Stickers bring MacBook Airs to life, faster Haswells, EFI, more

A frame from Apple's latest 30-second MacBook Air ad
A frame from Apple’s latest 30-second MacBook Air ad

New Apple ad shows off sticker-clad MacBook Airs — The ad calls the Air ‘the notebook people love’: Apple has published a short 30-second commercial featuring a number of MacBook Airs dressed up in stickers and decals, with each customised thin-and-light reflecting the personality of its owner. You can watch it at Apple Insider.

Intel rolls out faster Haswell CPUs possibly bound for MacBook Pro refresh — Intel on Sunday released a batch of new Core i5 and Core i7 Haswell processors for high-end laptops like Apple’s MacBook Pro, each boasting the usual speed bumps when compared to prior versions.

Apple issues MacBook Air EFI update to address wake from sleep problems on mid-2011 models — Apple on Monday posted an EFI update for its thin-and-light MacBook Air, addressing two wake from sleep issues including a rare problem that causes the computer’s fans to spin at full speed unnecessarily. Apple’s MacBook Air EFI firmware update 2.9 targets problems seen on mid-2011 models running OS X 10.9.2 and later.


Yosemite's redesigned Calculator
Yosemite’s redesigned Calculator

OS X Yosemite Preview 4 brings redesigned Calculator, updated Dark Mode — Alongside a host of bug fixes, the latest developer preview of Apple’s next-generation desktop operating system brought a few small but noticeable visual tweaks to some of OS X’s oldest components, including a redesigned Calculator.

Apple releases iTunes 12 beta with ‘elegant new design,’ Family Sharing — Alongside new beta versions of iOS 8, OS X Yosemite and numerous development tools, Apple on Monday released a preview of iTunes 12 sporting what the company calls an “elegant new design” and support for the Family Sharing feature introduced at WWDC.

Marked 2.3 arrives in the Mac App Store — Marked 2 has finally hit the Mac App Store. Previously only available via developer Brett Terpstra’s website, the update has now officially replaced the original Marked in the Store. Version 2.3 introduces a number of new features to the preview app for markup languages.

iPad working, iOS 8 beta, iTunes Festival

Apple iPad
Apple CEO Tim Cook reckons he works mostly on his iPad

How much of your job can you really do on an iPad? — Tim Cook recently said that he performs 80% of his work on an iPad—and he thinks everyone should do the same. But is that really realistic? Macworld staff find the answer depends, of course, on the kind of work you do. Perhaps Cook spends his entire day working in email and a browser. If that’s the case, the iPad could be entirely adequate … [Picture, above, from Apple’s iPad page.]

iOS 8 beta 4 includes new Tips app with quick feature tutorials — iOS 8 beta 4 brings a new app to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch called Tips. The application, as the name implies, provides quick tips and tutorials about iOS features [yay!]. The app will be updated on a regular basis with new ways to use iOS device features. Apple has also launched a Tips website (in beta) so these tutorials can be accessed from a Mac web browser. You can find a full gallery of the current implementation of Tips

iTunes Festival app updated for London 2014, brings new design — This morning, Apple announced a new iTunes Festival for the United Kingdom featuring over sixty bands, for September. The iTunes Festival app has now been updated to relay this information and exhibits the design style and iconography for the 2014 show.

And if you’re heading to London — PackPoint handy packing checklist app is now available on iOS. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your hotel for a trip, unpacking and then realising you’ve forgotten something vital – like your MacBook power supply! Packing checklists offer a good solution, but what you need for a business trip in the winter will be very different to what you need for a holiday in the summer.

Journalist picks up Galaxy S5, discovers it is, indeed, larger than the iPhone 5 — In a shocking turn of events that is sure to send ripples through the technology world for years to come, Business Insider’s Jim Edwards has confirmed that, as has long been rumored, there are smartphones out there with displays larger than that of the iPhone 5. [Yes, this is sarcastic.]

