All posts by Thomas Wong

Rant: iOS and and Third Party Keyboards


iOS 10 third party keyboardsThird party keyboards were introduced as app extensions two years ago in iOS 8, and I was really excited by the prospect of getting to use long-standing Android keyboards like SwiftKey and Swype on iOS. Unfortunately, these other keyboards were nearly unusable when they launched. I think part of it was that developers were still getting used to how to develop input software for iOS, but the lion’s share of the blame seemed to lie with iOS just handling this new kind of extension very badly.

Keyboards could very slow to load in different apps, and they would reliably crash as you switched between chats in iMessage — which just landed you back in the default iOS QuickType keyboard.

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The iPhone Lock Screen on iOS 10

iOS 10 lock screen 1

The lock screen on iOS has seen a pretty fundamental change in iOS 10. Although the changes carry over to the iPad, you really feel like the shift was centered around making things better for the iPhone.

You can now simply raise your iPhone up off the table, or bring it up from your pocket, and the screen will turn on. Just like the raise-to-wake on the Apple Watch, the iPhone can now watch and react to your intent with its motion sensors.

This means you won’t actually need to press the Home or the Power button if you just want to read your latest notification, though I’m finding the habit of pressing a hardware button difficult to break. But I do think this new feature works very well in concert with the other major changes to the lock screen.

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Review: Darkroom for iPhone

review of Darkroom for iPhone5

Darkroom is a photo editing app that deserves a lot more attention than it currently gets. The photo editing market is already quite crowded, and there are a ton of apps out there that can a decent shot and make it a great one in a couple of taps. You know the drill: you load an app up, tap it to open a photo from a camera roll or album, edit, and then save that photo. Rinse and repeat. The vast majority of photo apps haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about how else users might browse and edit photos. The developers of Darkroom obviously have, and this is one of its killer features.

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Review: Apple’s Silicone Case in Midnight Blue

Review Apple Midnight Blue Silicone Case 3

Apple’s Silicone Case wasn’t actually my first choice for a case. I bought their leather Saddle Brown case and used it for about a month. I loved the way the leather felt and looked on the device, and I thought the warmer-looking Saddle Brown was a huge improvement over the basic Brown leather case. However, I also like to wear jeans most days of the week, and the Saddle Brown dye did not appreciate that in the least. It didn’t take long for me to sub out the leather case for a silicone one.

The white case was actually most appealing to me, but I was worried of repeating the blue staining I’d experienced with the leather case, so I went with Midnight Blue. I’ve had about six months with this case now, and although it isn’t exactly exciting, it’s definitely a keeper.

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9 Months With iPhone 6S Plus

9 Months with iPhone 6S Plus4

I’ve spent a good nine months with the iPhone 6S Plus. I didn’t go for Apple’s larger phone when they released the first iteration. I liked having an iPhone that was large enough to read on, but small enough to remain pocketable with any pair of pants. But battery life issues (caused by my Apple Watch) and curiosity eventually overcame me. I had to see what the fuss was all about and see for myself whether the larger screen really was a game changer.

Da Bigger Screen

It’s usually Apple’s powerful marketing campaigns that convince me that I really should try their shiny new thing. But in the case of the iPhone 6S Plus, it was actually my friends that were the biggest influence. I have a lot of non-techie friends at work who don’t normally care about which device they keep in their pockets, but the larger phone really made a difference to them. They used the 1920 X 1080 screen for quick references during presentations, viewed storyboards, and even wrote articles on the thing.

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