Tag Archives: iOS

Should iWork be Free?

overview_hero

At WWDC, Apple announced an expanded version of iWork in the cloud. Now you may think that iWork is already in the cloud, and it is, sort of. Currently, iWork documents are saved in iCloud so you can open them on your Mac, iPad, or iPhone, but you need the iWork apps to edit the documents. Apple unveiled a web-based version of iWork that allows users to create and edit documents in a web browser. While this is certainly a welcomed feature for iWork users, Apple left a number of questions unanswered. How much will it cost? Is iWork going to become a part of iCloud? Apple suggested more details would be released this fall, but I would argue that Apple needs iWork to be FREE to all users.

When you buy a Mac, iLife is free, but you have to buy the iLife apps for iOS. In addition, iWork apps have always come at a premium on OS X and iOS. Page, Numbers, and Keynote are sold in the Mac App Store for $19.99 each, and 9.99 each for iOS. If you buy iWork on the Mac, you have to buy the apps for iWork as well. If you choose to buy the full suite of apps for OS X and iOs, you have spent $89.94. But many Mac users, myself included, opt to spend more for the more mainstream Microsoft Office. Users should, at the very least, get the Mac AND iOS iWork apps for one price. Why should I have to buy iWork for each platform? I have not purchased iWork and do not plan to. I have used it on other Macs and have been using the beta versions in iCloud. I like the features of iWork, and the beta version of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote in iCloud are solid contenders. The layout of iWork in a browser is much like iWork on the Mac. For awhile I forgot I was using a browser based system. It worked that well.

iwork-icloud-beta

Apple knows iWork is not mainstream like Office or Google Docs. I believe iWork for iCloud could change this fact. If Apple wants to bring iWork to a larger audience, it needs to be free for every user of Mac OS X and iOS. Users of Android and Google get Google Docs for free with their phone and it can be used on a PC or Mac. Apple suggested that new versions of iWork for the Mac and iOS will be released in the fall, and to complete with Google and Microsoft, Apple needs to step it up and provide iWork as a free feature in OS X Mavericks and iOS 7.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Tech

WWDC: iOS 7

The biggest announcement to come out of Apple’s WWDC keynote address was the complete overhaul of iOS. The redesign of iOS has been highly anticipated as many users believe iOS has not aged gracefully. I agree. When it was announced Jony Ive would be taking over the design of Apple’s software design in late 2012, expectations were high. Rumors began to circulate that iOS would have a more flat design and many tried to guess how that might look. One thing that was clear is that users wanted something different. On Monday, Apple showed a very different iOS. One that has divided the tech world.

iOS-7-on-iPhone-5

iOS 7 is all new aesthetically. The flat UI, new color palette, transparent design, and new icons create a completely different look. This new look has been the most polarizing aspect of iOS 7. Some hail iOS 7 as a bold new look while others feel it is too flat and lacks any character. Personally, I like some of the aspects of iOS 7 and believe that the polarization caused by iOS 7 will only help Apple attract attention. It is true that most of the changes in iOS 7 appear to be cosmetic, but there are a few new noteworthy features.

Control Center

iOS7_control_center

While this feature appears to be derived from Android, it is an important part iOS 7. Users asked for quick access to certain settings such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, brightness, and music controls. Control Center delivers this and more in a new pane you access by swiping up from anywhere in the OS. I cannot argue that it is an important feature, and I like the way it looks. The transparency of the background on this pane looks great with any wallpaper.

Notification Center

notificationcenter_missed_screen

As with OS X Mavericks, Notification Center received some updates. It is smarter in that it now provides a preview of your day. iCloud has also been introduced to sync notifications across devices. One thing that is missing, however, is quickly reply. In Notification Center on Mavericks, you can reply to an iMessage from the notification. This would be great for iOS, but it is not there. iOS 7 is currently in beta and this could be coming in a later update, but it is a glaring omission.

Multitasking

Screen-Shot-2013-06-11-at-17.31.26

iOS 7 has a completely new multitasking interface. Well, when I say new, I mean new to Apple. The new interface is similar to what we saw on Web OS and several jailbreak apps. Nevertheless, the update is welcomed. When a user accesses multitasking, they are brought to a entirely new section in which they can see previews of all their running apps. To close a program, simply swipe up on the image to dismiss the app. It is a simple idea that works well, but one that Apple “borrowed.”

