Tag Archives: #apple

Apple Watch OS 2 Launches After Short Delay

It’s here! After a bit of touch and go after last week’s last-minute delay, the Apple Watch’s Watch OS 2.0 is live and ready for download. The update brings with it new features for the 8GB wearable device to make it even more useful, including the Nightstand mode that allows your Watch to function as an alarm clock while it charges overnight. Nightstand is turned on by default, so that means when you update your software, all you need to do to activate it is attach the Watch to its charger and set it sideways on your bedside table. The Watch’s comparatively extra-long charging cable just got a lot more useful.

For quicker access to more of your contacts, the Friends button now pulls up two quick-menus instead of just the one. That means you can now reach out to at least 24 people with just a couple of quick taps. To be honest, I had a hard time thinking of just 12 folks to fill up my first menu, so the option for a second menu is obviously aimed folks who are more social than I.

Third-party apps can now be directly designed to run natively on the Watch’s software, as opposed to offloading all of the heavy work onto your iPhone. Developers can now create their own complications (widgets) for customizable watch faces for their apps as well. Notifications can now be muted from the watch itself, without having to change your iPhone notification settings.

If you have an Apple Watch, you can install the new update by going to the Watch app on your iPhone. From there, you’ll select General, wherein you’ll find the Software Update option.

Do you own an Apple Watch, are you waiting for the second generation, or are you going to skip the wearable altogether?

What’s The Big Deal About Apple’s WWDC Announcements?

There were not any announcements made by Apple yesterday which could easily be packaged into buzz-worthy headlines for the masses. The newest iPhone wasn’t announced (that’s coming in August,) and for that matter no new hardware revamps announced at all. This year’s WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) was actually all about the product that matters to the developer: the software.

But were there some major things announced if you knew what to listen for? In the words of Gia Gunn, “Absolutely.”

HealthKit/Health

It’s official, Apple is providing the next-generation keys to monitoring your health. The App Store is already rife with copious amounts of different health apps , ranging from simple calorie counters to accessory-driven blood pressure monitors. HealthKit is the API (application programming interface) that all developers will be able to utilize to ensure interconnectivity between apps and information within apps. Health is the Apple proprietary app that will aggregate all of the information into one handy place. What does this mean? Much like Apple’s take on Smart Home (more on that in a bit) rather than building an army of their own health apps, Apple is providing the framework to developers, and then showcasing the end-users chosen information in one place.

Metal

What is it? This is one is quite a bit more techy, but the gist is this: it is designed to replace the gaming industry-standard OpenGL, allowing developers to unleash not only console-quality graphics to your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, but gameplay as well. What does this mean?  Apple, ever so carefully, is playing the long game when it comes to gaming. They’re not making any overt plays to pull users away from their Xboxes and Playstations, but rather, they’re sneaking in the back door. The Apple TV was long described as a “hobby” product by Apple themselves, but now that little “hobby” product is in more homes than most other standalone content–streaming boxes (cable boxes not included.) When iOS mirroring was introduced a few years back, Apple TV became the de facto wireless solution to displaying your iPad content to your big screen. Last year, Apple released the frameworks for not only Sprite creation in iOS games, but also a standard control scheme mapping system. Now with Metal, it’s clear that bit by bit, Tim Cook & Co. are providing even more tools to empower the developer to create console-level games. Early on, it was mentioned that over 800 million iOS devices have been sold. Parse that out in terms of newer Apple TV-compatible models, and you’ve got roughly 450 million devices which can theoretically run these next-generation mobile games. All that a user would need is a simple $99 add-on (the Apple TV) if they don’t already have one – and what a bargain, really, compared to the Xbox One or the Playstation 4 – and Apple wins the “console war” the very day they enter it.

HomeKit/Smart Home

As Craig Federighi mentioned yesterday, there are apps to control your garage door, your thermostats and even your lightbulbs, but they’re all separate. HomeKit is the API that, like HealthKit above, gives developers the parameters to work within a common framework. What does this mean?  The API includes Siri integration, so in theory, you could tweak the settings of multiple smart devices in your home to coordinate as a “scene.” That “scene” as Craig suggested could be a simple command to Siri to “get ready for bed.” Then your Smart Home apps would check to make sure the Garage Door is down, turn off the lights in the rooms you’re not in, lock your doors and – possibly – even turn on your white noise machine. What this means is that, again, Apple is playing the long game. They’re providing the framework in which nearly all developers will begin their push to give you a truly smart connected home. Google might’ve already purchased Nest, the market’s leading Smart Thermostat, but Apple is looking ahead for the next big thing.

