Tag Archives: iOS 7

PTJ 114: This One’s For The Apple Lovers

If you aren’t a fan of the Cupertino-based, fruit-themed toymaker you may not want to listen to this episode. Of course you’ll miss out on all the fun (and maybe even a shenanigan or two) if you do but we won’t judge.  We’d be enormously disappointed if you din’t listen but don’t worry about us, we’ll be fine. No, these aren’t tears. It’s just our allergies acting up…

This week El Kaiser kicks the tires on Apple’s Yosemite and J.D. takes the latest version of iTunes out for a spin.

In the news Google has some big announcements of its own as they unveil Android Lollipop and some new hardware to go with it;  Apple rolls out a new iPad lineup and an iMac with a 5K Retina display; HBO and CBS make cord cutters very, very happy; Staples is the latest retailer to suffer an apparent hack attack; and Marty McFly’s hoverboard makes the scene a full year earlier than expected.

“Oh, and Here’s iTunes 12…”

Screenshot (86)With the new iPads, overhauled Mac Mini, iMac with fancy 5K Retina display, OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.1, Apple has dumped a huge amount of new stuff out there over the past week. One thing that sort of slid under the radar of many people, however, was iTunes 12. Back in the day when iPods ruled the Apple Events, iTunes itself would merit a huge chunk of a presentation. Now, it’s almost like an afterthought.

itunesiconSo what’s new in iTunes 12? For one thing, it’s been visually overhauled to look like OS X Yosemite, so you get that flat-ish candy-colored iOS 7/8 look now, even if you’re using iTunes on a Windows PC. You cannot escape. iTunes 12 even got a new cherry-red icon down in the Mac Dock or Windows taskbar.

The program’s display font is also noticeably lighter and not as easy to read. As with the leap from iTunes 10 to iTunes 11, the jump from 11 to 12 includes a bunch of mucking about with where icons and buttons live, some of which is more disorienting than it should be.

librariesInstead of the pop-up menu to jump between your various media libraries — or the Sidebar, if you went retro in your View settings — iTunes 12 has small gray icons for the Music, Movies and TV Show libraries at the top left of the window. “But wait!” You say. “Where are my Podcasts, my Audiobooks, my Internet Radio stations, by Apps, my iBooks and my iTunes U stuff that I used to be able to get to from the pop-up menu?” Fear not — those libraries are still there, just not particularly visible at first. If you move to the right of the TV Shows icon, you see the three-dot More menu. Click that and you see icons for all those other things. Click Edit at the bottom of the menu to add the icons to your iTunes window permanently, as shown here. So that’s the left side of the window.

The middle of the iTunes window has clickable text buttons labeled My Music, Playlists, Match, Radio and iTunes Store.

People have already begun to howl that the View Sidebar option is gone from the iTunes menus and the program looks completely unrecognizable. The Sidebar is mostly gone,  but there’s a way to get back to that familiar three-panel iTunes Window of Yore where you had the sidebar, the column browser (with your horizontal list of albums, artists and genres) and then your list of songs in the bottom center of the window.

albumsmenuTo get back to that look, click the Playlists button at the top-center of the iTunes display window. The sidebar appears on the left, so now click the Music icon at the top. Next, make sure you have the Column Browser options selected on the View menu. Finally, click the drop-down menu on the far right of the iTunes window, as shown here. It’s probably on Albums by default, but choose Songs. Once the songs appear on screen, there you have it: an approximation of the way iTunes used to look for all these years, as shown below. (Of course, if you like the new views, there are plenty to choose from on the right-side menu.)

itunes window PM

Also new in iTunes 12:

  • Playlist editing. Hate the old way of making playlists where you were dragging stuff out of the music library without being able to see all your music? In iTunes 12, you can now see your full music library and playlists side-by-side, making it easier to browse your music and drag your favorite songs into any playlist.
  • The Get Info box. It which holds all the information about an album or track — and where you go to edit types and add artwork to files — has been redesigned.
  • Family Sharing. If the members of your household have their own iTunes accounts and passwords, everyone can share your purchases from iTunes, iBooks, and the App Store with up to six people in the house — without having to cough up account names or passwords. You need to set up your “iCloud Family” in the iCloud preferences in OS X Yosemite or iOS 8 settings.
  • Recently Added section. New purchases or additions to your library are shown in the Recently Added section at the top of the iTunes window. By using the Albums/Artists/Songs/Etc. drop-down menu on the right side of the window, you can adjust the amount of time things stay in the Recently Added area.
  • Consolidated menus. All your iTunes Store account stuff, including your account name, wish list, Purchased list and place to redeem iTunes gift cards has all moved to a drop-down menu just to the right of the window that displays track information at the top of iTunes.
  • Still the same. The volume, playback and search controls are still in the same place they were in for iTunes 11. Whew. And Apple has upgraded its iTunes support pages for the new version, so the documentation is still in the same place.
  • Unfortunately, also still the same.  As with iTunes 11, iTunes 12 has gotten progressively more colorless, except for album artwork. The Up Next icon is still in the Display window, but only when you mouse over it. The option to minimize the window into the MiniPlayer is also up in the Display window.

All in all, it’s more of a stripped-down mostly monochrome interface with fewer icons. If you hated iTunes 11or iOS 7, iTunes 12 will probably further annoy you. But if you mainly use iTunes to back up an iOS device or to spin tracks at your desk while you work, it’s not too difficult to find your way around it, but the program just doesn’t seem as fun as it used to be. Perhaps iTunes has reached the end of its Apple journey that began back in 2001 and a new Beats-based program will be taking over next year. Who knows. But until then, at least we still have the Visualizer.


PTJ 81: Facebook’s Paper Beats Scissors

Facebook celebrates its 10th anniversary this week by allowing users to automagically create a short video highlight reel  of their time on the world’s most popular social network.  The decade old soc net also released a new iPhone-only mobile client dubbed Paper and J.D. gives us her review.  While he believes America is beautiful in any language, the Twitter backlash to Coca-Cola’s now famous multicultural Super Bowl advertisement has left El Kaiser less than thrilled.

In the news Microsoft finally picks a new CEO as Windows 8.1, Update 1 software leaks onto various file-sharing sites around the Internet; Google updates their Google Now service on mobile devices; Iridium introduces a WiFi hotspot that can get you on the Internet all over the world with a satellite connection; and Apple continues to note the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh computer with a celebratory movie shot by 15 camera crews using 100 iPhones.

The Paper Chase

A few weeks ago, we mentioned reports of a new Facebook app in the works — called sort of weirdly enough for the digital realm — by the name of Paper. Last week, Facebook confirmed Paper’s existence, put out a promo video and released the app on February 3rd. Many people virtually ran right over to the App Store to download it and check it out.

fbp1So just what is Paper? In short, it’s basically a new skin for your Facebook page that knocks it out of the endless vertical scroll format. Paper looks like a visual mashup of elements — part Flipboard’s mix of news and status updates, with a dash of the full-screen photo-treatment found Google+ and a splash of the modular tiles seen in Windows Phone. It’s customizable (to a certain degree) so you can arrange stuff the way you want to see it. With it, you flick through both your Facebook life and news from around the world.

fbp5Right now, the app is for iPhones running iOS 7 only. There’s no widescreen iPad HD version, nor is there an Android edition. (Perhaps the larger screen sizes of tablets and phablets defeats the purpose of having Facebook as a one-handed read.)

When you download the app on your iPhone and open it for the first time, it lifts your Facebook credentials from the regular Facebook app — if you have it installed. So there’s not much effort needed to get rolling in Paper.

fbp4The Paper app divides the screen into one large section at the top, and a series of smaller vertical tiles long the bottom half of the screen. You flick through each half of the screen to navigate through your chosen feeds: Facebook, Headlines, Tech, Pop Life and so on.

As usual, your Facebook feed shows the stuff from your friends, and the others (like Headlines) show articles from major news organizations and blogs on various topics . Overlaid icons at the top of the screen let you tap in to see Facebook messages and notifications without having to navigate away from the screen at hand.

