Joe Maller.com

iPhone Heart Rate Monitors

For the past couple months I’ve been experimenting with MAF training, running at a targeted heart rate with the goal of improving my aerobic base. I’ve been using a simple heart rate monitor (HRM), but I always run with my iPhone and it would be nice to record my heart rate data alongside all the other information my phone collects.

All iPhone compatible HRM sensors work by attaching a dongle to the iPhone.

I’m only looking at Runalyzer and Wahoo because they both work with a wide range of apps. (Runalyzer compatible apps, Wahoo compatible apps) The other HRM options I found, Garmin’s and Digifit’s, only work with their own proprietary apps.

Wahoo uses the ANT+ wireless protocol (2.4 GHz) and requires an ANT+ compatible HRM strap. Runalyzer claims to work with all existing analog HRM straps (5.3 kHz). Runalyzer’s hardware dongle is slightly shorter and wider than Wahoo’s.

Unfortunately, RunKeeper, my preferred running app, doesn’t support anything except the Wahoo Key. But I tried iSmoothRun again and was very impressed with how it’s progressed since I last tried it–enough to switch.

So, I’ve decided to try the Runalyzer dongle with iSmoothRun since I can keep using my existing Omron HRM strap. It’ll be here in a few days.


Thank you Steve

I’m sad, but I’m trying to frame this sadness. Steve Jobs, in one form or another, has been a part of my life since I was 8 years old. In 1979, demonstrating remarkable foresight and disregarding doubtless financial burden, my parents brought home an Apple ][+ computer. I was 8. My daughter is older than that now. A few months before she was born we bought our first iPod, Steve introduced it ten years ago this month. I still have it, and the Apple ][+ is at my parents–both still work.

I’m sad for his his wife and children. But mostly I’m sad for the rest of us. 56.

I was lucky enough to see Steve speak in person at WWDC several times. The first time I saw him come onstage in 2003, it was as if the air was suddenly electrified.

This post was drafted on my iPhone. Steve’s iPhone, running Steve’s new OS, built on the foundation of Steve’s old OS, connected to a machine Steve led the creation of, all of them sold by a company Steve founded 35 years ago.

It’s traditional to wish for the departed to rest in peace, but Steve’s vision won’t be resting, there is so much more to do.

Here’s to the crazy ones.

Thank you Steve, for everything.


So Long Nike+

After running more than 1300 miles with Nike+, I’m giving up the sensor.

My main reason has nothing to do with Nike. I’ve just reached a place where I’m more interested in mappable distance and less concerned with counting my footsteps or getting credit for crossing the street. Keeping track of miles does give me a very concrete feeling of accomplishment, I now use RunKeeper on my iPhone, and manually crosspost everything on Dailymile.

“At its heart, running is pretty simple, so I try to keep it that way.”
Anton Krupicka

As I’ve been stepping down to more minimal shoes, I’ve also been trying to simplify what I take with me. Carrying an iPhone and iPod nano (plus Nike dongle) was kind of ridiculous, especially considering I’ve mostly stopped listening to music while running. Worrying about the shoe sensor had also become a mental obstacle to running completely barefoot. (I did spent a moment imagining how I could attach a sensor to my foot with tape or bandages, but quickly realized how insane that would be.)

I’ve never actually owned a pair of Nike+ shoes. Before going minimalist I ran in Asic Kayanos, with the Nike+ sensor sealed in plastic wrap and threaded under the laces. I did the same thing my Nike Frees and even had a sensor attached to the strap on my Vibram FiveFingers Sprints.

Ironically, I switched from Free 5.0s to 3.0s a week before the Nike Free Run+ shipped, another few days and I probably would have gotten a pair. Then, I decided to give up the sensor completely just as Nike (finally) shipped their Nike+ GPS app.

Nike.com

I wish I had nothing bad to say about Nike+. Mostly, it really worked for me and I’m thankful. But Nike has done some really dumb things which mar the experience. The most glaring thing is their apparent disregard for their users. Basically there’s no guarantee that any site feature will be there tomorrow. I’m not alone in this, their Get Satisfaction boards are filled with annoyed users.

Last year they redesigned the website, which is a critical part of the Nike+ experience. While it looks great, it’s a functional trainwreck. The site is horribly slow, by design and from poor execution. Just getting to the login screen — which, after a year still can’t remember a user from one visit to another — either redirects through the iTunes sync landing page (3.4MB) or the main Nike Running main page (4MB) before finally loading the Nike+ page (924k). The site is also all Flash, so even with a fast connection there’s still a mess of gratuitous animation to suffer through. This year Nike finally added a rudimentary non-Flash mobile site, but I found it slow, clumsy and mostly useless.

