Apple has awarded its annual design awards to 11 apps for Mac and iOS. On the functional side, winners include WWF Together for iPad, which details endangered animals; Procreate for iPad, a drawing app; Yahoo’s new weather app for iPhone and iPad; Web development app Coda 2 for Mac; and note-taker Evernote 5 for Mac. Winning games include Letterpress for iPad and iPhone, Badland for iPhone and iPad, Ridiculous Fishing for iPhone and iPad, and Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. There were also two student winners: Finish, a streamlined to-do app for iPhone, and mosaic.io, a photo mosaic app for iPhone and iPad.
One of the less-discussed features in iOS 7 is the new male voice for Siri, but why is Apple adding it now? According to Stanford professor Clifford Nass, one cringeworthy reason could be because female voices are sometimes seen as less intelligent than male voices. These cultural perceptions are the reason why Siri originally received male voices in some countries, like the United Kingdom, but not in others. For example, BMW had to recall a car in Germany, because male drivers didn’t trust the female voice chosen for the GPS. A better reason? Apple wants to let users customize the iOS experience more fully, though it seems unlikely that Apple would go as far as including the celebrity voices used by GPS makers TomTom and Garmin.
Apple might have wowed the WWDC keynote audience with its iOS 7 Weather app, which shows animated weather effects in the background, but Apple wasn’t the first to have the idea. Developer Alaric Cole tells the tale of his potentially groundbreaking weather app, Horizon, and how Apple kept it out of the App Store. Horizon would have also displayed weather effects in the background, but was continually rejected by Apple for vague reasons. Cole doesn’t accuse Apple of stealing his idea, but he does wonder if they delayed his app so as to beat him to market.
Over at Macworld, Serenity Caldwell explores 27 new features in iOS 7 that Apple glossed over during the WWDC keynote. Some of the more interesting tidbits are natural language calendar notifications, better Wi-Fi hotspot support, walking directions and a night mode in Maps, and Smart Mailboxes in Mail. One particularly interesting note is support for third-party game controllers, which could be a clue to Apple’s future TV and gaming plans.
With iOS 7, Apple’s mobile OS is being rebuilt from the ground up. Josh Centers takes you on a tour of the new visual design and features, but don’t get too excited, since you won’t be able to get your hands on it until the fall.
Nimble Quest takes the classic Snake game and gives it an RPG twist.
Lawyers patent-trolling their own clients is the latest evidence that the U.S. patent system has gotten out of control. But perhaps help is on the way.
If you’re having trouble keeping your iPhone charged, Facebook may be at fault. A German developer has discovered that the Facebook app’s misuse of background tasks is causing the app to run in the background all day, hogging the CPU and causing the battery to drain faster than normal. Until the bug is resolved, Facebook users can preserve battery life either by killing the app from the multitasking switcher after every use or by deleting the app and using the Facebook Web app within Safari.
If you crack your iPhone 5 screen and didn’t think to purchase AppleCare+, you can now have your screen replaced in an Apple Store for $149. While third-party repair shops have offered this for years and may be less expensive, working with the Apple Store ensures an Apple-approved screen. Stephen Hackett, a former Apple Store Genius, managed to snag a picture of the special machine Geniuses are using to calibrate the new displays. “We’re bringing China to the Genius Room,” an anonymous Apple employee told him.
After a many-year hiatus, the venerable graphics program is coming back to the Mac. But not for a year.
Apple has released OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.4, with a long-awaited fix for jumbled Messages and a new version of Safari with numerous security fixes.
Opening arguments have begun in the U.S. Department of Justice’s trial against Apple over the agency model of pricing, heralded by the iBookstore launch in 2010. The issue at stake is Apple working with all the major publishers to adopt a model where the publishers set the retail price of ebooks, instead of selling at wholesale to retailers, who then choose their own retail prices. However, things don’t look good for Apple, as Judge Denise Cote has already said, in a pre-trial hearing, “I believe that the government will be able to show at trial direct evidence that Apple knowingly participated in and facilitated a conspiracy to raise prices of ebooks.” Ironically, if the government wins, it may lead to less competition, as Amazon had previously set most ebook prices at $9.99, even if it meant selling at a loss, a move arguably designed to cement Amazon’s dominant position. Dan Moren of Macworld provides a solid overview of the case.
The venerable iOS podcast client comes to the Mac, offering Instacast fans syncing among Apple devices and Mac-specific features.
Adobe has heard the complaints about the subscription-only Creative Cloud, and says it will address them. Josh Centers has the details.
After more than 11 years, development on the open-source Camino Web browser has ended. Back in the dark ages of Mac OS X, before Safari and Chrome, the Camino Project was established to graft a Mac-native interface onto Mozilla’s Gecko rendering engine. Many of Camino’s developers were later hired by Apple and Google to work on their respective browsers. Web browsing on Mac OS X wouldn’t be what it is today without Camino, and for that, we thank the developers, salute them, and wish them the best in whatever they do next.