Will Surface bring open-source to tablet development

The tablet market is becoming increasingly competitive at the moment, with Microsoft releasing its much anticipated Surface, Apple its hugely popular iPad mini and other competitors such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble entering the arena.

Apple has a closed ecosystem when it comes to apps, whilst Google and the Android platform is a lot more open. Up until now Microsoft and PCs have been a relatively open platform to write games and other software for, but this is something that will change with the release of Windows 8.


The software giants have already come in for criticism from the maker of Minecraft, Markus Persson, who says that Microsoft run the risk of ruining their existing PC gaming ecosystem due to the need for code certification.

The certification scheme is designed to confirm that any code used in making apps for Windows 8 will be finished and reliable. However, Persson is not the only game developer to express his concerns that this will lead to a more closed platform and squeeze the profit margins for some developers so much that they may go out of business.

So what does this mean for tablet development? Well, according to ZDNet, it could leave the door wide open for Linux-based applications and OS to come into play. The problem with Windows 8 is that currently, it only has a limited number of apps in its ecosystem, and developers don’t seem to be beating down the door to help them improve this. In theory, this means that devs may be attracted to the thought of Ubuntu-based tablets as Linux is thoroughly immersed as an open source project.

This is in theory though, Linux has struggled along for years without showing any sign of competing with the Windows platform, which has remained the most popular OS in the world, despite a slight climb in Mac OSX sales.

When it comes to tablets though, Apple is the key player and it seems unlikely that Windows 8 or Linux will come close to knocking iOS off its perch anytime soon, especially if you consider that Android is the most popular (though less secure) mobile OS in the world and therefore presents as big a threat to Windows.

Bearing all of this in mind, Microsoft’s tablet may shake up the desktop PC world in terms of open source software, but it’s unlikely to affect the tablet world in any significant way, at least in the short term.

However, whilst it’s a risky strategy for Microsoft, as they are for once selling hardware with the software already on-board, it could work in a similar way as Apple, but then it can’t be considered an open source project.

It would be interesting to see Linux gain a foothold however, as we would then see a true open source platform become more successful with widespread use.

What the New iPad’s Retina Display Means for Developers

By Richard Mallion

The new iPad (3) arrives this Friday, March 16. Like the iPhone 4 the new iPad comes with a retina display. The native resolution is 2048×1536 pixels which is an incredible 3.1 million pixels. This is form times the number of pixels the iPad 1 and iPad 2 had. The screen is amazing but does leave some extra work for developers, both native app developers and web developers.

Native Apps

For native apps, existing apps should run just fine. The resolution of 2048×1536 is exactly double the older iPads. This was a deliberate choice by Apple as it allows the iPad 3 to neatly double up any images from the older apps to display on the retina display. Due to the doubling up the images may not look as crisp as they might but they certainly are passable.

Going forward developers will have to update their apps to take advantage of the retina display. This means providing high resolution images. The consequence of this is that apps will get bigger. The recently update iWorks suite for iPad has almost doubled in size due to the large image assets required. This is a reason why Apple has just increased the maximum over the air install to 50MB.

Web Pages

For web developers, they may choose to start supplying high res images for the iPad and similar devices. The problem thou is that you want to send smaller images to small screens and larger images to larger screens. Sending a huge iPad-optimized image to a device with a max resolution of 320×480 just doesn’t make sense. At the same time, when bandwidth isn’t an issue, most sites will want to serve high-resolution content to displays that can handle it.

The ideal solution would be to detect both the resolution of the screen and the available bandwidth. Then, based on the combination of those two factors, the server could offer up the appropriate image. Currently that’s not possible, though there are already proposals to extend HTML to handle that scenario.

The Responsive Image Working Group is a W3C community group hoping to solve some of these problems. The group is proposing a new HTML element, <picture>, which will take into account factors like network speed, device dimensions, screen pixel density and browser cache to figure out which image to serve up.

In the mean time Apple has started to upgrade their web site with high resolution mages for the iPad 3.  The way Apple is doing this is serving up lower resolution images by default, then using JavaScript to send larger images on to iPads. That works, but it will definitely mean increased download times for new iPads since they have to download two files for every graphic. Apple’s approach will also up the number of HTTP requests, which will also slow down the page.

The slower page loads seem to be an acceptable trade off for Apple since the company no doubt wants to showcase the new iPad’s high resolution display with high resolution images. For other sites the bandwidth trade off may not be worth the gain in image resolution.



The iPad

To probably nobody’s surprise, Apple have released the latest revision to their award winning tablet, simply named “The new iPad”.

