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Apple iOS 8, what users want

iOS 8 What users want to seeThe latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 7, has been getting a lot of attention.  While many users are ecstatic over the new functionality offered by iOS 7, there could be a few more useful changes.  When iOS 8 comes out sometime in 2014, it would be nice to see some of the following changes implemented.

Hide Those Pesky Default Apps

Don’t get me wrong, I love most of the iOS default apps for email, browsing and other activities, but it would be nice to be able to pick non-Apple apps for these kinds of things.  It probably won’t happen, but would it really be so tough for Apple to let users hide those default apps?  This is something that Apple enthusiasts have been less than enthused about since the first iPhone came out.  Maybe iOS 8 will provide an option to hide the default apps, but don’t hold your breath.

Accounts for Guests or Kids

Yes, it would be nice if Apple’s dream of everyone owning their own device were somehow magically transformed into reality, but a lot of families just don’t have the financial wherewithal to get an iPhone for both parents and each of the kids.  It would be peachy if Apple would figure out how to provide a guest/child account that doesn’t affect the principle settings and data on the device.  Surely, it wouldn’t be that difficult to provide the structure for a single-tap account that does not save its own settings and data.

Managing Apps

With the advent of iOS 7, apps can now be automatically updated, but this should not be the end of it.  Developers have a tough time dealing with app data on iCloud when it should be fairly easy to save (or restore) the app’s associated data when an app is removed or reinstalled.  It wouldn’t be too terribly difficult to offer app trials along with paid versions so that developers don’t have to do the in-app-purchase or replacement app shuffle, either.

Inter-App Communication Improvement

We’ve all been in the middle of using an app, only to be transferred to another app.  When you get done with the secondary app, you don’t always get shunted back to the original app.  The workflow between apps when making changes to documents presents its own nightmare landscape because the document won’t always update in the other relevant apps, leaving you with various stages of the document in several different apps.  This shouldn’t be too difficult to correct; it just requires better inter-app communication.

Improved Management of Documents

All right, I’m just going to say it outright: Can we please get some type of centralized document access in iOS?  Sure, you can employ Dropbox as a surrogate for a real file system, but iCloud could provide the service, if Apple would just take the time to integrate all the discrete parts of the current iCloud configuration.  The lack of a serviceable workflow in iCloud is extremely disappointing.

FaceTime Conferencing

This one isn’t specifically tied to iOS, but FaceTime got its beginnings on Apple’s mobile operating system, so that’s probably the best place to start trying to implement FaceTime conference calling.  Wouldn’t it be great to make a FaceTime call that included several devices, rather than having a whole crowd of people trying to share a single device?  FaceTime is awesome, and this limitation just doesn’t make sense.

Do Not Disturb Upgrades

While iOS 7 does make some improvements to the Do Not Disturb function, it can still only handle a single schedule.  Introducing separate schedules for weekend and weekday use would be a huge improvement to the current Do Not Disturb option.

Apple, We’re Giving You a Year

The new iOS 7 provides some pretty neat new features and functions, but it’s still missing some of the basic improvements listed above.  Users are already talking about what they’d like to see in the next version, so Apple might do well to heed the rumblings coming from the masses that use their devices.  Most of these changes wouldn’t be terribly hard to make into reality.  Apple, we’re looking forward to iOS 8.  Can we have some of these options, pretty please?

 
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Apple iPhone 5S Tips and Tricks

iPhone 5S tips and tricksIt’s finally arrived and everyone has had a couple of weeks to get used to the new iPhone 5S and its attendant iOS 7.  The handset itself has some new features; iOS 7 has a whole new feel.  If you’re still in possession of an older iPhone, like the iPhone 4, 4S or 5, you can install iOS 7 on your device for free (although you’ll need around three gigs of free space on your device to do so).  If you’re one of the lucky duckies with the brand new 5S, you’ve already got iOS 7 and you’re probably pretty pleased with the new operating system for Apple’s flagship handset.  So, let’s look at a few of the new features and tips and tricks for the iPhone 5S and iOS 7.

