Apple Says Things at WWDC

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So Apple had some fun at the WWDC Keynote this year.

Siri did stand-up comedy to open.

No really, I’m excited about the new Samsung. Not the phone, the refrigerator.

I must admit, that was pretty funny.

First of all, Apple updated its notebooks. The MacBook Air finally got a speed boost, the MacBook Pro got a speed boost, and the 17″ MacBook Pro bid farewell.

Apple also announced their next generation MagBook Pro, which is almost as thin as an Air, has a retina display, and a new Magsafe Port. Great.

All of these computers have gotten upgrades to USB 3, which is nice for those people who actually have devices that can take advantage of that.

Then, our friend iOS got an update.

Finally, iOS has turn by turn navigation. Siri is available on the new iPad, and has supposedly gotten a bit better. Facebook is now integrated as much as twitter. FaceTime is available on cellular networks. Photo streams can be shared. A new app called Passbook allows you to store tickets for planes, movies, and stores. There’s also a few other things that aren’t worth mentioning.

Mac OS X Mountain Lion didn’t get anything new from what we knew already, except thatdictation will be available in any text field. For many people, this will definitely come in handy.

Some people were unhappy with the absence of an iPhone 5. But I think we should be content with iOS 6, and expect the new iPhone this fall – along with the public release of iOS 6.

I’ve been playing around with iOS 6, and so far it works well. Siri works just as expected, and the Facebook and twitter integration is also very handy.

The MacBooks that were updated are available now, but iOS will be available in fall. Mountain Lion will be available this July.

MacBook Pro

Macbook Air

iOS 6

Mountain Lion

The iPad Dilemma

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A lot of people are saying that the iPad can easily replace a laptop. When you’re sitting on your couch, just woke up in the morning, or traveling around, can’t the iPad do everything a laptop can? I mean, why take a laptop with me when I’m just going around town, when I can take an iPad instead?

I’ve thought about this a lot. In a post I wrote a year or two ago (wow, that long ago?), I said that the iPad could easily replace a MacBook. The one thing that it really didn’t do was flash.

But recently, I got a new MacBook Air, and it seems that I prefer to use it over the iPad.

The iPad can basically do everything that the MacBook can. There’s only two big problems.

First of all, the keyboard. Touchscreen keyboards work for typing quick messages to people, but for typing an entire blog post, it gets a bit annoying. The other problem with the keyboard is that it absolutely SUCKS for coding. I mean, it takes three taps to insert a <, /, or >. And when writing something as basic and simple as HTML, it’s a complete pain.

I can hear all of you saying “Wait a sec, you can connect a bluetooth keyboard! Heck, you can connect a USB keyboard using the Camera Connection kit!” But come on people, why carry around an iPad and a keyboard when you can just carry around a MacBook? I mean, doesn’t having to bring a keyboard with you everywhere prove my point even further?

Next, there’s the lack of a windowed operating system. That’s the really nice thing about Macs: you can have multiple things going on at once.

Okay, now I can hear all of you saying “Wait a sec, iOS 4 brought multitasking in! You CAN do multiple things at once!” But, once again, come on people, it’s painful to switch between different apps. What if you have something in one application that you need to read and get information from while typing in another? This will requite quite a lot of four-finger swiping back and forth between apps. With a windowed operating system, I can have multiple applications and pages open, and see what’s going on in each. Heck, I can watch a movie while scrolling through my twitter feed. The flexibility of a windowed operating system is unmatched to the multi-tasking interface on an iPad.

Then, there’s power. Sure, the iPad has a dual-core A5 chip. But the time that it takes for a video to be rendered on an iPad is easy to compare to the speed of a dual-core hyper-threaded i7 in my MacBook air.

And this brings me to my very last point – availability , flexibility, and power of applications. The iMovie available for the iPad is quite handicapped to the iMovie on my MacBook. In fact, it’s that way with every single application available for both the iPad and the Mac. Then, of course, there’s port options. I can’t plug an external hard drive into my iPad and transfer my files to and from it. It’s all very closed off, as the iPad only has the proprietary Apple 30 pin connector and a headphone jack.

And that, people, is why I enjoy taking my MacBook places more than my iPad.

Spotify Answers our Prayers: the Spotify iPad app!

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Look at the beautiful artwork!

It’s about time.

I have been craving this exact item on the menu for the longest time, and finally Spotify has granted our wishes.

Previously, it was necessary to use the iPhone application on the iPad, which was disappointing as spotify could have done so much more with the large screen real estate.

