Every year Apple organizes WWDC, its annual conference for developers. The event serves two main purposes: 1)Apple introduces developers to all the new features associated with the latest operating systems and 2) Developers discover new ways to use those systems to promote the Apple brand and establish new business opportunities. Combined, their efforts help to enhance the consumer experience.
iOS 11 and the New App Store
This year during WWDC 2017, Apple introduced iOS 11, including a brand new redesign of the App Store. After reviewing the beta version, I was impressed by the way Apple chose to promote featured apps, while improving navigation (Games are now a main menu tab along the bottom). It’s nice to see Apple put forth a concerted effort to promote developers, but there is a rising development that warrants some concerns for consumers: Subscriptions.
As a long time consumer of the App Store and someone who has spent the last eight years reviewing apps for iOS and the Mac, I have become quite familiar with the range of prices that are available for apps and how divergent they can be relative to the services they provide. For example, one developer may sell a photo editor that highlights one feature (e.g. erasing backgrounds) while another developer will offer the same feature, plus 20 additional features at the same price. In other instances, developers will offer their apps for free (as a test run) but as soon as you access a feature (apply a filter to a photo), you are prompted to make in-app purchases for $1.99 per feature (sometimes more). This process may continue ad nauseam.
Deceptive in-App purchases are defined by Apple as “consumable” purchases or one-time purchases. These types of purchases are introduced as IAPs that require you to reach higher levels of achievement and satisfaction (an addiction model that is popular in games). Non-consumable in-App purchases occur in the form of pro versions - upgrades to “pro” provide access to additional features, remove ads, etc. In the early history of the App Store, developers adopted a strategy to lower App prices in order to increase sales (what some have called “a race to the bottom”). Contrary to this approach, developers today are engaged in “a race to the top,” an approach more popularly known today as the “subscription model.”
The Dangers of the Subscription Model
The subscription model is less insidious than hidden in-App purchases, but nonetheless a burden to the consumer with exorbitant costs. Subscription models place an emphasis on “services” rather than “products.” Similar to Apple Music or iCloud Drive, subscriptions may be offered as weekly, monthly, or yearly subscriptions. Once the service ends, your experience ends as well. The services model is unavoidable in today’s tech economy, but once it becomes ubiquitous (as in the case of app purchases) the financial burden to the consumer becomes a dangerous proposition.
The “race to the bottom” approach to enticing consumers was more balanced and acceptable because it gave developers wider exposure, while giving consumers more options. If consumers became unhappy or dissatisfied with an app, they could try another app without incurring much of a financial lost. The subscription model includes much higher costs (e.g. a consumer may pay $9.99 for a monthly subscription fee, compared to $3.99 to purchase a pro version of an app with all the features). The difference in price can be astronomical.
The subscription model started out as an exception rather the rule, but recent trends suggest that this will become the norm. Up until this point, the exceptions have included high-end products by Adobe, Microsoft (and Apple) whose dependence on cloud-based services have become the premiere way to access applications, and hence the services they provide. Today, developers, large and small, prominent or obscure, are more apt to offer subscription models.
There are many examples of this phenomena, including the rising popularity of adult coloring book apps. If you search Apple’s App Store, you will find between 50 and 75 apps devoted exclusively to digital coloring books (see my list below). What is most notable is that a large percentage of these apps require subscription fees. The fees range from $3.99 a week and $7.99 a month to $59.99 and $99.99 a year.
For example, Pigment by Pixite LLC offers a service charge of $7.99 a month or $39.99 a year and Recolor by Sumoing Ltd charges a service fee of $9.99 a month to $59.99 a year.
Prior to the age of the subscription model, an app with the same features would cost the consumer $3.99 to $6.99 to own everything outright. This model was reasonable because of the abundance of apps available to the consumer. In contrast, the consumer pays the same amount every month, and the consumer is only able to “rent” the app for services rendered without ever “owning” the app. When seen in this light, the subscription model can be viewed as “obscene,” to say the least.
Unfortunately for the consumer, the subscription model is becoming the "new normal." Recently, the developers who gave us the wonderful photo editor “Enlight,” which can be purchased for $3.99, introduced a new app called “Enlight Photofox.” Photofox offers two subscription models, $3.99 a month or $19.99 a year. These prices are cheaper than what the adult coloring books are charging, but it’s still 5 times or 12 times the amount paid to own the original Enlight app outright. Photofox, however, can be owned for the one-time price of $39.99, which is still a lot higher than $3.99.
What Lies Ahead
The Dangers of the Subscription Model raises several important questions. Is the subscription model sustainable in a market where there are so many apps to choose from? Will this model ultimately place a limit on what consumers can experience? Will this model unfairly impact the consumer’s wallet, especially in a world where the disparity of wealth increases by the year?
