Monthly Archives: June 2011

Happy 4th, iPhone

Today marks the 4th Birthday for the iPhone, and what better way to celebrate, than to bake an iPhone cake. (Not me – Since I don’t know how to bake, but someone did)
iPhone Birthday Cake

The iPhone was originally announced on January 9, 2007 but the launch date was June 29 of the same year. It’s amazing to believe that in just 4 years a device could reshape the landscape for what a customer expects from their handheld device, spawning countless look-a-likes and is the most commonly used point of reference when grading the performance of any other smartphone.

Apple has reportedly sold close to 20 million iPhones in just the last quarter, and its not showing any signs of slowing down. Apple is expected to sell in excess of 100 million units of its next-generation smartphone, slated to launch some time this fall. (If the rumours are correct)

Happy birthday, iPhone.

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App Review: Video Playlist for iPad

Video Playlist for iPad Icon A few weeks ago, I set out on a road trip to the US and brought the whole family. I figured, I’d load up the iPad with hours and hours of music videos and hit play so that the baby in the car could be entertained the whole way there.

When I set the songs in a playlist, I noticed that they don’t play consecutively. I know I’ve been able to do it on my phone in the past and figured that the iPad should be able to do the same. Read reviews online and it wasn’t. Sigh. The iPad uses a different iOS application for the iPod than it does for videos (That’s why there’s two individual icons on the springboard) … The standard Video App, doesn’t allow for continuous playback on iPad 1 (I’m not sure if this has been fixed on iPad 2 – since I don’t have one yet) but I needed a solution to be able to load multiple music videos and allow them to play continuously without me having to push play after every track. Same way the iPod playlist plays continuous.

Found Video Playlist in App Store for 99¢ and couldn’t be happier. A simple concept that works so well, and I felt should have been put in the operating system since day one. This app does exactly what it’s named, with an added bonus, since you can add/remove and edit your video playlists on the fly. Instead of having to change the playlists in your iTunes, this is in-app so you can re-arrange when away from your PC.

Video Playlist iPad Screen Capture 1

You also get access to your complete iTunes library, synced to your iPad so you could even cue, TV episodes, movies, etc. to play continually, without having to hit play after every video. The on-screen navigation of the app is easy to follow and allows for full screen, track skipping and shuffling.

Video Playlist iPad Screen Capture 2

A must-have utility app if you’ve go lots and lots of music videos loaded on your iPad 1. My rating: 5/5

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Apple Will Refund MobileMe Subscriptions

For MobileMe subscribers, like myself, that were left scratching their heads and wonder what iCloud means for MobileMe users, I’ve managed to briefly summarize the changes and what you have to do, or not do, next.

MobileMe Welcome Screen

The full information run-down can be found on Apple’s site, but for some, there’s more questions than answers at this point. So if you’re recently renewed your MobileMe subscription, you’re in luck, Apple will be issuing refunds. (Read the fine print)

If you wish, you can cancel your service right now and get a refund, but the amount of the refund will depend on how long ago you renewed.

If you want to keep using MobileMe until iCloud is released this fall, you can do that and still get some of your money back. That would mean cancelling your MobileMe subscription in the fall and you’ll get a pro-rated refund, again, depending on how long ago you renewed.

What You Should Know
All users that had active account as of June 6, 2011 have been automatically extended to June 30, 2012 at no extra charge. On June 30, 2012, the service will no longer be available.

If you decide to wait that long, you should note that you won’t be able to make any changes to your account or sign up for upgrades or additional storage either.

Refunds
Apple will cancel and refund your full $99 USD subscription payment if you’ve renewed in the 45 days previous to the June 6, 2011 announcement of iCloud. However, you will lose all your MobileMe services immediately and have to sign up with everyone else when iCloud comes out in the fall.

If your account was renewed 46 days or prior from June 6, 2011, you will receive a pro-rated refund based on the date you submit your request. Again, your MobileMe services will be lost immediately doing it this way too.

Apple does have a knowledge-based article that covers cancellations/refunds and pay special attention to this line:

If you have an active MobileMe subscription and would like to cancel it for a refund, you may do so at any time.

