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Updated: 1 hour 12 min ago

Caturday: A Krispy Mac Sandwich and Billi the IT Cat

Sat, 2015-03-28 08:00

KRISPY MAC SANDWICH. PHOTO BY CATHERINE FAMBRINI

It's a double feature Caturday! That kitty you see scrunched between the MacBook Pro with Retina display and the Apple monitor is Krispy, who until recently was one of Catherine Fambrini's office mates. Catherine tells us:

“I work from home so every day is ‘take your cat (and dog) to work’ day. Little Krispy is addicted to the heat emitted by the Apple display and MBPr and she will spend her day literally sandwiched in-between the two. Billi (photo below), which is “cat” in Hindi, was rescued as a baby from the streets of Mumbai, India, so he’s the resident tech support specialist. He’s a bit more pragmatic as you can see, and can usually diagnose issues by sitting on, or directly in front of, the hardware in question.”

BILLI & KRISPY. PHOTO BY CATHERINE FAMBRINI.

Sadly, Catherine let us know that Krispy recently passed away of cancer. Our sympathies go out to Catherine, Billi and anyone else who knew this beautiful cat.

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 purrs to Catherine, Billi, and Krispy

Today in the App Store -- Dark Sky, MLB Manager 2015 and more

Fri, 2015-03-27 17:00

Here are some of the best free apps, app updates and new apps that have landed in the App Store recently. Today's notable apps include a discount on Reverser Cam - Backward Video Camera, the new MLB Manager 2015 and an update to Dark Sky - Weather Radar, Hyperlocal Forecasts, and Storm Alerts. All app prices are USD and subject to change. Some deals may expire quickly, so grab them while you can.

iOS Apps Now Free

myCal PRO: Calendar & Event Organizer [Now free, down from $3.99] No more dots in your calendar! myCal PRO displays what you need to see, your events!

Square Video for Instagram & Vine [Now free, down from $1.99] Square Video empowers you to capture and share your video within the ideal horizontal or vertical viewing ratio (16:9, 2:3…etc).

LUZMO - Light Effects Powerful Photo Editor Blend Light Leaks Textures and Overlays [Now free, down from $0.99] LUZMO is the Real film light effect it's realistic Design.

Music Tutor (Sight Reading Improver) [Now free, down from $1.99] Improve your sight-reading skills with Music Tutor.

Rhythm Pad (Drums/Drum Pad) [Now free, down from $2.99] Rhythm Pad is the easiest and the smartest way to play drums on mobile devices.

Reverser Cam - Backward Video Camera [Now free, down from $0.99] Record hilarious backward videos with Reverser Cam.

iOS Apps On Sale

Superburst Camera [On sale for $1.99, down from $3.99] Get the App Store’s fastest camera and never miss a shot again!

BioShock for iOS [On sale for $2.99, down from $10.99] One of the greatest first person shooters of all time, BioShock comes to iOS!

Civilization Revolution 2 [On sale for $4.99, down from $14.99] Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution 2 challenges players to build a glorious empire that will stand the test of time.

XCOM®: Enemy Within [On sale for $4.99, down from $12.99] XCOM®: Enemy Within is a standalone expansion to the 2012 strategy game of the year XCOM: Enemy Unknown and it's now available on iOS devices!

Discounted Mac Apps

Cinemagraph Pro [Now free, down from $199.99] Mesmerize your audience by creating flixels with Cinemagraph Pro.

USBMate [On sale for $0.99, down from $4.99] USBMate is an app which optimizes and accelerates the operation of USB Flash drives, external hard disks and Flash memory cards.

PhotoSweeper Lite: Remove duplicate photos in iPhoto, Aperture and Lightroom [On sale for $2.99, down from $4.99] PhotoSweeper Lite (a lightweight version of PhotoSweeper) helps you to get rid of duplicate photos.

Otto's Antenna [Now free, down from $2.99] Launch Automator actions, Applescript, and even Unix shell scripts on your Mac at home from your iPhone, wherever you are!

New and Notable Apps

MLB Manager 2015 [$$4.99] MLB Manager 2015, officially licensed by MLB.com and based on the award-winning Out of the Park Baseball series, is the most fun and realistic baseball game ever created for mobile devices.

Filters for iPhone [$$0.99] You don't take photos with Filters. You transform them. Filters has over 800 ways to transform your photographs

Updates you don't want to miss

Dark Sky - Weather Radar, Hyperlocal Forecasts, and Storm Alerts [$$3.99] Dark Sky can tell you at a glance exactly when it will rain (or snow) up to an hour in advance, so you’re free to walk the dog or run out to lunch and know you’ll stay dry. Version 4.3.1 brings the following changes:

  • Support for Apple Watch. We've redesigned Dark Sky from scratch to fit on your wrist. (It's the year 2015, and yet we don't have flying DeLoreans or hoverboards. But you know what? We're sure as hell going to have a watch that can tell the future. So there's that.)
  • Boring bug fixes.

Napkin - Image Annotation and Markup [$$39.99] Napkin– say it with a picture and skip the 1,000 words. Version 1.5 brings the following changes:

  • Overhaul of the user interface to adopt OS X Yosemite style and vibrancy
  • Support for third party app extensions in the share menu
  • Crop imported images and screenshots directly in Napkin
  • Use Pixelate or Blur to redact and obscure sensitive portions of images
  • More control over arrows including thickness and a new flat line style
  • Shapes can now have a hollow fill with a border of varying thickness as well as a flat color fill
  • Export as a JPEG as an alternative to PNG when dragging the toolbar’s File Pip
  • Easier access to image editing actions with a new pop-up menu on selected images
  • Paste and Match Style when pasting text into a napkin
  • Blazingly fast performance when scrolling the canvas
  • Numerous other bug fixes and additional small enhancements

AWT News Update: March 27, 2015

Fri, 2015-03-27 15:41

Today's top stories on the AWT News Update:

  • Instapaper adds Tweet Shots, background updates, and speed reading features
  • A new technology promises 10 TB solid state drives that are faster and less expensive per gigabyte of storage
  • The Slack team collaboration service was hacked, and the company is asking users to update passwords and enable two-factor authentication

Be sure to watch the AWT News Update live on Periscope every afternoon!

