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.

The next Angry Birds update – Mighty Eagle!

After a long wait, the Mighty Eagle is almost here! This legendary and mysterious bird will be included in the next Angry Birds update, due to be released in the next few days. The update includes 15 levels in a hot new desert themed episode, Ham ‘Em High, with a brand new shiny golden egg, and all the usual goodies we love to see from Angry Birds.

The Mighty Eagle is downloadable content. If you get stuck in the game, you have the opportunity to purchase a can of sardines, which you use to lure out the elusive Mighty Eagle. This phenomenal creature will the soar from the skies to wreak havoc and smash the pesky pigs into oblivion!

Mighty Eagle will help you skip the toughest obstacles, but there’s a limit: you can only use the aid of Mighty Eagle to pass a level once per hour. In other words, when you pass a level with Mighty Eagle, you need to wait an hour to use him again to pass another level.

Is that all? Far from it! Mighty Eagle includes all new gameplay goals and achievements! In each level that you already cleared using the regular birds, you can smash away freely and try to fill up the destruction gauge! If you want to smash your way through every level leaving nothing behind, you have every incentive to do so!

Mighty Eagle is an in-app purchase in Angry Birds and costs $0.99/£0.59/€0.79NZ$1.29 to download.

Here’s a sneak peek

[text from Angry Birds press release]

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.

what am I doing??

I haven’t really posted for a while. Been manically busy, so only updating via my Twitter for the past few weeks. Been having many visits to the oral surgeon and orthodontist and am now booked in for my jaw-break operation mid-October. Just sorting out the nitty-gritty details of finance at the moment, as my health insurer changed the coverage rules part-way through the process (I started back in 2006). Bit of negotiation going on there. Also, had to trash my room finding documents that had been filed away in 2006/2007 for health cover. Turned out that a “helpful” family member had moved them elsewhere for safe-keeping; hence my inability to find them where I had put them (stress much??!!??).

Also had my car die at the same time as discovering that health coverage may not be there. That was not so pleasant, as the initial thoughts were that the car was a goner. Turns out is was fixable, and relatively cheaply (praise God!!).

Also been attempting to get some work done on sqwi.sh to update it with oAuth for auto-tweeting; and I want to get some statistical features up and running too, to enable analysis of what your sqwish’d link has done.

Along with all this, been keeping my head into the ongoing job hunt. The stats aren’t helping at all, with the US having it’s highest rate of unemployment in the IT industry, and New Zealand’s industry consolidating. The 3-5 years experience barrier has now been bumped to 5-7 years experience as there seems to be a flood of experience being down-sized and made redundant. Who’d hire a recent grad when they can get someone with 7 years experience? I’m still being positive and applying with my best foot forward though. Also pushing on my web and software projects, ‘cause it could be one of those that nails it and gets me a job or becomes my job. I did a photo-shoot for Auckland Uni Science Faculty on Friday for a profile on recent graduates, me being specifically a recent graduate of the Computer Science department (and the Information Systems department of the Business School).

Grrrr, so that all sounds like doom and gloom, it’s not. On a positive note, I got an iPad for birthday/graduation present from my folks, and I’m loving it. Still torn over whether I want an iPhone4 too (money precludes this at present), but iOS and the app store are bringing a smile to my face. I’ve mainly gone with free apps, but I have also bought a few after watching review trends etc. I’ll be doing a post shortly about my favourite apps, free and paid, based on consistent use over the past month or so. First use reviews are great, but I find knowing how the reviewer feels after a month of use (if they still use the app after a month!!) is essential to being able to make a well-informed decision. Also, following on from my previous post, I have tickets to U2 on 25th November!! So I am a happy Cameron. And tickets to Bon Jovi on Dec 5th.

That’s enough for now, but I will be back to blogging properly now. WordPress iPad app here I come.

I don’t have an iPhone4 yet

This morning I was up and at it early. With all the rumours overnight about the iPhone4 not making it to release in NZ today after all, I thought I’d be clever and be a the shop anyway. urns out 9am resulted in a no-show for the phone. Did some more research, and managed to view an internal Noel Leemings document which acknowledged that there would be a release through a limited number of Vodafone outlets. Just after this, as I headed back to the Queen Street Vodafone store, it was made public by the big V themselves.

Got there and got in the queue, about 20 people back, so no big dramas. They were going around handing out the sign-up forms which was when I hit a little snag (and this is my grumble too).

product-hero-iphone4Vodafone New Zealand management in their wisdom, decided that for the initial launch of the iPhone4 in New Zealand not only would they would only sell it on contract (no problems) but that, additionally, they would not allow subscribers paying break-fees to re-sign and get the iPhone4!! This I thought was a bit on the nose really, essentially existing Vodafone customers who wanted the iPhone4 were given the big proverbial finger. I did think about just signing for a new plan, and then just cancelling my existing one afterwards. The break-fees would be the same, but I didn’t want to be that much of an a$$ about it.

The very minor silver lining to this cloud is that I am on the list for the 2nd batch of phones to arrive in NZ, which should be mid-way through this coming week. I am going in to have a chat with them on Monday though, as I really was a bit grumpy that as a loyal Vodafone customer I was given the shaft.

Anyways, so I will actually be an Apple user of some description soon. iPad no, iPhone4 yes.

[Update – ahmad posts a more detailed breakdown of the woes we were struck by in How not to treat your customers – the Apple and Vodafone NZ example]

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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.