Apple Pay with iPhone 5 and Apple Watch

Now that Apple Pay is live in the UK, I thought it was time to try it out. Initially I thought Apple Pay was limited to the iPhone 6 and that I’d be left out in the cold (until they release a new 4″ version of the iPhone), but I was informed it works with the Apple Watch on its own.

This isn’t the most obvious thing and the option to set it up isn’t the most obvious either! I’ve taken a few screenshots to show you how far I got. Which, sadly, wasn’t very far.

I’m running iOS 9, beta 3 and Watch OS 2, beta 2.

First, open the Watch app on your iPhone.

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Navigate to the Wallet app (or Passbook in iOS 8)

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You should now see an option to Add Credit or Debit Card. When I clicked it, I simply got an error. Probably due to the fact I’m running beta software.

IMG_3250If you get it working, please let me know. I’m tempted to switch bank just to avail of this platform. Barclays, it seems, are pushing their own bPay technology. I suspect they’ll keep that for a few months and then support Apple Pay anyway.

Creating appointments using DayView Control

I’ve been experimenting with the DayView control I created for Roomr and Peopler and today I added the ability the add an appointment with touch. This mimics the behaviour of the native iOS calendar app.

You hold your find on the calendar for a second or two and an appointment appears. You can then drag up and down to position the appointment. This is a very early demo, but it seems to work pretty well.

iOS Enterprise managed app configuration

With the release of iOS 7, Apple introduced support for managing an app’s configuration using a Mobile Device Management system. This allows enterprises to deploy apps and then control their configuration centrally. You could provide URLs or enable and disable features with the push of a button.

An app that supports managed configuration just needs to read a particular key, com.apple.configuration.managed from NSUserDefaults. This yields an NSDictionary which contains all the settings pushed to the app via the MDM. For my work with Roomr, I choose to support managed configuration so that the Exchange URL could be set and modified with ease.  The code changes are very simple.

Testing managed configuration is another kettle of fish. You can provide the configuration in one of two ways. Firstly, you can provide the configuration when the app is being installed or you can provide it after the app has been installed, effectively updating it.

To accomplish this, I used my own product, TestMDM. TestMDM aims to replicate many of the features of a MDM without replicating the large cost and complicated setup. It’s aim is to make it possible to test enterprise features without having to suffer the expense of purchasing an MDM. It also means you don’t need to trick an MDM provider into giving you a trial and then spending hours getting that setup.

To test my configuration, I used TestMDM to first install my app. Once I had successfully installed it, I then pushed configuration to it

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I just click Queue and TestMDM takes care of the rest. I can debug my iPhone app at the same time and ensure the configuration is detected and loaded correctly.

If you’re interested, please check out TestMDM – I’m making improvements all the time so if a particular feature is missing, let me know and I’ll add it to the roadmap.

For developers who want their apps in large enterprises, supporting iOS7’s Enterprise features, such as single sign-on and managed configuration, is a no-brainer. Hopefully you’ll find TestMDM useful. If you have any questions, please get in touch!

Blackwall Tunnels Alerts

I think it’s fair to say that most people who live in London, do at one time or another, have to use the Blackwall Tunnel. Other Londoners use it each and every day to get to and from work.

I am somebody who has the use the tunnel when visiting some family, so it’s a once-a-fortnight experience for me. Despite my infrequent use of the tunnel, I do seem to get caught in lots and lots of traffic, usually due to minor accidents in or around the tunnel. Whilst not the end of the world (I’m not rushing to get to work or home to make dinner), it does frustrate me. It frustrates me an awful lot.

Like any modern person I turn to my smartphone for a solution. Whilst there are many great traffic apps available in the App Store, they cover either the whole of London or the whole of the UK. This makes it a little tricky to find information about one particular section of the traffic network. So Blackwall Tunnel Alert was born.AllClear_400px

The interface is very simple. You see a large status indication. When something goes wrong, you will see the status changes and the cause of the issues are also shown.

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The interface is simple and it’s easy to see if there is something bad happening.

It’s also possible to upgrade the app to provide you with push notifications so you can be alerted when the status has changed.

Blackwall Tunnel Alert is available to download from the iOS App Store for free and requires iOS 7.

 

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Simple activity notifications for your applications

As part of my work on Drinks4-You, I decided that I wanted to get an alert to my phone each time a user signs up. I’ve worked hard on the platform and the other members of the team have worked even harder on generating sales and promoting the platform, so getting a little alert each time we get a new customer is very exciting!

Rather than a vanilla email each time a user signs-up, I wanted something a little more dramatic. A signup is an important thing, so I wanted an alert to match the gravity of the situation. What better then the Inception “BWONG” noise?

I spend a few hours and created a simple iOS  that would display the notifications and play the cool noise!

I then began to wonder if other people might need something similar. I quick search revealed plenty of providers of Push notifications, but they required that you have your own app. A small company might not have any iOS expertise or cannot spare the to create an iOS app for just one thing.

