iAd rant – AKA why I’m not updating my iPhone apps

It used to be the most aggravating aspect of the iPhone was AT&T’s craptacular service. But recently there’s a challenger to the title, and this one is coming up strong.

I’m talking about developers and their rotten implementation of iAds through software updates.

Let me start off with a “good” example of what an app update should be. The “Genius Scan” update for January has two pages of enhancements to what is already in place, assorted bug fixes, and extensive information on what exactly is being updated in the application.



Perfect. Very straightforward. I updated this app without a second thought. And no iAds? Excellent!

Some apps are adding iAds to their updates even though they were not initially in place. While I’m not a fan of this, I do understand it being a financial necessity for some developers. So long as the iAd addition is done in what I would consider “good faith” and something significant of the software is also value-enhanced, I think it’s OK.

As an example, Dragon Dictation’s recent update fixed some bugs, added some features, and inserted ads only for their own products.


To me, this is a good example of adding iAds to a product and adding value to the application update at the same time. I also appreciate the ads are focused on their own product line and not “carpet bombing” me with every product sold on the internet. Good job!

An update to the “Ministry of Sound Radio” app starts entering the “maybe” update category and strains the value-added premise for me.


While a one-button click to contact the studio is interesting, it’s not really enough added value for me to immediately apply the update and have ads all over the app’s interface. The app is working fine for me now, so I’m not going upgrade this app anytime soon.

The app “My Famous Portrait” is another example of this.


So far I haven’t crashed in the app, so until I start seeing getting kicked out, there’s no imperative for me to update and have ads clutter the applications’ interface either.

On the far end of “maybe” updates are apps like “Ruler+ CM”


The term “user opportunities” is just vague enough to make me skip the update. Yes the value added updates are there, but what does “user opportunities” mean? If I don’t know what an app update entails, and if my previous version is working fine, any new updates won’t get installed.

At the fringe of the “maybe” update category are app updates like “Rolling 5 Dice Poker”


Just saying “we’re putting ads in!” is the same as “bait and switch” to me. The app was free, but now it isn’t! And now the previously clean interface will be junked up with banner ads! No thanks.

Descending into the final “hell no” update category is the “Free/Not Free/Just Upgrade!” switch. Apps that were free at one point, but now have iAds in their updates. The only way to get rid of the iAds is to pay for a new update! Fun!

The app “I’m Right Here” is a perfect example of this.


No significant enhancements on the update. And in trade for my update it’s now “free”?

“Sudoku Solver App” is another example of this. Free at release, but now it’s not!


At the very bottom of the “hell no” pile are the app updates that combine the “Free/Not Free/Just Upgrade!” iAd addition with the removal of existing app features!

“At Once” is the most recent example of this.


Adding Google Buzz? Ok, that’s a nice addition. But taking away the landscape keyboard use? Removing a working feature in the app I already have installed on my iPhone in trade for a paid upgrade? That’s evil-twirly moustache kinds of heartless.


I’ll never ever update apps that take away features from previous versions, iAds or not.

TL;DR / summary version…

Developers! Add something of value to your app if you’re going to start with the iAds. Make it something fun or useful. Make me think the iAds are part of the upgrade “cost” and I’ll be OK with it.

Apple! Give us a “ignore this application’s update” option!

Opt out of “targeted” advertising on your iPhone/iPad

Have you noticed some of the ads on your iPhone are for things you are marginally interested in? That’s because the iPhone iAd system is passively targeting your “Demographic(s), Application preferences, Music passions, Movie, TV and audiobook genre interests, Location, Device (iPhone, iPod touch) and Network (WiFi, 3G)”

So Apple sees me when I’m reading? They know when I’m awake? They know… waitaminute, that’s Santa’s gig!

Fortunately, there is a way to opt out of targeted advertising on the iPhone.

While you are on your iPhone, go to…


Once you visit that site, the message “You have successfully opted out” will appear and you will be automatically opted out of interest-based ads”.

You will have to do this on every device you have, though. (It’s not account based, but hardware based.)

You will still see ads on the apps that push them, but they will only be “generic” ads and not anything based on what they know about you.

Tiger Text – for (apparently) secure SMS and text messaging

I’ve been so buy at work I haven’t had time to post about a great little app I found while going through the monthly reading pile.

The winter 2010/2011 issue of CSQ had a interview with TigerText CEO Jeffrey Evans. TigerText is an ingenious little app that Evans says is “a texting service that allows senders to have absolute control over their messages.”