The new iPad Spotify app is really the new Android Spotify app‘s older brother. It features a similar interface with  all of your standard Search, New, Inbox, and other menu functions in a left menu. It is also similar to the Facebook and Twitter iPad apps thanks to it’s clean, sliding panels.

Spotify integrates a lot of album artwork, with their signature two-by-two paneling of playlist album art.

If you want Spotify on your iPad, it is a free update for those who had the iPhone app installed previously, or you can go to this iTunes store link.

Thank you Spotify!

Instagram for Android

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Finally. At long, long, long, long, long, long, long last. Instagram has released their official Android Application.

In case you don’t know, Instagram is a photo-sharing platform which incorporates different fun-style effects and third party sharing into the mix. It’s been available for the iPhone since late 2010 and has collected over 30 million users. Yeah. Whow.

There were many speculations of an Android App over the past while, but no confirmed release date.

Now that Instagram has released their Android version, they are well on their way to a giant user base. After all, Android does have more of a market share than the iPhone.

As far as the application goes, it’s the exact same as the iPhone with one important exception: The android application does not have the tilt-shift function, a popular option among Instagrammers. (Tilt-shift is where a selected part of the photo is in focus and the rest is not.)

If you are an android user longing for some instagrammal love, click here to download the free app for android. Enjoy!

The New iPad

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My last post was about the new iPad announcement. I was able to get my hands on one, and here’s what I think.

What’s new:

  • Retina Display
  • Upgraded A5X Chip
  • 5MP iSight Camera
  • 4G LTE support

Retina Display

The biggest deal about the entire new iPad is the retina display. When it was shown on the iPhone, it was kinda crazy. Whow, I actually *can’t* see the pixels! Seriously!

For those who don’t know, here’s a description of the retina display:

Displays work with pixels, each one having RGB units (sometimes called “sub-pixels”). A combination of the colors red, green, and blue can make up any visible color.

All of these pixels are squished next to each other and light up at different times to make different colors. This gives us our shapes, colors, and pictures.

Each display has a rating of the density of the pixels, which is how many pixels are crammed in each inch. Many displays are 72, some 100, and a variety in between.

The whole deal about the “retina” display is that the DPI is so high, and the pixels are so small, that you can’t pick out any of the pixels. That way everything is sharper and less distorted.

The DPI of the new iPad’s retina display is 264 DPI. Compare that to a printer at 300, and you’re damn close.

Now, the total resolution of the iPad is about 3 million pixels. Hint: that’s a lot. As you may have seen in one of their promotional videos, Apple had to separate the pixels from the layer of signals that tells each sub-pixel when to light up. That way, signals don’t get crossed and what not.

Simplified: the retina display is very sharp and very pretty.

Upgraded A5X Chip

As you (hopefully) read in the last paragraph, there are 3 million pixels that need to be lit up and controlled by the graphics card. That means that the card needs to be nimble and powerful. So, there’s the A5X chip. Honestly it’s hard to notice a difference unless you’re playing games with a lot of 3D rendering and action (A.K.A. Infinity Blade).

5MP iSight Camera

The one thing that really just sucked about the iPad 2 is the back camera. Its megapixels were at near-flip-phone levels (critical). Thankfully, Apple stuck in the 5MP chip from the iPhone 4 and the optics from the iPhone 4S, and voila, we have a less awful camera.

The front camera is still the same (not great), but hey, it’s okay for impromptu self-portraits, video chat, and using as a mirror.

4G LTE Support

At long last, we have a 4G Apple device! Fanboys unite!

Yeah, the title basically says it. The new iPad has an antenna that supports both AT&T and Verizon’s 4G LTE networks.

I had to set up a Verizon 4G iPad and it was NOT easy. Verizon insists that you create a new account, and they have no option to login and add the iPad to your existing account. Instead, I called Verizon customer service, was redirected to a different customer service line, and after giving the guy a ton of numbers and passwords and who knows what, I was finally able to get 3G on the thing.

AT&T was different; They had an “Already have an account? Tap here to login” link.

Conclusion

Overall, the new iPad brings about some changes that are simple, yet long awaited. The physical profile is still the exact same, and the only complaint that I (and many others) have had is the temperature. The iPad seems to run at hand warming temperatures, which is great when you’re in an isolated log cabin in canada, but not so great when you’re in a standard thermally regulated room and start worrying if your precious device is going to melt. At the moment, that’s the only major complaint, to which Apple has responded that the iPad “runs well within it’s operating temperatues.” Well, if you say so.