Handoff

For the first time since the dawn of iOS, there is about to be some real, honest-to-Jobs interconnectivity between all of your Apple devices running iOS and OSX. Handoff transmits data from your MacBook or iMac to your iPhone or iPad. What does this mean? It means, if you’re in the middle of composing an email on your iMac, but need to leave your desk in a hurry, a new icon will be available on your phone to pick up exactly where you left off. Moreover, it allows your phone to act as a relay for both phone calls and traditional SMS messaging. Phone ringing in the other room? You can answer it from your desk with your Mac acting as an intermediary speakerphone. The Messages app on your Mac will also read and send traditional SMS text messages, even if they’re not an iMessage.

Swift

Oh, and by the way, Apple just created an entirely new coding platform. NBD.

What does all of this mean?

Apple is finally making a concerted effort to not make you choose among your devices. The long-term plan now seems to be to make all devices – even the ones running different operating systems – connected in a way they have never been before. When they throw phrases around like “something only Apple could do,” they really mean it. No matter how hard Google tries to push Android as the best alternative, when you’re only manufacturing the software and not the hardware, you can’t work towards a singular goal in the way a company like Apple can. For that matter, no company can work towards a goal like Apple can.

(Sidenote: with the improvements to Spotlight and Siri, don’t be surprised if Google Search becomes yet another widely-used feature that takes a dent from Apple’s exclusionary policies. Laugh if you want, but Apple killed Adobe Flash. You can’t tell me otherwise.)

iOS 7.1 Is Here, Queer, Get Used To It

Apple has finally released unto the masses the long-awaited incremental update to iOS 7, the first major overhaul in iOS in years.

7.1 doesn’t bring too many changes on the surface, but it does improve the way things run under the hood glass.

For a quick rundown on the biggest changes, watch this 9 minute video from iTwe4kz which covers just about any question you may have – even those about Jailbreaking.

I’ve been sporting 7.1 beta for a while now, and while I didn’t care at all for the newly-implemented circular buttons in the Phone app or the Power screen, I have to admit they have grown on me quite a bit. Logically I still think it makes sense to have larger buttons – a trait the rectangular buttons provided automatically – but the circular buttons do feel more thematic.

9to5Mac provided this new feature mashup during the beta period:

screen-shot-2014-01-08-at-9-56-49-am

 

#nerdjizz advice: Definitely update. The team at Apple really did improve upon iOS 7 with this upgrade. The interface feels much more responsive and overall much more trustworthy. There clearly were some bugs that needed working through, and this update managed to squash most of them.

Apple Drops YouTube App

Much to the surprise of…a few people, Mashable reported that Apple’s iOS6 shall be dropping the YouTube app. So what is one to do if you’re a YouTube junkie? Easy, either go to m.youtube.com in your mobile browser or turn to services like Vimeo or, hell, Tumblr even has a decent video hosting service.

I keep seeing the intranetz harping about how shocking this is. If you’ve used the app, you’ll know it’s not. Brazen? Yes. Shocking? No. Also, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll remember that Apple also dropped Google Maps and replaced it with its own service. (Oh, and did I forget to mention that YouTube is owned by Google?)

Keep an eye out, the dropping of YouTube could only mean that Apple either created a new service or they’re sitting on news of a new partnership. Exciting times ahead!

What We Learned: WWDC Edition

Yesterday’s kick-off presentation for the Apple WWDC featured some pretty huge announcements from the tech giant.
My five favorite points are as follows:

iOS 6 Maps

Apple has been quietly buying up small mapping companies here and there over the last year in preparation for what many (now correctly) thought would be the end of Google’s dominance in location services for iOS. If you’ve ever used Google Maps on an Android phone (I haven’t, but I’ve heard stories) you’ll know that there are more features available to since Android is Google’s proprietary software. Now Apple, instead of waiting for Google to port features like navigation and Goggles to iOS, has scrapped Google altogether. Turn-by-turn navigation and real-time 3D rendering in Apple’s new proprietary mapping software will be the new normal. So much so, that if you’re following a map on the road, it continues to display even if you lock your iPhone screen. A very handy feature for turning your phone into a true GPS mapping system.

