Tag 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 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 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.

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.


Filed under iOS, iPad, iPhone

iPhone 5 Has Arrived!

iPhone 5 Hero
The iPhone 5 was officially announced earlier today in Yerba Buena, San Francisco by Apple CEO, Tim Cooke and a slew of Apple engineers. Each one took the stage to show off the 16:9 aspect ratio, 4-inch, smaller dock port, thinner, light, faster and LTE-enabled goodness officially named; iPhone 5!

iPhone 5 Measurement SpecsI purposely didn’t upgrade last year when the iPhone 4S was unveiled (I still use an iPhone 4) simply becuase I didn’t feel there was enough of an ‘update’ to get me to make the switch… but today’s news has me ready to line up next Friday to make sure I get my hands on one of the first ones to leave the Apple store. Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone 4S update was great, but it always felt like an incremental upgrade rather than a true step change, and although it sold wonderfully for Apple, there wasn’t enough for me to jump in and buy one.

If you’ve been following most of the leaked rumours over the past year on what to expect for the iPhone 5, today’s announcements were as expected. Things like a thinner design, the inclusion of the A6 processing chip, a smaller camera were great to see.

The forward facing camera has been beefed up to 720 p version, which means it’s 20% less fuzzy. The Wifi is ‘ultrafast’ (wait, did I just use an Apple buzzword?) and the 4G LTE had to be included to keep up with what the other phones are the market are doing.

Then there’s the all glass and aluminium chassis that claim to be the thinnest smartphone at 7.6 mm ‘thin’ and in order to make the phone more movie-friendly, they’ve increased the retina display to 4-inches. In the hand the iPhone 5 feels comfortable as it did with the 4S, so you see why Apple decided to keep the width the same. But fear not, the new phone certainly feels different – the aluminium manages to bring a premium feel in a notable lighter device.

iPhone 5 A6 ChipInside the phone, a beefier A6 chip definitely brings a snappier feel with less lag. Many with an iPhone 4, like me, will be all too used to the lagginess when tyring to do anything slightly complex with their phone. The iPhone 5 manages to make even the most demanding tasks seem like a walk in the park.

The added length could have made the phone unwieldy, but the loss of thickness ensures that it maintains its balance and premium feel. Those people who have got used to the iPhone 4 and 4S will certainly notice the difference that the design brings. It serves to make the device have a more modern feeling while utilizing the premium materials Apple has put so much stock in.

Thinner, lighter and more screen were always on Apple fan’s wish lists and I feel that this release has those wishes covered. The screen is brighter and splashes out a wider spectrum of rich colours. And compared to older iPhone, the camera now launches and captures pictures a lot quicker. One of the frustrating things I experience when trying to snap a quick picture.

iOS 6 App IconWhat’s even better is what iOS 6 plans to bring to the table. iOS 6 brings with it a wealth of new features that will certainly make a major difference to not only the way the iPhone 5 feels, but also its predecessors the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S when they get the updated software. Maps, for instance, is significantly altered after Apple ended its longstanding agreement to use Google Maps and pushed forward with its own offering, in conjunction with satellite navigational giant TomTom.

The new maps certainly look the part, with some beautiful 3D renders and snazzy looking new vector graphics, although we would like to really take some time to tell you just how well the new offering performs in the wild.

Early indications elsewhere are good, however, as the ‘Apple designed’ tag is pushed to the fore. The tilt and rotate view functionality looks gorgeous and the turn-by-turn navigation is likely to attract plaudits with a simple and intuitive interface.

iPhone 5 Maps Sample Screens

iPhone Siri App IconSiri has been given a major, and much-needed, overhaul with the voice ‘companion’ functionality extended into new languages and new territories in an attempt to turn the iPhone 4S’ overhyped and under-featured personal assistant up to a useful level.

Given the obsession with Facebook, the need for better integration was a key addition for Apple in its latest OS, and the iPhone 5 and its older brothers will benefit from a major overhaul of the way in which the social network links up with your handset.

The Facebook (and Twitter) functionality feels much more central to the experience this time around, and having the ability to post form the notifications screen feels like an obvious inclusion that works well.

