Posts tagged iPhone
Marketers and website owners rejoiced yesterday as an official Google Analytics app was finally released for the iPhone, two years after the app was released for Android. The iPhone app comes with everything you’d expect if you’ve ever used the Android version. Along with real-time and time-based reports, you can also use the app to view behaviors, conversions and more. An official app is a welcome alternative to the third-party apps that Google Analytics users have had to use up until this point. The official app takes full advantage of the sign-in features in Gmail, Google+ and the standard Google […]
The post Official Google Analytics App Released For iPhone by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.
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Guest author Chris McConnell, a designer, writer and entrepreneur, goes hands-on with the coolest consumer tech products at DailyTekk.
iPhones are cool. iOS is cool. Apple thinks so, I think so and if you’re reading this you probably do too.
The iPhone experience is already amazing, right out of the box. But if you want to make your iPhone experience much better, give me a few moments of your time.
Even gadget gurus like me have tendencies to buy products and use them “as is.” That’s how many people are, really. They’re defaulters. Even when (and perhaps especially when) a person unboxes an Apple product they assume it’s perfect. It’s an assumption that makes sense. Why wouldn’t a manufacturer put their best foot forward in terms of settings and adjustments? It’s part of the Apple ethos: make things that are simple and intuitive. Even so, these devices can and should be personalized.
Here are a few of my tips for ways to personalize your iPhone settings to create an optimal experience. Note, these settings are for iOS 7 and do not reflect the forthcoming iOS 8 which is still in its beta stages.
Take Duplicate-Free HDR Photos
I love my iPhone’s HDR (High Dynamic Range) setting that allows the phone’s camera to use software to create better photos. But I hate (with a passion) the duplicates I find in my photo roll later on. Not only are the dupes confusing, it wastes space and time. Thankfully, you can turn this feature off.
Settings > Photos & Camera > Keep Normal Photo
Limit Advertiser’s Ability To Track Your Phone Activity
Apple’s statement on advertiser device tracking: “iOS enables the use of the Advertising Identifier, a non-permanent device identifier, for app to give you more control over advertisers’ ability to serve you targeted ads.”
If you’re concerned about your privacy, you can tell your iPhone to limit the ability for advertisers to track you.
Settings > Privacy > Advertising > Limit Ad Tracking
Preview More Of Your Email Messages
Sometimes there’s nothing more annoying than a truncated message that gives you just enough information to have not learned anything at all. If you use Apple’s default Mail program as your primary email app you have the ability to control how many lines are dedicated to previewing email messages, up to five.
Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendar > Preview
Customize The Texts You Can Respond To With A Phone Call
You’ve probably noticed by now that you can respond to phone calls you can’t (or don’t) want to answer with a pre-set text message. Things like, “I’ll call you later,” or “I’m on my way.” But did you know you can customize those options? Tell your friends your on a boat, or just simply say, “Yo.”
Settings > Phone > Respond with Text
Protect Your Precious Free Time
There are plenty of times when you don’t want to be interrupted by your phone’s beeping and buzzing: eating dinner, driving … sleeping. That’s why you’ve got to take advantage of the “Do Not Disturb” feature which lets you set explicit times when you don’t want your phone to bug you.
Settings > Do Not Disturb
This can be turned on manually, whenever you like (just don’t forget to turn it off), or you can schedule specific times. Don’t forget to set the “Allow Calls From” feature to make sure you don’t miss anything really important.
Stop Sending Emails From The Wrong Account
If you have more than one email account on your iPhone (which most people do), you’ve probably sent an email to someone from the wrong account at some point—especially when you’re sharing a link with someone via email though an app like Flipboard. To cut down on the likelihood of this happening, you can set a default email account.
Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendar > Default Account
Tweak Your Phone’s EQ Settings
I remember back in the day when people still bought iPods how cool it was to tweak the EQ settings (the levels of frequency response of an audio signal and the ability to change those settings) to enhance the type of music they were listening to (somehow I always selected Bass Booster for everything). Well, guess what—your iPhone is an iPod and you can still tweak the EQ.
Settings > Music > EQ
If You’re Not A Stock Broker, Don’t Act Like One …
Consider turning off stocks in your notifications center. Most people don’t need it or care that much and it just gets in the way of the info you do want to see.
Settings > Notification Center > Include/Don’t Include
Spend Less Time Typing
If you find yourself typing a phrase over and over and over, why not make it a shortcut? Your iPhone will let you create shortcuts that expand in to full phrases. For example, typing “omw” will expand into “On my way!” Create any combination you’d like.
Settings > General > Keyboard > Shortcuts
Upgrade Your Security (Without Going Insane)
For those without the convenience of Touch ID: if you don’t have a passcode lock set on your phone … you should. But having to frequently unlock your phone can be a big pain. One way to lessen that pain is to set your phone to lock after five minutes (or 10 minutes or whatever delay you’d prefer). People tend to use their phones in bursts which means you’ll only have to unlock your device once every now and then instead of constantly.
