Apps for July


ovrcast

Overcast is a winning podcast app — Famous developer Marco Arment has returned to iOS development with a carefully designed and extremely functional podcast player (above) highlighted by excellent and flexible playlists.

[I do love podcasts!] The app is free but a $6.99 in-app purchase unlocks loads of features.

Automatic Link works with your iPhone to make you a better driver — Needing the Automatic Link accessory and via the eponymous iOS app, third-party firm Automatic takes smartphone-to-car integration to the next level, empowering users to save gas, improve driving habits and keep tabs on automobile health with an interactive mobile experience.

Brightly brings personal UV tracking to iOS, PayPal adds support for loyalty cards —  Sam Oliver writes that the App Store added two [US] vacation-season updates on Tuesday, with Brightly aiming to help iPhone owners avoid getting sunburn while soaking up the summer sun [it’s not available in NZ yet, darn!] , while PayPal continued to expand its payments empire by adding support for virtual loyalty cards.

Boring Beatle’s app — The Guardian reports Paul McCartney has released five of his classic albums as iPad apps, offering remastered audio tracks, videos, interviews, photos, and artwork from both albums and singles.

Apple + IBM: huge partnership


Apple announces huge IBM partnership for enterprise services — Apple and IBM announced a new partnership yesterday that will see the companies collaborate to bring over 100 enterprise apps & cloud services to the iPhone and iPad and launch a new AppleCare service specifically for enterprise customers. The products will be branded ‘IBM MobileFirst for iOS Solutions’ and IBM will also soon sell iPhones and iPads to enterprise customers along with the new services– I wrote about this yesterday on the NZ Herald online.

Here’s Tim Cook’s memo to Apple staff about the new venture.  9to5Mac has 7 reasons why it’s a big deal., while analysts Piper Jaffray don’t see it as a big deal. Here’s Apple’s actual announcement.

Apple agrees to $400 million settlement in ebook price-fixing case — Apple has agreed to an approximately $400 million settlement as part of the high-profile ebook pricing fixing federal court case that would cover consumer damages and civil penalties for the 33 states involved. Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman made an announcement detailing the settlement that was also discovered in documents filed with the courts.

hansansAdobe releases free font Source Han Sans — To celebrate its 25th year of typeface development, Adobe has released Source Han Sans (left), a new family of free, open source fonts that harmonise East Asian and Latin font designs. More than three years in the making, this is one of Adobe’s most complex font projects. It required cooperation among five different companies to accurately represent the more than 65,000 glyphs (characters) required for typesetting in the  Chinese, Japanese and Korean (CJK) languages. You can get it for yourself from here, in 7 weights, but you need to set up a free subscription.

Nine things everyone should know how to do with a presentation app — “Whether you’re a student preparing a class assignment or a rising executive trying to impress your CEO, you’ll have to go beyond the basics if you want your computer-based slideshows to stand out. While teaching people how to use presentation software over the years, I’ve identified nine techniques that I think everyone should have in their arsenal—but which even some experienced presenters often seem to miss. Here’s how those techniques work in Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac 2011, Apple’s Keynote 6.2, and Google Docs.”

SnapNDrag Pro 3.5.6 review: A superb Mac app for organising and annotating your screenshots — SnapNDrag Pro (NZ$12.99 in the Mac App Store) simplifies both the screenshot and organization processes and as a bonus, tracks annotations you make to your images. Here’s Macworld’s review.

Five apps that help Windows users feel at home on Macs — Here’s an interesting PC World article for switchers to Mac.

iPhone still top


bonnaroo

iPhone 5s remains world’s best-selling phone, iPhone 5c at no5 — Sales channel data from 35 countries compiled by Counterpoint shows the iPhone 5s remained the world’s best-selling phone as of May, some eight months after its launch. This backs up a report from ABI Research that the phone had retained the number one slot through Q1.

Mobile shopping to reach near $50B in 2014 as iPad retains 80 % share of online orders — Apple continues to dominate as the platform of choice among mobile buyers, with iOS representing 54% of all phone orders and 80% of tablet transactions as the market approaches $50 billion this year.

Apple updates iOS developer statistics, claims 90% adoption rate for iOS 7 — An update to one of Apple’s iOS developer pages today indicates the latest version of the company’s mobile operating system has reached 90% adoption among users. That’s up about 15% since December of last year – by then, three quarters of users had upgraded.

