New MacBook Pro update


As usual, it seems to be time for they frequent and rather unanounced/secretive. This latest lineup includes faster processors and better graphics, along with new hard drive brackets (in the sense of tiers, not affixing). It’s another one of their ‘fairly big improvements, but secretive updates’ that I suppose would annoy those that had recently bought a very expensive and powerful MacBook Pro. But hey, that’s the risk you take with Apple. I guess die-hard fans should be happy they got 16 months of the iPhone 4 being the latest rather than the tyical 12 months and then the next update being rather insignificant. Is it though? I think it does bring several better feautures to the table, the camera alone.

iOS 5 – first impressions


Strangely, the iCloud side of things seem to be my favorite features. I’m sure I would be a huge fan of the previous purchases IF us unfortunate people in the UK could actually access our past TV shows (will we ever be able to??).

So, 5GB of free iCloud space, a free me.com email address and awesome synchronising. It would be nice if all my calendar events now didn’t occur three times for every occurrence, but iCloud seems to have been to keen to merge all my already-linked calendars.

Anyway, being able to download one app update at the same time as another app update is installing is an awesome timesaver and the notifications area is fairly cool. It does feel a lot more slick, but guess what? Not a fan of newsstand. I though I would be, but all it seems to be is a homescreen folder that just has bookshelves instead, specifically for magazine/newspaper apps.  Overall, not as impressed as I though I would be, but my first impressions could have been tinted by the nine hours of hell needing to be justified by something that would need to be little short of 100%-awesome, which did not happen. Instead, it was something 100%-meh,-it’s-got-some-cool-features-but-I-could-probably-live-without-this.-Though-iCloud-is-pretty-neat.

iOS 5 updating hell


(UPDATED as of 9:23AM GMT with ‘conclusion’)

yes, it’s that time of year again. I’ll write this from the present perspective.

so, it’s 10:44PM GMT. I, like many others, had been expecting iOS 5 to be released around 6PM GMT. It was released (aprox.) 6:10GMT. I instantly tried to update, first running into a similar issue as I had done late last night with the iTunes 10.5 update, but it quickly sorted itself (unlike iTunes). 200MB into the download, the internet connection died. So, I tried again. Just under an hour ago it had finally finished downloading (it took ages).

The first thing I saw was along the lines of “iTunes failed to backup this iPod, will wipe now”. I thought “fine, I wiped it two or so weeks ago anyway, so I won’t lose anything important”. However, it wanted to ‘restore’ (to be honest Apple, what you class a ‘restoring’ is FAR from the real definition) it. And, just as had happened when I was un-jailbreaking it trying to update to 4.3.5, it failed to ‘restore’ it.

I had actually encountered this “failed to backup” message twice before in the last few days, but thought nothing of it as it worked the next time. Who knows, maybe if it had been a successful backup rather than third time unlucky, there’d be no issue.

So, what am I doing now? Waiting ages for the 32-bit version of the standalone iTunes setup to finish downloading. Why? Well, the tower PC failed to work, so I had to switch to a second rather unused computer. Which a) doesn’t have the latest version of iTunes and b) is unbearable to use. But why the standalone installer? Apple Software Update is only showing quicktime and safari. and despite iTunes saying 10.5 is available, it seems to be a repeat of last night’s non-existent update.

Once that finishes, what will I have to do? I have no idea. I guess I should wiipe the iPod beforehand, as there’s nowhere near enough space on the second computer’s HDD to back it up. Then, I’ll have to wait another 3 1/2 hours for the iOS 5 update to download again. With Apple, the fun never ends…

As a side note, do you know how easy it was to update to Windows Phone 7.5, even when my phone wasn’t yet ‘cleared’ for the update yet? Incredibly simple. No wiping, no restoring, just trick it into thinking my phone can have it right then, download it, wait a bit, done.

UPDATE:

So, I waited another three and a half hours for the update to download again. Then, it gets halfway through the restore progress (it really shouldn’t be restoring anyway) and says no more disk space on C: to restore the iPod. Not specifically Apple’s fault (this time), but it would have been nice if it could have told me BEFORE I wasted 3 1/2 hours.