Settings > Passcode > Require Passcode (After five minutes)
Lede image courtesy of Shutterstock. iOS settings screenshots taken with an iPad for clarity.
View full post on ReadWrite
A few weeks ago, I became a statistic. I was at a bus terminal in San Francisco when a stranger jumped out and grabbed my iPhone out of my hands.
My adrenaline-addled brain did everything wrong—things like chasing the thief, which could have gotten me injured, or worse. (Just thinking of it now makes me want to facepalm.) Fortunately I wasn’t hurt, apart from some bruises and scrapes earned during my ill-conceived pursuit.
I was very lucky, for so many reasons, the least of which is that I actually got my phone back. But the experience left me deeply rattled—and looking for answers.
I Am Far From Alone
It was around 9 o’clock at night, and I was coming home late from work. Like so many people these days, I was “lost in my phone,” trying to fix my bleary eyes on the online Transbay bus schedule. It was dark out, but the open-air terminal was well-lit and other people were around, so I felt safe—so much so that I didn’t stay alert to my surroundings. That was mistake number one.
When the thief yanked my phone out of my hands, I didn’t consciously decide to go after him. I just found myself doing it. I took off with my bags flopping around me, screaming myself hoarse. I was using the phone when he took it, so it was unlocked and ready to give up its data. That was all I could think about as I chased him across the street, into a parking lot and behind a building.
Suddenly, I got a grip and realized where I was. This is not smart, I thought. Not smart at all.
What would I have done if he stopped and came toward me? What if he’d had friends? Or a weapon? Looking back, my rational brain can’t help but be angry at my instinctive, panicked past self. Just as the depth of my own stupidity dawned on me, my foot landed in a divot, wiping me out on the asphalt.
I have no excuse. ReadWrite even covered how to guard against smartphone theft, and there’s a whole section called “Don’t Be A Hero To Get Your Smartphone Back.” The advice is very sensible. Unfortunately, I was anything but that when it happened to me.
I am far from alone. Cell phone thefts are rampant in the Bay Area. In San Francisco, more than half of thefts involve phones or tablet computers. SF residents reported 2,400 cellphones stolen in 2013, a 23 percent increase over 2012, according to the San Francisco Police Department. Across the bay, it’s even worse: In Oakland, more than 75 percent of reported thefts involve mobile devices.
The startling numbers prompted San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon to join forces with New York Attorney General Eric R. Schneiderman to push a smartphone anti-theft law requiring built-in “kill switches.” Such features would erase and render stolen phones inoperable, theoretically eliminating criminals’ motivation. Originally rejected in April, the bill—SB 962—passed in the California state legislature last month.
The measure has been drawing mixed reactions from the tech community. “Most manufacturers think it’s an overblown problem,” Roger Entert, analyst for market-research firm Recon Analytics in Boston, told Consumer Reports.
It would be easier to make that case if smartphone theft was just a local problem in the high-tech Bay Area. It’s not. According to Consumer Reports, more than 3 million Americans were victims of smartphone theft in 2013, up from 1.6 million the year before. It’s a scourge in cities from New York and Washington, D.C. to London and beyond.
The issue has reached epidemic proportions. That might explain why people stepped in to help me. Maybe they were sick and tired of seeing this street crime and wanted to take a stand. Maybe the same thing happened to them or their loved ones. Whatever their reasons, several men suddenly showed up on the scene.
While working in the dock area at a nearby building, they heard my screams and saw the thug fly past. So they jumped in and gave chase. I couldn’t believe it. I looked up to see my smartphone thief run out the left exit with a pack of dockworkers streaming after him.
A Just Response?
Once again, it was lucky that no one got hurt. The Federal Communications Commission revealed that 40 percent of thefts in major American cities involve cellphones, and mobile devices are the objective in nearly one in three robberies.
A few years ago, a Bay Area friend of mine was injured when a car-driving thief grabbed his phone and floored it. My friend’s arm got caught on the car somehow, and the vehicle wound up dragging him several feet. Now he has nerve damage along his whole right arm. Other victims have been killed for their smartphones. But the major phone makers and cellular carriers just don’t seem to care.
Lawmakers, however, want to make them care. After first meeting resistance by the major U.S. cellular carriers, the FCC and law enforcement authorities compelled them to share lists of serial numbers from stolen phones. End result: A new policy is in the works for later this year that should render stolen phones inoperable on those networks, at least once they’re reported.
Of course, the measure doesn’t extend to overseas networks, where many of these devices often wind up. But a kill switch like the one that California legislators want could close that loophole.
