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Ripe for Discussion: What’s Up with Apple iOS 7?

When Apple declares that it’s new mobile OS (operating system), iOS 7, is the largest advancement the company has achieved with its UI (user interface) ever, that’s a big statement. But, with an emphasis on simplicity and familiarity, can iOS 7 really be leaps and bounds greater than its predecessors? Apple seems confident in its work, but it will ultimately be up to regular Joes like you and me to determine if iOS 7 is truly innovation or smoke and mirrors. Apple breaks down the advancements of iOS 7 into two categories, those being design and features. Whether the new OS will blow your hair back like riding shotgun on a tornado or fizzle out like a squib, is yet to be determined. But, in the meantime we can at least learn what to expect when iOS 7 graces our mobile devices. A Shinier Apple: Design Enhancements Apple has strongly stated that its design changes start with functionality. “Bringing order to complexity” is a phrase they use often, and what they’re saying is that the new OS makes it easier to navigate and fully utilize Apple devices’ tools, apps and features. It’s a stripped-down version of iOS, but Apple believes this minimalist approach will free users from unnecessary clutter. Apple also promises to better utilize the Retina display, and that on-screen text has been refined. Individual apps will see their share of tweaking too. For example, Apple promises a better Web-browsing experience by giving you more on-screen content in Safari. Though Apple stresses substance over style, looking pretty must have been a recurring conversation when scheming up iOS 7. The revamped color scheme and translucent layers look great and some of the changes coming with iOS 7 will purely be for the sake of “cool.” For example, the Weather app offers more dynamic cinematics that illustrate the forecast. In other words, if it’s raining, rain drops will splash off of text. You might brush off the Weather app’s new tricks, but even the most fervent Apple bashers will raise an eyebrow for the 3D effect of translucent layers. A Tastier Treat: New Features More, more, more…that’s what consumers want. While iOS 7 looks cleaner and lighter, it offers new features that you will probably use on a regular basis. Control Center is the greatest example of this. From Control Center–which is only a swipe away while in any screen–you can access a slew of tools such as Bluetooth, brightness adjustments, camera mode or even change the song playing from your iTunes app. If Control Center is your utility tool, Notification Center is like your personal assistant. From this screen, you can get a snapshot of your personal life–anything from weather and traffic to calendar events to birthdays can be seen from here. Control Center is new, but iOS 7 promises some upgrades for apps we already use. A good example is the new ability to zoom in while shootings videos. Rumors are also swirling around about a tap-to-focus feature while capturing video. For those who prefer the point-and-shoot approach, iOS 7 builds in photo filters (much like Instagram) for you to play with. Still Unripe At this point, iOS 7 is in beta, but new information about the OS leaks regularly. This post is only the tip of the iceberg, a mere slice of the entire Apple and Apple’s website has plenty more details about the new kid on the block. With an ambiguous launch date of fall 2013, we are betting that there will be much debate and discussion over the new OS’s strengths and weaknesses. When it...

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Intro to the iPad: Pros & Cons

The Apple iPad. It is the device that has acted as the paradigm for an entirely new genre of technology. However, it is a relatively large investment. It is also an investment that, given Apple’s recent trends, will be deemed “outdated” in about a year or so. That being said, if you’re ready to dive into the tablet world, there are some things you must know about an iPad before purchasing. What Does an iPad Do Well? Simply put, Apple made the bold statement that the tablet would replace PCs within a matter of years. Whether or not that will happen is yet to be seen, but you can bet that the iPad has undeniable benefits when statements like that are being thrown around. 1. Apple’s App Store: The App Store is undeniably the most attractive feature of an iDevice. As of 2012, there were over 1 million approved applications on the App Store. There literally is “an app for that”: some are pointless, some are mind-numbing, but many have implanted themselves into our lives as must-haves. 2. The iPad will become your go-to entertainment device: Perhaps more than any single thing, the iPad has revolutionized the entertainment industry. Through the aforementioned App Store, the iPad has changed the way we manage media. Take television for example. Through the iPad (and other tablet devices for that matter), cable companies and television networks are being forced to rethink the way they distribute their media. The monopoly that cable was running is, for all intents and purposes, over. Applications such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu all had humble beginnings as Internet streaming services. This was nice, but it required you to sit at your desktop or lug your laptop around in order to watch your favorite programming. With the iPad, however, your programming is truly portable. Sure, you could have used your phone or iPod, but who really wants to watch an episode of The Walking Dead on a 3.5” screen? Now, every Sunday, a new episode of The Walking Dead is purchased through Amazon and instantly available on my iPad. I have the perfect, portable solution to getting my zombie fix every week (commercial free!). Other television networks are catching on with their own applications. Channels such as HBO, Showtime, A&E, NBC, and others now offer “to go” services so that you their shows are available anywhere, any time that is convenient. (HBO, Showtime, and any other subscription-based service do require that you have a subscription with your cable provider.) It doesn’t end with television and movies. Music apps such as Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Spotify turn your iPad into a portable music library. Also, your iTunes library is available on your iPad. However, if you have a massive library you may not want to eat up all of your available memory with Black Keys and Beatles albums. However, Apple offers iTunes Match ($25 annually) that stores your library in the cloud. Everything you own will be able to download onto your device on an at-need basis. Your iPad also serves as a great e-reading device. If you have a Kindle or Nook account, you can download their apps to access all of your e-books on your iPad. Many popular publications also offer their papers or magazines on the iPad. There are a couple of apps (Pulse and Flipboard to name a couple) that put your favorite news sites, publications, and blogs in a one-stop format.   3. The iPad will become your favorite way to browse the Internet: I mean why not? It’s just so dang portable. You...

