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☍ iPhone 2.2 Update Brings Street View, OTA Podcast Downloads

New IPhone 2.2: The iPhone OS 2.2 Rumor Round Up

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OK, so we all knew that the iPhone 2.2 update was bringing Google Maps Street View and walking directions (about time, too). But Gizmodo says it will also include over-the-air podcast downloads. First I’ve heard of this, but a welcome feature that people like me and Dave Winer have been clamoring for from the beginning.

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And it suddenly makes a lot more sense why Apple rejected the “Podcaster” app (which downloads over the air, too) for “duplicating iTunes functionality”. At the time, we scratched our heads, because the iPhone had no such capability.

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Best way to upload photos from an iPhone, and preserve location information (or: review of Flickup for iPhone)

I use Flickr to store my photos online. You can “geotag” your photos on Flickr, to show where, exactly, they were taken (on a map). I’ve geotagged most of the 4000+ photos I have on Flickr. By hand, dragging them to the correct location on the map. What a pain.

The iPhone, with the new 2.0 software, can take pictures and tag them with your current location (if you have an iPhone 3G with real GPS, this location information is usually MUCH more precise). Suddenly, the dream of being able to get photos from the iPhone to Flickr, WITHOUT having to manually geotag or othewise manipulate them, seemed to be within reach.

So close, yet so far away.

Right now, there are a few ways to get photos from an iPhone to Flickr. The easiest, I think, is to setup the “upload by email” feature on Flickr. This gives you a secret email address that, when sent a photo as an attachment, uploads the photo to Flickr for you. This is how I get iPhone photos onto Flickr 99% of the time. The downside is, the photos get sent at a much smaller size (640×480) than they were taken at (1600×1200). On top of that, all of the “EXIF” metadata (what make and model camera took the picture, what exposure settings were used, etc.) gets stripped off of the photo when it’s emailed. This includes the geotag/location information. So it arrives at Flickr shrunken and lobotomized and unaware of where it was taken. So sad.

Once the App Store launched, Flickr uploader apps started appearing in droves. AirMe seems to be a popular one, but I tested it, and it didn’t preserve the geodata, (and I think it shrunk the photos, too). So I deleted it.

I’ve been watching the development of an app called Flickup with interest. The author, Martin Gordon (@kodachrome22 on Twitter), is someone I kind of know from Ars Technica. But most importantly, the feature list of Flickup looked promising – it can upload photos and preserve the geotag/location information. It’s not free ($1.99), so I waited a little longer to try it than I would have otherwise, but try it I have, and I’m pleased (if not 100% ecstatic) with the results.

First of all, Flickup DOES preserve the geotag information of the photos it uploads (with a caveat):

Flickup Geo Test


This is a photo I took from within the Flickup app, and uploaded straight to Flickr. The app asked me for permission to use my location (like all location-aware iPhone apps do), which I granted, et viola! The photo appears on the map where it was taken (to the best of my iPhone’s knowledge). Click on the photo then click “map” to see it – I can’t figure out a way to direct link to a single photo on the map on Flickr.

Even better, for photos taken from within the Flickup app (as opposed to uploading saved pictures from the Photo Album), the photos go up to Flickr in their full 2 megapixel 1600×1200 glory.

If you’re looking for an app ONLY to take pictures, and send them directly to Flickr, you can stop reading here. Flickup is perfect, and does everything you’d expect it to (you can edit the title, description, and tags of the photos, etc., too).

So what are the caveats? They have to do with uploading saved pictures from the iPhone’s Photo Album.

First, when you upload a saved photo from the album, it goes as a shrunken 640×480 version. Martin says this has to do with some limitations in the iPhone’s APIs (which I believe). He also says that the API is the cause of all the other EXIF metadata being stripped from the photos (which is probably what makes this such a problem in the first place – fix your stupid APIs, Apple!) Don’t count this against Martin or Flickup.

Second, when you upload a saved picture from the album, Flickup WILL geotag it, but it appears to grab your CURRENT location (it asks), rather than use the location data stored in the photo. In other words, it will geotag the photo with the location of where it was UPLOADED, instead of where it was TAKEN. Martin acknowledges this is sub-optimal.

Flickup from Photo Album Test


(A photo uploaded from my Photo Album, but geotagged at the time of upload.)

