Just Do Something

Just Do Something

John Gruber reminding us on Apple’s focus in light of Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp:

This is the worst sort of advice, suggesting a complete ignorance of everything Apple stands for. (Jay Yarow loves it, of course.) Just buy something. Spend, spend, spend. Acquire. Buy all the spaghetti, throw it against the wall, see what sticks. Wrong. Apple’s model is about focus. Apple wasn’t joking about “a thousand no’s for every yes” — that’s really how they think, what they believe. That’s the DNA.

Only one thing Jackson suggests makes any sense: Apple perhaps acquiring Tesla. I don’t think that’s likely, but I think it’s possible, for two reasons: First, Tesla could be integrated into Apple’s core business — selling high quality, well designed products that work well together. If you can imagine Apple making a car (and I can), then you can imagine Apple acquiring Tesla to jump-start the initiative. Second, Apple and Tesla share a fundamental engineering problem; batteries.

But other than Tesla, who else would it make sense for Apple to acquire for billions of dollars? No answers come to mind. Certainly not WhatsApp — as I wrote last week, Apple already has exactly the messaging platform it wants: iMessage, with hundreds of millions of users.

Meet the World’s First Wi-Fi Kettle: the iKettle

Meet the World’s First Wi-Fi Kettle: the iKettle

Apple Gazette:

The iKettle’s product description:

  • Boil your kettle with your smart phone, anywhere in your home

  • The most satisfying wake-up call of all time

  • Welcomes you home by asking if you’d like to pop the kettle on

  • Match your kettle to your kitchen with the insulating iKettle skins

Might be the geek in me (or tea drinker), but I cannot wait to get this…

Facebook Buying Messaging App WhatsApp for $16 Billion

Facebook Buying Messaging App WhatsApp for $16 Billion

Jordan Golson:

The company’s app is currently the 35th most popular on the App Store. Facebook says WhatsApp’s messaging volume is “approaching the entire global telecom SMS volume”, roughly 7 trillion message a year.

Facebook obviously consider “approaching the entire global telecom SMS volume” and having access to every user’s mobile number a bargain at $16 Billion. Interesting to watch where they go with their services now..

Review: Weather Notifications App

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Weather Notifications is a fantastic app, simple in it’s design but works perfectly as advertised.

There are dozens of weather apps on the App Store available to choose from ranging from powerful data-rich services to apps that show the current temperature as the badge notification on your home screen.

Weather notifications sole purpose is to send you a push notification of the weather at a chosen time for any given day. If you want more detailed analysis on the weather then as I said, the other apps are for you. If you just want a quick message, then it is perfect because I just want to know in 2 seconds what the weather is going to be like so I can then get on with the rest of my day.

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After downloading the app, I just went into the settings, set the City and what time of day I wanted the alert and that was it! Now every morning when I wake up and reach for my iPhone, it displays what the temperature will be and conditions for the City where I work for that day right on my home screen before I have even swiped to unlock it! Perfect for choosing the right clothes/jacket based on the weather for that day!

The app is £1.49 and you should download it here.

If the iTunes Store Were to Become Netflix, Would the Apple TV Be a Win?

If the iTunes Store Were to Become Netflix, Would the Apple TV Be a Win?

Dave Smith:

In his article, Smith turns to Netflix as the road to success. Here’s a little scenario that I can imagine and would love to become reality:

For $10–12 a month, your Apple TV gives you total access to the entire iTunes Store. You get all the new movies and TV shows right after they air, and you can watch them as many times as you want. No more rental rules and restrictions. You still have the option to purchase these titles and keep them in your personal iTunes library, but your monthly fee just lets you stream those titles whenever you want.

It makes perfect sense to me for Apple to do this. Just like they did with iTunes and music, they created a music streaming service to stay with the competition – I can see them doing the same for movies and TV shows. Especially with rumors of a new version of the Apple TV coming, this could very well be one of the features..

Dear Apple: Please fix how Messages stores images and videos!

Dear Apple: Please fix how Messages stores images and videos!

Allyson Kazmucha:

I’ve written previously about how much storage space the Messages app takes up, and how important it is to clear out the photos so you can reclaim that space. For some of us, that can be not just megabytes, but gigabytes of data. I’ve had friends and family members ask me why they’re out of storage only to discover they have over 5GB of wasted space in the Messages app. For owners of a 16GB iPhone or iPad, that’s a huge deal.

