Convert your website or web app to iOS app

I’ve been looking at web apps for iOS last weekend, as I was helping a friend with possibly porting his work as a native app. The solution provided by Apple is rather elegant, and very minimal in terms of work required. If your web app is HTML5 and CSS3 compliant, you’re good to go with about 15 minutes work. You’re able to have a web app run from the home screen of the iOS device, and appear to be native. The only flaw at this stage is that JavaScript is a bit laggy at times; this is primarily due to the fact that Apple has upgraded the JavaScript engine for Mobile Safari to the Nitro engine, while apps that run outside of Mobile Safari have not received access to the faster engine (read an unbiased explanation here). Anyways, what to do.

First, we need to hide the Safari components. We do this by adding the following inside the <head> tag of your normal web page/s:

<meta name="apple-mobile-web-app-capable" content="yes" />

Next, we need to hide the Status Bar. Again, by adding a single line to the <head> tag of your normal web page/s:

<meta name="apple-mobile-web-app-status-bar-style" content="black" />

There are three options for colors you can use here:

  • default – the status bar appears normal
  • black – the status bar has a black background
  • black-translucent – the status bar is black and translucent

If set to default or black, the web content is displayed below the status bar.
If set to black-translucent, the web content is displayed on the entire screen, partially obscured by the status bar.
The default value is default.

Now, the icon for your app. Presumably, you will want to use the same image as for your favicon, so at least you have the artwork ready to go. It just needs a little tweaking, and we’re away. You’ll need an icon which measures 57×57. You have two options for this, apple-touch-icon and apple-touch-icon-precomposed, depending on how you want Apple to handle your icon. The first option tells iOS that you’ve given it a generic icon to which it will add the standard app icon effects (rounded corners, drop shadow, and reflective shine); the second option tells iOS that you are giving it a fully kitted out icon with no need for adjustment. Bear in mind that the icon will always be placed on a black background, and be overlaid with a round-cornered “stencil”; so any transparent elements to the image will appear as black in the final displayed version.

Once this icon is created, place it in PNG format in the root document folder called apple-touch-icon.png or apple-touch-icon-precomposed.png. This specifies the icon for the entire website (every page on the website). Now you can link to it with a single line to the <head> tag of your normal web page/s:

<link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="/custom_icon.png"/>

or

<link rel="apple-touch-icon-precomposed" href="/custom_icon_precomposed.png"/>

For more information, check out Apple’s Web App tools, and also their discussion of meta-tags in iOS.

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Testing WordPress app for iPad

Just a quick test post to check if my iPad WordPress app is logged and rocking properly.

my iPad app round-up

So, I’ve had my iPad for over a month now, and I felt it was time to review the apps I have on it now. I figure a month is enough time to settle into my usage patterns and have discarded apps that just didn’t do it for me afterall.

1: Social Networking –

I don’t run one app for all my social networking, some people prefer to but I have found it better to have apps that focus on one thing, and do what they do do well. For Twitter, I was originally using Twitterific, and had just upgraded to the paid version the day before Twitter released their own app. Since then I have been devoted to the official Twitter app which is clean, intuitive, and just pretty much perfect in my book.

For Facebook, I am still floating between two apps; Friendly and the official Facebook iPhone app. Both are pretty good, Friendly is more aesthetically pleasing due to being designed for the iPad form-factor, while the official FB app seems a little more intuitive and “like” Facebook itself (as you would expect).

I’m also running FourSquare on my iPad, as I don’t have an iPhone (still!!).

2: Utilities / Lifestyle –

I have quite a few utilities set up on my iPad, for news I am running the fantastic NYTimes app, the TVNZ News app, and the NZ Herald app. I also use GeekNews to pull all my geeky tech blogs together into one streamlined place. The Mashable! app is great for a quick check up on what is trending or popping up online currently.
I am currently using PrinterShare for printing directly from the iPad on my home network. This will hopefully change when iOS4 is released for iPad (rumors indicate late November 2010 maybe).
I also have Google Earth, the IMDb app, and a great tracking app – Parcel – which allows you to just put in your tracking code allocated to the delivery you are expecting. Saves having to visit different websites and remember your tracking numbers for different companies. Some other little gems are:
Epicurious
Wikipanion
Evernote
– The WordPress app for blogging on the go
Shazam
Then for a bit of creative fun, I have GrooveMaker and Drums! GrooveMaker lets you mix tracks, and even create your own tracks on the fly. Drums! is just that, a complete drum set on your iPad – in fact, it’s actually three complete drum sets, as you can choose between Standard, Groove, and Acoustic kits. The sound is true to life, so go get it.

3: Web Dev –

A few free web-dev helpers tucked on the iPad too. I’ve got JsAnywhere and three great apps from Interactive Blasphemy. JavaScript Anywhere is a JavaScript tool which enables you to edit your JS script, adjust the CSS, and then view the results in an HTML page. You can email the results to yourself. From Interactive Blasphemy I have robots.txt, which is just that, a robots.txt generator; Password, which generates passwords of random characters of length and complexity specified; and RGB/HSB/Hex, which enables you to create that perfect shade for you web job, and also then suggests good matching and contrasting colors.