If you want to compare specs of the iPhone 4 vs. iPhone 4S vs. iPhone 5, Apple has a nice chart to give you exactly what you need, side-by-side.


Filed under iPhone, News

What’s New in Mountain Lion?

Mountain Lion MacsThere has been multiple words published about Mountain Lion since it hit the App Store yesterday, but the most important question people are asking is Mountain Lion worth the upgrade? The answer, yes it definitely is worth every penny (or $19.99 if you really want the exact cost.)

Advertised as containing over 200 new features is the icing on the cake and worth twice the asking price. And while most of the new features are minimal, the featured updates – Gatekeeper, AirPlay Mirroring, Messages (formerly known as iMessages), Facebook (Available in fall 2012), Twitter Integration, Power Nap, Notifications Centre and a refined Safari browser experience make OS X v 10.8 the most secure and efficient operating system that Apple has ever released.

Ever since Mountain Lion was officially announced earlier this year, there’s been a misconception that OS X was going to just like iOS, and while Apple is trying to optimize each of it’s operating systems for the devices they’re intended, there are some blaring similarities, but this is not simply iOS for your desktop computer or notebook.

Sample iCloud ScreenHowever, Mountain Lion does use Apple’s most powerful tool – iCloud. Integration with iCloud is at the forefront of your install – it’s actually the first screen you get after installing a fresh copy of Mountain Lion – but it’s also my favourite part of this update. MobileMe has been completely removed the System Preferences pane – It was nuked at the end of June, so it was time – and now with iCloud, you can easily share calendars, contacts, bookmarks, email, Safari tabs, reminders, notes and much more, much easier than it’s ever been.

Pages Screen ShotDocuments in the Cloud allows you to share, edit and save Pages, Numbers and Keynote documents from any Apple device. In fact, when you go to open a document with the new version of iWork, it will default to iCloud and not to your Mac’s local directory. By using iCloud in this way, you can also access your documents from your iPad and iPhone as well.

Text Edit Screen ShotChanges made to documents are automatically synced through the cloud on all your devices. What’s even better is that other simple applications such as Text Edit, now have an option to save your Simple Text documents straight to the cloud, instead of on your local drive. Making all those field accessible from anywhere, start working on something on your laptop, and then pick up where you left off on your iMac and continue. You don’t even have to remember to save, iCloud will take care of doing that for you.

Messages Screen ShotMessages also arrives on the desktop, which means that I can now send iMessages to my contact list of friends on their iPhones, iPod Touches or iPads without having to grab my iPhone or iPad. The beauty of iCloud is evident here too, since as soon as I setup my iCloud account, all my contacts are automatically placed for use in Messages. It’s really simple.

AirPlay Screen ShotAirPlay was another major one for me … I always like to display my computer on my 60″ HDTV at home, and Mountain Lion has made it much easier with AirPlay Mirroring to Apple TV. You should note that only 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TVs are supported and select MacBooks, iMacs etc, support this feature. Make sure you read the Apple site to confirm that your computer can do it, since the last thing you want is to buy Mountain Lion to use this feature and be disappointed that it doesn’t work for you – I’ve read a few angry reviews about how their system aren’t supported. Should have read the release notes.

The Notifications Center is great too! Provides an easy ‘command centre’ and overview of reminders, calendar events and appointments that are coming up. I also love how fully customizable it is!

Notifications Screen Capture

I could go on and on about all the features that are available with Mountain Lion, but here’s a great post that highlights everything you need to know!

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2012 WWDC Announced: June 11 to 15

WWDC 2012 Logo
Apple has officially announced its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that will run from June 11 through June 15 at San Francisco’s Moscone West.

For those that are unfamiliar with the event; This is the event most anticipated by developers to get a sneak peek at what’s next for iOS and OS X and what will be available to allow them to build incredible new apps.

