iPhone 5 – no analog line out?

iPhone 5 is announced. This is it. It is time to upgrade that old phone. I don’t need any of the new “features” anymore than I did last year when the 4S was announced, but a thinner and lighter phone can’t hurt. Here we go! Oh, wait a minute…

No analog line out? That’s a deal breaker. I mean, everything isn’t digital nor will it be in the next five years, and I actually use the analog line output. It’s not a theoretical nice to have feature that I would never ever use, such as the ability to “root” my phone (I don’t even know what that means, but I imagine it’s something Linux people like to do all day long). It does not take much effort to realize that the 8-pins, duplicated on each side of the connector, is not enough to support analog line output. Judging from the existing connector’s pin layout, USB probably uses 6 of those pins and the remaining two is probably supplying high current power.

For a moment I considered forgetting about the iPhone 5 and purchase a 4S instead, if nothing else to show them that I was disappointed… But then I realized: the headphone jack has been moved to the bottom of the phone. While I disagree with this move, it makes perfect sense. Moving it to the bottom of the phone enables a docking station that uses the headphone jack directly for analog line out, since you can’t keep your headphones plugged in when attaching to a docking station anymore. This is why I disagreed with the move in the first place. However, while you could keep the headphones plugged in in previous models, you would only get sound from either the speakers or the headphones. I think that this is almost certainly because the same components serve both the headphone jack and the line out. All iOS needs to do is turn off the headphone jack and adjust the output level when the docking station is plugged in. This is still possible with iPhone 5, but using the headphone jack directly (and obviously adjust the level, but not turn it off).

I will keep an eye on this issue, specifically because I haven’t seen any accessory that matches the above description yet, but I feel confident that there will be analog line out for the new iPhone.

Apple TV: the simplest user interface you could imagine

Many have speculated how Apple will change the way we use a television set. In the biography by Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs is quoted saying that he finally cracked the secret of how to make a television set: “It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine”. Most have imagined this to mean voice control in some fashion. I for one, do not believe that for a second – I can imagine a much more simple user interface. There are far too many problems with voice command for it to be a preferred solution in a situation where you:

  1. have your hands free
  2. are looking at the thing you want to interact with
  3. are sitting sill
  4. may want to be quiet (as not to wake other family members)
  5. may want to speak to other people in the room

Tripp and Tyler have brilliantly made fun of some of these issues.

So, what did Steve Jobs mean? I think we will see a television set with eye tracking software. I have already mentioned this when speculating about the new iPhone, but for a television set this technology would make perfect sense. Imagine a single button remote. One click on the remote to bring up a menu to one side of the screen and activate eye tracking. Click again to select the menu item you’re looking at. Repeat until you have selected something to watch. The menu goes away. Now that is simple!

What’s the next revolutionary iPhone feature?

I have been thinking about the iPhone 5. Specifically, what the next revolutionary feature could be. The first time I saw the iPhone, it felt like it was based on some alien technology. That feeling was not there when the iPhone 4S was released, as I have written before. I am sure that some think that Siri is as revolutionary as the touch based GUI once was, and I might think so too sometime in the future, but it has a long way to go in my opinion. This is largely due to the fact that it does not support the language that I speak daily, and I am not alone with this problem.

So, what could bring that feeling of alien technology back to the iPhone? Yesterday I was reading about eye tracking technology and I realized that eye tracking on the iPhone would again change the way we view mobile phones forever (pun intended). It already has a front facing camera so it has the necessary hardware. In the article, the Swedish eye tracking company Tobii estimated that mainstream breakthrough was about two years away. Could this be the next big thing for iPhone? I would love to see this come true! iPhone (and iPad) would once again blow the competition out of the water.

This reminds me of a scene in Back to the future Part II where Marty is in the Cafe 80’s and he is showing a couple of kids how to play a video game and their response is: “You mean you have to use your hands? That’s like a baby’s toy!” I have always wondered how that might come true. Could this be it?

Creating a bilingual WordPress

Creating a bilingual WordPress isn’t easy. After experimenting with the xili-plugins for about a week, I realized that:

  1. it is much more complicated than it should be to set up a multilingual site
  2. maybe I don’t even want a truly multilingual site

The requirements were:

  1. Some posts have to be in Swedish
  2. People that don’t read Swedish should not see posts in Swedish
  3. People that read Swedish should also see posts in English
  4. Google must find everything
  5. The choice of language should be straight forward

At first I tried the xili-language, xili-tidy-tags and xili-dictionary plugins. While they seemed to provide what I needed, I had a few problems:

  1. Categories must exist in all languages but I do not intend to have any overlap of categories.
  2. A category might display a non-zero number of posts in the category widget, but no posts are returned when clicked on, because the posts were in another language than the one currently selected.
  3. I had problems with the WPtouch theme, which did not present any selection of languages (no surprise really).
  4. Posts published using the WordPress app are not displayed on the front page, because the language is undefined by default.
  5. I found the documentation and interface labels and descriptions of the xili plugin suite unusually hard to comprehend.

While I am sure most of these issues can be resolved by massaging the plugins a bit, I felt that, either I am using a product (in which case I should not have to write code) or I am developing a product (in which case I wouldn’t have downloaded a plugin in the first place).

Here’s what I did instead:

  1. I added another plugin called Simply Exclude
  2. Since English is the main language, I created a category called “in swedish”. Any other category needed for posts in Swedish will be placed with this as its ancestor.
  3. Using Simply Exclude, posts in the “In Swedish” category or descendants are excluded from the front page.
  4. I kept xili-tidy-tags, because I found it neat to have a tag cloud excluding tags in Swedish.

This solution better matches my requirements, and does not cause any problems with the mobile theme and app.