Friday, August 6, 2010

TheAppleBlog (9 сообщений)
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  • iPad is Smarter: Now With Genius!

    This morning, as is part of my ritual when waking up, I checked for app updates on both my iPhone and iPad. (Am I the only one who gets excited over app updates?) When doing so on the iPad, I noticed that the Genius feature had been released sometime overnight. As the App Store is web-based in nature, this feature comes automatically, without the need for any update to your device.

    The Genius feature, like that already found on iPhone and iPod touch, delivers a listing of apps that you may enjoy, based on your past purchases. The Genius featured on the iPhone has been fairly useful, and I check it from time to time if I’m looking for something new I may have missed in my other searches. When a suggestion isn’t useful, just use the “Not Interested” button to let the App Store know that the app suggested wasn’t your cup of tea.

    Unlike the iPhone, the iPad’s Genius feature offers two flavors of suggestions: the kind I mentioned above, which is based on prior purchases, as well as the ‘Upgrades’ view. Upgrades reveals apps that you purchased for iPhone, and which have an iPad equivalent that may be of interest to you. (Obviously this doesn’t matter for apps that are universal between the two devices.)

    If you’re looking for some new apps, the search just got a little easier. Fire up Genius in the App Store on your iPad and go find some new apps to plunk down some money on.

    Related GigaOM Pro Research: Is Marketing Key to Mobile App Store Sales?

    Alcatel-Lucent NextGen Communications Spotlight — Learn More »


  • TechUniversity Freebie: Intro to Recording a Podcast

    Today we’ve got a full-length TechUniversity freebie for you!

    Embedded below is a 17 minute screencast on recording a podcast with GarageBand. We’ll walk you through what equipment you need and how to record and export your podcast with GarageBand.

    If you enjoy this screencast, please check out all the other great screencasts at TechUniversity!

    Alcatel-Lucent NextGen Communications Spotlight — Learn More »


  • Try Before You Buy Comes to the App Store…Sort of

    Apple has introduced a new Try Before You Buy section to the ever-popular App Store. However, it’s not something that you should get too excited about; the new section only highlights the free and lite applications already available within the store.

    The section was revealed yesterday by showcasing just under 100 free-of-charge applications. Those on display include the popular game Angry Birds Lite, navigation app Geocaching Lite, and a lite version of Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.

    The App Store has often been criticized for not offering any demos of applications, while other app stores have some sort of demo feature in place. For example, Google’s competing Android Market allows its users up to 24 hours to try the application, offering a refund policy if it’s not what the user had in mind. Microsoft has revealed that it also plans to offer users a trial period for apps when its Windows Phone 7 marketplace arrives later this year.

    Apple’s introduction of this new category has been deemed an attempt to seemingly offer demos on the App Store to remain competitive with Android and the upcoming Windows Phone 7 markets. However, it’s fairly clear that this new Try Before You Buy category is nothing more than a listing. The majority of App Store users will see it for what it really is.

    Does Apple even need to offer users demos of apps? The app store has been selling apps aplenty for over two years now and although a handful of users do complain, leaving bad reviews in their wake, this by no means seems to be a widespread concern for most app customers.

    Of course, for those snapping up the occasional 99 cent application, a demo service doesn’t really seem justified. But when laying down $40 for the Tom Tom app, a brief sample of what the application can offer would probably be appreciated.

    What are your thoughts on app trials? Would you like to see demos in the app store, or are you happy with the current setup? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

    Related GigaOM Pro Research: Is Marketing Key to Mobile App Store Sales?

    Alcatel-Lucent NextGen Communications Spotlight — Learn More »


  • Coping With the Loss of Hard Drive Space

    Does anyone remember when Lacie came out with its Big Disk 1TB drive not that long ago? It seemed like the nerd’s Holy Grail, but at about $1,200, it wasn’t necessarily a “run-right-out-and-buy” scenario. Just a few short years later, you can pick up a 1TB drive for as low as about $60 if you shop around for a deal. Despite storage becoming so cheap, it’s still a good practice to keep tabs on your hard drive’s capacity. With more and more rich media being made available, that available space can dwindle before you know it. I’ll help you arm yourself with the tools to figure out where that space is going and how to maintain and protect it in the future.

