Apple’s iPad Event: What you need to know in 100 words

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Ooh, shiny

It’s that time of year again, where Apple announces their new iPads. (Actually, this is only the second year that the refresh has come in fall).

Instead of making you read a long lengthy post about it, I decided to update you in under 100 words.

Here’s what’s up: They thinned it down, and it now only weighs one pound and has a sexy contoured exterior. It now has a faster A7 chip, and the magical M7 graphics “helper” – giving it twice the processing and graphics performance of the last iPad. It has another Wifi antenna giving it extra bandwidth and speed.

The ten hour battery life is maintained.

They also created a Retina version of the iPad mini with essentially these same features.

That’s all, folks. Now get back to work.

Thank Goodness: Evasi0n Brings iOS 6.1 Jailbreak to All iOS Devices

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Finally, the iOS haxing community has come through. Ever since the release of iOS 6, there has been no jailbreak available for any device past an A4 processor. Not any more! The Evad3rs Dev Team has brought us a Jailbreak for any iDevice running any version of iOS 6. This includes

-iPhone 5
-iPhone 4S
-iPhone 4
-iPhone 3Gs
-iPad with A6X chip (4th gen)
-iPad 3
-iPad 2
-iPad mini
-iPod touch 5
-iPod touch 4

The jailbreak is beautifully straight-forward and available for Windows, Mac, and Linux for an always beautiful $0. 

Read more and download here.

Instagram Announces Web Profiles

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Instagram, the mobile photo sharing network that was recently bought by facebook for a large sum, has now announced a web-based interface.

In the past, to view someone’s instagram profile, you needed a mobile device with the Instagram app installed. There were many online profile alternatives that were based off of Instagram’s API, but none of them were worth writing home about.

With this update, you’ll be able to find a facebook-like profile of someone’s instagram account by simply visiting instagram.com/username.

Source: Instagram

Even more importantly, Web Profiles also brings instagram to the web. It will now be possible to like and comment on photos as well as follow other users with the new web interface, and will eliminate the mobile-exclusivity aspect.

Just like the web profile, this has been done in the past with the Instagram API – in fact, quite well in one case. However, the Instagram-made site is bound to be impressive and a nice addition to the Instagram portfolio.

One thing worth mentioning is that the updated site will still not support photo uploads from a computer as “Instagram is focused on the production of photos from mobile devices” (Press Release). I don’t believe that the functionality will ever exist for this reason, however there are ways to upload a photo not taken with a mobile device to Instagram (such as dropbox).

All of these features will be rolled out to different accounts over the course of the next week.

My account has not gotten the update yet, but feel free to check by going to http://instagram.com/maxswisher.

Also, follow me on instagram! @maxswisher

 

Apple’s Announcement in 330 Words

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Today, Apple announced things. Here’s a basic outline:

  • 13″ Retina MacBook Pro
  • Mac Mini Upgrade
  • New iMacs
  • 4th Generation iPad
  • iPad Mini

13″ Retina MacBook Pro

Apple took their best-selling notebook and took out the optical drive and made it thinner and lighter. It has flash memory and a processor upgrade and will start at $1699.

 

 

Mac Mini

Apple added some ports (HDMI, Thunderbolts, USB3) and an option to have flash storage. Upgraded i5 or i7 Ivy Bridge Processors, and it will start at $599.

iMac

The new iMac has a nicer (though non-retina) display and they removed the optical drivemaking it only 5mm thick at the edges. It still has an SD card reader in the back though, and has i5 or i7 Ivy Bridge processors. They added USB3 and more thunderbolt ports. Apple also showed us their “Apple Fusion” Drive, which is basically a RAID of a 128GB SSD and a 1-2TB HDD which intelligently moves around files depending on use, meaning you get a lot of storage capacity for things you don’t use much and a bit of high performance storage for things used quite often. This drive is also available in the Mac Mini. The iMac will start at $1299.

iPad

Apple took their current iPad and upgraded the chip to an A6X and made the front camera “FaceTime HD” (720p resolution). They also added more LTE carriers and a lightning port. The new iPad will have the same pricing as the old one (starting at $499).

iPad Mini

A new Apple invention that is as thin as a pencil, as light as a pad of paper, has a 7.9″ screen, and the same screen resolution as a non-retina iPad. This means that all apps will run on it (although they will be non-retina). It also has a lightning connector, front (720p) and back (5MP) cameras, a battery life of 10 hours, and will start at $329 – which is a bit pricey to compete with a Nexus 7 which you can get for $199.

Iranian? Good Luck Getting your Apple Product

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Well, isn’t this surprising.

An 19 year-old student and her uncle were at an Apple Store shopping for an iPad and iPhone at a mall in Georgia. They were talking in Farsi, and when an Apple employee overheard she said “I just can’t sell this to you. Our countries have bad relations.”

