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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Which Apps Are Threatened by Apple's Upgrades? -

Which Apps Are Threatened by Apple's Upgrades? -

Among the updates to Apple's OS X operating system was a Safari reading list that works much like Instapaper.Beck Diefenbach/ReutersAmong the updates to Apple’s OS X operating system was a Safari reading list that works much like Instapaper.

How do you know if you’ve created a really great, useful iPhone app? Apple tries to put you out of business.

That may be overstating it, but a number of new features for Apple’s operating systems that it announced at its Worldwide Developers Conference have been available through existing apps and services for some time. Some of those apps are quite popular, and have been lucrative for the people who developed them. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the services and applications that will be living in a changed world thanks to Apple’s new operating systems for Macs and iPhones:

Instapaper and Read It Later: Safari’s new Read Later feature allows you to access Web pages that you have saved for later across multiple iOS devices. You know, like Instapaper. (Update: The creator of Instapaper comments on the announcement.)

Readability: The new Reader mode in Apple’s Safari browser strips down online articles to images and a rolling column of text. Readability basically did the same thing.

Boxcar: This nifty app lets people manage their notifications in a single place, instead of having them pop up on their iPhone’s screen willy-nilly. The new Notifications panel in iOS 5.0 centralizes notifications in the same way.

To-do apps like Remember the Milk: Apple’s new Reminders feature can alert you to do something you’ve written down either based on time or location (pass by a grocery store you’ve marked in the app and you will be reminded to, um, remember the milk).

Camera+, QuickPix: One of the complaints about the iPhone’s camera is that it can take a while to get to when you want to take a picture in a hurry. Some apps used their faster start-up time as a selling point. The upgrade to the iPhone’s software includes the ability to place a camera button on the lock screen, for quick access. Users can also use a volume button as a shutter release, something Apple denied an app, Camera+, in December 2010.

Photo editing tools: While the popular filters of Hipstamatic andOldCamera do not seem to be in jeopardy, new features in the Photo app include cropping, red-eye reduction and one-touch auto-enhance, which may be enough for some picture takers.

Dropbox and other cloud storage services: iCloud, Apple’s free solution for storing documents and photographs in the cloud, may eradicate the need for independent services that let users do the same thing.

GroupMe and other messaging apps: iMessage will let Apple customers send messages to groups of friends — something that start-ups like GroupMe, Kik, TextPlus, FastSociety, Pinger and their ilk have been doing for months.

Better Touch Tool – A Mac OS X application that let you use multitouch gestures on a touchpad, which OS 10.7 has built in.

DropCopy – Drag and drop files to other users on your network. Just like AirDrop, which Apple announced was part of OS X today.

Zinio – A service that billed itself as “The World’s Largest Newsstand.” And it may be. For now. But what about after all iOS users have Apple’s Newsstand preloaded in their devices?

Apple clearly values their developers. They are a source of innovation and development. The company was proud to announce during the keynote that it had paid out more than $2.5 billion to developers. But there is another message to developers too: If you are really good at what you do, you will be assimilated.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

iOS 5: What you need to know | Mobile | Macworld

iOS 5: What you need to know | Mobile | Macworld

by Macworld Staff, Jun 7, 2011 8:35 pm

When Apple senior vice president Scott Forstall took the wraps off iOS 5 at Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, he focused on ten of what he said were more than 200 new features in the next incarnation of Apple’s mobile operating system.

But Forstall’s time was limited, and obviously he didn’t have a chance to run down everything that’s changed in the next major release of iOS. There are still plenty of questions to answer before iOS 5 arrives this fall, and while not every detail is available just yet, we’ve gathered up what Apple has revealed to answering your burning questions about this iOS update.


Which iOS devices will support the iOS 5 upgrade?

iOS 5 supports the same devices as iOS 4.3—the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, the iPad and iPad 2, and the third- and fourth-generation iPod touch. Yes, iPhone 3G owners—your hardware isn’t on that list. But given how some features in last year’s iOS 4 update weren’t supported on your phone—and how poorly the ones that actually were performed—it can hardly come as a surprise that Apple thinks it’s time for you to upgrade your aging smartphone to enjoy the latest OS it has to offer.

Has Apple provided any specifics on a release date for iOS 5?