The security feature in SB 962, as proposed, would hobble the device regardless of network. It sounds like an effective plan. And yet several smartphone makers, as well as the four major U.S. carriers and wireless industry association CTIA, oppose the mandate. The carriers claim it would give hackers another plaything. The tech companies said that jumping through hoops to meet state-level regulations will inhibit innovation. No one stated the obvious—that it would also probably undercut the vast profits these companies could make from replacement devices.
The opponents came up with another idea: the Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment. According to the pact, the companies—including Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, HTC, Nokia, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint—would make free anti-theft tools available to users, either preloaded or as a downloadable. Samsung has already announced new anti-theft features for its Galaxy S5 smartphone. And Apple plans to beef up its “Find My iPhone” security feature in its mobile software, which already boasts device tracking and remote-wipe features for users who activate them.
It’s close, but not quite the same as what state legislators have in mind—which is a kill switch that’s built in and primed by default. These measures leave it up to users to download or activate the features. The problem is that people don’t usually take extra care to safeguard themselves. Data from Consumer Reports revealed that a minority of people take even basic precautions such as:
- Setting a screen lock with a 4-digit pin (36 percent)
- Backing up data to a computer or online (29 percent)
- Installing software that can locate the phone (22 percent)
- Installing an antivirus app (14 percent)
- Using a PIN longer than 4 digits, a password, or unlock pattern (11 percent)
- Installing software that can erase the contents of the smart phone (8 percent)
- Using security features other than screen lock (e.g. encryption) (7 percent)
Those who took none of these security measures? Thirty-four percent.
Apple—as creator of the most highly prized thief bait—beefed up “Find My iPhone,” the service that allows people to track and remote-wipe lost or stolen iOS devices. The service doesn’t work when the phone has no power, so the next version of its iPhone software will tackle that issue with a “Send Last Location” feature.
That option, included in Apple’s forthcoming iOS 8, will beam the phone’s last location to Apple (via iCloud) just before the battery runs out—assuming, of course, it can find a signal. Though not a kill switch, it’s better than nothing. At least it qmay be useful in some cases for device-tracking purposes.
Tracking a phone is one thing; doing something with the information is another. Police are overrun with smartphone thefts, so they’re hard pressed to chase down every lead—particularly in snatch-and-grab cases like mine. Officers later told me that if the thief had hit me or threatened violence, the act would have made it a robbery—a more serious crime. That would have demanded a certain level of police response.
As it was, a guy who just snatched my iPhone and ran would have ranked pretty low. And that’s precisely why such snatch-and-grabs are so frequent. They’re easy compared to more serious crime. Thieves have learned how to walk right up to that line without stepping over it and drawing a real police response.
This leads some folks to take smartphone recovery into their own hands. Because they can track their devices, they wind up on criminals’ doorsteps demanding their device back. But this is a dangerous path to tread, and police highly discourage it. They, along with legislators in California and New York, want the kill switch instead.
What’s In It For Them
If the theft taught me one thing, it’s that when I’m freaked out, I become completely irrational.
Seeing the dock workers return, exhausted and empty-handed, I slumped on the curb and decided to compound my dumb actions: Shaking and upset, I pulled out my laptop to remote-wipe my phone. As if I hadn’t had enough stolen from me. Why not pull out my expensive computer on the street as well? At that point, common sense hadn’t just flown out the window—it launched into outerspace.
And for what? The police would later tell me that it was pointless anyway. Crooks don’t want your data, they said. They want your device so they can make some quick cash. And it’s easy, thanks to gadget recycling kiosks like EcoATM.
That was likely where my thief was heading; San Francisco’s Westfield Centre has one of these cash-for-gadgets terminals installed. The machine, which looks like a banking machine, accepts devices like smartphones and spits out cash in return. The idea is to make gadget recycling more convenient.
Last year, the startup was acquired by Outerwall (best known for Coinstar and Redbox terminals) for $350 million, giving it some real backing to expand even further out from its base of 900 machines nationwide. Most recently, it widened its footprint in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with 16 additional kiosks, for a total of 32 in the region.
To discourage criminals, each machine scans a driver’s license or other form of ID and takes a photo and a fingerprint, which are all sent in real time to a person tasked with checking them. The system also records the serial or IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity) number of the device, and holds the gadget for 30 days “in the rare case that a stolen phone does make its way into our kiosk,” the EcoATM website states.
It sounds very thorough and comprehensive. Too bad it doesn’t always work.
That’s what police in EcoATM’s home of San Diego discovered, and there are other cases in places like Houston, San Antonio and Atlanta. Turns out, some thieves just don’t care about the security measures. Or they have ways of getting around them, like using stolen IDs.
