AT&T is pushing out an update to iPhone 4S and 5 owners to enable the government alerts feature that was introduced in iOS 6, a capability that has been available to Verizon customers since September 2012. The alerts are part of the FCC’s CMAS (Commercial Mobile Telephone Alerts) initiative, and include severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts for abducted children, and Presidential alerts. All but the Presidential alerts can be disabled in settings, and none of the alerts count against data or messaging limits.
Peter Kirn, a musician, inventor, and teacher writing for Create Digital Music, has penned a treatise on how the forthcoming Mac Pro will affect musicians and audio pros. It’s a lengthy read, but worthwhile for anyone in the field. Much of his examination revolves around the new Mac Pro’s lack of interior expansion. While many pros will be disappointed at the lack of PCI slots, Kirn argues, “…if you want to take the material you worked out in the studio and bring it on the road with you, you can unplug a Thunderbolt accessory and use it with your laptop. It’s hard not to see that as a very good thing.”
Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper and The Magazine, is arguing for the end of the “top” lists in the App Store: top paid apps, top free apps, and top grossing apps. His reasoning is that those lists simply help top sellers stay on top, as many people rely entirely on the lists for app discovery. Also, he argues that the lists encourage cheap, shallow apps, and says that the system itself is easy to game. More human curation would help, as would better search and discovery within the App Store.
Adds OS X 10.9 support and other fixes. ($19.99 new, free update, 5.6 MB)
Like its tech industry peers, Apple has released a statement regarding PRISM, the alleged NSA data-collection program. Apple gives some examples of what has been requested by law enforcement agencies, including 4,000–5,000 requests for data between 1 December 2012 and 31 May 2013. However, Apple also claims that it cannot decrypt iMessage or FaceTime conversations, and also states that the company does not store data related to location, map searches, or Siri requests in “any identifiable form.”
With all the noise about iOS 7, you might have forgotten about one of iOS 6’s least-known features: Guided Access, which lets you lock down apps and interface elements to protect your iPad or iPhone from prying eyes or rambunctious kids. Rene Ritchie of iMore gives an overview of how to use this feature, including how to simulate a “Guest Mode.”
Microsoft Office is finally available for iOS, but prepare for disappointment. It's only for the iPhone, and the app requires an Office 365 subscription, which starts at $60 a year. In addition to those limitations, the apps are bare bones, lacking many seemingly basic features: you can't undo actions or change fonts in Word, nor can you add slides or create new documents in PowerPoint.
If the icons of iOS 7 look disjointed to you, there might be a reason for it. According to an exclusive report by The Next Web, Jony Ive, Apple’s SVP of Design, had the marketing team choose the color palettes and basic look of the icons, then passed each icon off to the respective app teams to finish. In other words, too many cooks… The good news is that the look of iOS 7 is reportedly far from done, so we anticipate a more coherent design by release.
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.