January 27, 2012

TUAW Best of 2011: Vote for your favorite iPad productivity app

The nominations are in, and the poll is ready to go! The TUAW Best of 2011 awards are all about you — the readers — and what you think is the cream of the crop of Apple or third-party products and software. To vote, select one entry from the top nominations made by readers. We’ll be announcing the winner in just a few days. Vote early and often!

TUAW is asking for your votes for the best iPad productivity app of 2011. This category pulled in the largest number of nominations so far in the Best of 2011, with two apps surprising the staff here at TUAW with the number of nominations they grabbed — “Universal Translator” app Communilator Pro (US$ 2.99, also available in a free version) and Virtual Office Pro ($ 0.99).

The rest of the nominees are:

You have a couple of days to vote, and the winners will be announced on January 3, 2012. Let the voting begin!

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Inside Apple’s 2011: Steve Jobs’ achievements, battles and crises

By Daniel Eran Dilger

Published: 05:33 PM EST (02:33 PM PST)
For Apple, 2011 marked a year of incredible accomplishments, capping a decade of deftly executed strategies including the development of Mac OS X, ten years of the iPod and the ten year anniversary of Apple Retail stores. But the year was also marked with technological tragedy, from Steve Jobs’ final struggle with cancer to the cataclysmic earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan and flooding in Thailand.

Mac App Store revolutionizes PC software distribution

The year began with Apple launching Mac OS X 10.6.6 Snow Leopard with support for the Mac App Store, an initiative Jobs had outlined in an October presentation focusing on Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. Jobs said Apple wouldn’t wait for Lion to launch the new digital downloads marketplace, promising it would launch by itself in the next 90 days.

Apple subsequently launched the Mac App Store weeks ahead of schedule at the beginning of January, and throughout 2011 it completely shifted how desktop software was sold. This month, the company announced a year long figure of 100 million downloads.

Apple shifted its own consumer iLife and iWork suites to digital downloads, eventually adding its entire lineup of Pro Apps to the store as well, from Aperture to Final Cut, Motion, Compressor, Logic Pro and MainStage. Apple also made available its Remote Desktop package, as well as the new FaceTime for Mac. The company’s biggest release, however, was Mac OS X Lion, which shipped in July as the first digital download of a commercial PC operating system.

Apple also released Mac OS X Server as a $ 50 App Store download, a radically simplified version of the package that formerly sold for $ 500. While more accessible to small office users, the package drew complaints from enterprise users who found the scaled down software ill fitted for their large deployments. Apple had also backed out of the server hardware business, canceling the Xserve at the beginning of the year and offering a Mac mini Server appliance in its place.

More than just bringing the iOS App Store to the Mac, the new marketplace for desktop software dramatically shifted software prices downward, with Apple shaving hundreds of dollars from its higher end software packages in the transition from paper boxes and discs to digital downloads. By discounting its software, Apple made its own titles more competitive while lowering the bar for what third parties could ask for their competing titles, ranging from Microsoft’s Office to Adobe’s Lightroom to Avid and even Microsoft’s Windows, a package the company has struggled to raise the price of with a series of “editions” and upgrade options. The $ 29.99 Mac OS X makes any version of Windows now look awfully expensive.

In addition to shifting the price of software, the Mac App Store has also changed how desktop users obtain their software, greatly minimizing the need for an optical drive in a continuation of how iTunes and the iPod made CDs and DVDs far less necessary. Combined with network disc sharing and the new firmware Internet Repair install and restore features Apple delivered alongside the new 2011 MacBook Air models running Mac OS X Lion, the optical drive appears slated for retirement, at least among Mac users, starting 2012 as a new decade of Mac OS X development.

Jobs takes leave, continues working with iPad 2

Less than two weeks after the Mac App Store launched, Jobs announced he would take a medial leave of absence while remaining in his role as chief executive and staying involved in major strategic decisions.

While battling his health issues, Jobs continued to make regular public appearances. In February, Jobs joined a small group of Silicon Valley tech luminaries to meet with President Barack Obama in a discussion aimed at promoting technological innovation in an effort to boost the U.S. economy. Jobs presented Obama with a prerelease iPad 2.

Jobs made a surprise appearance introducing the iPad 2 in March, his first in front of an audience. The revamped new tablet went on to obliterate competition from firms that had spent billions to challenge the iPad, ranging from Google’s Android 3.0 Honeycomb used by Motorola and Samsung to a flurry of tablets by Asus, Lenovo, Samsung and others running Microsoft’s Windows 7 to HP’s webOS TouchPad to RIM’s PlayBook, all four of which were absolutely crushed by the iPad in 2011.

Jobs had previously described the iPad as “the most important thing I’ve ever done,” according to Michael Arrington, who observed, just prior to the release of the original iPad, that “coming from the man who has created so much, that’s saying something.”

