Tag Archives: iPad

Should iWork be Free?

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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.

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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.

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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 Whole Earth Blog in 2011

2011 was a busy year for me and for this blog. The Whole Earth Blog began 2011 with a different name and changed names twice before finding one that fit. This year was better than I could have ever imagined for this blog. I started the year with barely 200 visitors a month and ended the year with well over 2,000 per month! I credit this to the expansion of the topics discussed within the blog.

The stats for the year (Views per Month)

I posted on a wide variety of topics from my continuing education, auto news, tech reviews, the retirement of the Space Shuttle program, the Joplin tornado, the SS United States, and tributes to Steve Jobs and Harry Morgan. The popularity of the blog has been on the rise and I am very proud of the variety of posts that I am able to come up with. I thought, to celebrate the end of 2011, I would share the top ten posts of the year. And they are:

10. SS United States: A Ship in Distress

9. The Apple iPad 2 Review

8. Joplin, Missouri Tornado News and Updates

7. Welcome Pottermore

6. Pottermore (Beta): A Full Review

5. Own a Pair of Marty McFly’s Shoes

4. Is the First Generation iPad a Classic?

3. The Legacy of Steve Jobs

2. Who is Laurene Powell Jobs?

1. Graduate School and the iPad

I want to thank everyone for reading in 2011 and am looking forward to 2012 as I complete my college career and enter the “real world.”

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iPhone 4S Review

It turns out we did not get our fabled iPhone 5, but we did get a new device from Apple last week, the iPhone 4S.  As usual, I received my device on day one and am prepared to review it.

Design

The iPhone 4 had an impressive design with glass and on the front and back and a stainless steel band holding everything in, and the iPhone 4S maintains that design.  The 3.5 inch retina display remains as well.  Again, those hoping for the iPhone 5 might be disappointed, but the 4S looks great, especially in white.

Hardware

What is new with the 4S is the internals.  Apple’s dual core A5 chip (from the iPad 2) is paired with 512MB of RAM.  Apple claims the A5 will improve performance by up to 2X for daily tasks and up to 7X for graphic rich games.  The iPhone 4S is quicker at launch apps, loading apps, and just about everything else.

Another major change internally is the antenna.  There was a lot of controversy surrounding the iPhone 4’s antenna.  So much that Apple provided free cases to iPhone 4 customers experiencing a drop in network connectivity.  Apple has supposedly fixed this issue by allowing the phone to switch seamlessly between two antennas built into the phone.  So far, tests have indicted this system has worked.

Camera 

Apple is very proud of the fact that the iPhone 4 is the most popular camera on Flickr and they have upgraded the camera for the 4S. The sensor is increased from 5MP to 8MP, but the real story is in the CMOS sensor from Sony.  The backlit sensor allows in more light making the images crisper in low-light situations.  In addition, Apple has added an additional lens into the design allowing for more accurate color depiction.  All these features, along with the new  f/2.4 aperture (improved from the old phone’s f/2.8) make for a great camera.

In addition, the camera now takes 1080p video and, paired with iOS 5, includes many new built in photo editing options.

iOS 5

The latest release of iOS improves greatly on what Apple has already created, and addresses many of the concerns put forth by those in the tech world.  The creation of Notification Center is certainly one of the greatest features in iOS 5.  Notification Center is similar to that on an Android device and makes it easy to keep track of everything you missed.

Other features such as: iMessage, Newsstand, Reminders, Twitter integration, and mail improvement are just a few of the over 200 new features in iOS 5.  Perhaps one of the greatest new features is the fact that Apple has made their devices truly wireless.  It is not longer necessary to sync your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad to iTunes for backups and updates.  Syncing can be done over WiFi and the OS is now updated over-the-air via delta updates.

Overall, iOS 5 is a very solid OS.  There were some download issues when it was released last week (my iPhone 4 was bricked for a few hours), but that was largely due to the amount of traffic on Apple’s servers.  It has been reported that 1/3 of all iOS devices are now running iOS 5.  It hasn’t even been out a week yet!

iCloud

A major new feature of iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion is iCloud.  iCloud allows the user to wirelessly sync photos, calendars, contacts, bookmarks, documents, books, mail, and iTunes between all your Apple devices without the need to sync.  It is all done automatically and it works very well.  For example, I downloaded an iBook yesterday to my iPad, it automatically downloaded it to iTunes and to my iPhone.  I also added an appointment to my calendar on my iPhone and it automatically added it to my calendars on my iPad and MacBook Pro.  As Steve Jobs said in June, it just works.

All these features are also accessible from iCloud.com if you are not on an iCloud enabled device.  Users can also signup for a free .me email address if they choose.  Perhaps the most amazing part of iCloud is the price, FREE.  iCloud is free to all iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion users.  I believe this is going to start a trend in the tech world as cloud services become more and more popular.

Siri 

Perhaps the greatest, and most fun, feature of the iPhone 4S is Siri.  I am sure you have seen all the articles about Siri’s attitude and snappy remarks, but she really is helpful.  She can send email and texts, set reminders and appointments, make phone calls, play music, search the web, and just about anything else you might need.  She does so, as she says, humbly.  Siri is remarkably smooth for a beta and there are few times that she misunderstands.

