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13May/13Off

Facebook for iOS updated with enhanced photo options

Facebook for iOS updated with enhanced photo optionsFacebook today updated its iOS app to version 6.1. Overall, the update is rather minor but it does add some welcome enhancements to the way photos are handled within the app.

Under the previous version of the Facebook app, users were only able to comment, like or tag a photo. With the new update, however, users can now make a photo their profile picture with a single tap. Even more exciting is that users can now share photos they stumble across on their own timeline or on the timeline of friends. Other additions to the update include improved places editing when checking in on the iPhone and faster loading of events.

Here's a quick run through.

Here's how photos showed up in the previous version of Facebook.

Facebook for iOS updated with enhanced photo options

Not much you can do here, aside from like, comment or tag.

But with Facebook 6.1 up and running, here's how photos now appear.

Facebook for iOS updated with enhanced photo options

When you select the three dots above, the following screen appears.

Facebook for iOS updated with enhanced photo options

Finally! More photo options. From here, users can share photos from their iOS device as easily as they can on the desktop.

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogFacebook for iOS updated with enhanced photo options originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 13 May 2013 20:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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13May/13Off

Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad: Review and giveaway

The next entry in our seemingly endless parade of new iPad keyboard cases is the Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad (US$129.99). This case, which works with the second- through fourth-generation iPads, has some new features that make it attractive as a full-time companion for your tablet.

Design

Like the the recently-reviewed iPad Keyboard Folios from Logitech, the Ultimate Keyboard Case is designed for full-time use on your iPad, protecting the back of the device while providing a flip-out keyboard for easy data entry.

The keyboard in this case is backed with a nicely-designed aluminum shell, and uses black keys with white lettering. The iPad cover is kind of an odd affair -- it's made of what feels like hard polyurethane around the sides, but the "hinge" that connects it to the keyboard and allows the iPad to be placed into three different positions is made of a much thinner flexible plastic with a faux leather look.

That thin plastic makes it possible for this keyboard to be only 6.4 mm thick. That's pretty incredible, beating the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover at 9.96 mm.

There are generous openings around the camera, switches and ports, and a nice touch for those who want to be able to hear sound from their iPad while typing -- a small channel for directing sound from the speaker to the ears of the typist.

Like the Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio, the Ultimate Keyboard Case automatically senses when the iPad is flipped into typing position and turns on the keyboard. When the iPad is moved to a "tablet" position or closed, the keyboard turns off. This helps the battery run for up to 160 hours between charges and stay viable for up to 1,900 hours (6 months) in standby mode. It uses a USB to microUSB cable for charging.

As mentioned earlier, the iPad can be magnetically "locked" into three different positions (all in landscape mode) for typing, so getting the screen adjusted to resolve a reflection is a piece of cake.

Functionality

Weight-wise, the Ultimate Keyboard Case tops the scales at 14.7 ounces. That means the iPad/case combo is almost exactly the same weight as an 11" MacBook Air -- 2.39 pounds versus 2.38 pounds. That's quite a bit lighter than the Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio (2.69 pounds) and the needs-to-go-on-a-diet Logitech Keyboard Folio for iPad (2.82 pounds). If the amount of weight you lug around is important to you, the Ultimate Keyboard Case might make your day.

When using the Ultimate Keyboard Case on a table or desktop, I found it to work just fine. The keys seem to be spaced almost identically to the ones on my Apple Wireless Keyboard, and unlike the keys on the Logitech keyboard folios they are much more standard. In other words, I don't need to type a fn-Q to hit the tab key, nor does going into Caps Lock require a fn-A.

Using the Ultimate Keyboard Case in my lap was a different matter. I found that even the slightest jar made the iPad flop down into my lap. The magnets that hold the iPad in place just don't seem to be as strong as those on the Logitech cases. That, coupled with the rather flimsy plastic "hinge", seems to be a strong warning to users to keep this thing on a table or desk.

One feature I did like a lot was the addition of three keys to the bottom row -- a microphone key for use with Siri dictation on the iPad, an @ key next to the space bar (perfect for typing internet URLs), and a key to change to an alternative virtual keyboard like the popular Emoji keyboard.