MacBook Pro with Retina Displays

Much like they did with the iPad 2 and the “New” iPad, Apple has introduced a new line of laptop computers which has a similar moniker to an existing line. While it may seem confusing to some consumers, it’s obvious the new line will be phased in to replace the aging MacBook Pro line that already exists. For now, the older line is being kept around to provide buyers with a (just barely) more affordable option than the new, shiny versions. The new direction is rather telling, however. The interior motherboards have been completely redesigned to account for 3 main things: battery (it takes up 50% of the interior,) cooling (the new fan system and vents are streamlined and factored into the unibody design,) and solid state drives (flash memory is the basket wherein Apple is placing all of its eggs.) That Apple is moving towards flash memory so completely is not a surprise, given how many different ways your data can be stored in the cloud now. Not to mention adding a peripheral like Time Machine to your wireless home setup to add another layer of backup security. Also, Retina Displays on a laptop? We knew the day was coming. I know not everyone out there has had a chance to go hands-on with a third-gen iPad, so this may not seem like a big deal to you. AND I hate to say “you have to see it to believe it” but a Retina display honestly is one of those things you have to see to believe. But, Apple finally brought the display to personal computing. Let the imitators commence!

Mountain Lion

A $19.99 upgrade to the latest software. $20. Even if you’re still running Snow Leopard. That in and of itself is ‘enough said.’ But allow me to say a few more things. Notification Center in OS X, with full voice dictation, social media and instant app-launch capabilities. Voice Dictation system-wide! iCloud storage and syncing across all devices. Game Center syncing across laptops, desktops, iPhones, iPads, iPods. Talk about a fully integrated approach to gaming. When developers realize the full potential of such synchronicity, we’re in for some real treats.

Siri for iPad

For those who own the latest generation iPad, Siri will be coming to your device beginning this fall. (Earlier for developers.) Siri still receives mixed reviews, but what I like to constantly remind people is that iOS 6 will be Siri’s first actual update. She’s a beta product. A beta. That means she’s not fully formed. She’s been learning from the many ways people have been using her. There is an answer for those people who would ask “Why release a beta product if it needs to be better?” and it is this: Siri is an interactive AI assistant and requires interaction so as to become the fully featured product she’s meant to be. I know I’m humanizing her a bit by talking about her as an actual entity using female pronouns, but let’s face it, Siri is going to know all of our secrets one day.

Passbook

This one may not interest everyone, but as a semi-frequent traveler and mobile-payment adopter, I definitely took notice of Passbook. It’s one of those aggregate apps – like Newstand or iBooks – that Apple is releasing that actually promises to be the one App to rule them all. There’s a big focus these days on the push towards the “mobile wallet” and this takes that idea and expands it to so many other areas of life. Have an airline app that you use while traveling? This will keep your boarding pass within a few taps of you at all times. Need to stop by Starbucks on the way to work? Chances are your iPhone is already in your lap or cup holder. As soon as you’re near a Starbucks, the Starbucks Card app becomes accessible from the lock screen. Same geo-fence rules apply to all Passbook-friendly apps. Anytime you’re near an app in your Passbook, it becomes accessible from the lock screen, saving you precious moments and countless screen taps.

– – –

As I mentioned, these were the five points that caught my eye. There will most definitely be more oohs and ahhs from this fanboy in the months to come, with Mountain Lion’s release in July and iOS 6’s release in September. But for the casual observer, I say to thee, keep your eyes peeled for these features.

E3: The XBox Roundup

The beginning of the week saw the annual advent of E3 – or Electronics Entertainment Expo – conference in Los Angeles. This is where electronics companies come each year to preview whats in store for their respective hardware systems, software releases, and everything in between. There were three big topics that Microsoft touched on this year that turn me into a giddy little schoolboy: Halo 4 and SmartGlass.

