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What Did Apple Announce at WWDC? A Guide to iOS 6

This week in scenic San Francisco, Apple is wowing both companies and developers that make software and apps for Apple’s various platforms at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).


Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook gave WWCD’s keynote address on Monday. This was the first time WWDC was not addressed by Steve Jobs.

It’s a conference that often telegraphs Apple’s game plan for the rest of the year. In the past, the conference has been the forum where two iPhones and various Macs have been introduced. On Monday morning, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage, giving the conference’s keynote address.

Numbers Game
Cook started his Monday morning keynote by dazzling the crowd with some spectacular numbers:

  • Apple largely owns the digital marketplace. Apple has paid out an estimated $5 billion to app developers since the App Store was started just four years ago.
  • There are now more than 66,000 apps, resulting in more than 30 billion downloaded apps.
  • Some 400 million consumers have their credit card information on file with Apple.

One of today’s major announcements involved Apple’s latest iOS (the iOS is what developers use to make apps for the iPad or iPhone). In a nutshell, the iOS powers Apple iDevices…and it’s about to change dramatically:

Driving Developments
For years, Google Maps has been the default mapping app for Apples iDevices, but that’s about to change. Apple’s iOS 6 will introduce its own tweaked-up version of Maps, and it promises to offer some capabilities that Google Maps can’t match. This includes turn-by-turn navigation, voiced by Siri, Apple’s personal assistant program.


Apple’s new Maps app will help you find your way.

Not only will Siri guide drivers to their destinations, she’ll also provide estimated trip times, and when the speed limit changes. If traffic slows (because of an accident or other event), she’ll  suggest an alternate route. Siri will also help you find gas. Finally, the new Maps app will feature a photographic 3D view of numerous cities called “Flyover,” in addition to offering a traffic view so you can visually plan the best route for your drive.

Siri-ous Improvements
Siri will be updated with iOS 6, too – and she’ll be featured on the new iPad. For most users, the biggest improvement will be the ability to launch apps with a single voice command, which many users have been vocal about desiring. Siri will also be given a new “Eyes Free” mode that will work in conjunction with your car by simply pressing a button on your steering wheel. (To make this a reality, Apple is already partnering with numerous auto manufacturers, including Toyota, Honda, GM, Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz.)

And not only will Siri become more convenient to access; the program will become smarter and know more about a wider range of subjects. For example, if you’re looking for sports scores and schedules (and even stats), Siri can now be your go-to expert. The same applies to other entertainment, such as movies (with Siri able to serve up reviews, showtimes and trailers).

And when it comes to grabbing a bite to eat after a game or before a movie, Siri will have you covered there, too. The personal assistant will soon be able to give you a sneak peek at restaurant menus and even help you make dinner reservations.


Attendees are flocking this week to San Francisco’s Moscone Center (West) from around the world. The conference will last through Friday. 

Social Affairs
It’s a social-media world, a fact not lost on Apple. So iOS 6 will fully integrate Facebook, just as iOS 5 brought system integration for Twitter users. With iOS 6, once you log into your Facebook account from the Settings app, you can remain logged in…even if you open different apps, and (here’s the best part) you won’t be required to log in multiple times.

With this new integration, Facebook events will appear in the Calendar app. And let’s say you use both Facebook and Twitter. With iOS 6, both social media sites will be included within the notification dropdown. So if you need to post a new status, you can do it once in this location and the change will be made to both the Facebook and Twitter accounts. iOS 6 enables all of these improvements, not to mention the ability to post photos and preferred apps directly to Facebook.

“Pass Go” with Passbook
iOS 6 will feature a new app called “Passbook.” It works like Google Wallet. Passbook stores a wide variety of items (such as movie tickets, gift cards and airline tickets) in one convenient app. Passbook works in conjunction with the notification center, helpfully reminding you if you arrive at a location where you might be able to use one of the items stored in the app.

Silence-is-Golden 
Another improvement? A “Do Not Disturb” feature for iPhones that keeps things on the down-low. Don’t worry; you’ll still receive notifications when they come but you just won’t have to hear about each and every one of them.