Quick and easy fix for Lightning port charging problems — Kelly Hodgkins for TUAW writes “Are you experiencing problems charging your iPhone or iPad using your Lightning cable? Before you toss away your cable or bring your phone into Apple for repair, you should take a moment and try this quick and easy fix that works for many people.”

Yosemite, Spaceship, learning Apple courses

Developers get to see what iTunes 12 will look like
Developers get to see what iTunes 12 will look like

Apple releases Yosemite Developer Preview 4 with redesigned iTunes 12 — Apple has released OS X 10.10 Yosemite Developer Preview 4. It is available via the Mac App Store Software Update tab for developers running earlier versions of Yosemite.
Apple has also released a revamped iTunes 12 to developers. 9to5Mac has screenshots of it (that’s one, above). Previous updates previously brought various design tweaks and feature enhancements, and Preview 4 is likely to do the same thing.
It looks like Apple might be planning to release a publicly available beta of the upcoming OS X Yosemite later this month, according to sources briefed on the plans. This release will mark the first time Apple has released a public beta of a new OS X version in over a decade.

City of Cupertino provides update on Apple’s Campus 2 progress with new aerial shot — Following a number of amateur aerial shots of Apple’s Campus 2 construction popping up on Instagram and elsewhere online, the City of Cupertino has shared the best yet look at progress on the site with an aerial shot of the entire campus. The shot doesn’t just show the main circular “spaceship” structure, but also work starting on the the entire surrounding campus.

AudioSwitcher 2.16 review: Mac app is an audio source quick-change artist — If you have a lot of audio inputs and outputs on your Mac and quickly need to switch back and forth between them, Paul O’Neill’s AudioSwitcher (Mac App Store link. NZ$1.29) is a great little menubar utility for doing just that.  [I just hold down the Option key while clicking on the volume slider – it does the same thing, it’s already in your system and it’s free.]

New Grey Lynn Apple training series announced (to be run by yours truly)
1/ Introduction to the Mac and OS X August 13th, 7:30pm
2/ Looking after your Mac
hardware and software Aug 20th
3/ The Mac’s ‘iApps’
(Address Book, iCal, Text Edit, iTunes, Maps etc) Aug 27
4/ iWork
(Pages, Numbers and Keynote, and how they do what Microsoft products Word, Excel and PowerPoint do) September 3
5/ The Internet —
What it is, plus Mail & Safari: work smarter, search smarter, September 10th
6/ iPhoto (includes tips for better photography) September 17th
7/ Mac Tips & Tricks –
An interesting session that turns you into a Mac power user, September 24th
8/ Introduction to iDevices
(iPhone and iPad) October 1st
9/ iCloud, iOS & iDevices —
How your iDevice (iPad/iPhone/iPod touch) integrates with your Mac over the Cloud, October 8th
10/ Essential iDevice
tips and tricks. October 15th, final.

Security for iPhone users

Five settings every privacy-conscious iPhone owner should change — The iPhone is a useful tool to manage your work and play, but it isn’t perfect when it comes to privacy. There are a handful of settings that privacy-conscious owners should change if they want to keep their data as safe as possible from prying eyes.

IK Multimedia iKlip Xpand review — iPads are a great musician’s tool, but it’s difficult to figure out ways to mount the iPad on microphone stands. IK Multimedia has introduced the iKlip Xpand to give your iPad or other tablet a secure place to hang while you’re busy making music.

Cleveland Clinic Foundation develops iPad-based MS disability assessment tool — The portability and power available on the iPad makes Apple’s little machine that could a source of incredible opportunity in the medical diagnostic field. Recently the Cleveland Clinic Foundation developed a new app for the device called the Multiple Sclerosis Performance Test

MS Test for iPad
MS Test for iPad

(MSPT). MSPT helps doctors assess balance, walking speed, manual dexterity, visual function, and cognition in patients living with the inflammatory disease.

Numerics is a customisable business dashboard app for iOS —dashboard app designed for business users lets them display different bits of institutional information on a single screen.

