- Apple releases update for Remote for iPhone and iPad
- Pocket for iPhone and iPad brings improved Evernote integration and sharing to Tweetbot
- Angry Birds Star Wars updates with 20 new levels, Princess Leia, and more
- Apple releases iTunes 11
- Timer 2.0 brings same great timers, new great expansion options
- Former head of iPod, Tony Fadell, talks about his early days at Apple, his feelings about Scott Forstall, and the future
- Fantastical comes to iPhone, makes appointment entry ridiculously easy
- Will.i.am unveils horribly overpriced punctuation-laden iPhone camera accessories
- 500px for iPhone and iPad review
- iTunes 11 still launching this week, was delayed due to engineering issues
Posted: 29 Nov 2012 12:41 PM PST
In addition to releasing iTunes 11, Apple has also released Remote 3.0 for iPhone and iPad in the iOS App Store to be in perfect sync with the new iTunes. Remote is now simply and easier to use with the addition of Up Next and new ways to browse your library. The iPad version of Remote will also show all the songs in an album with the new Expanded view. The search feature is also more powerful and delivers results as you type.
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Posted: 29 Nov 2012 11:24 AM PST
Right on the heals of its big brother's update, Pocket for iPhone and iPad has been updated with similar features including improved Evernote sharing as well redesigned Tweet Attribution and the ability to share to Tweetbot.
Improved Evernote integration in Pocket includes notebook selection, preservation of tags and comments, and an option to include the full article. Sharing to Evernote also now supports the 印象笔记 service in China.
Tweet Attribution has also been redesigned with support for replying, favoriting, retweeting, opening a tweet in Safari, and opening a person's Twitter profile in Safari.
Last, but definitely not least, Pocket for iPhone and iPad now lets users share to the extremely popular Twitter app Tweetbot.
The most popular read-later services available to Mac and iOS users are Pocket, Instapaper, and Readability. Which of these do you prefer? And if you're a Mac user who prefers Pocket, what do you think of this update?
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Posted: 29 Nov 2012 10:49 AM PST
Angry Birds Star Wars has been updated with 20 new levels on the ice world of Hoth, a new pink bird that stars as Princess Leia, and more.
As the birds head to the ice world of Hoth, Princess Leia joins the Rebels with her special ability -- a power GFD device that draw items to her. In addition to the 20 new levels on this world, there are also new bonus levels to be discovered.
Have you picked up this update, yet? If you're able to pry your eyes away from it, let us know what you think!
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Posted: 29 Nov 2012 10:06 AM PST
Apple has released iTunes 11. Grab it now via the Mac App Store's Software Update. It introduces a completely redesigned interface, a new store, playback syncing, improved search, a new MiniPlayer, and better iCloud integration.
The new interface of iTunes 11 features an edge-to-edge design, custom designs for each album, movie, or TV show in your library, and getting personal recommendations when you visit the Store.
The new Store has also been redesigned to have a cleaner look making it easier to discover new music. It's actually very similar to the App Store on the iPhone and iPad with the scrolling features at the top and other categories below that also scroll horizontally and separated by other features.
The improved iCloud integration now works like you'd expect iCloud to work with iTunes. When you purchase music, movies, and TV shows, they will appear inside your library. Groundbreaking, I know! A simple double-click will play them directly from iCloud or you can sync to a device or play while offline.
The new MiniPlayer in iTunes 11 is featured top and center and now includes a lot more information in a lot less space. In addition to the song and artist names and other relevant information, the MiniPlayer also includes a button that shows you a list called Up Next of what's playing next. Don't like what's up next? No problem! Either remove it, move to a different spot in the queue, or add songs before it. You can also find many other actions by clicking the arrow next to any of the songs listed in Up Next.
Some other new features of iTunes 11 include an improved search across you're entire library (like Spotlight) and playback syncing with iCloud so that you can pick up where you left off regardless of which devices you're using.
Users have been impatiently waiting for this release, so now that it's out, what do you think? Love it or hate it? Sound off in the comment below!
Posted: 29 Nov 2012 08:51 AM PST
Timer by App Cubby launched as an inexpensive way to quickly and easily set single or multiple count-down timers on the iPhone. Since Apple's built-in Clock app only allows for a single timer at once, Timer was well worth the $0.99 it originally cost. Recently, however, App Cubby made it free. And now they're further upping the ante with Timer 2.0. It's still free, but the new version comes with the option to add even more features via in-app purchase.
Thanks to the iPhone 5 and iPod touch 5 16:9 display, you still get the same 12 pre-set timers, as well as 2 customizable timers. Any of them, and all of them, available at the tap of a button.
