This past monday, Apple gave quite a long keynote at The Moscone Center during WWDC ’11. Some desperately needed iOS features, lots of OS X lion and, last but not least, moving to the cloud. It looks like it are going to be exciting times to be an Apple user.
iOS as it should be
iOS 5 is going to be the most important update of Apple’s mobile platform to date. It might just be that my fanboyism isn’t what it used to be but some of the announced features are so blatantly obvious I don’t think they need a big applause during a keynote. Things like the new notifications with the “slide down from the top” feature. Granted, it looks great and will be super efficient, but can we all admit that it’s almost exactly the same as what Android has had since it launched? Taking a picture with the volume up button? I’m sorry, but my Sony Ericsson did that back in 2004. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all great features, but they don’t really induce a big “keynote” applause in my case.
Another long awaited feature is task management. If it works as good as it looks and integrates as seamlessly with iCal as they claim, it looks like I can say goodbye to the 25 euro I spent on Things for Mac and iPhone. I’m especially looking forward to the location aware notifications (eg: “Don’t forget the milk” pops up when you’re about to pass your local super market). I know, Android fanboys, hold your horses. I know this sounds an awful lot like Locale.
A rundown of some other goodies you can expect:
- iMessage: what appears to be iOS-only WhatsApp like messaging integrated right into the OS.
- PC free: autonomous iOS devices: no more need for a computer to set up your device.
- Twitter integration: one time login in system preferences to rule them all + integration throughout the entire OS.
- Safari: tabbed browsing, reader (Focus on the text, remove all clutter. Already a feature in Safari for Mac).
- Wireless sync: more on that further down this article.
King of the OS world
The next version of your Mac’s OS has been talking to it’s iOS nephews. Lion will incorporate even more touch gestures for your built-in or external “magic” trackpad.Combine that with the new Mission Control that gives you a complete view of everything that’s happening on our and you’ve got yourself Exposé on steroids. More system apps (and I presume API will also provide it for third party apps) will have a full screen mode, keeping you focussed on the job at hand,. Be it writing a text in Pages, obtaining inbox zero in Mail or taking silly pictures of yourself in Photobooth.
A combination of a new feature called Launchpad and the Mac App Store you might already be using today is going to give your Mac even more of the iOS look’n’feel. Buying applications and browsing through them will feel just like you’re on the iPad. For me personally, it makes the OS feel a bit, well, childish I guess. I know the way forward is simplifying interfaces to be more efficient and accessible, but I’ll need to get used to it.
My favorite new features are Resume and Version. Whether you’re writing a text or editing a photo, Lion will allow apps to constantly save every move you make and provides the ability to browse through past versions of your document. Kinda like Time Machine but throughout the entire OS. After you’ve restarted the app takes you right back where you left off. Students are obviously going to have one less excuse to not get their papers done in time. Finally, I’d like to mention Airdrop, a nifty new feature that’s integrated into the Finder and allows you to transfer files to any Mac in your vicinity. You don’t even need to be on the same WiFi network. I’m interested to find out if they use WiFi or Bluetooth to airdrop (hence the name) an important business document securely into your collegae’s Download folder. Sharing files never was this exciting.
Some other stuff to look forward to:
- Conversations in Mail (Did anyone say Wave?)
- You’ll be able to receive FaceTime calls, even if you’re not running the app (Don’t worry, you can turn it off if you want to.)
- Full screen Screen Sharing
Goodbye MobileMe, hello iCloud
MobileMe has always been one of those service that, if you use it intensively, is immensely useful but, if you don’t, feels like a total waste of money. Soon, everyone will be able to enjoy Exchange for the rest of us without having to pay for it. Mail, calendars, contacts, documents, photo’s, you’ll be able to sync them between you Mac, iPad, iPhone and iPod Tocuh without having to connect one single cable. On top of that, you can see all your past Music, Book or App purchases on all of your devices and download them instantly. Those purchases don’t even use your 5 GB of free cloud space. You can even set things up to automatically download new songs or apps you bought on your Mac to your iOS device(s).
The thing that’s got me excited though, is iTunes Match. For $25/year you sync up to 25.000 songs (even the ones you ripped from CD’s or got through some other sneaky way). Wirelessly over all your devices. You’ll even get Apple’s 256 kbps version of the songs you own. When you get to a charger in a WiFi hotspot, just plug in your device and the Cloud will do the rest. My biggest concern is whether SABAM and the Belgian music labels are going to block this feature just like they did with movies and shows on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, … you get the picture. Only time will tell …
I’ve always been a huge fan of headphones. No wimpy earbuds for me, I’ll have some of those hefty ear-warmer looking things, thank you very much. They just feel much sturdier and, in most cases, sound so much better. Bluetooth headphones however, up to now, have been the headphones that wanted to sound good, but couldn’t. You see despite the fact that they had larger speakers with more potential, they have always been crippled by the fact that Bluetooth didn’t have enough bandwidth to stream high quality audio, therefore making them sound like the pair of crappy black, red’n’blue earbuds you get for free on “selected” flights. It looks, or rather sounds, that all of that is changing. The people at Nokia were kind enough to send me a review unit of their latest BH905 bluetooth noise-canceling headphones and, boy, did I like the sound of that.
When you open the, rather large, sort of kidney-shaped carrying bag the headphones come in you’ll find a collection of adapters, extension cables and, of course, a power adapter. The headphones obviously need juice to power the bluetooth connection and noise-canceling, but one thing I found rather annoying is that when the battery’s dead, you can’t even use it plugged in without noise cancellation. It sounds like your music is coming from the end of a very long hallway. However battery life is pretty darn good so you won’t run out of juice that often. As you expect from Nokia, it also has an excellent built-in microphone to take any calls you might get while rockin’ out to your favourite tunes.
