Apple might be late to the party, but delivers a much better phablet experience
The Nexus 6 is the latest flagship Android smartphone from Google that is designed for developers and Android fans who prefer Google's stock iteration of its popular Android operating system. The massive six-inch device is meant to stand as a testament to the Android platform, its capabilities, and where the technology is currently heading. In the other corner, we have Apple's iPhone 6 Plus, the first "phablet" from Apple, which has famously resisted pushing into this segment in the recent past. Like the Nexus 6, the iPhone 6 Plus represents all that is currently state-of-the-art when it comes to iOS-powered smartphones. The two devices are undoubtedly two of the leading heavyweights in this segment, but which stands tall over the other in a head-to-head fight?
New security and convenience features in this updated password manager
Admit it: if you've already got 1Password, then you use it for creating superbly strong passwords for any site you use -- but the password you use to unlock the app itself is rubbish. That's partly because you've used this password since the dawn of time, and it's ingrained in you, but it's also because changing it across your Mac, iPhone and iPad is a pain. Not anymore. The new update is to the iOS version, but now if you change you password on your Mac, it will automatically change on your iOS devices.
Extra leeway added to test early apps, compatibility, battery life?
Recent reports have suggested that Apple is notifying its highest-profile developers who are known to be working on Apple Watch apps to be sure the programs are ready for launch by mid-February, about a month earlier than expected. Similarly, Apple is asking Apple Pay partners who will be creating iOS apps with Watch support to have them ready by specifically the 12th of February. Apple CEO Tim Cook has already announced that the Apple Watch will ship in April.
Outlook preview edition for iOS, Android rebrands existing Acompli app
Microsoft has made its Office apps available to all Android users, following the limited preview release and the iOS version. The apps, including Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, are accompanied by a new preview of another Office app, with a rebranded version of email app Acompli as Outlook downloadable from both Google Play and the iTunes App Store.
Apple credits TaiG team in release notes
Yesterday's iOS 8.1.3 update sabotages the TaiG jailbreak tool, users say. The hack was functional through iOS 8.1.2, outdoing Pangu, which stopped working as of v8.1.1. Although the TaiG team itself hasn't confirmed the problem, Apple's notes for v8.1.3 actually credit the group with finding four security vulnerabilities.
Analysts believe Apple outsold all others in China, sold more iPhones than US
In the midst of so much good news that came out of Apple in its fiscal Q1 report today, a significant milestore was also noted: the company said it had sold its one billionth iOS device, which it will keep for historical purposes. The device was said to be a 64GB Space Grey iPhone 6 Plus, and was part of the extraordinary 74.6 million iPhone sold worldwide in the holiday quarter. China sales played a major role as well, growing sales 157 percent from the previous quarter.
You'll want to use PDFs more when you've got one of these
Right, here's the thing: by the time we're done here, you really must own PDFpen for Mac. It's just a question of which version -- and it's a more complicated question than it might be. For while there's now a new version 7 and it introduces some excellent features, it introduces them in two editions -- PDFpen and PDFpen Pro -- yet its very best abilities are already right there in version 6. Plus, there is the iPad version which we've already said we rate very highly.
Generally directed at bugfixes
Apple has released iOS 8.1.3 via iTunes and as an over-the-air download. Though primarily a maintenance update, it does make one important change: reducing the amount of storage that will be needed for future over-the-air upgrades. The amount of space iOS 8 required for an OTA update was a common complaint by users; on 16GB iPhones and iPads, there is frequently too little room left, forcing people to use iTunes instead. Apple hasn't said how much storage will be needed in the future.
Unexpectedly handy iOS addition to the Alfred 2 application launcher
When we recently reviewed Alfred 2 for Mac -- it was a rave. We noted how it was the perfect app to feature in a Hands On piece because that's the point: just about anything you can do on your Mac, Alfred 2 lets you do from the keyboard. It's not the only application that does this, but it does it very well, and is a true boon for getting things done. So much so that the application has been around and continuously developed for many years, just always with this hands-on idea. Until now.
Good entry-level app that makes the basics easy and fast
It's harder to make podcasts than you might imagine. No, strike that: it's easy to make bad podcasts, to make the kind of audio that makes grown NPR and BBC radio producers sob and listeners disappear. What's harder is to make anything worth listening to, and that's chiefly a mix of your talent and your technology. The new Opinion Podcast Recorder & Editor app won't make a scrap of difference to your talent -- except that it will let you concentrate on getting better, because it sets out to make the technical side of podcasts simple. It aims to be the one place you record your podcast, edit it, and then distribute it.
