SiliconFilter

Camera+ 3: The Best iOS Camera App Just Got Better – And You Can Now Use it in Other Apps, Too

/

Camera_plus_logoCamera+ is probably the most popular iOS camera app around. Today, taptaptap, the developers of Camera+, launched the latest version of their app ($0.99) and it’s a major step forward for what was arguably already the best camera app for the iPhone. Among other things, Camera+ users can now share their photos quickly to multiple services, create workflows and set focus and exposure independently. In addition, the developers also redesigned the app’s lightbox interface for managing your images and tweaked the app’s filters.

The most important update, however, is that Camera+ now offers third-party developers APIs for integrating the camera into their own iOS and Camera+ images that are stored on the web into their web and mobile apps. WordPress, Tweetbot, Twitterrific, Foodspotting and Twittelator Neue are already using these new features. Once you install the update, for example, you can now choose to take pictures with Camera+ in Tweetbot, edit them in the app and then use them in your tweet.

Here is a full list of the updates in version 3:

★ App icon

The very first thing you’ll notice in Camera+ 3 is its shiny, new icon. It’s essentially the same Camera+ icon that you’ve grown to know and love… but better and much more polished.

★ Dramatically improved sharing

There are two main improvements here… The first is that you can now share to multiple services, or even multiple accounts on the same service, all at the same time. The second big thing that you’ll notice with sharing is the increase in speed. It’s now faster than ever to share your photos online.

★ Multiple photo library import

We’re introducing a great new feature where you can import multiple photos from your photo library all at once.

And we added several fine touches to the import panel. Large thumbnails, zooming to view your photo large, and photo info will help ensure that you’re choosing exactly the photos you want.

★ Workflows

Sometimes you want to shoot a bunch of pics in a row without having to think about things like editing and sharing. And sometimes you want to do just the opposite and edit and share each pic you take, right after you take it. Workflows easily provide you with the flexibility to do it either way

★ Focus & exposure locks

Now you can lock the focus and exposure of the camera, independently of each other. Photographers looking for the utmost flexibility in shooting will love this new feature because it enables all kinds of creative ways of taking awesome shots.

“Bokeh?! I hardly know her!”

★ APIs

We’ve created a few comprehensive APIs for Camera+. These APIs enable people to integrate Camera+ into other apps and to create web services that make use of the many, many photos that have been shared by Camera+ users.

Several prominent developers have already integrated Camera+ into their apps via these new APIs. Check-out the WordPress, Tweetbot, Twitterrific, Foodspotting, and Twittelator Neue apps in the App Store to see these APIs in action.

And to get all the details on how the APIs work, visit http://api.camerapl.us

★ Improved Lightbox UI

We’re a bit obsessive when it comes to user interface and user experience. With Camera+ 3, we’ve reworked several details of the Lightbox to make it even more usable. It’ll take a couple of seconds to get used to the changes but we’re completely confident that you’ll love these improvements almost immediately.

★ Create web link

Many of you used to use the SMS sharing feature (now renamed to Message) for passing web links along to others. Now we’ve got a much better, easier, and dedicated way of doing it.

★ Tuned Clarity

Often imitated but never duplicated, Clarity is one of the things that makes Camera+ what it is. And now it’s even better, especially if you’re using an iPhone 4S.

★ VolumeSnap setting in menu

VolumeSnap is our birthright. That is all.

★ Status bar in Lightbox

In previous versions of Camera+, we didn’t display the status bar (you know… that thingy with the clock, battery level, etc at the top of your screen) when you were in the Lightbox. Well, that’s all changed with this version! Never again miss picking your kids up at soccer practice because you were editing photos and had no clue what time it was.

★ Improved performance

We’ve gone through painstaking steps to improve performance in several parts of the app. It all feels a lot more fluid now. But don’t just take our word on it… try it yourself and see how much nicer it is now.

★ Notifications

Find-out about Camera+ updates, news, and contests. We’ve implemented notifications so they’re not intrusive and they’re opt-in only.

★ Lotsa bug fixes

We’ve identified and fixed several bugs in Camera+. Thanks to all of you who’ve reported any issues you’ve experienced.

