Category Archives: iOS

The “Flattening” Effect

Messages Icon Before and After

The iPhone and iPad user interface is expected to change dramatically by making it “flatter,” putting it in line with many already similarly-styled apps available for iOS.

Since lead Apple hardware designer, Jony Ive, in control of the look and feel of iOS, it’s more than likely that the hardware chief will also see major changes to the user interface aesthetic and design as well. According to reports, the “flat” design will more specifically simplify the icons and user interface.

Some experienced Apple watchers expect iOS 7 to take an ‘refresh’ approach in terms of user interface changes, as the company did with OS X over the years. The design was tweaked version-on-version, rather than being significantly overhauled.

Exactly how far these changes will go remains to be seen. Designer Tim Green created a mock-up that gives an idea of what the new user interface could look like.

iOS 7 App Icon Mock Up

iOS 7 also appears to be adding additional sharing options and deeper integrations with social apps like Vimeo and Flickr. At some point next week, we will have a better view of what to expect.

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Highlights of iOS 6

iOS 6 Logo

Unveiled back in June at the WWDC, the 6th major update for iDevices around the world will be available for download tomorrow! With over 200 new features it’s expected to be the BEST iOS ever! (Well, until iOS 7 at least) … And before it’s out, I managed to get on the developer’s release and have highlighted the key changes to look forward to in tomorrow’s release.

Siri
Siri IconShe’s definitely growing up. Almost a year after initially being introduced in iPhones last year (with the release of the iPhone 4S) Siri has gained more abilities and powers. You’ll now be able to use voice command to launch apps on your phone. You know, if you’re too busy to launch the music player while texting your pal, Siri will take care of that for you – just say the word. Siri will also be able to tweet for you. In under 140 characters, let her know what you want your followers to know and she’ll write it out and confirm with you before sending.

In addition to that Siri will also be able to pull scores of your favourite sports, research movie times and ticket purchases, and even help to get you dinner reservations. She’s actually starting to feel like a real assistant now.

By the way, the iOS 6 update is also the first time you’ll see Siri on the iPad.

Facebook Integration
iOS device users will now be able to fire status updates at ease. Sharing photos and direct links will now be a piece of cake. Facebook integration also integrates with your contacts; and even more surprising is that events and birthdays will also be synced with iDevices’ calendar. Wow!

iOS 6 Facebook Status on iPad and iPhone

Passbook
Passbook IconA new feature that kind of came out of nowhere, is Passbook: the keep-all-your-tickets-in-one application that allows it’s users to keep movie tickets, boarding passes, airline itineraries and special event tickets on your phone. Complete with the ability to store QR codes and 2D Barcodes, you’ll be able to flash the phone, scan and go. This is one application I have yet to figure out exactly how it’s going to work, but the concept is great.

Eyes Free
A cool new term drummed up by Apple’s team of awesomeness actually does what it sounds like it does. Gives drivers the ability to access their iPhones (and Siri) without having to even touch their handsets.

Apple Maps
After a long debate on what to do with the maps application, Apple has finally decides to dump Google maps for their proprietary maps applications, called MAPS. According to Apple, maps will offer turn-by-turn navigation, Siri voice command, search points of interest and even allow you to submit anonymous traffic tips.

iOS 6 Maps Overview

At last week’s keynote event, they even demonstrated the 3D rendering of maps to allow users to feel like Superman as they fly over their favourite cities in a third dimension. While I’m not convinced that maps is going to be better than Google maps, I think it’s going to take some time for this to fully flourish and become accepted. While using the developer’s version I noticed that the 3D was great in the hugely populated cities, but once you got out to farmland all the beauty was gone and you’re looking at a simple map application.

3G for FaceTime
Long gone will be the days where you had to actually wait until you were home and/or connected to a wifi before you could use FaceTime, iOS 6 now allows you to use this feature on your cellular data whether that’s 3G or LTE. Sounds great, but I’d be concerned for those users with less than 1GB of data on their monthly plans. I could see FaceTime racking up serious usage, especially if you’re a heavy user.

iOS FaceTime Sample

Email Goes VIP
There are two big improvements for the iOS email app. First, users will now be able to designate a VIP email inbox which allows you to set ‘favourites’ so that you don’t miss any of their emails and instead will be presented right up front. No having to sift through hundreds of spam to see those messages.

