WWDC 2014 Keynote Summary


The Keynote started with a video remind you how amazingly fantastic apps, specifically ones used on Apple platforms, are, with people thanking developers (specifically, those who develop for Apple platforms). After this, Tim Cook walked on stage, continuing to praise developers, and mentioned some facts and figures about WWDC, such as the youngest developer in the audience being thirteen. Segues into reminding the audience that today is not only about iOS, but Mac OS as well, and “the mother of all releases for developers” – which will get an entire section of the keynote devoted to it, which the public will undoubtedly care less about than the other two, but developers cheered.

The Mac OS announcements:

Mr Hair-to-rival-John-Slattery strolled on stage, to crack jokes… shapographic (is that a thing) video ensues, showing the new dock, toolbars, and windows

Translucent windows and dock

New icons of an iOS 7 flavor,  including a translucent trash can.

A dark mode for Mac OS. That’s it, I’m sold now on the design change.

New notification center with an improved Today view with widgets such as clocks, stocks, reminders, as well as 3rd party ones such as ESPN

Spotlight Search is now a big field in the middle of the display, with in-line previews for documents, and web search at the same time. Federighi continues to throw jokes left, right, and center, such as Jony Ive’s custom aluminium spoons with chamfered edges, at such a speed there’s no time for laughs. Maps, movies, and iTunes Store results all show in-line in Spotlight. I wonder if that includes

Calendar has a new Day View

iCloud Drive – access content from Mac OS, iOS, and Windows

Mail – New “Mail Drop” technology, that sends attachments via iCloud for large attachments up to 5GB in size. Markup to doodle over images.

Safari – favorites now hidden in the search bar. Easy subscription to RSS feeds, easier sharing between people, birds eye view of tabs. Visually, Safari now looks exactly like an elongated version of Safari on iOS 7 does. Also features Markup in sharing.

Announcing “Continuity”. That’s right, picking nouns from a dictionary counts as naming a product. AirDrop now works across iOS and Mac OS, devices in proximity can pick up where you left off with documents, emails, and websites. Instant Hotspot lets you automatically turn your phone into a hotspot from your Mac.

Texts and calls can now work through your Mac. Yes, that means exactly what it sounds like.

Craig continues to perform his comedy act, including brushing off a call from his mother, opting instead to call Dr. Dre. Yosemite available to developers today, and a Fall release for the public at the price of nothing. In a turn of events, Apple will be offering a Public Beta of Yosemite this Summer.

On to iOS 8:

Interactive notifications, much like on Mac OS. Also works on the lockscreen.

Double tap now not only shows recent apps now, but people as well.

Safari has the same new tab view

Mail is now a more efficient experience with gestures and a floating compose window

Spotlight does iTunes, Apps, and Movies, and the search bar in Safari does the same Wikipedia trick as on Mac OS

QuickType – locally stored predictive typing for iOS, which stores different language usage with different contacts

iMessage – Message threads can now be left or set to do not disturb. Other new features include tap to talk (and video), people locations, and view all images shared in a thread in one place.

A demonstration happens, with an on-stage selfie and a hair crisis from Craig. Looks like the fun never ends at Apple.

Enterprise enhancements are mentioned, but I’m afraid I don’t understand much about it.

On to Health then. Now, after so many years, you can consolidate all your health information in one single place. Provided you use iOS, naturally. Surely you didn’t expect Apple would actually solve a problem rather than adding to it.

Family Sharing – “The easy way to share what’s important”. Create a family unit with iOS devices and share things with them. That’s right, you have to convert your entire family to iOS. You are free to use what your family dictates. On a positive note though, you can now access the iTunes purchases of up to six family members… providing you all share the same credit card. Enjoy cleaning that mess up.

Photos – search has been improved for albums, locations, times etc. New simplified photo effect editing has been added. Photos for Mac OS will be updated next year to work in similar ways, and work online as well.

App Store – app previews (videos) and app bundles with discounted pricing.

Notification Center gets interactive widgets

3rd party keyboards can now be used in iOS

 

I don’t think the word “Google” was mentioned a single time during this… Bing seemed to be getting a lot of shout-outs though. Your other bingo word to look out for was “Kit”.

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An idea for how apps should be purchased


Just spit-balling here, but it’s an idea nonetheless.

Yes, I acknowledge that there is a vast amount of people who own a smartphone because the phone store sales rep persuaded them to get one instead of a ‘dumbphone’ so don’t really use the ‘smart’ feature of the phones much, but, there is also a large proportion of people who use their phones to their fullest extent.

My idea started off with the frustrations of switching mobile platforms. Admittedly I change my phone significantly more frequently than most people, but the majority do still change their phone, say, when their 24 month contract has ended. They won’t necessarily stay with the same platform. Yet they’ve invested potentially hundreds of dollars into apps. And now they have to buy them all again on a different platform.

Before you point out what you think is a flaw, yes, if you buy a PS3 game you shouldn’t then get the Xbox 360 version for free. But I think mobile apps are different. For starters, they’re at a much lower price point.