The most unforgivable incident happened last year. I used Nike’s “resolution” feature to set a goal of 365 miles in 2009. Throughout the year, the site’s progress tracking was a great motivation and despite a mid-year setback, I caught up and was on track to to meet my goal. Then, with a few weeks left in 2009, Nike shut down the old site and failed to transition everyone’s resolution goals over to the new site. Twenty miles short of something I’d been working towards for a full year, all the tools I’d been using to measure my progress were removed. (I met my goal, but I had to track the last handful of miles myself.)

Related to the resolutions was the disappearance of milestone certificates. As a new runner, my first 100 mile certificate meant a great deal to me. The 500 mile certificate was even better. A few months ago I passed 1000 miles and discovered that the certificates had been discontinued and replaced with a meaningless and arbitrary color-levels indicator. Personal triumph, Nike+ letdown (I’m not alone here either). Yes, I could keep going and get to purple, but all I’d get is a different color label and a vapidly snarky notification on the site. That’s assuming Nike hadn’t dropped the color system before I got there.

The last thing that sticks in my mind was how Nike botched the Human Race 10k last year. I ended up receiving two congratulatory emails (two runs counted) but no credit on the site. Things don’t look good for this year either, September’s almost over and there’s been no news of the 2010 race happening at all. The two previous Human Races I knew of were August 31, 2008 and October 24, 2009.

I greatly appreciate what Nike+ helped me do, but can’t help feeling slighted and I no longer recommend it when people ask what I use to track my miles.


WWDC 2010 Predictions

I’m excited about the new iPhone, though we know so much about it already that there’s not much surprise left. I expect it will ship at the end of the month. As Jonathan pointed out this weekend, June 25th is the last Friday in June and my pick for the release date.

AT&T’s been monkeying with plans and data the past couple weeks, but the most interesting tidbit out of the Death Star was the decision to double early termination fees for smart phones. To me, that’s a defensive move. There won’t be Verizon iPhones this year, but we might see a single-chip dual-mode iPhone which would be the beginning of the end of AT&T’s hegemony in the US. Apple won’t break their contract with AT&T, they’ll just hint that it’s up to the user. After all, the iPhone is open, so the consumer is free to swap in any sim card they’ve got.

I do kind of hope Jobs has Gray Powell introduce the new iPhone. Yeah it’s a longshot, but his appearance onstage would absolutely bring the house down. A lot of Apple developers (and other decent people) were furious about what Gizmodo did to him. Jobs bringing Powell onstage would be a fantastic show of support for Apple employees. I don’t think it’ll happen, but it’s fun to think about.

BTW, Gizmodo was denied press credentials. They’re never getting into another apple event. Ever.

iPad

…gets a software update and 15 minutes talking about amazing sales numbers. Unless…

AppleTV

I think we might finally see AppleTV cease to be a hobby. The thing I’ve wanted for a long time would be the ability to “throw” a display from one device to another. We won’t get that exactly, but I think the AppleTV may be reborn as the first peripheral display accessory for the iPad/iPhone. Essentially an AppleTV connected display would be a proxy-resolution mirrored display for a touch devices. No more of that silly grey swipe-box in Apple’s current Remote.app. What is on your TV is on your iPad. Adam Lisagor described almost exactly the same thing. Plus, when media is playing, the iPad or iPhone would have access to the media’s metadata, like a live DVD extra or PiP. (thanks Jonathan)

Little Fluffy Clouds

I don’t know if we’ll see the cloud services that a lot of people are hoping for. Is the NC data center even finished? (I find that video hilarious. Either it’s a data center or a Costco.)

While I’d love to see MobileMe finally live up to its potential, it’s been eight years and not a whole lot has changed. I finally cancelled my account this past year, but I’d be happy to have reason to reactivate it. I doubt it will be free, but I wish Apple would consider a free or discounted subscription with new hardware purchases. Or throw it in with AppleCare.

If there’s going to be an iTunes subscription streaming service, I think Apple would save that sort of announcement for a late-summer special event. It would be a huge thing for students going back to school, but there’s not much to offer developers in locked down streaming media.

