First iPhone App – What’s My Weather?

Wow, my last post was in November, where has the time gone?

weather-appFor most of the winter my evenings have been spent learning how to code, and in particular how to build iPhone apps using Xcode and the newish programming language Swift. I purchased a number of online training courses through Udemy and have been diligently working through the lessons. I will admit that it has been a struggle; my brain finds it hard to retain the information nowadays, but my understanding of the coding has improved and am able to follow many of the lessons.

One of the courses, iOS 9 and Swift 2: From Beginner to Paid Professional, teaches through a bootcamp style and whilst it is geared for people who want to make programming a career, it also is effective for people who just want to try to learn to code and create apps for fun (which is why I am learning!).

Anyhow, one of the techniques it covers is extracting JSON data from the internet and presenting it in an app. The example app is a basic weather app and the course encourages students to hone their newly learned skills and build on the basic version to create a more functional version.

And so I did.

And I managed to build an app and release it in the Apple app store.

So those of you who have an Apple device can download What’s My Weather for free.

I have a few ideas for different apps which I would like to charge a fee to download but need to do some more lessons and lots more coding before I have confidence to release them.

PS I’ve just supported the developer of some of the online courses through a Kickstarter campaign. Worth checking out if you are interested in learning how to code.

Snap shot into my world…

And it’s not very exciting!

Last week I ordered an adapter that allows my iPhone to be stuck on a small tripod which then can be sited in a place to capture some time-lapse photography. I then I decided to set it up in the living room to watch us for an hour. It was set to take one photo every fifteen seconds and some of the shots are of me writing this blog on my Macbook Air.

If you look really careful you will see the odd appearance of Rio, who was in and out of the living room throughout the filming period. Then Tina spotted it and wondered what I was doing. I don’t think she wanted to be photographed in this way.

Half way through recording the iPhone switched itself off and I had to change the auto-shutoff settings on the phone. Then it started to get darker so you will notice the light went on allowing more to be seen.

Finally I stuck some dubbed music from YouTube on to liven it up a bit.

I don’t think helps 🙂

 

Spy in my pocket

I suppose I should be outraged; the cheek of it, but somehow in this day and age I guess I just expect it. I am, of course, talking about the iphone tracking scandal.

It seems that when you sign up to upgrading the iconic phones’ software, there is a clause in the T & C’s that you agree to allow Apple to collect data, some of which includes tracking the whereabouts of the iPhone. This little known clause has not really been an issue up until this week as I guess most people either didn’t bother reading the small print (me included) or thought that any data collected would be secure and only available to Apple. But since some clever blokes recently discovered that the data is actually stored, unencrypted on your phone and can easily be accessed via a small, downloadable app the revelation has become headline news.

And so I thought I’d take a look to see if my movements have been tracked, and sure enough after downloading the iPhone Tracker app I was amazed to see that many of my journeys are shown, on the map, without me having to enter a password or anything. Talk about Spooks in real life!

As I said I don’t really think I’m bothered whether I’m being tracked or not; I am not having an illicit affair with anyone or doing anything illegal so I’m happy to share my movements, but it does bring home how technology has moved on and I guess if you had access to this, along with CCTV pictures and bank card transactions the authorities have pretty well got a solid picture of your whereabouts.

Now when was I in Worcester?

All ‘gadged’ up!

OK, how many more gadgets could a man have?

Since starting work and earning money I have always been drawn to the latest electronics and gadgets to the dismay, but resigned understanding, of Tina.

I think the first electronic device I bought was a pocket electronic calculator in the mid-1970’s whilst on an exchange visit to France. This was the talk of the school as it was one of the first liquid crystal devices around but unfortunately someone took a fancy to it and it got stolen. My memory doesn’t stretch to what model it was though.

In the early 1980’s, with the age of personal computers just kicking off, I bought an Acorn Electron and this really started my interest in the world of PC’s. A very basic device, it had limited memory but it did help me to understand the principals of computer programming, which I still use today in my job.

Computers aside, I also continued to purchase the smaller pocket devices including digital address books, handheld pocket computers such as the Tungsten Palm C moving on to smart phones including the HTC TyTN ii and lately the iPhone.

Last year i blogged about the purchase of my iPad, a fantastic device that just blows your mind at the usability and flexibility of a hand-held device, it’s pretty much made my laptop redundant.

And so to my latest gadget…

OK I will admit it was a bit of an over-indulgence as I could probably continue to read my ebooks on my iPad, but I treated myself to an Amazon Kindle for my birthday. One of the issues of having so many apps and news readers on the iPad is that I get distracted by them and therefore don’t bother to read the ebooks on it. My theory is that with a Kindle, a smaller and more portable device, I will carry it around with me all the time, ensuring I read the books rather than get distracted by the lovely iPad.

