Imagine this scenario, you're listening to your favorite music track on your Mac and had to leave the house, don't you wish your iPhone or iPod touch can seamlessly carry on playing the track from where you were at in iTunes on your Mac? Or if you were deeply engaged in a podcast just before you had to head out, so you have to wait for the iPhone or iPod touch to synch using iTunes before you leave. This happens to me often especially the latter. Fortunately, Five Details, the 2008 Apple Design Awards winners and maker of Flow, has a solution and it is called Seamless.

This little utility comes in an iOS/OS X duo, a free OS X app and a USD0.99 iPhone app components. The OS X app is a background app that only appears as a menu item on your Mac when running.

Before anything is to work you will first have to pair the iOS app with the OS X app. This is done easily:

  1. Have both the Mac and the iOS device on the same WiFi network.
  2. The OS X app needs to be running.
  3. Starts the iOS app then;
  4. Clicks on the "Add A Mac" option in the iOS app.

The Mac will immediately recognizes its iOS component, and presents a dialog to confirm your action.

Seamless - Add iOS Device

Acknowledge the iOS device by clicking on the Allow button. Now the Mac will become one of the Near By Macs in the list within the iOS app. There does not appear to be any limits to the number of Macs the iOS app can be paired with or vice versa.

Seamless - Track To PlayWhile the OS X app runs in the background it monitors the currently playing track in iTunes. When you have to get away from your Mac all you have to do is start the Seamless iOS app on your iPhone of iPod touch. The iOS app will immediately picks up the current playing track from iTunes on your Mac and presents you with a large button to "Transition music from Mac".

Clicking on the "Transition Music from Mac" button will immediately plays the track in the iPod app within your iOS device. Of course the said track will need to be already on your iOS device. Seamless will not magically transfer tracks that are not already on the iOS device or the Mac.

Seamless - Track Not Found Seamless - Transition To MacIf the track is not found the iOS app will show a screen telling you to synchronize your music between the Mac and the iOS device.

Note: currently Seamless can only recognize tracks within a Playlist synchronized between the Mac and the iOS device, but this bug should be fixed in the next version.

Going from the iOS device to the Mac is just as seamless. An added bonus is that the iOS app will quietly fades away the track on the iOS device while it transition the track to the Mac.

Overall this is a well polished 1.0 app for from this award winning developer. For the inexpensive price of USD0.99 it is well worth it to have this function that Apple should have built into both OSs.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/20154325[/vimeo] Seamless from Five Details on Vimeo.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesiphone

After Steve Jobs' announcement at the "iPad 2 Event" that the Personal Hotspot feature will be available in iOS 4.3, people have been wondering if their mobile carriers will allow the feature to work, and how will these carriers charge for the usage of this feature on their network. Like these users I wonder about it for my current mobile carrier, Smartone-Vodafone (SMV) in Hong Kong. So right after the iPad 2 Event I posted a question on Smartone-Vodafone's Facebook Page asking them to comment on the feature's use on their network and the charges if any. All SMV has to say is "We do not have any information regarding Personal Hotspot at this time, please stay tuned".

Fortunately Apple made iOS 4.3 available a day early (March 10th) since my bill-cut-off date is the 11th. I installed it right away and tried the Personal Hotspot feature, only testing the speed of the connections of devices connected to the Personal Hotspot host. Because I have yet to confirm with SMV the charges relating to Personal Hotspot use. I waited all weekend and Monday for my March 13th bill to be available online, and it was finally available a few hours ago. As I have expected, SMV is able to distinguish the Personal Hotspot traffic from other data use, just like regular Tethering via USB, but unlike regular Tethering over Bluetooth. Apple probably provided the carriers a mean to identify Personal Hotspot traffic, since carrier partners are given the ability to turn on and off Personal Hotspot for individual subscribers on their network. The Personal Hotspot connection I tried was via WiFi, I'm sure the results will be the same through Bluetooth and USB.

Also as expected, my Personal Hotspot usage was "FREE". I have SMV's HKD389 iPhone Plan with unlimited data, which also comes with a handset rebate, giving me a monthly bill of HKD259 (USD33.24).

In the past month (30 days) SMV's bandwidth had dropped dramatically. On average it had fallen more than half as compared to previous measurements. I'm sure SMV is monitoring Personal Hotspot usage to see if it further congest their network. Fortunately, I currently also have access to the CSL 1010 3G network, and it is indeed much faster than SMV's 3G network at all locations: Wanchai, Central and Admiralty, I've tested. In most cases it is faster by 50% - 100%.

