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Caturday: Kitty, Terry and the YouTube video no cat can resist

Sat, 2015-09-05 12:30

Kitty and Terry, photo courtesy of Klaas Koopmans

Aha! You probably thought you'd never see a Caturday post again. Well, the cats out there in the Apple world thought otherwise, and in the case, two of them convinced their Dutch human living in Germany -- Klaas Koopmans -- to take many pictures of them so that they could star on Caturday. They prevailed! Here's what Klaas has to say about this:

“These are Terry and Kitty. They live in Germany and they are brother and sister. They are about nine years old. Living in a house with two iPads, several Macs, two iPads, two iPhones and a lot of other “white stuff from Cupertino”, one would expect Terry and Kitty love Apple as much as my wife and I do. But no, they show no interest at all. Well, wait. When they were youngsters, they liked chewing on earpod cables. But as they grew up, their interest shifted to fish and birds, and food in general. Sadly, they didn’t want me to take so many pictures of them, either.

We had to do a trick to get a picture of our cats. A picture where they pretend to have great interest in Apple products, as we’d like them to be in our favorite item on Apple World Today: Caturday, which we read during breakfast.

The trick is done by browsing to a YouTube Video for Cats (see below). No cat can resist this 14.27 min video. My cats didn’t even notice that I took pictures.

So if any of your readers have difficulties with their cats modelling for Caturday, please let them use the link. Hopefully you will receive a lot of pictures of beautiful, sweet cats with Apple products. I finally deleted hundreds of pictures of iPads, Iphones etc with an unsharp ear, tail or leg from either Kitty or Terry.”

Thanks to Klaas and the wonders of YouTube, we were able to embed this important video for your cats viewing pleasure. Pull it up on your favorite Apple device, go to full-screen, and grab a camera! Here's another photo of Terry:

Kitty and Terry, photo courtesy of Klaas Koopmans

Apple World Today needs good cats! Have a picture of your cat soaking up the good vibes of an Apple product? Tell us the back story behind your kitty's photo on the Apple World Today contact page - we don't accept inbound attachments, so please host the photo on Dropbox, Flickr, iPhoto, etc... and then include the link in your message. Please note that the picture must have some tie to an Apple product.

Thanks and a pile of cat toys to Terry, Kitty and Klaas!

AWT News Update: September 4, 2015

Fri, 2015-09-04 16:30

A short news update before we head into the long US Labor Day weekend:

  • The documentary Steve Jobs: Man in the Machine opens in a limited run and online
  • A Fresno State student was uninjured after an armed robber shot him... and hit his iPhone
  • A new Apple Store is set to open in Brussels, Belgium on September 19
  • No AWT News Update on Monday

Text version is below. Today's video can be viewed here.

Subscribe to the Podcast Text Version

Hi, I’m Steve Sande from Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for September 4, 2015.

Yesterday we brought you word that the movie Steve Jobs was going to premiere at the Telluride Film Festival. Today, well you can go to online venues including iTunes, Google Play, Vudu and the Windows and PlayStation stores to watch Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine. That’s the documentary that has been criticized by many Apple executives as being unjustly critical of the late Apple CEO. You can also see the film in a limited release on just 65 screens in 50 US markets this weekend.

A student at Fresno State in California was the victim of an armed robbery this week and lost his laptop — it was an HP laptop, so no great loss - to the robber. However, things would have been much worse if the student hadn’t been carrying his iPhone. The robber said something that the student didn’t understand and pointed a handgun at him, then reached for the student’s laptop bag. The robber then fired one shot, which was blocked by the iPhone in the victim’s pants pocket. The iPhone was pretty well destroyed, but the student was unharmed. The moral of the story? Carry multiple iPhones in all of your pockets when you’re in a high-crime neighborhood.

Brussels, Belgium is the home of a new Apple Store that will open on September 19. The new store is currently surrounded by a construction barricade featuring paintings by local artists. It’s expected to be a large store at about 1500 square meters or about 16145 square feet. The store is located on Avenue del Toison d’Or, also known as Gulden Vlieslaan. A second store may open in Antwerp, Belgium next year.

Just a note that the Apple World Today staff will be taking the day off on Monday, September 7 for the US Labor Day holiday. Have a great weekend, and we’ll be back on Tuesday, September 8 with another edition of the AWT News Update.

IF Apple has bought Faceshift, it's not their first venture into facial motion capture

Fri, 2015-09-04 14:54, basing its conclusion on "a few whispers and some research," says it "thinks" that Apple has bought a company called Faceshift.

The company's Faceshift Studio is a markerless facial motion capture system. The software analyzes the face motions of an actor, and describes them as a mixture of basic expressions, plus head orientation and gaze, to create a custom 3D avatar, and to record facial animation data in real time. The animation data may be streamed live into Maya, MotionBuilder or Unity, or exported in a range of standard file formats, including BVH and FBX.

Faceshift Studio 2015 — which has reportedly been discontinued — is (was?) available for Mac OS X and Windows. Each seat of the software costs US$1,500/year. You can also get a perpetual license for non-commercial use for $150.

IF the rumor is true, it's not Apple's first rodeo when it comes to facial motion and gesture control technology. In Mac Apple was granted a patent for "locking and unlocking a mobile device using facial recognition." The invention could theoretically be used to unlock your iOS device — and perhaps a Mac — by analyzing your mug with the gadget's on-board camera.

Last year Apple was granted a patent for a “lens array projector” that involves a projection-based 3D mapping solution. The result could be gesture recognition on Macs, Apple TVs and iOS devices akin to that of Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect. Another 2014 patent filing for a “computer user interface system and method” could involve a Mac display with sensors built into all sides of the screen’s bezel.

