Friday, August 8, 2014

Apple’s Yosemite – A variety of Changes

Apple has been highlighting a variety of changes for OS X Yosemite in its feature page on the release beginning with a more modern and flatter look for OS X, with its focus on translucency, streamlined toolbars with smarter controls, the base OS X system which includes various feature improvements such as `Today’ view in the updated Notification Centre.

It provides a wide variety of information which includes integration with third party apps while Spotlight search which has also been improved with updated data sources, acts like a search engine by taking in data from Wikipedia, movies, Map, news etc.

The new Notification Centre in Mac OS X 10.10 would be very useful than the earlier version with the addition of both the Today view as well as the widgets and after using if for the past few weeks, the upgrades to the Notification Centre move the OS in Yosemite further ahead of Windows unless one would prefer the Windows 8 live tiles as a good option to check notifications. Mac OS X Mavericks does have a notification centre with slide out window from the right and access with a swipe or by touching a button in the upper right.

Mac OS X Mavericks Performs with Toast Notification 

The notification centre in Mac OS X Mavericks performs with toast notification- floating popup bubbles, towards the upper right of the screen and a sidebar to keep track on the latest notifications.

Moreover, the toast notification enables you to answer iMessage directly for instance if one gets an incoming FaceTime call, they can reply with an iMessage within the Toast notification.

These are helpful tools though when they come from the sidebar part which tracks all notification in Mavericks; it tends to get less useful.Yosemite has the same functions with the usual updates but with the addition of new Today view and widget from the Apple’s core apps and from third party software with more information readily available at one’s fingertips.

In Yosemite, the notification centre is more useful and besides being able to use the Toast notification and review missed messages in the sidebar it adds another tab at the top to see the Today view.

Today View Connects with Calendar ….

The Today view can connect with the calendar, reminders, social networks and much more, enabling the viewer with a quick overview of the days’ activities. One can view the appointments, meetings, reminders, if they have been set in the reminder app, birthday updates, as well as the current weather in the area, all of which is done with clean design indicating each category and is easy to view at a glance.

With the addition of widgets, the sidebar notification centre tends to be more useful. Earlier assigned to the Dashboard, users can add core Apple widgets like weather, stocks, world clocks, calendar, calculator etc. which will enable them to interact directly without the need of exiting from the notification centre.

These are all included in the launch of Yosemite, this fall, which according to Apple; users would be able to add widgets from third party app developers from the Mac App Store.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Apple’s New Launch - Apple TV in Newest Beta

Apple tv
With the arrival of the beta 4 update, Apple has finally launched a new Apple TV software beta alongside iOS 8 beta and the fifth Yosemite beta which includes the long awaited interface update and the design is said to be very dramatic.

The new interface consists of new icons which have been designed to resemble the icons in iOS7 with a less glossy and a flatter look. Many icons have new colours like the computers, music, movies and TV shows and the slim Helvetica Neue font that Apple had adopted previously with iOS7. The on-screen have also been updated.

Earlier Apple TV beta had added new Family sharing options together with support for iCloud photos and both these features have been introduced in OS X Yosemite and iOS 8. Presently the Apple TV beta is only available to the registered developers though the updated software would be released to the public at large in fall probably along with the launch of iOS 8.

The new Apple TV update can be downloaded by registered developers from the iOS Dev Centre. Apple has not completely done away with the grid of icons approach for Apple TV but has revamped the UI, an iOS 7 style makeover with a new set of icons which are flatter than their earlier counterparts.

Default Icons Reworked/Weight of Typeface Changed

Each of the default iconshave been reworked with more modern cover to avoid the present defunct iOS gloss effect for a matte finish while the background starburst effect which has been given leads to gradients that is present in iOS 7. Besides this, the weight of the typeface has been changed to slightly thinner with the icons no more casting reflections.

The pictographs have also been changed to make them look sleek and the `setting’, icon has been given a radical change with the same nested gears icon found in the latest Apple mobile and desktop operating systems.Lastly, the glow which surrounds the currently selected icons are tightened to include a better define white ring offset by a small black margin.