I have never been a ‘fan’ of the shift-click on update or restore to select an ipsw file, solely because it had never worked for me (always said it was invalid, even when downloaded from Apple). So, I faced a few options. Re-partition the hard drive (would take hours as would have to shift 30GB+ to the left) and try again (re-downloading the file a third time in total, so yet more time taken), boot into XP (larger partition size with more free space) (tried this, but internet wouldn’t work in XP) or, shift-click.

I decided to go for shift-click. So, I located the ipsw in the AppData>Roaming etc. folder and copied it to the desktop. Then, I removed all large files from the iPod. eventually, I was ready. I held shift and left clicked on ‘update’, then selected the ipsw. It went smoothly at first, but then came up with an error (I think it was 3002? I definitely saw 3002 last night and I think this was the occasion). I really couldn’t be asked to try again, so I just did shift-click restore (already had a backup of the iPod on the computer that refuses to do iOS updates for some obscure reason). At last. After NINE hours of constant issues, I had finally managed to update to iOS 5. I waited for it to update, and once it came to the ‘Set up new iPod’ screen in iTunes, I unplugged it and plugged it back into the syncing computer, managing to restore the backup onto it. So, thanks a bunch Apple for a ‘fun filled’ evening, night and early morning. Unbelievable.

Visionary Steve Jobs dies, aged 56


I switched on my computer monitor, which had live.twit.tv on it. I wasn’t expecting anything apart from to see This Week in Radio Tech about to start (not that I watch that). The first thing I saw was Tom Merritt talking, which I wasn’t too surprised by as he had just been doing Triangulation. However, I then read the red banner at the bottom of the video feed:

“Steve Jobs 1955-2011. Apple confirms Steve Jobs’ Death”

I was completely taken aback. We all knew he was ill, but I for one didn’t expect him to die soon, especially this soon after stepping down. Yes, he had been seriously ill on several occasions, but he always (seemingly) recovered. He hadn’t been looking too well in recent keynotes, but had been his usual enthusiastic enigmatic self.  Nobody cared back then if a product was a repeat, as it was a joy to see someone so truly enthusiastic about a product. Everybody complained about the lack of anything large at yesterday’s keynote, but I expect the reaction would have been slightly different had Steve presented it. Anyway, this isn’t about Tim Cook’s presentation skills (or lack of, debatable), this is about Steve Jobs death.

It is fairly hard to argue that he “wasn’t a great man”. He was. Whether you’re a serious Apple fan or a serious Apple hater, you can hardly argue against his genuine enthusiasm and great visions. Not only did he make Apple what it was early on (with others, but his ‘guiding light’), but then worked Apple back up from almost the ground in 1997.

I can’t really think of much else to say right now, as I’m still ‘in shock’ over it. All I can say is, rest in peace. The world lost a great visionary today.

post-Apple iPhone 5 Event


Firstly, it’s not the iPhone 5, it’s the ‘4S’ 😛

 

The keynote was presented by Tim Cook (amongst the usual Apple folk such as Scott Forstall) completely without Steve Jobs. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen how Tim did with presenting it, but from some videos of him and phone carriers answering questions, he seemed to be the usual “seem as if you’re answering the question, but really completely avoiding it” sort of person.

At long last, iOS has been given a specific release date. Before they announced it, I tweeted:

I’m hoping that they release iOS 5, or at least give us a launch date that’s soon.

Lo and behold, they announced a release data that isn’t too far away. Next Wednesday (the 12th October) to be specific.

After recapping everything that the majority of people following the keynote already knew, they got round to announcing the next iPhone, the iPhone 4S (released on October 14th in Apple’s usual launch countries.).

