How can I see what is trending in the iPhone Twitter App?

It’s often useful to keep an eye on what’s trending on Twitter but in the latest versions of the iPhone Twitter App it’s not immediately obvious where to find what’s trending.

It’s actually really simple when you know.

How to see whats trending in the Twitter App.

At the top of your timeline screen just under where is says Home you’ll see 3 little dots. This is an iPhone App standard way to say that there’s more to see if you swipe left. The trick is to swipe left as shown by the arrow on one of the tweets not on the header itself.

Once you’ve swiped left you’ll see the ‘What’s Trending’ screen:

iPhone Twitter App - What's Trending Screen

You can then click on one of the hashtags to see what people are saying or return to your hime page by swiping right or just press the timelines button.

When will the iPhone 6 come out?

Friends and colleagues who know I follow Apple developments closely often ask me “When will the iPhone 6 come out?”. I thought I’d create a quick summary blog to answer this question as best we can without absolute confirmation from Apple.

To answer this question it may be helpful to look at recent history:

  • The first iPhone was released on June 29, 2007
  • The iPhone 3G was then released on July 11, 2008
  • The iPhone 3GS was released June 19, 2009
  • The iPhone 4 was released on June 24, 2010
  • The iPhone 4S was released on October 14, 2011
  • The iPhone 5 was released on September 21, 2012
  • And finally the iPhone 5C and the iPhone 5S were released on September 20, 2013

I would therefore expect the iPhone 6 to launch either on September 19th or September 20th 2014.  I would not be surprised if Apple launched their new iWatch on the same day.

The new iPhone 6 will probably initially launch with a larger 5.5 inch display and will be followed in October / November by the smaller 4.7 inch display.  The main features will be a new display coating made from Sapphire crystal, a faster processor, higher minimum memory and probably some additional sensors and improvements to Siri.

As I hear more I’ll update this blog post.

What PC should I buy for my parents 2014?

This is a question I get asked by someone every few months so I thought I’d write a quick blog post about it.

When you buy or recommend a PC/Laptop/Tablet etc to someone you should know that you are going to become their personal IT Helpdesk 24 x 7. If you’ve ever tried talking someone who is only familiar with the basics through Anti Virus updates, Windows updates or Windows pop-up messages which are terrifying to normal people you’ll know what I mean. I once had a late night call from a relative who was really worried about having done something ‘illegal’ after reading some unhelpful message that popped up from Windows.

What do they really want to do with a PC/Laptop?

These days I would completely avoid buying a laptop/PC or Mac if all people want to do is surf the web, do emails and occasional word processing. Instead they are better off using a simple tablet device (see below). These are a perfect all in one solution and are not subject to complicated software updates, installs, anti-virus etc. They can be set-up with external keyboards and easily pair with the current crop of printers from the likes of Epson and HP over WiFi.

I’d only recommend looking at a Mac or PC if they have a lot of video, photo’s, accounting, word processing, presentations or special software requirements.  Even then most of these can be done surprisingly well these days on iPads.

For example if you want to write a novel then I wouldn’t recommend trying to do it on your iPad but if you just want to maintain a CV and write a few letters if would be fine.  Also if you want to use Accounting software like Sage to be compatible with an Account you may be better off using a Mac running VMWare or a PC – although again Cloud based solutions like Xero work very well.

Mac or PC?

I work with both Mac’s and PC’s (and numerous other systems) but these days I always recommend people buy a Mac rather than a PC unless there is a good technical reason for wanting a PC.

Why Mac rather than PC? Well it goes back to my opening comments about you becoming your friends personal IT helpdesk 24 x 7. These days Apple do such a great job of providing technical support and after sales service it’s a joy in comparison to trying to sort most PC hardware problem out.

Generally I recommend people treat themselves a Mac Book Pro or Mac Book Air. If anything goes wrong with it they can make an appointment and drop in with it to their local Apple Store – job done!  I also recommend that people get an Apple Time Capsule. These are simple WiFi based backup drives. They make sure all the content on you laptop are safely backed up – automatically. If the worst happens and your laptop fails completely you can just take the Time Capsule and you Mac Book into the Apple Store and they’ll fix the laptop and then restore it from the latest backup on the Time Capsule.