Swiping Gets New Dimensions

While swiping has always been a big part of using an iPhone, iOS 7 brings a whole new dimension to the action.  Instead of just swiping left or right to move between screens, or swiping up or down to access specific features like the camera, you can now swipe from any edge of the screen to access new features or content.  While it’s intended to make navigation easier, users aren’t provided with a “comprehensive swiping guide,” meaning that you don’t always know when to swipe, or where, for specific features.  You can always just keep using your iPhone 5S as though it has no new swiping capabilities (i.e. tapping an icon/button) but it’s a lot more fun to explore by swiping from different edges of various screens to see what fun new capabilities pop up.  Just remember what you did in case something cool happens!

There are lots of different swipe capabilities in various apps, but some of the basic swipes are:

  • Also available in iOS 6, swiping up from the bottom, right-hand corner of the lock screen accesses the camera.
  • Swipe up from the bottom of the screen, either locked or unlocked, to access the Control Center.  This feature is meant to allow easy access to apps you use often like the flashlight or the clock, as well as settings like Wi-Fi and Airplane Mode.  Volume for audio and video can also be controlled here, but ringer and alert volume is still set with the volume buttons.
  • From the top edge of an unlocked screen, swipe down to access the Notification Center.  The Notification Center has the highlights of the day from weather to stock quotes and more.  You can access notifications from Gmail, Facebook or other services by tapping the “All” or “Missed” tags.  Swiping down from any other point on an unlocked screen will take you to the search box for your device.
  • Many apps will now respond to left and right swipes.  Not all have this feature, but several popular ones do.  Safari now has left and right swiping that can be utilized instead of the forward and back buttons.

Photo Sharing and Organization

Your photos will now be automatically organized into “moments.”  The organization is based on when and where the photos were taken and several moments will be grouped together to form “collections.”  The downside is that the organization is completely automated, meaning that you can’t change the collections, which are automatically grouped by year.  The upside is that you won’t have hordes of random photos floating around in your device.

Sharing photos from a vacation or other event becomes much easier because you can share whole moments just by tapping the “Share” button, located at the right side of the moment header.  Make sure you’re hitting the right button (a menu will pop out along the bottom); it’s easy to accidentally miss the “Share” button and tap the “Select” button that’s just above it.  From the menu that pops up, you can choose to share the moment by posting to Flickr or Facebook or by email or text message.

Siri Gains Understanding…and Other Stuff

You know there’s been at least one time that you’ve been trying to make yourself clear to Siri and you’ve wanted to hurl your iPhone at a wall in frustration.  You don’t have to endlessly repeat yourself anymore.  Now, there’s a “tap to edit” option for Siri that allows you to make a change manually.  No, you shouldn’t have to deal with that with a voice search app, but changing a single letter is a whole lot faster and easier than tapping out the whole search phrase.

Have you ever wished Siri sounded a little tougher, more masculine?  Well, wish no more!  You can effectively change Siri’s sex just by going to Settings, tapping “general,” followed by “Siri,” and finally “Voice Gender.”

Siri can now also be employed to return recent or missed calls or to change the device settings.  Siri also has a new ability to give turn-by-turn directions when you’re on foot.  Previously, Siri could only give vocal directions from Maps; these are, of course, driving directions, not walking directions.

Free Stuff

Apple has a new, free, streaming music service called iTunes Radio.  You can find it by clicking on your Music icon and choosing the “Radio” option at the bottom.  You can create your own stations with the musical genres that most appeal to you.  You can even tell iTunes Radio how much you like a song by pressing the star while the song is playing; you can choose to ask the service to play more songs like it, or to remove it from the rotation completely.  Stations can also be created using favorite songs or artists.  It’s completely free (meaning, you’re going to have to put up with ads), but you can subscribe to iTunes Match for a little more than $2 a month ($25 annual fee) and eliminate the ads completely.

There are other free apps that you might be eligible for, including Pages (word processing), Numbers (spreadsheets), Keynote (presentations), iPhoto (editing photos) and iMovie (editing video).  These apps typically cost between $5 and $10 each, but you qualify to get them for free when you purchase a new iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.  This offer applies to all purchases of these devices purchased since September 1st.  After the new device is activated, the free apps can be shared with other devices on the account that have been upgraded to iOS 7.

Biometric Security

With the new fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5S, it’s possible to make sure your device is completely protected without having to enter a passcode every time you want to use it.  Many users choose to forego securing their devices because passcodes can be irritating and disruptive.  Using your fingerprint is faster than a passcode, and safer, too.