Quick and fairly easy-to-use database, but with serious flaws
The best database you can buy for the Mac or iOS is Filemaker Pro -- if by "best," you mean the most powerful. It's also comparatively easy to use, at least when what you're comparing it with is Microsoft Access for Windows. But even so, there is a market for a database that is so simple even non-technical users can get a benefit from it. For some years, that database was Bento, from the makers of Filemaker Pro, but it was discontinued in 2013. One alternative has been iDatabase, and on the surface it has a lot going for it.
Built-in OS X, iOS utility has extra dimension for added usefulness
Even if you're particularly good at making a note about tasks you need to accomplish, you often get tasked with something only when people think to tell you -- and if the job is some time away, you may completely forget that you were asked to do it at all, apart from that nagging feeling that you've forgotten something important. Apple's built-in Reminders app (along with Siri) can make it easy to create a to-do or reminder item, but a lesser-known feature leveraging Location Services can make it nearly impossible to forget.
All new iOS 8 software must be 64-bit compatible by February 1
A new reminder email has gone out from Apple to all registered iOS developers reminding them that, beginning February 1, all app new submissions to the App Store must support 64-bit architecture. For existing programs, updates must support 64-bit no later than June 1. The move will not prohibit apps from running in 32-bit mode, but must contain support for 64-bit operation, which may "prune" some apps that are no longer being developed.
Quick RSS news app a pleasure to read, now freemium
Go on, tell the truth. Were you tempted to stop reading after the word RSS or did you last all the way to 'news'? It's not that RSS divides people, it's more that people either love it or they have simply never heard of the thing. Similarly, there are those of us who are news junkies and want to know what's happening in the world, and there are others who just watch Fox News instead. Unread for iOS is not going to be the app that makes you an evangelist for RSS, but if you're already a newsreader fan, you may love the app. Plus, its new freemium model could help when you go around telling everybody how great it is.
The best contacts manager for OS X right now
You may never even think to replace or supplement the Contacts app that comes on your Mac or iOS device, but also you may never have realized that you can. Next time someone gives you a phone number, and you write it down on paper rather than keep them waiting while you fire up Contacts, think about getting Cobook for Mac and/or for iOS .
Release your inner cosmetologist with this fun hair salon app
Makeover apps tend to be somewhat serious, and are generally geared toward adults. Instead of being a fun game, they tend to be more akin to photo-editing software, which is generally pretty complex and low on the amusement scale. Toca Boca, however, has stepped forth with Toca Hair Salon 2, a makeover game that offers a lot to younger gamers or future beauticians.
Public release may run parallel with Apple Watch availability
Apple is now seeding a fourth beta of iOS 8.2 via the company's developer portal, and as an over-the-air update for existing beta users. The build is listed as 12D5461b, and follows a little less than a month after beta 3, which was issued December 18. That build was 12D5452a. Accompanying the beta is a new version of WatchKit, the SDK and framework needed to build Apple Watch support into iOS apps.
Tracking data points to spike in Apple testing
Apple's upcoming iOS 8.1.3 update should arrive next week, reports suggest. Sources say that some sort of iOS 8 update, whether beta or public, will go live on Tuesday or Wednesday. Web tracking data at MacRumors, however, shows a sudden spike this week in iOS 8.1.3 devices visiting from Apple's internal networks.
iOS 8 autocorrect has gone mad
This week in the MacNN forums, members discuss the latest changes to auto-correct in iOS 8 after Clinically Insane member "subego" pointed out that it just doesn't "feel coherent like all the previous iterations," going on to say that it has the feeling of different algorithms competing with each other. Forum Regular "Harvey" has some questions about playing music from the cloud.
Likely includes better compatibility with recent iOS 8, OS X 10.10 changes
On Thursday, Apple updated its productivity apps for OS X and iOS -- previous sold together under the banner "iWorks" -- with no specified improvements or features other than the usual "bug fixes and stability improvements tag." Keynote for OS X has been update to version 6.5.2, with Pages at v5.5.2, and Numbers at version 3.5.2. The three corresponding iOS apps are all updated to v2.5.2. The update may also reflect some changes made in recent updates of Yosemite and iOS 8, or hint at some security fixes.
