02 JUN

Apple Announces iOS 8 and Mac OS X ‘Yosemite’

by Marianne Schultz

desktop_ios8_iconAt the keynote event for its annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference today, Apple announced and previewed the next versions of the operating systems for its mobile devices and Macintosh computers. Both iOS 8 and Mac OS 10.10 Yosemite will be released to the public this fall and will be free of charge.

iOS 8 gets several major upgrades in basic functionality with changes to Siri, Spotlight search, and notifications. Siri can be invoked hands-free with the phrase “Hey, Siri” and will be able to offer song recognition and make purchases from the iTunes store. Spotlight will be able to search the App Store and provide information at a glance from sources like Wikipedia.

Notifications will be more interactive with actions possible without leaving the current app. For example, the notification for a new text message can be dragged downward and replied to immediately without needing to go the Messages app.

Apple is also offering developers more features that will allow them to share data between apps, show data on the lock screen within widgets, and and they will be able to use TouchID to protect apps (to unlock an app like Intuit’s Mint, for example).

Yosemite for Mac will feature a more streamlined interface, updates to Safari, Finder, and Mail, and even greater integration with iOS with Handoff, which lets users pick up editing a document easily when switching between an iOS device and a Mac. Sending files between Macs and iOS devices with AirDrop will also be possible with Yosemite.

iCloud Drive will store files in the cloud and synchronize automatically with users able to access files via Macs and iOS devices.

There are many more changes and new features and you can check out Apple’s press releases for iOS 8 and Yosemite if you want more details and marketing speak. I’m very excited for iOS 8 and the upgrades to Siri and notifications. What are you looking forward to most?

02 APR

Fantastical 2 for iPad Now Available

by Marianne Schultz

fantastical-2-ipad-iconFlexibits has released a version of its gorgeous and highly functional calendar app for iPad. Fantastical 2 for iPad debuted in the App Store this morning and offers the same natural language event creation feature that debuted in the Mac version plus the ability to display a month, list, and “day ticker” view all at once on the tablet’s larger screen.

Compared to the iPad’s stock Calendar app, Fantastical lets you see so much more at once in portrait or landscape mode. It even offers Reminders integration so you can create and edit Reminders and and see Reminders with due dates in any of the available views.

Here’s a promo video showing Fantastical 2 for iPad in action:

As shown in the promo video, scrolling through any of the elements in the Dashboard advances the other views as well, so you can quickly get a snapshot of an entire week when you select a specific day or list item. To create events, you can simply type (or dictate, if you have a dictation-compatible iPad) something like “Lunch with mom on Saturday” and Fantastical will create an event titled “Lunch with mom” at noon on the upcoming Saturday.

The Mac version of Fantastical first debuted in 2011 and it quickly became my preferred way to create and view events on my Mac. The iPhone version was released in late 2012 and it prompted me to move the stock Calendar app to a folder buried on a seldom-visited home page on every iPhone I’ve owned since it became available. Since then, Fantastical for iPhone and Mac has only gotten better and I’m thrilled to have it on my iPad now. If you’re looking for a highly functional and easy-to-use app to manage your calendar and reminders on your iPad, I highly recommend Fantastical. It’s on sale now at a special introductory price of $9.99 and will go up to its regular price of $14.99 soon, so go get it now before the price goes up!

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    Fantastical 2 for iPad -...

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    *** 50% OFF - FOR A LIMITED TIME *** The award-winning, best-selling calendar app has been redesigned and reimagined for your iPad with iOS 7. With the convenient Fantastical Dashboard, you’ll...

28 MAR

Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel for iPad Now Available

by Marianne Schultz

microsoft-word-ipadMicrosoft released its staple office applications – Word, PowerPoint, and Excel – in Apple’s App Store yesterday. The apps are free to download and use to view existing documents though document creation and editing require an Office 365 subscription, which costs $99 per year and allows use of the apps on up to five iPads.