Time will tell.

iPad wonderment

I know I shouldn’t get emotional about a gadget but I am extremely impressed with my new iPad, in fact I could go as far to say I love it. I’ve now been ‘playing’ with it for just under a week and it is certainly living up to the accolades it has been receiving in the press.

I found the iPad easy to set up, with a straightforward sync to iTunes to pick up all my exisiting apps that I had already installed on my iPhone and searched within App Store for a few ‘iPad’ specific applications that, by the way, look great on the bigger screen. I haven’t even minded upgraded some of the apps I had on my iPhone to the HD versions for an additional cost.

The touch screen is gorgeous; easy to navigate, clear to read both inside and outside the house and can be fixed to view landscape or portrait at a flick of a switch. I was concerned whether the WiFi would be up to scratch but so far it has worked everywhere in the house and garden. 

Another concern was the weight as I’d read that some people found it uncomfortable to hold for a long period, but I haven’t found that an issue; in fact I purchased a leatherette case from eBay and that has not only made it easier and safer to carry around the house  but also has a built in stand to place it on your lap.

Battery life seems really good, with a days playing still not resulting in it dropping below 40% battery capacity.

Although the apps specifically designed for the iPad are still limited, the ones I have particularly liked so far are:

Amazon Kindle – an eBook reader, very easy to use and will probably mean I’ll never buy a paperbook again.
Pulse – an RSS reader, very easy to use although currently limeted to only 20 newsfeeds.
Wikipanion – a Wiki reader for the iPad.
Wordpress – enables me to write entries to my blog etc.
HowItWorks – a science emagazine that you can purchase subscriptions to, I’ve only downloaded the free copy at the moment but will probably subscribe to a few more at some point.
The Elements – A visual explanation of the elements, great graphics and written in an easy to understand language.

So how has it made a difference then? Well previously if I was watching a programme or needing some information in a hurry I would have to fire up my laptop or leave the room and use my desktop pc, not the fastest of responses. But  now I just reach for my iPad and hey presto I have googled using Safari on the iPad and the information is to hand.

So are there any negatives to having an iPad? Well the only one I can see is the fact that everyone who has seen it so far wants to go on it, meaning I can’t!

Information overload

Since owning my iPhone I have had a free RSS reader apps installed which I used to keep abreast of a few news and sports feeds that interested me. Mainly from the BBC these feeds meant I rarely had to read newspapers or watch much news on TV as the phone was updated with the latest information regularly.

But recently I found web application Google Reader, which has opened my eyes to a myriad of sites that have RSS feeds. The Google site lists all the feeds in catagory area and you can select which sites you want to subscribe to. There are even user choices where people have grouped similar feeds. Excellent.

So then I had lots of newsfeeds on my PC but the iPhone apps I had installed wasn’t able to cope with these extra feeds. So I searched around until I found an apps that syncs with Google Reader and came across MobileRSS. This application is able to take all the RSS feeds I have chosen in Google and updates them on my iPhone.

The only problem now is that I have selected so many feeds, if I don’t regularly review them I get 100-200 items loaded each time and it takes me ages to wade through the crap to get to the interesting articles.  I guess over time I will start to cut down on the feeds so I only get the ones I actually regulary read, but for now I will have to accept this overload of information.

I must admit though I am starting to keep up-to-date with tech issues and gadgets, which in the past I tended to be the last to hear about.

iPad

I have been keeping track of the launch of the Apple iPad for a couple of months now;  I was hoping it was going to be out in time for our trip to New York last month but we missed it by two weeks, so I have had to wait for the UK launch later this month.

I had pretty much made up my mind I was going to get one as soon as it was announced by Steve Jobs as it seems ideal for what I want; a small, portable media device to use around the home. There are occasions when sitting in front of a laptop is just too awkward and after falling in love with the iPhone last year, I think the iPad will be perfect.

I have been keeping an eye on and listening to iPad reviews, which seem mixed. Some people love it but others just can’t see the point of it and say it’s just an over-sized iPod Touch or iPhone (3G version).  I guess I will make up my mind once I get one.

I am in two minds as to go for the 3G version or just with WiFi, I doubt if I will take it outside the house so I suppose the wireless version will suffice. The day for orders being taken is 10th May for delivery at the end of May.

The only concern is I will be away in Egypt when the iPad ships, I hope the kids don’t get to it before I get back or I’ll never see it again!