Nice reminder from Allyson to take care of our iMessage storage – do we really need to keep a history of our conversations with all our contacts? If you do need them, consider copying and pasting the text out into a note taking or journal taking app. I would definitely be interested in some kind of iMessage and journal taking app intergration like Day One.

How to Use Any Third-Party Remote with Apple TV

How to Use Any Third-Party Remote with Apple TV

Brian Meyer:

On the Apple TV, go to Settings > General > Remotes. Here there will be an option for Learn Remote. Choose it and select Start. The Apple TV will walk you through all the major buttons on the remote so it can pair your remote up with what will control the Apple TV.  When you’re done you’ll now have a new remote that controls your Apple TV.  The whole process is extremely self-explanatory and after a few simple button presses, you’re all set. Apple doesn’t talk about this too often, but it sure would be nice if everything else worked this way.

Nice tip.

Craig Federighi talking to Jason Snell at Macworld

Apple executives on the Mac at 30:

Craig Federighi talking to Jason Snell at Macworld:

“The reason OS X has a different interface than iOS isn’t because one came after the other or because this one’s old and this one’s new,” Federighi said. Instead, it’s because using a mouse and keyboard just isn’t the same as tapping with your finger. “This device,” Federighi said, pointing at a MacBook Air screen, “has been honed over 30 years to be optimal” for keyboards and mice. Schiller and Federighi both made clear that Apple believes that competitors who try to attach a touchscreen to a PC or a clamshell keyboard onto a tablet are barking up the wrong tree.

“It’s obvious and easy enough to slap a touchscreen on a piece of hardware, but is that a good experience?” Federighi said. “We believe, no.”

Microsoft have learnt a painful lesson recently in relation to this. Apple may make mistakes like most companies but when it comes to predicting and betting on industry standards like doing away with the floppy disk drive, CD/DVD drive, switching to digital music – their track record and ultimately success, proves that even in a post Steve Jobs world, their vision for the industry is proving to be correct.

Best Read it Later Service

The Top Contenders:

Safari Reading List
Instapaper
Pocket

When it comes to reading articles on the web, certain factors immediately apply such as what type of device you are using, what browser is being used and whether you have time to read and take in the particular article at that current time.

A typical person will use their smartphone or mobile computer to read news headlines and will speed read through links on websites because they are on the go and it might not be convenient to read a whole article or page at that particular time. For this situation, there are services and apps available that allow you to ‘save’ any webpage or article to read it later.

The benefits of using a service such as these, especially when you are using the particular service in question’s app, are that it will essentially save a copy of the original article you were viewing in your browser or the app you were using for later, so you can catch up with all your saved articles at a time when it’s perhaps more convenient to read them.

There is also the benefit of when you do come to use one of these services or apps to view the saved articles, it will display the article in a more easy-on-the-eye font which you can also customize if you prefer. The majority of these services have other benefits as well such as ‘offline’ viewing – the article is saved whilst your device has a connection so that you don’t need to be ‘online’ to read the article. There are also ‘Pro’ uses which I will come on to shortly such as automatically sharing the article with other services and apps.

There are multiple services that offer a read it later facility but I am going to touch on what I feel are the strongest three services.

Safari Reading List

Safari’s Reading List is built into the browser on Mac and iOS and therefore Apple make it super easy for you send any web page you have open automatically saved within Safari for later viewing or ‘offline’ viewing. Access to this service is via the bookmarks icon in the Mac version or within the bookmarks menus on iOS.

Once a webpage is within Reading List, clicking or tapping on a page to view it is easy enough with the option of ‘Reader’ in the address bar available to format the web page to remove most of the html and ads which results in a more pleasing reading experience.

My issue with Safari Reading List is down to one thing – notifications. In as far as they aren’t any. When I was using the service a few months back, I felt I needed to be reminded that I had saved articles to read to refer back to and with Safari not displaying badges, I simply forgot that I had them.

‘Add to Reading List’ is also baked into most 3rd party apps, so getting your articles into there is well supported by developers. The support is great, it works well, it’s reliable but the lack of notifications keeps me from using it as my preferred service.

Instapaper:

Originally developed by Marco Arment, Instapaper is perhaps the oldest and best known of all the read it later services due to its fast, reliable and and concise design. Instapaper also benefitted by it’s universal adoption by many twitter services, websites, social networks and news feeds so it became very popular and although Marco sold on the service last year, it remains a powerhouse in it’s field.