Google now warns iPhone users when search results contain Adobe Flash — Search giant Google added another board to Flash’s coffin on Tuesday with the announcement that it would warn users searching from mobile devices — like Apple’s iPhone or Android handsets — when the contents of a search result were “mostly Flash.” [Flash is a way to get malware into devices so Apple has refused to support it on iDevices full stop, and has backed away from it on Mac.]

Apple takes iPhone and iPad trade-in program to Australia with credit up to A$250 — Apple has announced an expansion of its iPhone and iPad trade-in program to cover customers in Australia, who can now bring older iPhones and iPads to receive up to A$250 to put toward a new device purchase.

Now you can see your Facebook friends’ confessions on Secret — Anonymous app Secret doesn’t want to be a playground for early tech adopters anymore. Six months in, Secret’s founders have grander ideas in mind for the controversial service, starting with friend-finding.

Bonnaroo festival used iBeacons to collect valuable data about concertgoers — While iPhone users have enjoyed new location-based experiences thanks to early implementations of Apple’s iBeacon technology, companies deploying the bluetooth beacons are also collecting some valuable data on users.  Aloompa, the company behind the iBeacons deployed at the recent Bonnaroo music festival, shared some numbers it gathered (main picture, above) on concertgoers that it wouldn’t have had without its iBeacon deloyement. While users of the Bonnaroo app benefited from proximity based notifications for happenings around the event, Aloompa and event organizers gained new insight into how to improve the festival next year:

BloomSky’s backyard weather stations hope to crowdsource the forecast — The BloomSky mobile app will be free for anyone to use, but pulls its hyperlocal weather data from the network of BloomSky weather stations [of which there’d be few in NZ, but watch this space, but if you’re travelling to San Francisco …].

iLife under threat?


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With iPhoto’s demise, writing may be on the wall for iLife — Ted Landau writes that Apple’s iLife consumer-level suite of apps has changed dramatically over the years. It has contained as few as three apps and as many as six. It’s cost as much as US$79 and as little as zero. It’s been packaged both as an integrated software collection and as a loose confederacy of disparate apps. And now, in its latest evolutionary shift, it’s been placed on the endangered software list, with a reasonable probability that it will, in the not too distant future, go extinct altogether.

Ten things everyone should know how to do with a word processor — Jeffery Battersby reckons you don’t use half the tools in your word processing app, whether it’s Microsoft Word, Apple’s own Pages, or Google Docs – and maybe even less than half. But without all those bells and whistles you’ve been ignoring, that app is little more than a glorified text editor.

A big part of owning a tool is knowing how to use it effectively. So if you ever use Word, Pages, or Google Docs, you owe it to yourself to know how to do a few essential things with it. Here are the ten of the most essential.

Apple begins encrypting iCloud email sent between providers — Last month Apple confirmed it would soon beef up encryption for iCloud email following a report detailing security flaws in major email services. While Apple previously encrypted emails sent between its own iCloud customers, now the company has enabled encryption for emails in transit between iCloud and third-party services for me.com and mac.com email addresses.

The change is documented on Google’s transparency website that shows the percentage of emails encrypted in transit for both inbound and outbound email exchanges.

Email to Tim Cook prompted change of Apple’s ‘on hold’ music quality — In a recent thread on Reddit, one Apple customer describes an experience in which he effected change in Apple’s daily operations, specifically as it pertains to “on hold” music, after contacting CEO Tim Cook via email.

Model number for Apple’s mystery iBeacon device may hint at upgrade to existing hardware — A new Apple device revealed earlier this week in certification documents filed with the FCC appears to be the first in a new line of iBeacon-specific hardware, but the mysterious product’s model number suggests it may instead be an extension of one of Apple’s existing products.

Apple paying out to US suppliers


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Apple doled out more than $3B to over 7,000 US suppliers in 2013 — After announcing cooperation with the White House’s SupplierPay initiative, Apple on Friday released domestic supply chain expenditure figures for the first time, saying it spent more than US$3 billion with over 7000 US suppliers last year.

The numbers, along with some backstory on the small company responsible for the Mac Pro’s aluminum enclosure, were revealed in a statement provided to TechCrunch following SVP of Operations Jeff Williams’ meeting with President Barack Obama over the “SupplierPay” initiative.

