The Poll: iPhone upgrades

Would you upgrade to an iPhone 4S from a 3GS for only £20?

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Apple confirms iPad 3 event for next Wednesday

We knew it was coming, and now we have a date.

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Apple iPad 2 review

Launched almost 1 year ago, Apple’s iPad 2 remains the biggest selling tablet of all time but, with its successor’s unveil coming in as little as 2 weeks, is it still a viable option in the tablet space or could it become the next budget smash hit?

Hardware

The main upgrade from the iPad to the iPad 2 is the dual-core A5 processor, clocked at around 1GHz, which definitely contributes greatly to the immense speed of the iPad. It also includes both a front and rear camera at 0.7 and 0.1 mega-pixels. You may look at these specs and sneer, but the back camera also is capable of up to 720p HD. Admittedly, using the iPad as a camera does make you look stupid, as Spike Lee demonstrated in front of Barack Obama. With a choice of either 16GB, 32GB or 64GB, you can choose the model that is right for you. The iPad 2’s 9.7″ IPS screen is once again fantastic and, while not quite full HD at 1024 x 768, still provides a fantastic image. The battery life of the iPad is surprising, as it is able to be used non-stop for a full 10 hours before charging is required. The iPad still uses the same 3.5mm headphone jack so you can use any old headphones. This is unlike Sony Ericsson, for instance, where the proprietary connector needed is often very hard to find and sometimes quite expensive. The three axis gyro and accelerometer make hand-held gaming entertaining. A great app to test this out is Sonic Riders, a game just like Mario Kart but with Sonic characters. You tilt the device to steer and it is much more enjoyable than moving an analog stick with one finger.

Design


As mentioned earlier, the iPad 2 features a 9.7″ IPS LCD screen which, in my opinion, looks stunning. It makes tablet gaming, surfing the web, and watching movies much more enjoyable than on my other devices. The size of the screen makes for excellent cinematic experience as it is nearly as big as some smaller netbooks. I love the aluminium body, only 8.8mm thick and weighing just over 600g. This makes it nice and simple to carry around and it fits snugly into your hand during use. It can simply slip inside a bag or a coat pocket and is easily accessible at all times.

Software

iOS 5 was released in October and comes with over 200 new features including iCloud, iMessage, Newstand, Reminders, Notification Centre and WiFi syncing, much of which has made its way across to OS X Mountain Lion. iCloud enables Apple device owners to store music, videos, apps and anything else to “the cloud”. This means that you can wirelessly add all your files to any of your iOS 5 devices such as Mac, Apple TV, iPod Touch and iPad 2. iMessage is now open to iPad and iPod Touch as well as just iPhone. It allows to to send unlimited text messages via Wi-Fi or 3G. You do not have to pay to do this which I think is an amazing bonus. Reminders allows you to store dates, meetings, shopping trips and much more. You can also set alarms to help you remember when and where to be. The new Notification Centre allows you to have all your notifications in one place to access instantly. Personally, I am glad that Apple have finally decided to do this as I find the small red circles on apps quite annoying as you would have to load up the app to find out what it was. Now, however, you can see all your notifications for all apps, all on one page. PC free registration now enables people who don’t even own a computer to own an iPad, part of Apple’s quest to kill the PC and make the tablet king. With PC Free you can simply set everything up on the device itself. This means you can have your brand new tablet up and running in less than 10 minutes.

There are over 140,000 apps available for the iPad now and the variety is massive. You can have everything from apps for fruit-slicing to apps for checking your football teams latest scores. Apple, of course, have made their own apps for the iPad including Apple’s own iWork suite for document editing, GarageBand, iBooks and iMovie. These all are very stunning on the iPad and are definitely worth getting if you ever get the chance. However, as well as Apple’s first-party apps, there are thousands more out there waiting to be downloaded. Some of my personal favourites include Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Stick Cricket, Temple Run, Sonic Riders and Doodle Jump. There are also all the social networking apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Skype. For primary school children, secondary school children and even students at university there is a wide selection of educational apps in many subjects. One of my favourite educational apps is The Night Sky. You simply point the device towards the sky and the advanced gyro spins the star map to show you the names of all the stars and planets in the sky. Great for learning about the constellations and planets. There are also apps to help you out in business, sports, news, travel and much, much more.