The company claims that only 1 of every 1,500 phones it accepts is lost or stolen. But law enforcement just doesn’t buy it: “No way,” San Francisco Police Capt. Jason Cherniss told SFGate. “They missed a word in there, didn’t they? Don’t they mean ‘reported’ stolen?” That’s a key distinction. As many as 30 to 40 percent of smartphone thefts may go unreported.
For Oakland City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney, the terminals don’t do enough to deter theft. “There are some minimal security things that the companies might tell you about a thumb print. But all of that is after the fact. It’s retroactive, it does not stop the crime,” she told San Francisco TV station KTVU. McElhaney is trying to block EcoATMs and similar terminals a from Oakland, saying cellphone thefts is already rampant in the city.
EcoATM wants to fight these bad impressions any way it can—including emphasizing its law enforcement outreach initiatives. To help build those relationships, the company enlisted help of a retired police chief from New Jersey and New York, as well as one from San Diego.
The kiosks do make it easier for some victims to recover phones turned in there. But it looks like the same machines create an irresistible temptation for criminals in the first place.
All’s Well That Ends Well
See also: How To Get Smart About Smartphone Theft
Since the incident, I’ve been nervous about pulling my device out in public. I feel anxious. Even when I call an Uber or Lyft, I hesitate to take my phone out to check the alert.
These are the days when I’m most grateful for wearable technology. Between the smartwatch on my wrist and my wireless earbuds, I can view notifications, answer calls and even respond to texts (thanks, Siri!) without ever taking my device out of my pocket.
I’m also grateful for something else: This story actually has a happy ending, thanks to a minor miracle the night of the theft. Turns out, a homeless kid heard me yelling that night and chased after the criminal, outrunning even the dock workers. He got close enough to scare the thief, who panicked and dropped my phone. The kid picked it up and walked it back to me. “I was in track back in high school,” he said. “There was no way he was going to outrun me.”
It’s possible he was in on the crime, perhaps as an accomplice of some sort. But he seemed to be a popular personality around the area, one that the dock workers knew and maintained a rapport with. As they patted him on the back, I let go of any suspicions I had—mostly because, in that moment, I really needed to believe there are kind, decent people out there. I asked if he had somewhere to go, even a shelter of some sort. He didn’t. So I pressed some cash in his hand, and the gesture made him speechless for a moment. He thanked me. Then he was gone.
Phone snatched out of my hands tonight. Strangers chased down the thief. Device back in hand. Love for SF firmly in heart.
— Adriana Lee (@adra_la) May 24, 2014
As I replay the events of that evening, I become more convinced of one thing: The solution to this tech theft problem doesn’t lie in technology, at least not right now. It rests with people. Savvy people, who watch their surroundings and don’t make themselves a target. Kind people who help others. And honest people who, even in the worst circumstances, can surprise you.
View full post on ReadWrite
I’ve got a problem. I love the camera on my iPhone. It’s become an appendage—like an arm, or hand. If it was amputated from my life I’d feel like I’d truly lost a part of me. I use it all the time. Maybe too much (no one wants to be that guy that gets a picture of the moment but misses the actual thing, but hey, I can’t help it and neither can you).
The thing is, I wish my iPhone’s camera could do more. It’s not a Apple vs Samsung vs Nokia type of thing. I’m talking about features that you don’t find on phones in general. DSLR-like features. I love the convenience of having a great camera in my pocket at all times, but it’s missing the power and the feel of a full-featured DSLR.
I found a few upgrades that can give an iPhone DSLR-like superpowers. Now plant the phrase, “Whoa, that exists?!” somewhere convenient in your brain, because you’re going to be accessing it a lot in the next few minutes.
Sony QX100 Smart Lens
Though it might look like a DSLR lens without a body, in reality the Sony QZ100 Smart Lens ($448) a full-fledged camera that uses your iPhone as a viewport. When combined with an iPhone via an included attachment, it’s possible to use in a traditional camera-like fashion: point and shoot.
But the real fun happens when the two items are detached. You can mount the solo Smart Lens on a tripod (perfect for lining up those professional selfies) or hold it in one hand with your iPhone in the other (perfect for hard-to-reach angles). The QX communicates with your phone via NFC or Wi-Fi (it actually creates its own hotspot).
Sony’s app will let you adjust white balance and exposure settings and control the zoom, among other things. While an iPhone 5S sports an 8 megapixel sensor, the QX packs a whopping 20 megapixels—more than double the iPhone’s out-of-box capabilities.
Olloclip Telephoto + Circular Polarizing Lens
I don’t know about you, but I’ve passed up many a cool subject because I knew my phone’s built-in zoom wasn’t up to the challenge. (That, or the photo would be so grainy I might as well take a picture of some sand.)