Air Drop

index_airdrop_posterframe_2x

Air Drop has been brought to iOS. Like on the Mac, Air Drop will recognize all your friends that are nearby and allow you to share webpages, documents, and more. Most phones currently use NFC for this, but Apple opts for data networks or Wi Fi. No word on whether this will work over Bluetooth. I could see this being important for business customers, especially on the iPad.

iTunes Radio

index_itunesradio_posterframe_2x

iTunes Radio has been widely rumored and is now official. Like Pandora, users can stream music and create stations based on artists or songs. The system will be supported by iAds or will be ad free for iTunes Match customers. It works well, but one of the biggest complaints at this point is that the music on iTunes Radio is censored. Pandora does not censor its music, and Apple better correct this before iOS 7 launches to the public.

Other Changes

There are some other minor changes worth noting. Safari has received an overhaul and users can now have unlimited tabs open at once. Siri has been updated with a new voice and some new commands, but nothing major. The Camera app has received some filters and the ability to shoot square images. The Photos app will now organize your photos by date and location. The App Store has a new “Near Me” option where you can find apps that are popular in your area. Find My iPhone has been improved to prevent thefts. An iPhone can only be activated using one iCloud account. This means if someone steals your phone, they will need your iCloud account to activate it after it is reset.

Overall, if it were not for the complete redesign, iOS 7 would be a pretty boring update. Apple was under a lot of pressure to refresh iOS, but have they delivered? Yes and no. The new interface is great looking, but it is still a work in progress. Features are likely to be added to the OS between now and its release date in the fall. And that is a good thing because iOS 7 needs something more than just a new coat of paint for it to keep up with the competition. The new iPhone will need to do something else to keep users and the tech world interested.

For now, iOS 7 is a step in the right direction. It gives Apple something to build on for the new few years. The next few months will be critical, however, as Apple refines iOS 7 and gets it ready for release this fall. Until then, be sure to check out the gallery below comparing the apps in iOS 6 (left) to the redesigned apps in iOS 7 (right). Also be sure to check out Apple iOS 7 video (above) and watch the full WWDC keynote here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under Tech

Apple’s WWCD Begins Monday

wwdc13-about-main

Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference begins Monday with the highly anticipated opening keynote. Apple will not only unveil redesigned versions of OS X and iOS, but are expected to reveal it’s new iRadio service and refresh its Mac lines. Apple enthusiasts look forward to WWDC because it is where Apple shows off its latest creations, but in the last few years, the event has been focused on software with hardware refreshes coming in the fall.

The iOS 7 banner for WWDC suggests a flat design

The iOS 7 banner for WWDC suggests a flat design

This year, WWDC is very important to Apple. Over the last year, Apple’s stock has suffered and sales have dropped. iOS is nearly six years old, and it is beginning to show its age. Rumors suggest iOS 7 will feature a flat design created by Apple’s design guru Jony Ive. Flat does appear to be the key to the design of iOS and OS X, but Apple needs something more to keep its cool factor. The latest iPhone is not expected to be introduced until September, but it, along with iOS 7, is going to need some new and creative features. I will not speculate on what that might be, but a finger print sensor for added security is rumored.

The banner for OS X has a similarly flat design

The banner for OS X has a similarly flat design

As for the Mac, the hardware has been updated in the last year with the new iMac and Retina MacBook Pros. OS X is very functional and I really like it, but its design has remained largely unchanged since Leopard was introduced in 2007. Like iOS, it is feeling dated. While there are not as many rumors surrounding OS X, it is not a stretch to suggest that OS X will receive a similarly flat UI. iOS and OS X share a number of programs, and  skeuomorphism is present in both operating systems. Since OS X and iOS have begun to merge, the UI is likely to follow suit.

I am looking forward to Monday’s keynote address and the future of OS X and iOS. The tech world, perhaps the whole world, will be watching as the pressure is on Apple to step up its game.

Leave a comment

Filed under Tech

iOS 6: Review

Like most iPhone owners, I was ready to install iOS 6 when it was released on Wednesday. I had liked what I had seen at Apple’s WWDC in June and could not wait to try it out. Now that I have been using iOS 6 for a few days, I thought I would post my thoughts.

What’s New?

There are a few new features and apps in iOS 6. In fact, Apple claims that there are over 200 new features in the OS, but you might be hard pressed to find them.

 

One of the more obvious changes is the Maps app. Apple has ditched Google in favor of its own map application. It features vector styling mapping so the load time is fairly quick. The satellite images load very quickly as well. The problems begin, however, when you use Apple’s 3D “Flyover” feature. Some of the images are incomplete or skewed. And Flyover is only available for a few select cities. Siri is now integrated in to Maps and will provide turn-by-turn navigation. There are a few issues here as well. Many addresses are off, and some are off by a few blocks in larger cities. This makes me wonder why Apple did not release a beta version of this maps app. A real public beta, not a developer beta. Apple could have pin-pointed some of these errors long before the release date, but Apple says it is working on the Maps issues and will release an update soon.