Microsoft created this promo video to highlight the features of the new apps:

If you’ve been waiting for Microsoft Office to come to the iPad, this should make you one happy camper. I’m personally disappointed that a subscription is needed to create and edit documents and would much rather pay a one-time fee to get full use of the apps. However, Microsoft did make full use of the Office Mobile app for iPhone free with the release of the iPad apps, so that’s a bit of a consolation. You can download Microsoft Office Mobile for free and while you still need a free Microsoft account to use it, you won’t be spending any of your hard-earned cash to create and edit documents with it.

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    Microsoft Word for iPad

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    ** Read Word documents for free. To create and edit, an Office 365 subscription is needed. Office 365 also includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote on Macs or PCs. ** The real...

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    Microsoft PowerPoint for iPad

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    ** View and show PowerPoint presentations for free. To create and edit, an Office 365 subscription is needed. ** The real Microsoft PowerPoint app designed for iPad. Now your PowerPoint...

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    Microsoft Excel for iPad

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    ** View Excel spreadsheets for free. To create and edit, an Office 365 subscription is needed. ** The real Microsoft Excel app designed for iPad. Now your Excel spreadsheets look great on the iPad....

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    Microsoft Office Mobile

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    Microsoft Office Mobile is the official Office companion optimized for your iPhone. You can access, view and edit your Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint documents from...

27 FEB

Clear for iPhone and iPad Goes Free for 24 Hours

by Marianne Schultz

Clear for iOS 7 IconSince Apple doesn’t allow developers to charge additional money for app upgrades, their hands are tied when it comes to deciding how to handle significant changes to an app. Developers can either bite the bullet and just release an upgrade without earning any additional money from those who already purchased the app, or they can make it a completely new app such that even those who had purchased the old app now have to buy it again if they want it. Neither of these are great choices for developers who want to earn money for their time and effort and attempt to keep existing customers happy at the same time.


The original promo video for Clear

Realmac Software, one of the developers behind Clear, a gesture-driven list app released two years ago, ran up against this problem when updating Clear to add iPad support. At that time, Realmac released a new version, dubbed Clear+, so any existing users of the app had to buy it again to get iPad compatibility.

That decision didn’t sit well with those who had purchased the original version of Clear and Realmac is trying to make it right. As described in this letter, Realmac is making Clear free for two 24-hour periods. Realmac is going to return to a single, universal version of Clear and making it free allows those who purchased Clear+ to migrate to the original version, which will be the only one updated going forward, without paying again.

This the first 24-hour period when Clear will be free. It will go back up to $4.99 in the morning tomorrow, February 28, so click that Buy Now button below ASAP to get it for free.

Realmac will be offering Clear for free for 24 hours one more time in the near future, and we’ll let you know when that happens (you can also sign up to get notified via email directly from Realmac at the bottom of this page.)

Clear is still one of my most-used apps to hold my shopping and to do lists and it occupies a precious spot on the first home page of my iPhone. If you haven’t already tried it, now is an excellent time to give it a whirl.

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    Clear – Tasks, Reminders &...

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    Over 2 million people de-clutter their lives with Clear, so stop stalling and start organising your daily routine. Clear is the revolutionary to-do and reminders app that makes you more productive....

08 JAN

See Who’s at Your Door with SkyBell for iPhone

by Marianne Schultz

skybell-iconI’m intrigued by devices that you let you accomplish tasks that normally require your presence through a smartphone from anywhere in the world. Like the Nest thermostat that lets you adjust the temperature in your home or the Scanomat TopBrewer coffee maker that can make a latte for you, all through your iPhone. So Skybell, a doorbell with a built-in camera that will let you see and speak to whomever is at your front door, caught my eye and its companion iPhone app is now available in the App Store.

The SkyBell Doorbell app can automatically notify you when the SkyBell doorbell device senses motion at your front door or if someone rings the doorbell. Through the app, you can hear or speak to anyone there or simply pull up the live video feed if you just want to see what’s going on. Here’s the promo video showing SkyBell in action:

Skybell was first publicized through Indiegogo last fall where its creators started a campaign to raise funds to manufacture it. The project easily surpassed its funding goal though it seems to be experiencing the manufacturing and delivery delays common to new products with crowd-sourced funding. However, the appearance of the SkyBell Doorbell companion app in Apple’s App Store is surely a welcome sign for those who have ordered the product.

