Posts tagged with "iPhone"

Making Music on iOS: Guitar Amps, Effects Apps & Hardware

BIAS custom amps

BIAS custom amps

Back in the 1980s I played guitar. Yes, I’m that old. I learned from books and by playing along with CDs, and I jacked my Charvel guitar (awesome) into a Session guitar amp (terrible), and I never really got any better.

Now, 30-odd years later, I’m at it again. And like most things, except mobile phones, everything is better than it was in the 80s. Mid-range and even low-end guitars are better-made and cheaper. Amps are cheap and no longer terrible. And we have iOS devices and apps which can replace whole suitcases full of effects pedals.

That’s what we’re looking at today – iPad (and iPhone) guitar amp simulations, along with virtual effects pedals. And along the way, we’ll look at hardware to connect up your guitar to the iPad, and at some speaker options so you can actually hear yourself play.

Spoiler alert – the guitar world has taken a big turn towards the awesome.

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My Must-Have iPhone Apps, 2014 Edition

For the past four years, I’ve been running a series called My Must-Have Apps that, once a year, collects all the apps I find indispensable to get work done on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Considering changes to my daily life and workflow, this year only features my must-have iPad and iPhone apps.

The iPhone has changed my professional life, and it’s a powerful and essential pocket computer that I carry with me all the time. But I prefer to get work done on my iPad.

There was a time when I thought that I could work entirely from my iPhone; after upgrading to a cellular iPad two years ago and once I began moving to an iPad-centric workflow, I realized that the tablet was the iOS device that I preferred for writing, reading, doing email, and watching movies. For millions of users, the iPhone turns into a mobile computer as soon as they step away from the comfort of a desk with a Mac. But I’ve come to realize that I’d rather have two iOS devices with me at all times – a smaller iPhone and a bigger iPad – than one that tries to do everything at once. Which is why, ultimately, I decided to go with an iPhone 6 and an iPad Air 2 this year.

In spite of my personal preference, though, I can’t deny the fact that, nowadays, it’s hard to find iOS apps – and especially utilities or productivity-related apps – that aren’t Universal. The trend of “iPad-only” and “iPhone-only” apps has been substantially downsized in recent years – none of the apps on my iPad Home screen are exclusive to the iPad at this point. So while I like and use the iPhone more for listening to music, taking pictures, or monitoring my health data, I still end up installing a text editor, a shortcut launcher, and a Python interpreter on my iPhone because they’re available and because why not. This isn’t an ideal scenario – too many developers are making iOS apps that simply scale across screen sizes without taking advantage of the unique features of each platform – but that’s beyond the scope of this series.

It was tough to compile a list of must-have iPhone apps this year: I’ve already covered most of them in my iPad article, and I don’t use the iPhone as much as my iPad. But at the same time, I realized that, for those times when I needed to work from my iPhone, those smaller iPad apps were absolutely necessary, even if not running on a screen size that I’m comfortable with. And, more importantly, I believe the article can be useful to readers who had no interest in iPad apps and my iPad workflow.

This year, I’ve only covered iPad and iPhone apps, as I practically don’t use a Mac anymore. For apps shared across my iPad and iPhone, I used the same base descriptions, with differences for the iPhone versions noted and rewritten where necessary. This is a remix and addendum to my must-have iPad apps.

In the list below, you’ll find apps organized in seven sections:

  • Work Essentials
  • Social
  • Audio and Music
  • Photos and Screenshots
  • News
  • Health
  • Utilities

At the end of the article, you’ll also find my iPhone App of the Year and a Runner-up. Each app has a direct iTunes link, and, where possible, I’ve included links to previous MacStories coverage as well.

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iPhone 6 Camera Compared to Previous iPhone Cameras

Lisa Bettany:

In the past seven years, each new advancement in iPhone camera technology has made dramatic improvements to image quality. The iPhone 6 is no different. Besides being faster to shoot and easier to focus, the images taken with the iPhone 6 camera show greater detail and are significantly better in low-light.

In this follow-up post to my iPhone 4s and iPhone 5 comparisons, I present an 8 iPhone comparison from all iPhone versions taken with Camera+ including, the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, and the new iPhone 6 in a variety of situations to test the camera’s capabilities.

Great compilation. Check out the lowlight and backlit galleries to really get the differences.

