Tag Archives: iPhone

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.

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.

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WWDC: Keynote

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Throughout the day, I have recapped Apple’s WWDC keynote from Monday. You can read my thoughts on OS X Mavericks, iOS 7, and the other updates from WWDC. Or you can get the full effect of the show by watching it on Apple’s site or watching the embedded video below (this may not always be available).

Overall, I thought WWDC was pretty good. Craig Federighi stole the show and is proving to be the rising star at Apple. There were some solid updates previewed at WWDC, but many developers were disappointed that the SDKs for OS X and iOS were not featured. After all, this was a developers’s conference. Like many Apple fans, I am looking forward to what Apple has in store for the fall. Until then, we will just have to watch tech sites for all the latest from the betas of Mavericks and iOS 7.

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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.

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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.

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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 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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