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iOS 4 thoughts

June 10, 2010 Leave a comment

An Engadget post yesterday revealed the gold build issued at WWDC works on any compatible iPod/iPhone without the device being registered for development. A quick search of the usual places such things are found turned up the latest beta of iTunes 9.2 required for the restore process, as well as the ipsw packages for the iPhone 3G/S and iPod Touch 2g/3g. Since these are far from official sources everything was scanned for nasties but the clean results meant it wasn’t long before my 3GS was running iOS4.

After a day of playing with the next year’s OS the initial stand out additions are multitasking, folders and the unified Mail inbox. Multitasking, even in the current state of only being fully supported by Apple apps, is a big improvement in speed and ease of use. Opening a link in Mail takes the user straight to Safari but a quick double click of the home button and a tap on the mail icon and you’re back to where you left off in Mail. Folders means an alternative to page after page of app icons, and the unified inbox is such an improvement you just wonder why it wasn’t like this from the start. There are some problems and inconsistencies with the new additions, so read on for more details and screenshots. Read more…

iPhone 4 announced

June 8, 2010 1 comment

On 7th June Steve Jobs took the stage at the 2010 WWDC to announce the fourth version of the iPhone hardware. Full details of the improvements over the 3GS model have been well covered elsewhere, so here’s a brief summary:

  • 960 by 640 pixel display with 800 to 1 contrast ratio using an IPS (same as iPad) panel
  • A4 processor, also same as used in the iPad
  • Adds 802.11n wireless
  • Up to 7 hours talk time (3G), 300 hours standby, 10 hours WiFi internet use, 40 hours audio playback, 10 hours of video playback
  • 16 or 32Gb storage
  • Available in white or black, with colour edge covers offered
  • New 5 Megapixel backside illuminated camera sensor for better low light images
  • 640×480 front camera for self portraits and video calls
  • LED flash
  • 720p video recording
  • Three axis Gyroscope
  • iMovie software available to run on the phone for $4.99

The standout features for me are the improved camera and 720p video recording. The Apple iPhone camera page has some un-retouched samples at the bottom of the page that can be zoomed to full size. While none of them are really low light (there are a couple of low light smaller examples near the top) they offer quality good enough for holiday snaps. The popular phrase “the best camera is the one you have with you” doesn’t present too much of a compromise for the average consumer. The availability of iMovie for iPhone 4 is a big bonus, though it appears to be limited to the new iPhone with no word on backward compatibility with the 3GS.

My hope is that Apple will provide some way of transferring photo and video from the iPhone 4 to the iPad, where a version of iMovie and iPhoto would provide much easier editing. The iPad camera connection kit could easily do this, and both devices offer wireless connectivity that would make it a cheaper option.

Uk networks O2, Orange and Vodafone have announced availability of the iPhone 4 on 24th June, but have yet to release details of pricing. O2 have promised a limited time offer for those in existing iPhone contracts wishing to upgrade. Hopefully this will match the AT&T offer to cancel up to six months remaining contract if the new iPhone is taken with a new two year contract.

Price wise the new iPhone is $199 for 16Gb and $299 for 32Gb. No word yet on UK pricing but I’m expecting £170 and £260 if the same conversion as the iPad is used.

Categories: apple, iPhone, movie, photo Tags: , , ,

Apple removes MyFrame for offering widgets

June 3, 2010 1 comment

Earlier this week Apple removed the MyFrame photo frame application from the app store. There’s nothing new about apps being pulled, but in this instance the app in question was a high quality photo frame capable of displaying the time, date, weather, notes and twitter feeds. I can say it’s high quality as I paid for the app and used it whenever my iPad was sitting on my desk while I worked at the hackintosh. The app stopped working a couple of days ago which I initially thought was caused by jailbreaking the iPad, but now I’m not so sure.

From the Groundhog software blog and Macworld article it appears MyFrame was pulled from the app store for using widgets, and the reply to an email sent to Steve Jobs said, “We are not allowing apps that create their own desktops. Sorry.

While this is good news for a much requested feature in the upcoming iPad OS 4, it sucks for a useful app. Especially an app that was recently upgraded to version 1.2, the third release approved by Apple. There also appears to be some confusion at the app store. Clicking the link on the Groundhog software site to buy the app took me to the UK iTunes store with a warning the app was not currently available in the UK, but was in the US store. This happened as I have both a UK and US account from my recent US iPad purchase. Agreeing to be taken to the US store then gave an error that the app is not available there either.

The most puzzling thing here is why Apple doesn’t contact app developers and give them the chance to remove whatever conflicts with planned OS features or new unannounced ‘rules’. I’ve just fired of this question from the iTunes report a problem feature, any reply will be added as a new post.