The Do Not Disturb feature lets you customize interruptions, such as when to activate and who to accept calls from.

Making the “VIP” List
The new iOS also gives you a way to prioritize the Mail app with special instructions based on the names of your inner-posse members. By accessing the “VIPs” feature, you’ll be able to receive special notification when you receive messages from those you’re tight with. The feature will also let you batch all incoming messages from the crew with a single tap. Mail will now let users add pix and flix to message, as well as view marked messages.

Setting the Pace
The announcements made at Apple’s WWDC often have a global impact, and influence the world of personal computing for the next year. Coming up in Part Two: We look at new changes coming to the MacBook line.

Are you ready to learn app development for the iPhone and iPad? We are! iOS makes the world’s coolest gadgets even cooler!

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posted by Phill Powell in Apple,News Blog and have No Comments

App of the Month: Draw Something (Review)

Game: Draw Something
Developer: OMGPOP
Rating: 5 out 5 stars
Price: Free, $.99 for the ad-free version

The world’s hottest game lets users express themselves creatively while competing with friends in a Pictionary-like game challenge. Draw Something is a wildly popular app created by OMGPOP. That company, now owned by Zynga, was recently paid a whopping $180 million for the game.


Take a guess what this Draw Something player is sketching. (Don’t worry, we’ve provided an answer below…)

Draw Something’s popularity is still on the rise – it’s already become a top app in the Apple Store – but the app, which began life as a PC game called Draw My Thing, has already hooked millions of would-be artists worldwide.

Artfully Done
Draw Something’s interface is super simple: a sketch area, color palette, pen and eraser are provided for the budding artist. Players then use their finger (or stylus) to draw a picture that represents the word their opponent is trying to guess. (Phrases like “prom,” “slam dunk” and “firewood” aren’t as easy to guess as you might think.) When the player is finished with his drawing, it’s then sent to their opponent. In turn, the opponent attempts to guess what is being drawn using a small selection of letters.

Points are awarded for correct answers, while wrong answers can cost players “turns.” Points translate into credits that can be used to buy “art supplies,” like new brushes or colors. Aside from the game itself, Draw Something fans are also using the program as a means for self expression, unleashing their inner Van Gogh with complex works of user art.


Examples of art created with Draw Something include a high-flying salute to NBA legend Michael Jordan.

Players can have multiple games going simultaneously, which comes in handy if you’re waiting for a player to guess one of your drawings. One drawback (pun intended) is that players can also write out words…which comes in handy for players who can’t sketch but who happen to enjoy cheating.

Drawn to Apps?
Some insiders have claimed Draw Something may be the fastest growing original mobile game ever – and point to the fact that an astounding 50 million users have downloaded the app in only 50 days. Not only that, but Draw Something has even dethroned the massively popular Angry Birds game as the most popular download in current circulation.

Cool games like Draw Something all share one characteristic: they each begin with people inspired to create something new and outstanding. Opportunities to gain practical app-development experience, such as the iPhone Game Development summer camp and the App Development for iPhone and iPad summer camp, are a smart way to start learning how to make the next Draw Something.

Answer: Bathtub

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments

Kindle Fire OS and Kindle iOS Apps Updated

Did you get (or give) a Kindle Fire this holiday? Amazon thanks you – like Apple, Amazon is keen to keep its customers happy. And to that end, last week, Amazon updated the new Kindle Fire and iOS with new features.


The Kindle Fire has sold well over a million units in just a few short weeks.

It’s On Fire!
Amazon has been aggressively going after digital media technologies and trying to hard to maintain it’s foothold as a digital bookseller. Recently, Amazon’s first tablet, the Kindle Fire became a hot-seller and its iPhone and iPad apps are among the top downloads in the App Store. Still users complained about functionality for both the Fire – mainly one that didn’t allow users the ability to remove things from the carousel – and the Kindle Fire app, but thanks to a new update those issues have been addressed.

Kindle Fire Updates

  • Users can now “edit” what shows up in the app carousel on the Fire’s home screen – before users couldn’t remove any items.
  • Touch navigation has been improved.
  • The OS and hardware are more responsive, web pages load much faster.