Halo 4:
I’ve been a Halo fan for less time than most franchise die-hards. My true introduction to the series – and to the 360 system itself – was with the 3rd installment of the series. Sure, I’d played Halo 2’s local multiplayer on the original XBox a handful of times when visiting friends’ houses, but the campaign storyline wasn’t something I was familiar with. Personally, the initial draw to Halo 3 was the online multiplayer aspect. Despite long considering myself a gamer, I didn’t get into online multiplayer competitive gaming until the Winter of ’06 when I would take a 12-pack of Bud Light to a buddy’s house to play Halo 3. Needless to say, I got hooked on the experience. Once I got my own copy of the game, I came to appreciate the mythos the writers of the series had built. It’s bonafide sci-fi, and on par with any cinematic story of the same ilk.

Smart Glass:
Smart Glass represents a paradigm shift in the way different proprietary technologies are finally beginning to embrace each other. It’s no secret that Microsoft and Apple have long been rivals. Where once Microsoft was the software king, Apple has now dominated the personal computing world, penetrating the market in an unprecedented way. As a result, it’s not uncommon for a person to own both an XBox 360 and an iPad, for instance. Both devices are ubiquitous in their respective markets, and consumers are less and less inclined to shun one due solely to the longstanding rivalry between their respective makers. Where does that leave us in today’s highly technological world? The consumers want their devices to work together, and the makers have to take note.

That’s where SmartGlass comes in. Sure, Microsoft would love it if you only had Windows 8 phones, or Windows 8 tablets, or any other number of Windows branded products, but this is the real world, and Microsoft has tainted their own Windows brand. (Vista, anyone?) SmartGlass will work with a myriad of Windows 8 products, but for the first time, XBox is offering the deepest interaction with non-Windows products than they ever have before. SmartGlass will be available not only on industry leading iOS devices like iPads and iPhones, but also on a number of Android devices as well. The limit as to what SmartGlass will be able to do seems to lie with the developers, because from the looks of it, Microsoft themselves are encouraging an incredible level of compatibility between their gaming system and other non-XBox devices. That being said, parts of the SmartGlass M.O. do come off looking a lot like Apple’s AirPlay and AppleTV-iPad compatibility, but nonetheless, much kudos are due Microsoft for an all-of-the-above approach to interconnectivity. For a better explanation of SmartGlass’ potential, watch the video below.

For the entire XBox 360 briefing, click here or follow the source.

Source [XBox]

Apple’d Out

Hey Harvey Walker.

ROAR!

Lion is coming, Lion is coming!

Stay tuned to the Mac App Store today to upgrade your Mac! I’m guessing it will be released between 8-9 a.m. PST. Just a hunch.

The Case For iPad 2

And no, I’m not talking Smart Covers here. Heyohhhhhhh. I’m going to lay out for you why I believe the purchase of an iPad 2 is worthy of your time and money.

What I like about the first iPad:

It’s Just A Big iPhone.
It’s funny to me that the initial gripes about the iPad, mostly from those who’d never owned an Apple product, were that it was simply an oversized iPhone and therefore not worth consideration. You see, that’s funny to me because I’ve had a chance to try other touch screen phones – Droids included – and I’m unconvinced of their superiority to Apple’s handset. The iPhone is fantastic, so a larger version could only be a great thing. Typically, there are three points Android enthusiasts throw at me in an attempt to convince me my phone isn’t worth their, or even my own, time.

  • Lack of Adobe Flash – The lack of flash video on the iPhone and iPad is becoming less of a nuisance these days, since more and more websites are offering their video content in both flash and HTML5 formats. Actually, the failure to incorporate HTML5 into a website  is the real problem. If you’re not making your website compatible with devices that are in the hands of nearly 200 million people, that’s on you. Not the device.
  • Camera Megapixels – As I’ve seen personally with both the iPhone and a Droid X, more megapixels does not equal a better picture. As it currently stands the iPhone 4 has 5 MP versus the Droid’s 8 MP. On most of my photo tests, as well as most photo tests from other entities, the iPhone photos rate better thanks to the stabilizer and better focus. Colors also seem crisper for whatever reason.
  • iOS Isn’t Open Source – Given the serious security breach that the Android app store just suffered, I’m not going to even bother to rub it in their face just why it’s such a bad idea to let “anything go.” There’s a reason that computers running Windows are more susceptible to viruses. Mac keeps their shit closed tight so that the user has an over all pleasant experience for years to come. Android is only proving itself to be the Windows OS of mobile devices, which is saying something since Windows has their own mobile OS.

