Wednesday, April 9, 2014

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Monday, April 7, 2014

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Apple engineer explains how the iPhone was designed for ‘normal people’

The Samsung trial marched on today, with Apple’s Greg Christie taking the stand. You might remember Christie, the senior software engineer, from this WSJ article last month, where he detailed some of the early stages of original iPhone development. And this afternoon, he did the same thing in court.
More specifically, Christie shared some new details on the development of the iPhone’s ‘Slide to Unlock,’ which is one of the patents that Apple’s accusing  Samsung of infringing. He said initially, his team wanted the handset’s display to be always on, but they quickly discovered it needed a locked mode…
Recode and CNET have more from Christie’s testimony:
We couldn’t meet our power requirements if we had that active a state,” Apple human-interface head Greg Christie said on Friday, testifying at the Apple-Samsung patent trial. “We had to resort to a power button.” The company was also worried about the phone sending inadvertent emails or “pocket dialing.”
“We knew we had to have a locked mode, or a locked state, where it wouldn’t let you do most things, except you could unlock it.” Christie and his team then worked on a solution, eventually settling on the slide-to-unlock mechanism that shipped on the iPhone and is among the patented features at issue in the case.
Christie also reiterated that developing the iPhone was a serious risk for the company, as it was new territory—something Apple has brought up many times. He said creating the phone took three years, and it went through hundreds of design tweaks to ensure it worked in a way ‘anyone’ could understand.
One of the biggest challenges is that we need to sell products to people who don’t do what we do for a living,” Christie, one of the inventors of the slide-to-unlock iPhone feature, said. When designing products, Apple keeps in mind that it wants “normal people – people with better things to do with their lives than learn how a computer might work – to use the product as well as we can.” [...]
Christie, the second witness to testify for Apple in this trial, after marketing chief Phil Schiller, walked the jury on Friday through the process of developing the first iPhone in the mid-2000s. Much of his time on the stand was spent emphasizing Apple’s efforts to make the device easy to use. According to various surveys Apple conducted — and that were made available as court exhibits — ease of use is the most important factor for smartphone buyers. 
As a whole, Apple is trying to make the case that the inventions it’s suing Samsung over are extremely valuable to its business and worth a significant amount of money. The company is asking for some $2 billion in damages from the Korean handset maker for infringing on 5 of its software utility patents.

Steve Jobs email reveals past Apple TV ideas: apps, ‘magic wand’ remote and more

We’re only a few days in, but we’ve already learned a lot from the Apple-Samsung patent trial. With it being a legal proceeding, the public is given access to information it wasn’t previously privi’ed to by way of executive testimonies, corporate emails and other evidence.
In fact, earlier today a particularly interesting email surfaced from former Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The document, which was submitted as evidence in the case, features a list of things Jobs wanted to discuss at the company’s 2010 ‘top 100′ meeting, including the Apple TV…
First of all, what is a ‘Top 100′ meeting? According to former Apple employees, the company hosts a meeting every year featuring its top 100 executives, managers and other staffers. These meetings are extremely secretive, and often include discussion of new products.
Now, about that email. The Verge has posted the entire thing here, in PDF form, but we’re going to be specifically looking at the Apple TV section. Jobs outlined a total of 11 talking points in the message, each with a few bullet points, and the Apple TV is item number 8.
Apple has mentioned the ‘magic wand’ several times in previous patent applications. We’ve covered two filings that specifically talk about it here and here, and both describe the wand as a Wii-like TV remote with built in fingerprint sensors for loading custom user profiles.
So is this so-called ‘wand’ still bouncing around Apple’s R&D labs? It’s tough to say. The company is believed to be working on new TV hardware with support for gaming, and a device like this seems like it’d be perfect. But there has been no mention of it in recent reports.
We’re likely to see a lot more of these kinds of documents come to light—oh, and some $2 billion in damages hangs in the balance. The trial is expected run for the next 3-4 weeks.

Just Mobile AluBolt cradles iPhone and iPad mini

Docks are my favorite iPhone and iPad accessory. I am not exactly sure what about them is enticing, but having my iOS devices propped elegantly at my workstation has been alluring since I first purchased an iPhone. Apple’s products are not just devices for productivity. Apple’s products are works of carefully crafted art.
In that nature, I would rather prop them up as a showcase. You wouldn’t buy a $600 piece of art and let it lay aimlessly around your home. You would place it prominently, making sure others can tell you have great taste. You own an iPhone, right? Apply the same concept…

