Tag Archives: iBooks

WWDC: OS X Mavericks

hero_wave

In Apple’s highly anticipated WWDC keynote address on Monday, the Cupertino company unveiled its next generation operating system for the Mac. Called OS X Mavericks, the OS is named after a beach in northern California. Apple admitted on Monday that it had run out of big cats, so future releases of OS X will be named after locations in California that “provide inspiration.”

The name change aside, OS X Mavericks does feature some pretty important changes for Mac users. Here is a quick rundown of some of the most important features of the latest release of the Mac OS.

Finder Tabs

finder

Finally! Having multiple Finder windows open makes it difficult to organize files. Many have speculated that it would be easier to manage the Finder if it had tabs, like a web browser. Apple has delivered in Mavericks. Organizing files and maintaining Finder windows will be much simpler with tabs. For power users, like myself, I can have four or more Finder windows open at once. In fact, I often have a second desktop open just for the Finder windows. This will not be necessary in Mavericks.

Tags

tags_finder

Tagging a file is a simple concept, but Apple has really done a great job of taking tagging to the next level. In Mavericks, when a user saves a file, they will have the option to add tags to assist with searches. A new tags section has been added to the Finder’s side bar allowing users quick access to their tagged files. This is really interesting because it acts as a second organizing method. In addition to saving your files to a desired folder, Mavericks will also keep your files organized by the tags you assign. While this may not be a big feature for most users, as someone who has thousands of files on my MacBook Pro, this will be a big help.

Notification Center

notifications_login

Notification Center has received some nice enhancements in Mavericks. In addition to providing updates from your favorite websites, notifications will now be synced using iCloud. This means that you will receive notifications from your iPhone or iPad apps on your Mac as well. And once you close the notification, it will close on the other devices. This may not be a major change, but it will cut down on the clutter in Notification Center on iOS. My favorite new feature of Notification Center is that it will now show everything you missed while you were away on the sign-in screen (see above).

Multiple Displays

multiple_displays_menus

Apple has always supported multiple displays, but in Mountain Lion, there are some major issues. When a user opens a full screen app, the second display shows the linen background, rendering it useless. This was certainly a hinderance to users. In Mavericks, this problem has been corrected and some great features have been added. OS X will support up to 6 displays, and they can all be running at 4k resolution. In addition, each monitor can have its own dock and will have its own Mission Control. An important update for those users who utilize multiple displays.

Safari

safari_sidebar

Safari has received some minor updates in Mavericks. In addition to having a new sidebar for bookmarks, Safari will use less power and less of the CPU during operation. Safari’s updates may not seem exciting, but improvements to the coding of any app is welcomed as it improves its stability and power consumption.

iBooks

ibooks_icloud

It’s about damn time. Apple is bringing iBooks to the Mac. Enough said.

Maps

maps_features

It was only a matter of time before Apple brought its Maps app to the Mac. This may not seem that important, but it is a really nice addition. Most of us tend to use Google Maps on our computers to find a location before we leave. But once we get in the car, we have to program the address into a phone or GPS. With Maps on the Mac, once you have created your itinerary, you can forward the information to your iOS device. Very handy. Other than that, Maps is pretty strait forward.

iCloud Keychain

icon_icloud_keychain

This is an interesting addition to the Mac and iOS. iCloud will remember your passwords and credit card information so that you do not have to keep post-it notes on your screen. iCloud Keychain will even suggest complicated passwords when you are creating a new account. This feature looks interesting, but some users will be leery of keeping their credit card information in the cloud.

Other Changes

calendar_month

There are a host of other changes in Mavericks. Apple has finally ditched the fake leather look in Calendar and the book layout of Contacts. Although Jony Ive is not yet gotten his hands on OS X, they will likely move in that direct next year with OS X 10.10. Many of the other changes announced are under the hood. Improved CPU management and compressed memory will keep your Mac running efficiently. One other interesting features was App Nap. The software will track which program is in use and which programs are in the background. When an app is in the background, CPU power will be cut to that app to save power.

