Showing posts with label ios8. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ios8. Show all posts

Friday, 17 October 2014

Apple iPad Air 2 review: Hands-on





But as Tim Cook said, how can you improve on what people were calling the best tablet on the market? It’s not like it can get much thinner or slimmer while preserving the screen size, right?
Well, no. Wrong. The new iPad Air 2 is 18% thinner than before – almost to the point of it being worth risking it without a case, such is the impressive frame on offer here.
Well, if you're one of those that is only going to use this tablet at home, then the good news is it's the perfect thing for it.
The iPad Air 2 is very much the darling of the Apple ball, with the thinner frame dazzling in the hand, and the chamfered edges adding a new premium edge.
Sure, there's not a lot different here, but what can Apple really do? The thinness and the weight of the tablet makes it very tactile indeed, and the new camera will (unfortunately) entice a new wave of users to start using the new iPad Air as a camera.
The really cool thing about using the iPad Air 2 is the screen is enhanced on a tech level - the amount of air in between each component has been reduced to zero, according to Apple at least.
The result is richer colours and fewer reflections - and at least comparing it to the iPad mini 3, which is essentially the iPad mini 2 rebadged, it's much easier to view web pages and whizz around on the Air 2.
The other big thing that go me slightly excited, although for no reason, is the A8X processor included. I say for no reason simply because there's nothing right off the bat that really can make full use of it - but the demos we saw of real time video editing with really rather powerful effects certainly impressed.

Early verdict

The iPad Air 2 is the perfect tablet for those that have been holding on to an older device and are quietly hoping their loved one picks up on the subtle hints to buy them a new slate this Christmas.
Sure, it's not a massive upgrade on the original iPad Air, but for the swathes of people that didn't buy that model but fancy a new device, this is the perfect mix of longer battery and improved design in a class-leading tablet.

Apple iPad mini 3 review: Hands-on


Coming in at £319, it's the same price as last year's model, but where that was the iPad Air shrunken down into  more impressive frame, this time we've got, well, the same the iPad but with the ability to check it's your finger.
That means no zero-gap screen, no improved A8X chip (the mini 3 is stuck on the old A7 that debuted last year) and while the new iOS 8.1 update brings time lapse and panorama to the mix, the slow motion video is gone due to the lack of grunt.
There are some upgrades here: you can now get it in gold and the shell is slightly refined with a chamfered edge along with an improved back.
But beyond that, there's very little on show here that makes it easy to see where the extra cash is coming from, especially when last year's model is now on sale for a lower price. The TouchID extra does allow you access to more secure apps, as well as paying for goods with your digit from the sofa, but beyond that it's hard to see who would want the new model when the cheaper one is out.

Early verdict

It's hard to work out the iPad mini 3. It's a good tablet only in the sense that the last model was very good indeed. But where that stunned by shrinking down the awesome bits of the iPad Air into a tiny frame, the iPad mini 3 is just a rebadged version that brings a fingerprint scanner into your life.
The full review of the tablet might reveal some hidden treasures, but for now it's hard to see who would want the iPad mini 3 when the older version still exists on the market.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Apple's new iOS 8 is now available

The iPhone 6 might still be locked up, but its new OS has well and truly debuted...
Apple's shiny new mobile operating system - iOS 8 - has gone live and is ready to download and install on iDevices everywhere.
The new UI is built for Apple's upcoming iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and, in typical Apple fashion, has landed just before the actual device launch.
There's a whole raft of new features shipping with the latest OS, with the file size weighing in at around 1.1GB.
As an aside, iPhone users will need at least 5.7GB of storage free on their devices to update over WiFi. Not cool.
First up in the addition smorgasbord is the photo improvements. The new OS brings time-lapse video recording, front-camera burst mode, smart album directories, more editing tools, and search functionality for your library.
iOS 8 also brings a quick-type keyboard, which should personalise itself to your writing style by offering smart predictive text.
There's also Health, which offers up plenty of fitness data, the ability to add a 'Medical ID' for allergies and medical conditions, and ways to share all of your health data.
The new Family Sharing will allow you to push love to your household, giving iOS 8 users the option to share iTunes (that's apps, too) and iBooks purchases with up to six of your kin.
There's plenty of other goodies too, including improvements to Siri, Safari, Maps, Mail, and the App Store, as well as the usual bug fixes you'd expect.
It's worth mentioning that the new OS is assuredly demanding on your system, and so you might find your phone running slower than usual if you're using an old model like the iPhone 4S.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

iOS 8 vs. Android 4.4: Does Apple finally have the edge?

iOS 8Just as expected, Apple took the wraps off the newest version of iOStoday at WWDC, and it looks a lot likeiOS 7, at least on the surface. The improvements in iOS 8 are a bit more low-level than the fundamental UI redesign we saw last year, but it’s a big release nonetheless. Once again, Cupertino is chasing Android, and it definitely catches up in some areas. As Apple likes to say, this is the best version of iOS yet. Still, can it do anything to slow Android’s explosive growth?

Actionable Notifications

Apple has been trying to fix iOS notifications for a very long time and only recently got to a place where it was comparable to Android. For all its early issues, Android has always had great notifications. Beginning with Android 4.1, Google added the ability for developers to add actionable buttons to notifications. Now Apple is doing the same thing, but it goes a bit further.
Android uses expandable lines in the notification shade to keep notifications with buttons and text from taking up too much space. Apple’s buttons in iOS 8 seem to be expanded all the time, but they include quick-reply capability. For example, if you get a message while in another app, the banner that drops down includes a reply button that lets you type a response from the drop-down without leaving your current app. This is, of course, something that can be accomplished with various third-party tools on Android, but Apple’s native functionality is a step beyond Android here.
Notifications Android
One remaining pain point with iOS 8 notifications is the continued apparent lack of a single button to clear all active items. As before, you need to empty out one section of notifications at a time. With Android, there’s a simple clear all icon on all devices.

Spotlight Search

With iOS 8 (and the updated OSX) Apple is finally putting that universal search patent to use after suing everyone over it a few years back. Pulling down the search bar in iOS 8 will now offer instant search across a number of different services. It will find apps installed on the device, messages you’ve received, and songs in your library. However, it also reaches out and lists content on iTunes, movie showtimes, maps, and more.
Android’s search UI varies a bit depending on the device, even as of Android 4.4. This is partially because of who was and wasn’t targeted by Apple’s patent suits a few years back, but Google’s default search app has unified things a bit. Basically, you get results from the web and your personal content (local and cloud) when you start typing. To get more, you can flip between various categories like apps, images, books, and other online content.
Android can do all the same things iOS Spotlight Search does — it’s just organized differently. However, any convenience lead Apple might claim in typed searches I feel is more than compensated for on the Android side by Google Now. Google’s predictive search stuff is getting scary good at times. It pulls content from your data like plane tickets, shipping confirmations, and appointments to show you what you need before you’ve even typed anything. Spotlight still can’t touch this.

Continuity Mode

Apple’s new Continuity framework seeks to make your iOS and OS X devices feel interconnected — like a single continuous client. With iOS 8, you can work on a document or look at a web page on one device, then pick up another one and easily pick up where you left off. Android does some of this, but it’s not presented as cleanly or consistently. It is, however, more universal.
Google’s services are much more focused on the web, so you can easily pick up browser tabs, documents, and other content across devices. You have to know where to go, but it does work. The upshot is that Google’s synchronization features work on all devices, even those running iOS. Apple’s Continuity platform is restricted to its devices running the newest version of the desktop and mobile software.
Apple also added the ability for messaging and calls to operate in a more interconnected way on its devices. If you get a call on your iPhone, your Mac or iPad can be used to see who’s calling and even act as a speakerphone to take the call. Regular SMS messages are also relayed through the new Continuity system so you can see them on other iDevices.

QuickType and big input changes

Apple’s keyboard used to be the best touchscreen typing experience, but in recent years the likes of SwiftKey, Swype, and others have given Android users something to cheer about. Apple is upgrading its own keyboard with iOS 8, which is nice, but the big change comes with the opening up of iOS input to third parties — finally.
The default iOS 8 keyboard will have a feature called QuickType, which is simply Apple’s way of saying it has added word prediction to the typing experience. Yes, Android’s default keyboard has had this for years. Unlike some other keyboards, the iOS solution will allegedly be smart enough to choose words based on who you’re talking to. So, it might suggest a more mature set of words when you’re sending an email to your boss than when you’re making plans with friends for happy hour. No sighting of swipe input on the stock iOS keyboard, but maybe you won’t need it.
KeyboardsIf that’s just not good enough for you, Apple will be letting third-party developers become the default keyboard on iOS 8 as part of the extension framework (more on that later). You can imagine the folks behind SwiftKey, Swype, and other Android-centric keyboards cheered their heads off at that one. When the user sets a third-party keyboard as the default, it is cut off from accessing the network, which is asmart security measure. The user can grant network access as needed, though.
The customizability of Android’s default app scheme has long been a big selling point, and it’s very encouraging to see Apple adopt that model, even just a little bit.

Metal for gaming

OpenGL has been the standard for 3D gaming on mobile devices — both Android and iOS — for years now. The way Apple tells it, though, OpenGL is getting too heavy for its own good and the overhead is hurting the games. That’s why Cupertino is releasing Metal to developers.
Metal is a new graphics API that will allow games to render with much higher efficiency than they ever could with OpenGL. The demos did look very impressive with realistic physics and more triangles than you can shake a polygon at, though the scenes still looked a little sterile. It’s possible lighting effects with Metal weren’t ready to go in time for the keynote.
There’s nothing like Metal on Android — developers there will continue using OpenGL unless Google comes up with some alternative. iOS has been ahead in the gaming sphere for its entire history, so this isn’t so much about catching up to Android as it is widening the gap. Metal might also make it that much more annoying for developers to port games to Android in the first place. Maybe that’s part of Apple’s dastardly plan?
It’s also interesting to note that, with Mantle, DirectX 12, and GameWorks, nearly every major vendor is now working on a “low-overhead” 3D graphics implementation. It would be nice if they could all agree on one standard…

App Extensions

While it was explained in the “developer” section of the iOS 8 reveal,Apple’s new Extension framework might result in the biggest user-facing improvements to the iDevice ecosystem once developers are turned loose. The third-party keyboard support mentioned above is just one way Apple is going to use app extensions to make iOS 8 more Androidy.
At its most basic level, iOS 8 Extensions are about allowing apps to mingle without leaving their private sandboxes. Android apps have always been able to interact freely, but Googlehas been reigning some of that in over the years. Apple is trying to find a way to get data and features from one app into the other without introducing security holes, and the result is Extensions.
Developers will be able to pipe bits of their UI and features into other apps using this system, which could allow for a huge number of truly interesting implementations. Some of the features Apple demos include inserting more sharing options into AirDrop, custom photo editing, and building widgets for Notification Center. All awesome features that we saw in Android some time ago (i.e. the open sharing menu and rich third-party notifications). Android 4.4 also strengthened the cross-app file picker, which is something iOS 8 is doing now with custom document handler.
Depending on how much functionality developers get with extensions, this could go a long way toward making iOS more customizable and dynamic.

All the small things

iCloudThe iOS 8 announcement also came with the usual array of smaller feature additions, some with direct Android analogs and some without. Case in point, photo editing has been enhanced with easier controls. It’s not quite as simple as Google’s Auto-Awesome pictures, but you get more control. iOS 8 essentially lets you choose from a slider how you want the image to look, and it twiddles the individual knobs for you.
All those photos can also be dropped into the newly improved iCloud Drive. You get 5GB for free, then it’s $1 per month for 20GB and $4 for 200GB, with additional tiers from there up to 1TB. Android users have the tightly integrated Google Drive service, which is an even better deal starting at $2 per month for 100GB.
All that stuff you’re saving in iCloud can also be plugged into the new Family Sharing system. Up to six people/devices can access each other’s purchased content and see a shared photo stream. Parents can also use this to grant authorization to buy and download content remotely. This is decidedly unlike anything on Android, unless you include the Kinde Fire HDX tablets, which pretty much no one does.
iOS 8 messaging is getting smarter too with improved group chat features like muting and easier ways to send voice and picture messages. This is more of a swipe at WhatsApp than Android, though.

Is Android threatened?

Android KitKatThe new iOS looks much the same on the surface, but the under-the-hood improvements are impressive. Better search, enhanced notifications, and Continuity will help to bring iOS 8 closer to Android while extras like fastergaming with Metal widen Apple’s lead.
Android has a huge market share, and that’s not changing anytime soon. Apple has succeeded in making its platform more appealing, but it’s still iOS. To really steal committed Android users away, we’ll have to wait and see if Extensions can unleash developers to build advanced features for those who want them. That might be Apple’s greatest weapon going forward. Android is due for a big shakeup, though, and Google I/O is just weeks away.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

iOS 8: What must-have features does Apple need to add?

iPhonesApple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is only a month and a half away, and interest in the impending iOS 8 announcement is starting to surge across the internet. iOS has come a long way since its original version in 2007, and it’s quite mature now. It’s no longer missing any major features on the scale of copy and paste and third-party apps, so what can Apple offer in iOS 8 to deliver an exciting new revision?
As rumor has it, Apple is incorporating the functionality of the popular Shazam app directly into iOS 8. Bloomberg reports that Apple is working with the folks at Shazam to integrate the music-recognition engine into iOS devices, and it has two inside sources confirming that information. Considering that the iTunes music store still plays a major role at Cupertino, a partnership with Shazam makes complete sense. Spotify, Rdio, and Pandora are breathing down Apple’s neck, so a return to innovation in the music space would be a smart move right about now. If Shazam’s song detection feeds directly into iTunes Radio, even better.
iPhone iOS 8Beyond that rumor, a number of potential improvements for iOS 8 immediately come to mind. First and foremost, we need real competitors in the browser space. If Apple would lift the ban on third-party rendering engines, we would most certainly see some stiff competition from Mozilla, Google, and Opera on the App Store. Apple’s WebKit is perfectly fine, but iOS users would undoubtedly benefit from the competition. Android already has access to a number of high-quality rendering engines, and iOS is missing out on all of the action.
While we’re on the subject, Apple needs to allow users to choose their default web browser as well. When I tap on a link in an email, it always loads in Safari. If I want to open the link in Chrome or Atomic instead, I have to long-press, copy, switch to a browser, and paste in the URL. It works, but it’s much more complicated than it should be. Apple already allows users to configure default applications in OS X, so there’s seemingly no legitimate reason why iOS shouldn’t have the same functionality.
iOS has had the ability to select text, copy, and paste since version 3.0 was released, but it’s still not exactly up to snuff. Selecting the exact string of text you want from a website or PDF can be incredibly frustrating, and we all know Apple can do better. If nothing else, the addition of on-screen arrow keys would be a huge step forward in usability.
Come to think of it, many different aspects of the OS could use some polish. An offline mode for Siri would be appreciated, app switching could be much easier, and the home screen hasn’t really seen a major update in years. Whatever whiz-bang additions Apple has up its sleeves, let’s just hope that it deems fit to improve the existing features as well in iOS 8.


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