If what Martin says about the Apple APIs stripping out EXIF metadata (and again, I have no reason not to believe this is true), then there’s probably no way for Flickup (or any other photo uploader app) to preserve a photo’s ORIGINAL location information. The best we can hope for is how Flickup works – tag it with the location at the time of upload. If you take photos and upload them immediately, then there’s really no difference. But it’s super annoying that Apple comes SO CLOSE to making this work the way it should, yet falls short in the home stretch.

So, is Flickup worth the $1.99 in the App Store? If you’re a Flickr user that cares about a) uploading pictures at full size instead of 640×480, and/or actually preserving all that fancy location data that your iPhone can tack onto your photos, then yes, absolutely. Flickup is the way to go for full size geotagged Flickr uploading goodness.

There’s still room in this field for perfection. But it seems that it will depend on Apple making changes to the photo and location APIs on the iPhone, or some really clever developers figuring out ways to get around those restrictions. Guess which one I’m betting on happening first? 😉

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At SIGGRAPH in L.A., Watching the Future of Computing Unfold

I’m at the SIGGRAPH 2008 conference in Los Angeles this week. My group, Intel Software Network, has a lot of cool stuff going on this week around the recent paper that was published on the Larrabee architecture.

I just put up a post on the ISN blog, about the history of SIGGRAPH and the ACM, and then waxing a bit philosophical about Larrabee and the future of computing as we know it:

I can’t shake the feeling that the Larrabee Architecture paper that was just published by the ACM, written mostly by Intel engineers, is one of those landmark events in computing. I’m really not trying to add to the hype that’s already surrounding Larrabee. There’s enough of that already. But it really is going to be a huge leap in computing. Imagine that in a couple of years, instead of having one, or two, or maybe four cores, your computer could have a Larrabee card with 24 or 32 (I’m guessing – this number isn’t final) programmable x86 cores that can be set to any task that benefits from massive parallelism (like, say, making that 3D game you’re playing look REALLY pretty and smooth), along with 8 “bigger” traditional Nehalem (I mean, Core i7) processor cores that do the things your current single or dual core processor does. Oh, and with Hyperthreading, all of those cores can run more than one thread, which makes them appear as even more “virtual” processors to the operating and software that use them.

How in the world are operating systems, applications, and games going to have to change to deal with this massive shift to many cores and many threads?

I’ll be posting more, and helping to get some videos of the cool stuff here at SIGGRAPH posted quickly to ISN’s video site, Take Five, so keep any eye out over there for any cool stuff I come across.

It’s things like this that make me love my job! :-)

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Bit Stories 2008-07-02: Recording Screwups, Moblin.org, Linux, MIDs, and NetMeeting

Here’s this week’s show! Have a listen, and check out the download/subscribe links and detailed show notes below.

This week’s show is only 30 minutes long and weighs about 28MB (it’s a 128kbps MP3). You can download the file directly, listen using the streaming player above, or (BEST OPTION!!1!) subscribe to the Bit Stories podcast feed in your favorite podcast aggregator (like iTunes). If you subscribe to the feed, you’ll get each show delivered automatically as it becomes available – probably once a week or so, with the occasional bonus video or audio segment thrown in for fun. Plus, we’ll love you forever if you subscribe! :-)

Bit Stories Podcast Recording Setup

Here are some free form notes from today’s show:

  • Yet Another Audio Setup

  • Embarrassing Confession: We recorded the last two shows using the built-in mic on my MacBook Pro, instead of the elaborate mixer/condenser mic that we have set up. Because I’m an idiot. The saving grace? It sounded pretty darn good! :-)
  • Have developers let the Tablet PC community down?
  • Brian paved and reinstalled Windows XP on his Samsung Q1 UMPC
  • Why XP instead of Vista? Not quite enough horsepower.
  • Josh has done the same thing (gone back and forth between XP and Vista) on his Asus R2H UMPC
  • Speaking of mobile device operating systems… Moblin.org
  • What the heck IS Moblin? Is it an OS?
  • Moblin is a stack of tools to help create OSes and applications for Mobile Internet Devices. It’s sponsored by Intel, and hosted by Intel Software Network
  • Ubuntu Mobile Edition (UME) sneak peak is out there, if you have a Samsung Q1 Ultra
  • Brian feels that he won’t be able to use a Linux-based MID because of the lack of mature ink/handwriting input support
  • It’s really hard to do an ink interface well
  • Will Atom-based devices ever have the horsepower to do handwriting well? Is this a hardware or a software problem?
  • Do open source projects do better when there’s a common, widespread demand and need for the result (like a web browser)? Do enough people in the open source community need and/or want good ink and handwriting support to motivate them to write it? Would enough people use it and care about it to make it worth their time?
  • Since Mobile Internet Devices are all about the Internet, having a good browser is going to be essential.
  • Windows versus Linux on these small, pocketable internet devices.
  • In general, lack of UI “polish” in Linux applications is a deterrent for non-geeks to adopt it.
  • Brian’s “essential” applications on his Samsung Q1: Microsoft Office, Firefox, and Microsoft Money
  • Is Firefox the exception to the “Linux applications don’t have a good interface/user experience” stereotype?
  • How easy is it going to be to “install any app you want” on the upcoming Linux MIDs?
  • The challenges of adapting applications to devices on smaller screen.
  • UMPCScrollBar – a great little app that lets you scroll windows around the smaller UMPC screen, so you can get to the “Install” and “OK” buttons that get pushed off the bottom of the screen.
  • Intel Software Network’s mobility community makes tons of resources, tools, and smart people available for people writing applications for these devices. Take advantage of us!
  • Without great software, Intel products are just a bunch of really tiny hot plates. :-)
  • Have we discovered the REAL reason Intel has chosen not to deploy Windows Vista? Is it because NetMeeting is no longer there? Microsoft stopped distributing NetMeeting in 1998 – TEN YEARS AGO. But Intel lives and breathes NetMeeting – old habits die hard. (Update after the show: according to Wikipedia, Microsoft released a hotfix that allows you to download and install NetMeeting on Vista. Guess we were wrong! 😉 )
  • Macs do Screen Sharing, based on VNC, but there’s NO way on a Mac to participate in a NetMeeting call, because it’s a closed, proprietary Microsoft protocol.
  • Google Docs is GREAT for live collaboration.
  • PowerPoint is a great presentation tool, but it is NOT a collaboration tool! It gets abused WAY too often. PowerPoint abuse starts early – Brian’s 7th grade son is already doing it!
  • New recording time – Wednesday morning instead of Friday afternoon. Hope this gets the show out faster, and Josh and Brian perkier.
  • Josh’s morning voice – he’s not a morning person. Brian gets up at 5:30 AM.
  • Stuff we didn’t get to this week: Brian dips his toes into the world of Twitter and FriendFeed, and next week is iPhone 3G day! Come stand in line with us!

The show is picking up steam – we’re hitting our stride, and cranking them out. Many, many thanks to our listeners – we love you guys! We love connecting with people through the show, and getting to know who’s listening. But the only way we can do that is if you talk to us, so leave a comment, email us, or find some other way to say “hi”, and let us know what you think of the show! :-)

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BitStories 2008-06-13: Josh and Brian Ride Again! iPhone 3G, Netbooks, and More

Hey, remember TinyPodcast? No? Well, Brian Jarvis and I (Josh Bancroft), two guys who happen to work at Intel, started doing a weekly podcast way back in 2004. Basically, the two of us geeked out about the latest mobile devices, cool software, and technology news and rumors, and recorded it. It was moderately popular, and some people actually complained when it tapered off…

Well, we’re back! And we’re under the Bit Stories banner now. I work for Intel Software Network, and I’ve had the idea and intention for a while now of doing a show there like Brian and I used to do. Now we’re actually doing it.

If you haven’t listened before, this isn’t some professionally produced, slick, marketing message controlled by our corporate overlords. We’re just a couple of geeks who love gadgets, phones, computers, the web, and software, talking about whatever’s new and cool. We try to make the audio sound good, but it’s always going to be a little rough around the edges, and we’re OK with that. Sound like something you’d be interested in? Come have a listen.

In this show, we talk about the following, in no particular order:

  • The iPhone 3G announcement – its features, whether Brian is finally going to cave in and get one, how AT&T is raising prices on the plans just because they can, how we can’t wait to see what comes out of the App Store, and everything else we can think of. We’re a little obsessed. :-)
  • Netbooks vs. regular laptops vs. Tablet PCs (with the tangent typing vs handwriting discussion).
  • Where we want to take the show – we don’t have grand plans – we pretty much have always played this by ear, but we’d love to hear any ideas or suggestions (or complaints!) you have, so we can keep it interesting.
  • And a whole lot more I can’t remember right now!

