iOS 7 Launch — A busy day today

iOS 7 will be released later today, and I’m look­ing for­ward to it!

Update: But first, a pub­lic ser­vice announce­ment. Don’t for­get to BACKUP YOUR DATA (thanks for the remind­er Ryan!) Here’s a great how-to from Apple’s sup­port site.

From what I’ve seen, this update of the ven­er­able iOS oper­at­ing sys­tem will be the best yet, not in terms of huge tech­no­lo­gic­al leaps and flashy fea­tures, rather in terms of subtle usab­il­ity improve­ments that really make sense, such as the new way your pic­tures are grouped, and Air­Drop (ok, that’s a new fea­ture for iOS, but it has exis­ted awe­somely in OS X).

One thing I’m not so cer­tain of yet, is the num­ber of clicks it seems to take to do cer­tain things, such as back out of a folder in mul­ti­task view. I was kind of hop­ing there’d be a swipe com­mand to get you back to the top level of the desktop, not a but­ton press. My think­ing is that but­tons can wear out, but the multi-touch swipe tech will last longer.

As well, this week you’ll have noticed a flurry of applic­a­tion updates as developers get their soft­ware ready for today’s launch of iOS 7. Being inter­ested in elec­tron­ic music and pho­to­graphy, here’s a couple of use­ful art­icles on upgrad­ing and app com­pat­ib­il­ity:

Any­way, it’ll be inter­est­ing to see real-world exper­i­ences as iOS 7 goes live later today. If you’re upgrad­ing and feel like shar­ing, let me know what you think!

On Flipboard


EDIT: 2 days later and my read­er­ship has almost doubled!

So. I’ve got 28,000 51,000 read­ers of my online gam­ing magazine — a Flip­board titled On Gam­ing.

Holy Cow!!!! When I star­ted my Flip­board I had nev­er real­ized it would become this suc­cess­ful. I’m totally humbled and blown away.

What’s a Flip­Board?

If you fol­low me on Face­book (and if not, why not? 😀 )  you likely have seen that I’ve been post­ing or cross­post­ing more art­icles to Flip­Board, a gor­geously laid out magazine format cur­a­tion sys­tem for con­tent.

flipboard28k

Whut?
Flip­board is, quite simply, an online magazine that lets you take con­tent you find online and group it into one online ‘magazine’. Sim­il­ar to what Pin­terest lets you do with vari­ous image con­tent. Flip­board ori­gin­ally launched on the iPhone and iPad, now is avail­able for Android devices and Com­puters too. A very nifty plat­form. To quote the cre­at­ors:

Mil­lions of people use Flip­board to read and col­lect the news they care about, cur­at­ing their favor­ite stor­ies into their own magazines on any top­ic ima­gin­able. Now magazines cre­ated by our read­ers, from Nepal to Sauce and spread, can be shared and enjoyed on the Web by any­one, any­where.

others

And why is it some­thing you’d want to do?
Well, in my case, I love find­ing neat stuff and shar­ing it with oth­ers. And, hav­ing a suc­cess­ful Flip­board allows me to extend the reach of art­icles *I* write by simply includ­ing them in the appro­pri­ate Flip­board.

As well, hav­ing a pop­u­lar Flip­board also enhances my abil­ity to pro­file con­tent I think is import­ant.

So, if you’re so inclined, feel free to check out On Gam­ing, or any of the oth­er magazines I cur­ate, and let me know what you think! If you’ve got some­thing you’d like me to share with my read­ers, just con­tact me. And if you start your own Flip­board magazine, then let me know too! I’d love to have a look!

Flipboard comes to the web — and my Gaming Magazine is featured!

Very cool! I’ve been cur­at­ing a Flip­board magazine for a few months now, gathered a mod­est fol­low­ing, and now that Flip­board magazine is fea­tured as Flip­board makes the huge leap to shar­ing magazines on the web!

