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Option-Click AirPort Menu for Network Details

If you hold down the Option key while clicking the AirPort menu in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, you'll see not just the names of nearby Wi-Fi networks, but additional details about the selected network. Details include the MAC address of the network, the channel used by the base station, the signal strength (a negative number; the closer to zero it is, the stronger the signal), and the transmit rate in megabits per second showing actual network throughput. If you hover the cursor over the name of a network to which you're not connected, a little yellow pop-up shows the signal strength and type of encryption.

 

 

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Macworld’s Ideas to Improve Apple Products

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Our friends over at Macworld have been on fire lately with some great suggestions for Apple that are both well-considered and constructive. If you’ve been pining for changes in Mac OS X, iOS, Calendar, and iPhoto, you’re far from alone, and it might be illuminating to compare your wishlists with Macworld’s. We hope Apple’s upcoming Worldwide Developer Conference will offer a glimpse into how Apple intends to respond to these requests.

Ten Improvements to OS X -- The Macworld staff has a number of proposals for the next version of Apple’s desktop operating system, including the addition of Siri, improved voice dictation, a power user mode, more powerful Mail rules, expanded iCloud support, enabling Time Machine to use multiple drives, better multiple monitor support, and a better Messages app.

If rumors are to be believed, we may at least see tags and tabbed browser in the Finder, the addition of Siri, and better support for multiple monitors.

Ten Improvements to iOS -- In the same vein, the Macworld staff has ten suggestions for iOS. Their proposed improvements include easy access to common settings, a new home screen with widgets and better options for sorting apps, AirDrop support, better notification management, improved multitasking, refined text editing, and an overhauled Siri.

I would love to see automatic app sorting by actual usage, as manually managing hundreds of apps is a pain, and my favorites often get lost in the mix. However, I’m less excited about the possibility of home screen widgets. In my previous life as an Android user, widgets tended to be messy and drained the battery. Sure, Apple could allow third-party developers to add their own widgets to Notification Center, but isn’t that clogged up enough as is? And the inclusion of AirDrop, the local file-sharing protocol introduced in OS X 10.7 Lion, would seem like a no-brainer, and would probably increase usage radically. But for that to happen, Apple would have to admit that files still exist in iOS, which might be difficult.

Why Calendars Suck -- Jason Snell, Editorial Director of Macworld, asks why calendar apps are so dumb after all these years. Snell argues that modern calendaring apps should help users create realistic schedules, account for travel time, be able to make intelligent guesses from previous user input, and make better use of display real estate. Hopefully Jonathan Ive will rip the stitched leather out of Calendar and guide Apple’s developers toward a calendar built for today’s world.

Blogger Ben Brooks has even created a mockup incorporating Snell’s ideas. While we’re not sure if it’s exactly where we wish Apple would go, it’s a step in the right direction.

Apple vs. the File System -- Marco Tabini examines Apple’s disdain for file systems and describes the problems inherent in the app-centric document strategy the company has taken with iOS. As he points out, keeping different kinds of documents segregated from each other doesn’t reflect the way people work. Instead, Tabini proposes a project-oriented sandbox that would allow mixing documents from different apps together. While it seems unlikely that Apple would implement such a thing, it would make iOS far more productive for those who do more (or want to do more!) than read email, browse the Web, and check the weather on their iOS devices.

How to Fix iPhoto -- Finally, our own Jeff Carlson outlines four ways to improve iPhoto: allowing users to turn off facial recognition to speed up the app, better management of photos on external drives, Photo Stream integration with the Finder, and metadata export.

I use and like iPhoto, but as Jeff said in the article’s conclusion, speed is a major problem. I used to use iPhoto and Photo Stream to import iOS screenshots onto my Mac, but iPhoto would often slow my system to a crawl on launch, which is annoying, especially when I just want to grab an image or two. On Jeff’s recommendation, I now move photos from my iPhone to my Mac using PhotoSync, which is the perfect tool for the job (see “PhotoSync Bridges the Mac/iOS Divide for Images,” 1 April 2012).

 

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