Interview: Flow FTP Developer Brian Amerige

Brian Amerige is the developer of FTP application Flow, which is currently in its private Beta stages. Flow doesn’t yet have a set release date, although excellent progress is been made on a daily basis. I had time to catch up with Brian and ask him a few questions about the upcoming public release of Flow.

Why did you decide to develop an alternative to the highly acclaimed Transmit? Most claim it’s one of the best Mac applications to ever hit the platform. Quite a hefty competitor to take on, no?

While Transmit is highly acclaimed, there’s a significant portion of users whose needs aren’t met by it. Flow’s call to life is a tremendous amount of functionality and raw power wrapped by a remarkably clean user interface and undeniably pleasant user-experience. A few of the private-beta testers have already remarked that despite being avid Panic fans, they were astounded at how Flow actually improved their workflow itself. It’s the playful combination of tried and true paradigms, and delightfully understated new functionality.

That being said, however, I’d like to point out my goal for Flow doesn’t include the phrase “kill Transmit.” Competition by nature is good — but that doesn’t mean there is necessarily one or even two winners. For some people, Flow will fit their needs and fit like a glove, and for others, Transmit or another client will. My goal isn’t to “kill transmit,” but rather to be the voice for the market who’s been waiting for something like Flow for quite a long time now.

As someone who has been in the Mac developers scene for a long time, but is just debuting with your first product, what has been the biggest step you’ve had to take over the development cycle?

Great question. While it’s not necessarily only applicable because this is my first product, I consider one of the most important steps in the development cycle to be knowing what to include and what to leave out. When you’ve got lots of people talking about your product (which has been the case since the original screencasts of Flow back in February), it’s very easily to fall into the trap of reading too far into users comments and opinions. While it’s very important to consider user-feedback, it’s equally, if not more important, to realize that, for myself, I am the only one who truly knows the full roadmap and vision for the product, so for each change, I need to verify that it is compliant with that vision itself.

Talking about vision, what is your vision for the future? Are we in line to see more software from Brian Amerige?

Well, without going into specifics for Flow, the best I can say is that 1.0 is just the beginning. As proud as I am of Flow right now, I’m also well aware that due to the nature of the product, the feature-set I’m envisioning probably won’t see the light until 2.0 or 3.0. There’s so much potential and momentum with Flow’s concepts and especially with the user-base which is already forming around it, I can’t deny that I’m ecstatic when thinking about the future.

As for whether or not you’ll be seeing more software from me – Yeah. You will be. 😉

Who and what kind of market exactly is Flow targeted at?

Anyone who’s serious about getting work done, basically. A good portion of the people who have expressed interest in Flow are the type who aren’t interested in the technology behind what they want to do. They just want to have tools that not only make their job easier, but know how to get out of the way. At Extendmac we talk about that as “removing layers of interpretation” — that basically means that the less jumps there are between what you want to do, and how you have to do it, the better.

What is your overall view of the Delicious Generation? Are you on board with their base philosophy?

The Delicious Generation is definitely interesting as a term. I think a large part of the problem with the term is that there are two definitions of it. While I don’t necessarily agree with the definition in relation to its origin, back when Disco was first debuting, “Delicious Generation” came to mean an over-indulgence in form and the negligence of function. By that definition – I’m absolutely not on board. The second definition, which Austin Sarner and John Casasanta talked about at Phill Ryu’s “Delicious Generation” party, involved an artful and meticulous balance of form and function.

By the latter definition, I’m definitely on board, and that’s really what Flow’s UI is all about. In user interface and user experience, when you design something that’s just right, you begin to notice that properly designed interfaces lend themselves to properly implemented functionality. It’s very “hand in hand” and “ying-yang” type stuff, but that’s really what it comes down to.

How long have you had the idea for Flow floating around in your mind for, and what made you start coding it?

The idea of making something akin to Flow popped into my head the first day I sat down to build a website from scratch. Something about existing technology and applications didn’t feel comfortable to me – it felt like I had to coax each component to talk nicely to each other, and if one little thing went wrong, it was over. That overly sensitive balance – that uneasyness that I was using products as they were not intended – those overwhelming thoughts of “wouldn’t it be great if this acted like this, or I could do this” ultimately led me to create my vision for what is now Flow.

What one feature in Flow are you most proud of? It doesn’t have to be the biggest most mind blowing one, just something you are personally proud of.