In summary, the new advertised features are

  • “Retina Display” with a 2048 x 1536 resolution and 3.1 million pixels
  • A5X quad core processor
  • Up to 10 hours battery life
  • 5MP iSight camera
  • 4G Capable
  • Voice dictation

The new iPad starts at a price of £399 for the 16GB WiFi model, up to £659 for the 64GB WiFi and 4G.

The iPad 2 is also still on sale, now at a reduced price of £329 for the 16GB WiFi or £429 for the 16GB WiFi + 3G.

With iOS 5.1 also released yesterday (available for download now for existing iOS devices), the iPad benefits from further features such as the ability to delete photos from Photo Stream and a redesigned camera App with video stabilisation technology.

Apple have also taken this opportunity to complete the iLife suite of App’s for iOS, now making available iPhoto for iOS as well as updates to the existing applications.

Finally, an updated Apple TV was released. Retaining the £99 price point, it is now capable of playing 1080p video and has a redesigned UI that Apple claim will make it easier than ever to browse through and discover your favourite content.

Microsoft Office for iPad?

Rumours are circulating that Microsoft are about to submit a version of Microsoft Office for the iPad to the App store for approval. The version (pictured above) is said to allow the creation and editing of Word, Excel and PowerPoint files both locally and online.

The app’s user interface is meant to be similar to the current OneNote app, but it has hints of Metro, the new design language that can be seen in Windows Phone and in the as-yet-released Windows 8 desktop operating system.

Notably, a version of Android is “not in the works”.

If true this could give the iPad another advantage in the business world. Only time will tell.

Via thedaily.com

iPad Apps in Education

I have had the fortune this week of watching some incredible presentations and testimonials on iPad in education. What blew me away was the way in which the iPad and the apps that go along with it have revolutionised the way children learn. Of course I was aware of the use of iPad within education, but to see it in practice has been a real eye opener.

So in homage to all things learning, I have compiled a few of my “best in” educational applications. It may be worth noting that many of these apps are not aimed at specific age groups, and hence I found myself being challenged by mathematical problems that are probably easily solved by a 15 year old.

So here they are:

book creator app

Book Creator

Book Creator offers users something previously unavailable: the chance to create books which can be submitted and then read using Apple’s iBooks. It has a dead simple interface and removes the necessity for any PC infrastructure. A must have for any e-pub environment!



explain everything app
Explain Everything

Explain Everything records on-screen drawing, annotation, object movement and captures audio via the iPad microphone. Import Photos, PDF, PPT, and Keynote from Dropbox, Evernote, Email, iPad photo roll and iPad2 camera. Export MP4 movie files, PNG image files, and share the .XPL project file with others for collaboration. It can also be used as an interactive whiteboard in the classroom.



math bingo app
Math Bingo

This is exactly what it says – a combination of maths (or math) and bingo that allows users to practise their arithmetic in a fun and simple way. It requires users to get a pattern of 5 bingo bugs in a row, and continues to encourage users by offering bingo rewards. Clean, fun and simple.



pocket body

Pocket Body

One for aspiring medical students! Pocket Body is a fully featured anatomical reference, with over 30 000 words of supplemental content. It also includes a built in quiz which can be tailored to your level of proficiency. It is essentially Grey’s Anatomy




For a whole lot more, visit tmadeeasy for an exhaustive listing and review of apps for education

By Adam Davies

Netflix Launches in the UK

By Richard Mallion

Netflix has launched its online movie subscription service in the UK, allowing consumers to get unlimited access to their films catalogue  for £5.99 a month.

The service uses the internet to stream films and programming to connected devices including Smart TVs, games consoles, iPads and tablets, and smartphones such as the Apple iPhone.

In response Love Film has started to lower the cost of their streaming service which can only be good for consumers.


iPad Survives Fall From Edge of Space

By Richard Mallion

A really cool video has recorded an Apple iPad’s fall to Earth from a balloon in the stratosphere.

The video shows the iPad falling from a height of 100,000 feet , with the blackness of space and the bright curve of Earth providing a stunning backdrop. The device free-falls all the way back to Earth to make a crash landing on a rocky Nevada hillside.

The video was recorded by the Rhode Island-based company G-Form, which designs protective electronics cases and athletic pads.

Amazingly it still works…..


Setting iTunes to Disable Automatic iOS Device Backups

We have just finished an iPad deployment project for one of our customers that had a specific requirement. The 90 iPads needed to be restored to a predefined state, once every two weeks, for the foreseeable future.