At last, an iPhone with 64GB of storage. Some people say this is a bit silly given that iOS 5 is rather heavily cloud based, but I personally like having my data physically with me (for various reasons, such as current internet connection speeds are not fast enough for the cloud to be as on-demand as a physical copy is). So, three tiers of iPhone 4S, being:

  • 16GB for $199
  • 32GB for $299
  • 64GB for $399
On the specs side, it has a dual core A5 processor, a dual core graphics chip, an 8MP camera (that can shoot 1080p HD video), has two antennas and is a ‘world phone’.
There’s also this improved voice command integration with Siri (which seems to be exclusive to the 4S). Not many real people seem to be too impressed withthis. Nor should they be, other phones have had usable voice command capabilities for ages. Even my Qtek 9100 from 2006 allowed me to record a voice command that it could then later match to complete a task. Sure, Siri is more modern than that, but it’s not really too impressive.
Also announced was the next iPod Touch, which seems to be pretty much the same, there’s just a white version as well (and apparently a lower price, but I don’t remember the previous $ price).
That’s pretty much all the main stuff… There was some greeting card stuff, but very few people seemed to be excited by the prospect 😛

pre-Apple iPhone 5 event


Well, tomorrow is once again the big day.

Firstly, I wonder who will be presenting it? At a guess, I’d say Tim Cook. However, he doesn’t seem quite as enigmatic and enthusiastic as Steve Jobs was.

What’s on the list to appear? Well, the next iPhone (be it iPhone 5, iPhone 4S etc.).

What do I hope will be announced? I’m hoping that they’ll announce the release of iOS 5 tomorrow. Well, it’d be a smooth time to deploy it.

7 days of Windows Phone 7


(yes, I know I’m late posting this for it to have been 7 days, but I got a bit delayed)

After using Windows Phone 7 for 7 days (so far it’s actually 11 days), I have found it to be a speedy and efficient mobile OS. Whilst it is missing many key features that made be long to return to Windows Mobile or even leap to Android, I made do.

  • It’s great for communication. The speed I can now send a text message or manage emails is amazing. The on-screen keyboard is rather annoyingly small and it is very easy to tap the wrong button , but it’s still bearable (and I can imagine it’s a lot more comfortable to type on the HTC Titan)
  • It’s great for media. Yes, videos (seemingly) need to be converted, but let’s put it this way. The Zune software is a LOT more bearable than iTunes. The limited amount of storage space on WP7 devices can get annoying but isn’t too bad to be a major annoyance. To get a video onto the phone, just plug it into the computer, the Zune software starts, drag and drop the file from the Zune library onto the phone icon in the Zune software and then wait. Simple.
  • The multitasking is rather annoying in WP 7.5. It’s like the iOS 3 to iOS 4 update, where app developers slowly and NOT surely release multitasking capable updates. I’m not quite sure why Microsoft would have wanted to follow this path, especially after seeing how it worked out for Apple.
On the whole, it seems to be the most efficient mobile OS for communication by far. However, it does have many drawbacks and I do have to frequently turn back to Windows Mobile when I really need to get something done properly.

Steve Jobs steps down


Yes, I’ am rather late in ‘reporting’ on this, but I’ve been rather away from technology – not even a phone signal – for  a while.

Steve Jobs has stepped down from his position of CEO at Apple, leaving Tim Cook in-charge as CEO (stepping up from being Chief Operating Officer) at Apple.

Strangely,  while I was watching Windows Weekly  live in the car (as a passenger :P) on a long journey, they were discussing books about Apple and Steve Jobs. That got me thinking, how on earth would Apple cope without Steve? Last time he wasn’t at the helm, ‘not well’ was the answer. I have to say, I then thought further, and couldn’t imagine Apple without Steve, and didn’t think he would be stepping down any time soon.

Well, to my great surprise, the following morning I see in my ZDNet alert emails headlines about Steve Jobs stepping down. Definitely the end of an era.

So, I invite you to speculate in the comments, what IS Apple going to be like without Steve Jobs ‘running the show’? For starters, I don’t see how the keynotes could be as enigmatic or enthusiastic, but will the products follow the same path as before?

