Apple Watch NZ, Angry Birds 2, Android catastrophe, OneNote, iOS 8.4.1, features coming in iOS 9


Apple Watch on sale today — And it’s via pop-up stores in three branches of Noel Leeming, one at 126 Queen Street, Auckland; the Wairau Park branch  and Tory Street, Wellington. [Go figure. Myself, I’m still super-puzzled by this very quiet and constrained launch.]

Angry Birds 2 is the ‘sequel’ you’ve been waiting for — Rovio is rolling out yet another Angry Birds game. This time it’s attempting to stay truer to the original, with a sequel clearly inspired by Rovio’s mobile classic nearly six years after the original Angry Birds burst onto the mobile gaming scene Rovio is back with its official sequel, Angry Birds 2.

Latest Android security exploit could leave more than half of current devices ‘dead’ & unusable — Yet another serious Android security issue was publicized this week, with the latest exploit rendering devices “lifeless,” and said to affect more than half of units currently on the market.

OneNote 2016 for Mac review: Intuitive and versatile, but still not up to par with Windows version — OneNote can be a powerful note taking app, if you don’t have the need for features that it doesn’t have and can be found in other apps.

Apple supplies second beta of iOS 8.4.1 to developers — The second pre-release beta of iOS 8.4.1, a forthcoming maintenance and security update for Apple’s mobile operating system, was provided to developers on Thursday.

Changes and features in iOS 9 — If you have the pre-release Public Beta or want to know what to look forward to, here’s five small features that will change your life, you can disconnect from a Bluetooth accessory without making your iPhone forget it, Apple Music in iOS 9 gets a much-needed redesign, and here’s a hands-on with Maps in iOS 9 introducing public transit and more accurate data.

The free Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation turns the spy thriller into a routine shooter — Rogue Nation has plenty of action: Shooting people, shooting objects, and… true, it’s mostly just shooting things.

Apple Campus to get café and visitor centre, 3rd Public Beta of El Capitan


Apple Campus 2 Will Have Full Blown Visitor Center with Store, Cafe, Observation Deck — If you’ve been following the development of Apple Campus 2 — the so-called Spaceship HQ — you may have been wondering if you’d get to see it yourself. Turns out you will, because Apple is building a full-blown visitor centre, complete with an Apple Store, a cafe, and an observation deck overlooking the main building.
Silicon Valley Business Journal (SVBJ) uncovered plans for the visitor center buried in documents filed with the City of Cupertino in April. Those plans describe a building with glass walls and a carbon fiber roof with large skylights.

Apple provides public beta testers with third build of OS X 10.11 El Capitan — Members of Apple’s OS X public beta program can now download the third pre-release build of OS X 10.11 El Capitan, the company’s forthcoming Mac operating system update. The latest build is said to have known issues with Photos, Apple ID and Language localization and formatting. Many problems can be traced back to iCloud syncing, likely due to incomplete or incompatible backend assets also in testing.

Siri training, iOS 9 Low Power Mode, Tablets still sliding, bad Android vulnerability

IMG_2990Deleting Siri’s training data — The longer you use Siri, the better Apple’s voice assistant will work since it learns to understand you. It does this by learning about your accent and other characteristics of your voice. Siri uses voice recognition algorithms to categorise your voice into one of the dialects or accents it understands.
But if someone else has used Siri on your device a lot, the service may not function as well as it could. So if you’re noticing that your commands aren’t being recognised or Siri’s making a bunch of errors, you could try resetting its training altogether and starting fresh. [While you’re in Settings, do turn on the new NZ voice recognition – it helps a lot – left.]

iPad’s dominance continues to fade in shrinking tablet market, latest IDC data shows — While the Apple iPad held on to its position as the leading tablet brand worldwide during the June quarter, the gap with other tablet makers shrank — as did the market overall, according to IDC research data released on Wednesday. [I think this is because tablets are long-lasting and hardy and the basic things you do with them, like email and web surfing, don’t dramatically improve with new versions so there’s no compelling-enough reason to upgrade to new models.]

iOS 9 has a battery-saving Low Power mode — Apple’s upcoming operating system update does a great deal to automatically improve efficiency and extend battery life. But if a user knows that they have a long day ahead of them, they can manually enable iOS 9’s new Low Power Mode at any point to maximise their iPhone’s uptime.

