Lumen Note Keeps You Completely In-Sync

Lumen Note

Lumen Note keeps everything in-sync.

This is just going to be a short review about a little app I love. Lumen Note is the app you never knew you were missing. But, once you use it, you’ll want to know how you ever did without.

Here’s what it does: Quite simply, you type or paste in type to a plain white box and that plain white box immediately updates to every device you have and your laptop or desktop. I’m talking immediately as you type, it updates.

That’s it. That’s what it does. But, it does it so, so well.

You may be asking why you would ever need such an app. Let me tell you.

Haven’t you ever looked up an address on your desktop or iPad and then needed it on your iPhone? Or, had a list on one device that you wanted to access from the other without retyping it? Taken notes in class on your iPad and wanted them on your laptop while writing a paper?

There are plenty of list-making apps that sync with the Cloud. And, plenty of other cloud-based apps that can keep your notes in-sync. But, Lumen Note works so simply, so easily that you just have to try it.

To delete a line, you just swipe it. It goes away. It goes away everywhere. Instantly. Everything is kept in-sync.

There are no folders and no multiple notes. Just a blank piece of paper that let’s you stay up-to-date everywhere.

That’s it. That’s all. Just think of it like a re-usable post-it.

That’s it for me. Until later, …

MoneyWiz Makes Budgets Simple

I have been using the most simplistic of iPhone budget apps for the longest time (I reviewed it here). I have loved using Budgee. It’s actually a fabulous beginner app and completely useful for someone who just wants to make multiple simple budgets.

But, for me personally, I decided that it was time to move on to an app that could do more. I had actually planned to review 2 other iPhone budgeting apps that are also very easy to use and have quite a bit going for them, but they still didn’t do everything I was looking for (cloud backup, multiple budgets, iPad version, etc.).

Then, I remembered that a long time ago I downloaded the iPad and iPhone versions of a more complicated (I thought at the time) finance app called SilverWiz.

MoneyWiz on the iPad

What you are able to accomplish with MoneyWiz is simply astonishing.

I decided to download the apps again and give it another try now that I am a more experienced budget-maker.

There is something you should know about me. I despise numbers. Fear them. I have a hate/hate relationship with them. So, I get easily stressed when I’m working on budgets and this type of thing. But, this app made the whole process so simple that my anxiety was greatly reduced.

SilverWiz has been renamed MoneyWiz (iPhone version here; each app is $4.99 and completely worth every penny), and this time in using the app, I immediately fell in love with it. So, today I’m going to give you a little overview of what MoneyWiz is capable of. I’m still learning how much it can do myself, and it is extensive in what it offers in the way of services, so I may not get to every feature.

MoneyWiz for the iPhone

Upon opening MoneyWiz, you are greeted with step-by-step instructions for getting started. In every single area of MoneyWiz, there is a question mark you can click on that explains what that section is for and what you can do with it. Plus, there is a help section in the Settings.

And, if you have any questions or just don’t get something, you can always email the developer at info@silverwiz.com. They average 2 hours in their response time. That’s good customer support!

I’m not going to go through the whole process of setting up accounts or budgets, because I think the app has more than enough in-app help to ensure that you will be able to accomplish those tasks with ease. What I am going to do is talk about the features that make MoneyWiz just so awesomely fabulous.

First, MoneyWiz supports any number of checking, cash, credit, and savings accounts that you might have. Add every account that you have and keep track of what is going on with them all in 1 place. I was actually able to add a checking account for myself and a cash account for my son (because I still do a monthly budget for him), and it was so super easy. I’m still planning on adding my credit accounts (although, I’m not sure I really want to know what they look like). MoneyWiz supports all of this.

MoneyWiz

MoneyWiz is a great way to keep track of where you’re money is going in any account.

When you set up an account, you can then add any expenses, income, and transfers that you need to by pushing 1 button. The detail you are able to add to each item is astonishing. For example, when you add an expense, you can choose the account it is to go into, the category you want to put it in (more on that in a bit), a description of the expense, the payee (and, once you add something, when you go to put it in again, a list of previous things you entered pops up, and you can just choose from it), the amount of the expense, the date and time that the expense occurred on, and you can attatch photos from your camera roll to the register of that expense.

All of these details are available with anything that you enter in MoneyWiz.

If you ever come to a place where your bank account statement is saying you have 1 balance and MoneyWiz has a different number, you can easily adjust the balance to match in MoneyWiz. There’s even a thing called reconcile mode that lets you reconcile any differences in your accounts, and that lets you go through and mark when things are really paid. You can choose to have things auto-clear on the date that you enter for expenses and incomes, or you can go through and mark them as cleared as it happens.

Categories

A little about categories: A great way to keep track of what you’ve spent on specific items and even track them over time is to add a category that it should be assigned to when you add an expense or income.

Now, MoneyWiz doesn’t limit you to a few simplistic categories. They have quite an extensive list of suggested categories and subcategories within those that you get with the app for both expenses and incomes. But, if you want to add a completely new category or edit an existing category to make it fit your life better, you can do so quite easily.

You can even assign a little icon to represent each category and subcategory within it. Subcategories are like if you choose Automobile and then want to say that it is actually for Gas or to pay your Car Loan.

You can make the categories as complicated or as simple as you choose. You can even delete categories that simply don’t apply to you.

If you use categories to tag all your income and expenses, then you will be able to create reports that show you exactly how much you spent on any of those categories, and you’ll be able to easily search or filter the items in your accounts to just see things in that category. It’s brilliant!

Okay, so far, you’ve set up your accounts, and you have learned about how to best work with categories.

But, what about if there is a problem. You don’t want to lose all this information that you have so carefully entered.

Sync Everything

MoneyWiz allows you to sync your information between devices, so you only have to enter the information once.

Well, MoneyWiz has a brilliant solution to that, as well. It’s called Sync Everything! This is a FREE service that you sign up for that backs up all of your data via the cloud to secure servers run by MoneyWiz. You just enter your email address and pick a password in Settings, and all of your information is safely backed up automatically. You never have to do a thing to back the information up. Just register on 1 device and then log in with that information on the other device, and all of your information moves seamlessly from 1 device to the other.

I was working on my iPad and iPhone at the same time in the apps and Sync Everything! works so fast that I saw the results of what I was doing on one device on the other in seconds. Sync Everything! works over 3G and wifi and is totally secure.

Budgets

Okay, let’s look at the MoneyWiz features in the Budgets area.

Just like with accounts, you can set up multiple budgets to meet any need. If you want to set up a monthly household budget and then a vacation budget and a special budget for Christmas-time purchases, you can do it.

Entering income and expenses is exactly the same as it is in the Accounts section, except that you can choose to make an item recur monthly/weekly/bi-monthly/etc. When you enter an expense or income on the budget, it shows up in the appropriate account associated with that budget, too, once it has cleared.

You can also have MoneyWiz remind you when a bill needs to be paid. And, you see all of it on a calendar, so you can look ahead at what’s coming up at any time. You can also choose to see how much of the budget is remaining, how much has been used, daily allowance based on the budget, and how many days remain in the budget period.

Customized reports

There a lot of ways to view your information visually with customized report options.

Once you have everything set up and running for a bit, you may want to look at the customized reports section of MoneyWiz. The comprehensive reports are fully interactive and will show you full-screen exactly what your money has been up to. Kinds of reports range from seeing your net worth and a forecast of your financial future to account balance reports and statistics. You can even compare reports.

You can save the reports locally to MoneyWiz itself, print them out, and export them as PDFs and CSVs.

Some other features of MoneyWiz include:

  • Multi-currency support
  • Importing your bank statements from OFX, QFX, and QIF files
  • Export to PDF and CSV
  • Alerts for low and exhausted budgets
  • Access forecasts for any day on a budget calendar
  • The apps are both Retina display optimized
  • Password protection is an option
  • Built-in calculator that is also a currency converter
  • The app is also available for Mac OS X
  • iOS 6 supported

I apologize if any of my explanations of the MoneyWiz features were clumsy. This is definitely an area where I am NOT an expert in any way, so I don’t always know the exact terms to use to describe something.

However, if you’re looking for a comprehensive app that can support all of your financial and budgeting needs, MoneyWiz is the app. The features are all there and they are packaged in a way that is attractive, friendly, easy to use, and backed up with superior customer service. I even like the font choices, colors, and design of the app’s UI (you know I’m a stickler and quite obsessed with those things).

