Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Concept: iPhone app management in iTunes done right

I have a fascination with all things usability, and when it comes to the art of user experience, Apple is second to none. But that’s not to say that they always get things right or that ideas from Cupertino can’t be improved upon. They can – just ask Palm with its Pre smartphone and webOS.

More proof comes via a concept video published on YouTube, demonstrating a much better way to manage iPhone apps via Apple’s desktop iTunes software. As Gizmodo explains:

The concept is simple, and wouldn’t require a change of habit by iPhone/iPod touch users: in iTunes, users see a representation of their various home screen(s), with which they can remove, move or sort apps. Sorting options are an obvious addition—sorting by most-used is what most people do manually (and imperfectly) anyway, so having a one-click option for that would be an immediate improvement. If custom sorting is your game, this will make the previously cumbersome process almost instant.

The result is simply brilliant and if the comments left on YouTube are anything to go by, Apple should hire this guy and get to work immediately putting his ideas into the next version of iTunes. As per usual, video demo after the jump…

Continue reading »

Rivet 2.0, another Mac to PlayStation 3 streaming solution

My PlayStation 3 gets used on an almost daily basis but, surprisingly, not usually for gaming. Instead, the PS3 sits at the center of my home media setup, permanently plugged into my High Definition TV, giving me access to photos, DivX files, video podcasts and music streamed from an iMac in the room next door, along with the ability to play movies on Blu-ray and browser-based video from YouTube and the BBC’s UK-only iPlayer.

To get the Mac to talk to the PlayStation I’ve been using Nullriver’s solution, MediaLink, which, aside from occasionally needing to restart the application, has worked a treat. At the time I purchased MediaLink it was the only viable solution (Elgato’s EyeConnect, by the company’s own admission, wasn’t really up to the job). However, as of this week, Nullriver has some competition. Cynical Peak Software have updated their Mac to XBox 360 offering with support for the PS3.

Continue reading »

What if Apple sued Palm, would Microsoft come to the rescue?

When the iPhone first launched at Macworld in 2007, I distinctly remember Apple CEO Steve Jobs boasting that the company had over 200 patents on this thing. At the time, that boast stuck out like a sore thumb as I couldn’t recall Apple making such a fuss over patents before.

Attempting to ‘protect’ one’s intellectual property through patent applications is something that large tech companies do every day. But the fact that Jobs felt the need to highlight this in relation to the iPhone told its own story: Apple was onto something big and it fully expected others to copy many of the iPhone’s ‘innovations’, such as the device’s multi-touch User Interface and related gestures to manipulate content.

Two years on and although we’ve seen many so-called iPhone “killers” from the likes of Google, Nokia, Samsung, HTC and RIM, none of them have dared to go as far as implementing a multi-touch UI.

Until just over a week ago, that is, when Palm unveiled its new Pre smartphone and accompanying webOS, which includes a capacative multi-touch display and relies heavily on gestures for navigation. None of which has gone unnoticed by Apple.

Continue reading »

Who has the most to fear from Palm's "New-ness"?

Pandora CTO Tom Conrad put it best: “I can’t think of much that’s harder in the world than building a modern, mobile operating system and integrating it with a fantastic piece of hardware”, he tells Palm Info Center.

We see companies take a swing and miss at this time after time – I really think Palm has hit a home run on this one.”

And Conrad should know.

Not only has his company ported its music streaming and discovery service to over 40 different handsets, “everything from J2ME and Windows Mobile to the iPhone”, but Pandora was also chosen by Palm to get an early hands-on peak at the webOS and Pre and begin bringing their app over to the company’s new platform.

At the same time, Conrad rightfully reminds us that Palm is still very much the underdog. Of course, underdogs should rarely be underestimated.

On that note, who should have the most to fear from Palm’s “New-ness”?

Continue reading »

Why you may never see Firefox, Opera or Chrome on the iPhone

A report on Macrumors (my favourite Apple rumor site) observes that the company appears to have relaxed its iPhone App Store policy in relation to third-party web browsers. It was thought that, until now, competitors to Apple’s own Mobile Safari weren’t being approved on the basis that they “duplicate functionality” or compete with Apple’s own offering. That may no longer be the case.

“Over the past 24 hours, Apple has begun to approve 3rd party web browsing applications for the iPhone. A number of new web browsing apps have suddenly appeared with original submission dates ranging as far back as October”, writes Macrumors.