Among the options for Timer 2.0 are theme packs at $0.99 each, including anodyne, halcyon, dulcet, incandescent, brazen, clicky, midnight, glimmer, and gallery. Sound packs, also at $0.99 each, include serene, nature, and future. The glyph pack is $1.99 and includes 400 symbols to use in your timer labels. If a la carte feels too expensive or too involved, you can also pick up all sound bundles for only $1.99, all themes for only $4.99, or the ultimate bundle for only $9.99. And bundles include not only current content, but future content as well. Buying any of the in-app purchases also removes the ad (an icon, middle bottom, that suggests other apps you might like to try).
The free version of Timer, without a single in-app purchase, is fully functional. The in-app purchases are just icing on the cake -- a way to liven up the app after having used it for a while, and to tip the developers for a job well done.
Timer 2.0 is a great app and an interesting App Store experiment. It lets users try before they buy, removing the fear of purchasing, and still gives them an option to pay real money to support the developer and ensure work on the app continues.
I had a chance to talk to David Barnard, App Cubby's producer, about all the work and the thought process that went into making Timer 2.0, and into how to best sell it on the App Store. If you're interested in development and the App Store economy, it's a must-listen:
Timer 2.0 is available now on the App Store at the low, low price of free. Give it a try.
Posted: 29 Nov 2012 08:44 AM PST
Tony Fadell, former head of iPod at Apple, recently did an interview about his new product, the Nest thermostat, but also touched on the challenges of bringing the original iPod to market. The interviewer, Leo Kelion, pushed Fadell hard on his feelings about recently ousted senior vice-president of iOS, Scott Forstall](http://www.imore.com/tim-cook-apple), which whom Fadell is rumored not have gotten along, and about how Apple will fare now, sans-Forstall. Here's the's horrible BBC video embed:
So, in sum, Fadell seems to be enjoying his schadenfreude spritzers, thinks Apple will be just fine, and likes where he's going with the Nest.
Posted: 29 Nov 2012 06:26 AM PST
I have a love/hate relationship with Flexibits' Fantastical. There is absolutely no faster, easier, more human way to enter appointments into your calendar. And because of that, my calendar -- previously a wasteland -- is now bristling with appointments. My only saving grace was that Fantastical was bound to my Mac, and I couldn't use it when I was out and about, with only an iPhone in my pocket. But with Fantastical's terrible awesomeness coming to the iPhone, I can now fill up my calendar faster, easier, and more humanly than ever before on the go, and no matter where I am. I'm organized now. I have no excuse left not to be. Dagnabit.
If you haven't used Fantastical before, it fixes almost everything that's wrong with Apple's built-in, kludgy Calendar app. Instead of tapping and filling in appointment or event details, you just type in natural language phrases and Fantastical parses it and creates the entry. "Lunch with Leanna at 8", "movie on Saturday with Georgia", "call on the 28th with Phil and Kevin", Fantastical takes it all in and makes it just work. Like Siri, but with a type-driven, instead of voice-driven, interface. If you want to edit all the fine details you can do that as well, of course. But the point is you don't have to until you want to.
The iPhone version makes great use of the smaller (than Mac) display, presenting 2 perpendicular scroll views. On the top is a horizontally scrolling date list. Tap a date, go to that date. Tap the top bar, go to today's date. On the bottom is a list view of all your events. Tap an event, get the details to that event.
And Flexibits absolutely, positively, gloriously nailed the bi-directional scrolling in a way that just feels perfect. Scroll the dates and the events change, scroll the events and the dates change. Flick and they both whizz by in perfect synchronicity, always slowing and stopping on a full event break.
If you want to see a month view, just pull down on the dates and either peak at it, or keep pulling to switch completely. If you want to peak or go back, just pull down again. (It's a state-toggle gesture, not a window shade analog.)
To add an appointment, tap the + button and, as described above, simply write what you want to add. Appointments get added to your default calendar, but you can also tap Show Details and edit everything in a more traditional manner, including changing the calendar, adding repetitions, making events all-day, and more. If you're using the iCloud calendar or a Google calendar, or any calendar with sync, the event will propagate across your devices just as you'd expect.
There are a lot of other great little touches in Fantastical for iPhone as well, like how words animate and playfully saunter down from the entry field to the calendar. , and how, as you type times and dates, the calendar flips, also playfully, to the right page. No part of the user experience has been left unpolished or anything less than delightful.