After months of speculations from various web sites: iLounge, Fast Company, 9 to 5 Mac, Mashable and The Unofficial Apple Weblog The day for Apple to review the punch line to their statement in the invitation is finally here.

Come see what 2011 will be the year of.

At 10:00 this morning (US Pacific Time) Steve Jobs reviewed the new "iPad 2". In short it is faster, lighter and more feature rich than the previous generation. Along with the new iPad Jobs and company also announced the release of Photo Booth, FaceTime, iMovie and GarageBand for the iPad. The latter two will be available at USD4.99 via the iTunes App Store. All of these along with iOS 4.3 will be available March 11th, and the prices of all 6 models remain the same with the new version. iOS 4.3 will be available for iPad, iPhone 4 (GSM), iPod Touch (3G and 4G). The most significant feature; that I look forward to, will be the Hotspot feature. This will allow the iPhone 4 or iPod Touch (3G and 4G) create a WiFi hotspot for up to 5 devices.

Specifications iPad 1 iPad 2
CPU 1GHz Single core Apple A4 1GHz Dual core Apple A5
LCD Screen Resolution 1024 x 768 pixels at 132 pixels ppi
Dimensions (HxWxD) 9.56" x 7.47" x 0.5" 242.8mm x 189.7mm x 13.2mm 9.50" x 7.31" x 0.34" 241.2mm x 185.7mm x 8.8mm
Weight 1.6 lb. (730g) 1.33 lb. (601g)
Colours None
  • Black
  • White
Radios
  • Wi-Fi + 3G model: UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
  • Wi-Fi + 3G for Verizon model: CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1900 MHz)
Storage
  • 16GB
  • 32GB
  • 64GB
Sensors
  • Accelerometer
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Three-axis gyro
  • Accelerometer
  • Ambient light sensor
Cameras None
  • Back camera: Video recording, HD (720p) up to 30 frames per second with audio; still camera with 5x digital zoom
  • Front camera: Video recording, VGA up to 30 frames per second with audio; VGA-quality still camera
  • Photo and video geotagging over Wi-Fi

With iPad 2 we also see that the availability of two new accessories for the iPad: Apple Digital AV Adapter and a Smart Cover.

The new Video Adapters joins the other video adapters Apple has for the iPad to support the iPad 2 video output:

  • Apple Digital AV Adapter or Apple VGA Adapter are able to provide video mirroring up to 1080p.
  • Apple Component AV Cable is able to provide video out at 576p and 480p.
  • Apple Composite AV Cable is able to provide video out at 576i and 480i.

Again Apple is doing a progressive roll out of the new iPad 2. Of course the US will get their first shipment on March 11th, with 26 or more countries on March 25th.

Phrase 2:
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • UK
Phrase 3:
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Ireland
  • Hungary
  • Luxembourg
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

Unfortunately, this time Hong Kong is not part of the 2nd or 3rd phrase roll out.

Along with the announcement Jobs also wanted to emphasis a message to the consumers (and competitors in this market):

It's in Apple's DNA that technology is not enough. It's tech married with the liberal arts and the humanities. Nowhere is that more true than in the post-PC products. Our competitors are looking at this like it's the next PC market. That is not the right approach to this. These are post-PC devices that need to be easier to use than a PC, more intuitive.

Recommendations

The new iPad 2 is very impressive on paper and it has several cool features, but for someone who already owns an iPad (now 1G) this new version is not a worth while upgrade. Especially if your iPad is less than a year old. I personally will wait and see what the rumored iPad 3 will be like later this year.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_d6_gbb90I

CSL logoOn Thursday (Nov. 25) CSL launched the world's first LTE/DC-HSPA+ mobile network during their "Go Beyond" event held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center in Hong Kong. According to CSL it's new network is capable of achieving speeds of 100 Mbps downlink and 38 Mbps uplink, with its DC-HSPA component supporting 42 Mbps. It is also Asia's first commercial LTE network with full digital voice traffic, built in partnership with mainland China's ZTE.

Although CSL refers to this new network as "4G", but according to International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Radiocommunication Sector (R).

A 4G network must have target peak data rates of up to approximately 100 Mbit/s for high mobility such as mobile access and up to approximately 1 Gbit/s for low mobility such as nomadic/local wireless access

CSL reports that Asia mobile has surpassed fixed line Internet access back in 2009, this gap will grow further and reach 400 million users by 2014, with statistics in ASEAN emerging markets growing even faster in favor of mobile Internet access.

To anticipate this growth CSL introduces a HSDPA 14.4 Mbps network in 2006, acquires a 4G spectrum license in January 2009, launches Hong Kong's first HSPA+ network in March 2009 and the first LTE/DC-HSPA+ network in November 2010.