‘Stagefright’ vulnerability compromises Android phones with 1 text message, may affect 950M devices — A newly discovered security issue in the Android mobile operating system dubbed Stagefright has been called one of the worst vulnerabilities to date, and could present a critical issue for some 95% of devices in users’ hands. [Apple iOS vulnerabilities to date: 0]

Surreal Selfie Stick video — Randy Scott Slavin, a New York City-based director and photographer, also created what he calls the Surreal Selfie Stick, a 360 degree array of GoPro cameras for making videos. He’s using the device for a project, but posted a demonstration to YouTube that you should check out. You can’t see the Surreal Selfie Stick in the video, but you can sometimes see its shadow.

Faster memory, Photoshop stragglers, Windows 10 is out


Faster memory — Intel and Micron’s new ” memory is 1000x faster, more durable than NAND. Semiconductor technology giants Intel and Micron have announced 3D XPoint memory, the fruits of a joint endeavor into non-volatile memory technology the companies claim is the first major breakthrough in the space since the introduction of NAND flash in 1989.

Photoshop CS6 stragglers out of luck for Camera Raw Updates — Adobe left its Creative Suite 6 apps behind when it moved to Creative Cloud and annual software licenses, and if you’ve been holding out hope for extended support for the old versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, get ready for the bad news. Adobe says Camera Raw 9.1.1 will be the last version released that still offers Photoshop CS6 support. For people using Adobe’s apps professionally, this is another reminder that Creative Suite 6 is now a relic and it’s time to let it go.

Windows 10 launches to favorable reviews, cautions about bugs and feature gaps — Early reviews of Microsoft’s latest operating system, released on Wednesday, have been generally positive, suggesting that it solves problems with Windows 8 while advancing the Windows platform towards the future. But there are a few crashing bugs and a few gaps.

Review: Osmo for iPad adds tactile experiences for kids


A new world for iPads and iPhones opens up when you attach certain things to them: cases that make them environment-proof, or the olloclip lenses that attach to iPhones and give you telephoto, wide-angle and other extras for your iPhotography.
A new entry in the kids’ field uses an ingenious system of a clip-on mirror to direct an iPad’s front camera onto a table or desktop, and apps that respond to what the camera then sees in ingenious ways. IMG_2979The kit includes the base, which the mirror part fits into when not on the iPad, and some letter and tangram tiles.

With the iPad in the base and the mirror clipped on, you’re all set up. From here on, it depends what app you boot up, but first, go into Settings and Allow the Osmo apps to use the iPad camera.
IMG_2985The Tangram is probably the most immediately appealing to little kids, with its brightly-coloured pieces. The Tangram app has three settings: easy, medium and hard. On easy, the iPad shows a pattern and you replicate it on the area in front of the iPad. If your positioning is not working for the camera, little messages pop up: move the pieces up, right etc. When you have a piece in the correct position, it throbs on the screen. The harder settings show the pieces in black, for advanced shape recognition. It’s harder than it sounds, with more complex patterns, but you can tap the screen toget hints.

Occupation — This should keep kids occupied for quite some time, and can be used to teach colours, shape recognition, hand-eye coordination etcetera. As you progress the challenges increase.
Words has three game options: I Spy, Junior and Custom. In I Spy, an image fills the iPad screen and you assemble the letters in front of it to spell the word. If you’re too slow, the blank round letter spaces fill up by themselves – the faster you spell, the better you score. Games can be done and redone to improve your scores. Also, you can play by yourself or against another, taking turns to spell words faster. Under Custom, you can load additional image sets: Guessing and Spelling in English, Classique and Junior in French, in German there’s Klassisch and Kinder and, in Italian, Classico and Bambini.
Newton is really ingenious – boot that app, place a piece of white paper on the surface in front of the iPad, under it’s outwards-shining mirror. When you initiate the game, little discs emanate from the top centre of the iPad screen and you draw lines on the paper that the balls then bounce off – the idea is to bounces them into targets and when you hit them enough, they disappear until you have destroyed each on in turn. This is infectious fun and, frankly, ingenious.
IMG_2987Masterpiece aims to teach drawing, shape-recognition and more. It shows an image on screen and you ‘trace’ it on a piece of paper in front of the iPad. This is an interesting idea (left), but it’s quite hard to do so without obscuring the camera’s view of what you’re doing, since you have to angle the pen or pencil from the bottom upwards to even see what you’re doing. I’m not sure how this could have been done better, and it’s probably more effective if you use a crayon or felt tip.

