SiliconFilter

Microsoft Brings Its SkyDrive Cloud Storage Service to the iPhone

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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."

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6:45 pm


Custom Shortcuts: The Most Useful Unannounced iOS 5 Feature

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Apple’s forthcoming iOS 5 release includes one nifty new feature that the company hasn’t talked about, but that will likely change the way you use your phone to write anything from text messages to emails: custom keyboard shortcuts. Tools like Typinator, TextExpander (App Store Link) on the Mac and PhraseExpress on Windows have made this concept popular among those who have to write a lot on the desktop. iOS’s closed architecture makes it hard for developer to create system-wide tools like this, however. While TextExpander offers an iPhone app, for example, that tool only works in the 100 apps that support its service. Apple’s own shortcuts work system-wide. (more…)



10:33 pm


Rogue Activation Services Let You Try iOS 5 Today

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Theoretically, only developers currently have access to the latest version of Apple’s iOS 5 software for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. In reality, however, getting access to beta versions of iOS has never been easier for non-developers. Getting the software (which is easily available if you know how to use Google) is just one part of the process, though. Your phone’s UDID also has to be registered with Apple.

The easiest way to do that is to get a $99 developer account, but for most people, that’s a lot of money just to try out some beta software. Because of this, a large market for rogue iOS activations that allows virtually anyone who is wiling to risk their phone and $5 to $10 is currently flourishing. Some of these services have been around for a while, though most started around the time of the lengthy iOS 4 beta test.

There is, of course, also a well-known way to bypass the activation process altogether by performing a number of well-timed clicks and swipes, but that method leaves the phone part of your iPhone unusable. Using the paid rogue activation method leaves you with a fully functioning device without having to pay $99 for an Apple developer account.

How do these services work? Apple allows every developer to activate a set number of additional iPhones. These rogue activation services simply set up a developer account and then activate as many phones as they can (you have to send them your UDID when you request your activation).

Consider the Risks

There are obviously some risks involved here. Clearly you’re sending money to somebody who may or may not perform the service you requested. I hesitate to link to any of these services here, but if you decide to go this route, make sure to check what others are saying about them on the Web and on Twitter. Besides losing your money (generally between $5 and $10), you also run the risk of bricking your phone (at least temporarily until you can find somebody else who will activate your UDID on his developer account) as you can’t know for sure that your phone’s UDID was activated until you have installed the beta software. Most of these services will email you once they have activated your account, but you have to take them at their word that this is indeed the case.  

As usual, use common sense and proceed at your own risk.

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1:45 am


All of Apple’s WWDC Announcements: iCloud, iOS 5 and OS X Lion

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Apple today announced iCloud, iOS5 and OS X Lion at its annual WWDC developer conference in San Francisco this morning. The event lasted for two hours and was packed with major announcements, including iTunes in the cloud, new features for iOS (including over-the-air updates) and a recap of what’s new in the forthcoming OS X Lion release, which will retail in Apple’s Mac App Store for just $29.

iCloud

Just as Apple announced last week, a large part of today’s presentation focused on the iCloud. Steve Jobs himself explained how this new feature will work. At its core, iCloud will take care of syncing data between all your iOS devices. iCloud, said Apple, “stores your content, and wirelessly pushes it to all your devices. It just all works.”

iCloud replaces all of the current MobileMe apps (Mail, Calendar (with shared calendars) and Contacts). Jobs specifically stressed how iCloud ensures easy syncing between all your devices. iCloud will include 5GB of free storage for mail, documents and backup.

Pricing: MobileMe/iCloud is now available for free.

iTunes in the Cloud: This was probably the most anticipated part of iCloud. With iTunes in the cloud, you can download all the songs you already bought on iTunes to your iOS devices with just one click and all the songs you buy in the future will be automatically synced to up to 10 devices as well. iTunes syncing will be available for iOS 4.3 users today.

iTunes Match: Apple now lets users sync all their ripped songs for $25 per year by matching songs to its existing library and allowing users to redownload songs to your iOS device. 