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Essential

The iPhone is good at many trivial tasks such as playing games and watching videos, but this week I experienced firsthand how much its portability and apps matter when dealing with an emergency situation.

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iOS 7′s Activation Lock Helps Reduce iPhone Thefts

Brian X. Chen, writing for The New York Times about the effect of iOS 7's Activation Lock on iPhone thefts:

For several years, cellphone theft has been a growing epidemic worldwide. But the police in New York, San Francisco and London say they are finally starting to see a dip in thefts of one of the most popular smartphones.

The reason? The attorney general of New York, Eric T. Schneiderman, and the district attorney of San Francisco, George Gascón, share the theory that phone thefts are dropping because of Apple’s addition of a so-called kill switch, a type of antitheft technology, in its iPhone in September.

This is great news, and I would like to see Apple push Find My iPhone even more in the future. I'm surprised every time someone tells me they don't know what iCloud or Find My iPhone can do, or that a stolen iPhone can be visualized through the Find My iPhone web interface. It's good to know that Apple's tech is working and that more companies are adopting kill switches for mobile devices.

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Kickstarter: Lunecase – A Unique iPhone Case with a Wireless Notification System

Here's a unique product looking for funding on Kickstarter, the Lunecase by Concepter. It's "an intelligent case that receives notifications from the iPhone. Powered by electromagnetic energy. Wireless, smart, elegant."

So what's so unique about another iPhone case? For starters, the back has a built-in notification system that displays an icon for both incoming phone calls and SMS messages -- all without using a drop of the device's battery. Lunecase does this with the help of LEDs, as it uses free energy that is emitted by the device, converting it from the iPhone's electromagnetic energy into a usable energy to power the notification system embedded in the case. Read more


The WSJ Interviews Original iPhone Engineer

The WSJ's Daisuke Wakabayashi interviewed Greg Christie, one of the original iPhone engineers, about the creation of the device that launched seven years ago.

In late 2004, Mr. Christie was working on software for Apple's Macintosh computers when Scott Forstall, a senior member of the company's software team, walked into his office, closed the door and asked if he wanted to work on a secret project, codenamed “purple.” The team would develop a phone with an integrated music player, operated by a touch screen.

There are some new anecdotes to me in the interview, as well as a photo of a system Apple created to test the iPhone software in 2006 (it's big and clunky as you imagine). You can read the interview here.

See also: Andy Grignon's story.

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iOS 7.1 On The iPhone 4

I was surprised when Apple announced that iOS 7 would run on 2010's iPhone 4, mostly because the OS seemed to make use of graphical effects, transitions, and animations that looked like great candidates for poor performance and hiccups. Indeed, iOS 7 on the iPhone 4 (and to an extend, the iPad 3) was, in my experience, insufferable: animations were slow, scrolling would often drop frames and stutter, and everything felt generally sluggish.

Ars Technica's Andew Cunningham has run tests to measure the speed improvements of iOS 7.1 on the iPhone 4. The changes are noticeable, but, more importantly, the update makes the OS fluid and snappy – usable, at least. iOS 7.1 cuts the execution time of animations on all iOS devices, but the difference for the iPhone 4 is even more apparent.

It is a good thing that Apple is still supporting a four year-old device with the latest version of iOS (albeit with missing features), and I'm glad that iOS 7's possibly one and only major update focused on making performance acceptable on older devices for the future.

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The New Hotel Key: Your Smartphone

Craig Karmin, reporting for the WSJ:

Guests arriving at the Aloft Hotel in Manhattan or one in Silicon Valley will soon be able to do something hotels have dreamed about offering for years: walk past the check-in desk and enter their rooms by using a smartphone as a room key.
[…]
Guests at these properties will receive a message on a Starwood app containing a virtual key, which will unlock the door with a tap or twist of their phone through the use of Bluetooth technology. The company says the iPhone 4s or newer models and the Android phones running 4.3 or newer will be compatible.

Personally, I still enjoy the interaction with staff members when I check in, which is also the reason why I always go talk to an employee when I need to buy something at my local Apple store (I tried Apple's EasyPay feature, and it felt odd).

This is where the future is going, though, and there are several elements worth considering. Bluetooth LE has stolen the spotlight from NFC for low-power, peer-to-peer wireless transfers, and there are obvious security concerns over solutions like this, as well as home products like the Lockitron. It's an exciting time to watch pocket computers reshape our world.

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