Tag Archives: Apple

Tech.Tips: Download the Final Build of iOS6 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Today

Tech.Tips: Download the Final Build of iOS6 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Today

Although the “official” launch of iOS6 isn’t until Wednesday, you can install the developer GM build right now. Usually Apple verifies beta software updates using iTunes and the developer’s UDID, however, GM builds are typically open to unregistered “developers” too. Just to clarify, iOS6 GM is the final version Apple will be releasing to the public on Wednesday.

Here are the steps:
1) Back up your iDevice. Do a full iTunes sync or iCloud backup to make sure you don’t lose your data if something goes wrong.

2) Download the latest version of iTunes 10.7

3) Go to this website to download the version of iOS6 for your device.

4) Locate the .ipsw iPhone Software Update file and drag it somewhere you can find it (like your desktop). If you use Windows, you will need 7-Zip to open the file.

5) Connect your device to iTunes and under the “Summary” tab, locate the “Check for Update” button. Hold down the option key (Mac) or the shift key (Windows) and click the Update button. Browse for the .ipsw file you downloaded and wait for the update to finish.

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Tech.Analysis: The Apple Appeal


Apple MacBooks, iPhones, iPads, and iPods are extremely popular and highly desired devices. MacBooks inundate university lecture halls, every other person on the subway has the signature white Apple earbuds tethered to their iPods or iPhones, and it’s impossible to fly on an airplane and not see someone with an iPad in your row. What makes us want these devices?

Interconnectivity:
When the first iPod was released in 2001, Bill Gates immediately recognized Apple’s end game: get people hooked on a series of devices that sync together. If you have a Mac with all of your music, movies, books, and apps in iTunes, you can easily plug in an iPhone, iPod, or iPad and seamlessly transfer your digital media collection in one easy migration. In an attempt to imitate Apple and the immensely successful iPod, Microsoft released the Zune. By the time the Zune hit shelves, it was already too late: Apple’s iTunes was already an integral part of most people’s music collections.

Today’s Apple is even more proprietary. Apps, movies, TV shows, books, and other content hook users and make it difficult to change to another platform without sacrificing your media collection. Paid apps in particular lock users into a particular OS just like the Apple-Microsoft software war in the 80’s and 90’s.

Apple devices just work well together. Things like iTunes and iCloud have made sharing content and information between your Mac, iPad, and iPhone seamless and behind the scenes. Calendars and contacts sync on all of your devices. Using the iTunes “Purchased” tab, you can download previously paid content onto any device that doesn’t already have that new movie or game. Universal apps work on both the iPhone and iPad, and using iCloud, they can sync progress between devices.

Apple Culture:
There’s a culture around Apple products that’s difficult to describe. Macs are all over college campuses in part because everyone else has one. If you’re a student and all of your friends have Macs, the university has Mac computer labs, and your professors lecture from MacBooks, you’ll undoubtably consider it when shopping for your next computer.

There’s an unexplainable hype and excitement around new product launches that mobilizes people into lines outside of Apple stores. Apple fanboys need to have the newest Apple products first because they love showing off their day-old iDevices to drooling friends.

It’s difficult to pinpoint why this fan club for Apple products exists but much of it is resultant of Apple’s secrecy and the over-speculation of future gadgets on tech websites. Because Apple rarely leaks prototypes or even device launch dates, the online community speculates through blogs and tech articles what to expect with Apple’s newest devices. Some sites use leaked parts from Chinese Foxconn factory workers to hypothesize about the next iPhone. Others claim to have secret sources with inside information from their work within manufacturing companies for Apple components. After months of speculation, everyone involved eagerly waits for Apple’s Keynotes to basically see how right (or wrong) they were. It’s almost a game- a winning prediction leads to credibility and could result in tons of new viewers to your website, whereas an incorrect prediction costs you web traffic.