(that is of course, comment if you are one of the few people who ever read this :P)

My new computer’s name :P


Right, firstly, (to fill you in) I name the technology I own after characters in the Matrix (hey ,it’s one of the best films ever and most people DO name their technology after something, and normally the same something, a film, an area of science, animals, who knows :p). Here’s the list of used names so far:

  • Neo – My better HP ZV5000. It’s six years old and still has the shelf specs. Unfortunately, it’s also my primary computer, hence my constant PC woes.
  • Trinity – The slightly worse spec ZV5000. Currently resides in a cupboard, but if I had about £80 spare I would turn it into a decent server.
  • Morpheus – The late great Tiny (yes, that was the name of the company). It’s from 2001, but last year I swapped most of the internal parts for some newer ones. However, after two functioning months, the motherboard shorted (by itself). The (now empty) case currently resides on top of a bookcase:

(click on image to see more of the 'funeral')

  •  Link – The router, naturally 😛
  • Operator – My Touch Pro2
  • Tank – The Qtek 9100 (as someone once said it was a “tank of a phone” (it’s rather large))
As you can see, most of the good names have been taken. However, I will hopefully be getting  a new desktop PC soon, and it needs a name. I think it would be in rather poor taste to name it ‘Morpheus’ (as the PC called Morpheus is dead), so the next best names left are ‘Agent Smith’ or ‘Oracle’. Given my distaste for the Oracle Corporation, it looks like it will have to be called ‘Agent Smith’, but that is rather awkward to constantly type, and shortening it to ‘Smith’ just sounds plain :/ Maybe ‘Agent’ for short?

World Wide Developers Conference 2011 – Apple keynote


So, Mac sales are up. Hardly surprising, but good news nonetheless.
Mac OS X Lion:
-over 250 new features
Consisting of multi-touch gestures. I’m pretty sure these already existed. Maybe they just improved them. Oh, it’s the ‘physical realism’ that’s new…
Full screen applications. We already know about this from the original keynote about Lion. Apple basically explains how it will be easily for developers to incorporate it into their apps. Apple has also made ‘a number’ of their apps work full screen as well (Safari, iMovie etc.). The transition to full screen is pretty neat.
Photo Booth has some face detection stuff (and full screen).
Mission Control. Again, we’ve all heard about it. It sounds rather like the Windows 7 window features.
The Mac App Store. Apparently it’s the number one channel for buying software. I find that rather surprising… Anyway, in-app purchases and push notifications are now available. I really don’t like the way iOS is invading the desktop. And there’s the big app page view we all saw before that even has folders. Apart from the icons looking like they have more freedom than a little black square, it’s pretty much identical.
Resume. A pretty cool feature. Imagine the iOS multi-tasking, but when you close it; it still picks up where you left off.
Auto Save. Most of us are probably familiar with computer issues that result in you losing your work. Well, Lion saves it automatically. I guess that will be handy in the most part, but sometimes I want the older version of a document, say, one that hasn’t bee edited to death. Well, Apple seem to have noticed this, as you can turn it off (but that could end in tears) or revert it to how it was when you opened it. Document duplication is actually a handy feature. Going back to my point about wanting to go back, it can restore previous versions, but only delta version (I guess so you don’t have an auto save for every new character you type).
AirDrop. We’ve all been there. Well, at least I have. Rushing around with memory that aren’t formatted for the other person’s system (e.g. NTFS on Linux), rushing back, changing everything… you get the picture. Well, AirDrop allows you to wirelessly share files to nearby users. Kind of like DropBox, but as its P2P, it’ll be faster. Oh, and there’s no setup. Imagine the iOS Wi-Fi connection thing but without the wep keys etc.
Mail. It looks new. Pretty nice looking to be honest. The searching has improved and it has the iOS Mail-style conversation feature.
The Price. Well, for all those big features, also including a Windows Migration assistant and FaceTime built in (amongst other things), it’s pretty cheap. Well, there are no discs. Only available through the Mac App Store for just $29.99 (probably also £29.99 since Apple don’t know how to convert currency for us British… :/ ). At least it’s only a 4GB download. Maybe it’s just a huge patch unlike the seven-or-so-GB Snow Leopard disc. Just circle the whole of July on your calendars.

iOS 5 time! Here’s… Scott! Facts and figures time:
-Over 200,000,000 iOS device sold to date
-Apparently it’s the number one mobile operating system with more than 44% of the market. I’m not doubting that, but I’m pretty sure Google were happy with some recent Android figures. Oh yeah, those were just US. Maybe Google were aware of the other less impressive figures. (Apple’s claim was based on Comscore’s figures for April. Oh, and Android was second.)
-Over 25,000,000 iPads sold in the fourteen months it’s been available. Scott claims they’ve created a whole new category of device. Pretty sure that MS were in the tablet game about a decade ago, amongst others.
Then there are the iTunes and co figures. In the millions and billions… Apple is enjoying a few more exclamation marks when announcing how much has been paid out to developers ($2,500,000,000). Interesting they didn’t show how much developers didn’t get due to Apple’s rather large cut. Also, 225,000,000 iTunes accounts with credit cards and one-click purchasing. I’m surprised there are that many who put faith in their hand wandering across iTunes.