Timera lets you create time machine-inspired photos with iPhones — Timera is a clever photography app that is part photo-mashup app and part time machine that allows you to create impressive “then & now” photos of well-known locations.

iPhone app Numerous previews iOS 8 Notification Center integration — New technologies introduced in iOS 8 make new features possible. Last month 1Password’s iPhone app took advantage of the new access developers have to Touch ID and systemwide Extensions with their iOS 8 beta, and a number of health and fitness app developers have discussed their excitement for Apple’s new HealthKit tool. Now the developers of the fairly new iPhone app Numerous have previewed in a blog post their plans to include an app widget for presenting numbers from the app in the new Today view in Notification Center coming to the iPhone and iPad in iOS 8.

Amazon unveils iOS-compatible Kindle Unlimited service — With subscription plans for music having taken hold in recent years, Amazon figured it might as well get in on the action and roll out a similar service for e-books. The online retailing giant announced Kindle Unlimited, a new service that lets users read anything and everything they want from Amazon’s 600,000 strong e-book library for just US$9.99 a month.


Apple’s earnings coming

Coming on (NZ’s Wednesday): Apple Q3 Earnings Call — Next Tuesday US Pacific Time is July 22, the day that we hear from Apple executives about how the company did in its third fiscal quarter ending June 30, 2014.
TUAW will live-blog the earnings call beginning at 5 PM ET, and you can listen in on the proceedings via Apple’s livestream.
Meanwhile, Jan Dawson, the founder and chief analyst of Jackdaw Research, has put together a massive profile discussing the state of the company.
A combination of detailed charts and raw data, this exceptional presentation examines reporting information directly from Apple, along with some projections provided by Jackdaw Research.


Sue Wagner joins Apple board
Sue Wagner joins Apple board

Apple adds financial exec Sue Wagner to its board of directors — Apple has welcomed its newest member, Susan L Wagner. Wagner, a founding partner and director of asset-management company BlackRock. Wagner previously served as that company’s vice chairman until mid-2012. She replaces Intuit Chairman Bill Campbell, who has served on the company’s board of directors since Steve Jobs’s return in 1997. Theutgoing Apple board member Bill Campbell offered insight into Apple and Steve Jobs in an interview.

How-to safely delete or change an iCloud account from your Mac or iOS device — First off, before we begin and actually discuss how to safely delete or change an iCloud account, we should discuss the different scenarios as to why you might need to delete or change your iCloud account off of your device …

Rumour that new MacBook Airs are on the way — New 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models have gone into production, according to a pair of reports from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News. The first report says updates to both current MacBook Air sizes have entered production with Apple partner Quanta Computer, and that the new computers will boost Quanta’s 2014 notebook shipment numbers by 15%. The new devices are said to sport new chassis, screens, and chipsets, and volume shipments are due in late-August barring any unforeseen component delays.

Futurology 0: laser lunar

Large lunar cave could work for Moon colony
Large lunar cave could work for Moon colony

Scientists use world’s largest laser to recreate Jupiter’s core — It is not pleasant inside the core of Jupiter (or any other planet) but gaining a better understanding of what’s going on in there is key for understanding how these planets form. That’s why a team of scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory recently used diamonds and lasers to recreate those very conditions.
—By gum.

Curiosity shoots laser at Mars rock— One of the visually cooler duties Curiosity rover has up on Mars is firing its lasers at rocks it encounters in its path. Here’s the first footage it’s ever sent back of just how that process works.
—Beaming beams back

Lunar cave looks likely for base — A large hole on the Moon’s surface formed when the ground above a lava tube collapsed. NASA believes pits like this widen underground and contain tunnels —which would be very handy for the first wave of lunar colonists.
—Sorry, I’m busy that day the call for colonists goes out. New Zealand feels like living on the Moon already anyway.

While we’re on the Moon — Forty years after touching down near the Sea of Tranquility, the trails of disturbed regolith created by the Apollo 11 astronauts are still clearly visible in photographs taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Scientists used those and other images to create this amazing virtual model of the landing site.
— You’d think they might have smoothed out a new landing strip while they were there.

