Make Siri Your Virtual Assistant

I’m busy. You’re busy. Everyone is busy these days. We have entirely too much to do and not nearly enough time to do it all in. We could all use a virtual assistant, and Siri is here to fill the gap in our lives.

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Ask Siri to do something (by text or speech) and it will do it. Do you need a taxi in an hour? That’s not a problem. Just tell Siri and the cab will be waiting. It takes only a few seconds to accomplish these simple tasks, which is much faster than if you had to look up a number and make a call to do them. Once you confirm that Siri understands what you asked, it will give you what you asked for faster than you can decide what you want for dinner.

I have this app myself, and have been using it often since I became more acclimated to it at SXSW. I can almost guarantee you will come to rely on it as much as I do.

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Apple has decided to make some serious changes to the types of Apps that it will allow for sale on the App Store. The company pulled several apps in the past week that it deemed to be of a sexual nature, or not fit for audiences of a younger generation. There was no warning given to the app developers. The apps simply disappeared, and the creators received an email after the fact.

Several people, of course, are not very happy with this decision. Some of these apps have been for sale for several months. And (as one would guess) many in the community are yelling the censorship word loudly.

I can see both sides of this coin, and I’m torn as to what the right thing to do is. I understand Apple’s point of view… as well as that of the people who are now mightily ticked off. What about you? What do you think?

Yours digitally,

Chris Pirillo
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A New App Store?

I have had a love/hate relationship with Apple’s iPhone app store for sometime now. Great selection, plenty of affordable choices… but often times the quality of some of the apps can leave a lot to be desired. Worse, great apps are rejected for silly reasons. This said, I consider the whole thing to be small potatoes. Not a big deal — clearly something I can get over easily enough.

Imagine, with everything said above, my shock to discover it will not longer be a matter of individual mobile platforms seeking their own mobile stores. No, mobile carriers are collectively looking to build up something store-like to fight Apple’s App store. Can you hear the developers groaning yet?

This translates into mortal enemies like those competing with one another in the mobile carrier market, suddenly working together with a common enemy — Apple. Wait, what about AT&T? You know, Apple’s good friends in the mobile community? Ah, that’s going to go over really well when it starts competing directly with Apple. I am sure that Apple is going to be very excited about renewing its contract when it’s time to re-up.

A single, global app market. Sounds rather naive and utopian to me. While it could make things easier for the developers — assuming we settled on a single source for all of our app needs — at this point this is simply translating into yet another place for which developers must develop. And my gut tells me it is not going to be widely accepted or well received.

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Sane Call Blocking For The iPhone?

Why is it to use anything worth doing with an iPhone, one must have it jailbroken? I honestly don’t get it. Take this call management software called MCleaner. Looks promising, considering all of the crazy telemarketer calls I have been getting over my GoogleVoice numbers lately, directed to my iPhone. With functionality that provides me with the option to block calls regardless of my carrier, it would be fairly obvious that this is the kind of software I am looking to get my hands around.

Sadly, though, it’s not available via the App Store. And this really bums me out. It’s so frustrating as the App Store prevents a lot of great software from ever being discovered by those who might enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, I fully realize that without checks and balances, who knows what kind of software people might end up with?

So here’s the question: considering the fact that the App Store is clearly the way to go, why do apps like this have to resort to operating on jailbroken phones only? Is it a region thing? Perhaps, instead, it’s a matter of something nefarious that I have yet to uncover? Definitely interested in your thoughts on this. Hit the comments, share your perspective.

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I’m a satisfied iPhone user, but I will say that I’m not downloading nearly as many apps as I used to. When the App Store first came around, it seemed like I was downloading anything and everything, but the novelty has worn off quite a bit for me. I have apps that I like for a variety of tasks, so I’m not in as much of a frenzy to find apps that work for me. With that said, I do check out the App Store about once a week, but there’s just so much to go through. Appolicious give you all of your options, but the site provides them to you in interesting ways that will help you to identify worthy downloads.

The primary focus is on the iPhone, but Appolicious says they’re not exclusive to anyone, so they will list applications for other platforms. You might initially look at this site and think that it basically has the same information as the App Store, but there’s more here. Not only are there more reviews, but you can also see which apps people have, see how your friends and people like you have rated an app, create special app lists, and so on. Yes, Appolicious is delicious.

Success In Media – There Is An App For That

There should be an image here!In today’s media, two terms that nearly everyone under the age of 35 knows is “Google it” and “There’s an app for that”. Apple, being the inventor of the latter saying, has seen amazing success with their iPhone app store. So much in fact, that some are stating that Apple is no longer a computer company. No, they are becoming a media company.

Where the app store fails for most companies looking to get something distributed is that Apple is not going to be of much help here. They will provide you with a platform and audience, but you will have to do your own promotion. Apple just makes it simple to access.

Now let’s imagine that we are talking about those failed brands of media know as newspapers. What if a simple subscription model is provided by the app store for a flat, reasonable monthly fee of $5. Many would avoid it, with more leaping to it like it was providing something life sustaining. Yet much of the mainstream media still does not get this.

Guess What Just Froze Over – Matt And The iPhone

As hard as this is for me to come to grips with, despite my not really caring for OS X itself in the Mac sense, I am simply stunned with many aspects of my new iPhone. Yes, I drank the kool-aid and am now one of the iPhone nation.

What did it for me was that there have just been too many instances where my work would have been a lot easier had I been able to have hands on access to the iPhone vs just relying on using someone else’s for app reviews, etc. And now that I own one, I must say, it is one fine phone. It is amazing just how intuitive it is while also missing features that would get other phones tossed into the trash. Yet strangely, I am not bothered by the lack of my Antair spam filter or my ability to send stuff to and from my PC via Bluetooth. I should be bothered, as the lack of a spam filter meant I had to jerry rig something with a Gmail account for my main email accounts, but honestly, it’s not too bad.

And yes, it is true that if you give that crazy keyboard a shot, you do get used to typing on this phone. At this point, I am still exploring what all I can do with this phone. Thus far, I have only two apps installed. WeatherBug and Ferrari GT Lite. Still trying to figure out which apps have the level and the one with the dice we have all seen on the commercials. You know, it’s like boggle or something.

Do I miss my BlackBerry? Do not know yet. When I wake in the morning to check my email with one hand, something tells me I might as clearly, doing that with the iPhone takes more skill that I posses at the moment. But this could change.

App Store Gone Wild

Despite the ongoing battle cry that people want things to be as user friendly as possible, the same also goes for the fact that users want to their mobile devices on their own terms. This is why I believe that jailbreaking iPhones and now, an unauthorized app store are merely the beginning of the mess Apple is going to have to deal with.

To be fair, there is something to be said about having an app store environment in which users are not going to inadvertently, install something potentially dangerous to their iPhones. After all, unless the source code is readily available, you do need some sort of authority to make sure that you are not putting your mobile life into any sort of unforeseen danger.

But if the applications are available with the code available for review, I can see no problem in a competing app store at all. Again, the availability of the source code of the applications would be for safety reasons, not out of software politics. If the source code is available for applications on a competing app store, chances are good that participating applications will not be posted to create havoc. Otherwise this would have destroyed open source as a concept a long time ago.

Speaking for myself, Apple opting to take the DMCA and push this type of stuff into the illegal sector without even exploring a worthwhile compromise is a mistake. Clearly, people are tired of “renting” their media and have shown with no uncertain clarity they are willing to take matters into their own hands. Apple should find a happy medium here even if allowing a secondary app store as seen with Cydia may not be the best approach.