To achieve this, we had to ensure that they did not attempt to update their backups each time they are connected to iTunes. Otherwise, the next time one of the iPads was connected, the backup would have been updated with the newer settings.

So to stop iTunes running an automatic backup when you plug in an iOS device quit iTunes, launch terminal and type in the following command:

  • defaults write com.apple.iTunes AutomaticDeviceBackupsDisabled -bool true

To stop iTunes running any backups at all (even manually, or before a restore) quit iTunes, launch terminal and type in the following command:

  • defaults write com.apple.iTunes DeviceBackupsDisabled -bool true

To undo the above commands, quit iTunes, launch terminal and type in the following commands:

  • defaults delete com.apple.iTunes AutomaticDeviceBackupsDisabled
  • defaults delete com.apple.iTunes DeviceBackupsDisabled

iPad as a universal remote control?

harmony link from logitech

Having recently setup my home theatre system, I have become increasingly frustrated by the sheer volume of remote controls lying around my living room.

Oh how I would love to replace them all – TV, Sky, AV receiver, Blu Ray etc – with just one remote control.

My immediate thought was to go out and purchase a Universal Remote but as my eyes rested upon my iPad sitting in the corner I wondered, is there a suitable product to turn my iPad into a remote control?

As luck would have it, Logitech seem to have had the same idea.  Their new Harmony Link  is a small device that connects to your home WiFi network.  It turns signals from the Harmony Link app (which can be downloaded from the App store) on your iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or even Android device, into infrared commands to control your various devices.

Unfortunately this is not yet available in the UK (US only at this point) and reviews seem to be mixed on the functionality of the iOS app but it definitely sounds like a product with great potential and certainly something I will be keeping an eye out for in the UK!!

Further info can be found over at the Logitech site

Available on the App store




Bring your meetings to life with SoundNote

A large part of my job is visiting clients onsite for face to face meetings to discuss support options or consultancy work we can provide. As anybody knows with any meeting, note taking is paramount to ensure when you leave, specific details are not forgotten when putting together follow up emails later in the day, or the day after. From speaking to those who have been doing this longer than I, there seemed to be two schools of thought, written notes or dictaphone. Each camp has compelling arguments, but being the 21st century, why should we need to argue at all?

The answer is, you don’t.

SoundNote for the iPad brings together both worlds under one single App in a way that is so simple, and yet until the introduction of smart devices, impossible. SoundNote allows me to press record, and type notes at the same time, in the knowledge that specifics are being captured by the iPads in built microphone.

“So what?” I hear you say, “We could just use a Dictaphone and a notepad, it would be the same.”

No, with the iPad’s touch screen technology, once you have finished your meeting and stopped therecording, you can press any word of the notes you have typed and the recording will automatically move to the time of the meeting you typed it. So if my client starts talking about the programs they wish to run on their systems, all I need type is ‘Programs’, safe in the knowledge that later I can touch the word and the client’s voice will tell me exactly what they want.


For me, SoundNote has been invaluable and aside from the  above, it allows me to attend meetings in my colleagues stead, yet send them the full recording and notes via the export function in built so they are also up to speed.


A great App for any manager, director or PA, well worth the £2.99 price tag.

Available on iTunes

LogMeIn Holiday Gift

LogMeIn has a nice holiday gift for iOS device owners this season: a new free app called simply LogMeIn  that provides remote viewing access and control of Macs and PCs on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. It’s basically what the paid version LogMeIn Ignition provides, without ads or limitations.

Along with free remote control of an unlimited number of Macs or PCs from your iOS device with LogMeIn, LogMeIn Pro also provides access to your computer’s entire file structure, where you can grab files and copy them to local storage, other computers, or to cloud-based storage via online services like Dropbox, Google Docs or any WebDav server. You can even move or copy entire folders at once, and open a variety of file types right within LogMeIn, including audio, video, image and document files.

log me in free app

Getting set up is a breeze, and the LogMeIn app walks you through the process. You’ll have to sign up for an account, then download a client application on the computers you want to be able to access remotely. It’s the simplest solution I’ve seen for getting remote access set up both within and outside of your own home Wi-Fi network, and testing over 3G shows it works great even on cellular connections. By default, the app uses a somewhat strange navigation system that moves the screen instead of the cursor, but you can switch to cursor mode relatively easily if the default mode isn’t working for you.

The free version of LogMeIn is probably all most people need, especially if you just want to check on a download or video rendering progress, or control a media center PC from the comfort of the couch without the added hassle of wireless mice and keyboards. But LogMeIn has wisely thrown in a Pro trial with each new sign up, and the file management features and cloud service access are mighty tempting. Also, the Pro subscription provides HD video and audio playback from PCs, with a Mac implementation of the same feature planned for the near future.