Date: July 22, 2017
Author: Timothy Brown, Senior Editor, My Apple Podcast
COLORING BOOK APPS FOR IOS
Weebly, the leading WYSIWYG editor for website creation, just released a new feature called "sections." Sections provides an additional way to organize your layouts and basic elements like titles, pictures, videos, galleries, etc. Sections contain all the features that you would normally have for an entire webpage, but adding them to sections as well.
Immediately upon dragging a section widget to your page, you will get a pop up menu for Layouts with options to add a gallery, team profile, featured topics, menus, and a contact page. Each selection comes with four to six design options that vary how photos, text, and backgrounds appear.
Like pages, sections also come with the option to customize backgrounds, including the options to add colors, photos, and videos. By adding this feature to each section rather than each page, your web pages can have a higher degree of customization, thereby improving the overall functionality and usability of your site.
To enhance the functionality of this new feature, sections can also be moved to different locations on a page and/or moved or copied to another page. This will enable you to save time without having to duplicate these actions twice.
SECTIONS: DESKTOP, IPAD, IPHONE
Since Weebly comes with responsive designs to format content for the desktop and mobile platforms, sections look great in a variety of formats. Sections is an amazing new feature, although it is currently not available in the Weebly editor for iOS. I anticipate this feature being added in the near future.
Apple's mobile platform, otherwise known as iOS, is a great vehicle for enhancing communication, artistic expression, and productivity. Video editing is probably not a feature that the average user takes full advantage of, but it is worth exploring. iMovie, of course, is Apple's signature video editor for iOS, which originated with the Mac and is one of the first applications to be developed for Apple's iLife suite in October 1999. Pinnacle Studio Pro is another advanced editor for iOS, and there are other more streamlined editors like Quik, Splice, FilmoraGo, Videoshop, and Filmaker Pro and Vee. While there are a lot of options to choose from, I recommend one video editor that is not as familiar, but that comes with advanced features that make it worthy of attention: Cute Cut Pro.
The most impressive feature of Cute Cut Pro is the ability to layer your content. Even with some of the most advanced editors like iMovie and Pinnacle Studio, the ablity to layer content is largely constrained. Cute Cut Pro, however, has managed to incorporate layers in a way that's easy and quite accessible for the average user.
Unlike most video editors for iOS, Cute Cut Pro includes the ability to import videos, photos (including transparent pngs), music (including soundtracks and special effects that come built in to the app), Text, Voice Recordings, and a unique feature called "Self-Draw." This last feature comes with the ability to make freehand drawings on top of your videos and photos, as well as the ability to add lines and shapes. Each element can be customized to control the thickness of the line, and colors that also include gradients.
Transitions and Animations
In most video editors, the user has the ability to add transitions and animations, all of which come as a menu of options (e.g. cross fade, slide left/right, etc.). Cute Cut Pro likewise comes with these features, but also includes the ability to customize transitions and animations - giving you more control over each individual element. For example, when you double-tap on an element in the timeline and select the wand tool, you will find a range of options for customizing the placement, opacity, visual effect, and size of each element as they appear at the start and end points of each animation. By selecting the plus symbol, you can select from a menu of transitions, such as Fade Out, Shrink Out, Left Out, Grow Out, Wipe Out, etc., or choose Custom Transition to add the other effects mentioned above. This level of control is not available in other video editors.
Cute Cut Pro comes with the ability set up your video projects using the high definition wide screen aspect ratio (16:9), square ratio (1:1), and standard (4:3). Each aspect ratio can be set up as vertical or horizontal. The project above uses the standard aspect ratio with vertial composition, a resolution of 640 X 480. Widescreen formats (16:9) can be exported in the high definition formats of 1080p and 720p respectively. Square formats (1:1) come with a maximum resolution of 640p X 640p.
Cute Cut Pro is arguably one of the few video editors that can help you accomplish a range of needs, from marketing and promotional videos to tutorials, and documentary footage. The price is currently $5.99 in the App Store.
The editors of My Apple Podcast recently interviewed Allthingssuzette to talk about her rise as a digital artist, an artist who uses the iPad as her primary canvas.
Where do you get your inspiration from, and how do you usually begin your creative process?
My original works began as paper collages from magazines, but with technology and easy access to photos via Instagram, Pinterest and online subscriptions, I have morphed my art into a magical world that transcends boundaries, something scissors and glue could not. Like my penchant for fashion where i buy several key pieces each season for a statement, I see something in the way a fabric moves in a photo, or line of the skirt, or something I would love to add to my own collection. It is random to most, but it all comes together in the end. Sometimes I place a photo in my “thinking” folder and get back to it a couple of weeks later after I have slept on the ideas.