 
Kindle App for iOS

  • Updated user interface for periodicals and text books – this includes access to the same selection of more than 400 magazines and newspapers that are offered on the Kindle Fire.
  • “Print replica textbooks” are now available for the first time to iOS Kindle app users. This allows users to see full-color pages, the ability to zoom in/out and take notes as you read.
  • The Kindle iOS app can now be used as a PDF reader. This feature was already available in iBooks.

 
Amazon & Apps
Driving tablets like the Kindle Fire and iPad are powerful apps. The Kindle Fire uses Google Android Apps, while the iPad uses apps that are developed exclusively for iOS. Apple’s App Store has four times the amount of apps than the Android app store but since app development is one of the largest and fastest growing sections of digital media, expect apps – especially Android apps to grow drastically in the next few years.

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posted by DMA Phill in App Development,News Blog and have No Comments

iPad 2 vs. Kindle Fire vs. Xoom & Others: A Tablet Buyers Guide

Entertaining the idea of getting (or giving) a tablet computer this holiday? Why not? Tablets like the iPad 2 will be the hottest hi-tech gift this holiday season. Tablets give you the world on a platter, compressing all the processing muscle of a laptop computer into a handy-dandy slate that you can hold in your hand — and which is light and portable enough to take anywhere.


Santa’s not the only one putting smiles on faces this Christmas; the iPad 2 will again light up the holiday.

The real question is which tablet computer is right for you? Apple’s iPad 2 is the market leader but other tablets have come along that solidly compete with it. It’s debatable if these contenders match the iPad’s grace and power. Still, these other devices may prove attractive to consumers since they are priced well below the iPad.

We’ve evaluated the leading tablets and have a side-by-side tablet-comparison chart below for your holiday shopping, but we’ve also listed our picks in order of preference:

1. iPad 2
 
Pros: Apple’s iPad 2 expands upon the original iPad in several ways. For starters, it has two cameras for FaceTime (video chat) and HD video recording. It’s powered by Apple’s dual-core A5 chip and features a 10-hour battery life. The latest iOS 5 adds more than 200 new software features. With the iPad 2 you also have access to Apple’s iCloud. Apple’s App Store showcases games and productivity. Apple has also added more apps (some 140,000 in all) to the store, making it the largest library of content for any tablet. It’s the market leader — and our top pick — for a reason. The interface is graceful, intuitive, easy to use and beautiful. If you’ve never owned an Apple product, this one will make you a lifelong fan.

Cons: The iPad 3 is scheduled for release next year.

Overall Dimensions: 9.50 inches (height) x 7.31 inches (width) x 0.34 inches (depth)
Weight: 1.33 pounds
Display: 9.7-inch diagonal LED-backlit glossy widescreen
Screen Resolution: 1024 x 768 pixels; 132 pixels per inch
Screen Display: Multi-Touch display with In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology. Screen treated with fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
Manufacturer: Apple, Inc.
MSRP: $499—$829

2. Kindle Fire

Pros: Incredibly compact (small enough to slip in a purse), the Kindle Fire is as small as its price. Enhanced with Amazon Silk, a “split browser” that divides the tablet’s web-browsing chores between the tablet and the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), the Kindle Fire boasts its own dual-core processor. And since it’s made by Amazon, it’s backed with an incredible amount of content,  including 18 million movies, TV shows, apps, games, songs, books, newspapers, magazines and more (with comics provided by DC Comics). The Kindle Fire offers 8 GB of internal storage; Amazon figures that’s enough for some 80 apps plus 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books.

Cons: No camera for video chat or taking pictures.