    Checking Your Current State of Affairs

    First, go to the Finder, right-click on your hard drive, and select “Get Info.” Under the General heading, you’ll find the details on your drive’s Capacity, Available, and Used space. It seems like I’m always shocked at how low that Available space number is, despite my best efforts to keep my Mac’s storage well-groomed. Media files (music, movies, photos) tend to be the main culprit, but Applications and other documents and support files may be to blame as well. The key is in identifying exactly what is taking up that space before you take any sort of action.

    Disk Visualization

    Disk visualizers are the way to go. They give you an easy way of looking at which folders contain the heavyweight files that you may or may not need (or can at least backup to an external drive if your hard drive space is at a premium). Grand Perspective and Disk Inventory X are somewhat old-school in their visuals, but are free. JDiskReport is a long time favorite of mine (also free) but in 10.6, it requires Rosetta to be installed as it’s not a Universal app for OS X. (The OS installs Rosetta for you, but if you don’t want extra background chaff, this may be a deal breaker for you.) OmniDiskSweeper is also free, but doesn’t have much in the way of visuals. WhatSize has been around for a while, and has a nice user interface and some great features to remove files once they’ve been found. It’ll set you back $12.99. Then there’s DaisyDisk, which looks stunning and works very nicely, although doesn’t have all the nice-to-have removal features. DaisyDisk goes for $19.95

    Getting Rid of the Extras

    As an extra tip, there are some system type files that are notorious for taking up lots of unnecessary space for many users, a major one being language packs. OS X ships with support for many different languages. There are some solutions out there for easily getting rid of those language packs to reclaim some storage space — just make sure you read the fine print so you don’t break anything!

    Printer drivers are another thing that OS X comes loaded-down with. The premise is noble — make it easy for Mac users to use nearly any printer, but that convenience comes at a cost. If you regularly use only a couple of different printers, you may want to look into removing the dead weight drivers.

    And lastly, a tip for iPhone/iPod/iPad users: iTunes keeps full backups of your iDevice stored within iTunes. I discovered recently that as I’ve upgraded my iPhone hardware over the years, my number of backups as grown, and taken up several extra gigabytes of storage. It’s probably worth curating those out-of-date backups while you’re at it.


    Great! By now you’ve hopefully identified many of the files that are eating up space on your precious hard drive. You’ve either determined them deletable, necessary, or candidates for backup. So how do you maintain the space that you’ve reclaimed and/or have left? Unfortunately there’s no all-encompassing solution (that I’ve found yet), but the following are some applications which offer good solutions for keeping on top of your hard drive using maintenance practices.

    Hazel (which we’ve written about plenty) can watch folders for you and perform intricate actions that you decide upon and build based on your criteria, and costs $21.95 — well worth it! AppZapper ($21.95) is the uninstaller that OS X lacks. CleanMyMac is a well-rounded system maintenance solution for cleaning out unused system caches, and other bloat-type files that build up over time. It costs $14.95 for six months or $29.95 for lifetime use. A smallish shareware utility called Singular identifies duplicate files on your hard drive. It was updated recently, but the developer’s main website is currently down, and I don’t recall the cost. Lastly is Squeeze. It doesn’t remove files like the rest, but it does work on compressing your drive’s files to save space. It’s sort of magical, and costs $12.95.

    Bloated hard drives — whether from your own files, or the system’s — can impact the performance of your system. Using these tools to maintain that available space will not only help keep your Mac running well, but also keep you informed of the space you have, so you’re not caught by surprise when you run low on storage. Good luck waging war on your hard drive!