Are there any artists that have influenced your work?
I was inspired early on by the Dutch Masters and the Italian Baroque, which lends itself to the great backgrounds and outdoor scenes. I have always been off the beaten path, and think of everything as a multidimensional brain exercise, as there is always more there than meets the eye. I have been mesmerized by the paintings of John Rogers Cox, Ivan Albright, and Giorgio de Chirico, Magritte and to some extent Dali. I have also galvanized my style from the fashion photography of Tim Walker, Annie Leibovitz, and Steven Meisel.
Fashion models are predominant figures in your artwork. What inspires you the most about them?
All my latest works are done digitally. I believe that this medium is here to stay. I begin with a the fashion photo, consider the pose, the makeup, the hair, then cut her/him out. With only the image, I start from a blank canvas and build the back, then add to the front. This media allows me to layer, twist, fade, draw and create something completely unique. It is truly not much different than mixed media I used in the past, with the exception of having cut out a collection of over 100,000 media files.
Do you have any favorites among models?
I have no model favorites, however, I am drawn to the moody and often somber images that the models evoke, My work is classical, so I seek out images that will transcend fashion design set for a specific scene to become transferral to any classical form I create.
How do you decide which model to feature in order to tell the story you want?
I cannot tell anyone how I develop a story or add the different depth and meaning. I attempt to hashtag for the viewer, but there are so many messages I am conveying that I purposely leave my work open to interpretation.
What are your future plans, regarding your art?
I believe there is a niche market for what I do, I have been promoted on Black Magazine multiple times and have exhibits in Monaco and possibly in the US. While the standard sets and location shoots will always be in vogue, I think purchasers of magazines are looking for more creative ways that models are used to promote fashion by breaking boundaries.
You can check out Suzette's work on Instagram or visit her website to see the breadth and scope of her amazing work.
Suzette Marie Jelinek is originally from Chicago, Illinois, but spent her first 22 years in Europe where she was deeply influenced by its art, natural surroundings, and art by the old masters. After many art courses on paper and canvas, she made the transition to digital media, seeing its potential for reaching a broader audience and creating a new form of art fused with fashion, fantasy and beauty.
Her works have been influenced by the paintings of John Rogers Cox, Ivan Albright, and Georgio de Chirico, Magritte and to some extent Dali. She has also galvanized her style from the fashion photography of Tim Walker, Annie Leibovitz, and Steven Meisel.
Highlighted by @Black_Mag on Instagram and interviews, she has come to the forefront with her unique and brain-twisting way she sees the world. She is a born storyteller. Just look long enough at her art and a story will unfold before you. She is well known for her use of flora and fauna and illusion, creating magical places and sublime art.
All her latest works are done digitally. She believes that this medium is here to stay. She always begins with a fashion photo, considers the pose, the makeup, the hair, and then cuts the subject out. With only the image, she starts with a blank canvas and builds the back, then adds to the front. This media allows her to layer, twist, fade, draw and create something completely unique.
She is discovering a niche for her work in the fashion industry to expand the scope of what is possible for stylizing fashion editorials. There are endless possibilities to this creative new creative genre. She is excited about its future.
Affective June 1, 2016, Instagram introduced a platform update that greatly affects, if not, totally disables 3rd party integration. According to Instagram, "Apps that have not been approved and were created before November 17, 2015 will go into sandbox mode on June 1, 2016."
The most significant change that limits third-party applications is the ability to have direct access to public feeds. Essentially, this places limitations on the social component of any third party app.
Some applications that were most affected by these changes were apps like Repost for iOS, Retro for the iPad, and PhotoDesk for the Mac. All three applications provided easy access to various feeds including public feeds where you could easily view posts by others. The prerequisite for these features required basic access to your Instagram login credentials. These third-party options for Instagram provided improved options for re-posting, viewing, sharing, and downloading content.
According to Instagram, the APIs were created in 2011, so an update was needed in order to give customers more control over their content. The update promises to make it easier to share content that "you own," but limits how you can share or view content by others.
Due to the recent update, Repost modified the process for reposting content created by others. Access to content within the app itself is not available, but users can re-post any photo on Instagram by selecting the three dots on the top right corner of any post found on Instagram, copying the URL, and re-opening the Repost app. Photodesk is still able to provide the basic layout features, including an expanded view of your personal Instagram feeds, people you follow, and people who follow you, but direct access to the public feed was eliminated; you can only access other feeds by using the search option. Retro for the iPad (right), relied heavily on direct access to public feeds, so it was forced to shut down development.
