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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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Keynotes from the D9 Conference, 2011

clock June 6, 2011 23:45 by author Jeremy

Engadget has done quite a number of liveblogs in their day, and their most recent stories are up from last week's D9 Conference. We'll give a quick wrap-up of the interviews from Google's Eric Schmidt, Hewlett-Packard's Leo Apotheker, Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky, Nokia's Stephen Elop, and AT&T's Ralph de la Vega. (Oh, and be sure to put on any cautionary-equipment you may have: these company reps get a lot of burns, hardballs, and snide comments thrown their way!)

Starting with Google's keynote on May 31st, we're presented with Managing Editor of the Wall Street Journal, Robert Thomson, followed soon after by- wait, seriously? Is that Glee's Jane Lynch?

Claiming to be the temporary CEO of "News Corp" (which, ironically, owns All Things Digital and thus D9), she apparently ripped on News Corp's iPad-only publication The Daily, cracked a joke about Glenn Beck, and even took a major swing at Sarah Palin! Talk about a grand opening for keynotes.

Eventually, Google's Eric Schmidt hit the stage and talked up Google Music as his first order of business. He admits earlier on that getting the music industry to work with non-Apple companies has been hard. He also defended Google's privacy-issues: some believe that they're just holding too much information, with even Steve Jobs calling Android a "probe in your pocket". According to Schmidt, data and information collected is only held for roughly 12 to 18 months, all of which is anonymous. And if you still think that Google has too much power with privacy, just take it from Schmidt himself: "If you've spent any time with the U.S. Government, you may start to feel more comfortable with this data in the hands of a private company." Ouch.

Their 12 to 18 month rule may not apply to Google Wallet, however: "[T]hat'll fall back onto widely regarding credit card policies already in place. We have a strong policy inside of Google to not data mine this stuff to create a surprise." Sounds good enough for me! This quote followed an actual demonstration of Google Wallet itself, which was also shown at the Google Wallet press event on May 26th.

On June 1st, there were three speakers to go through, starting with Hewlett-Packard's Leo Apotheker. With the combination of both HP and Palm, webOS is ready to become an active participant in the market against Android and iOS. And with webOS, HP is gaining a much larger foothold into the software business; it can be run on laptops, smartphones, and even printers. But being the large company that HP is, it has to battle against just about everyone on numerous fronts. Whether they can handle this Jack-of-all-trades approach has yet to be determined.

Later on in the day, D9 met with Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky, who gave a full preview of Windows 8. While this isn't the official name, Windows 8 is supposed to be Microsoft's OS for tablets. Rather than a start menu like Windows PCs have, the "desktop" will consist of tiles, like apps on a smartphone. The appearance of these will change depending on the tile: for example, a social networking tile's picture might reflect a recently-made post on twitter.

Also, there are different keyboard types and settings depending on how you want to use it. And at certain times (such as when running Excel), you'll run into familiar-looking Windows 7-esque desktop, to which Sinofsky commented, "We don't think people should have to give up things they know to deal with a new form factor."

The last keynote of the day was with Nokia's Stephen Elop. Much of this keynote revolved around Nokia's game-changing business plans, including their transition to Microsoft's Windows Phone instead of staying on the Symbian-train. According to Elop, staying with Symbian would have taken Nokia up to 6 years to really catch up with the rest of the world; siding with Android wouldn't have out well either due to issues revolving around differentiation.

Finally, on June 2nd, AT&T's CEO Ralph de la Vega had to defend against the onslaught of irritated demands and questions about his company's lack of service. Earlier in the interview, de la Vega promised better signal strength in both New York City and San Francisco. This transitioned to the subject of the possible AT&T / T-Mobile merger, which could help bring LTE service to 97% of the U.S. population, as opposed to the 80% AT&T could achieve on its own. Nonetheless, there was still much skepticism toward AT&T's LTE-service, comments over the possibility of overcharing in the past and current expensive prices.

De la Vega did have a bit of good (or at least interesting) news to share, though. First off, he made direct references to possible shared data plans between a single user's multiple devices. There aren't any official plans behind this yet, so it may be a while before we see it in action, if we even do. Also noted was the fact that their femtocells (which are used to help boost signal strength in relatively-weak areas) could actually reduce quality in areas with already-high signal; this wasn't known before, so be sure you're using the Femtocell accordingly!

Between the Google Wallet and webOS hoping to emerge well in the market, last week's D9 Conference went off with a hitch. Now all that's left is to see if these new fads catch on!

Source/Pictures: Engadget, AllThingsD



For Both the Living and Deceased, There's Just As Many iPad 2's As iPhone 5's

clock April 6, 2011 01:04 by author Jeremy

It's almost crazy how repitition has worked its way into our yearly lifestyle. For example, we expect that every June, at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, we'll get a new iPhone. Meanwhile, the iPad-series gets their own special release date, which also follows the 12-month rule. For a few months before a release, rumors are rampant; whereas a few months after a release, shortages occur.

Currently, we're seeing an overlap in the rumors/shortages department, thanks to the iPhones and iPads having different release schedules. As the world prepares for the WDC in June, we listen to every bit of gossip that even remotely resembles the words "iPhone 5"; simultaneously, we're all out of iPad 2's, even for some who waited in the legendary Apple lines on opening day.

Oddly, we're not the only ones out of iPad 2's. It's not only happening all around the world, but now even in other worlds. What am I talking about, you ask? Why, the deceased, of course!

In China, the deceased are believed to have just as many needs and wants as the living do. Like in ancient Egyptian times, the Chinese will leave gifts at the resting places of loved ones; the difference is that the Chinese leave paper replicas. Though, if it can be afforded, some people will even purchase the real products to leave at tombstones and graves.

Recently, paper vendors in China have begun running low on their iPad and iPhone paper bundles. It's somewhat unfortunate that even the deceased are having trouble getting a copy of the same technology that we're after. Makes you wonder though if they hear the same rumors that we do about the next iPhone 5 supposedly coming out in June. Go ahead, let yourself ponder that one; I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.

Source: tgdaily.com

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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



The Daily: iPad's Digital Newspaper

clock February 3, 2011 00:20 by author Jeremy

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, unveiled a new type of journalism in the form of an app specifically for the iPad. Called "The Daily", this newspaper can be purchased at the rate of $0.99 per week, or $39.99 for a year.

Their press release states, "The Daily's unique mix of text, photography, audio, video, information graphics, touch interactivity and real-time data and social feeds provides editors with the ability to decide not only which stories are most important -- but also the best format to deliver these stories to their reads."

We can expect articles covering six major topics: news, sports, gossip/celebrity, opinion, arts/life, and apps/games. "It will offer views from across the political spectrum. They will come from across cultures and generations, across America and the world."

Oh, and my personal favorite part? "The Daily will feature Sudoku and crossword puzzles." Whoo-hoo!

Not only can you read the story, but you can listen to it or watch it, depending on each article. And in case you have something to say, you're allowed to leave comments (both written and audio allowed).

Source: BusinessWire.com

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