Alerts. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who finds notifications popping up right in the middle of the screen annoying. Introducing Notification Centre. All notifications are now in one place, accessed by swiping down from the top menu (the same style SBSettings users probably use). It looks and sounds rather like the Android notification area. If you’re in an app that doesn’t show the top status bar, a notification bar peeks in from the top. There are also notifications on the lock screen. Not surprising that this seems rather like some features available from Cydia, as apparently Apple hired the guy who made them.
Newsstand. Future Publishing, National Geographic, The Telegraph, The New York Time, Bloomberg… I could go on. Imagine the iBooks bookshelf. Now imagine that, but in the style of a home screen folder. New issues get downloaded automatically in the background and it just looks really really nice. I’m starting to want to update… (see my iOS dilemma post two posts ago).
Twitter. Well, looks like the rumours were right. Humorously, the account used for the demo was @forstall, who still hasn’t tweeted (he did demo a tweet though. The interface looked really nice, a floating bubble above the keyboard.). You can also tweet articles from Safari and location from Maps.
Safari. Another impressive statistic. Apparently 64% of all mobile web browsing is done through safari. It’s easy to see why. Given that there isn’t really a way to make the Opera Mini app (or others) your default iOS browser, you’re rather stuck with it. Not that that’s a bad thing. It does have its shortcomings, but it’s bearable to use. Safari Reader allows you to read just the text of a news story in the browser. I’m guessing advertisers aren’t going to be too happy. Also announced was ‘tabbed browsing’. I’m pretty sure the 8-tab-limit feature has been available in Safari for quite some time. Well, they demonstrate iPad tabbed browsing, which looks pretty much like Safari for Desktop tabbed browsing. Oh, and you can use ‘Tweet Sheet’ to tweet bits like links from in Safari.
To-do lists. I’ve been using a to do list in my pocket since way back when I was using Windows Mobile 2003 on a Dell Axim pocket PC. Anyway, it syncs through iCal (even though WinMo tasks synced through active sync and WinMo Device Centre…). Well, I guess it’s a welcome addition fro those who don’t stray off the Apple path.
Camera. There’s now a lock screen shortcut! I do welcome this feature. With the HTC Wizard you just pressed the camera button and you were there instantly. With iOS, you side, you type in your pass code, you quit the app you were in, you navigate to the camera icon on the home screen and then you’re ready. Not sure how they’re going to deal with speed vs. security (pass code entering or strangers taking thousands of photos). Just read that photos can be taken without entering it (so they went for speed), but previous photos can’t be viewed. At least they think of everything, unlike some other companies I could mention. Another camera feature I’m really excited about is the volume up button is now the shutter button (not sure if it’s replaced it or is a toggle feature. I’m guessing it only functions as it from the lock screen camera feature). As I mentioned above about just pressing a button on the HTC Wizard (a feature I sorely miss on the Touch Pro2. The only button you can assign is holding down the green phone button). At least people don’t need to buy a new iDevice to use the button feature. There’s also photo editing availability right after capturing (in the Camera+ style), which I guess is a lot faster than loading Photoshop Express.
Mail. As I’m about 23 minutes behind typing this (in correlation to the live event0 I’ll quickly blast through the new Mail features: Indentation control, rich-text formatting, draggable addresses, search entire messages, flag messages and S/MIME.
Dictionary: A bit like the iBooks dictionary, you can now use a dictionary on any word in any app (including App Store ones).
Keyboard. Most people I know seem to go ‘urgh’ when I show them a picture of an innovative thumb keyboard (half the keys on one side of the screen, the other half on the other side). Well, you can now turn the iPad keyboard into one. Just hold down on it with your thumbs and drag up, splitting it in half.