All the company would say during Monday’s keynote is “fall.” (iOS developers, of course, already have a developer preview in hand.) Now whether or not Apple’s ideal of fall hinges on the autumnal equinox, we can’t say for certain. We do know that Apple traditionally schedules a music event around that time—last year, it fell on September 1—and that the iPod touch usually plays a prominent role in such an event, and that it would seem odd to announce a new device that’s still running an older version of iOS. But that’s pure speculation on our part.

What will it cost?

Not a cent. iOS 5 will be free.


How will notifications work in iOS 5?

Our first look at iOS 5 notifications breaks most of it down for you. But in short, new notifications appear in a floating banner that looks a lot like Game Center alerts. A swipe down from the top of your device’s screen reveals Notification Center, which keeps a running list of all your alerts. And your most recent alerts stack up on your lock screen when they arrive while your device is asleep.

Can third-party apps leverage the improved notifications?

Yes, and with no extra effort. Apps that support push alerts today are already ready for iOS 5; they’ll seamlessly switch to using the new notifications system as soon as you upgrade to the new OS.

How configurable are the new notifications?

Very. Again, we refer you back to our first look linked earlier, but trust that you get plenty of control. You configure how notifications are sorted, you control which apps can and can’t send you notifications, and you can even—on an app-by-app basis—switch from the new banners to the original pop-up alerts instead. That way, if you’d prefer text messages interrupt you but Words With Friends alerts use the new approach, you can set things up just that way.

Can I keep notifications off my lock screen?

Every notification that arrives while your device is locked will show up on your lock screen in iOS 5, though you can turn off lock screen display on an app-by-app basis.
Yes—but it’s a manual process. You must manually turn lock screen display off on an app-by-app basis within the Settings app. Otherwise, every notification that arrives while your device is locked will appear on the lock screen when you display it—even if you use a passcode to lock your device.

PC Free

What does Apple mean by “PC Free,” anyway?

Sadly, it’s not an insane Mac promotional giveaway. Rather, Apple’s referring to the fact that with iOS 5, you’ll no longer need to tether your device to a Mac or PC during its initial setup, when syncing, or to grab software updates; you can handle all of those actions from the device itself. A new iTunes Sync section in the Settings app shows your device’s current sync status. Apple says that you can only sync with iTunes wirelessly so long as your iOS device is currently charging. (Bonus iOS 5 sidenote: While you sync—even if you do so by plugging your device into your Mac—you can still use your iPhone or iPad during the process.)

But software updates are huge! I don’t want to download a several gigabyte iOS update on my iPhone!

Fret not. Also new in iOS 5 is support for update deltas: Rather than download an entire new copy of the operating system, you’ll download a (theoretically much smaller) update that contains only the changed bits.

Hmm. But I’ll still need my Mac for some things, right?

Apple is happy to keep selling Macs, but the company’s goal is that you really won’t need to use yours to update anything on your iPhone or iPad. iOS 5 will allow you to take actions large and small alike that previous versions of iOS didn’t support, from minutiae like creating or deleting calendars and mailboxes to heavier lifting like photo editing.


What is iMessage?

iMessage is Apple’s all-in-one replacement for text, group, and MMS messaging—sort of. If you’re familiar with Blackberry messaging, it’s Apple’s answer to that approach. In short, it’s a communication platform limited to iOS devices.

This is iMessage, a communication platform that lets you send messages to other iOS devices.
How is it better than regular text messaging?

Unlike regular SMS text messaging, iMessage supports niceties like delivery receipts (to know when your message has been delivered), read receipts (to know when your message has been read), and live typing status (so you can know that your buddy is replying). Note, however, that by default, your iOS device won’t tell your contact when you’ve read his message; you must enable that manually.

Do iMessages count against my text messaging quota?

Nope. That’s another improvement over regular text messaging, which—as anyone who’s ever gone over their monthly allotment of texts will tell you—can cost a pretty penny.

So does that mean I can cancel my text messaging plan?

You could, but be careful. Remember that iMessage is limited to conversing between iOS devices. If you want to send a message to a friend using any other kind of phone, you’ll need to rely on SMS (or a third-party texting app). And your carrier may well charge you for received text messages if others send them to you.

How does iMessage work on the iPad or iPod touch?

Like FaceTime, iMessage can work with your phone number as well as your e-mail address. And again as like FaceTime, iMessage lets you specify which e-mail addresses you’d like to link to your iMessage account.

