Archives For Apple

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At long last, Amazon has brought their digital video service to the iPad. And, presumably, iPhone access isn’t far behind.

Amazon Instant actually consists of two distinct tiers, and both are available via the new iPad app. Perhaps the most familiar these days is Prime Instant Streaming, which is similar to Netflix or Hulu Plus in that it provides unlimited streaming of a wide range of television and movie content. However, instead of levying  a monthly fee, video is provided “free” to Amazon Prime subscribers ($79/year) – originally pitched as a shipping service but, given new benefits, is more akin to a loyalty club these days. Beyond that, Amazon Instant also offers video rentals and sales. But, of course, to bypass Apple’s hefty 30% commission, it’s not actually handled in-app and requires a trip to Amazon.com.

It just so happens that I purchased the first episode of Breaking Bad, Season 5 for viewing on our TiVo Premiere but fired it up on the iPad. Non-Prime video can be streamed or downloaded, which makes for a mighty flexible solution. However, Amazon streams by default and the only way I could trigger local copy playback was by disabling WiFi. It’s also safe to assume the HD video quality pales in comparison to what the TiVo download provides. Yet many of us will periodically made the trade in quality for convenience… and I’m looking forward to catching up on Fringe with my iPad from the gym treadmill.

(via 9to5 Mac)

For the first time in recent memory, Sling Media is running a sale on their mobile apps – that enable you to watch your home video service while on the road (or, perhaps, in other areas of your house) via smartphone or tablet. The SlingPlayer apps are a hefty 50% off through July 22, and I’m told the promotion is available worldwide. So if you were holding back on a purchase due to the steep $30 (US) fee, now may be a good time to get your placeshifting fix for a reasonable $15. FYI most current apps require Slingbox SOLO or PRO-HD hardware, versus prior generation devices.

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“Netflix for Magazines” has arrived in the form of Next Issue. Originally available only via Android tablets beginning in April, Next Issue has now launched an iPad app. And, after catching the press release on Engadget, I took it for a very quick spin. While the venture, backed by Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp. and Time Inc., provide individual magazine subscriptions, its real value is the all-you-can eat access. Two tiers of service are offerred, running $10 a month for “Basic” or $15/mo for “Premium.” The primary differentiator between service levels of publication frequency — Basic seems to be composed of monthlies, while Premium adds weeklies (and The New Yoker) on top of that.

As a voracious reader, I find myself quite interested in Next Issue and many of their current 39 titles… as long as magazines continue to exist. Yet, after a few minutes into the app, I’m ready to cancel my subscription. It does offer some rudimentary interactive features and decent navigation, but the content ultimately feels like scanned pages due to the inability to zoom in/out and the painfully distracting aliased text – as experienced on the iPad 3. The full page interstitial ads don’t win points, either. I can probably get past the ads and zoom, but the awful text rendering is an absolute deal breaker. And, so, I shall terminate my trial early and take another look if/when they improve their fonts for a retina display.

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If the FCC is any indication, JBL’s compact “Soundfly” Bluetooth speaker should be hitting store shelves in short order. Unlike the rechargeable and portable Jawbone Jambox ($200), the Soundfly essentially mounts directly onto an AC outlet. I can’t imagine the Soundfly produces killer audio given its diminutive stature, but could make a nice kitchen or travel accessory for streaming tunes from our smartphones… Assuming it clocks in at a reasonable price point. And, related to cost, I’m hoping for the best as JBL has dropped Apple AirPlay capabilities (with associated licensing fees) since printing up their CES flyer (which had indicated a “spring” launch).

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Amongst Apple’s WWDC announcements and product releases, a smaller ticket tablet accessory was introduced. The iPad Smart Case ($49) builds on Apple’s Smart Cover ($39) by kindly adding protection to the rear of your iPad 2 or New iPad 3. And, at first blush, it looks pretty sharp. Which just goes to show, one shouldn’t judge an iPad case by it’s cover.

ipad-smart-case8The Smart Case is sleeker than Apple’s first attempt at an official iPad case, but it retains that model’s pointy side seams – making it somewhat uncomfortable to hold as a book or magazine. Conversely, when folding the cover into a triangle as a stand, the iPad angle is too steep for comfortable usage and better suited for passive viewing. Further, and more importantly, the iPad is unstable in this upright position. While the iPad certainly is secure within the case, it can slide around a bit and reveal gaps between tablet and the polyurethane which makes it all seem a bit unrefined and cheapy. Continue Reading…

Download iOS 6 Now

Dave Zatz —  June 12, 2012

iOS 6, the next iteration of Apple’s mobile operating system, was announced at their Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). Early notable new iPhone and iPad features include Passbook, native Facebook integration, turn-by-turn navigation, store enhancements, and the Blackberry-esque Do Not Disturb. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like new forms of glanceable info, via widgets or new badges, have made it in. Further, folders appear to retain the same limitations of iOS 5. But it is early. In fact, only developers have access to iOS 6 until its Fall release. Or do they? Continue Reading…

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Ahead of the annual E3 gaming convention, Engadget’s gotten their hands on what appears to a legit Microsoft presentation documenting Xbox Smart Glass. And it looks to be both a feature and series of apps that’ll offer remote Xbox control and enable the beaming of content from smartphone or computer to the big screen via the Xbox 360. As we mentioned yesterday, Microsoft has some work to do if they intend to grow their Xbox audience beyond gamers and offering a remote control app is a good start… as the 360 doesn’t ship with anything more than a gaming controller. Additionally, the ability to pipe video and audio from one device to another could be quite compelling. But is it enough to morph the Xbox 360 into an all purpose media streamer for non-gamers given their hardware cost and ongoing service fees compared to say an Apple TV? Further, unlike Apple Airplay, Smart Glass won’t feature deep OS level integration on iPhone or iPads. Whereas Apple is expanding their halo from their highly regarded mobile products and into the living room, Microsoft will be leveraging their console strength to pitch their new mobile Windows Phone OS which will surely feature enhanced Xbox integration.