As a regular girl with very little understanding of finances, money, and the secret languages they speak, I still was able to use MoneyWiz to its full extent and get everything I needed out of it. I give it my full stamp of approval and highly recommend that you try it when you’re looking for a finance or budgeting app.

Well, that’s it for me today. I’m off to be anesthetized for an early morning procedure that I’m not looking forward to very much. I have to have an endoscopy. I’ll most likely be unable to write or function very much afterward. So, it may be a day or so before you see another review. Wish me luck! Until later, …

Tips For Effective Searches of the App Store

With about 700,000 apps, the App Store can be overwhelming when you are searching for the best app for a particular situation or just browsing around. And, with the overhaul that iOS 6 brought to the App Store, it may seem unfamiliar to even the most experienced App Store shopper.

Today, I'm going to provide some tips for getting the most out of the App Store so you can find exactly what you are looking for.

Featured Section

App Store Featured section

The Featured Section of the App Store highlights the new and best apps out there.

Every Thursday, Apple freshens up the Featured Section of the App Store. So, Friday is probably the day you want to go there to see what's new and what's been chosen by the editors as the best of the best in the New and Noteworthy section. You can also snatch up the FREE App of the Week.

Game Collections

The Game Collections section has been updated continually over the past year or so.

The Featured tab also has some amazing collections that you may want to check out. You can view apps in categories ranging from about a billion different game collections (from a collection for beginners to hard-core games) to apps on fashion and news. Many of these collections are perennial features in this section, but new collections are added all the time and others get updates constantly (like Editors' Choice). There is even a collection that features just FREE apps that are carefully selected for their quality.

App Store category tabs

Narrow your search of the Featured Section to a specific category easily.

The new App Store Featured tab contains many ways to narrow the field for when you're looking for something in a particular category. At the top of the screen, you'll find buttons to choose the category that you desire. If you don't see what you're looking for, click on “More” to get a much larger list of categories. After choosing a category, the Featured Section transforms into a targeted Featured Section just for that subject that looks identical and has all the same features of the “All Categories” Featured Section.

Charts Section

Top of the Charts

Find what's popular and what's most being downloaded in the Charts Section.

The next tab features the current Chart-topping apps separated into Paid, FREE, and Top-Grossing. The default view contains apps in all categories, but you can easily change the category to a subject you're interested in by clicking on the button in the top, left corner of the screen. Choosing a new category presents you with the same exact look, just all apps that are within that subject range.

Certain categories (like Games and Newsstand) are even further broken down to let you choose just adventure games or news magazines, etc.. Just click on that category to be taken to another list and choose from that list to get your results.

The ability to search by cateogy within each section of the App Store replaces the previous tab that contained just categories.

Genius Section

Genius tab

The revamped Genius tab gives you targeted selections of apps based on previous purchases.

The last tab we'll look at is the Genius Section (which has also been added to the iPhone App Store). Like all the other sections of the App Store, the Genius Section got an updated look with iOS 6, too. And, it is so much easier to search now. Plus, if you download a suggested app and open Genius back up, you'll find that Genius has updated its recommendations.

Genius is not turned on by default. To turn on Genius for the App Store, you must go to the Settings app and navigate to the tab called iTunes & App Store. Click on the button to view your Apple ID (you'll have to enter your Apple ID password), and you'll see a place to turn Genius on and off for the App Store.

Genius also will not display many results if you have not purchased many apps. It actually requires quite a few apps before you'll start seeing any results because Genius relies on past purchases to figure out what it should recommend to you for future purchases.

Once you have Genius up and running and have enough apps under your belt to provide it with sufficient data to analyze though, Genius is, well, a genius at finding just what you never knew you needed or wanted.

And, like in other sections of the App Store, Genius can provide suggestions based on categories if you click on the button in the same top, left corner. Only sections with enough apps to analyze will appear. And, the number of apps recommended increases with every app you buy in a specific category.

At the top of the app recommendation, Genius tells you which app you purchased that inspired that particular recommendation. These do not always make sense to me. If a particular app does not interest you, just click the “Not Interested” button at the bottom of the selection, and it will go away.

Genius generally only recommends app that are highly rated by other App Store shoppers.

General Searches

Finding apps through the previously described tabs is relatively easy. But, searching through the App Store in other ways can be a bit more confusing.

In the iPhone App Store, there is a Search tab to tap on that allows you to enter your search. In the iPad App Store, you can access the Search bar through any of the previous sections. There is no Search tab, though, unfortunately.

If you know the name of the app you're looking for, you're golden. But, if you're looking for an that just does something particular (like HDR cameras or YouTube apps), you're likely to get a little frustrated. But, there are many ways to do searches that can refine field of search significantly.

Did you know that you can search the App Store by:

  • Type of app (like hidden object games or film simulators or wallpapers)
  • Developer (start paying attention to developers you like and search for them by name)
  • Category title (like the ones in the previous sections)
  • Keywords (just like searching in Safari)

You don't have to know exactly what you want to narrow down your field of selection in this way. With just a general idea of the kind of app you're looking for and a little experimentation, you'll be browsing the right selection of apps in no time.

Filters in iPad App Store

The iPad App Store contains filters that the iPhone App Store lacks.

On the iPad, this whole process is made much easier through a filtering system that the iPhone App Store lacks. If you have both devices, I highly recommend searching for iPhone apps using your iPad and then downloading the app directly to your iPhone by name. Just switch the tab to “iPhone Apps” at the top of the screen in the iPad App Store.

The filtering system lets you set a number of parameters to make searching so much easier. By default, search results are displayed by their relevancy to the words you have entered to search. But, you can change that to display the results by Popularity (most downloaded), Ratings (highest rated by other shoppers), and Release Date (most currently released apps displayed first).

You can also set the filter to search for just free or just paid apps, and to search certain categories. So you could type in “hidden objects” and then change the category to “games” to get just hidden object games, etc.

I'm constantly running out of Big Fish Games to play. So, pretty much every few days, I do a search for Big Fish, G5, Nevosoft, etc. and display them by release date to see if anything new has been released.

Found: Anatomy of an App

App anatomy

Everything you need to know can be found in the app description tabs.

Once you find the the app you think you want, more analysis is needed before you buy. Everything you need to know is contained within the new easy-to-use tabs of the app's pop out window.

I hope you're thoroughly reading the description of the app before buying, so I'll skip down to the information available below that in the Details tab. At the bottom of the Details tab, you can find the developer's name, category, last time the app was updated or when it was released, version number, size of the download, and the tech requirements to download the app (like if it's only for iPad 2+ or iOS 5+).

Under that in the Details tab, you'll find the sections on Developer Info, Top In-App Purchases, and Version History. The Developer Info is a way to see other apps the developer has produced to make sure they are quality apps or to find others that you might like. Checking out In-App Purchases is a good way to see how much extra you're looking at spending on an app after buying. And, Version History lets you know if the developer consistently does updates to improve the app (which is a good thing).

Ratings and Reviews tab

This is where you find out how well other shoppers like an app.

The Ratings and Reviews tab is where you go to see how many stars the app is rated, read and/or write reviews, get support from the developer, and even “like” the app on Facebook.

Don't disregard an app just because of a few low ratings (read Cautionary Tales From the App Store for more detail on this issue). The default display of the reviews is by “Most Helpful,” and I have no idea what that means. But, you can change that to see the Most Favorable, Most Critical, and Most Recent reviews instead. I always take a look at Most Critical to see if there are consistent problems reported by many reviewers.

If there are not that many reviews, you can always change the selection from the current version of the app to all versions to see all reviews ever written on the app. There is a great deal more on this subject in the linked article provided in the previous paragraph.

Related app

Find apps you may like in the Related tab.

The last tab gives you a list of more apps by the developer and apps that customers that purchased that app also bought. This is a really great way to find similar apps to apps you already like. I even go to apps that I REALLY like just to view this tab. It's probably my favorite addition to the new App Store. These categories were available previously, but were not as extensive or well organized. Just click on any app in this section that you're interested in and that app's info will pop up next to the app you are currently looking at. To go back to the previous app, just touch the box.

Social Media

App Store on Twitter

The App Store has an official Twitter account that frequently sends out tweets on great apps.

Another way to keep in touch with what's going on in the App Store and discover new apps is through social media. The App Store has official Twitter and Facebook accounts. App Store staff regularly update each account with tweets and status updates regarding new and fabulous apps that contain links to those apps. It's one of the few Twitter profiles that I have come directly to my iPhone. They also often ask for feedback regarding your favorite app in a particular category or other types of questions that you can respond to.