With the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, and iPod touch 5, you can also use the built in iOS voice dictation to get a Siri-like effect by simply saying your natural-language event phrase. That means Fantastical can actually handle natural language through speech or type, which is a huge advantage. (I've wanted Siri to handle text queries via Spotlight for a while now for just that reason -- sometimes it's easier to talk, sometimes quite inopportune.)
I've been using Fantastical for iPhone for a while now, and I haven't touched Apple's Calendar app since. It's been reverse Sherlocked -- Flexibits saw an opportunity where the built-in app wasn't meeting a need, and provided a compelling alternative.
That doesn't mean it's for everybody, however. To be as focused as it is, Fantastical leaves out some things as well. There's no landscape mode, no week view, and no a lot of other features that other calendar apps absolutely nail. For me, speed of entry and speed of lookup are the most essential element of an iPhone calendar app, and that's Fantastical's forte. For other users and use cases, different priorities will apply.
Like I said at the start, if you want the absolute fastest, easiest, most human way to get appointments into your calendar, you'll want Fantastical for iPhone.
Posted: 28 Nov 2012 08:05 PM PST
Have you ever wanted to have a better camera on your iPhone? How about a physical keyboard? Sure, there are people that want those things. The camera on the iPhone has always been quite good for a smartphone, always leading with quality sensors and optics. But Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas thinks he can make it better, and he's unveiled his new line of "i.am+" accessories with the goal of doing such.
Mr. William James Adams's i.am+ line is a perplexing set of beasts, consisting of four "foto.sosho" cases that add considerable bulk to your iPhone while also adding new elements to the camera. All four add a grip to the right side of the landscape orientation, but sadly don't add do anything fancy with that grip like adding a reserve battery pack for the iPhone. They all also include a built-in flash purported to be of higher power than the single LED bulb on the iPhone, thought you've got to use the shutter button on the case to actuate it and the volume button on your phone.
So, there are four different versions of the foto.sosho? There are, and they come with even more unnecessary punctuation, as seems is the way of Will.i.am. The C.4 is intended for the iPhone 4/4S and has a "modern" look (it's all smooth and lacking in excess accoutrement) in black or white and includes a screw mount for the included standard, 0.67x wide macro, and 0.28x fisheye lens attachments.
If you're not into the modern look, then there's the V.4, which includes the same lenses and mount and adds a slide-out landscape keyboard that pairs with the iPhone via Bluetooth. The V.4 also has vintage styling, which you might think with a slide-out landscape keyboard means it's going to look like an HTC Touch Pro or some other pre-iPhone smartphone, but actually kicks the styling back several decades for something a little more retro chic. The i.am+ foto.sosho V.4 (the punctuation nightmare continues) comes in white/gold or black/silver color combinations.
Lastly, there are the V.5 and L.5 models, which really ratchet things up a notch. The aforementioned C.4 and V.4 only augment the iPhone 4/4S cameras by mounting an additional lens element over the existing hardware, whereas the x.5 models circumvent the iPhone camera hardware entirely by adding on a 14-megapixel sensor with a 5x zoom lens, but only for the iPhone 5. Will.i.am promises that the camera will provide better image quality than what the iPhone offers, but somehow we expect there will be tradeoffs to be made. The V.5 includes just the camera attachment, while the L.5 throws the slide-out keyboard as well. Both x.5 models are of the "vintage" look, with your choice of silver and brown leather, all white leather, or all black leather.
If you're thinking this all sounds pretty ridiculous, you're entirely right. The benefit of the iPhone's camera is that it's not only quite good, but it's also slapped into a slim and light package that slips into your pocket or purse without a worry. There are plenty of existing attachments that allow you to add zoom, wide-angle, and other lenses to the iPhone, and they do it without the excessive bulk of the foto.sosho line. Sure, they don't add a flash, but if we're being honest here, the flash units on point-and-shoot cameras typically fall short of even barely adequate, let alone whatever flash unit is included on these accessories. Take the Olloclip, for example. It just slips on over the corner of your iPhone (a new model for the iPhone 5 is coming soon), and if you don't need it it's easy enough to pop off and leave in your pocket or bag. foto.sosho isn't going to be so quick-and-easy optional.
Aside from the extra weight and thickness of the foto.sosho line, there's also the pricing, which it turns out is the most ridiculous part of this whole exercise. The C.4 is retailing for a whopping £199 and the V.4 for a galling £299. If you're wanting to see those numbers in United States Dollars, that's $318 and $478, respectively. Yes, more than three hundred gorram dollars for an iPhone case with a mount for cheap screw-on lenses, a flash, and a bulk-adding grip. And another $160 if you want to add on a Bluetooth keyboard. Olloclip retails for seventy bucks and includes fisheye, wide-angle, and macro lenses.