Leave it to Apple to discriminate not only against other platforms, companies with similar home screens, or any other firm that dares to threaten their authority, but also against people from different parts of the world.

Apparently, this isn’t the first time that this has happened at an Apple store. Another customer, Zack Jafarzadeh, went with his friend to a different Apple Store and received similar treatment. “We never talked about him going back to Iran or anything like that. He was just speaking full-fledged Farsi and the representative came back and denied our sale,” said Jafarzadeh to WSBTV. “I would say if you’re trying to buy an iPhone, don’t tell them anything about Iran. That would be your best bet.”

It gets better. An Apple Store manager told a news team from WBSTV about their policy, which said the exportation, sale, or supply of Apple products from U.S. to Iran is not allowed without prior authorization by the federal government. The manager explained Apple Stores have to “rely on customers to be honest.”

And here’s the best part. An Apple Store employee apologized and recommended that they buy their products online. Hah!

So when a US citizen and her uncle come into an Apple store speaking Farsi, they aren’t allowed to buy anything and are basically instructed to purchase the products as long as no Apple employees need to look at them.

This is how Apple rolls, everybody. I could be annoyed at the employees, or the manager, or the Store, but really, Apple is to blame. The same thing can happen anywhere in the US, as long as Apple decides that selling an iPad to a US citizen that speaks Farsi is breaching a US law stating that it is illegal to enter Iran with “laptops or satellite cellphones” without U.S. consent.

Android, anyone?

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!

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

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.

Photojojo Mini Lenses

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The iPhone can take some pretty dang good pictures. In fact, many different phones can take mind-blowing shots. But your little phone can do even more if you treat it to these mini-lenses from Photojojo!

 

Contents/Installation

There are three lenses available from Photojojo: 2X telephoto, 180 Fisheye, and a 0.68x wide/macro lens. I won’t go over individual pricing, but the whole pack is $50.

Installing the lenses is painless. In your package you’ll get a few tiny, metal magnetic rings. Undo the plastic on the adhesive side and stick it around the lens of your device. If you have an iPhone, however, you should probably put the ring on a case; the sleek glass doesn’t play well with their adhesive.

Now to use the lenses, you just attach the lens to the metal ring and it magnetically locks on. Neat!

2x Telephoto

For those times when you want to get closer to your subject, the 2x telephoto lens will do exactly what you’d expect. Unfortunately it will cause a tiny bit of distortion, but not enough to make a big difference.

Without, With

As you can tell by that comparison, the lens does a nice job of zooming in, but has a bit of distortion (visible near the door handle).

Fisheye

This lens I believe is my favorite. It can capture just about everything you can see without turning your head. If you want to really capture an entire scene, this is exactly what you need.

Without, With

Pretty cool, right? Unfortunately, this lens causes a particularly noticeable amount of vignetting, but I think that it adds a nice effect. If you want to get rid of it, you can always crop it with whatever application you desire, however you’ll end up losing a bit of the image.

Wide Angle / Macro

This lens confuses a lot of people. Is it wide angle or is it macro?!

Alone, the magnetic part of the lens is just Macro. However, there’s an adaptor that screws in to the macro lens to convert it to a wide angle lens.

The macro lens doesn’t zoom in at all. It just allows you to focus WAY closer to objects. Here’s a comparison – remember, I took the first picture as close as I could while staying in focus, then I took the second as close as I could while staying in focus. This lens does NOT zoom.

Without, With

 

Pretty cool, right? You can get ridiculously close to capture textures that previously went unnoticed. On the second picture, I’m holding my iPhone a tiny bit less than an inch away from the keyboard.

The wide angle addition to this lens isn’t very fancy, it just makes the picture a tiny bit wider. It will cause some straight lines to bend in odd ways, but it still comes in handy when wanting to capture wide shots without going crazy with the fisheye.

Without, With

Doesn’t that doorway look kind of round? As you can tell, it makes the picture a bit wider but can’t capture the amount (and distortion) of the wide angle lens.

Cool uses

Yup, these work great with a phone camera. But there’s one use that I recently found – your webcam! It’s a small camera, just about as small as the one in an iPhone. Take a metal ring and stick it around, and you can use these lenses while video chatting! I personally have an LED cinema display, and although it makes my screen look a little funny, the results are totally worth it.

Here’s the display:

Ha! By the way, those things on top of my monitor are dinosaurs; you’ll get one with every photojojo order! I’ve ordered two things from Photojojo, so that’s why I have two dinosaurs.

Here’s what it looks like straight on:

Pretty cool, right?

Here’s the results:

Sweet! You can even see my keyboard!

Conclusion

These lenses are quite handy, and because they work with anything you don’t have to worry about compatibility. The whole set of lenses is $50, and if you’re interested click here to be redirected to the photojojo store!