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Tag: iOS

Apple’s iWork, iPhoto & iMovie free with all iOS 7 devices

iPhone5S_launchOther than the new finger print scanner, everything else launched by Apple on Tuesday seemed to be the usual interim ‘S’ model

component upgrades. Even the ‘new’ iPhone 5C is essentially just the iPhone 5 in new pyjamas.

Along with the usual facts and figures on sales and usage we had another walk through of iOS7 and detail on some of the hardware upgrades for the latest and greatest iPhone.
However, the significant revelation as far as I could see was the announcement that the mobile iOS versions of Apple’s iWork suite – Numbers, Pages and Keynote – along with iPhoto and iMovie, would be available for free for all new iOS 7 device purchases.

iPhone5S_launch2

Where previously each of these would be separate purchases totalling about £27, Apple are now going to give them away.

A quick look at the App Store Top Paid App listings shows that these are pretty popular apps which have no doubt made Apple a fortune in their own right since launching a couple of years ago, so why decide to give them away now?

Apple certainly aren’t short of $’s in the bank so it seems a good move to make (what in their words is) the most tablet popular productivity suite available for free with the hope that users will be tempted from waiting for Microsoft’s Office suite to be released for the Windows 8 based tablets.

iWork_Free_1It certainly looks like Microsoft are pinning their hopes on the familiarity of Office being the killer app for their Surface devices thereby providing them the kick start needed to take off and compete with Apple and Samsung in the tablet space as well as to supposedly get traction in the business area with better integration with enterprise systems.

When Apple start to have iWork deployed to all iPads sold with iOS 7 they’ll have the opportunity of getting these applications in front of millions of users who likely have never tried anything other than Office. Apple can then demonstrate how good these apps are on iOS and from there temp people to try them on a nice shiny new Mac.

Of course making iWork available through iCloud along with existing online document storage features can only improve the overall experience and further draw the user into the Apple ecosystem.

It’s often quoted that Apple are a hardware company and not about software, and this sort of strategy would seem to support that. The software side of things is about drawing the customer into the whole Apple experience and to purchase multiple (high profit margin) devices. And with Apple’s cloud services set to be expanding further with iWork and iRadio it makes sense to demonstrate further added value by making the rest of Apple’s iOS offerings available for free.

More iWork users = more Mac and iOS device buyers while at the same time the added benefit of undermining Microsoft’s tablet adoption supported by Office.

iWork_iOS

 

How To…Use Mac OS and Automator to convert and copy avi files to iTunes

Until Apple open up the Apple TV for third party apps and therefore making media players like the brilliant CineXPlayer or flex:player available, you have to convert files not supported natively by your iOS devices to a format Apple is happy with.

Handbrake is a great app and is often highlighted as one of the best free applications available for Mac OS X. Handbrake is feature rich allowing you to rip your DVD collection or convert existing files and includes many output formats. However, it is a bit of a hassle if you want to convert multiple files in one go. There’s no quick and easy way to apply a conversion setting to multiple files – you have to browse, select then add to the queue one at a time.

As an alternative you can use inbuilt Mac OS X functions that are part of QuickTime Player, and with Automator and Folder Actions you can carry out file conversions simply by moving or copying source files to a pre-configured folder.

As QuickTime Player is used to process the file conversion you need to make sure that it’ll playback the original files you want to convert. Check you can open them ok and if not see http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3526 for available QuickTime plugins. (You’ll probably by ok with just DivX for Mac).

Convert using Finder menus

To test simply right-click on a file(s) you want to convert and select Encode Selected Video Files.

Select the quality settings, destination and whether you want to delete the source file after conversion then click Continue. (Remember the output quality won’t magically improve if the source file is poor, so there’s no point selecting 1080p when converting low-resolution mobile phone videos or old home movies).

You can then copy this file to iTunes for streaming to Apple TV or synching to you iOS devices.

Automate conversion

Outlined below is how you can automate this process by assigning a simple Automator script to a folder which would then convert any video file copied into it to iTunes/iOS ready .m4v format.

(I’m using Mountain Lion but similar functionality is available in previous versions though the naming conventions have changed slightly).

  • Create the folder you want to use to convert files
  • Launch Automator and from the Wizard or File-New menu select Folder Action as the type of document you want to create

  • Select the folder to apply the Folder Action script to

  • From the library select Movies and drag Encode Media to the workflow pane on the right then configure the setting options you require

  • Next select Music from the library and drag Import Files into iTunes to the workflow. Select appropriate playlist setting (will need to create one before starting Automator if you want to use a one you’ve already setup).

  • Click File-Save and enter an appropriate name

Now if you right-click on the folder and select Folder Actions Setup you will see your new script in the library and it will be attached to the folder.

Any supported video files you copy into the folder will be converted and imported into iTunes automatically – you should see a spinning cog icon on the Menu Bar while files are being processed.

 

Apple’s Podcasts app

It’s been a couple of weeks since Apple launched its standalone Podcasts app and after initially liking it a lot, I’ve already stopped using it and reverted to the standard Music app.

The Good

As a standalone app there is a lot going for it. It has a nice menu layout for subscribed podcasts and a snazzy playback screen.

Podcasts in your library are laid out in tiles behind which are those downloaded, options for subscription etc.

During playback clicking on the album art bring up a reel to reel visualisation from which you can scroll the timeline as well as adjust the playback speed using a bunny or tortoise icon as needed.

The Bad

However there are two key downsides to Podcasts when comparing with the standard Music app.

  1. It’s so slow. I still have an iPhone 4 so don’t have the horsepower of the iPhone 4S and this app from Apple is really unresponsive. Whether switching menus, scrolling the timeline or simply wanting to stop playback I find the app to take a few screen taps to get the message. It’s not unusual for version updates of iOS and its apps to slow things down, but you’d have thought something as basic as a media player wouldn’t be a problem.
  2. It doesn’t integrate into iTunes. I let iTunes synching sort out which podcasts get loaded onto the iPhone based on whether I’ve listened to them or not, but the iOS Podcast app is oblivious to this, as it iTunes to it.
Not bad, but room for improvement

Apple’s iOS Podcast app seems to be a fully standalone app. You setup podcast subscriptions, playback and delete from the app without synchronising to iTunes. It’s clearly further support to Apple’s intention of getting more content into the cloud and off the device which all goes to help sever the link between iOS devices and the desktop.

While in principal this is a great thing as iTunes really is in desperate need of an overhaul as it’s been getting too bloated for a while and managing content between multiple devices and formats is pretty poor. Apple has been splitting out the playback components on the iOS platform one by one so you’d assume the same would be happening in OS X. It would come as no surprise if somewhere along the line the Apple Store, Music, Video, Books and Podcasts sections will split out into separate apps.

So all in all, a nice app little app though in need of some improvement around performance and integration with other Apple components – especially great if you want to get away from iTunes and let the app look after your subscriptions without having to sync back to the laptop/desktop.

 

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