Archive | March, 2011

Firefox 4: First Impressions

20110329 120303 Firefox 4: First Impressions

Firefox 4 has been released for a week now, and for that week I’ve been using it exclusively on my Windows PC and MacBook. Here’s a quick look at the things I’ve noticed.

Speed. The first thing I noticed is how much quicker Firefox 4 is compared to Firefox 3. The difference is quite remarkable. Loading websites feels faster, and I suspect this is largely due to the javascript engine enhancements. It’s still not quite as fast as Google’s Chrome browser, but for some reason I still prefer Firefox over Chrome.

Interface. Firefox 4 received a much needed facelift. It took me some time to get used to it, but it’s definitely an improvement. The two biggest changes are the former “status bar” (now called the “add on bar”) is gone, and the tabs have been moved way up to the top. You can configure it to look exactly like Firefox 3 if you wish, but why waste the extra pixels if you don’t need to? They’ve also added “Pinned Tabs”, which work much like Chrome’s feature of the same name. This feature alone has enabled me to get rid of one of my extensions.

Panorama. Panorama is a new feature of Firefox 4 that allows you to group your tabs into workspaces. This is a welcome new feature, and I’m already using it extensively. The workspaces can be accessed from the panorama tab at the very right of the tab bar. From there you can drag and drop your tabs into your tab groups. Once the groups have been created you can search through them, etc. My favorite way to switch workspaces is with the ctrl/cmd-` keyboard shortcut, which is like alt/opt-tab for windows/mac. Use ctrl/cmd-shift-E to open the panorama screen. To search your tabs just start typing within the panorama screen and the matching tabs will be highlighted.

What are some of the features or improvements you’ve noticed?

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5 Things I Hope Apple Fixes in iOS 5

I have been an iPhone user for 2 years now. I still have and use my iPhone 3G and will be upgrading to the iPhone 5 once it is released this summer. Over the past 2 years I have watched iOS evolve into what it is today. It’s a good OS, especially for a mobile device, however there are some features that need fixing. Here are my top 5 things I hope Apple fixes in iOS 5:

  1. Notifications. The iPhone notification system is pretty bad. Every notification gets popped up in the middle of the screen and the most recent notification wipes out any previous ones. It’d be nice if there was some sort of notification bar, or box where all recent notifications are stored.
  2. Over the air updates & syncing. Apple, it’s 2011 already. We live in a world of cloud computing and abundant wifi. Please get with the program and let me update to the latest iOS patch over the air. While you’re at it let me sync my iTunes library and apps over my wifi connection too.
  3. Mail search. Why can I only search the To:, From:, and Subject: fields of an email? That’s stupid. Most of what I’m searching for is in the body. Please let me search the email body in Mail.app.
  4. Editable dictionary. I understand iOS hase some sort of “smart dictionary” where it learns words and names you use frequently and that are in your contact list, but it isn’t good enough. Sometimes it just doesn’t learn and I’d like to be able to add my own words directly to the dictionary. I’m tired of iOS always correcting my corporate userid to “mortice”.
  5. Calendar colors. I sync my Google Calendar with my iPhone, which is really handy and I don’t think I could live my day-to-day life without it. The problem is I have 5 calendars synced and each one has a special color (blue for my personal calendar, pink for my wife’s, gray for my kids’, green for my lawn and garden activities & yellow for my home brewing), but the calendar app on my iPhone assigns a random color to each synced calendar. I’d like it to either a) sync the colors with the colors found on Google Calendar, or b) let me specify the colors myself.

… and a couple of bonus wishes:

  1. Improved camera app. As a photographer I rarely, if ever use the built in camera app. I almost always use an alternative app- Camera+, Hipstamatic or Instagram. All of them have built in filters for instant gratification and other nice features. Camera+ had a feature that made one of the volume buttons the shutter. Apple found out and rejected the app of course, but it was and is a good idea! Let the app developers use the hardware in unique and innovative ways, it’ll make the user experience better!
  2. Improved folders. The folders feature of iOS 4 was a very nice addition. I was able to condense my 8 pages of apps down to 3. The problem is that it seems that the feature was kind of hacked together. The folders themselves only allow 12 apps in them. As a result I need to have 3 folders for games. Why can’t they be scrolling? Also, the home screen folder icon shows 3 rows of 3, and then when I open it it shows 3 rows of 4. That means only the first 9 app icons get displayed on the home screen icon. Why even have the icons displayed at all? Wouldn’t a generic folder icon be just fine?

What do you hope is fixed in iOS 5?

[Update: Looks like Apple fixed a few of 'em!]

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