Design and function

The AluBolt is an upright docking stand for iPhone and iPad mini. I did throw my iPad Air on there for a test run, agreeing with Just Mobile’s primary intentions to use only the mini. iPad Air was a little wobbly on the stand because of the larger form factor. AluBolt’s base is 10.3mm (4.05″) in diameter with a brushed aluminum top plate, which houses the curved upright arm and Lightning port.
Below the aluminum plate is a black plastic base with a scratch resistant pad to protect desktops from unnecessary scratching. The bottom pad is not a micro-suction pad, however. Without an attachment point or adhesive, combined with a very light form factor, removing iPhone or iPad mini requires two hands.
There are mixed opinions about whether a dock should require two hands for removal, but I pref to grab my device and go. Using two hands to remove my device is a time waster and often annoying. The nature of stands with chargers, however, is one that has some pull requirements. The Lightning connector, in contrast to the 30 pin, seems to stay connected more intently, requiring a stronger pull to separate the device and cable. As such, any dock with a built in Lightning port will require a harder tug for removal. Consequently, unless the dock is extremely heavy, about 3lbs, or uses an adhesive like 3M or micro-suction, it will require a two handed motion to spring the iOS device.
As pictured, the black plastic housing for the Lightning pin allows movement fore and back. More dock makers seem to make this added detail a priority, which should have been included many years ago. Allowing the Lightning tip to move provides a safer connection. Most people, myself included, quickly grab their device and go, without thinking about damaging iPhone’s Lightning port. The pivoting head prevents damage both to the tip and the Lightning port located on the iOS device. Docking either the iPhone or iPad mini does not require the tip to be moved, however.
I like the unit includes a built-in USB cable. Others may take a short cut and leave out the cable, requiring a user installed job. With the included cable, I am not forced to use an Apple OEM cable, which are still in short supply around my home, car, and office.
With an upright design, the curved plastic adds an interesting flair to the overall design, matching the circular base. I would prefer an aluminum support bar, but aluminum on the back of either iPhone 5s or c, could cause scratching without a barrier. Unfortunately, there is no way to adjust, bend, or move the support bar, eliminating the user’s ability to modify the viewing angle.


As I mentioned, I am a pretty big fan of docks in general, making me predetermined to enjoy the AluBolt. Admittedly, I do like the AluBolt overall, but there are areas of improvement. Most notably, I really hate having to use two hands to remove my iOS device. This is picky and a personal preference, but that is a big sticking point for me. The plastic arm is also a little aggravating, including its inability to pivot, which is, again, a personal preference.
The aluminum base matches my iMac completely and the pivoting Lightning tip is an excellent damage preventer. Including the installed Lightning cable is also a big plus. As I use a wooden desk, the scratch preventing pad is appreciated, but is an opportunity cost to forego a micro-suction option.
AluBolt is available for $49.95, which is consistent with other certified MFi accessories, especially with included Lightning cables. I would be happy to pay a few extra dollars for a full aluminum design.
Who else loves docks?

Atmospheric puzzle game Year Walk is now available on Mac OS X

Just in case you haven’t heard of the thought-provoking and innovative atmospheric puzzle survival game Year Walk, it was a hugely popular iOS title based on Swedish mythology that was impressive, to say the least. Its dark theme and bizarre characters stood out amongst the droves of Angry Bird clones that flooded the App Store.
Simogo just launched a Mac OS X version of Year Walk that includes some big changes, including new puzzles, new areas to explore, and new graphics. It’s like getting to play the game for the first time, all over again…
Year Walk for Mac is a lot like its iOS counterpart. Players take part in a Swedish mythological vision quest – going on “walkabout,” if you will. In the game, the protagonist meets a variety of folkloric creatures that he must outwit by solving puzzles.
After the yearlong walk, the protagonist goes back to his home village. Without spoiling the story, stuff happens and you get to play the game a second time through. Be sure to read the companion guide for help.
The Mac OS X version has been updated with new locations, new puzzles, and improved graphics. Additionally, the companion guide that comes as a separate download on iOS is integrated into the game for easier access.
The development team at Simogo has also redesigned the game’s controls for laptop and desktop gaming. It is not just a port of the original title. It has been reworked to have its own feel on a computer screen. Players use the WASD keys on the keyboard to move around while controlling a cursor with the mouse. The cursor is used to interact with the environment.
Some of the original puzzles in the iOS version were specific to the mobile device’s tilt and touch gestures. The OS X version has been updated with redesigned puzzles that fit the desktop mechanics (you won’t have to tilt your 27-inch screen). Plus, some puzzles have been replaced entirely with new ones.
This version also has menus, maps, and a hint system to help get you through the adventure without feeling lost (which you might feel anyway as soon as you walk out of the cabin door).
Year Walk is available on Mac OS X 10.6.6 or later for $5.99. Download it in the App Store today.
Did you play Year Walk on iOS? Will you be getting it on your Mac?

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf is Apple’s new Free App of the Week