There is simply no where now that I would trust on the high street to provide this integrated high quality level of customer care for a PC based product. That’s not to say that there aren’t some good computer stores out there but the service and experience will be much more variable.

Apple iPad or Android Tablet for Parents?

If it’s for the children to play with then either an old second user iPad or a cheap Android base tablet. If it’s for your parents then go for the iPad.  I’m not knocking Android, technically some of it’s latest versions have features you won’t see on the iPad for a few year if ever.  The iPad is however a much more refined and curated experience more suited to busy people who just want to get on with emails, surfing, editing documents etc rather than learning how to tweak hundreds of settings and install lots of software from all over the Internet.  To date the iPad has proven to be much more secure than Android. There is Anti-Virus software for the iPad but I don’t know anyone who has ever used it, on the other hand it’s recommended on Android because of it’s open nature.

Apple iPhone or Android or Windows Phone for Parents?

You’ve probably guessed by now that I’m going to say iPhone.  If any of the other kit you have is Apple and you’re happy with it then it makes sense to go with the iPhone rather than another brand. The level of easy, quick and seamless integration you get between Apple devices is second to non.

To be honest there are some very good deals on Android and Windows phone. If the budget you are working with is limited then it may be a hard choice between a high spec Android or Windows phone and may be last years or the year before iPhone model.  In my experience most people are perfectly happy with the iPhone 4S, especially if it’s their first mobile like this.

Let me know how you get on. If you have any questions leave it in a comment below and I’ll try and reply as soon as possible.

Apple iCloud KeyChain Web Developers Best Practice Guide

Apple’s password manager (iCloud KeyChain for Safari) may not be the best password manager but that’s completely irrelevant because by now it’s already the most popular, most widely adopted password manager in the World. It’s therefore important that you make sure your website is compatible with this piece of Apple technology. As a user of Apple’s Safari I’m increasingly shocked at the number of major websites that are not compatible with the Apple password manager.

Testing that your site works with Apples iCloud password manager will improve your User Experience (UX) and also improves your sites security.  In my experience people are much more likely to use a strong password if Safari picks the password for them.  In addition to this Safari generates a random strong password for each site, so the chances of a hack on one site being used to gain access to another are greatly reduced.

The key points to making your site compatible are:

  1. Make sure that testing your site against the Safari password manager is incorporated into your user acceptance test plans from now on.
  2. Make sure that testing includes your password change page and password recovery pages. Specifically make sure that when your user picks a new password that this gets saved away properly by Safari and is used next time they need to logon.
  3. Make sure that your site can accept the long complex passwords generated by Safari – currently 15 long containing upper and lower case and dashes.  For example:

    Apple Safari Web designers and developers password manager guidelines.
    The most frequent issue we encounter is that sites don’t allow the hyphen in passwords.

  4. Make sure that your website does not undermine this great security by then emailing out this strong password to the user/customer as part of their registration confirmation.
  5. Make sure that your website does not store passwords as clear text in its database. It should be using a one way hashing algorithm so that the password itself can never be retrieved.

If you discover any hints or tips for making your website work really well with Apple’s Safari / iCloud KeyChain password manager do please get in touch and leave a comment below.  We’ll be sure to update this blog post as we discover more about it.

Does Audi support Apple CarPlay?

Does Audi support Apple CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay allows you to connect your iPhone 5+ via the lightning connector and have selected apps displayed in a simplified form on the dashboard. The simplified form means that the driver isn’t distracted by all the usual fun and features of a their iPhone.

Will Audi ever support Apple CarPlay?

I’m desperate for this functionality in my Audi.  I drive a high end model that’s only a year old but the Audi MMI system is like something from days of MS/DOS and painfully slow and clunky. Even the MMI integration with the iPhone that it supports doesn’t work that well.  I’ve now given up with it and put a cheap air vent iPhone holder next to the steering wheel and use the TomTom App for navigation which is infinitely superior to the Audi built in satnav. I’ve got an iPod touch in the glove compartment connected to the MMI interface for music and podcasts.

When I heard about the Apple CarPlay system I got excited. Some car manufactures are planning to offer upgrades to existing customers so that their cars can support CarPlay. Anyway I tend to replace my car every 2 or 3 years so I thought no doubt my next Audi would support CarPlay.