If you wanted to equip your iPhone with a more capable zoom without adding a ton of extra bulk, you’d look for something like the Olloclip Telephoto + Circular Polarizing Lens ($100). It may look small (and it is), but it will give you 2x optical magnification. Sure, it’s not something the paparazzi will use, but it might give you just the extra oomph you are looking for.
iPhone SLR Mount
You sometimes hear experts say that a camera is only as good as its lens. That’s why you can have an older camera body with a great lens on it and still take award-winning photos—and why a newbie with a brand new DSLR and stock lens might not have any good photos.
Going by this rule, the best way to upgrade your iPhone’s camera is to attach a huge beast of a lens—a full-fledged SLR. This is actually possible thanks to the iPhone SLR Mount ($175), which comes in both Canon and Nikon flavors.
Taking a break from the hardware front for a moment, let me tell you about ProCam (99 cents), an app that adds a familiar-looking DSLR-like interface to your iPhone screen when taking photos.
But the app is more than a looker—it actually lets you control things like focus and exposure, white balance, saturation and more. You can also control JPEG compression or opt for saving images in true lossless TIFF format. Another neat feature is the level mode which uses your phone’s gyroscope to auto-straighten the viewfinder in realtime.
Those of you old enough to remember (and excluding all you pros)—have you ever found yourself missing the old viewfinder you used to use to line up shots? You know, the eyepiece you actually held up to your face to peer through? There was something professional about it. It made you concentrate.
Though you’ve probably never pictured it before, you actually can buy a physical viewfinder to stick on your iPhone. It’s simply called the iPhone Viewfinder ($30) and it uses a screw-on suction pad to vacuum onto your phone screen. Used in conjunction with the Daylight Viewfinder app, this is a great way to spice up your iPhotography experience.
Images courtesy of the manufacturers
View full post on ReadWrite
The Platform is a regular column by mobile editor Dan Rowinski. Ubiquitous computing, ambient intelligence and pervasive networks are changing the way humans interact with everything.
I finally traded in my old iPad 2 for a brand new iPad Air. I didn’t really want to, but part of my professional obligation is to have the most up-to-date hardware for each major platform. (I was also mildly concerned the iOS 8 beta wouldn’t run on the iPad 2, although that fear proved unwarranted).
During the sales process, the Apple store employee casually suggested that I get a 32GB iPad Air instead of the 16GB tablet I wanted. “Most people find that 16GB is not enough for them,” he said.
This is fundamentally surprising to me. I had a 16GB iPad 2 for three years and never once had an issue with running out of internal storage. My music is in the cloud (through Spotify). My movies and books are in the cloud, through Netflix or HBO Go or Amazon. I don’t take many pictures on an iPad, mostly just screenshots (who takes all of their pictures with an iPad anyway?). I have a lot of apps, but most of those don’t take up all that much room.
Quick Thought: Swift-ian Logic
The reactions are out and the reviews are generally positive: Swift is a good programming language that shouldn’t be all that hard for developers to learn.
It took less than a day for people to start proclaiming themselves Swift experts and for a variety of independent coding schools across the United States to start offering classes on Swift development—among them, the online coding school Treehouse and the New York Design + Code Academy. Meetup touts that its members are starting Swift groups across the world.
If there’s any one company that is terrific at unwittingly spawning a host of hucksters and snake oil salesmen, its Apple. The only real Swift experts at this point are Chris Lattner, the Apple engineer responsible for starting the project, and his team at Apple. Everything else is just hot air.
Bottom line is that I have no need for a 32GB iPad. Everything I do is served from the cloud, not locally on my device. Some call it ambient intelligence. I call it convenience.
So I was intrigued by the new cloud improvements Apple announced for Mac OS X and iOS 8 at its Worldwide Developer Conference keynote earlier this week. Finally, I thought, Apple gets it. Computing lives in the cloud, not on the device.
But if you take a closer look at what Apple announced and how it all works, the cloud isn’t really the key feature in iOS or Mac OS X. For Apple, the cloud is a means to an end—and that end is to keep you using and buying new Macs, iPhones and iPads. I couldn’t quite put a finger on it, but what Apple has done with the cloud at WWDC this week struck me as mildly distasteful in a way I found hard to pinpoint.
I’ve been trying to figure out exactly why by checking up on what others had to say about Apple’s iCloud announcements. Nobody quite hit it on the head until I read what Andreessen Horowitz analyst Benedict Evans had to say on the topic. All of a sudden, it all clicked.
This is obviously a contest with Google, which has pretty much the opposite approach. For Google, devices are dumb glass and the intelligence is in the cloud, but for Apple the cloud is just dumb storage and the device is the place for intelligence.
iPhone vs. Android: What’s Really At Stake
When I write about the potential of mobile computing or try to explain it to a friend, I usually break it down to some very basic but powerful facts.
- Smartphones are powerful computers—more powerful than the laptops people bought just a few years ago—that live in people’s pockets.