Accessories

Even though the iPad 2 is a stunning piece of equipment on its own, it doesn’t hurt to have a couple of accessories to help you out with making the most out of your tablet. The iPad 2 smart cover is a quite interesting piece of equipment. When you snap it over the screen, it not only fits snugly and perfectly, but it automatically put the iPad into sleep mode. The cover can also be folded into a stand so you can sit back and watch a movie or even if you just want that extra bit of elevation. The Smart Cover comes in many different colours and you get the choice between polyurethane and leather, but you will, however, have to pay an extra £24 for the premium leather, which will fade over time. Another great accessory is the camera connection kit. It includes two small dongles that plug into the main iPad port. One has a SD card slot for instant download capability should the internal storage not be sufficient, whereas the other has a USB 2.0 port for camera cables to be plugged directly into the iPad.

Conclusion

Even 1 year on, the iPad 2 is still the best tablet on the market. With so much more tablet specific software than other platforms, a fantastic aluminium design and a lower price than a number of its competitors, there is no real reason not to choose anything over it at the moment, but be wary of the iPad 3 launch that lurks just around the corner.

How to use a Mac

So you got yourself a Mac. You have invested in the Apple ecosystem and you’re probably new to all of this. Before you get all cocky and consider yourself to be a rich computer god, you need to think a few things through.

Step 1: Telling everyone

First, and arguably most importantly, is you are not, repeat NOT, a ‘computer overlord’. You just have an overpriced computer with a glowing piece of fruit on the back. Yes, Macs are cool, but bragging is not. Let’s start on how to tell your friends. Telling them through a computer is OK, but think before you post.

This is not the way to tell people. You will lose a lot of friends very quickly. Instead of them going…

You’re the guy with the Mac, right? You’re epic!

It will be more like…

You got a Mac? Screw you. Did you know that millions of little Chinese kids died making that?

This is the way you should do it. It shows your friends that you consider yourself equal to them while humanising yourself with the admission of being a noob. Your friends will coincidentally become closer and will be always be asking to have a look.

Now you have your Mac and your friends all love you, you might think to make a movie. Well, I did anyway.

Step 2: Making your first movie

Macs are often used by creative people and, as such, many creative programs exist for content production on OS X. If you are just an amateur who wants to get started, you should use Apple’s own iMovie software, preinstalled as part of the iLife suite on every new Mac. It is very simple and has loads of bundled themes and effects, but they aren’t necessarily the best things to go for.

The option of a built-in theme is possibly the the worst idea for any film-maker seeking their own identity. I know you’re (probably) not George Lucas, but, with its crappy music and terrible transitions, any video like this uploaded to the internet will be trolled from all sides, posted on forums and ripped to shreds by haters. All the comments will be by pathetic idiots with nothing constructive to say. Expect things along the lines of…

ur a default n00b
i hope you never reproduce
worse than beiber
FIRST!!!!

Using the “No Theme” option will boost your creativity and spread your wings. giving you billions of new options that will allow you to build a film that is your own. If you go down the individual route, creating your own transitions and design, it will take longer but, done well, you may get some better responses.

Marry me!
I hope you win the lottery! 😀
Look out Hollywood!
The dislike bar is smaller than Justin Bieber’s penis!!!
FIRST!!!

So, with only one small change in the settings, you will be a movie making legend.

After a small amount of time, your shiny Mac will start to fill up with programs, movies and pictures. What happens then?

Step 3: Clearing up the mess

You have been on your Mac for a month or two now, but you must remember its not a PC. It’s a Mac. Desktop items should be non-existent. So, if you spend your time dragging funny pictures off Facebook, you should stop right now.

Well done. You have destroyed everything your Mac stands for with your custom background and your jumbled mess. If this was a human, I’d shoot it in the face. Do the people around you a favour and clear it up. Until you clear up that mess, don’t even think about talking to me. Why the heck do you have all those stupid pictures on your desktop? Sort it out!

That’s better.  First, make some folders. An original Apple background or a minimalist image is definitely the best for your computer, with a maximum of 3 folders present on your desktop. Don’t just make a folder called “Everything” either. There is no point and I will hunt you down.

Now you have mastered things like the desktop, you might want to mess about with the settings.

Step 4: Changing the settings

One thing I hate about people with Macs is them changing the settings. They spend their time mucking around with the background change time and dock position. Why? Don’t you think Apple tried hard enough to make sure your experience good enough? It’s people like you that make Steve turn in his grave.