Because Apple doesn’t leak any information before their product launches, when they formally announce devices, it’s a big deal. Apple theatrically presents their products in mesmerizing Keynotes. They send out witty invitations that hint at one aspect of the launch and then fill lecture halls with tech analysts all ready to report on Apple’s next “revolution.” The Keynotes are littered with words like “amazing” and “revolutionary” that can make any product sound incredible.

Apple’s advertisements are similarly captivating. They’re always smart, clean, and visually stimulating and present the product in a “wow I could really see myself using that” kind of way. The overly successful “Get a Mac” ad campaign used Justin Long’s casual appearance and laid-back demeanor to help the everyday person relate more with the jean-wearing Mac figure as opposed to the uptight and boring brown-suit PC character. In the same light, iPhone and iPad commercials show every-day people using their products to make their lives easier.

Design:
Apple products are sexy: they’re thin and lightweight, precision cut from high quality materials, minimal, and generally aesthetically pleasing. The iPhone feels solid and substantial in the hand and the screen’s resolution is made for the sharpness of the human eye. MacBooks are sculpted from solid blocks of aluminum making them incredibly clean but also significantly more solid than plastic laptops. Apple products have timeless designs but more importantly, they convey structural integrity and long-term usability. The lack of visible screws or “joints” makes for devices that are elemental and simple, but clean and innate.

Apple Stores:
Much of Apple’s success has been attributed to their physical stores. These locations not only show off the beauty of the products but are design feats of their own. Some stores feature impressive staircases made of thick, transparent glass. Beyond the pristine product displays and the building’s aesthetic qualities, having a knowledgable person to walk you through your purchase or fix your broken product is comforting.

Apple excels when it comes to service. They stand behind their products and are known to replace Macs, iPhones, and iPads without hassle. Compared to other phone and computer companies that rely on call centers around the world for their customer support, Apple’s Genius Bar is free to consult and genuinely wants to help.

Newest Tech:
Apple’s first generation iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Mac were revolutionary. At their initiation, they all packed features that no-one else in the industry was offering. Think back to when the first iPhone was announced: a long multitouch touchscreen was unprecedented in the cell phone industry. Multitouch gestures were so new and amazing because they made intuitive sense yet companies like Samsung, Nokia, and LG didn’t offer them on their phones. Today, multitouch is second nature to users and Android and Windows Phone both offer scrolling and pinching gestures.

In the same vein, the separated-key chiclet keyboard on MacBooks was quite different from the industry standard uncomfortable plastic and loud keyboards on IBM Thinkbooks and Dell laptops. Nonetheless, most laptop manufactures today have followed the Apple keyboard trend. Inventions like the retina display, 10 hour laptop/tablet battery life, the App Store, and MacBook, iPhone, and iPad aluminum manufacturing processes aren’t necessarily Apple specific inventions, however, Apple implemented them for the general public before any other major tech company. These features make their break with Apple and eventually spread to other companies over time but techies love to be on the cutting edge, making Apple products appealing.

The above reasons or a combination of them could potentially explain why Apple products are so popular today. Regardless of the reasoning, Apple’s growth over the past decade has been extraordinary. Feel free to add your insight on the “Apple Appeal” in the comments.

[Image via Wikipedia]

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Now.Desired: Nifty MiniDrive

Now.Desired: Nifty MiniDrive

The Nifty MiniDrive is a fully funded Kickstarter project that can easily increase the memory of your Macbook. With Apple’s switch to flash memory, the prices of higher capacity drives have made Macbooks with more storage expensive. Consequently, many people feel digitally cramped.

The Nifty MiniDrive is a tiny SD adapter that works with micro SD cards and fits flush in the SD slot of your Macbook Air, Pro, or Retina. Not only is the MiniDrive made with reinforced gold plated connections, it also has a nice aluminum finish on the outer edge to match the aluminum of your Mac. Although the MiniDrive is completely flush when inserted into your computer, it can be easily removed using a bent paper clip. The Kickstarter project will survey all backers at a later date to figure out exactly which model of the Nifty MiniDrive you want for your computer.