I paid for MyFrame a couple of weeks ago and use it often. The 1.2 update added more control over the photo slideshows and some other great features. Then earlier this week it stopped working. After launching the app would take a while to display anything, then freeze and finally exit back to the iPad desktop. I’ve since found out the app has been removed from the app store, is this related to the sudden problems I am experiencing?
Also, now the app has been removed and there is no word on future updates or re-admittance to the app store, will Apple be issuing a refund to all the loyal Apple customers who paid for this app? Or is the developer going to get a big bill?

iPad thoughts part 3 – Other Apps

May 27, 2010 Leave a comment

While the iPad’s built in apps are an impressive if incomplete start, the real strength of the iPad will be it’s app store. Like the iPhone has already proved, having a vast catalog of easily available and mostly cheap software is a huge selling point. Currently the available iPad apps are a bit frustrating due to the amount of excellent iPhone titles just begging for a bigger screen but not yet available. Here are some of the titles that have impressed so far.

Magic Window

Using a huge amount of high quality time lapse photo’s played like a video this app makes for a great desktop clock. All of the photo slideshow/clock apps tried so far have missing features or problems, but Magic Window is both simple and flexible enough to not irritate. There are currently fifteen photo sets available but not all are installed by default. This sensibly keeps the initial download smaller and required sets are added from within the app.  ‘Nightfall over the San Francisco Bay’ and “Goblin Valley State Park’ are two of my favourites, and the ability to control the speed of playback makes this a perfect iPad app to show off to photo loving friends. Read more…

iPad thoughts part 2 – Included Apps

May 25, 2010 4 comments

The iPad really comes alive when you start using the touchscreen and interacting with the OS and applications. The most common layout in landscape mode is the left third of the screen showing a list of some sort while the middle and right thirds show the selected document or view. The Settings app below shows this, with the list of setting groups on the left and the options on the right.

Turning to portrait mode shows the same options squeezed in width for the narrower dimension, while other apps such as Mail show a full screen view with a dropdown list. Read more…

iPad thoughts part 1 – Hardware

May 24, 2010 Leave a comment

The UK release of the iPad is only a few days away on 28th May, so here are some thoughts on the iPad and using it in the UK. These are based on using a 32Gb WiFi only iPad in both the US and UK.

The Hardware is very good, especially for a first generation device. There are plenty of comments online from those waiting for the next generation iPad, the one with the camera and all the other things on the wish list. There are also those waiting for the price to drop, but given the current level of sales that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. Read more…

Categories: apple, ipad Tags: ,

Apple unveils the iPad

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment

As widely predicted Steve Jobs has today unveiled the iPad tablet computer. There’s little in the specifications that hasn’t been discussed over the past few weeks, so here’s a brief rundown on what’s included.

  • 9.5 x 7.5 x 0.5 inch body
  • 9.7-inch LED-backlit glossy Multi-Touch display with 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi).  Described as widescreen at the Apple iPad specs page, maybe the reality distortion field has broken on this feature.
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology
  • 3G on selected models – UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz) and GSM/EDGE (850, 900,1800, 1900 MHz)
  • 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive. Interesting choice of description, drive not memory. Will this be externally accessible?
  • 1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip
  • Built-in 25Whr rechargeable lithium-polymer battery offering up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music

The hardware specs are good, but the apps are even better. iWork for iPad looks very usable with the optional keyboard dock, and media apps closer to iLife than iPhone make the iPad look like an accomplished media device. Pricing also starts lower than was widely expected:

The only thing I find disappointing about the iPad is the home screen, which looks like nothing more than an upscaled iPhone screen with a background image and way too small icons. Given how smooth and intuitive the demonstrated apps look is this really what Apple plans to present as the starting point of the iPad experience?

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Apple Tablet Predictions

January 26, 2010 1 comment

Just about every site covering anything vaguely Apple related has pondered what might be announced at the ‘Come see our latest creation’ event on 27th January. If there isn’t a Tablet PC announced the internet will ignite with the wrath of a million Apple fanboys. On top of this the rumours of Iphone OS 4, iLife 10 and updated Macbooks mean that some of these aren’t going to be included. Just for fun, here’s my predictions on what will be announced tomorrow.