Nothing to Fear

With a few of these tips and some practice, you'll be an App Store veteran in no time. Finding apps can sometimes make you want to tear your hair out. But, once you get to know the App Store a little better, you'll become fast friends. And, with the iOS 6 improvements, searching the App Store is more convenient and faster. There are no more back buttons that take you back to the beginning of a long search and no more waiting for that little white arrow to light up so you can go to the next page. There's just you and 700,000 apps waiting to be discovered.

Related links:

That's it for me today. Until later, …

iOS 6 Problems: The Defense Rests (Opinion)

I talked early yesterday about my experience downloading iOS 6 and my first reactions to it. But, apparently, those experiences and my subsequent good reaction to iOS 6 (save for having the wifi bug on download) have not been the norm among Apple customers updating to the new iOS.

I’ve read complaints on everything from missing Maps app info and missing Passbook features to decreased battery life and no 3G or wifi connectivity just on comments to The Verge article on the issues. One of my friend’s husbands upgraded to an iPhone 4S yesterday only to lose all of his photos and music (which is horrible!). The Maps issue is trending on Twitter under hashtags like #ios6apocalypse.

So, clearly, this has not been a flawless execution of a release. Not that any OS release is, but we all have rose-colored glasses when it comes to past experiences in these cases it seems. No OS is perfect, but Apple has adoption rates of new OS’s that make Microsoft green with envy.

This media blitz and the endless complaints by anonymous users may make you think you are seeing the beginning of the end of Apple. But, that prediction has been made after every OS release, every iOS release, and every product release for years. Again and again and again.

I am not saying there are not problems. There clearly are. All I am saying is that there are always problems. Every time. That’s why updates were created. This is the price we pay for loving the products we love. This is what we adapt to if we want to have the features we want.

And, if you change your mind about wanting an Apple product, go check out Android and report back on the seamless system and flawless app stores. Every product has flaws. Nothing is perfect. Sorry to break it to you.

Apple has never hidden the fact that it does not produce products for everyone. If you don’t like them, they have been more than clear that they are okay with that. If you don’t want to buy them, don’t. I think the fact that they literally have more cash in hand than the U.S. Government will comfort them after your leaving.

iPhone 5 lines

This photo from CBS News shows the lines in Munich, Germany.

With the new iPhone 5 going on sale today, you might expect decreased sales and a lack of lines in light of the media extravaganza on iOS 6 flaws. But, Apple fans have been out there waiting in lines comparable to any other iPhone release.

Why do people still want the newest iPhone so bad? Answers will depend on the individual. But, generally, Apple is a different kind of company. Apple makes products and sells them in ways that appeal to many, but not to all. And, that’s okay, too. I absolutely despise the animosity between Apple and Android fans. We like different things. What’s wrong with that? It doesn’t make one side right and the other wrong. It just makes us different, which in case no one told you, everyone is.

I didn’t write this sooner simply because I wasn’t having any problems with the update. I hadn’t read the news either. Now, I have. I even tried out several of the complaints and couldn’t replicate them. The battery on my iPhone has dropped only slightly over the course of my writing this editorial even though I have the screen on full brightness and have been running apps like Maps.

I empathize with everyone’s frustration over Maps and the loss of Google’s maps and the native YouTube app. Just so you know, Apple’s contract with Google over YouTube was officially up and they made a decision to drop it, which wasn’t unexpected.

I empathize with the losses in data some have had. I really do. But, it doesn’t change the fact that these are the normal pains experienced with any new product or software release. Click here to see the articles written after iOS 5’s release last year, in case you need a reminder that things weren’t perfect before iOS 6.

The fact that Apple dropped Google maps and YouTube was neither a surprise nor unexpected. They announced the new Maps app in June and have been working on it for 5 years. Not to mention that Google is the competition. You don’t see the App Store featured on Android phones. Why would you expect that Apple should endorse the competition?

The Verge said it the best when it comes to the Maps app problems:

“To be fair, Apple’s new maps are starting at a disadvantage with users: Google maps are the industry standard, and users are familiar with their quirks and limitations after years of use. Head-to-head, both Apple and Google’s systems have similar issues: searching for a Lexington Avenue location while in Manhattan brings up a Brooklyn street in Apple’s Maps, while Google first found a result in New Jersey. Searching for a specific restaurant or shop will usually work in either case — especially if a city name is also entered — and both maps do well when searching general terms like “Italian restaurant” in a well-populated area. When a search goes wrong, it’s often equally wrong on both, even if the results are different.”

They went on to explain how difficult map making is and what Apple has gone through, but you can read their article if you’re really that interested in those details.

The point is that Google’s maps aren’t flawless, even though they are the best. But, we have grown to know them and we compensate for any problems and accept any restrictions because we like the familiar.

Apple’s Maps app will improve over the years, and Apple devotees will come to feel the same way for it eventually, too. Even though it will still have problems then. Because everything does.

People who really need YouTube on their devices can download the free Google YouTube app for the iPhone from the App Store. iPad YouTube fans can find hundreds of similar apps in the App Store as well, many for free. This is very similar to the state of Facebook, which until very recently did not have a native app in the App Store for the iPad. Yet, no one complained when Apple did not develop one for them.

Bottom line. You have 2 choices. You can own an Apple product and tolerate a little discomfort when it has these types of growing pains. Or, you can own another product and tolerate a little discomfort when it has similar types of growing pains or other problems. Your decision is going to affect neither Apple nor anyone else but you. But for those of you who are undecided, please make a decison and quit complaining. And, for those of you predicting the end of Apple. Please stop. You’re beginning to sound like Chicken Little.

The defense rests.

Newer Devices Get Best of iOS 6, But Problems Exist

wpid-Photo-Sep-19-2012-1147-PM.jpg

For a complete look at iOS 6 features announced at the June press event, click here. This post is about actual iOS update experience and my first hands-on experience with the new features.

I apologize for the very late post for U.S. readers especially, but I had problems downloading iOS 6 (plus, a final project to finish for the quarter for school).

There were a few bugs that users, including me, encountered when downloading iOS 6 after it was released midday yesterday. The biggest being a wifi connection bug that presented when trying to open after downloading that was infuriating to experience, but was caught and fixed by Apple fairly quickly.

Another bug some users were reporting involved missing music. The list of songs, etc., was there, but the songs didn’t play for some people. I am not experiencing this issue, so Apple may have got that fixed, too.

The hefty update (2.5GB) brought many awesome features with it, but unfortunately for many, some of the improvements are only supported on newer devices. And, some of the promised improvements I have been unable to find (another reason for the late post).

Download time ran from about 45 minutes on my new generation iPad to well over an hour on my iPhone 4. Download time will be affected by how many people are trying to access the new iOS at that time, too, but Apple’s servers seem to be handling the traffic well.

The only devices that will NOT be able to update to iOS 6 are the original iPad, the iPhone 3 and below, and the iPod 3rd generation and below. All other devices do support at least some of the features of iOS 6.

3D view in Maps app

The new Apple-made Maps app that is supplanting Google on all devices looks awesome in 3D mode.

As an aside on the lack of support on older devices for 3D mode in the all-new Apple Maps app and some various other improvements, I really don’t think that it is all about selling new devices. That may be part of it, but you must remember that every year these devices get better, faster, and newer processors that make these new features possible. Older devices unfortunately just don’t have what it takes to run all of these new things. No matter how much it infuriates you, the limitation is mainly due to hardware. And, as to the complaint that older versions of the iPad don’t support the Passbook feature, NO versions of the iPad support it. It is an iPhone feature.

I can’t tell you how the Maps app fully looks and functions on an iPhone until I get my iPhone 5 in a few weeks (I preordered online a few days ago). But, on the new iPad, it looks AWESOME! I hardly miss Google’s Street View (just a little), because the new 3D view is almost better.

Directions came up easily and look just as easy to follow as Google’s. There is the ability to print the directions out directly from the app, too. Plus, there is Yelp integration with major points of interest, as you can see in the photo above of the 3D view of the Sear’s Tower in Chicago. The iPhone 4S/5 and new gen iPads all have voice turn-by-turn directions which can be seen directly from the lock screen, flyovers of metropolitan areas, and directions and point of interest areas can be searched for using Siri. Navigation directions even recalculate if you miss a turn.

