a lie, apparently Ms. Pac-Man works with it. Doesn’t point that out in Game Center itself though, which would have been nice.

Drop

I dropped my iPhone on the floor this morning. It is fine, I’m typing on it now. What occurred to me though was how underworried I was that it would be okay. I have dropped it before, on harder surfaces, and it was fine. I’ve got insurance. And it is close to being due for an upgrade.

In conclusion, I think I may be ready for parenthood.

iPhone 3.0 – First Impressions

Well, I’ve been running the new iPhone 3.0 software update for a whole 3 hours now. What have I learned thus far?

Firstly, it is that Apple can’t handle everyone updating their phones at once. The update is of course delivered via iTunes, and it’s pretty much acting as if it was a self-inflicted DOS attack on the iTunes store. It’s timing out constantly, letting you in occasionally. Which is a bit frustrating if you’re trying to use the store in general. It’s very worrying if your phone appears to be blank because it hasn’t yet been authorised by iTunes (it has already, but for some reason it needs it again for this update). Oh well. I guess Apple will learn their lesson from this one, as it has to shaft their sales on iTunes for the day quite nastily.

Okay, so having passed through that hurdle, I got it up and running, and tried sending my first iPhone MMS. I’ve been waiting for this feature for a while, seeing as I had it on every one previously for the past few years. The interface for doing this is really nice, just click the camera button, and if you’re happy with your shot, it will put it as a thumbnail into the flow of the conversation. However it then turned out you have to wait for O2 here in the UK to turn it on. It failed a couple of times, then a little while later I got a couple of texts from them to say “it won’t work until we turn it on for you”,”okay, we’ve turned it on” (Got a tip from @jturnbull that this would happen when I was moaning about it on Twitter, which was most appreciated). Sent it again after this, and it worked fine.

That’s the moaning part of the post over now. What else? Well, it’s a few little things thus far. I’m a big podcast listener, so I was impressed to find a new little feature they’ve added, which is for podcasts only (not ordinary music tracks). You can now play them at half or double speed. The double speed could be useful for talk podcasts, as it seems to still be a sensible understandable pace, so you could speed-listen if you want. As someone who occasionally gets massive backlogs of listening, this could be rather handy for me.

Spotlight, a search feature from Mac OS that has been added to the iPhone, works beautifully. Just scroll left from your home page, and start typing. It’s searching and finding words in my email very quickly, and it is something I see me using a lot. Cut and Paste works fine. And the new voice recording application is nice, saves files to the phone, lets you email them to people, and they also show up in your phone folders on iTunes. It is a bit quiet though, be prepared to talk fairly loudly. It just isn’t as powerful a mic as say the N95 has (which if you’re so inclined, and I’m not, is a boon for concert bootlegging).

Finally for now, you can sync Notes to iTunes. However what you don’t seem to be able to then do is to find them on your computer. Which is kind of the point of syncing them (okay I lied a little about the moaning ending). I seem to recall that they may add something proper to handle this in Mac OSX Snow Leopard, but they maybe could even have just added something in iTunes for now.

So it’s not a bad start, couple of frustrations, some nice little twizzly bits to keep me occupied. However I’m not really expecting too much to begin with, as the real meat of the 3.0 update is in what it offers developers. Lots of potential in that, and that potential will start to be realised over the following weeks and months as developers start to both update their existing applications and write new ones that take advantage of the expanded feature set on offer.

How to train your iPhone to spell the words you use

Having had an iPhone 3G for a few months now, I had noticed that it seemed to learn words after you had typed them out a few times, adding them to the dictionary for that phone. I had even wondered if there was a way to get those words directly into the dictionary, but presumed it would probably be protected and tricky to do. Hackszine points out that there is a nice simple way to do it, simply type the words you want into notes a few times, until the word is learnt:

Hackszine.com: Train your iPhone’s dictionary

iPhone games – Chess with Friends

Nice simple little application this, it does exactly what it says on the tin. It allows you to play a game of chess online with your friends. Obviously it is turn based, but as it is played via a server, you can play your game over several days, checking in to see if your friend has moved yet.

Once you’ve downloaded the app from iTunes and set up your account, you can start up a game with anyone in your contact list on the phone. You have to have either their phone number or email address. If they already have an account, it will find them, if they don’t, you can send them an invite. iPhone or iPod Touch only at the moment. From there, straightforwards, it’s a nice little chess app. If you fancy a game, leave me a comment with your email address included, and I’ll start one up!

Newtoy | Kicking off a revolution in gaming with your friends on the iPhone and iPod Touch

On the bus

So I can now write blog posts on the way to work. The iPhone is truly a thing of wonderment. Every day I seem to find something new for it that can potentially damage my productivity slightly.

It also is helping to up my social status. Yesterday I filled out a survey online about my iPhone, and at the end I was asked “how many people live in your house,excluding servants?” I’ve never been asked if I had staff, so clearly I’m moving up in the world.

A couple of tips for iTunes playlists

So I guess now is the time to mention I’ve got an iMac and an iPhone now. I’m loving both of them, so glad I got them. Having done so, it meant it was time to return to using iTunes, which I hadn’t been for a couple of years, whilst all my computers were mainly running Ubuntu. I found it rather frustrating to use under Windows, particularly when syncing with an iPod. However on the Mac it works fine, and I’m enjoying it again.

So now I can sync playlists to the iPhone, I’ve been playing about with setting up smart playlists for my tastes. I’m quite happy with this one, to work through all the stuff I haven’t listened to:

Unplayed Playlist in iTunes
Unplayed Playlist in iTunes

I’ve set the time of each track to be in the range of 2-20 minutes, so it misses out some samples and short tracks, and also misses out large mixes. The Rating is not 1 star is for another reason. My wife normally has pretty good music taste, but there are a few artists she enjoys that just aren’t my taste. So I’ve arrived at this solution to miss them out: Give them all 1 star. This will still include anything unrated (most of my collection, because I’ve just moved to the Mac). However it also allows me to give her a playlist of her own, ideally for when I’m out of the house:

Partners Playlist in iTunes
Partners Playlist in iTunes

This way everyone is happy! So, how do you set up your playlists in iTunes (or indeed in Amarok or other music software)?

Tonchidot – How to really using tagging on mobile devices

Tonchidot were one of the most popular presentations at the recent TechCrunch50 conference. They are developing an application for the iPhone to provide live tags for everything you can see through your camera. Whilst it’s maybe not ready or achievable just yet, it is a fantastic glimpse of what could be possible in the very near future.
Tonchidot | TechCrunch50 Conference 2008