Conclusion — The reason I find this particularly interesting, apart from the ingenuity of how everything works, is that it presages other potential uses in industry, arts and graphics etcetera. I expect Osmo – or somebody – can create some pretty interesting apps for more adult uses along these lines.

What’s Great — Beautifully designed (as is the helpful Oslo site), ingenious, intriguing.

What’s Not — It’s not that easy to draw so the camera/mirror still ‘sees’ what you’re doing, since you also need to see what you are doing.

Needs — Kids, iPads, educational inspiration.

Osmo ‘Play beyond the screen’, RRP NZ$129

System — iPads running iOS 8 or later (you’ll need to take any cover off to get it into the Oslo base).

Further information — Osmo. Available in New Zealand shops soon, and already in the NZ Apple Store online.

10 million Music subscribers, Watch ads, your next Notifications


Apple Music hits 10M subscribers in four weeks, report says — A day shy of its one-month anniversary, Apple Music has reeled in more than 10 million subscribers on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and iTunes, a report said Monday.

Apple Watch ‘Apps at a tap’ ads focus on travel, fitness and music apps — Apple has released three new Apple Watch spots done up in the usual poppy style introduced with the first Watch ads, this time highlighting third-party travel, fitness and music apps. [Remember, we can buy it in a couple of days.]

Inside iOS 9: Notification Center streamlined with app alerts sorted by date, Apple Watch battery widget, new iPad view — A number of small but significant tweaks to the Notification Center in iOS 9 have made Apple’s catch-all drop down menu more useful and efficient, including an easier way to remove all app notifications on a daily basis.


Apple opinions, dual-display wallpaper, 5th Beta El Capitan, Parallels Desktop 11, Windows 10 Cortana, OS X


Apple is a large company with large ambitions — Many observers expect Apple to act like a small company and grumble when it doesn’t. In fact, as Apple grows, so must its customers (and observers) in their perspective. Apple Watch and Apple Music are cases in point, reckons the Mac Observer.

Microsoft will beat Apple (& Google) — Apple-haters today are seemingly as loud and plentiful as they were a decade and more ago. With that there is bound to be an uptick in Apple Death Knells.

Free dual-display Wallpaper for your Macs — The perfect two-display Mac setup needs the perfect wallpaper. It’s all about the details – Twelve South is offering up free wallpaper images designed to go side by side on two Macs (main picture, above). Twelve South is using the freebies to promote a 12% discount on their stands. You can see larger versions of the images at the company’s site, or download them in versions designed for eight different Mac screen resolutions.

Apple releases fifth OS X 10.11 El Capitan beta to developers — Apple has issued the fifth OS X 10.11 El Capitan beta to developers for testing ahead of an expected release later this fall.

Leak reveals Parallels Desktop 11 will support Windows 10’s Cortana across OS X — The next version of Parallels’ Desktop for Mac virtualisation software will improve its Windows 10 support, enabling Cortana voice commands at any time – as long as Windows is still running in the background, according to a leaked product page.

Chinese iPhone counterfeiter, maps and road tips, Micro LED technology, Indian expansion

Auckland at 7:30 this morning. Every dotted red line is a traffic problem ...
Auckland at 7:30 this morning. Every dotted red line is a traffic problem …

Huge counterfeit iPhone maker shut down in China — A Beijing business making counterfeit iPhones failed to follow one of Mac Geek Gab’s tenets: don’t get caught. The business produced over 41,000 knock-off iPhones before police raided their factory and shut them down. [With Apple’s high profit margins on devices, you can see the attraction.]