Surprising sales in emerging markets keep Mac growth ahead of PC market — Sales growth for Apple’s Mac platform has outpaced the PC market for the 31st time in the past 32 quarters, keeping the trend alive. But surprisingly, Apple’s premium-priced computers were actually driven by growth in emerging markets like China and Latin America last quarter, new data shows (chart, above, from Needham & Co).

Expensive lunch for charity — Apple fans have another chance at a sit-down with a member of the company’s senior leadership, as internet software and services chief Eddy Cue has put one hour of his time up for auction — and sweetened the pot with a 13-inch MacBook Air — in the Fortune 500 equivalent of a charity dunk tank.

Background removal tool — Who hasn’t struggled with knocking out the background of a photo in Photoshop? Zooming in, finely tuning your tool to be the proper size and then frustratingly highlighting the areas you want to save or delete—what a pain! PhotoScissors 1.1 seeks to eliminate the hassle by providing a simple background removal tool. Macworld reviews it.

Nine things everyone should know how to do with a spreadsheet — Rob Griffiths thinks that as a Mac user, you’ve got plenty of choices among spreadsheet apps, but for most of us the choice comes down to three: Microsoft’s Excel 2011; Apple’s Numbers (version 3.2); and the browser-based Sheets section of Google Docs. Here are 9 things you should be able to do with any spreadsheet you have, although he specifies Numbers and Excel.

 

Five tip Friday (actually, ten)


I’ve been away a couple of weeks so here are ten tips to get everyone back up to speed, and to celebrate the new site for Mac NZ, thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of Paul Luker. First 5 for Mac, next for iOS.

1/ Secret Emoji characters in Mavericks — Whenever you are in a text field in Mavericks, just press Command-Control-Space and an emoji panel will appear. Then click any of the Emoji icons to insert it at the current position in the text.

secemoji

2/ Navigate the Emojis — For those who find it quicker to use the keyboard, you can navigate between the Emoji icons with the arrow keys, and shift left and right between the different sections using Tab and Shift-Tab respectively. If you know what you are looking for, just begin to type the name, and the Emoji will filter as you type. Give it a try with ‘dog’ or ‘kiss’.

3/ Constant Emojis — By default, the Emoji panel disappears once you choose an icon. However, if you find yourself using it a lot, just drag it away from the text field to ‘detach’ it, and it stays open until you click the close button in the top left.

4/ Emoji character viewer — The button in the top right of the detached panel expands the panel into the full size ‘Character Viewer’ that was previously available in OS Mountain Lion (below). Awesome 😀

bigemo

5/ Make a face to ignore in iPhoto — Doing everything with the keyboard makes a lot faster. If you’re using the Find Faces feature and skip faces you don’t know (because you don’t want to pause to use the mouse), the next time you click on Find Faces, you’ll be presented with those same unknown faces over and over again. They build up and always get presented in the same order, so you end up spending a lot of time skipping them before you get to new faces.

To avoid this, just name all these unknown faces ‘Unknown’ (or some other word with an uncommon starting letter). Then all you have to do to ignore a face (once you’ve tabbed to it) is type a ‘u.’ After you’ve labeled a bunch, open the ‘Unknown’ face album and bulk-confirm all the unwanted faces. Now the next time you use Find Faces, you’ll get right to the new faces. (From MacOS Hints.)

Five tips for iOS: There are several ways to decline voice calls on iPhone.

1/ Send a caller instantly to voicemail — When a call comes in, just double-click the Sleep/Wake button along the top of your iPhone or tap the red Decline button on the touchscreen. Your iPhone will stop ringing, and your caller will hear the prerecorded tones of your voicemail greeting.

2/ Let a caller (eventually) go to voicemail — If your iPhone starts ringing, you see the caller ID, and you just don’t want to take the call but you don’t want your caller thinking that you’re blowing them off, either, you can single-clickthe Sleep/Wake button to silence your phone (or single-click one of the volume buttons).

Doing either will silence your iPhone’s ringer, but your caller will still hear your phone ringing.

Eventually, the call will go to voicemail, and your caller will figure out you couldn’t get to your phone.

