FreshBooks Open Sources iPhone App

“We learned first hand that it’s not easy to make an iPhone app. Taking some inspiration from the folks at Automattic (who open sourced their free WordPress iPhone application), we’ve decided to give back to our customers by sharing what we’ve learned.”


Very cool.

[ FreshBooks iPhone App ]

7 iPhone Improvements

I’ve pretty much been a lifelong BlackBerry user from the two-way beeper days before picking up the iPhone 3G a couple of months ago.  I also lead our WordPress for iPhone app so I got sucked into the iPhone world a bit more than I expected 🙂

Overall I’m super happy w/ the iPhone 3G so far – the browser rocks, having an iPod on me at all times is ideal, and the typical slick Apple UI is a joy to use.  Now with the 2.1 update, my biggest gripe – occasional keyboard lag – has been solved.

Like anyone though, I have a few other complaints/suggestions, and I figured I’d summarize them here with a digg inspired “7 feature requests/tweaks/fixes” I’d like to see:

1) Automatic zoom on double-tap.  Some emails and web sites zoom in perfectly when you double tap.   Others don’t zoom at all, and require the pinch/open gesture to control the zoom.  I’m sure this is a CSS things on the content site, but would like to see an option to override that.  One big offender is google email alerts – almost unreadable in iPhone mail with a tiny font, it requires the gesture to zoom in.

2) Google app support isn’t great and is buggy.  I get a “Safari cannot download this file” for my email on google apps.  Speaking of which, where is the native google calendar “sync” app – which works beautifully on blackberry

3) No way to search mail on the iPhone is a rally bummer.  I guess I got spoiled on the blackberry to the very slick google apps email client.

4) Photo browsing on the iPhone really kicks-ass, but the iPhoto sync options are too basic. Instead of “all” which is gigs for me of photos, or last import – which can be very random – how about a setting for “last 200 photos” – or “top viewed” photos ?  This issue for me would also be helped by a native Flickr app.

5) Battery management. Lots of people have complained about the battery.  I actually think the real issue is that it’s so fun and useful to use the iPhone that people are just using it way more than they did with their other phones.

But the bottom line is that the iPhone battery is running out mid-day for lots of people, and that is simply unacceptable.  So my suggestion, a smarter battery management system.  The system should guard and protect the most essential functions of the iPhone, which in my mind are the actual phone functions and SMS.  How could this be done ?  How about a setting that would trigger rationing and battery saving features when the battery hit 50% – such as dimming the screen, changing to manual for email, turning off wifi, etc.  Basically kick in all the suggestions Brian Lam of Gizmodo has made, but only when the battery is at X% – and have that X be user defined.

6) Way too easy to call someone by mistake. Make the contact screen selection ask you to “call” or sms” – I often try to click the arrow to the right to send a text, and call the person by mistake.

7) Add more shortcuts like the “home” button. I have my settings for “double clicking” the home button going into my phone favorites.  I’d like to see a few more options like one to take you to camera mode, and the other to the iPod.

And not even worth putting on the list since it’s so obvious, but copy&paste – pretty tough not to have that at least within an app like email.

So we’ll see what Apple has in the works, and being the gadget guy that I am – also keeping an eye on the BlackBerry Bold which should be out soon — looks pretty sweet.

Like a bunch of people that I know who do this already –  I’m not against carrying two devices 🙂

Catching up on the last two weeks: Ad Tech, BlogWorld Expo, Quigo & Yedda, WordPress iPhone plugin, Writers strike, and WSJ & Digg

Been traveling and just super busy the last couple of weeks, and started a bunch of posts that are still saved in draft.  So here is a wrap up of what I would have posted, and using a very John Paczkowski-like long headline 🙂

* Ad:Tech New York. Was in town for a few meetings, and a great dinner put together by Mike Hirschland (aka “VC Mike“). It was my first trip back to New York since I moved to San Francisco in July. My overall impression: every industry segment and media outlet is finally aligned to make the online ad world take a huge leap forward. Lots of smart people looking at significant ad dollars moving online and how best to capture them. Measurement will be key.

* I attended BlogWorld Expo in Vegas. I was impressed by the attendance and diversity of companies & speakers. It was also great to meet people in person that I had only emailed or Skype’d with previously (Shoutout to Karen & Dana of ContentRobot and John LoGioco of outbrain). Mark Cuban gave a great closing keynote, and our very own Matt Mullenweg was the opening keynote q&a session and interviewed here by webpronews. Lots of photos of the two day event on flickr.

* Good week to be an Israeli tech company. Quigo, founded by Yaron Galai, was purchased by AOL — congrats to Yaron & team ! Later in the week word spread that Yedda, a Y! Answers like service, also was purchased by AOL.

* On the WordPress front, the winner of the WordPress iPhone plugin challenge was announced. You can download the plugin here.

* The writers strike shows no signs of coming to an end. On how it might all shake out — Marc Andreessen has a superb post titled “Rebuilding Hollywood in Silicon Valley’s image“. A definite must-read.

* Great to see and Digg working more closely together. Kevin Rose posted details on the Digg blog and TechCrunch has some thoughts too.

iPhone Sights & Sounds

iPhone A few thoughts on what is undoubtedly “iPhone week”:

* I was at the 5th ave Apple (AAPL) store the other day, and actually saw people camping out waiting for the iPhone nearly 100 hours prior to availability.

* Inside the the impressive store on 5th ave, the sales guy i talked to had a couple of interesting things to say:
1) The dollar is so weak VS other currencies, that he sees international tourists buying up everything, and often buying 2 or 3 of each item. ( They were sold out of the mac book and mac book pros I was looking at ).
2) They anticipate a ton of people buying Macs when they purchase the iPhone. Reminded me of the iPod sales habits of a few years ago.

* The reviews are in !:
1) Walt Mossberg just posted his review, and also posted a q&a with Steve Jobs, plus I’m including the video below:
2) David Pogue has a nice complete review as well as multimedia content.

* Biggest take away for me so far from all these reviews: Mossberg, unlike David Pogue of the nytimes, is positive about the touch screen keyboard:

The iPhone’s most controversial feature, the omission of a physical keyboard in favor of a virtual keyboard on the screen, turned out in our tests to be a nonissue, despite our deep initial skepticism. After five days of use, Walt — who did most of the testing for this review — was able to type on it as quickly and accurately as he could on the Palm Treo he has used for years. This was partly because of smart software that corrects typing errors on the fly.

I think for people like me who are die hard blackberry users, this keyboard question is the biggest issue that has to be settled — and the only way that can be done is by using the iPhone for a few days. Or maybe I’m just trying to convince myself why I must buy an iPhone and not wait for the 2nd generation version as I would normally do 🙂