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App review – Mactracker



Mactracker (free)

Seller – Ian Page

Rated 4+

Version(s) reviewed: 2.2 (mobile); 7.0.1 (desktop)

Requirements:  iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad; iOS 5.0 or later (mobile); OS X 10.7 or later (desktop via Mac App Store); OS X 10.6.8 or later (desktop via direct download from http://www.mactracker.ca)

I used to support Apple products for a living; I’m also a bit of an obsessive completist when it comes to Apple history. As such, I wanted and needed a complete, accurate list of Apple’s hardware and software. Mactracker provides just that sort of list with a fast, intuitive, truly exhaustive enumeration of every Macintosh ever made.  It begins with the 128k Mac and ends with Apple’s present product lineup.

For both the mobile and desktop versions, Ian has laid the information out in several broad classifications, including Desktops, Notebooks, Devices and Software.  Inside those classifications are finer details. For instance, Devices includes Apple TV, Displays, Printers and the Newton, amongst many others.

Tap a category on the mobile app for a list of all the products in that category — as well as beautifully-done icons for each. Tap on an individual product to see a spec sheet that includes details about hardware, software, release dates, support status and just about any other important bit of trivia you might ever need to know about, say, Great-aunt Myrtle’s Bondi Blue iMac.  The same information is present in the desktop, but the interaction is (of course) more point-and-click.  It’s also possible to have spec sheets open for multiple products in the desktop app, and each has its own window.  The mobile app is optimized for iPad, so the tablet layout looks more like the desktop app.

All this information is fascinating and valuable, but ultimately available online for free from all the same resources that Ian has used.  The thing that would have persuaded me to pay actual money for this app — beyond its sheer usefulness — is the fact that the hardware spec sheets include the startup chime for each and every product that had one.  Making a grown-up fangirl remember how she took her first sip of the Kool-Aid is a happy thing indeed.

This app is a godsend for anyone who supports (especially older) Macs or their owners, either professionally or on a “my niece is the Mac expert in the family” basis.

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Google Maps for iOS comparison to Android version – first look

Google Maps for iOS has just hit Apple’s App Store and already it appears to be a massive hit.  Of some 10,000 customer reviews of the app, over 9,000 have been 4- or 5-star, and my first impression of the app bears that out.  I was initially afraid I wouldn’t be able to write this review at all, since I don’t have any iOS 6 devices yet.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the app only requires iOS 5.1 and above, and supports iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S and 5, as well as 3rd, 4th and 5th generation iPod touch and all iPad generations (although it’s not optimized for iPad yet).

The look and feel of the iOS version of the app is lean, clean and necessary, like a samurai sword — or an app designed by Apple itself. Yeah, it’s that pretty.  The iOS version has a link with Google Earth that the Android version doesn’t have. Conversely, Android’s version has multiple layers, some of which are tied into the Google ecosystem and aren’t present in the iOS version.  The Android version also has the ability to make an area available offline, which the iOS version does not.

The first navigation test I gave the app was a bit of a trick question, to be honest.  I live in the Portland, Oregon metro area, about a mile away from a shopping mall with a light rail park and ride station. However, that mall happens to be Clackamas Town Center, which was the site of a tragic shooting a couple of days ago.  What that’s meant for commuters is that this particular light rail station has been closed since Tuesday afternoon and isn’t likely to re-open until the mall itself opens for business again.

I fed both versions of the app my husband’s work commute information, which usually consists of him driving to the park and ride at the mall, then catching the train into downtown Portland.  Both apps showed the TriMet alert about the closed station, but the Android version was quicker at first to suggest an alternate light rail station for the trip.  That said, the iOS app seemed to update within an hour or so, and subsequent downtown trips I threw at it gave me the same information as the Android version.  One other small aside is that the Android version helpfully lists the price of the light rail trip, which the iOS version did not.  That information is certainly helpful if you’re navigating a new city on your own, with only your faithful mobile device as a companion.

Since this is just a first look at the app, I didn’t take the time to fully road test the Navigation feature under driving conditions.  However, I did plug a driving route into both the iOS and Android versions of the app, and then walked out my door and towards my car.  The Android app’s pushy GPS voice piped right up about what the first maneuvers of the drive should be.  The iOS version, on the other hand, had nothing to say, and I was unable to find controls that would allow me to turn on voice guidance, even after verifying that location services for Google Maps was enabled and consulting the in-app help menus.  (And may I say that it should NOT take 5 taps to get to a damn help menu! That’s a fail for the iOS version, and Google should know better…).

On a side note… the app actually announces the directions over your Bluetooth connected speaker!