3/ Decline a call with a text message — If you don’t want to decline a call without letting the caller know you’ll ring back, you can send them a text message such as ‘Can’t talk right now, call later?’ while at the same time declining the call. This is less rude than just terminating the call.
Tap the ‘Message’ button to send a pre-written text message to a caller you’d rather dodge. When your iPhone starts ringing, you’ll see the standard “slide to answer” slider at the bottom of the screen. Just above the slider and to the right, you’ll see a Message button. Tap that button, and you can choose between a series of canned text messages, including “I’ll call you later,” “I’m on my way,” and “What’s up?” Tap a message, and it’ll be sent instantly to your caller, just as they’re hearing your voicemail message.
You can tap “Custom…” to compose a custom message on the fly, but I find it better to create your own pre-written messages by tapping Settings>Phone> Reply with Message.

4/ Decline a call, then get a reminder — If a call comes in that you really do want to answer, just not right this second, tap ‘Remind Me’ to get a reminder about a missed call later in the day, or once you arrive (or leave) a specific location.
This  button is just above the ‘slide to answer’ slider. Doing so sends your caller to voicemail, and you’ll get a choice: Get a reminder about the missed call in a) an hour, b) when you leave your current location, c) when you get home, or d) when you arrive at work.

5/ Customise a reminder — Want to change the time of your reminder? Just open the Reminders app on your iPhone, find the missed-call reminder that your iPhone just created (tap one of the reminder lists, or use the search box), tap it, then tap any of the reminder settings (such as the time or the location) that you’d like to change.

iPhone and consoles prop up chip market


Apple’s iPhone and game consoles to prop up chip industry in 2014
Agam Shah writes that Apple fans may not be the only ones waiting for a new iPhone later this year—semiconductor industry revenue will get a boost from it too, according to Gartner.

The iPhone release will spark semiconductor demand, Gartner said in a statement. Based on growing demand for the iPhone and other hardware, the research firm is projecting semiconductor revenue to be US$336 billion this year, growing 6.7% compared to 2013, outpacing the previous forecast of 5.4% made in the first quarter.

phoexAdobe updates Photoshop Express for iOS with blemish removal tool, RAW importing…
Adobe is continuing to add features to its existing apps with the release of Adobe Photoshop Express 3.4. The updated version of Photoshop Express for iPhone and iPad specifically four new features: a new blemish removal tool, the ability to increase or decrease filter strength, a new defog tool to remove haziness, and the ability to import photos in the RAW format.

Google Maps for iOS adds mapped search results and Gmail appointments, more
Google has updated its Maps application for iPhone and iPad to version 3.2 introducing new features and improvements.

The latest version of Google Maps
now supports viewing search results with descriptions directly on the map view. Gmail users will notice appointments and reservations with addresses will now appear the map view as well. The update supports changing between the map view of results and the list view of results and features an explore view for discovering new locations to try out.

 

US Foundation for the Blind lauds Apple


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National Federation of the Blind says ‘Apple has done more for accessibility than any other company’
Apple works hard to ensure that Macs, iPhones, iPods, and iPads can be used to their full extent by people who are deaf or blind, for example. In response to the reporting (Philip Elmer-DeWitt has a good summary of the original reporting and takedowns at Fortune), Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, has published a comprehensive blog post describing Apple’s work on accessibility, the technology industry as a whole, the resolution regarding iOS device accessibility, and what can be done to improve accessibility of third-party apps into the future. 9to5Mac has more.

Chinese state TV annoyed by NSA, takes it out on Apple
The WSJ reports that the state-run China Central TV has described the iPhone as a “national security concern” due to its location-tracking capabilities. [Picture from 9to5Mac.]
But Apple denies the claims, stating that “privacy is built into [its] products and services from the earliest stages of design. We work tirelessly to deliver the most secure hardware and software in the world.” Apple also explains that it uses industry leading encryption to protect location data, and says that all location data is stored solely on the iPhone, not on Apple’s servers.

Apple goes on to, once again, explain that it does not work with government agencies to spy on its customers.

Yosemite hands-on: Mail, Messages, and Calendar
Jason Snell writes about the forthcoming major update to OS X. It generally means that many of the apps included with the operating system also get major updates — or at least the biggest updates they’re likely to get until the next major operating-system release.

In OS X Yosemite, due this fall, several major Apple apps have received upgrades both big and small. I’ve been using a pre-release version of Yosemite (on an Apple-supplied MacBook Pro) for the past month and have had a chance to spend a little time with Mail, Messages, and Calendar. Here’s a look at what’s new.