This year’s WWDC includes:

  • more than 100 technical sessions presented by Apple engineers on a wide range of technology-specific topics for developing, deploying and integrating the latest iOS and OS X technologies;
  • 100 hands-on labs staffed by more than 1,000 Apple engineers providing developers with code-level assistance, insight into optimal development techniques and guidance on how they can make the most of iOS and OS X technologies in their apps;
  • the opportunity to connect with thousands of fellow iOS and OS X developers from around the world—last year more than 60 countries were represented;
  • engaging and inspirational lunchtime sessions with leading minds and influencers from the worlds of technology, science and entertainment; and
  • Apple Design Awards which recognize iPhone®, iPad® and Mac® apps that demonstrate technical excellence, innovation and outstanding design.

If you’re a registered developer, you could have purchased your tickets here for $1599.00 a piece; Unfortunately they’re all sold out.

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OS X “Mountain Lion” Preview

Mountain Lion IconIf you just got used to OS X Lion and how it works, get ready to expand what you’ve learned, Apple has released a developer’s preview of the next cat-themed operating system for the Mac; “Mountain Lion”. Just like the previous version, this new version has taken more bits out of iOS in appearance and functionality. Features included in this revamped OS will include iMessage, Game Center, Reminders and even Notifications right into the operating system.

Starting today, Mac developers are able to begin testing this latest version with an expected public release in the second or third quarter of 2012 – I’m going to guess it will be available in the summer 2012. While price has not yet been established, you can expect this to be readily available for download from the Mac App Store. Considering the OSX Lion was available for $30, I’m going to assume that the upgrade price will be fairly reasonable, if not free for those that already paid for the Lion update seven months ago.

In case you were paying attention in October 2011 when Tim Cook took centre-stage at the keynote address which unveiled the iPhone 4s, he was serious when he said that iCloud will be the company’s strategy for the ‘next decade’, and that’s clearly more evident with the iOS integration of this desktop OSX release.

Mountain Lion on Mac Devices

Here’s a short list of features you can expect from Mountain Lion:

Built-in iCloud integration. Setting up iCloud will be the second thing you do after setting up a new Mac with Mountain Lion. The big new thing in this version will be the ease with which you can access Documents in the Cloud, which will allow your documents created in Pages (or some other third-party apps) to be available on any Mac OS or iOS device.

iMessage on Mac. Many people have been asking for this, and finally we’re going to get it. The Messages app, which will appear very familiar to iOS users, replaces iChat. It’ll let you start a conversation on a Mac and continue it on a different device, like your iPhone or iPad.

Notes and Reminders. Any notes you make on a Mac or iOS device, along with any reminders you set for yourself, will show up on any of your Mac or iOS devices. Both apps can be searched and look easier to navigate with the additional screen space of a desktop. Notes can be “pinned” to your desktop.

Mountain Lion Notification CentreNotifications. Just like the drop-down Notification Center on iOS, the Mac is getting its own version in the top right corner of the screen. All reminders, app alerts, calendar appointments will appear there. And just like iOS, Mountain Lion Notification Center has its own swipe to bring up the window — two fingers right to left from the right edge of the trackpad.

Mountain Lion Sharing OptionsSharing from apps. That sharing arrow that appears in iOS apps? Apple has inserted it in many Mac applications and dubbed it Share Sheet. That button will let you share web pages, notes, videos, Quicktime files, docs and photos via email, Messages, AirDrop, Twitter or post photos or video to Vimeo or Flickr.

Twitter integration in the OS. This is kind of a big deal for Twitter. When you share something via Twitter in Mountain Lion, a Tweet Sheet pops up, which looks like an index card with whatever it is you’re tweeting attached via paper clip.

GameCenter. Apple’s social gaming network comes to the desktop, and brings with it a new opportunity for developers. With a new set of GameKit APIs, game creators can develop games for both Mac and iOS, so players can compete whether they’re on an Apple desktop or mobile device. Current Game Center-compatible iOS games will have to be converted to appear in the Mac App Store.

AirPlay Mirroring to Apple TV. Just like an iPad or iPhone 4S, you will be able to mirror your Mac desktop on your TV via an Apple TV (as long as your Mac has an Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processor).

New security features. Gatekeeper lets users select settings to control which apps can be downloaded to a computer. You can choose to allow all apps, or only apps with a developer-signed ID program (run by Apple) to be downloaded. Or, for the most conservative choice, only apps from the Mac App Store.