Look at this! You have changed the settings so that you get a different background every 5 seconds! Other then your computer lagging all the time and overheating when it try’s to go into standby, life’s perfect. You can see a different colourful default background every 5 seconds when not looking at your background! Well done. Slow clap GIF for you. Let me go post a Facebook status about it.

Wait a second. Where’s the dock? Oh, you put it on the side.

WHY? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? WHAT IS THE POINT? SERIOUSLY!  WHY DID YOU THINK THAT THE LEFT HAND OF YOUR SCREEN NEEDED MORE LOVE? WHAT ABOUT EVERY TIME YOU TRY TO CLOSE A WINDOW?

Instant improvement. Seeing the dock in its rightful place makes me feel a lot calmer. I’m happy to say that I would love to use this Mac. Go into any Apple Store and you will see all the computers are set up like this. Why? Because that is how it is meant to be. Sir Jony Ive does things for a reason.

When I get stressed like to listen to some music on iTunes or Spotify.

Step 5: Listening to music

As a movie maker, I have quite a few sound effects in my iTunes library. Sometimes I forget this and sit down listening to some deadmau5 on shuffle when *BANG* I am shot through the brain with some gun sound effect I forgot to put in a folder.

When I sit down at my friends computer and see this I almost want to cry. Yes, it has sorted into automatic playlists, but  there is one separate playlist of one song! What is this madness? Also, I will be listening to some Alex Day when the wrong deadmau5 song will come on and ruin my happy clappy poppy mood!

This is the way it should be done. All my sound effects, audiobooks, music and voice memos have their own places and don’t get mixed up. I can continue to listen to my music in peace.

Now you know how to use a Mac. Have a GIF!

I have taught you all you need to avoid noobing out. Stick to these rules and you will experience your Mac as Apple intended. You will love it and it’s all thanks to me. Whenever somebody you care about gets a Mac, do the right thing and send them here. It’s the only way to be certain that they will make the most of the fruits of Apple’s labour.

Happy Maccing everyone!

Apple unveils OS X Mountain Lion

In 2011, Apple launched Mac OS X Lion, an operating system that combined multitouch capabilities with a classic desktop OS but even after this short time, they have confirmed the release of an updated version to launch in the summer. OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, confirmed on Thursday, is an improved and tweaked version Mac OS X that adds new features like AirPlay mirroring, iMessages and Notification Center, aiming to bridge the gap further between OS X and iOS.

Messages

The integration of iMessage and other services will greatly improve the iChat system. As a Mac user I am disappointed to say that I have never used iChat because, not knowing many other Mac users, I have a tendency to use Facebook and Windows Live to communicate. I do however know many people that have some sort of Apple product that uses the Message software. This will definitely make me use that software more, but, under all the fancy new features, the new name and slight redesign, it is just a update to iChat. But at least it has GIF support.

Notification Center

The Notification Center will be familiar to all iOS 5 users. The annoying thing that you pull down when trying to play Temple Run will now also be found on your Mac. I have never used this feature on my iPod other then to check my Facebook notifications, but it will be more handy to see what apps need updating. Other then that I find it pretty pointless but a nice touch nevertheless.

AirPlay Mirroring

One of the most advanced new feature of the software is AirPlay Mirroring, which allows you to duplicate your Mac’s screen through your Apple TV in 720p. In the past, this was only achievable by using a HDMI cable or with a device sporting iOS 5. This will be great if you have one of the hockey pucks or when the much rumoured real Apple TV gets released.

There’s loads of stuff in Mountain Lion and I have barely scratched the surface of this product. I’m definitely looking forward to getting to use the software and I will be sure to get it when it gets its Mac App Store release in the summer.

iOS AOTW: Temple Run

Today’s app of the week for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is Temple Run by Imangi Studios.

The best mobile games are ones that you just cannot put down with simple controls, and Temple Run hits the nail on the head in this respect. The game starts with you being given control of an explorer who has stolen an idol from a temple hidden deep inside a jungle. You have to run away from the vicious monkeys who want the idol back and, by swiping and tilting your device, you collect coins, slide under fire, jump over gaps and try to avoid smashing your face into a tree. Coins and power-ups are scattered around the place and are used to purchase upgrades to your character. Additional coins can be purchased in-game if you want them as well.

Temple Run is fantastic and addictive and that is precisely why, despite the fact that the game itself is free, it remains the top-grossing app in the UK App Store.

Temple Run, iOS, Free
Download from the App Store or visit the website