The sensors would recognize hand gestures. The gestures could be used to scrolling, selecting, zooming, and more. In 2013 Apple was granted a patent for gesture control of multimedia editing applications. 

In 2013, Apple bought PrimeSense, an Israeli maker of chips that enable three-dimensional (3D) machine vision. The chip's 3D sensors are designed to enable nature interaction between people and devices and between devices and their surroundings. Its machine vision products map out 3D environments and track movements of bodies, faces and facial expressions.

And in 2010 Apple scooped up all of the shares of a Swedish face recognition company called Polar Rose. The company had a service that allowed users to name people in their photos on photo sharing sites like Flickr and using their Facebook contacts. Using their facial recognition Polar Rose applied auto-tagging for users.

Moshi USB-C to USB adapter and Aerio Lite bag: Companions for your 12-inch Retina MacBook

Fri, 2015-09-04 13:00

Moshi Aerio Lite Messenger bag and USB-C to USB adapter. Photo ©2015, Steven Sande. All rights reserved.

Apple's 12-inch Retina display MacBook shook up the computing world when it came out earlier this year. It not features only just one port -- a USB-C port that's used both for charging and connectivity -- but it is incredibly small for a laptop. Fortunately, accessory manufacturer Moshi has come to the rescue of MacBook owners with two new products to keep your Retina MacBook company: the USB-C to USB adapter (US$24.95) and the Aerio Lite vertical messenger bag (US$99.95). 

USB-C to USB Adapter

Apple knew that upsetting the proverbial apple cart (see what I did there?) with a new USB connector format would require some intermediate cables, so one of the first accessories available was Apple's USB-C to USB adapter ($19.00). Moshi's adapter is almost $6 more expensive, so what are you getting for the extra money?

Apple's adapter is all plastic while the Moshi adapter is surrounded with anodized aluminum. Moshi says that the aluminum casing will provide extra electromagnetic shielding, insuring that the USB 3.1-compatible adapter can achieve that 5Gbps maximum transfer speed. 

Like the Apple adapter, the Moshi USB-C to USB adapter can also handle up to 3 amps of current, perfect for charging your MacBook from a regular USB cable if you've misplaced the power brick. 


Looks aren't everything, and considering that third-party USB-C to USB adapter cables can be had for as little as $10 elsewhere, I can't really recommend spending the extra money just for a shiny aluminum casing.

Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★Aerio Lite Vertical Messenger Bag

Now this is a product I can get behind. Moshi designed the Aerio Lite as a vertically oriented messenger bag that would work not only for the 12-inch MacBook, but also for a variety of iPads. In fact, if next Wednesday's Apple event does reveal a new "iPad Pro", the Aerio Lite should be able to carry it with ease.

The Aerio Lite comes in two different finishes: sky blue polyester/cotton canvas with tan highlights and cocoa brown with the same tan highlights. It's an attractive bag with padding all around the interior pockets. I was able to easily handle two iPads in keyboard cases and the MacBook in the interior.

The interior is sealed from the outside by a magnetically latched flap. There's a large magazine pocket on the back of the bag, a big pocket on the front with a "sub-pocket" inside it, and even a zippered pouch on the flap for those things you don't want to lose.

For carrying the bag, there's a long -- although unpadded -- strap. It has a buckle on it for adjusting the length to a comfortable setting. 


Don't need a huge backpack or overpriced carrying bag for your little MacBook and iPads? The Aerio LIte is a good-looking and protective piece of gear that should keep your devices free from damage for years to come.

Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★

Just a note to our Patreon patrons: We'll be giving away the Aerio Lite Vertical Messenger Bag and the fast, but overpriced USB-C to USB adapter to one of you. Check out the patron Slack channel for details on how to enter.

A streaming service could increase Apple's dominance of 'TV Everywhere'

Fri, 2015-09-04 11:49

"TV Everywhere" — the term for customers having access to content through Internet-connected devices such as iPads, iPhones, Macs, and Apple TVs — was up 63% in the last year, according to an Adobe study of 159 billion online video starts. The study shows that Apple already dominates the business — and could dominate even more if/when the company introduces a TV streaming service.

Adobe's study says that the iPad was the No. 1 device that consumers used to view TV Everywhere content, with some 22.3% of users employing Apples’ tablet device. Second on the list were computers with 18.3%, followed by iPhones (18.2%) and Apple TVs (12.8%). Considering the popularity of Apple’s various devices, Apple accounted for up to 61% of TV Everywhere viewing, though there’s some overlap.

Analyst Matthew says that since each TV-connected device offers a different array of content (you can’t get Amazon Prime service on Apple TV or Apple content on Roku, for instance), many consumers find the process too complicated.

“Everyone has a painful story of how they tried to watch something and they couldn’t and they gave up,” he says. “It really needs to be a simpler process.”

Adobe thinks Apple might have the answer. Rumor has it that Apple will make some sort of announcement in September about a streaming TV service, which could spur a major growth cycle for TV Everywhere, though analyst Tamara Gaffney cautioned that such rumors have made the rounds before.

“It doesn’t take much for something to come along that makes everything so much easier to use that adoption goes into a hockey-stick pattern,” she said. “That could very well happen. That’s what happened with the iPhone.”

Actually, Apple's TV streaming service — which I call Apple Web TV — was once expected this fall. However, the current timetable — according to the rumor mill — calls for a 2016 debut.