I’m proud of a lot of things in Flow, but personally, my favorite thing is one of the simplest and most obvious features – Auto URL Copying. For the most part, we all mostly use FTP to manage our web-servers, and I never understood why no one had ever made it really easy to embrace that relationship in full. The ability to drop a file to a server, and just hit “CMD+V” to a friend in an e-mail or iChat conversation is truly a remarkable timesaver.

Has anyone influenced you in any way in terms of how you created Flow, or what features to implement?

I’d have to say the biggest physical influence on me programmatically would be Wil Shipley. His blog, Call Me Fishmeal, is literally filled with undeniably clever concepts and paradigms which have made my code so much cleaner, readable, maintainable, and efficient. Like Wil, though, my own obsessive-compulsive nature – my inability to stop programming, tweaking, and adjusting until everything is just right – has probably had an equally large influence on Flow itself. Most people who are obsessive compulsive consider it an inherently bad thing, but when applied to software, it becomes an enormously valuable asset.

As far as features go, I’ve largely maintained on my own set course from the beginning. As I’ve said earlier, I realize that only I know the full roadmap of where I’d like to take Flow, so sticking to my original concepts of what should be implemented and what shouldn’t be out are very important. Along the way many have probably modified small things here and there, but the implementation of any modification has only be accepted given it does not compromise the original vision for the product.

In your opinion, what are some of the more “functional” Mac application on the market at the moment?

I love Mail.app with a passion. iCal is pretty terrific in Leopard. As for third party apps, I’d have to say I’m really excited about where Delicious Monster is taking Delicious Library in 2.0, and then 3.0.

Last but not least, the obligatory question. What’s your current Mac setup situation?

My primary development machine is a 15″ MacBook Pro, Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM. It’s dual booted with 10.4 and the latest ADC seed of 10.5. I also have a 23″ Apple Cinema Display which I often use in conjunction with the MacBook Pro. I do G5 testing on a 17″ iMac, and G4 testing on a 12″ iBook. Last, but not least, I’ve also recently incorporated an iPhone into my “Mac scene,” as it is running Mac OS X. 😉

The Not So Immortal iPod?

Is the iPod coming to an end?

Back in 2001 during a press event held on Apple’s campus, a new product was introduced – the iPod. On that October day, the iPod gained alot of positive press, as well as negative press. Some reporters even went as far as to saying the iPod would be a bigger failure than the Newton introduced several years prior. But only months away from its seventh birthday, we can all see what a success the iPod really was. As of March 2008, Apple had shipped 180 million of the popular music player.

However, there has been concern that iPod sales are going to be slowing with rapid rate. I’m sure you are aware that Apple recently launched its newest phone, the iPhone 3G, and they sold one million phones within a three day period. That number is incredible compared to how long it took Apple to sell its first million iPods. In my opinion, its only a matter of time before the iPhone starts to outsell the iPod. Every iPhone requires a minimum price of $70 a month. Oh, you want texting? Make that $90. So every iPhone costs $1880 over a two year period.  Compared to a bunch of other phones with a two-year contract, its a deal.

Should we be worried?

The iPod will obviously be around for years to come, and its no secret that the next major transition is making all iPods with a multi-touch enabled screen. That in store, along with all of the great new possibilities it brings should lead to much more useful and intuitive iPods, along with another great platform.  Not to mention the rapidly growing collection of Applications on the App-Store, and the expansion of iTunes services. We shouldn’t be afraid. At least not yet..

iPhone getting the iPod treatment

When I went to pick up my new iPhone 3G back on the 11th, I was shocked with the lack of accessories included with the device. When I bought my iPhone “Edge” if you will, it came with an abundance of accessories including a dock, and a power adapter that could be used around the world using the adapters that Apple sells. When I unboxed my new iPhone, I found no dock, a cheap AC adapter, and a Apple-designed paperclip. If you can recall back to 2001, the iPod included everything from a dock, to a power adapter. The current iPod lineup only comes with a syncing cable, and headphones. Apple’s Bluetooth headset is also going slim. It doesn’t come with a dual dock, yet it still costs about $100.

Final Words

What is your opinion? Do you think iPod sales will slow in the future? Do you think the iPhone will eventually be striped down to include the bare essentials?

Good Notebook Speakers

As you may know, speakers inside of laptops are usually quite badly made. It is very hard to make speakers small while retaining sound quality.  When travelling around speakers need to be small, rechargeable or battery powered, and have good sound. I am going to recommend 3 different speakers that I have used. They all have their own strong and weak points.

