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WWDC 2011 - OS X Lion, iOS 5, and iCloud

clock June 8, 2011 01:27 by author Jeremy

What's the best way to start the week? Probably with WWDC, if you're an Apple fan. In the past few years, we've seen new releases of products each time WWDC came around. Unfortunately, there aren't any new hardware products this time around, but the new software will more than make up for it.

Steve Jobs started us off with OS X "Lion", the latest build for Macs. This upgrade is available from the Mac app Store and can be downloaded straight to your Mac: no need for CD's anymore. It'll come with over 250 new features, but only 10 were previewed at WWDC. Lion will be available for $29.99 in July.

  • Multi-touch Gestures: How can you go wrong with this? Feel free to zoom, scroll and swipe to your heart's content. From what we saw, you can use up to 3 fingers for different commands and functions.
  • Full-screen Apps: Fairly self-explanatory there. Not only can you run the apps full-screen though, you can also swipe on your trackpad to switch between apps.
  • Mission Control: This will show all currently running apps or open documents in a sort of windowed-array. You can assign certain sections of your screen to hold specific windows in different sizes, and even zoom in on specific apps and windows for a preview.

  • Auto-Save: This feature can be toggled on/off, but when left on, it will not only automatically save your documents, but also load up your document to exactly how you left it. Auto-Save also includes the capability to see past "versions", allowing you a sort-of "timeline" of your file.
  • AirDrop: Files kept in this section can be shared with other nearby users running AirDrop. No need for flashdrives or cables, and no need to set up any programs. Simple!
  • Mail: A new version of Mail includes a favorite-folders section, which allows for easy viewing and searching. Speaking of searching, the search-bar can filter by people, subjects, or even dates. Mail can be viewed as a conversation, so that all messages show inline.

Next up, iOS 5 was introduced for all the iPhone fans out there. Features include:

  • Notifications: Hate those pesky push-notifications that constantly interrupt what you're doing? Then say goodbye to them. Apple is adopting an Android-like method of notifying users: a swipe-down menu can now be accessed from the top. During games and videos, a small animation appears up-top that disappears shortly after. Clicking on the animation will take you straight to the app, or you can ignore it and carry on. Notifications also appear while the screen is locked, and swiping to a particular notification will open up that app directly as well.

  • Reader View: Ever browse a website and the words are too small, or you have to keep swiping left and right to see everything? With Reader View, the OS will re-organize the screen to make everything readable in one scrollable page.
  • Reading List: Now you can save that website you're browsing for later without adding it to the bookmarks or leaving the window open! Just add it to the "Reading List", which can be accessed across devices (more on this later).
  • Reminders: This will allow you to set reminders based on the date or location. Feel like being reminded to stop by the bank the minute you leave your house? Just set it up accordingly, take one step out the door, and you're set.
  • Camera: The camera's been upgraded to include a button on the lock-screen for easy access. Also, the volume-up button now serves as a capture button, and you can edit your pictures directly (reduce red-eye, crop, rotate, etc).

  • Mail: Addresses can be dragged-and-dropped (from the To/From fields, for example). You can flag individual pieces of mail as unread, and search the contents of the messages from the search bar. Rich text formatting is finally included, as well as indentation control and a built-in dictionary (which, actually, works for all apps bought through the app store).
  • Game Center: For the gaming-enthusiast-on-the-go! This app will keep track of high scores made by you, your friends, and even your friends' friends. You can recommend games to them through here, and vice versa. Or, play a turn-based game with your friends from this app.
  • PC Free: Brand new devices can now be activated straight from the device: no need to go to a PC anymore. Software updates are OTA, and you can even sync iTunes without the wires! Which brings us to...

The iCloud! The long-awaited solution to everyone's hopes and dreams...at least when it comes to cross-device synchronization. And that's assuming all your devices are Apple products. But hey, brand loyalty pays, right? The iCloud is a free service that Apple is offering, which will hold all your content in Apple storage facilities. All of your content can then be pushed to your other devices.

So, what kind of content, you ask? Just about anything from your documents to your music, from your pictures to your videos. There are slight limitations though: for example, photos only last in the cloud for 30 days, but your devices can hold the last 1000 cloud-shared photos. Obviously, your PC/Mac can hold save these for as long as you want.

The music you bought is automatically uploaded to each device as well, assuming you have the capacity for it. And speaking of music...

iTunes Match was probably the most exciting news (for me, at least). This will scan your library and attempt to match your songs to anything in the iTunes Music Store's database. Songs that are matched are upgraded to 256Kbps AAC without DRM That's right folks: all those torrented CD's you've been listening to are now somewhat legit. iTunes Match is $24.99 per year, but Jobs promises that the matching-and-moving will take minutes, not weeks (which seemed like a swing against competitors Amazon and Google's music services).

So, no iPhone 5. Can't say I'm shocked, but it doesn't mean I'm any less excited. And you should be excited too! Don't you have some files to go prepare for the cloud?

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iPad 2 - Faster, Thinner, and App-tastic

clock March 4, 2011 01:08 by author Jeremy

 

Apple's event on March 2nd held big news for tablet-lovers across the globe: the official release of the iPad 2, being sold in stores starting March 11. Steve Jobs himself took a break from his medical leave to narrate the event, which shows just how important the arrival of the iPad 2 is.

To quote the ever-so-popular Daft Punk, the iPad 2 is, simply-put, "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger". Jobs claimed that it was roughly 33% thinner than the previous model, and comes with not only a dual-core processor but also the new A5 chip, which supposedly works 9x faster than the A4 chip in the original iPad. However, it will retain the same 10-hour life span per charge.