The main benefit to using third party options is to seek a nice alternative to the browsing/social experience on Instagram, and apps like Repost, Retro, and Photodesk achieved that. It remains to be seen whether Instagram's new APIs can be used by third party developers to enhance the user experience, or if we are simply forced to rely exclusively on the "official" Instagram app.
During the month of January 2016, Screenium 3 was featured as one of the best new apps in the Mac App Store. This featured profile may have to do with the new feature that was added that enables you to record your iOS screen. Nonetheless, Screenium 3 is definitely worth checking out.
Screen Recording Options
When you first open Screenium 3, you have four options for recording your screen: record a specific area, record fullscreen, record single window, and record your iOS device. These features are consistent with the leading apps in this category. Below this menu are the configurations for different aspects of the recording, including video (including things like frame rate), desktop (including the ability to show or hide desktop icons, audio (to specify audio source), camera (for the option to include facetime video), mouse (for cursor and mouse click visualizations), and timer. The latter is something I’m not accustomed to seeing; it provides the ability to specify your recording duration.
Recording your screen is the key function of Screenium, and so the document set up is integral to starting new projects. Under file, you can set up a new document or “composition.” The composition by default is 1280 by 720. You can adjust the size by going to composition at the top menu and selecting “canvas size.” Here you can customize the size, and enlarge or reduce it proportionately. If you go with the default size and add an item that is larger (e.g. a video that is 1080p), you will be prompted to “leave as is” or “increase” the size of your composition to match the size of the size of the clip.
The menu bar along the top provides a range of options for adding animations, and effects for audio and video. Templates are quick actions that enable you to add annotations and text. The Video Library gives you quick access to previous recordings and the Pictures tab enables you to import images from the Photos app. Screenium 3 also comes with the ability to add video and audio effects, animations, and voice overs. And one feature that is unique to Screenium is the generated speech option, which enables you to translate text into multiple languages as voice recordings, which can then be used to add multilingual narrations to your presentations. Other languages can also be added to existing audio tracks.
Below the menu, there are three main sections: the viewer, to the left, the inspector to the right, and the timeline below. When a clip (video, photo, or audio) is added to the timeline, the viewer and/or inspector will reveal content or controls that are specific to the media selected. Below the viewer, you will find playback controls, and just to the right options to enable animations, split clips, or to delete them.
Objects in the timeline also come with added controls that provide more flexibility when setting up your animations. For example, when you move the playhead to a specific location, you can hover over your clip to add a split, add a marker, or insert a still. “Split” is equivalent to the cut tool adjacent to the playback controls; “markers” are like keyframes that mark the start and stop point of your animations, and “insert still” is equivalent to what is otherwise known as a “freeze frame.”
There are some specific features that exist under the areas mentioned above that are worth highlighting separately. Under “Video Effects,” you have the option to to use the “chroma key” effect when working with green screen videos. Once selected, the chroma key controls will appear in the inspector on the right. This feature is great for podcasters who prefer more flexibility when juxtaposing the narrator with items that are being reviewed. Screenium 3 also comes with a masking tool that enables you to use any shape to mask sections of your videos or photos.
Screenium 3 is a nice alternative to Screenflow and Camtasia. I encourage you to take it for a spin.
Timothy Brown, Host of My Apple Podcast
by Timothy Paul Brown, My Apple Podcast
According to a variety of sources, Podcasts are experiencing a resurgence, and more people are beginning to appreciate the value of this medium. This is largely due to the success of the iPhone, which has helped to increase accessibility to podcasts.
WHAT ARE PODCASTS?
Podcasts are audio and video recordings attached to a web feed that people can subscribe to. Sources like iTunes function as a portal or aggregator for finding podcasts and subscribing to them. And guess what? They are FREE!
FOR YEARS NOW, APPLE HAS PLAYED A KEY ROLE IN POPULARIZING PODCASTS
On June 28, 2005, Apple issued a press release titled APPLE TAKES PODCASTING MAINSTREAM to announce iTunes version 4.6 and the introduction of PODCASTS which were featured alongside the music selections in iTunes.
Seven years later, in June 2012, Apple introduced PODCASTS, a standalone app for the iPhone and iPad. The significance of this development was largely due to the success of the iPhone, which has been instrumental in bringing podcasts to the masses.
Podcasts now comes pre-installed on iPhones, so potentially every iPhone user has access to podcasts. If you happen to be one of them, this blog post will help you understand the basic features.
The Podcasts app is a purple icon with the familiar broadcasting symbol on the front. When you open the app you will find a menu of options along the bottom.
Let’s start with the FEATURED tab. Here you can browse through featured podcasts by swiping across with your finger or scrolling up and down. If you want to discover the more popular podcasts, select TOP CHARTS on the bottom menu.