Documents in the Cloud: This feature ensures document syncing between all your devices. Developers will be able to include these features in their own apps through a new API. The syncing features will work on iOS devices, Macs and PCs.

Photo Stream: This feature allows users to sync photos between apps wirelessly. It will be build into the Photo apps on iOS and iPhoto on the desktop. On PCs, photos will be synced to the Pictures folder. Apple TV users will also get access to their pictures as well.

As photos take up a lot of space, only the latest 1,000 pictures will be synced to iOS devices.

Apple will store these photos on its servers for 30 days. This, according to Jobs, is more than enough time to ensure that user have synced their photos to other devices.

Also in iCloud: App Store and iBookstore Syncing, Backup

iCloud now also syncs all your app purchases and books between devices. As for the backup feature, Apple will now automatically back up all your information to the cloud once per day.


iOS 5

According to Apple’s own data, it has now sold over 200 million iOS devices. Today, Apple demoed the next version of iOS, but also provided some updates around iTunes and the iBookstore. Apple has now sold over 40 billion apps, as well as 15 billion songs and 130 million books. In total, Apple has paid out more than $2.5 billion to developers.

 

A developer version of iOS 5 is launching today. For the rest of us, Apple plans to launch iOS 5 in the Fall, but didn’t announce a specific date yet.

The next version of iOS 5 will include 1,500 new APIs for developers and over 200 new features for tools. Here are the ones Apple highlighted today:

PC-Free: This is likely the biggest announcement on the iOS front today: iOS users will now be able to use their devices without every connecting them to a PC. Activation can happen on the device itself. Software updates are now delivered over the air, too. For those who use a desktop, iOS will now also sync with iTunes over WiFi.

Notifications: “We heard from our users that they want a new UI to get to their notifications. And we heard them.” iOS 5 will include a Notifications Center – a single place that brings together all the notifications that come to your phone. In addition, Apple is also updating the lock screen and adding a better overview of the notifications you may have missed there.

Newsstand: Apple is bringing a central hub for magazine and newspaper content to iOS. Among the launch partners are National Geographic, Popular Mechanics, the New Yorker, Golf Digest and more. New content will be downloaded in the background. It’s not clear how this will work together with existing news apps.

iMessage:  With iOS 5, Apple will launch its own messaging app that allows iOS users to basically bypass SMS to send messages to other iOS users. Users can send text, photos, videos and contact information. You can also optionally get read receipts and, just like in a chat app, see if your contact is currently typing.

Twitter Integration: iOS now includes a single sign-on for Twitter. Apple has also integrated Twitter into some of its own apps, including the photo app and Safari.

Safari: According to Apple, about 2/3rd of all mobile browsing is now done through Safari.

The mobile version now includes a Safari Reader feature that is basically Readability for the mobile browser. This will be available on both the iPhone and iPad. In addition, Apple is also bringing a reading list feature to iOS that will compete directly with Instapaper and sync between Macs and iOS devices.

The next version of Safari will also feature tabs – just like the desktop browser.

Reminders: This looks like a very simple list app for grocery lists, but it does have some nifty features, including location support and integration with iCal.

Camera: The new Camera app is a lot faster than the previews version. In addition, there is now an icon on the lockscreen that immediately takes you to the Camera app and Apple finally allows you to set the volume button to take pictures. The app now also lets you pinch to zoom and includes some basic editing features (cropping, red-eye reduction and rotating).

Mail: Mail now allows for rich-text editing and the ability to control indentations.

Game Center: Apple announced that Game Center now has 50 million users (more than Xbox Live). New features for Game Center include support for turn-base games and the ability to get friend and game recommendations.

New Keyboard for thumb-typers

OS X Lion

os x lion logoApple’s Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi demoed the new version of Apple’s desktop operating system OS X during today’s keynote today.Lion will be distributed through the Mac App store. Users who buy the upgrade will be able to use it on all the authorized machines that they have linked to their accounts. The price will be $29 and it will be available in July.

Most of today’s announcement was a recap of what we already knew about Lion, but here are the new features Apple focused on today:

Fullscreen applications: Schiller specifically demoed Safari, iCal and other apps developed by Apple itself.