Overall Dimensions: 7.50 inches (h) x 4.7 inches (w) x 0.45 inches (d)
Weight: 14.6 ounces
Display: 7-inch diagonal
Display Resolution: 1024 x 600 pixels; 169 pixels per inch
Display Screen: Multi-Touch display with IPS technology and anti-reflective treatment
Manufacturer: Amazon
MSRP: $199

3. Nook

Pros: When you’re the world’s largest bookstore, it’s assumed that content won’t be in short supply and Barnes & Noble estimates its book holdings at more than 2.5 million titles. And at 16 GB of internal memory, the Nook Tablet has twice as much storage as its closest competitor, the Kindle Fire. (We still like Kindle Fire’s resemblence to the iPad.) The Nook Tablet also contains a microSD card slot that offers extra storage, which is noticeably lacking in other tablets, like the iPad 2. Interested in the Nook Tablet for reading purposes? You’ll be happy to know the adjustable fonts customize your reading experience (eight text sizes and six font styles). In addition to what B&N calls the largest digital collection of newspapers and magazines, the Nook Tablet is the tablet home of Marvel Comics.

Cons: No camera for video chat or taking pictures. Interface is sometimes clunky.

Overall Dimensions: 8.1 inches (h) x 5.0 inches (w) x 0.48 inches (d)
Weight: 14.1 ounces
Display: 7-inch diagonal
Screen Resolution: 1024 x 600 pixels; 169 pixels per inch
Screen Display: VividView Touchscreen, fully laminated for remarkable clarity and reduced reflection and glare-read indoors or outside
Manufacturer: Barnes & Noble
MSRP: $249

4. TIE: Xoom / Galaxy Tab
Xoom

Pros: Sporting a hefty 10.1-inch display, the Xoom is able to take advantage of hundreds of thousands of apps from the Android Market. Through Google eBooks, the Xoom is able to draw upon a library that ups the ante at more than 3 million titles. To enable video-chat capabilities, the Xoom has front and rear-facing cameras. It’s powered by Google’s Android and has plenty of horsepower. A MicroSD card slot allows for addition storage or moving your media, and it performs more than adequately.

Cons: At 1.6 pounds it’s one of the heaviest tablets out there. Google’s operating system has stability issues and it has other issues like images displaying properly in the Gallery viewer. An added insult, almost all of the Android games in the Android app store aren’t optimized to run on the tablet. (FAIL!)

Overall Dimensions: 9.81 inches (h) x 6.61 inches (w) x 0.51 inches (d)
Weight: 1.6 pounds
Display: 10.1-inch diagonal
Screen Resolution: 1280 x 800 pixels; 150 pixels per inch
Manufacturer: Motorola
MSRP: $499

Galaxy Tab

Pros: Like the Xoom, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 also boasts a 10.1-inch diagonal screen. Samsung claims faster and more stable online connection thanks to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 having both HSPA+ and Wi-Fi access. Also on-board: front- and rear-facing cameras that support video chat functions. Also powered by the Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) platform, which Samsung claims allows quicker processing times because the platform excels at multi-tasking. And speaking of multi-tasking, the Mini Apps used with the Galaxy Tab 10.1 let you perform multiple key functions while working with other applications. It is one of the thinnest Honeycomb tablets available and it comes packaged with earbuds(!).

Cons: The App selection is subpar. During our tests, even with a full Wi-Fi signal the online video playback had issues.

Overall Dimensions: 7.48 inches (h) x 4.74 inches (w) x 0.47 inches (d)
Weight: 13.6 ounces
Display: 10.1-inch diagonal
Screen Resolution: 1024 x 600 pixels
Manufacturer: Samsung
MSRP: $499—$629

5. Kobo Vox

Pros: Love to read? The Kobo Vox has a library that exceeds 2.2 million books.The Kobo Vox is focused on the reading experience and Kobo claims a total library of more than 2.2 million books, as well as more than a million free titles. Magazine content is supplied via thousands of popular magazines from Zinio and newspapers from around the world. Kobo is marketing the Vox as a “free reader,” meaning that once you purchase a Kobo Books title, the user/owner can then enjoy it on any opened reading device. Should you need more external stimulation, the Vox offers unlimited web browsing and open access to Android 2.3, including more than 15,000 apps. It’s a new entry to the tablet world.

Cons: It’s a cheap alternative to the big boys by a relatively unknown tablet maker, which could make for technical-support nightmares. Kobo’s books are more expensive than Amazon’s.