Apple’s Maps app to get smarter with automatic directions based on user habits in iOS 9 — A major focus for Apple in building iOS 9 is making it even easier to access the information you need, in part by predicting what you want before you unlock your phone. One way the upcoming operating system update will do that is by knowing when you get into your car, and predicting where you’re probably planning to drive. Travel directions will become even more convenient, with popular destinations automatically showing up on the iPhone’s lock screen.

Apple Maps vans to begin collecting data in France, Sweden in August — The Apple Maps vans currently on reconnaissance trips to collect street-level data will be covering France and Sweden for the first time in August, in addition to touring areas in the US, England, and Ireland, Apple revealed on Monday.

Awesome Literary Road Trips Map — Atlas Obscura has what they’re calling an “obsessively detailed” map showing the routes from several books such as Travels with Charlie, The Lost Continent, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. You can pick individual books and then click route points for quotes, and it’s an awesome way to visualise exactly where these epic journeys took place.

Apple-owned micro-LED display technology earns high praise, seen as potential OLED replacement — Before Apple acquired low-power display maker LuxVue, micro-LED technology was relatively unknown. But now the display industry is paying close attention, and one expert believes micro-LED could disrupt current LCD screens, as well as OLED displays like on the Apple Watch.

Apple to greatly expand retail presence in India with 500 ‘Authorized Mobility Resellers’ — As a part of its newly-invigorated attempt to improve sales in India, Apple is reportedly working to help launch 500 “Authorized Mobility Reseller” locations in 12 different cities.


Powerpoint 2016, Apple joins White House climate pledge


PowerPoint 2016 for Mac review: new interface and features make PowerPoint pleasant — Nearly everything about the massive visual overhaul from the previous version (PowerPoint 2011 for Mac ) seems clearer, friendlier, and more modern. It feels more like Apple’s Keynote, which Joe Kissel means as a compliment [indeed, it’s high praise].
The feature changes are mostly minor and subtle yet useful. Even so, PowerPoint 2016 for Mac still lags behind its Windows counterpart and it also lost a few interesting features that were present in PowerPoint 2011.

Apple joins White House’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge — The White House yesterday announced Apple will be among a group of 13 companies appearing alongside Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior White House officials, as they launch the American Business Act on Climate Pledge.

Apple Watch ‘secret’, plain language iPhone, Office for iOS, disability apps, app sales, vertical vids


Tim Cook’s Apple Watch secret — Apple reported its quarterly financial results this week, breaking out more detail that almost all of its competitors, but it failed to report specific Apple Watch unit sales and that makes pundits so mad. Writing for Bloomberg, repeat offender Leonid Bershidsky knows ‘Why Apple Is Afraid to Reveal Watch Numbers’: “Apple has grown afraid of its own long shadow“. [My BS detector quivers …]

Apple redefines the power of plain language in new iPhone campaign — Apple launched a website last Friday called ‘Why there’s nothing quite like iPhone.’ It’s a multipage display that is gorgeous, laid out well, and interactive, but what stands out for Bryan Chaffin is the company’s use of plain language to encapsulate what fans of iPhone think about our device. On every page, Apple strikes to the core of our love for iPhone in a way that may resonate with real people. [Go to the site and scroll or arrow down – it is beautifully designed.]

Office for iOS update adds new document collaboration tools —
Word, PowerPoint and Excel for Apple mobile devices also get better Outlook integration. Microsoft’s Office suite for iOS picked up a host of new updates late last week, including a few features designed to help people better share and collaborate on documents.

Ridiculous GoatZ — An open-world environment game that stars zombie goats is a fun, weird, and exceptionally unconventional experience. Your goal as a zombie goat isn’t just to survive, but to inflict as much damage as possible in your quest to eat brains. Yet the weirdness of it all somehow makes it fun to play, so I’ve embraced this silly game and am all in. Here are three more reasons why you should give it a chance, too.

Apple celebrates 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act with App Store collection — Observing 25 years of the US Americans with Disabilities Act, Apple is profiling a collection of accessibility apps expressly designed to accommodate users with vision, hearing, speech, physical and motor skills or learning and literacy issues. [These appear in the NZ Store along the top special features section; scroll left or right until it appears.]