You can set up your biometric security fairly easily.  The device walks you through the entire process, step by step.  Once you get the initial fingerprint scan done, you can choose to scan more fingers, be they yours or someone else’s that you trust to access your device.  You can start the new fingerprint setup by going to Settings, then tapping “General,” followed by “Passcode & Fingerprint.”  You can add up to four additional prints that can access the device.  Passcode screens will still pop up, but unless the device specifically requires the passcode, a fingerprint will usually work on these screens.

It’s important to remember that the device needs to be on the screen for the fingerprint scanner.  You can get to this screen quickly by depressing the Home button firmly and then allowing the button to come back to its original position while maintaining light contact with it.  The first action activates the screen and the second serves to unlock the device.

 

 

 

 

 
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Burberry Gives iPhone 5S a Chance to Show Off

Published on September 17, 2013 by in Apple, iPhone, News

iPhone 5S and BurberryThe iPhone 5S saw a lot of changes from its predecessor, the iPhone 5.  Some of those changes were pertaining to the built-in camera on the device.  Ahead of its September 20th availability date, the iPhone 5S and its camera got a little attention from the fashion world.

Pictures from a Fashion Show

When Apple introduced the iPhone 5S on September 10th, the company made several claims regarding the new camera capabilities.  Fashion company Burberry decided to employ the iPhone 5S to take still shots of their fashion show; it was also used for capturing celebrity photos and videos of the Spring/Summer Fashion Show in London on Monday.  The show represented the first opportunity to see the new flagship handset device outside of Apple’s introduction at its media event.

Pictures and video from the event are now available on Burberry’s site, showing some of the capabilities of the new camera in greater detail.  There’s a video stream that is reported to have been shot in the device’s native video app; TurtleHead Pro and FiLMiC Pro were also used.

Some criticism has been made of a series of images taken with the 5S prior to the show that were modified through application of gel filters because it is perceived as diminishing to the technology, but iOS 7 comes with built-in software that includes image filters.  This makes the addition of gels a lesser sin than it might have otherwise been.  Some of the highlights of the videos posted from the iPhone 5S include the slow-motion feature that was switched on at the end of the show, providing slow-motion capture of the flower petals that were raining from above the runway and a Vine that showcases the sketching of one of the creations for the show.

Fashion and Technology Meet…Again

This isn’t the first time that a fashion company has made use of new technology.  Samsung and Dana Lopez formed a partnership around its Galaxy Gear, wherein Lopez designed jewelry to compliment the smart watch.  This latest pairing also follows Diane Von Furstenberg’s association with Google Glass; the designer wanted Google Glass, a wearable computer, to capture footage behind the scenes at her event.  While these devices were parts of the show, the iPhone 5S stayed a spectator, reporting images and video from the audience perspective, rather than from the runway.

iPhone 5S Burberry fashion show

 

 

 

 
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Apple’s iPhone 5C Offers Individual Flair

Published on September 16, 2013 by in Apple, iPhone

Apple released two new versions of its flagship handset, the iPhone, at a media event held on September 10th at its headquarters in Cupertino, California.  One of them, the iPhone 5S, was discussed in great detail on this page recently.  The other, the iPhone 5C, deserves a deeper look, too, so here’s the rundown.

Apple’s iPhone 5C Pops

When you visit Apple’s website these days, you’re going to see how much the company expects from the lower-cost, plastic-cased iPhone 5C.  It’s the first thing you see when the iPhone section of the site loads and its colors fairly jump off the screen.  Its placement is set above even the iPhone 5S with its cool, new biometric security option.

The iPhone 5C is offered in an array of five stunning and eye-catching colors.  Its price is just about half that of the iPhone 5S when purchased with a service agreement.  The two new guys in the iPhone neighborhood have persuaded Apple to drop the iPhone 5, even though the 5C is basically just a repackaged iPhone 5, with many of the same features and parts.

The colors offered include red, yellow, green, blue and white and are already being marketed as the iPhone for anyone who values their individuality (and let’s face it, that’s smart, because who doesn’t value their individuality?).  The new handsets are “for the colorful,” according to the company, meaning that the iPhone 5C is more hip and less conformist than its brethren.

Color, Color Everywhere!

The iOS system plays into the whole color concept, too.  The pre-installed, default wallpapers available on the iPhone 5C feature the same color as the case, giving the whole thing a monochromatic, cohesive color style.  While you don’t have to use the default wallpaper, it might appeal to those users who have a soft spot for their favorite color.