★ Various other subtle, but significant enhancements



9:14 am


Those Pretty Maps in Apple’s New iPhoto for iOS? That’s OpenStreetMap

/

After Apple launched its new photo for iOS yesterday, a number of eagle-eyed users quickly noticed that the company stopped using Google Maps in the application and switched to what, at first, seemed like its own product. It turns out, however, that at least outside of the U.S., the company is using data from the collaboratively edited OpenStreetMap project. The problem with this is that a) Apple isn’t giving credit to OpenStreetMap and b) that the data is actually over a year old. While data from OpenStreetMap is available for use in third-party applications, the group requires attribution under a Creative Commons license.

Here is a nice little hack that allows you to compare Apple’s maps with data from OpenStreetMap and Google.

In a somewhat passive-aggressive statement, OpenStreetMap’s Jonathan Bennett notes that the data Apple is using is from April 2010 and that it is “also missing the necessary credit to OpenStreetMap’s contributors.” OpenStreetMap, however, is looking “forward to working with Apple to get that [the credit] on there.”

Over the years, there have been quite a few rumors about Apple launching its own mapping product and its still not clear where Apple is getting its U.S. maps from. In Europe and other parts of the world, though, it looks like the company is taking a bit of a shortcut and is implicitly claiming credit for data that doesn’t belong to it. What is clear, though, is that Apple is definitely working on replacing Google Maps across its product range.



7:26 am


Apple Announces New iPad with Retina Display, Quad-Core Graphics and 4G LTE Support, Available March 16th

/

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook took the stage in San Francisco this morning to announce the next version of the iPad, as well as iOS 5.1 and a new AppleTV. The new iPad features a retina display and a faster processor. The wireless version will now support 4G LTE networks for significantly faster download speeds while on the go. The design of the new iPad looks virtually identical to the iPad 2 and the name, it seems, is "the new iPad."

The new AppleTV now supports 1080p playback and also comes with an updated user interface.

This is a developing story. Check back later for more updates.

iPad: Retina Display, Faster Processor, Better Camera

The central focus of today’s event, of course, was the next version of the iPad. Apple, in Cook’s words, wants to “redefine the category that Apple created with the original iPad.”

As expected, the highlight of the new iPad is a high-resolution display – the kind Apple likes to call a Retina Display. It features a 2048×1536 resolution (that’s 3.1 million pixels at 264ppi) and is, according to Apple, the “most ever in a mobile device.” Apple also notes that the new display also offers significantly better color saturation.

Inside the iPad, a new A5X processors now offers quad-core graphics performance that is, according to Apple, four times as fast as a comparable NVIDIA Tegra 3. It's worth noting that this is still a dual-core processor, though. Just the graphics chip is now quad-core.

The new iPad will also features a significantly better camera (5 megapixel, IR filter, face detection, etc.). The new camera will allow you to shoot video in 1080p. Maybe even more importantly, the camera software now uses stabilization to ensure your movies aren’t too shaky.

The new iPad will be 9.4 mm thin and ways 1.4 pounds. It will retail starting at $499 for the 16GB version. It will be available on March 16th in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland and Japan. It will go on sale world-wide on March 23rd.

The iPad 2 will remain available for the time being, starting at $399 for the 16GB WiFi version.

4G for the iPad

Surprisingly, the new iPad will also offer support for 4G LTE wireless networks. These next-generation networks offer faster download speeds, though until now, Apple had been somewhat conservative about moving to these faster networks as there has generally been a trade-off between battery life and speed. Apple, however, says that this new version will offer the same battery life as the previous 3G iPad (10 hours of battery life, 9 hours on 4G).

The 4G version is coming to Verizon, AT&T in the U.S. and Telus, Rogers and Bell in Canada. Prices for the 4G iPad will start at $629.

The 4G version of the iPad will, it is worth noting, also support regular 3G networks.

Users will also be able to turn the 4G iPad into a personal hotspot – if the carrier supports it.

Apps: Updated iApps – Including a New iPhoto for iPad

In addition to the new hardware, Apple also talked about the app ecosystem for its tablet. Cook, of course, couldn’t help himself and had to take a stab at Android. Specifically, he noted how Twitter on a Galaxy Tab “looks like a blown-up smartphone app” while the iPad version was clearly designed for a tablet.

In addition to talking about third-party apps, Apple also announced new versions of its own productivity apps (Pages, Keynote and Numbers) for the iPad and the next version of Garageband, the company's music-creation app. iMovie, too, is getting and update with advanced planning and editing tools. It's not clear if any of these updates will also be available for first-generation iPads.