Talks to license programming from TV networks such as those owned by CBS Corp. and 21st Century Fox are progressing slowly because Apple wants to offer a package of popular channels for US$40 a month, reports Bloomberg, quoting unnamed "people familiar with Apple's plans." What's more, the Cupertino, California-based company doesn’t yet have the computer network capacity in place to ensure a good viewing experience, the article adds.

Apple Web TV was expected to debut alongside a next generation Apple TV. However, a substantial upgrade of the set-top box is still expected at Apple's Sept. 9 media event.

ArtistInfo helps fill in iTunes' missing pieces

Fri, 2015-09-04 11:00

If you're totally into buying your music online, and you're of a certain age (like, ahem, me), you may miss all the great info once found in CD booklets and album covers. If you're too young to know what I'm talking about, take my word: you're missing some good stuff. Enter ArtistInfo by Metason

It's an application for Mac OS X (10.9 and later) that works in conjunction with iTunes and serves up a smorgasbord of info on musicians, music groups, producers and composers. What kind of info? Artist names, instruments playing, band members, biographies, discographies, musicians playing on an album, album comments/liner notes, music genres, and more. 

ArtistInfo "listens" to the music you have playing on iTunes and automatically collects corresponding information in the background. It uses the Semantic Web to collect data from sources such as Wikipedia, MusicBrainz, Discogs, and the iTunes Store. This data allows you to, in addition to the tasks mentioned previously, find video clips and buy music.

For example, when playing Elton John's "The Diving Board" album in iTunes, ArtistInfo served up a summary of the album in liner notes. By clicking various icons in the app's interface, I could see album artwork, the musicians and backup singers on the album's songs, a list of Elton's upcoming concerts (via Songkick), and more. 

You can search for a musician, band, or an album using the search field of ArtistInfo's toolbox by applying the search terms Artist, Artist-Album Title or Album Title. If several items are found, you can choose the corresponding entry you're interested in by using the pull-down menu right from the search field, which is very convenient. Results may include the artist as a person as well as band names containing the artist's name. Artists with similar names are listed, as well.

Choose the artist of interest on the left sidebar, and you'll be presented with info on personal data, biography, discography, and more. ArtistInfo can also recommend new musicians that might interest you via the recommendation panel. 

This panel will open by either clicking the "star" button in the toolbar, by selecting the Window - Recommendations menu, or by pressing the recommendation button on the welcome page.  By selecting a recommendation more details are searched and be presented in the main window. The recommendations can be filtered by musical genre and the albums also by their release year. Within the tables, recommendations can be sorted by artist name, genre, album title, score, and release date by clicking on the corresponding column title.

You can also add an additional Menu to start ArtistInfo from within iTunes directly. This is done by enhancing iTunes via AppleScript. It will start ArtistInfo or brings an already running ArtistInfo application window to the front. You can learn how at the ArtistInfo menu in your iTunes application. 

What's more, the ArtistNet visualization in ArtistInfo provides insight into the network of musicians established by performing together in bands and on albums. The network is presented as connections between artists arranged in a circle or as a more complex graph view. The visualization is interactive. By hovering the mouse over topics in the statistical charts about instruments, genres and countries, you can filter the network. 

ArtistNet let you follow the history of how an artist's network changed and grew over time. By double-clicking elements in the visualization detailed information on albums, musicians, musical instruments, genres and countries are presented in ArtistInfo. 

One feature I'd love to see added to the app in the future is the ability to show and play song lyrics. Another: I'd love for ArtistInfo and iTunes to be integrated in such a way that album artwork displayed in the former could be used to fill in missing artwork on the latter.

Perhaps those will be additions in future versions of ArtistInfo. As it is, it's an invaluable companion to iTunes for anyone who wants more than cursory info on the music in their iTunes library.

ArtistInfo will run on Mac OS X 10.9 and later. It's available for US$5.99 in the Mac App Store under the Music category.

Can you help an ol' buddy buy an Apple Car?

Fri, 2015-09-04 08:00

A deep, deep thank you to patrons of AppleWorld.Today for your generous outpouring of support. But while I and my debtors are extremely grateful, you fans are going to have to really up contributions if you want Steve, Dave and Yours Truly — the AWT crew — to drive Apple Cars when they hit the road. After all, one Apple prognosticator thinks the vehicle will cost more than US$50,000.

In a note to clients — as noted by FORTUNE  — Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster thinks Apple is working on its own car. However, he doesn't expect it to hit the road for another 5-10 years. The AWT gang will be saving our money.

“If Apple makes a ‘car’ as we know it today, we expect it to be an electric vehicle that is likely priced in the luxury”—as in more than $50,000—”market,” Munster writes. "… A car by Apple may look completely different than what we think of as a typical car today in terms of shape and size."

The analyst thinks the Apple Car will be entirely electric. He also predicts it will incorporate such signature Apple services and products as Siri, Maps, Apple Music — and perhaps even HomeKit and/or augmented or virtual reality products. 

I manage to regular convince my lovely wife Laura that I MUST upgrade my Macs, iPhone and iPad on a regular basis because I'm a serious Apple journalist. Heck, I even used that line of reasoning to buy an Apple Watch (the entry level Sports Edition; Laura actually nixed my plans to buy the 18-Karat Rose Gold Case version).

However, when I mentioned that we would probably have to take out a second mortgage on our house in another 5-10 years for an Apple Car, she said no. I told her I needed it for work. She told me that if that were the case, I'd have to bid adieu to AppleWorld.Today and become a Walmart greeter.

And I know AWT patrons are too kind to allow that to happen to me. Right?

(The Apple Car mock-ups in this article are courtesy of and

How to protect your data, part two

Fri, 2015-09-04 07:00

Yesterday we looked at software solutions for data protection. Today we’ll look at hardware solutions. There are too many to list, but following are some of my favorites.

