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iPad Mini

I took a trip to the Apple Store on Regent St today to catch a closer look at the iPad Mini.

Following on from the iPhone 5 there is a distinctly lightweight feel to the Mini. Apple have moved on from claiming a tablet doesn't work well at 7-8 inches. This is holdable in one hand and thus going to be better for prolonged reading.

I always look to evaluate how My Vacation will be used on new iOS devices. The iPad Mini will run My Vacation HD and operates at the same resolution as the iPad 1 and 2. This is music to developer's ears! However, we should all be aware that some controls and buttons will be harder to prod. The number 44 is well known to iOS developers as the minimum size in pixels that a button should or else it starts to become hard for a user to reliably press. So I'd like to hear from you if you find anything fiddly to operate in My Vacation HD on the iPad Mini.

The CPU and memory match the iPad 2, but the camera matches the latest iPad models, with a 5MP offering on the rear camera.

The onscreen keyboard will, on this device probably be mostly used in landscape mode, which is my preferred mode for My Vacation HD use in any case.

In summary I think the iPad Mini is going to find a place in more people's travel bags. I hope on sunbeds and airplane seats around the world more travellers will start writing journals with My Vacation!


Apple event and iPhone 5

Well, another year, another improvement to the iPhone and iPod Touch range. There were not many 'wow' moments but enough to look forward to if you are upgrading from an iPhone 4. I've been able to identify a handful of improvements that will make using My Vacation a better experience.

  1. Improved screen - an extra 176 pixels and a 44% boost to the colour saturation. Developers were given time to incorporate many of the iOS 6 features, but not the increased screen size. Initially, therefore you'll see blank bands on the top and bottom. In time a new update should be able to take advantage of the extra pixels and offer more space for viewing journals as you write them, and displaying widescreen images across the whole screen.

  2. Improved Camera - the camera has the same 8mp rating and f/2.4 aperture, but with improved noise reduction and a new dynamic low-light mode that can sense dim light and boost the aperture. A new sapphire crystal lens cover gives greater protection against scratches. The camera also takes photos 40% faster.

As you'd expect Apple have added some pristine sample photos on their website:

The dimensions of photos are still 3264x2448 which is the same ratio as the older 4:3 screens. There is also an enhanced video recording mechanism with improved stabilization.

  1. Panorama - a new app to allow you to create panoramic photos. This unfortunately won't be available within My Vacation's photo capture screen but you'll be able to import the photo after you've saved it in Panorama.

  2. Faster Wireless and 4G - always a bonus when uploading and archiving your trips.

  3. New maps - the source of maps in My Vacation will change from Google to Apple. Being honest, I fear Apple may have some catching up to do, but fingers crossed.

  4. iPod Touch - the phone-less Touch has kept pace with the iPhone to varying degrees. They match in screen, it has the CPU of the iPhone 4S, but the camera is slightly lower spec at 5mp. I cannot find any sample images but one would imagine a similar photo quality to the iPhone 4.

That just about covers it! I'll be keen to hear your experiences using the app on these new devices.


iOS 6

You may have noticed things have been a bit quiet over here over for a while. It is true that my time has been diverted to another app project. However, I am committed to make sure My Vacation transitions to iOS 6 without any hitches. I'll continue to be on hand to answer any questions you have about using the app too.

I'll update this post when I've digested the announcements made at WWDC yesterday.

Thanks, Tony


Two year anniversary!

It was on this day 2 years ago that the first version of My Vacation was released. It's been a great experience in so many ways, and I hope in return it has helped you more richly journal your trips. The aim of this app was to allow you to reminisce about your travels in a way that a directory of photos on your computer cannot evoke.

I hope there have already been many occasions where My Vacation has been brought out when conversation turns to 'just how good was that trip?!'

I am often asked how long it takes to do an iPhone app, which is always an impossible question to answer. The original scope for My Vacation was quite ambitious - to plan and document travel experiences from a single app. It is funny to look back to the first version, and to recall how the app has evolved. For instance, I almost believed my artistic skills were ample!

I'll resist turning this into an Oscar speech and name everyone who has contributed to the project but from providing graphics, to testing, to marketing the app I've been lucky to work with several talented and awesome individuals along the way, most based here in Cambridge.

A lot of my time has been spent on the iPad version, which for this kind of app introduces a lot of challenges during the migration. I was fully occupied with the iPhone app when the iPad was first launched, but when I observed how it was drawing crowds of all ages one day in the Cambridge Apple Store, I knew it would be an exciting platform to move on to, and it was a good decision in the end.

Starting this venture from a software development background, the marketing side to running an iOS software business has been new and genuinely interesting, although trying to make a dent in the busy world of the travel business has been quite a task. However, I'm of course grateful for the travel blogs and app review sites who took time to write their reviews.

Finally, I would love to hear your stories on how you've been using the app, and I am always grateful to those posting reviews of the app on iTunes, and giving feedback over on the support forum.