I was very impressed with the SoundFlow design of the iPad holder. At the same volume level, the perceived volume was noticeably louder with the case installed than when it was off. That's a real plus if you like listening to music while working on your iPad.

Conclusion

While the support of the Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case seems a bit wobbly for laptop use, this is a strong competitor to Logitech's recent product launches. The slightly lower price tag, ability to prop the screen in three different positions, SoundFlow design and keyboard layout are all points in favor of Belkin's latest keyboard folio.

Pros

  • Lighter than the Logitech Keyboard Folios recently reviewed by TUAW
  • Ultrathin; it's hard to believe it's a keyboard case
  • Excellent feel to the keyboard, with no function key required to use tab or caps lock functions
  • Helpful keys for Siri dictation and changing keyboards
  • Less expensive than the Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio
  • Can be "locked" into any one of three positions while typing
  • Auto on/off feature works very well

Cons

  • Thin plastic prop on the back of the iPad case doesn't work well when using the case in a lap
  • Does not offer as much protection as the Logitech folios we recently reviewed

Who is it for?

  • Anyone who wants a fairly lightweight iPad keyboard folio case with good keyboard feel, automatic on/off features and a standard keyboard layout.

Giveaway

We're giving away our review Ultimate Keyboard Case to a lucky TUAW reader. Here are the rules for the giveaway:

  • Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
  • To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
  • The entry must be made before May 17, 2013 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected and will receive a Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad valued at $129.99.
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.

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TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogBelkin Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad: Review and giveaway originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 13 May 2013 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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12May/13Off

ABC to add live streaming to iPad app this week, for a few and with a catch

Ahead of ABC's spring upfront this coming Tuesday, May 14 ("upfronts" are the glitzy network presentations to get advertisers revved up about the coming season's programming), the New York Times' Brian Stelter found a scoop that has more to do with how we watch TV than which programs we watch.

Disney's ABC network plans to revise its iPad/iPhone app lineup by Tuesday to include free live streaming of ABC channels for viewers in two Northeast cities. The live streaming feature, which will appear as a "live" button in a new Watch ABC app (akin to ABC-owned ESPN's Watch ESPN app) set to replace the the existing ABC Player app, will be available to customers in New York and Philadelphia who can verify that they have access to ABC via a cable or satellite subscription.

GigaOm says that the service's requirement for pay TV subscription will kick in after a six-week introductory period, where it will be open to all comers. According to that post, the ABC live encoding will be powered by the same upLynk hybrid local/cloud streaming technology that's currently at work behind the company's Watch Disney app.

Stelter notes that ABC's programming currently appearing on ABC.com and Hulu Plus may be curtailed in the future, with longer delays before free-to-stream episodes appear; the most current content would be reserved for pay TV subscribers. This would undoubtedly drive cord-cutters somewhat batty.

The streaming feature will be iOS-only for now, and limited to those two markets (where the affiliate stations are owned by the parent company) while the network negotiates with affiliates in other cities. The first affiliate deal, with Hearst Television, will soon add live streaming to 13 additional cities like Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Kansas City and Honolulu. Having NYC be one of the first launch markets means that ABC must be rooting for the New York Knicks (currently down 2-1 in a playoff series with Indiana) to go deep into the NBA playoffs, which the network is carrying this year.

This isn't the first device-centric live television play, by any means. Most US cable, satellite and fiber providers offer some flavor of live channel streaming, with varying marquee features and limitations. Some, like Time Warner Cable and Xfinity, restrict all-you-can-stream access to the subscriber's home WiFi network and offer a more limited channel lineup on the move. Verizon's FiOS app streams plenty of popular pay-TV channels but no network content. In the case of ABC's live channel stream, the branding for the network can move completely out from under the program provider's umbrella; that way, there are fewer distractions to lure eyeballs away from ABC's live and library content.

Customers with Dish Anywhere and the sleek Dish Explorer programming discovery app from the satellite TV provider may have the most flexibility: the company's Sling technology actually restreams anything the Dish receiver can show, including live TV on any channel or recorded DVR programming. (Most DVR recordings can even be transferred from the Dish Hopper receiver onto the iPad for later viewing, which would require an EyeTV or other approach with most providers.) But this approach does require plenty of home bandwidth, and can tie up your receiver; ABC's stream doesn't have those drawbacks.