If you’ve previously purchased LogMeIn Ignition, you’re lucky; you get grandfathered in to the new Pro features automatically. This is a smart move for LogMeIn in general, though, since it should introduce many more people to the service’s remote viewing functions, which is tempting bait for the new recurring Pro subscription.

Get LogMeIn Here

Looking for a remote support solution for your company? Why not check out our remote support service.

SoundHound launches free music search and discovery App for iOs and Android!

SoundHound launches free music search and discovery App for iOs and Android!

SoundHound, the revolutionary sound search company, announced the launch of a new, free version of its popular mobile app for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.
The SoundHound App can identify recorded music as well as songs users sing or hum.


SoundHound is instant music search and discovery:

♪ The world’s FASTEST music recognition: name tunes playing from a speaker in as little as four seconds

♪ The world’s only viable singing and humming recognition

♪ LiveLyrics (in the U.S. and Canada): see Lyrics in time with the music for music recognition and your iPod songs: you can even double tap a line of lyrics to play it!

♪ An included iPad app with beautiful, full-size lyrics and YouTube pages

♪ The ultimate SoundHound experience, ad-free with premium features including exclusive Recommended Songs!

NEW: Real-time Facebook and Twitter Updates from Artists: tap a band’s name to instantly see its latest social news!

Microsoft release SkyDrive app for iPhone

By Richard Mallion

Today Microsoft their  ”SkyDrive”  application for iPhone which gives users access to Microsoft’s free cloud storage service. With SkyDrive, users can upload 25 gigabytes worth of files, with a maximum individual file size of 100 megabytes.

The free iPhone application is a 4.4 megabyte download compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. It requires iOS 4.0 or later. Features of the software, according to Microsoft, are:

  • Access all of your SkyDrive content including files shared with you
  • View recently used documents
  • Upload photos or videos from your phone
  • Share a link to any file using email
  • Create folders. Delete files or folders


First Microsoft App for iPad

Microsoft has released an iPad version of OneNote, you can create searchable notes with text, pictures and bullets.

Get the free app here from the iTunes store.


iOS 5: Unlock device by swiping Notification

By Richard Mallion

If your iOS 5 device is locked and you receive a notification, you can swipe the notification instead of the ‘Slide to Unlock’ widget, and you will be automatically directed to the related app. If you have a passcode, you’ll still be prompted to enter it.
Make sure you swipe starting from the icon on the left hand side on the notification as shown below.


BBC iPlayer now supports AirPlay

By Richard Mallion

The BBC have just updated their iPlayer app for iOS to support AirPlay , and streaming over 3G networks.

Now you catch up and watch your favourite programmes via Airplay on your TV.

Apple releases iBooks 1.5

By Richard Mallion

Apple has released an update to its iBooks app. The iBooks 1.5 update brings some substantial new features to Apple’s ereader software including the following:

  • Nighttime reading theme makes reading books in the dark easier on the eyes.
  • Full-screen layout lets you focus on the words without distraction.
  • iBooks now features an improved selection of fonts, including Athelas, Charter, Iowan, and Seravek.
  • Beautiful new classic covers for public domain books.
  • A redesigned annotation palette makes it easier to choose a color for your highlighted text.

iBooks is a free download from the App Store.


Apple releases iOS 5 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

By Richard Mallion

Apple on Wednesday released iOS 5, the next generation of its mobile operating system that powers the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch with wireless syncing, iCloud support and the new Notification Center.

Before users can update to iOS 5, they must be running iTunes 10.5, which was publicly released on Tuesday. Once installed, an iOS device can then be updated to version 5. Going forward, users of iOS 5 will be able to update wirelessly, without the need to use a cable.

iOS 5 is available for the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, first-generation iPad, fourth-generation iPod touch, and third-generation iPod touch. The update is quite large at 700 megabytes, but future OS updates will be delivered as deltas which will be installable wirelessly directly from an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

An update is also available for the Apple TV, bringing wireless mirroring functionality over AirPlay.

In all, iOS 5 packs more than 200 new features. The most noteworthy among them is Notification Center, which allows users to easily view and manage notifications in one place without interruption; iMessage, a new messaging service that lets you easily send text messages, photos and videos between iOS devices; and Newsstand, a new way to purchase newspapers and magazine subscriptions.