    Alcatel-Lucent NextGen Communications Spotlight — Learn More »


  • Open Thread: FaceTime and the Need for Mobile Video Chat Etiquette

    Since Apple introduced the iPhone 4 and its new FaceTime video chat application, users are slowly getting used to the idea of being able to video chat in real-time no matter where they go (as long as they’re within range of a Wi-Fi connection).

    But while there’s great opportunity in the freedom of always having a live video chat outlet available, users are still adjusting to the idea that they’re always carrying around portable video chat devices. People use their phones differently than laptops, desktops and other devices which currently offer video chat. In most cases, when it’s time to video chat, they’re sitting at a desk or have situated themselves in front of a camera.

    Things are different when your phone is your camera. Video chat becomes more impromptu, and smartphone users interact with their phones in different ways than they would a video-enabled laptop. Users sleep next to their mobile devices, and if some studies (and anecdotal evidence) are to be believed, most smartphone users take their phones into the bathroom with them. In other words, not every mobile phone situation is a good FaceTime situation.

    Perhaps more importantly, people have grown used to using their phones differently; as phones have become more mobile, so have users while they’re on the phone. It’s not unusual for them to be chatting in the midst of sporting events, grocery shopping, driving, or even just walking from place to place — none of which makes a good video chat experience.

    With that in mind, here are a few simple guidelines for entering the brave new world of mobile video chat.

    1. Ask if your partner is ready before sending a video chat request. This should go without saying, but you should know that whomever you’re planning to talk to is ready and in a place where they can comfortably chat.

    2. Maintain eye contact. This goes for all video chat, but is especially true when you’re face-to-face with a mobile handset at arm’s length. It’s a lot more intimate. No one likes to think that there’s something in the corner of your eye that’s more interesting that the chat at hand, no pun intended. So unless you plan on sharing what you’re looking at — and conveniently enough, you can do so by pointing your camera in that direction — keep a steady gaze on your chat partner.

    3. Sit still. Most mobile phone users are used to carrying on conversations while walking around. Don’t. That is, unless you plan on giving your FaceTime friend vertigo.

    4. Stay away from crowds. Just because you can video chat using the free Wi-Fi at Starbucks doesn’t mean you should. The only thing more obnoxious than someone carrying on a loud phone conversation in the local cafe is someone carrying on a video chat at the local cafe. On the flip side, many bars now offer free Wi-Fi as well. Resist the temptation of allowing your chat partner to peek in on the regulars at your local watering hole.

    5. Wear pants. There’s an old joke that folks in corporate teleconferences never wear pants. But unless you are intimately familiar with your FaceTime partner, you should always be decent before accepting a video chat request.

    This list is just a start. Do you have other suggestions for etiquette while video chatting on a mobile device?

    Related content on GigaOM Pro: Report: The Consumer Video Chat Market, 2010-2015 (subscription required)

    Alcatel-Lucent NextGen Communications Spotlight — Learn More »


  • Updated with Clarifications: An Apple App Patent (Pic) That Looks Like an Actual App Selling on the App Store

    Updated again at 10 am PST after first update last night at 8.15 pm, PST:: Apple apparently has started filing patents for certain applications. And one of them looks exactly like an actual app — Where To — that has been available on the iTunes app store for a long time. No wonder the guys behind the app are upset — they can’t afford to make Apple mad. And if they don’t, then they might lose control of their own app. In a blog post, Ortwin Gentz, the founder of FutureTap, the company behind the app called Where To writes:


At first, we couldn't believe what we saw and felt it can't be true that someone else is filing a patent including a 1:1 copy of our start screen. Things would be way easier of course if that "someone else" would be really an exterior "someone else". Unfortunately, that's not the case. We're faced with a situation where we've to fear that our primary business partner is trying to "steal" our idea and design. So how to deal with that? — As some of you know, we've always been more than grateful for the platform Apple created. And, in fact, still are. However, we can't ignore it if the #1 recognition value of our (currently) only app potentially is under fire.