Which means that you can cancel in the fall (when iCloud is released) and still be able to get at least some money back. So you’ll get the full service that you paid for, plus a little money back.

I think it sounds fair. Would you agree?

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Future iPhone May Help You Make New Friends

Recent patents applications submitted by Apple for the continuing development of the iPhone in coming generations, indicate that the iPhone could have location-based services and interest-matching features. Your iPhone could possibly find your next friend, business partner or date. Oh wow!

Apple Location Patent Linear

With the popularity of Facebook and Twitter, social networking continues to be the biggest trend for the past few years! If you remember PING, Apple has already tried to dive into this market before (with limited success). Their next attempt will be this patent – Either as a ‘built-in’ feature of future iPhones or an App that’s loaded as part of another iOS update.

There was an app that release in recent weeks, which allowed users to match and go on a blind date with users based on their location and interests, and this patent seems like a play on that concept with further refinement and development.

So far user reviews seem mixed, some people think it’s a great idea since you don’t have to bother with creating profiles on lavalife or match.com but others feel that this raises the creep meter with cries of personal invasion. I think that’s a bit of stretch though since I firmly believe that Apple will allow users to disable such feature should one not wish to participate, maybe even make it an option that needs to be ‘downloaded’ in addition to any other iOS updates at the time.

A part of me also wants to believe that this is simply a marketing stunt and ploy to create buzz and possibly even created to throw off the competition into believing this is in the works when, in fact, they’re working on something totally different. No one knows for sure, but the speculation circus is already rolling out.

To summarize, if this is what it looks like and becomes wildly successful you can consider your phone to be your ‘ice-breaker’ and matchmaker – especially awesome if you’re too shy to meet people in real life. (Ya right)

We only need to think of a brilliant name for this type of service. I got it – iLonely.

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Hands-On With iMessage

iMessage IconiMessage, coming this fall as part of the iOS 5 updates, is all the rage and many specialists are claiming that this could ultimately be the dagger that finally kills SMS – I don’t agree. While iMessage is a great concept that is similar in many ways to Blackberry’s Messenger service, you’ll notice that it’s integrated in the SMS application of your iDevice’s operating system.

That means, that for the most part, you’ll active the iMessage option in SMS settings on your phone, and when composing a new message to a contact in your phone book, it will automatically recognize if the person you’re sending to has iMessage turned on and can receive messages that way. It’s similar to the way FaceTime has to be enabled in order to receive video calls from another iPhone/iPad or MacBook.

With iMessage, you’re not using your carrier’s traditional SMS signal to send texts, it uses data. So iMessages can be sent through Wi-Fi and your 3G service, not incurring ‘text/SMS’ message fees from your carrier (if you’re on a pay-per-use plan).

In addition, you’ll be able to send pictures, videos, contacts and your location through iMessage, without picking us an additional MMS charge. Similarity to the way BBM works, you’ll be able to see when your contact reads the text message, and when they’re typing. It was also appear in the notifications centre on the lock screen, when your phone is in sleep mode.

Redmond Pie has managed to upload a hands-on video of iMessage in action on an iOS 5 beta.

iMessage will only be compatible with iOS devices like the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The iPhone will register your iMessage with your cell phone number, while you iPod and iPad will register your iMessenger with an email address.

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App Review: Mike Tyson – Main Event

Mike Tyson-Main Event IconFor anyone that owned the classic on NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), the Mike Tyson: Main Event app is a must have and the fact that it’s FREE for a limited time makes it that much more sweet. Now for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, you can relive the memories of gaming on the TV as your trainer, Doc, would coach you through all the levels until you were strong enough to face Mike Tyson himself.

Almost, while this app has a look and (sorta) feel to the NES classic, it lacks in terms of longevity. I got bored after about 5 minutes. The sound was annoying and the controls weren’t as responsive as I would have liked them to have been. There are a lot of levels to choose from, so you don’t have to worry about it not holding up on fighters, but it’s definitely not as smooth as it was in the classic version.

You pay for what you get, when it comes to this one, but it is great since you can jump straight into the main event and fight Mike Tyson right away. (You’re likely not going to beat him) but at least you don’t have to waste your time fighting a bunch of no-names. Enjoy some of the screen captures below to see what’s in store.