A partial list of these new applications include:

Edge Browser (Free) – No loss of screen real estate to the address or navigation bars.
Incognito ($1.99) – Now you can browse without leaving a history of any kind.
WebMate:Tabbed Browser ($0.99) – Web Mate simplifies browsing by queuing up all the links you click on, then allowing you to view them one by one when you’re ready.
Shaking Web ($1.99) – adds a sophisticated algorithm to compensate for small hand shaking to allow for easier reading.

This has led to many speculating that heavyweight competitors, such as Firefox, Opera or Google’s Chrome, could be next to land on the iPhone.

Not so fast.

Continue reading »

Apple caves to major labels in return for DRM-free iTunes

Major record labels to Apple: You can ditch DRM completely in return for higher prices.

That’s right, the major labels have finally got their way as, come this April, Apple’s iTunes will introduce “variable pricing”, with tracks costing either 69 cents, 99 cents or $1.29, depending on how popular they are likely to be. In return, Apple gets to move all 10 million tracks in its iTunes store over to a DRM-free format — 256 kbps AAC — including those from Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group and EMI, along with thousands of independent labels, something that’s been partially lacking compared to rival stores such as Amazon MP3.

While Apple asserts that the majority of music sold will be at the new lower price of 69 cents (currently all tracks retail at a unified price of 99 cents), at the labels’ request, the most sort after songs will be priced at the higher $1.29. This is the crucial part, since if you follow the Long Tail of digital music downloads, naturally a significant amount of activity — think new releases from established and well backed artists — happens at the fat not thin end of the ‘tail’, where tracks will likely be priced highest.

Continue reading »

Analyst: Apple to release 'closed' Netbook with iPhone-esque App Store

It’s not very often that I find myself agreeing with a likely overpaid analyst, especially one who admits that they have no “inside information”, but I think Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research could be onto something. Gottheil is predicting that Apple will announce its own Netbook at Macworld in January, priced higher than its competitors, that will, like the iPhone, run a new version of its OSX operating system, and will be similarly tied to an iPhone-esque App Store and iTunes for third-party software downloads and system upgrades.

His reasoning is sound…

Continue reading »

iPhone remote control app for VLC Media Player

VLC Remote, as the name suggests, is another remote control app for the iPhone and iPod touch, this time for the wildly popular VLC Media Player (Windows, Mac and Linux). It comes in both free and paid-for versions, available through the App Store, with the former offering basic remote features such as play, pause and skip, while the latter, costing 99 cents, adds play list access and the ability to browse your computer’s hard drive for any compatible media. Check out Life Hacker’s excellent guide for more details.

See also: Sonos delivers touchscreen controller via iPhone

G1's Android Market does a good job of copying the iPhone App Store [video demo]

We already knew that the iPhone’s App Store has been a resounding success. And that’s before Apple began running newspaper ads boasting of 10,000 apps available and 300 million downloads since its launch just five months ago. Part of that success can be attributed to the way in which the iPhone as a platform has galvanized developers, while a second major factor is the simplicity of the App Store itself. For example, don’t underestimate the significance of having the store bundled with the handset, supported by over-the-air downloads. The result is that Apple has popularized the notion of third-party software on a mobile phone like never before — how many people do you know with a smartphone from Nokia, RIM or others, who haven’t installed a single third-party application?

See also: The real surprise of the App Store isn’t number of downloads or revenue

While attracting developers is easier said than done, creating an App Store equivalent, especially in hindsight, should be a no brainer. Having spent nearly a week with the T-Mobile G1 — the so-called GPhone — I’m glad to report that Google has done a good job replicating the iPhone experience with the Android Market.

Check out my video walk through after the jump…

Continue reading »

Why the latest iPhone update should worry the competition

Upon first unveiling the iPhone, Apple CEO Steve Jobs proclaimed that the company was five years ahead of the competition. And while that is debatable — although I think he had a point — the latest iPhone software update, and those than came before it, prove one thing for sure.

However far ahead the iPhone was when it first launched, Apple isn’t resting on its laurels, with the company continually improving the phone’s software at a pace that the competition can’t keep up with. This is in no small part due to Apple’s unique relationship with its partner carriers, which enable both incremental improvements and major new features to be delivered direct to customers without the networks getting in the way.

Continue reading »