Unlocking a Verizon iPhone 4S for International Travel

iphone 4s 5 unlock micro sim verizon

Are you planning to travel internationally and want to unlock your iPhone? This post explains steps related to unlocking an iPhone 4S using the United States carrier, Verizon. It may also work for Android phones on the service, but my experience is with the iPhone. The process takes between 10 and 20 minutes to complete. Be sure to read the “Once you arrive” steps so you are able to finish the process.

Before you get started
You should be aware of restrictions Verizon puts on device unlocks. Some but not all of this was covered in a Venturebeat article.

  1. Your account must be in good standing. i.e. you can not owe them money.
  2. They say that your account must have been in good standing for at least 6 months, but I do not believe they enforce this rule.
  3. You may only unlock one device per phone number every 10 months.

Unlock your iPhone with Verizon

  1. While still in the United States, dial *611 from your iPhone. Continue reading Unlocking a Verizon iPhone 4S for International Travel

Creating Compelling App Descriptions for iTunes and the iOS App Stores

When you submit an iOS application for review, you’ve got to make sure your ad copy is tight.  The app description may be the last thing holding back a tap to buy your app.

Apple doesn’t give much guidance on this important chunk of text. “Write your Application Description with a focus on what makes the functionality or design of your app unique.” was a tip from this past June from the App Store Tips blog.

We know that 4000 characters is the limit.  And App descriptions are made up of simple text, including unicode symbols like checkboxes (✔) and more (♣☢☂).  Apple takes your unicode text and formats it for display on the web via Web Preview, in iTunes and on the iOS devices themselves (the app store).

Since you probably have very specific points you want to get across, and users have a very short attention span, you need to pay attention to how Apple will format what you write.  In this entry I discuss how to create app descriptions that look great everywhere Apple publishes your app description.

Continue reading Creating Compelling App Descriptions for iTunes and the iOS App Stores

Course Files for Stanford CS 193P iPhone / iOS App Development Winter 2010

Stanford was kind enough to release all of its CS 193P iPhone / iOS Application Development course under Creative Commons.  The lecture videos [iTunes link] are available for free download through iTunes U.

When I went in search for the course files, I found them all individually linked on the course downloads page.  Since I don’t want to have to return to this page, I used a Firefox plugin to download all of the files and then organized them into folders. The result is one single archive for you to download.

Download – Stanford CS193P.zip – 81.3 MB

Most people are going to get an error when building projects from this set: “error: There is no SDK with the name or path…” Gonzalo Gasca posted a four step solution to this:

1. From the Projects menu in XCode, choose “Edit Project Settings”
2. Click on the “General” tab. Near the bottom of the inspector window, you should see the path to the non-existant SDK that’s troubling you.
3. Change the selection for “Cross-Develop Using Target SDK:” to another listed SDK instead of “Other” as it probably currently reads.
4. Click Build, and away you go!

It is nothing short of amazing that this level of educational material is available for free.  I came across the Stanford course after Windows Phone 7 evangelist Paul Thurrott pointed out that Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do in the realm of developer documentation and free training products.  He’s right.

Selling an iPhone 3GS to get a new iPhone 4 in the United States

People are often surprised to hear that their old iPhone will make their upgrade free or even pay them.  There are a few tricks to helping improve your chances of making money each time Apple releases a new iPhone.  I thought I’d describe how the process works and my recent experience.

There are a number of tricks to upgrading an iPhone in the United States.  Most revolve around the fact that AT&T subsidizes the cost of new iPhones.  So your old iPhone may be worth as much or more than the cost of a new iPhone if you’re up for a two year renewal.

I’ve been lucky to have every model of iPhone break on me at least one time (except the 4 which hasn’t failed yet) and have every phone replaced by Apple.  My iPhone 3G broke twice.  The first was my now well-indexed bit on the white screen of death.  In the second phone, the sleep switch stopped working (a common problem with early iPhone 3G).  Technically, I’m on my fourth iPhone in just over two years.

Continue reading Selling an iPhone 3GS to get a new iPhone 4 in the United States

Rock Show, an App for the Apple iPad

My software company, Neutrinos, has been hard at work on an application for the Apple iPad called Rock Show.  Rock Show is an interactive art gallery for concert posters that lets you view, share and buy original limited edition artwork.

