gadgets

What’s a Hamburger Button? It’s the Hamburger that’s good for you.

There’s a hamburger you should try. It’s becoming really popular, people who try it seem to like it, it doesn’t make you (or your app) feel bloated…

Ok, enough of the poor wordplay, of course I’m talking about a Hamburger Button – that little three line icon you would have seen on apps that hides the primary navigation system until you tap on it.

Why talk about it? We build a lot of mobile sites and apps here at Fly Digital and have started seeing a real trend in clients moving away from tab bar navigation to the Hamburger way of navigating. It’s becoming a more widely accepted way to manage navigation on smaller screens.

Is it going to replace the tab bar? I think it will. The traditional tab bar that runs across the footer of many apps takes up a fair percentage of the screen real estate and usually only allows for 5 options at any one time. The Hamburger method takes up a tiny amount of screen space and can reveal a menu system that theoretically can be endless. These two reasons alone are going to move more app developers across to this method.

How does it work? In most cases, tapping the Hamburger icon slides the main content across to the right revealing a vertically scrolling view of menu items. Some apps also replicate this behaviour by allowing you to swipe across the main content.

The screenshots above show how the Facebook app on iOS does this. Below is a closeup of the Hamburger icon and expanded menu from the Teambox app also on iOS:

Why ‘Hamburger’? Well the icon itself has been around for a while but was originally designed to represent a set of drawers that when opened reveal additional content. However as it’s been used more widely in the mobile world (and probably in a bar somewhere on a Friday during lunch) developers have recently decided that the three layers looked more like a stylised burger instead, hence the name.

Xbox One – A non-gamers guide to what Microsoft just launched

We’re not gamers at Fly Digital but we don’t mind a new technology launch, so it was still a big deal when Microsoft presented their new Xbox One earlier today.

To help like-minded non-gaming tech fans, here’s a quick cheat sheet on the Xbox One.

What is the XBox One?

It’s the latest version of the Microsoft Xbox released 8 years after the Xbox 360. Rumours had it that this version would be called Xbox Infinity, but it seems Microsoft went the other end of the scale and started from step one again trying to create a completely new gaming experience rather than an upgrade to Xbox 360.

What cool things can it do?

Lots of voice control. You can turn it on by saying “XBox On” for a start which will wake up the device and return you to where you last left off. Or say “Xbox watch TV” to swap to a live TV feed. Plus you can even jump into a Skype call whilst playing a game (useful for taunting opponents).

Also using Windows 8′s snap feature you can ‘snap’ an app to one side of the screen whilst using the other side for something else. This has plenty of cool uses like snapping a twitter feed next to a live TV show, or playing a game with the walkthrough snapped to the other side.

What about Kinect?

The motion control add-on is still there but for Xbox One it’s been completely redeveloped. According to the demo earlier today, Microsoft claim Kinect “picks up motion at 13 billionths of a second, the time it takes light photons to bounce off of you and make it back for the sensors.” Now I’m no particle physicist but that sounds pretty darn responsive, am I right? This thing can apparently detect your heartbeat when exercising and Microsoft even claim it can register movements even in complete darkness (not sure if that’s important though, perhaps useful for the adult games market?)

Any demos I can watch?

Yep, check out the Call Of Duty : Ghosts video here: http://kotaku.com/call-of-duty-ghosts-gives-you-a-dog-customizable-mult-509058934 Check out the detail in the way the plants move when the helicopter flies past, or the reality of the German Shepherd (you get a dog in this new version, nice). Impressive stuff.

When can I get one?

Patience… Microsoft said the Xbox One will be available later in the year. I’d say based on previous releases assume around 4-6 months. But no doubt this is going to be a very popular Christmas gift for 2013.

Android spiking in the UK with new releases from HTC and Samsung

According to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, Android is further strengthening its number one place in the UK representing 58.4% of the total smartphone OS market for Jan-March 2013.

iOS has just over one-quarter market share at 28.9%.

A fair way behind, but growing at a fast rate is Windows mobile now accounting for 7% of the market, up from 2.9% a year ago.

As more sales of the new HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 devices flow through this will most probably tip market share even further in Android’s favour.

See the full report here.

Google Glass – will we all be wearing Google’s Glasses in a year?

When I was studying Digital Media at University I came up with the idea of a pair of “smart glasses” that overlayed directions on your surroundings as you walked around an unfamiliar city. It was all done through triangulation from mobile phone towers and a microprocessor within the glasses frame. It was a fun project to conceptualise, but never made it off the page.

It’s no surprise therefore that I was really excited to hear about Google’s “Project Glass” – a prototype pair of glasses that can record still and moving images from the wearer’s perspective  currently being tested by select users.

As Google define it, Project Glass is there to “share the world through your eyes. To get answers and updates, instantly. To be there when you need it, and out of your way when you don’t.”