WD’s My Passport Slim line of portable hard drives offer up to 2TB capacity, a metal enclosure, and 256-bit hardware-based encryption. The included WD SmartWare Pro data protection software allows users to back up their data to their My Passport Slim and keep an extra copy in their Dropbox account. The software also lets users back up their Dropbox account to the My Passport Slim. The My Passport Slim 1TB has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $99.99; the 2TB model is $149.99 (or $129.95 through this affiliate link).

LaCie's Rugged hard drive comes with included software that protects files from prying eyes with AES 256-bit encryption. Pricing starts at $219 for a 1TB version (a USB 3.0 version is available for $109.99 through this affiliate link).

Kingston Digital offers the DataTraveler Vault Privacy 3.0 secure USB Flash drive, as well as the DataTraveler Vault Privacy 3.0 Anti-Virus . They’re designed to help enterprises safeguard business data and set security policies for end-users.

The DTVP 3.0 provides hardware-based encryption of confidential information and is also available separately with ClevX DriveSecurity anti-virus protection. The anti-virus engine utilizes ESET’s NOD 32 technology, which is designed to protect corporate end-users wherever they work or plug in. The DTVP 3.0 is available in 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions. Prices range from US$40 to $355, and a 32GB version is available for just $89.94 through this affiliate link.

Addonics Technologies’ Secure NAS series of storage appliances combines the benefits of RAID, Network Attached Storage (NAS), Direct Attached Storage (DAS) and hardware AES 256-bit encryption in one enclosure. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the Secure NAS R5 is US$499. Go here for more info.

KoolSpan offers theTrustChip for the iPhone. It fits into custom-designed TrustSleeve for the iPhone 4, 4s, 5 and 5s. The downside is that there’s not yet support for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The TrustChip acts as an adaptor between the TrustChip and the iPhone and sports a separate 1200 mAh battery pack. This provides users with extended battery life of up to 12 hours of talk or 13.5 hours of Internet use.

With the TrustSleeve attached, users can place mutually authenticated and fully encrypted phone calls with KoolSpan’s TrustCall application. TrustCall is a voice application based on commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) technology. The TrustChip can be removed from one device and placed in another — transferring mobile security from phone to phone. Or it can be bound to a single device, rendering it unusable on any other. Go here for more info and pricing.

As for Apple and security, last July Apple started encrypting email traffic between iCloud and third-party services, according to data from a Google transparency web site. This includes messages from older and accounts.

According to Apple: “iCloud secures your data by encrypting it when it’s sent over the Internet, storing it in an encrypted format when kept on server (review the table below for detail), and using secure tokens for authentication. This means that your data is protected from unauthorized access both while it is being transmitted to your devices and when it is stored in the cloud. iCloud uses a minimum of 128-bit AES encryption—the same level of security employed by major financial institutions—and never provides encryption keys to any third parties.”

Your Mac and iOS devices are pretty darn safe right out of the box. But it doesn’t hurt to take extra precautions. There are many more hardware and software solutions for Apple products, but this guide should get you started finding the solution that’s best for you.

Apple may not use sapphire crystal for iPhone 6s lens

Fri, 2015-09-04 06:56

KGI analyst Kuo Ming-Chi says Apple won't use sapphire crystal for the lens and display of the upcoming iPhone 6s, though earlier media reports said Apple would use sapphire for the smartphone that's expected to be unveiled at the Sept. 9 media event.

He says the sapphire crystal is easily broken if it collides with hard surfaces. It purportedly failed durability testing, forcing the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus back to ion-strengthened glass.

Sapphire is the second hardest material in the world after diamond. The fact that it’s very hard to scratch means that it’s much less likely to break than competitors like Gorilla Glass or Dragontrail.

Some pundits expected Apple to use sapphire in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. It never happened for a variety of reasons and Apple’s sapphire manufacturing partner, GT Advanced, has declared bankruptcy.

However, Apple apparently hasn't given up on the material. A July patent filing (number 20150209903) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple hasn’t given up on using the material in its iPhone and iPad lines. The patent is for a “system and method for laser cutting sapphire using multiple gas media.”

Runtastic Moment: A watch that's also an activity tracker

Fri, 2015-09-04 06:00

If you thought that the introduction of the Apple Watch was going to stop other manufacturers from coming out with activity trackers and watches, you're wrong. Just this week we heard about Google making Android Wear watches compatible with iOS, and now a company best known for its activity trackers and iOS app -- Runtastic -- has announced the new Runtastic Moment.

Runtastic was recently acquired by Adidas, tying it to one of the big players in fitness gear. Runtastic Moment is a traditional watch with an analog dial and a daily progress indicator to show how active users are, as well as the ability to sync to the Runtastic Me app via Bluetooth. Other notifications come through vibration and an LED.

Runtastic Moment uses a standard watch battery inside that keeps it going for up to six months without replacement, and is waterproof up to 300 feet. In case you're away from your iPhone for a while, Moment will store up to seven days of data.

The Runtastic Moment comes in four different styles: Fun ($129), a 37mm round watch with a stainless steel case and matching silicone strap in indigo, raspberry, sand and plum; Basic ($129), a 42mm model with a stainless steel case in black or sand; Classic ($179), 42mm in silver, rose gold, or gold finished stainless steel and a leather strap; and Elite, 46mm ($179) and in basic black only. 

Watches with tracking capabilities are nothing new; the Withings Activité and Activité Pop have both been on the market for a while, but don't provide nearly as much information on the dial as the Moment does. 