On page 2 of 3: Jobs introduces iCloud, forces ahead open standards


Osmos for iPad: TUAW Best of 2011 game winner

We’ve got another winner! TUAW readers have spoken, and Osmos for iPad (US$ 4.99) was voted the best iPad game of 2011.

Pulling in 31.1 percent of the votes, Osmos for iPad edged out Words With Friends HD ($ 0.99), which came in second place with 26.9 percent of votes tallied. Osmos was named iPad Game of the Year by Apple as well, so it’s well-deserving of the title. The game is described at “part physics-based eat-’em-up, part ambient, cosmic simulator, and part Darwinistic game of survival.”

The basic idea of Osmos is to make yourself larger by absorbing smaller motes, but to move you need to eject matter behind you, making yourself smaller. Keeping this balance as you go through the various levels of the game is what makes it so absorbing and ultimately what made it the winner.

Congratulations to the folks at Hemisphere Games for winning the TUAW Best of 2011 award for best iPad game.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

2011 Apple Year In Review [Video]

2011 Apple Year In Review [Video]

As 2011 comes to a close, it’s interesting to look back on Apple’s accomplishments throughout the year.

In this video, Cult Of Mac takes a look back at the top Apple events of 2011.

Michael Steeber

Michael Steeber is a student who is obsessed with everything Apple, and technology in general. He enjoys making videos and runs the MSComputerVideos YouTube channel in his free time.

(sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)| Read more posts by .

Posted in Video | Tagged: , , , , , , |

Cult of Mac

Apple Gets Institutionalized

Apple Gets Institutionalized

A famous Apple campaign goes: “Here’s to the crazy ones.” Of course the crazy ones usually get institutionalized. And that’s exactly what has happened to Apple. It seems that in recent weeks, Apple has been or announced plans to be, institutionalized.

Apple, which represents the newest of the new, both aesthetically and technologically, is embracing the old. Here’s what I’m talking about.

The Royal Treatment

Queen Elizabeth II appointed Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design and Steve Job’s “spiritual partner” as a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Yeah, Sir Jony was knighted. Again.

The queen will officially confer the honor with a tap of the sword, which Ive will consider garish, needlessly decorated and far too large.

Apple’s association with the institution of the British Monarchy started when Ive was conferred the lesser title of a Commander of the British Empire in 2005, and when US President Barack Obama gave the queen an iPod in April of 2009. Or maybe it’s when she bought her own in 2005.

Either way, Apple is thoroughly associated now with the institution of the British Monarchy.

Grand Central Apple Store

It’s not just that institutions want to institutionalize Apple. Apple wants to institutionalize itself.

Apple opened this month the world’s largest Apple Store inside the world’s largest train station in America’s largest city. The Grand Central Terminal is a New York institution, built between 1903 and 1913. As a New York institution, it’s up there with the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.

Unlike many of the stores inside the terminal building, the Apple Store stands as an homage to the architecture and history of the building. Paul Gunther, President of the Institute of Classical Architecture, wrote that “The new Apple store is cultural memory writ large, resulting in a renewal of artistic appreciation for a place at risk of being taken for granted.”

But Apple’s presence isn’t just about honoring the terminal, but improving and maintaining it. Apple will spend $ 2.5 million in permanent improvements to the terminal.

The Grand Central Terminal Apple store clearly isn’t just about foot traffic. Apple wants to be associated with, and contribute to the preservation of, cultural institutions.

Apple has a lot of Apple Stores — some 360 at last count. But recently, the company has been working hard and paying through the nose to build Apple Stores inside cultural institutions around the world.

More Grand and Central Stores Coming This Year

According to reports, Apple is planning to open Apple Stores in more famous, historic buildings.

Apple plans to build a big store in a building right in the center of Madrid, Spain, that was built in 1860 but that closed five years ago. The building used to be the famous Hotel Paris and was originally the “Fonde de Paris.” Like Grand Central Terminal, the Hotel Paris building has amazing interior decorations. Famous artists and writers like Manet and Dario once lived in the hotel.

A ginormous electric sign erected in 1946 advertising Tio Pepe sherry is a major Madrid tourist attraction. Although the sign has been removed for construction, it will be returned to its former glory in time for the opening of the Apple Store this year.

In Germany, Apple intends to install a store in a theater built in 1913 in the Kurfürstendamm shopping section of Berlin, according to rumors. The building, which somehow survived the heavy bombing of Berlin in World War II, will be completely renovated by Apple.

Stanford Archives

We also learned this week that Apple has long been institutionalized in a secret archive at Stanford University, the school where Steve Jobs’ son, Reed Jobs, currently attends.