New in Apple's line-up is iPhoto for iPad, which completes Apple's lineup of iApps that are currently available for OS X. 

New AppleTV & iTunes in the Cloud

iTunes in the cloud, which was mostly focused on music until now, now offer support for movies as well. Users will be able to re-download any of the movies they have purchased on any device. These movies will be encoded in 1080p.

The reason for this is that Apple’s latest version of the AppleTV, which the company also announced today, finally supports 1080p as well. The new AppleTV also features an updated interface that makes use of the extra pixels. Just like the old AppleTV, this new version will cost $99. It will be available next week and you can pre-order starting today.

Siri Comes to Japan

In addition to all of this, Apple also today announced that Siri, it’s voice-enable personal assistant, is coming to Japan as part of the company’s iOS 5.1 update (which is also rolling out today).

The Post-PC World

Cook also used his presentation to talk about Apple’s vision of the post-PC world. In his view, it seems, the iPod started this trend, followed by the iPhone and, of course, the iPad. “Apple,” he said,”has its feet firmly planted in the post-PC future.” These devices, according to Apple, made up 76% of its revenue last year and the company sold a total of 172 Million of them. Just in the last quarter alone, Apple sold 62 million iPads.

Enhanced by Zemanta


10:42 am


Mobile Security Takes a Front Row Seat at MWC

/

Not too long ago, nobody really worried too much about mobile security. The worst thing that could really happen to your data on your phone, most people thought, was that you would lose the physical device and somebody could make calls or browse your address book. Today, however, with the proliferation of mobile malware that can do anything from downloading your contacts list to a remote server to sending you pricey premium SMS messages, as well as a general trend toward letting employees use a mobile phone of their own choosing, the issue of mobile security have become far more pressing. This trend was clearly on display at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, where numerous well-known security firms and even more startups showed off their latest products.

Security and Android

Most of these security products today focus on Android. To some degree, Google's mobile operating system provides the perfect breeding ground for malware, as its open nature allows users to install apps from numerous sources and stores besides Google's official app store. It's far easier then for a malware developer to create an app that exploits flaws in Android's security and get it into circulation than it would be for somebody who wants to create iPhone or iPad malware. Apple, after all, only lets users download from one store and exercises complete control over it.

Kindsight security demo

Earlier this week, I had a chance to talk to Brendan Ziolo, the VP of marketing at Kindsight. The Alcatel-Lucent spin-off provides desktop and mobile security products, but here in Barcelona, the company focused on its newly released mobile security tools for Android.

While there are now numerous Android security tools available, Kindsight takes a somewhat different approach than most of its competitors, as it also works directly with mobile carriers to provide both software to end-users that can scan a phone for known malware as well as detection software that runs on the carrier's servers. The company is working with a number of mobile operators to bring its tools to their users and there is a good chance that you will find its software on your phone at some point in the future. Given the nature of these deals, though, you may never know that it's Kindsight that is running in the background (the carriers are more likely to give it their own name).

What Hackers Can do With Your Compromised Phone

Ziolo showed me a demo of a malware app the company developed for Android. Just by installing a malware-infested clone of Angry Birds, a hacker could – within seconds of starting the app – start spamming your friends with SMS messages, download your address book, locate you and even get access to your phone's camera and see a live stream from it without you ever noticing it.

With the company's software running, of course, users quickly get an alert about what is happening and can then uninstall the application. The scan on the phone itself is similar to a standard anti-virus or malware scan you would run on your desktop. At the same time, the company's software on your carrier's servers also keeps an eye out for suspicious traffic and can even detect some malware it has never seen before.

While there has been some discussion over how widespread the Android malware problem really is today, most reports indicate that it's growing quite rapidly. As Kindsight's Ziolo also rightly pointed out, unlike the early days of desktop malware, hackers can now rely on an established infrastructure for selling personal information and other data, making the whole business even more attractive and lucrative for these criminals.



8:31 am


Googlelighting: The Google/Microsoft War of Words Continues, Now in Musical Form

/

“Who knows what the future holds for Google Apps.” That’s the question Microsoft would like its customers to ask themselves before switching away from Microsoft Office and to Google’s cloud-based productivity suite. To underline its point, Microsoft just released a new video attack ad that accuses Google of running Google Apps “on the side” even though it has no business meddling in productivity software because it only has “twelve years of experience in ad sales.”