One of the most exciting pieces announced during the event was, oddly enough, a cover. Not to be confused with a "case" mind you, as Jobs specifically mentioned a few times during the event. This new iPad Cover (iCover?) uses magnets to clip onto your iPad 2 with precision. The Cover can be manipulated in several ways: use it as its name implies (which will also clean your screen thanks to the material used on the iPad-side), or use it as a stand in either horizontal- or vertical-view. The Cover will come in either polyurethane for $39, or leather for $69; each type will have 5 different colors of your choosing.

Jobs also placed a heavy emphasis on FaceTime, which can be used from either the front or back camera. These cameras will definitely come in handy, as one of the newest additions to the iPad 2 is the introduction of an HDMI-out plug.

  

Now, imagine FaceTime on your extra large television at home, thanks to this handy little plug. The same plug even allows your iPad 2 to be charged simultaneously.

The iPad 2 will have 2 new arrivals on the app market: iMovie and GarageBand.

  

iMovie will let you become the director of your own films. By using the cameras, or uploading videos from your computer, you can edit the movies by mixing and matching, cutting and pasting, or even overriding the sound with various sound effects.

  

Meanwhile, GarageBand is exactly what it sounds like: be your own band. The app comes with a variety of instruments, ranging from your classic guitar to various types of pianos. The music from these touch-intuitive instruments can be recorded, edited, and uploaded.

 

 

With the iPad Cover, Facetime, front-and-back cameras, an HDMI-out plug, and 2 new apps, it's clear that Apple pulled all the stops on this creation. Now, the only question that remains is, are you going to buy one?

Source/Pictures: engadget.com



Verizon iPhone4: Return of the Death Grip

clock February 25, 2011 23:31 by author Jeremy

It's not as epic as Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, but it's definitely causing a big ruckus nonetheless. An article from our friends ConsumerReports.org claims their testing of the Verizon iPhone 4 shows infamous "death group" issue is still at large, and is still eating your precious phone calls.

For those that missed the aptly-named "Antennagate", here's a recap" if you held your AT&T iPhone 4 a certain way, your call would drop. The claims were so frequent that Apple issued an official statement saying customers should avoid holding it that certain way; this response only gave birth to the infamous quote, "You're holding it wrong". All of this was followed with a statement by Apple claiming that it wasn't a design flaw, and that it's just a quirk that must be endured to enjoy the rest the iPhone 4 has to offer. They at least gave out free cases to those who experienced frequent dropped calls due to the antenna.

I know what you're thinking: how does placing one of the main parts of the antenna in an area where the hands/palms frequently are, not a design flaw? Your guess is as good as mine. Several websites made this point, but it fell on deaf ears. It even spawned this interesting picture, which is basically the epitome of irony/hilarity:

Fast forward to now. The Verizon iPhone 4 has just recently come out and yet the Antennagate issue continues, but now under the guise of "Antennagate 2.0" (see the creativity there?). While it's true that holding any phone a certain way can cause reception to dro, the fact that the antenna is located in a horrible place is still a little disconcerting to some people. And although the reports for the death grip are nowhere near as numerous this time around, just be wary in case you do experience it.

ConsumerReports' blog shows that the area-in-question is the bottom left corner of the Verizon iPhone 4.

Your best bet is to just get a case...or perhaps, replace your left hand with another right hand. Then your palm won't alway be in that bottom left corner! (Disclaimer: we are in no way encouraging or reinforcing people to actually get surgery done to their left hands.) Wanted to throw that last bit in there; you never know!

Source: consumerreports.org

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Recent Rumors: Sprint's Windows Phone 7 and Apple's iPad 2

clock February 23, 2011 22:20 by author Jeremy

In case readers haven't noticed, a lot of news concerning the latest phones coming out are nothing but "speculation". Sure, some rumors are a bit more believable than others, and some are about as likely as the apocalypse occurring tomorrow (if there IS one tomorrow, then I'm sorry for misleading you all). The following two bits of news, however, fit right under the category of "very likely true".

Let's start off with Sprint: they'll be holding an event tomorrow, February 24th, to announce a new phone of theirs. Their latest tweet all but confirms that it's going to be the Windows Phone 7, unless there's another device that can connect to your Microsoft gaming console, without my knowing. And really, I don't think Microsoft is about to start letting different brands connect to their magical Xbox360.

 

 

Next up on the rumor mill pertains to Apple's latest event, which will be held on March 2nd.

What's that back there, you ask? Near the top right corner of the image? Why, I don't see anything except for a black frame with tiny silver buttons on the side, and an image that greatly resembles an interstate-sign for map-apps... Hm, now what could this odd image be, I wonder?

Many are already jumping to thoughts of the iPad 2. And who knows, maybe it could be. It seems odd that Apple would make invitations to a large press event just to announce a new patch for the current iPad; not unless that patch is big enough to start letting your iPad make toast.

Nonetheless, it's time to sit around and wait a while. At least Sprint's event is tomorrow, and that should surely be enough to hold us off until March 2nd.

 

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BlackBerry PlayBook Competes with Apple iPad for Battery Life

clock January 27, 2011 00:19 by author Jeremy

It's common knowledge that Apple's iPad comes with a hefty battery life: it's almost magical how it manages to stay alive without being plugged into a wall for so long. And yet RIM (Research In Motion) promises that their BlackBerry PlayBook will be able to compete with the iPad in this particular feat of strength.

"It's going to be equal or greater than the iPad with smaller battery size," says Jeff McDowell, RIM's Senior Vice President of Business Marketing and Alliances.

That's a hefty call to make, but I suppose we'll just have to wait and see if it's true. We saw the PlayBook at CES and were sad to hear it didn't have a release date - and it still doesn't.

Even if it fails to beat the iPad's battery life, they can at least make the claim that they've outlasted my patience. Waiting is hard. :(

Picture: us.blackberry.com

Source: Reuters

 

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