Facebook integration

Facebook holds a dominant place with full iOS 6 integration.

I really wanted to go to the App Store first, but I stopped in Settings on the way to fix a few things.

Settings got some freshening up, as did almost every single Apple app on your devices. One of the first things you may notice is that Facebook has a front-row seat in iOS 6 with full integration into almost everything. All you have to do is enter your password once in the Settings app, and you’re good to go. You can then “like” apps in the App Store, post a status update from the Notification Center, and update your calendar and contacts directly from your Facebook friends and events lists (you do have the option of not updating these items, too).

Privacy notices and Do Not Disturb button

I have hardly been able to wait for the Do Not Disturb button since it was announced.

Another new addition to Settings is he Privacy tab, which shows you which apps you have allowed to access which data. But, the thing I couldn’t wait for in the Settings app is the Do Not Disturb button you see in the photo above. By turning this new feature on, you disable all notifications at once. That means absolutely no interuptions while you are trying to get something important done. You can even schedule it to be turned on at a certain time every day at the top of the Notifications tab.

I highly recommend going through your entire Settings app thoroughly, because there are small changes almost everywhere. For instance, you can now turn on share Photo Streams in the Photos & Camera tab. It is definitely worth checking out at least the apps and features you use the most to see if anything needs to be tweaked.

iPad App Store view

This is the new look of searching the iPad’s App Store.

My next stop was directly to the App Store, and oh what a change there was there. We all saw preview pictures, but the experience is so much better. Search results (and Genius results, etc.) now bring up large tiles for each app that hold much more information that is easier to see and scroll through. And, if the app is already installed on your device, you’ll see an “Open” button where the price usually is that directly opens that app.

App view

There is no more frustrating back button when you click on an app to preview it either. Instead, the app pops out into a large square (as pictured in the photo). The details and photos, ratings and reviews, and related apps are all featured in separate tabs within the square. There is even a button (top, right corner) that lets you email info on the app, print it out, Tweet it, Facebook it, etc. And, you can just like it on Facebook from the ratings and reviews tab.

It’s not just the surface of the App Store that has reportedly changed, either. The algorithms behind the searches have apparently changed and improved to make your searches better targeted.

Updating apps

Downloading apps and updating them no longer kicks you out of the App Store!

And, when it comes time to download that app you’ve found (or, to update your apps), you’ll find that you no longer get ejected from the App Store as the app downloads. As you can see in the photo above, the downloading bar shows up on the app icon to show you the progress, but you can remain in the App Store to continue your search or just browse as your app downloads. After updating, you can even open the app from the Updates tab to go directly to it and see whatever improvements have been made.

My only frustration with the App Store, on both devices, was that I could not access anything under the Purchased tab. None of my previously purchased apps appeared when I pressed the button. The devices just sat and thought for awhile and then told me they could not access the App Store. With almost 5,000 apps, I rely on the Purchased tab to manage which apps are on my device at any certain time. I’ll be calling AppleCare+ later today to see what’s what with this problem.

iTunes facelift

Like, Tweet, Facebook, print, and email are all easy in the new iTunes.

The iTunes Store received a similar facelift. In that case, the albums, etc., pop out of the search list and look just like the apps do. Another improvement in that store is that you can now continue to preview music as you move on to do other searches. So, if you hit preview all songs on an album, the music will continue to play after you close the album preview.

Pretty much every store received a similar redo. Even the icons were updated for many of the stores and Apple apps. As a note, almost all of the Apple apps (iMovie, Pages, etc.) now require iOS 6 to run. This will surely be a disappointment to many.

Siri on the iPad

Siri searches for movies currently playing in my area on the new iPad.

One of those things the new generation iPad received in the iOS 6 update that the iPad 2 did not is Siri. The new-and-improved Siri is accessed by pressing and holding down the home button. Then, you just talk. I have had so much fun playing with Siri. I absolutely love that you can have her just launch any app on your device by speaking. I don’t understand why studies show that so many people don’t use Siri. I plan on using this feature CONSTANTLY.

For people who don’t know, you can even send messages and write emails directly through Siri, ask just about any trivia question, make reservations for restaurants, and so much more.

Let’s go through the rest of the main features quickly. This post is getting rather long!

Clock app

A Clock app was added to the iPad 2/new iPad.

Something that all iPads were missing and that the iPad 2/new iPad finally got with the update is a Clock app. This may seem like a small addition considering the number of alarm and clock apps that exist in the App Store. But, the native Clock app on the iPhone (and, now iPad) is the only one that can ignore an accidentally muted button and plays the sound or song you choose if you close the app. It also integrates a world clock, alarm clock, stopwatch, and timer.

VIP mailbox

Keep your inbox cleaner with the new VIP inbox for the most important email you receive.

A more major update with iOS 6 is improvements to the Mail app. You can now add photos and video directly while creating email. Plus, there is a new VIP inbox that you can turn on and a Flagged inbox that collects all the email you happen to flag. When you turn on the VIP inbox, you can go through your contacts and select the people whose email you want to receive separately. You can even set a different sound and a badge just for those emails from the Settings app. The Mail app was bare bones when the first iPad came out. Now, it has gotten so advanced that I don’t even need the Hotmail app that I got specifically to make up for its previous shortcomings.

For the iPhone, you can now turn on the Do Not Disturb button so that you don’t receive any calls (unless you add specific people to a list or they call several times in a row). You can also reject a call but send a quick text in its place. 3 quick texts (Call you later, etc.) and a custom option are available for easy sending. And, when you do reject a call, you can set a callback reminder so that you don’t forget to call back later.

FaceTime is now available over cell networks and you can use your iPhone number on your iPad so you can pick up a FaceTime call anywhere you want.

Photo Streams

Quickly add a Photo Stream that you can share with other users.

I’m really excited about the shared Photo Streams feature. In the Photos app when you click on Photo Stream, you now see your Photo Stream and have the option of adding new Photo Streams that you can share with other iOS users. They’ll receive a notification that you added them to the Stream and then you and they can like and comment on photos you choose to put in that Stream. You can even make it a public website that can be seen on iCloud.com.

The other thing I was excited about was the new iSight (what Apple is calling its improvements to the iPhone camera), but unfortunately, it is only supported on the 4S/5, so I won’t know how it works in reality for a few weeks. But, it will add a panorama camera option that looks pretty nifty.

iCloud Tabs

See and open anything between devices with iCloud Tabs.

Safari got some tweaks. The coolest one is called iCloud Tabs. With iCloud Tabs, you can open a website you have open on the iPhone directly onto the iPad through a button next to the bookmarks (on the iPhone, it is found as a section in the bookmarks). On the iPhone, you can also go full screen by rotating the iPhone into the landscape mode. And, anything you add to the Reading List is now added as a full page instead of a link. This means that when you read it later, you don’t even need an Internet connection.

Ooh. It’s a little thing. But, people who have the Emoji keyboard installed as an international keyboard will notice there are brand new Emoji’s and Apple has moved around and reorganized the existing Emoji’s into a more logical order. I love the Emoji keyboard. My iPhone folder names are really just Emoji characters instead of words.

The only feature that I completely could not find on my iPhone was Passbook. The new app allows you to store your boarding passes, coupons, tickets, and the like, all in one easy to access place. There was an icon on my iPhone with a link to the App Store, but when it moved me to the App Store, it said that the App Store could not be contacted. I’m not sure what that problem is about, but I’ll look into it.

In the end, I’m sure iOS 6 will have its naysayers and critics. But, in my opinion, Apple really pulled off a major feat with the new Maps app, the updates in every store, the addition of Siri to the iPad, email updates, Photo Streams, and all of the other 200+ improvements contained within iOS 6. There are a lot of changes and everyone loves to complain. But, try it out for yourself before you join the chorus.

Well, that’s it for me for a little while today. I’ll be back later today with one thing or another :) Until then …

2 Games That Center on Experience, Not Action

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Star Sky

A game that celebrates patience over action, Star Sky is just beautiful.

Star Sky, a universal app in the game category that is really more of an experience than a game, is FREE in the App Store right now to celebrate the release of their newest app, The Story of a World.

I picked up both indie apps in the past few days, and while I much prefer Star Sky, they are both very original concepts in an App Store that is often full of copycats.

Star Sky

Let’s talk about Star Sky first.

When you think of a game, you usually think of action or puzzles, or the like. Some take a little patience to learn an action you need to beat the game, but very few are centered around the concept of patience just in itself. Star Sky is.