It’s really cool.

In addition to the image recording capabilities the unit features a heads-up display (HUD) similar to that worn by military pilots, most recognisably those flying the Apache AH-64 Gunship helicopter.

Google have been testing the product in a rather flamboyant way including sky-divers streaming real time footage of their freefall to a Google Hangout and loaning units to fashion icon Diane Von Furstenburg to capture footage during New York fashion week.

It’s the HUD component of this product that particularly interests me though. A device like this with the backing of Google has the potential to make a huge impact. The possibilities for applications are endless. What about GPS based direction services that overlay maps via augmented reality, apps to provide guidance to people caught in emergency situations, real-time translations apps that give you live ‘subtitles’ when listening to foreign languages, ‘black box’ style real time recording for commercial drivers or apps to improve situational awareness for cyclists that overlay alerts when traffic is getting too close.

In the same way in which Apple & Samsung saturated the market with smartphones over a very short period of time, could we be seeing people wearing ‘Google Glasses’ on the high street within a year?

I hope so, because the potential for developing applications for this sort of device are incredibly exciting.

How to fix your personal hotspot on a Telstra iPhone5

If you’ve bought a new iPhone5 and are struggling to get your personal hotspot working, or if you’ve recently reset all phone settings (maybe to troubleshoot iPhone5′s battery drain issues) then try this.

Tap the settings app and go to General > Cellular > Cellular Data Network.

If your APN (Access Point Name) is set to telstra.wap change this to telstra.iph. Then if your personal hotspot is on, turn it off then on again and see if that fixes your problem.

You don’t need to enter anything in the Username or Password fields as shown on the left.

Let us know how you go.

Apple iPad Mini Announcement – LIVE BLOG

Welcome to the Fly Digital live blog of the Apple announcement on October 24th (October 23rd US) 2012. All times are Aus EDST.

4.01am: Tim Cook has just made his way onto the stage.

4.02am: We’re told the iPhone 5 was the fastest selling phone in history. Apple have made a video to back this up with lots of happy customers queueing at the Apple store in New York.

4.07am: There were 200million downloads of iOS6 in the first month (wow).

4.08am: 300 Billion messages have been sent via iMessage. That’s 28,000 per second. People don’t like calling each other any more.

4.10pm: 35 Billion apps have been downloaded from the App store representing a payout of 6.5 Billion dollars to developers.

4.15am: Welcome Phil Schiller to the stage to talk about some new hardware.

4.17am: The MacBook Pro is the best selling Mac machine (never knew that), and a new 13″ version is being released today.

4.21am: 7 hour battery life, retina display, lightning connector, power nap. The 2.5GHz dual-core i5 8GB RAM, 128GB flash version starts from $1699 (US).

4.26am: The first mention of “mini” … but it’s the new Mac Mini. Phil cracks a joke “you knew there’d be mention of something ‘mini’ in this presentation right?”.

4.29am: There’s a new iMac, the 8th generation of the flagship computer for Apple. Edge to edge glass, far thinner casing (5mm thick). Now that’s one thin desktop computer. Looks very sexy.

4.34am: The new iMac is 8lb lighter than the previous version, up to 768GB flash drive, up to 3TB HDD, Intel Quad Core i5 or i7, 21.5″ and 27″ versions.

4.36am: The iMac’s new Fusion Drive is a hybrid drive to enable faster access of data. Mountain Lion and base OSX apps are preloaded onto Fusion Drive if you choose that option. Claims to open files over 3x faster than standard HDD.

4.39am: 21.5″ iMac, 2.7GHz quad-core i5 starts at $1299. 27″, 2.9GHz starts at $1799, ships in December. Fly Digital will be getting a new present for Christmas methinks…

4.40am: And Tim Cook is back on stage, “and next I’d like to talk about iPad”.

4.40am: 100 Millionth iPad was sold last month (that’s over 2.5 years).

4.41am: iPad accounts for 91% of web traffic from Tablets. “There’s a simple reason for this”, says Tim Cook: “people love their iPads”. That got a chuckle from the audience.

4.45am: iBooks based textbooks are being used in over 2,500 schools in the US.

4.47am: And Phil Schiller is back on stage to talk more about iPad.

4.48am: The new 4th gen iPad has: A6X processor, 10-hour battery life, FaceTime HD camera, Expanded LTE (Telstra & Optus logos appeared on screen there), 2x faster Wi-Fi, lightning connector (with lightning to USB and SD connector options), black/white, 16GB Wi-Fi from $499, 16GB Wi-Fi and 4G from $629.

4.51am: The first mention of iPad Mini. The audience claps.

4.53am: The new iPad Mini is 7.2mm thick with a (7.9-inch diagonal) display. All software created for 3rd gen iPad works on iPad Mini.