Yes, Siri is fun to ask off the wall questions, but she is very useful and I think will only get better with time. I believe that Apple will eventually share Siri’s APIs with developers and we will see voice integration with 3rd party apps and that will truly make Siri the master of everything.

Impressions 

I have to admit that at first I was a little disappointed by the announcement of the iPhone 4S on October 4, but after using it for a few days, you begin to realize that Apple still has the complete package.  Having used Android phones, most recently the Samsung Galaxy S II, there appears to be an inherent cheapness to the feeling of the chassis of many phones.  The iPhone 4S, like the iPhone 4, feels very strong and durable, despite being made from glass.  The other issue with many phones is the disconnect between the hardware and software, but with Apple, both are made by the same people to ensure they work together seamlessly.  The iPhone 4S is a strong smartphone with great overall features, but other devices, such as the Motorola Droid RAZR, are thinner and have larger displays.  Apple is on par with the current market, after all, Apple did sell 4 million over the weekend, but a major redesign in 2012 will be required if they do not want to fall behind the crowd.

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The Problem with Apple’s Newsstand

Apple’s iOS 5 is full of great new features (features I will review in full detail in my review of the iPhone 4S) and one of my favorite was supposed to be Newsstand.  I say “supposed to be” because there is one major flaw in Newsstand.  It is not the fact that it is nearly impossible to put Newsstand into a folder, but it is the price of subscription to some of the publications.  The idea of selling media digitally is to cut down on the costs of printing and postage.  One would think, therefore, that digital editions of magazines and newspapers would be cheaper than their paper counterparts, and some are.  For example, The New York Times can be delivered to your iPad for $20 per month.  That is a $10 savings per month over home delivery costs.  Autoweek’s digital subscription only costs $4.99 for a year subscription, half off a print subscription.  National Geographic charges $19.99 for the Newsstand subscription, the same as print.  Charing the same amount is fine, but some magazines have really gotten it backwards.  Motor Trend is a great example of a poorly conceived pricing structure.  If I subscribed to Motor Trend by mail, I only pay $10.  However, if I want to get it digitally on my iPad it is $19.99.  WHY???  The iPad edition is more interactive and includes videos, yes, but I can get the same videos from their website for FREE. Why should I pay more for a magazine that it not generating the costs of printing and postage?  Motor Trend is not the only magazine doing this, here are a few other examples:

-Popular Mechanics: $12 by mail, $19.99 on iPad

Esquire: $8 by mail, $19.99 on iPad

Golf Magazine: $10 by mail, $19.99 on iPad

Reader’s Digest: $10 by mail, $14.99 on iPad

Vanity Fair: $19.99 by mail, $19.99 on iPad

The New Yorker: $59.99 by mail, $59.99 on iPad

Publishers need to realize that in order for a digital distribution system to work, they are going to need an aggressive pricing strategy.  Charging twice as much for digital over print is ridiculous.  I understand that this is new to many publishers and they are working on pricing, design, etc, but I feel that over time prices will come down.  I do not mind paying for content, but I do mind being screwed.

*I have emailed Motor Trend with my concern and will update this post if they reply, but I doubt they will.

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The Legacy of Steve Jobs

Since the funeral for Steve Jobs was held on Friday, I decided that I would publish my final post on his legacy today.

After Steve resigned as Apple’s CEO in August, everyone began writing stories about Steve’s legacy as though he were dead.  Now that he is, I have read repeats of what was said then.  Instead of simply reposting my take on Steve’s legacy, I decided to write a fresh perspective, one that encompasses his entire life, and not just his career at Apple.

Steve was born in 1956 to two college students who ultimately decided to put him up for adoption.  Steve was adopted by a family in the San Francisco area and attended high school in Cupertino.  As a kid he enjoyed technology and even had an internship at Hewlett Packard as a teen (while Steve was CEO of Apple, the company purchased part of the HP campus and intends to build its new campus at that location).

After graduating high school, Steve attended a few college classes before dropping out to devote his time to Apple.  The story of Apple is often told due to its romanticism.  A company started by two friends in a garage, but what we often over look is the two men themselves.  Steve and Steve Wozniak (Woz) complemented each other.  Woz was a technological genius and could build anything.  Steve had the vision of what could be and pushed Woz to build it.  The Apple I was a useless machine by todays standards, but it was the world first computer that did not encompass an entire room.  The Apple II brought computing to the home.

After the success of the Apple II, Steve and Woz separated within the company.  Woz remained with the Apple II group and Steve move on and worked with the group that would eventually launch the Macintosh.  The Macintosh used a completely new form of software, Graphical User Interface (GUI), that Apple at acquired (the nice way of putting it) from Xerox.  GUI required a new device be created to control the computer and the mouse was born.  The Macintosh encompassed what Steve strove to achieve with all products, function and design.  The design of the Macintosh was an all in one computer that allowed for simple functionality and portability.  When Steve introduced the talking Macintosh in 1984, computing was changed yet again.  It was GUI that paved the way for IBM and Microsoft to talk Apple on in the personal computer market.