When you find a podcast you like, tap on your selection. You will then come to a page that provides a description of the podcast, REVIEWS, and a tab for RELATED podcasts. When you find something you like, click SUBSCRIBE.
If you want to find a specific podcast that is not available in the FEATURED or TOP CHARTS sections, use the SEARCH tab on the bottom menu. Your search results will appear as PODCASTS or PODCAST EPISODES.
Each recording is called an EPISODE because they are typically offered as part of a sequence. On average, podcasters will update their PODCAST FEED on a daily, weekly or bi-weekly basis.
If you want to locate the podcasts you have subscribed to, select the tab MY PODCASTS on the bottom menu. Here you will find a list of your subscriptions. The UNPLAYED tab on the far left will display all unplayed episodes associated with your subscriptions.
When you select a podcast, you will find two tabs, one for UNPLAYED episodes and one for the FEED. The UNPLAYED tab will display the most recent episode. The FEED will list all the episodes associated with that podcast.
To play an episode, select the area that comprises the title and description. The podcast will play as an audio or video recording. If you select a video podcast, a video will begin to play at the top half of your screen, with the title and playback controls on the bottom. To the left and right of the PLAY button, you will find two buttons for fast-forwarding or rewinding the recording in 15 second intervals. The 1X to the far left can be selected to change the pace of the recording to 1/2, 1 1/2, and twice the speed level. The MENU icon on the far right will let you see what is currently playing and what is scheduled to play next.
At the bottom left is the familiar SHARE icon that allows you to share the podcast as an EMAIL, TEXT MESSAGE, or to SOCIAL MEDIA. The MOON icon provides a list of options for adding a timer to your listening experience that ranges from 5 minutes to one hour. When the timer ends the podcast will stop playing.
The three dots at the far right will bring up a pop-UP menu that presents the following options: PLAY NEXT, ADD TO UP NEXT, DOWNLOAD EPISODE or alternatively REMOVE DOWNLOAD, MARK AS UNPLAYED, SAVE EPISODE, VIEW FULL DESCRIPTION, AND SHARE EPISODE.
And finally, continuing with playback controls is a scroll bar for controlling the volume level and adjacent to that an airplay icon for mirroring your podcast on an Apple TV.
When you select an audio podcast, the audio will begin to play and you will have two options as a visual reference. The first option will be the minimized version, which will display the podcast as a banner along the bottom of the screen with the title and episode information. When you tap on the banner, the audio podcast will launch full screen, displaying the podcast artwork above and the playback controls below. Tap once on the artwork to reveal the episode description and tap again to return to the artwork.
MANAGING YOUR FEEDS
There are steps you can take to make your podcast listening experience more manageable and enjoyable. Let’s revisit the drop down menu that appears when the three dots are selected. The three dotted icon can be found at the bottom right when the podcast is minimized or launched full screen. It can also be found next to each podcast listing under the feed tab.
PLAY NEXT lets you to select an episode from any podcast and schedule it to play immediately after the current episode. If you change your mind and select another podcast to play, you will receive a pop-up message that will give you the option to KEEP UP NEXT or CLEAR UP NEXT. The other option ADD TO UP NEXT allows you to add additional episodes to the UP NEXT LISTING.
Next is DOWNLOAD EPISODE. With this option, you can download an episode for offline listening. This option does not require Wi-Fi or the use of your cellular network; the files are stored locally on your device. After you have downloaded an episode, you will also have an option to REMOVE DOWNLOAD when selecting the three-dotted icon.
MARK AS UNPLAYED will display a tiny full circle in light blue just to the left of the podcast title. The circle will disappear when podcast is completed or appear as a half-moon when partially completed.
SAVE EPISODE is feature that is similar to DOWNLOAD but serves a slightly different purpose. Like the download option, the file will download for offline viewing, yet this option will also add it to a special SAVED tab which will appear as a third option on the menu bar. You will also notice that a tiny iPhone icon will appear to the left of the Podcast title.
You will also notice a settings icon at the top of each podcast. you will find a SETTINGS tab for sorting episodes, and changing the status for SUBSCRIBED and NOTIFICATIONS.
Under the section, ON THIS IPHONE, you can set how often you want to refresh podcasts, limit the number of episodes you want to appear in the unplayed section, download the most recent episode, or you can choose to turn on the option to delete episodes after twenty-four hours.
Podcasts are streamed using an internet connection, and the use of Wi-Fi or your cellular network. If you want to manage how much data you want to use for podcasts, you can choose the option to listen to podcasts offline. And finally, under the MY PODCASTS TAB, you can select the edit button at the top right to remove podcasts by tapping on the red minus button and you can change the order of your podcasts by tapping the three horizontal bars to the right and moving your selection up and down.