Overall Dimensions: 7.57 inches (h) x 5.06 inches (w) x 0.53 inches (d)
Weight: 14.2 ounces
Display: 7-inch diagonal
Screen Resolution: 1024 x 600 pixels; 150 pixels per inch
Screen Display: Multi-touch screen optimized for reading outdoors. Features extra-wide viewing that its makers say is ideal for shared reading.
Manufacturer: Kobo, Inc.
MSRP: $199

Side-by-Side Comparison

Apps Make the Tablets
In the end, it comes down to two things: a good operating system and (just as important, if not more so) apps. Making apps for the iPad isn’t easy but it is fun. Creative app developers are really driving tablets. Ultimately, buyers should decide which applications or what they intend to do on the device first, then find the tablet that fits their needs.

Bottom line: If you already own Apple products, like the iPhone 4S, you will probably want to get the iPad, mainly because of the App Store, iTunes and iCloud support. If you prefer the Android operating system then the Xoom might be best for you. If you want a much cheaper tablet that kind of feels like an iPad,  then Amazon’s Kindle Fire is your best bet. Whatever you choose, one thing is for certain: you’ll most likely be giving or getting a tablet this holiday season.

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posted by Phill Powell in App Development,News Blog and have No Comments

Apple’s iPhone 5 Versus Android Smartphone: Which is Better?

Apple is the most recognized brand in the world; Apple’s products, specifically the iPhone, are in high demand. And yet, Android phones have started outselling iPhones in the U.S., according to comScore. Why? Google’s widely distributed Android OS rules the smartphone platform. Several different providers offer several different types of service, alongside Android phones that are offered at many different price points. While Apple selects its providers, and only Apple makes the iPhone.


Apple and Android face off in the Smartphone Wars.

That’s why analysts expect Apple to release more than one type of iPhone to address the problem of market share, making the iPhone even more accessible. In addition to the iPhone 5, Apple is expected to release a cheaper iPhone 4, too.

Possible iPhone 5 features:

  • Memory. More memory, possibly 1GB of memory, which is twice the amount currently offered in the iPhone 4.
  • Higher-resolution. 8-megapixel (the current phones have 5 megapixel’s worth).
  • Near-Field Communication (NFC). Use your Google Wallet.
  • Voice Control. Call home using voice navigation.
  • Graphics. Improved and similar to the graphics silicon used in the iPad 2. Imagination’s PowerVR SGX543.
  • Dual-core Apple A5 chip. A boost in processing performance.
  • 3G. A Qualcomm chipset is expected that supports both CDMA and GSM networks.
  • 4G. Via HSPA+.
  • iCloud. Synching the phone might also be done through Apple’s cloud service.
  • iOS 5. New iOS with iMessage, tabbed browsing and lots more.

 
In addition to the Apple App Store, iTunes and whole host of features, the iPhone has 200 of them powering iOS 5. Also expect the introduction of iCloud to play a part.


A computer-generated graphic of the iPhone 5. 

Everyone wants an iPhone, including T-Mobile customers. CEO Cole Brodman recently shared his disappointment in a letter that explained the company hadn’t been selected as an iPhone provider yet. The Chief Marketing Officer for T-Mobile explained his own frustration with Apple and knew the announcement would make customers unhappy.

Droid Does 
The Android OS and droid phones support 4G. A phone like the Samsung Galaxy S 2 has an incredibly vivid and larger display than the iPhone. Droid phones also have great features. The Motorola Droid Bionic has a dual-core Texas Instruments’ OMAP4 processor. It has proved to be a very popular phone in its own right. While both Apple and Android phones support streaming video and audio apps like Hulu, Netflix and Pandora, Droid phones have better audio output and larger displays than iPhone.

App and game development for Google Android devices has certainly become increasingly popular with more games and apps being released ever day. Still, Apple’s App Store and iTunes are well established, offer more apps, games and overall content and are loved by millions.

Some tech-savvy users might say they want the display and many phone options of the Android platform, while having the support and use of Apple’s App Store and iTunes. Unfortunately, you can’t have both. iPhones and their apps integrate with other Apple devices. For that reason and a few others (including iTunes), for the moment, we’ll hold onto our iPhones and remain in line for the iPhone 5.

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posted by Vince Matthews in Apple,News Blog and have No Comments