Sadly it doesn’t look like Audi are planning to support CarPlay. Their name is missing from the list of manufactures on the Apple website.  Further Audi is currently backing Google and an initiative called the Open Automotive Alliance launched in January 2014 at the CES trade show in Las Vegas.

So at the time of writing (March 8th 2014) there is no public sign that I’ve been able to find that Audi have any plans at all to support Apple CarPlay. I can’t honestly believe that they won’t ultimately have to back both standards or risk losing serious market share.  You see the thing is these days all new cars are actually really good so the purchasing decision is heavily influenced by little things like dashboard features.  Ask any car sales man these and they’ll tell you that one of the most frequently asked questions they get is ‘will it work with my iPhone’. I hope Audi do get tho sorted out in the next 12 months before I look to change my car or I’ll certainly very seriously consider another car brand.

As and when I receive any more information on Audi’s plans for Apple CarPlay I’ll post an update.

Update June 26th 2014:  At its Google I/O developer’s conference in San Francisco, this week they announced Android Auto, their answer to Apple’s CarPlay. Much like CarPlay, Android Auto is designed to bring the Android experience to a car’s in-dash infotainment system.

Google said that Android Auto is contextually aware and puts the apps that users need front and centre on the car’s dashboard. Google stressed that Android Auto is “completely voice enabled,” relying on Google Now much the way CarPlay relies on Siri for voice commands.  In my simple view having two such similar systems in the marketplace is yet more reason that firms like Audi need to provide a choice between Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, preferably as an automatic configuration based on whatever handset you plug into your dashboard.

Update June 27th 2014: Today Audi formally announced that they would be supporting Apple CarPlay in a press release they say, Our customers want to be ‘always on’ and use the services they know from their smartphones in cars as well,” says Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Board Member for Technical Development at AUDI AG. “In this regard, we are working closely with leading companies like Google and Apple. In the future, customers will be able to use the functions available to them on their smartphones via the operating systems in their cars as well.

This is really good news for everyone. What we need to know now is when and if Audi issue an update to their MMI so that CarPLay can work with any existing models.

Update January 12th 2015: Apple have now launched a page with the official list of makes and models that support Carplay.  As of today the list of Audi models supporting Carplay  is still shamefully small with just the A4 and Q7 being listed.  It’s interesting that their parent company VW are showing that they support CarPlay on almost every model.

How can I watch BBC iPlayer using my Apple TV?

Update: December 2015The blog post below refers to the second and third generation Apple TV.  The 4th generation Apple TV launched in September 2015 has it’s own App Store. In early December 2015 the BBC launched their own native Apple TV 4 BBC iPlayer App. You can simply download and use this from the Apple TV App Store.  At this time there is no mention of this being ported back to the earlier Apple TV devices and this doesn’t seem likely. If you are still using one of the earlier Apple TV units then the blog post below will still work very well. 

 

It’s really easy to use BBC iPlayer with the second generation Apple TV but to do it you’ll need an iPhone or iPod Touch.  Just download the BBC iPlayer App free of charge from the Apple App Store.  It’s a really great App. I really like the favourites function so you can mark the programmes you are interested in so that you can quickly get to them through the favourites menu.  Check you’ve got the latest version of the BBC iPlayer application installed.  To do this just find the App Store icon on your iPhone and make sure there are no pending updates.

How to use BBC iPlayer with Apple TV

 

When you start to play a programme you should then see the Apple Air Play icon on the bottom right of the display as shown above.  Just press this and then select your Apple TV device from the list.  If you don’t see your Apple TV device in the list then do a quick restart on the Apple TV.  For some reason mine seems to drop off the network when it goes into power save mode.  To do a restart go to the General menu on the Apple TV, scroll down to the bottom of that menu and select restart.  If you then try the Air Play icon again you should see your Apple TV device and a few moments later the programme will start to play through your TV.  At this point you can press the off switch on your iPhone to save the battery and you can control iPlayer using the Apple TV remote control.

For me this works brilliantly and we use it all the time now to watch iPlayer in our sitting room.  It would still be great if one day the BBC and Apple could cooperate to bring iPlayer directly onto the Apple TV but for now this is nearly as good.