Mountain Lion on IMac and MacBook Air

As you can see from all the feature seeing added, the heart of this newest OS X will be iCloud – it doesn’t matter where you start a game or save a document or note, it will be available for you anytime, on any device. Sounds a lot like the iPad or iPhone, now in desktop form. And why not? … This is strategically the way Apple plans to get more and more non-Mac users to make the switch and come on over.

Siri App IconOne glaring omission on this latest release is Siri; the personal assistant unveiled as an iOS standard app for iPhone 4S users, hasn’t been announced as part of this release. Likely since Apple feels like Siri is still in beta mode on the iPhone. I’m going to say that while Siri isn’t ready for a release in OS X yet, she will be making an appearance in the near future.

There you have it. Get ready for all this to be officially announced in March and/or June at Apple’s annual WWDC.

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iTV: Is Apple Thinking About An HDTV? (Rumour)

iTV Rendering Mock Up

If you recall, last year I mentioned an ad that Apple posted looking for an HDTV engineer, well, last week an interesting quote from the Steve Jobs bio will likely fuel the rumour mill for the next few months until we hear something, or don’t. Here it is in context:

‘I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,’ [Jobs told Isaacson]. ‘It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.’ No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. ‘It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.’

That seems to be a lot more certain than Jobs was last year at the D8 conference when he answered a question from an audience member. He laid out some very important things regarding the TV market that no one is really talking about.

A fascinating clip that addresses a whole discussion on why Apple only considers the TV market a hobby. In it, Jobs talks about how to put a layer on top of everything else with a consistent UI. He gets to specific details at 1:30-3:00

Add a box on to the TV system. You can say well gosh I notice my HDTV has a bunch of HDMI ports on it one of them is coming from the set-top box I’ll just add another little box with another one. Well, you just end up with a table full of remotes, clutter of boxes, bunch of different UIs, and that’s the situation we have today. The only way that’s ever going to change is if you go back to step one and tear up the set top box and restart from scratch with a redesigned UI and present it to the consumer in a way they’re willing to pay for it. And right now there’s no way to do that. So that’s the problem with the TV market. We decided what product do we want the most, a better TV or a better phone? Well the phone won because there was no chance to do the TV because there’s no way to get it to market. What do we want a better TV or better tablet. Well a better tablet because there’s no way to get the TV to market. The TV is going to lose until there is a better go to market, or there’ll just be a bunch of TIVOs. That’s the fundamental problem. It’s not a problem of technology, it’s a go to market technology.

Can Apple “tear up the set top box” and start over?

Most content on cable channels has gone online, but some content, including breaking news, live events and sports, is still only available via traditional cable. That being said, these are the two ways Apple could go on building its TV.

1. Apple could make deals with as many cable content providers as possible and deliver as much content as possible over IP through a iTunes/AppleTV/iCloud interface. There was a rumored deal two years ago that Apple was going to sell IP cable TV for $30/month – Eddy Cue was in charge (he’s now head of iCloud incidentally). It never happened and it likely won’t because the cable companies won’t allow it.

Would an IP-only Apple HDTV just lack whole swaths of the TV content spectrum? Would people buy a TV that may not show their college football games or local news channels (and have no way to pipe that in?

Another problem here is that cable companies, especially when faced with an IP-only competitor going over their lines, could throttle data or impose harsher bandwidth caps that make watching the horrifically typical household average of 5 hours of TV prohibitive.

In the end, IP-only TV doesn’t sound like a realistic option.

2. So, and this might be what Jobs meant when he said “cracked”, Apple could build a layer that sits on top of Cable Boxes, iCloud, and anyone else who wants to get on your TV including gaming machines. It would have one consistent simple Apple UI for all of your TV needs (like Jobs stated above) – Think Siri and even go as far as Kinect (from Xbox).

More importantly, it would control the CableTV input, supplanting the set top box. Instead of grabbing the TVGuide from the cable companies, Apple could pull the TV schedules from Titan, Gist or other service and put a clean, simple, consistent UI over top of it. As an example, think of the way a Slingbox or eyeTV software sets itself up on your cable system. Those systems know what network you are on and your physical location so it knows what channels you will have. Apple’s could easily do the same thing.