And that’s it for my review of Apple's Podcasts app. You can also find my review on YouTube. Try it out! You may discover a ton of resources right at your finger tips.
BY TIM BROWN, HOST OF MY APPLE PODCAST
THE APPLE WATCH WAS RELEASED IN APRIL OF 2015 AND WE ARE NOW IN DECEMBER, RIGHT IN THE MIDST OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON. AND NOT SURPRISINGLY THE APPLE WATCH IS ON EVERYBODY’S WISH LIST.
I HAVE A SPORT EDITION AND I LOVE THE CLEAN ELEGANT DESIGN. IT FEELS LIKE A WATCH I CAN WHERE FOR ANY OCCASION. YOU CAN FIND A WIDE ARRAY OF OPTIONS ON APPLE'S WEBSITE. OVERALL THE GRAPHICS AND ANIMATIONS ARE JUST STUNNING. HERE ARE SOME FEATURES I ENJOY THE MOST.
YOU CAN EASILY ACCESS THE APPS ON YOUR WATCH BY PRESSING ON THE DIGITAL CROWN. HERE YOU CAN CHOOSE FROM ALL THE AVAILABLE APPS, WHICH CAN BE CUSTOMIZED WHEN USING THE COMPANION APP ON YOUR IPHONE.
THE WATCH ALREADY COMES WTH A TON OF FEATURES THAT ARE VERY PRACTICAL AND A JOY TO USE. GLANCES GIVE YOU QUICK ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE APPS. FOR EXAMPLE, HERE YOU CAN CHECK YOUR HEART BEAT, CHECK THE BATTERY PERCENTAGE, AND ACCESS OTHER THIRD PARTY APPS LIKE NEWS360 AND INSTAGRAM. YOU ACCESS GLANCES BY SWIPING UP FROM THE BOTTOM AND THEN SWIPING LEFT TO RIGHT TO BROWSE THROUGH THE MENU.
I LOVE THE ABILITY TO CUSTOMIZE WATCH FACES, WHICH COME WITH SOME PRETTY COOL OPTIONS INCLUDING A FEATURE CALLED COMPLICATIONS. WHEN YOU FIND SOMETHING YOU LIKE, SELECT THE CUSTOMIZE OPTION. HERE YOU CAN CHOOSE TO ADD OTHER ELEMENTS, LIKE WEATHER OR EMAIL BY TAPPING ON THE PLACE HOLDERS AND USING THE DIGITAL CROWN TO SCROLL THROUGH THE MENU OF OPTIONS.
I THINK I USE THE MESSAGES APP THE MOST AND I’M ABSOLUTELY IN LOVE WITH THE 3D EMOTICONS. A QUICK WAY TO ACCESS MESSAGES IS TO PRESS THE SIDEBAR JUST BENEATH THE DIGITAL CROWN. HERE YOU CAN ACCESS YOUR ADDRESS BOOK, WITH THE OPTION TO GO QUICKLY TO YOUR FAVORITES. WHEN YOU IDENTIFY WHO YOU WANT TO CALL, PRESS ON THE ICON IN THE CENTER. HERE YOU WILL HAVE THREE OPTIONS: PLACE A PHONE CALL, SEND A DYNAMIC DRAWING MESSAGE, SEND A TEXT AND VOICE MESSAGE, OR SEND EMOTICONS.
I LOVE THE ANIMATED EMOTICONS: SMILEY FACE, HAND GESTURES, AND HEARTS. HERE YOU CAN USE THE DIGITAL CROWN TO CUSTOMIZE THE VARIOUS GESTURES AND EMOTIONS. YOU CAN ALSO ACCESS A LIBRARY OF EMOTIONS IF YOU PREFER STATIC IMAGES.
THE ACTIVITY MONITOR IS ARGUABLY THE MOST POPULAR APP, AND ONE I USE DAILY. PERIODICALLY, YOU WILL RECEIVE NOTICES TO STAND UP. THIS ENCOURAGES YOU KEEP MOVING, AND KEEP YOUR HEART RATE PUMPING. HERE YOU CAN ALSO LEARN ABOUT THE CALORIES YOU’VE BURNED, THE NUMBER OF EXERCISE MINUTES YOU HAVE ACCUMULATED , AND THE NUMBER OF MINUTES STANDING. THERE IS ALSO THE WORKOUT APP WHICH ENABLES YOU TO TRACK YOUR EXERCISES, SUCH AS RUNNING AND WALKING INDOORS OR OUT.