Or you can pay £199 to carry around a bulky iPhone with screw-on lens mount with only half of Will.i.am's name attached to it. The only thing saving us from this absurd punctuation.laden nonsense (besides the pricing, which should only appeal to those suffering from empty craniums), is that the foto.sosho will be available only at the three Selfridges stores in London, starting on December 6th. There's also a new i.am+ plus service launching alongside the foto.sosho that aims to needlessly replicate Instagram with basic photo editing and filters.
Pricing for the V.5 and L.5 hasn't been announced, but we wouldn't be surprised to find that it's least another £100 for each level up, making the top-tier L.5 an appalling £499/$798. At that price you've crossed over from point-and-shoot pocket camera range to entry-level DSLR territory. Sure, a Canon EOS Rebel T3i with an 18-55mm lens is quite a bit bulkier than any of the potential iPhone+foto.sosho combinations, but it also will take much better pictures - and it's priced at $699.99.
But, you know, there's always the need to show that you have more money and than sense. Common sense that is, because your style sense will be clearly evident as you walk around with your thick vintage-look iPhone camera thing. Or so we're told.
Posted: 28 Nov 2012 06:37 PM PST
500px is a premium photo sharing platform for professional and aspiring photographers for the web and iPad that has now made its debut to the iPhone, and the iPad version got a nice upgrade as well. It's beautiful. 500px for iPhone and iPad lets you scroll through your friends' activity in Flow, discover gorgeous photography in Popular, browse through photographers' profiles, and more.
500px is marketed for professional and aspiring photographers, so to keep that spirit within 500px, mobile uploads are not available on the iPhone and iPad; all photos must be uploaded through the web. However, you can browse through all the photos and view them on the gorgeous Retina displays of the iPhone and iPad as well as like, mark as favorite, and leave comments.
The iPhone version of 500px has three main sections: Home, Photos, and Your Account (named after you). From Home, you can go to Flow, Following, and Favorites. Everything except Flow is displayed as a grid making it easy to see up to 15 photos at once so you can specifically choose which ones you want to see bigger. Flow is a stream that displays all the recent activity of the people you follow and displays one photo at a time.
In the Photos section, you can find the Popular, Editors' Choice, Upcoming, and Fresh feeds. The are displayed in a grid making it easy to casually browse through what's available.
In Your Account, you can access your Profile or Flow. Profiles show one of the user's most recent photos at the top as a header. I actually don't like this because since the most recent photo is at the bottom of the initial screen, profiles usually look rather repetitive and boring. 500px should either allow users to choose their header image or automatically choose a photo that is further down the user's profile.
The iPad version of 500px is a little different and features a sidebar that gives access to Popular, Editors' Choice, Upcoming, and Fresh. Although the iPad version doesn't have Flow, it does include the 500px Market where you can purchase and download your favorite photos for personal use.
When you sign up for 500px, you are automatically granted a 14-day trial to experience all the available features. Once your 14 days are up, you can choose to continue using a free account or sign up for a premium account that gives you unlimited uploads and collections, a personal portfolio, advanced statistics, and more. A free account allows 10 uploads per week and the ability to sell your photos in the Market. A premium account costs $20/yr and $49.95/yr for the Plus and Awesome memberships, receptively.
The iPhone and iPad app for 500px is absolutely gorgeous and a great way to browse though photos on the platform. Even if you're not a professional or aspiring photographer, you can still use 500px as a way to discover and enjoy fabulous photography.
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Posted: 28 Nov 2012 06:11 PM PST
After its introduction during the September iPhone and iPod event, iTunes 11 was delayed from its initial October launch date to sometime in November. A more radical departure than previous updates, which included Genius Playlists and the ill-fated Ping social music network, iTunes 11 boats a new, more iOS 6 like interface, and deeper, tighter iCloud. When Apple announced the delay, they said iTunes 11 was taking longer than expected to get right. Jessica E. Lessin of The Wall Street Journal adds a little to that:
The WSJ also believes Apple will honor their new launch window and ship iTunes 11 this week, which means tomorrow or Friday. This all comes as part of a profile of Apple senior vice president of internet services, Eddy Cue. Cue, who has traditionally had responsibility for iTunes, the iTunes Store, and the App Store, was given iCloud (then MobileMe), and more recently Maps and Siri following less than successful user experiences following their respective launches.
Services is likely the biggest challenge facing Apple in the near future, and even with Cue's reputation as "Mr. Fixit", he's got his work cut out for him.
Hopefully the extra time spent on iTunes 11 will have been well spent.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
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