Category: iPod

The newest version of Apple’s iPhone operating system was released a few weeks ago, and since I made the upgrade to my first-gen iPod touch, I’ve been using the system off and on. It does an excellent job of polishing what was already a very good system. Since I haven’t been using it consistently yet, I’m going to hold off on a real “review” until I have a chance to go through it more.

Briefly, here are the main things that Apple has brought to this update (which are all available in detail on Apple’s website):

Cut, Copy and Paste
Copy and paste text, images and other items from one application to another. Should be a great benefit when browsing the internet, Twittering or sending email messages. Very basic implementation, which only requires you to hold your finger over the screen, slide the in and out points, and choose from the menu.

Landscape mode in more applications
A controversial move by Apple with the original iPhone was the onscreen keyboard and many users seemed to resist the device because of it. While the original iPhone did have the ability to use the full width of the screen for the keyboard, many primary applications did not include this feature, which made typing significantly easier and more accurate. Apple seems to have addressed this by enabling the landscape mode in more of the built in applications. Mail, Notes, Messages (on the iPhone) and Safari all get the landscape treatment, with better support for 3rd party applications as well.

Full Spotlight searching
This is a feature I have noticed in my brief time using the new software. Usually, when on a secondary home screen, a press of the Home button brings you back to the primary screen. Now, once you are on the primary screen, another press of the Home button brings up the Spotlight screen, which a basic search field. Start typing, and every match is added to the results below the text box. In fact, it operates almost identically to the Spotlight function on Mac OS X. Additionally, this search field is now present in more applications like Mail, Music and Videos.

Other features include MMS messaging, internet tethering, better automatic WiFi login and Voice and Video recording (when using the new iPhone 3G S).

With more time spent on the new iPhone software, I’m sure I’ll find out more about the hidden bonuses and add-ons. From what I’ve seen so far, it is a worthy update and is definitely recommended for nearly all users.

Happy birthday to me!

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It’s happening again. Just like the last 3 Septembers, Steve Jobs is on stage in San Francisco introducing us to new iPods that need to be purchased. There’s a new nano, new classic and new touch and each has a more curved shell than before, and packs in even more great features.

Here’s what has gone down so far.

iPod classic


Bye bye 2 models, and say hello to a single configuration: 120GB. That’s a good idea. One model with massive storage for everyone. It also has new interface changes and a modified exterior.

iPod nano


Just like the pictures that have made their way around the internet in the past week, this new nano is rounded on the edges and has a more elongated screen for watching widescreen videos. Thin and light, it comes in 4 and 8 GB sizes, and also in a wide range of interesting colors.

iPod touch


Continuing the trend of making all iPods more like the iPhone 3G case, the iPod touch has a rounded body, with improvements like external volume buttons and an internal speaker. While I have a 2G iPod touch, I wouldn’t mind getting one with a speaker. It also has Nike+ built in, so you just need the shoe sensor and you’re good to go. They’re also pushing the touch as a gaming platform, likely because of the graphics power and interface.

iTunes 8

To take advantage of the new features in the new iPods, there is a new version of iTunes that includes a tool called Genius. Apparently it looks at your playing habits and recommends songs from your library or the Music Store to help you find new music. Probably some more smaller fixes, but we’ll find that out later. The Music Store has also added HD TV shows, and shows from NBC (like the Office).

iPhone Software 2.1

Finally! This update supposedly fixes app crashes and makes backing up faster. No one will really know until we can try it this Friday though.

New headphones

For a more inflated price of $79 USD, you can now get a new and improved set of earbud headphones that have more speaker power, a microphone and remote control. The mic is kind of cool, but I’m not sure it’d be worth the extra cash.

So there you have it. New iPods, new iTunes, new features. Time to start saving again.

[tags]iPod, Apple, keynote, iPhone[/tags]

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When the iPhone arrived on the scene in 2007, it brought with it the ability to pinpoint your location to a fairly small area. This meant that if you were looking for, say, a local fish and chips restaurant, the iPhone would provide the closest matches. It did this by using the same techique as GPS — triangulation — with the signals from cell towers. The second generation iPhone includes real GPS, making it even better at finding your current location, and makes location-aware application much more enjoyable.

Of course, the iPod touch is limited to connecting with WiFi signals, which means the only way for it to find your location is through a database of WiFi hotspots set up by Skyhook wireless. This list tracks the ID of your router and connects that to coordinates on a map.

You can even submit your own router data, and enjoy the nerd bonus points that come along with having your iPod find your house. To do this, navigate to Skyhook’s submit page and enter your address. Once the map appears, move the pin to as close to your house as possible and fill in the additional information. The ID of your router is found in your administration panel. For Airport Extreme users, it is called the Airport ID and is displayed on the summary page of the Airport Utility.

It took more than 3 weeks for my iPod to be able to find my house. If it seems that nothing has happened after submitting your info, just be as patient as possible and give it a few more days.

So give it a try if you want to impress your friends with an iPod that knows where it is.

