Tag Archives: Garage Band

What OS X Mountain Lion Needs to be Killer

Yesterday, I posted a glowing review of OS X Mountain Lion. I was able to do so because Mountain Lion is a solid OS, and Apple’s strategy of merging the features of iOS and OS X is creating a solid ecosystem. But there are improvements Apple could make to OS X, and features of iOS that could be brought over to the Mac. I thought I would outline my suggestions to bring OS X to the next level.

One of the oldest apps on OS X is iTunes. iTunes is a great media organization app, but it is outdated. Apple has not updated iTunes since 2010, and it is beginning to show its age. iTunes needs a new layout and an easier way to organize and access all the content it contains. Currently iTunes houses the App Store, iTunes Store iBooks Store, music library, books, audiobooks, ringtones, movies, TV shows, radio stations, Podcasts, and iTunes University.

There is so much in iTunes, that it may be time for Apple to take another one of its iOS strategies to the Mac. Apple has been breaking up iTunes in iOS and has introduced separate apps for Videos, Podcasts, and iTunes University. These apps are not preinstalled on the phone but are are available in the App Store. Perhaps Apple should consider breaking up iTunes on the Mac as well. Individual apps could easily be distributed through the Mac App Store. Apple’s media event in the fall has traditionally included an iTunes refresh, and I am hoping for a major update from Apple.

A few years ago, Apple began ported some of its Mac applications to iOS. One of the first was iLife. iMovie, iPhoto, and Garage Band are all available on iOS and Mac OS X, but the layout of these apps on iOS, specifically the editing features on iMovie and iPhone, is more user friendly than on the Mac. I really expected iLife ’11 to match the iOS apps more closely, but instead Apple only rolled out a minor update.

My issues with iLife also extend to iWork. While iWork on iOS is similar to iWork on OS X, there are some differences in layout that would be beneficial to Mac users. Unlike iLife, Apple has not updated iWork for Mac since 2009. There have been minor updates, but iWork remains largely unchanged. Hopefully in the coming weeks, Apple will announce major changes iWork and iLife to make the OS X apps feel more iOS like in operation and function.

Apple has spent the last five years working to improve iOS and adding innovative and competative features. Some of the features, like iLife and iWork, were Mac apps ported to iOS, but there are two iOS apps that I would like to see developed for the Mac. The first is iBooks. Amazon’s Kindle app for Mac is a great option for those who like to read on the Mac, but it is strange that Apple has not made its own iBooks app and store available to Mac users. The iBooks store is available through iTunes, but purchases are only viewable through iOS. The other iOS app I would like to see brought to the Mac is Newsstand. Reading a newspaper or magazine on my Mac would be great. Like iBooks, it is possible to download Newsstand apps on the Mac, but they must be viewed on iOS. These two apps alone would really make the Mac more competitive and would be beneficial to the developers in both stores. Both apps could take advantage of iCloud and sync bookmarks and downloads between a user’s devices. I think Apple is really missing out on something big with iBooks and Newsstand.

There is one more app that I would love to see ported to the Mac. iOS 6 will feature Apple’s new maps application, and I think it deserves a place on the Mac. Garmin has an app that allows users to plan a trip on their Mac or PC and sync the data to their GPS. Apple could use iCloud here as well. A Mac owner could plan their trip on their computer then have iCloud automatically sync the trip data to their iPhone via iCloud. Of all the suggestions, this is the furthers from happening at this point because Apple’s Maps are still in beta, but this would be a great feature and a great selling point for the OS X – iOS ecosystem.

When Apple began blurring the lines of iOS and OS X, I was skeptical. Having used iOS 5, OS X, and iCloud for the last year, I believe that Apple is heading in the right direction. But Apple needs to stop taking incremental steps. Apple has clearly committed itself to this transition, and they need to step it up the transition. For the last several years, Apple has outgrown the market in the Mac segment. With these simple improvements, Apple could have an unbeatable ecosystem for years to come.