From this, Heads Up was born.

Heads Up is a simple iOS app that lets you register for notifications from your own apps. Your app only has to send a PUT to our Heads Up API and your device (or devices – using a PIN code other people can get the same notifications e.g. members of a team) will receive the message and play a sound. It’s simple, but can be used to alert you of errors in your service, important user activity or for a bit of fun.

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You can sign up for the Heads Up mailing list if you want to be part of the beta test. I will be charging for the service eventually as I need to cover hosting and network charges, but until it launches officially, the beta will be completely free.

Sign up for the beta using TestFlight

An attempt at a very simple Tube App

In my never ending quest to release tube related apps, I’ve pondering a new idea. Current tube apps are getting very busy, showing maps, line states, departure information, journey planners, weekend works, station states, etc. I don’t deny that these apps are very feature packed and for an average price of £0.69, you can’t really go wrong.

But something bothers me about this – I feel like there has been a rush to pack in features in order to appear competitive. With this feature packing, the usability of an app always suffers because there is much more noise.

With this in mind, I’ve started building a very simple app that just puts a few key pieces of information at the user’s fingertips. I reckon most commuters just use two stations in their course of their daily journey. They only care about one or two lines too. All the rest is just noise.

With that, I present a very, very crude mock up of My Stations (a working title!)

 

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The app just has two tabs (I might add two mores) and that will just present the basic information for that station to you. This way you get presented with the information you’re most interested in. I’ll probably add location services to give alerts of issues as you get close to the station.

I hope to have this submitted to the App Store within the next couple of days. I’ve got most of the back end infrastructure in place for the London Underground. I’ve been reading up on GTFS too, so I may be able to include the New York Subway in the future.

If you like or dislike, please leave me a message in the comments below!

Moving to Windows Phone 7 from iOS–and back again!

I’ve been using a Windows Phone 7 Samsung Omnia 7 since the beginning of October. Today, I’m back using my iPhone 4, but the experience has let me to an interesting conclusion:

WP7 is a superior OS compared to the aging iOS. However, the iPhone 4 handset is far, far superior to the Samsung Omnia 7 I’ve been using and probably superior to most currently available WP7 handsets. So, for me, I’m choosing hardware over software.

The WP7 OS has many strengths and is definitely a joy to use. The iPhone 4 however, will remain one of the best handsets I’ve ever used.

More Storage (hardware)

The Samsung device I’ve been using has only 8GB of storage. This has required a constant juggling of space. Deleting music to fit a podcast. Deleting a podcast to take some pictures. Deleting some pictures to fit new music. I only ever ran into issues like that on the iPhone after taking several long videos at a wedding. I’ve always had about 5GB spare space.

Better Display (hardware)

The Retina Display is still one of the most best mobile displays around. I mentioned in some of my earliest posts on the topic that I could definitely noticed the difference when browsing the web. Sure, the Omnia’s AMOLED screen might be brighter etc., but the iPhone’s is easier to read.

Better Sound (hardware)

The Samsung Omnia 7’s sound is just awful in comparison to the iPhone. I struggle to hear people whilst on a phone call, even at full volume. On the iPhone I could hear music and podcasts with ease, despite traffic noise. Not perfect, but a far sight better than the Samsung. This may be specific to Samsung phones and using their headphones might have eliminated that, but I doubt it.

Audible App (3rd Party)

It’s nice to be back listening to Audible again! The lack of an Audible player is something that I really, really missed. This isn’t really the fault of a particular OS, but the fact remains that Audible haven’t released a WP7 client, and that is very disappointing.

Market Place and Zune (Microsoft being useless!)

The earliest issue I had with WP7 was that my Zune account was tied to Ireland, whereas I now live in the UK. Since it’s *impossible* to update the location of a Zune account, I would be forced to create a new Live ID and put that into my phone. Not sure what I’d be required to do with regards to my contacts etc. The thoughts of having to move all that stuff from one account to another is depressing. As a result of this, I’ve not yet purchased a single WP7 app.

In the end…

Maybe comparing these phones isn’t fair. The Omnia 7 isn’t exactly a premium device. I only paid £220 for it as I only wanted a device for testing WP7 apps. Compare that to the £550 I shelled out for the iPhone 4. I know the Omnia 7 is an older device so the lower price probably is partly reflected in that. However, having used the iPhone 4 hardware, it’s hard to imagine anything else being as good.

More storage would go a long way to making the WP7 more appealing to me, but as it stands, 16GB is the largest storage you can get (with out getting bogged down in the “Expandable” memory stuff). iOS has a beautiful flagship phone in the iPhone 4S. Android has an amazing flagship phone in the shape of the Nexus Prime.

Microsoft needs to produce a high-end, flagship device for the Windows Phone 7. And when they do, I’ll line up to buy one!