PC Free. So, you’ve bought a new iDevice. You tear it out of the packaging (keeping the packaging intact to display to people :P) and… now you have to spend ten minutes with iTunes at a computer setting it up and registering it. No more! Switch on the device the first time and its slide to set up with a pleasant ‘Welcome’. Also, software updates over the air. At long last. Pity that wasn’t available on iOS 4, as if I want this, I’m going to have to wipe my iPod, losing all App Data (even though there’s the iCloud stuff, read on for that). This all seems to be more like a proper operating system in its own right, hence the ‘cut the cord’ pun.
Game Centre. Well, Apple boasts that they have 50 million Game Centre users, whereas Xbox Live has just 30 million. Well, you can’t exactly play a plethora of amazing 3d (models), current, popular and real games on and iDevice, can you? Who’s laughing now, Apple? Well, you can now purchase and download games from directly in Game Centre, so it’s a bit more akin to Xbox live and PSN, but the games still aren’t as great (mainly because they can’t. The PS3 may have low specs, but it’s dedicated to gaming, so don’t expect to be able to play GTA 4 on your iDevice anytime soon. Gangstar (awful draw distance and memory) and Chinatown Wars will have to be enough). (Had a technological hitch that cost ten minutes, so I’m having to get more to the point).
iMessage. You know all those AdMob ads for turning you iPod into an iPhone? Well, now you can message between all iDevices with iOS 5! You can send text, pictures, and videos. There’s also AirPlay mirroring for iPad, so you can do the whole HDMI presentation feature, but without the cable.
You can also sync your iTunes library over Wi-Fi as well! This really does sound like every reason people jailbreak has been brought to iOS…
As I suspected, it’s available for the devices mentioned in a previous post (iPhone 3Gs and 4, iPod touch 3rd and 4th generation, iPad and iPad 2) and will be available for the public this autumn (fall).
iCloud. Steve starts talking about how the computer was always the hub for everything (like I said in the ‘My opinion on Google music’ post). Then the syncing problem. It sounds like, despite Apple having not changed until today, that they were aware of all the issues we had. The ‘hub’ label is moving from your computer to the cloud. I personally don’t like cloud computing as an idea (with somebody else having all your data in some unknown place), but if this simplifies iLife (not the suite, the living the Apple life). Content now gets wirelessly pushed to your device. MobileMe is now iCloud; it’s all wireless and cloud-y. However, ‘MobileMe’ no longer exists. Pity, as I was planning on getting it soon. iCloud won’t have adverts… yet it’s free! (well, the three main apps at least). iBooks now works better wirelessly, content is backed up every day and when you get a new device, you just type in your ID and everything is accessible. The iDocs suite (launched for pocket iOS devices last week but been available on the iPad for quite some time) is now in the cloud and it all works across iDevices, Macs and PCs. There’s also PhotoStream (photos are kept in the cloud for 30 days) but stored permanently on your device if you put it on it.
And now, something I am so glad of that it deserves a whole new paragraph, “anything I’ve bought [in iTunes] I can now download to any of my devices at no additional charge.” At last! No more paying for TV shows, Music and Movies again and again because they were lost in sync! (Can be pushed to up to 10 devices, but hey, it’s a free service.) You get 5GB of storage space free (but music and photos don’t count as part of the 5GB limit, probably because apple makes money from the iTunes sales t be able to afford it…). iCloud runs on iOS 4.3 Beta.
One more thing: From what it seems, music you have that hasn’t been purchased via iTunes gets just the same ‘privileges’ as stuff that has. Sounds like Google Music…
The End, at last. No iPhone 5, as expected. Apologies for the formatting and spacing being everywhere, but I have been running this to a tight schedule from type to ‘print’ as I wanted it to be up as soon as possible, not weeks later.

 

UPDATE on iTunes past purchase restrictions:

As before, you can re-obtain apps (as it assumes it’s an update) and books. In the US and the UK (amongst, many other countries, I’m sure, but haven’t heard any reports on) you can re-obtain music for free. In the US only (it seems) you can re-obtain TV shows. Real pain for those of us in the rest of the world 😦