Star Sky - how to play

The amazing world of Star Sky is dark (not in a scary or evil way), mysterious, and atmospheric. It is also dynamic. This means that based on what you do, things about the world might change slightly. For instance, walking slower (on one turn through, I practically inched along) might make it rain more often, leading to things I’m not yet sure of.

The gameplay consists of walking. That’s really it. You walk forward through the game (you can’t even turn around and go back where you have been), which depending on your speed and what you unlock, takes about an hour to complete. The photo above shows the How to Play screen for Star Sky and explains the philosophy behind it.

Star Sky

This is not a complex game in the way it is played. It is more thoughtful, relaxing, and full of wonder. The object of the experience is to unlock magic, such as the rainbow that you see in this photo.

The way that you know you are nearing a magical spot that can be unlocked is through subtle sparkly glimmers and through listening to the music. (Headphones are recommended.) When you reach a spot that glimmers, stand still. And, something will happen. Something magical and often beautiful. Make sure you stand still long enough for the whole experience to unfold. This game is NOT about speed. It’s peaceful, patient, and subtle.

Star Sky

You won’t unlock the same things on every trip through the world, and you won’t unlock anything if you hurry. I’m not sure it’s even possible to unlock everything on one trip, either. So, make sure you have an hour or so to play and are feeling patient enough to enjoy the experience. I found it entirely relaxing. This photo shows the possible experiences there are to unlock and the highlighted items are what I unlocked on that particular trip.

You can’t save your progress halfway through your trip. You have to make it to whatever end you have made for yourself on that trip to see what you managed to unlock and to save your progress for the next trip through. But, I assure you that the experience is entirely worth it.

The Story of a World

This is 1 world I managed to create and evolve.

The Story of a World is a different type of experience. For gamers who like more of an ability to have an effect with their actions or for people with too little patience for something like Star Sky, The Story of a World might be a better option.

The Story of a World

In Story, you are presented with an empty world. Essentially, you have 6 items you can add to the world in many, many combinations with the ultimate goal to make the world evolve. (There is a How to Play menu that you might want to read before you start.)

You can add people or animal life, plants, clouds, mountains, water, and trees. Not all options are available at all times. It depends on what you’ve added, what you started with, and what order you went in, just to name a few variables. When the evolution button in the bottom right lights up, you can evolve your world and see what happens, or you can keep adding to the world.

The Story of a World

Like Star Sky, there are things to unlock through the way that you choose to develop your world.

I have only played through Story twice so far, and both times I ended up with the same result despite doing different things (or, so I thought). It takes significantly less time to play Story than it does to play Star Sky.

I really can’t wait to experiement and see what other worlds I can create, especially now that I have seen the possible objectives to unlock (in the photo above).

Star Sky and The Story of a World, both by indie developer JMJ, are unique experiences in the gaming genre that I throroughly recommend. Just know what you are getting into and don’t expect thrilling escapades. What you will get if you have the patience and curiosity to let yourself enjoy these wonderful apps is a truly original experience. And, that in itself in this day and age is worth it.

That’s it for me today. Until later, …

Cautionary Tales From the App Store: Buyer Beware

App Store

The App Store can be awesome, but there is a lot to be wary of.

I have often warned you of what to watch out for in the App Store (read my Tips to Identify Scam Apps). But, even I fall for scams from time to time when I'm not careful or not thinking, which is what I did yesterday when I bought a second app by the same devious developer going by a different name.

So, today I want to talk about the good and the bad in the App Store and how to tell the difference. I'll give you some more solid examples of how to get a good deal and avoid the bad ones. And, I'm going to give you an example of the devious developer that I'm talking about, while also pointing out how to identify a good developer.

One of the most important things you really need to do is actually read the full description of the app. I know it's a pain. You see an app you that really looks neat from the pictures and briefly skim the description and want to buy it right away. At least I do that sometimes. But, reading both the full description and the reviews is essential to weeding out the good from the bad.

So many people buy an app and are disappointed that it doesn't do what they think it should do because they didn't read the full description. Then, they write a negative review based on their own error in judgment, which is unfair to the developer of that app. (For more on how to be a fair reviewer in the App Store, read my How to Be a Well-Educated App Reviewer (and Consumer) post.)

Reading the reviews is also important to ensuring that you are getting a good app. However, you need to be careful. 5 stars does not a good app necessarily make. And, 3 stars does not necessarily mean the app is bad. You must read the reviews critically and not take them completely at face value.

What do I mean? Well, you know how when you buy an app that has a lot of good reviews, but it is really a bad app, you assume that the good reviews were written by friends of the developer? Sometimes that is true. But, there is another way to get good reviews on a bad app. Some developers (bad ones) use computers to generate good reviews. Most people call these bot (i.e. robot) reviews.

Bot reviews, probably

These reviews do not look very real.

But, when you know what you know what to look for, they are easy to spot. Generic bot reviews and reviews by developer “friends” often have 5 stars, but very little detail. They do not specify why the app is so great, just that it is. The photo above is by the devious developer that I was referring to. See how all the reviews are 1 line and all 5 stars.

Beware of an app with all 5-star reviews that are only 1 line each. This probably means that the reviews are not real. Some may be, but it is a red flag that the developer paid for the reviews.

Actual reviews

The mixed reviews for this app indicate that they are written by real people.

Even really good apps have their critics. A decent app should have a few 1 and 2-star reviews, along with 5-star reviews that explain why it is so good, like in the example above. Apps with all real 5-star reviews are few and far between. Everyone is going to have an opinon and some people are not going to like even a really well-made app. You have to admit, you're more likely to write a review when you hate an app than when you like it. It's human nature.

Tip: Did you know that when an app has been updated, the reviews from past versions are archived? If there aren't enough reviews to get a feel for the app, you can hit the button above the reviews and to the right that lets you see reviews for all versions of the app.

Tip: A few bad reviews about an issue doesn't mean the app is bad. But, if reviewers are consistently complaining about the same issue, you can be more assured that the problem is real. To see if the problem has been addressed, read the update notes that are located under the review. One or two people saying the app crashes could be due to the fact that those people have too many things open in multitasking. But, if a lot of people are saying it crashes, it probably does.

Devious developer website

This is the supposed App Support for the devious developer that I mentioned. It is non-existent.

Another way to check to see if the developer is the real deal is to click the App Support or Developer button that is located along the left side of the app description, in the column under the app icon in the iPad App Store and at the very bottom of the iPhone App Store.

As you can see in the photo above, the “App Support” for this app is a non-existent WordPress blog. There is nothing to indicate that you can receive any help should you have a problem with the app. This seems deceitful and it would probably be best to avoid this developer's apps.

Jixi Pix website

Jixi Pix has a full-featured website and they make it very easy to get in touch with them.

Now, Jixi Pix is a completely different story. They have a website with a direct link to contact them and a full description of all of their apps. This type of professional looking website should make you feel comfortable buying an app.

I know it seems like a lot of work to check out the developer, and I'm not suggesting that it be something you do every time. But, when the reviews look suspicious or you're going to spend more than a few dollars on an app, this is an easy way to find out whether or not it is worth your money.

Tip: Good apps update often. The developers are constantly trying to make the app better, so there are a lot of updates. To see how often an app has been updated, you can use a free app like AppShopper. Below the app description in AppShopper is a list of times the app has been updated and times the price has gone up or down.

Bad developer

Compare these apps to the ones in the next picture.

I firmly believe that there are more good developers than bad in the App Store. But, like anywhere else, the bad do exist. Take for example Automax, the developer with the fake WordPress blog. The picture above shows a selection of their apps (you can search the App Store by developer, too).

There are a lot of 5-star apps, but they all have reviews like the ones I showed you earlier. I personally own one unfortunately, and I can tell you that they include absolutely no instructions in their apps and the apps do not do what they are advertised to do. Or, at least they don't do it well. The pictures that accompany the apps are beautiful, but they are impossible to recreate yourself using Automax apps.

Same developer, I believe

I really believe this is the same exact developer selling the same apps under a different name.

Now, compare the Automax apps to the selection of apps by the developer called Aaab Media Group. Pretty much the same apps doing the same things with different names, same pricing structure, same type of reviews, same fake WordPress website when you push “App Support,” and same crappy quality of their “5-star” reviewed apps. I can't say for sure that this is the same developer selling under a different name, but with my limited investigation of these supposed 2 different developers, I'd say that it is very likely.