Where To? 1.0 with its characteristic home screen has been launched on day 1 of the App Store. The patent has been filed in December 2009. And clearly, the number of details with all the icons, their ordering and the actual app name "Where To?" in the title bar (which, as a sidenote, doesn't make a lot of sense as a module in a potential iTravel app) can't be randomly invented the same way by someone else. I'm not a lawyer. I can't really judge whether the inclusion of a 1:1 copy of our start screen in someone else's patent is legal. I just have to say, it doesn't feel right.

My first reaction to this: now this is bad form on part of Apple. And if any patent attorneys are reading this, please leave a comment or get in touch. More to follow!

Dan Wineman explains that ”the diagram is just part of an example of one way the technology in question might operate. I think it's more likely that the people involved in drawing up this patent simply didn't think about the message it would send to developers. I'm sure it's not Apple's practice (or intention) to plunder the App Store submissions bin for new things to patent.”

Reader Gary Watson says: “After reading the claims, it's clear that the spinning wheel image stolen from the 3rd party app was not part of the claimed invention at all and was just an illustration. You see this a lot in patents, where a an exemplar device such as a Dell laptop is used in a drawing but is not part of the claims.”

Ian Betteridge writes:

“What Apple is attempting to patent, in simple terms, are software systems consisting of a back end and a GPS-enabled device capable of sending and receiving location data in the context (specifically) of air travel. WhereTo? doesn't actually do what Apple is describing. So why has Apple used their interface (which isn't covered by the patent) in the application? Probably because they need to put something in, and that's the best thing that the patent attorney creating the filing could find. Stupid, but not uncommon.
Reader Steve G, a patent attorney says: First, nobody should be blaming Apple for the drawings in the application. An outside firm prepared the application, which is generally reviewed in-house before filing. So someone in Apple's patent group would have to know about this app to even have been able to object to it being in the application. From my experience, in-house attorneys are usually overloaded with work, and would anyway be more interested in the claims (more on this in a moment) and not the drawings. even from a copyright perspective, this would most likely be considered "fair use" because the screenshot is used in a teaching context (in the patent application as an example of the existing art) and does not replace the app itself (doesn't affect the market value of the app). If I were advising FutureTap, I would consider this to be some free advertising.

Alcatel-Lucent NextGen Communications Spotlight — Learn More »


  • How-To: Join Audio Files Together Into Audiobooks

    It can be a real hassle putting an audiobook into iTunes when it’s split into many different files. Especially when the files have helpful names such as 01.mp3, the seemingly endless list of files that results in your iTunes library makes listening to a book quite a chore. Lucky for you, I have an absolutely free method to make listening to books a pleasure again by combining all the separate files into one audiobook file.

    The method uses a script from Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes, an extremely useful site with a plethora of scripts for Apple’s media application. The particular script I’ll be using is called JoinTogether and uses QuickTime to stitch the files together into larger one.

    Step One

    Once you’ve downloaded JoinTogether, open the application, and open iTunes. By holding down Command (⌘) and clicking, select all the tracks in iTunes that you want to combine, then switch to JoinTogether and click the button at the bottom of the window labelled ‘Get Tracks From iTunes’. This grabs all the tracks you have selected in iTunes and adds them to the list in JoinTogether.

    Step Two

    Now drag and drop the tracks so that they’re in the correct order. Unfortunately, you can’t drag more than one item at a time, so this can be a little time-consuming. However, it shouldn't take more than a few minutes. You can also double-click to change the names of the tracks, so that they correspond to the chapter names later.

    Step Three

    Add all the appropriate tags and information for the audiobook. There isn’t really any need to fill in Album, Composer or Grouping, as audiobooks don’t have this information. I use the Artist field for the author of the book. To make sure that your file behaves as an audiobook once it’s in iTunes, tick ‘Remember playback position’ so iTunes keeps your place between listening sessions. I’d also suggest ticking ‘Skip when shuffling’, otherwise your audiobook can be played in Shuffle on your iPod or iPhone.