And … Relive the Moon Landings, even if you weren’t alive in 1969 — Moonwalk One is a snippet of immersive history from the day humans first stepped on the moon. Take the time to be lost in history with the stories, fears, excitement, and celebration of people who were there, and dream of a future in space, because Moonwalk One is a documentary on the Apollo 11 moon landings originally produced in 1970. Remastered in 2007, NASA just uploaded it for everyone yesterday.
—And wonder at how they did it with such anaemic computing power

Carbon fibre forests — Carbon fibre is one of the strongest and most resilient materials on the market, used in everything from car frames to body armour. It’s also incredibly expensive to make, but one plant biologist says that in fifty years, we’ll be growing it on trees.
—The fruit will be hard to peel, though

Hoodie designed from speaker fabric allows sound right through — Originally designed for home or recording studio use, over-the-ear headphones became a popular choice for music aficionados on-the-go. Betabrand’s new Audio Engineer’s Hoodie uses speaker fabric on the hood so headphones can be worn over it.
—Hear hear

Lunar hole in Siberia — By now, you’ve likely seen the mysterious, yawning hole that appeared in Russia’s remote Yamal peninsula, a place whose name literally means “the end of the world.” Now scientists have investigated the hole and new pictures and video show interior detail of the Siberian hole.
—No, I don’t want to join its colony either.

Spray it, bake it ...
Spray it, bake it …

Aerosol cake — Just when you thought that mankind’s genius could stretch no further, a solid year of research has given birth to a new apex in cake innovation. Friends, say hello to Spray Cake, the Harvard-bred cake batter in a can.
—Sometimes it’s clearer than other times the cook is nothing but an aerosol.

Inca bear feet — In Peru, archaeologists excavating the tomb of a nobleman from a pre-Inca civilization have found ornamental metal pieces fashioned to look like paws with claws. The paws may have been part of a ritual costume used in ceremonial combat. The loser would be sacrificed, while the winner would get the costume.
—Archaeological paws for thought

Review: 2013 Mac Pro

2013 Mac Pro
2013 Mac Pro

The 2013 Mac Pro is pretty impressive as a piece of industrial design, inside and out.

But beyond that, as a dedicated Final Cut Pro workstation (which is how Apple likes to demonstrate it) it’s amazing.

This hardware is fast. And I’m not talking about compared to super computers or the PCs some people might (spuriously or not) compare them with. I’m talking about fast for a Mac – I don’t have the resources to run cross-platform comparisons, but I copied a 2GB movie file from a Lexar 16GB thumb drive onto the Mac Pro in 1 minute 27 seconds. Then I duplicated it on the Mac Pro’s internal drive: 4.39 seconds …
But what about for the rest? I mean, sure, you could get one of these to do your email and check Facebook – if you can afford to do that, you can also afford a good head examiner. And that’s what I’d recommend, over buying a 2013 Mac Pro for such simple tasks, if that’s all you want it for.
Because this is the first Mac for a long while that has the upper echelons of computing tasks squarely in frame – it really is for professionals. It can do everything else a Mac can do, of course (professionals need to check emails too) but it’s hardly what you’d buy a Mac Pro for. If you’re sane.

There are some lovely and surprising design touches: for example, the thin white rims around the port groups all light up brightly when you first turn it on, but after a while they turn off so as not to be distracting. The power cord and plug for this unit is black (white, as is normal for Macs, wouldn’t do) but the plug is curved ever so slightly to perfectly fit the curve of the Mac Pro’s body, to sit flush.