Cites ongoing problems with Apple's developer agreement
Internet advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released a new app today, allowing Android users an easy way to access its action center and get involved. As part of the announcement, the organization explained there would not be a similar app for iOS, citing issues with the Apple developer agreement. Some elements of the disputed agreement have been around since 2010.
Early buggy releases quickly corrected, adoption rates now back to normal growth
Apple updated its developer portal on Wednesday with new statistics on its current mobile operating system, iOS 8. Adoption for the system is up to 68 percent across both iPhones and iPads, up eight percent from approximately six weeks ago. As would be expected, older versions thus continue a decline in popularity, with iOS 7 losing six percentage points and dropping to 29 percent, while iOS 6 and all earlier versions are essentially down to just devices that can not be upgraded beyond that point, holding around four percent share (a drop of one percent from the last report).
Startling photography app for making fine edits and filters easy
The cameras in our iPhones are so good that they are destroying the point-and-shoot digital camera market. We all have high-resolution lenses that create vibrant, brilliant images -- and then we slap a sepia filter over every photo. Even if you would never apply iOS 8's Chrome or Transfer filter, however -- even if you have never heard of Instagram -- take a look at Exposure. It's one of those apps that is genuinely unexpected and new.
New edition compatible with iOS and Android with simultaneous analog connection
Unlike its predecessor -- which only recently added support for Android devices (and then just the Galaxy Note 4) -- the iRig 2 guitar-to-phone interface, announced today, will support both iOS and Android right out of the gate, developer IK Multimedia says. Outputs on the device have been improved and added -- not only provide studio-quality sound from a smartphone, but to allow musicians to additionally plug into a traditional amplifier without an adapter.
Exceptional algorithms improve nearly any picture with little assistance
Unless you are a supremely-gifted photographer with a bucketful of top camera gear, you may often find yourself wishing a shot you had taken could be sharper, clearer, or otherwise "better," and are always looking for an app that can deliver this magic to your pictures consistently. Honest to gosh, we think we've found it -- or at least, pretty darn close. The program is called Perfectly Clear by Athentech, it's available as a mobile app or a plug-in for Photoshop or Lightroom, and -- we kid you not -- it's like Windex for most photos.
IK Multimedia's new portable groove controller
When it comes to mobile music products, IK Multimedia has positioned itself as one of the top suppliers. Right from the early days of iOS, the company has remained at the forefront of the iOS music creation market with products like the original iRig and iRig Mic. As iOS has developed and become more powerful, so has the line-up of iRig products -- its latest introduction, iRig Pads, brings musicians a full-featured 16-pad MIDI groove controller. Is the iRig Pads worthy of the space in your bag for creating a mobile loop workstation? We put the hardware through its paces in our full review.
Company trying to push iCloud subscriptions, plaintiffs suggest
A new lawsuit, filed in a federal court in California on Tuesday, accuses Apple of failing to inform people how much space iOS 8 will consume on a device, while simultaneously prompting them to buy online storage via iCloud. Specifically the suit claims that iOS 8 can occupy as much as 23.1 percent of device memory, but that not many people realize this when making a purchase. The plaintiffs are seeking damages, as well as changes by Apple to comply with state law. The case is being pursued as a class action.
Send anything from your Mac to your iOS device, but not the other way round
Is it our typing speed, or just our attention span? Back in the olden days, we would copy out a telephone number, and type it into our cell phones. Mind you, back in the even more olden days, we would just remember the numbers and, let's be fair, that's completely unreasonable. Now that we all tend to have Macs and iPhones or iPads, we are forever going between the two -- and sometimes, that means the information we need is on the other one. Scribe is a clipboard utility for, well, copying anything from your Mac. If you can select it, you can copy it, and Scribe will send it on over to your iOS device.
Basic but flawed iPhone camera scanner hides its best features
As great as the cameras are on our iPhones, the only reason to use them as document scanners is when you have no other choice. There are just too many inherent problems -- from the difficulty of focusing evenly, to how hard it is to just line up the paper edges consistently. Then, of course, if you do get it perfectly straight and perfectly lit, the instant you tap the iPhone screen you introduce a judder. Scanner 2 PDF aims to be that best scanner, and specifically to do one particularly important job well, but if it's got the features then it falls down on the execution.
Embark on a Mayan adventure in this gamebook
Gamebooks combine the enjoyment of reading a book with the interactivity of a text adventure. Similar to a "choose-your-own adventure" with quite a bit more control, gamebooks are becoming ever more popular. We recently checked out Necklace of Skulls, a Mayan action-adventure by Cubus Games, to see if it has earned its place in the genre.