- Smartphones are windows into a world of information that can help people perform tasks in their day-to-day lives.
- All aspects of human activity (all business, all communication, etc.) will be affected by the fact that we have these ubiquitous computers connected to the entire world of information in our pockets.
These are the basic facts that define mobile computing. Everything beyond that comes down to individual necessity and subjective brand preference. Some people like Android, some people like iOS, some people like Windows Phone and so on. But when you look at this in the context of the battle between Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone, it’s clear there’s a deeper dynamic here.
For starters, this is sort of a curious frame for this argument, though that’s actually a clue to its importance. Android is a platform; the iPhone is a product. Yes, there are some big names in Android that deserve attention—Samsung, for instance—but this isn’t fundamentally a battle between device makers. So what we’re talking about is a “competition” between an operating system that’s not tethered to any specific device and an iconic product from one big company.
And that competition reflects some very different views about computing and how it best serves users. Start with Apple, a computer maker where the product has always been king. Everything that Apple has ever done has served the product. The Internet? Well, that can help Apple sell computers. The cloud? That can help Apple sell computers.
Photos? Phone calls? Texting? Apps? Developers? These are all things that can help Apple sell computers. So it’s in Apple’s best interest to make these computers as efficient and attractive as possible, not just “dumb glass.”
Google, by contrast, isn’t interested in selling computers—not any more, at least. But it is intensely interested in computing. Because computing and the people that use those computers create the one thing that Google craves above all else: Information.
With Android, Google’s aim lies in making sure that everyone on Earth has a computer with access to the Internet. More computers mean more people are computing, i.e. creating information. Google can then take that dumb glass, uses it as a window to the world of information and then sells advertisements against it.
Once again, Evans gets to the core of the matter:
I’ve described this before by saying that Apple is moving innovation down the stack into hardware/software integration, where it’s hard for Google to follow, and Google is moving innovation up the stack into cloud-based AI & machine learning services, where it’s hard for Apple to follow. This isn’t a tactical ‘this’ll screw those guys’ approach—it reflects the fundamental characters of the two companies. Google thinks about improving UX by reducing page load times, Apple thinks about UX by making it easier to scroll that page.
The Worm In Apple’s iCloud
After puzzling through that for a while, I figured out what was really bothering me about iCloud in iOS 8 and Mac OS X Yosemite: Everything Apple does is designed to keep me buying Apple computers and using Apple platforms.
To Apple, the cloud is not this wonderful creation that provides ambient intelligence wherever you are. It’s just dumb storage and a fabric that provides continuity between devices. If ambient intelligence is a byproduct of that, then hey, that’s great—if it helps Apple sell more computers.
Quote Of The Day: “So there’s no such thing as work-life balance. There’s work, and there’s life, and there’s no balance.” ~ Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.
That’s not to say I’m enamored with Google’s obsession with information. Google is serving its own purposes as well. But the notion of “cloud-based AI & machine learning services” seems far more of an efficient and altruistic push in the evolution of computing than just creating better and better iPhones.
The ubiquitous intelligence provided by the cloud also means that I don’t need to pad Apple’s margins with a completely unnecessary and expensive 32GB iPad Air. The 16GB piece of dumb glass and metal that happens to run Apple’s operating system and acts as a window to the world of information will work just fine, thanks.
More On Apple, iCloud, iOS 8 & WWDC
- Apple enthusiast Rene Ritchie writes about the evolution of Swift at iMore.
- Venture capitalist Fred Wilson gives his thoughts on iOS 8 and WWDC: “Apple is reacting to a strong competitor in Android by making their operating system better and more open.”
- ReadWrite’s Jodi Mardesich dives into Apple’s standing in the world of platform cloud vendors with its new CloudKit offering.
- Erik Bruchez, co-founder of a company called Orbeon, had a really great breakdown and reaction to the release of Swift.
- Aaron Souppouris at The Verge says that iOS 8 is the dramatic redesign that iOS 7 promised. “Delivering substance to last year’s style.” I tend to agree. iOS 8 is powerful and elegant and really, really opens up iOS to a variety of platform development.
- Former ReadWriter and now technology editor at Quartz, Dan Frommer says that the biggest update at WWDC was in “the plumbing.“
- Rachel Metz explores the release of Swift at MIT Technology Review.
View full post on ReadWrite
At Monday’s keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference, a showcase for its latest software, Apple executives didn’t drop a hint of “one more thing,” as the company’s late cofounder Steve Jobs used to do years ago. But there was indeed one more thing—a bit of bad news for owners of older Apple phones.
When Craig Federighi, Apple’s software chief, pulled up the names of devices capable of running iOS 8, the next mobile software for iPhones and iPads set to launch this fall, the iPhone 4 was not among them, MacRumors noticed.