The game Borderlands 2 on my 2012 Retina MacBook pro (2.6GHz i7) makes the fans spin up, and stay spinning quite loudly, the whole time it’s open. It’s a bit frustrating because some levels, if you quit out, need starting over from scratch next time you try it, but I don’t like my laptop staying on for hours at full stretch so I can come back to the game and pick up where I left off. Quitting gets the fans back to normal in a minute or so. The MacBook Pro has 16GB RAM and 1GB video card, but it doesn’t seem to make any difference what I change in settings, especially video-wise. Those fans work-out.
But on the Mac Pro – but of course, I would have been very surprised if it did.

iFixit's Mac Pro teardown
iFixit’s Mac Pro teardown

I like asking people what they think of it. My mother in law got quite excited – but that’s because she thought it was a champagne bucket. My brother in law, who designs and builds high-end cabinetry (but isn’t exactly computer-savvy – he still uses a 7-year old white plastic MacBook), said ‘Wow, that’s beautiful. What is it?’ Those who do know what it is are surprised how small it is – jot takes up about an eigth of the volume of the model it replaces.

So how fast is it, actually? On my Geekbench test, the Mac Pro had a single-core score of 3590. That’s more than the 2-core (multicore) score of a 2007 MacBook Pro (2.2GHz Core 2 Duo with 4GB RAM), which was 3122. Of course, each core of the new Mac Pro is running at 3GHz, and it’s a much advanced version of the core too: an Intel Xeon E5-1680 v2, with one Processor, eight Cores, and 16 Threads. Multicore, the score is a blistering 25,865. The caches on this thing obviously serve a purpose – some are small but there’s loads of them: L1 Instruction Cache 32Kb (but there are eight of them), and same with the L1 Data Cache. L2 Cache is 245Kb (also x8) but the L3 cache is a rather staggering 25MB.

The latest Haswell-chipped MacBook Pro has 6MB of L3, as does the Haswell i5 iMac I looked at last year. (The new Mac Pro I had for testing had 32GB RAM.)
Before the Mac Pro actually shipped, someone Geekbenched a prototype and posted the figures: 23,901. The model I had to salivate over I mean evaluate actually beat that; Apple may have tweaked a few things before release, or made a little software update that let a bottleneck free-up, or something.
The main reason the new Mac Pro seems so fast is the two AMD FirePro GPUs. They deliver up to eight times the graphical performance of the previous-generation Mac Pros, but they also help out the CPU when needed … but as many have noted, the aluminium tower Mac Pro video cards were well out-of-date by the time Apple stopped selling it.

prior Mac Pro
The prior Mac Pro was much bigger

Critics don’t like the fact there’s not much you can do once you slide the sleek, shiny, sinister-looking case up-and-off. The old Mac Pro had a highly user-welcoming interior space you could open in seconds, and it was full of slots (left). On the new one, all your connectivity is external – but what connectivity! There are six Thunderbolt 2 ports, which combine the two 10GBs channels of Thunderbolt (1) into into a single 20Gbs bi-directional channel. This is ideal for streaming large amounts of data, including 4K video. Thunderbolt 2 can theoretically display 4K video (x3) while simultaneously transferring it at that unified 20 Gbit/s throughput rate. Since up to six Thunderbolt peripherals can be daisy-chained to each port, the Mac Pro can actually support up to 36 Thunderbolt devices … all at once. Once the pros get their heads around this (and the ensuing potential for desk clutter and cable mayhem) this will be a boon.
That said, more tech-savvy reviewers have noticed that some of the internal components are actually swappable. So it’s conceivable Apple could release Mac Pro upgrade kits in future, meaning you might be able to keep your investment up-to-date.

