January 27, 2012

Sandvox for Mac updated with slide shows and more Lion features

With iWeb slowly fading into obscurity, Mac users who want to generate websites without a lot of trouble have been turning to apps such as Sandvox. The app was updated today to version 2.5, which is free for users version 2.0 and up.

Prominently featured is a slideshow object that lets users drag a collection of photos to the app, with options for timing, transitions and caption control adjustable in the Object inspector. The traditional Photo Grid now supports displayed captions derived from page contents.

The app also has added a reworked publishing engine and better compatibility for .mkv files and Quick Look support. Several Lion-friendly features have been added, including including Resume, Autosave, Versions and Fullscreen mode. Sandvox is not as easy to use as iWeb, but it trades a bit of complexity for far more power and control over the features of your website. It ships with several templates that make site creation fast and easy, or you can modify those templates to fit your needs.

Sandvox is available in the app store for US $ 79.99 or directly from Karelia Software.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Valve debuts free Steam Mobile iPhone app

Valve has released Steam Mobile for iOS, a free app for the iPhone. According to Valve, “With the free Steam app for iOS, you can participate in the Steam community wherever you go. Chat with your Steam friends, browse community groups and user profiles, read the latest gaming news and stay up to date on unbeatable Steam sales.”

That’s the promise of the app, anyway; Steam Mobile has launched in “limited beta,” meaning you first need to input an activation key on your PC or Mac. Entering your username and password into the Steam Mobile app is apparently enough to “express interest” in the beta, but for now that’s pretty much all the app does until you receive an activation key.

It’s interesting that this app was approved; Apple has traditionally frowned on apps that require users to register for access in this manner, so it’s odd to see Valve granted an exception.

Also worth noting is that Steam Mobile will not serve as a front end to Steam selling games for the iPhone. All Steam Mobile will allow you to do is access the community and buy games for your Mac or PC from your iPhone.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Daily iPhone App: Vintage Radio

Vintage Radio is an interesting idea for an iPhone app: It’s a ton of various old-time radio recordings (more than 34,000 mystery, horror, comedy, and other old 1930s and 1940s radio shows), all accessible to stream on demand. The app allows you to browse and search shows, set up and save playlists or even share shows on Facebook and Twitter. The selection is really amazing. I like a lot of old-time radio, and this app does have pretty much everything you need. If you have a lot of long car trips or plane rides, it can really help fill the time.

Unfortunately, Vintage Radio’s biggest problem might be a dealbreaker. The app uses a very confusing subscription model to make money. Basically, you buy the app for $ 3.99, and get access to a certain amount of the shows for that price. After that, you have to pay a subscription to listen to more shows — about $ 1.99 a month, or a little cheaper if you subscribe for a longer period. I also ran into some issue with the app where I only got a certain number of plays on it, and it’s not entirely clear when you browse which shows are paid or free.

Even paying the subcription is probably cheaper than actually buying all of these shows. Even if you have to pay the subscription fee, if you actually spend a year listening to these recordings, it’s probably worth it. Vintage Radio is a nice idea that’s not implemented well, but if you’re a fan of old-time radio, it’s definitely worth a look.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Lingual adds Siri language translation to jailbroken iPhones

Now that we can jailbreak the iPhone 4S, jailbreak developers can finally use Siri in their tweaks. One such tweak is Lingual which adds language translation to our favorite voice assistant. The tweak, available from the Big Boss repository in Cydia, lets you say “Siri, What is how are you in Spanish” and Siri will respond with “Cómo estás.”

The tweak uses the Bing API to handle all the translation requests and, as a result, can support more than 30 languages. It’s based on the AssistantExtensions platform and will install that tweak along with Lingual. AssistantExtensions is an architecture that makes it easy to create Siri extensions like Lingual. It’s free and has both tutorials and templates to get you started.

If you have a jailbroken iPhone 4S and give Lingual a try, let us know what you think in the comments. I played around with Lingual and it works reasonably well. It’s accuracy is based on Bing so the translation sometimes is hit or miss, but the tweak itself is stable.

