Google+ September 2013 ~ High Tech House Calls

9.7-inch iPad (2018) Review

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Get to know iOS 7: Meet Apple's new mobile OS by MacWorld Staff

iOS 7 is here, and it’s packed full of all sorts of features you don’t want to miss knowing about.

Update simplification
As with iOS 6, you’ll be able to update your device over the air using Settings > General > Software Update.

Update your device to iOS 7 for free starting September 18.

Once you do, you’ll have to answer some questions about your privacy, security, and iCloud settings. And if you just purchased a new iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, you may also be prompted to download your free copies of the iLife and iWork suite. iPhone 5s users will also be asked to map their fingerprint for Touch ID access.

iOS 7 and the iPhone 5s
If you’re planning on picking up an iPhone 5s in the near future, there are a few iOS improvements present on just your device.

Your iPhone 5s uses its Touch ID fingerprint scanner to let you purchase items on your Apple ID without a password.

Your built-in apps work more intelligently with your iPhone’s M7 processor: For example, Maps will be able to know when you’re driving or walking. The iPhone 5s also gets new Camera app features, and the Touch ID sensor allows you instant access to your device at all times with just your fingerprint.

New interface, new gestures
If you’ve seen anything at all about iOS 7, you’ll have noticed that it’s very different in appearance than any previous version of Apple’s mobile operating system. It has new fonts, icons and interfaces sport a flatter look, the OS plays with layers, and there’s not a scrap of rich Corinthian leather to be found.

If you like this look, we’re sorry to break it to you—Game Center’s green felt is gone.

Every stock iOS app receives a redesign, with some of the most significant changes coming to Safari, Calendar, Camera, Mail, and Messages. System features get major overhauls, too; even the lock screen has been vastly simplified, with edge-to-edge wallpaper and a design that forgoes widgets and buttons for straight-up text labels.

A few new gestures are present in iOS 7, as well. You can swipe up from the bottom of the screen for Control Center, pull down on the home screen for Spotlight, and swipe upward on an app while in the multitasking interface to force-quit an app.

System improvements
The interface isn’t the only thing changing in iOS 7—a bevy of new features also await users. We’ll go into them in greater depth in upcoming articles, but for now here’s a rundown of the major changes.

Multitasking
Apple has revamped multitasking completely. Not only can apps now take advantage of full background multitasking, but the multitasking bar of icons where you managed your currently running apps has said sayonara; a new multitasking carousel replaces it.

WHEEEEE! iOS 7’s multitasking interface presents a carousel with live-updating screens of your currently-running apps.

Double-press the Home button in iOS 7, and your current screen zooms out into a series of screens—each representing an app you were using—with the respective app icon below. You’ll be able to scroll through them, tap on one to enter that app, or swipe upward on a screen to force-quit the application.

Control Center
Through this iOS 7 feature, you can access many commonly used settings with the flick of a finger.

GROUND CONTROL Use Control Center to change often-used preferences and settings.

You can enable or disable Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Do Not Disturb; adjust the volume and brightness; pause or play music; enable AirDrop and AirPlay; and quickly access your camera’s LED light (for use as a flashlight), timer, calculator, and camera.

AirDrop
Speaking of AirDrop, Apple’s wireless file-sharing protocol is coming to the iPhone.

You can share files and images with nearby friends using AirDrop.

When you want to share images and files with friends nearby, just make sure they have AirDrop enabled (for contacts or for everyone, depending on your level of friendship); their contact image will then pop up in the share sheet.

Notification Center
iOS 6’s notifications clearinghouse gets an upgrade in iOS 7 with a new Today view that collects information about your current day.

Notification Center’s Today view tells you what you’re up to today.

There’s also a new Missed pane that provides a list of any notifications you haven’t yet reviewed.

Find My iPhone and Activation Lock
If you lose your iOS device running iOS 7, there’s some good news coming to you in the form of an update to Find My iPhone. Activation Lock is a new iOS 7 feature that forces would-be thieves to enter your iCloud name and password if they wish to erase and reactivate the lost iOS device.

Prevent a lost iPhone from falling into the wrong hands with Activation Lock.

And even after you’ve erased your device, your custom Find My iPhone lost message still displays on the screen.

Speech, speech
While Siri’s interface has changed, Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant also gets a little smarter and gains a bit more personality.

Siri has a new voice and new tricks in iOS 7.