Quality Sound: Logitech V20

Logitech makes speakers with great sound. These speakers are certainly not beauties but they have quality sound. The V20’s connect via USB, defeating the need for a power cord or batteries. They only weigh 1.3 pounds and are compatible with OS X. The lack of cords is good for travelling, but the USB connection cannot provide much power for good bass.  However, they can still get fairly loud. They are quite large for notebook speakers at 6″, but their sound quality is definitely a worthy trade-off. Logitech provides a carrying case as well, which contributes even more to their portability.

Price Tag: $59.99-$79.99

Easy On The Wallet: Nokia MD-4

The Nokia MD-4 have a stylish V-shaped design. They produce good quality sound for their size and are very easy to travel with. The speakers need 4 x AAA batteries, which give up to 30 hours. Out of all 3 speakers these are the most portable and can easily be slipped into a pocket.  They also come with a 2.5mm to 3.5mm converter for use with a broader range of laptops and mp3 players.

Price Tag: $15.99

Mid Range: Philips SBA1500

These Philips could be some of the best laptop speakers I have ever used. They have a cheap price, sound as good as they look, and would match any Macbook. The speakers get quite loud, although as expected for the size and price the bass is not very good and can get slightly tinny at times. These speakers can be used with an MP3 player as they use a 3.5mm jack.  One downside for these speakers is that they use 3 AAA batteries, and supply 16 to 20 hrs of playback.

Price Tag: $24.99

Conclusion

In the end the Nokia MD-4 are my favourite speakers for sound, price, and style. There are other speakers that are all-in-one and have better sound, but they are usually bigger and not as stylish.

Review: Remote Rocks And Rolls

With the release of the iPhone 2.0 software on July 11th, the doors have opened for many creative and useful applications to change the way we use our iPhones (or iPod touch).

First out of the gate to show how to do a revolutionary application is Apple with their iTunes control software, Remote.

Remote turns your iPhone or iPod touch into a wireless controller for your computer. It works with v7.7 of iTunes on both Windows and OS X, and requires that iTunes be running.  However, it does not require that you share your library. I imagine using Remote while having your computer connected to a TV or speaker system, and controlling the music selection from the iPod. The system also has a “check this out” factor, as it is kind of weird changing the song from anywhere in the house.

Setup

Setting up Remote is refreshingly simple. From within the Remote settings panel, you are presented with a 4 digit code — much like streaming to an Apple TV. This code is then entered into the iTunes window of a computer running OS X or Windows.

In the iTunes source window, you can select your iPod and enter the code.
Naturally, the computer and iPod must be on the same WiFi network. Once the connection is made, the iTunes library you wish to control will be shown inside the Setting menu of Remote.

Usage

Can you tell the difference?
The difference between using Remote to control your computer and listening to music on the iPod itself is so minimal. I’ve included a photo here to compare the two. I don’t even remember which one is which anymore. You can browse playlists, by artists, song titles and albums in exactly the same way as local listening. I was pleasantly surprised at the responsiveness of the entire system, as there was minimal, if any lag between sending a command and the result. My network consists of an Airport Extreme base station and Airport Express station distributing the signal, but even when I tested it using a network created by my MacBook, there was no delay when pausing the song. It did take a little longer to copy the song lists, but once that was done, browsing was instantaneous.

Final Words

Remote offers a convenient, effective way to control your iTunes library. It is an excellent example of using the fantastic features of the iPhone and iPod touch to accomplish a single task in a completely new way.

MobileMe: Exchange For The Rest Of Us

At WWDC last month, Apple unveiled it’s new MobileMe Service.  Adding on to and taking over the previous “dot mac”, MobileMe is an even more well rounded solution.  Along with updated name, Apple has added a number of new “Push” services.  Push email, contacts, and calendar to be specific.

How Does It Work?

Along with MobileMe comes Apple’s move to cloud computing.  This will be nothing new to those familiar with Exchange, but does simplify things a bit.  So how does it work?  Imagine you are at the computer and add a friend to your list of contacts.  A day later you have yet to sync your iPhone, but you are away from the office and need to give that friend a call.  With MobileMe, gone is the inconvenience that would normally require a drive back to the house or office to get that number.  As soon as you add that contact’s information to Address Book on your Mac, it is instantly sent up to the “cloud”, then resent back down to your Mac, PC, and or iPhone / iPod touch.