Because the Nifty MiniDrive is just an adapter, it’s future proof. As the prices of flash memory fall, it will become easier to purchase larger micro SD cards to use with your Mac. Currently, the largest and most reliable micro SD card is the 64GB SanDisk Mobile Ultra with a read speed up to 30 MB/s. These tend to sell for about $70 on Amazon. In a year or so, SanDisk will release larger micro SD cards which can easily be swapped into your MiniDrive.

Overall, the Nifty MiniDrive looks like a great and cost effective way to increase the storage capacity of your Macbook.

[Image and project via Kickstarter]

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Tech.Analysis: The 7 Inch iPad

Tech.Analysis: The 7 Inch iPad

Rumor has it that Apple is preparing a new, smaller sibling to the current 10 inch iPad. Reports from Chinese manufacturers to the WSJ as well as the NYT have suggested that Apple is set to begin mass production of the new iDevice this coming September for an October release date.

Google’s new Nexus 7, a 7 inch Android Jelly Bean tablet, has been selling out at major retailers this past weekend. The WSJ and PC Magazine gave the new Droid tablet favorable reviews praising the $199 entry price. At 200 bucks, the Nexus 7 matches the popular Amazon Kindle Fire.

The Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire haven’t really been direct competitors to Apple’s iPad: at more than double the price and size, comparing these 7 inch tablets to the iPad is like comparing a Smart car and a full-size SUV. The current iPad offers a larger 10 inch screen at a much higher pixel density along with other features that make it more of a mini computer than a beachside reading device. Regardless, the demand for smaller and cheaper tablets has apparently pushed Apple to consider a similarly sized and priced iPad.

The 7 inch iPad needs to be $199. Google, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble have solidified the $199 magical price point for this new class of tablets. Amazon actually loses money on each Kindle Fire sold and Google/Asus only make ~$40 on each Nexus 7. Apple might need to subsidize their product too if they want to outcompete Google and Amazon.

Because this subcategory of the tablet market is so new, it might be beneficial for Apple to hold off on producing a 7 inch iPad right now. Google and Amazon are taking a risk selling their products at such a low profit margin. It might be in Apple’s best interest to wait and see the results of Google’s Nexus 7.

[Image via 9to5Mac]

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Tech.News: Is this the new iPhone?

Tech.News: Is this the new iPhone?

9to5mac has gotten hold of some juicy photos of what they’re calling the iPhone 5. The photo clearly shows the rumored larger design to accomodate a 4 inch screen as well as a new aluminum (probably not liquid metal) backing, a smaller redesigned dock connector, and a repositioned headphone jack.

According to Bloomberg, Steve Jobs worked closely on the new iPhone redesign before his death in October. Although Jobs was adamant that a screen larger than 3.5″ would be ergonomically uncomfortable and hard to use with only one hand, consumers have shown that larger screens are in demand. It is rumored that the 4″ screen will break from the current iPhone aspect ratio and become longer rather than wider. On a side note, it will be interesting to see how apps designed for the current 3.5″ screens are adapted for the new screen size.

As I mentioned in a previous post, a redesigned dock connector will be a welcomed upgrade: it most likely allows for faster syncing speeds, saves precious internal space, and (as shown in the photo) designates more room for bigger speakers and a repositioned headphone jack.

Pictures of the front-pannel show the larger screen and the front-facing camera which is now centered above the earpiece (about time).

Other expected features of the next iPhone are 4G LTE, a faster processor, improved battery life, and iOS 6.

[Images via 9to5mac]

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Tech.Analysis: Vertical Integration and Microsoft

Tech.Analysis: Vertical Integration and Microsoft

Apple has been championed as a shining example of successul vertical integration in regards to their iPhone and iPad production. Vertical integration simply means that a significant percentage of the supply chain in the creation of a product is under the control of one company. Apple designs the software and hardware for their devices. This allows Apple to optimize the processor, RAM, and other hardware specs perfectly to their in-house software. By designing the hardware and software in tandem, Apple can install just the right amount of processor power and battery capacity for the bundled software which can cut costs of the overall product. Additionally, vertical integration allows Apple to control the supply chain for their products and plan for interruptions or changes. They are less impacted by sector-wide part shortages and supply shocks.