Slack users: Set up two-factor authentication now

Fri, 2015-03-27 15:00

Over a half-million users sign into Slack every day at work from their iPhones, iPads, Macs, or those “other platforms.” It’s a very popular and new collaboration tool for teams; we use it here at Apple World Today, and I actually communicate with another team through the app. Well, today the commpany announced that there was “unauthorized access to a Slack database containing user profile information,” and recommends that users change their passwords and enable Two-Factor Authentication as well.

Two-Factor Authentication is simple — whenever you sign into Slack in the future, you’ll enter your user email and password as usual, but you’ll also be asked for a six-digit code that is generated by either the Google Authenticator or Duo Mobile app. Users of the Slack iOS app on iPad might want to grab the latter app, as it’s universal.

From the email sent by Slack to all users today:

“However, we have also just released Two Factor Authentication (“2FA”; also known as “two step verification”) and we strongly recommend that all users enable this feature, which provides an additional layer of security for their account. Additional details are available in our help center and you can enable 2FA directly on your account settings page.”

The help center page is here. Following the instructions, it took only about two minutes to set up 2FA. It’s really a good idea to set this up if you’re a Slack user, particularly since the service has a number of integrations with other services such as Desk.com, Dropbox, Google Drive, JIRA, MailChimp, Stripe, Trello, and Zendesk.

Before you leave the office for the weekend — or if you’re working this weekend — spend a few minutes to set up 2FA on your Slack account. Stay safe out there!

Last chance to get in on Prong PWR Case Indiegogo campaign

Fri, 2015-03-27 14:12

OK, I know it's a bit late since there are only about 11 hours left in this Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. But I thought that this case was rather nifty and thought at least some of our readers might want to jump on the Prong PWR iPhone Case before it's too late.

I'll let the team behind this ingenious case explain the campaign to you, but basically Prong is a combination of iPhone case, battery pack and charger all in one clever package. The campaign is currently funded at 132% of its goal, but you can still pick up one for US$70 -- this is a product that's expected to retail for over $100 when it finally makes it to market.

Check it out, and if you decide to back the campaign, do it NOW! You won't have another chance.

Mail Designer Pro 2 is perfect for the in-betweeners

Fri, 2015-03-27 14:00

For many of us, email is a way to quickly share information with a distant party. For example, a sweet message and a birthday photo will make grandma's day. For others, it's serious marketing that's managed by a director, an art department and a copywriter. Mail Designer Pro 2 (currently on sale for US$49.99, regularly $89.99), a WYSIWYG email designer for the Mac, is for everyone in between.

Mail Designer Pro 2 lets you create and deliver beautiful, custom email newsletters with no knowledge of HTML required. It's compatible with Campaign Monitor and Mail Chimp, so you can upload your designs when they're done. With 38 default templates to choose from (and more via in-app purchase) and a wealth of editing options, Mail Designer Pro 2 seems intimidating at first, but you'll soon be designing great-looking campaigns for your members, subscribers or customers. Here's our look at Mail Designer Pro 2 for Mac.

To get started, simply select a template from the library. For the sake of demonstration, I went with "Diner". There's something here that I like a whole lot. Mail Designer Pro automatically provides a desktop and mobile view, and even lets you select the very mobile device you'd like to use as your preview, across 14 devices, both landscape and portrait. Back to editing.

There's a wealth of editing tools here. Guidelines and rulers can be turned on and off, and the log enhances collaboration. Users can drag and drop comments to any section of the document, and these annotations appear in a right-hand sidebar, similar to what you might see in Word. Click any comment to reveal exactly which section of your document it's referring to. Likewise, a little chat bubble appears on the annotated section itself, so you know there's an associated comment. It's well done and manages to convey information without being cluttered, which isn't always easy in a WYSIWYG editor.

Placing shapes, text or images will be familiar to anyone who's used an editor like Keynote, etc. within the past few years. The guidelines help you line things up properly, though I couldn't find an option to snap blocks into place. Again, if you're familiar with page layout software, you'll feel right at home with Mail Designer Pro 2.

Once you're document is final, it's time to send it along. If you've got only a few recipients, Apple's Mail will do the job for you nicely. However, many email providers will flag you as a spammer if you send off hundreds or more messages at a time. Fortunately, Mail Designer Pro 2 has you covered. It's fully integrated with Mail Chimp and and Campaign Monitor, so upload your creating and reach your full list of contacts without a problem. There's also an option to export your file as a webpage, if you'd like to upload it somewhere and share it that way.

This brings me to two more features that I really like. "Check Document" reports on any trouble that my present itself it the document is sent as is. As you can see at right, I got flagged for a few troublesome fonts. It's nice to know this before hitting "Send."

The other feature I appreciate is "Lend." It lets you send your file to a collaborator with Mail Designer Pro 2 installed, so s/he can have a look and offer suggestions.

Like I said, this software is not for people who primarily send birthday photos to grandma. Nor is it for the business with a dedicated design team on staff. But everyone else, like small business owners, committee chairs, those running non-profit newsletters like you might find at a church or scouting organization will benefit from Mail Designer Pro 2 quite a bit. There's no coding to learn, collaboration is easy, design is drag-and-drop simple (once you get used to the tools) and there are several ways to share the final result. Give it a try and wow your members.

Pastimes: Apps and accessories to help your golf game

Fri, 2015-03-27 12:00

Pastime (noun): an activity that someone does regularly for enjoyment rather than work; a hobby; his favorite pastimes were shooting and golf. 

For a lot of people, the weekend means time to get away from the day-to-day drudgery of working for a living and do something that you enjoy. In this new weekly column, I'll focus on specific hobbies or "pastimes" and the apps and/or accessories that can help you get even more enjoyment out of those precious weekend moments. I thought I'd start this column off with a sport that I don't pursue, but about 24 million people in the US do -- golf!

Apps to help your game

SKYDROID - GOLF GPS

SkyDroid - Golf GPS ($1.99): Knowing where you are in relation to the green is a big part of the game. SkyDroid provides satellite views of over 20,000 golf courses, pinpointing your location on the course and distances to features (water hazards, bunkers) and various spots on the green. 