Native App Support

Whether you’re on a Mac or PC, MobileMe will become a viable method of accessing your email, contacts, and calendar where ever you go.  The iPhone 2.0 software takes MobileMe a step further, truly insuring that you always have access to your data when you need it. MobileMe works with the following software across platforms:

-Outlook on the PC
-Mail, Address Book, and iCal on the Mac
-Mail, Contacts, and Calendar on the iPhone / iPod touch

Goodbye Mac.com, Hello Me.com

For all existing .Mac customers, you are probably aware that you received a free upgrade to MobileMe.  Not to worry, all of the dot mac features you have come to love are still there.  You have the choice of using your existing @mac.com email address, or switching to the newer @me.com.  So, what differences can you expect to find with MobileMe?  The foremost change that you will notice is the front-end of me.com.  I will go into more detail on this in the next section.

Me.com

With Me.com, you will find your Mail, Address Book, and Contacts arranged neatly in an intuitive, yet simple to use web interface that works much like that of their desktop counterparts.  Along with these new push services are your Photo Gallery, iDisk, and Account Settings.

Mail
MobileMe’s Mail application should be very familiar to users of Apple’s Mail.app.  It features a similar layout, and it includes much of the same functionality.  Some notable features include flagging important messages, drag and drop to folders, and quick reply.  With quick reply, you can send a quick response without the need of opening the original message.

Contacts
Contacts on MobileMe makes it easy to browse or search for contacts, and gives you access to much needed information while on the go.  Any images added for a particular contact on your Mac, PC, or iPhone are automatically added to their profile on Me.com.  Along with being able to edit contacts, you can also create and manage groups.

Calendar
Similar to iCal.app, MobileMe’s Calendar application allows you to view your calendar by day, week, or month.  You can create multiple calendars, and toggle them on and off according to what all you want to view.  Editing an event couldn’t be easier.  You simply click on the event to change the title, or drag and drop the event to change the time / date.

Remember, anything you do on Me.com is also reflected on your other devices.

A Rough Start

The transition to MobileMe wasn’t exactly a smooth experience.  Many users were left without email access, and the support forums were nothing short of a long list of problems.  Approximately 5 days after MobileMe’s planned release, Apple issued an official statement recognizing the issues, and has offered a 30 day extension to subscribers for their troubles.  On top of that, users are reporting that the “Push” functionality isn’t exactly working as advertised when updating from the the Mac.  Updates made on the Mac are currently being sent to the “cloud” every 15 minutes.

Pricing

MobileMe pricing is broken down into two possible packages, and includes the following features:

Single User: $99/year
-20GB of storage

Family Pack: $149/year
-Individual subscription (20GB of storage) plus 4 Family Member Accounts
-Each Family Member Account includes it’s own email address, and 5GB of storage

Subscribers can also add 20GB or 40GB of storage to their account for $49 or $99.

Final Words

MobileMe is full of promising new features, and a welcome improvement over .Mac.  Its web applications are unprecedented in quality and ease of use, but Apple still has some work ahead of them to get the push functionality working as advertised.  Regardless, I have no doubt that the progress made thus far is a step in the right direction.

So, is MobileMe worth the $99 pricetag to you?

The Importance Of Marketing: Microsoft’s Zune

Introduction

Marketing is a vital element to the business world and is essential for any company to grow successfully. To endure a prolonged existence, a business has to successfully reach their target demographic by creating awareness of their good or service using such elements as advertising, promotion, and public relations. Consumers purchase a good or service because they have a need or benefit for that product. The marketer’s job is to discover those wants and needs, and provide a good or service that meets or exceeds the consumer’s expectations. By providing the right goods or services to the right people at the right time, place, and price, using the right promotion techniques, you ensure higher sales, amplified revenue, product growth and company growth. Without proper marketing, a company can suffer significantly, which is why so much money, resources, and man-power in a company are devoted to marketing.