If over the air TV is your thing, there are several iPad options out there. EyeTV's EyeTV Mobile adapter, for $99, adds an antenna to your tablet and delivers programming via the Dyle digital broadcast system. The MCV consortium behind Dyle includes NBC, Fox and Telemundo (but not ABC), so those networks are generally represented and available on the system. The legally challenged but still eagerly expanding startup Aereo doesn't share those channel limits; anything an antenna can see in the NYC metro area, Aereo will gladly deliver to your iPad or desktop browser for a monthly $8 fee. Aereo's one-antenna-per-user model is being contested by the networks, but so far they've not been able to put together a compelling legal case to stop the company from providing its service; in fact, it's expanding to Boston this month.

In many ways, ABC's move (which the network says was shifted up from a planned 2014 rollout; "We watch how people are behaving with their devices, and we really felt that we needed to move faster," said Disney/ABC Television Group co-chair Anne Sweeney) is of a piece with these other new-world-order programming options. Consumers are getting their television content via all sorts of pathways, and fewer and fewer of them are tied to a traditional primetime lineup at the network's convenience. Even this circumscribed step away from the default delivery of TV, with its leash of a pay subscription, says a lot about ABC's willingness to ride the wave forward rather than fighting to keep a hold on the status quo.

[Although the Steven P. Jobs Trust, led by the Apple co-founder's widow Laurene Powell Jobs, owns some 7.7 percent of Disney/ABC's outstanding shares, regulatory filings noted by Bloomberg suggest that the trust has no intention to influence Disney/ABC operations. -Ed.]

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogABC to add live streaming to iPad app this week, for a few and with a catch originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Sun, 12 May 2013 21:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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3May/13Off

Origin Stories: Naturespace

I've always been a sucker for soundscapes -- those looping sound effect CD's that whisk you away to the beach, or a rainforest or whatever. As I have a hard time "shutting down" my brain, these sounds give me something to get lost in and focus on, helping relax me. I think it's the same way for a lot of people, but when I introduce them to Naturespace's audio by way of their app, they are blown away. Naturespace captures incredible 3D audio and puts a vast library of it at your fingertips.

If you've never tried the app, I highly recommend you download it. The free samples which come with it are enough to get you started, but since the App Store's debut the Naturespace team has consistently grown the in-app purchase content. There's now a dizzying array of sounds, from the real to the imaginary. In fact, there are now two apps but one, Thunder God, focuses solely on thunderstorms.

Naturespace, at our request, made a video to explain where they got started. It actually began before the iPhone. But I'll let them tell the story in this fantastic edition of Origin Stories.

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogOrigin Stories: Naturespace originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 03 May 2013 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2May/13Off

Ailing UK School Makes Dramatic Turnaround

A new video profiles Essa Academy, a once struggling school in one of the most disadvantaged areas of England. New principal Showkat Badat has reinvented the school as a hub of technology-assisted learning, and helped incorporate an ecosystem of Apple products, including iPad, Mac, and iTunes U, into the classrooms. The students’ excitement about the technology and direct access to information is reflected in dramatically improved test scores. Since adopting the technology, Essa went from a 28 percent pass rate to 100 percent. “I don’t see technology as an add-on, a nice option to have,” says Badat. “It’s what enables learning and creates an environment that sparks creativity.”

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2May/13Off

iOS 6 devices get DoD approval for US government use

The US Department of Defense will soon approve the iPhone and iPad for use by military agencies for non-classified communications, reports The Wall Street Journal. The approval will only be for devices running iOS 6 or higher. According to the WSJ:

Separately, DISA [The Defense Information Systems Agency] is expected to rule in early May that Apple's latest operating system, iOS 6, conforms to a different security-requirement guide, the Defense Department spokesman said. That would allow iPhones and iPads to be used by military agencies for non-classified communications, such as email and Web browsing.