On the Spot Golf Rules ($0.99): Playing a round with someone who is flouting the rules? Pull out On The Spot Golf Rules and you can stop arguments in a hurry. Rules are organized by location and situation.

Golfshot Classic ($29.99 with in-app purchase): Boasting over 40,000 golf courses, Golfshot Classic provides distances from your current location to various spot. The distance of each shot you take is tracked, your foursome is scored (including stats on accuracy, distance, and of course the number of shots), and the final scorecard can be emailed to each member of the foursome.

V1 Golf ($4.99 with in-app purchases): A huge part of the game of golf is making sure that your swing is efficient, consistent, and accurate. Have someone take video of you taking a swing or use , and you can compare your swing with that of a number of pros. Developer Interactive Frontiers notes that more than 95 million golf swings have been filmed and analyzed with V1 Golf. You can even send your recordings to PGA professionals for analysis, and there are built-in drills and tips.

V1 Golf

Golf Ball Finder ($0.99): You know that ball is somewhere in the grass and leaves, but you just can't see it. Golf Ball Finder filters out foliage and grass so that white golf balls stand out, making them easier to find. The app also includes a scorecard.

Accessories

Zepp Golf ($149.99 MSRP, affiliate link): Talk about wearables! Zepp's swing analyzer is a small Bluetooth dongle that attaches to the back of a golf glove. As you swing, it tracks the swing in 3D, analyzing club speed, swing plane, tempo, backswing position and hip rotation. Take 30 swings a week with Zepp Golf tracking, and the app "crunches 90,000 data points" and delivers a personalized detailed report on what to focus on, with drills to help you get better. Want to see how it works?

3BaysGSA Pro ($199.99 MSRP, affiliate link): Like Zepp Golf, the 3BaysGSA Pro breaks down each golf swing into a myriad of data points, providing insight into how to make your swing as perfect as it can be. Rather than being worn on the back of a golf glove, the 1/3-ounce 3BaysGSA Pro actually plugs into the top of the golf club grip. The accompanying app also includes a way to capture video of your swing as it's being analyzed. 

Well, what are you waiting for? Grab the clubs, head out to the course and play a round or two this weekend. Next week we'll take a look at another hobby or sport from the Apple angle.

60-Second Tip: Change Siri's voice and language as a clever April Fools' Day prank

Fri, 2015-03-27 11:00

My kids love to play with Siri on my iPhone. They are always changing my default name to some oddball phrase or asking Siri to "Tell them a story." For April Fools' Day, I decided that I am going to prank them by changing Siri's voice and language. It takes less than a minute to change those attributes, and you'll get a good laugh when you watch the bewildered responses of your familly members. Follow the steps in today's 60-second tip, so you can be armed and ready for the prank fest that is April Fools'.

Outdoor App Adventures: Using the iPhone for a popular spring ritual -- maple sugaring

Fri, 2015-03-27 10:00

Maple syrup is a staple in New England with both hobbyists and professionals anxiously awaiting the spring thaw so they can tap trees and collect the precious sap when it starts flowing. After a long and cold winter, we finally have arrived at this transitional season. We recently moved into a house with a long tradition of maple sugaring, so we decided to tap the maple trees this spring once the temperatures rose above freezing. This first episode of Outdoor App Adventures will profile this collection process and showcase how I use my iPhone, iPad and Mac in my many outdoor activities.

The first and perhaps most important step in maple syrup collection is tree identification. Most participants in the syrup collection ritual mark their trees in the summer or early fall when leaves are abundant, and trees are easy to identify. When scouting trees, I usually look for that distinct lobed shape of the sugar maple in our midst. Unfortunately, we moved in the winter months, when there were no leaves on the trees. As a result, it was a bit more difficult to single out the trees that produce the building blocks for that sweet maple syrup.

To help in the identification of my maple trees, I turned to the iPhone camera and the handy Trees 2 Pro app from Nature Mobile. The camera app was useful as I knew of a local hiking trail that had placards on the trees identifying their types. There were several maples on that hike, so I headed with my iPhone to photograph the bark, the branching patterns and other characteristics that would help me ID the trees in our yard. The iPhone was indispensable as I could focus on specific details important to me and didn't have to rely exclusively on generalized guide book photos.

Once I had a few good photos, I ventured off into the woods to look for those maples hidden in the midst. Ahead of my trek, I downloaded Tree 2 Pro by Nature Mobile. Trees 2 Pro includes photographs, tree identification information (leaf shape, fruit information) and other characteristics of common trees in North America and Europe. The app has a useful visual sighting search feature that allows you to check off the characteristics of a tree in order to narrow down the list of possible matches. I was able to easily find the entry for the sugar maple just by selecting a few of the tree's well-known characteristics.

Using the information in the guide, I was able to single out two major criteria of the trees -- the twig arrangement and bark type- that help in identification during the winter months. Unlike oak and other leaf-bearing trees, maple tree branches have an opposite arrangement with twigs coming off a main branch in pairs that are opposite each other. There are a few other opposite trees such as Ash and Dogwood, but maple has a distinct plate-like bark. The field photos in the Trees 2 Pro app were useful, allowing me to compare and contrast the tree types and eventually single out the scaly bark and opposite twigs of the maple trees.

When you locate a tree, you can "favorite" the entry in the Trees 2 app and save it for future reference. You also can record a tree as a sighting that is stored on your iPhone or alternately shared with the community. With a sighting, the app will save the date, time and location of your tree. The next time I go out in the field, I can call up these entries and easily refind my sugar maples. If you are not sure about the tree you are trying to identify, you can submit your sighting to a professional for a consultation.

I unfortunately had to locate my trees in the barren winter, but if you are scouting trees in the warmer, leaf-bearing months, you can use the Leafsnap app. Developed jointly by Columbia University, the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institutuion, Leafsnap allows you to snap a picture of a leaf, and the app will try to identify it. The automatic identification can be hit or miss, with better results possible when the leaf is on a white or solid background. If the identification fails, you can always manually browse through the entries and learn about leaves in a less automatic way. The database currently covers trees in the Northeast.

