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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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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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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.


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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iPhone 5S breakdown

Published on September 10, 2013 by in Apple, iPhone, News

The big day has finally arrived!  Apple’s media event today went off without a hitch and the company did indeed announce two new next-generation iPhones.  Most of the rumors that have been circulating recently have been proven out.  The iPhone 5S release today saw the advent of biometric security for the device, as well as the A7 64-bit CPU and the new champagne (gold) color option.  This new paragon of smartphones is scheduled to hit stores on September 20th.

iPhone 5s breakdown

Touch ID

The iPhone 5S is the first smartphone to offer biometric security with a Touch ID sensor that allows the phone to be unlocked with just the touch of your fingertip.  This is one of the most noticeable changes to the new generation of iPhones.  The sensor is built into the Home button.  It measures just 170 microns thick and can sense 500 pixels per inch in order to scan the sub-epidermal layers of the user’s skin.  The sensor is capable of reading fingerprints from any orientation in 360°.  The Home button has been upgraded to be composed of sapphire crystal in order to prevent scratches and damage that could impair the sensor.

The sensor has the ability to recognize multiple fingerprints, meaning that specific device parameter may be able to be attached to individual prints, giving parents and others a better way to control access on the device.  The data collected during use of the Touch ID sensor is not exposed to other software nor backed up on Apple’s internal servers.  These precautions give the device a very reliable security feature that cannot be stolen unless the device itself is somehow accessed (unlikely with biometric security).

A7 Processor

The new top-of-the-line iPhone 5S is outfitted with a 64-bit chip that has been used in the past as an exclusive desktop-class chip.  The A7 makes the iPhone 5S the first-ever smartphone to have such capabilities.    The processor contains over one billion transistors, double the amount available in the A6.  The next generation of the operating system, iOS 7, has been designed to take advantage of the new, faster processor with 64-bit capability on libraries, drivers and other aspects of operation.

The new A7 processing powerhouse is roughly twice as fast as that found in the A6.  Graphics performance is also much better, about twice as fast as was available with the A6.  Some Apple higher-ups have boasted about the faster speed of the iPhone 5S, saying that it is about 40x faster than was possible in the original iPhone.

M7 Motion Processor

The iPhone 5S also got a whole new piece of hardware, the M7 motion co-processing chip.  The chip carries out measurements of motion data on a constant basis, meaning that a whole new world of health and fitness apps have opened up for the device.  Some companies, like Nike, have already signed up to take advantage of these new capabilities.  Its app, Nike+Move will utilize both the M7 chip and the internal GPS to track user activity.

Camera Upgrades

The iPhone 5S sees upgrades to its camera, too.  The new design offers an f/2.2 aperture and an Apple-designed 5-element lens.  The sensor area is about 15% larger, allowing larger pixels and higher-quality photos.  With iOS 7, the camera offers automatic white balancing, exposure levels, stabilization and autofocus matrix metering.  It will also automatically choose the photo with the sharpest focus out of a series.

The flash also got an upgrade and has been dubbed as a “True Tone” flash by the company.  The new flash sports dual LEDs and will address issues with color temperatures that have clashed in the past.  The new flash helps improve the quality of low-light photos.

The camera has also been upgraded to offer both a “Burst Mode” that can capture ten FPS (frames per second) and a slow-motion video capture capability that functions at 120 FPS in 720p high definition.  Both new features are easy to access and use, as they are integrated parts of the camera software.

Overall Design

The design of the iPhone 5S is not much different from that of the previous incarnation, the iPhone 5.  The 5S still employs a high-grade aluminum back and cut, chamfered edging.  The new iPhone 5S doesn’t look much different, but it has very different capabilities.  It is also going to be offered in different colors than previous versions, including “space gray,” white with silver accents and the all-new gold option with white accents.

Talk Time and Battery Life

Apple insists that the increased processing power won’t be a huge drain on your battery.  The company claims that the iPhone 5S will be capable of up to ten hours of talk time on 3G and about 250 hours of standby time.  You’ll be able to listen to 40 hours of music in playback and have around ten hours of LTE browse time.

Pricing and Availability

The iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C (also unveiled Tuesday) are expected to be available in stores in the US, Canada, France, the UK, China, Australia and others as of September 20th.  Even with the new capabilities, the iPhone 5S will stick with the price point of its predecessor at $199 when purchased with a two-year service agreement.  This applies only to the entry-level 16-gig model.  If you want to get the 32-gig model, it’ll run you $299 and the 64-gig model will be $399 if purchased with a two-year service agreement.



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Apple’s Trade-In Plan for iPhone is Moving Forward

Published on August 26, 2013 by in Apple, iPhone, News

Apple’s Trade-In Plan for iPhone is Moving Forward

Rumors that have been circulating regarding a trade-in program for iPhones were confirmed Monday, as Apple began training its store employees to handle the new program prior to its launch.  The training sessions are intended to teach retail employees how to evaluate used iPhones.  This round of training will apply to store trainers; they’re expected to start instruction with the next round of employees next week.

The company has already begun a pilot program for iPhone trade-ins at a select few of its Apple Stores.  In these locations, customers can trade their old iPhone in and receive a gift card in return.  The value given for the trade-in is dependent on the condition of the phone.  Employees inspect the trade-in models for various types of damage, including damage from liquid or impact.  The customer must complete an in-store form prior to a value being offered for their old phone.  Restrictions apply as to how the gift card for your trade can be used.  A few of the stipulations include that the gift card’s value must be applied to a new iPhone and that the offer is only valid when the customer has phone upgrade eligibility from their cellular provider.  If any gift card value is available following the new iPhone purchase, it may be applied to additional costs incurred in the retail store.

Details Scarce on Training

Concrete details concerning the actual training being undertaken are few and far between.  Mutterings have surfaced that the program has been implemented, and it is suspected that it concerns the anticipated iPhone trade-in program, but Apple is as famously reticent as ever.  There have been some independent confirmations that Apple is training and preparing employees to handle the ins and outs of a program for trading iPhone models, but Apple isn’t inclined to confirm (or deny) the program’s existence.

Apple observers think that the company may be preparing to launch the program during the September 10th media event where they are also expected to showcase the new generation of iPhones – the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C.  Tim Cook, Apple’s Chief Executive, has remained closed-mouthed on the subject.  Rumors about the program have been in circulation since June of this year.

The General Consensus

This new trade-in program may well boost Apple’s retail sales of the iPhone.  The broad reach of Apple’s 253 retail outlets will likely help the company make gains in its campaign to be responsible for half of all U.S. retail iPhone sales.  The iPhone retains its value very well, making a trade-in program the next logical step in Apple’s plan to increase its retail market share for iPhone.



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