Flick through the tiles along the bottom to glance at status updates and news dispatches in small type; tap one to make it readable.  A tutorial greets you the first time you open the app and explains all the various swipes and taps you need to do to navigate Paper. You may need to use it a few days to get the hang of what to swipe and where to flick, but here are some basic moves:

  • Drag down from the top of the screen to see your timeline, create posts, edit sections or adjust your settings.
  • Drag up on the top of a story tile to open the full version in the site. This part feels very Flipboardy.
  • Tap photos or videos to see them in full screen.
  • Drag a tile down to the bottom of the screen to return to the layout.

fbp2Who might like Paper? People who like all their information in one place, ready to be absorbed at a glance. Or maybe those who were bored with the regular Facebook mobile app.

But for those who like their Facebook feed all mixed together and linear — or who get mad every time Facebook redesigns itself — well, those folks will probably be annoyed with it. The app doesn’t feel as customizable as it could be with fonts and section topics. With iOS 7, there’s also the clashing UX issues of swiping the edges of the display and inadvertently summoning the iPhone’s Notifications screen or the Control Center.

But Paper is free, easy to install and worth a look if you like your news updates to be a mix of personal and  public. (Want more reviews? Time, The Verge, CNET and even MIT have weighed in.)

And if you don’t like Paper, go back to the old Facebook app. They haven’t taken it away. Yet, anyway.

PTJ 71: Righteously Rowdy

This week J.D. takes us for a ride on the video game way-back machine with a look at the new Historical Software Collection at the Internet Archive. Also in this episode Kaiser Pedro has some hopefully helpful hints about improving your battery life and protecting your privacy on an Apple device running their iOS 7 mobile operating system. In the news Google unveils its long-rumored Nexus 5 smartphone;  Apple looks to expand its manufacturing presence in the United States; hackers target a limousine service; Twitter makes its stock market debut; gamers lineup for the release of “Call of Duty: Ghosts”; and British supermarket chain Tesco wants to scan the faces of customers for advertisers.

PTJ 70: When Smurfs Attack

El Kaiser has a very blue Tech Term and J.D. shows us how to make iOS 7 easier to read. In the news, some love for Google Glass early adopters; Amazon launches a new program allowing customers the option to buy Kindle versions of their previous book purchases; SoundCloud adds Instagram integration;  Netflix ponders its next move; a new report confirms that U.S. citizens pay more for less when it comes to their Internet service; Apple plans to continue its OS X freebie; and “The Zuckerberg Files”.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Super-Size It!

Tablets have made it easier to stay online wherever you are and those bigger screens are a lot easier to read than squinting at a smartphone — or even a phablet. But even with the more expansive screen real estate, you may find the tablet type a little small for comfortable reading. And the thinner font in Apple’s new iOS 7 has irritated a lot of people, who find it too spindly to read comfortably.

If you find yourself wrestling with iOS 7 on your iPad — or even iPhone or iPod Touch — hit the Settings icon on the home screen and go right to the General line. Tap General, and then Accessibility. In the second section of settings on the screen, you have options for:

  • Larger Type. iOS 7 uses Dynamic Type technology that can resize on-screen text to your preferred default. Turn on Larger Dynamic Text here and move the slider to the size you want. Apps that uses Dynamic Type should pick up your chosen size automatically.
  • Bold Text. Back on the main Accessibility menu, you find an option called Bold Text. Flip it on, let your iPad restart itself and lo-and-behold, your system font is bold. You can reverse the setting by coming back here and turning off the Bold Text switch.
  • Lots of other stuff. The Accessibility menu has more options for general legibility, including an Increase Contrast option, a Reduce Motion control (in case those floating backgrounds make you queasy) and On/Off Labels that add little notches to the virtual switches in case you can’t see the green color that means the setting is turned on.

iOS 7 has many other accessibility tools, including a  screen-zoom magnifier, a spoken-word function called VoiceOver, the ability to invest the screen colors, closed captioning for videos, mono audio and many more assistive functions.


As for Android, this may vary from version to version, but in Jelly Bean 4.3 on the Nexus 7, tap into your Settings and hit Accessibility. Here, you can turn on features like:

  • Large text
  • Magnification gestures
  • Spoken passwords
  • The TalkBack screen reader
  • Text-to-speech output
  • And more!