In next week's Outdoor App Adventures, I will highlight how we use the iPhone to quantify the sap we are collecting and prepare it for consumption. In the meantime, you can spend next week checking out today's apps, Trees 2 Pro and Leafsnap, in the iOS App Store.

Daily Deals for March 26, 2015

Thu, 2015-03-26 18:00

It's time to save some of your hard-earned money with our Daily Deals, featuring exclusive deals for AWT readers, hardware discounts and our own handpicked iOS and OS X sales. All prices are USD and subject to change. Please check prices before you purchase as some deals may expire quickly.

AWT's Daily Deals

MacPhun Focus [Now free, down from $9.99] To celebrate the launch of AppleWorld.Today, photo software developer Macphun is offering their popular Focus app for Mac for FREE readers of AWT.

This nifty photo software allows anyone to do a couple of super-cool things: (a) direct attention to the most interesting part of your photo and (b) use tilt-shift and motion blur effects towards really creative ends—like the miniature toy style or creating the illusion of speed.

Bottom line is that many photographers spend thousands of dollars on prime and creative tilt-shift lenses, when many of these effects can be accomplished using clever software like Focus. Have fun. Don’t wait - get it now! Use this link to receive your free copy of the photo editing software.

GravityView [On sale for 20% off] AppleWorld.Today is pleased to offer an exclusive deal on the GravityView Wordpress plugin by Katz Web Services. Gravity View is the best way to display Gravity Forms entries on your website. The plugin comes with built-in presets to display a variety of data with a drag & drop configuration to get it just right.

GravityView pricing starts at US$50, but AWT readers can save 20% off the retail price when they use the exclusive promo code "SPACESHIPCAMPUS" during checkout. This discount applies to all options, including the 3-site and 100-site plans.

Hardware and Accessory Deals
  • Apple Lightning to USB Cable 3.3 ft. - 2 Pack [Woot; On sale for $15.99, down from $38.00] This USB 2.0 cable connects your iPhone, iPad, or iPod with Lightning connector to your computer's USB port for syncing and charging or to the Apple USB Power Adapter for convenient charging from a wall outlet

  • iPad Air 2 [Best Buy; On sale for $429 - $754 ]The thinnest iPad ever is also the most capable. It's loaded with advanced technologies, including the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

  • VuPoint Photo Cube Mini Printer with Two Refill Cartridges [Best Buy; On sale for $119.98, down from $184.98 ] Easily print photos from your mobile device using this compact VuPoint Photo Cube Mini IPWF-P01-VP printer, which features Wi-Fi for a wireless connection to your compatible Android and iOS devices.

  • ZAGG - ZaggFolio Keyboard Case for Apple® iPad® Air 2 - Sage [Best Buy; On sale $44.99, down from $89.99] Compatible with Apple iPad Air 2, this ZAGG ZaggFolio ID6ZFN-GY0 case features a Bluetooth keyboard that enables you to easily type on your device, so you can maintain productivity while out and about.

  • Samsung - 850 PRO 128GB Internal Serial ATA III Solid State Drive for Laptops - Black [BestBuy; On sale for $89.99, down from $109.99] Conveniently store your music, movies and other content with this Samsung 850 PRO SSD128GB MZ-7KE128BW solid state drive that features 128GB storage capacity for ample space.

  • Panasonic RPDJS400A Headphones (Blue/ Black) [Amazon; On sale for $14.95]Panasonic RPDJS400A Headphones DJ style.

iOS Software Discounts
  • BioShock for iOS [On sale for $2.99, down from $10.99] One of the greatest first person shooters of all time, BioShock comes to iOS!

  • Civilization Revolution 2 [On sale for $4.99, down from $14.99] Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution 2 challenges players to build a glorious empire that will stand the test of time.

  • XCOM®: Enemy Within [On sale for $4.99, down from $12.99] XCOM®: Enemy Within is a standalone expansion to the 2012 strategy game of the year XCOM: Enemy Unknown and it's now available on iOS devices!

  • NHL 2K [On sale for $2.99, down from $7.99] This year, NHL 2K is back and better than ever! Whet your hockey appetite with the brand-new all-star NHL experience on mobile.

  • NBA 2K15 [On sale for $2.99, down from $7.99] The NBA 2K franchise returns with NBA 2K15, our most true-to-life NBA experience yet on mobile

  • Fantastical 2 for iPad - Calendar and Reminders [On sale for $6.99, down from $9.99] The award-winning, best-selling calendar app has been redesigned and reimagined for your iPad with iOS 8. With the convenient Fantastical Dashboard, you’ll add, view, and interact with your events and reminders with ease.

  • Fantastical 2 for iPhone - Calendar and Reminders [On sale for $2.99, down from $4.99] The award-winning, best-selling calendar app has been redesigned and reimagined for iOS 8, including new features such as reminders, a new week view, and much more!

OS X Software Discounts
  • Folder Designer [Now free, down from $1.99] Folder Designer is the coolest and easiest way to customize Folders on your Mac.

  • Batman Arkham Asylum [On sale for $4.99, down from $19.99] Descend into the core of the criminally insane as the Joker seizes control of Arkham Asylum and launches his most diabolical plot ever.

  • Batman Arkham City GOTY [On sale for $4.99, down from $19.99] The Dark Knight descends.

AWT News Update: March 26, 2015

Thu, 2015-03-26 17:00

MLB.COM AT BAT ON Apple Watch. Via Apple.com/Watch

It's your favorite Apple news podcast, which also streamed live over the new Twitter Periscope app today. What did viewers see? Apple World Today editor Steve Sande reading this news:

  • iPhone apps supporting the Apple Watch began appearing in the App Store today, with a number of familar apps updating to provide a wrist-borne interface
  • Backblaze announced an update to version 4.0 of their Mac backup app that should speed things up for a number of users
  • Twitter released Periscope today
  • Microsoft is rolling out invitations to a beta of Skype for Web
Subscribe to the Podcast

The flood of Apple Watch apps begins

Thu, 2015-03-26 15:15

With just a few weeks left until we're able to get our hands on Apple Watches -- for try-on purposes, of course - a number of iOS apps are being updated to provide support for the Watch. At the present time, Apple Watch apps are part of existing iPhone apps since the iPhone provides the brain power for the app while the Watch provides a simple user interface. Apple says that eventually apps that run solely on the Watch will be provided as well, but that day may be far off.