I bought one of their apps without thinking or investigating yesterday and it is identical in feel and quality to the app I own by Automax.

I really hate to say negative things and to call out somebody for doing something wrong, but what I hate more is the deceit that seems to exist here. And, I hate wasting my money. I also really don't want you to waste your money on a developer that exists by lying and prolifically putting out app after app that are supposed to do things they don't. Not to mention that they have effects in separate apps that most developers would give you altogether in 1 app.

My last clue that this is a careless developer is the size of most of their apps. They are HUGE for photography apps. This probably means that they don't know or care how to develop properly and how to create apps with smaller memory footprints.

So ends my cautionary tales from the App Store. For the most part, the App Store is far safer than its competitors due to Apple's strict guidelines. But, people are always going to get by the rules somehow. So, you be careful out there. And, I'll continue to look out for ways to help you navigate these sometimes treacherous waters.

That's it for me today. Until later, …


iPhone 5 Apple Announcement Roundup & Review

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The iPhone 5

The iPhone 5. All pictures from The Verge.

Well, it’s been an exciting day full of surprises and confirmations due to the September 12 Apple announcement. (You can read what I wrote in my Live Blog as the announcement happened, if you want.)

Let’s start with the biggest news. It wasn’t exactly a surprise, but the iPhone 5 was announced. There were couple of surprises, though.

The iPhone 5

They did make the iPhone 5 bigger, in a way. It will actually be taller. The screen will now be 4 inches, which many speculate was a move to compete with the trend in bigger and bigger Android phones.

As you can see in the picture, your hand will hit the keyboard in exactly the same spot as it does now and the iPhone 5 will sit in your hand identically to the 4S. But, you will have more screen size. Being Apple, all of this was intentional, of course. They said that is the natural fit for a phone, and I agree.

The iPhone 5

The ratio of the iPhone 5 will be 16:9, and it will be 18% thinner than the 4S and 20% lighter. With a Retina display, it will have 326 PPI. That means that your eye literally cannot distinguish one pixel from another. That is true with all of the more current Apple products, but apparently the iPhone 5 will be even better. The Retina display works because the pixels all blend together since your eye cannot distinguish them and the picture just looks flawless.

iPhone 5

Since the iPhone 5 will be taller, there will be a 5th row of icons, which makes me particularly happy. I have almost 500 apps on my 16GB iPhone 4. I’m getting a 64GB iPhone 5, so I will definitely need that 5th row!

iPhone 5

The way Apple made the iPhone 5 thinner, in part, was by taking out the layer with the touch sensors. Instead, the sensors have been integrated into the screen itself. This will make the touch screen much more responsive to your actions. Taking out the layer may also be contributing to the fact that the iPhone 5 has 44% more color saturation.

iPhone 5

The body of the iPhone is made completely of glass and aluminum. Accessories are already being made available. Zagg just emailed with a new screen protector that protects against shock while retaining all the clarity of the view.

iPhone 5

Running all of this awesomeness is a brand new processing chip. The A6 chip is 2 times faster than the A5 chip running the new iPad and the iPhone 4S. It also has 2 times faster graphics. And, all of this speed is packed into a chip that is 22% smaller than the A5, which also saves some space in the slimmed down iPhone 5.

iPhone 5

Apple has added LTE, which is such an asked for feature and takes advantage of the fastest network that the country currently has. Using this capacity does depend on your carrier, though. It sounds like they may be working with additional carriers in many countries and there will be a single chip for all carriers.

iPhone 5

With all of this speed and precision, you would expect the battery life to decrease, or at least to stay the same. But, this is Apple people. The battery life has been extended! You can see the time for each activity in the picture to the left.

iPhone 5 camera

Let’s talk about the camera that they have installed in this beauty. They’re calling it iSight (very clever). It is an 8mp camera with resolution that rivals some of your better snap and shoot cameras. Illumination has been added to the camera on the back, which will help when you are taking pictures of yourself or when you’re using FaceTime.

iPhone 5 camera

There are a lot of other photography-centric enhancements, such as the hybrid IR filter, 5-element lens, and f/24 aperature. But, to you and me, this just means that this is going to be an awesome camera that will take amazing photos.

iSight will take pictures better when there is little light and will snap photos 40% quicker than the iPhone 4S does. This means that you can keep taking picture after picture and not miss a thing.

iPhone 5 camera

This camera is going to take some absolutely fabulous shots with next generation image processing ISP, spatial noise reduction, and smart filter. What this probably means is that there will be less graininess in your photos.

Two things that the average camera user will appreciate are the fact that you can now snap photos while shooting video and that panorama mode has been enabled on the standard camera. This may put a dent in some of the App Store’s more popular camera apps, like when Apple added the Emoji keyboard with iOS 5.

iPhone 5 camera

Video shot with iSight is 1080p with improved stability and face detection. The ability to shoot video AND stills at the same time is awesome. I have an app that does this that I use a lot. I may just have to try out the regular camera for a change when I get the iPhone 5.

The overall camera is 25% smaller than the one on the 4S, has dynamic low light mode, precision lens alignment, and uses sapphire crystal. I absolutely cannot wait to try out iSight!

Photos Streams

With some changes and additions to iCloud and iOS 6, you will be able to share your awesome photos easily with friends and family. Instead of just your Photo Stream, you will have Photo Streams. All you have to do is select the photos you want to share, and your friend will receive a notification on their device. You and your friends will be able to comment on and “like” shared photos.

Photo Streams

Now, Photos Streams doesn’t appear to be Facebook related, but just about everything else is. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. That’s an iOS 6 issue and I may need another blog to fit this all in.

New connector

Let’s finish up on the iPhone 5. Another change is that it will have the new connector that everyone has been speculating about. The 8-signal design is all digital, has improved durability, and is 80% smaller than the current connector. It is called Lightning, by the way.

The Lightening connector

I know I was pretty negative on this change, but I had a change of heart. Apple is planning on selling an adapter that will allow you to use your current connectors, so don’t throw them away. This new connector looks like it may last longer. It has reinforcing around the place that always frays after a few months of use, too. Bottom line is if you want an Apple product, you go with the flow and adapt to changes. Or, you get an Android. Those are your choices.

Wideband audio

A couple more features for the iPhone 5 include the ability to use FaceTime over cellular networks, 3 integrated microphones for better audio, and wideband audio.

iPhone 5 pricing

The iPhone 5 retains the same pricing structure as the current iPhone ($199 16GB/$299 32GB/$399 64 GB). These prices do include a 2-year contract, as always. The iPhone 5 will be available in black color and white.

The iPhone 5 will ship on September 21st to the U.S., the UK, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Pre-orders begin on September 14th. And, it will ship to even more countries on the 28th.

iPhone pricing

But, the iPhone 4S is dropping down to $99 for the lowest tier. The iPhone 4 will be given away for free. And, the iPhone 3GS is being discontinued.

Let’s move on to software updates for the iPhone that will also translate into updates for all supported devices, as well. This means everything from the iPhone 4 and above and the iPad 2 and new iPad. I’m talking about iOS 6 now, which will be available on September 19th.

Siri

I forgot to mention some updates to Siri. Siri has learned quite a bit since the 4S about movies and sports. Siri’s gone to school, I guess. But, don’t just ask for movie recommendations. Siri will reply that that is too subjective a question. Remember too that with iOS 6, Siri will be coming to the iPad, as well.

New Maps app

The new Maps feature is taking the place of Google Maps. This has been a widely covered rumor, but it looks pretty awesome in action. With 3D flyovers and turn-by-turn directions that work in portrait and landscape mode, this is a new app that’s going to kick some serious butt. In 3D mode, you can see every building’s shape and outline. And, the turn-by-turn directions include cinematic turns. Not that you should really be looking at that while you drive.

POI

Maps also includes over 100,000 points of interest. I know it’s a change and everyone is used to Google, but don’t worry. You’ll get used to Maps in no time and be asking what you ever did without it.

Passbook

A Passbook feature will hold all of your tickets for movies and shows, boarding passes, and the like in a wallet-like app for you. Boarding passes and tickets will be available from the lock screen and when you’re done with them, you get to rip them up, which looks like a lot of fun.

Safari full screen

There will also be app-specific updates. Some apps will look bigger than others. Mostly those that take advantage of the space better than others. Other apps will appear with a black border around them. I guess we’ll see how that all looks. I’m assuming it’ll be similar to blowing up an iPhone app for the iPad, but I hope it looks better than that.