Is iMessage a replacement for Messages on the iPhone?

No, it’s actually a part of that app. When you compose a message on the iPhone, the iOS will automatically switch to the iMessage protocol if your recipient is also an iMessage user; otherwise, it will default to regular old SMS.

New apps

What is Newsstand?

Newsstand is Apple’s new approach for discovering and browsing newspapers and magazines on your iOS devices. Newsstand isn’t quite an app—it actually behaves like an iOS folder. (As such, you can’t tuck it into another iOS folder; it’s top-level only.) But unlike a regular iOS folder, Newsstand looks like a bookshelf, and it displays the covers for all your magazine and newspaper subscriptions. New issues of your iOS subscriptions will appear in Newsstand automatically, and they download in the background.

What is Reminders?

Reminders is a new to-do list app from Apple. The app behaves much like many similar apps already in the App Store, but with a few extra niceties built in. Perhaps the cleverest feature in Reminders is its ability to tie alerts to geographical locations. That way, you can set the app to remind you about a given task—“Don’t forget the eggs”—when you arrive at (or depart from) a specific location. You can optionally sync Reminders across your iOS devices via iCloud.

You can also set time-based reminders for tasks. You create separate lists of reminders; a given entry can belong to just one list. Tasks can optionally be assigned one of three priority levels—Low, Medium, or High. More advanced to-do features, like contexts, tags, notes, and manual task re-sorting, aren’t yet included in Reminders.

Updated apps

What’s new in Safari?

On the iPad, Safari in iOS 5 supports tabbed browsing; the browser window switcher is a thing of the past. Safari Reader—the feature that pulls article text out of its Web page and presents it in a standalone, cleaner view—makes the leap from the Mac OS to iOS, too. Also new is Reading List, an Instapaper-like approach for saving Web pages to revisit later, short of a formal bookmark. Unlike Instapaper, though, Reading List doesn’t appear to save article text; it really just stores the URLs for later revisiting.

Tabbed browsing comes to the iPad version of Safari in iOS 5.
Over in the Settings app, you’ll be able to turn on Private Browsing mode.

What’s new in Camera and Photos?

The Camera and Photos app sport a variety of new features. In iOS 5, you can use the volume button on the iPhone as a hardware shutter button, instead of relying on the on-screen button. You can optionally enable grid lines while composing your photos. And after you take photos, you can modify them in a variety of ways. There’s One-Touch Enhance—pulled straight from iPhoto, red-eye reduction, rotating, and cropping.

Also new: a camera button on the iPhone’s screen. It sits right next to the “Slide to Unlock” bar, making that bar a little narrower.

What’s new in Maps?

There’s now more than one way to get where you’re going in iOS 5’s version of Maps.
In iOS 5, Maps can suggest alternate routes—a feature that will be welcome to anyone who’s been dissatisfied with how the current version of Maps tells you to get from Point A to Point B. There’s still no sign of the baked-in turn-by-turn GPS navigation that our Android-toting friends enjoy, though.

What’s new with FaceTime?

Not much. Apple says FaceTime video quality is better in iOS 5, and that iOS 5 supports “FaceTime mid-call invitation alerts.” You still can’t place FaceTime calls over 3G. And we’re still waiting on other device makers to adopt the FaceTime open standard so that conversations won’t be limited to just Apple-built hardware.

What’s new with Calendar?

Landscape support. Turn your iPhone to landscape, and you’ll immediately see a week view.

What’s new with Mail?

You can hide or reveal Mail’s sidebar with a simple swipe in portrait mode on the iPad.
On the iPad, a simple swipe in portrait mode hides or reveals the sidebar; it’s a pleasant alternative to the popover button. New in all versions of Mail is the ability to flag messages. That functionality changes the button that used to read “Mark as [un]read” to simply “Mark”; tapping it reveals options to change a message’s read or flagged status.

Mail also supports rich text editing (for using bold, italics, underline, and the like), and full-text searching—including for messages that reside only on the server, not your device.

And what’s new in the iPod app?

What iPod app? As has long been the case on the iPod touch, now all iOS devices split the iPod app into two separate apps: Video and Music. The Music app gets a makeover on the iPad, but its basic functionality remains the same.

Miscellaneous questions

I recall that Apple bought Siri and was rumored to have made some big deal with Nuance. Does that mean there’s new voice transcription functionality in iOS 5?