MacRumors compiled a list of apps that are available with Apple Watch support, along with descriptions of what users can do with those apps. We're providing a shortened list with comments here - for a more comprehensive list please visit their post.

  • Evernote: According to Evernote, you'll be able to "dictate notes in Apple Watch and they'll be transcribed and synced to Evernote; See recently created, updated, and viewed notes; Dictate searches and see results on your Apple Watch; Create reminders and get notified about items due today"
  • Dark Sky: "We've redesigned Dark Sky from scratch to fit on your wrist. (It's the year 2015 and yet we don't have flying DeLoreans or hover boards. But you know what? We're sure as hell going to have a watch that can tell the future. So there's that.)"
  • NYTimes: "Arriving April 24: Get the news you need at a glance with The New York Times on Apple Watch. Catch up quickly with one-sentence stories crafted specially for the small screen. Receive alerts when big news breaks. Use Handoff to continue reading on your iPhone or iPad, or touch Save for Later to built a personal reading list."
  • The Wall Street Journal: "The top stories you need to know right now, easily available on your watch screen, with the ability to save and read later on your iPhone; Push notifications sent to you as news breaks so you'll never be the last to know; Market data information integrated seamlessly into accompanying stories, displaying stock performance and other need-to-know items that keep you synced up with the companies you're interested in."
  • MLB.com At Bat: Live stats, pitch-by-pitch updates, player details, highlights and scores from favorite teams.
  • Expedia: "View upcoming trip details, access address information and get maps for directions, receive alerts for flight delays, hotel check-out times, and more"

Anyone else getting excited? 

X-Doria Defense Metal Series for iPhone 6/6 Plus: Lightweight metal protection

Thu, 2015-03-26 13:00

X-Doria has a complete line of cases for iPhones and other smartphones, and their latest protective series is the Defense Metal Series for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, consisting of a bumper called the Defense Gear (US$39.99) and a case called the Defense Shield ($49.99). Today we're taking a look at both of these new lightweight aluminum products for your favorite new iPhone. Note that as of publication time, X-Doria had not updated its website to include this series.

Defense Gear

Defense Gear is an aluminum bumper for your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. As such, it offers no protection for the front or back of your device other than a raised lip to provide protection against flat drops. If the iPhone and bumper is dropped onto the edges that are protected by Defense Gear, you're in luck -- it exceeds MIL-STD-810G for drops, meaning that it is certified to survive 6.6 foot (2 meter) drops onto concrete. That protection weighs a feather-like 0.7 ounces (19.8 grams).

Defense Gear comes in three finishes: silver, gold and ... no, not Space Gray, but red. The entire frame is machined from a block of aluminum, but there's no metal-to-phone contact to scratch your iPhone. Instead, there's a soft rubber lining inside the aluminum.






Installation is easy; there's a tiny latch on one side and a hinge on the other. When the latch is opened, the bottom swings open to allow insertion of the iPhone. Once it is in place, you swing the bottom around and latch it on. The four corners of the bumper are given extra protection with a small protruding rubber piece, while the buttons get a similar treatment.

The great thing about the Defense Gear bumper is that it's remarkably inexpensive compared to some much more pricy aluminum bumpers by other manufacturers.

Given the pricing, the MIL-STD rating, and the ease of installation, I have no problems giving the X-Doria Defense Gear bumper a very good rating. However, since the iPhone isn't completely protected, I'm taking one star away

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

Defense Shield

Defense Shield is a true case for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Take the solid aluminum bumper of the Defense Gear, add a hard clear polycarbonate back shield and soft removable rubber lining, and you have the Defense Shield. It also comes in the same three finishes: silver, gold and red. The case weighs in at only 1.8 ounces (51 grams). 








Installation of Defense Shield is rather simple: first, you remove the rubber case from the inside of the aluminum bumper by pivoting and popping it out. Next, grab your iPhone and put it into the rubber case -- this takes no time at all, although if you're like me you'll find that you accidentally trapped some cat hair and dust behind the clear back shield that you'll want to clean up before permanently installing the case.

Finally, you place the phone/case onto a flat surface, grab the aluminum frame, and press it down onto the case until it snaps into place. Done! If you decide to take the Defense Shield off for cleaning, you just reverse the process -- take the frame off, then slide the phone out of the rubber case. 

The Defense Shield also exceeds MIL-STD-810G and can protect your iPhone from those nasty 6.6 foot (2 meter) drops onto concrete. However, the fact that there's a much deeper lip around the front screen and the back of the phone is almost completely encased in clear polycarbonate (there's a "window" for the camera and flash) gives it an extra level of protection.

Like the Defense Gear, the X-Doria Defense Shield is less expensive than similar cases from other manufacturers. Add in the sleek design and ease of installation/removal, and the Defense Shield gets an Apple World Today five star rating.

Apple World Today Rating (Out of 5 Stars): ★★★★★

Twitter launches Periscope video streaming service

Thu, 2015-03-26 11:30

Twitter has released Periscope for the iPhone (free), which lets Twitter customers broadcast live streaming video with almost no friction at all. If that sounds familiar, it's because Meerkat recently rose in popularity for doing the same thing. The darling of SXSW, Meerkat gained traction and an audience that has persisted beyond the festival's conclusion, despite Twitter hindering its usefulness. The apps are similar yet different, and I'll have a full comparison next week.

Periscope looks nice and is dead simple to use. After logging in with your Twitter account, you'll find that you've got three options: browse live streams, begin a stream and find people to follow. There are three "featured" streams at the top of list complete with thumbnails, followed by a list of text-only live streams. I'm not sure how featured streams are selected, as they aren't necessarily more compelling than the rest, nor do they feature high-profile broadcasters.

To launch a stream, just tap the button on the toolbar, enter a descriptive title and hit the shiny, candy-like Start Broadcast button. Optionally, you can tweet the start of your stream and share your location. Finally, the search function lets you find friends and other interesting people to follow.