AWT News Update: September 3, 2015

Thu, 2015-09-03 16:00

Movies, rumors, rumors and rumors. Oh, yeah, and iTunes and Apple Music need work. That's all in today's AWT News Update:

  • "Steve Jobs" will premiere this weekend at the Telluride Film Festival
  • An iTunes international VP admits that iTunes and Apple Music need fixing
  • Philips has a HomeKit-compatible Hue Bridge coming out
  • Might be a 21.5-inch Retina display iMac coming in October, coinciding with the release of OS X El Capitan
  • Apple's sold over a million Apple Watches in China alone, and more...

The text version is located below! Want to watch a video version? That's available here. 

Subscribe to the Podcast Text Version

Hi, I’m Steve Sande from Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for September 3, 2015.

Are you going to be attending the Telluride Film Festival in Telluride, Colorado this weekend? You’re in luck - the new Aaron Sorkin scripted movie Steve Jobs will premiere at the festival on Saturday September 5, with an encore presentation on Sunday. It’s based on the biography by Walter Isaacson that was published about the time of Jobs’ death, and features Michal Fassbender as Jobs, Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak, Kate Winslet as former Apple marketing chief Joanna Hoffman, and Jeff Daniels as former Apple CEO John Sculley. The movie is directed by Danny Boyle, who is well known for directing movies like Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours. The film will open to the public on October 9.

The iTunes app and Apple Music have been justly criticised for being somewhat clunky to use as well as buggy, and an iTunes international vice president — Oliver Schusser — today told The Guardian that Apple will be working throughout the rest of the year to fix problems with the app. Schusser noted that “we get a ton of feedback”, and that “we’re obviouslly trying to make it better every day.” The Apple Music service is expected to laundh on Android and Sonos devices this fall.

Philips has been a pioneer in the home automation market with its Hue lighting line, but appeared to be a no-show when it came to compatibility with Apple’s HomeKit platform. Today, images of an upcoming bridge device called the Hue bridge were briefly seen on a Dutch website, with the device being used to link Hue products to HomeKit. It looks surprisingly like an Apple TV, except decked out in white and silver instead of black. There’s some speculation that Apple itself will out a new Apple TV with HomeKit hub capabilities next Wednesday.

With rumors hitting a fever pitch just before the annoucements next week, yet another rumor has popped out. A 21.5-inch iMac with a 4K Retina display will be released at the end of October along with OS X El Capitan. This jives with what KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in August, thinking that the entire iMac line would get a refresh with new processors and improved displays.

And one final rumor to get you all excited ahead of the upcoming weekend: Apple is believed to have sold over 1.07 million Apple Watches in China. This data comes from TalkingData, a company that is supported by over 80,000 mobile apps including the WeChat app — one that has over 1 billion registered users in China. In addition, the CEO of Japan Display Inc. has been quoted as saying that its biggest client — which most assume is Apple — keeps getting more and more orders for display screens for the next generation iPhones.

I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.

Google Street View gets its own app

Thu, 2015-09-03 13:00

Over the past couple of years, I've enjoyed taking spherical photos using an app from Google. When I say spherical photos, I mean that they're totally immersive -- with a few swipes, you can see up and down, side to side, and even zoom in if you want. Those photos were uploaded to Street View, and have been remarkably popular -- my 22 photo spheres have almost 74,000 views so far. Now Google has changed the name of the free app to Street View and turned it into a fun way to view photo spheres, take your own, and if a Street View vehicle has been driving around the area, even take a "tour". 

The app makes it easy to take photo spheres simply by moving your iPhone camera around, and the new 2.0 version adds support for cameras built specifically for the task, like the Ricoh Theta S. The app works as a remote for those cameras, allowing a 360° capture with one tap. 

Google Street View gives you the standard map mode view for viewing Street View road images, so it's fun and enlightening to use the app to virtually drive down a street and then into a location. 

A round of applause for our latest AWT supporters!

Thu, 2015-09-03 12:00

Our thanks continue to go out to all of you great readers who have chosen to support Apple World Today through Patreon. With your support, we've practically doubled the total pledges that we had before making our initial plea. There's still a long way to go, so if you haven't yet made a pledge of a monthly donation to keep Apple World Today running, please consider doing so.

We started Apple World Today after our former employer shuttered TUAW,  hoping that a good portion of the readership would follow us. While our core fans did come along, a lot of folks may not have been aware of where we went, so our readership dropped. It's stable now, even growing a bit, but there are three people here who need to make a living. You're helping to make that possible.

Without further ado, here are the latest good folks who have either pledged a monthly amount to support AWT, increased their previous pledge, or made a one-time donation:

John Ribaudo
Klaas Koopmans
Andreas Auwaerter
Douglas Frick
Jeff Marlow
Stephen Norris
Mirko Bautz
Paul Cancellieri
Evgeny Kotlyar
Jools Searle
Lisa Loutzenheiser
Jedd Ehrmann

Be sure to tell your friends about Apple World Today, Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter. And don't forget your benefits, including joining our exclusive patron Slack channels, a private live video chat during the September 9 Apple Event, and giveaways (starting soon).

Use Siri to make college life easier

Thu, 2015-09-03 10:30

College life can be hectic. Classes, your social life, fitting into someplace new are all challenges that students face. There are poor decisions to be made, too. During the winter semester of my sophomore year I decided to take an 8:00 AM swimming class. Walking to a pool at 7:30 AM on a December morning is a good time to reassess your life choices.

Fortunately, Siri is here to make things easier. From dictation to location-awareness to grabbing a late-night pizza, Apple's digital assistant has got you covered. Here's how Siri can make your school day easier.