Another small thing that we got with the iPad is Dictation. Hit the microphone button and talk, and you can input text anywhere using only your voice. This is a sad excuse for not adding in Siri, considering that Apple could have easily done it had they wanted to. Siri or no Siri, the new iPad is definitely a step up from the last, but we’re still waiting for the giant evolution (3Gs to 4 evolution).

 

Apple Releases New iPad

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Apple has (finally) released the newest iPad. Unlike speculations, the iPad has dropped it’s following number and is simply being referred to as the new iPad.

The new iPad features almost exactly what was speculated: a new, high resolution retina display, and a 5.0 megapixel camera. In addition, the new iPad features 4G LTE, allowing its users to browse at increased speeds.

iLife has also been added to the iPad – GarageBand and iMovie have already been released, and joining them is the iPadular version of iPhoto.

The new iPad also features a new A5X graphics card, which is necessary to power the 3.1 million pixels in its high resolution display.

Other than a few new other software features, the iPad remains the same. It has the same outer shell as the iPad two, and has the same pricing regimen as well.

The new iPad will be available on March 16th, which is a short 9 days from its launch date.

I will get my hands on one then, although I doubt that I will end up owning one – my MacBook air completely gets rid of the need/use of the iPad, as it has an identical form factor with a much larger array of features.

iPad homepage

Apple Announces Mountain Lion

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Less than a year ago, apple released OS X Lion. It added a ton of very very very handy features.

Now, Apple has just announced Mac OS X Mountain Lion. It features iPad-like features such as iMessages, Reminders, Notes a Notification Center, Twitter integration, Game Center, and even AirPlay mirroring.

These are some shiny new features that are similar to the Leopard to Snow Leopard upgrade – not that big, but may still come in handy.

Mac OS X Mountain Lion is going to be released to the public this summer. In the meantime, you can download the Messages beta app and start iMessaging your friends from your mac.

Click here to see more of the sneak peek at Mountain Lion. 

Click here to download the Messages beta application. 

Verizon Can’t Get it Right

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One of the most anticipated phones if the year is the Galaxy Nexus. It boasts a ton of new features, courtesy of Andoid 4.0.

One of Apple’s strongest points is how they release their phones. They send out an invite to an event, then at the event make a clear availability date. This causes people to get excited for the product and even line up for it.

Verizon took a different approach. They added a release date of Dec. 9 to the stores’ databases, and never made an official announcement. Everyone gets excited for that day, but Verizon has decided to stamp that down as well. Verizon took down the date from the databases and replaced it with “Launch Date Coming Soon.”

I don’t understand what Verizon is going for. Are they trying to get hype? Are they attempting to draw more in with their deadline extension? Or are the marketing people really just that clueless?

Many people have their two year upgrades coming up and would like to upgrade to the Nexus, but with so much waiting and games people are beginning to lose patience with Verizon. It’s not sure whether the phone isn’t actually going to be released on the 9th, and other sources are saying that it could be on the 13th. Who knows?

Verizon either needs to stick to the leaked dates to encourage more hype assurance or just give us a solid, set release date.

Why Google+ Is Failing

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When I was at the Teens In Tech conference, a speaker told me this:

For your product to succeed, it either must be a new idea or be better than a previous one.

It makes sense – why would anyone switch to your product if there’s already one that does the same thing? Your product needs to have more to offer so people would actually have a reason to “convert.”

Unfortunately, there are few tech companies that succeed with new ideas – so a lot take old ideas and refresh them to make ‘em better. For example, every Apple product ever created; The iPhone wasn’t the first phone in the world – it was just better than the rest; The iPod wasn’t the first small music player ever created – it was just better because it could hold so many more songs and didn’t need CDs or Cassettes.

Okay, so lets take a look at Google+. It’s a great social network that has tons of new features that are definitely in demand. Who would wan’t multi-person video chat, along with a slew of easier to manage privacy features?

“Okay, so Google+ “better” than facebook – but why isn’t it succeeding?”. This is a question I’ve been asked many times.

Lets think about it in terms of a lamp (yes, the one on your desk). First, we have our facebook: A standard lamp with a normal switch that emits very bright light. Then, lets look at our Google+: A large, fancy lamp with pretty designs on it, a bendable neck, and voice activated controls – but we forgot to add in a socket for a lightbulb.

In this analogy, our Google+ Lamp is “better” than our facebook lamp – but it doesn’t do what people want to use it for (illumination).

Lets take that analogy back to Facebook and Google+. What is the real reason people ever go on facebook?