Or how to use up all those iTunes gift cards you're going to get
Although we have mentioned some app bargains in our "beyond the last minute" gift guide this morning, the elves at MacNN and Electronista have been hunting up some additional discounts by shaking the App Store tree and seeing what falls out. We found a few more, so click through to save a bundle on some awesome app deals -- and don't forget to check back with us regularly for DealNN reports, Apple refurb store bargains, and our usual Friday Deals all year long!
Send audio messages straight to anyone on your local network - with a catch
We've all had days in the office when there is great pressure and you can't afford time to leave your desk. Some of us have also had the rather less-satisfying situation where bosses frowned on you stopping to chat, and while those do tend to be the same sorts of bosses who won't let you install non-corporate-approved apps, if you can get it by them, Echoes (for Macs and iOS devices) is a way to bring a little humanity into your day. Possibly also a lot of irritation, as well -- but that'll depend on your colleagues, not on Echoes.
Know exactly how much talk time you have left at a glance
Anyone who has been caught without a charger, or with no storage space left to download pictures, music, or apps when away from their computer, is aware of how frustrating that situation can be. It's not always easy to tell how much RAM, free space, or talk time a user has left on their beloved iPhone or iPad. However, System Monitor by Tekton Technologies, is a very useful app that keys users in to the inner workings of their devices.
Edit PDFs as well as read them in this updated essential
Here's a true story about what PDFpen 2 does. A Windows-based firm produced a year-end report that was about 80 pages and most importantly took many, many hours to create. It was all highly complex, auto-generated figures -- and one huge spelling mistake. They didn't see the mistake until the final PDF was about to be sent out to clients. Fixing it meant re-running the whole process, re-calculating everything: it meant not sending the report until tomorrow. Luckily, one guy in the firm had PDFpen on his iPad. He opened that PDF, typed in the correct spelling, sent the PDF on its way. Total time: five minutes -- and three of those had been spent on panicking.
'Floppy Cloud' likely to get pulled, junior reviewer fired for missing illegal content
Once again, a rogue developer has attempted -- and succeeded, albeit temporarily -- in sneaking an app onto the iOS App Store that actually contains an emulator for a classic game system, forbidden under App Store rules. This time, it is Floppy Cloud ($2), which has taken the novel approach of pretending to be a file management app rather than the more-obvious Flappy Bird copycat. The app works exactly as described, but if users add a NES or SNES ROM file to the cloud-based management, the file will play in a full emulator.
Get Flash applications and videos onto your iPad -- if you must
Perhaps you don't know it yet, but you are already in one of the two camps over how Apple refuses to allow Flash to work on iPads. If you doubt this because you haven't even heard of the issue, then you're in the half of the population that has simply never noticed the problem. If you do know it and you're reading this because you know it, then you are getting this problem a lot -- and you have been searching forever for a solution. Photon Flash Player for iPad is a solution. It's a web browser, like Safari, but it comes with the ability to play Flash -- and you pay for that, in how its other functionality is weaker.
New Xcode 6.2 beta also available
Apple has begun seeding a third beta of iOS 8.2 to developers. Significantly, the code restores blood glucose tracking in the Health app, which was temporarily disabled earlier this year due to confusion caused by the app displaying data in mg/dL (the US standard) but accepting data from devices using mmol/L (used in most of the rest of the world) as well. In the new software, users can toggle between mg/dL or mmol/L.
Updates to existing apps must switch by June
Apple has issued a new notice to developers, reminding them of two important deadlines concerning 64-bit support in iOS apps. As was previously announced, those submitting new titles to the App Store must implement 64-bit support -- and use the iOS 8 SDK -- by February 1. Additionally, the company now says that updates to existing titles must meet the same standards as of June 1.
May not reach public until January
Although it recently released iOS 8.1.2, and is well into development on iOS 8.2, Apple is also working on an interim v8.1.3 update, web traffic shows. The first hits from v8.1.3 devices appear to have come around December 8, a day before v8.1.2 went live. Since then, the number has increased, but just a "few dozen" have reportedly come from Apple's networks.