The cases that are being offered by Apple for the iPhone 5C also have a neat little difference: they feature cutout circles on the back of the case that allow the base color of the phone to shine through.  This opens up an entirely new way to make your iPhone 5C reflect your personal style and taste.  The cutout cases are offered in six different colors; combined with the five colors available on the iPhone 5C, this provides a total of thirty different color combinations.  While the plastic case of the iPhone 5C is sturdier than that of the other iPhone handsets, they could still use some protection against sudden shocks and falls.  With the nifty colors and cutouts, Apple’s case offerings protect your iPhone while giving it a fun flair.

Color is Nothing New for Apple Products

Bright colors and fun designs are a hallmark of Apple products.  Steve Jobs, upon introducing iMac computers in 1998, called the current crop of personal computers “ugly.”   When the iMac G3 came out, it was offered in a transparent, curvy design in the very colorful “Bondi Blue.”  The G3 was touted as a chic machine, not a geek machine.  And the strategy worked.  Sales of the G3 soared and in January 1999, Apple was offering the G3 in colors like Strawberry, Tangerine, Grape, Lime and Blueberry.  Subsequently, the G3 was offered in shades like Graphite, Snow, Indigo and Ruby, as well as a more hip “Flower Power” tie-dye design and the fun and funky “Blue Dalmatian” options.  Thirteen “flavors” were eventually offered for the iMac G3.

This obsession with color only became more apparent as the company released more products.  From iPods to laptops, and now iPhones, Apple loves color, and so do the customers.

 

 

 
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Inside Apple Touch ID

Published on September 14, 2013 by in Apple, iPhone, News

 

The new Home button biometric scanner was creating buzz long before it was introduced.  When Apple purchased AuthenTec last year (for over $350 million), rumors began to race through the online grapevine regarding what the tech giant might be up to.  When the iPhone 5S was still just a rumor itself, many avid Apple followers were proclaiming the existence of a fingerprint scanner embedded in the device’s Home button.

The buzz around the iPhone 5S hasn’t grown quieter since its introduction.  Users are raving about the new Touch ID biometric sensor that has been incorporated into the Home button of the newest generation of iPhone.  Here’s a look inside the newest Apple craze.

Touch ID Increases Security

After the introduction of the new generation of iPhones, the rumors were proven to be based in fact.  Apple’s new device does indeed have biometric security, which is, quite possibly, one of its best selling points.  Right now, Touch ID doesn’t do anything other than provide security, as well as allowing the verification of purchases in iTunes and the App Store; however, it is almost certain that app developers will find some use for it.  Apple is also planning to add additional functions to the new feature, according to the latest scuttlebutt.

Apple has increased the inherent security of a fingerprint scanning device by refusing to store fingerprint data either on iCloud or within the sensor.  The encrypted data is instead stored on the new A7 processer chip.  The data is erased when a device undergoes a reboot or has not been used within the last 48 hours.  If the data is discarded, it’s not too much trouble to fix; you just have to enter your passcode again and all is well.

The Technology

The Touch ID sensor can read your sub-dermal layers to identify your unique fingerprint.  This is accomplished with a 500-pixel-per-inch scanning sensor that can read from many angles.  We all know that fingerprints, much like voice prints, are different for each individual.  The security provided by requiring a fingerprint is far greater than that provided by a simple passcode.

Versatility with Additional Users

Inside Apple SmartIDThe Touch ID can recognize up to five individual users.  This allows for settings to be user-specific, which is especially useful if you have children who play games or use the phone for other activities.  Setting up each user requires that user to press their finger (any finger, you’re not limited to a thumb or index print) to the sensor from several angles, allowing the sensor to read and save each individual loop and whorl in your fingerprint.  The sensor puts all the angles together to form a 3D picture of the fingerprint to use as a reference.

Durability

The Home button on the iPhone 5S has been upgraded to an extremely scratch-resistant material composed of sapphire crystal.  The steel detection ring that encircles the Home button is required so that the scanner will work when a finger is pressed against it, rather than having to swipe your finger across the sensor as is common in most fingerprint scanners.

Apple admits to the Touch ID having a few drawbacks, mostly related to moisture or other debris that might result in a false reading.  There may also be some problems if you have scars disrupting your fingerprint, but unless all ten of your fingertips are scarred, you could just choose one of your unmarked fingerprints to serve as your identification.

 

 
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