Also new in iTunes 11.0.3 is an update to the app’s AppleScript dictionary that adds support for controlling AirPlay speakers. The AppleScript additions contain several options: you can check on an AirPlay device’s name, activity, availability on the network, kind (computer, Apple TV, other AirPlay device, etc), network address, and even if it supports audio or video.
This is a particularly welcome addition as it has been requested by users willing to script iTunes’ speakers for years now. Previously, the best option was to rely on GUI scripting to enable/disable speakers; as I wrote in December, it’s good to see Apple is still actively supporting AppleScript on OS X.
When updates are available, iTunes 11.0.3 will display a red “Update” ribbon on an application’s icon, similarly to how iOS displays a blue ribbon for “New” apps on the Home screen. In iTunes 11.0.3, updates are handled by the Updates area without requiring users to open the iTunes Store anymore.
After the launch of iTunes 11 in November 2012, the Updates screen remained surprisingly unchanged. The new app updates system is a welcome change — particularly because it doesn’t force users into an iTunes Store view anymore.
Update: Two more screenshots showing a contextual menu for apps that have an update, and the way iTunes 11.0.3 shows the changelog for an update with the same style of music albums.
Released in late November 2012, Apple today updated iTunes to version 11.0.3. The new version, available through the Mac App Store’s Software Update panel, brings a redesigned MiniPlayer, an improved songs view, support for multi-disc albums, and performance improvements.
The biggest change of iTunes 11.0.3 is the new MiniPlayer. Sporting a progress bar, the MiniPlayer now also comes with a larger artwork view that can be activated by clicking on the artwork thumbnail in the bottom left corner. The new artwork view will turn the MiniPlayer into a widget reminiscent of desktop music controllers like Bowtie and CoverSutra, with the usual controls to adjust volume, hide/view Up Next, and access an additional contextual menu. In the image above, you can see a composited screenshot of the new MiniPlayer views.
iTunes 11.0.3 is available now on Software Update and through Apple’s website.
With a press release published this morning, Apple formally announced the 50 billion app download milestone they hit yesterday, alongside the name of the $10,000 App Store gift card winner and 50 billionth app download. The 50 billionth app was Say the Same Thing by Space Inch, downloaded by Brandon Ashmore from Mentor, Ohio.
Apple would like to thank our incredible customers and developers for topping 50 billion apps downloaded,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “The App Store completely transformed how people use their mobile devices and created a thriving app ecosystem that has paid out over nine billion dollars to developers. We’re absolutely floored to cross this milestone in less than five years.
In the press release, Apple quotes various developers, such as Shazam’s CEO, on the importance of the App Store and its evolution in the past five years.
The iOS App Store opened on July 10, 2008. After 1770 days, 50 billion app downloads make an average of over 28 million apps downloaded each day (28.2 million). Today, the App Store offers more than 850,000 apps (350,000 made for the iPad) in 155 countries, organized in 23 categories that span Productivity, Games, Newspapers, and more.
For the 50 billion app download contest, Apple has also offered a $500 gift card to each of the 50 people who downloaded an app after the 50 billion milestone.
Google demonstrated a new version of Google Maps during the Google I/O 2013 keynote today, showcasing a full screen maps application for the web that reacts to every click. Redesigned in an effort to put an emphasis on directions and places, Maps’ new interface is focused on discovery. As you click, Maps will surface contextual information about what you can find at a desired location through a carousel and contextual cards, highlighting popular tourist attractions, directions to that place, and street views so you know exactly what to expect when you get there. Based on photos taken in the area, Google will even create tours so you can easily plan your next trip.
It’s contextually aware too: taking into account location information from your Google account, such as where you live and where you work, Google Maps will make recommendations on places to visit, utilizing reviews from Zagat and recent places your friends on Google+ have visited to highlight what’s popular in the area. It’ll also highlight new places you might be interested in based on your previous search history.
Maps will be much faster than before, as vector maps are replacing tile-based maps on the web, bringing it up to date with Android and iOS. For WebGL-enabled browsers, Google Earth is now a part of the web app and can be activated through a simple toggle for viewing 3D imagery. Just the like the desktop app, you can zoom out and fly around the entire planet or just around your favorite locale.
Google also talked about updates to their mobile applications, announcing than an iPad app will be arriving in the summer. Building upon the interface introduced with Google Maps on iOS, Google will be bringing in global traffic data and alerts for live reports on incidents and accidents, no matter where you’ll be going. Google Offers will also be integrated, giving you a heads up on nearby deals from restaurants and department stores so that you can take advantage of discounts and special offers.
As expected, Apple has hit the 50 billion app downloads milestone today. The countdown that the company launched two weeks ago was updated with a new “Thanks” image on Apple’s servers earlier today, which is now publicly available across Apple.com and the iTunes Store. On Apple’s website, there’s a new photo of an iPad running Paper by FiftyThree and displaying “Thanks” as a handwritten note; on the promotion’s webpage, Apple writes “50 billion app downloads. One really big thank you”.