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The Apple iPad 2 Review

After waiting in line at Best Buy yesterday to receive one of the 15 iPad 2s, I can honestly say Apple has not disappointed.  After Steve Jobs unveiled the new iPad last week, many wondered what made this iPad different from the first generation model.  The answer is all in the hardware.

HARDWARE

The iPad 2 had many new hardware features that make it far superior to the previous model.  The most obvious is the body itself.  The iPad 2 is only .34 inches thin and it feels completely different in the hand.  The new flat back makes it feel like a thin book or, more appropriately, like a magazine.  The aluminum back and glass screen make the iPad rigid and it feels incredibly durable.

iPad 2 next to the original iPad

The addition of two cameras also sets the iPad 2 apart from its predecessor.  The front-facing camera is VGA only and is meant for making Facetime video calls.  The rear-facing camera is 720p HD video camera, but when taking pictures, the rear camera is less than 1 megapixel.  The images are okay, but not the greatest quality.  The iPad, however, is too large to be an effective camera.  I have the iPhone 4, which has a 5-megapixel camera with flash.  This serves the purpose when I am on the go.  The cameras do well a video camera and that is their primary purpose.

The other major change to the iPad 2 is on the inside.  Apple’s A5 chip is a 1 GHz dual core processor that has dramatically increased speed of day-to-day operation.  The processor makes iPad 2 nearly twice as fast as the original and nine times faster with graphics.  iBooks (Free) is noticeably quicker.  Games that are heavy on the GPU are noticeably faster and more detailed.  The other major change is the iPad 2 has 512 MB of RAM instead of the previous generations 256 MB.  This allows the iPad to keep more open webpages in its memory as well as operate apps better in the background.  Also added under the hood is a gyroscope that give better control when playing games.

Unchanged on the iPad 2 is the screen.  The 9.7 inch display is unchanged, but still just as rich in detail.  The bezel surrounding the screen remains the same size but now comes in black or white.  Overall, the hardware of the new iPad 2 is what gives it its competitive edge.

SOFTWARE

The iPad 2 came preloaded with Apple’s new iOS 4.3 release.  This came with such improvements as quicker Safari browser, Air Time updates, and the option to use the switch on the side of the iPad for mute or rotate lock functionalities.

iMovie for iPad

There are a few additions to iOS 4.3 that are only found on the iPad 2, however.  The Facetime app is like the one on the iPod Touch and works very well.  There is a camera app like on the iPod and iPhone, but the big story is Photo Booth.  If you have a Mac, you know what Photo Booth is capable of.  It takes funny pictures of you and your friends for you to post all over your Facebook wall, but Photo Booth does more than that.  It shows off the incredible speed of the new A5 processor.

Drums on Garage Band

There are a few other apps Apple has created to take advantage of the iPad 2’s cameras and speed.  The first is iMovie ($4.99).  This is currently available for the iPhone and is a capable app.  It allows you to edit movies you have made with your iPad.  The other app is Garage Band ($4.99).  On the Mac, Garage Band only works with physical instruments, but with the iPad the instruments are virtual.  Whether you play the piano, guitar, or drums, Garage Band has you covered.  They also have “Smart Instruments” for those of us who are not musically inclined.  In addition to instruments, Garage Band allows the user to mix tracks and use the iPad as an amp for several instruments.

Photo Booth

OVERALL

Smart Cover and the iPad 2

iPad 2 is a very solid device and one that I will use every day.  Like the original iPad, the iPad 2 has a wide variety of accessories including Smart Covers ($39 – $69) which use magnets to attach to the iPad and easily lock and unlock the iPad by just closing or opening the cover.  I purchased a grey Smart Cover and it works very well and does not add a lot of bulk to the design.  What is truly amazing is that with the smaller size, new hardware, and added speed, the iPad 2 retains the original iPad’s 10-hour battery life and price point.  I purchased the 32GB black Wi-Fi iPad 2.  Of course, everyone wonders what Apple has in store for the next iPad, as well as this summer’s iOS 5 update, but for now, I have no problem waiting with the iPad 2.

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