4.59am: A comparison between the iPad and a “popular Android tablet” (Nexus 7) shows the iPad with a larger screen and larger area for content when browsing web pages.

5.01am: “Every inch an iPad” seems to be the new marketing line.

5.04am: We’re now watching a video on how the iPad Mini was conceived. Apple are doing a good job of reminding us this is a “condensed” iPad and a whole new device, and not just a “smaller” iPad.

5.07am: 16GB Wi-Fi version start at $329 (US) $369 (AUS). Pre-order October 26th. Wi-Fi ships November 2nd for Australia (available at 8:00 a.m in store).

5.09am: The new iPad Mini ad is pretty cute – two people playing “chopsticks” on a piano app side by side, iPad 3 on the left, iPad Mini on the right. Clever. That’s Phil’s spot finished, and Tim Cook is back.

5.12am: “This has been a truly prolific year of innovation for Apple”. Tim Cook thanks his teams for their work this year.

5.13am: And we’re done. Tim Cook thanks everyone for attending and the presentation finishes.

5.14am: www.apple.com is updated with the new iPad Mini

ACCC claim Apple’s “4G” is misleading for the New iPad

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) are today making a claim in the Federal Court for orders against Apple for promoting the new iPad as a 4G device.

The new iPad cannot run on any of the existing 4G networks in Australia due to the differences in frequency bands between here and the USA. But many consumers may not be aware of this fact and are possibly being swayed by the 4G label thinking “it must be faster than a 3G one”.

The same frequency mismatches occur in Europe and the European Commission may also be about to make similar claims on the use of 4G in Apple’s marketing.

The hearing is at 9.30am local time in Melbourne, Australia.

PayPal Here takes customer payments via iPhone/Android

PayPal have launched a new service called PayPal Here targeted at merchants looking for a way to take customer payments via mobile devices.

Currently available for iOS and Android devices the product consists of an app and physical mag-stripe reader that plugs into the smartphone.

Merchants load inventory into the app, take an order from a customer by adding or subtracting items from the menu and process payment by swiping the customer’s credit card.

Merchant fees (in Australia) are 2.4% plus a flat $0.30 charge for swiped cards and 2.9% + $0.30 for manually entered credit card details.

Here’s a video demonstrating how it works.

Apple’s new iPad, was it just a big letdown?

Like many others I was glued to my screens this morning (Australia time) watching Tim Cook announce the new iPad. But at the end of the presentation after we’d all signed out of twitter and submitted our final blog posts I couldn’t help feel a sense of anti-climax about the whole thing.

Why was that?

It wasn’t anything related to the product. I mean the new Retina Display, 5MP HD video camera, voice-to-text, A5X chip and everything else the tablet contains is awesome. It truly is a world leader and the very definition of innovation.

But it lead me to wonder are we just getting a little used to these sort of things?

Remember when Steve Jobs proclaimed “one more thing…” and pulled the iPod out of his pocket? Who wasn’t left speechless at that moment?

So why are we left just a little unfulfilled when the same company is presenting by far the most technologically advanced personal tablet product we’ve ever seen? Is it all of the rumor mongering and guesswork that preceded the announcement across the wealth of social media networks? Or are we just so used to getting treated to features that blow our minds again and again that we’re starting to get a little bit spoilt nowadays?

Whatever caused it, I can’t help but feel we’re entering a phase where there’s no such thing as a true “surprise” in digital technology, just a continuous series of well executed ideas that will do very well but somehow lack the “wow” factor of a few year’s ago.

Saying all that, I can t wait to get my hands on a new iPad, just maybe this time I’ll order it online rather than lining up outside the Apple store at midnight.

Apple iPad3? Apple TV 3? iOS? What will they announce tomorrow?

Less than 24 hours before Apple reveal their big announcement and the Internet is buzzing with speculation, guesswork and rumour-mongering about what they will reveal.

Here’s a short list of some of the topics that may (or may not) be covered tomorrow:

  • the new iPad will be called iPad 3
  • no, the new iPad will be called iPad HD
  • nope, the new iPad will be called iPad 2S
  • there will be no announcement about the iPad
  • there will be a new version of Apple TV called Apple TV2
  • no, it will be called Apple TV3
  • Apple TV will be merged with iPad to create iPad Maxi-TV
  • the new iPad will be thicker than iPad 2
  • the new iPad will be thinner than iPad 2
  • the new iPad will be round
  • the next iOS will be called iOS Alley (the most fierce of the cat family)

Ok we’re bound to have got at least one of those right.

For the REAL announcements, follow us on Twitter for live updates on the presentation @fly_digital from 5am Sydney time, or sign-up to Innovation Technology – our digital innovation newsletter – for a round-up of the event.