U.S. English, French, and German users now have two voices to pick from—male or female—and those voices have dramatically improved speech processing.
Siri also now uses Bing search instead of Google; those results display in-line, though, and you can also search Wikipedia and Twitter. Tasks that Siri already handled to some extent have been improved, as well: Apple notes that the assistant can now return calls, play your voicemail, and control iTunes Radio, with more abilities rumored to await you when you finally get your hands on iOS 7.

Snapshots and sharing
The Camera app looks to have been both redesigned and beefed up in iOS 7: Not only has the gray interface of old gone the way of the dodo, but certain iOS devices will now have access to live camera filters, a square shooting mode, and faster shooting.

The new Camera app offers new filters for your images and a new Square mode.

On the Photos app side, you have a whole new way of displaying images. The app now sorts your pictures into Years, Collections, and Moments, with collections of images appearing as a mosaic of thumbnails. iCloud Shared Streams (née Shared Photo Streams) will let multiple people contribute items to the collection, and those people can add both images and video to the stream. You’ll also be able to see what your friends have posted recently in Shared Streams’ new Activity view.

Safari
The Safari browser on your iOS device scores some serious changes in iOS 7, too. Besides its new icon, the biggest changes in Safari are its new unified smart search field, a minimized interface, new swipe gestures to go back and forward, a new tabs view, shared links, and quicker access to private browsing.


Safari’s new tabs view offers a quick carousel of all your open webpages.

Also hidden inside Safari is a new place to store your saved passwords and credit card numbers, and also generate (and save) random passwords for new accounts. (This ties in with iOS 7‘s iCloud Keychain feature, which is not available at launch but coming soon.)

Music and iTunes Radio
Looking for a Pandora-like way to stream your music? iTunes Radio—built into the new Music app in iOS 7—lets you stream songs from featured stations and from those you create.

Apple’s iTunes Radio lets you listen to streaming music from all genres.

As with Pandora, you can tune your stations by giving iTunes Radio feedback on individual songs and on your stations themselves, and you can purchase any song currently playing for your library, if you don’t already own it. Unfortunately for international users, the service will be available only in the United States at launch.

App Store improvements
So long, update badge: The App Store of iOS 7 will offer automatic updates for your applications on Wi-Fi or cellular, so you never have to download an update manually again (unless you want to).

Updates now install automatically, with a ticking indicator on the app icon.

The App Store also replaces the Genius button with the Apps Near Me feature, allowing you to see what’s popular in your area, and adds a new Kids category (based on age) for parents to peruse.

Even more app changes
There are plenty of other app tidbits and features packed in iOS 7, including new Mail features, a redesigned Compass app, a revised Weather app, and more. We’ll have in-depth articles on every iOS 7 feature and updated app in the coming days; stay tuned!

2 great new Surface tablets unveiled: Why I won't be buying either one By James Kendrick for Mobile News

Summary: As expected, Microsoft recently unveiled the second generation Surface tablets with much improved hardware. Unfortunately, that's not enough to get me to buy one.



Microsoft is getting the hang of throwing device launch events. The debut of the new Surface tablets was an exciting affair that showcased the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, complete with great refreshed hardware. Both new tablets will have state-of-the-art hardware components when they become available October 22. As good as both Surface tablets look, they each lack something which will keep my wallet firmly in my pocket.

Surface 2
The Surface 2 tablet is the refreshed version of the original Surface RT. Of the two Surface models, the Surface 2 can be viewed as the true tablet. It will have the latest ARM chipset from Nvidia that will make the Surface 2 a real powerhouse.

The Tegra 4 used in the Surface 2 is especially good at running intensive games, so Microsoft has the opportunity to make the tablet a good gaming platform. It will easily handle non-game tablet apps so it's got the whole package.

Microsoft says the Surface 2 is less than 1.5 pounds so it's a decent size and weight for a tablet. Unfortunately, it seems to have the same casing as the Surface RT which I found to be uncomfortable to use in portrait orientation. That's my preferred method to use a tablet so I'd have to try the Surface 2 to see if it would work for me.

The hardware of the Surface 2 looks good but it's the software that kills the deal for me. The Windows RT software to be exact. Being an ARM device, Windows RT 8.1 is what will come with the Surface 2 and that's no good. I must have the ability to install desktop apps on my Windows tablets, specifically Chrome, and that's not possible with Windows RT. That kills the Surface 2 as a possibility for me, the same as it did for the Surface RT.