Why The Zune Has Failed

Digital media players have been a growing market within the last decade, and companies continue to expand through a very crowded market dominated by Apple’s iPod. In recent years, computer technology corporation Microsoft decided after years of only supporting and licensing a large range of software products to dive into the digital music player industry with its self-produced, self-orchestrated Microsoft Zune. The Zune incorporates features similar to the iPod and other competing products: video and audio playback, a compact size, premium headphones, wireless sharing and innovative touch controls. However, the features and technology are not what is holding the Zune back from establishing itself as a force in the digital media players industry, it is the poor marketing and advertising by Microsoft and its advertising agency, McCann-Erikson. Currently, the Apple iPod holds 86.1% of the digital music player market and the Microsoft Zune holds a measly 2.2% (Statistics from Mac Observer). The reasons why the Zune has failed and will continue to fail are due to the following reasons: the wrong product strategy, an overcrowded market, features that do very little, poor advertisements, and the unavailability of the product in stores. Microsoft is creating a misleading idea of interests that do not exist. With a revamp of the company’s marketing strategy however, Microsoft might be able to save the Zune from dying like other digital music players that lived before it. With the right marketing, it may finally compete with a company that does marketing right, Apple, and its iPod which has had and will continue to have great success.

Marketing Strategy

While creating the Zune, Microsoft decided on a “loss-leading” strategy, meaning they will lose money on creating and selling the product and hope to gain their profit with accessories, content sales and renting music through their online store. However, it seems impossible to compete with the Apple iPod when they are selling hardware for a high profit and making minor revenue through content, accessories and their online iTunes music store. Continuing, the Zune Marketplace store features subscription rental media services which have been a flop in the past and current online services such as Napster, Rhapsody, Pressplay, Yahoo Music and much more. The consumer market simply does not want to rent their music. Music renting services for digital music players have all been huge failures, yet Microsoft continued to base their software and services packaged around the Zune with this format.  Alternative methods to a “loss-leading strategy” could have easily produced more profit for Microsoft, and could have lowered the prices for the Zune.

Availability

Unavailability can be a positive thing for a product, especially in the holiday season where it can create buzz and increase the desire to obtain the product. Examples of this are the popular Nintendo Wii gaming console or a product like Tickle Me Elmo in the 1990’s where the company is actively trying to manufacture as many units as they possibly can, but the demand is so high they can hardly be found on store shelves. Microsoft and their public relations team is using the media to try and portray that exact image but fail to mention that it is not because of high demand, but because they are only able to produce a very small amount of devices. As misleading as this is, consumers and media are catching on to this misconception and it is hurting Microsoft’s credibility as a digital music player producer. In addition, with hardly any Zune’s on the shelf, how is Microsoft going to gain any percentage of the market? Public/media relations and distribution are significant for a company to have a successful product. Microsoft is failing at basic marketing principles and need to change the way they are handling the Zune before all credibility is lost and the large investment put into the product disappears.

The Poor Commercial / Print Advertisements

The commercial and print advertisements done by McCann-Erikson, the Zune’s advertising agency are tasteful, creative and artistic but lack a fundamental principal of advertisements for a product launch – only a very small percentage of viewers/readers already know what a Zune is! The commercials and print advertisements hardly feature the product. The advertisements take you through a magical fantasy world filled with Alice-In-Wonderland-like visuals with catchy indie-rock music. The advertisements, although eye-catching do not include the basic features of the product that would compete with the iPod if the general consumer market were aware of what they were. If Microsoft and McCann-Erikson created advertisements similar to those of Apple’s iPhone, highly informative and to the point about its features, the Zune would be a much more talked about and popular digital music player.

Conclusion

Apple has been able to continually dominate the digital media devices as well as enter a crowded mobile phone market and is tearing away at Microsoft’s Windows Mobile SmartPhone devices. They are doing this by following the same marketing principles that made the iPod such a success. The iPod focuses on innovative yet easy to use controls that the every-day-consumer wants. Combining those features with basic software that can turn any music lover into a music aficionado is a recipe for great success. There are a variety of iPods ranging from $79-$399 making a cheap Christmas gift or an extravagant graduation gift possible to give. When it comes down to a successful consumer electronic product, all that really matters to the consumer is usability and convince. Apple delivers both. It is conveniently distributed to a variety of retail stores and it is easy to set-up, use, try out, purchase and give. Microsoft’s Zune could have taken a lesson from Apple on a successful marketing campaign to introduce the Zune in a crowded market already dominated by one company. Instead of playing up huge features that made the iPod a huge success, it is hyping up small features such as “wireless” syncing and radio through its advertising and public relations. Unlike Apple who has been replaying its signature black silhouettes dancing in all of their iPod ads to build brand recognition, Microsoft Zune commercials are crazy, twisted and are trying far too hard to capture the “cool”, young, hipster market. Microsoft needs to either take a lesson from Apple on how to market to the consumer or stick to doing what they do best, working with large enterprises and corporations to create and license software.