There are two killer features here. First, you can initiate an invite-only stream. I imagine doing something exclusive for members, relatives or a key group of friends. Also, you can re-watch a stream at your convenience. My attempts to save a stream for later viewing in Meerkat resulted in crashes. Here, it just works (so far at least), and there's nothing required of the user. Streams are simply logged for you.

How will Periscope be used? Well that's the big question. It's early, but I have three thoughts..

Big visual events. I imagine people using Periscope streams during concerts, rocket launches, parades and demonstrations and so on. An event that has gathered a lot of people and features something especially compelling to see. There will always be mundane streams of some user's walk to the coffee shop,

Show and tell. Perhaps you want to show what or how you do something. I imagine realtors using Periscope, or universities for campus tours for prospective students. I can see the maker community embracing this for real-time how-tos.

Interactive access. Of course, the big idea is that Periscope offers direct access that was previously unavailable, due to geography or layers of protection. There's an inherent honesty, too, as with Twitter you aren't certain of who's on the other end, while Periscope confirms exactly that. It's a logical progression, as Twitter offers a level of access via text and photos.

What does this mean for Meerkat? Next week I'll have a full comparison of these apps with thoughts on how and if they can coexist. Just as I'm typing this, Meerkat has announced its funding on Medium, complete with a gallery of people using its service.

You can get Meerkat here and Periscope here. Both apps are free.

Amazon Cloud Drive launches new $60 Unlimited Everything and $12 Unlimited Photos plans

Thu, 2015-03-26 10:30

Amazon today announced that it was expanding its Cloud Drive service to include two new unlimited plans. The new Unlimited Photos provides unlimited photo storage and 5GB of video and file storage for $11.99 per year. The Unlimited Everything plans is a step up, allowing users to store an infinite number of photos, videos, music and documents for $59.99 a year.

“Most people have a lifetime of birthdays, vacations, holidays, and everyday moments stored across numerous devices. And, they don’t know how many gigabytes of storage they need to back all of them up,” said Josh Petersen, Director of Amazon Cloud Drive. “With the two new plans we are introducing today, customers don’t need to worry about storage space—they now have an affordable, secure solution to store unlimited amounts of photos, videos, movies, music, and files in one convenient place.”

Both new and existing Amazon customers can sign up for one of the plans now and receive a free 3-month trial. Apple owners can access Cloud Drive using Amazon's Cloud Drive website, the Cloud Drive Desktop app and Amazon Photos app for iOS.

Behind the scenes look at CARROT, the A.I. construct that shames you into submission

Thu, 2015-03-26 09:30

Last week, developer Brian Mueller of Grailr released CARROT Weather, the fifth app in the popular CARROT series. The star of these apps is the unforgettable CARROT, a sarcasm-wielding robot with a heart of weapons-grade plutonium. CARROT is known for her cutting comments that shame you into compliance while helping you meet goals like being fit or waking up on time. The Artificial Intelligence behind the app has a colorful history, and we were able to talk with developer Mueller about how his main character has evolved from a bespectacled Corgi to a faceless construct. 

Kelly Hodgkins: The early app mockups featured a well-dressed Corgi with monocles and top hat. It's a very butler-ish character that is radically different from the A.I. construct we all know and love. How did that happen? Why did you transition away from the canine and towards the sentient robot? Was it a gradual change or an abrupt decision? Did you consider any other versions of CARROT before settling on the circular character? 

Brian Mueller: It was a very abrupt change, as my original concept for the app was extremely complicated and would’ve been completely impossible for me to build myself. Once I finally realized this, I decided I needed to throw everything out and start over with something simple that I could finish in 30 days. I stripped the app down to its most essential feature - a to-do list with a central character who rewards you for getting stuff done - and jettisoned everything else, including a much more complicated user interface. The corgi character, Sir Waffles, was one of the first things to go just because animating him would have been a ton of work, especially since I had no experience animating anything whatsoever.One thing that did carry over from Waffles was his sarcastic personality - I really liked the idea of the central character making fun of the user for taking too long to get stuff done. I already had this concept of rewarding the user for completing tasks, so I thought it might be interesting if the character got mad and yelled at you if you were slacking. This whole CARROT and stick philosophy gave me a good idea for a name for the app, and I just happened to capitalize CARROT and thought, “Hey, that sorta looks like an acronym for a robot or a computer.” After that, the design and personality for the final character came almost instantly. 

KH: CARROT has a distinctive personality -- where does that come from? Are the snarky witticisms created by you or do you have a comedic alter ego? Perhaps an evil partner lurking in the shadows? 

BM: CARROT’s really a combination of my mom, my sister, and my wife. A lot of the dialogue comes straight from them. I have a background in screenwriting - that’s what I was going to do before I stumbled into iOS programming - so it’s a lot of fun to write the sarcastic dialogue. I also like to throw in a lot of pop culture/geeky references as well.

KH: Where does CARROT's voice come from? It sounds a lot like Siri, so I assume it's not a recorded voice. 

BM: CARROT’s voice comes from the iOS software developer kit’s speech synthesizer.

KH: You posted up concept art from the earlier version of CARROT, do you still use storyboarding or similar mockups to flesh out the CARROT character? How do you plan what CARROT will say and when? 

BM: I use a combination of Sketch and Photoshop to do all the design work. In terms of the dialogue, most of that is just based on context - if it’s snowing in CARROT Weather, then she will draw from a pool of snow-related dialogue; if the user lost weight in CARROT Fit, then she will draw from her congratulatory dialogue pool. 

KH: In the development process, which takes longer -- coding the app or developing the CARROT personality? 

BM: It depends on the app, but usually creating all the content - the dialogue, the characters, the rewards - takes a very long time. I probably spent three times the amount of time on the content for CARROT Weather compared to the time I spent on the coding. Sometimes I’m a little jealous of “normal” developers, I get to the end of the coding and I’m exhausted but I still have all the content to add in. And then once that’s done, I have to do the funny marketing videos, etc. It feels like running a marathon sometimes.

KH: Will CARROT's personality soften or toughen in future iterations of your apps? 

BM: Oh, she’ll probably only get meaner and grumpier as time goes on.