If you are using a browser on a desktop PC or Mac or laptop, there is an Instapaper extension available for the most popular browsers like Safari and Chrome which can add a small button near the address bar which with one click, can add the currently open page – straight to your Instapaper account. On iOS there is a universal app for the iPhone and the iPad which you can use to catch with up with all your saved articles. Instapaper has a nice back-end feature that you can setup so that it will automatically share saved articles to various services like Twitter, Evernote, Pinboard etc. Frasier Spiers has a terrific workflow for saving web articles via Instapaper into Evernote.

The iOS Instapaper app currently has a couple of limitations that stop me from using it as my preferred read it later service. The first one is that it doesn’t quite take advantage of the new background updating feature of iOS 7 which means that it won’t automatically download the articles in the background. Instead it uses background location updating which ironically was one of the pioneering features in an earlier iOS version release which only updates and downloads articles once you have reached a certain GPS-enabled location like at home or at work.

Another useful feature that I like to have in the app is to maintain a constant badge icon to show how many articles you have unread in your Instapaper account. The app will show the badge briefly, but once you exit the app the badge notification disappears. I like to know at a glance exactly how many articles I have queued up or unread in my read it later service and unfortunately these 2 issues let the app down and stops me from using the app.

Pocket

Pocket for me ticks all the boxes I require.

It’s a popular service and I can see why. 3rd party support is again well supported by developers so most Twitter apps and news apps can ‘Add/Send to Pocket’.

The Pocket app on iOS really is fantastic. It’s fast, smooth and easy to navigate and manage with a great choice of fonts to use as your default reading experience. You can tick or swipe to mark saved articles as read which of course can update your Pocket account and sync read and unread articles across your devices.

Notifications are the killer feature for me. Fully supporting iOS 7’s background updating API, I am in love with the number of saved articles badge over the app icon on the iPhone and iPad. I can see at a glance how many I need to catch up on which of course is a great reminder. I can be in twitter, see a link that I want to research or read later, hit ‘Send to Pocket’ and by the time I have exited the Twitter app and gone back to the home screen, the badge as been updated on the Pocket app to reflect the change. My only wish is for a Mac app rather than having to access the site via Safari but considering I mostly use my iOS devices, there is no great need.

Pocket is a fantastic app with the notification badge is the killer and stand out feature. You can download it for free here.

Fixes & Improvements Coming in iOS 7.1

Since iOS 7 was introduced in September last year, it is widley acknowledged that users have been suffering from bugs that has caused our iPhones and iPads to crash every so often which I touched on previously.

There is good news however, as Apple is working on a software update which is currently in beta testing with developers and here at MacTap we highlight the currently known changes and fixes coming:

New Siri Voices

New more “natural-sounding” voices for Australian English, U.K. English, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese have apparently been added to the latest beta which should make the current Siri voice sound a little bit less robotic.

Changes to the UI for the Phone App

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As you can see the call and to end call button is now green or red which tweaks the UI. This is different to the button currently on iOS 7.0 which shows wording instead of this colour coded button.

Tweaks to Lockscreen

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This could indicate system wide changes but at the moment, this picture shows a ‘power’ button to slide across just for the lock screen where as at the moment on iOS 7, there is just wording to indicate to slide to power off.

Other Changes

The Calendar app has been improved as well as system wide speed improvements and bug fixes which should hopefully eradicate the crashes which according to early reports, is the case.

MacRumors also report:

Release notes from the first iOS 7.1 beta indicated that the update fixes network connection issues in addition to other bugs. The beta also included a new Yahoo logo, extra burst mode uploading options for the camera, and an option for a “dark keyboard” in the Accessibility section.

According to the iOS 7.1 beta 2 release notes, this update fixes several bugs, including one that caused all tones to sound like the default. The settings for Touch ID and Passcodes have also been moved from General settings to the main settings menu and Calendar has a new list view toggle.

There’s a new “Button Shapes” option that can be turned on to indicate where tappable areas are located. Animations appear to be faster in iOS 7.1 beta 2 and Control Center has gained a new bounce animation and music labels that show the audio source.

Keyboard:

The keyboard in iOS 7 has been slightly tweaked to make it clearer when shift keys and caps lock are enabled.

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Icons:

The green color in the Phone, Messages, and FaceTime apps has been toned down and is now darker, especially at the bottom of the icons. This introduces a less neon coloration to iOS 7, cutting down on some of the operating system’s brightness.

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According to various sources, Apple is expected to release this update to all users later this month or early in March.