Apps that take advantage
On launch in late 2013 a few – very few – apps were optimised to take advantage of the new Mac Pro’s multicore powers. Final Cut Pro X is, of course. So is Logic – both Apple software products for professionals. Apple’s Motion is too, and Compressor. That means they’re ready for 4k video as well. But Adobe hasn’t got its (also professional) apps to the point where they’ll take advantage of the Mac Pro (I think you can edit in 4k on PCs?), while interestingly the fastest rising successor to Photoshop on the Mac, Pixelmator, has been updated to take advantage of the Mac Pro. The Marble version (Pixelmator 3.1), released last week, added support for 16 bits per channel. The Mac Pro has two Graphics Processor Units (GPUs) and the CPU (Central Processing Unit) hands tasks off to GPU capacity using technology Apple calls Grand Central. This adds grunt, if you like, to demanding computing tasks, and Pixelmator 3.1 uses that too, but most other apps simply can’t leverage the full potential of the new Mac Pro at launch, apart from Pixelmator.
In the case of Adobe, engineers from companies this important in the personal computing scene usually get to see what’s coming from related concerns, in highest secrecy. This is so they can tool their apps up ready. And it happens more than you think, even between those we think of as rivals. Adobe hasn’t been too happy with Apple for the last few years, but Mac (and latterly, iDevices) are important platforms for its products regardless. You have to wonder why Adobe hasn’t: is it because its engineers didn’t get the opportunity? Didn’t want to, hoping the enlargement of its installed base on Mac since the Final Cut Pro X thing would keep Mac users loyal to Premiere? I don’t know. Wish I did. Maybe it’s coming, maybe it’s not.
Meanwhile, if you’re serious about Final Cut Pro X and Logic, the new Mac Pro is a very good reason to stick with Apple – its hardware and software – if you’re one of those pro users working in the fields of moving image and audio. You might even change back to Final Cut Pro X in concert with a purchase of a Mac Pro simply because it’s so awesome.
Of course, other pro apps will be coded to take advantage sooner or later. While they’ll feel fast already, on a Mac Pro, this is thanks to its sheer power and all the RAM and other goodness. But they actually promise more power and speed in the future if you’re a Mac Pro user. Buy it now, benefit more later. This is a common trope with various Apple releases over the years. Even OS X promised more power and speed as developers rewrote their apps in native code for it, and adding USB then Thunderbolt to Macs before there were virtually any viable peripherals is another example.
It’s an interesting scenario because Apple upset a lot of people when it originally released Final Cut Pro X, changing features and removing multi-cam support.
Despite the criticism, Final Cut Pro X had some great features and was far from ‘iMovie Pro’, as some very disgruntled video people branded it. Meaning I copped some of the backlash too (I guess that’s partly what tech bloggers are for – venting at).
I don’t know how far the schism carried on. I’m not sure how many angry Final Cut users turned to Adobe’s Premiere or Avid for Mac (meaning they had a lot to relearn, which upsets people too). And I don’t know how many, if any, came back to Apple’s Final Cut Pro once Apple made good on it.
Some managed to stay with Apple’s cinematography software, and there’s been a healthy and growing community of people working in that field since, but trust in Apple was shaken.

What people think
This is what other have been saying (assuming you’ve already read Macworld/TUAW/Apple Insider etc): “It’s a masterpiece of engineering and suitably expensive. Fresh ideas such as the unified thermal core and backlit expansion ports together with high-performance components combine to make the Mac Pro the ultimate high-end workhorse.” That was TechRadar, not a Mac specific site, and which gives examples of PCs in the same league.

TechCrunch wrote “… the true power lies under the hood, and what’s contained therein will satisfy even the most pressing need for speed.” (This review includes a video.)

The English site IT Pro says “Yes it’s expensive – but after testing we feel the Mac Pro is worth it if you will utilise it to its full potential. Workstations have never looked so good and you get performance, upgradeability and portability as well.” (My italics.) Again, though, not an Apple-centric site.

And Engadget is also no Apple fan site. “It’s hard to say if the Mac Pro is pricey, per se, given that there’s nothing else quite like it. There are plenty of Windows-based workstations, certainly, but none are quite this small or quite this portable (many aren’t quite this quiet, either).”