Inspiring Workspaces: Jaron Brass

Jason Brass’s Office: Consisting Of

Mac Pro 3GHz // 16GB RAM // 4x 500GB // X1900 XT // 2 x Superdrive // 2 x 30″ ACD // Logitech Z-5500 Sound System // 26″ Sony Bravia LCD TV //

About The Workspace

I’ve made some changes since my last series of pictures. Of course, the computer is new. I also replaced my old Philips LCD TV with a snazzy new 26″ Sony Bravia LCD. A bunch of accessories have managed to find their way to the machine, including a new Wacom tablet.

In addition to those changes, I recently had to send both of my displays in to AppleCare for repair. They both came back with new panels of the revision “B” variety. That means they’re not only brighter but they have improved contrast ratios. While the enclosures haven’t changed, the fact the panels are new has increased their lifespan by a large margin — meaning I won’t have to replace them all that soon.

http://www.jaronbrass.com/

Flash Review: Amazon Kindle

What is it?

The Amazon Kindle is an e-book reader that allows its users to download new content without the need of a computer. E-book readers have been around for years, but they never quite took off with consumers. However, what sets the Kindle apart from Sony’s e-book readers is the built in Sprint EVDO.  This allows the device to not only surf the web, but download all kinds of books, newspapers and magazines off of Amazon’s online store.

The Story

Several months back, online retail giant Amazon.com released the Amazon Kindle as their first e-book reader. It sold quickly as people thought it was great to be able to not only store hundreds of books, but also to be able to download those books wirelessly. The Kindle has been on the market since November, and has been in many ways, a huge hit for Amazon.

The Good

To start off, the screen is absolutely amazing. My eyes never strain, and it almost feels as if you are really reading from a paperback book. When you need to purchase a book, you simply enable the EVDO and browse the usual online Amazon store until you find something to your liking. There are thousands upon thousands of books, newspapers and magazines to choose from, and they download directly to the Kindle without the need of your Mac or PC. However, if you are ever outside of the US, you will have to connect the Kindle to your computer.  The reason being that you can’t tap onto any CDMA networks.

The Bad

The design is pathetic. Amazon really needs to rethink where they placed some of the buttons. I constantly find myself pressing the “next page” button on accident, which is rather annoying. Once you do push the next button, it takes just over a second to refresh the screen. However, I do praise Amazon for putting in a home button. The black and white screen is amazing for books, but it looks awful when browsing web pages and reading blogs. The power and the wireless switch are located behind the unit, and are very incontinent to access when the Kindle is in its included case.

The Verdict

What sets the Kindle apart from other e-book readers is the fact that you can download new content on the go; whether you are near a wifi hotspot or not. Its screen is a definite plus when it comes to reading novels on the device, and subscribing to newspapers is just $14 a month. I would love to see the Kindle drop below $250, and I would adore some sort of subscription book service. But if you can afford the hefty price tag, learn the odd UI, and use hundreds of books in your bag, then the Amazon Kindle is just what you ordered.

iPhone Apps That Will Change The World

Ok, so maybe that title is a little bit of an exaggeration.  However, there’s no doubt in my mind that when iPhone 2.0 software comes out in July, the iPhone / iPod touch combo will be become a viable computing platform when the collective minds of developers get moving.

With that in mind, here are some applications that I would purchase or start using the instant they become available.

WiFi scanner

I really do use my iPod touch as a portable computer, either on my university campus or while on vacation. Throughout my journeys, I’ve been ecstatic to find open WiFi networks available to hop on and do a quick Google search. If you’ve ever used the iPhone or iPod touch (let’s make this easier and assume that iPhone also means iPod touch) as a network scanner, you’ll know it’s not exactly optimized. A dedicated scanner application would make searching for networks much easier and convenient.  It would also save you money because you wouldn’t need a dedicated pocket scanner.

Unit converter

This application could simply be a port of the Dashboard widget. The widget does a great job with converting many popular units.  Having it on a portable device would be invaluable while traveling in a foreign country.

Native WordPress app

If you watched Steve Jobs unveil the iPhone 2.0 software at WWDC, you’ll remember the demo of Movable Type’s application to blog without opening a browser. Why shouldn’t WP get some of this love? A local application that you could blog on the go with, and even insert iPhone camera snaps would be great. It doesn’t need to have all the admin features of the current panel, just a simple Write/Delete/Comment panel would suffice.