This is a good first version of Google Maps on iOS, and it’s not likely to strand anyone in the wilderness. It’s just not great yet and it has at least one glaring flaw that precludes its use for turn-by-turn directions.  I’m sure there will be updates aplenty, and soon, to rectify this.  It’s just unfortunate to have such a major feature not immediately work on one of the most iconic mobile devices in the world.  Google Maps for iOS is kind of like that cheerleader you had a crush on in high school — pretty to look at and totally put together, but not quite as smart as you’d like her to be.



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YouTube App made entirely from Google for iOS

YouTube App made by Google

Now you can stream YouTube videos to through you Apple AirPlay using the new updated YouTube App for iOS, version (iPhone 5 and iPad update).  This new app is available today, so for all the YouTube fans out there that want to stream it through AirPlay go download it now.

It’s very exciting to see that Google developed this app 100%, because this just shows their commitment to iOS and I am hoping that we will start seeing more apps from them.

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New iTunes and what to expect

Published on November 25, 2012 by in Apple, Apps, iPad, iPhone, News

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The new iTunes. This is the what Apple has called the upcoming latest version of iTunes. The first thought that goes through most people’s head is “Well what is so different about it?” Well that is what I am here to tell you!

The first thing that I noticed when this new version was introduces was a continuation of Apple’s more recent design policies. They continue to focus on one thing, unification. With the new iTunes you will notice the more modern look that expands upon the current iTunes 10.7 layout. The new layout provides a more uniform experience when switching from the iOS products to iTunes. Rather than having a full control column, Apple has opted for a drop-down menu. Like all the recent UI changes it showcases one thing, it is where it most people would expect it.  The controls are exactly where you would look for them, especially if you have any experience with iOS 6.

The new iTunes on the left , and iTunes 10.7 on the right.

A one other interesting detail about the new iTunes is the updated mini player. The mini player is a small form of iTunes that has been sadly neglected. Currently, the mini player is really just the top left section of iTunes. With the updated mini player you can access your whole library without switching back by searching for the content you would like, and there is the new “Up Next” feature.

iTunes 11 version on the left, current mini player on the right.

Up Next is an interesting addition, it allows you to quickly see the next few songs that iTunes will play and make adjustments as you go. Even allowing you to make adjustments and quickly select what you want next on the fly!

Up Next menu

Have you ever been listening to an album and wanted more like it? Well apparently so has Apple. The In the Store feature will allow you to find similar music quickly, based on your existing preferences.

One of my personal favorite additions is the continued integration with iCloud. This will make it far easier to keep your library consistent across all of your Apple products. This works best if all of your content was purchased in the iTunes store directly. This is not always possible for every user, however there is always iTunes Match for those of us that have music from other sources. This degree of integration is very useful, and easy to use. Just click on the album you want and there it is. Any music you purchase in iTunes while on the go  is easily available for you to access on your home computer! Now the wording on the product description page appears to imply that you will be able to stream any of your purchased music, rather than downloading it (with the option to download directly). Added on to this is the new “Pick up where you left off” feature will make for fun times. This will enable most of your iTunes content (be it a movie, TV show, podcast, iTunes U content, or audiobook) to remember your place without any extra work from you.

iCloud integration! Prometheus DLC purchased separately.

Next up is the iTunes Store. You access it by clicking the Store button in the upper right hand side (and close it by clicking the Library button in the same location). Like with the iOS 6 iTunes and App Stores, the biggest changes are mostly cosmetic. Again Apple has reached for uniformity in this aspect, by trying to make the store look and act the same across all devices.

redesigned iTunes

The other major change that has been announced is the addition of a Preview History button. This feature was first released with iOS 6 and has finally found its way to iTunes. The draw of such a feature is obvious. I can’t remember the names of songs I own, much less a song I looked up three weeks ago.

We should expect to get our hands on the new iTunes soon! MacRumors reports that artists are preparing for the launch in the “next days.”

(All iTunes 11 photos from Apple.com)

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Get this App of the Day: Circa News for iOS

Published on October 15, 2012 by in Apps, iPhone, News


I just downloaded this new app from Circa which I really think will change how I read the news. And by that I mean I think I will actually start reading the news.

The app is designed to provide you with what the people at Circa call a news “snacking” experience. News stories are collected by their editorial staff and broken down into bite sized pieces that fit perfectly on your phone. Choose stories to follow and as the events unfold, new bites will be added to the story.

I’m already way more informed about the next presidential debate than I was for the last one, and not just with jokes about Romney being a robot and Obama being a Kenyan.

The app is free, so I definitely recommend giving it a shot. Let us know what you think.

Download Circa News from the App Store

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