Apple TV User Interface Paradigm 

On the whole the Apple TV user interface paradigm seems to be largely unchanged from its earlier debut in the year 2007 and rumours have been spreading for years which picked up steam in 2011 with the publication of the autobiography of Steve Job, where the late Apple CEO was quoted as saying that he had `finally cracked’, the television issue.

These rumours came up in the early 2014 when various media outlets recommended that a refresh would be essential but nothing materialized till then. With recent reports, there are indications that Apple’s new set top solutionwas stalled since negotiations prolonged with the content providers.

Consistent design across platform is a good thing though third party apps tend to hold on to their same old icons and getting some consistency there, keeping in mind the platform as a whole has not been drawing much attention of late. The latest update is likely to come around the same time iOS 8 would come, this fall.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Russia’s Proposal to Apple and SAP

A proposal has been made by Russia to Apple and SAP that they hand over the government access of their source code in order to ensure that their widely used products would not used as tools for spying on state institutions.

 The suggestion that these two world’s renowned technology companies could reveal some of their sensitive business secrets has come up as the United States and Europe have been debating on their most severe sanctions against Russian for its role in Ukraine.

Recently, the United States forced a new round of sanction affecting three Russian banks which included the country’s second biggest VTB. An agreement was reached with the European Union, recently on its first broad economic sanctions, marking a new phase in one of the biggest debates between Moscow and the West since this confrontation.

Last week when Communication Minister Nikolai Nikiforov met Apple’s general manager in Russia, along with Peter Engrob Nielsen and the Russian managing director of SAP, Vyacheslav Orekhov, the Russian proposal was put forward, as stated by the Communication Ministry.

It was stated that the proposal had been designed to ensure the rights of consumers as well as corporate users to the privacy of their personal data and also for the security of the state.

Major Threat to Viability

With regards to issue of protecting privacy, any Russian move to force these companies to disclose the inner workings of their software could create a major threat to their viability should they lose control of the source code.

According to Nikiforov’s statement released recently, he states that, `Edward Snowden’s revelation in 2013 and US intelligence service’s public statements about strengthening of surveillance of Russia in 2014, have raised serious questions of trust in foreign software and hardware’.

He had made a reference to the bombshell disclosures by the former US National Security Agency contractor who had disclosed the widespread NSA snooping by eavesdropping on the popular technology products and services. Experts, since then have arrived at a conclusion that the US government-backed standards for software encryption, has given rise to backdoors for the NSA to indulge in spying on users.

Nations – Revise Technology Practices 

Governments from China to India to Germany to Brazil and many other nations are trying to revise technology practices due to the NSA revelation though most of them refrain from asking the technology companies to disclose their source code and source code is the crown jewels for any maker of software.

Most of the major commercial software companies tend to guard the code as their most prized possession. Apple which is the world’s most renowned and reputed company, by market capitalisation, is popular for its distinctive varieties of computer and phone devices which it tries to stand out by closely guarding its proprietary software.

SAP on the other hand is the world’s fourth largest manufacturer of business software by revenue and Germany’s major technology company providing business planning software which several top multinational companies consider in maintaining financial control of their far scattered operations and keeps close guard over the source code of their products. Both SAP and Apple have refrained from commenting on this issue.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Apple’s Patent – Routing based on Detected Stops

Apple Patent
US Patent and Trademark Office has granted an Apple patent known as `Routing based on detected stops’, enhancing the concept of crowd sourced navigation.

This navigation system would help one to plan their route by analysing stop signs, stop lights as well as obstacles which may slow down the journey. As per the recent patent, Apple could include a smart navigation routing system on its iPhone wherein the technology will be based on real time crowd sourced information together with stop light based traffic evaluation to users in order to improve their route recommendations.

It has the capabilities of collecting and analysing traffic data via the mobile unit as the iPhone and the technology can then device pattern from stop lights and signs giving rise to route suggestion. Users could work with the application in order to develop quicker routes.