The show is about 38 minutes long (we try to stick to the magic 40 minute length), and weighs about 35MB (it’s a 128kbps MP3). You can download the file directly, listen using the streaming player in this post, or (BEST OPTION!!1!) subscribe to the Bit Stories podcast feed in your favorite podcast aggregator (like iTunes). If you subscribe to the feed, you’ll get each show delivered automatically as it becomes available – probably once a week or so, with the occasional bonus video or audio segment thrown in for fun. Plus, we’ll love you forever if you subscribe.

Are you thrilled that the show is back? Mad that we changed something? Think we suck for being gone so long? Just want to say hi? Post a comment, and let us know! Seriously. We crave the validation that your feedback brings. You have no idea how fragile our self esteem really is… 😉

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Exclusive: 23 minutes of hands-on with the Lenovo and Aigo Mobile Internet Devices

OK, so I’m a couple days late, and I know I’ve been teasing you with photos and videoappetizers“, but I hope the quality/content of these videos makes up for it. While I was in Shanghai, China last week for the Spring 2008 Intel Developer Forum, I stayed a few extra days to work with the Intel Software Network China team, with the hope that I might be able to score some hands-on time with some of the Mobile Internet Devices that were shown for the first time at IDF.

There are only about 20 MIDs in the world today, all prototypes, and they were pretty much all at IDF. As you can imagine, access to them is jealously guarded, and they were pretty busy being shown off, participating in photo shoots, etc. My access to them got postponed, rescheduled, and moved around a lot, until one afternoon, we got the call. “You can come play with the MIDs if you can be here by 5:30pm.” It was 5:00pm, and Welles and I jumped in a taxi right away, headed for the Intel Software group’s Mobility Enabling Lab. I didn’t have time to go back and get my “big boy” professional video gear, so these videos were shot on my pocket Aiptek Go-HD camera, secured by a GorillaPod. I think they turned out pretty well.

Big disclaimer: the Linux-based software for both the Lenovo and Aigo devices I used is NOT final – there are some features that aren’t implemented, and performance optimizations that haven’t occurred. This is NOT how they’re going to be when they’re released commercially. There are crashes, slowness, and missing features in these videos. Think of this as a preview of the foundations of the software – what it’s capable of in general. Then squint your eyes a little and imagine the final version, a little more polished, sitting happily in your pocket. :-)

First up, here’s a 13 minute video of the Lenovo Ideapad U8 Mobile Internet Device (MID). It’s one of the more unique hardware designs, with it’s flared end, special limited edition Beijing 2008 Olympic color scheme, and hardware number pad, for T9 text entry. In the video, I take a detailed look at the hardware (Intel Atom processor, two cameras – the rear one is 2.0 megapixels, SD slot, GPS, USB ports, etc.), and spend some time poking around with the software/user interface:


You can download the high quality (640×360) MP4 version here – the file is about 153 MB. You can also embed/share the video on your own blog or site by grabbing the Show Player code from the video’s page on blip.tv or by clicking “Embed” in the show player above.

Next up is 10 minutes of video with the MID from Aigo. I cover pretty much the same aspects of this device in the video as I did with the Lenovo Ideapad – hardware (sliding QWERTY keyboard, two cameras – the rear one is 3.0 megapixels, MicroSD slot, USB ports, “Smart Key”, etc.) and software and user interface. The Aigo device looks very similar to the Gigabyte MID, which has been floating around, making appearances. So much so that I suspect they’re manufactured by the same OEM, but I didn’t get any concrete information on this, so I’m just speculating. Here’s the video:


You can download the high quality (640×360) MP4 version of this video (117 MB) here, and get the embed code to share the video on your own site/blog on the video’s page on blip.tv, or by clicking “Embed” in the show player above.

Now that you’ve seen the videos, I hope some of your questions have been answered. And, no doubt, you have new questions. I’ll do my very best to get answers for you, so post your thoughts and questions in the comments below. Thanks for being patient while I got these videos ready. I have a TON more video content that I shot at IDF, and that will be coming out as it gets processed/edited. But this is the juicy stuff, so enjoy! :-)

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History of Software on the iPhone – A Prelude

My iPhone is now an iBrick. Here’s how it happened, what I learned, how it felt, and what you might be able to learn from the whole thing. I’ll write up the details of that story in a separate post. This one is for background.