We’re very excited about the potential of the iPad and hope that this application does the device justice enough to be included in the launch of the grand opening of the  iPad App Store.

For more information about Rock Show, visit the official website, RockShow.fm. You can enter your email address to be notified of availability. Be sure to follow the app on Twitter @r0ckshow.  (The first o is a zero)

Killer Application for Apple Tablet is Board Games

There’s a lot more speculation about the tablet since a New York Times blog entry that included a quote that people will be “surprised how you interact with the new tablet.”  A lot of the conjecture is based on applications for patents that Apple has filed in the past few years.  I have an angle that offers interesting interaction with the Apple Tablet, iSlate, iGuide or Apple Slate with a killer application is decidedly low-tech.

The idea is that the iSlate will communicate and be driven in part by nearby iPhones and iPod Touch devices over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.  Authorized iPhone and iPod Touch devices nearby the iSlate will act as sophisticated remote controls.  This use case takes advantage of the user’s likely existing Apple hardware in the Touch platform and focuses on the fact that the iSlate will likely have a large, bright screen with a reasonable viewing angle. Let’s examine a potential killer application of this idea.

The tablet screen will be able to lie flat on a table between two or more people.  Through iTunes, the owner of the tablet will purchase an application that runs full screen on the tablet.  The publisher of the tablet application will also make available free applications that run on the iPhone and iPod Touch and communicate directly with the app running on the tablet.

Using the Apple Tablet as a Centerpiece to Electronic Board Games

A great example would be the classic board game, Scrabble.  In Scrabble, you have a board that requires physical placement of letters on a major center area.  It also requires players to keep the letters in their tray secret from other players.  In a Scrabble for the iSlate scenario, players need only to have an iPhone or iPod Touch to virtually hold their letters.

The iPod Touch or iPhone could vibrate or make a noise when it is a player’s turn and it would be used to send the results of the player’s decisions to the Apple tablet at the center of the table.

One important aspect of this is size, the traditional Scrabble board is a fair bit larger than the expected 10.1″ Pixel Qi powered display.  I believe that this type of thing could be overcome by the tablet giving intelligent focus to the most relevant portions of the board.  Additionally, the iPod Touch and iPhone could be used to manipulate the current viewing area on the tablet, or that area could be manipulated directly using standard multi-touch.

Many other board games would work in this scenario, including Monopoly, where you are handling all kinds of cash, property cards and frequent score calculations. The value you get out of the pairing of a Tablet and the iPhone is that there is a new bridge between physical social interaction and the convenience of an electronic presentation.

Using the Apple Tablet to Share Presentations in Small Groups

There are many other killer applications where the iPhone and iPod Touch serve as input devices to the iSlate or Apple tablet.  One I would use in my meetings for my iPhone application design company, Neutrinos, LLC is a business application is in small group presentations.  The tablet is set up to run a presentation application full screen.

The tablet is handed to one or more clients seated near each other.  The presenter uses an iPod Touch or iPhone to control playback of the presentation.  The presenter’s multi-touch device offers presentation notes, previous and next slide previews and allows them to trigger in-presentation events like animations or even jumping out to a web-view for the clients to explore.  This gives the presenter an opportunity to give a private and engaging presentation in the middle of any cafe, airport or public space.

Using the Apple Tablet for Illustration and as a Supplemental Display Area for Floating Windows

A final use case scenario for using the iPhone and iPod Touch to drive the Tablet is in illustration.  I’ve been working directly with Portland artist Carolyn Main who spends a lot of time with her Wacom tablet.  While the Wacom offers a great deal of pressure point precision that the Apple Touch Platform is unlikely to compete with any time soon, it is reasonable to think that app developers will try to deliver illustration and animation applications that allow creation on the go.

Having an illustration application like Adobe Illustrator running on the tablet, and then being able to use an iPhone or iPod touch for swatch, tool or layer management would leave more of the iSlate’s screen real estate for drawing.

In John Gruber’s recent post about the tablet he writes: “And so in answer to my central question, regarding why buy The Tablet if you already have an iPhone and a MacBook, my best guess is that ultimately, The Tablet is something you’ll buy instead of a MacBook.”  My suggestion is that people buy the tablet because they already have an iPhone or iPod Touch.  Having both a Tablet and a touch makes the Tablet more useful with some great use case scenarios the low-tech realm of board gaming to business.