Then there is part 2 of Jobs’ view:

Then you get into another problem. Which is there isn’t a cable operator that is national. There is a bunch of cable providers. There isn’t like a GSM standard like with phones. Every country has different standards, different government approvals. It’s very balkanized. I’m sure smarter people than us will figure this out. That’s why when we say Apple TV as a hobby we use this phrase.

If smaller companies like Sling and eyeTV have figured out how to deal with cable companies globally, then it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that Apple could do the same, all with a consistent UI globally.

Perhaps it is just an app. Possibly called “Cable.app”. Just like Apple made the “Phone.app” on the iPhone.

But how does Apple leverage this?
If you are a cable company you don’t want to just sit on a low level channel in Apple’s “Cable.app”. You want to be front and centre like apps are on an iPad. By becoming the gatekeeper, Apple can make it advantageous for content producers to come out of the cable channel and into the IP delivered App world just like they do on other iOS devices (and you can bet that Apple’s TV will be an iOS device).

Apple is currently doing the same with its new Newsstand Folder/App which is giving some publications 14x growth by putting content in users’ eyes. Conde Nast is showing huge gains as well since it went on Newsstand. Location Location Location.

The same thing happens when music is put on the front of the iTunes Store. This is prime real estate because Apple is the gatekeeper.

Every big cable company already has an app that lets you stream content to an iPad. Most major networks have iPad apps that let you watch some shows. This is clearly a superior experience to channel surfing for live content.

By creating a full ecosystem and becoming the gatekeeper, Apple can motivate more companies to deliver content over IP via apps. Viola!

What about the User Interface?
Apple has recently patented Microsoft Kinect-like 3D gestures that could augment the control from iOS devices. As for Siri controlling the user interface of such a TV system, there are a lot of problems with that – mostly ambient sound.

Apple does have some noise cancellation technologies available that will make voice navigation more of an option. The truth is that Apple’s TV UI will probably be a combination of existing technology and some that it is developing.

How soon can this be available?
As for when it will be delivered, I think we’re looking at something pretty far out. We’ve heard nothing reliable about Apple testing a product so a release early next year seems far fetched. I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that the earliest we might hear about something like this would be summer 2012.

What the keynote address might sound like:
“Apple finally tackles the TV. Remember music before the iPod? Remember phones before the iPhone? Remember tablets before the iPad? iTV offers the world’s largest supply of HD Video content, all easier to manage. iTV gets out of the way and lets you find what you want faster than ever. Spend less time searching and more time enjoying.”

Sound off in the comments.

*The Apple iTV Picture is courtesy of Pocket-lint.com

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Steve Jobs’ Last Major Project: The iPhone 5?

iPhone 5 Mock Up

A mock up of the next generation iPhone.

The iPhone 4S is not the last major project that Steve Jobs worked on, according to one analyst at Rodman & Renshaw, Ashok Kumar. That would be the next generation iPhone – let’s call it the iPhone 5.

[The next-generation iPhone] was the last project that Steve Jobs was intimately involved with from concept to final design. For that reason…this product will establish the high water mark for iPhone volumes…

If this speculation is true, the iPhone 5 is expected to be the next cult classic because of Jobs’ involvement in the redesign. Speculations suggests that the phone will have a slimmer profile and larger screen size but with the same dimensions as the iPhone 4S. Also expected to have LTE, or Long Term Evolution – what’s sometimes referred to as 4G.

I’m going to guess that the “iPhone 5” or “iPhone HD” (as some have rumoured would be the next likely candidate for an iPhone renaming) will have a complete redesign. Since Jobs’ time was limited, he couldn’t dedicate much of his time to the iPhone 4S and undertook a much larger project – the iPhone 5.

That sounds about right. From the outside, the iPhone 4S is identical to the iPhone 4. And though the 4S has been revamped on the inside it carries over technology and features already seen in the iPad 2: the dual-core processor, same memory capacity, same accelerometer, same gyroscope, etc.

One thing is for sure, you can expect a complete redesign of the next generation iPhone. Likely a newer operating system as well.. iOS 6? or even a revamped Siri?