The last thing I’ll mention that I think I missed before is that Safari will work in full-screen mode.

There are more than 200 updates with iOS 6, so I’ve just hit the highlights here. I covered it more in-depth in my story on the Apple announcement back in June.

For more on iOS 6 and what is in store, read my iOS 6 news roundup from June 11. It is unclear as to whether the original iPad will be supported with this update.

Thank you to The Verge for unknowingly contributing pictures and filling in the holes in my knowledge gap today for this roundup. I watched the action live on uStream, but missed some due to connection issues.

If you missed it all, you can watch the entire presentation at Apple’s site. And, you can visite Apple.com to get the official word on what’s in store.

That’s it for me today. My final words. Until later, …

I lied. Below are photos I didn’t use in the blog. I thought you might like to take a look at some.

Just the facts (the stuff they said before the iPhone announcement)

Mountain Lion

This is actually a big deal. Microsoft is so wishing they had this number.

#1 in notebooks

Apple is king of notebooks.

iPads sold

The numbers don’t lie.

iPads again

They really rule the market.

Market share

And, speaking of market share …

App stats

This means that of all apps downloaded, including Android, 90% are iOS. That’s huge!

The iPhone announcement

The current iPhone

A before shot of the current iPhone.

Changing the world 1 phone at a time.

Changing the world through technology. 1 iPhone at a time.

Evolution. It does exist.

Evolution. It does exist.

Calendar feature

The Calendar app will look so much better full screen.

Software updates

Apple apps

All Apple apps will be updated and made beautiful for the iPhone 5 and iOS 6.

Widescreen video

Watch your movies in full screen on the bigger iPhone 5.

Faster wireless

Across the board on all products is faster wireless capabilities.

Games

You can even see in the rear view mirrors in this new iPhone 5 game.

Game Center

Using Game Center, you can play anyone live anytime. You actually see their car in this game. Very console-like.

iSight (on new iPod touch’s, too)

iSight features

Some more iSight camera features.

Shared Photo Streams

A great way to share photos with friends and family, and so easy!

Panorama

Panorama is a fabulous new feature with iSight.

Other iPhone 5 improvements

3 microphones

There will be 3 mini-microphones all around the iPhone 5 for better audio on your videos and calls.

Adapter

This is what the adapter for the new connector will look like.

Adapter

Another shot of the adapter accessory.

Tweet

You can pretty much send a Tweet from anywhere these days. Just ask Siri.

Facebook integration

Facebook gets integrated similarly to Twitter integration for iOS 5.

iTunes/iOS Store upgrades

iTunes

iTunes gets a facelift that looks a lot like iOS.

iOS stores

All iOS stores will look the same and iTunes is taking a note from that.

Browsing iTunes

You’ll be able to preview music as you browse in iTunes now.

App Store facelift

This is what the App Store will look like when you look at an app. You’ll be able to like and app on Facebook, too.

iTunes enhancements

What’s what with iTunes.

Available Sept. 19th

Improvements coming September 19th.

The look, the feel of the new iTunes.

The look, the feel of the new iTunes for desktops.

Album view

This is what looking at an album in iTunes will look like.

Playlist making

You’ll have a complete view of your library when making a playlist and you can now order your library by artist.

What's next

You will be able to take a look at what songs are coming up with the new preview feature.

Searching

Searching iTunes will become more specific.

Mini-player

This is what the mini-player will look like. You’ll be able to make and control playlists from it, too.

Movie view

Movie views look pretty sweet in the revamped iTunes.

Look alikes

This is where the similarity between desktop iTunes and iOS gets eerie.

iTunes revamp

What the revamp entails.

iPod news

iPod family

The iPod family gets some awesome updates.

iPod nano

The iPod nano gets a bigger screen in a smaller space.

iPod nano

The iPod nano’s screen will be touch based. And, it gets a Home button.

Music control

Control your music with side buttons on the new iPod nano.

Color selection

A variety of colors awaits new iPod touch owners.

The colors

Another shot of the color selection.

Pricing structure/release dates

This is the pricing structure for the iPods. They will be released in October.

All new EarPods

EarPods

Apple spent 3 years in developing the new EarPods.

EarPods

A standard accessory with new products, EarPods are available now.

The Loop

The Loop

The Loop will pop out of the bottom of iPod touch devices and go around the wrist to help you gain more control in playing games. Similar to the Wii loop thingies.

The Loop

I’m not sure what other uses The Loop has, but it looks cool.

And, 1 final look at the prize of the day

The iPhone 5

Ahhhhhh!!!! (Cue music)

Live Blog: Apple Announcement As It Happens

For the full roundup of today's news (meaning an edited version of what I wrote here), check out my iPhone 5 Apple Announcement Roundup & Review.

Oh, and for anyone who actually stuck with me here at iOS Affairs instead of watching live streams or blogs put on by the big guys, a big, big thank you! I really appreciate the support.

So, that's it folks. A LOT of new products and features. I'm going to take a small break because I am now exhausted. I'll bring you a total recap and review what it all means in a few hours. Excuse the time break. Remember that I'm just 1 girl doing this.

And, it's pretty much over. Recap: New iPods, new iTunes, iPhone 5. iOS 6.

New ad to show off new iPods.

iPod shuffle $49; iPod nano $149. 4th gen iPod touch 16 GB $199. New iPod touch 32GB $299.

New nano and touch available in October. Red also available to fight AIDS in Africa.

They are available as a standard accessory starting today.

Good. Their earbuds make my ears hurt usually.

They've developed new ear buds called the EarPods.

Focus turns to speakers. Apple one of biggest prove

FaceTime HD camera, 720p video, face detection. Wireless capabilities increased as well. AirPlay mirroring to the iPod touch comes for first time. Also, will have Siri. And, in many colors. 5 choices with color coordinated loop.

There will a little pop-out circle braclet-like thing called the Loop.

Also has Panorama mode and iPhoto will work on the new iPod touch, too.

Has the same iSight camera with all the featues as the new iPhone 5. Even has autofocus and flash.

Battery life increased on iPod touch to give 40 hours of music.

And, it can learn. It's called Clumsy Ninja.

Looks pretty cool. Character that is fully aware of its environment.

Game developer is on to show how iPod touch does games.

It's also faster with the A5 chip.

5th generation iPod touch will be 6.1mm thin. Almost as thin as the nano. Lightest iPod ever. Made of high quality anodized aluminum. Same exact display size as the new iPhone 5.

It also has an FM tuner integrated with live pause. And bringing video back. It''s widescreen videoo. Building in fitness pedometer and Bluetooth.

On to the iPod touch.

It has a home button. And, comes in 7 colors. How is it different from the iPod Touch.?

Physical controls for the nano will be on the side. Biggest display ever and it's multitouch.

The nano, in its 6th generation, will have larger display, thinner, ligher, Lightening connector. It looks like a tiny iPhone The Verge says.

iPod update: Changes coming.

New iTunes available in late October. It's about time.

Apps, books, etc. all built in and seamless. Redesigned iTunes announced for Mac and PC.

You can start watcing on your iPad and continue on your computer. I think.

Store on desktop now very similar to iOS versions. Cleaner, easier to navigate.

New mini-player design. This is hard to describe but I will have photos of all of this coming up. The mini-player allows you to manage playlists and upcoming songs. iCloud built right into iTunes.

iTunes updates. Looks a lot like mobile stuff. Albums expand. You can also browser your library by artist. Artists have the ability to share photos with you in your library. Split screen view to see your full library while adding songs to playlists. I like! Currently playing windowww has drop down to see upcoming songs.

Talk turns to iTunes and the iPod. Same design runs across all stores. Books, music, video. New App Store design. Facebook likes integration in every entry. Preview songs while browsing. All available with iOS 6 on Sept. 19.

Sorry, iOS6 upgrade on the 19th, more countries on the 28th. And, iPhone 3GS not not supported, just discontinued.

Countries to get iPhone first are U.S., Canada, U.K. France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

iOS6 upgrade for iPhone 4S, 4, 3GS, new iPad, iPad 2 available now.

Looks like the original iPad also discontinued.

iPhone 4S price drops to $99 and iPhone 4 now free. Discontinues the 3GS.

Ships Sept. 21. Pre-orders Sept. 14. Just as predicted.

Same price for the iPhone. $199/$299/$399 on contract. iPhon 3GS is gone. No longer supported.

And, wondering how many people live blog for The Verge. They have a great sense of humor.