It’s also going to get a lot easier to add attachments to your emails. Instead of having to always use your Photo app to attach an email or file, you’ll have the option to do it right from the mail app in iOS 6. Cool feature that’s taken way too long to make an appearance in iOS.

Safari
A feature that was introduced as part of the OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) desktop version of Apple’s operating system introduces and iCloud tab syncing feature. That means that any device(s) using Mountain Lion (and Safari) that were left open, will now be able to be picked up on your iPhone, right where you left off. Basically making it easier for users to move from one Apple device to another. A seamless experience is a better experience.

iOS 6 Safari Sample

This is just scratching the surface of more than 200 new features for iOS 6. Let us know what your thoughts are on iOS 6 on my Facebook page.

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What’s new in iOS 5?

iOS 5 Beauty Picture

So now that iOS 5 officially launched on October 12 as a free upgrade to any iOS user, a lot of people are wondering what’s new? Since this release is being called the most complete and impressive operating system update so far, there’s a lot to cover. Apple claims over 200 tweaks, adjustments and fixes. I’d say at least half of the fixes won’t be noticed without a little digging, so I’be summarized the most notable changes and new features in iOS 5.

Notifications Center
A feature taken right out of the Android OS, iOS 5 introduces a hub for navigating all of your alerts in one place. Simply swipe down from the top of the screen to uncover notifications that require your attention. Completely, customizable you can go into Settings > Notifications to adjust whether you want your notification to appear as an alert or a banner, or if you want to completely disable it. As well as choosing how many recent items you want for each application.

Notifications Center Screen CapYou can also quickly jump to the application that you swipe on directly from the notifications centre. You’ll notice that your device no longer stops what it’s doing when you’re in the middle of using it with alerts. You’ll get the top half inches banner appear, letting you know something new is ready to be viewed, but it won’t interrupt the app you’re using.

The greatest thing about notifications centre is that all appears on your lock screen too (which you can also toggle which notifications you want to appear there, or not)

iMessage
Think Blackberry Messenger without the PIN access and you have iMessage. It uses your data, instead of regular SMS service in order to communicate with other iOS devices. No need to add additional pins or access points. You enable the feature by going into Settings > Messages and turning on iMessages. iMessage is married into your contacts and will automatically recognize who has iMessage when you begin sending messages using the standard message app on your iDevice. You don’t have to create any additional logins or even launch a stand-alone app – it’s already working when you send a text message.

iMessage SampleHow can I tell if iMessage is working? – Easy! When composing your text messages you’ll notice that the field to key in will actually say “Text Message” or “iMessage” if the person you’re sending to has this feature enabled. An even further still, you’ll see iMessages appear in blue conversation bubbles and regular SMS Text Messages in green ones.

You can also message groups of people using iMessage as well as send picture messages without incurring additional carrier fees for SMS or MMS type of messages. As long as you’re using iMessage you’re only using your data (on 3G) or bandwidth (on Wi-Fi).

Reminders SampleReminders
No need to download an additional app to help you remember to buy milk on your way home with the reminders app you have an easy to use and easy to navigate to-do list, that can be setup with alerts based on due date/time or based on your locations.

For example. You set a reminder to “buy wine” and set the reminder to go off be 6PM today or if you come across John’s Wine Store. Your phone will detect your surrounding (if your locations services is turned on) and the alert will go off when you’re in the area of John’s Wine Store or if you reach 6PM, whichever happens first.

You can group your reminders any way you like and it also works with iCal, Outlook and iCloud – any changes made will sync across all your devices instantly.

Twitter
Now built in to the iOS, Twitter makes it easier for you to tweet directly from within the iOS in applications like Safari, Photos, Camera, YouTube or Maps. As well as syncing with your address book and adding your friend’s @Twitter username and profile pictures. You start typing the name and iOS takes over and does the rest.

Twitter iOS 5 Sample

Camera LockscreenCamera
You can now use the camera without unlocking the phone. Just double-tap the home button (when the phone is locked) and you’ll see the camera icon, tap that and take picture by pressing the volume up button. You can now pinch to zoom and enable options so that there’s a visible grid to help you centre your pictures.

Photos
Edit, rotate and crop your picture directly from the Photos app. It doesn’t get any easier than that. As well as your photos being sync’d to iCloud so they’re readily available on all your devices as soon as you take them and they’re sent to the cloud.