Computers? Oh yeah, those…

Quite a lot of Apple hardware has gone stale, especially the Mac Pro which has gone 15 months since its last revision, but also iMac and Mac Mini, both models are 8 months old. This is a complete hunch, but I suspect the Mac Pro will see a new, much smaller form factor. Also, lots of people are still waiting for a new giant Apple display.

If there are hardware announcements, the entirety of the announcement will take less than 10 minutes.

Apple’s got something up their sleeve and Jobs’ said we “won’t be disappointed.” It feels pretty exciting this year, perhaps because there wasn’t the massive rumor buildup to be letdown about. Looking forward to it.


About that tablet…

Posting this before the big announcement tomorrow.

It feels somewhat obvious at this point, but I feel certain Apple with continue the iPhone’s conceptual move towards subordinate computing devices. The original iPod was a deliberate appliance, the iPhone is a computer limited by design. The biggest conceptual leap of the iPhone was that it couldn’t be used to create another iPhone. Even a years-old, bottom-end Mac or PC can still run software capable of designing microchips, programming an OS or running the CNC machines which fabricate the computer’s physical components. The iPhone and forthcoming tablet are more like electronic familiars. Without their master device, they’re forever limited in what they can do and become.

Jason Snell feels right on about resurrecting the iBook name and brand. “Canvas” sounds more like an app.

The price will either be $799 or $1199. $899 psychologically goes right to $1000 and if you’re over $1000, might as well go a little higher.

Hardware

There are several obvious components which will be present. GPS, accelerometer and vibration. I still don’t understand why my laptop doesn’t know where it is. It’s 2010, every moderately connected electronic device should have basic location awareness.

Size-wise, I’ll be surprised if the screen is much larger than 9 inches diagonal. I base that figure on an expectation that the short dimension of the tablet will not be much wider than an iPhone is tall, so overall dimensions around 4.25 x 7.5 inches. However, all size-predictions go out the window if Apple introduces some radical new input method.

The idea that it might not have a text-input interface is just dumb, it has to have some means of text input. The bigger question is what that interface will look or feel like. Simplest answer is the iPhone’s horizontal keyboard.

I don’t expect a user-facing camera, no one looks good photographed looking up from their own lap.

Dock connecter and headphone jack will the the only ports. Power, home button and volume will be the only physical interfaces.

Mostly though, I really hope Apple does something completely shoot-the-moon crazy. Word-keyboards instead of letters, or no keyboard at all. Make it round. Linked physical-virtual application rotation, screens with holes in them. Just something completely wild and new.

Connectivity:

Apple has no reason to abandon AT&T, they’re the perfect scapegoat. Should AT&T botch this too, then Apple opens up to other carriers. Should AT&T admit their networks are overwhelmed, then Apple opens up to other carriers. Either way, Apple puts the final nail in AT&T’s coffin. That’s good chess.

Apps and OS

iTunes App store only. All iPhone apps will work. There will be no windowing model like OS X, everything will be iPhone-style full screen apps. There won’t be a separate OS or SDK. iPhone OS 4 will be announced, but tablet development will be a checkbox in Xcode. Apple won’t have an SDK available on day one. As long as iPhone apps display well on the tablet, we’ll probably have to wait for WWDC to get the updated SDK. There’s no way developers are going to get a software tablet simulator before Apple ships the product. One other loosely connected thought; WWDC will see a unified SDK for iPhone, tablet and OS X. “All for one and one for all.”

No new iPhone will be announced, as that would detract from the main focus of the event. Whenever the new iPhone does appear, which I’m confident will be sometime before Summer, it will have a higher resolution display. The Android phones raised the bar on screen quality, Apple will match or beat them. There’s an outside chance for new iLife/iWork suites, but unless they’re somehow integrated with the new device, those aren’t happening either.

Flash

No chance in hell.

Post-mortem

Apple has posted the full announcement video.(Tech Specs)

Initially I was somewhat disappointed, but that’s starting to wear off as the reality sets in. Not just the reality of what the iPad is, but the universe it will live in.

Apple’s new A4 CPU is a very big deal, but the price was a biggest surprise. And it wasn’t just me, look at what Steve Jobs did to the S&P today:

S&P reversal after iPad price announced

The red line is the price trend before Apple’s price announcement, the green line is the trend after the announcement. Moments before the price was revealed, something caused the market to start tanking, that was stopped cold as soon as the numbers hit the screen.

Predicton-wise, I think I did fairly well. I was right about Apps, but not SDK availability. Very happily wrong about price but right about AT&T. Right about the camera and inputs, but wrong about the dimensions. I am really surprised it’s 4:3, that ratio feels so quaint.