Dictate notes between classes

Every year you have that pair of classes that require a brisk, cross-campus walk. Use that time to dictate some notes to Siri. Simply press your iPhone's Home button and say, "Take notes." Continue dictating and Siri will listen attentively, transcribing your notes in Apple's Notes app.

Siri can help you find notes, too. Simply tell it, "Find my note about [word]." It will search through the big mess and pull up just what you need.

Create location-based reminders on campus

This is far and away my favorite feature of iOS. Location-based reminders don't get enough press and that's too bad. Use this feature to your advantage while on campus. For instance, perhaps you must remember to visit a professor's office hours at some point in the day. Tell Siri, "Remind me to call Dr. Johnson when I leave here." Now, when classes end at the Liberal Arts center, you'll be prompted to make that appointment.

Find pizza shops, ATMs, laundromats, etc.

I'll never forget being dropped off in Boston for my first day at Berklee College of Music. I didn't know a single soul and definitely felt like a stranger in a strange land. I could have used Siri to find a bank machine, someplace to eat, a Laundromat and so much more by just asking "Siri, I need an ATM" for example. For incoming out-of-town freshman, this could be quite useful.

Get a hand with research

Now, the Internet isn't necessarily the best source of research information, but it can be a good supplement. Siri can help you get started with “Google [topic]" or “Wolfram [topic]," to focus on those two providers.

Quickly keep in touch with roommates and friends

If you're like me and major in "Running Late," this will help. Siri interprets "tell" as "send a text message." That means, as you're dashing across campus, you can simply say, "Tell Janie I'm running late" and Siri will fire off that next. Now get a move on; Janie is waiting.

Call mom!

Mom misses you. Have Siri to prompt you to call her at regular intervals by saying, "Remind me to call mom every Sunday." After all, you still want to use her washer and dryer when you go back home, right? Better stay on her good side.

Photo Credit: CthulhuWho1 (Will Hart) via Compfight cc

DaisyDisk 4: Even more beautiful and now faster than ever (an Apple World Today Top Pick)

Thu, 2015-09-03 09:00

The Apple World Today team has always been full of fans of DaisyDisk (US$9.99, free trial available), a Mac OS X utility that does one thing very, very well. DaisyDisk scans all disks attached to your Mac, displaying large files in a gorgeous "daisy-like" fashion and then letting you pick and choose which ones to delete to make more room. Today, DaisyDisk 4 hit the App Store, and we were able to take a look at the new version.

The first thing that strikes you is the new look, which just fits in much better with OS X Yosemite (and OS X El Capitan beta!) than the previous version. Once you've identified the disk you wish to scan, the app zips right through the process. The old version would take a couple of minutes to scan the 1 TB Fusion Drive in my iMac, DaisyDisk 4 did it in about 30 seconds. The company claims speed improvements up to 20x faster, and I can believe it.

As before, DaisyDisk is a small (6 MB) app, and the developers at Software Ambience have also reduced the memory consumption of the app while it's at work. The UI of the app remains as simple as before; clicking on the "petals" shows the files or folders that are taking up the most space on your Mac, and you can click to find individual files that may be especially space-hungry. Click the center of the daisy to move back up one level to get an overview, or drop the individual files or folders onto a target to delete them forever.

Apple has always pegged DaisyDisk as a Mac Essential; with DaisyDisk 4, it's time for all Mac owners to get on the bandwagon with this app. We're happy to select DaisyDisk 4 as our first software Top Pick of 2015, in the Utilities category. 

iShowU Studio for OS X is an intuitive screen casting tool

Thu, 2015-09-03 07:00

Shinywhitebox sys its US$79 iShowU Studio for Mac OS X (10.9 and higher) provides "video editing for mortals." That's a pretty high-falutin'  claim, but it's mostly true. The screen casting solution is designed to provide easy post-recording editing and publishing of footage you capture.

iShowU Studio lets you quickly record your Mac's screen. You can capture videos, then edit them by adding text, annotations, pointers and highlights. Though it's aimed at the consumer and beginner prosumer market, it shares a lot of the same features of the iShowU HD and iShowU Pro apps, including camera capture, keyboard/mouse compositing, and upload services to YouTube and Vimeo. 

Once you open the app, you'll be presented with a dialog to help you select a microphone and camera. A red Record button lets you stop and start recording. It's that easy.

When you stop the recording, a new window opens up with your recorded footage. From here you can perform trim, cut, copy, paste, add new media and more. 

The interface provides all the tools you need at a glance, but doesn't clutter things up with unwanted or confusing items. You can capture up to two audio streams (microphone and computer audio) and capture mouse and key press events. The software includes a color correction pipeline from import through to export, hardware accelerated H.264 recording for OS X Mavericks, and more. 

iShowU Studio's track-based editor allows clip arranging and makes it easy to trim an entire composition or segments. You can draw various shapes (text included) at any point in time over the composition. Various tools let you create a ripple-delete effect, pan and zoom, add more media, freeze a frame, split segments, annotate audio and create freeze frames at the same time, crop to a smaller area than the full screen, and group via "Collections." You can export your finished work in 480p, 540p, 720p or 1080p. 

Even though starting with iShowU Studio is fairly easy, shinywhitebox cleverly includes a link so you can download a manual in ebook format. Once downloaded it opens up in the iBooks app and is helpful it getting you up to speed with the "power" features of iShowU Studio.

Not all of us need a screen capture app. But for those who do, iShowU is worth a look. It's not inexpensive, but it's intuitive with lots of power lurking below the surface.

iPhones, iPads could be powered by external hydrogen fuel cells

Thu, 2015-09-03 06:46

Future iPhones and iPads could be powered by external hydrogen fuel cells. Apple has been granted a patent (number 20150249280) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a "fuel cell system to power a portable computing device."