[Via The Verge]

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Apparent announces WiFi-powered Doxie Go scanner

Apparent has announced a new model of its popular Doxie Go scanner with Wi-Fi support. The tiny appliance can be charged up, slipped into a bag and carried around for on-the-go scanning of documents, receipts or other slip of paper you want to digitize and save.

When we reviewed the Doxie Go in December, a workaround with Eye-Fi Wi-Fi / SD cards enabled wireless scanning of sorts, but now the devices have wireless functionality built in. Documents scanned with the new model can be sent to your computer, mobile device, or to Evernote, Flickr, or an FTP account. Its street price is listed at US$ 239.

Check back with us all week as our team at Macworld | iWorld is providing complete coverage of all the goodies on the expo floor.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Research suggests business directors more likely to use Apple products at work

Forrester Research recently conducted a survey of close to 10,000 workers in 17 countries to determine which workers are more likely to own and use Apple products. The New York Times has published the results, which show that “business directors” — in other words, bosses — are the employee group most likely to own one or more Apple products and use them at work.

Here’s a breakdown of the survey results.

Who uses Apple products:

  • 43 percent of people earning $ 150,000 or more per year — 87 of 200 respondents
  • 27 percent of people earning $ 100,000 – $ 149,999
  • 23 percent of people earning $ 50,000 – $ 99,999
  • 19 percent of people earning $ 49,999 or less — 1300 of 6800 respondents

21 percent of all 9912 respondents in Forrester’s survey said they used one or more Apple devices for work.

The New York Times notes that the increasing penetration of Apple products into the workplace, often driven by people bringing in and using their personal devices, is wearing down traditional IT department hostility toward the Mac, iPhone, and iPad. However, as Ars Technica notes, the research also shows that while 50 percent of firms in “mature markets” offer Macs, only 30 percent of respondents said their companies support them, leaving many Mac users to fend for themselves at work.

Coupled with reports like Good Technology’s quarterly results on device activations, it seems that the old practice of business and enterprise environments shunning Apple products is shifting quite rapidly. Forrester’s claim that “Windows’ dominance is at an end” is premature, however; while Microsoft’s share of the enterprise pie is no longer as big as it once was, it’s still claiming the majority of users in that sphere.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

iPhone 4S accounts for 89 percent of iPhone sales

Despite multiple media outlets painting it as a “disappointing” update immediately after its debut, the iPhone 4S is Apple’s most popular iPhone by far. A consumer survey by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (via AllThingsD) suggests that the new iPhone 4S accounted for 89 percent of all iPhones sold in Apple’s most recent quarter. The US$ 99 iPhone 4 and free iPhone 3GS were both barely blips on the radar, with 7 percent and 4 percent of overall sales, respectively.

iPhone 4S unit sales follow a predictable pattern, with the lowest-priced model being most popular:

  • 16 GB: 45 percent of sales
  • 32 GB: 34 percent of sales
  • 64 GB: 21 percent of sales

Some other metrics found in CIRP’s research give some further insight into demand for the iPhone 4S:

  • 19 percent of iPhone 4 owners upgraded
  • 42 percent of iPhone 4S buyers broke their existing contract for an early upgrade
  • 19 percent of iPhone 4S buyers sold their old device

I’ve inputted CIRP’s results into a spreadsheet and compared them against the iPhone unit sales and revenues in Apple’s own earnings. The numbers I got for total revenues when going by CIRP’s survey results are only about 6 percent higher than Apple’s actual reported revenues, so CIRP’s numbers look to be quite close to what actually took place.

Keeping that margin of error in mind, unit sales of the iPhone break down approximately as follows:

  • iPhone 3GS: 1.48 million
  • iPhone 4: 2.59 million
  • iPhone 4S 16 GB: 14.8 million
  • iPhone 4S 32 GB: 11.2 million
  • iPhone 4S 64 GB: 6.9 million

This distribution of unit sales hews very closely to my own analysis of Apple’s iPhone sales. Of note, the iPhone 3GS is still the third-most popular smartphone overall, and with just under 1.5 million units sold it outsold all competing Android handsets (considered individually, obviously not in total).