Mission Control: This is basically Apple’s new version of Expose. Schiller described it as a “bird-eye view of everything that is running on your system.” Mission Control brings together features of Expose and Spaces, which should make handling multiple apps and windows a lot easier for OS X users.

Built-in Multitouch: The fact that Lion has built-in support for multitouch isn’t a secret. What’s nice (but not surprising either) is that Apple also demoed how this works in in the company’s own apps like Safari and iPhoto.

App Store: Schiller described it as the “best way to buy software.” Indeed, according to Apple, the Mac Apps Store is now the #1 channel for buying desktop software across all platforms (ahead of Best Buy, Walmart and Office Depot). As we already knew, the App Store will be deeply integrated into OS X Lion.

Launchpad: Launchpad is basically an iOS homescreen for your Mac. You manage icons just like on OS X (including support for folders). You can launch the Launchpad screen both through clicking on an icon or by using a four-finger pinch gesture.

Resume: This feature, once supported by developers, will bring all your apps back into the state they were before you shut down your computer.

Auto-Save and Versions: The idea here is similar to the new resume feature. Auto-save regularly ensures that the documents you are working on are saved in the background and Versions allows you to go back to earlier versions of your documents. Apple demoed this feature with its own Pages text editor, but it’s not quite clear what developers will have to do to enable this for their own apps.

AirDrop: See other OS X users around you and send them files with just one click.

Mail: The new version of mail looks a lot like the iOS email client. I wrote up a more detailed early look at the application here. The two most important new features here, besides the new look, are better and faster search features and a “conversation view.”

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4:42 pm


Pulse News Reader Takes Baby Steps Towards the Web

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Pulse was one of the first news readers apps for the iPad and still remains among the most popular and best feed reader apps (and is now available on Android and iPhone as well). Until today, though, the service was missing a real web component for when you wanted to read stories on your desktop. The new Pulse.me service aims to change this by allowing you to save stories from the Pulse apps for later reading on the Web. In addition, Pulse also allows you to sync these reading lists with established services like Instapaper, Evernote and Read It Later, as well as your Pulse account on other devices.

Overall, while the new Pulse.me site is well designed, the service still feels a bit limiting unless you do most of your reading in Pulse itself. It’s missing a ‘read later’ bookmarklet for the Web, for example, that would allow you to pick any story on the Internet and save it for later reading on Pulse.me.

Mashable’s Jennifer Van Grove says she has “reason to believe that a way to save web stories to Pulse.me is in the works.” That would be nice indeed, as the combination of Pulse’s new web service and the wide availability of its apps would make for a very strong Instapaper competitor once these features are available.

Web phone png  PNG Image 550x350 pixels  Build 20110413222027

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3:43 pm


Google Brings Instant Previews to Mobile and It's More Useful Than on the Desktop

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Google just announced that mobile users on Android (2.2+) and iOS devices (4.0+) now have access to Instant Previews, a feature that Google launched on the desktop last November.

Google launched a small test of Instant Previews on iOS about a month ago and has now rolled this feature out to all of its mobile users. On mobile, Instant Previews works slightly different from the desktop version. You don’t just get to see a preview of a single site.

Instead, Google will give you previews of all the sites in your current search results on a side-scrolling page.

This is actually surprisingly fast and works reasonably well. It feels a bit like FastFlip, Google’s experiment in giving its users a more visual experience for browsing news sites.

I have to admit that I had mostly forgotten about Instant Previews on the desktop, but I can see how using it on a mobile device could be useful. Going back and forth between sites on a phone to find the one you were really looking for, for example, can be rather frustrating when you are on a slow connection. Being able to see previews of all of these sites should make it easier to find the right one instantly.



10:53 am


Why You Shouldn't Trust the uSamp Verizon iPhone Survey

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Saturday’s are usually slow days in the tech news world, but thanks to a new survey (PDF) from online research firm uSamp that argues that 44% of Verizon Android users and 26% of AT&T iPhone users will wait in line to get a Verizon iPhone on the first day it goes on sale, we have something fun to chat about.