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The Concept of Self and Use of RFID on the iPhone in Entertainment and Social Space

My friend Elissa turned me on to an article by William Deresiewicz titled The End of Solitude that addresses the culture of celebrity and connectivity as symptoms of an impulse for becoming known.  Much of the article offers an overview of the historical concept of Self and what we get out of it.

Something I liked about the article was that it gave context to a technical social mashup idea I’ve been exploring, which is the increased use of near field communication (NFC) to increase one’s visibility in a meaningful way.  More specifically, people will use RFID tag readers in a mobile device like the iPhone to alert the world of their participation in entertainment experiences.

In The End of Solitude, Deresiewicz suggests the culture of celebrity is connected to the video camera, which I connect to broadcast television.  Regretfully, in the year when we could least afford it, reality TV gave rise to pointless distractions like the Balloon Boy and the White House Party Crashers.  But the article also describes the culture of connectivity as a product of the evolving use of computers and mobile communications in society.  As something of an evangelist for new media and a critique of old media, it is somewhat humbling for me to read Deresiewicz’s grouping of celebrity with connectivity in the contemporary self:

“Celebrity and connectivity are both ways of becoming known.  It wants to be visible. If not to the millions, on Survivor or Oprah, then to the hundreds, on Twitter or Facebook. This is the quality that validates us, this is how we become real to ourselves — by being seen by others. The great contemporary terror is anonymity.”

The value of different participatory entertainment activities runs the gamut.  A film at your local movie theater requires you to only buy a ticket before the film is sold out and ensure you show up at the scheduled time.  Getting yourself twenty feet from the stage at The Dead on July 4th at Rothbury Music Festival in Michigan requires a significantly greater level of planning.  But the relative interest in the social grid in any given activity is less important than the simple declaration to the post modern self that you “did it.”  People want to shout from the top of their literal or figurative mountains, “I am about to (or have just)  ____ at _____.”

Given that a lot of people love to share their experiences, many are simply limited by the inconvenience.  I’ve given some detail to my sense that there is a big splash still yet to be made by Apple’s touch platform.  And that the Touch lineup of the iPod Touch, the iPhone and the iSlate we will see a revolution in mobile computing.  They will allow us to enjoy the impulses of the modern self which are to take part in connectivity and some element of celebrity.

A topic that hasn’t been explored enough is the effect of including an RFID reader in a breakthrough device like the iPhone.  There is reason to believe that an RFID reader will be incorporated in the near future.   I believe that the inclusion of such hardware will open up opportunities to more quickly identify and disseminate interesting information about the entertainment spaces we’re inhabiting.

To illustrate a point, when I was writing the above paragraph I searched twitter for “Sherlock Holmes” which premiered this past weekend.  The third tweet from the top was from a student I’ve never heard of or met named Nicholas King.  From his Twitter bio, we know Nicholas is a student at Eastern Michigan and studies business.  Quite simply, Nicholas tweeted:

RFID Technology iPhone iSlate Twitter Self Post-Modern Concept

A quick search reveals that Trillium is a cinemas in Grand Blanc, Michigan and Nick was keeping his followers up to date with a text message from his phone.  While a text message accomplishes the goal of updating his thirty or so followers, it falls down for a few reasons:

  1. Part of being fully connected is also having your information quickly sorted and grouped with similar data.  Twitter provides a reverse method for grouping information through its search.twitter.com functionality.  Users are capable of directly grouping their tweets with hashtags.  Both of those methods suffer the potential for data entry error.  I wouldn’t have known about Nick’s experience achievement if he had spelled it “Shelock Holmes.”
  2. Manually updating your followers with the activity you’re participating in requires extended effort.  If you’re walking in the door of an RJD2 show you might have a drink in one hand and a gaggle of pals pulling you forward with the other. It isn’t always possible or at least socially acceptable to whip out your phone and type out an update.

The concept is this.  Sherlock Holmes is being distributed to theaters by Warner Bros Pictures.  In addition to sending out reels of film, Warner Bros would also send a small stand up display that is to be placed near the entrance to the theatre showing the movie.  If Nick carried an iPhone with an RFID reader, he would need only to wave his phone at the entrance and it would automatically pick up his preferences for sharing his location and the movie title he’s seeing via Twitter or Facebook.  More interesting things would be to automatically enter you in a contest for people who attended an Sherlock Holmes on opening weekend.