Instant Messaging client

I don’t think it will take a lot of time before one of these pops up. The guys at Adium have already written a blog post about porting Adium to the iPhone, and many of their previous concerns were resolved with the release of the official SDK. Hopefully the ‘app with the duck’ makes its way to the iPhone and I get better at typing with the on screen keyboard.

File browser

iPhones have a minimum of 8 GB flash storage, and the only way to access it directly is to jailbreak your phone. To get around that, I’ve had to email a file to myself, then view it within Mail. Clearly there is a more elegant way of storing files on the phone, and a simple browser could be the best. A network browser would just make me use the application that much quicker.

Keychain storage

Having recently returned from a vacation with my iPod, I can say that an application to store passwords would be fantastic. I don’t even need Safari integration, just something that can securely store passwords so that I can use them on websites from a separate computer. Being able to sync with my Mac would be great, too.  Wallet for the iPhone?

Final Thoughts

So these are just some applications that I hope come out quickly when iPhone 2.0 goes live in July.  What do you think? I hope the SDK and development environment fosters innovation, and that many interesting applications are released right out of the gate.

Update: The App Store now appears to be up and running.
App Store – Link

Five Reasons To Use Google Docs

Over the last couple of weeks, I have added a new tool to my writing arsenal. Google Docs. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s Google’s latest attempt to gain space in the Office market. It’s a free web based Office suite entailing a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation app. It is currently still in BETA (would you expect anything else from Google?) and it originally was formed from the purchase and collaboration of the web app Writely.

Since then Google has added both spreadsheet and presentation functionality.

But what makes it so great?  Why should you uninstall Microsoft Office from your Mac or PC and embrace Google Docs? – here are five reasons.

Collaboration

One of the most interesting features of Google Docs is the ability to collaborate on documents and share them with ease. So, say you were working on a report and needed to share a few points or even do a communal edit. With Google Docs it is as simple as clicking a button to make someone a collaborator, which then gives the new user the ability to edit and add new collaborators. Therefore, you no longer make the mistake of having the old version of that document.

Very simply, you can use Google Docs as a simple Wiki – something a lot of companies are starting to embrace.

Easy Access

Google Docs is obviously web based.  This means that you can access a lot of your documents online wherever you are. This can be incredibly important if you’re jumping between multiple machines, or don’t have your personal computer with you. Now some may say that with something like Sky Drive you are able to upload the documents and then download them when you want to. But with that there are two extra steps that really aren’t needed – the downloading and uploading.

The whole point to this state of mind is that if you want it, it’s there.  If someone else wants it…it’s there.

Simplicity

It’s ridiculous how many features a program such as Microsoft Word actually has, especially when most average users probably use what? 5% of the power that Word has. Whose fault is this? No one’s.  People expect new features with a new release, so it is expected that over time applications are going to become more “busy”. Of course there will be those that complain that this is a bad thing and detracts from how simple writing a document should be.

Google Docs has a very clean and intuitive interface which makes it easy and simple for even the novice user. That’s what I like about it. My grandparents get lost in Word, but in Google Docs, it is much simpler for them to get things done.  Sometimes less is better.

The user-interface is also reminiscent of the Office apps, just with less items on the menus – you won’t find yourself digging through every single feature looking for the blockquote option.

Security

You can’t afford to loose your data and neither can Google. By having your data off site, things are less likely to go wrong.  If your laptop is stolen, no problem because all your documents are on Google Docs.  Some might say (just to be the Devil’s Advocate) that there could a problem, like a fire at a Data Center.  Though this is possible, Google probably has far more protective measures then your office does.

So basically, thanks to storing all your data with Google, you’re protecting yourself from any unforeseen problems.

Integration

When using Google Docs you are able to integrate everything that Google offers around the internet into your word processing. So you could have your iGoogle showing all of your newest documents, then you could send a file from Google Docs with your Gmail account. The possibilities are endless.

Also on the point of integration, for all you yet to be converted Word users, Google Docs also allows documents to be saved in the .doc format.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, five good (in my opinion) reasons why you should at least consider giving Google Docs a try. There may be a couple of things that Google still have left to incorporate (like page formatting), but all these things are easily remediable.

Do you use Google Docs?  If so, why?