Ladida, ladida. Waiting while watching video on the making of the new iPhone and pondering how many mistakes I've made typing while I can only half see the screen because half is under the video :)

Pretty much the only thing left to discuss is price and release date.

Watching a video of the new iPhone now. I'm sorry I can't bring you picture as I'm liveblogging. I can't do what the big guys do because I'm just 1 girl blogging while watching this ion uStream instead of being there. So, sorry.

Oooh, colors. The iPhone will be released in black and white.

Have your phone automatically send a text when you can't take a call.

Find a sushi restaurant at 8 o'clock though, it can do and it can post that you're looking forward to it directly to Facebook. So, it looks like Facebook has been as integrated as Twitter was for iOS5

Siri enhancements. Stuff about getting sports scores, etc. (yawn), recommendations about movies. Oh, siri says that's a very subjective question.

Back to Photo Stream sharing. Select photos you want to share with people and they get a push notifcation on their device. You can comment on photos, like the, etc., but it is not integrated with Facebook

New Passbook feature will let you store boarding passes, tickets, etc. and they will work from the lock screen.

Safari will work in full-screen mode. And a new feature called iCloud tabs will let you go to your content from any of your browsers on the go. Like Chrome syncing between desktop and Android.

In notifications you can tap Tweet or post to Facebook and it does. Easy.

Great satellite imagery. 3D button takes you into flyover which models each building. That is the new Maps feature.

Going around turns looks cool with cinematic camera angle. And, it all works in landscape or portrait mode.

Built-in turn-by-turn directions. Showing off new GPS features.

Talk turning to iOS6

There will be an adapter to make your old stuff work :)

New connector :( called Lighning. It's all-digital, 8-signal design, adaptive interface, improed durability, reversable, and 80% smaller.

There are 3 microphones and wideband audio on the new iPhone.

FaceTime will be available over cell networks.

1080p video, improved video stability, face detection. And, you can take photos while shooting video.

Sorry, the camera is called iSight. 25% smaller than 4S camera and outperforms it.

Called iSight (all of the camera improvements together, I believe.)

Amazing new feature with camera is panorama mode. Yay!

With iOS6 and iCloud there are going to be shared Photo Streams.

Better low light performance and 40% faster on photo capture.

Also improving processing with next generation ISP, spatial noise reduction and smart filter.

25% smaller. Dynamic low light mode, precision lens alignment, sapphire crystal.

8mp camera, hybrid IR filter, the backside camera will be illuminated.

They have actually increased battery life over the 4S!

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The A6 is smaller and has a faster processor. Oh, the game demo added.

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Using Game Center you can see 2 people racing each other. You can play real people any time.

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Cool! It even has rear view mirrors.

Developer from EA is talking now about an ultimate racing game they made called Real Racing 3. It has full consule quality.

2 times faster, 22% smaller.

New A6 chip announced

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There will be iPhone 5-optimized apps. Oh, and a single chip for all carriers.

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And, I wasn't just typing letters there. I will explain all this in a bit.

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It will be LTE, HSPA+, DC-HSDPA

Touch sensor rumor is true. Touch sensors integrated into the glass.

Added a 5th row of icons. Yay!! All software is being updated.

iPhoto, iMovie, etc. all updated.

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16:9 aspect ratio. So, it's taller.

4 inch display

Retina display, 326 PPI

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18% thinner and 20% lighter than iPhone 4S

They look just like the leaked photo that I ran 2 days ago and are made entirely of glass and aluminum.

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Announcing the iPhone 5! It's called the iPhone 5!

Okay, the talk is turning iPhone!!

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90% of all apps downloaded are Apple every month

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Almost all major companies deploy iPads over other tablets and iPads account for 91% of tablet web traffic. What do people do with their Android tablets anyway

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Marketshare with iPads has risen to 68% over past year despite all the other tablets that have been released by so many other companies.

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That's more than any competitor sold of theirentire line of computers together.

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17 millino iPads sold last quarter alone!!!

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7 million Mountain Lion upgrades and #1 in notebooks.

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Apple spreading to it's 13th country. Its net widens. And, they're moving on to Mac news.

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Just some Apple retail store updates to begin with.

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So, I'm getting pretty nervous about blogging live, but I'm totally committed to bringing you guys the news of Apple's announcement as it happens. Please forgive any mistypes and the like (you know I usually pride myself on flawless editing as an ex-news editor), but I think things will be happening pretty quickly. I will update as soon as anything big happens (or, anything just interesting) and then rewrite it to make complete sense of things and add my opinions after it is over. Just 21 minutes to go!!!

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I will be writing as things happen Wednedsay with the Apple announcement and then will bring you the full story of what happened (rewrite coherently) at day's end. The announcement is scheduled to begin at noon central standard time. So, keep tuned to this page for the scoop and my take on what's what with the Apple announcement of the iPhone 5 (hopefully that's what the announcement is). For a full recap of rumors and other places to watch the announcement live, read my post on iPhone 5 rumors.

Wednesday’s the BIG Day! iPhone 5 Announcement

Sept. 12 Apple announcement

Courtesy of Time

So, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, is THE BIG DAY for Apple this year! The iPhone 5 (or, whatever they will call it) will be announced at 10 am Pacific Coast Time, and it has been predicted that it will go on sale on Sept. 21. Whatever you do, don't buy a new iPhone right now! Hold your horses and hang on to the reigns, because the new iPhone looks like it's going to be awesome.

iPhone 5 mock-ups

Some iPhone 5 mock-ups courtesy of eliechahine.wordpress.com

If even a fraction of the rumors are true, the iPhone 5 is going to be revolutionary. Here is a post I reblogged a few months ago on iPhone 5 rumors. The highlights:

  • It won't be called the iPhone 5. Since they called the newest iPad just “the new iPad,” rumors are that the iPhone “5” won't have a number after its name.
  • It will have a different dock connector. This has been a fairly consistent rumor that may turn out to be true. For me, I'm not liking it. I like being able to plug my iPad and iPhone into the same charger. They take turns and have learned how to share. But, whatever the reason for this change, I'll get used to it.
  • It will have a bigger screen. There has been a LOT of speculation as to this rumor. Phones have been getting bigger and bigger. The iPhone 4/4S is now one of the smallest phones on the market in terms of screen space. This is a complicated change, though. The ratio of the screen size has to be compatible with the ratio of the screen size for the iPad, or there will be a lot of work cut out for app developers who have universal apps. Changing the ratio and making them incompatible would mean that there would have to be 2 designs for every universal app. LOTS of work. But, who knows? I'm sure they have it figured out. Predictions are that the screen will grow to 4 inches.
  • It will be thinner. This rumor has to do with the fact that people are predicting that the touch sensors in the screen will occupy a different layer than they presently do making the iPhone fractionally thinner.
  • It will support 4G LTE. Everyone else is doing it, which would definitely NOT be the reason Apple is doing it. They've never been one for following the crowd and doing something just because the other guy's do. But, 4G LTE technology is the future for now, and there is little doubt that this will be a part of the new iPhone.
  • It WON'T have near-field communications. This would be a disappointment, but one that I can live with. For now, anyway. I can't wait for the day when I don't have to carry a wallet and I can pay for things using my iPhone.

Along with this big announcement should come the announcement of iOS 6. I predict that it will be available for download Wednesday, after the announcement. For more information about what iOS 6 is going to be, read my article on the coverage of iOS 6 from a few months ago. There are so many big changes with the new system that I am thoroughly excited. On the edge of my seat, actually.

My favorite coming attraction for iOS 6 is the “Do Not Disturb” button that will be integrated into the Settings app. With the Do Not Disturb button, you will be able to flip a switch and turn off all notifications for as long as you want. This will be excellent for when I am playing a game and don't want to be annoyed.

But, there are over 200 new features for iOS 6. Which one can't you wait to see?

Watch the announcement live Wednesday on one of these sites:

Apple also airs the entirety of the announcement at Apple.com, after it is over.

Here are some live blogs where you can read along as things happen. The links may need to be updated Wednesday.

And, of course, you can stick with me here at iOS Affairs. I have a paper due and so much else, but I am taking Wednesday off to bring you the news as it happens. It will be my first time live blogging, so you'll have to bear with me as I figure it out.

See you Wednesday. Try to get some sleep. It's going to be a BIG day for Apple fans everywhere!

That's it for me today. Until Wednesday …

iPhone 5

Is this what it will look like?