Today’s obviously the day a new Apple-curated app goes temporarily free for a week. Released by publisher Bulkypix, Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf is a half gamebook and half action role-playing game based on the works of Joe Dever.
The author himself was involved in this game from the get-go, working with the studio to adapt the storyline so it fits with the original continuity. In addition to a brand-new story, Lone Wolf features great graphics, a new combat system, non-linear gameplay, lock-picking mini games, the dynamic turn-based combat system and lots more.
Lone Wolf is available free until next Thursday so best thing you grab it now before it goes back up again to its normal asking price of five bucks a pop…
Lone Wolf is laden with beautifully hand-drawn illustrations, 3D locations and the powerful enemies and characters that’ll be instantly familiar to the fans of the series.
You can “write your own story” by making different choices and exploring new paths and fighting styles, which adds up to the game’s replay value. The combat system is real-time. Lock-picking mini games and puzzle mechanics add an extra layer of skill and strategy.
Check out the screenshots below.
How about that awesome graphics?
The game is comprised of four acts in total.
Act 2 called Forrest Hunt became available in yesterday’s update.
The story continues in the Sunken Forest, with meaningful choices, alternative paths, brand-new 3D locations and a magical minigame that will put your wits to the test!
Last but not least, “Forest Hunt” features one of the most iconic and fearsome enemies you could face in Lone Wolf’s world: are you ready to face the fearsome Gourgaz?
Here’s the official trailer.
And this is your short and sweet Act 2 teaser.
You can unlock Act 2 in the in-game shop or pre-purchase all episodes with the Season Pass, available as a one-time $12.99 in-app purchase.
“If you have already purchased the Season Pass, Act 2 will be launched automatically when you finish Act 1 or when you load a proper game save,” noted Bulkypix.
The universal download comes in at 799MB and requires iOS 5.1 or later.

Facebook Pages Manager 3.0 is out with new pinning and editing features

Facebook has posted an update for its Pages Manager this afternoon, bringing the app to version 3.0. The update includes the usual bug fixes and performance improvements, as well as a handful of new pinning and editing features.
Pages users can now pin and unpin posts to the top of their Page timelines from within the app, allowing them to highlight important events and other announcements. You can also now create and edit events on the iPad, and more…
Here are your 3.0 release notes:
• Post updates and photos and respond to comments as your Pages
• View and reply to private messages sent to your Pages
• Option to get push notifications for new activity, tips and reminders
• View your latest Page Insights
What’s New In This Version:
Send feedback and report problems by shaking your device
• Pin and unpin posts to the top of the Page Timeline
• Create and edit events on iPad
• Import phone contacts and invite them to like your Page (US only)
• Turn photos on Page Timeline and photo albums into profile pictures
For those unfamiliar with Facebook’s Pages Manager app, it allows administrators to manage their Pages and interact with their audiences. Users can monitor Page activity using Insights, reply to private messages, and post media.
If you’re interested, you can find Facebook Pages Manager in the App Store for free.

Expedia now giving away free travel-related iOS apps, starting with Over

If you’re the type who enjoys seeing new places and meeting new and interesting people, chances are you’re using Expedia to plan your trips.
Originally started by the Windows giant Microsoft, the online travel service was later spun off as a separate entity because it was “no longer about software intensive technology” and they were “concerned that they would not do their best at this.”
Since then, Expedia’s been doing great: it’s grown into a multi-billion dollar business and is now the world’s largest full-service online travel company. is ranked the 138th website in the United States by the web traffic reporting service Alexa.
They have a decent iOS application and now Expedia is offering free iPhone and iPad apps related to traveling as part of its new ‘Media Lounge’ service.
Expedia Hotels & Flights for iOS has been bumped to version 3.6 and can now be downloaded free from the App Store. Hit the break for more info…
Media Lounge, now part of the freshly updated Expedia iOS app, permits you to download premium travel-related iPhone and iPad software from within the app.
To get started, fire up the app and tap on Trips to enter your personal travel profile. Next, tap on Extras and then check out what’s new in the Media Lounge and find the right app for your trip-planning needs, including free ones. The app also sports a new selection of both free and paid travel apps, curated by Expedia’s editors.
John Kim, Expedia’s Senior Vice President, remarked:
Here at Expedia, we believe that technology should deliver a delightfully relevant experience at every stage: from booking to check-in, and beyond.
With the introduction of Media Lounge, we’re taking the next step in providing a more complete experience for our users that are traveling with their iPhone or iPod touch.
The first app they’re giving away: Over, a photo-editing software that lets travelers personalize photos by adding text and artwork. Normally priced at $1.99 in the App Store, Over is now available for free through Expedia’s Media Lounge for a limited time.
Other key features of the Expedia app:
  • Save big on hotel rooms
    • Save up to 40 percent with Expedia Mobile Exclusive hotel deals
    • Default to your current location for fast, on-the-go booking
    • See reviews from actual hotel customers
    • Sort by price, deals, or reviews — instantly
    • Get cheap hotel rooms or 5-star luxury suites
  • Find the perfect flight
    • Book a flight to anywhere in the world
    • Sort by price, duration, or time instantly
    • Search by airport name, city, or code
  • Book in a flash
    • Already signed in? Book in under 30 seconds
    • Earn Expedia Rewards points for mobile bookings 
    • Slide to purchase and away you go
  • View your itinerary
    • View upcoming trips that you book in the app and on the web
    • Open the app when you’re about to travel and immediately see your trip
    • Get notifications for flight delays, gate changes and much more
    • It looks awesome, too!
Expedia was recently revamped with iOS 7 styling.
Planning trips to far-flung places is fun with Expedia so here’s a behind the scenes look at how the service performs millions of calculations and computations every millisecond to provide world travelers with a way to easily book their trips.
The app is universal and iOS 7.0 or later is required.
It’s available in 25 countries and customized to each of their primary languages.

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