Google’s purchase of Motorola Mobility in August is most likely an attempt to imitate Apple’s successful vertical model. The Android OS is currently designed by Google to fit many different phone models from HTC, LG, Samsung, and others. This discontinuity means that in some circumstances the hardware has superfluous computing power in comparison to the capabilities of the installed version of Android. The average user subsequently pays more for a phone with insane specs which the OS doesn’t really need to function well. Google is expected to not only use their acquisition of Motorola to create a single perfected phone, but also to further Google TV through Google-engineered Motorola set-top boxes.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone software is aesthetically inviting, has great exchange support, and overall the OS is fairly streamlined. However, most of the Windows Phone handsets are clunky and flawed. Some have tiny screens, others from HTC are too big. Speed, build quality, camera performance, and phone design vary among the many models detracting from the overall brand of a “Windows Phone.” The Nokia Lumia 900 is a great example of a beautiful phone (perhaps the sharpest on the market) with significant hardware/software limitations that will prevent Windows Phone 7.5 from becoming a true threat to Android or iOS. Windows Phone does not support dual or quad core processors. This means no threaded multitasking and lower performance. The software limits the screen resolution to 800×480 which makes competing with the Apple Retina Display impossible. The Lumia 900 is also a fortune unlocked.

Apple has proven that companies make their money selling the actual phone, not licensing their software. Google is already preparing for this transition (as shown in their purchase of Motorola) and if Microsoft continues to treat the mobile sphere like the OS licensed desktop computer market, Windows Phone wont reach its true potential. Windows 8 Metro looks fantastic but without an affordable and Microsoft optimized tablet to complement the software, it has no realistic shot at the iPad.

Apple’s vertical integration model is dominating the tech sector. Google is already making the necessary changes to compete. It’s time to build hardware Microsoft.

[Image via Techsling]

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Tech.Analysis: Why Apple Needs to Update the 30 Pin Dock Connector

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Apple introduced the 30 pin dock connector with the third generation iPod in 2003. Since then, the dock design has yet to change, except for small internal modifications to support new features like video out. It’s time for a redesign.

Apple and Intel introduced the small, speedy Thunderbolt port with the latest Macbooks. With speeds up to 20 Gbits/second, this 8 by 5 milimeter plug supports video, USB, and even audio. While the current iPhone lacks the PCI hardware requirements to meet advertised Thunderbolt data transfer speeds, an adapted, slightly slower PCI chip that would not take up too much additional space would still be extraordinary addition to Apple’s future devices.

Apple’s design team is limited by the size and placement of the 30 pin dock connector. With a new, modified Thunderbolt port, Apple could make the next iPhone thinner and sleeker (tapered edges?) while offering faster iTunes syncing speeds.

So far I have considered the implications of reducing the size of the dock connector but imagine a futuristic unibody device without any ports or jacks. Apple has already shown signs that this may be their ultimate goal: iOS 5 brought functioning Wi-Fi iTunes syncing, iCloud backups, Photostream, and computer-free activations. Inductive charging (like the HP Touchstone dock) has eliminated the need for tethered power cords and faster Wi-Fi speeds have made transferring large files “over the air” entirely possible. The implications of these technologies could allow future designers to create 100% sealed phones (assuming non-permeable speakers) that use inductive charging pads and Bluetooth headphones. A perfectly enclosed phone would not only have the structural integrity of a brick, but it could also be water-proof.

It’s been almost 9 years since the current iDevice 30 pin dock was introduced. Although it would be annoying to have to use an adapter or replace existing 30 pin accessories, it is time for Apple to reclaim the precious space used up by the excessively large 30 pin port and introduce a faster and smaller Thunderbolt-like dock.

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