The Journal also reports that certain Samsung devices, like the Galaxy S 4, will receive the same approval. As the US Department of Defense has the largest employee pool of any government agency, and third-party security companies employ hundreds of thousands of people in the US, DoD approval for iOS devices could give a boost to sales in those industries.

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogiOS 6 devices get DoD approval for US government use originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Thu, 02 May 2013 10:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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30Apr/13Off

Apple is Tops When It Comes to Computer Tech Support

According to the latest Consumer Reports reader survey, Apple tops the list of brand-name computer manufacturers for the quality of its tech support, far surpassing other large companies. The report points to “ease of contacting staff, clarity of advice, technical knowledge, patience, and time for follow-up” in the phone and online support areas. Service at the Genius Bar rates equally highly. In addition, Apple improved on its own scores from last year’s survey.

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29Apr/13Off

Google Now added to search app on iPhone, iPad

Google Now and voice search available for iPhone, iPadGoogle has updated its search app for iOS to version 3, adding a tool that until this point was available only on devices running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or better -- Google Now. Now adds some impressive features to your device. As Google notes, it adds "the right information, at just the right time" to your iPhone or iPad.

Back in March, a very official-looking promo video for Google Now on iOS leaked out. The same video is prominently featured in the new version of Google's app, so it seems that it was legit.

To enable Google Now, update or install the Google Search app, sign in and then swipe up from the bottom of the display screen. Google includes a short video explaining how the app works, providing "cards" full of contexual information where and when you need it.

If you're about to drive to work, the app can tell you how long it's going to take to get there and route you around traffic. If you're near a public transit station, you may get information on when the next train leaves, and if you're heading out on a trip you may well see your flight info displayed in a card.

Google's powering Now by looking into your data on other Google services (calendar, search, contacts and maps among them) so if this sort of oversight makes you twitchy, you can choose not to turn the Now capability on in the search app.

Gallery: Google Search 3.0.0 with Google Now

Voice search has improved in the new app. Previously, users could tap a microphone icon to enter search terms; not that exciting, really. Now you can pretty much ask Google Now anything and get responses almost immediately -- the service both seems to understand your requests better and responds faster than Apple's own Siri, so it will be a great addition to the iPhone for those of us who like to carry on conversations with our handheld devices.

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogGoogle Now added to search app on iPhone, iPad originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 29 Apr 2013 11:05:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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27Apr/13Off

iMessage bug may be truncating last word of specific phrases

ImageThe Verge directs our attention to an extremely curious bug in iMessage which works to erase the last word of certain sent messages. The end result is that some messages appear truncated to both the sender and the recipient.

For example, two phrases which bring the issue to light include "I could be the next Obama " -- with an empty space following the 'a' -- and "The best prize is a surprise".

While a thread on Apple's support forums claims that the issue only manifests when a message is sent from iMessage on a Mac to an iPhone, I was able to replicate the bug using iPhones exclusively.

So just what, exactly, is going on here?

Well, a user on a MacRumors forum writes that the bug rears its bizarre head when the cumulative width of the characters used in a message is at a certain length.

You can test it out, and even if you change "I could be the next Odama " as the phrase it still gets deleted. The problem is that the message app, thinks the phrase will fit in a one line bubble, but it actually puts the last word on a hidden second line. It works with these two phrases because they are the exact width needed, and it is not based on character count, but character width. For example, "l" is skinner than a "w".

So rest easy, folks. Apple, it would appear, does think you can be the next Obama and certainly wants you to know what the best prize is.

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogiMessage bug may be truncating last word of specific phrases originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Sat, 27 Apr 2013 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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24Apr/13Off

Apple Worldwide Developers Conference to Kick Off June 10 in San Francisco

Apple announced that it will hold its annual
Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) June 10 through June 14 at San Francisco’s Moscone West. At the five-day conference, developers from around the world will learn about the future of iOS and OS X. WWDC will also feature more than 100 technical sessions presented by over 1,000 Apple engineers and hands-on labs to help developers integrate new technologies. And the popular Apple Design Awards will showcase the most outstanding apps available through the App Store and Mac App Store. Tickets for this year’s WWDC go on sale Thursday, April 25, at 10 a.m. PDT.

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