The Verge used several testers trying several different things out on the Mac Pro. Regina Dellea noted it wasn’t that quick in Adobe apps (including Premiere) since Adobe hasn’t optimised it for the new Mac Pro the way Apple (of course) got to with Final Cut Pro X. But hopefully that’s on the cards for Adobe products – because pros are buying these, and pros use a lot of Adobe, one way or another. All in all, the Verge’s review was the most critical (8.5 out of 10) but it’s a good look from several user viewpoints. It (in part) concludes: “The new Mac Pro is an undeniably serious and powerful machine aimed at professionals. But it’s also incredibly expensive, and at least from my Adobe-centric perspective, it’s not quite worth the outlay right now. The day-to-day performance is similar enough to that of the iMac that I’d have a difficult time convincing my boss to spend double the money on this computer, plus a monitor, plus the Thunderbolt peripherals I’d need to make it a viable solution — at least, not until Adobe makes its suite shine on the new hardware the way Final Cut Pro X does. At the end of the day, I’m back to hoping, but this time that third-party developers step up.”

Do I want one? Absolutely.
Do I need one? No way. Dang!

— 2013 ‘assembled in Texas’ Mac Pro, starting NZ$4499 (which is cheaper than when it debuted in late 2013).

Five Tip Friday ~ It’s hip to shoot square on iPhone

Square images are everywhere, and luckily your iPhone has the ability built right in, so check out these five tips (sourced from Macworld) that tell you how to do it well.

square1/ How to go square —  As long as your phone is running iOS 7 or later, you don’t have to go far for cropped shooting: the Camera app has a dedicated Square mode.

Just swipe once to the left from the main Camera screen to bring up the cropped shooting screen.

2/ The next step is framing your shot — When it comes to framing your square shot, it’;s a good idea (actually, with all shots) to use the grid. The Grid feature works in both Square and Photo mode and you can enable the grid at any time by going to Settings>Photos & Camera>Grid.) It’s really useful for lining up your vertical and horizontal elements and it shows the ‘rule of thirds’ intersection points for artistic composition.

In Square mode, the grid is overlaid in nine even boxes, allowing you to easily line up your subject matter.

When you’re shooting smaller subjects, frame them in the top or bottom thirds of your image to provide a stronger composition—especially if you have a strong environment that can provide contrast in its negative space.

3/ Centre — Since the square crop removes most of your extra composition space, some consider it a negative to have to cram their subject inside the frame. But the square crop really highlights subjects you want to centre in your frame; by providing equidistant negative space on all four sides, it places a strong focus on your subject.

4/ HDR — Your iPhone has other options for making your photos pop off the digital page. For instance, While shooting, you can use your phone’s HDR feature to drastically boost colours. [HDR is ‘high dynamic range’ – the iPhone puts together low and high exposure shots to get better definition through the dark and light ends of your image.]

5/ Noir — Another tip is to choose a filter for Square mode by touching the three-circles Filter button. I use Square also as an instant black and white mode, for instance, because it retains the last filter you selected.

Cook works on his iPad; super girl game; Game of Thrones …

Game developed by women
Game developed entirely by women

Apple CEO Tim Cook says everyone should do 80 percent of their work on an iPad… like he does — We’d heard back in 2012 that Apple CEO Tim Cook spent 80-90 percent of his time on an iPad, but the WSJ reports today that Cook thinks that’s the way it should be for all of us – and he believes the partnership with IBM can help make that vision a reality.
“There’s no reason why everyone shouldn’t be like that. Imagine enterprise apps being as simple as the consumer apps that we’ve all gotten used to. That’s the way it should be” …

HBO’s Game of Thrones Ascent game arrives on iPhone — Following a release for iPad back in March, HBO’s Game of Thrones Ascent game developed by Disruptor Beam & Kongregate is now available for iPhone. The game already racked up around 2,500,000 players on Facebook and the web before making its way to iPad in March, and it comes to the App Store with new art, optimised imagery for Retina displays, and Game Center leaderboards.