The real reason is their user base. There are very very few people who aren’t on facebook, and there are very very few people on Google+. Google+ has all the new doohickeys and thingamajigs, but it’s forgetting the light bulb (user base).

And because nobody is on Google+, nobody wants to join – they’re satisfied with Facebook and their 1500+ “friends.” What’s the use of having a ten person video chat if there’s not even ten people on Google+?

Google+ is a good idea, with a perfect execution – but the social networking field has been completely dominated by Facebook and Twitter. It’s unfortunately like this for many social internet startups: many of them rely on a user-base to be the least bit useful, and without a user base you won’t be able to expand your user base. You can get a user base by having a user base, because if you have a small user base people want to join to be part of that user base, which makes more people want to join etc.

Hence the reason most social startups fail. Gaining a user-base is a domino effect, with the first domino being a giant brick wall. You need to hope that something will come and knock it over, as getting the domino train started is definitely the hardest aspect of the whole process.

KillBackground: Kill All iOS Background Apps at Once

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One of the most prized new features of iOS 4 and on was the ability to run many apps at the same time and switch between them easily. One of the little issues with this is that when you close an application, it stays running in the background. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem. But contrary to popular belief, background apps take up a ton of battery life! By the end of the day, you could have every single one of your apps running in the background of your iPhone! Of course you can double-click the home button, tap and hold one of the app icons for a second, then hit the red circle in the top left. Then hit it again for the next app. And again. And again. And again. You’ll have to tap once for every single app that’s open. Done yet? Well, if you happen to be jailbroken, here’s a little tweak from Cydia that will help you. Open Cydia and search for KillBackground. Install the free package by Mathieu Bdard and respring your device. When your phone comes back, you won’t immediately be able to tell that anything is different. But open up a few apps, then double-tap the home button. Tap and hold one of the apps for 1 second, and voilà! You’ll see a little red crossbones icon in the bottom left. One tap and all of your apps are killed! You can also open up your settings app and select KillBackground to configure some different options. Enjoy!

How-to: Hack the Apple Smart Sign

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My friend Amit and I set all of the Smart Signs to GMG!

If you were recently at an Apple Store, you may have noticed their new “Smart Signs.” These are iPads that have information about the Apple product you’re looking at, however these iPads are locked in the smart sign mode. The iPad’s physical buttons are embedded into the plastic stand, and the home button has been disabled.

Sources say that there is a “secret gesture” that gets the iPads out of this mode, but after a ton of online research and asking many different Apple store employees, I still couldn’t figure it out.

So I went the easier way – I had to figure out a way to push the buttons.

I pushed as hard as I could on the edge of the iPad’s bezel, and this activated the lock button in the top right and locked the iPad. The plastic of the stand pushed against the button, so I wouldn’t be damaging any of the inside contents.

After I successfully locked the smart sign, I turned it back on and I was greeted with the lock screen. However, after unlocking the iPad I was returned to the same Smart Sign mode. Darn.

So instead of just locking it, this time I held down the bezel and got the “Slide to Power Off” slider. I swiped across, let it shut down, then held down the bezel to reboot it. (Check out the video at the end of the post for more detailed instructions.)

Tada! The iPad booted into its normal mode, and I was able to open the default applications and such. Unfortunately, the Home button is still disabled – so if you open an app, you won’t be able to get out of it without rebooting the iPad.

While we were at it, my friend/helper Amit decided to help me out and assisted me in setting every smart sign in the Apple Store to Good Morning Geek. Because the home button was disabled, the customers either had to browse my site or scroll up and find the URL bar. Also, the screens are set to never turn off – also handy!

By the time we were done, an Apple Store employee came up to us and nicely said “Would you guys please stop messing around with the smart signs?”

In the end, it was really fun. I tried to jailbreak it with jailbreakme.com, but that site is blocked – :(.

So if you’re ever in an Apple Store and want to either a. Annoy the employees or b. Show your friends a cool trick, this is a pretty fun and easy hack.

I hope to eventually find out the actual gesture, and after trying everything I could possibly think of, it must be fairly complicated.

RIP Steve Jobs

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Yes folks, the long feared day has finally come.

Steve Jobs, Founder and CEO of Apple Inc, is dead.

He’s been very sick for a long time, and recently also stepped down from his position at Apple. He was able to turn a couple of guys in a Palo Alto Garage into the worlds largest company, with funds clocking in over the US Government’s.

Steve Jobs was a truly revolutionary man who will be remembered in the endless world of technology forever.

For this event, Apple has changed their homepage to a tribute that looks something like this.

Upon clicking the homepage you get this:

RIP Steve Jobs.