THE APPLE WATCH ALSO COMES IN HANDY WHEN YOU WANT TO LISTEN TO MUSIC. WHEN YOU OPEN THE MUSIC APP, YOU WILL SEE OPTIONS FOR CONTROLLING MUSIC REMOTELY ON THE PHONE OR DIRECTLY ON YOUR WATCH. IF YOU CHOOSE YOUR WATCH, YOU CAN LISTEN TO BEATS1, YOUR MUSIC LIBRARY, OR PLAYLISTS USING A BLUETOOTH HEADSET OR SPEAKER SYSTEM. IN YOUR IPHONE SETTINGS, YOU CAN DESIGNATE WHAT PLAYLIST YOU WANT TO ACCESS. YOU CAN USE THE SETTINGS APP ON YOUR WATCH TO ESTABLISH A BLUETOOTH CONNECTION WITH YOUR DEVICE.
THIRD PARTY APPS
APPLE’S NATIVE APPS ARE FANTASTIC, YET THIRD PARTY APPS EXTEND AND ENHANCE THE OVERALL EXPERIENCE. MY FAVORITES INCLUDE NEWS READERS LIKE FLIPBOARD, LINKEDIN PULSE, NEWS360, AND FEEDLY. THE APPS LET YOU READ, SAVE AND LIKE ARTICLES. SOME APPS ALSO MAKE THE WATCH SURPRISINGLY PRACTICAL TO USE LIKE MICROSOFT'S TRANSLATOR APP AND JUST PRESS RECORD. THE FORMER ENABLES YOU TO TRANSLATE TEXT INTO A WIDE VARIETY OF LANGUAGES, AND THE LATTER PROVIDES THE ABILITY TO RECORD AUDIO ON YOUR WATCH AND SEND THE RECORDINGS TO YOUR PHONE
OF COURSE, THERE ARE MANY MORE LIKE PACEMAKER, FOR DJAING, OUTLOOK FOR CHECKING EMAIL AND CALENDARS, GOOGLE MAPS, AND AROUND ME FOR QUICKLY LOCATING STORES AND RESTAURANTS NEAR BY. THE SOCIAL MEDIA APPS LIKE TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM FUNCTION AS GREAT ALTERNATIVES FOR LIKING AND RETREATING POSTS RIGHT FROM YOUR WATCH.
THE APPLE WATCH IS A JOY TO HAVE AND HAS A LOT OF PRACTICAL VALUE FOR SENDING MESSAGES, READING NEWS, USING SOCIAL MEDIA, AND GETTING WORK DONE. IT WOULD MAKE A GREAT PRESENT FOR YOURSELF AND/OR THOSE YOU CARE ABOUT.
YOU CAN ALSO CHECK OUT MY REVIEW OF THE APPLE WATCH ON YOUTUBE.
Charles Bell, guest writer
Earlier this year when reports were coming out of CES 2015, Forbes wrote about Apple's emergence as an IoT competitor. For those who may not be as familiar with the term just yet, the IoT refers to the so-called "Internet of Things," which is essentially the automatic connectivity of different devices for the sake of safety, security, convenience, and/or efficiency. The simplest example of this implementation that the average tech user is increasingly familiar with is fitness tracking, whereby a smart watch or phone can automatically track your exercise data and plug it into a computer program that helps you to analyze your fitness.
But the IoT's potential goes much further than personal fitness tracking, and now stretches across a range of industries. Just how far into the whole concept Apple will get remains to be seen, but the aforementioned Forbes article was referring mostly to the in-home IoT, where Google and Apple are laying the foundation for a fierce competition. In-home IoT can mean anything from a smart thermostat to control over home security, and Apple appears to be involved with all of it. Devices for controlling locks and garage doors, maintaining data on home energy, and other uses were all visible at CES 2015, and all compatible with Apple and iOS.
Somewhat shockingly, several months after CES a poll in Fortune revealed that 48% of responders identified Apple most closely with the IoT (over Samsung, Amazon, and Google, in that order). The same study found that despite those numbers, "consumers lack a clear understanding of IoT devices currently available and the benefits provided by each." In other words, people associate Apple automatically with a concept they view as cutting edge—most likely because of Apple's general reputation. There doesn't even need to be a clear understanding of products for a consumer to assume Apple is leading the way.
This begs the question of just where Apple has the capacity to go with its IoT projects. The company has a leg up in personal health and fitness tracking, and they're making progress in the in-home product market as well. One thing that could conceivably be around the corner is expanding their IoT reach into transportation, should rumors of an Apple Car prove true.