KH: With the addition of CARROT Weather, there are now five apps in the series (To Do, Alarm, Fit, Hunger and Weather).  Will there be any additional CARROT apps? 

BM: Probably! Right now, I’m focusing on improving the current crop, though. Lots of exciting stuff coming up, including Apple Watch versions of the apps.

Throwback Thursday: "At last, the tool I needed!"

Thu, 2015-03-26 08:00

Having been around since the dawn of time, I have many old Mac magazines collecting dust and spiders in my basement. Between those and some of the retro gear that Dave and I have laying around, we thought it would be fun to take the occasional walk down memory lane. Today, we present for your amusement and education an ad from the premiere issue (October 1985) of MacUser Magazine.

The company in the ad? Silicon Beach Software, a pioneering Mac development firm famous for later coming out with SuperPaint, SuperCard, Airborne! and PersonalPress. The company was acquired by Aldus (makers of PageMaker) in 1990, which was in turn swallowed up by Adobe in 1994.

AD ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN OCTOBER 1985 ISSUE OF MACUSER MAGAZINE (CLICK TO EXPAND)

What's not to love about this? Spending $40 (that's $89 in today's dollars) on a floppy disk that gives you a handful of accessories was quite common in the day. Paint Cutter let you display a MacPaint file using the full screen of the Mac, scrolling as you moved to the side -- inconceivable! Rulers on your screen! A screen saver (sadly not the Flying Toasters)! And a desk accessory to "quickly eject all floppy disks that are on-line and restart the system." WOW!

My favorite part of this ad is the drawing of the guy with 1980's hair and pants, fist-pumping with glee! AT LAST!!!!

There's more where this came from. If you were a Mac user back in these days and used any of the great products from Silicon Beach Software, be sure to leave your memories in the comments below.

Today in the App Store -- NBA 2K15, Everyday and more

Wed, 2015-03-25 18:28

Here are some of the best free apps, app updates and new apps that have landed in the App Store recently. Today's notable apps include a discount on 2K games, the new The Trace: Murder Mystery Game game and an update to Everyday. All app prices are USD and subject to change. Some deals may expire quickly, so grab them while you can.

iOS Apps Now Free

gTasks Pro - Tasks Manager for Google Tasks, GMail, Todo list & Reminders [Now free, down from $4.99] Sync your tasks with Google and across your iPhone & iPad devices. Never liked your tasks app? You’ll love this one :)

Hunter Island: Monsters & Dragons [Now free, down from $$0.99] Hunter Island is a real monster collection RPG with live multiplayer.

Atom Run [Now free, down from $2.99] You control Elgo, a sophisticated robot prototype with simple, intuitive commands. Your mission is to find all the atoms and molecules that are critical to creating new life. Act fast, because your time is short!

Tangent - Add Geometric Shape, Pattern, Texture, and Frame Overlays and Effects to Your Photos [Now free, down from $1.99] Tangent provides infinite opportunities to transform your photos into amazing works of art that can be shared and enjoyed, no matter what your level of artistry.

Running through the 6 [Now free, down from $0.99] Potato is back & has morphed into a human! Every 6 you run through will earn you an additional 100 points!

Tower of Fortune [Now free, down from $0.99] Tower of Fortune is a retro-style slot machine/RPG.

iOS Apps On Sale

BioShock for iOS [On sale for $2.99, down from $10.99] One of the greatest first person shooters of all time, BioShock comes to iOS!

Civilization Revolution 2 [On sale for $4.99, down from $14.99] Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution 2 challenges players to build a glorious empire that will stand the test of time.

XCOM®: Enemy Within [On sale for $4.99, down from $12.99] XCOM®: Enemy Within is a standalone expansion to the 2012 strategy game of the year XCOM: Enemy Unknown and it's now available on iOS devices!

NHL 2K [On sale for $2.99, down from $7.99] This year, NHL 2K is back and better than ever! Whet your hockey appetite with the brand-new all-star NHL experience on mobile.

NBA 2K15 [On sale for $2.99, down from $7.99] The NBA 2K franchise returns with NBA 2K15, our most true-to-life NBA experience yet on mobile

Fantastical 2 for iPad - Calendar and Reminders [On sale for $6.99, down from $9.99] The award-winning, best-selling calendar app has been redesigned and reimagined for your iPad with iOS 8. With the convenient Fantastical Dashboard, you’ll add, view, and interact with your events and reminders with ease.

Fantastical 2 for iPhone - Calendar and Reminders [On sale for $2.99, down from $4.99] The award-winning, best-selling calendar app has been redesigned and reimagined for iOS 8, including new features such as reminders, a new week view, and much more!

EpicWin [On sale for $0.99, down from $2.99] EpicWin is an iPhone app that puts the adventure back into your life.

Discounted Mac Apps

PhotoSweeper Lite: Remove duplicate photos in iPhoto, Aperture and Lightroom [On sale for $2.99, down from $4.99] PhotoSweeper Lite (a lightweight version of PhotoSweeper) helps you to get rid of duplicate photos.

Super PhotoCut [On sale for $9.99, down from $19.99] Super PhotoCut interactive cutout tool isolates and separates a detailed foreground object from photos.

Folder Designer [On sale for Free, down from $1.99] Folder Designer is the coolest and easiest way to customize Folders on your Mac.

New and Notable Apps

Gamebook: Pocket RPG [$2.99] Walk into the Land of Lanthir Lamath ruled by wicked skeletons and fight for your life in a thrilling adventure.

The Trace: Murder Mystery Game [$4.99] The Trace is an immersive murder mystery puzzle adventure game that will pit your wits against a baffling crime that needs solving and a case that needs answers!

Fantastical 2 - Calendar and Reminders [$39.99] Designed exclusively for OS X Yosemite, Fantastical 2 includes powerful features such as an incredibly intuitive parsing engine, a full calendar window (with day, week, month, and year views), a quick access mini window, iCloud reminders support, time zone support, and much, much more.