Of course, if you’re reading ebooks on your tablet, you have controls within your book app’s settings to bump your font up to a happy size independently. So now you can sit back, give your eyes a little bit of a boost, and save all that peering-at-the-fine-print stuff for cellular-data contracts, social-media privacy policies and tax forms.

PTJ 66: Bigger, Stronger, Faster

“Breaking Bad” rides off into the desert sun leaving El Kaiser wondering how it fared against other famous TV series swan songs and J.D. fills us in on the quickest ways to digitize business cards. In the news Amazon quietly releases two new Kindle models; Lenovo debuts an all-in-one desktop computer with a 29-inch display; Microsoft has a good week;  Facebook expands its Graph Search results; Apple deals with more security issues; researchers develop a  robotic prosthetic leg that is controlled by brain function; and Intelligent Glasses that can translate languages on the fly.

PTJ 66 News: We Have the Technology

The march of New Fall Products continues. Amazon quietly released two new Kindle models last week and Lenovo’s going widescreen with what it claims is an all-in-one desktop computer with the world’s first 29-inch display with a 21:9 aspect ratio.

It’s been a good week for Microsoft. Windows Phone is also clawing its way to the 10-percent mark in smartphone share, and according to analytics firm Net Applications, Windows 8 was running on almost 10 percent of devices using a Microsoft operating system last month. Windows 8 will soon give way to Windows 8.1 later this month, and Microsoft announced it’s rolling out its new optical character recognition feature for the SkyDrive online service that makes photos and PDF documents searchable in the cloud. The OCR feature will also be available through the Windows 8.1 Smart Search tool.

On the topic of search, Facebook is opening up Graph Search results to include user status updates and posts. So now publicly shared status updates, comments on anything, photo captions, Notes, and check-ins are all searchable. (Here’s a Graph Search settings checklist and some more information about adjusting your privacy settings if this sort of thing makes you at all nervous.)  In other Facebook news this week, the Social Network and its bird buddy Twitter, will start sending reports of your Likes and tweets about television shows to the major networks.

According the Engadget blog, Google has announced three dedicated Google Play vending machines in Japan that can dispense 18 different games. (As far as vending machines go, apps are not the most unusual things being dispensed.)

Apple is dealing with more security issues in iOS 7. The company just out its iOS 7.0.2 update to fix some reported lock screen holes and now another researcher has demonstrated how the Siri personal assistant technology can be used to start up a FaceTime call, which could allow hackers to invoke another security glitch in the iOS 7 software to access the phone app.

Speaking of holes, the US government shut down this week after weeks of squabbling among the houses of Congress and the executive branch. Here are some links to information about what’s still functioning in Washington. (Alas, the PandaCam has gone dark for the duration of the standoff, but some folks are trying to fill the PandaCam void.) Other parts of the Web were creaky and crashing as well, namely Affordable Healthcare Act servers for new customers trying to sign up. For those still trying to parse the new plans, the Health Law Helper site from Consumer Reports may be useful.

In other research:


And finally, mobile giant NTT DoCoMo showed off the prototype of its so-called Intelligent Glasses that can translate text in an unfamiliar language into something the wearer of the glasses can read. The future’s so bright, you gotta wear shades — and who knows, those shades just might be able to direct you to a restroom in Rio or decipher a menu in Milan. Someday.

PTJ 65: iRadio Ga Ga

This week JD takes a listen to Apple’s new iTunes Radio service and breaks it down for us; Pedro wrestles with a rare tie-less day in the studio; and gives us his observations on everything from “Breaking Bad”, iOS 7 and the updated edition of JD’s book, “iPad: The Missing Manual”. In the news New York State goes after fake online reviews; LinkedIn gets sued for allegedly hacking user accounts; Microsoft debuts new Surface tablets; Blackberry throws in the towel; iPhone sets a sales record for their new smartphones; Google’s Gmail service slows to a crawl; Valve announces their own Linux based OS; and Adobe updates their consumer photo apps to eliminate the dreaded “Pet Eye”. (Stop frontin’, you know you wanted it…)