Some background: Siri Assistant is a voice-driven search app that has remained on the App Store even after its maker was bought by Apple in 2004. Nuance specializes in voice-recognition and has a few well-regarded apps of its own for the iPhone. It’s possible that some jazzed up voice-driven features may be built into iOS one day, but as of right now, Apple hasn’t announced anything on that front.

So new voice features at all?

You’ll be able to place FaceTime calls via Voice Control. That’s something.

What’s the deal with the split keyboard option?

Remove the virtual keyboard from the bottom of your iPad’s screen and it splits into two halves.
That’s an iPad-only feature in iOS 5. If you choose, you can drag the virtual keyboard up from the bottom of the iPad’s screen. As soon as you remove it from the bottom, the keyboard splits into two halves, with the keys resized to match those of the iPhone’s keyboard. You choose where to drag the keyboard—or really, keyboards—on the screen, and all apps inherit that keyboard setting. You can’t use one setting for portrait and another for landscape, but it’s very quick to move the keyboard around. And as soon as you drag it back to the bottom, it melds back together and returns to its default size.

What are some other cool features I should be anticipating?

In iOS 5, you’ll be able to tap and hold on any word anywhere to access its definition, as you can already do in the iBooks app. The iPad 2 will offer AirPlay mirroring—what you see on the tablet’s screen will also appear on a TV connected to an Apple TV. On the iPhone, the Notification Center also shows your current weather and a stock ticker. And finally, you can change what sounds iOS uses for voicemail, new e-mail, calendar, and other default alerts.

Anything new on the accessibility front?

Plenty. Among the new features: an option to set custom vibration patterns for specific contacts, support for simplified touch control, more voiceover control, an option to speak text, a preference to make the iPhone 4’s LED light up when you receive notifications, and more.

What’s new on the Exchange support front?

There’s new support in iOS 5 for wirelessly syncing Exchange tasks. Also new is support for S/MIME; a lock icon appears when you’re sending encrypted messages. It appears, however, that there’s still no way to mark Exchange calendar events as Private.

How does the Twitter integration work?

The Twitter section in Settings prompts you to install the official Twitter app, though you can ignore that suggestion if you choose.
You provide your Twitter login credentials in the Settings app. You can login to multiple Twitter accounts, if you’d like. Once you’ve provided your Twitter login data, numerous apps—like Photos, Safari, and Maps—offer the ability to post tweets directly. There’s no native tweet-posting functionality unless you want to attach data from one of those apps; that is, you can’t just post a “naked” tweet from a core iOS app.

The Twitter section of the Settings app does prompt you to (optionally) install the official Twitter app, if you haven’t already.

Any changes to AirPrint?

None that we know of. Wireless printing should work in iOS 5 as it does in the current version.

Is the iOS 5 upgrade painless? Is it going to mess with my app icon layout and folders?

Because iOS 5 adds several app icons—it splits iPod into Video and Music, plus introduces Newsstand and Reminders—your app layout order will get mucked with slightly. But your basic organization and folders should otherwise remain largely untouched.

First Look: iTunes in the Cloud | Web | Playlist | Macworld

by Christopher Breen,   Jun 6, 2011 7:35 pm

Recently I considered, in a best-of-all-worlds fashion, what media in an iCloud might look like. With the official unveiling of iCloud we now know the reality. While I certainly didn’t get everything on my wish list—streaming music and video, remote access to media stored on your computer, and an iTunes music subscription service—iTunes in the cloud is a solid step forward for consumers and one that should cause Google and Amazon to strongly consider their next moves.

What it is

The key components of iTunes in the Cloud are these: The ability for you to push new iTunes music purchases to your iOS devices and computer, the opportunity to re-download music that you’ve purchased from the iTunes Store, and (for an annual fee of $25) the option to have access to not only the music you’ve purchased from the iTunes Store, but any music stored in your iTunes library—including music you’ve ripped or purchased from another outlet such as Amazon MP3. In real-world use the three break down this way:

Pushy music On your iPhone (or other supported iOS device), you navigate to Settings -> Store. There, you can enable an Automatic Downloads option individually for Music, Apps, and Books. You later purchase an album on your Mac. That album is then automatically downloaded to your iPhone when it’s connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi or, optionally, 3G. And it can go in the other direction—iPhone purchases are automatically downloaded to your computer or other iOS devices.

