Category Archives: iOS

Installing iOS apps direct without going through the App Store…

One of the features of Android is that you can install anything you want, from any source — such as a developer’s website. Until app stores made all of this obsolete, this was the way all software was distributed. Sure, there were always index sites, such as VersionTracker.com or Download.com, where you could find links to all the installers, but ultimately everything came direct from the developer.

By contrast, Apple’s iOS apps only install through Apple’s App Store. Except that’s never really been true. Even without jailbreaking an iPhone, you have always been able to install an app direct from a developer for testing purposes. The developer had to be registered with Apple, but beyond that there were no barriers. Downloader beware.

I recently came across what I believe is a misuse of this beta test capability… There is a computerized bicycle light I have been researching and it is programmed via an Android or iPhone app. Their app does not appear in Apple’s App Store. Instead, you get a QR code from their website which will take you to a special download website:

 
I don’t know why they don’t just post the link directly — I have a QR reader app, but most folks I know don’t. For those without a QR reader app, that location goes to:

http://fir.im/halowheelOversea

If you go there, you can download the iPhone app direct to your device, and your device will warn you:   

 

Do you trust this app? XuanWheel iOS app.

 

You can see the green app icon in the lower right of that screen shot.

So yes, a developer can do this… But isn’t supposed to. I assume they plan to get their app in the App Store at some point… Until then, I wonder how many are brave enouhg to directly install it?

Not me 🙂

 

Apple Maps: Your milage may vary.

I just read a reference to Apple’s “struggling” map software. Like many things that get “reported” in the blogosphere, they are often repeating the echo chamber of things observed or researched by others, or they are sharing one tiny sliver of experience as fact as if everyone experiences it the same way.

When it comes to Apple Maps on iOS 6, I must say, I am quite impressed. You see, there is a small connecting road on the East side of Des Moines that my 2005 Toyota Prius navigation system never knew about. It would always route many blocks out of the way to go around it.

My 2007 navigation system, likewise, also did not know about. And neither did an additional map update I purchased for it at great cost.

My 2010 3rd generation Prius navigation system also does not seem to think it exists, nor did a map update for it.

Two TomTom models, years apart, do not know it exists, even after being reported with the community “suggest corrections” feature TomTom brags about.

I believe I even tested a Magellan navigation unit to find it also did not know about this road.

Surprisingly, to me, the one map that did have it was OpenStreetMaps – the open source wikipedia of maps. Amazing that they knew about this road, while Google, Navtec, TomTom, etc. did not seem to believe that it existed — even though it had been there for ages.

Google, today, does show this section of the road, but I believe that was not the case a few years ago.

And Apple Maps also shows it. Not only that, but Apple Maps can correctly navigate me from my housing area to the Main Street without jumping me through the forest nearby like everything else does. None of the systems I have used had the connecting driveway that links my area with the road, so they often jump to the closest pavement they can find, which is over the river and through the woods.

Apple Maps is the first map software I have used that correctly pinpoints where I live, and knows how to get there without just getting close.

So from my perspective, it’s a huge improvement over many other maps I have used and reviewed over the years.

But your milage may vary.

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