    Step Four

    Now it’s time to customize the settings for the book. To make sure that iTunes handles it as an audiobook and not a regular music file, change the option on the right from .m4a to .m4b – this means that the book is placed under ‘Books’ in your iTunes library, and not ‘Music’, because .m4b is the extension of an audiobook file. Under QuickTime Settings are some options which control the quality of the finished book. My personal preference is to keep the data rate at least over 128 kbps, but it’s up to you. A higher rate equals better quality, but a larger file size. The choice between Stereo and Mono for the Channels setting is purely up to preference or need.

    You can use JoinTogether to create chapter markers in the audiobook by checking the ‘Chapterize’ box. However, this creates a chapter for every track you have added from iTunes, which may not be where the chapters are in the book. The Harry Potter book I’m using for my example here has each chapter split into three or four files, for instance. If you have only one track for each chapter, then I suggest using the ‘Chapterize’ option.

    Step Five

    All that’s left to do now is hit the Proceed button. If you see a red exclamation mark to the left of the proceed button, then that means that the total track length of your audiobook will be greater than 12 hours. This can be problematic because QuickTime has a maximum file length of around 13.5 hours. If this is the case, it’s best to split your audiobook into two or more parts so that QuickTime doesn't run into any issues with length. While this isn’t ideal, it’s better than still having a dozen “01.mp3″ files floating around in iTunes.

    Once you click proceed, QuickTime will make a mess of your desktop by opening every track from JoinTogether separately, and will then proceed to join them together into one big file. As a rough guide, QuickTime took about 10 minutes to create a four and a half hour book, including stitching together and exporting the final result. Once it’s done, the book is automatically added to iTunes.

    There are a couple of ways to get around the chapterizing issue. The first is to join together the files for each chapter, and then join those files together into one audiobook. To explain it more clearly:

    • I have a three chapter book, with the chapters split into three files each.
    • I’d use JoinTogether to join the three parts of each chapter together into one file per chapter, naming the files Chapter 1, etc.
    • I’d then use JoinTogether again to join those files together into the finished book, checking the ‘Chapterize’ box.
    • The chapter marks would then be at the correct places in the book, rather than at random places where the files were split.

    The other way is to upgrade JoinTogether through the application menu. This costs $7 and includes the feature of joining multiple tracks together in the JoinTogether window to form chapters. It also contains other features such as additional preferences and the ability to sync the audiobook straight onto an iPod or iPhone.

    While this is a helpful feature set, I personally get along fine with the regular features, and having to use the chpaterizing workaround doesn't bother me, because I don’t have very many audiobooks. However, someone with a lot of books may decide that the time saved by upgrading is well worth $7 and pay to upgrade. Whatever floats your boat, as they say.

    Alcatel-Lucent NextGen Communications Spotlight — Learn More »


  • Back to School 2010 Buyer's Guide for iPad Lovers

    The iPad should be number one on every college student’s wish list. It’s pretty light weight and easy to carry, and with the diverse selection of apps available, you can really get more out of it than carrying your laptop to class. Our last feature in the 2010 Back to School Buyer’s Guide series is a look at some great accessories for the iPad.

    Apple Keyboard with Dock

    $69, Apple Store

    Touch screens are great, but extended periods of typing on them can be problematic. The Apple Keyboard and Dock is a great solution to help display your iPad while you type notes. If you have a different stand preference, you can buy the Apple Wireless Keyboard separately (for the same price) and use it with your iPad or any other Bluetooth-enabled Mac.

    Camera Connection Kit

    $29, Apple Store

    These two adapters will allow you to plug your SD card or USB camera directly into your iPad and download the contents without needing to sync to your computer. If your camera shoots video, those will get downloaded too.


    $9.99 per app, iTunes

    If you’ve used iWork on the Mac, the iPad version is a great supplement. Though there are some caveats, you can create your work in the Mac version (or right on the iPad) and take it on the go. The iWork suite includes Keynote (presentations), Pages (word processing) and Numbers (spreadsheets).