♫ “If Google Apps Meets is Grave, Your Business is Hosed” 

Microsoft, of course, is making fun of Google’s general development mode here by highlighting that Google Apps could potentially change at any point while a company is using it – and while unlikely, it could even potentially kill it off at any point. That, indeed, could be a major point of resistance for large companies that would like to switch to a cloud-based productivity suite like Apps. For them, a change in a widely used piece of software, after all, means retraining staff, for example. And just to highlight this point, the video then kicks into a music number that explains that Google really can’t be trusted to even keep really useful features around.

For the longest time, the rivalry between Google and Microsoft was fought through features and a few sly remarks here and there, but things have gotten rather public and heated between the two companies lately. For the most part, the aggression seems to come out of Redmond, though, with Google trying to defend itself against the accusations on its own blog and in the press.

Microsoft, for example has been taking out ads in national newspapers to highlight the changes Google made to its search engine and privacy policy lately and also happily jumped on the bandwagon of those accusing Google of trying to circumvent the privacy controls of Apple’s Safari and its own Internet Explorer.

Microsoft also launched an anti-Gmail video ad earlier this month:

google_ms_office_comparison

Enhanced by Zemanta


9:48 am


Hands-On With Apple’s Mountain Lion: Don’t Like Change? You’ll Love this Update

/

While Microsoft is working on its most significant operating system update in recent memory, Apple just released the first developer preview of Mountain Lion, the next update to OS X. Mountain Lion is scheduled for a public release in the summer. As with Apple's Leopard to Snow Leopard update, the company is clearly indicating that this is a minor update – and indeed, after spending a few days with Mountain Lion as my main operating system now, I still sometimes forget that I'm not using Lion.

The New Stuff in Mountain Lion: More About Apps than the Operating System

About This Mac

Unless you are deeply embedded in the Apple lifestyle and use an AppleTV, for example, or use Apple's default email app, chances are you won't notice too much new in Mountain Lion.

Sure, the Messages app is cool and useful – but that's really just an app that you could run on Snow Leopard as well (assuming Apple continues to support it after the general release of Mountain Lion). Indeed, most of the updates like the new Reminders and Notes apps are more about these new apps than the operating system.

Personally, I don't really care for the deeper Twitter integration, a new, more Chrome-like version of Safari or having access to Game Center in Mountain Lion. I never felt like I needed an easier way to share anything on Twitter and I don't play games on my Mac.

The interesting new features to me are support for AirPlay in OS X, as it yes another move by Apple to get the Mac closer to the living room (and maybe also a precursor to the iTV) and Gatekeeper, the new security feature in OS X that is meant to protect you from malware. If you own an AppleTV, AirPlay alone is likely with the upgrade.

The other update that you will likely use quite regularly is the Notifications bar. That, indeed, is a very iOS-like feature, but one that actually feels completely at home on the desktop, too (unlike the Launchpad Apple introduced with Lion). Only Apple's own apps currently make use of it, but once more developers integrate it into their applications, chances are you will use it all the time and wonder how you ever worked without it.

Mountain Lion Isn't Going to Turn Your Mac into an iPad

If you are worried about the "iOSification" of the Mac, Mountain Lion isn't the update to worry about. The update really isn't about convergence as it is about convenience. The deeper iCloud integration makes keeping you address books, notes and files in sync between your different devices easier, the rather useless iOS-like Launchpad app is still there, but you don't have to use it (I know I never do).

Nothing in Mountain Lion – except for maybe Gatekeeper if you set it to its most restrictive setting – takes anything away from what you can currently do in Lion.

Mountain Lion and Windows 8: Two Very Different Updates

Even though Apple obviously announced Mountain Lion just ahead of Microsoft's unveiling of the public beta of Windows 8, these are two completely different updates. With Windows 8, Microsoft is trying to reinvent its operating system to a degree that is closer to going from Mac OS 9 to OS X. While Microsoft is baking its tablet OS into its desktop OS (and we still have to see how successful it will be in doing this), Apple is just making the interplay between the desktop and mobile more convenient.



