iOS 8.3 Released

 

Josh Centers Writing for TidBITS: iOS 8.3 Triggers an Avalanche of Improvements:

In addition to the new emoji, you might also notice a bit of a speed boost, particularly in these areas that Apple calls out:

  • App launching
  • App responsiveness
  • Messages
  • Wi-Fi
  • Control Center
  • Safari tabs
  • Third-party keyboards
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Simplified Chinese Keyboard

The release notes also boast of improved stability in Phone, Mail, Bluetooth, Photos, Settings, Weather, and Genius Playlists in Music.

I haven’t noticed significant changes on my iPhone 6, however switching between keyboards is now much faster, and scrolling through Safari tabs seems smoother.

iOS 8.3 includes a few Wi-Fi and Bluetooth fixes, addressing issues like being continuously prompted for login credentials, devices randomly disconnecting from Wi-Fi networks, hands-free calls spontaneously disconnecting, and an issue where audio playback could stop working with some Bluetooth speakers.

The update fixes a number of orientation quirks, including a fix for stuck orientations, a fix for upside-down orientations on the iPhone 6 Plus, and an issue that prevented apps from rotating. Apple also claims that orientation rotation performance has been improved (and we’ve noticed that Safari seems to maintain scroll position when changing rotation in Reader View, which wasn’t reliable before).

Messages sees some welcome improvements, such as a fix for group messages that sometimes split, an issue that prevented messages from being forwarded or deleted, and an issue that prevented photo previews from displaying.

There are also improvements with Family Sharing, with increased reliability for Ask to Buy notifications, a fix for a bug that prevented family members from downloading free apps, and a fix for a bug that would prevent apps from launching or updating.

iOS 8.3 includes many more tweaks than we can list here, including improvements to CarPlay, enterprise connectivity, accessibility, and various miscellaneous fixes. They aren’t available online yet, though you can see them before you update.

Check Software Update in Settings on your iPhone or iPad now to get it.

The Verge’s Review Of The Apple Watch

Nilay Patel writing for The Verge:

It’s well after lunch. I’ve had this thing on my wrist for something like six hours now, and the truth is that I’ve barely used it. That’s by design: again, you’re only supposed to interact with the Apple Watch for 10–15 seconds at a time and then get back to your life. On one level, that all makes perfect sense: my regular watch has had a dead battery for over a year. I don’t exactly use it for anything except looking cool. How much am I really supposed to use the Apple Watch to make it worth whatever price I’ve paid for it?

On another level, everything about the watch is designed to reinforce the idea that you have some sort of real life to return to once you’re done using technology — that you’re not just sitting at a desk in your office with your laptop and your phone, getting work done.

That’s the situation I’m in most afternoons — meetings have wrapped up, decisions have been made, and I’m catching up on email, editing, reading the site, and generally setting up the next set of things I have to do. I’m as plugged into the internet as I can possibly be, using my phone and my laptop for slightly different variations of the same task: communicating with people.

This is where the Watch’s lack of speed comes to the forefront — there’s virtually nothing I can’t do faster or better with access to a laptop or a phone except perhaps check the time. It’s not just the small screen or the quick in-and-out interaction design, it’s actual slowness, particularly when it comes to loading data off the phone.

Third-party apps are the main issue: Apple says it’s still working on making them faster ahead of the April 24th launch, but it’s clear that loading an app requires the watch to pull a tremendous amount of data from the phone, and there’s nothing fast about it. I sat through a number of interminable loading screens for apps like CNN, Twitter, The New York Times, and others. Apps that need to pull location data fare even worse: the Uber app takes so long to figure out where you are that you’re better off walking home before someone notices you staring at your $700 watch and makes a move.

Fantastic detailed review from Nilay from a day-in-the-life point of view. As expected from a 1.0 version release, there will be issues relating to bugs they haven’t had time to squash or that extra amount of polish to be applied to the software. I would expect the 1.xx version of the software to fix any lag and stuttering issues.

This however, will take some getting use to make sure an acceptable etiquette is handled – perhaps with the adjustment to the amount of notifications:

After the gym, I head to Betony for drinks with Eater managing editor Sonia Chopra so we can talk about a future of food series for later in the year. So far I’ve mostly used the watch either alone or in an office environment, but it’s really different to have a smartwatch in a bar: here, even small distractions make you seem like a jerk. Sonia’s trying to describe the project to me and find ways to work together, but I keep glancing at my wrist to see extremely unimportant emails fly by.

It turns out that checking your watch over and over again is a gesture that carries a lot of cultural weight. Eventually, Sonia asks me if I need to be somewhere else. We’re both embarrassed, and I’ve mostly just ignored everyone. This is a little too much future all at once.

Entire Star Wars saga headed to iTunes

 

Entire Star Wars saga headed to iTunes this Friday with tons of new bonus material, pre-orders now available | 9to5Mac

Disney announced today that the entire Star Wars saga will finally be available for digital HD download later this week, marking the first time ever that the films have been offered in this format.

As confirmed in the TV spot above and the iTunes tweet below, the entire collection will be available to purchase from the iTunes Store this Friday. Pre-orders are already up and running, with each movie coming in at $19.99 for both SD and HD versions.

They are the ‘Special Editions’ apparently but still great to see Disney bringing the Star Wars universe to iTunes – finally.

Video of John Gruber Meeting ‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ Authors

  

‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ – Meet the Authors Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli at SoHo Apple Store | 9to5Mac

Apple is clearly a fan of the new Becoming Steve Jobs book (review) by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli ($12+Amazon, $13 iBooks, Free Audible). Apple execs including Tim Cook, Jony Ive, Eddy Cue and PR head Steve Dowling have all praised it and it is has headlined the iBookstore for over a week.  Its latest promo of the book is a 49-minute iTunes Podcast video of the authors getting interviewed at the SoHo New York Apple Store.

I watched the video and Gruber was engaging as always plus some fascinating insights – definitely worth a watcher listen. Both the 49-minute video and audio are available here.

Great New Upgrade To SmartThings Hub

  

From the SmartThings Blog:

As we’ve announced, the new SmartThings Hub will come equipped with “AppEngine” functionality. This means that much of the processing that has previously existed in the cloud (ie: SmartApps and device types) can now automatically occur locally in the Hub. Circumventing the cloud will result in a much faster response time with automations.

It will also mean that certain automations (SmartApps; Hello, Home actions, etc.) driven by ZigBee, Z-Wave, or LAN-connected devices will continue to work even if you lose your Internet connection. And because the new Hub contains battery backup capability, certain automations can continue to work for awhile even without power.

Sounds like a fantastic upgrade of the SmartThings hub – having the individual programs work locally via the hub rather than in the cloud will definitely improve the speed and reliability of lights and appliances.