The university has reportedly been curating a “storehouse of materials Apple had been collecting for a company museum” but that were donated by Apple to Stanford in the late 1990s.

This “storehouse” is the world’s largest collection of Apple historical materials. It filled two moving vans, and now takes up more than 600 feet of shelf space at a climate-controlled storage facility that exists in an undisclosed location in Silicon Valley.

According to an Associated Press report this week, “The collection includes early photos of young Jobs and Wozniak, blueprints for the first Apple computer, user manuals, magazine ads, TV commercials, company t-shirts and drafts of Jobs’ speeches.”

The most interesting fact about this historical collection, besides its size and that it came directly from Apple, is its closed, secret nature. All these artifacts are off-limits, and few even know what’s in there.

So remember December, 2011. That’s the month when Apple got institutionalized.

Cult of Mac

Jonathan Ive gets a knighthood

The UK’s New Year’s Honours list is out, and there’s a familiar (well-muscled) figure on it. Apple’s design lead Jonathan Ive has received the honorary title of Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE).

Ive was honored as a Commander of the British Empire in 2005, but now he can legitimately call himself “Sir Jony.” Ive is a 19-year Apple veteran and has long been considered one of the company’s key leadership assets, with Steve Jobs referring to him as a “spiritual partner.” His design sensibility and expertise has shaped Apple’s aesthetic; visitors to Hamburg’s design museum can still see examples of every Ive-designed product on exhibit through the middle of next month.

Congratulations to Sir Jonathan!

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Rumor: iPhone made up 66% of sales at AT&T corporate stores, Android 9%

By Josh Ong

Published: 09:56 PM EST (06:56 PM PST)
A new report claims Apple’s iPhone comprised 66 percent of all device sales at AT&T’s corporate retail stores in December, while Android is said to have taken an 8.5 percent share.

The Mac Observer cited a source inside AT&T on Friday as indicating that the company’s stores sold 981,000 iPhones between Dec. 1 and Dec. 27. By comparison, 126,000 Android devices were reportedly sold during the same period.

Basic feature phones apparently performed better than Android at the stores, as 128,000 units were sold during December. Research in Motion’s BlackBerry devices continued to languish, with just 74,000 sold this month. Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 fared even worse.

According to the report, the numbers only include AT&T’s corporate retail stores, not authorized resellers, online sales, telephone sales or other retail outlets.

Of course, the iPhone’s performance at AT&T corporate stores doesn’t on its own reflect the device’s overall market share. Given that AT&T was the original partner for the iPhone, Apple’s handset has long been the best-selling phone on the network.

Recent third-quarter figures from comScore reveal that Android has reached a 46.9 percent share of the smartphone market, compared to Apple’s 28.7 percent.

The publication was unable to confirm with Apple’s PR department the numbers provided by its source, as the company declined to comment. AT&T did, however, reveal earlier this month that it expected to have its best quarter ever for smartphone sales because of “strong” performance of the iPhone 4S. The wireless operator sold six million smartphones in the first two months of the fourth quarter and is expected to handily beat its previous quarterly sales record of 6.1 million smartphones.

The iPhone accounted for 56 percent of AT&T’s smartphone activations in the third quarter of calendar 2011, even as some customers held out for the iPhone 4S.

Apple CEO TIm Cook said last quarter that he is confident the company will “set an all-time record for iPhones” during the December quarter. The iPhone maker has guided for $ 37 billion in revenue during the period and is expected by some analysts to surpass the $ 40 billion mark.


Daily iPad App: Sound Sorting Beginning Sounds

Lakeshore Learning is well-known for its excellent educational supplies, and now the company is making a name for itself in the iPad market with a trio of outstanding learning apps. Its Beginning Sounds Interactive Game for the iPad introduces the concept of beginning sounds to younger children in a fun and engaging manner.

The app starts with a grid of pictures and each one represents a different sound. You have a sun for “s”, a ball for “b”, a cat for “c” and so on. The child (or parent) has to select three picture sounds and tap “Enter” before the game begins. The game immediately grabs the attention of the child by spinning the three pictures into columns and dropping a bunch of balls down the right side of the screen.

The child must identify the beginning sound of each picture on the ball and drag it to an empty spot underneath the three pictures the child selected at the beginning of the game. Children who need extra help can tap on a picture to hear the word pronounced.

If the child answers correctly, the ball pops into place, and the game plays a happy sound. If the answer is wrong, the ball disappears and jumps back to the end of the line. The game also plays a sound that some kids may interpret as a reward for an incorrect answer. The game continues until the child has placed all the balls into the correct columns.

The Sound Sorting app is designed perfectly for young children. The balls are easy to select. The picture are recognizable to most children, and the app has a nice mix of interactivity, sound, and rewards. I only wish it had more content. I know this is a beginning sounds game and it’s free, but I would love to see middle and ending sounds as well. I would gladly pay for the app if it included all three sounds in a word instead of just one.