This fuel cell system includes a fuel cell stack that converts fuel into electrical power. It also includes a fuel source for the fuel cell stack and a controller that controls operation of the system. 

The fuel system also includes an interface to the iOS device (though it could conceivably also work with Mac laptops). The interface would sport a communication link that provides bidirectional communication between the computing device and the controller for the fuel cell system.

One of Apple's reasons behind the patent filing is the company's environmental concerns. In the patent Apple says that "our country's continuing reliance on fossil fuels has forced our government to maintain complicated political and military relationships with unstable governments in the Middle East, and has also exposed our coastlines and our citizens to the associated hazards of offshore drilling." These problems have led to an increasing awareness and desire on the part of consumers to promote and use renewable energy sources. 

For example, the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) is presently used to produce data that helps consumers evaluate the environmental friendliness of electronic products. What's more, the EPEAT score for an electronic product can be increased by providing a renewable energy source for the product. 

Apple says that, as a consequence of this increased consumer awareness, electronics manufacturers have become "very interested" in developing renewable energy sources for their products, and they have been exploring a number of promising renewable energy sources such as hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen fuel cells have a number of advantages. 

Apple says such fuel cells and associated fuels have the potential to enable continued operation of portable electronic devices for days or even weeks without refueling. However, it's extremely challenging to design hydrogen fuel cell systems which are sufficiently portable and cost-effective to be used with portable electronic devices. 

Apple thinks it's up to the challenge. Keep in mind, though, that the company files LOTS of patents for inventions that never actually come to fruition.

How to protect your data, part one

Thu, 2015-09-03 06:00

By most accounts Mac OS X and iOS are safer operating systems than Windows or Android. However, there was a dubious report from GFI (a company that makes “IT solutions that enable businesses to discover, manage and secure their networks” ) in April that claimed that OS X and iOS are the “most vulnerable” operating systems.

Whether Apple makes the most or least secure operating systems, there are good reasons to protect your data from loss and from prying eyes. The best way to accomplish the former is simply to back up your data to external hard drives (at least one of which you keep somewhere other than your home or office), as well as having a “cloud” backup. When it comes to backing up to external drives, the Time Machine feature in Mac OS X makes it simple and easy.

When it comes to online backups, there are various solutions. My personal favorite is CrashPlan from Code 42, which offers unlimited storage space and lets you upload files of any size. CrashPlan’s backup data is encrypted with a 128-bit key for free users with 448-bit encryption available for CrashPlan Central subscribers. Backup transmission is then scrambled using 128-bit encryption.

Keys are created using a random number generator and are escrowed with your archive at each destination. You should note that the Unlimited plan only allows backup from a single computer. Pricing starts at US$5.99 per month. Details can be found here. Also, you can compare these prices with those of other services to see if CrashPlan is right for you.

When it comes to encrypting your data, there are several software solutions. FileVault is a feature Apple bakes into Mac OS X. Enable it from the Security & Privacy pane of System Preferences, and encryption and decryption of all your hard drive data are performed on-the-fly.

If you need to hide certain data on your Mac from prying eyes while keeping other data easily accessible, MacPaw’s Hider 2 for Mac OS X makes this easy. The software lets you hide and encrypt files and folders on a file-by-file basis. It encrypts your files with AES-256 encryption upon hiding. A demo is available at the MacPaw website. Hider 2 is available at the website and at the Mac App Store for US$19.99.

Boxcryptor is Mac OS X encryption software for Dropbox, Google Drive and other providers. It allows Mac users to encrypt and decrypt files with a Boxcryptor file format that was recently introduced. Boxcrypter is available in a free, basic version. There’s also an unlimited personal version for $48 per year, and an unlimited business version for $96 per year.

FileMaker 13 Pro Advanced for Mac OS X and iOS (as well as Windows) provides robust security, with AES 256-bit encryption that locks down data no matter where it lives — on an iPad, iPhone, desktop or server. Monthly prices start at $9 for FileMaker Pro; $15 for FileMaker Pro Advanced, and $29 for FileMaker Server under the FileMaker Annual Volume License Agreement, which is billed annually (minimum quantities apply). Traditional software licenses are also available starting at $329 for new FileMaker Pro 13 licenses and $179 for FileMaker Pro 13 upgrades.

The FileMaker Go for iPad and iPhone App is free from the Apple App Store. Server concurrent connections for FileMaker Go or FileMaker WebDirect are priced at $25 per 5-pack per month, and are available from FileMaker and software resellers.

Centrify Corp., which specializes in Unified Identity Services, offers the Centrify User Suite, Mac Edition. The company says it’s the industry’s first solution to provide robust Active Directory-based authentication, policy management, single sign-on (SSO) and user self-service for connected and remote Mac OS X systems. Pricing is $48 per user/annually for up to five devices (any combination of Mac and/or mobile devices per user) and includes standard support.

Remo Software offers Remo ZIP Free Edition for Mac. It’s a compression utility that offers 10 levels of lossless file compression from “SuperFast” to “Best.” There’s a free, basic version, as well as a paid version ($29.95) allows users to create .zip files larger than 4GB and add password protection and encryption.

Lunabee makes Mac OS X and iOS versions of their password manager app, oneSafe. It allows users to sync their sensitive information across all their devices using iCloud.

oneSafe for Mac also boasts features such as automatic backup, the ability to drag and drop files into the app, a high encryption level (AES 256), over 100 card templates for entry and retrieval of information, double protection categories and more. It’s available at the Mac App Store and Apple App Store for $19.99 and $4.99, respectively.