The iPhone 4S is also eating the iPod touch’s breakfast and stealing its lunch money; with approximately 10 million iPod touch units sold last quarter, the 16 and 32 GB iPhone 4S models each outsold the iPod touch all by themselves.

Siri, define “blockbuster.”

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Investors eyeing Tim Cook’s management of Apple’s cash horde

Every three months Apple announces its quarterly earnings, and we see the company’s huge pile of cash grow to increasingly awe-inspiring heights. Like clockwork, a day or two after the earnings announcement comes calls for Apple to give some of that money back to its shareholders in the form of dividends.

Reuters claims that these calls for dividends are getting louder, and some investors are getting restless. Apple’s US$ 98 billion cash horde is so big that it represents a value of $ 104 per share, a big slice of the current $ 444 per share stock value.

Several Wall Street analysts are convinced that Apple will pay a dividend to investors in 2012, but they say that every year. Apple has not paid dividends on its stock since 1995, and Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer has stated that the money isn’t burning a hole in Apple’s pockets. CEO Tim Cook and Oppenheimer revealed that Apple is actively looking at what to do with its money, but neither of the executives would commit to a firm comment on the company’s intentions.

One major stumbling block is that most of Apple’s cash is tied up overseas — $ 64 billion of its $ 98 billion. Repatriating that money to the US would subject it to a 35 percent tax, skimming over $ 22 billion off the top… something that Apple has lobbied against.

Within the next few days I predict we’ll see another wave of posts predicting huge company acquisitions — finish your drink if you see “Apple could buy Facebook” in your RSS reader before the end of the week. That’s also an unlikely scenario; Apple has a history of buying smaller companies that aren’t already household names, and it usually only drops a few billion dollars in the process.

Much like the iPad cannibalizing the Mac, I suspect Apple’s executives see the company’s cash stockpile as a nice problem to have. It affords the company a great deal of flexibility; Apple could make zero dollars in revenue for the next seven straight years and still be able to sustain its current operating expenses. With dividends and major acquisitions likely out of the picture, there’s no way of knowing what Apple intends to do with its money… though I have my own loony ideas about that.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Macworld | iWorld 2012: Abvio reveals new features for Runmeter 7.0

There are a lot of Runmeter users on the TUAW staff, and when Abvio invited us to take a look at the upcoming Runmeter 7.0 (along with Cyclemeter and Walkmeter, which are the same app geared toward different users) at Macworld | iWorld 2012, we gladly took the chance to see what’s in store.

The app update, coming later this quarter, has an updated stopwatch that shows more than 150 data items, a new history navigation, social media interaction and more. My favorite feature was the ability to use the remote on Apple headphones to stop and start the app as needed. It’s great for pausing at red lights or to take a quick break. CEO Steve Kusmer also showed me the Wahoo Fitness Blue HR Heart Rate Strap, which the app now supports for capturing heart rate data via Bluetooth.

Check out the video below to see Kusmer demonstrate the new features. Runmeter is $ 4.99 in the App Store.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

The Omni Group’s Ken Case talks with TUAW at Macworld iWorld 2012

One of the most innovative and longstanding software development firms in the Apple ecosystem is The Omni Group. The company originally developed software for Steve Jobs’s NeXT in the 1990′s, created some of the first OS X software in the 2000s, and has gracefully made the transition to iOS with the advent of the iPhone and iPad. On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of talking with Omni Group CEO Ken Case about the company’s latest technical achievement — building Siri capabilities into OmniFocus for iPhone — and the history of this venerable favorite of Apple fans worldwide.

Over the next week or so, TUAW will be posting a number of interviews with both established development firms like The Omni Group and new startups that are just beginning to make their presence known in the Apple world. Be sure to visit often to check out our video offerings.

You can check out more of our Macworld|iWorld 2012 coverage here.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog