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What I learned from spending a week with the first big Apple Watch update

By Jared Newman

This article originally appeared on Fast Company and is reprinted with permission.

As the first Apple Watch update big enough to merit its own official web page, WatchOS 2 is supposed to be a big deal.

Yet in day-to-day use, many of WatchOS 2’s improvements can be easy to miss. You might have no desire to use the Apple Watch as a beside clock, and may never frequent the retailers whose rewards cards now work with Apple Pay. Siri’s new voice controls are useful in only a handful of situations, and an expanded contact list doesn’t matter much if you’re not initiating many calls from the Watch in the first place. Public transit information is nice, but only if you’re in one of the select cities where that data is available. As a way to tell time and view notifications, the Apple Watch is largely the same as it ever was.

But that doesn’t mean WatchOS 2 is unimportant. It’s just that the biggest changes are happening behind the scenes, as app makers rework their software to take advantage of new capabilities. WatchOS 2 is a significant update, but one whose effects won’t truly be felt for some time.

I’ve spent about a week with WatchOS 2, and so far my experience hasn’t changed drastically from before the big software update. Most of my Watch usage involves managing emails, checking sports scores, controlling music playback, and fielding the occasional phone call or text message. WatchOS 2 does little to improve those experiences.

But in dabbling with the first WatchOS 2 apps, it seems the update is more about establishing the product to be far more useful in the future.

In Search Of Native Apps

The most noteworthy change in WatchOS 2 is support for native apps, which can run on the Apple Watch without being connected to a nearby iPhone over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Already, this has opened the door to some offline utility apps, such as PCalc, a basic calculator, and Pomodoro Pro, a timer for managing productivity. But going native should also benefit apps that still rely on an iPhone for Internet connectivity; in theory, they should be faster and more reliable, since they’re not banking so heavily on the iPhone for processing power and core app logic.

The native WatchOS 2 apps that I have tried do seem slightly more reliable than their non-native counterparts. The weather app Dark Sky, for instance, loads just a little faster, and doesn’t revert to the loading screen as you move between various sections of the app.

So far, however, most Apple Watch apps are no different than they were in WatchOS 1. Several developers have told me that switching to a native app isn’t especially easy, because it requires rewriting much of their existing code to run on the Watch instead of the iPhone. And certain features, such as iCloud and GameCenter, are a lot trickier to implement now. In other words, it’ll be a while until native apps are the norm.

Making Watch Apps More Useful

Apple Watch apps aren’t just getting a speed boost in WatchOS 2. They’re also getting more powerful as Apple provides access to more of the Watch’s hardware capabilities.

A twist of the Digital Crown, for instance, can now control software knobs and menu boxes within third-party apps such as PCalc and The Weather Channel. Access to the accelerometer and heart rate monitor open the door to third-party fitness and sleep tracker apps. Haptic feedback allows for surprising new apps such as Tacet, a metronome that counts the beat by tapping on your wrist.

In time, these types of capabilities will help the Apple Watch become more than just a notification machine. By using the Digital Crown for selecting items, Apple can pack more information into the screen. And with wearable sensors and haptic feedback, they can accomplish things that just aren’t possible on your phone.

Complicated Complications

Even when you’re not actively using third-party apps, WatchOS 2 extends their usefulness by letting them appear as Complications on the main watch screen. DataMan Next, for instance, can show how much wireless data you’ve consumed, and WaterMinder can show how much more hydrated you ought to be. These apps can also use WatchOS 2’s Time Travel feature to show past and future information with a twist of the Digital Crown. An obvious example would be a weather app that lets you scroll through the next several hours of forecast data.

For now, if you want more Complications, you’ll need to seek out the handful of specific apps that offer them. (And sadly, none yet exists for sports scores or fantasy football.) But over time, it’s likely that app makers will treat Complications and Time Travel as a high-priority feature. After all, it’s an opportunity for their apps to be the first thing you see when you glance at the screen.

The current situation reminds me somewhat of Android home screen widgets in their early days, with too few Complications overall and too many of dubious value. But as app makers catch on, I suspect the inclusion of clever Complications will become a lot more commonplace.

Seeding The Future

Whereas WatchOS 1 was largely about the apps and services that Apple built in on its own, WatchOS 2 extends those capabilities to third-party apps. The difference is barely noticeable now, but over time there should be a cumulative impact as apps become faster and can do a lot more. (And one can imagine these effects will be more pronounced whenever the next version of the Apple Watch hardware arrives.)

That may explain why Apple calls this update “an even more personal experience.” The tagline no longer refers to just the watch faces and wrist bands you choose, but to a new wave of apps that you’ll come to rely on.

[Photo: courtesy of Apple]

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Apple is taking its e-book price-fixing fight to the Supreme Court

Winnie-the-Pooh Book was freely available on the Apple iPad when released. The iPad's main selling point was as a book reader.

Apple’s long-running court battle over manipulating the pricing of e-books is getting even more dramatic. Next stop, the Supreme Court, Fortune reports. Back in June, Apple failed to get a Manhattan appeals court to overturn a 2014 ruling that would have it pay $450 million dollar settlement over the scandal. So Apple basically has no choice but to go to a higher authority if it wants to fight the case. A quick recap: The company was found guilty of fixing e-book pricing with publishers for the launch of iBooks on the original iPad, a move meant to raise prices from the low standard set by Amazon. Apple has argued that it didn’t do anything wrong, and indeed it maintains in a filing today that “dynamic, disruptive entry into new or stagnant markets — the lifeblood of American economic growth — often requires the very type of” behavior it exhibited. Apple obviously can afford to pay the settlement, but at this point the legal battle seems to be more about principles than anything else.

[Photo credit: John Baran/Alamy]

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Tags: apple, e-books, iBooks, mobilepostcross


Apple Disables Dashboard by Default in Latest OS X El Capitan Beta

Apple has quietly disabled Dashboard by default in the seventh beta of OS X El Capitan, an unsurprising move given the ten-year-old widget feature on Mac has not been updated in over four years and looks increasingly poised for retirement. Dashboard was similarly disabled by default on OS X Yosemite.


While a few websites claim that Apple has removed Dashboard from OS X El Capitan entirely, the feature can be re-enabled by opening System Preferences > Mission Control and choosing “As Space” from the Dashboard drop-down menu. Then, tap on the Dashboard key on your keyboard to bring up the window.

Dashboard was introduced on OS X Tiger in 2005 and acts as a secondary desktop for widgets such as a calculator, calendar, clock, weather, stocks, sticky notes, mini games, dictionary, flight tracker and more. Widgets can be added or removed from Dashboard by clicking on the plus or minus buttons in the bottom-left corner.


Apple Seeds 7th OS X 10.11 El Capitan Beta to Developers, Re-Seeds 5th Beta to Public Testers

Apple today released the seventh beta of OS X 10.11 El Capitan to developers for testing purposes, two weeks after releasing the sixth El Capitan beta and two months after unveiling the new operating system at its 2015 Worldwide Developers Conference. Apple has also re-seeded the fifth public beta of OS X El Capitan to public beta testers.

The update is available through the software update mechanism in the Mac App Store and through the Apple Developer Center.

In recent weeks, Apple has been pushing rapid updates for OS X El Capitan, all of which have focused on under-the-hood performance improvements and bug fixes to optimize the operating system ahead of its public debut. Few design changes have been made in the most recent betas.

OS X El Capitan is designed to improve features introduced with OS X Yosemite, focusing on performance and user experience. A number of apps and processes on the Mac are much faster with El Capitan, and the introduction of Metal for Mac brings system-level graphics rendering that’s 40 percent more efficient.

As for user experience, El Capitan includes a new systemwide San Francisco font, a revamped Mission Control feature, a new Split View feature for using two full-screen apps at once, deeper functionality for Spotlight, and several new features for Safari, including Pinned Sites for housing frequently visited websites and a universal mute button that quiets all tabs.

OS X 10.11 El Capitan is available to both registered developers and public beta testers. Apple plans to release El Capitan to the public in the fall.


More progress being made on pairing Android Wear with iPhones

android_wear_wear_what_you_want_watch_faces_Featured_LargeIf you’re an iPhone user that’s just not happy with the current selection of smartwatches, well, you’re probably on the wrong website, but there’s some good news on the horizon. Developer Mohammad Abu-Garbeyyeh recently released a video showing off how he paired a Moto 360 with an iPhone through some clever workarounds. Most of the functionality was borked, but you could at least check some text messages.

Today, he’s shown off some new progress on pairing the two together. It’s not a ton of improvement, but he’s able to answer a phone call made to the iPhone right from the Moto 360. There’s no jailbreaking, rooting, or anything else done to make this work. Just a simple APK sideloaded onto the Moto 360.

While developers like this are working at making Android Wear compatible with iOS, Google is supposedly working on their own iOS app to enable compatibility. Who do you think will get things working first?

source: Techno Buffalo

Click here to view the embedded video.

Come comment on this article: More progress being made on pairing Android Wear with iPhones


Developer MohammadAG gets Android Wear to work with iPhones, sort of

android wear ios muhammadag

Google has hinted that it could eventually make Android Wear work with iPhones, but as the wearables platform is getting close to its first birthday, we’re yet to see an official integration. The good news is, if you really want to use your Android Wear smartwatch with an iOS device, an unofficial solution may be coming.

Android developer Mohammad Abu-Garbeyyeh, widely known on XDA as MohammadAG, found a way to push notifications from iOS to AW. MohammadAG, who is known for his work developing Xposed Framework modules, used a feature called Apple Notification Center Service (ANSC) that was first introduced on iOS7. This is the same feature that allows Pebble to receive notifications from iPhones via Bluetooth. Because it’s built into the operating system, making use of ANSC doesn’t require a special app – notifications from any app can be pushed automatically to a connected smartwatch.

To enable the feature, MohammadAG created an .apk that needs to run on the smartwatch, and the developer said he’s considering open-sourcing it. You will still need an Android device to set up the smartwatch and get apps on it, but the good news is you can use any iOS7 or higher Apple device, no jailbreak required.

Now, the Android Wear experience is more than just notifications and MohammadAG admits that this ANSC-based implementation is limited. But if you just want simple notifications, this could do. We’ll keep an eye on this little project and let you know when, if ever, becomes available.


iOS 7.1.2 to Address Mail, Lock Screen, iBeacon Issues in Coming Weeks

Nearly a month ago, we noted that Apple was apparently working on iOS 7.1.2, as revealed in our web logs by the appearance of visits from devices running the operating system version on Apple’s networks.

At the time, we had no information on what the update would include, but suggested it was likely to include fixes for an email attachment encryption issue and problems for users leaving iOS for a different platform trying to disassociate their phone numbers from iMessage. In both cases, Apple acknowledged that it was working on fixes for the issues that would be included in a future software update, and iOS 7.1.2 will be the first public update released since those statements.

MacRumors has now learned that Apple is indeed nearing a public release of iOS 7.1.2 and has begun seeding carrier partners with a version of it, termed build 11D257. Apple has apparently asked carriers to sign off on the update by Friday, June 27, indicating that a public release could occur the following week.

According to sources, the build of iOS 7.1.2 does indeed address the email attachment encryption issue, as well as a bug in downloading emails. Also included in the update is a fix for a lock screen vulnerability that could allow access to “limited apps”. While we can’t say for certain, Apple may be referring to the “missed call” lock screen bug publicized earlier this month.

Finally, iOS 7.1.2 is said to include both improvements to iBeacon connectivity and a bug fix related to data transfer with third-party accessories such as bar code scanners. There is no explicit mention of any fixes for iMessage, but they may still be quietly included in the release.

ios_7_1_2_hits_jun19Visits to from devices running iOS 7.1.2
Since the first appearance of iOS 7.1.2 in our web logs back in mid-May, traffic from devices running the upcoming operating system has increased fairly gradually with the exception of a spike on the day of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote.


iOS 6 Users on Devices Able to Run iOS 7 Must Upgrade to Fix FaceTime

facetime_ios_iconApple today released a new support document, detailing the issue behind the recent problems some iOS 6 users have been experiencing with FaceTime. According to Apple, a bug resulting from an expired device certificate has rendered FaceTime unusable on older versions of iOS and the only solution to the problem is to update to the latest version of the operating system.

Devices capable of running iOS 7 must be upgraded to iOS 7.0.4 or later, while devices unable to run iOS 7, such as the fourth-generation iPod touch, must upgrade to iOS 6.1.6.

If you started to have issues making or receiving FaceTime calls after April 16, 2014, your device or your friend’s device may have encountered a bug resulting from a device certificate that expired on that date. Updating both devices to the latest software will resolve this issue.

If you’re using iOS 7.0.4 or later or iOS 6.1.6, this issue doesn’t affect you.

If you’re using these versions of OS X or FaceTime for Mac, this issue doesn’t affect you:

– OS X Mavericks v10.9.2 or later
– OS X Mountain Lion v10.8 with the latest security updates
– OS X Lion v10.7 with the latest security updates
– FaceTime for Mac version 1.0.5 or later for Mac OS X v10.6

While FaceTime does work with iOS 6.1.6, that particular update is not available to recent devices that are able to run iOS 7, which means iOS 6 users with newer devices who wish to access FaceTime must upgrade to iOS 7.

There’s a sizable contingent of iOS users who opted to stick with iOS 6 over iOS 7 due to the drastic visual changes introduced with the operating system update, so Apple’s upgrade suggestion is likely to be unpopular with those users.

Apple’s FaceTime issues first began on April 16, with many iOS 6 users reporting an inability to use the service. At that time, it was unclear whether Apple would implement a fix, but customer service representatives have been presenting iOS 7 updates as a solution since the problem was first uncovered, and it appears that Apple does not plan to offer another solution. The company did, however, release a FaceTime update for OS X users to fix the issue earlier this week.


A Siri-controlled Apple TV may be on the way

Soon you might be able to simply ask your Apple TV to start playing ‘House of Cards’ rather than fumbling through a series menus. Code found in iOS 7.1′s software development kit indicates that Siri is one its way to a new device, likely Apple’s set-top box. In the operating system’s documentation, the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad are represented by “1″ and “2.” The most recent files also include a new device indicated by a “3.” For our non-developer friends following along at home, that means the digital assistant is headed to a different product. While the 3 could potentially represent something entirely new (like the fabled iWatch), Apple has previously used the number to represent its TV product in code. It’s also currently being used in several iOS-based Apple TV apps.

We first heard about a Siri-enabled television several years ago in Walter Isaacson’s biography of ‘ Steve Jobs. In the book, the Apple cofounder says he’s “finally cracked” the television by creating a voice-controlled remote — a dream that as of yet hasn’t become a reality. Apple’s current TV product (which is rumored to be getting an upgrade soon) doesn’t have a built-in microphone. If Siri is coming, she’ll have to bring a new box with her, or at the very least, a new remote with voice input à la Amazon’s new Fire TV. We suspect all mysteries will be revealed in early June at Apple’s annual developer conference, WWDC. Until then, we’ll keep yelling commands at our TV and hope it gets the idea.

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Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Twitter, iOS Developer Library


Viber’s first major redesign makes it look right at home on the iPhone

Internet calling and messaging service Viber does a solid job of constantly bringing new features to its apps, regardless of the platform. Now, some seven months after iOS 7 was released, Viber is finally changing the looks of its iPhone app to match that flat, minimalist appearance of Apple’s OS. Aside from overhauling the UI, the Viber application now also lets you create a list of numbers you’d like to block and send longer video messages to people. The company’s CEO, Talmon Marco, tells us this update isn’t just about iOS 7, however. “This is the first time we are introducing a new look and feel for Viber. Our goal was to create a simple and friendly interface but at the same time establish a solid foundation for future updates,” Marco stated. In other words, don’t be surprised when you see some of these design cues make their way to other Viber apps, like those on Windows Phone 8 and Android.

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Source: App Store


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