Webware 100 Editors' Choice: Cuil & Mobile Me (Failure to Launch)

Site: Cuil and Mobile Me Category: Editors' Choice, Failure to Launch

A lot of Web services fizzle on launch. The "beta" label often provides a line of defense against launch hiccups. But every now and then companies overhype new products that simply aren't close to ready for prime-time launch. The two big winners of the Failure to Launch award for this Webware 100 are, clearly, Cuil and Mobile Me.

Cuil as launched as a competitive search engine to Google, built by ex-Googlers. Early demos looked good, but when the site actually opened to the public, it was … Read more

Symantec, McAfee target iPhone for new products

Security companies Symantec and McAfee will be the latest big-name developers to make products for Apple's iPhone, as the two look to cash in on the popularity of the device.

Speaking to Reuters, McAfee CEO Dave DeWalt said his company is developing security software for the iPhone, though no other details on the product were provided. DeWalt also said the company is working on a "much more comprehensive suite for the Apple family."

Symantec is throwing its hat into the iPhone ring too, but it won't be developing traditional security software. Instead, Symantec is looking at … Read more

QuickTime to provide YouTube support

Apple Insider has unearthed proof that YouTube uploading will be built into the upcoming version of QuickTime that ships with OS X 10.6.

According to beta testers, several video-sharing options will be baked into the latest release of Apple's QuickTime media playback and editing software, including the capability to directly upload to YouTube. With the new QuickTime, you will be able to convert and upload any supported video file type to the online video service and all you will need is to be a registered YouTube user. You also will be able to seamlessly upload supported video to … Read more

Mossberg gives Apple's MobileMe thumbs up

Apple's MobileMe Web service has finally improved to the point where The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg feels it worthy of a recommendation.

Mossberg, whose opinion can make or break a product or service, has revisited his earlier take on the MobileMe service, which got off to a disastrous start when it was launched last summer. MobileMe lets Mac or Windows users sync their contacts, calendar info, and e-mail across Macs, PCs, and iPhones for $99 a year.

When the revamped service hit the Internet last July, it was plagued with so many outages and glitches that Mossberg--usually … Read more

MobileMe to feature iPhone OS 3.0 locator

The beta version of iPhone OS 3.0 is out and some additional details are surfacing about the software, including a new feature that may let MobileMe users locate lost or stolen iPhones.

This new feature recently revealed by The Boy Genius Report appears in the configuration settings for MobileMe on the iPhone where push updates for mail, contacts, calendars, and bookmarks are configured. Now, the last setting in the settings list displays a control for the activation of "Find My iPhone."

Once this feature is activated, log into your MobileMe account at and that service … Read more

MobileMe gets updated, improved, and 'pushy' once more

Apple distributed an e-mail recently to MobileMe subscribers that detailed some improved features, but the biggest news from that e-mail was the fact that push is back.

Push was part of the initially tragic launch of MobileMe in 2008--a launch so poorly implemented that the word "push" was removed from descriptions of MobileMe until synchronization between computers and mobile devices (i.e. iPhone and iPod Touch) would perform at an acceptable level.

Now that push is in business again, syncing with Macs or PCs is faster. Any updates that you make to contacts or calendars on your Mac … Read more

MobileMe users hit with phishing scam, again

MobileMe users are being targeted by a phishing scam.

Users of MobileMe, which automatically sends e-mail, contacts, and calendar events to your computer, iPhone, or iPod, have been receiving a new e-mail that looks like it comes from Apple. It warns that attempts to renew the MobileMe subscription have failed because of a problem with charging the credit card and prompts the recipient to log in and update information on a site that looks legitimate but is not, Macworld reported on Wednesday.

A similar phishing scam targeting MobileMe users was discovered in August, according to Macworld.

Tips for MobileMe users … Read more

iPhone Users Get Their Contact Data Whacked By MobileMe Cancellations

Our friends across the pond at The Register are reporting about an issue that has been discovered surrounding Apple's much touted MobileMe trial especially when trying it for the limited time period and then canceling it.

Synchronization with MobileMe makes sure that all the devices are up-to-date regarding content, etc. However, something really bad happens "when an account is canceled; all the data is removed from the cloud, which is fine - unless the user lets their iPhone synchronize with the newly-created void. In that case they find their calendar unexpectedly clear, and a curious lack of any … Read more

Buzz Out Loud 875: Jazz fingers

On today's show, we have a couple of awkward moments discussing the latest Andy Samberg clip on YouTube. There are giggles. We also attempt to spread some rumors about BlackBerry Storm returns that are quickly debunked by actual fact; we learn which Netbooks can handle OS X (and Brian Tong); and intrepid researchers are playing Christmas music for sharks, just to see if they like it. Yes. Really. Listen now: Download today's podcast Episode 875

Personalized spam rising sharply, study finds

Cable to temporarily pause digital switch … Read more

A 'where's the feature?' report: iPhone 3G

(Sheesh, I've been busy lately. I had more spare time when I was employed!)