Here are the most interesting results of the survey: 44% of Verizon Android users are very likely (19%) or somewhat likely (25%) to buy an iPhone on February 10. About 26% of AT&T iPhone owners are either very likely (8%) or somewhat likely (18%) to get in line for a Verizon iPhone on day one.

Now, given the huge demand for Verizon iPhones, there can be little doubt that it will be a huge hit for both Verizon and Apple. I’m not doubting that at all. What I do doubt, however, are the survey results from uSamp. Here are some of the problems I see with this survey and the way it’s currently portrayed:

[list]

  • How does uSamp recruit panelists? That one was a bit harder to find out, but as far as I can see, panelists are recruited through Opinion Place – a service owned by the same company as uSamp that pays panelists in Paypal credits, Amazon gift cards and American Airlines frequent flier miles. Basically, these people take surveys to make a buck – not exactly a trustworthy methodology.
  • Opinion Place 1

  • If you read all the way to the end of the survey, you see that a lot of people have “second thoughts about switching.” Once asked about these second thoughts, the number of switchers from AT&T to Verizon suddenly drops from 26% to 15%. Same for Verizon RIM and Android customers. The number of potential switchers drops from 54% to 25% after the survey asks if they still plan to switch, no matter the cost of switching, concerns about network speeds and the possibility that lots of iPhones could slow down Verizon’s network. This once again makes me wonder of the panelists who took this survey.
  • Related to this: I never trust a survey that asks consumers about future purchase decisions (see the ChangeWave iPhone survey from January for an example and more explanation). Saying ‘yes’ about buying something in the future is very easy. Doing it is a lot harder (especially if early termination fees play a role).
  • as far as I can see, this is only the second survey uSamp’s published under its own name. That doesn’t have to be a negative, but one could argue that uSamp doesn’t have a lot of experience in running its own surveys. The first survey – about consumer sentiments ahead of the holidays – seems quite reasonable, but maybe those questions were more in line with topics the paid uSamp panelists knew something about…

[/list]
I’m happy to be proven wrong here. As I said above, I’m not doubting that the Verizon iPhone will be a huge hit and that lots of people will switch. I just think this survey isn’t the best way to prove that.



6:45 pm


Verizon Gets the iPhone: Just the Facts

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During a press conference in New York earlier today, Verizon announced that it will start carrying Apple’s iPhone 4 next month. Thanks to the capabilities of Verizon’s network, Apple is allowing the company to offer a few exclusive features, including the ability to use the iPhone as a WiFi hotspot for up to 5 people. As usual, Apple is conservative in its technology choices, though, and the phone won’t run on Verizon’s advanced LTE network. As of now, we don’t know anything about the rates and data plans Verizon will offer for the iPhone.

Cell Phones, Cell Phone Plans, 4G LTE network with the Best Cell Phone Service - Verizon Wireless.jpg

Here are the cold hard facts about the announcement:
[list type=”blue”]

  • The iPhone 4 will be available on Verizon 2/10/11
  • pre-order for existing Verizon customers starts 2/3/11. New customers can oder online starting 2/10/11
  • Verizon’s website for more info about the iPhone
  • prices will be same as on AT&T with a new 2 year contract: $199.99 for 16GB and $299.99 for 32GB
  • mobile hotspot feature will be available
  • no comments about pricing for data plans and optional features like tethering/mobile hotspot
  • no support for LTE yet (as it’s a standard CDMA device, you won’t be able to make phone calls and use data at the same time and incoming calls will interrupt your data stream) – neither Verizon nor Apple would comment about plans for an LTE-enabled device
  • the Verizon iPhone will have a CDMA-specific antenna design
  • Verizon thinks the quality of its network will allow it to stand out in the competition with AT&T, something the company’s CEO Lowell Macadam pointed out a few times during the press conference. At one point, he called Verizon’s LTE network a 6G network: “With all the renaming of networks and technologies, we thought about naming ours 6G, but that’s not really our style, so we’ll stick with 4G.” The iPhone won’t run on this network, though.
  • [/list]

    verizon gets the iphone



9:14 am