11:02 am


Apple Does the Right Thing: “Any App Wishing to Access Contact Data Will Require Explicit User Approval”

/

Apple has finally weighed in on the ongoing discussion about the recent discovery that numerous iOS apps (including Path, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) upload their users' iOS address books to their servers. In a statement to AllThingsD, Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said that the company is "working to make this even better for our customers, and as we have done with location services, any app wishing to access contact data will require explicit user approval in a future software release.”

Apple also told AllThingsD that "apps that collect or transmit a user's contact data without their prior permission are in violation of [its] guidelines." Judging from this, it sounds as if Apple will add its own mechanism for requiring approval to iOS in one of the next updates.

I'm glad to see that Apple has finally clarified this. Until now, most developers apparently felt that this was a gray area, though quite a few already added explicit warnings to their apps when contact data was uploaded to their servers. Path, for example, quickly released an update to its app that added a warning and the option to opt out whenever users were about to send their data to its servers.

 



11:12 am


Tweetbot 2.0: The Best iPhone Twitter Client Just Got Even Better

/

As Twitter has decided to focus on simplicity, its iPhone app is now a shadow of its former self for more advanced users (and for Twitter, search and lists apparently qualify as advanced features). Thankfully, there are some very good alternatives on market and among those, Tweetbot has long been my favorite. Today, the app's developers launched version 2.0 of Tweetbot and it’s a worthy upgrade to what was already – in my view – the best iPhone client for iOS.

Speed and New Features

The first thing you will likely notice when you start Tweetbot 2.0 is that it is significantly faster than previous versions. Searches, for example, now feel like they take a quarter of the time to appear on your screen.

Besides the speed, though, the app also now sports a number of new features. The updated timeline view, for example, now lets you immediately click on links and usernames. Before, you first had to select a tweet before these links became active. The timeline now also features in-line image thumbnails that let you quickly view an image with just one click.

Another nifty new feature is support for Readability as a mobilizer service. Just like Apple's Reader feature lets you see a text-only view of a website, you can now set Tweetbot to immediately see a text-only view of any link you click on (or you can toggle back and forth between the Readability view and the regular page).

Here is the full list of new features:[list]

  • Updated timeline view
    • Image thumbnails in timeline
    • Links now colored and single-tappable
    • “Retweeted by” bar now integrated and tappable
    • Cell colors adjusted for better contrast
  • New direct message view.
  • Redesigned “New Tweets” bar (Can be dismissed by tap and configured in Settings > Display)
  • Timed auto-refresh (timeline, mentions, and DM’s will refresh every 5 minutes)
  • Readability added as mobilizer service
  • Much improved tweet replies view
  • Links in user’s bio now tappable
  • “Huge” font size option in Settings > Display
  • Improved scrolling performance[/list]


11:37 am


Can Apple Keep its Cool?

/

If you're reading this article on the go, pause for just a second and take a look around. What phones do you see people using? The iPhone? An array of Android devices? The business man's Blackberry? Chances are you're seeing quite a mix of all three and them some (and let's not forget the poor little Windows Phone). But what's shocking to me is that more and more, the iPhone isn't popping out of people's pockets. Rather, Samsung and HTC phones are breaking free of the fruit's chains and storming ahead. Why? Some say competition, others will tell you that Android is just plain better than the iDevice. But the real reason: the iPhone just isn't the coolest kid on the block anymore and Apple needs to fix that – and fast. 

I slip out my iPhone, check Twitter, and then shoot off a few emails. Hearing the faint whoosh of the Mail app verifying my sent mail, I slip it back into my back pocket and carry on with my day. This seems to be the habit I have with my phone, one that I'm proud to say is quasi-productive while at the same time, semi-amusing. But while meandering the halls, I'm taken aback at the rapid revision of what phones friends and strangers alike are typing away with… not iPhones.

Apple knows how to play the game – and it plays it very well. From commercials to keynotes, stores to employees, the company breaks its back to make sure the consumer feels free within its walled garden. With a relaxed atmosphere and staff, Apple draws in the teens, the adults (and apparently all of those who aspire to be hipsters), and their devices feed that feeling. But it seems like those times are drawing to an end, with Samsung's latest and greatest commercials bashing the sort of cult-like following Apple has had and showing its own phones to be… well, superior. 