Surface Pro 2
The Surface Pro 2 is the most exciting of the two new tablets from Microsoft due to the updated hardware. It packs the latest Core technology from Intel, aka Haswell, and that should make the Surface Pro 2 more powerful while yielding almost double the battery life of the original Surface Pro.
The inclusion of the Haswell technology is significant as I've experienced with my MacBook Air. The Surface Pro 2 uses a faster 1.6 GHz processor compared to the 1.3 GHz in the MacBook Air and should get better performance. I get over 9 hours of battery life which should be slightly better than what the Surface Pro 2 will get due to the slower processor in the Air.

Everything inside the Surface Pro 2 indicates it should be a vast improvement over the original Surface Pro, so it should be a fantastic PC. And make no mistake, it is a full PC running Windows 8.1 so it has no limitations like the Windows RT packing Surface 2.

If the hardware of the Surface Pro 2 is so good why won't I buy one? It's the form factor that breaks the deal for me. Having used heavy Tablet PCs for years due to a lack of choice, I am no longer willing to sacrifice form for function.

The "about 2lbs" Microsoft is listing for the Surface Pro 2, which is the same as the Surface Pro, is too heavy for tablet use as far as I'm concerned. The times I've played with the Surface Pro clearly demonstrated that the tablet is too heavy and bulky for typical tablet use.

To be fair, Microsoft is clearly pitching the Surface Pro 2 as a laptop with tablet benefits. It is certainly that, but I'm not willing to compromise tablet use with any device.

My ThinkPad Tablet 2 is a fantastic tablet at 10 inches and 1.3lbs. Its form is vastly superior to the Surface Pro 2 for tablet use, and I won't buy the Surface for that reason.

Great tablets, just not for me
To be clear, I find both new Surface tablets to be made of great hardware and they are vast improvements over the first generation models. I am sure that many will find them to be good purchases, and snap one of them up. They will probably serve buyers well and will be highly competitive in the Windows laptop and tablet space. They're just not for me.

Roundup of Early iPhone 5S Reviews by Jim Karpen


 



Wow, the headlines in my RSS reader suggest the new iPhone 5Ss is being very well received, with lots of superlatives. Here's the respected John Gruber on the Daring Fireball website: "This is what innovation, real innovation, looks like." He rebuts arguments that Apple has lost the ability to innovate and argues that the refinements in the iPhone 5S show real innovation. He offers a very detailed review of the camera, Touch ID, and the 64-bit architecture, including benchmarks showing how much faster the iPhone 5S is than the iPhone 5.


And here's TechCrunch: "With the iPhone 5S, Apple once again wins the right to claim the title of best smartphone available." The review covers the phone's basics, design, features (Touch ID, M7 motion coprocessor), display, software, camera, performance, and battery.
Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal also raves about the new phone, calling it the "best smartphone on the market," praising both the hardware and the software. He finds the Touch ID fingerprint sensor reliable, and says this version of Siri is much improved.

USA Today takes a look at the new features and new software and concludes, "The iPhone 5S makes the best smartphone even better." The review says the biggest change with the new phone, though, is iOS 7.

And if you want an encyclopedic review of the iPhone 5S, check out the one by AnandTech—all 13 pages of it. You get an analysis of every last detail, but especially the processor. A number of benchmark tests show that the iPhone 5S is indeed the speediest phone on the market, with the review referring to the A7 processor as "seriously impressive." The review refers to the phone as "future proof," meaning that the processor is so powerful that it will be a long while before the phone becomes obsolete.

David Pogue of the New York Times is equally bullish: "Apple still believes in superb design and tremendous polish. The iPhone is no longer the only smartphone that will keep you delighted for the length of your two-year contract—but it’s still among the few that will." He reports that in his experience so far, the Touch ID works flawlessly and is superior to other fingerprint sensors he's tried.

Engadget says that the 4-inch screen on the iPhone 5S isn't large enough for some people. But for those who like a phone with a screen smaller than 4.5 inches, the 5S is "the best small phone you can get." The review particularly praises the camera and the 64-bit processor.

Apple has done well. It's great to see the appreciation these reviewers have for Apple's focus on refining the phone and making it the best. And it's fun to see the benchmark tests showing that it is indeed the fastest phone out there.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Video Tour of Apple's New iPhones courtesy MacWorld magazine