For a full list off features visit Apple’s web site at http://www.apple.com/ios/

How to market and promote your iOS app after development

By Henry Capper – Amsys Mobile

I have been asked by a number of clients for tips on “spreading the word” and marketing/promoting apps. Here are some tips I have scraped together…

Twitter Create a Twitter account for your publishing name or applications.  There are many different tools you can use to help you with this, see twitter tools.  (n.b. recent stats show Twitter gets around 18 billion searches a month, there must be some of those people with iPhones, right?!)

You must BE ACTIVE on Twitter, communicate with your fans and you will see your followers grow and grow.

Facebook  Create a Facebook fan-page and get your friends to join.  Update your fan page with screenshots of your apps and post updates/competitions on your feed/wall.

Blogging  Create a small marketing website/blog for your application, make sure you submit the URL for the website in with your App Store submission.  You could use wordpress.com for this (free) or tumblr.com (also free)

Forums  Spread the word on iPhone/iPad related forums.  This takes time but it’s free!

YouTube  Post videos of your app in use on YouTube.  It’s a great way to give your reviews a visual experience of your application and has an insane amount of traffic (approx. 200 million videos watched per day).

Get Beta Testers  Put your application on a beta tester website (such as iBetaTest.com), release the application to a small group of beta testers to generate some interest in your app.  The testers just might tell their friends or kindly post a link on their Twitter/Facebook feed.

Submit your app to review sites  Many sites will review your application for free, try a google search for “iPhone Review” and try a few of them.  You could even offer them a promo code.

Pay up ££  Pay for your app to be featured on high traffic websites such as http://www.iphonedevsdk.com, it’s usually quite inexpensive to get featured on these websites.

Lite versions  Offer a lite (free) version of your app with limited functionality (restrict the levels/information/usage) and advertise the benefits of upgrading throughout your application.

Competitions  Create competitions with prizes (iTunes vouchers etc) and advertise within your Applications (it could be posting a video on YouTube using your app, signing up to your newsletter or achieving a high score).

Use your friends  Get your friends to submit reviews for your application.  Ask them nicely/bribe with beer to post a link to your website/app store page on their Twitter/Facebook feed.

Open Days  Make your application free for a day or maybe for the weekend.  The app might just get people talking!  It might be a good idea to contact blog owners/review websites and ask nicely for a review, while the app is free.

Eye candy  Make your app icon as attractive/eyecatching as possible.  This is the ONLY visual you will get when potential customers are scrolling through the app store on their iPhone/iPod Touch.

Use the best visuals you can on you app store description page (remember to upload the worst ones first and leave the best ones until last – for some reason the order they appear on the app store after uploading is reversed).

Promotion codes  Offer promotion codes to review websites in exchange for a review (this will only work on US accounts).  You can create promotion codes using iTunes Connect.

Be descriptive  Be sure to tag your app with useful keywords and list the unique selling points of your application in the app store description.

Play with your pricing  Review your competitors apps and get a feel for the price range to sell your app at. Traditionally, posting your app at a £0.59 starting price was a decent tactic but due to the number of apps within the App Store, the chances of getting spotted are minimum.  Don’t be afraid to sell your app for more than your competitors, your description should list all of the unique features to add weight to your app.

Aim for under 20mb  The maximum size of an application that can be downloaded through a 3G connection is currently 20mb.  If you try to keep your application under 20mb (could be difficult, depending on your app) you will have a larger target audience.  If you app is over 10mb and the user only has a 3G connection, they will see a message asking them to buy the app later when on a Wifi connection.



for more info on App development click here: http://www.amsys.co.uk/mobile/

Apple invites press to ‘talk iPhone’ at media event on Oct. 4

By Richard Mallion

Apple has formally announced its upcoming media event after months of rumors and speculation. The event will take place on Tuesday, October 4 at 10am Pacific Daylight Time on Apple’s campus in Cupertino and will be led by Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook.

Apple’s invitation graphics (shown below) include four iOS app icons (Calendar, Clock, Maps, and Phone) along with the quote “Let’s talk iPhone.” Apple doesn’t usually get this specific when sending out its invitations, but apparently it’s trying a new, more direct approach this time around. (As an aside, the icon choices are quite clever. The calendar says October 4, clock says 10:00, map points to Apple’s campus, and the phone icon shows one phone call.)










Heres to iOS 5, iCloud and maybe a new iPhone!!!!

iOS Expertise helps Enterprise Deploy iPads

Amsys’ expertise with iOS is helping many clients shape up to deploy iPads to their business. Amsys consultants examine the current system and identify what action is necessary to match the deployment and tools to enterprise requirements. Call us if you are considering the deployment of iPads in bulk and you need some help.