App Store puts 100 iOS titles on sale for 99 cents, YouTube app updated with ‘vertical video’ support — In a pair of iOS App Store developments lat week, Apple put a collection of 100 titles up for sale priced at 99 cents each, while Google updated YouTube for iOS to make the “vertical video” viewing experience a bit more bearable. [Perfect for all those twits who still neglect to hold their phones horizontal when filming. TVs and monitors are not made in vertical, portrait format …]

Leaked Intel, Jobs docco, vintage Macs, Photos’ Split View

Macworld has a store room full of redundant Macs
Macworld has a store room full of redundant Macs

Leaked Intel Skylake info reveals future MacBooks will gain graphics boosts, better battery life — Newly-leaked Intel presentation slides suggest the company’s upcoming Skylake processors could bring important performance and power consumption improvements to future Macs.

First trailer for Jobs documentary — Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney and Magnolia Pictures have released the first trailer for the movie Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine. The movie will be opening on September 4, and is an unflinching – and some say unflattering – look at the Apple co-founder. [How could a truthful documentary about Jobs be flattering?]

Vintage Macs — A lot of Apple hardware has passed through the halls of US-based Macworld. Over time, old hardware gets donated to charities and schools. But sometimes an item is put into storage, thinking that there might be a use for it down the road.

Using Split View in OS X 10 Photos — In the Photos app, there’s a useful button at top left that many don’t know about. It toggles what’s called Split View on and off, and it’ll only appear when you’ve double-clicked a single image to open it. What it does is pretty handy— it’ll let you see all of the other pictures within that same moment in a sidebar next to your current photo.

Futurology ~ Earth’s near twin, asteroid hunter, Jupiter windbot drone, Chinese radio telescope, milestone PC women, ancient sites, agriculture discovery


The possibility of life on Earth’s near-twin — NASA’s Kepler team recently announced the discovery of the most Earth-like planet yet. It may be larger than Earth, but this exoplanet is situated firmly within its star’s habitable zone. Could it actually sustain life?
~ Could it sustain a species hell bent on destroying its own habitat? 

Spacecraft to hunt down asteroids for minerals — Many components in your phones and batteries are made with “rare Earth metals“, so-called because they’re actually rare on Earth, and we’re going to run out.
But they’re not rare in space. Which is why a company has launched the prototype for a vehicle that will search for asteroids to mine beyond Earth.
~ Space raider …

Windbot drone could sail forever around Jupiter — As part of NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program, the Jet Propulsion Lab at NASA is looking into using a ‘windbot’ to harness the power of Jupiter’s turbulent winds, and stay airborne without needing fuel.
~ Won’t it get bored? 

China building world’s largest radio telescope — Construction is well underway on what will become the world’s largest radio telescope. Once complete, the half-kilometer-wide dish will explore the origins of the Universe and scour the skies for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.
~ I still fill my time looking for signs of intelligence here. 

Nepalese earthquake rubble becoming building material — The earthquake that killed so many people in Nepal and destroyed priceless heritage sites also flattened thousands of normal homes and buildings. Now, the rubble from those structures is being put to use by an architect designing permanent shelters for those who lost their homes.
~ This Japanese architect has also worked in New Zealand. 

Two women found milestone PC company in the 1970s — One of the first significant PC companies was Vector Graphic. Founded in 1976, it was an innovator in everything from industrial design to sales and marketing, and eventually went public. And alone among early PC makers, it was founded and run by two women, Lore Harp and Carole Ely.
~ They marketed a stylish computer. 

South African housing development threatens ancient human site — A housing development has been approved next to the rock shelter, threatening the fragile archaeological site. The fate of the cave has drawn global attention with international scientists and scientific associations offering to help support its survival. For South Africans, the site creates tensions between a desire to save a precious heritage site and the sensitive issue of providing homes for the poor.
~ The ancestors of all humanity evolved culturally at sites like Sibudu.

American ancestors perhaps arrived in a single wave — A genetic analysis of ancient and modern humans suggests the ancestors of Native Americans entered the North American continent from Siberia some 23,000 years ago—and in a single wave.
~ And they stayed in the north for ages. 

Agriculture started earlier than previously thought — Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered evidence of early cereal cultivation at a 23,000-year-old site in Galilee, effectively doubling the timespan humans are believed to have practiced farming.
~ This will change a lot of theory!