Another illustration to the benefits of adding an RFID reader to the iPhone in the realm of participatory entertainment is in live music or very large public entertainment events.  For instance, scanning the RFID tag in your section at a football game will identify the mobile capability to an application that could cue everyone to hold up their phones at a given time, display a particular set of images on the screen and turn the entire stadium into a megatron.  At a music festival like Rothbury, it might allow people to collect virtual zoo keys which turn an already amazing Sherwood Forest into something that is digitally enchanted.

The total extent to what could be done with connected devices incorporating RFID tags in combination with the impulse to reinforce personal visibility is impossible to see right now.  What is clear is that culture, technology and the increasing value of participatory entertainment rapidly is converging with all-in-one devices like the iPhone and iSlate.

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Update 12/30/09:  A few additional things: 1. There is a strong sense that RFID will be most valuable for payment and wireless financial transactions.  The basis of my interest in RFID has been from seeing the NFC-enabled registers at places like McDonalds and Regal Cinemas.   When I first started seeing them, I would ask how often they took payment using the NFC at POS and I’d get blank stares from the employees.  MasterCard’s PayPass and American Express’s ExpressPay have been around for a while but have mostly only survived market tests as far as I can tell.

To look at how NFC/RFID payments and entertainment overlap, I love what it could do to damage the secondary ticket market.  I’ve long felt that secondary ticketing and scalping does more harm than good on the average would-be live entertainment participant.  Locking tickets to phones is a great way to help track and possibly reduce scalping while still allowing some flexibility in transferability.

There are some articles about how an RFID, NFC enabled phone are useful outside of entertainment which are worth linking to.  Here’s one that simply gooses the idea.  Here’s a second article that talks explicitly in terms of marketing opportunities.

Using an HTML Web View with a Transparent Background in iPhone SDK's Interface Builder and Xcode

Something almost every iPhone application needs is an About and Help view that allows the user to learn a little bit about the application they’re using and  how it should be operated.  The problem with a UITextView in Apple’s XCode and Interface Builder SDK is that you can not use rich-text styling or even bold one line over another.

One solution to this problem would be to create image files containing stylized text and then rasterize them and allow the user to page through them.  The problem with this is that you can’t have tappable URLs or links embedded in the text.

David Peixotto, coding ninja and my business partner for Neutrinos, suggested we look at using a Webview or HTML view and put an imageview in the background.  The trick is telling the iPhone to display a UIWebView with a transparent background.  I looked around for the solution to this and came across this helpful post in the iPhone Developer SDK forums.

Step one of getting a transparent web view in interface builder is to create HTML in the controller.m for the view containing the webview that contains the CSS line: <body style=”background-color:transparent”> Inside the <head> </head> sections of the html.

Step two is to set the background color of the webview to clear or transparent:  myWebView.backgroundColor = [UIColor clearColor]; Continue reading Using an HTML Web View with a Transparent Background in iPhone SDK's Interface Builder and Xcode

Bonnaroo 2009 Pocket Images for the iPhone

iphone bonnaroo schedule wallpaper

The less you need to carry around, the more you can focus on the music and artistic displays at Bonnaroo.  I put together two sets of Bonnaroo schedules formatted for the iPhone.  

 Download the 2009 Bonnaroo Schedule Formatted for the iPhone

Set one is meant to be saved as a athe following five jpeg images formatted for the iPhone in 480×320. The schedules are taken from Mizary’s printable schedule.   Continue reading Bonnaroo 2009 Pocket Images for the iPhone

Apple Touch Platform Applications Approval Process Stirs Concern

In the past I’ve written about the Facebook platform as being the wild west of software development.  The reasoning was that 3rd party developers like myself were watching the platform shift and change on a daily basis.  The result was that functions were being introduced in beta, or replaced and deprecated frequently.

Developers working on emerging software platforms are a flexible bunch.  They’re used to having theirapplications break so long as the platform overall is being improved.  A better platform means more users, which means greater opportunity for 3rd party developers.  One thing developers do not like, however is having their software tools gobbled up an encorporated into the core of the platform.

I wrote about how this was happening in my blog post, Nationalization or Expropriation? Independent Facebook Application Developers Continue to Face Uncertainty.  Something entirely different is happening right now on the Touch platform, however.

Continue reading Apple Touch Platform Applications Approval Process Stirs Concern