 

I'd say the first mistake Apple made was to limit their phone to one carrier (in the red, white and blue) for the longest of time. Do you remember the original Droid launch commercials by Verizon? It was the Anti-iPhone. And it did spectacularly well. 

The next mistake was not mixing the operating system up a bit. I know, I know: if it ain't broke, don't fix it, but people get bored of the same tiny squares on a screen after three years and Android offers full customizability. 

And the last fall out would be not unveiling any game-changing software or hardware for the iPhone 4s.

Many pundits are saying the iPhone 5 will be groundbreaking, and that's going to give Apple a much needed bump up, but when it really comes down to it, if you want to stay on the top with trends, you need to break the ground each and every year, and then some. 

So will Apple stay cool in the long run? Maybe, maybe not. But let's not forget that Blackberry ruled the air for quite some time, and now look at 'em. It's a tough business, keeping cool, one that requires more than just a fancy phone or custom operating system. And don't look now… but I think I see Windows Phone pulling up pretty fast.



2:45 pm


Hands-On With iBooks Author: eBook Authoring Made Easy, Not Just for Textbooks

/

Apple just launched its new free eBook authoring app iBooks Author during an event in New York earlier today. During the event, Apple mostly focused on textbooks and authoring them with iBooks Author. In reality, though, the software will come in handy for a multitude of different kinds of books. It also opens up a whole new world of publishing for those who may want to create paid and free books based on their photography or travel experiences, for example.

We now had some time to test the app, which fits right into the same paradigms that Apple's iWork has already established for productivity apps on the Mac. There are the usual Inspector windows for accessing more advanced features, for example, as well as the pull-out panel on the side of the windows with your paragraph, character and list styles.

Everything feels very fluid and it's obvious that the same team that worked on iWork was also responsible for this product. This isn't iPhoto for books, by any means, though. While it's not Adobe InDesign or a complex design tool like either, it's clearly meant for users who are willing to put in a bit of time to create the best possible product (but then, if you are going to write even a short book, you're obviously pretty dedicated to what you are doing in the first place). Turning this short review into an iBook took about 15 minutes without any prior knowledge of the app, so it's not unthinkable that teachers could do this with their lecture notes, too, for example.

Template Chooser ibooks author

Working with iBooks Author

It's worth noting the first thing you realize when you start using iBooks Author is that this isn't meant to be a replacement for Pages, Word or your favorite text editor. The program expects you to focus mostly on layout and interactivity. Apple provides you with six templates, all focused on textbooks, though you can obviously arrange your box with your own layouts as well. 

Ibooks author reviewAdding Interactivity

This is obviously the most fun part of the whole experience. Apple provides you with 7 widgets that you can use to add interactivity to your book: Gallery, Media, Review, Keynote, Interactive Images, 3D and HTML.

Most of these are self-explanatory: Gallery and Media allow you to add images, audio and video files and Keynote allows you to add Keynote presentation to the documents.

The Review widget is obviously aimed at textbooks and allows you to create multiple-choice quizzes. There doesn't seem to be a way to save the results of these, though, and hence there is no way to tally them up at the end.

Interactive Images allows authors to add call-outs to images and also to have the image automatically zoom in to a specified area.

The 3D widget allows you to add COLLADA files, an open standard for creating 3D models, to your book. It's the same kind of file Google's SketchUp would create, for example. You can't add too much interactivity here, it seems, though, just the ability to see the object from all angles.

Widget 3d

As for the HTML widget, it's worth noting that you can't just import any old HTML file here. They have to be Dashcode-style files, the same kind you would use to build an OSX Dashboard widget. That actually gives developers quite some flexibility (adding maps, advanced interactivity etc.), but it definitely isn't the same as just throwing some HTML together. 

A lot of the highly interactive widgets you see in Apple's demo video were probably made using the HTML widget or Keynote.

Becoming a Published Author

Apple allows you to export your documents in three formats: iBooks (obviously), PDF and as a text document. Given Apple's license restrictions, you are only allowed to sell a book you authored with iBooks Author on the iBookstore. You can't sell your PDF file on your website itself, for example (though you are allowed to distribute a free version "by any available means," meaning you could give away free sample chapters as a PDF, for example).

It's worth noting that to sell a book in the iBookstore, you will also need to get an ISBN number for your book, set up an account with Apple and install the iTunes Producer software for uploading your books to the store.