An iPhone 5 could debut as soon as the time of Apple’s WWDC (Worldwide Developer’s Conference) in the summer of 2012. But for now, you can enjoy all the great things the iPhone 4S has to offer.

*iPhone 5 mock up courtesy of TechZek.com


Filed under iPhone, News

iPhone 4S’ New Features

iPhone 4S Title Hero

On Friday, October 14, 2011, the iPhone 4S was publicly released, and if you were one of the lucky ones to get your hands on one – you’re already aheads most of us. For anyone that still has the original iPhone 4, I put together a list of differences between what you currently have and what you could have if you upgrade the the “S”.

If you’re into cosmetics, then the iPhone 4S won’t make you happy. The phone has the exact dimensions, design and casing as the original. (Think back to the 3G and then 3GS), the phone stayed exactly the same. It’s what’s inside that has been revamped.

iPhone 4S Hero

A5 Chip IconUnlike the exterior, there are major improvements inside (where it really matters) in the form of an upgraded processor. A dual-core A5 chip (same as the iPad 2) clocked in at 800mhz. The 4S has 512 MB of onboard RAM. It is available in 3 sizes – 16 GB, 32 GB, and new to the 4S, a 64 GB model size.

As for signals, the 4S has a dual-mode CDMA/GSM chipset, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0. A digital compass, GPS chip, accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor and three axis gyroscope all come included in this generation iPhone.

HD Video IconThe rear camera has been replaced from the 5MP in the iPhone 4 to an 8 Mexgapixel in the 4S with improved optics which now delivers point and shoot quality photos. Comparable to actually carrying a dedicated digital camera. Video can now be shot in 1080 p (HD) with the upgraded camera. The inner camera remains unchanged and shoots in measly VGA resolution (same as the original).

In keynote address by Apple, just two weeks ago, there is an extra hour (talk time) given to the 4S while on 3G. In early tests, I’ve found that a full 16 hours of making calls, browsing the net, downloading apps, there was still battery left before plugging it in before bed. Business users will find this helpful while light users will rarely have to be worried about running out of juice on the road.

The iPhone 4S comes pre-loaded with the first public release of iOS 5, and can be setup without ever connecting to a PC. The first retail iPhone that is completely untethered. Setup your phone but following the on-screen guide.

Read about all of iOS 5 features in a recent blog post that also covers iMessage, Newsstand, Reminders, Notifications, plus more which are all new to the recent iOS update.

Siri App IconAs for what’s specifically been created to work with the iPhone 4S, that can’t be had with any previous generation, is the intelligent assistant – know as Siri. Siri uses a combination of voice recognition, logic processing, and text-to-speech to interpret requests and follow conversations. Using Siri, you can use natural language to get directions, send text messages, schedule reminders or appointments, suggestions for dinner, plus tonnes more. Not only does Siri understand what you’re saying to it, it understands the context in which you’re saying it — so for instance, if you try and schedule a meeting on top of another meeting, Siri will warn you and ask if you’d like to change the time of your new appointment, and it’ll listen as you tell it a new time.

Siri Screen CaptureSiri can also process and answer basic and not-so-basic questions utilizing the WolframAlpha engine (like, “how many cups are in a gallon”), and the software pulls in Yelp data to help you find things like restaurants or movie theaters. When in doubt, Siri will do a web search based on your questions.
Siri also learns things about you and the people around you. You can tell Siri who your wife or brother is. You can tell Siri where you work and live. The software will read or write text messages using voice commands, and can also take dictation in any field where you can use a keyboard. If you ask it things like “do I need a raincoat today,” it understands and responds as a human being would. You can tell it to wake you up at a certain time and it knows to set an alarm, and if you ask Siri how to get home from somewhere, it’ll give you directions in the Maps application

iCloud IconPart of the iOS 5 release, it’s not specific to the iPhone 4S but offers ‘magical’ syncing capabilities between all your iDevices and MacBook Pro, iMac, etc. If you had the opportunity to experience MobileMe, you’ll already have a taste of what iCloud has in store for you now. I recently covered all of iCloud’s features in this blog post.

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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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