The iPhone 4, which more or less defined a look for modern iPhones that Apple has only subtly tweaked, sold 1.7 million units in its first three days on sale in 2010, and continued to sell briskly alongside more modern models, especially in price-sensitive developing markets.
The list of iOS 8-capable devices Federighi displayed at WWDC included:
- iPhone 4s
- iPhone 5
- iPhone 5c
- iPhone 5s
- iPod touch 5th generation
- iPad 2
- iPad 4
- iPad Air
- iPad Mini
- iPad mini with Retina Display
This is not entirely a surprise. The iPhone 4 had trouble running iOS 7. It’s three generations behind at this point. Apple released software tweaks under iOS 7.1 to address some of those performance issues for the iPhone 4, but the company appears to be cutting the gadget loose now.
Apple will continue supporting the iPhone 4s, which it still sells at retail, even though it, too, had trouble dealing with iOS 7.
In some emerging markets like India, Apple reintroduced the iPhone 4 as a low-end device to compete with cheap Android smartphones. It discontinued the device once more in May, according to reports, though some Apple resellers apparently still stock it.
What About The 4S?
If you have an iPhone 4, it’s time to face facts: Your phone is not going to benefit from any of the new software improvements Apple’s bringing out. If you mostly use it for texting, email, and Web browsing, that may be fine. But if you’re a heavy user of popular apps, you may find that you’re missing new must-have features in the apps you love.
The only way you’ll get the changes Apple just unleashed—including changeable keyboards, revamped Messages and the new Health app, among other things—will be to purchase a new handset.
If you have an iPhone 4s, you’ll want to think long and hard about updating that phone when iOS 8 comes out—because those updates may come at a cost to performance that you find unacceptable.
If you think about it, dropping support for these earlier models is a clever way for Apple to get hardware laggards to upgrade their devices in the otherwise-slow summer months before it’s set to unveil new phones, as Apple typically does in the early fall.
Photo by William Hook; image of Federighi via Apple
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The Internet is invading our homes, and Apple doesn’t want to miss the trend.
Sources tell the Financial Times that Apple will unveil new technologies for controlling smart, connected devices like thermostats, lights, door locks, and more at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which takes place in San Francisco next week.
According to the report, Apple is not preparing a new hardware device to serve as a “hub” for the smart home. Instead, Apple will make it easy for hardware makers to link their devices to iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs. As a result, an iPhone owner could have lights turn on at home when she walks in the door, or start playing music when she moves from room to room.
Applications already exist to turn your iPhone and iPad into smart home controllers. Apple sells Philips Hue light bulbs in its stores, for example, and they come with a companion app. Apple would formalize such efforts with a certification program that would, among other things, guarantee the safety and security of connected home devices. That’s a real concern, given the growing trend of virtual home invasions by malicious hackers.
Ever since Apple secured a smart home patent in November 2013, it’s been expected that the company would eventually announce a smart home platform. WWDC, Apple’s annual week-long effort to woo developers and show off new technologies they can incorporate into their software and hardware, is the natural place to do so.
By entering the smart home market in this way, Apple could significantly expand its presence in users’ lives while boosting sales of its existing hardware lines. There’s also the potential to sell Apple-approved home devices like thermostats and light bulbs in Apple’s own chain of retail stores.
See also: 3 Reasons Apple Should Have Bought Nest
Apple already sells Nest thermostats as well as wireless audio gear, so it has some insight into consumer appetite for smart-home devices. It may also have an advantage over other players in the smart-home market—a reputation for protecting privacy. Already, people worry that Google will start using data from its users’ smart homes to target advertising. (Google’s recently acquired Nest subsidiary has denied having such plans, but a recent filing by Google suggests other Google-powered devices might do so.) We’ll be watching Apple’s announcements next week closely to see how it plans to reassure consumers while it woos developers.
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Editor’s note: This post was originally published by our partners at PopSugar Tech.
If your iPhone was built into your car’s dash, you wouldn’t have to get caught texting and driving again. In March, Apple announced CarPlay, which renovates the clunky digital infotainment system interface with the familiarity of the iOS mobile operating system.
We finally got to touch, see, and experience Apple CarPlay for ourselves while testing Pioneer’s CarPlay-compatible aftermarket infotainment systems. Pioneer users with select models—AVIC-8000NEX, AVIC7000NEX, AVIC-6000NEX, AVIC5000NEX, and AVH-4000NEX—will be able to download the CarPlay software onto a USB drive, then simply install it onto the dash using the in-car USB port. The systems can be installed into just about any car, but it’s not an installation project for a novice.
The systems can be bought at Best Buy, and Pioneer suggests hiring Best Buy’s Geek Squad to implement the new infotainment center into the car. Get Apple CarPlay without getting a whole new car via Pioneer starting early Summer. You’ll need a Lightning-cable-connected device (iPhone 5, 5S, or 5C), a data plan to use Messages or Maps, and iOS 7.1 or later. Scroll down to get an up-close-and-personal look at Apple CarPlay!
