January 27, 2012

TUAW Best of 2011: Vote for your favorite iPad music 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!

At last, we’ve come to the final category for TUAW Best of 2011 voting. We’d like your votes for the best iPad music app of 2011. There were a lot of nominees in this TUAW Best of 2011 category, but the finalists were:

  • Party Playlist HD (US$ 3.99) — referred to as the “Ultimate Djay on iPad”
  • Groove for iPad ($ 3.99) — creates mixes by studying your listening habits
  • Animoog ($ 9.99 introductory price) — From Moog Music, the company that defines electronic music
  • GarageBand ($ 4.99) — Apple’s easy-to-use music making and recording app
  • Tango Remote HD ($ 4.99) — wirelessly control music and video between iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches

You have a couple of days to vote, and the winners will be announced on January 6, 2012. Let the voting begin!

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Apple reportedly planning New York City media event this month

By AppleInsider Staff

Published: 04:45 PM EST (01:45 PM PST)
Apple is reportedly planning an event scheduled to take place in New York at the end of January, and although many anxiously await the announcement of a much anticipated iPad 3 or new Apple TV, a product launch is seen as unlikely.

Citing unnamed sources close to the event, All Things D reported on Monday that the Cupertino, Calif. tech company is reportedly planning to use the event as a platform for an advertising or publishing announcement, though specific services or deals were not mentioned.

Multiple sources made it a point to convey that the event will not see the debut of a next-generation tablet or a new Apple TV, which some think will be launched later in 2012. Apple usually reserves product launches and important announcements for its home-state like the latest iPhone 4S, which debuted on Oct. 4, 2011 at Apple’s campus.

Apple Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue is said to have a role in the end-of-January event, causing speculation that an advertising or publishing announcement will be made.

Cue is currently heading up the iTunes Store, App Store, iBookstore, and the last event that he attended in New York was the debut of News Corp.’s e-zine “The Daily” nearly a year ago.

The sources note that Apple has been actively seeking a replacement for Andy Miller, who left as head of the company’s iAd division in August of 2011 to become a partner at venture capital firm Highland Capital while Cue took over operations of the mobile advertising division in September.


flickr hd wins TUAW Best of 2011 for iPad photography app

As the TUAW Best of 2011 awards wind down here in the first week of the new year, we’re happy to announce the choice of TUAW readers for the best iPad photography app of 2011: flickr hd (US$ 0.99).

It’s not a photography tool for editing images; instead, flickr hd is designed for viewing photos that are stored on flickr.com. Whether it’s your public flickr photo stream, favorites that you’ve found on flickr, or a custom search, flickr hd displays apps in a “photo frame” mode that makes enjoying your photos as easy as putting your iPad on a dock.

While flickr hd pulled in 39 percent of reader votes, the amazing Master Your DSLR Camera: A Better Way to Learn Digital Photography ($ 9.99) was a close second with 32 percent of the votes. Congratulations to flickr hd developer Alan Scully for winning the TUAW Best of 2011 award for iPad photography apps, and to Open Air Publishing for coming in close on the tail of flickr hd.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Rumor: Apple media event slated for January?

On this slow-start Monday (the official observance of the New Year’s Day holiday in the US, in case you were wondering why everything was moving like molasses), we have AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher to thank for a neat tidbit of possible Apple news. The Dow Jones site is reporting that Apple is planning a media-related event in New York City this month.

What would this “not large-scale” but still supposedly important event be? It’s not about the next iPad revision, say ATD’s sources, nor is it likely to be the hypothetical full-featured, large screen Apple TV announcement — although Apple SVP Eddy “Mr. iTunes” Cue is part of the event team.

It could be a partnership with a content company, similar to the News Corp/The Daily launch event. It could be a product announcement regarding live-TV streaming moving onto iTunes and the existing Apple TV, with happy network folk standing beside Tim Cook. Or, since we are getting into the Jetsons era, maybe Apple is introducing the Mr. Fusion. One thing’s for sure, it’s not a thermostat. At least, probably not.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Apple’s ‘Lucky Bags’ discount promotion draws crowds in Japan

By Slash Lane

Published: 03:50 PM EST (12:50 PM PST)
Apple’s participation in a cultural event in Japan known as “Lucky Bags” has drawn even more attention to the company’s already popular retail stores.