Safari
Cut out all the excess while browsing sites using Safari by clicking on “READER” in right side of the address bar. You’ll see the important stuff with all that extras removed so you can see the content that’s important without waiting for loading times.

(iPad only) You’ll be able to also create tabs for browsing more than one window in Safari. Great new feature which gives you that desktop feel to your browsing.

PC Free
iOS 5 is the first iOS that no longer requires users to own a computer. Activate and setup your device wirelessly – out of the box. All free updates moving forward can be done while connected to Wi-Fi and moving an arranging photos in folders can all be done on the device itself, no need to make changes on your computer in order for it to update on your phone.

PC Free iOS 5 Screen Capture

Mail
You can now compose emails in rich format, allowing you to bold, italicize or underline. As well as full iOS support for Hotmail.

Hotmail Screen Capture

Wi-Fi Sync
You can also wirelessly sync you iOS device to your Mac or PC over a shared Wi-Fi network (means that Mac or PC has to be on the same local network) anytime you connect the iDevice to a power source, for example, charging overnight.

iOS 5 Supported Devices

To read about all the features of iCloud, visit Apple’s iOS page.

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Say Hello to iCloud

iCloud Sync

So what does iCloud do exactly? Well for starters, it does pretty much everything MobileMe did before it — meaning web-based email, contacts, and calendar. Those three services will also sync to your devices. But iCloud does a lot more than that.

The service promises to keep your photos, music, and settings synced across devices, using the iCloud servers as a way point and container for most (but not all) of your content. Essentially what it does is keep a running tab of content you’ve created, or apps and music you’ve purchased from iTunes. All of that content is sent to the cloud, and then back down to your phone, iPod touch, or iPad.

To help you visualize how this works, here are a few use cases:

  1. You take a bunch of photos on your phone. Since you’re using Photo Stream to sync these to iCloud, they get beamed up to Apple’s servers. Later, when you open your laptop and start up iPhoto, the application pulls down all of those photos onto your local storage. The same thing happens when you use your iPad with the same account and Photo Stream turned on.
  2. You buy an app on your iPhone. Later, you want to put that app on your iPod touch. You’ll have access to that app on any of your devices in a list of purchased software in the App Store. All you need to do is download the app to your device.
  3. You buy a new song in iTunes. If you have iTunes in the Cloud turned on, that new purchase will sync down to all of your devices registered with the same account. No fussing with syncing individually anymore. The same goes for video and iBooks content too.
  4. You’re working on a document on your iPad in Pages. With iCloud, that document will be saved on your iPad, then accessible through icloud.com for download, or will be synced to your other devices running Pages. Every time you update that document (unless you’re doing it in Pages on your laptop), it will be synced to the cloud.

Essentially, this is a rather static service which is constantly moving your content from your devices, up into the cloud, and back down to devices. It’s not Flickr or Gmail — it’s a way to keep content and devices in sync without hassle. In its current state, it works quite well, though there are some catches in the service that you should probably make a note of.

For starters, you get 5GB of storage for free, which doesn’t count your apps, music, books, TV content, or Photo Stream images. You can upgrade that storage for a nominal fee (starting at $20 a year for a total of 15GB, up to $100 annually for 55GB of cloud storage). Secondly, the way iCloud handles your photos is that it will keep 1000 photos in the cloud for up to 30 days. If you go beyond 1000, or past 30 days, you start to lose your content unless you move it to a device (say your laptop) or to a folder in your Camera Roll. If that sounds confusing — that’s because it is. Also, there’s no way to view your photos or share them online at this point.

There’s one other issue with Photo Stream that I find a little disconcerting. Once your pics have uploaded to Photo Stream, you have no way to delete individual photos. You can delete all of your photos and turn off the service (thus allowing you to delete on your devices), but you can’t choose single files to delete by hand. The moment you finish taking photos, they’re upped to iCloud where they basically cannot be manipulated. It’s actually a bit upsetting — it feels like you don’t have full control over your content.

By the end of October, Apple will introduce another component to iCloud – iTunes Match. For $24.99 a year, that service will find every song you’ve ever purchased on iTunes and make it available to stream on your devices, and will also upload or match anything else you have in your collection — whether you’d purchased it in iTunes or just ripped a CD.

The free basic iCloud service should simplify the experience of moving content to and from devices. It’s not perfect but it solves many problems that iOS users have struggled with since the first iPhone.

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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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