Photo edited to make it look like I live on Apple’s Cupertino campus. Sadly, that is not the case.

[tags]iPhone, iPod touch, Google Maps, GPS[/tags]

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It has been nearly 1 month since Apple opened the iPhone platform to 3rd party developers and the results have been fantastic.

Here is a short list of applications that have earned a place on my home screen.

WordPress

What portable blogging solution would be complete without a native client for everyone’s favourite open-source blogging platform. Like so many other applications released for the iPhone, WordPress is an excellent start, but definitely requires some additional work. Among the features I’d like to see is the ability to edit drafts that are on the blog server. Cost: free

Remote

I am most excited to have Remote on my iPod. Being able to control a remote iTunes library is almost as cool as being able to listen to that shared music (another app I’d like to see). The setup, usage and stability of the program make it a must have. Be sure to check out my review of it at DesktopVibes. Cost: free

Palringo

Until Adium comes to the iPhone natively, Palringo will be my connection to instant messaging. While not quite as intuitive as I hope Adium will be, it does support many networks like AIM, Windows Live, ICQ and Google Talk. To use the application you need to register, which already makes it unattractive to many users, but once your register and sign in, using the application is quite simple. It is still difficult to type quick enough for proper IM communication, but I should get better with time. Cost: free

Labrinyth Lite

Easily addictive, Labrinyth Lite is like those tilting games form your childhood where you try not to let the ball roll in the hole. It is surprisingly responsive to input from the accelerometer, and is playable for hours. Unfortunately the free version only has 10 levels, but by shelling out an additional $6.99 for the full version, you can get an extra 500 levels. Cost: free

Converter

Converter is my first paid app, and at this point it is definitely worth it. It is an application that I hoped for earlier. The value from the application comes from the huge array of measurements it can convert to and from: nearly every conceivable unit is listed. When you add a value to one unit, every other unit on the page is updated. So far in using it the only real issue I have noticed is that scrolling around is rather sluggish, but I imagine that will be fixed in a later version. Cost: $0.99

Files

The most expensive app I’ve purchased thus far, Files fixes a problem I had hoped would be solved. It uses a WebDAV server to enable file sharing across a WiFi network. You can log onto the server from a Finder window or any client that understands the WebDAV protocol. Once the files are on the iPod, you get a list of them and can view them from right there. Currently Office 2004, PDFs and others are understood, with more coming online in later versions. Since it turns your iPod or iPhone into a terrific memory stick, I think the price is completely worth it. Cost: $7.99

Break Classic

A nice way to get your mind of work, Break Classic takes you back to early computer games. Simply slide the lower paddle across the bottom of the screen to direct the ball into the bricks, and earn extra points for hitting stars and apples. The graphics are great, and gameplay is amusing. It’s a great way to pass the time when you’re stuck on a bus or in a boring meeting (though you should think twice about using it in a boardroom). Cost: free

Scribble

Like an Etch-a-Sketch™ for your iPod, Scribble gives you the ability to draw cool little pictures and save them for email or storage. To erase the drawing, simply shake your iPod. For getting a laugh and quickly showing something on “paper”, Scribble works well. Cost: free

Facebook

I’m trying to cut down on time spent on this social networking site, and the native iPhone application really helps. I find that the interface makes browsing the site easier on the iPod than from a browser. If you spend any time on Facebook, check it out. Cost: free

Tap Tap Revenge

Games on the iPhone are surprisingly playable, and TTR is a great way to pass the time. The music is catchy, the gameplay is addictive and the graphics are cool. Think of it like a combination of DDR and Guitar Hero — with an additional ‘shake controller’ command. Cost: free

VNC Lite

This is the free version of the VNC application that allows you to control other networked computers from your iPhone. It is a little awkward navigating a screen with 4x the resolution, but the convenience of having control more than makes up the small issues with version 1.0. Cost: free

Other applications that I have, but could be deleted at any time: PayPal, Magic8Ball, Showtime.
Every application is available in the iTunes App Store.

[tags]iPod, iPod touch, iPhone, App Store, Apple, Mac OS X[/tags]

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When you use your electronic gadgets out and about during your daily travels, you need a way to protect them from the inevitable scratches, scrapes and accidental droppings. To make matters worse, most of the iPods now feature a shiny metal back plate that acts like a fingerprint magnet. To protect your investment, you need a case.

Since late in June, I’ve been using a Speck ToughSkin case for my iPod touch and I’ve had a hard time finding a better product to protect my expensive gadget.

Black with thick rubber pieces around the side of the iPod, it adds heavy-duty protection from fingerprints, scratches and moderate drops without adding much mass. Where I was once leery of putting my iPod down without something soft beneath it, I now worry more about battery life than scratching the back. Unlike many other products, this case offers exactly the result it says it does.

It does not offer a screen protector, but an additional $20 for a clear screen takes care of that. Right now I use the original plastic cover, and it does the job nicely.

If you’re looking for a rugged, lightweight case for your iPod touch, look no farther than the Speck Toughskin.

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