So why would you be in the market for these headphones? Well, if you want quality audio without the hassle of wires, up to 600 hours of stand-by time and the added functionality of being able to answer phone calls with active cancellation and two microphones, this are the headphones for you. They’re comfy, easy to use and setting them up with your phone, iPod Touch or even iPad is a matter of seconds. At €279, it’s more for those passionate about their audio than the occasional user. But then again, this product sounds AND feels just as good as let’s say a Bose set of headphones, which is in the same price class, only they still haven’t come out with a wireless headset you can use with your mobile phone.
Some more pictures:
The misses got a Nokia N85 in the mail this week asking to share her view on it. I managed to snag it from her and take it for a little spin. Here are my impressions:
- The design of the phone looks really great. However, coming from a full qwerty keyboard it took a little while getting used to a T9 phone again. Also, the 1, 2, and 3 button were really hard to push for me as I had to cram my thumb under the sliding mechanism.
- I like the double slider design. One side gives the numeric pad in portrait view, while the other gives you audio and photo controls.
- The display is bright, clear and great for watching video’s both off and on line.
- Sadly enough not much mac support for syncing (plug-ins for iCal are available though). You have to sync your media by mounting the memory as a disk and performing some good old drag-and-drop action.
- It has about every connection you can think of: EDGE, 3G, HSDPA, Wifi and even GPS with voice guided directions (be it that this is a 30 dollar a year subscription service).
- A hot-swappable micro SD card allows for vast ammounts of interchangeable storage, without having to reboot the deivce.
- The OS is very expendable when it comes to apps but sometimes it’s a bit laggy and not very intuitive. Setting up an APN for my data connection took quite some digging in various menus.
- The music player is very intuitive and has a clean interface. I personally liked the podcast support, enabling the user to subscribe to and download podcast from his or her phone.
- The N85 also has a buit-in FM transmitter so you can play your tunes over your home our car stereo without any wires with very decent sound quality. I wasn’t able to check it, but I’m pretty sure you can use this connection for the voice-guided GPS as well.
- Besides the FM transmitter, you can also use an composite cable that comes with the phone to play your music and video’s on your tv or stereo.
- This phone packs a 5 megapixel camera with video support and a flash on the back while housing a second VGA cam on the front for video-conferencing.
Overall, the N85 is a feature-packed phone and another great addition to the Nokia N-series in which we, over the years, have seen some very cool and innovative phones. My only hope is that nokia puts just a little more time in every single phone to perfect it instead of releasing a new ultra-cool yet not perfect N phone every few months or so.
Palm, the creator of the legendary PalmPilot PDA, hasn’t been doing so good the past year or two, I think we can all admit that. However, last week at CES, the company presented it’s latest smartphone: the Pre and unlike Palm’s previous (short-lived) experiment, the Foleo, it was warmly welcomed by the tech-crowd in Vegas.
So what does it do ?
- Touch-screen: the Pre continues the touch-screen trend as set by the iPhone. What’s innovative though is that swiping the screen allows the user to rapidly switch between applications by going left or right and quitting the app by swiping up, something other touch-phones and even the iPhone don’t offer.
- Multi-tasking: the Pre brings true multi-tasking to the mobile platform. Switching between apps is as easy as swiping your finger and gives it all an exposé-like look and feel.
- Connections: the Pre has only been announced yet for Sprint’s EVDO (3G) network, besides that the device offers Wifi, GPS and bluetooth.
- Multimeda: the Pre comes with a 3 megapixel camera and 8 gigabytes of, sadly enough, built-in memory to use it as a media player.
That’s about all that’s known about the device for now. I’m really glad to see Palm got it’s act together and will possibly return to the smartphone-market as a big player. The release date should be somewhere in the first half of this year, US pricing (with a plan) is estimated at around 200 dollars.
Just a few months after the launch of the Blackberry Bold RIM is rolling out it’s latest version of the Curve (codenamed Javelin). Like the last model in the Curve-series, it will be a more affordable Blackberry with lots of multimedia-functionality that, unlike the Pearl, offers a full keyboard but is cheaper than the high-end 8800 (now Bold and Storm).
- GPS: hopefully we’ll see a 3rd party application by TomTom or Garmin soon.
- 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus: great for moblogging.
- Full tacktile keyboard: I still prefer it over touchscreen solutions.
- Trackball: my current model still had the jogwheel on the side, but the trackball has been a Blackberry standard for over a year now.
- Gorgeous display: the Curve has a just a bit smaller version of the crisp clear display that comes on the Bold.
- 4.6 OS: like the Bold, the latest version of the Curve comes with the latest version of the Blakcberry OS.
- Hot-swappable MicroSD: great for use an mp3-player.
- EDGE: jup, no 3G, but for larger files you can use the built-in WiFi.
That’s about all I know about it for now. Since the Canadian launch, the Curve has been popping up on both the US and UK sites. Hopefully, it won’t take long before it comes to Belgium so I can get my hands on one. I am really considering this one as an upgrade to my 8707v if pricing will be around that of the current Curve (at around 350 euros).
The iPhone is without a doubt the way of the future for blogging. It still won’t be the same as writing your post on the full fledged keyboard of your mac, but if you want to blog whenever from wherever, apple’s hot gadget is a good option.
Until now, however, writing a post in the web-interface on the iPhone was anything but easy. That’s why wordpress has come up with a nice little app to edit several wordpress blogs on the go (be it personally hosted or on wordpress.com)
The app is available for free in the app store.
Ps: this post was written on my iPhone.