Then, there are hardware solutions. We’ll look at those tomorrow.

AWT News Update: September 2, 2015

Wed, 2015-09-02 16:30

Official Super Bowl 50 Game Logo via NFL

Today's AWT News Update is brought to you by... well, nobody. But please let us know if you'd like to be a podcast sponsor and your product will be blasted out to about 4K listeners a month.

  • About fifty publishing partners are expected to be part of Apple's News app at launch
  • A certain rumor site is saying that the iPad Pro will be announced at Wednesday's Apple event
  • Case manufacturers are beginning to send out info on iPhone 6s/6s Plus cases, which means the devices might be just a bit larger than their predecessors
  • New Apple Watch Sport Band colors are expected to be announced soon
  • CBS Sports will stream Super Bowl 50 (excuse me, Super Bowl L) on Apple TV
Text Version

Hi, I’m Steve Sande from Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for September 2, 2015.

Re/Code reports that Apple’s News apps will have over fifty publishing partners — hopefully Apple World Today being one of them — when it launches this fall as part of iOS 9. For publishers, it’s going to be a respite from iOS 9’s content blocking support, as ads can be embedded into the magazines and publishers keep 100% of the revenue of ads they sell. Apple will only take 30% for spots it sells for the publishers. It’s expected that iOS 9 will ship sometime between September 9th and the 18th.

The rumor king, Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac, says that the iPad Pro will be announced at next Wednesday’s event, with availability of the larger iPad coming in November. Alongside that monster iPad will be a new, thinner version of the iPad mini.

Speaking of rumors, those of you who have hoped for a new iPhone 6s or 6s Plus that could slip right into your old iPhone 6 or 6 Plus case aren’t going to be disappointed. Although the new devices will be roughly .2 mm thicker than the current models and a wee bit taller and wider, there’s usually enough flexibility in most cases to accomodate the extra bulk. However, we are receiving information from several case vendors indicating that they’re making new cases specficially for the new phones, so this may depend totally on the manufacturers.

Some new Apple Watch Sport Band colors are expected to debut at next Wednesday’s event as well. Several different color options had been demonstrated by Apple design chief Jony Ive before the Apple Watch hit the market, and the time is right for a few more hues to make Apple Watch owners cough up $50 for a new band. Me? I’m looking for purple.

If you’ve really wanted to cut the cable but were concerned about missing out on those big events like the Super Bowl, you can get on the phone right now and cancel your cable TV account. CBS Sports announced today that it will stream Super Bowl 50 next year on Apple TV.

I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.

If you're looking to trade in your iPhone, here are some options

Wed, 2015-09-02 14:00

iPhone trade-ins are a big business. And with an iPhone 6s and 6s Plus (or will it be the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus?) almost certain to be announced at Apple's Sept. 9 media event,  sources like iCracked, Gazelle and NextWorth, which are currently offering a lot for the iPhone 6/6 Plus, will drop the price once the new devices are announced.

iCracked, an on-demand smartphone repair and trade-in service, will actually send an "iTech" directly to your home or office to pick up your Apple smartphone and give you some moolah right on the spot.The company reportedly has 3,000 iTechs trained and standing by to buy back phones. iCracked says the value of an iPhone goes down by 5% every month.

Gazelle, an electronics buyback service, is offering up to US$481 cash for old iPhones. In fact, between now and Sept. 9, the company is running a "Best Price Guarantee" that not only offers up to $481 cash for old iPhones, but a promise to beat any competitive trade-in offer from Apple or its four major iPhone wireless carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint). 

The offer is good for the iPhone 5s, 6 and 6 Plus. However, Gazelle won't come and pick up your old phone. You'll have to ship it to them, though shipping is free. You can get paid by check,, gift cards or PayPal.

NextWorth Solutions, which offers in online and in-store electronics trade-in programs including, accepts trade-ins online and in-store across a range of consumer electronics categories including smartphones, tablets, e-readers, video games and laptops. It offers a "30-Day PriceLock" guarantee so that "customers can lock in trade-in prices starting today to ensure the best value when upgrading."

NextWorth trade-in pricing for iPhones starts at $25 for an iPhone 4 and goes up to $480 for an iPhone 6 Plus. You can get a precise quote for your Apple smartphone at the company's website. Shipping to NextWorth is always free.

Another option is, which "connects you with hundreds of professional buyers." At the site, select your device and you'll be shown a list of offers. Accept a cash offer and uSell will send you a pre-paid shipping kit with tracking included. Payment is done by PayPay or check. The buyer of your iPhone is expected to issue payment within five business days.

It's Worth More provides a pricing calculator to get an instant quote based on the condition of your iPhone. Once you accept an offer, you have 14 days to ship out your item to qualify for the price guarantee.

Once It's Worth More inspects your iPhone, it pays you in the method you've selected: check, PayPal, or Chase QuickPay. It's Worth More claims to pay up to $263 for an iPhone 5s, up to $576 for an iPhone 6, and up to $616 for an iPhone 6 Plus.

Glyde, an online marketplace, has an online form for entering the item you wish to sell (listing is free). When your item sells, you're sent a Glyde shipping kit, complete with a pre-paid label. 

Proceeds are deposited into your Glyde account (yes, you have to set one up to use the service) days after delivery to your buyer. You can use the cash on Glyde, withdraw it to your bank account (free), select Bitcoin as your payment method (free), or get a paper check mailed to you (for a $2 fee).

There are other iPhone trade-in/selling options, but, outside of Apple and the wireless carriers, these are the main ones.