Revolution 60: All-female action adventure — What happens when a mostly female development team comes together to create an action-adventure game staffed entirely by female characters? Revolution 60 by Giant Spacekat (US$6.99, try then in-app buy) happens. It’s a touch-based iPad story-driven take (pictured above) on Heavy Rain and Mass Effect.
You play Holiday, an assassin faced with a more morally complex landscape than you normally encounter in gaming titles. Should Holiday support her friends or fix her attention on the mission? It’s a little bit transgressive, a little bit feminist. The stakes are high… but it’s not yet available in the NZ App Store.

Hours, the world’s simplest time-tracking app — Anyone who has ever had the misfortune to have to use a corporate hours-tracking/billing system will know that they typically give every impression of being designed by an enraged gorilla working to a spec provided by a sadistic accountant.
Tapity, which won an Apple Design Award back in 2011 for “the ultimate app for students” Grade, just launched Hours, a simple colour-coded app it says aims to take the pain out of time-tracking.

Google releases official Analytics app for iPhone with Real Time reports — Google has added yet another official application to its iOS App Store portfolio: Google Analytics. Analytics is Google’s popular service that allows website owners to manage and view data such as page views, demographics, and the technologies users utilise to access the website. The iPhone app also has the neat Real Time reports feature that allows website owners to view how many people are on the website at the current time.

Apple on the environment; IBM; more


Apple environment chief Lisa Jackson speaks at Apple Distinguished Educator conference — Apple Vice President of Environmental Initiatives Lisa Jackson spoke to educators about the importance of the environment and Apple’s related work. During her talk, Jackson shared Apple’s work to trying to reach 100% renewable energy across its operations and she said that Apple is “not going to stop until we get to 101%…”

Apple’s deal with IBM is a strategic strike in a larger war — TUAW’s takes is that Enterprise sales aren’t terribly exciting to most. So while there are folks out there underwhelmed by the deal, that’s not to say the deal itself lacks significance. Apple has historically lacked an enterprise focus, though this has changed considerably in recent years. The deal with IBM therefore represents just the latest step Apple is making towards getting iOS devices out and into as many hands as possible.

Getting the most from external hard drives — Not long ago, Macworld put the new Mac Pro to the test on the front of connectivity and external drive performance. At one point the test involved 36 devices connected via Thunderbolt, USB 3, and even FireWire 800 (via Thunderbolt docks), including an extensive list of external hard drives plus an Apple Thunderbolt display, two Apple Cinema Displays, and a 27-inch HP LED display (pictured, above). The results shed very interesting light on some of the capabilities — and possible limitations — of Thunderbolt daisy chains. [Basically, it comes down to where you place what in the chain for max throughput.]

A lickety-split Mac app for stop-motion video creation — Briefly (Mac App Store link) is a one-trick pony with a limited use case, but the trick it performs is pretty slick and if it suits your needs there may be nothing else you need. Simply put, Briefly (NZ$18.99)  takes a set of photographs and sews them into a single stop-motion video.

Microsoft to cut workforce by 18,000 — Current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has a reputation as someone who cuts middle management.
Microsoft is going through some major turbulence. Today it has announced major layoffs, beginning with 13,000 positions to go immediately, with a total of 18,000 expecting to find themselves out of a job sometime during 2014.

Atmospheric space roguelike Out There gets a huge update, is coming to Mac — France’s Mi Clos Studio once released a charming little game called Out There that scratched a lot of the same itches. Like a randomised choose-your-own-adventure novel with resource management, Out There allowed you to explore alien universes, learn extraterrestrial languages, fight an evil alien civilisation, and more. Now Out There isn’t just getting a sizeable update … it’s also coming to the Mac.

Epic Games releases Unreal Engine 4.3 with Metal API support on iOS and much more — Epic Games has announced Unreal Engine 4.3, the latest version of their gaming engine technology, which includes over 500 updates. Included in the latest version of Unreal Engine is support for Apple’s new Metal API for game developers, first introduced last month at WWDC, for code compiled with the Xcode 6 beta. Unreal Engine launched version 4.0 earlier this year introducing its current subscription model for developers as well as Mac support.

Apps for July


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


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 …].

Apple Mac, iPhone & iPad news for New Zealanders

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