Take a stroll through the most notable art galleries in the world
Whether you're an art connoisseur or completely new to the world of art, there's something to be said about having a personally guided tour through a museum. Now, thanks to Art Authority by Open Door Networks for iPhone/iPod touch and iPad, users can have their own personally guided tour of the worlds most famous and influential pieces of art, right in the palm of their hand. The $5 app ($10 for the iPad version) is packed full of important pieces of artwork, with over 20GB of art available to download at a moments notice.
Jump, slide, and dance your way through this retro-inspired platformer
Bit.Trip.Run is a game set in the universe of Bit.Trip, a popular app by developer Gaijin Games that debuted on the Wii back in 2009. A total of seven variations came along, with Bit.Trip Runner meeting with great success that quickly went multi-platform, with releases on both the Nintendo 3DS as well as Steam. Bit.Trip.Run is not to be confused with Bit.Trip Runner, which begs the question: how does Bit.Trip.Run distinguish itself from the others in the series?
Take control of a tank in this simple WWII simulator
Developer Atypical Games has had success in the App Store before with their war simulation apps, titled Sky Gamblers: Cold War and Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders, in which both games focused largely on air combat. Now, the company has released Battle Supremacy, which puts players in control of their own tanks in this World War II-era simulation game. Will the company be able to win the ground game as it did with air supremacy? Read on to find out.
Nokia plans launch of Here maps on iOS in early 2015
Nokia's Here maps for Android is no longer just for Samsung smartphones and tablets, with Nokia making it available to other Android devices on Google Play, without the need to side load the app. At the same time as the Android expansion, the company has revealed its upcoming Here release for iOS will be slightly later than initially believed, with a version for Apple devices set to arrive in early 2015.
No significant changes noticed so far
Apple has begun seeding a second beta of iOS 8.2 to developers, build 12D445d. The first beta, build 12D436, was released on November 18. As of this writing, there don't appear to be any feature changes, suggesting the new beta is mostly intended to eliminate bugs.
Users directed to URL to restore missing files
Apple has released iOS 8.1.2 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch owners. The firmware is a minor update, dealing mainly with a glitch which removed ringtones bought through the iTunes Store. People wanting to get those files back are being pointed to a special URL, which in turn redirects visitors to a new page at the Store.
Australia, France, Germany among new countries with movies
Apple has added a collection of new locations to its Flyover feature in Maps, and new countries to the list that can access movie listings through Siri. In the former category are Avignon, Biarritz, and Perpignan in France; the Grand Canyon and Meteor Crater in Arizona; Devil's Tower in Wyoming, Dunedin in New Zealand, Royal Gorge in Arkansas, and finally Visby in Sweden. Apple has been slowly updating the number of areas with Flyover support since iOS 6 was released in 2012.
Targeted emails outpace Google ads or search for merchant results
A new study that monitored US holiday shopping from mobile devices between Thanksgiving through to Cyber Monday showed results exactly in line with similar surveys from last summer, noting that Apple iOS devices accounted for about 78 percent of orders, with Android accounting for only 21.6 percent of online sales from mobile devices. Analytics firm Custora noted the consistency between holiday and non-holiday buying patterns, with iOS and Android showing the same respective percentages last summer as well.
New features allows voice messages to be sent in iOS 8 as MMS
Following a pair of new ads that debuted on Tuesday, Apple has followed it up with an unusual single additional ad in the current campaign, which again features Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon and entertainer Justin Timberlake. In the new TV spot, called "Voice Text," the pair demonstrate the WhatsApp-esque Voice Text feature in iOS 8, which allows for easy recording of voice which is then sent as an MMS message or iMessage (depending on the recipient) for times when texting is too inefficient.
Motivational app mixes virtual 'boss' with to-do list
For those who would welcome robot overlords, Carrot, by Grailr, promises to keep you on task! We've all been there; those days when absolutely nothing seems to get done. But what if there was a to-do list that actually encouraged the act of doing things. Wouldn't that be helpful? After all, most to-do lists are little more than polite and easily forgotten suggestions of what should be done. Supposing, however, that there was an app that actually pushed people to get out there and do them? Well, as it turns out, there is.
New entities handling submissions of bulk location data
Apple has added 10 new companies to the list of those providing it with data for iOS and OS X Maps, reports say. The parties are mentioned in a new email to businesses, asking about submitting bulk location information. The added firms include DAC Group, Location3 Media, Marquette Group, Placeable, PositionTech, SIM Partners, SinglePlatform, UBL, Yext, and Yodle. Apple asks for bulk content to be submitted to one of the entities on its partner list, rather than directly.