Category Archives: mobile

Photos, backup, iPhone 4S

Over at Librarians Matter, my friend Kathryn wrote a post about how to deal with removing photos from the Camera Roll on your iPhone when they become burdensome. In her case, it was 3000 or so photos from her recent jaunt around the world. Here’s an easier way to deal with photos on any iOS device, make sure you have plenty of space on your iPhone for more pics, and make sure that you have backups of all of your photos.

What you need: an iOS device with a camera running iOS 5 or higher, a Mac at home running the most recent versions of iPhoto or Aperture, and…well, that’s it, really. Oh, an iCloud account as well. But if you have an iOS 5 device, iCloud is a no-brainer.

Turn on Photostream on both your iPhone and inside iPhoto on your Mac (on iPhoto, it’s an option in the preferences). Anytime your iOS device is attached to a wifi signal, it will send any photo that is in your Camera Roll to your Photostream. From there, your Mac running iPhoto (just leave iPhoto running while you’re out) will grab the Photostreamed pics and save them to your computer. I assume that you are backing up your system in some automated way, including your iPhoto or Aperture libraries, so…as soon as the pic you take shows up in Photostream, it should be safely in the hands of your home computer and part of your regular backup process (I backup my Aperture library and other important files from my desktop automatically using Crashplan)

Your iPhone will show you your photostream, so you can actually check to make sure that the photos in question are uploaded (photos don’t show up in the “photostream” section of your Photos app until they are uploaded). Once they are in your Photostream, you can safely delete them from your Camera Roll.

If you are a techno-traveller and have a laptop with you on your travels, you can use it as a first-stop backup (sync your iPhone to it), and Photostream as a safety net. But in practice, Photostream seems to work amazingly well. During our trip to Disney World this past October, I took somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 pictures with my iPhone, all of which were waiting on me when I got back home to sync to my home computer. With iCloud and Photostream, you technically never have to plug your iPhone into your computer at all to get photos off.

Things that can go wrong

If your computer at home isn’t online for any reason (powers down, loses connectivity, etc) or if iPhoto or Aperture closes for some reason, your photos won’t be saved locally. They will still be in the magical land of Photostream, however, which holds the last 1000 photos that you took. So you’ve got a thousand pic buffer before you’ll chance losing anything. If you are never in a wifi area, and instead rely on 3G for all your data needs, your pics will never be uploaded to Photostream in the first place.

So while it’s not 100% solution at all times, I’m betting it’s a 99.999% solution for most people. Give it a try…iCloud and Photostream are free from Apple for this purpose, so there’s no downside.

Once more the Apple apologist

I’m feeling more and more like the library equivalent of John Gruber these days.

UPDATE 2/1/11 1:18pm: website The Loop is reporting that they received a statement on the matter from Apple:

“We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines,” Apple spokesperson, Trudy Muller, told The Loop. “We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.”

This is a change from previous Apple requirements, and will require existing apps to make changes to the way they behave. It also puts Amazon, B&N, and other retailers far more under Apple’s thumb in regards to pricing and profitability. More than anything, it puts them in a confrontational position with other retailers, instead of being simply a competitor. It will be very interesting to see how this shakes out.

There has been general alarm this morning on the Twitter and in the blogosphere that Apple is going to start killing off non-iBook eBook stores. Phil Bradley blogged about the New York Times article on the rejection of the Sony eReader app by Apple, saying:

Well, this is an interesting development. Sony have had their iPhone application rejected by Apple. Moreover, they’ve been told that they can no longer sell content, like e-books, within their apps, or let customers have access to purchases they have made outside the App Store.

That is what the NYT article says as well:

The company has told some applications developers, including Sony, that they can no longer sell content, like e-books, within their apps, or let customers have access to purchases they have made outside the App Store.

But if you read the next two lines:

Apple rejected Sony’s iPhone application, which would have let people buy and read e-books bought from the Sony Reader Store.

Apple told Sony that from now on, all in-app purchases would have to go through Apple, said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division.

Notice that Steve Haber did NOT say that non-in-app purchases were disallowed. I can’t tell from the sloppy reporting if that second clause actually came from the Sony interview, or from other sources. So here’s the deal: Apple has never allowed in-app purchases that bypassed Apple. It’s the reason that when you are in the Kindle app, and you go to buy a book, it pushes you out of the app and over to Safari and the Amazon website.

There seems to be no indication that the Kindle app is in jeopardy…Phil’s headline notwithstanding. It works exactly the way that Apple has told people it wants apps to work, and if Sony submitted an app that didn’t follow the rules, they knew good and well it would get rejected.