With your iPad connected to your computer, you can also see a preview of your book at any time, by the way.

Help Center publish

Apple, it seems, will vet the books that it will let into the store. One interesting requirement is that you have to create a "sample book" before your book can be added to the store.

It's worth noting that you can obviously also distribute your book outside of the iBookstore if you just want your class to use it, for example. Users can then upload it to their iPad through iTunes or just tap on it in the iPad's native email program to open it.

This Review as an iBook

Obviously, I couldn't help myself and had to turn this short review into an iBook, too. You can download it here. Just email it to yourself or upload it to your iPad through iTunes. If you are on an iPad, you can also just click the link and open the file on your iPad directly.



9:14 am


Browsing the iTunes Store Just Got a Little Bit Easier with “Quick Look” Previews

/

Here is a small but handy update to Apple's iTunes store: when you hover over an icon for an app, a new little 'i' icon will now appear in the bottom right corner of the screen. Click on it, and a small preview window will appear with all the regular info about the app. You can see screenshots and, of course, also buy the apps, songs and videos right from these previews.

Previews for Apps, Videos and Albums

For videos, a small play icon now also appears when you hover over their respective icons. Press one of these, and a preview of the song or video will start playing. For albums, the preview windows displays the contents of the album.

As Cult of Mac's Alex Heath notes, this looks quite a bit like the "quick look" feature in Apple's Mac OS X.

Here is what it looks like:

ITunes previews

 



3:37 pm


Scoop.it Launches Mobile App, Lets You Curate On the Go

/

"Curation" was, without a doubt, one of the hot topics of 2011 and one that will surely keep us occupied in 2012 as well. Scoop.it is one of the companies in this space that caught my attention quite a while ago and that has – without much hype – quietly build a great service for those who want to collect and publish all the interesting things they find online. With a focus on simplicity and efficiency, the service has found quite a few dedicated fans since launch and the company is now taking its service mobile with the launch of its iPhone app. Indeed, Scoop.it argues that mobile is the "natural form of mobile publishing."

If you are not familiar with Scoop.it, here is a short video that explains the basic ideas behind the service: 

As you would expect, the mobile app brings all of these feature to the iPhone. You can use both the service's own recommendation engine to find "scoopable" content, or install the mobile bookmarklet in Apple's Safari browser. Installing bookmarklets on iOS is a bit of a hassle, but well worth the effort if you plan to use Scoop.it regularly (and the app provides you with helpful setup instructions as well).

Once you publish your finds, Scoop.it will add them to its magazine-like pages. Unlike other service (including the red-hot Pinterest), the service doesn't focus so much on visual content (though you can obviously add images to your posts), but puts an emphasis on text. 

Professional users can also opt for a paid account ($79/month), which allows you to use your own domain name and provides you detailed analytics and support for multiple administrators/curators.

Scoop it mobile

Enhanced by Zemanta


10:08 pm


Microsoft Brings Its SkyDrive Cloud Storage Service to the iPhone

/

For quite a while now, SkyDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage service, has sat quietly at the center of the company's Windows Live online services and Windows Phone. Now, however, the company is quickly launching new features for the services. Earlier this week, SkyDrive received a number of major updates, including sharing features for Office documents, an HTML5 uploader and better file management. Today, the SkyDrive team is adding a Windows Phone app and an iPhone client to its feature line-up.

This move clearly shows that Microsoft is not willing to leave the consumer-focused online storage market to startups like Dropbox or Box.net (or Google, for that matter).

SkyDrive for Windows Phone

Skydrive windows phone

SkyDrive, of course, is already deeply integrated into Windows Phone, but this new app provides users with, as Microsoft puts it, "the full SkyDrive experience from Windows Phone, including tasks like browsing their entire SkyDrive, sharing links to folders or files, deleting files, and creating folders." The new app is available worldwide and should be in the Windows Phone now.

SkyDrive for iOS

As for iOS users, Microsoft notes that "not everyone who relies on SkyDrive for sharing photos or accessing Office documents uses Windows Phone… yet." I have to give Microsoft some props for making more and more of its products available on iOS (though Android users are still out of luck). With OneNote and Bing, for example, the company made its first (tepid) steps onto iOS quite a while ago, but the real push towards launching apps for Apple's mobile operating system seems to have started now.