Shortly after the introduction of Macintosh, Steve was gone.  He was fired by the man he chose to be CEO.  The Board of Directors proved to be more loyal to the CEO than the founder.  Woz had left Apple a year before Steve to return to college.  He became a teacher, and has not worked for Apple since.

Steve found himself without a job and without a future.  He had a load of cash, but he felt the need to create, and create he did.  He spent most of his fortune to business ventures.  First, he created a software company called NeXT.  NeXT was a new spin on GUI and he set out to attack Microsoft and Apple.  He was openly critical of Apple’s decisions throughout this period.  The second venture was the purchase of Pixar from George Lucas.  Lucas felt he could do nothing with the company and sold it to Steve.  There he met John Lasseter and other computer graphical designers who had a vision for a movie.  By 1995, the first film was ready and Toy Story was released.  It was the first movie to be fully computer animated.  The movie was a huge success, and Steve was back on top.  NeXT, however, was failing to compete with Microsoft and Apple was slowly dying, having gone through a string of unsuccessful CEOs.

In 1997, Steve found himself back at the company he started when Apple bought NeXT.  Steve was immediately named interim CEO and he immediately asked the entire Board of Directors to resign.  He replaced them with top technology firm founders and CEOs (such as Eric Schmidt from Google).  The second thing Steve did was killing most of Apple’s product line.  He felt that Apple was building too much and consumers were overwhelmed with the selection of “professional” and “consumer” products.  It was his vision to build a machine that both, and in 1998, Steve unveiled the iMac.  The iMac was an all-in-one, built for both consumers and professionals.  It was also designed to look appealing.  It came in a variety of colors and looked great on a desk.

The iMac began a string of hit products for Apple with Steve at the helm.  In 2000, Apple began to seed Mac OS X with his NeXT technology under the hood.  In 2001, Steve and Apple changed the music world with iTunes and the iPod.  Not only could you listen to music, but also you could buy it, download it, and own it.  That was a fairly new concept for the music industry and, as Steve explained in 2003, it was not easy to convince them to take part.  However, as Napster and other programs that were deemed illegal became popular, the record labels gave in.

In 2004, Steve was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  A form, which he said, was treatable with surgery.  In a commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005, Steve talked openly about his diagnosis and how close to death he had become.  Steve’s speech has been shown countless times over the past several days.  In 2006, Steve and Disney came to an agreement and they bought Pixar for $7.6 billion, making Steve chairman of Disney’s Board of Directors and making him the largest shareholder of Disney stock.

After several years of innovation with the iPod and Mac, Apple released the iPhone in 2007.  The iPhone changed the way carriers and phone manufacturers related to each other in the United States.  Before the iPhone, you could only purchase games from the carrier, but the App Store allowed developers to distribute their applications to the consumers in a safe, secure way.  The iPhone paved the way for the iPad release in 2010.  The iPad is, by far, the tablet leader around the world, and most analysts agree that will not change anytime soon.  Steve shared at his appearance at D8 in 2010, that the iPad was designed first by Apple, but he felt the phone should come first.  The market was not yet ready for a tablet. It was this extraordinary vision that made Steve successful.

Steve’s last appearance on stage came in June 2011 and the introduction of iCloud.  Although it has yet to be fully released (but it will be this Wednesday), legions of Apple fans and users are awaiting its arrival to simplify the way their devices communicate with one another.

Steve’s legacy should not be the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone, or even the iPad, because they will change along with technology.  His legacy most likely will not be his ability to understand the market the public unlike any other.  Instead, the legacy of Steve Jobs was his ability to rebound.  He rebounded after being fired by Apple in the mid-1980s, he rebounded when he became CEO of the failing Apple, and he rebounding following his first battle with cancer in 2004.  Nothing could keep Steve down.  The media has assumed that Steve died of cancer, but that has yet to be confirmed.  Many have suggested that he has been fighting this latest round of cancer for over two years, and if that is the case, even though it ultimately won, he put up one hell of a fight and refused to allow it to take him away from his work.  Steve’s devotion to Apple and his success of taking a company months from bankruptcy and making it the largest technology company on the planet is what has earned him the honor of being Fortune’s CEO of the decade (2000-2010).  His mind for business and technolog, as an innovator on the scale of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison (Steve holds over 300 patents) are his legacy.

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Steve Jobs Presentations

Steve and his wife after his presentation at WWDC 2011, his last.

One of Steve’s greatest talents was his presentation style.  His iconic St. Croix Mock Turtleneck, Levi 501 jeans, and New Balance 991 shoes graced the stage at 1 Infinite Loop many times.  He will be remembered on stage holding the devices we most wanted.  Here is a video collection of Steve introducing some of Apple’s most popular devices.

1984: The Macintosh

1997: Steve Jobs Return to Apple

1998: The iMac

2001: iTunes

2001: iPod

2007: iPhone

2010: iPad

2011: iCloud

One More Thing….

Steve was famous for ending his presentation with this phrase and introdicing yet another new product or a suprise feature.  Here is a collection of those “One More Things”:

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