Ever since I got my iPhone 3G in late July, I've been keeping track of the things I like--and don't like--about it.

Since Apple is rumored to be releasing the next major iPhone firmware update today, I thought I'd run through the list now, and then see how the new firmware changes things. Many of these comments apply to the iPod touch as well.

The things I like are, generally, the same things everyone likes. The iPhone is feature-rich, well integrated, well supported by independent software developers, and fun to use.

The things I don't like are, generally, software features that ought to be present but just aren't.

Each time I discover another one of these missing features, I jot it down in my iPhone WTF list. WTF, of course, stands for "Where's the feature?"

Muting and sounds For example: Where's the feature to mute the phone? You may point to the little toggle switch on the left side, but no, that just mutes the ringer and certain audio alerts, not the whole phone. On my old Palm Treo, the mute switch darn well muted everything, as if the switch disconnected the speaker wires themselves.

On the iPhone, there's no way to predict which sound sources will respect the mute switch. Calendar alerts do; alarms don't. These are good choices--I like knowing that the alarm function will still wake me up even if I mute the phone before going to sleep--but hardly intuitive.

Alarm volume is controlled by the ringer volume, but even the minimum ringer volume is still audible.

Application-generated sounds have a separate volume control. If you're not in the iPod application, which has a volume slider, I think the only way to adjust this control is to use the volume rocker switch while an application is making sounds. Sometimes, that's after the phone has already started to annoy the people around you.

Bottom line: I can't find a way to make the unit completely silent without going into multiple Settings panels and applications, and even that isn't completely effective because some applications (as exemplified by the otherwise valuable Phone Aid) will turn the volume back up when they run.

Alerts and Calendar app While I'm on the subject of alerts: in the Calendar application, where's the function to set an alert for the exact time of an event? Sometimes I just want to beep myself at 10 a.m. to make a phone call, for example. I don't want to have to set the time for 10:05 a.m. and the alert for "5 minutes before." I love the fact that Calendar supports up to two alerts for the same event, but I wish I could set them to, say, 15 minutes and 0 minutes respectively. This problem could be solved by providing a "Custom" time choice for both of the alerts.

The Calendar app also has the worst user-interface design in the whole iPhone, I think. To select the date and time for an alarm, you spin three wheels apparently stolen from the game show The Price Is Right. The minutes wheel is so easy to spin that in going from :00 to :30, I commonly spin right past :30 and back to :00. Apple has developed many ways to select dates and times for other systems and applications; this is by far the worst.

The Calendar app does something else that's kind of silly. In the daily view, most events get two lines of text: the title and location. Displaying these two lines takes up about one hour of the day. For a shorter event--one scheduled for 30 minutes, say--the two lines get squeezed into one line in an attempt to maintain the orderly appearance of the schedule.

But come on, Apple! The lines on a sheet of paper are fixed. The lines on a computer display aren't. Stretch the lines apart so that every event gets the space it needs! Jeez, this isn't rocket science.

Similarly, a long event has plenty of room to display additional information, such as the notes associated with the event--but instead, the event ends up with two lines of text and a bunch of wasted blank space. Display the notes, and shrink the event if that helps to keep the whole day on the screen. I hate having to scroll the Day display just to show two events.

The Calendar app doesn't handle multiple-user event scheduling very well. Invitations received by the iPhone's Mail app aren't understood by the phone. I can go look at the message on my Mac and add the event to my calendar there, and eventually the event shows up on my iPhone, but that's not so good when I'm traveling. And even then, the event can't be edited on the iPhone--not at all, not even to change the times.

The Calendar app does something very nice: the icon on the iPhone's home screen shows the current day and date. So, where's the feature? Why don't all of Apple's apps do this sort of thing where appropriate? The Clock app icon always shows 10:15. The Weather app always shows sunny and 73 degrees. The Stocks app shows a random squiggle. Sure, updating all these icons would give the iPhone some extra work to do--so Apple should provide a "Live icon updates?" setting and have some rules about how often the updates should happen. I think the slight increase in overhead would usually be worth it.

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