My Line Waiting Assistants

I am a HUGE iPhone fan. I camped out on release day to be number one in line. I’ve used the heck out of my iPhone every single day since I got it. I’ve taught other people how great they are, answered countless questions about it, and generally been a huge fan.

Getting Ready to Activate

I have had many, many mobile devices, and understand that since the operating system for most devices resides in flash ROM, and isn’t meant to be readily modified, you can’t expect the device manufacturer to help you fix problems you run into with a modified device. This hasn’t prevented lively developer communities from springing up around popular devices – like XDA-Developers, etc. – to help power users get even more functionality and fun from their devices.

Soon after the iPhone was launched on June 29, 2007, such a developer community popped up around it. Even though Apple made it very clear that they didn’t intend to support iPhone developers at all. “Make web applications. That’s good enough.” was the edict from Cupertino. Most people I know, from real developers to regular old users were miffed that Apple wasn’t releasing a Software Development Kit (SDK) to make applications for the iPhone. So the development community took matters into its own hands.

It ranged from people like Joe Hewitt (of Firebug and now Facebook fame – he’s the guy that wrote Facebook’s iPhone UI, which has been featured in Steve Jobs keynotes) engineering and releasing tools like iUI to make better web applications to the dedicated hackers who figured out how to get your own applications to install and run on the iPhone. Following best practices from the Linux world, they gave people how were willing to “jailbreak” their iPhone the ability to run Nullriver’s AppTapp Installer.app – a package manager that opened the door to browse and install dozens of iPhone applications.

Apps installed on my iPhone, 9/11/07

There was an uneasy stalemate between Apple and the iPhone developers. Apple openly admitted that they weren’t going to support these 3rd party developers, but they weren’t going to try to stop them, either. On September 11, 2007, Gearlog published this quote from an interview with Greg Joswiak, VP of Hardware Product Marketing at Apple:

I asked him about independent, native software development for the iPhone. He said Apple doesn’t oppose native application development, which was new to me. Rather, Apple takes a neutral stance – they’re not going to stop anyone from writing apps, and they’re not going to maliciously design software updates to break the native apps, but they’re not going to care if their software updates accidentally break the native apps either.

In other words, iPhone “hacking” would follow the same path as other mobile devices, like Windows Mobile, iPods, etc. No one expected Apple to help customers make 3rd party applications work. Everyone knew that the most you could expect from Apple was a complete wipe and restore back to factory new settings. In fact, when iPhone updates 1.0.1 and 1.0.2 were released, this is exactly what happened. If you had “jailbroken” your iPhone and installed 3rd party apps, the device was wiped and restored to Apple’s known good “clean” state. No more than two weeks later, Apple radically reversed its position on this issue.

The Smugness

Then came the seemingly similar activity of “unlocking” iPhones to work on cellular carriers other than AT&T. The iPhone is a unique device in that it’s extraordinarily locked down, meant only to work if you have a valid account with AT&T. Without active AT&T service, you couldn’t use any of the other features of the iPhone. No wifi web browsing, no iPod media playback, nothing. So the people outside of AT&T service area (the whole world outside the United States), and people who couldn’t or didn’t want to switch to AT&T could never have an iPhone, under Apple and AT&Ts rules. Many people felt this was unfair and dictatorial, and It’s interesting to note that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires U.S. cell phone carriers to SIM unlock customers’ phones upon request, for overseas travel, or any other reason.

Mac Book Pro and iPhone

So the development community set to work on a “SIM unlock” for the iPhone, which modified the radio/baseband part of the iPhone firmware to allow it to use ANY SIM card from ANY carrier. The unlocking apps were released. The world rejoiced. And no one expected Apple to support iPhones that weren’t on the AT&T network. Just like installing 3rd party applications, the most you could expect Apple to do would be to wipe and restore your iPhone to its original state.

An application called anySIM was the first free version of these unlocking apps. It was made available through the popular and simple Installer.app package system (it was pulled a few hours later). During the time it was available, I downloaded it. I didn’t need or want to unlock my iPhone – I’m happy with AT&T’s service (we have two lines of service in our family), and I didn’t even have a non-AT&T SIM card that I could use to test and see if the unlock worked. But I’m a geek and an enthusiast and a blogger, so I ran the unlock software, if only to document the process, just like all the other 3rd party software installations I had done.

And that’s where all the trouble started…

(Click here to read the next part of the saga: I admit it – I ran anySIM to unlock my iPhone (a photo story))

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