A Much Faster Way To Search The App Store

A Much Faster Way To Search The App Store

Alex Heath:

Let’s be honest, searching in the iTunes Store sucks, especially on the desktop. It’s often slow, and the results are difficult to navigate. Apple has tried to simplify things by displaying one result at a time in the App Store on iOS, but that approach also means that it can take longer to find the specific app you want in a sea of knockoffs.

A new web tool called “fnd” makes it easier to quickly search and navigate not just the App Store, but the iTunes Store in general.

A much quicker and more universal search across all of Apple’s digital stores. Super useful.

What’s a ‘carrier update’ for iPhone or iPad and why do we get them?

What’s a ‘carrier update’ for iPhone or iPad and why do we get them?

Allyson Kazmucha:

Carrier updates are used to help your iPhone and iPad communicate with the carrier network. These files typically contain information concerning voice networks, cellular data, voicemail settings, personal hotspot, and any other service your carrier provides. For example, with the recent AT&T visual voicemail issues on iOS 7, the only way for it to be fixed is through a carrier update, since it’s part that makes iOS and your chosen network play nicely together.

This is why people that frequently switch between carriers by swapping SIM cards may receive carrier updates more often than people who keep their SIM card in just one iPhone. For example, if you travel and your iPhone 5s is unlocked, you can simply replace your AT&T SIM with a 3 UK SIM or any other international sim card you’d like. More often than not, the international carrier will push an update to your iPhone so it talks to the network better.

When prompted to install a carrier update, It’s never really explained what the update is going to do and you only really see it when you are upgrading your phone or replacing your handset but feel free to install it anytime you are prompted to do so.

12 Million Downloads for Office for iPad Hides the Truth

12 Million Downloads for Office for iPad Hides the Truth

Alex Heath:

For those who thought Office for iPad was too late to the party, the numbers tell a different story. Today Microsoft announced that Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote combined have been downloaded a staggering 12 million times in one week.

If you doubt that number, then just take a look at the App Store charts.

Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are still ranked as the top three free iPad apps, and they have sat there comfortably for a whole week. Apple was very welcoming on Microsoft’s launch day with big banners advertising Office’s arrival in the App Store.

Another approach that is certainly helping Office’s downloads is Microsoft’s decision to go freemium. The apps are free to download and view documents in, but to edit you need an Office 365 subscription. The base cost for Office 365 is $10 per month, and Apple takes its normal 30% cut of in-app subscriptions that are purchased.

Exactly. Out of those 12 millions downloads who have installed any of the Microsoft Office apps on their iPad, what percentage of them will have subsequently signed up for the £99.99 annual subscription just to be able to create a document on your iPad? Only the power users who are chained to Excel – that’s who and that’s fine but for the majority of iPad consumers, they will only need to use a spreadsheet or write a letter rarely so Apple’s solution of charging a one off fee of $9.99 for their spreadsheet app is the better model. Or of course Google’s free solution.

Comparing Amazon’s Fire TV with Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku boxes

Comparing Amazon’s Fire TV with Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku boxes

LA Times:

The Amazon Fire TV has a Second Screen feature that lets users “fling” Amazon content onto their TVs from their Kindle Fire HDX tablets. This feature will be made available to the iPhone and iPad later this year. The Amazon Fire TV can also mirror the screen of users’ Amazon tablets.

Similar to Apple’s AirPlay feature, it will be interesting to see if it is as easy and reliable as Apple’s solution.

The Amazon Fire TV stands out from the rest thanks to the extra focus Amazon placed on video gaming. Users can use the device to play thousands of games, many of which are free while the rest will be available for purchase – costing $1.85 each on average. Games from notable studios, including EA and Disney, will be available. Amazon is off to a strong start with the inclusion of popular game “Minecraft-Pocket Edition.”

Users can play games using the included remote, the Fire TV mobile app that will launch later or by buying the Fire TV Game Controller, which looks like a traditional video game controller. It sells seperately for $39.99.

This is where Apple TV lags behind at the moment and although you can AirPlay games from your iOS device to your Apple TV, stand-alone you can’t. Although it might not be for long.

Via The Loop.

SmartThings iPhone-controlled Home

SmartThings Founder Sees a Limitless Internet of Things

Patrick Thibodeau:

SmartThings builds a hub that connects to a home router and to sensors that can detect states like motion, moisture, temperature, or presence, such as the comings and goings of pets. But more important, it’s building an open development platform for independent developers and device makers developing tools for the Internet of Things.

For instance, in SmartThings offices, a Sonos wireless speaker suddenly blares with the sound of a barking dog. It sounds very real. A developer created a connection between a door bell and a virtual guard dog that will bark if no one is home.

Why stop at a barking dog?

The wireless speaker can be linked to network enabled smoke detector, which can be used to help spread the alarm and even relay pre-recorded instructions to a child in an emergency.

The possibilities expand creatively.