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A Quick Look at Apple Multi-Touch Gestures

Apple computers are known for their aesthetic appeal and ease of use directly out of the box. However, with the last several software and hardware updates, Apple has continuously upgraded and improved the ease of usefulness of its multi-touch gestures. Multi-Touch Gestures Since I switched to a MacBook Pro nearly two years ago, I have been completely enthralled by Apple’s Multi-Touch Gesture UI. My wife’s Toshiba laptop is dead to me. My Lenovo work laptop is nearly too cumbersome to operate. While Windows-based laptops are beginning to catch up, there is still no experience that is quite as satisfying as using a Mac’s track pad. There are a few basic gestures that a user must get used to before becoming completely comfortable with a Mac, however – this quick how-to guide should get you on your way. 1. The first gesture that should be addressed is how to right-click on a Mac. This may seem base, but I know that it is one of the most frustrating things for new users. A right-click on a Mac is simply clicking the track pad with two fingers. A regular left click is clicking the track pad with one finger. 2. By tapping the track pad with three fingers, a user can quickly look up any word on the screen. 3. One of the most common gestures, and one that is now adopted by several other platforms, is what Apple calls “natural scrolling.” With many applications now ditching the scroll bar, users now scroll by moving two fingers up or down on the track pad. 4. In 2013, most of us, at some point or another, have owned either a smartphone, iPod, or tablet device. Because of this, we are probably all familiar with “pinch to zoom.” Making a pinching motion on the track pad will zoom in on the page; expanding the two fingers will zoom out. Beyond the basic gestures, Apple has integrated several more useful gestures that help users navigate throughout their Mac. 5. While browsing online, you can easily move back or forward pages. Swiping right with two fingers will go back one page. Swiping left with two fingers will move your browser forward one page. 6. Apple also makes it easy to navigate between apps that require the full screen. Using the same swiping gesture that you use to navigate web pages, swipe left or right with four fingers. This will navigate back and forth between however many desktops you have open. 7. One of Apple’s most useful navigation tools is called Mission Control. Mission Control essentially shows the user every available desktop, window, notification, or toolbar. If you have a ton of windows open, Mission Control will group similar windows together. As you can see, my Google Chrome browser is open on the left. I have two Word documents that are stacked on the right. Mission Control allows quick access to Dashboard, Dock, and other desktops. Clicking on any window will bring it to the forefront. The F3 key will launch Mission Control, but a three-finger swipe upwards will launch it also. A three-finger swipe down will launch App Expose. App Expose is similar to Mission Control, except that it only shows all open windows within whichever application is currently open. 8. Launchpad would be comparable to Microsoft’s Start Menu. Launchpad shows users all available applications, usually with vibrant icons. There is no key that will quickly launch Launchpad, so the gesture is the only way to quickly get to Launchpad without clicking the icon on the dock. To launch Launchpad with gestures, use a four-finger...

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Intro to Mac OS X – Part I

With holiday marketing in full swing, you may have finally given into Apple’s seemingly incessant marketing campaign and purchased your first Apple computer. After getting your computer home, taking it out of the box, and guiding yourself through a simple set-up process, you arrive at a home screen that is completely alien. All of a sudden you feel homesick. You long for the comfort and familiarity of Windows 7 Windows XP. Do not fret, however. With a small amount of time you will feel right at home with your new Mac and you may never go back. The first thing you will notice on your Mac is the home screen. A Mac’s calling card is its simplicity and aesthetic appeal. The Desktop The Dock Let’s break down the important aspects of this screenshot. The first thing that will catch your eye is what Apple calls the “Dock.” This will be the home to all of the important applications that you want quick access too. Adding or removing icons from the Dock is simple. All you have to do to add an application is to drag the desired application from the Applications folder in finder to the Dock. To remove an application from the Dock, two-finger click (right-click) on the application you would like to remove. Then, click Options>Remove from Dock. The Menu Bar Now, let’s take a look at the menu bar. The menu bar essentially breaks down into a left side and a right side. On the left side, you will notice the “Apple” menu: its essential functions include sleep, restart, shut down, and force quit. The remaining part of the left-hand side of the menu bar is used to provide you the menu options for whatever application you have open.  This will be the most confusing aspect of the menu bar for users who are new to Mac OS. Notice how the only constant on the left-hand side of the menu bar is the Apple menu.  These options will always change based on whatever window you have clicked on last. You may have several windows open at one time so getting used to these menu features may take some time to get used to. The right side of the menu bar will contain several icons that are “locked in” to provide quick access.  You will notice options for date/time, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, as well as any other applications you have allowed to appear on the menu bar. Not all applications will have this option so they will not automatically appear on this part of the menu. The Finder Mac OS’s version of “My Computer” is finder. This is where you will go to manage your files into folders and how you will browse your Mac to find your files. You will find the icon for Finder located on the Dock. After opening Finder, you will notice that it is separated into two categories, Favorites and Devices. The Favorites category contains links to folders on the Mac. You may add or remove folders by clicking and dragging. The Devices category shows you anything that you have connected to your Mac. This includes internal hard drives, external hard drives, USB drives, Optical drives, etc. This will be the feature that reminds new Mac users of a PC’s “My Computer” option. The navigation is very similar. There are two things to notice about this Finder window. The two bars, one being document location and the other being drive status, are turned off by default. I like having these things open as they provide valuable information about my documents and machine. Clicking...

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