Tales of a connected home: how iOS is changing modern living

I'm a huge proponent of using technology to make my life easier, especially around the home. Technology for the home has been around for quite some time in the form of home automation systems, lighting, and so forth. Unfortunately, such systems have been extremely pricey in the past, or overly confusing to setup and maintain.

Enter the smartphone.

Smartphones, and in particular the iPhone, have served as a great equalizer over the past few years. I can do things with my phone that I never would have dreamed of just a few years ago, and it gets better with each passing year.

Inside, I'll reflect on some of the cool things that I've been able to accomplish lately with my iPhone, along with videos and links to articles that cover the subjects more in-depth. Have a look...

The SlingBox is worth a look for cable TV or satellite subscribers

I give up. Actually, I gave up. At least temporarily that is.

I tried to be a responsible cable cutter. I ditched cable TV years ago, but I've admittedly let it back into my life. I've been a Netflix advocate, a Hulu user, and I love my Apple TV. Still, I've failed.

I've used a Boxee Box. I've gone as far as to build a dedicated HTPC running Windows Media Center. Now If that doesn't tell you how far I went to kick cable TV out of my life permanently, I don't know what will.

How did this happen, you may ask? How did someone who fought tooth and nail to maintain their status as a permanent cable cutter let the "enemy" back into the household? One word. Sports.

Otter Box Protects Your iPad Now

OtterBox, the maker of in my opinion the best protective case for the iPhone and iPod touch now also offers two new cases to protect your iPad as well.

Stopping by their site you will find their new iPad Defender case ($86.95) and their iPad Commuter case ($62.95). One of the nice things with the iPad cases is that they have a removable cover on the bottom that allows you to leave the case on the iPad and still plug it into a variety of docks/keyboards and other accessories.

The big differences between the two cases is the Commuter is more of an outer protective shell that goes around the outside of the iPad and covers the back as well and comes with a self-adhering protective touch screen film.

The Defender on the other hand is an entire iPad protective shell that includes the thin plastic screen protector built in just like the Defender series for the iPhone and iPod. In addition, the Defender also had built in props to hold the iPad in either portrait or landscape mode for viewing and working with your favorite new “toy”.

To some, the pricing might seem a bit high, but to me the OtterBox series of products are well worth the money, especially since if you buy the Defender series you are getting fairly hardcore protection for your favorite iDevice.

I noticed today on the Otter Box site that they currently have the Commuter in stock but apparently the Defender is really popular as the site states that they are currently sold out and thus far I have not been able to find them in any stores that normally carry Otter Box products.

I have a sweet Targus leather case for mine now with built-in landscape prop support but I am really tempted to get a Defender when they are back in stock. What is your opinion on this awesome new iPad accessory? Will you go on-line and order one?

How To Use SlingPlayer Over 3G

Since the release of the SlingPlayer iPhone app in the App Store yesterday, there's been much noise about AT&T's restriction that makes the app operational over wifi only. But as usual, the jailbreak community is here to save the day! If you haven't jailbroken your iPhone yet, here is reason #1,563,982 to do it...

Thanks to VoIPover3G, you will now be able to use the SlingPlayer app over 3G and Edge. VoIPover3G can trick any application into thinking that it is on Wifi even though it is on a cellular data connection. You can configure what apps get tricked by adding the app’s bundle identifier to “/Library/MobileSubstrate/DynamicLibraries/VoIPover3G.plist”.

In order to use this simple hack, your iPhone must be jailbroken (see quickpwn tutorials) and you must install Mobile Substrate, OpenSSH and VoIPover3G (reboot after install) from Cydia.

Assuming you've installed these apps and that you know how to SSH into your iPhone, follow these instructions:

1. SSH into your iPhone and go to the root directory “/”

2. Navigate to /Library/MobileSubstrate/DynamicLibraries

3. With a text editor, open VoIPover3G.plist

4. Look for:

Filter = {Bundles = ("com.Fringland.Fring", "", "com.audiofile.Interstate", "");};

Now add this part: , “com.slingmedia.SlingPlayer”

It should look like this:

Filter = {Bundles = ("com.Fringland.Fring", "", "com.audiofile.Interstate", "", "com.slingmedia.SlingPlayer");};

Don’t forget the “,” and the quotation marks!

5. Save the changes you just made and upload the file back to its location: /Library/MobileSubstrate/DynamicLibraries

6. Reboot your iPhone

7. Done! SlingPlayer should now work over 3G!

There is also an easier way to get SlingPlayer to work over 3G... Simply launch Cydia and look for the Tricker ThreeG application. It does the exact same thing as the above hack except it tricks ALL apps to think they are on wifi. It's much simpler than SSHing into your iPhone but remember that by installing Tricker ThreeG, all apps will behave like they are on wifi. This is not recommended because for a lot of apps its makes sense to know whether they are on wifi or 3G.

