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.