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!

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. 

AppCleaner: A Thorough Uninstallation

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One of the conveniences of Mac is that applications come in packaged files ending in .app. For this reason, they are usually said to be easy to uninstall – just delete the .app file from your applications folder and it’s gone.

True, this will get rid of most of the files, but often there’s still some application metadata gunk left laying around in hidden folders.

That’s why AppCleaner is so handy.

Drag in a .app file, and it will find all of the supporting files and allow you to delete them. This allows you to get a completely clean uninstall of an application on your mac.

 

Did I mention it’s free? Pick it up from FreeMacSoft using this link. Enjoy!

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.

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.

Apple Announces iPhone 4S – Where’s the innovation?

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Look familiar?

Today, Apple announced the iPhone 4S. It’s so simple I can say it in a single sentence.

The iPhone 4S features a better camera, A5 processor, Sprint support, another antenna, and a voice assistant. 

That’s it.

The better camera is 8 megapixels which is capable of recording 1080p video, and the other aspect of the new camera is an additional lens and a wider aperture.

The A5 processor is dual-core and can run things quite a bit faster.

Apple decided that the iPhone needs two antennas to make calls – one to transmit and one to receive. After all, one antenna just doesn’t seem to do quite well on other phones…?

Last but not least there’s Siri. Apple bought this company a while back to create a fancy digital assistant, and my have they succeeded. Siri can understand what you say and create reminders, events, schedule meetings, move meetings, reply to text messages, find restaurants, and more with just your voice. I think it looks pretty cool – but there’s one question that I can’t seem to find the answer to: will it be available on the iPhone 4? If they only have it on the 4S it will really just be a letdown. After all, the iPhone 4′s hardware is definitely capable of handling that kind of processing pressure, and I don’t think Apple should use its software as an incentive to get the hardware.

This leads me to my next point – where’s the innovation?

With the last iOS announcement being the iPad 2, this leaves me wondering what Apple is thinking. The iPhone 4 was completely revolutionary compared to it’s predecessor. The iPad was completely revolutionary compared to it’s predecessor as well (there was no predecessor). But with the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2, I feel like Apple is having a hard time thinking of something revolutionary to release.

 

Apple Board Member Confirms new iPhone in October – That’s plural

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Everyone has been waiting for the new iPhone for quite a while now. But at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit today, Apple board member Al Gore said that the new iPhones come out in a month.

Oddly, this all makes sense. Would Apple really skip their usual Summer update to bring us just a performance bump?

This is what I think – there is going to be a model of iPhone with a performance bump, however there will also be a new iPhone 5 that is a complete do-over. 

The performance bumped iPhone 4 would most likely be called the iPhone 4S, and would sell for cheap – $99-$150 ish. Then, there would be the long-anticipated iPhone 5 for the usual price of $199-$299 with the complete reinvention thing going on.

That’s the interpretive, bright side of this quote.

However, we don’t really know Al Gore’s actual perspective. It’s possible that he could have accidentally added an S to the end of iPhone, and/or it was just amplified by the sound system. It’s also possible that he meant next iPhones as there will be one model of new iPhone, but MANY will be sold.

The one thing that couldn’t have been a mistake is the fact that he said “next month.” That means October – So for those of you who have been waiting months and months for the next iPhone, it will be coming next month – whether it has an extra model or not.

Instagram – with a DSLR

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Instagram is an amazing iPhone application that can transform your normal iPhone photos into interesting, old-ish photos. Unfortunately, your iPhone doesn’t have the best camera that you could put your hands on.

Here’s two applications that will give you Instagram-like photo effects and filters, but you can supply your DSLR’s pictures!

Focus

Focus is an application available from the Mac App Store for $5. The app basically allows you to add tilt-shift effects to your photo. It’s a very straightforward application, and I think I can basically sum up the controls in this screenshot.

First, open a picture in the app. Then, click “Place” in the bottom left corner. This will allow you to rotate, crop, and align your photo to your liking. Then, click on one of the options that are shown. I personally don’t understand why they had to add a bunch of options – I mean, why couldn’t they have just added a button for circular, a button for linear, and a slider for Vividness? The world may never know.

After you’ve selected one of those options, you can click and drag the focused area around and rotate it to your liking. Once you have it in a place you like, hit File > Export and save it as a JPEG. Now you have a tilt-shifty photo!

Lomo Express

Now that we have the tilt-shifty part of your photo complete, we need to add some filters. This will be done with another app from the Mac App Store that is available for a painful $13 – worth it I think so.

This is as bare-bones as you can make this application, as you open up your photo then choose what effect you want – then save it. Here’s what the app looks like:

There are 12 awesome filters to choose from, and it’s as easy as clicking on the one you’d like and bam, there’s your new photo.

When you’re done and you like the results, go to File > Save As and save it as a JPEG.

That’s it!

Conclusion

Your final picture will look like an instagram shot, but higher quality and resolution!

To go even farther, you can print them out on nice paper and post them around, like I did with instagram photos in this post.

Even though this will cost you $19, if you’re really into editing photos with tilt-shift and Lomo effects, this is the way to do it!

Click here to download Focus

Click here to download Lomo Express

 

Here’s a couple of photos that I have gotten out of this system.