“The sender chooses a lifespan for their messages from one minute to 30 days. Once that lifespan is expired, the message deleted from your phone, the recipients phone, and all servers in-between. The messages cannot be copied or forwarded. You have control over the communication that you send. When it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Oh hell yes. Where do I sign up?

TigerText is free for Android, iPhone, Blackberry and Windows 7. All you do is download the app from your phone’s app store, setup a user name, and you’re done!

TigerText can scan your existing contacts and automatically add those who already have TigerText installed on their phone (based on matching emails and phone numbers I’m guessing). I chose not to do that and am using the individual direct-invitation option (which I think is a little more secure).

There’s a very thorough walkthrough the first time you launch the app that shows you how to set your messages to delete. You can set each message individually so sections of conversations will delete at different times.

After the scheduled time is up, you will be left with nothing but tiger tracks on screen where the conversation used to be.

TigerText Test photo

Evans says there’s nothing he can do about someone taking a screenshot of the conversation in progress, a video/photo of the phone as you’re typing, or anything out of the app’s control like that. But he does say the TigerText servers don’t keep any information, and when the conversation is deleted, it really is deleted everywhere.

I like it. It’s easy enough to use daily and adds another layer of privacy to SMS and text conversations.

Check it out at TigerText’s website.

Apple doesn’t like me pointing out the obvious – early adapters got screwed on the iPad case

So there I was, setting up 12 more corporate iPads this week, when I made a discovery I thought I would share with Apple on their forums.



I just bought several Apple iPad cases for the company I work for, and I see they now come with a nice big cleaning cloth!


Apple iPad case now comes with a cleaning cloth

The first 12 I bought from Apple earlier this year had nothing but the case inside.

In the grand Apple tradition, early adopters got screwed again.

Thanks guys!


I received this response from Apple shortly afterward…


Your post was removed from Apple Discussions as it contained feedback or feature requests. These areas are intended to address technical issues about Apple products. Although your feedback is appreciated, unfortunately these forums are not designed for it and your thoughts/concerns will not get the attention they deserve.

If you would like to send feedback to Apple about a product, please use the appropriate selection at http://www.apple.com/feedback/
As part of submitting feedback, please read the Unsolicited Idea Submission Policy linked to the feedback page.

Sometimes you have comments or concerns for which there is no technical response. If you need the kind of help that a troubleshooting expert can’t provide, you can call Apple’s Customer Relations group.

Apple Discussions Staff


Oh. I’m supposed to use the feedback page. Right. That will do it!

Gameloft’s advent calendar giveaway – iPhone and iPad freebies all December

Gameloft announced on their blog they are “offering a surprise gift every day in December until Christmas to all our fans and anyone who is in the festive spirit.”

“Every day we’ll announce our surprise on our Twitter account (http://twitter.com/gameloft). All you have to do is click on the link in the tweet to enjoy your present. What can you get? A free game to play on your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android device, or on Facebook? Exclusive sneak peeks or cool goodies for our hottest upcoming Christmas games? Crazy game discounts?”

Free is always good. But free from a high-quality gaming company is even better!

The freebies expire every 24 hours, so grab the apps quick if you want them.

Today’s freebie is DRIVER for the iPhone/iPad.

Google Voice app for the iPhone! The direct link to download…

Apple finally released the Google Voice app for the iPhone.

Unfortunately, the app is not showing up if you search the app store! (Figures!)

If you want to install Google Voice directly on your iPhone, just launch Safari on your iPhone and go to…


… or a goo.gl shortened version…


This will launch the App Store on the iPhone and you can install Google Voice directly to your iPhone right now. You can also visit the…


…link on your PC or Mac and download Google Voice directly to iTunes.

I would bet on a “Top Speed Pro” app lawsuit pretty soon

So there’s really an app on the Apple/iTunes app store that...

“Allows you to monitor the location and speed of your device and other iOS devices on the internet at the same time and compete for the Top Speed!”


Soooo the point of the game is to get your device to move the fastest? And compare your speed with others in real-time through GPS? With a “google map view of your device and the player you’re connected to” and a “full screen speedometer view of your device or the player you are connected to.”?

Oh yeah. I seriously expect an ambulance-chaser “think of the children” caliber lawyer to pounce on this easy target within a few weeks.

Manually back up your important documents from your iPad or iPhone

I’ve always been more comfortable with manual device backups for my iPhone and iPad, mostly because I know I really have the data and I also know the specific location I’m backing it up to.