UPDATE: Jordan, the developer of Tricker ThreeG left a comment below explaining that my description of Tricker ThreeG was not entirely true. Unlike what I wrote above (strikethrough text), Tricker ThreeG only trick Fring, Skype and SlingPlayer to think the apps are on wifi. Knowing this now, I believe Tricker ThreeG is a far better option that VoIPover3G as it doesn't require manually editing file in the iPhone.

SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone Coming Up Soon

We've talked in the past about Sling and their SlingBox, a digital box you connect to your cable box, dish receiver, or DVR and allows you to grab either live or recorded video from that source, anywhere in the world that you can connect to the Internet.

It seems that Sling will be demonstrating SlingPlayer for the iPhone at MacWorld this week and they will be submitting their app to the App Store sometimes in the next few weeks. SlingPlayer will allow you to watch cable TV directly from your iPhone!

Here are a few highlights from the press release:

"SlingPlayer Mobile is ideally suited for the iPhone's large touch screen display and I know iPhone users are eagerly anticipating the application's availability," said Blake Krikorian, co-founder and CEO of Sling Media. "Add to that HD streaming support for Slingbox PRO-HD customers and live TV support on our video entertainment site,, and you can see Sling Media is committed to delivering great solutions for Mac users."

SlingPlayer Mobile gives consumers their entire home TV experience, including local channels, local sports teams, video on demand, pay per view, etc. Any program that you can watch on your sofa back home, you can now watch via your iPhone using a standard network connection (3G Cellular, WiFi). In addition, SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone users can also control their home digital video recorder (DVR) to watch recorded shows, pause, rewind, and fast forward live TV, or even queue new recordings while on the road.

Pricing and Availability

SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone will be submitted to Apple for testing and approval in Q1. The price has not been determined at this time. SlingPlayer for Mac HD will be available for free via the web-based SlingPlayer within later in Q1. Mac customers will be able to use either Safari or Firefox web browsers to get both HD streaming and Live TV within

Red Rover, Red Rover, Let SlingBox Come Over

Well, before I explain what the title means, let's introduce the SlingBox to the part of our audience whose eyebrows are raised in a "What the heck is that?" manner. The Sling Box was introduced in 2004, and is a digital box you connect to your cable box, dish receiver, or DVR and allows you to grab either live or recorded video from that source, anywhere in the world that you can connect to the Internet.

Think of all the doors that could open up. You could watch those movie channels you pay so much for, half way around the world from your house, from your laptop. Well then, mobile TV hit mainstream through networks like Verizon and Sprint, and Sling was there to take advantage of it, on the Windows platform at least.

For palm and Motorola Q users, this was great news. You could watch any channel or recorded show that was available on your home TV, anywhere your mobile phone got a signal, or Wifi service (wifi video was significantly clearer and smoother).

Well, with its large, crisp screen, and unparalleled media capabilities, the iPhone seemed like the perfect platform for Sling Box's mobile client.

After making a small splash in June with the release of a video showing off a beta version of a Sling Media Player client running on the iPhone, we have yet to hear any more news about an official release date.

But by doing a quick google search of iPhone SlingBox related news, I came across a job listing on SlingBox's website.

Senior Engineer, SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone Client Application Developer

Job Title: Senior Engineer, SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone Client Application Developer Location: North America - Foster City, CA Department: Engineering Group Reports To: Director, Client Applications

Sling Media is looking for top-notch iPhone Developers to join our high-performance team and help create the SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone application...

So it appears that they are still hoping to penetrate this now massive market, and rightly so. It is in my opinion that a release for the iPhone could mean BIG things for this already BIG company. I think the missing piece of the puzzle has been data speeds when not on a Wifi network, and I think that AT&T's new 3G network could easily stand up to that challenge.

Only time will tell if the cool gadget Gods will smile down on Apple and SlingBox and give the rest of us a reason to whip out our iPhones even more than we already do (I don't know if that's possible).

The one deal breaker for most people might be the expensive digital box you must buy to hook to your source (or sources). But the fact that they just released an HD version of their SlingBox (yes, it will broadcast over the internet to your laptop/mobile device in High Definition!), and are not currently charging any monthly fees for their services may justify the initial box buying price. I myself, can't wait to show up my friends and their Verizon touch screens and their weak 10 channel selections, while I'm watching a Hi Quality stream of the ER episode I DVR'd last night. I'm pretty sure I'd get the "What the heck is that" look on their faces.