Another new app is Passbook. I really like this idea. NFC might be a feature of other phones, but it has not yet been accepted by the majority of the public. Apple has opted instead for Passbook. There are only a few apps using this feature, but there are sure to be more in the coming months. Passbook is a place to store tickets, boarding passes, and gift cards. Let’s use Fandango as an example. You buy your movie ticket on Fandango and the app places your ticket in Passbook. When you enter the theater, you pull up the ticket which is then scanned. A very simple app that is sure to get a lot of use.

There are a number of other important updates. Facebook is now integrated throughout the OS making it easy to share and post to Facebook. Siri has received some nice updates. She now knows more about sports, can launch apps, post of Facebook and Twitter, and can tell you where to go with Maps. Mail has received some minor updates, as has Safari and the camera.

What is Old?

iOS 1 vs. iOS 5

To be honest…all of it. iOS is beginning to feel old. Apple has tried to update the feel of the OS in a few ways. They have updated the look of the App Store, iTunes Store and Music apps. They also changed the way the phone key pad looks, but the rest of the app has not changed. Some apps have a blue menu bar, some retain the old black bar. The OS just feels half-baked. It seems like they wanted to try a new color scheme, but did not finish it. I really like the black and white look of the Music app, but it makes most of the other apps look out dated.

There have been several articles lately about Apple’s skeuomorphic design themes and how there are two camps within Apple. Some believe Apple needs to pick a standard theme, others like how each app is unique and looks like it’s physical counterpart (ex. Notes app looks like a notepad).  Personally, I think it is time that Apple pick a design language and stick with it. They are moving in the right direction with the remodeled stores and Music app.

Overall

There is no doubt that iOS 6 is a solid OS. Everything works very well, and I have not had any issues since upgrading. Customers will flock to iOS 6 and the iPhone 5, but that does not mean Apple needs to stop innovating. If they want to remain the king of phone technology, iOS will need some major new features for iOS 7 – and one of those features needs to include a facelift.

Leave a comment

Filed under Tech

Budweiser and Harvick Team-Up with Blippar App

Use the Blippar app to scan this image to begin the Blippar/Budweiser experience

The innovation of the smart phone and phone apps has brought about a variety of unique user experiences. Advertisers are taking advantage of these platforms in a variety of ways. Whether they advertise through apps, iAds, or QR codes, there are a number of ways for companies to get their products to the end user. When advertising meets the smartphone, users are given a unique experience.

Blippar, a smartphone app company based in the UK, has created a unique advertising experience for fans of NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick and Budweiser Racing. When you use the Blippar smartphone app on your iOS or Android device to scan the Budweiser logo or either images on this page, you will enter an exclusive world. As the video illustrates, Blippar uses augmented reality to deliver exclusive content.

Use the Blippar app to scan this image to begin the Blippar/Budweiser experience

Blippar has created a world filled with exclusive content from Budweiser and Richard Childress Racing. After scanning a Budweiser logo or banner, users are presented with a menu (pictured below) with a variety of options. Under “Experience the Bud 29,” users can access a 360 degree view of the Budweiser 29 car or view two exclusive videos from the RCR race shop. When “Away from the Track” is selected, three videos are presented. These videos show Kevin Harvick away from the track racing g0-karts and pulling pranks. The final option of having your picture taken with Harvick is like a number of apps that allows you to insert yourself into an image. Blippar gives users three different picture options – at the bar, at the track, and just hanging out.

Blippar has created a unique form of advertising that goes far beyond QR codes and banners. But Budweiser is not the only company taking advantage of Blippar’s creative advertising. Blippar experiences are also available for Cadbury, Heinz, Kit Kat, Dominos Pizza, Wrigley’s Gum, and several other companies. Blippar’s unique form of advertising may not be mainstream, but it is a unique way for users to interact with their favorite brands and for companies to interact with potential customers.

So, as Kevin Harvick hits the track today at Watkins Glen, grab a Bud, your smartphone, and the Blippar app to enjoy a unique Harvick experience.

Leave a comment

Filed under NASCAR, 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

WWDC Begins Tomorrow – UPDATED

Tomorrow, Apple will kick off their Worldwide Developers Conference with its keynote address. CEO Tim Cook will take the stage along with other Apple Executives. There are a number of announcements expected in the two hour keynote. Analysts predict that Apple will introduce new iMacs and MacBook Pros. On the software side, there will likely be on-stage previews of the upcoming Mac OS X Mountain Lion, which was previewed online earlier this year, more importantly is iOS. Expect a preview of iOS 6 and a release of a developer preview. It should be an eventful two hours! I will post an update tomorrow evening with a link to the keynote video.

WWDC runs through June 15 and sold out within two hours of the release of tickets.

UPDATE: Watch the keynote HERE.

Leave a comment

Filed under Tech