On Gam­ing is fea­tured in the ‘Magazines we Love’ sec­tion of Flipboard’s Com­munity pro­filed pages.

So now, you don’t need to view Flip­board magazines only on mobile devices — you  can eas­ily find the with any web browser.

 

 

I’m quite enjoying Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol!

Yep, I’m hav­ing fun with Ace Patrol, as you may have seen in my pre­vi­ous post, it’s a light single/multiplayer, World War I stra­tegic com­bat game. Air­fights con­sist of up to 8 com­batants, four per side, and vary depend­ing on air­craft, pilot skill, and game dif­fi­culty level.

Ace Patrol is cur­rently only avail­able for iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone in the Canada iTunes store, dur­ing this pre-launch peri­od, but it will be avail­able world­wide on May 9th.

I’m hav­ing a blast, check out the ingame images below:

Using your iOS device for offline navigation

One of the coolest and pos­sibly the most expens­ive fea­ture of an iPhone or iPad is the maps / nav­ig­a­tion fea­ture.

Pock­et Earth iOS icon

On our recent vaca­tion to Maui, we wanted to have live maps, but not have to rack up expens­ive data to do it. A bit of Inter­net sleuth­ing turned up Pock­etEarth, a very cool app that per­forms exactly as advert­ised — deliv­er­ing off­line nav­ig­a­tion and map­ping without a live inter­net con­nec­tion.

Using Pock­et Earth, I simply:

  • down­loaded rel­ev­ant maps while at the condo or before I left home
  • cre­ated routes I’d likely use
  • added poten­tial points of interest
  • saved everything to my iPhone

And it worked like a charm!  Here’s a map of the stretch of West Maui where we spent a lot of time.

West Maui map in Pock­et Earth

And here’s a bit on how it’s done — from the sup­port for­um:

Pock­etEarth is designed for off­line use and makes it easy to avoid data roam­ing costs by allow­ing you to down­load maps and routes in advance and use them off­line, even with GPS.  Here is some inform­a­tion and sug­ges­tions to make sure you don’t get charged!

GPS usage is always free, how­ever down­load­ing data is often not!  To avoid expens­ive map down­loads, we recom­mend down­load­ing all of your des­tin­a­tions in advance from a WiFi con­nec­tion. Please see this for­um post for inform­a­tion on how to down­load entire coun­tries or regions with Pock­etEarth.
Once you have down­loaded all the maps you may need, you can dis­able down­load­ing to be sure Pock­etEarth won’t down­load any­thing. Just go to Set­tings > Net­work Mode and change it to Off­line Mode or WiFi Only.
Altern­ately, you may wish to pre­vent all of your apps from using up your lim­ited and expens­ive data plan, not only Pock­etEarth.  While the Air­plane Mode will cer­tainly do this, it will also pre­vent all GPS usage! For­tu­nately there is a bet­ter solu­tion which will still allow you to use the GPS in Pock­etEarth and oth­er apps while pre­vent­ing cel­lu­lar down­loads: In the device’s mainSet­tings App, just go to Gen­er­al > Net­work and dis­able either Cel­lu­lar Data com­pletely or just Data Roam­ing and it will pre­vent expens­ive data usage while trav­el­ing abroad.

Please note that using the GPS “off­line” (when both WiFi and Cel­lu­lar are unavail­able) works well, but may take longer to find your ini­tial loc­a­tion. From our exper­i­ence this is usu­ally 30–40 seconds, but in some cases can be up to 2 minutes.

My thoughts
Quite simply a no-brain­er pur­chase. For $2.99 (CAD) in the iTunes store, this is likely one of the best nav­ig­a­tion and map­ping pur­chases I’ve made. Reg­u­larly updated, com­munity sup­por­ted, and uses a lot of open data sources. Hard to beat that.

 

New Yahoo! weather app powered by Flickr makes bad weather look great!

Earli­er today Yahoo! launched a new iOS weath­er app that takes advant­age of the power of the crowd through a cool Flickr group; Pro­ject Weath­er.