“Lucky Bags” are a New Years Day tradition at stores in Japan, in which customers buy a mystery bag that features a number of items, usually at a discount. This year, some of the most sought after Lucky Bags in Japan are Apple’s, according to Penn-Olson.com.

This year’s Lucky Bag from Apple costs 33,000 yen, or about 435 U.S. dollars. Customers lined up overnight at Apple’s retail stores in order to buy a mystery bag and see what’s inside.

It’s the mystery and surprise of what’s inside the Lucky Bag that draws in customers, who are hoping for a pleasant surprise, like an iPad or maybe a Mac. Customers braved rain and cold in order to get their hands on a 2012 Apple Lucky Bag.

One bag grabbed by a customer and pictured at Japanese-language website Macotakara included an 11-inch MacBook Air. Apple’s smallest ultraportable notebook typically retails for 999 U.S. dollars, which means the Lucky Bag recipient saved more than 0 in their gamble.

Another pictured bag came with a 16GB Wi-Fi-only iPad 2, which is ordinarily 499 U.S. dollars Yet another pictured Lucky Bag came with an 8GB iPod touch, an iPod touch case, remote room monitor, Incase Reflex, Mophie Juice Pack, Apple t-shirt, and collectible pins.

Apple has a total of seven retail stores in Japan, located in Ginza, Shibuya, FukuokaTenjin, Shinsaibashi, Sendailchibancho, Sapporo and NagoyaSakae. Some of those stores played a crucial role last year following a devastating earthquake, allowing people to recharge their electronics and get in touch with loved ones.


iOS ends 2011 with 52% of mobile Web browsing

iOS began 2011 by grabbing more than half of the mobile browser market share and ended 2011 equally strong. According to mobile web browsing data from Net Applications, which counts unique visitors to its network of websites, iOS accounted for 54.07% of the mobile browser market in January 2011 and dropped slightly to 52.10% by the end of the year.

The mobile platform stayed mostly steady in the intervening months, but there were a few fluctuations. Market share climbed to 61.50% in October 2011, presumably fueled by the launch of the iPhone 4S, and fell as low as 46.57% in February 2011. This dip might be the result of the iPad 2. Some original iPad owners may have sold their tablet in anticipation of the iPad 2, which was unveiled in early March.

Among its competitors, Android climbed from 12.75% to 16.29%, while Symbian fell from 7.40% to 5.76%. Other platforms remained about the same with only minor changes in market share.

These figures are interesting because they don’t fit in with other metrics that show Android is the leading mobile OS. When you look at activations and handset sales, there are more Android handsets being sold than Apple iPhones. Consequently, you would expect Android to have a larger market share than it does. So why the discrepancy?

This difference is likely the result of mobile Safari which, in my opinion, offers a better browsing experience than Android. Mobile Safari is an excellent browser, which was made even better now that it supports tabs on the iPad. Safari for iOS also loads pages quickly and is very responsive to multitouch gestures like pinch to zoom.

Though Android’s mobile browser is decent, it just isnt as smooth or polished as iOS. Scrolling can be choppy, copying text from pages is clunky and Adobe Flash seems to slow things down. It’s a capable browser that’ll serve up information, but it doesn’t have the same enjoyable experience as iOS.

[Via AppleInsider]

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Verizon abandons plan to charge $2 for online bill payments

By Slash Lane

Published: 02:41 PM EST (11:41 AM PST)
After being met with public backlash and potential government scrutiny, Verizon Wireless has abandoned its plans to charge customers a $ 2 service fee for paying their bill online.

Calling Verizon’s reversal “remarkably swift,” The New York Times noted that Verizon faced heavy criticism from customers who objected to the $ 2 fee. Verizon said in a statement that the “convenience fee” was dropped due to customer feedback.

“Verizon Wireless has decided it will not institute the fee for online or telephone single payments that was announced earlier this week,” Verizon’s statement reads. “The company made the decision in response to customer feedback about the plan, which was designed to improve the efficiency of those transactions. The company continues to encourage customers to take advantage of the numerous simple and convenient payment methods it provides.”

The largest carrier in the U.S. initially announced last week that it would charge customers $ 2 if they used a credit or debit card to make a one-time payment via telephone or Verizon’s website. Some people mistakenly believed that the fee would apply to all credit-card-based transactions.