The SkyBell Doorbell app is free and works only with the SkyBell smart doorbell, which will set you back $199 unless you managed to order a discounted one through the Indiegogo campaign last year. You can order a SkyBell doorbell directly from the SkyBell site or through Amazon. If you get one, let us know how it works!

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    SkyBell Doorbell

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    Do you have a SkyBell video doorbell? If yes, download this free app and enjoy the latest innovation in home automation: answering your front door from your favorite iOS® devices. SkyBell, the...

05 NOV

Unlock Your Mac by Knocking on Your iPhone with ‘Knock’

by Marianne Schultz

knock-ios-iconAre you tired of entering your password to unlock your Mac? Or do you even forego setting up a password for your Mac to avoid the hassle of unlocking it? If you’re like me and tend to carry your iPhone with you everywhere, developer Knock Software released today a unique solution to unlock your Mac using a simple gesture and your iPhone and doesn’t require you to touch your keyboard.

With Knock installed on your iPhone, along with the free companion app for your Mac, all you need to do is knock twice on your iPhone to unlock your Mac. Sounds crazy easy, right? It is and it does work. Here’s a cute promo video for it:

How does it work? The answer is through the magic of Bluetooth Low Energy, a Bluetooth protocol present in Apple’s newest Macs and iOS devices. Through Bluetooth and the Knock app, your Mac will recognize when your iPhone is nearby. When you knock on your iPhone, this signals to Knock to unlock your Mac and it enters your password on your behalf. It works even if your iPhone itself is locked and is in your purse or pocket.

Setting up Knock is easy and the apps will walk you through the process which takes a minute or two. Once you’ve got it set up, Knock will remain active in your Mac’s menu bar to detect your iPhone and enter your password when you knock on it.

Click to enlarge

Knock is similar to Keycard, a Mac app I reviewed that pairs with your iPhone via Bluetooth and automatically locks it when you (and your iPhone) get out of Bluetooth range and unlocks it when you get back to your Mac. However, Knock is different in one key way – you have to prompt it intentionally, whereas Keycard relies only on the proximity of your iPhone to your Mac, which could result in unintentional locking or unlocking.

To use Knock you’ll need both a newer Mac and iOS device that have a Bluetooth 4.0 radio. For guidance on which Macs will work, check out Knock Software’s FAQ.

You can get the Knock app for your Mac for free straight from Knock Software’s site and you can get the iPhone app, which costs $3.99, from the App Store through the link below.

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    Knock – unlock your Mac...

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    Knock to unlock. Faster and safer than typing a password, for iOS and Mac. PLEASE CHECK TO SEE IF YOUR MAC IS COMPATIBLE BEFORE PURCHASING. Compatible Macs are listed in the screenshot below. You...

22 OCT

Apple Announces Fifth-Generation iPad and Retina Display iPad mini

by Marianne Schultz

iPadAir-iPadMini_34B2B_lock-blue_home-nebula-PRINT

At today’s media event, Apple announced the next generation models of its iPad and iPad mini tablets. The full-sized iPad is now called the iPad Air to recognize its thinner and lighter design compared to its predecessors and the iPad mini gets the higher resolution Retina display.

The full-sized iPad retains its 9.7-inch Retina display but gets a thinner casing at just 7.5 mm thick and weighing in at 1 lb. It will have Apple’s new 64-bit A7 processor, a 1.2-megapixel front-facing Facetime camera, and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera capable of recording 1080p HD video.

The iPad Air will come in two color combinations: silver/white and space gray/black. The new iPad Air will be available to ship and in Apple stores on November 1 and will start at $499 for the 16 GB model with Wi-Fi connectivity and $629 for the 16 GB model with Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity.