Moreover it is also compatible with departure time suggestions. Waze, the current product combines traffic data collected from several drivers in suggesting quick way in order to reach their destination and crowd sourcing the information enable accurate and real time information which can be obtained through standard navigation apps like the Google Maps and Apple’s Maps app.

Depends on GPS Module of iPhone

The system depends on the GPS module of the iPhone in one manifestation of the technology and uses the GPS in identifying if the user is travelling or is in a moving vehicle. Data collected from GPS position together with accompanying system clock and accelerometer, enables the device to check the time spend as well as the location of the individual depending on the stop lights and signs.

The offsite server on the other hand receives the data package in real time and thereafter goes through a pattern analysis like a number of smartphones would be relaying traffic data to the server from several stop lights and signs and the server then correlate it, analysing better on which areas are crowded and which are not, based on the number of handsets sending the traffic details.

Smart Navigation System

In the case of Apple’s patent, a smart navigation system would utilise the GPS in the mobile device in order to gather detected stops of the car, determining on the duration of each stop. This information could then be analysed to classify between stop lights and stop signs and the data could be sent to remote server and shared with the vehicles connected into the system through regular navigation app like Google Map or Apple Maps.

The driver could then use this information in knowing the fastest route to any given location. Beside this, one can also estimate the duration of the trip depending on the data as well as the appropriate time to begin the trip to reach the destination and save from being late.

In course of time, the server could also gather and collate the data to predict certain traffic patterns which would depend on the location of stop lights, time of day as well as other factors. Just like other patents, Apple may or may not have the time as well as the resources to include the same in its next release though the technology would still make its way to device sooner or later.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Apple in Talk with Swell - Spotify Style Streaming App

Apple swell
It is believed that Apple is in talks to buy Swell, a Spotify style streaming app for talk radio in a $30 million deal to stir up traditional broadcasting. Swell, whose headquarters is in California, utilises a sophisticated algorithm to take a lot of different talk shows and podcast, presenting them as personalised radio station.

The iPhone maker have their own podcast streaming service though the lack lustre app has been struggling to draw a mainstream audience and hence Apple has plans to use Swell’s technology for improvement of the project.

The app has been shaped from past observation of user’s listening habits so that the listener’s station gets tailored according to their interest over a period of time. Moreover they would also be capable to link their profile to Twitter as well as Facebook in order that the app can provide information with regards to their interest through conversation with their friends.

Type of Pandora for News Radio

Presently, Swell pulls contents from US and Canadian broadcasters though it is also available all over the world with the potential to redraw the hierarchy of traditional radio broadcasters.Swell is a type of Pandora for news radio, for the uninitiated and one listens to what it plays and if it is not of one’s choice, they can swipe and move on.

The app has the tendency to learn one’s preferences over a period of time and offers personalized listening experience together with unlimited audio streaming from iTunes, ABC, ESPN, NPR, BBC, CBC, TED and much. As per Re/code, Swell has high engagement among users though it has failed to gain a large following.

Swell would be shutting its present service down as part of the deal with Apple as per Re/Code and the technology news site and Apple would be using Swell’s technology in offering updated service to user of iPhone and iPad devices.

Apple, Swell Deal following a String of Acquisitions

Many of the employees of Swell will reportedly move to Apple under the term of their agreement, following the acquisition and Swell that is available on Apple devices running iOS 6 or later had been beta testing Android app though it did not release it to the general public.

This deal flows out to a string of acquisition that Apple has made during the past few months which include the $3 billion purchase of Beats, the biggest ever, this May, the music streaming headphones which were founded by Dr Dre the rapper as well as the veteran music producer, Jimmy Iovine. Besides this, Apple has also confirmed that last week it had acquired BookLamp, a company which enhances the book recommendation process, a streaming service for books, which would be utilised to try and tackle Amazon’s dominant hold on eBook industry which according to reports is around $10 to $15 million.

The deal will enhance the growing importance that Apple has been placing on being the interface through which users’ stream traditional media. This is the second windfall for its Chief Executive, Ram Ramkumar who had sold his previous venture, which was an image recognition start-up, to Amazon in the year 2009 known as SnapTell.