The Beginning Sounds Interactive Game is a universal app and available for free from the iOS App Store.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

iOS developers still battling Lodsys

We haven’t heard much from the legal battles between patent troll Lodsys and the developer community, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean Lodsys has shriveled up and vanished. Ars Technica has interviewed iOS developer Mike Lee, who founded the Appsterdam Legal Defense Team to fight Lodsys’s shaking down of developers, and it looks like the battle will rage on well into 2012.

Lodsys has gained a well-deserved reputation for patent trolling this year. Despite Apple licensing the company’s in-app purchasing patents and allowing third-party developers to use Apple’s own in-app purchasing APIs in their apps, Lodsys has decided to go after several developers using those APIs in an attempt to shake them down for licensing fees, too. Smaller third-party developers lack the legal resources of a huge corporation like Apple, so Lodsys probably counted on developers simply rolling over and handing over their lunch money without a fight.

Mike Lee wasn’t prepared to do that, and he’s encouraged developers to band together to fight Lodsys. “There is nothing you can do to prevent yourself from being targeted, regardless of platform,” Lee told Ars Technica, “and regardless of how careful you are, because this is not patent infringement, it is simple extortion, and it is worldwide.”

Apple has made some initial steps to intervene in the dispute between Lodsys and iOS developers, but it’s been several months since we’ve heard anything from that front. Apple has insisted that since it’s already paid the licensing fees for Lodsys’s intellectual property and developers are simply using its own in-app purchasing APIs, developers shouldn’t have to pay licensing fees as well. It seems like common sense, but Lodsys disagrees; if awarded damages in its suit against developers, the implications for the App Store and the software development landscape at large could be quite dire.

Appsterdam hasn’t been sitting on its hands this whole time; the team has been actively researching how best to fight Lodsys since August, and it will continue on into next year. For the sake of not just Apple’s developer community, but all software developers on all platforms, I hope they’re successful.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Apple design chief Jonathan Ive awarded knighthood

By Josh Ong

Published: 08:00 PM EST (05:00 PM PST)
Jonathan Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design, has been named a Knight Commander of the British Empire in the U.K.’s 2012 New Year Honours list, an honor he has described as “absolutely thrilling.”

The BBC reported on Friday that Ive can now go by “Sir Jonathan.” The knighthood, which is for “services to design and enterprise,” is a step up from his previous title of Commander of the British Empire, which was awarded in 2005.

Ive responded that he was “both humbled and sincerely grateful” by the commendation.

“I am keenly aware that I benefit from a wonderful tradition in the UK of designing and making,” he said. “I discovered at an early age that all I’ve ever wanted to do is design.”

Ive, who grew up in Chingford, a town northeast of London, credits his silversmith father with inspiring him as a designer.

“He’s a fantastic craftsman,” Ive said, as noted in Jobs’ biography. “His Christmas gift to me would be one day of his time in his college workshop, during the Christmas break when no one else was there, helping me make whatever I dreamed up.”

Ive went on to study Industrial Design at Newcastle Polytechnic, now called Northumbria University. It was there that he first realized the potential of designing on the Mac.

“I discovered the Mac and felt I had a connection with the people who were making this product,” he said. “I suddenly understood what a company was, or was supposed to be.”

After graduating, Ive worked as a designer in the U.K., eventually founding a design agency. Apple hired the firm to do design work and was so impressed by Ive’s work that it offered him a full-time position.

During his 19 years at Apple, Ive grew to become a “spiritual partner” of co-founder Steve Jobs, according to Jobs’ biography. Jobs confided that he had left Ive with “more operational power” than anyone else at the company.

“There’s no one who can tell him what to do,” Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson. “That’s the way I set it up.’”

While Jobs and Ive were close friends, Ive did admit to Isaacson that he felt Jobs had stolen the credit for some of his ideas.

“[Jobs] will go through a process of looking at my ideas and say, ‘That’s no good. That’s not very good. I like that one,’” Ive told Isaacson in an interview. “And later I will be sitting in the audience and he will be talking about it as if it was his idea. I pay maniacal attention to where an idea comes from, and I even keep notebooks filled with my ideas. So it hurts when he takes credit for one of my designs.”

Ive has received numerous industry awards for his work as a designer, including the title of smartest designer in tech by Forbes Magazine, Designer of the Year by the Design Museum London and Royal Designer for Industry by The Royal Society of Arts. Earlier this year, Ive and his designs were featured in an exhibit at a German art museum.

Interestingly enough, Jobs himself was also considered for knighthood by the Queen of the United Kingdom, but the proposal was blocked by a former Prime Minister because Jobs declined to speak at a Labour Party conference.