What is the Future of iOS Notification?

One of the more annoying things about iOS is its notification system. Modal alerts are so arcane, intrusive and annoying, I am actually shocked that they are still the standard method of notification in iOS as of version 4…

Looks like there are some underground movements (requiring jailbreaking, of course) to change that. Here’s a little commentary by Sebastiaan de With (@cocoia) that I found interesting:

Cocoia Blog » Getting Notified:

There’s some discussion on Apple-centric and tech news websites about a video that’s doing the rounds with a new approach to notifications for iOS. While the system in the video is really nothing new (there’s been at least one alternative notification system in the App-Store-for-jailbroken-phones “Cydia” since 2010) it is getting a lot of attention, presumably because iOS users are quite satisfied with almost all the interactions of the OS except those dang stacking modal dialogs that interrupt your game of Angry Birds every time you get a text message.

So while I am not a jailbreaker (and never will be), my hope is that Apple and its designers and developers on the iOS team will take notice of this and do something about it in a future version of iOS.

We shall see…

Ihnatko: Apple iPad 2 is here and tablet rivals need to hit the drawing board

This experience by Andy Ihnatko illustrates the power of the introduction of the iPad 2:

Apple iPad 2 is here and tablet rivals need to hit the drawing board – Chicago Sun-Times:

If one of your company’s goals for 2011 was to introduce a tablet to complete with the iPad, you can expect to struggle.

The second most powerful evidence of this happened just a minute ago, as I pulled out my iPad and keyboard here in my San Francisco hotel lobby to write this very same column.

“Looks like you’re going to have to buy a new one of those,” said an electrician as he passed by me on the way to his truck. “The new one’s coming out on the 11th.”

Since today is launch day, this experience may be more poignant, but alas I probably won’t be purchasing an iPad 2 yet – at least not in the near term. However, the original iPad saved my bacon on taxes last year, so I still have a few months to reconsider!

NSAttributedString in iOS

Thanks to Jeff LaMarche for this.

iPhone Development: Attributed Strings in iOS:

Ten months ago when the original iPad shipped, Apple released iOS 3.2, and for the first time, iOS developers had access to NSAttributedString and NSMutableAttributedString, objects designed to hold strings along with font, paragraph, and style information. We no longer had to resort to using heavy UIWebViews or complex Core Graphics calls to draw styled text.

Well, sort of…

Follow the link above to read more!

Excel Tip: Keyboard shortcut to insert a row

I needed to know how to add a row to a spreadsheet I was working on, and thankfully Joe Witwer, author of this Excel tip, figured this out. While not exactly straightforward, it’s easy enough to add a row quickly. He also includes instructions regarding how to insert a column:

Excel Tips: Insert a New Row or Column – Excel Keyboard Shortcut:

Lately, I have been trying to use as many Excel keyboard shortcuts as I can (not only for productivity, but for ergonomic reasons). I haven’t found a quick keyboard shortcut to insert a new row or column, but there is a two-step process that is quite convenient:

  • Shift+SpaceBar = Select the current row
  • Ctrl+Shift+PlusSign = Insert row(s)

To insert a new column, in step 1 use Ctrl+SpaceBar to select the current column. To insert more than one row or column at a time, use the arrow keys as you hold Shift before going to step 2.

Hope this helps!

iOS Simulator QuickTip: Removing all installed applications.

It was time to clean house a bit, so I wanted to remove all the currently installed applications in the iPhone Simulator. Turns out there’s a very simple way to do it…

1. With the iPhone Simulator running, click on the iOS Simulator application menu.

2. Click “Reset Contents and Settings…”.

– A confirmation dialog will appear warning that “all installed applications, content, and settings will be moved to the trash.”

3. Click “Reset.”

All the applications will be removed and you can proceed with a clean slate.

Peet’s Coffee Packaging UX

As a nice perk, the company at which I am currently employed provides complimentary Peet’s coffee. While this a very nice daily benefit, and is entirely welcome, there seems to have arisen a fundamental usability problem.

This morning I just made the observation that, as far as I can tell, every coffee station here at the office seems to have a pair of scissors — since the coffee packets are so difficult to open!

Somebody better tell Peet’s that coffee packets have users too! I’m sure if it was a financially viable option, and if they made a commercial-grade machine, companies might just switch to Keurig over it.

Yes, stringWithFormat returns an autoreleased NSString.

I ran into an interesting problem today. It was really basic and embarassing, so naturally I figured I’d go public with it…

Typically I use the allocinitWithFormatrelease way of creating strings, but today I used the NSString stringWithFormat factory method to generate a new NSString. Of course at the end of my method that was using the string I released the variable and it caused a mini-meltdown in the app I was working on.

So the new thing I found out today (and I guess I didn’t realize before) is that stringWithFormat returns an autoreleased NSString.

This forum post from 2008 just confirms it:

NSString: Differences between initWithFormat and stringWithFormat

Be careful out there!