Thus far, the only real model for transportation-based IoT integration is on an industry level, where companies use wireless connectivity to track and manage entire fleets of vehicles. Networkfleet's system measures vehicle diagnostics, and it also implements GPS tracking of vehicles and automatic, cost-free roadside assistance, and the benefits are easy to understand for an entire company. Shipping routes are made more efficient, drivers are safer, and vehicle repair costs are lowered. But a similar model can also be beneficial for individual drivers. IoT in transportation can mean automatic GPS routing, vehicle maintenance tracking and alerts, and the same automatic roadside assistance. Essentially, your car can manage itself, and it's difficult to imagine a hypothetical Apple Car not implementing these features.
This is just one example of where else Apple could go if it does manage to seize control of the consumer-facing IoT market. In all likelihood, we'll see Apple continue to explore this market (even if it's through other companies, as we saw at CES) in the coming years. However, it's also worth mentioning that co-founder Steve Wozniak has been somewhat hesitant to dive in fully on the IoT trend. Wozniak suggested there may be an IoT bubble because "there is a pace at which human beings can change the way they do things." That's probably a fair outlook, though one also has to consider that the IoT is less about humans doing new things and more about humans doing less.
by Timothy Brown
Podcasts offer a convenient way to deliver digital content for free via a subscription to a web feed, and Soundcloud provides a cloud-based delivery system for streaming audio content straight from a browser. Actually, Soundcloud provides a way to do both. Before I begin, let me provide you with a little background about podcasting.
iTunes and Podcasts
Not surprisingly, Apple played a key role popularizing podcasts, and podcasters like Adam Curry, otherwise known as the "podfather," was one of the first to use the technology. iTunes was introduced at Macworld on January 9, 2001, after Apple purchased SoundJam MP, from the developers (and former Apple employees) Jeff Robbin, Bill Kincaid, and Dave Heller. On June 28, 2005, Apple introduced iTunes version 4.9 which offered built-in support for podcasts.
What exactly is a podcast?
A podcast is a form of digital media (audio, video, digital radio, pdf) that is presented in a series and streamed online to a computer or mobile device. The podcast producer maintains a list of digital files or assets on a server as a web feed that can be accessed by third-party software like iTunes, which functions as a directory for accessing the podcasts - otherwise known as an “aggregator” or “podcatcher.” Web feeds are set up using RSS (Really Simple Syndication), an XML file format that ensures compatibility with many different computers, devices, and programs. RSS feeds enable users to subscribe to audio and video recordings and receive them in a series, automatically, removing the need to manually check the website for new content.
For example, when you open iTunes on your computer, you will find podcasts as a menu option, alongside music and movies. When you access podcasts from the iTunes Store, you will find a directory of podcasts that you can browse by categories, including highlighted sections like “new and noteworthy” or “featured collections.”
Soundcloud was established in Berlin in August 2007 by a Swedish sound designer Alexander Ljung and Swedish artist Eric Wahlforss. Soundcloud provides an online resource for accessing music and audio recordings directly from a browser. Content producers are provided with individual channels that users can follow, like, repost, and add to customized playlists. Soundcloud can be accessed through a mobile application, which makes it easy to stream recordings from a smartphone. Content that is distributed through Soundcloud can also be shared and distributed through other websites using a code embed option, enabling content producers and consumers to feature songs and playlists across the web.
I guess you can say that Soundcloud is like Flickr for audio streaming.
Soundcloud and Podcasts
Soundcloud provides a convenient way for combining its cloud-based service for hosting and delivering audio content with podcast technology, which automatically delivers content to you. For example, music and audio recordings that are set up on a channel or in a playlist can be selectively added to a RSS feed that is generated by Soundcloud. Soundcloud generates a unique url or RSS feed that can be submitted to “podcatchers” or directories like iTunes. The podcasts or audio recordings are accessed through various applications, including Podcasts by Apple, Overcast, Downcast, Stitcher Radio, and Podcast Addict, to mention a few).
The marriage or integration of Soundcloud with podcast technology helps to provide broad access to audio recordings, most of which are free to consumers. Content producers that are interested in using Soundcloud as a delivery system have the option to sign up for a Pro account at $6 a month or a Pro Unlimited account at $15 dollars a month, if they prefer to have advanced access to analytics and web statistics.
If you are unfamiliar with podcasting, I recommend that you visit iTunes and explore the directory of podcasts, or check out Apple’s Podcasts application, which comes pre-installed on iPhones. Likewise, if you are unfamiliar with Soundcloud, visit soundcloud.com, search Soundcloud’s directory, download the Soundcloud application, and/or start your own Soundcloud account. You will discover a whole new world of content right at your finger tips.
This article was written by Timothy Paul Brown, host of My Apple Podcast
Host of My Apple Podcast.