Watch Siri enable Apple CarPlay’s Maps.
Watch Siri enable Apple CarPlay’s iTunes.
Once the device is plugged in, you’ll see this.
This USB cable is installed into the center console (middle compartment).
A microphone installed above the rearview mirror helps pick up clear sound.
The steering wheel can also enable voice control.
Enable Siri voice control by pressing down on the home screen button.
The menu dashboard includes phone, music, maps, messages, and now playing.
Find music by album, genre, etc., just as you would in iTunes. Podcasts are not supported right now.
Play iTunes Radio through CarPlay.
Find a type of location, such as “cafe,” using Apple Maps.
Apple Maps also offers turn-by-turn directions.
Current location view in Apple Maps.
Apple Maps can list a certain type of destination, like “coffee shop” or “gas station.”
Access contacts through CarPlay.
Send text messages, and have their responses be read back to you by Siri.
Images and videos courtesy of Nicole Nguyen
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Off Pocket: A Privacy Pouch That Shields Phones From Hackers
Ride On! The 10 Coolest Bike Gadgets to Hit the Road
Ask Your Facebook Friends: Are You Single or Not?
Switching to Android? Your Texts May Be Trapped in iMessage
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You know when a photo has that fuzzy background thing going on and the subject is sharp while the rest looks all dreamy? That technique, usually achieved by setting a camera’s controls to a wide aperture—the smaller the f-stop number, the bigger the aperture—remains one of the easiest shortcuts to a photo that makes people go ooh.
Not one to stand by tradition, Google just released a camera app for Android that does exactly the same thing—except you can adjust the focus and that dreamy blur effect after you take the picture.
Can Free Software Mimic Expensive Hardware?
The feature is called “Lens Blur,” and it’s built into the new Google Camera app, available in the Play store for Android. Android’s impressive in-house photo software (though not always superior optics) have been more robust than those in iOS for a while, likely thanks to Google’s 2012 acquisition of the excellent photo app Snapseed.
Lens Blur pulls off a qualitatively similar trick to the one that earned the Lytro light field camera so much buzz when it debuted. (Now Lytro is back with an even crazier light field camera, the $1599 Illum, available for pre-order now.) Lytro builds dedicated hardware that allows focus and depth of field to be adjusted after the fact, by letting a camera take in more data (the “light field” idea, detailed at thesis length here).
Unlike the custom Lytro hardware, Android’s new camera app Lens Blur feature pulls it all off through depth mapping, which renders the results less than optimal if you treat it like a 2D Instagram pic. More from Google’s Research Blog on the brains behind the blur:
Lens Blur replaces the need for a large optical system with algorithms that simulate a larger lens and aperture. Instead of capturing a single photo, you move the camera in an upward sweep to capture a whole series of frames. From these photos, Lens Blur uses computer vision algorithms to create a 3D model of the world, estimating the depth (distance) to every point in the scene.
Here’s an example — on the left is a raw input photo, in the middle is a “depth map” where darker things are close and lighter things are far away, and on the right is the result blurred by distance:
Playing Around With Lens Blur
For the sake of comparison, we took a few comparison shots using the new Google Camera app, an iPhone 5S and a Sony RX100 II. The comparison isn’t about image quality, which of course differs wildly between very dissimilar shooters.
Instead we’re looking at how (and if) a few different categories of device pull off that dreamy shallow depth of field effect—the blurred points known as “bokeh” in this style of shot. As any photographer knows, not all bokeh are created equal—the quality of the effect varies quite a lot among devices and lenses. Most of all, we just wanted to see what makes Google’s new trick tick.
The shots below are both taken with a Nexus 4 using Lens Blur. Note how things get a little dicey when the depth isn’t as simple as single foreground object vs. distant background.
Lens Blur vs. Other Cameras
While the iPhone 5S’s f/2.2 lens didn’t feel like doing much in the way of blur, the Sony RX100 II humored our test at f/1.8 in aperture priority mode. Google’s Lens Blur did a nice enough job blurring the background, but it didn’t like the angled depth of that tiny jaguar much.
Again, the iPhone 5S didn’t really give us a shallow depth of field—super close macro shots are where it really shows off—but Lens Blur did a pretty nice job here.
Lens Blur did not like the concave depth of this little bowl. Its effect is obviously the most successful when the depth mapping is a little less mind-bending.
All told, Google’s new camera app is pretty cool, taking the selective focus feature so readily abused by Instagram users and ramping it up a few notches. It doesn’t work for every kind of shot—but when it does, it’s awfully dreamy, isn’t it?
Header image by Cee Webster; sample images by Taylor Hatmaker for ReadWrite
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