Normally mobile carriers are focused on delivering comprehensive solutions to general consumers, by providing mobile phones and other devices to help layman consumers take advantage of the speed of the new networks. But this usually takes time for all the pieces to come together. As a result early adopters like myself is left with a wanting feeling. Yes, by introducing more and more advance networks, carriers like CSL is doing its part to break the "chicken and egg" scenario that exists between mobile carriers and equipment manufactures.

During CSL's "Go Beyond" event they demonstrate how impressive their new LTE network is with various real life scenarios. Showing live streaming of media content from a home NAS to a notebook computer connected to CSL's LTE network via a USB modem (dongle) was one. But the most impressive demonstration is the live streaming of a HD3D music video (approximately 300MB) with 5.1 surround sound to a notebook computer connected to a 3D LED TV.

All this demonstrations are great but one is left with the question of when will general consumers have access to this new LTE network? How much will this cost subscribers per month? The answer to the former is, when LTE capable devices become available. That is not the answer I want to hear, so I dig a little further.

I find out that ZTE will also be providing LTE/DC-HSPA+ dual mode USB dongles for CSL's subscribers to access the new network. According to Tarek Robbiati, Group Managing Director, Telstra international, these dual mode USB dongles will be available at CSL stores in Hong Kong sometime in Q1 or Q2 of 2011. Since there devices are half a year a way I did not want to try to get an answer to the second question, how much.

I always believe mobile carriers need to offer the option of just delivering fast good quality mobile networks to advanced users like myself. Make available the equipment/devices for advance users to take advantage of the latest network at the quickest possible timeframe. Allowing these users to connect their existing legacy devices to the latest network without upgrading or replacing their existing devices (mobile phones, tablet, personal computer, etc.).

One way to achieve this is through devices like the MiFi (aka "Pocket WiFi"), which allows its user to create a pico network (WiFi) around the device. Such a LTE capable MiFi device will allow legacy devices like the existing iOS devices (iPad, iPhone), Android enabled devices and even Windows 7 Phones to take advantage of the speed of a LTE network without upgrading.

Unfortunately, according to Robbiati the bottleneck for wild spread availability of LTE capable devices like the MiFi falls on the LTE chip manufactures. These chip manufactures are competing to make available various flavors of LTE chipsets to device manufactures. From the looks of it, CSL's new network will likely favor Qualcomm's variant of the LTE chipsets.

Now it is up to the device manufactures to up their game and deliver. I hope CSL will be able to light a fire under these device manufactures. A good way to do so, is to make LTE capable MiFi their priority rather than USB dongles. The trend is moving towards more mobile devices like smart phones and tablets rather than notebook computers, so USB dongles will not be desirable or practical.

I understand carriers like CSL wants to deliver the most comprehensive solution to the mass consumers, but if they want to realize a return on their investments as soon as possible, they will have to get early adopters like myself on board quickly to help reach the tipping point of adoption. Delivering a LTE capable USB dongle will not do it.

Over the past 3 years Apple Inc. has taken the heat on pushing the adoption of the W3C standard, HTML5, for all web based development. They have even been taken to court for not allowing competitor's technology (Flash) on their platform (iOS). Recently to avoid any more blame for flaws in these 3rd party technologies, they have stopped pre-installing them on all hardware products they ship.

Now the companies behind these other technologies are showing signs of support for Apple's directions. Are Microsoft shifts away from Silverlight and Adobe announcing the HTML5 Video Player widget indications that Apple rivals in the HTML5 war are finally given up?

This recent Microsoft decision is in line with their statement 4 years ago stating that, what they had done with Internet Explorer for the past 6 version were wrong and IE8 is the start of HTML5 compliancy.

Recently Microsoft released beta version of IE9 at PDC, which will be even more compliant with HTML5 than any previous versions of Internet Explorer.

The mess that are current web sites is really the fault of Microsoft. For creating browsers (IE) that are too tolerant of HTML coding mistakes and non-conformation to the HTML standards. Microsoft also provided web developers with technologies (ASP, etc.) and tools (.NET) that are not W3C standards. Along with the prevalent of Microsoft technologies in the 3rd world countries, these created a low cost labour force that further propagates non-standards web sites and applications. Fortunately with Apple's and other members of W3C efforts web site and applications owners are finally demanding HTML5 compliance.