In addition to catching the ire of consumers, Verizon’s original plan also prompted scrutiny from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. In a statement, the FCC said it was “concerned about Verizon’s actions.”

Verizon and Apple teamed up in early 2011, when Apple ended years of iPhone carrier exclusivity in the U.S. with AT&T. Rankings from Consumer Reports released in December revealed that customers felt Verizon offers the best wireless service in the U.S., while AT&T ranked worst.


Japanese customers line up for Apple’s Lucky Bags

Apple Stores in Japan have continued the fukubukuro or “mystery bag” tradition, where sealed bags of merchandise are offered on New Year’s Day at a hefty discount. If you’re extremely lucky, you’ll come away with a piece of coveted merchandise. Apple has been doing this in Japan since 2005.

The bags this year cost 33,000 yen, MacNN reports, which is about US$ 428 as of this writing. Items spotted in the bags both this year and in the past include the following:

  • Headphones
  • Cases
  • An 8 GB iPod touch
  • Various high-end accessories
  • Speakers
  • A special 2012 New Year’s t-shirt

The exceptionally lucky shoppers got to walk away with a MacBook Air or an iPad 2.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Bizarre Official GameStore App Pops Up On App Store, But Why Did Apple Make It?

Bizarre Official GameStore App Pops Up On App Store, But Why Did Apple Make It?

A bizarre official app from Apple called GameStore popped up in the App Store on New Year’s Eve, apparently by accident. The 99 cent app, which functionally does nothing, appears to be some sort of test app or prototype for a Newsstand-like games service that has yet to get off the ground.

Bizarre Official GameStore App Pops Up On App Store, But Why Did Apple Make It?

Right now, GameStore doesn’t really do anything. The app listing simply states that “This application allows you to buy different things from within the app.” Vague, no?

Things don’t become more edifying. The app, which is barely styled, allows you to make in-app purchases of various non-functional games, for prices anywhere between $ 0.99 and $ 1.99.

So what the heck is this thing? Although GameStore went live on New Year’s Eve, iTunes reports its original posting date is June 9, 2009, which as MacRumors points out is ahead of the Worldwide Developers Conference that debuted iPhone OS 3.0 and — surprise! — in-app purchasing.

Our best guess? This is an in-house demonstration app meant to show how in-app purchases work back in 2009 that somehow went live as part of a strange Y2K12 App Store server fart. Apple will doubtlessly pull this sometime soon, and since the app doesn’t actually do anything, it’s for completists only: you may well want to hold off.

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is news editor here at Cult of Mac, and has also written about a lot of things for a lot of different places, including Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker, AMC, Geek and the Consumerist. He lives in Cambridge with his charming inamorata and a tiny budgerigar punningly christened after Nabokov’s most famous pervert. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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Make An Apple Keyboard Work Correctly With A Windows PC Using This Free App

Make An Apple Keyboard Work Correctly With A Windows PC Using This Free App

Do you just like using a well-designed Apple keyboard with your work PC? If so, you know that there are inevitably some drawbacks to using Apple’s own QWERTYUIOP bar with Windows, mainly in the fact that many keys — such a print screen, volume control, eject and more — don’t work outside of OS X.

As is often the case, if you want to use your Apple keyboard as Steve intended within the Windows environment, there’s an app for that. It’s called Apple Keyboard Helper, and it’s a free download. Here’s what it does.

Simply download the app from the official website and install it on your Windows machine. Once you have done so, the following keys will work as they are meant to:

F3: Print Screen
F4: Task Manager
F7-F9: iTunes control
F10-F12: System volume Control
Eject button toggles Fkeys/Functions.
Fn + F key triggers function
Fn + Backspace = Delete
Fn+ Eject: Eject CD
And more!

Of course, your other option is to get yourself a Mac and run Boot Camp: the Apple keyboard in Boot Camp works just fine. Still, for those stuck on a Windows PC for whatever reason, this is a fine solution.

[via Lifehacker]

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is news editor here at Cult of Mac, and has also written about a lot of things for a lot of different places, including Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker, AMC, Geek and the Consumerist. He lives in Cambridge with his charming inamorata and a tiny budgerigar punningly christened after Nabokov’s most famous pervert. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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