Mac OS X Mavericks will be available in the Fall and pricing as not yet been announced, but I expect Apple to continue their trend of $19.99 upgrades through the Mac App Store. This looks like a solid release with a number of new apps and system enhancements that will make Mac users happy. I am looking forward to seeing what Ive does with OS X in 2014, but for now Mavericks will be installed on my MacBook Pro the day it is released.

Note: Watch these features in action at Monday’s keynote address here.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Tech

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Tech

Is the First Generation iPad a Classic?

With the release of iPad 2, many are wondering place in history the first generation iPad holds.  Is the iPad a classic device already?  There has been much said about how the iPad was the best selling product release in the history of the tech world, but what does that really mean?  Apple is has a long line of successes beginning with the Apple 2 in the late 1970s, the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone and finally the iPad.  These devices have changed the industry in their own way, but does the iPad belong in the same category of these other game-changing devices?

iPad 1

Lets begin by looking at sales.  Steve Jobs announced the Apple sold 15 million iPads in 2010 (including 300,000 on day 1!).  This sounds like a staggering number, but he also announced that Apple had also sold its 100 millionth iPhone in the month of February 2011.  Two devices that defined categories, two different milestones.  It is difficult to understand what this means unless we break down the numbers further.  The iPad went on sale April 2, 2010 and sold 15 million by the end of December.  That is a total of 274 days.  By doing simple math, we discover that Apple sold 54,744 iPads per day, 2,2801 per hour, and 38 per minute.  The iPhone went on sale July 29, 2007 and by the end of February 2011 had been on sale for 1,617 days.  That means that Apple has sold, on average, 61,842 iPhones per day, 2,576 per hour, and 42 per minute.  Four more per minute than the iPad.

There are other numbers that make one question the importance of the iPad.  The App Store has been a success for Apple on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad and Jobs was sure to announce that the App Store had approximately 65,000 apps for the iPad as of the beginning of March 2011.  The App Store, however, has over 350,000 total apps which means that only 19% of the apps on the App Store are optimized for the iPad.  Not nearly as impressive as you thought, is it?

Steve Jobs debuted iPad 1 January 27, 2010

The iPad has delivered some very impressive numbers since its launch, however.  Selling 15 million units of a new device does seem to be a record.  Those 15 million units generated $9.5 billion in revenue for Apple, a sizable portion of their revenue.  Users have also downloaded over 100 million iBooks since its launch last April.  That equates to approximately 253 downloads per second.  Apple did not release the number of apps downloaded during that same period, but I assume it would eclipse the number of iBooks.  The iPad currently holds approximately 90% of the tablet market share.  This is because there are still few competitors out there, but they are coming.  Blackberry, WebOS, Windows (yet to be named), Android (too many to list), they are all creating tablets to rival the iPad.

So is iPad 1 a classic?  It would seem that many people have chosen to keep their original iPad as opposed to upgrading to iPad 2.  A survey conducted on launch day of iPad 2 found that 70% of those buying an iPad 2 were buying their first iPad.  Does that mean Apple will increase its consumer base by 70%?  Probably not, but it does show that many people waiting for the iPad 2.  That is one thing with technology.  There is always a group of users that skip the first generation of products.  The iPad 2 is an improvement over iPad 1, but there is a sizable crowd that will keep their iPad 1 for another year and wait for iPad 3.

iPad 2

The simple answer to the question as to whether iPad 1 is a classis is yes.   A classic device changes things and the iPad certainly has.  The iPad can do everything the iPhone can do and it can do everything a MacBook can do, but the revolution is in how it does it.  The touch interface changed the smart phone market in 2008 and the iPad changed the computer market in 2010.  At the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2011, there were over 40 tablets demoed, all destined to challenge the iPad.  At CES 2010, there were a few, but they never made it to production.  January 27, 2010 changed the tablet market forever.  When Steve Jobs held the iPad on stage in San Francisco, it was clear something had changed.  The first iPad went virtually unchallenged in 2010, but there are a wide variety of challengers lined up for 2011.  iPad was released to nationwide sellouts and a massive number of online orders, but will iPad 2 live up to its predecessor, the “Classic iPad”?  We will have to wait and see.

Leave a comment

Filed under Tech

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews, Tech