The Title Screen (with the Hangover 2 credit)
Tyson-Screenshot1

In-Game Action which resembles the style and layout of the NES classic
Tyson-Screenshot2

In between rounds there’s dialoque between the opponents (Not spoke, just read)
Tyson-Screenshot3

In the menu selection screen you can skip straight through and face the champ
Tyson-Screenshot4

My rating: 2/5

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iOS 5 Is On It’s Way

iOS 5 Beauty PictureiOS 5, touted as the best update yet, was unveiled and announced at the WWDC which took place on Monday. It’s taken me a few days to sift through all the rumours and find out what really will be available in the next iOS update. Let’s go!

  • Notification Centre. With the swipe of a finger you can quickly review text messages, calendar events and well, all your notifications, when they drop down from the top of your device. Not only that, but you’ll also have notifications arrival to the Lockscreen, so you have a quick overview of what’s waiting for your attention.
  • Twitter integration. Sign-in once and all your apps with have access to your Twitter credentials (the ones that make us of it). This includes the camera and photos programs, so you can tweet out images directly from the OS.
  • Safari Reader. A browser feature that will strip out all the clutter and present the text of a webpage without the distractions.
  • Reminders. An intelligent feature that will remind you to do things based on your location. It’ll sync across your devices (iCloud) and with your calendar.
  • Camera Button on lockscreen. No more having to wait to launch the app, it’ll be available when the phone is locked and the volume button will double-up as physical shutter release key when you’re in the camera app. Other camera features will include cropping, red-eye reduction and one-click enhance options (just like it’s already been available with the Camera+ app for some time)
  • A split keyboard. Not sure why, but it’s going to be an option.
  • PC Free. Think about this as cutting the umbilical cord to your mother when you were born. The new iOS will no longer need a computer to activate, authorize, update and sync. Thanks to iCloud. Over-the-air updates that’ll only contain data that’s changed, so you won’t have to re-download the entire OS every time Apple makes minor changes.
  • iMessage. Said to be the end-all for SMS, it’s a messaging service exclusive for iOS users. (Similar to BBM for Blackberry only) .. but instead of just the handheld device you can send ‘text’ messages to any iDevice and even MacBooks or iMacs.
  • iCloud. As reviewed in this post, it will come bundled as part of this OS update.

Apple’s official announcement claimed to have over 200 new features, but I’ve managed to summarize the most significant and noticeable.

iOS 5 will be publicly available in the fall for the following devices: iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 1 and 2, and the iPod touch 3rd and 4th gen.

In case you’re keeping track, I’ll take a wild guess and say that this means we won’t see an iPhone 5 until at least after this iOS is implemented. So that means likely in the first quarter of 2012 or later. Don’t hold your breath for a new phone just yet.

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iCloud, oMy!

iCloud Apple IconIn case you missed it, iCloud is coming. I won’t go into a full round up of what that means, but I will say that it will change the way we store and share data with our devices (iOS followers rejoice).

If you’re like me, and have already (sort of) experienced the greatness of using a syncing service, like MobileMe, you’ll be excited about this FREE feature coming to all iDevices in the next iOS update, and OS X Lion.

The added benefit of 5GB through iCloud though, and the reason it’ll be a huge hit, is because of how easy it is to setup, use and update. Actually the updating part won’t even affect you… it happens automatically.

With MobileMe, users paid for a year of service ($99 US) and they could sync email, calendars, notes and contacts across their Apple devices. iCloud will feature that PLUS allow your Apps and stored media to sync as well. COOL!

That’s correct, no more having to download an App on your iPhone, then on your iPad and then on your MacBook when you get home. As soon as you confirm the download on one device, you iCloud will update the other devices to have them available there too when you’re ready to use them. No waiting for it to sync or update … it just ‘magically’ happens.

The in-app data will also sync through iCloud, so if you’re on level 56 in Plants vs. Zombies on your iPhone, when you switch to your iPad, you’ll still be on level 56. No more having to start over or wait until you get back on your iPhone to continue through the levels.

I believe that there’s a hidden intention with the release of iCloud, but I’ll update you on what that is when I get a chance to recap the also-announced iOS 5 coming soon. Let’s just say … Bye, bye, Windows.

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