If you’re a geek, you most likely have stumbled upon, or even used emoticons like this ?_? (look of disapproval) or this (?°?°??? ??? (flipping tables). The best way to do this on your computer is to copy and paste. That’s a process that’s quite painful on the iPhone. But there is a solution: using the built in custom keyboard shortcuts allows me to type ‘ffs’ and get this (?°?°??? ??? or ‘lofd’ and get this ?_?
Here’s how you create this. Go to this blog post on in Safari (or Chrome, which is now available as an iPhone app) on your iPhone. Copy the emoticon (at the end of this post) you want to create a shortcut for by highlighting it and choosing ‘copy’
Go to the Settings app and select General > Keyboard. There you have the option to ‘Add New Shortcut…’
Paste the emoticon in the Phrase section, and choose which shortcut should result in this emoticon. Tap Save. Dunzo! (Another brilliant shortcut comes from Magnus Bodin: your e-mail address. So now I type ‘kazgm’ to write out my personal Gmail address and ‘kazmp’ to write out my work e-mail address).
Binary review of the iBamboo Electricity Free Speaker: 0 (unless you need a torture device)
I love Kickstarter. It really helps unleash the potential of people’s creativity. Imagine that you come up with a really great idea for a small gadget accessory. In the old world, you’d have to finance the whole project from prototyping to ordering the first batch of the items. Besides the risk of ordering 250 gadgets that may or may not be sold, you have to do the marketing of the product. And make some crucial decisions: ordering 1000 units might lower the price per unit considerably, which will allow you to sell it cheaper and increase the chances for success, at the price of a higher economical risk.
With Kickstarter, most of that is built into the project. You can actually have buyers for 1000 units before you even make the first one. The beauty is that the backers too are safe in this process: they pledge to back your project in exchange for a perk (which often is one or more units, or maybe a limited edition of the unit). They only pay if the project is fully funded. The only risk the backers face as far as I’m aware of, is that the product is better on paper than it is in reality.
This is the case with the “Bamboo electricity free speaker” (or iBambooSpeaker as it’s called now). The idea really seems simple and great: using the resonance of a bamboo pipe to enhance the sound from the external speaker on your iPhone. Bamboo is also a cheap and organic material (I wouldn’t have backed this project if it was made of plastic) and it seemed like it should work.
It didn’t. At least not for what I thought it would do: be a speaker. It is however, a decent better torture device – and that’s without hitting anyone with it. I could do with the phone not being able to stand up straight, but the resonance mostly enhances the treble and not the bass. This creates an experience that is physically unpleasant for the ears. Unpleasant enough that silence is preferable.
Don’t take this as discouragement from backing projects on Kickstarter (or Fundedbyme if you’re in Scandinavia), take it as a review of an idea that should have stayed on paper.
Using your iPhone (or any other touchscreen device) when it’s cold outside without freezing your fingers off leaves you with a few options: to use the remote control on the earphones, take off your gloves, use voice control (Siri) and/or get a pair of touch screen gloves.
The problem with the remote control is that it is limited to answering/hanging up, changing volume and stopping/starting the music player.
Before Siri (i.e. on iPhones prior to the 4S) I used voice control mostly for dialing (“Call <contact name>”). With Siri I can do some other stuff, but it’s still not efficient enough. I can send a text message or an e-mail without getting the iPhone out of my pocket, but if I want to send a Whatsapp message, Tweet or update my Facebook status I have to take out the iPhone and use the touchscreen.
Enter the touchscreen gloves: they allow me to use a (conductive) touchscreen without taking my gloves off. I’ve got two different pairs that I’ve compared: the Agloves Sport and a pair of unknown brand (if you recognize the logo on the back please leave a comment) made by Glove Source.
I still use the remote as much as before. With Siri, I use the voice control more often, but since only SMS and e-mail can be sent without handling the phone it’s only marginally easier to use the dictate feature to send a Whatsapp message, a Tweet of update my Facebook status. Also, the dictation mode only works for English (and a few other languages supported by Siri) so for all my Swedish interaction I need to use the keyboard.
The pair from Glove source are thin, sporty gloves made of nylon, polyester and spandex.
The Agloves are made from acrylic, silver yarn, spandex and rubber thread. Since the silver yarn runs throughout the whole glove, you can use any and all fingers on the touchscreen.
I’ve been trying both pairs out, and in my opinion it’s an even race.
Warmth: the Agloves Sport are warmer, thanks to the structure of acrylic. The other gloves are good for when it’s chilly but not really suitable for cold weather. Unless you use them as liners. Liners potential: both are easy to use as liners for a pair of thicker gloves or mittens. It’s easy taking off my leather gloves without neither the Agloves nor the Glove Source gloves coming off. However, you probably won’t be able to use neither as liners for your existing gloves as they add so much bulk that you need gloves one or two sizes larger than you usually would have. Handling the iPhone: this is the biggest drawback of the Agloves. Holding the iPhone with them on is harder than with your hands, it’s like holding an iPhone that’s been greased. This is good when your fingers are sliding on the screen, and bad when the iPhone slips out of your hand. The Glove Source gloves have a rubbery webbing on the palm, giving them a better grip than with a bare hand. Typing: neither is very comfortable to type with, especially if you think that the keys on the iPhone’s virtual keyboard are too tight to begin with. This is a balance between warmth and handling: the thicker and warmer the gloves, the harder it is to type with them. Therefore, the Glove Source gloves are easier to type with. However, both are best used for short texts when you really have to and not to write short stories. Appearance: the Glove Source gloves have a very sporty appearance, and don’t go well with any type of more formal dress. In my opinion, they even look a little weird with casual office outfits. The Agloves are better for both formal and casual outfits. None of these are as fugly as Telenor’s branded touchscreen gloves:
Overall score: if I would have to choose one of these, it would be the Agloves, despite the fact that dropping your iPhone is much easier with them on. Why? Because I’m wearing gloves for one reason: it’s cold outside. They are better at keeping warmth, even though you will need a pair of thicker gloves for long walks or when it’s really cold outside. I’m a fairly warm person who tends not to freeze that much, and I’ve tried the Agloves in -1° C (30° F) and been comfortable. However, if the temperature would drop to -10° C (14° F) I’d probably use something warmer.
Since the Agloves Sport are the only models available in the EU, I haven’t tried the other models. From what I understand, all the other models are thinner and I don’t think that I would like them all other things being equal, as the warmth factor is the Agloves’ strongest advantage.
(For those of you buying Agloves in Europe: don’t pay the outrageous fee of 20 € for express shipping. Agloves use Schenker for the express shipping, and it’s not worth it. I’d be okay for Agloves to take such a high fee for premium shipping, but Schenker is not really premium. It’s a great budget alternative.)