Updates you don't want to miss

Bridge Constructor [$1.99] In Bridge Constructor you have to prove yourself as an accomplished master bridge builder. Version 3.3 brings the following changes:

  • The Easter bunny is coming to Camatuga! Download the newest Bridge Constructor update to unlock the Easter Islands completely for free. Colorful new levels and brain teasing new bridges await you. Will the Easter bunny make it across your constructions so he can hide presents and candy for the residents of Camatuga? Only available for a limited time!

Everyday [$1.99] Take a picture of yourself every day. Version 2.0 brings the following changes:

  • Unlimited Timelines: Wanna do more than one project? Everyday your baby, a plant, your gross wound. Everyday everything. We offer unlimited timelines as an in-app purchase for $2.
  • Brand new interface: Daaaaamn this app is looking fresh and totally not dumb.
  • Dropbox backup: Throw your phone in the toilet, it doesn’t matter. All your sweet photos are safely backed up in that cloud the kids talk about.
  • Location based reminders: Be reminded whenever you’re in a set location, like your sad apartment.
  • Random time: Set a time range to be reminded randomly within daily.
  • Location: See where you took each of your photos.
  • Full-resolution images: That’s your big boy.
  • Front-facing photos now correctly flip after being shot. When you migrate your photos over we will flip your photos so they all match.
  • After you install we will briefly need a few moments to migrate your photos over. Hope that's chill.
  • I love you a lot. Thanks for waiting.
  • Daily Deals for March 25, 2015, featuring the free MacPhun Focus

    Wed, 2015-03-25 17:00

    It's time to save some of your hard-earned money with our Daily Deals, featuring exclusive deals for AWT readers, hardware discounts and our own handpicked iOS and OS X sales. All prices are USD and subject to change. Please check prices before you purchase as some deals may expire quickly.

    AWT's Daily Deals

    MacPhun Focus [Now free, down from $9.99] To celebrate the launch of AppleWorld.Today, photo software developer Macphun is offering their popular Focus app for Mac for FREE readers of AWT.

    This nifty photo software allows anyone to do a couple of super-cool things: (a) direct attention to the most interesting part of your photo and (b) use tilt-shift and motion blur effects towards really creative ends—like the miniature toy style or creating the illusion of speed.

    Bottom line is that many photographers spend thousands of dollars on prime and creative tilt-shift lenses, when many of these effects can be accomplished using clever software like Focus. Have fun. Don’t wait - get it now! Use this link to receive your free copy of the photo editing software.

    GravityView [On sale for 20% off] AppleWorld.Today is pleased to offer an exclusive deal on the GravityView Wordpress plugin by Katz Web Services. Gravity View is the best way to display Gravity Forms entries on your website. The plugin comes with built-in presets to display a variety of data with a drag & drop configuration to get it just right.

    GravityView pricing starts at US$50, but AWT readers can save 20% off the retail price when they use the exclusive promo code "SPACESHIPCAMPUS" during checkout. This discount applies to all options, including the 3-site and 100-site plans.

    Hardware and Accessory Deals
    • HP - x3000 Wireless Optical Mouse - Black [Best Buy; On sale for $7.99, down from $24.99]Navigate with ease using this HP x3000 mouse, which features optical technology for precise accuracy on most surfaces.

    • GoPro HERO4 Silver Camera with Built-In Touch Display/Wi-Fi/Bluetooth [Adorama via eBay; On sale for $329, down from $399 ]The GoPro HERO4 Silver Camera feature a built-in touch display and controlling the camera, framing shots and playing back content is now ultra convenient-just view, tap and swipe the screen.

    • VuPoint Photo Cube Mini Printer with Two Refill Cartridges [Best Buy; On sale for $119.98, down from $184.98 ] Easily print photos from your mobile device using this compact VuPoint Photo Cube Mini IPWF-P01-VP printer, which features Wi-Fi for a wireless connection to your compatible Android and iOS devices.

    • Skullcandy FIX Stereo Earbuds [Best Buy; On sale $19.99, down from $49.99] Enjoy high-quality audio with these Skullcandy Fix 2014 Edition S2FXFM-072 earbud headphones that feature Fix technology to prevent the earbuds from falling out.

    • Logitech M185 910-003922 Gray 1 x Wheel USB RF Wireless Optical Mouse [Newegg; On sale for $4.99, down from $14.99] You get the high quality and reliability that have made Logitech the global leader for mice.

    • WD My Passport Ultra 1TB USB 3.0 Premium Portable Storage [Newegg; On sale for $59.99, down from $119.99]The perfect companion for your Ultrabook and other slim notebooks. You get up to 1 TB in a sleek, compact design.

    • Apple Mac Pro, 2.66GHz Quad Core Intel Xeon Processor, MB871LL/A (Early 2009) [OWC; On sale for $729.99, down from $119.99] Any iteration of Mac Pro is a highly productive workhorse, and when purchased used, through OWC, you can count on all the horsepower at a fraction of the price of buying new. This 2009 Mac Pro offers the ultimate in expansion ease and upgradability with trouble-free access to four drive bays, memory, two optical drive bays and PCI Express card expansion. Add this Mac Pro powerhouse to your workflow at dramatic savings!

    iOS Software Discounts OS X Software Discounts
    • Folder Designer [Now free, down from $1.99] Folder Designer is the coolest and easiest way to customize Folders on your Mac.

    • Batman Arkham Asylum [On sale for $4.99, down from $19.99] Descend into the core of the criminally insane as the Joker seizes control of Arkham Asylum and launches his most diabolical plot ever.

    • Suite for iWork [On sale for $1.99, down from $39.99] Suite for iWork is the ultimate tool for users of iWork. Part of Two Dollar Tuesday.

    • StockTab [On sale for $1.99, down from $4.99] StockTab is the slickest and simplest way to keep an eye on the markets, right from your Mac’s menubar. Part of Two Dollar Tuesday.

    AWT News Update: March 25, 2015

    Wed, 2015-03-25 15:30

    IMAGE VIA NHK TV

    The Apple news for today is all over the map, literally and figuratively...

    • New green Apple R&D facility is under construction in Yokohama, Japan
    • You too can be in the Steve Jobs biopic!
    • Another channel is added to the Apple TV lineup
    • Buying an Apple Watch Edition? You're special, and Apple wants to treat you as a very important person
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