Here’s the idea:

  • All apps are free. As in, on the app store/ marketplace/Play store etc, all the apps are listed as free to download. In fact, while I’m thinking about it, let’s also throw in a Windows Phone style incorporated trial version into the apps if the developer so pleases so that you can try basic functionality before unlocking the entire app.
  • The user pays for access to the app by using an account – this is the only flaw, a universal account would be needed (or you’d have an account with every single developer – not so manageable if you have a lot of apps)
  • To appease the platform providers (Apple, Google etc.), the yearly subscription is bought via an in-app purchase, so the platform provider still gets their 30% or so.

As I said, just an idea, but it’s an interesting one. Many companies are trying to push for ‘universal’ accounts, such as Facebook commenting on many websites, Google account commenting on some websites, using your Apple ID to purchase Macs, iPhones, iBooks, movies, TV, music etc. so perhaps this idea could be even more realistic once the battle of universal accounts has been won. I may have confused myself with the account explanation and therefore you as well, so let me clarify: You would pay for the in-app purchase subscription using your Apple ID or Google wallet etc., the current payment system on the platform in question. But to authenticate that you already have a subscription, you would need to prove that somehow on the second platform, thus needing a cross-platform account of some sort. Unless Apple and Google played nice of course… but that’s never going to happen.

Personally, I think I’d be happier with this system of payment. If you like an app, you get to reward the developer on a yearly basis rather than a one-off (of course the subscription price wouldn’t be as high as the current prices to buy apps are so as to be more appealing). Personally, I don’t see any flaws with this purchase model, but do you? If so, please feel free to offer “your two cents” in the comments below.

The new YouTube app


As you may know, last month Apple stated that their license with Google to include the YouTube app pre-installed on iOS devices has ended. What does this mean for you? Well, if you have an iOS device, you can get the new YouTube app from the app store right now. After installing it, you’ll notice it’s slightly different to the Android app with the main feed – you can opt out of Google’s non-subscription based suggestions. That is, you can stick with just seeing uploads from people you subscribe to in your main stream, rather than also see what they comment on, what they rate, and what they add to playlists. Personally, I welcome  this for two reasons; one being that with YouTube preloading on Android bumps subscribed uploads off the list in preference for newer activity which is just someone commenting on a video, and secondly, the entire activity list resulted in browsing through a lengthy stream of potentially uninteresting material.

The animations also feel a bit slicker than the Android ones in that it bounces a bit rather than just sliding to the side, resulting in the new iOS app feeling more polished and thought-out than the Android one.

Apple suing Amazon


And this time, it’s for perfectly founded reasons (Apple suing people, not specifically Amazon in the past). Amazon are creating an ‘Appstore’ that will allow apps to be sold via Android. Apparently, these will be proper apps, not just ‘book stuff’.

iPad 2!


At long last, Apple have finally announced the iPad 2! First thing to notice is that yes, everyone got the name right in their predictions (unlike the 3Gs). It looks amazing. 33% more amazing to be precise. With a rear style akin to the iPod Touch and a grill on the back, this looks old yet very, very new. Why a grill? My guess is because of the 1Ghz dual-core A5 chip. Everything has improved. Two cameras, better graphics, thinner than the iPhone 4 (the world’s thinnest smartphone) and a fast processor. And you’ll be able to get some great new Apple apps for it, such as GarageBand! I have to say, this seems to be Apple’s biggest update to a product ever (e.g. this is like jumping from the original iPhone straight to the iPhone 4). Oh, and it’s being released in a week (in the US, later this month for most other big-on-Apple-products countries).

 

 

 

More in-depth post about the event coming soon – *spoiler alert*  Steve Jobs was back on the stage presenting it!

Double App review: VLC and FileApp Pro


VLC

Publisher: Applidium
Price: Free
Availability: Still available. Apparently Apple aren’t to pleased though. Pulled

The ‘Videos’ app and most other media apps can only play MP4 videos. The VLC program for computers can pretty much handle any format, and the app isn’t too different. While having a very minimalist interface, it does the job. Most of the time.Most .avi videos I’ve made it play have played seamlessly. You know, videos like Diggnation. Some other videos I try don’t play so well. The frame rate drops massively and is unbearable. It doesn’t seem to be able to play audio alone either.The user interface is okay, but still rather awkward. I’m guessing this is because the videos aren’t mp4, so Apple’s video GUI doesn’t work. This is a pain, as you are therefore stuck with a massive scrubbing circle (with only one speed). However, one handy feature is that it remembers for far you are through the video after you press done.

FileApp Pro

Publisher: DigiDNA
 Price: £2.99
Availablity: Available, free version also available.

Now, FileApp Pro isn’t just for videos. Nor is it just for audio. It’s for all kinds of stuff! Images, MP4 videos, PDFs, zips, Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Unfortunately it can only read those file types, but you can create and edit .txt documents. For 59p you’re hardly going to get an office suite, are you? And of course, videos play with Apple’s standard controls, but doesn’t save your progress through the video.Of course, if you want to transfer files from your computer, you can use WiFi (normally slow and not very reliable), iTunes (seriously slow on normal computers), or, for just $10 and a ridiculously mad-but-cool-in-a-way registration system, you can use DiskAid (free 14 day trial before you pay – if you want to keep using it). USB file transfer has never been easier. And it doesn’t only manage file transfer for FileApp! No, it does it for VLC and several download managers! With using FileApp, I haven’t had to load iTunes for the last sixth months.