There is another explanation…Apple might be warning app developers behind the scenes that things are going to be changing. Tomorrow marks the announcement of The Daily, Rupert Murdoch’s new experimental tablet-only newspaper. With it is expected to come a new method for in-app subscriptions, which might signal the availability of a new infrastructure for app developers to take advantage of (and for Apple to force the use of).

But for now, this story is nothing but poor reporting on the NYT’s part, combined with a bit of over-excitability on the part of librarians. Amazon’s Kindle app, along with the literally thousands of other apps that rely on web-based purchasing and then web-based updating, isn’t going anywhere. Apple would have many, many, many more problems than Amazon if they just eliminated outside purchases wholesale.

Why mobile phones are one key to the digital divide

Bobbi Newman tweeted a few days ago:

I whole heartedly, unequivocally disagree with this! Mobile access helps agencies break past digital divide http://bit.ly/bHTYGg

I responded by saying that I thought she was wrong, and that mobile was an effective way to bridge the gap. After a little back and forth on twitter, we decided to just duel it out here on our respective blogs, and she launched the first post just today, Why Mobile Phones are Not the Key to the Digital Divide.

Here’s the crux of what I see as her argument, from her blog post:

I agree with Jason, mobile technology is improving at a rapid pace. However, it is not on par with a computer with a high-speed internet connection. There are many things you still can not do with a mobile phone, even a smart phone. Are we really willing to say that this less robust point of access is acceptable for minorities and the economically challenged?

We must acknowledge that, while mobile access is better than no access, it is still not the equivalent of high-speed access from a computer. It is not acceptable for privileged, economically sound, techno savvy people to state that these two forms of access are the same.

The first thing I think is questionable is the assumption that mobile access isn’t (or rather, won’t be) just as good as that associated with a more traditional “computer” and broadband. What advantage does a computer give that a mobile doesn’t?

  • Connection speed? That’s coming…LTE gives 100+ meg connections via cell signal.
  • Interface (keyboard + screen)? That’s just a bias based on tradition…has nothing to do with actual use. In fact, I will argue that mobile interfaces are actually BETTER than keyboard/mouse for many, many, many things, as the last 3 years of touchscreen UI has shown us.
  • Processing power? While desktops provide a bit better operation-per-dollar valuation, no one except  real geeks buy their systems based on that. Modern mobiles are many times more powerful than the desktops of just a few years ago…they easily handle 99% of the computing tasks that people actually do (word processing, browsing the web, etc). Hell, the iPhone4 does video editing!

I believe strongly that the idea that a desktop is somehow superior to a mobile phone for Internet access is an accident of the time in which we live and the historical nature of the rise of computing. One can easily imagine that 10 years from now the then-digital-natives will look aghast at the desktops of the past. “What do you mean, you had to sit at a desk to use a computer? You pushed actual buttons? What’s a mouse?” I think Douglas Adams said it best (in this, among other things):

Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

There are examples, even today, of people who prefer mobile access to the Internet to using a desktop: the entire country of Japan, for instance. Many of them could easily afford desktops, but overwhelmingly they choose mobile phones as the mechanism they use for accessing the Internet.

So unless there are some actual things that can be pointed out as to why Mobile access is second-class (and I swear, if someone says Flash, I quit)….I’m calling this cultural and historic bias.

There's an app for that – OITP Brief on Mobile

The American Library Association Office of Information Technology Policy, better known as ALA-OITP, just released their Policy Brief on Mobile Tech, There’s an App for That! Libraries and Mobile Technology: An Introduction to Public Policy Considerations. Written by Timothy Vollmer, formerly of OITP and now working for Creative Commons, it’s a great “state of the union” brief on Mobile tech, and how it effects the library world in the current and near-future time frame.

I was honored to have been an early reader on this piece, and to have been able to give feedback to Timothy as he worked it up. If you have any interest at all about the future of libraries and the mobile world, this is a must read.

OLITA Digital Odyssey 2010

I had a fabulous time in Toronto with the Ontario Library Information Technology Association over the weekend at their 2010 Digital Odyssey event. In addition to getting to see old friends, I had the opportunity to meet some new ones, and generally meet some amazing librarians. I was really impressed with the quality of presentations that were done at Digital Odyssey.

Here is the keynote I gave on Friday morning…I hope that everyone enjoyed it! I’m working on getting audio of this put together, but it seems that Keynote isn’t happy with me again for some reason. I think I can fix this one, though, so look for audio/video over the next few days.