Microsoft's statement about HTML5 is not to say they are abandoning Silverlight, Silverlight is still the development environment for their Windows 7 Phone platform. What they are saying is that HTML5 is Microsoft's future directions for true cross platform compatibility. This is a significant message to all web site and application owners. In the past these owners are only focused on the platform [Windows] they felt majority of the computing users are using. Now they are told that if they want to future prove their products and services they should focus on HTML5.

As for Adobe, they are not giving up on Flash either. They released the HTML5 Video Player widget because their users [developers] are demanding ways to be compatible with the iOS platform; it being the largest consumer of HTML5 content at the moment. I'm sure they are also aware of the efforts YouTube, Vimeo and others are doing to make their respective sites compliant with HTML5. One of the largest video sharing site, YouKu, serving the largest population in the world made their site compatible with on the iOS platform in July this year.

In the same month, we saw one of the largest online business migrating to HTML5; the porn industry. The adult film studio Digital Playground announces it will convert its mobile sites to HTML5. History teaches us that when the porn industry puts its supports behind a technology all competitive technologies will eventually disappear. Case in point is the VHS and Beta video cassette tape format war.

If you know me I am a strong proponent of standards compliance, I first express my opinions publicly with my article Compatibility. So I am very happy to see HTML5 is showing signs of wining the war. This will results in better build web sites and applications in the long run. Content will finally be separated from the technologies they are served in. How? I will leave this as a topic for another article.

On Wednesday, October 20, 10:00 (US PDT) Apple hosted their "Back to the Mac" event in Cupertino, California, USA. During the event they introduced the new iLife '11 with the same suite of 5 applications: iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, iWeb, iDVD. They also gave a sneak peek of the next Mac OS X version 10.7 (aka "Lion") and FaceTime for Mac. The "one more thing" as this announcement was the brand new MacBook Air (late 2010).

iPhoto '11

Most features are the same here. Steve Jobs highlighted the following features:

  • New full screen modes
  • Facebook enhancements
  • Emailing Photos
  • New slideshows
  • Big leap in books
  • Letterpress cards

Apple greatly enhanced the user experience of creating photo books. With the addition of Letterpress cards this will challenge the needs to purchase physical cards any more.

iMovie '11

Apple added some very impressive features to this version. Jobs highlighted the following:

  • All new audio editing
  • One step effects
  • People Finder
  • News and sports themes
  • Movie trailers

Of the five applications in the suite iMovie '11 enhancements seem to be most impressive to me. Apple added audio graph to every clip view, including the Project view. The new audio editing feature is of professional quality, with very simply interface for adding special effects to audio.

Apple added iPhoto Faces facial recognition technology to iMovie, giving the new Movie Trailers feature the ability to isolate clips of a given individual simply selecting their name.

Speaking of Movie Trailer, this is a new feature that makes creating quick trailer to a movie very simply. Not sure how practical it is for home movies. I guess in the case of home movies these are not trailers but the actual movie you will want to share with family and friends. Because we all know how boring watching someone else's home movie can be.

This Movie Trailer feature comes with a storyboard to guide the user through the creation of the trailer, but there is no mention of how easy it is to customize those storyboards aside from changing the text in each.

GarageBand '11

Most of the features here are the same. Jobs highlighted the following for GarageBand '11:

  • Flex Time
  • Groove Matching
  • More guitar amps & effects
  • New piano & guitar lessons
  • "How Did I Play?"

The Flex Time and Groove Matching appear to be great enhancements for musician, but since I'm not a musician I cannot comment fairly on it. That applies to the other highlighted features also.

iWeb '11

There are not much that was changed. Apple added the ability to add widgets to web pages. They supply nine of them:

  • Adding photos from MobileMe Gallery
  • Embed YouTube videos
  • Google Map
  • Google AdSense integration
  • Take photos using the iSight camera
  • Capturing movies with the iSight camera
  • Add a countdown clock
  • Create a RSS feed
  • Include HTML code snippet

I kind of hoping that Apple releases an application to create interactive iBooks, and enhance audio content for iTunes Store. May be next version.

As always iLife '11 will be shipped free of charge along with each new Mac and the upgrade price is USD49.00 (HKD448.00) for Single User and USD79.99 (HKD688.00) for the Family Pack.

FaceTime on Mac

Finally FaceTime will be available on the Mac. Although in beta right at the moment, users will be able to FaceTime with iPhone 4's and iPod Touch 4G when it is released. If you have a Mac or one of the new compatible iOS device you can download the beta to try.

Mac OS 10.7 (aka "Lion")

Nothing much can be said since it was just a sneak peek at the OS. As Steve Jobs explains, iOS is based on OS X and now it is time for OS X user interface to be redefined base on lessons learnt from iOS. Details of what to expect can be best seen in Apple's video. It is expect to release in the Summer 2011.