There are some radical changes to the Cocoa Touch Human Interface Guidelines. I’m very curious to see how these changes transition to iPhone, and whether or not those changes will only possible on an iPhone screen with an increased pixel density.

One nice little thing I noticed at around 17 minutes into the video was a two-word contextual correction — haven’t seen that mentioned.

I really hope some of the UI stuff happening with Calendar and Mail find their way into 10.7.

I think my mom might be ditching her Kindle.


WWDC 2009 Predictions

There’s been a lot of stuff going on in my life this year, and I haven’t had much time to prepare for WWDC or even really to think about it before getting here. But I’ve posted my predictions for the past handful of years so I jotted some thoughts down on the plane. I haven’t been keeping up with the rumors, so these are quite literaly pulled out of thin air. This is last minute again, I’m posting this from the keynote line. I’ll update with right/wrong and clean up typos after the show.

Snow Leopard

Apple will claim they lied last year they said Snow Leopard would have “no new features.” They’ll probably position it as “this was just too cool not to put in.” What we’ll see will be a radical rethinking of elements of the OS X Interface. The team who built the iPhone UI will have been brought back to the OS group to work their magic on Mac OS. The features may not be ready yet and might not be included in the developer build, but it will be demoed and highly publicized. (just don’t call it leopard skin) Possible strategies include something like “the iPhone was built with the best of Mac OS X, now we’re bringing the best of iPhone back to the Mac.”

The total re-thinking of the window menu bar in the Safari beta and elements of the iLife interface (hopefully the less infuriating subset) will prove to have been a hint of what’s coming. Aside from revamping the appearance and function of interface windows, I expect some sort of real-time text suggestion/correction system similar to the iPhone’s inline typing corrections.

We still won’t get true resolution independence. I really want to run at AppleDisplayScaleFactor 0.8, but it doing so breaks all sorts of little things around the system. [seems right, but we’ll see]

Hardware

New iPhones will be announced and demoed, but they won’t be available for a month or two. A lot of iPhone 3.0 is known already, but one thing we might see is some sort of demonstration where the iPhone becoming an auxiliary input and display device for nearby macs. Sort of like Remote but more functional. [right on iPhones]

I’m doubtful about any new hardware, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see a small upgrade to portables coupled with a simplified portable product line. The distinction between MacBook and MacBook Pro has gotten really fuzzy. [right on new iPhones]

Portables will also be acquiring location-awareness through a basic GPS chip. If they don’t, I’ll just repeat this one for the next Apple product announcement and for every subsequent announcement until it comes true. It is insane that any portable computing device doesn’t know where it is. [still wrong, so I’ll be trotting this out again next time]

No tablets or Netbooks. Though everyone will be talking in hushed whispers about their hackintoshes. [right, too easy]

I’d be terrified to bring a hacked-Mac netbook to WWDC, but someone, possibly quite a few, will. I have to leave the conference early this year to attend a wedding, I will be starting a rumor that Apple saw my hacBook and threw me out of Moscone for running Mac OS X on non-apple hardware. [right. I saw many netbooks, though only one guy dumb ballsy enough to run Mac OS X on his]

Jobs is the elephant in the room. Everyone seems to expect some sort of appearance. I don’t think he’ll be here, but if he does appear it will be either via video iChat or there will be a video letter/statement. Either one of those will be an unintentionally hilarious recreation of the 1984 Apple ad. [too much waffling on my part to call this either way]


Really last minute WWDC predictions

Short this year, but I wanted to get something up.

  • New iPhone demo
  • iPhone not immediately available
  • 10.6 demo. No, this isn’t 10.5 SP1 (really!)
  • No new MacBook Pro, much as I want one
  • A cleaner architectural re-alignment of OS X from a developer perspective
  • Twitter will melt
  • AAPL will be up at the end of the day
  • I don’t see how they can launch the store until next week. Half the people here would be immediately flooded with support and administrative requests. There will be pre-launch resources available, but the store won’t launch right away.

    10.5 is great, but there are a lot of rough edges. The rumors about 10.6 being previewed are probably true, but I don’t think this will be a $129 upgrade. This will essentially be Service Pack 1. Apple isn’t Adobe, they won’t charge money to fix things that are broken.

    Twitter is going to add such a bizarre additional layer to this.

    And we’re walking in… or at least closer.



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