VLC Publisher: Applidium
Price: Free
Availability: Still available. Apparently Apple aren’t to pleased though.
The ‘Videos’ app and most other media apps can only play MP4 videos. The VLC program for computers can pretty much handle any format, and the app isn’t too different. While having a very minimalist interface, it does the job. Most of the time. Most .avi videos I’ve made it play have played seamlessly. You know, TV shows, Diggnation (all legally obtained, of course). Some other videos I try don’t play so well. The frame rate drops massively and is unbearable. It doesn’t seem to be able to play audio alone either. The user interface is okay, but still rather awkward. I’m guessing this is because the videos aren’t mp4, so Apple’s video GUI doesn’t work. This is a pain, as you are therefore stuck with a massive scrubbing circle (with only one speed). However, one handy feature is that it remembers for far you are through the video after you press done.   FileApp Pro Publisher: DigiDNA Price: £0.59 Availablity: Available, free version also available. Now, FileApp Pro isn’t just for videos. Nor is it just for audio. It’s for all kinds of stuff! Images, MP4 videos, PDFs, zips, Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Unfortunately it can only read those file types, but you can create and edit .txt documents. For 59p you’re hardly going to get an office suite, are you? And of course, videos play with Apple’s standard controls, but doesn’t save your progress through the video. Of course, if you want to transfer files from your computer, you can use WiFi (normally slow and not very reliable), iTunes (seriously slow on normal computers), or, for just $10 and a ridiculously mad-but-cool-in-a-way registration system, you can use DiskAid (free 14 day trial before you pay – if you want to keep using it). USB file transfer has never been easier. And it doesn’t only manage file transfer for FileApp! No, it does it for VLC and several download managers! With using FileApp, I haven’t had to load iTunes for the last three months.

Happy New Year!


Happy 2011! May it be a happy and prosperous new year.

What do we expect on the Apple side of things? An iPhone 5/4Gs (who knows), new iPods (maybe the Classic will get updated at last), hopefully at least the second generation of iPad, maybe a new generation of MacBook Pro. Not forgetting the imminent launch of Mac OS Lion and the Mac App Store.

The Beatles on iTunes!


The later iTunes website image.

At long last, the music by the Beatles is on iTunes. After years of squabbling over the name, the logo and many other bits and pieces, they have ‘struck a deal’, so now fans that have been waiting with bated breath can now get music by the Beatles, not some cover/revival band, but the real thing.

Oh yeah, and Google’s Voice app was finally approved (it was submitted last June!).

Oh dear Digg


Oh dear. As many people know, after Digg updated to V4.0 the iPhone/iPod Touch app stopped working. For starters, this is not doing their app ratings any good, and many users are jumping ship into either the sea or the reddit boat. The Digg interface in Safari is pretty poor, but people weren’t meant to use that as they could use the app. @Digg hasn’t tweeted for two days, but I can only hope that that means they are working on an update for the app and making the site work flawlessly. I can only hope to see an app update soon.

Update: @Digg just tweeted for the first time in two days:
“hey all – our iPhone and Android apps are currently unavailable due to known issues with our API. pls use m.digg.com for the time being.”

By unavailable, they would seem to mean pulled, as I can’t find the digg app on the AppStore anymore.

Is the rest of the world dead? No, but Digg will be if they don’t fix everything soon. They are losing users quickly 😦

Practicality


I went to Camp Bestival a few weekends ago (laugh it up now) and tested how good the iPod Touch/iPhone is in a real life situation. I took my third generation 64GB iPod Touch with me and it was rather hopeless. I originally intended on taking it so that I could listen to some old podcasts during the nights, but there was an official Camp Bestival app, so it was used mainly for that. The app cost £2.99, which is rather a large price considering that all it was was a wirse version of the website, but offline. The background colours of the app (a hill and the sky) did not go well against the titles of the ‘acts’, which were purple. It was even worse, as in an attempt to conserve the battery life, the backlight was turned down, so it was rather hard to see anything. The battery was fully charged when we left for the festival, but drained very quickly. During the Friday, the battery went down to about 55% (just from using the app) and then at the end of Saturday it had gone down to about 25%, and as you probably know, it switches itself off when it gets to 10% and doesn’t turn on again until you plug it in to charge. In another attempt to save the battery life until the end of Sunday, the iPod was turned off (or as Apple calls it, a ‘soft reset’) until we needed to quickly check some timings. Somehow, the iPod limped through Sunday and made it out barely alive at the end. If I had an iPhone 4, I would have filmed some of the acts to see how good the camera is (especially with the quick, bright flashing lights), but instead I filmed it with a budget video camera, and I will somehow be posting the video soon.

(the past tense may be a bit muddled above as I wrote it just after, but couldn’t post it until now)