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!

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.

 

So. Google’s shutting down Google Reader

Frankly I’d not thought about my RSS read­ing pro­cess in a while. I use NetVibes (pic­tured above) as my main read­er, and it’s been pretty stable up until today; they pos­ted a note say­ing they’re deal­ing with an influx of new mem­bers — likely emig­rants from Google Read­er.

I like NetVibes because it gives me a simple head­line-in-a-tile view that makes it easy to quickly scan my news, and NetVibes man­ages my feed sub­scrip­tions.

This is where the pain will be felt by those using Google Read­er when the big G shuts it down. Many 3rd party apps for mobile devices use Google Read­er as the ‘sub­scrip­tion man­age­ment’ fea­ture of their app. When Google Read­er closes on July 1, these apps will have to have in place some sort of replace­ment for sub­scrip­tion man­age­ment, or they’ll break.

Update: If you’re look­ing to migrate your Google Read­er sub­scrip­tions to NetVibes, the team at NetVibes have this handy guide. (Thanks Randy!)

For now, this won’t impact me or my news­read­ing habits, but as I men­tioned at the top, I’m rethink­ing my RSS read­ing, and as Dave Wein­er states, rethink­ing my use of Free when applied to ser­vices I’m com­ing to depend on.

 

Review: Logitech Harmony 900 Universal Remote Control

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All things in life, as with the Force, have a Light Side and a Dark Side. The Logit­ech Har­mony 900 Uni­ver­sal Remote Con­trol has both.

A bit of a back­ground
I have a his­tory with Logit­ech Har­mony remotes and cur­rently own a Logit­ech Har­mony 720. I’ve always found them chal­len­ging to pro­gram and set up. As well, in my exper­i­ence, Logit­ech has nev­er really suc­ceeded in pair­ing ‘Activ­it­ies’ (watch­ing TV, listen­ing to streamed music, etc) with my devices or com­pon­ents. My wife sets up and main­tains our cur­rent Har­mony remote — I get frus­trated with it. :smileyvery-happy:

So, when I was offered the chance to take a look at the Logit­ech Har­mony 900 I was curi­ous. Has Logit­ech been able to address my con­cerns? Let’s find out… Con­tin­ue read­ing “Review: Logit­ech Har­mony 900 Uni­ver­sal Remote Con­trol”

New smart Wi-Fi Router review — Linksys EA2700

EA2700_500.jpg

Since the last time I looked at home Routers, home net­work­ing has got­ten more com­plex. These days, folks are hook­ing up almost everything to their home net­work, either wired or wire­lessly: game con­soles, audio sys­tems, tab­lets, hand­held gam­ing devices… the list goes on. And older routers have occa­sion­ally been cranky when mix­ing brands and types — caus­ing more net­work head­aches.

That being said, home net­work­ing just got much easi­er with the recent intro­duc­tion of the new smart Wi-Fi router lineup from Link­sys.

Over the next few posts, I’ll be look­ing at three mem­bers of this linup — start­ing with the power­ful Link­sys EA2700.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “New smart Wi-Fi Router review — Link­sys EA2700”

Powering your devices while on the go — Morphie Powerstation review

Earli­er this year, I atten­ded SXSWi (South by South­W­est inter­act­ive) and immersed myself in social media, gami­fic­a­tion, and tech­no­logy. Oh yeah, there was the odd party or two 😉

Being that this was my first time in Aus­tin, I relied heav­ily on my tech­no­logy to keep me on sched­ule and help me nav­ig­ate this unfa­mil­i­ar city. Using 4G was a treat, the best I get back home in Edmon­ton is 3G. But boy, does nav­ig­a­tion really suck up the band­width. And power!

Yet, in order to be effect­ive at that crazy SXSWi you have to be at all the events all over the con­ven­tion core. And the tech is on *all the time*.

Which meant that while I was mobile, I was using up my iPhone’s bat­tery faster than I nor­mally do.

Luck­ily for me, I’d taken the excel­lent advice of Liz Strauss and picked up a Morph­ie Juice box — basic­ally just a very smart, fast char­ging bat­tery box that’s pretty much the same size and shape as an iPhone 4.

And it works, as advert­ised. Kept me mobile and my devices in use — I wasn’t tethered to a wall out­let for sig­ni­fic­ant peri­ods of time — as many oth­er seemed to be.

Ini­tially char­ging the 400mAh bat­tery pack took around four hours, using my iPhone char­ger adapter and an included mini-USB cord. The Power­sta­tion doesn’t come with it’s own wall adapter; use your own.

Then, it’s basic­ally pack and for­get it, until you need to juice up your iOS device (yep, it’ll power an iPad too, but it won’t give you a full charge).

I didn’t test it on oth­er devices, but any­thing with a USB char­ging sys­tem could likely be powered. PCMag.com offers the fol­low­ing detail on that:

With its 4000mAh bat­tery, the Power­sta­tion helped a Droid RAZR get 5 hours, 13 minutes more of sol­id LTE stream­ing, and let an iPad 1 watch video for 4 hours, 16 minutes more than before.

Over­all I like it. Small, does what it advert­ises, and (as long as I remem­ber to charge it) is ready to power and charge my iOS devices when I’m out and about, and run­ning low. A good $70 invest­ment.