4: Games –

Yep, the main reason most people have an iPad. I am personally a big fan of the logic/strategy games. I’ll list them all, then comment on a few of them, with more in-depth reviews being added, along with links to the iTunes store, later on:
– iFighter – essentially the classic fighter game 1945 remade for the iPad
– Harbor Master
– FlightControl HD
– Canabalt
– Gravity Hook
– Angry Birds
– Angry Birds (Halloween Special)
– Cut the Rope
– Pocket Frogs
– Plants vs Zombies
– Fruit Ninja HD
– Steve Young Football
– Build-A-Lot 2
– Blue Block
– Crazy Traffic: Crashed XL
– Train Conductor 2: U.S.A.
– No, Human
– Trainyard
– UFO On Tape
– Railway
– Chicktionary
– NOM
– Fish Eat Fish
– Dismount
– GearedHD
– Air Hockey
– TicTacDojo
– Little Metal Ball
– Soosiz HD
– Physics HD
– Gravity HD
– Tilt to Live HD
– NinJump
– Red Bull RC
– Asymmetry
– 8Bit Rebellion (the Linkin Park game)

Surprisingly enough, I have found my usage of the iPad to be alot different than I planned for. I have found the games an easy way to take a 5 minute break when I need to, but have found that I actually now tend to jump on Twitter or a news site when I want a 5 minute chill out. I am still just working with iBooks as my book-reader and PDF-reader of choice. Primarily because I have no need of the flasher features of the other readers out there. Overall, I have to say that the iPad is proving itself to be very worthwhile as a tool; and I keep finding new ways for it to excel and prove it’s worth.

easy links to iTunes content

Just a quick post to highlight the funky little tool on the iTunes website for automajickally [sic] generating links to specific apps with the iTunes store. The appropriately named iTunes Link Maker is able to be targeted by Country, Media Type, or Genre/Category; as well as being able to be searched by name.

It has been out for a while, and is not guaranteed by Apple at all. In fact, they go so far as to state

The Link Maker tool is provided by Apple as an accommodation only. Apple assumes no responsibility for your use of any links, and makes no representation regarding their accuracy or performance.

amongst other parts of the disclaimer. But, hey, it’s easier than trying to figure it out and do it yourself. Right??

iPhone4 not in NZ yet afterall??

So, from the looks of things, the iPhone4 is not to be revealed to New Zealand shores today (Friday) afterall! At around 4pm today, the Vodafone iPhone landing page stopped being a “register your interest” page, and instead returned to being a 3G[S] information page. Meanwhile, the Apple NZ store iPhone page is still showing a “coming soon” message for the iPhone4.  The New Zealand Herald is reporting that the iPhone4 launch is off, as are Twitter reports (@SparkyNZ, @AhmadNZ) and other tech blogs.

Dreams are that Vodafone NZ could have done something like Vodafone Australia did, and actually do a launch worth being there for. A, well, dreams are free, eh??

I was all set and keen to be grabbing one in the AM, but it looks like my nearly move to almost fan-boi has been stymied by Apple themselves this time.

More news as it comes to hand.

my new spectacles

Still crook, but had to venture out briefly to pick up my new spectacles. Here they are:

Image0013                    Image0017

I am looking a bit grim, as I’m still stuffed up and not really able to talk at all.

I did walk into the shop next door to the optometrist and glance at the iPad as I was running early. I do like it, but I am not inspired to desperately grab one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking it. I would definitely love to have one to play with, but for me it is definitely a luxury bit of tech, not an essential. Guess I’m still not a fan-boi yet. iPhone4 has me interested still though.

Ah well, back to bed now.

quick update – what I’ve been up to

Well, obviously, I’ve been knocking out quite a few tutorials over the past week or so, but not so much about moi. Basically, I’ve been working hard and prepping for interviews. A couple of promising leads ahead, with possible offers due in from a few options in the next week or two. I have some opinions about which I want, or don’t; but I’m waiting for paper before I decide.

Last weekend, as I posted, I was down in Napier for the wedding of my good friends Hamish and Julie. It was a great day, and the weather held absolutely perfect for all of Saturday. I’m yet to post photos to facebook, but I will this weekend as soon as I get some decent internet time. My blogging recently has been in offline mode, with updating when connected.

Looking forward to Easter weekend, with some gardening and chores, but mainly chilling out and relaxing; as well as ongoing interview prep and reading. Also attempting to keep my various languages active, so I’ll probably focus on XML and C# over the weekend. Clash of the Titans is out today, so I may make it to the cinema for that also.

No-one’s announced iPad availability in New Zealand yet either, so it’s just a waiting game here. At least none of the telcos have announced a bundled deal yet either, which is great as that’ll just destroy half the point of it. Still hoping Apple sells it directly un-contracted, so we can actually use it as intended.

Anyway, no major developments in my life this week, just the ongoing job hunt really. I’ve got a couple more PHP tutorials to post, and then I’ll deal to a few others in various languages.