October 14, 2011 0

iOS Notification Center

The new Notification Center in iOS5 is a massive improvement over the modal only notifications of all previous iOS incarnations. It really is so much better, but there is room for improvement!

Ben Brooks has written a really great overview of some of the issues with Notification Center in a piece entitled “The Annoyment Center”. I’m not sure I’d go as far as to call it annoying but I do agree with a lot of what he writes:

First every calendar that is in the Calendar app on iOS is shown in the notification center — your only options about this is to turn all off, or limit the amount shown. One would think this is ideal, but what if — like me — you subscribe to a calendar for your golf club that has multiple events every day?

Now, I neither play golf or subscribe to remote calendars, but I do have quite a few calendars that I don’t want polluting my lock screen. I’d love to see some simple interface to be able to select which calendars appear in the Notification Center.

All of this really leads to the most annoying part of the new Notification Center: the fact that there is no indication, or notification anywhere that there are still notifications in the Notification Center.

The core function of a notification is to notify you of things. Notification Center doesn’t seem to understand this concept.

Now this is the biggie! Its great that notifications now get out of my way and don’t interfere with what I’m doing with my phone. It used to be that once dismissed they were gone for good and I’d have to remember to action them. Now they are all stored in a single place, which is great, but Ben is right that you still need to remember to do something to check what notifications are waiting for you.

It would be great to have a small icon in the status bar, having not played with iOS5 until a couple of days ago I had anticipated this would have been the case. The new ‘sync’ icon that appeared in the status bar of iOS5 is a good example, because its animated it catches your eye but not in a way that would be a constant distraction from your main task. Maybe a small pulsing circle would be a suitable indication?

Reeder also features an animated icon when its downloading assets. It does cover the battery icon, which wouldn’t be appropriate for the Notification Center, but because its dynamic it catches the eye and informs you that something is taking place.

I wouldn’t want to go back to pre-iOS5 notifications but I’m looking forward to a few small tweaks to improve on what we now have!

October 13, 2011 19

iOS5 for Web Developers

Now that iOS5 is out, here’s a follow up to my previous post A Web Developer’s Wishlist for iOS 5. If you want to know what has (and hasn’t) been added/changed to Mobile Safari in Apples latest OS update, read on past the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

October 10, 2011 0

Apple’s decision that changed cross platform development

What we need now is device manufacturers to develop decent browsers with native functionality APIs and the “Add to home screen” functionality.

Apple’s decision that changed cross platform development – Syd Lawrence

One of the mostly hotly debated subjects of late has been native vs web, it does ultimately, and should, come down to the the user experience. At the moment you can’t get the same UX from a webapp as you can from a native one, thats not to say that its inferior.

Browsers do need to improve and from what I’ve seen of iOS5, the already best of class Mobile Safari is much more performant and brings some much needed features to help with webapp development.

This is great but my issue is this: in order to develop cross platform you need all the platforms to be roughly as capable as one another.

Having recently spent quite a bit of time developing a webapp for Honeycomb (Android 3.2) its clear that the browser is currently lightyears behind Mobile Safari.

iOS has a fairly regular update cycle, with the frequency of major OS updates being fairly easy to predict. It also has an excellent distribution mechanism which leads to most people running the latest major version of the OS. This is not the case for Android, there is no standardised distribution process and all updates need to be done by Google, the phone manufacturer and the carrier. This means that most devices stay well behind the latest OS version.

I would like to see device browsers improve but I’d love to see the rumoured Chrome arrive for Android, replacing the existing browser and not being tied to the OS for updates.

A more rapid release cycle for device browsers would definitely drive forward cross platform development.

October 7, 2011 8

Flux Slider v1.4 Released

Flux Slider Swipe transition

Version 1.4 of Flux Slider is now available for download from GitHub. There has been a lot of additions in the latest version, read on for all the details.

Read the rest of this entry »

September 20, 2011 7

Monitoring console.log on PhoneGap Android

Update: I’ve written a small Python script to make the output easier to read. Read more about DroidLog.


Whilst debugging PhoneGap Apps/WebApps with Weinre is awesome, it does require your device/simulator to have a network connection to work. Most of the time this is not a problem but if/when you need to test how your app functions offline it becomes an issue.

Here’s an alternative solution I’ve found useful for monitoring console.log & console.error output from within the Terminal:

adb logcat | grep 'Web Console'

Hopefully this will be useful to a few others!

September 14, 2011 0

Some thoughts on OS X Lions UX

I’ve been running OS X 10.7 (aka Lion) for a month or so now, whilst there are some really good new features I’ve also found myself more frustrated using my Mac than ever before. Here are some thoughts on the new OS, specifically where I think the user experience has been degraded.

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September 7, 2011 5

Accessing & Modifying CSS3 Animations with Javascript

Yesterday Chris Heilmann wrote a post on the Mozilla blog about detecting and generating CSS animations using JavaScript. The article features a small example from myself demonstrating the rather verbose technique required to access a CSS animation with code.

Chris ends his article with the following:

I’d love to have a CSSAnimations collection for example where you could store different animations in JSON or as a string and have their name as the key. Right now, creating a new rule dynamically and adding it either to the document or append it to the ruleset seems to be the only cross-browser way. Thoughts?

This seemed like a great idea so I set about creating a small JavaScript shim to provide this interface. Read the rest of this entry »

September 1, 2011 0

Flux Slider WordPress Plugin v1.2 Released

Swipe Transition

Version 1.2 of the Flux Slider WordPress plugin is now available for download. Existing customers will have been notified by email and will be provided with a new download link.

Download Flux Slider WordPress plugin v1.2

New features available in v1.2:

  • Slider previews from the list view
  • Sliders can now be built from the featured images of posts from a selected category
  • Browsers that don’t support CSS3 transitions now gracefully degrade to a simple fade effect
  • Added three new transitions:
    • swipe subtle gradient fade from left to right
    • dissolve hardware accelerated fade
    • blocks2 squares that fade out from top-left to bottom-right

The following bugs have also been squashed:

  • Improved button rendering under IE
  • Prevented the delete javascript prompt from attaching to other pages

You can also now buy the plugin with a volume license at a discounted price, there is a licence for up to 5 sites and also an unlimited use license.

September 1, 2011 0

Site visitors browser/device breakdown for May-Aug 2011

Here’s a breakdown of visitors to my site over the last 4 months. These are not presented as being typical of the wider web as I expect my site draws quite a specific visitor demographic, namely tech savvy developers or designers. Read the rest of this entry »

August 30, 2011 0

Marco Arment on the Amazon tablet

Android 2.x under the hood, but an Amazon UI with Amazon apps for all core functionality. And, importantly, the Amazon Appstore — and not Google’s Android Market … Few customers would ever realize that they’re using an Android device.

Marco Arment – My semi-educated guess on the Amazon Tablet

I think Marco really hits the nail on the head with his predictions. I think (hope!) the Amazon tablet will be the first device to really use Android in a meaningful way.

Its about product vs platform, user experience vs specs & numbers. The iPad is so successful in part because its a product and can be marketed as such. I don’t hear many regular consumers saying things such as “have you seen the new iOS device?”, they always refer to iPad or iPhone directly. Conversely the array of Android tablets that are available just blend into the background against a sea of alternatives all shouting “hey I’m an Android”. Read the rest of this entry »