Apple spent years developing iOS before they released the initial version in 2007 alongside the iPhone. (Then known as iPhone OS.) I know I’m a fanboy, but to be quite honest, when I stop to think about the operating system, it’s still amazing. Apple has perfectly designed a touch based system for mobile devices, and I look forward to the day they roll out their first true hybrid machine that combines iOS with OS X.

It’s Perfect For The John.
I should preface this by reminding you all how important it is to both clean your hands and your electronic devices on practically the same intervals. Thanks to our society becoming practically dependent upon cellular devices, we tend to touch our phones more than any other object in our daily lives with more frequency and with more unconscious disregard to hygiene. So, I suggest you head on down to your local market and pick up two things for your iOS devices: alcohol wipes and lens cleaning wipes. Both come pre-moistened and ready to use. Alcohol for the aluminum casings and the lens cleaning wipes for the glass surfaces.

Now that that’s done, there was a general sentiment that permeated the air when the iPhone came out amongst my friends and many of the comics I listen to on a regular basis. “The iPhone has changed the way I poop” was that general sentiment. When the iPad came along, it became quite clear that there was a new bathroom buddy in town. It’s not as cumbersome as a laptop, and the screen size is far more optimal than an iPhone. Netflix and websurfing finally have united with their perfect venue.

Media Was Made To Hold In Your Hand.
I never realized until I held an iPad just how perfect a tablet is for media consumption. I don’t have a desktop computer because A.) I’m not a graphic designer and B.) I’m under thirty. Let’s face it, on the whole, my generation is not quite the desktop generation. Yet for as portable as laptops are, my MacBook is now stationary. I have no desire to lug it upstairs or downstairs to perform such simple tasks as tweeting, reading the news, watching youtube videos, firing up Netflix, etc.

Why would I upgrade?

Now, why would I recommend the iPad 2 ahead of it’s release on Friday? No, I don’t have an advance tester device in my hands nor did I attend the announcement event last week in San Francisco. There are a few pieces of information that were shared during that announcement however that cemented in my mind the justification for upgrading.

  • Facetime – Some people might think that the lack of a front facing camera on the first iPad was an oversight or a purposeful act to encourage upgrading. I however don’t think it’s quite so cut and dry. I think it took Apple longer than normal to figure out how to market the new front facing camera system on their mobile devices. iSight cameras have been standard in Macs for years, and prior to their built-in status, they were made to be compatible with the full range of desktops and laptops. Now, we see in all new models of Apple computers, the built-in camera has been renamed FaceTime HD. I think they sort of stumbled onto “FaceTime” as a communication tool and brand. All that being said, FaceTime on a tablet is a wonderful idea. It’s already neat on the iPhone and more logical on a MacBook. The iPad might prove to be the perfect medium for video calling.
  • Faster Processing Speeds – The iPad and iPhone 4 are already pretty fast as far as mobile devices go. Any time you add more speed – especially when you double existing scores – you’ve got a #winning reason to upgrade. What this means for you the user is that all app launch times will effectively be cut in half. Videos will run smoother and start earlier. Faster = better in technology. And things will always get faster.
  • The Smart Covers – Okay, I did have to mention these despite their not actually being included with the iPad 2 itself. They’re sold separately, but the design is genius. Magnetic attachment, triangular folding into a stand, 10 different colors to choose from, screen cleaning interior microfiber… need I say more? Apple typically doesn’t get into the case/cover production since they pride themselves on their product design. However, the new iPad 2 Smart Cover proves just why they should focus a little more R&D into that industry.

Images from Apple.com.

And so my verdict, being both an Apple enthusiast yet a person who would not recommend a product frivolously, is that you should definitely upgrade to the iPad 2 if you’re already an iPad owner, or just flat out make this your first iPad purchase. It’s not necessary to do it right away, mind you. Apple is producing 40 million of these puppies this year. You’ve got plenty of time. I will say this though. Don’t ever buy an Apple product if it is 8-11 months into it’s life cycle. Something newer and better is waiting just around the corner. The good thing about iPads, however, is that compared to computers, they’re inexpensive enough to gift to family members, or to just keep on the coffee table as a spare. I can definitely envision a world in which a household has 3-4 iPads lying about for the sake of convenience.

A Cute Guy with an iPhone

Well isn’t he just the cutest boy next door you ever did see!?

Guys with iPhones.