You can always have iTunes backup your iPad or iPhone by CONTROL-CLICKING (mac) or RIGHT-CLICKING (pc) the iPad or iPhone device icon when you’re in iTunes. When you do that, a pop-up window will appear with an option to BACKUP. Just choose that and iTunes will backup everything on your iPhone.


If you want to try a manual backup, a website called MACROPLANT is giving away a free copy of their PHONE DISK software through December 1st. PHONE DISK is a pretty nice cross-platform application that allows you to access your iPhone or iPad on your computer like you would a USB disk.

Once you have installed PHONE DISK, it will reside in the system tray (pc) or your menu bar (mac) until you plug in a iPhone or a iPad. Once you do, the iPhone or iPad will appear along with the rest of your hard drives.

The default mount path for the iPhone and iPad is the device’s MEDIA folder. From this mount path, you can see the following folders on the device…

  • Books (all the books you’ve purchased from the iBooks app)
  • DCIM (all the photos you’ve taken)
  • Recordings (all the speech and audio recordings you’ve made)

Grab all of these folders and copy them over to a safe location on your hard drive as backup!

Now to backup purchases you have made from inside other apps (such as the great COMICS app or DC or MARVEL apps) or even to save in-game progress (like Angry Birds or Galaxy on Fire games) you will need to do one more thing.

Go to the PHONE DISK icon on the system tray or menubar and go to your iPhone / iPad’s name.

From there, choose CHANGE CONNECTION ROOT.

Once you do that, you will see all the apps you have on your device.

Scroll to the app you want to backup and click on it.

Once you do that, the iPad / iPhone will disappear from your computer, and a drive with just that application you selected will appear in its’ place.

Grab everything you see and back it up!

For example, I have a lot of free comics from the COMICS app (which BTW is a very easy way to entertain nephews and little kids!)

Once I changed the CONNECTION ROOT to COMICS, I see a folder with…

  • Comics
  • Documents
  • iTunesArtwork
  • iTunesMetadata.plist
  • Library
  • tmp

…as the content.

The comics I’ve downloaded ad purchased are all in the LIBRARY / CACHES / COMICS / BOOKS folder. (I would hate to re-download all of those. Or worse, lose them all!)

Grabbing everything from the main directory (Comics, Documents, Library, etc), I now know that in case of a major catastrophe I really do have a backup of all my in-app purchases!

I usually CHANGE CONNECTION ROOT and go to all the APPS I have made significant app-specific purchases with (and in the case of some games, backup my saved progress!)

When you’re done, just CHANGE CONNECTION ROOT back to the MEDIA folder (at the end of the list of APPS you have) and you will go back to the default view you saw when we started.

Then just choose UNMOUNT DEVICE. Done!

Of course, if you have a jailbroken device, the PHONE DISK software will mount the device at its’ “true” root. (Hoo-Ah!)

A jailbroken device will have all of your the APPLICATIONS under the VAR / MOBILE / APPLICATIONS directory. (Under a cryptic naming system… I just grab them all.)

The BOOKS purchased from the iBooks app will be under the VAR / MOBILE / MEDIA / BOOKS directory on a jailbroken iPad / iPhone (I just grab the entire BOOKS directory too)

Hopefully I won’t have to deal with too many nuke-and-pave repairs on my iPad and iPhone this year, but with these manual backups, I at least know I’ve got a plan “C”.

How to bypass an iPhone’s passcode lock. Works on all current iPhones.

Wired just posted an article on how to completely bypass the iPhone passcode lock and access that iPhone’s entire address book and phone numbers.

From a locked iPhone screen…

  1. Tap the “Emergency call” button (by the zero on the bottom row).
  2. Enter three pound signs. (#)
  3. Hit the green call button and then immediately press the lock button (the hardware button on the iPhone).

That’s it. You’re in.

The iPhone’s address book will appear and you can scroll through the entire iPhone and call (or copy the numbers) of anyone you want.

I just tried it on my iPhone and it works just fine. Voicemails. Call history. Every single contact.

Here’s the video of the Brazilian iPhone customer who originally found this gigantic security hole.

Bug no iOS 4.1 from Salomão Filho on Vimeo.

There’s no word from Apple yet on this discovery. You can read more about the iPhone security code problem on Wired here.

EDIT: While you’re in the address book, try adding a contact to the iPhone. You’ll be able to see all the photos on that iPhone, too!