The Tablet

  • Called the MacPad. iPad is too obvious, and iSlate and iTablet are too awkward sounding.
  • 10 inch screen, resolution 1280×800 for all the iTunes HD content. This gives around 150DPI for use as an eReader. Possibly in two versions for LCD and OLED, until the OLED price comes down.
  • The OS will be something between the flexibility of Snow Leopard and the ease of iPhone OS. Maybe a dashboard type display with selectable widgets/feeds/ information. I would include the ability to run iPhone apps in a 320×480 window or full screen tablet apps. And multi-tasking.
  • 32-128Gb Flash Memory on board dependant on expansion options, so a worthwhile amount of HD content can be stored. Streaming HD content and audio from your iTunes account at home with a fast data connection.
  • An SD card slot. The Macbook Pro’s have them, and a 10 inch tablet would make an excellent photo viewer/editor.
  • A USB port, possibly miniUSB if the Tablet is as thin as the photoshop fake’s are hoping. This really opens up the device for adding an external HD stuffed with content, but realistically isn’t likely as most other peripherals would plug into a dock connector. How about a dock with USB available for third party expansion options?
  • Universal 3G ability rather than tied to one service provider, just add your own 3G sim. Maybe a data package as an option, but not compulsory.
  • A P.A. semi highly integrated processor?
  • Front and back video camera’s for video calls is a killer app for a tablet.
  • eBooks magazines and newspapers in iTunes, just like the Amazon Kindle store with lower prices and higher volume.

iLife 10

  • Grand Central and OpenCL support bringing a big speed boost to HD encoding. What’s the point of building these technologies into Snow Leopard if Apple doesn’t use them?
  • iDvd gets new authoring abilities for the Tablet and HD content, or a new app is added to do this. Dvd’s can package photo slideshows and multiple video’s, so file based media needs the same.
  • A simplified version of iLife for the Tablet would be nice, offering basic photo retouching and video editing.

iPhone OS 4

  • There’s no denying the iPhone seriously needs a good home screen showing calls and messages, calendar etc. Other platforms, especially Android, are catching up so something flexible but simple is required. And an easy way to switch 3G, WiFi and brightness like SBsettings would be nice.
  • Irrespective of what the iPhone doesn’t do well it’s still selling in large amounts so how badly are improvements needed? I’m betting iPhone OS 4 will be saved for the WWDC mid year, and an update to V3 will add tablet support and some new features.

Macbooks

  • Nope. It’s a tablet event.

Security Update 2010-001 on Hackintosh

January 23, 2010 2 comments

Apple this week released Security Update 2010-001 for Leopard and Snow Leopard Systems. The Update offers fixes for CoreAudio, CUPS, Flash Player, ImageIO, ImageRAW and OpenSSL and is a recommended update for all Leopard and Snow Leopard Users. I have now had a chance to install and test the update on my main Hackintosh and can report no found issues so far, so anyone using a similar method of installation should be fine to install through Software Update.

Over the past week I have done a re-install of Snow Leopard on my main Hackintosh, following some small irritations with permissions on the original install. As usual I made a backup to another hard drive then imported my user account and applications once Snow Leopard was patched to 10.6.2. This time round I have used a Boot132 CD and Chameleon 2 RC4, so over the next week I hope to update my original Snow Leopard on Hackintosh guide and create a new one to reflect the new method.

Apple releases new iMacs, Mac Mini, Macbook and Magic Mouse

October 20, 2009 Leave a comment

As was widely predicted this morning, Apple has updated its iMac, Mac Mini and Macbook ranges. Also new is the Magic Mouse, described as ‘the world’s first Multi-Touch mouse’. The new products feature:

iMac

  • 21.5 or 27 inch LED backlit glossy display
  • 3.06/3.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor or 2.66GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor or 2.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor
  • 4GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM with four SO-DIMM slots supporting up to 16GB
  • 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 9400M or 256MB ATI Radeon HD 4670 (21.5 inch model)
  • 256MB ATI Radeon HD 4670 or 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4850 (27 inch model)
  • 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless networking, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and 10/100/Gigabit Ethernet
  • Slot-loading 8x SuperDrive
  • 1 or 2TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA hard drive
  • From £949

Mac Mini

  • 2.26GHz, 2.53GHz, or 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 1066MHz frontside bus
  • 2GB or 4GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor with 256MB of shared DDR3 SDRAM
  • 160GB, 320GB, or 500GB Serial ATA hard disk drive
  • From £499
  • Also available with two 500GB SATA hard drives and Snow Leopard Server for £799

Macbook

  • 13.3-inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen display with support for millions of colours
  • 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 1066MHz frontside bus
  • 2GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM with support up to 4GB
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9400M with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory
  • 250, 320 or 500GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard disk drive
  • 8x slot-loading SuperDrive
  • New Unibody enclosure
  • Up to 7 hour battery life
  • £799

Magic Mouse

Magic_MouseA new design with no buttons. Instead, the whole top of the mouse is a multi-touch surface that responds like the trackpad in the Macbook/Pro’s. Not cheap at £55 but certainly cutting edge.

Overall it’s a very strong line-up for the Christmas Market. I’m a bit surprised the Macbook is still just a single model at £799 but Apple have never been interested in the budget market. The iMacs now go from fast to ridiculously powerful, and while the 1920×1080 HD resolution screen appears to be becoming a standard, the 27 inch version offers an enormous 2560 by 1440 pixels. The Mac Mini is still expensive now has the server model leaked earlier this year. Could this become the perfect small office server?

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