Apple blog highlights new Swift programming language
Apple has launched a blog on its official developer website to promote the new Swift programming language. Swift, which was announced at WWDC 2014, is a successor to the Objective-C programming language for iOS and OS X, and it provides new, cleaner, and more robust tools for developing applications. The blog will be dedicated to Apple engineers working on Swift sharing tidbits behind the language’s development as well as hints.

iTunes Extras on Apple TV


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Apple brings iTunes Extras to Apple TV, HD Extras to Macs
Apple today released iTunes version 11.3 and with it is making its iTunes Extras feature available for HD movies on Macs. Apple also announced the feature is now available for Apple TV with update 6.2 (and will arrive on iOS 8 this fall).

While we’ll have to wait for iTunes Extras to arrive on iOS with the release of iOS 8 this fall, the Apple TV OS 6.2 update rolled out late last month to users alongside iOS 7.1.2.

[Boot up the Apple TV, go to Movies, and the HD movies have Extras. Apple also has a banner for it – above.]

Skitch: multi-purpose editing tool for doodling on any document
Skitch is one of those apps you’re not quite sure what to make of. Part of the Evernote family, you can doodle all over photos and then share them with your friends. Skitch is truly a multi-purpose tool that lets you markup virtually any document.

Hands-on with Capo and Capo touch
Love playing songs on your stringed instrument of choice but hate the process of learning them? Check out Capo, the Mac and iOS tool for quickly learning just about any song from your library.

Nike’s app and football
Nike is launching a brand new app called Nike Football (or Nike Soccer in the US), that will act as a hub for all things Nike Football from exclusive content and Q&A sessions with athletes to the latest product launches for the company’s line of football products. Nike is also including some social features that let users organise their own pick-up games, trash talk among friends and teammates, and more.

Life after Aperture, iPhoto


Life after Aperture & iPhoto

Yes, they’re going. The next OS (Yosemite) gets rid of both,  and since iPhoto has been the included image management application on the Mac for years, it’s actively used by millions of customers. Although Aperture never made as many inroads into the professional community as Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom, it was still the Apple-supplied pro option [and I love it for looking after my genealogical image collection].

Both programs are being replaced by Apple’s upcoming Photos for OS X application, which at this point is still a mystery: Will it incorporate the advanced features of Aperture, will it be a stripped-down limited clone of the Photos app under iOS 8, or will it be something in-between?

No matter what’s to come, you can start to take steps now, thanks to Macworld,  to prepare for your transition – whether that means switching to Photos or migrating to another third-party photo application. (Regardless of your decision, make sure you have good working backups of your photos!)

itrnsSonico Mobile releases iTranslate for Mac with 80+ languages

Sonico Mobile, makers of popular apps such as iTranslate and iTranslate Voice for iOS today released iTranslate for Mac, bringing the features of the corresponding iOS app to the Mac.

iTranslate for Mac sits right in your menu bar, so translations are always just a click away, no matter what app you’re working in. Simply input text, and the app will quickly process it and provide you the translated output. It’s just as easy to use as the iOS version.

The app has over 80 languages built in as well as a dictionary, so you can get meanings for translated words. Users will also appreciate voice output feature, which makes it easy to listen to the pronunciation of your translation.

Finally, the app has support for reading non-Latin characters, with Romanization for Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Korean, and more.

iTranslate for Mac is on sale for a limited time at 50% off introductory price, so for NZ$6.49 in the Mac App Store. [I bought it.]

The App Store’s 6th anniversary by the numbers

Apple is celebrating the 6th anniversary of the App Store, so let’s look at the most recent numbers Apple announced regarding App Store statistics. During the WWDC keynote on June 2nd, Apple CEO Tim Cook shared that the App Store then featured more than 1.2 million apps and counting. App Store customers have downloaded apps more than 75 billion times since the digital store debuted on July 10, 2008, and Apple also noted its platform is home to more than 9 million developers with registered accounts through the Developer Program, a number which was up 47% from the previous year.

Apple’s Volume Purchase Program for apps to 16 new countries

Apple is about to roll out its Volume Purchase Program, which allows business and education customers to purchase and distribute iOS apps in bulk for deployed devices, into 16 new countries. Apple’s website for both the Volume Purchase Program for Business and for Education have been updated to announce the expansion to: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan,Turkey, and United Arab Emirates.

Countries that already have access to the Volume Purchase Program include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Apple Mac, iPhone & iPad news for New Zealanders

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