The new iPad mini revealed today gets a higher resolution Retina display and Apple’s new A7 processor as well. Like the iPad Air, it will also come in the white/silver and space gray/black color combinations. The 16GB iPad mini models will start at $399 for the Wi-Fi version and $529 for the Wi-Fi and LTE versions. Also like the iPad Air, the iPad mini will be available in capacities up to 128 GB.

The new iPad mini will be available for purchase in late November. The first-generation iPad mini will still be sold alongside the new models at a reduced price of $299 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi version and $429 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi and LTE version.

Apple also announced new information on the Mac Pro and changes to the MacBook Pro line and you can find more information at our sister site, MacRumors:

- Mac Pro Launching in December with Xeon Processors, Dual FirePro GPUs and PCIe Flash Storage

- Apple Updates Retina MacBook Pros With Updated Processors and Faster PCIe Flash Storage

If you’d like to see the video of the event yourself, it’s now available on Apples site here.

I’m excited to see a new iPad mini with a Retina display. I love my first-generation iPad mini and its only “fault” was its display compared to my iPad 3. However, that wasn’t enough to stop me from making it my go-to tablet for ebook reading and other tasks, leaving my iPad 3 to languish on a shelf for weeks at a time. Do you plan to get an iPad Air or new iPad mini?

22 OCT

Apple Releases OS X Mavericks Today as a Free Download

by Marianne Schultz

mac os mavericks iconAt its media event today, Apple announced that OS X Mavericks, the latest version of the Mac operating system first previewed at WWDC in June., will be available for download today in the Mac App Store for free. 

Mavericks is an incredible release, which introduces significant new apps and features, while also improving the performance and battery life of your Mac,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “We want every Mac user to experience the latest features, the most advanced technologies, and the strongest security. We believe the best way to do this is to begin a new era of personal computing software where OS upgrades are free.

Mavericks includes multiple features to improve battery life on Apple’s line of mobile computers as well as enhanced graphics handling, Finder capabilities, multi-monitor support, and more.

iBooks and Maps will come to the Mac in Mavericks and other existing apps have been redesigned and offer integration with iOS devices.

Previous versions of Apple’s Macintosh operating systems were priced at $29 in recent years and the change to $0 for Mavericks is a significant one for Apple. For additional information on the technical specs for Mavericks and compatible computer models, see this page.

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    With more than 200 new features, OS X Mavericks brings Maps and iBooks to the Mac, introduces Finder Tabs and Tags, enhances multidisplay support, and includes an all-new version of Safari. The...

15 OCT

Apple to Hold Media Event on October 22

by Marianne Schultz

Apple_oct_invite

Image courtesy of AllThingsD

As reported today by AllThingsD, Apple sent invitations to selected media outlets for an event to be held at 10:00 AM Pacific Time on October 22 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

The invitation states “We still have a lot to cover” and it’s widely expected that Apple will unveil new iPad models at this event. Mavericks, the next version of the Macintosh operating system that Apple first revealed in June should also get an official release date at the event and more information about the new Mac Pro models might be provided as well.

For an overview of all of the relevant rumors and everything known to date, check out these round-ups over at our sister site, MacRumors:

24 SEP

Find Apps Updated for iPhone 5s, iOS 7, and Game Controllers Easily on AppShopper

by Marianne Schultz

ios 7 iconWith the release of iOS 7 and the new iPhone 5s and 5c models last week, developers have been releasing updates to optimize their apps to take advantage of new features and technologies in each. If you upgraded to iOS 7 or got a shiny new iPhone, here are a few links you’ll find useful:

When iOS 7 was first revealed in June, Apple had announced that it would include support for game controllers made under the company’s MFi (Made for iPhone) program. These controllers are coming (Logitech will be releasing one and so will Clamcase) and some games have already been updated to work with Apple’s published specs for them. You can find them here.

All of these search links are live in that they reflect the most recent changes to apps as of the moment you click on them. They search the “what’s new” field in each app’s description so there is a margin of error there if a developer has mentioned any of these key words there but hasn’t actually updated their app accordingly, so heads up.