One new addition to OS 10.7 that we get end of this year is the new Mac App Store. This new store will be similar to the App Store that existed for the iOS devices. Apple will offer the same deal to developers and developers will have to apply to have their apps included in the App Store.

The idea of the Mac App Store is great and has been discussed since the appearance of the App Store for iOS devices, but how well will developers receive this new method of distributing their apps? Given the troubles many have encountered with the current App Store approval process. I'm sure the smaller software developers will welcome the idea, but the adoption of the Mac App Store but large software developers like many of Apple's competitors: Adobe, Microsoft and Google, will be a sign of approval for this approach.

What happens for software that are not distributed through the App Store? Are they placed in a sandbox on the user's Mac? We will not know until Apple begins to release more information regarding the Mac App Store.

For Macintosh users the Mac App Store will be a huge step towards a ease of mind. The user no longer have to rely on the software to check for updates, or manually search for these potential updates themselves. Not sure if this approach will eliminate malwares, given the number of hacks that existed in apps that got pass Apple's App Store screeners.

For the latter, does Apple have some new method up its sleeves? I just hope that Apple can do a better job than the iOS App Store approval process.

With the Mac App Store Apple will finally closes off the last hole for their products, they will be able to maintain total control of the user experience for their products. For long time Mac users this should not be a surprise, it has always been Steve Jobs [Apple's] gaol from the start. Some may call this a "wall-garden" and some may call this a "peace of mind".

MacBook Air (Late 2010)

This is Apple's thinnest and smallest Mac they've ever made. The thickest part is only a mere 0.68 inch and it tappers to an incredible 0.11 inch.

All MacBook Air models will come with the following:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB on-chip shared L2 cache
  • 2GB of RAM on board and an maximum of 4GB
  • NVIDIA GeForce 320M with 256MB shared memory
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports
  • headphone jack
  • a built-in microphone
  • Airport Extreme WiFi (802.11n that is 802.11a/b/g compatible)
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR

The battery life on these new MacBook Air is very impressive. A conservative estimate with wireless web surfing during testing gives a battery life of 7 hours on the 13-inch, 5 hours on the 11-inch and a staggering 30 days standby time for both.

Screen Size CPU Speed Solid State Drive Price (USD) Price (HKD)
11.6 inch 1.4 GHz 64 GB $999.00 $7588.00
11.6 inch 1.4 GHz 128 GB $1199.00 $9088.00
13.3 inch 1.86 GHz 128 GB $1299.00 $9888.00
13.3 inch 1.86 GHz 256 GB $1599.00 $12,488.00

In the past because the MacBook Air does have a built-in optical drive, it was difficult to reinstall the OS. With the release of the new models Apple has decided to ship a Software Reinstall (USB flash) Drive with each MacBook Air.

From the gallery of images on Apple.com for the new MacBook Air, they review what appears to be a SD card slot on the right side of the MacBook Air, like those available on MacBook Pro since mid-2009. Strangely there is no mention of such a slot in the Tech Specs on the site.

[Updated: October 21, 2010, 10:00] The apparent difference is that the 11-inch models do not come with a SD Card Expansion Slot where as the 13-inch models do. This can be clearly seen on Apple's MacBook Air comparison page for the new models.

You can watch the full keynote on Apple's Events web site.

Last night Apple made available Mac OS 10.6.4 Update, now the version of iTunes that supports iOS 4 and all its functions is now available from Apple's Downloads page or from Software Update on your Mac.

Unless you are using iTunes on Windows platform or that you have an iOS supported device running iOS 4, there is no rush to update your iTunes to this version. For the former type users there are 3 security issues that this version of iTunes fixes as documented in the Knowledge Base article, About the security content of iTunes 9.2.

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesApple Inc-

Each time you allow iTunes to update your iOS device, iTunes will automatically delete the previous iOS firmware (ipsw) file from your computer. As a result you will not be able to restore your iOS device to one of these older iOS firmware. I decided to create a place where I list all the iOS firmware Apple ever released in the past. The following are all hyperlinks to Apple's official repositories, so there are no worries if any of these package contains malware payloads.

iPhone links:

iPad links:

iPod touch links:

I will do my best to update this list as Apple releases new iOS firmwares. I do not know how long Apple will continue to offer access to these files, I would be happy to serve these files from my own repository, but worry about infringing on Apple's copyrights.

If I have missed any, please feel free to share the official Apple hyperlinks to iOS firmware versions in the form of comments below.