SkyDrive for the iPhone is now available in Apple's app store and allows SkyDrive users to "access all of their files in SkyDrive, create folders, delete files, and share links to folders and files directly using the Mail app."

Enhanced by Zemanta


6:45 pm


Apple Approves $15 iPhone Tethering App That Circumvents Carrier Fees (Update: And It’s Gone…)

/

iPhone users have their choices of data plans, but unless you opt for an expensive plan that includes tethering or subscribe to a separate tethering plan, turning your iPhone into a WiFi hotspot for you phone is not an option. Jailbreakers, of course, always had the option to turn their iPhones into rogue hotspots. Now, however, Apple has approved iTether, a $15 app that allows Mac and Windows users to connect their iPhones to their computers over USB and then get online over a 3G connection without the need for a special tethering plan. You can download the app here.

Update: Apple has pulled the app.

App Store  iTether

It’s not clear how this app slipped through Apple’s famously thorough approval process. As MacRumors notes, the developers just posted a note on Twitter, saying that they were “very clear with Apple” about what their app does. According to the developers, Apple asked them “a bunch of questions and then approved us.” Either Apple really wants to see this app in the App Store, or somebody pressed the wrong button somewhere (something similar happened when Apple approved and then quickly pulled an app called “Netshare” in 2008).

Developer’s Site is Down, So You Can’t Use the App Right Now

Because of the way the app works, users have to download a piece of software that runs on their laptops (Mac or Windows).

As the company is currently getting so slammed by potential users that it’s servers have broken down, you can’t actually use the app right now as you can’t download the software for your laptop. Those who were able to get to the site and install all the required softwarereport that it’s working as advertised.

How Long Until Apple Pulls the App?

Carriers like AT&T, of course, won’t be very happy about this. In the past, AT&T especially has been known for going after jailbreakers who installed tethering apps. It’s quite likely that AT&T will also go after iTether users.

It remains to be seen how long this app will remain available in the app store, so if this is something you really want, now is probably the time to get it. There is always a chance that Apple approved this by accident, after all.



7:56 am


It’s Time for Apple to Allow Real Browser Competition on iOS

/

Yesterday, Google launched its redesigned search app for the iPad. It features a smart, innovative design and could, with just a few extra features like bookmarks, easily become the best browser alternative to Safari on iOS. The reality, though, is that while Apple allows browser apps like the Dolphin Browser that use iOS’s built-in WebKit framework or Opera, which renders all the content on its own servers to get around Apple’s rules, none of these can be used as the default browsers on iOS. Whenever you click on a link in an email, for example, you can’t set iOS to open Opera instead of Safari. Because of this, there is almost no incentive for users to even try a third-party browser on iOS, as the system will constantly route them to Safari anyway.

Apple’s Own Browser: Adequate but not Innovative

Apple’s own browser is perfectly adequate, but as the Google app shows, users are missing out on innovations on all levels, including interface design and faster access to modern web standards on their mobile devices.

Safari on the iPad, for example, uses the same way to handle tabs as on the desktop instead of using a design that really makes use of the iPad’s touch features.

Third-Party Browsers Can’t Compete Unless Users Can Make them the Default Choice

The Google search app shows that interesting, touch-centric browser interfaces are possible. For Google, of course, search is the central metaphor for browsing the web, but you could just replace the current search screen at the center of the app with bookmarks and links to web apps and have a great browser app.

Mozilla was late to the mobile browser game, but now it’s doing a few creative things with Firefox on Android (and lets you use plugins, for example). Opera, too, is constantly pushing the envelope with its mobile browsers. iOS users, however, are more or less cut off from all of this innovation. Sure, you can install interesting apps like Dual Browser or Atomic Browser, but chances are, you will never use them because unlike Android, you can’t switch the default browser away from Safari on iOS.

Will Apple Ever Relinquish Total Control over the OS?

Apple, of course, wants to keep total control over your iOS experience. For most apps that are alternatives to built-in iOS apps (email, streaming music, to-do lists etc.), it doesn’t really matter that other apps can’t be set as the default. For browsers, though, it’s really the only way they will ever get widespread use.

Locking the browser down made sense for Apple in the early days of iOS, when apps weren’t even on the roadmap yet. Now, however, this policy feels more like it stifles innovation than that it protects users.



4:57 pm