    Dock to VGA Connector

    $19, Apple Store

    If you are building your presentations in Keynote, show them off in style by connecting your iPad to a projector with the Dock to VGA Connector cable. When you connect with this cable, your iPad acts as a “presenter view” for Keynote and tapping and holding on your iPad will simulate the effect of a laser pointer. Now you won’t blind Bernice when she picks the wrong moment to look towards you and your laser pointer.

    Pogo Stylus

    $14.95, Ten One Design

    Sometimes it’s just better to be able to write or sketch naturally on the iPad. There are a variety of styli available for the iPad. Generally the ones that are a few bucks and come in a pack of three are best avoided. The Pogo is one of the more popular options and you can usually find an Apple Store employee who has one they can demo.


    $2.99, iTunes

    This is one of the most popular apps for making sketches and taking notes by hand. The app organizes your content into books and supports writing in multiple colors, stroke sizes and a variety of page styles. Plus, built-in sharing options makes it easy to share your work with colleagues and classmates.


    $4.99, iTunes

    Similar to Penultimate, this app allows for sketching but also supports typing with the built-in keyboard or an external Bluetooth one. This app goes even further by recording audio which is great if you happen to fall asleep during a lecture.


    Coming Soon, Blue Microphones

    Remember how there’s no real “up” for your iPad? Flip your iPad around and plug in an external mic like this one to add clarity when you record lectures. The iPad has a built-in mic at the top already, but an external one can make a lot of difference.

    iStudiez Pro

    $2.99, iTunes

    This app, mentioned in our iPod/iPhone article, is great for students to keep track of assignments, grades and upcoming deadlines with its support for push notifications.

    Dropbox and iDisk

    Free, iTunes

    Consider an app like Dropbox or iDisk if you have MobileMe as a way to move your files on the go. The latest updates support opening in native apps, so if you keep your Pages docs in your Dropbox, you can open them natively in Pages on your iPad. Dropbox and MobileMe are subscription services, though Dropbox offers a free 2GB account.

    Be sure and check out the other articles in this series, including Part 1 where we look at great gifts that benefit all Apple users, Part 2 where we discuss Mac products and Part 3 where we look at accessories for iPod and iPhone users.

    If you’ve found other great accessories for the iPad, or have an opinion to share on any of these, let us know in the comments!

    Alcatel-Lucent NextGen Communications Spotlight — Learn More »


  • Dish to Bring Live TV to the iPad

    It looks like Dish Network will finally make use of its SlingMedia assets, as its subscribers will be able to watch their satellite TV programming on their iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch starting in September, according to an AP report. Support for Blackberry devices will also be rolled out that month, and Android users will be able to join in on the fun in October.

    Users will be able to access live programming from anywhere, as long as they’ve got the right equipment at home. Using the Dish apps will either require an existing Slingbox, or an upgrade to Dish’s SlingLoaded DVR. And since it’s based on Slingbox technology, it will also come with the same restrictions, meaning that you won’t be able to watch a channel on your iPad and a different one on your TV unless you have a DVR with two tuners.

    Dish parent company Echostar bought SlingMedia three years ago for $380 million, but Dish has been slow to integrate SlingMedia technology into its pay TV products and services. A DVR with Slingbox features was announced in early 2009, but has only been available to customers since April.

    SlingMedia has continued to market its products independently of the Dish brand, publishing apps for the iPhone as well as Blackberry and Android handsets. The company states on it website that it will add “full iPad support” soon.

    This essentially means that Dish’s iPad support won’t be anything that customers of other pay TV subscribers won’t have access to — but the closer cooperation of the two corporate entities could give SlingMedia an important promotional boost as well as offer Dish an alternative to other company’s TV Everywhere efforts.

    Related content on GigaOM Pro: The Ultimate Guide To TV Everywhere (subscription required)

    Alcatel-Lucent NextGen Communications Spotlight — Learn More »


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