Download music (again) In the past if you lost your purchased music because of a computer crash (and the lack of foresight to back up your purchases) you had to ask Apple if you could pretty-please download them again. Permission was invariably granted, but it was a pain. That roadblock is gone with iTunes in the cloud. Now you can re-download the unprotected music you’ve purchased at a bit rate of 256kbps AAC. If you purchased DRM-protected 128kbps AAC files and re-download them, they’ll download in the same format. Regrettably, the tracks aren’t updated to DRM-free 256kbps AAC files. You still have to pay 30 cents per track or $3 per album to upgrade them to that format.

You can currently re-download your music on an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 (GSM model), iPod touch (3rd and 4th generation), iPad, or iPad 2 running iOS 4.3.1 or later by launching the iTunes app, tapping the Purchased button, choosing the song or album you wish to re-download, and tapping the cloud button. The music will then download to your device. You’ll similarly see Purchased buttons in the App Store and iBookstore apps and they work the same way. Choose content you’ve previously purchased and download it to your device (you’ve been able to re-download apps and books for a while, but the process wasn’t always very clear).

Re-downloading purchased music on an iPad
iTunes 10.3 offers a similar scheme. The difference, of course, is that you can do it all from within a single Mac or Windows iTunes application rather than separate apps on an iOS device. When you click on the Purchased link on the iTunes Store's Home page to visit the Purchased screen, you’ll see links to purchased music, apps, and books. Select the category you like, and the items you’ve purchased appear on screen. Click a Cloud button next to the item you want to re-download and it’s downloaded to your computer. (Although the version of the iTunes Store found in iTunes 10.3 allows you to purchase and download books—and re-download books you've already purchased—those books are still viewable only on iOS devices.)

iTunes' Purchased screen
There’s one catch for albums no longer available at the iTunes Store. According to Apple: “Previous purchases may be unavailable if they are no longer in the iTunes Store.” This means that if you purchased Frank Zappa’s catalog before it was pulled from the iTunes Store by the Zappa Estate, you can’t re-download it.

iTunes Match and the active locker As I explained in that earlier article, there are two schemes for storing music you own in the cloud. The first is to place a copy of the music you own on a server and make only that copy available to you. This is called a passive locker. Conversely, an active locker keeps only a record of the music you own and then makes one copy of that music available to multiple users.

Google’s Music Beta and Amazon’s Cloud Drive use a passive locker and require that you upload the music you own to their servers. (When you purchase music from Amazon a copy of that music is placed on the server so you don’t have to upload it.) Apple’s $25-a-year iTunes Match uses an active locker. Much like with iTunes’ Genius feature, a database of the music you have in your iTunes library (purchased as well as other music you’ve ripped or acquired) is uploaded to Apple. Once Apple has that record, you can treat that music just as you can purchased music. If you want to re-download it, you can, in 256kbps AAC format. This is a very big deal if you ripped a lot of your music in the old days as 128kbps MP3 files and then later disposed of your CDs.

If tracks in your library aren’t available at the iTunes Store, you’re welcome to upload them to Apple’s servers. Also note that iTunes Match limits you to 25,000 tracks (although iTunes purchases are not counted against that limit).

The outstanding question is whether Apple will put any safeguards in place that attempt to identify pirated music and prevent it from being available to those who have it in their music libraries. For example, music you currently purchase from iTunes is unprotected, but it’s watermarked with the name of the purchaser. If you were to take a track purchased by another person and ask Apple to add it to your online collection via iTunes Match, would there be a problem? Or does that annual $25 fee also buy a measure of amnesty from the record labels?

The merits of cooperation

Active lockers aren’t a technical challenge. Rather, they’ve been difficult in the past because of licensing issues. Specifically, the music labels insist that companies must have their permission to make single copies of tunes available to multiple users. Apple has been able to secure that permission while Amazon and Google have not. Instead, Amazon and Google have been forced into the passive locker approach, which, because of the time and bandwidth needed to upload large music libraries, is less than ideal.

Having leapt these licensing issues, Apple is free to pursue other goals—streaming of this stored content, for example, rather than simply offering downloads. Google and Amazon, on the other hand, are a lap behind and looking at either coming up with deals of their own or, worse, spending time in court fighting with the labels.

Updated 12:00AM 6/7/11 with additional iTunes 10.3 information.