The com­pany line:

Today, we’re shar­ing the Yahoo! Weath­er App for iPhone, iPod and iPod touch – a win­dow into the places you care about. We’ve brought togeth­er beau­ti­ful images from our Flickr com­munity to show you cur­rent loc­al con­di­tions, with all the details you want to know about the fore­cast. Instead of read­ing the weath­er, you can SEE the weath­er.

The neat thing is, any­one can con­trib­ute images to the Flickr group that appears in the back­ground of the app by con­trib­ut­ing to the open Pro­ject Weath­er group.

Our goal is to have amaz­ing pho­tos for every weath­er con­di­tion that cov­er the globe — morn­ing, after­noon, and night — across every city in the world, and we want your help. Wheth­er you’re simply a day­dream­er or an avid pho­to­graph­er, sub­mit pho­tos of your favor­ite places to our Flickr Group and your image can be seen by tens of mil­lions in Yahoo! Weath­er for iPhone. For more details, please go to Pro­ject Weather’s page on Flickr.

To my mind it looks like there’s anoth­er goal here too; to get more people using Flickr to com­pete with the instant weath­er shots on ser­vices like Ins­tagram, and grow the photographer’s audi­ence and reach with (poten­tially) more expos­ure.

As you can see from my screen­shot above, it’s a very clean and nicely designed app, with a look that takes advant­age of the great ret­ina dis­play on the new­est gen­er­a­tion iPhones.

Yeah, I’m try­ing it. Below is my shot for Cloudy Edmon­ton — we’ll see if it makes the cut and is accep­ted into the group 😉

Clouds in Edmon­ton.

And yeah, they’ve even provided a movie that gives more detail.

Colour me impressed — using iTunes to stream music to multiple devices simultaneously

Back in 2006 as part of a post on a new iPod Nano, I ven­ted on how broken iTunes was for my work­flow. Well, time has passed and iTunes has improved, but it’s still not as intu­it­ive or simple for me and my cent­ral­ized music setup:

  • File serv­er stor­ing my music
  • Remote play­back sys­tems in vari­ous rooms (Mac mini, Apple TVs, Air­port Express, etc)
  • Remote con­trol of said music stream

My big beef then was organ­iz­a­tion. iTunes was a pain and wanted to sync/manage my music on my behalf in a way that didn’t make sense to me. Well, that’s since been fixed.

My next beef was with the lack of sound syn­chron­iz­a­tion across mul­tiple devices as you play back. For example, if I wanted to play a song back on my Mac Mini, and have it stream *as well* to my kit­chen Apple TV, and my desktop com­puter sim­ul­tan­eously.

Pre­vi­ously, to achieve this I had to run a 3rd party applic­a­tion set on all my devices — a cool little app called Air­foil. Basic­ally you had the Air­foil ‘broad­cast’ app run­ning on whatever com­puter was actu­ally doing the play­ing. Air­foil grabbed the audio stream and sent it out to all the devices that it recog­nized either via the Air­foil Speak­ers app, or an Air­play device, or an iPhone / iPad. A minor pain, but it worked.

Back to iTunes

So, this morn­ing I dis­covered some­thing new in iTunes, you can now stream music to mul­tiple devices sim­ul­tan­eously. Yes, this may have appeared in a pre­vi­ous iTunes update but I hadn’t noticed it — so it’s new to me 😉

One of the neat things is that the Apple Remote app — a free iOS app to con­trol Apple TV or iTunes over a net­work — also passes through the mul­tiple device play­back fea­ture. This means you can sit on your couch and con­trol the sound on any of your play­back devices through out your home.

Second neat thing

iTunes Air­play con­nects to the Air­foil Speak­ers app run­ning on my Win­dows PC, let­ting me add my home office desktop into the sound mix.

Yes, it’s pretty cool to have music stream­ing through the entire house, in sync, as you walk from room to room.