Apple will award an App Store gift card of $10,000 to the lucky customer who downloaded the 50 billionth app, plus a $500 App Store gift card to each of the next 50 people to download an app.
In the past five years, Apple shared various App Store download milestones: three billion apps had been downloaded by January 2010; 10 billion by January 2011; 15 billion in July 2011; for the 25 billionth app download in March 2012, Apple awarded Chunli Fu of Qingdao, China — who downloaded Where’s My Water? Free — with a $10,000 gift card. Apple announced 40 billion App Store downloads in January 2013, with 20 billion of them in 2012 alone.
The iOS App Store opened on July 10, 2008. After 1770 days (4 years, 10 months, 5 days), 50 billion app downloads make an average of over 28 million apps downloaded each day (28.2 million). In January 2013, Apple announced 500 million iOS devices had been sold; assuming the number jumped to 560 million after Apple’s Q2 2013 results, that would make an average of 89.3 apps downloaded for each iOS device sold.
According to Apple, “the grand prize winner will be announced soon”.
Rumored for the past few months, Google has today announced its new unified messaging system for iOS, Android, and web called “Hangouts”. A free service that includes text, photo, and video messaging, Hangouts is a rebrand of Google’s former video-chat service for Google+. The new Hangouts will unify Google Talk and Google+ messages under a single service, storing conversations in the cloud.
With Hangouts, users will be able to access their full history of conversations on any device, an option that can be turned off. While other messaging services such as WhatsApp, Apple’s iMessage, or Facebook Messenger focus on either text or static media, Google promises to leverage its experience with Talk and Google+ to provide a solution that encompasses all kinds of messages, including live video. Another key aspect of Hangouts, demoed at Google’s I/O conference earlier today, is the possibility of syncing notifications across devices: instead of buzzing multiple devices for a message that’s already been read somewhere else, Google will try to sync every Hangouts notification on mobile devices and the web (Hangouts is also available through Google+ and Gmail). (more…)
1Password for iOS, AgileBits’ excellent password manager, has been updated today to version 4.2, which brings some notable improvements for login management and 1Browser, the app’s built-in web browser for the iPhone and iPad.
On the iPad, Go and Fill bookmarks have been added to the browser, making it easier to quickly open a previously saved login and directly log into it using the (also new, and not iPad-only) auto-submit option for login filling. Bookmarks are available in a popover and they can be searched: in both bookmark and regular search, you can now expand search to all fields if you remember a piece of information of a specific item that doesn’t show up in regular search.
Bookmarks aren’t available on the iPhone’s smaller screen, but, both on the iPad and iPhone, login filling now uses the same sweet animation that was brought to the desktop extensions a while back. Combined with auto-filling and the aforementioned animation (which can be disabled in the new 1Browser settings), logging into websites with 1Password 4.2 is now a faster and more enjoyable process.
In my original review of 1Password 4, I lamented the lack of options for creating new logins from the embedded browser. While the app still won’t prompt you to save a new login, 1Browser for iPad does have the same strong password generator found elsewhere in the app, with the same amount of options to control repeated letters, pronounceability, and more. Two small touches that I particularly enjoyed while testing 1Password 4.2 were the smart clipboard detection when launching the app (1Password will ask if you want to open a URL in your clipboard) and the fact that the app will return to the Vault after closing the last 1Browser tab. I look forward to seeing if and how AgileBits will figure out a way to port the new 1Browser features to the iPhone.
Thanks to the latest updates, 1Password for iOS is reaching the same degree of functionality of the desktop app with browser extensions. In some areas, I actually prefer using 1Password for iOS: the URL scheme makes it extremely easy to find and open login items; 1Browser for iPad is a great tool; the new sharing options of version 4.2 include tappable 1Password links that you can send to your spouse or colleagues to let them easily add a shared item to their Vault.
1Password remains one of my must-have iOS apps that I use every day, and the additions of version 4.2 are welcome. The update is now available on the App Store.
TextExpander saves you time regularly spent writing out the same addresses, signatures, and prose when composing emails, replying to business correspondance, and helping customers. Instead of copying and pasting common replies, TextExpander becomes your magical shorthand for quickly typing out paragraphs and signatures with just a few key presses. By setting up small, text reminders and snippets, you can quickly expand bits of text into long paragraphs, addresses, symbols, boiler plate text, code snippets, and more. Inserting dates, creating statements with customized form fields, and fixing common misspellings will make TextExpander an invaluable tool as a part of your daily workflow. Plus, you can sync TextExpander with Dropbox for keeping shortcuts shared between the office and your personal devices. TextExpander is also integrated into over 140 iOS apps, giving you the option to use your shortcuts anywhere with your iPhone or iPad.