You wake up, walk into kitchen, where a motion detector senses your presence and knows, because you gave an audible ‘good morning’ signal to your smart phone, that it’s time for you start getting ready for work. A weather app announces the forecast over the speaker and then shifts to the type of music you like at that hour. All are integrated into the SmartThing’s app platform.

You wake up, walk into kitchen, where a motion detector senses your presence and knows, because you gave an audible ‘good morning’ signal to your smart phone, that it’s time for you start getting ready for work. A weather app announces the forecast over the speaker and then shifts to the type of music you like at that hour. All are integrated into the SmartThing’s app platform.

SmartThings, Wemo, Sonos, Philips HUE – They are all embracing the new age of wireless, mobile device managed automation. I am all onboard and will post thoughts and reviews soon.

Microsoft Brings Word, PowerPoint And Excel To iPad

Microsoft Brings Word, PowerPoint And Excel To iPad

Cult of Mac:

Each Office app features a slimmed down version of the dreaded ribbon interface, but it seems like Microsoft has prioritized editing tools to make the workflow easier on the iPad. “I want to do my best work on Windows and I want to do my best work on iPad and I want all of that to accrue to Office,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to Re/code. “It’s really about being able to go where the opportunity is. If we can serve customers who expect our Office 365 everywhere … we will do well.”

It seems new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is admitting that he needs to embrace the iPad and stop fighting against it for Microsoft’s benefit. The Surface – Microsoft’s tablet-come-laptop is never going to outsell the iPad so concentrate on Microsoft’s strengths and get your software on Apple’s devices Nadella- everybody wins.

Philips Expanding ‘Hue’ LED Lighting Line with White Bulbs, Tap-Powered Switch

Philips Expanding ‘Hue’ LED Lighting Line with White Bulbs, Tap-Powered Switch [iOS Blog]

MacRumors:

The second product Philips is announcing today is “hue tap” a round mountable switch to make it easy to control hue lights without needing to access the hue iPhone app. The hue tap includes four buttons to store lighting recipes that are accessible with a simple tap. The hue tap requires no wiring or batteries and is powered simply by the kinetic energy from users tapping on the switch. The hue tap will be available in the second half of this year and will be priced at $60.

No need for re-wiring of your main electrical light switch – this sounds perfect and technologically brilliant. I will be very interested to purchase one of these later this year.

I am just getting into home automation and will write about my findings including Philips Hue lights soon.

Multiple Attachments App Lets You Attach Multiple Files To Email Messages On iOS

Multiple Attachments App Lets You Attach Multiple Files To Email Messages On iOS

MacStories:

Multiple Attachments is clever in that it works with the Open In menu itself and Apple’s Mail app. Every time you need to send a message with multiple files in it, you can send one file at a time to Multiple Attachments using “Open In”; as you keep sending files to the app, it’ll show you their icons and names on its main screen. When you are ready to send a message with those files, hit the Share button and Multiple Attachments will bring up a Mail panel, composing a new message with the files you’ve sent to the app. Then, you only need to confirm the email account you want to send from, and you’re done.

Essentially, Multiple Attachments works as a container of temporary files based on two of Apple’s inter-app communication features – Open In and Mail sharing. The app stores files until you send them (or delete them with the Trash button), and it’s clever in how it combines temporary storage with the ability to send emails outside the main Mail app. Attachments can be previewed individually, and, in my tests, the app performed as advertised, collecting files sent via Open In and sending them as a message with multiple attachments using accounts configured in Mail. It’s a rudimentary solution, but it works.

Someday, it’s likely that Apple will revamp how iOS apps communicate with each other and offer a way to collect multiple files in an email message at once. Until that day, Multiple Attachments provides a simple way to send an email message with multiple files on an iPhone and iPad – it’s a small victory, especially if you work on iOS a lot every day.

Nice app for us iOS power users and as Federico says, Apple are likely to build this functionality into iOS in the future, so for now this is a nice work-around.

You can download it for free here.

iTunes Content May Actually Cost Less After U.K. Tax Change

iTunes Content May Actually Cost Less After U.K. Tax Change

Instead, Apple is serving its digital content to U.K. customers from Ireland, where the VAT rate is 23%.

The Cupertino company confirms this in the “Payment & VAT” help section on its website, which reads: “The VAT rate for Apple customers who purchase Electronic Software Downloads or other Apple products which are classified as services under EU VAT law will be 23% Irish VAT.”

“This is because the place of supply of these products under EU VAT law is Ireland as the country from where Apple Distribution International makes these supplies.”

With that being the case, customers in the U.K. will actually pay less VAT under the new rules, meaning iTunes and App Store prices should fall a little.

In reality, Apple is likely to leave them as they are and pocket the difference — but at least prices won’t be going up like you may have been led to believe.

Potentially good news! Nothing can happen until 2015 anyway but it does sound like the early reports may have jumped the gun.